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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
Wednesday February 21 Ag News

FSA Accepting Enrollment Now for Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC), Price Loss Coverage (PLC) Safety Net Programs for 2018

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) Cuming County Executive Director Sarah Beck is encouraging producers on farms with base acres under the safety net programs established by the 2014 Farm Bill to stop in now to enroll for 2018 coverage.

Since shares and ownership of a farm can change year-to-year, producers on the farm must enroll in the safety net programs, known as the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs, by signing a contract each program year.

“Come inside and complete your paperwork during the cold weather,” Beck said. “The average enrollment appointment takes less than 30 minutes and doing so now will save you valuable time when the weather warms and you need to be outside.”

For details regarding the ARC and PLC programs, go to
Appointment cards are going out in the mail so keep an eye on your mailboxes.  If you are unable to keep your scheduled appointment, please call the Cuming County FSA Office at (402) 372-2451 ext. 2 or email to reschedule your appointment.

 Ricketts Proclaims “FFA Week” in Nebraska

This afternoon, flanked by FFA leaders and members, Governor Pete Ricketts signed a proclamation declaring “FFA Week” in Nebraska.  FFA, also known as “Future Farmers of America,” started in 1928.  Its mission is to “make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.”  FFA Week is celebrated nationally from February 17-24, 2018.

“FFA is helping raise up the next generation of Nebraska’s farmers, ranchers, and ag innovators,” said Governor Ricketts.  “Through FFA, students across Nebraska receive great agricultural education and training from this historic organization.  FFA is developing the fresh thinkers and strong leaders our growing agriculture industry needs to innovate and move it forward in the 21st-century.”

The Nebraska FFA Association was the sixth chartered by the National FFA Organization.  Nebraska currently has over 8,500 FFA members in 185 chapters.  Throughout the years, state departments have teamed up with Nebraska FFA chapters to promote agricultural education, career readiness, and professional development.

“FFA Week provides us an opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of our FFA members,” said Nebraska Department of Agriculture Director Steve Wellman.  “FFA allows students an opportunity to grow as leaders while building their agricultural education, and, in turn, impacting their communities for the better.”

“The FFA Organization helps to develop students through premier leadership, personal growth, and career success,” said Nebraska State FFA Advisor Krystl Knabe.  “The agriculture industry is the driving force for Nebraska’s economy.  Our state’s educational system has recognized the importance of agriculture.  We have a record number of agricultural education programs in Nebraska high schools and record high FFA membership.  We are thrilled that Governor Ricketts is recognizing the Nebraska FFA Association during National FFA Week as the organization continues to develop and prepare future leaders of our great state.”

The Nebraska FFA program is supported by the Nebraska FFA Foundation.

“The Nebraska FFA Foundation is committed to investing in agricultural education and FFA for over 8,500 FFA members and their advisors by growing leaders, building communities and strengthening agriculture,” said Nebraska FFA Foundation Executive Director Stacey Agnew.  “I am thrilled Governor Ricketts is honoring FFA members and hope this will encourage more schools to add agricultural education and FFA programs.  We need more career-ready students to help grow Nebraska’s number one economic engine – agriculture.”

“FFA chapters across the state play a major role in preparing students for careers in agriculture production, business, education and leadership,” said Nebraska Wheat Board Executive Director Royce Schaneman.  “We appreciate the Governor recognizing the importance of FFA to Nebraska and look forward to celebrating this great organization.”

"The future of agriculture is dependent on the younger generation,” said Nebraska Cattlemen President Galen Frenzen.  “Nebraska Cattlemen is grateful for all of the FFA programs across the State that are giving our students the knowledge and experience they need about our industry.  As a former State FFA officer, I recognized firsthand the benefits of this organization.”

“The Nebraska corn industry is very proud of our state’s FFA students,” said Nebraska Corn Board Executive Director Kelly Brunkhorst.  “Many of our past and present board members were involved with FFA, and they understand and appreciate the value of the organization.  Also, several of our staff members and student interns throughout the years have been involved in FFA, so it is exciting to see them incorporate the leadership skills they gained through FFA into their careers.  We congratulate all of our FFA members and thank the teachers and advisors who help mentor them.”

For more information about the Nebraska FFA, visit

Smith Earns Nebraska Farm Bureau “Friend of Agriculture” Designation

U.S. Rep. Adrian Smith has been designated a “Friend of Agriculture” by NFBF-PAC, Nebraska Farm Bureau’s political action committee. Smith, who is seeking re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives in Nebraska’s 3rd Congressional District, received the designation based on his work on several policy issues of high priority to Nebraska farmers and ranchers, according to Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson.

“Taxes, trade, and reducing the regulatory burden on farmers and ranchers are priorities for our members and Congressman Smith has provided leadership on all of these critical issues in Washington D.C.,” said Nelson.

Serving on the House Ways and Means Committee, Smith has provided a strong voice for agriculture on federal tax policy and played an instrumental role in helping deliver the first major revisions to the federal tax code in more than 30 years.

“Today Nebraska farmers and ranchers are able to continue to fully deduct their property taxes on their federal tax return, thanks in large part to the work done by the Congressman during debate on the federal tax bill. His engagement on that issue was instrumental in protecting those deductions,” said Nelson.

With one out of every three U.S. farm acres being planted for export and roughly 31 percent of U.S. gross farm income coming directly from exports to foreign countries, international trade is critical to farmers and ranchers.

“Rep. Smith has been and continues to be a strong proponent of growing international markets for Nebraska’s agricultural products. He’s represented agriculture directly with trade negotiators having just recently participated in a delegation to Canada to help bring an agriculture perspective to North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) discussions,” said Nelson.

Smith has also championed efforts to reduce unwarranted regulations on Nebraska farmers and ranchers that needlessly increase the costs of doing business, in addition to pushing back on regulations that would infringe on private property rights.

“Whether it’s his work to halt the EPA’s “Waters of the U.S.” Rule that would have allowed the federal government to tell farmers and ranchers what they could do with their property or his efforts to address Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations that would have driven up fertilizer costs, Congressman Smith has worked to address the issues of concern to farm and ranch families,” said Nelson.

In making the announcement, Nebraska Farm Bureau also pointed to Smith’s ongoing efforts to protect risk-management tools such as federal crop insurance, defend the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) for corn and ethanol producers, as well as challenging animal rights activists who strive to erode the ability of Nebraska livestock producers to use commonly accepted production practices while attempting to damage the reputation of America’s farm and ranch families.

“We appreciate the ongoing efforts of Congressman Smith to serve Nebraska’s farm and ranch families and are proud to count him among those receiving our “Friend of Agriculture” designation,” said Nelson.


An upcoming symposium at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln will highlight the importance of international trade to Nebraska's economy. The Clayton Yeutter Institute of International Trade and Finance is hosting the inaugural CME Group Foundation Symposium, "Changing Governments, Changing Trade: Impacts from Global to Local," March 13 in Lincoln.

The symposium is in conjunction with the final Heuermann Lecture of the 2017-18 season. The free event is noon to 6 p.m. at the Nebraska Innovation Campus Conference Center, 2021 Transformation Drive.

Speakers include Keira Lombardo, senior vice president of corporate affairs at Smithfield; Tim Groser, New Zealand's ambassador to the United States; Kirsten Hillman, Canada's deputy ambassador to the United States; Brian Kuehl, executive director of Farmers for Free Trade; and Andrea Durkin, editor-in-chief for TradeVistas. Kuehl and Durkin will discuss the local impact of global change in the Heuermann Lecture at 3:30 p.m.

A renowned trade expert and Nebraska alumnus, Yeutter made a $2.5 million leadership gift through outright and planned gifts to establish the Clayton Yeutter International Trade Program Fund at the University of Nebraska Foundation in 2015.

The institute prepares students to understand, participate in and shape global trade and finance in a world that is increasingly interconnected. It builds on the strengths of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, College of Business and College of Law to offer undergraduate and graduate education, facilitate faculty research and engage the community, all related to international trade and finance.

Advance registration is required. To register, visit

The symposium is sponsored by the CME Group Foundation and Smithfield.

USDA:  2017 Annual Milk Production up 1.4 Percent from 2016

The annual production of milk for the United States during 2017 was 215 billion pounds, 1.4 percent above 2016. Revisions to 2016 production decreased the annual total 31 million pounds. Revised 2017 production was up 35 million pounds from last month's publication. Annual total milk production has increased 13.4 percent from 2008.
By State      '16 milk prod   -   '17 milk prod  - % change

                              mil lbs.                 mil lbs.

Nebraska ..:      1,399.0                 1,444.0                3.2      
Iowa .........:      5,034.0                 5,172.0                2.7    

Production per cow in the United States averaged 22,941 pounds for 2017, 163 pounds above 2016. The average annual rate of milk production per cow has increased 12.5 percent from 2008.
By State            '16 ave lbs/cow  -   '17 ave lbs/cow
Nebraska ..:            23,317                        24,067      
Iowa .........:            23,634                        23,725       

The average number of milk cows on farms in the United States during 2017 was 9.39 million head, up 0.7 percent from 2016. The average number of milk cows was unrevised for 2017. The average annual number of milk cows has increased 0.8 percent from 2008.
By State                 '16 Cows   -    '17 Cows
Nebraska :                60,000           60,000
Iowa .......:               213,000         218,000

USDA:  January Milk Production up 1.8 Percent

Milk production in the 23 major States during January totaled 17.3 billion pounds, up 1.8 percent from January 2017. December revised production, at 17.0 billion pounds, was up 1.1 percent from December 2016.  The December revision represented an increase of 4 million pounds or less than 0.1 percent from last month's preliminary production estimate.

Production per cow in the 23 major States averaged 1,979 pounds for January, 24 pounds above January 2017. 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 8.74 million head, 49,000 head more than January 2017, and 4,000 head more than December 2017.

Milk production in Iowa during January 2018 totaled 446 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 220,000 head, was unchanged from last month but 5,000 more than last year. Monthly production per cow averaged 2,025 pounds, up 25 pounds from last January.

Producers should take precautions to mitigate corn spoilage

Due to beneficial weather conditions that increased kernel fill last fall, producers need to take precautions to mitigate corn spoilage this spring.

Mild weather during the months of September and October not only produced higher yields, but also increased kernel fill. Kernels that are “filled out” and denser like those seen during last year’s harvest usually do not dry as easily, especially in higher temporal systems. The kernels will dry on the surface but when moisture equals out, they will be wetter than anticipated.

“There will probably be a 1-2 percent higher moisture content difference than anticipated,” said Charles Hurburgh, professor and grain quality and handling specialist with Iowa State University. “Although this is not a huge problem in the winter, when warmer weather arrives we will start to see problems such as wetter cores in storage bins and corn spoilage.”

To prevent spoilage, producers should begin by taking grain samples from the core of the grain bin. Not only will this clean trash and flush foreign material, but also will help identify the moisture content.

“Producers need to recognize when something will have to be done when weather warms up,” said Hurburgh. “If we have a few consecutive 50-degree days, the top of bins will get warm and spoilage can happen. Producers also need to be prepared to turn fans on or return grain to the dryer if necessary.”

For additional information on proper grain storage practices, the Iowa Grain Quality Initiative has developed free online learning modules to help educate and teach producers proper grain storage techniques. Module topics include dryeration, aeration and fan performance. Visit for more information about the Iowa Grain Quality Initiative and modules.

The mission of the Iowa Grain Quality Initiative (IGQI) is to create knowledge and provide information that will improve the efficiency of traditional commodity grain markets and assist emerging markets for user-specific grains. For more information, visit

Average Retail Fertilizer Prices Continue to Inch Higher

Average retail fertilizer prices continued to inch higher the second week of February 2018, according to retailers surveyed by DTN.

After several weeks of one fertilizer -- potash -- being slightly lower, prices for 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 $457 per ton, MAP $495/ton, potash $345/ton, urea $357/ton, 10-34-0 $415/ton, anhydrous $492/ton, UAN28 $230/ton and UAN32 $264/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 $0.41/lb.N and UAN32 $0.41/lb.N.

Four fertilizers are now higher compared to last year with prices pushing higher in recent months. Anhydrous is 1% higher, potash is 4% higher, DAP is 6% higher and MAP is 10% higher than last year.

The remaining four fertilizers are still lower in price compared to last year. Urea is 1% less expensive, while both UAN28 and UAN32 are 4% lower, and 10-34-0 is 6% less expensive than last year.

NCGA Statement on Senator Cruz's Remarks at Philadelphia Refinery Town Hall

The following is a statement from North Dakota farmer Kevin Skunes, president of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), in response to Senator Cruz's remarks during the Philadelphia refinery (PES) town hall.

“While most refiners are reporting double digit profit increases, Philadelphia Energy Solutions has filed for bankruptcy protection because its investors put their interests ahead of their workers’ interests. It’s disingenuous for Senator Cruz to claim he’s looking out for refinery workers, when he’s really looking out for Wall Street investors who made bad business decisions yet ensured they got their payout first, putting refinery jobs at risk.

“Senator Cruz is right about one thing – this is not about pitting corn farmers and refinery workers against each other. Corn famers see refinery owners and investors failing to take responsibility for their poor business decisions. The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) works for consumers, union workers, farmers and our environment. Whether it’s the EPA, financial analysts or university experts, all confirm refiners are not facing a RINs price impact because they recover any costs through the price they receive for their refined products. Senator Cruz is trying to upend the RFS to address a non-existent problem and bail out refiners who opted not to invest in blending infrastructure, so they could blend renewable fuels and get biofuels credits for free.

“Corn farmers’ definition of a “win-win” is providing regulatory parity for E15, and higher blends of ethanol, which would increase the supply of RINs to lower RIN values, and improve transparency in the trading system. The only plan Senator Cruz has is to block the confirmation of Bill Northey, a well-qualified and much-needed leader at the Department of Agriculture, in order to undercut the successful, and beneficial Renewable Fuel Standard. “

ACE statement on Cruz town hall at Philadelphia refinery

American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) CEO Brian Jennings released the following statement following Senator Ted Cruz’s town hall with employees from the refinery Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES), which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last month:

“Senator Cruz’s increasingly desperate publicity stunts do not change the fact that the problems facing Philadelphia Energy Solutions have nothing to do with the Renewable Fuel Standard and everything to do with mismanagement by the PES ownership group.  In recent days, it has been disclosed by current and former PES employees that the Carlyle Group, a private equity firm that owns two-thirds of PES, prioritized cash distributions to shareholders over small investments that would have enabled the refinery to comply with the RFS. It is shameful that Senator Cruz is calling on Uncle Sam to bailout PES for mismanagement blunders when most U.S. refiners have been complying with the law. The ethanol industry has been crystal clear with anyone willing to listen that the win-win Senator Cruz claims to seek is to grant RVP relief for E15 and higher blends. This would increase ethanol blending and the RIN supply, bring down RIN prices, and keep the RFS statute intact.”

NGFA seeks clarification on trucking regulatory exemptions for agriculture

The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) this week urged the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to clarify the agricultural commodity exception to its hours-of-service regulations for commercial truck drivers.

In its statement submitted in response to the FMCSA's request in the Dec. 20, 2017 edition of the Federal Register seeking input on the "Proposed Regulatory Guidance Concerning the Transportation of Agricultural Commodities," the NGFA urged FMCSA to clarify that grain elevators, feed and feed ingredient manufacturers, biofuels companies, grain and oilseed processors and millers, and livestock and poultry integrators are a source of agricultural commodities eligible for the exception.

"It is imperative that U.S. freight laws and regulations accomplish their goals without disadvantaging U.S. agriculture, given the highly competitive global marketplace that exists for agricultural products," the statement said. "Having access to a highly efficient freight transportation system and a pool of qualified drivers is critical for U.S. agriculture's competitiveness."

Specifically, NGFA said that the agricultural commodity exception should apply to all facility types within the agricultural supply chain to prevent additional financial harm.

In addition, for drivers operating under the agricultural commodity exception, NGFA recommended that FMCSA apply the hours-of-service regulations only to situations in which a driver operates beyond the 150-air mile radius. Under NGFA's recommendation, commercial truck drivers transporting agricultural commodities would not be required to maintain logs until exceeding the 150-air mile radius.

Finally, to prevent unnecessary regulatory burden and excessive costs, NGFA urged FMCSA to exempt from the electronic logging device (ELD) requirement drivers who predominantly transport agricultural commodities.

"Most NGFA members operate under the agricultural commodity exception and, therefore, are exempt from hours-of-service requirements for all or most of the year depending upon their state's definition for planting and harvesting seasons," said the NGFA statement, which also noted that requiring ELDs to be purchased for use during the non-planting and harvest seasons when demand for truck transportation has eased is nonsensical and inconsistent with President Trump's executive order to reduce regulatory burdens.

"NGFA looks forward to working with DOT and FMCSA on additional solutions to address the needs of our industry while continuing to protect the safety of the nation's highways," the statement concluded.

ASA Congratulates the 2018 Regional Winners of the Conservation Legacy Awards

The American Soybean Association (ASA) congratulates the regional winners of the 2018 Conservation Legacy Awards.
-    Mark Schleisman, Lake City, Iowa (Midwest Region)
-    David and Linda Burrier, Union Bridge, Md. (Northeast Region)
-    Grant Norwood, Mansfield, Tenn. (South Region)

Each winner will be recognized at the ASA Awards Banquet on Feb. 28, 2018, at Commodity Classic in Anaheim, Calif. During the banquet, one of the farmers will be chosen as the national winner.

The Conservation Legacy Awards is a national program designed to recognize the outstanding environmental and conservation achievement of soybean farmers, which helps produce more sustainable U.S. soybeans.

A national selection committee, composed of soybean farmers, conservationists, agronomists and natural resource professionals, evaluated nominations based on each farmer’s environmental and economic program. The achievements of these farmers serve as a positive example for other farmers and help produce a more sustainable U.S. soybean crop. This program is sponsored by ASA, BASF, Monsanto, Corn & Soybean Digest, the United Soybean Board/Soybean Checkoff and Valent.

Mark Schleisman heads up M&M Farms, a diverse family operation in Calhoun County, Iowa. M&M Farms grows 4,500 acres of crops, including 2,000 acres of popcorn; manages 360 cow-calf pairs; and finish approximately 30,000 head of pigs.

While M&M Farms is located in an area where agriculture can flourish very well, it is also under a significant amount of scrutiny from an environmental standpoint. Calhoun County was one of three counties targeted by the Des Moines Water Works (later dismissed) against county drainage districts for discharging high levels of nitrates. Des Moines uses the Raccoon River as a primary water source.

The Schleisman farm is in the Elk Run watershed, a tributary to the Raccoon River and a source of concern about nitrate. As part of a demonstration project directed by the Iowa Soybean Association in cooperation with a number of partner organizations, Mark installed a couple of edge-of-field practices designed to significantly cut nitrate contribution to the Raccoon River.

One of these practices is a saturated buffer. It stores water under field buffers by diverting tile water into shallow laterals that raise the water table within the buffer, thus slowing outflow. The other edge-of-field treatment process is a bioreactor. It consists of a buried pit filled with a carbon source (wood chips) through which tile water is diverted. The carbon provides a food source for microorganisms; they use nitrate to metabolize the carbon, converting the nitrate to harmless atmospheric nitrogen gas.

“I have seen nitrate levels entering the bioreactor running 15 to 22 parts per million,” Mark said. “It is exiting the bioreactor at less than one part per million.” He has shared that story with many farm audiences, and has been featured in many interviews conducted for urban audiences as well.

Dave and Linda Burrier also know what it is like to live in a highly scrutinized farming area, particularly when it comes to protecting water quality. Their farm in Union Bridge, Md., is within 50 miles of the Chesapeake Bay and situated against the backdrop of the Appalachian Mountains. The farm is in a valley served by two well-traveled roads.

“We feel we are in a fishbowl,” Linda Burrier said. “We are always very conscious of what people can see. We try to keep our farm looking picturesque and our landlords expect us to care for their land in the same way.”

Regulators have pointed to agriculture as the largest source of pollution in the Chesapeake Bay, and in 2010, established Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) regulations as a way to restore and protect the Chesapeake Bay and all the rivers and streams that feed into it. The Bay TMDL, set by the EPA under the Clean Water Act, set targets for reduced nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment pollution.

One way the Burriers demonstrate their conservation commitment is through the use of strip cropping. Their crops are grown in long narrow strips and the farm’s 1,800 acres support a diverse mix of crops, including corn, soybeans, wheat, alfalfa, hay, and grass hay. “All our fields have a certain amount of slope,” David Burrier explained. “Alternating crops in these strips allows us to control soil erosion, control sediment loss and retain nutrients.”

In non-crop areas, the Burriers have installed and maintain grass waterways and buffers to reduce runoff. The TDML regulation has required them to have a nutrient management plan, which has greatly increased their record-keeping. Operating under TMDL regulations, the Burriers look for ways to efficiently provide crop nutrients to maximize production while minimizing potential nutrient losses.

Grant Norwood, a fifth generation farmer, grows 3,000 acres of crops in Henry County, Tenn. Going the extra mile for conservation has been the family’s approach to farming all the way back to the late 1800s, when Grant’s great, great-grandfather began farming from his log cabin in the Pleasant Hill community near Mansfield.

At Norwood Farms, they also implement a variety of conservation practices including cover crops, establishment of pollinator and wildlife habitats, installation of water and sediment control basins, and they are 100 percent no-till.

Norwood Farms’ efforts to be efficient and environmentally friendly even extend to their grain storage site, which uses three-phase electricity. The facility also uses a grain management system (Intelliair Bin Manager), which monitors temperature and moisture in the bins when grain is present.
“It maximizes the cooling and drying of the grain, reducing the energy because fans are only used when conditions are optimum to do the job,” Grant said.

“Our family’s focus on sustainability from one generation to the next is how we have been able to continue to farm the same land for five generations,” Grant added. He further explained that it may take some time to see the benefits of certain conservation practices, but they will pay back over time. “You have to have a long-term mindset, but the economic benefits will carry over to benefit future generations,” he said.

New Virtual Reality Video Tells Soil Health Story from ‘Every Angle’

As interest grows in soil health and its potential to optimize farming, the Soil Health Partnership has developed a new tool to immerse the inquisitive. Partnering with StoryUP, the nonprofit ag group has produced a “virtual reality” video that will allow viewers to visit a farm enrolled in SHP and experience a Virtual Field Day.

“One of our most powerful assets is our enrolled farmers sharing their stories and knowledge with others,” said NCGA Vice President of Production and Sustainability, Nick Goeser. “This video format allows viewers to transport themselves to a farm and learn from the farmer as if they are standing right there with him at a field day. We are all about innovation, and that spirit extends to our communications program.”

Virtual reality is 360-degree, 3D video or computer-generated environments viewed with special goggles where the user can see in all directions.

After giving some attendees of the Soil Health Summit a preview in January, the SHP officially launches the video, called “New Frontier in Agriculture,” at the Commodity Classic conference and tradeshow, Feb. 27 – March 1 in Anaheim, Calif. Attendees can stop by the SHP booth (#2739) to experience the video on a headset, and enter into a drawing for a prize.

The 4-minute experience, viewed in a Samsung GearVR headset, places the user in close proximity to farmers and SHP staff on Tim Smith’s farm in Eagle Grove, Iowa.

Smith, enrolled with SHP since 2014, demonstrates how he sets up strip-till equipment (a less intensive form of tillage), discusses why soil health matters to him and explains the benefits he’s experienced.

“The most obvious benefits to using cover crops, strip-till or no-till on my farm are lack of erosion…and less ephemeral gullies in my fields,” Smith says in the video. “When we get heavy rainfalls I’m not so concerned about washouts.”

The SHP will have a professional goggle at Commodity Classic for viewing, but the video is available to watch with any VR headset, including cardboard versions handed out at the SHP booth. To watch it in a headset:
-    Download the YouTube app for iPhone or Android
-    Play the video (on the SHP YouTube Channel)
-    Turn phone horizontal
-    Click the Google Cardboard icon on the lower right side of the screen
-    Phone will split into two screens
-    Place horizontal phone in a VR headset

For regular viewing, the video is available on the SHP YouTube Channel, where it is best viewed in the Google Chrome browser, which provides arrows allowing the user to turn the viewpoint.

An initiative of the National Corn Growers Association, the Soil Health Partnership is a data-driven program working to quantify the benefits of practices that support soil health from an economic as well as environmental standpoint.

Commodity Classic Partners with Feeding America for Second Year

For the second year, Commodity Classic has selected Feeding America as its charity partner, providing farmers with an opportunity to help Set the Table™ for a hunger-free America.  Commodity Classic, the nation’s largest farmer-led, farmer-focused convention and trade show, will be held February 27-March 1 in Anaheim, Calif.  Attendees as well as agricultural advocates across the nation are encouraged to donate to Feeding America during the event.

Feeding America works with U.S. food banks to distribute food to more than 60,000 food pantries. Secure donations can be made by visiting and clicking on the Feeding America logo on the home page.  Donations can also be made through the free 2018 Commodity Classic mobile app, which can be downloaded using iTunes or GooglePlay app stores.

Donations will be accepted until 5:00 p.m. Central/3:00 p.m. Pacific on Thursday, March 1.  You don’t have to attend Commodity Classic to contribute to the Feeding America initiative.

“America’s family farmers produce grains and oilseeds that help provide an abundant and reliable food supply for our nation and the world,” said Gerry Hayden, a Kentucky farmer and co-chair of the 2018 Commodity Classic.  “By partnering with Feeding America, we’re also showing that farmers are willing to go the extra mile to help end hunger here at home.”

Access to Rare Pigs Could be Effective Way to Diabetes Treatment

A unique breed of pig equipped with a heart that mimics a human's heart and has a special genetic mutation could provide researchers and scientists the key to a cure for diabetes and related complications.

CorVus Biomedical LLC, a Purdue University- and Indiana University-related startup, aims to breed and sell Ossabaw miniature pigs to researchers around the country. The company was co-founded by Michael Sturek, professor and department chair of the IU School of Medicine Department of Cellular and Integrative Physiology and professor in Purdue's Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering. Mouhamad Alloosh, an associate research professor, and James Byrd, a research technician, both in the IU School of Medicine's Department of Cellular and Integrative Physiology, are company co-founders.

In 2002 Sturek and a team of researchers acquired 26 feral Ossabaw miniature pigs from Ossabaw Island, one of the Sea Islands in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Georgia. The pigs have a natural propensity for obesity and developing pre-diabetes, which make them ideal for research purposes, Sturek said.

"Ossabaw pigs naturally developed the propensity to obesity and pre-diabetes as a survival mechanism to cope with periods of starvation on Ossabaw Island," he said. "The pigs' form of pre-diabetes could reverse itself when the animals stopped gorging and started living lean again. We thought this genetic mutation and coping mechanism, and the pigs' heart, which mimics a human's fantastically, could provide the key to a cure for diabetes and the terrible long-term complications like heart disease, in humans."

About 30 million people in the United States, or more than 9 percent of the total population, have diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Additionally, more than 84 million Americans have pre-diabetes and approximately 30 percent of them will develop type 2 diabetes.

"In humans a few long-term complications that can occur from diabetes include blindness, heart disease, obesity, fatty liver and polycystic ovary syndrome. These pigs provide the opportunity to test different drugs and devices, and even new types of bariatric surgery, more relevant to humans," Sturek said. "Ossabaws really are one of the most vital research specimens in the world to translate cures from basic lab research to humans."

Sturek said other animals don't provide the same research benefits.

"The Ossabaw pigs as we found them had never been touched by civilization, so they are at their purest pedigree. Other animals studied in biomedical research include mice; however, mice are so far removed from humanlike features that it's hard to gauge effectiveness of a treatment in humans," he said. "Ossabaw pigs can gain four times as much fat on the same calories than a normal farm pig. Normal farm pigs don't have the ability to gain as much fat as Ossabaws or even develop diabetes. The miniature Ossabaws are much preferred for research because of their efficiencies of scale."

CorVus Biomedical has contracts to sell the pigs to scientists in the next several weeks after the CorVus facility construction is completed.

"Right now we are the largest research and breeding colony of the Ossabaw pig in the world and we will expand further with our new facility," Sturek said. "It's important for us as a company to be able to produce these animals at a reasonable cost, and aim to operate more cost-effectively and provide more widespread access to these pigs for the future of research and medicine for diabetes."

CorVus has licensed its innovation through the Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization and the Indiana University Research and Technology Corp.

"During the research phase at Purdue and IU, independent of the company, we sold the pigs to over 140 research institutions. We know scientists recognize the value and benefit of the Ossabaws," Sturek said. "We are the only company that is big enough to produce enough pigs so that scientists can have that access. We are excited to get our production site up and running, selling the pigs to researchers to study at their own sites."

Ossabaw swine resources at Purdue and IU have also been supported by the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute.

Syngenta empowers ag students to be the future

Syngenta invites eligible university students to apply to its annual Syngenta Agricultural Scholarship program. Applicants are asked to share how they became #RootedinAg and how they will benefit today’s and tomorrow’s world as future leaders.

“We are excited to continue the Syngenta Agricultural Scholarship program this year and look forward to hearing how each student’s passion for ag took root,” said Vern Hawkins, Regional Director CP NA. “Because these young men and women are the branches that will grow to shape our industry’s future, we are confident they will strive to reach new heights.”

University students currently pursuing bachelor’s or master’s degrees in crop-related disciplines are eligible to compete for $20,000 in scholarship awards. Applicants must be U.S. residents enrolled as of spring 2018 in an accredited agriculture program at an eligible university.

“The number of strong submissions we receive each year proves that there is a young, vibrant group of students who are ready to energize the future growth of our industry,” said Mary Streett DeMers, senior communications lead, Syngenta. “This year will usher in a new class of students with innovative ideas and the ambition needed to bring their ideas to life.”

The 2017 winners were two young women who share a passion for the industry and its future success. Bachelor’s level winner Abigail Han shared in her essay how helping out on a farm was all it took for her love of agriculture to take root and spark her interest in pursuing an agricultural degree. Aimee Uyehara, 2017 master’s level national winner, believes “mutual respect, curiosity and the enjoyment of diversity” have contributed to her success as a student and will continue to guide her growth as a future leader.

Syngenta will award scholarships to a bachelor’s and master’s level national winner, selected from a pool of 4 regional winners in each category. Scholarship recipients will be announced in the fall.

For additional information about the scholarship, including official rules, prize amounts, essay topic, eligible universities and application guidelines, please visit

Eco Agro and Eco Agro International Introduce Nitrogen Conservation Input System

Eco Agro and Eco Agro International LLC proudly introduce the Nitrogen Conservation Input System (NCIS) for use into the Urea Production Process.

This exciting breakthrough technology is patent pending and based on research developed during the process of acquiring multiple individual patents. NCIS Technology allows for introduction of proven Nitrogen Efficiency additives into Urea production.

"Our latest innovation, "Nitrogen Conservation Input Systems" (NCIS), enables Enhanced Efficiency Fertilizers (EEFs) to be affordable and effective at a lower cost for today's grower. We see NCIS as being a tool that overcomes a significant hurdle toward increased utilization of EEF's worldwide in efforts to improve crop production and yields." said David McKnight, whose team headed the development of NCIS.

In development and testing for over two years, NCIS introduces chemical synergies that allow Nitrogen Efficiency Additives to optimize the conditions for Enhanced Urea Production and performance. Test results have been on-going for over a year and have been very positive.

"By no means is the end of the development in the Urea Production area, there will be next generations of this technology," said Ray Perkins President of Eco Agro. "The options in these innovative discoveries are significant and the delivery system and molecular synergies created can be modified and taken down stream and applied onto Urea also," said Perkins.

Andrew Semple of EAI stated, "These proven Enhanced Efficiency Technologies coupled with an unparalleled low costs of treatment are a major leap toward mass adoption." Semple added "but there are more innovations on the horizon that are game changing and equally as exciting."

Tuesday February 20 Ag News

Planning for the Calving Season
Larry Howard, NE Extension Educator, Cuming County

For some producers the calving season is here, while for others, the start of the calving season is still a few months away. Here are some practices that need to be considered when preparing for the calving season.

Make sure to pay attention to nutrition needs of bred heifers or cows prior to calving. Adequate body condition at the time of calving for young females and mature cows is important as it impacts stamina during delivery of the calf, colostrum quality, calf vigor, and also impacts subsequent rebreeding. Adequate nutrition during the last trimester of pregnancy and especially the last 50-60 days prior to calving is important. Two-year-old heifers and three-year-old cows are vulnerable during this time period. These young females are still growing themselves while growing a calf inside them. As this calf grows and takes up room, rumen capacity is impacted and the amount of feed the young female can eat is reduced. The impact of this condition can be compounded when this time period prior to calving coincides with cold weather and available forage that is low in energy and protein. Body condition can deteriorate rapidly under these conditions.

Be sure to review your herd health plan with your veterinarian.  Address possible management options to reduce the health problems that have historically been an issue.

Examine calving facilities making sure they are in good working order. Inspect gates, pens, alleys and head catches, fixing or replacing broken items. Good lighting is an important part of a calving facility.  Plan to provide wind protection along with a clean, dry environment. Wet, muddy conditions are stressful both to cows and calves.

Check all your calving supplies. Make sure you have on hand plastic sleeves, obstetrical lube, obstetrical chains or straps, esophageal feeders, calf feeding bottles, calf puller and any other equipment that you will need. Test flashlights or spotlights to make sure they are working as well.  Have colostrum or colostrum replacement products on hand. The calf’s ability for absorption of immunoglobulin across the intestine decreases rapidly 6-12 hours after birth. Therefore it is critical that the calf receive colostrum during this time. It is a good practice to immediately milk out a heifer or cow when she is assisted at calving and provide this colostrum to the calf.  If quality or quantity of the colostrum is a concern, other sources of colostrum or colostrum replacement products should be used. Use caution when bringing outside sources of colostrum into the herd as disease transfer can occur. The best source of colostrum is from within your own herd. Colostrum replacement products can be a good option to utilize when calves are not vigorous at birth, after a prolonged calving event, cold stress or where there is poor maternal bonding. Visit with your veterinarian about which colostrum replacement products are best for your operation.

Have a plan and equipment for warming calves if calving during cold weather. Calves born during cold, wet conditions can quickly succumb to hypothermia. Have facilities, tools and supplies on hand to deal with this type of event. For mild hypothermia, (body temperature between 94 and 100°F) giving a calf warm, body temperature colostrum or colostrum replacement products along with drying the calf off with towels and warm air can quickly bring a calf’s temperature back to normal. For extreme hypothermia a combination of warm colostrum with a warm bath can be used. Calves should be dry, alert and have a normal body temperature before being returned to their mother.

There are several good Extension resources available to producers related to calving. “Assisting the Beef Cow at Calving Time” from Nebraska Extension is a good resource.

2017 Outstanding Pork Service Award Winners Announced

Russ Vering, President of the Nebraska Pork Producers Association recognized the 2017 Outstanding Pork Service Award winners at a ceremony held in conjunction with NPPA’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 2017 winners by NPPA President Vering.

Mark Stephens of Bob Stephens and Associates was recognized with the Outstanding Pork Service Award for Promotions for his more than 30 years of guiding the Association’s promotional needs. His passion for pigs, the people who raise them made his willingness to volunteer, teach and share his knowledge is why Troy McCain of Aurora was named as the recipient of the 2017 Outstanding Pork Service Award for Producer Outreach. As the local food movement continues to grow, it’s giving new farmers like Travis Dunekacke, a niche marketer the opportunity to raise specialty pork for local chefs while educating consumers about where their food comes from. Travis’s engagement in niche production makes him a notable recipient of the 2017 Outstanding Pork Service Awards for Industry Outreach. QC Supply, headquartered in Schuyler has been a strong supporter of the Nebraska Pork Producers Association and has been a valued partner since 2004. Recognizing their longevity, QC Supply was named as Outstanding Pork Service Award for Allied Members.  

Promoting Livestock For Future Growth

U.S. Senator Deb Fischer

Raising livestock has always been a part of life in Nebraska. Our ranchers have made beef Nebraska’s largest industry. In 2017, we exported $1.26 billion worth of beef, making Nebraska the largest beef exporting state in the country for two years in a row. We have topped a billion dollars in beef exports for four years running.

Our state is the national leader in all areas of beef production, from cow/calf to cattle on feed to processing, but beef isn't the only area where Nebraska ranchers, and farmers, have found success. In 2017 Nebraska's pork production totaled $479 million, making us the fifth largest exporter. Together, Nebraskans increased their total beef exports by 12 percent and pork exports by 20 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

While impressive, Nebraskans are eager to build on this success. Organizations such as the Nebraska Farm Bureau, the Department of Agriculture, and the Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska have dedicated time and manpower to promote livestock production. This has included offering workshops and classes that help farmers investigate ways to expand into livestock production, as well as offering assistance with finance, permitting, fertilizer requirements, and water well placement.

Local and state leaders have done a great job helping our state expand its livestock production. I'm ready to work with them to help further the success of Nebraska ranchers. I am a strong voice for Nebraska on the Senate Agriculture Committee and excited to announce that I will be serving as the Chairman of the Livestock Subcommittee.

The Livestock subcommittee oversees a number of programs and policies relevant to our state's livestock industry. This includes foreign trade and market development, domestic marketing programs, international commodity agreements and export controls, and livestock inspection and certification of meat.

I have firsthand knowledge about the importance of livestock to our state's economy. I have been a Nebraska cattle rancher for over 40 years and worked with agriculture producers and rural and economic development groups all across our state. One of my first pieces of legislation in the Nebraska Legislature was to protect private information shared by livestock producers. I look forward to doing the same kind of work on the Senate Ag Committee.

In this vein, I've already begun drafting policy that will help our farmers and ranchers. I recently led a bipartisan group of senators to introduce the Fair Agricultural Reporting Method (FARM) Act. This bill would protect farmers, ranchers, and livestock markets from burdensome EPA reporting requirements for animal waste emissions. The Farm Act gives an exemption for animal waste emissions at a farm from CERCLA reporting requirements. These requirements were never intended to affect animal agriculture. They were meant to address dangerous industrial pollution, chemical plant explosions, and the release of hazardous materials into the environment.

Nebraska agriculture producers should be able to concentrate on doing their job of feeding the world without being burdened by unnecessary red tape. Working together with Nebraskans, I am committed to promoting policies that will allow our ag producers to build on recent success. As a member of the Senate Ag Committee and chairman of the Livestock subcommittee, I'll be focusing on doing what's best for our livestock producers.

Track Record of Support for Agriculture, Fischer Receives Nebraska Farm Bureau “Friend of Agriculture” Designation

U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer has been designated a “Friend of Agriculture” by NFBF-PAC, Nebraska Farm Bureau’s political action committee. Fischer, who is seeking re-election to the U.S. Senate, received the designation based on her strong track record of supporting Nebraska’s farm and ranch families, according to Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson.

“Time and again Sen. Fischer has gone to bat for Nebraska’s farm and ranch families, whether it’s involved working legislation in the Senate, or working directly with the administration. We are pleased to once again provide our support and backing to Sen. Fischer as she seeks re-election,” said Nelson.

Fischer’s list of actions supporting agriculture is extensive with many of them involving Nebraska Farm Bureau’s highest policy priorities. Farm Bureau pointed to several in announcing Fischer as a “Friend of Agriculture” including:

    Fischer’s introduction of legislation to address misguided regulations on anhydrous ammonia retail facilities that would have left farmers to pay thousands of dollars in increased fertilizer costs with no real benefit to public safety.

    Fischer’s efforts to force the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to withdraw or vacate the “Waters of the U.S.” rule, a far-reaching regulation that would have infringed on the property rights and management of private land.

    Fischer’s work on the “FUELS Act”, legislation to exempt the vast majority of Nebraska’s farms and ranches from having to comply with the EPA’s Spill Prevention Containment and Control (SPCC) regulations originally designed to address spills from large scale fuel storage facilities, such as oil refineries.

    Fischer’s introduction of the Fair Agricultural Reporting Method Act (FARM Act) to exempt farms and ranches from reporting routine air emissions from farm animals and their manure; regulations intended to address emissions of hazardous wastes from Superfund sites.

    Fischer’s ongoing support for trade deals to expand markets for Nebraska agricultural products.

    Fischer’s support for repealing Obamacare, which has resulted in skyrocketing health care costs for farm and ranch families.

    Fischer’s efforts to drive sound transportation and infrastructure policy by helping secure the first long-term highway bill in over a decade, while also working to expand broadband internet access for greater Nebraska.

    Fischer’s efforts to help deliver federal tax reform to lower tax rates, double the estate tax exemption, and other provisions that allow farm and ranch families to retain their hard-earned dollars for reinvestment in their operations.

    Fischer’s recent appointment to the Senate Agriculture Committee allowing her to bring a Nebraska perspective to the development of the next Farm Bill.

    Fischer’s ongoing effort to fix federal trucking regulations that fail to meet the unique needs of transporting livestock animals and create challenges for livestock haulers.

    Fischer’s work to support agriculture friendly appointments in the Trump administration, including support for Sonny Perdue as Secretary of Agriculture and Scott Pruitt as administrator of the EPA.

“With fewer and fewer people engaged in the day-to-day production of food, fuel, and fiber, it is critical to have candidates who understand the needs of production agriculture and its role in our overall national security. As a rancher, Sen. Fischer understands those needs well and provides a critical voice for our interests in Washington D.C.,” said Nelson.

Farm Bureau Statement on AG Act Workforce Legislation

The American Farm Bureau Federation is calling on all members of Congress to support House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte in his goal of including the AG Act in the Securing America’s Future Act.

“We are at a crisis point in agriculture,” American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall said.  “Chairman Bob Goodlatte wants to address our problem and has included the AG Act in pending legislation related to the DACA issue. Chairman Goodlatte’s AG Act would establish a new H-2C agriculture worker program that is far superior to the existing H-2A program. The new H-2C program offers a much brighter future for agriculture.  For farmers in sectors like dairy, mushrooms and others, who are excluded from H-2A and have nowhere else to turn, the H-2C program offers a path forward in meeting their future labor needs.

“At the same time, we are continuing to work with Chairman Goodlatte and other members of Congress to provide greater assurances on how the AG Act would affect our existing workforce.  Farmers today rely on these workers. They sustain our farms. They are part of the fabric of many rural economies. Farm Bureau policy supports providing these workers the opportunity to earn permanent legal status. That is our goal and we will do everything we can to achieve it.

“We applaud Chairman Goodlatte’s leadership and support him in his effort to include a solution for agriculture’s labor issue in the Securing America’s Future Act.”

Zoetis Develops First Holstein Reference Genome

Zoetis has developed the first complete Holstein de novo reference genome, giving geneticists the ability to map regions of the genome influencing a range of health and disease outcomes. This significant development will promote advancement of the dairy industry through healthier, more productive animals.

The genome was completed with several new technologies and three sequencing platforms to order the Holstein genome as accurately as possible. With this level of accuracy, scientists can more easily identify genes that advance herd health and productivity and, alternatively, those genes that impede the dairy industry’s progression.

“Sequencing a genome is the most important step toward fully understanding it,” said Sue DeNise, PhD, executive director, Zoetis Animal Genetics Global Research and Development. “In the future, discoveries made from the new Holstein reference genome will allow us to identify new targets for disease resistance and utilize natural selection processes to improve health and welfare of cattle,” DeNise said. “It’s like going from analog TV to high-definition TV. We’ll have even better insight into which genes reside to help animals resist and withstand diseases, such as pneumonia and mastitis.”

Until now, the dairy industry looked to the first reference genome assembled for cattle in 2009, which was derived from a beef cow named L1 Dominette 01449, a Hereford born in Montana. While Dominette’s genome assembly piloted the cattle genomics era, a single reference genome was not enough to demonstrate the full genetic differentiation of a species. Genetic makeup fundamentally differs from breed to breed due to genetic drift and selection due to  breed divergence. Comparing a Hereford genetically with other breeds of cattle — such as Holsteins — was only the beginning.

Genome sequencing is often compared to decoding a software program. The process determines the order of DNA bases in a specific genome — the order of A’s, C’s, G’s and T’s that together make up an organism’s DNA. Cattle have 30 pairs of chromosomes and about three billion bases to put into order. To facilitate a highly accurate sequence, a single Holstein bull was utilized from straws of semen available commercially. These samples from a single animal contain the entire DNA blueprint for an animal, providing unique insights into the Holstein breed.

“By generating a complete Holstein reference genome, we can better understand the genetic basis of dairy cattle phenotypes,” said Mike Layfield, senior director, strategic marketing, Global Genetics at Zoetis. “Promoting the health and wellness of dairy cattle has long been a key aspect of the Zoetis portfolio. This development is a strong testament to the innovative spirit and industry dedication of those in Zoetis’ genetics business.”

This development comes at a time when dairy producers are focused on raising healthy cows to help maximize their productivity while improving efficiencies and sustainability. This new development could help optimize their investment in raising the right cattle for their operation. Producers can improve Dairy Wellness through genomic testing tools such as Clarifide® Plus, which offers producers detailed predictions for wellness traits and reliable assessments of genetic risk factors for diseases in Holstein cattle — including the two most costly diseases in dairy cattle, mastitis and lameness.

Zoetis has a substantial portfolio devoted to the health and wellness of dairy cattle. This new genome sequence helps further Zoetis’ innovative products and services that are supported by industry-leading expertise and research, providing dairy producers the reliable, dependable information needed to achieve operational and herd goals. Learn more about the Zoetis commitment to the continuum of care of dairy cattle by visiting Dairy Wellness and

 Increased investment in Golden Harvest® seeds results in more robust portfolio for farmers

Deeply rooted in genetics, agronomy and service, Golden Harvest® seeds will be a major benefactor of Syngenta's incremental $400 million investment over the next five years. The investment will strengthen the diverse Golden Harvest product portfolio, enhance service offerings and further demonstrate its commitment to farmers. This funding is in addition to the $1.3 billion the company already invests in research and development (R&D) annually.

“With the mega-merger industry consolidations happening and market prices where they are today, it’s more important than ever to provide farmers with differentiated hybrids and varieties, as well as exceptional service,” said David Hollinrake, President, Syngenta Seeds, LLC and North America Region Director. “Golden Harvest is committed to equipping farmers with customized seed options and the local agronomic knowledge they need to address the unique requirements of every field.”

Strengthening the portfolio

Built on a legacy of reliable performance against in-field challenges, Golden Harvest is expanding its strong seed portfolio to help farmers get the most yield out of every field. Golden Harvest will double its seed breeding staff, increase trial testing by one-third and increase new corn chassis by 58 percent, giving farmers an even more differentiated portfolio of hybrids and varieties to choose from.

“Golden Harvest corn and soybeans feature the latest genetics to boost performance in varying soil types, weather conditions and pest pressures,” said Hollinrake. “Starting with genetics and traits, the additional investment will provide farmers with more choice and more yield, in the Golden Harvest brand they can count on.”

The genetic potential of Golden Harvest corn is protected with the latest Agrisure® traits technology. Agrisure Viptera® is the only trait available today that effectively controls western bean cutworm, which is one of the most destructive pests to corn. No other trait in the industry provides better or more comprehensive above-ground insect control. And for farmers seeking to manage corn rootworm, the Agrisure Duracade® trait offers the latest control technology on the market. Farmers seeking ultimate insect control, simplicity and choice should consider planting Agrisure Duracade 5222 E-Z Refuge®, the most advanced trait stack on the market. Agrisure Duracade 5222 E-Z Refuge combines the Agrisure Duracade and Agrisure Viptera traits to offer premium, broad-spectrum control of 16 yield-limiting pests, with the convenience and simplicity of a 5% in-bag E-Z Refuge.

The Golden Harvest portfolio includes Enogen® corn hybrids in select geographies, which feature an in-seed innovation benefiting farmers marketing grain to ethanol plants and those producing grain or silage for livestock feed. A recent expansion of the Enogen footprint resulted in two new agreements with ethanol plants, bringing product marketability to 31 plants. This game-changing technology supports rural communities by keeping enzyme dollars local and helps make ethanol even more sustainable.
Increased field support

A deep commitment to genetics, agronomy and service is at the root of Golden Harvest. The additional investment will also boost field support, putting more boots on the ground to help farmers manage their crops throughout the entire growing cycle.

“Golden Harvest is in the process of hiring more agronomists, who will work alongside farmers to make sure the right genetics are placed on every acre,” said Bruce Battles, head of agronomy, seeds. “Considering today’s tough commodity market for corn and soybeans, it’s even more important to help the hardworking American farmer get as much return on investment as possible.”

Local, independent Golden Harvest Seed Advisors, who offer farmers the combination of advanced genetics, along with tailored agronomic knowledge, will also benefit from enhanced support.

“With expanded training and local data delivered in real-time, our Golden Harvest Seed Advisors will provide farmers with even more personalized field recommendations,” said Battles. “This will lead to a greater understanding of how seed genetics, soil types and farm management practices work in their environment.”

Syngenta identifies key approach to protect yields from resistant giant ragweed

As corn and soybean growers continue the fight against weed resistance, Syngenta provides key insight into how to manage giant ragweed, a large-seeded broadleaf weed that truly lives up to its name.

Giant ragweed can reach up to 20 feet high, pilfering water, nutrients and sunlight from surrounding corn and soybean plants as it grows. Like other large-seeded broadleaf weeds, it is hard to manage as its seeds germinate deep within the soil profile, shielded from herbicide applications. According to Purdue University, giant ragweed can produce more than 5,000 seeds per plant and is often 1 to 5 feet taller than the crop with which it is competing.

Many growers fight to manage giant ragweed in their fields as it has shown resistance to multiple modes of action (MOAs). The Take Action Organization reports giant ragweed resistance to ALS inhibitors first occurred in Indiana, Illinois, Ohio and Iowa in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Furthermore, glyphosate-resistant giant ragweed was first confirmed in the Eastern Soybean Belt and has now been confirmed in 11 states across the Midwest and Southern U.S.

“Giant ragweed is the worst broadleaf weed problem in all of our corn/soybean cropping systems in Indiana,” said Bill Johnson, professor of weed science at Purdue University. “The fact that it can emerge from soil depths up to 5 inches and that glyphosate (Group 9) and ALS (Group 2) resistance in this weed is common makes control very challenging with our current herbicide arsenal.”

According to Joe Wuerffel, Ph.D., research and development scientist at Syngenta, giant ragweed historically has been one of the first weeds to emerge out of the ground and germinate in early March for 30 to 40 days. “But recently, this difficult-to-control weed has extended its germination period to 60 to 90 days in the growing season, resulting in the need for residual herbicides and multiple MOAs,” said Wuerffel.

Growers must account for early-emerging weeds, like giant ragweed and lambsquarters, and late-emerging weeds, like waterhemp and Palmer amaranth. To protect yields and manage resistant giant ragweed season-long, Dane Bowers, herbicide technical product lead at Syngenta, recommends the following practices:
·        Start clean: Know if giant ragweed is present in the spring, then apply an effective burndown herbicide, or use tillage, to set up a clean field for planting. When growers use tillage to prepare the seedbed, make sure that equipment is set to ensure that emerged weeds are removed and not just injured.
·        Don’t wait: Make timely, full-rate applications before weeds are 3 to 4 inches tall.
·        Use residuals: Apply multiple, effective MOAs with residual activity on giant ragweed.
·        Monitor season-long: A second post-emergence application may be required.

“In this area, we see a lot of giant ragweed,” said Matt Rausch, a grower in Winamac, Indiana. “We’ve had problems where weeds have gotten out of hand late in the season, and after they harden off, they become very hard to kill. It is better to get them under control when they are small, at the beginning of the season.”

For early-season giant ragweed management, growers can apply Acuron® or Acuron Flexi corn herbicides from Syngenta. Acuron has four active ingredients and three effective MOAs, while Acuron Flexi has three active ingredients and two effective MOAs. Both herbicides contain the active ingredient bicyclopyrone, which provides improved control of large-seeded broadleaf weeds like giant ragweed.

For soybeans, a pre-emergence herbicide applied prior to the weed emerging is recommended. A post-emergence application of Flexstar® GT 3.5 herbicide, which delivers two different MOAs, can help control glyphosate- and ALS-resistant giant ragweed.

Decades of research and development have put Syngenta at the forefront of introducing herbicides with multiple, effective MOAs and extended residual control to help fight resistance. The Syngenta Resistance Fighter® program provides education, local recommendations, and a comprehensive herbicide portfolio to help growers and retailers effectively manage resistant weeds in their area.

Monday February 19 Ag News

Changes to National Cattle Evaluation Benefits Bull Buyers in 2018
Matt Spangler – UNL Associate Professor and Beef Genetics Extension Specialist

The majority of beef breed associations have made (or are currently making) substantial changes to their National Cattle Evaluation (NCE). These changes ultimately benefit commercial bull buyers by providing improved Expected Progeny Differences (EPDs) and improved economic selection indices. This brief article is not meant to be an exhaustive list of the changes to NCE by breed organization, but rather to highlight changes in general and the benefits these changes created.

In mid-2017, the American Angus Association (AAA) made a substantial change to the way in which genomic information is incorporated into EPDs. This change in methodology, known as a ‘single-step’ approach, uses genomic data to augment traditional pedigree using software developed by the University of Georgia. This allows for a more refined estimate of the relationship between animals, and thus more reliable EPD. Although this may have been one of the more widely advertised changes, other changes occurred as well including updates to genetic parameter (e.g., heritability) estimates and changes to the underlying statistical models to estimate EPDs.

The American Hereford Association (AHA) released its own ‘single-step’ evaluation in December of 2017. The software used by the AHA (BOLT; Theta Solutions, LLC) allows for some DNA markers to have larger effects, and thus, influence resulting EPD more than others. This is the primary difference between the approach taken by the AHA as compared to AAA in terms of incorporating genomic information in their NCE. A notable and simultaneous change to the AHA evaluation was an updating of their economic indices to include more Economically Relevant Traits (ERT) as well as an update in the economic assumptions. These new AHA indices should prove very valuable when selecting Hereford bulls.

International Genetic Solutions (IGS) is a collaboration between multiple U.S. and Canadian breed associations. This group is currently working towards a multi-breed genetic evaluation using BOLT (same software as AHA) to produce a ‘single-step’ genomic evaluation. As with other organizations, along with the change in the way genomic data are included into EPD, substantial changes in the statistical models for EPD are being made that will ultimately allow for more reliable EPD. Another notable change for breeds using BOLT for their NCE is numerically lower accuracy values associated with EPD. This seems at odds with the fact that the EPD are more reliable. These seemingly lower accuracy values are simply due to different means of calculating accuracy (think of it as more accurate accuracy). They should be interpreted and used in the same fashion as before.

National Cattle Evaluation has never been static, and future changes are inevitable as science continues to advance. However, the changes that have occurred in the past few months represent a considerable leap forward. Although change is cursed by some (not all) seedstock producers given the re-ranking of some sires, it should be applauded by commercial bull buyers. These organizations and the scientific community that collaborates with them continue to strive to produce genetic selection tools using the best science available.

More information relative to these changes can be found at the respective breed association websites (American Angus Association, American Hereford Association, and American Simmental Association--IGS) as well as

Uhlir Elected as State Pork President

Darin Uhlir from St. Paul, Nebraska was elected as President of the Nebraska Pork Producers Association (NePPA). Joining Uhlir as NPPA’s leaders are Tim Chancellor, 1st Vice President of Broken Bow and Kevin Peterson, 2nd Vice President of Osceola. Elected as 3rd Vice President is John Csukker of Columbus. Newly elected Directors are Connor Livingston of Fairbury and Jared Lierman of Beemer. Alternate Directors are Matt Marquardt of Tekamah and Mike Fagen of Elkhorn. NePPA’s Annual Meeting and elections were held in Lincoln at the Graduate, February 13, 2018. 

Darin Uhlir of St. Paul, Nebraska was first elected to the Board of Directors in 2013. Uhlir is a member of the Executive, Finance, and Legislative/SIP Committees for the Nebraska Pork Producers Association. He has been a National Pork Board Delegate for the past 4 years and will travel to Kansas City, Missouri for the 2018 National Pork Industry Forum February 28, March 1 and 2.  

Uhlir has worked in the pork industry since 1990. In 1997, he became a Business Leader with Progressive Swine Technology (PST). Today PST is known as Pillen Family Farms. Darin is also an active member of several hunting/conservation organizations. Darin and his wife Carla have three children and enjoy showing livestock and spending quality time together.
In offering his congratulations to Uhlir, Russ Vering retiring President for the Nebraska Pork Producers Association stated, “It has been a pleasure to work with Darin. His dedication and insight into our industry will see him through any challenging tasks ahead.”

Nebraska Pork Names Producers to Hall of Fames

Russ Vering, President of the Nebraska Pork Producers Association has named the Hall of Fame Inductees. The announcements were made in conjunction with the annual Ribs & Bibs Banquet on February 13, 2018 at the Graduate in Lincoln. Named to the Voluntary Check-off Hall of Fame was Scott Spilker of Beatrice and Gary and Liz Doerr of Creighton were inducted into the Check-off Hall of Fame.

Scott Spilker, owns a wean-to-finish pig farm and diversified crop operation near Beatrice, Nebraska. He is also president of Rolling Hills Pork, LLC, a 2,500-sow  farrowing operation outside of Washington, Kansas where he gets his young stock for the nursery. Prior to serving as a State Director, Scott was an active member if the Blue Valley Pork Producers Association serving as President in 1991. Scott was first elected to Association’s Board of Directors in 2010 and served as President in 2016. Scott has been especially effective in speaking out on the issues of the industry. Scott is member of the NPPA Legislative/SIP Committee that gives directions at the state and local level. He has traveled to Washington D.C. on numerous occasions to speak directly to Nebraska’s Congressional Representatives, offered testimony before the State Legislature and served as a National Pork Producers Council delegate. Most recently, Scott was appointed by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to serve as Chairman of the Nebraska USDA Farm Service Agency state committee.  The state committee is responsible for the oversight of farm programs and county committee operations, resolving appeals from the agriculture community and helping to keep producers informed about FSA programs.

Gary and Liz Doerr started out buying feeder pigs and then added a few sows after they were married in 1980. Today the operation is a 275-sow farrow to finish hog operation near Creighton, along with twelve hundred acres of row crops. They were members of the Knox County Pork Producers in the early 1980s and Gary was President in 1998. The Knox County Pork Producers started the "Brumm Speaks Out" meetings while Gary served on the board and they were members of Mike Brumm's Swine Enterprise Analysis group. This was a group of producers, all with sows that met quarterly to discuss and share production information. In 1998 the Doerrs were named "Pork All-American" by National Pork Producers Council (NPPC). Established by the NPPC in 1970, the Pork All-American Award Program has recognized more than 1,000 pig farmers for their contributions to the pork industry and their communities. 

Gary was first elected to the NPPA Board of Directors in 2004 and served as President in 2005. Gary did a second run on the Board of Directors, from 2011 to 2015 when he filled a vacancy. Gary’s partner in life and on the farm, Liz assists with artificial insemination, working with sows, weaning pigs, and sorting the hogs to be sold. She also does the accounting for the operation, in addition to downloading and analyzing data from their feed mill and maintaining hog production records Liz is the Knox and Antelope County Zoning Administrator and served on the committee for the Nebraska Department of Ag for developing the Livestock Siting Matrix.

Cadrien Livingston Awarded Sitzman Youth in NE Agriculture Scholarship

Cadrien Livingston of Orchard, NE, has been awarded the 2018 Larry E. Sitzman Youth in Nebraska Agriculture Scholarship.

Cadrien is a sophomore studying Agricultural and Environmental Science Communications with a minor in Political Science at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. Cadrien uses her passion for agriculture and her unique, personal experiences to connect with people around her. Her goal with this degree is to advocate about important agricultural issues like farm safety and work on behalf of farmers to further positive agricultural policies.

In 2008, Cadrien’s father was killed in a grain bin accident, leaving behind a wife, two younger sisters, and 10-year old Cadrien. Together, Cadrien and her mother worked to keep the family ranch. Out of necessity, she stepped into many responsibilities at home and on the ranch, which required responsibility and a good work ethic. Today, Cadrien and her mother have expanded their cow herd and continue to sell bulls via private sale.

Cadrien says the loss of her father has affected her future goals and dreams. Since the accident, she has worked with many individuals and organizations to try to start a farm safety hotline to provide preventative safety tips and precautions for farmers and ranchers. She also interested in providing farm safety training and education to local rescue units.

Additionally, Cadrien has bolstered her confidence in the public policy area by participating in the Nebraska Farm Bureau Leadership Academy. Through this program, she learned and practiced the skills necessary to talk with and influence elected officials on important topics like taxes and the upcoming Farm Bill.

Amy Halsey, 4-H Club Leader wrote, “Cadrien leads with authority and a great sense of humor, plus she is kind and compassionate. She is teachable and is always looking for ways to improve herself.” Clearly, Cadrien’s leadership capacity and dedication will serve agriculture well as she continues to grow and develop.

The Larry E. Sitzman Youth in Nebraska Agriculture Scholarship is a $1,000 scholarship that was awarded to Cadrien Livingston during the Annual Meeting of the Nebraska Pork Producers Association on February 13, 2018.

Cattlemen’s Classic to Feature New “Beef Strong” Event

The Nebraska Beef Council will be hosting a fitness competition during the Nebraska Cattlemen’s Classic at the Buffalo County Fairgrounds in Kearney on February 21st from 6:00 to 7:00 pm.

The new “Beef Strong” event features competitors pushing, pulling, lifting and hustling their way through a sprint-style course designed to showcase the daily physical demands of farming and ranching. The competitors will work their way through a series of obstacles with the goal to complete the course in the shortest amount of time.

Each activity in the course represents actual jobs found on a farm or ranch. Competitors will simulate moving square hay bales, loading feed bags, setting up catch-pens and even carrying a calf. The competitors completing the tasks with the fastest times will receive beef bundles courtesy of Nebraska Star Beef.

“Farming and ranching can be a lot of physical work. It’s important to fuel your body with nutrient-dense foods like beef so you can meet the demands of the job,” said Mitch Rippe, director of nutrition and education at the Nebraska Beef Council. “Our Beef Strong event will highlight the hard work of famers and ranchers while giving us the opportunity to talk about the benefits of beef in an active lifestyle.”

Contestants must have pre-registered for the competition, but the event is free and open to spectators. For more information visit


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Are you getting tired of winter?  Tired of hauling water or chopping ice?  Well maybe, just maybe you can let your cows eat snow from recent storms for their water needs.

               Snow sometimes can be a good source of livestock water.  Research from Canada and several northern states have shown that cows can eat 30 to 40 pounds of snow per day to meet their water needs.  And some ranchers already rely on only snow to provide water on their winter pastures.

               To be successful using snow as your water source, several conditions must be met.  First off, the snow must be clean and fresh.  We’ve all heard jokes about eating yellow snow, but it’s no joke if that is what your cows are depending on.  Snow that’s crusted over, filled with dirt, or heavily trampled is not adequate.

               Second, the cows must be in good shape.  It will take body heat energy to melt the snow they eat so thin cows or sick cows should not be forced to rely on snow for water.  Lactating cows also should have a good source of liquid water.

               Make sure the cows are eating an adequate diet to provide the extra energy needed to melt that snow.  Cows that go off feed or aren’t eating enough might be having trouble getting enough water from the snow.  After all, they do need to learn how to effectively graze snow to get enough water.

               Lastly, be sure to have an alternate water source readily available.  Snow availability and snow conditions can change rapidly.

               Snow can be used as the only source of water for many livestock, saving time, money, and potentially extending grazing to remote areas or later in the season.  However, monitor intake and cow condition carefully to be successful.

Pre-Harvest Marketing Non-Irrigated Corn 

Cory Walters - Extension Grain Economist
Jessica Groskopf - Extension Educator for Agricultural Economics

Farmers are often hesitant to price non-irrigated corn that has not yet been harvested or even planted, due to the potential for yield loss.

For 2018, a pre-harvest marketing plan for non-irrigated corn coupled with a revenue protection crop insurance policy may provide an opportunity to lock in prices above expected breakeven. This article will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of pre-harvest marketing non-irrigated corn in February versus waiting to price until October.

When thinking about pre-harvest marketing non-irrigated corn, the old adage of “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch” often comes to mind. Today, the influence of this statement has diminished due to the safety net provided by revenue protection crop insurance. The advantage of a revenue protection crop insurance policy comes from the ability to recalculate the original guarantee if harvest price — the October average of the December corn contract — is higher than the projected price — the February average of the December corn contract.

We evaluated historical data to determine if pre-harvest pricing can generate more gross revenue than waiting to price at harvest. To do this, we compared the corn projected price and harvest price.

The main advantage of pricing in February rather than waiting until October is the higher average price. Pre-pricing corn during the projected price crop insurance period (February) would gross approximately $0.19/bu more on average than waiting until the harvest price period (October). When spring boasted the higher price, prices were $0.56/bu higher on average than the harvest price.

The harvest price is higher only about 30% of the time. In the years when higher harvest prices occurred, the price was substantially higher ($0.71/bu on average). Higher harvest prices occur because U.S. corn production is below trend line expectations, implying a lower realized yield. This is a concern for non-irrigated corn farmers, who have a higher yield risk than their irrigated counterparts. While we are focusing on futures price risk, basis is also likely to fluctuate, but not to the extent of futures prices.

Potential Disadvantages to Early Pre-Pricing

Pre-harvest marketing becomes financially painful when a farmer pre-prices more than they have produced AND prices rise. If both of these conditions occur, the farmer cannot deliver the quantity of grain they have contracted, and they will likely have to pay penalties to the grain buyer. These penalties are often called “buyback” penalties. In this situation, payments from a revenue protection policy can be used to offset buyback penalties. Limiting forward contracting alleviates the cost of buyback; however, it is always optimal to not have done any pre-harvest marketing with a revenue protection policy when non-irrigated corn growers are experiencing a drought.

Another disadvantage to pre-pricing significant amounts of expected corn production in February is that it limits your ability to capture future growing season marketing opportunities. This is true for both irrigated and non-irrigated producers.


Your comfort level of pre-harvest marketing, crop insurance contracts, and production costs represent the driving forces influencing the amount of pre-harvest marketing. If you’re a heavy pre-harvest marketer, you should be buying a higher insurance coverage level to guarantee more bushels.

52nd  Annual TRIUMPH OF AG EXPO – Announces Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts as the
2018 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 52nd  Annual TRIUMPH OF AGRICULTURE EXPOSITION Farm & Ranch Machinery Show, Wednesday, February 28th and Thursday, March 1st 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 Wednesday from 9 AM to 4 PM and Thursday 9 AM to 3 PM.

Bob Mancuso, Jr  , the Show’s Director, says, “Farming today is more challenging and Midwest farmers are interested in keeping up with the changes and ways to increase their profits and yields per acre while reducing their costs.”   The Triumph of Ag Expo offers a one stop opportunity to see and compare hundreds of hands - on demonstrations from the newest farm machinery to the day-to-day supplies and product information that's available for today’s farming decisions. The TRIUMPH OF AG EXPO is proud that they have been able to keep the Admission to the Show FREE for the past 51 years.   Advance Free admission tickets can be obtained from County extension agents, farm machinery and equipment dealers, or at the CenturyLink Center Omaha’s door.   There are over 4,500 parking spaces on site right at the convention center entrance.

  At no other time this spring will area farmers be able to see all these agricultural suppliers indoors at one time and under one roof than on these two days at the Triumph of Ag Expo.    Brent Pohlman, from Midwest Laboratories, said “Many first-time visitors cannot believe the wide selection of products on display and the tremendous opportunity for savings at the Show”. The Triumph of Ag Expo has something for every kind of farm operation, including tillage equipment, planters, monitor and control systems, soil testing equipment, mowers, cattle chutes, augers, fertilizers, various seed hybrids, feeders, tanks and pumps, hay moving and handling equipment, plows, combines, computers and software, tractors and many more agricultural products and services for today's farmers and ranchers.

Bob Mancuso, Jr., said, “This year there are many show features. There will be antique tractors and equipment from the Camp Creek Threshers and the Elkhorn Valley Antique Power Association.  The Iowa State Solar Car Team Prism will be at the Show.    

  THE TRIUMPH OF AGRICULTURE EXPOSITION Farm & Ranch Machinery Show is produced by Mid-America Expositions, Inc., sponsored by the Mid-America Farm & Ranch Machinery Council and is a member of the North American Farm Show Council consisting of the top 25 shows in the nation.


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 Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts.  He will receive the award at the Opening Day Luncheon Wednesday, February 28, at 12 Noon at the CenturyLink Center Omaha.  An additional guest speaker at the Wednesday luncheon will be Pete McClymont, Executive Vice President of Nebraska Cattlemen.  He will present "The State of the Beef Industry".  For more information and to reserve a spot at the luncheon, click on  Seminar schedules for both days are also available a the web site. 

ISU Extension and Outreach to Host Monarch and Pollinator Workshops

Iowa landowners who want to be part of the buzz surrounding pollinators can learn more about establishing monarch butterfly and other pollinator habitat on their land at an upcoming series of workshops across the state.

“If you have questions about adding high-diversity habitat for monarchs and other pollinators to your land, these workshops are an excellent opportunity to gather information and begin planning a project,” said Dana Schweitzer, program coordinator for the Iowa Monarch Conservation Consortium at Iowa State University.

The workshops are organized and delivered by personnel from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, Pheasants Forever, and other Iowa Monarch Conservation Consortium partners. Topics will include best management practices for pollinator habitat and a summary of available cost-share programs.

The schedule of workshops is as follows:
    Tuesday, Feb. 20, 6:30-8 p.m., ISU Extension and Outreach Fremont County office, Sidney
    Wednesday, Feb. 21, 6:30-8 p.m., ISU Extension and Outreach Mills County office, Malvern
    Tuesday, Feb. 27, 6:30-8 p.m., ISU Extension and Outreach Mitchell County office, Osage
    Wednesday, Feb. 28, 6-7:30 p.m., County Conservation Bureau office, Maquoketa
    Wednesday, Feb. 28, 6-7 p.m., Northwest Iowa Community College, Sheldon
    Thursday, March 1, 5:30-6:30 p.m., ISU Extension and Outreach Bremer County office, Tripoli
    Thursday, March 1, 6-7:30 p.m., ISU Extension and Outreach Montgomery County office, Red Oak

The mission of the Iowa Monarch Conservation Consortium is to enhance monarch reproduction and survival through coordinated efforts of farmers, private citizens and their organizations. Monarch populations have declined markedly over the past 20 years due to a loss of grassland habitat and the elimination of native milkweeds. To address this issue, Farm Bill conservation programs can provide financial and technical assistance to Iowa landowners to implement practices that provide breeding and foraging habitat that is critical to monarchs and other pollinators.

“Pheasants Forever is excited to collaborate with the Iowa Monarch Conservation Consortium and the NRCS to increase awareness of best management practices and conservation programs for monarch habitat in Iowa,” said Josh Divan, monarch coordinating biologist with Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever.

Iowa NRCS currently has two conservation program opportunities specially earmarked for landowners to implement monarch habitat practices – the Conservation Stewardship Program and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. The next funding cutoff deadline for CSP is March 2 and for EQIP is March 16.

To attend a workshop, please RSVP with the USDA Service Center or ISU Extension and Outreach office in the host county. If unable attend a workshop, call or visit your local NRCS office for information about ways to provide habitat for monarchs and other pollinators on your land, or go online to

Frogeye Leaf Spot Fungicide Resistance Confirmed in Iowa Soybean

Researchers in the Iowa State University and University of Kentucky Departments of Plant Pathology have confirmed that isolates of Cercospora sojina, the pathogen that causes frogeye leaf spot of soybean, found in Iowa have shown resistance to quinone outside inhibitor (QoI, strobilurin) fungicides.

Frogeye leaf spot occurs across the United States and significant yield loss can occur when this disease is widespread within a soybean field. Plant pathologists estimate this disease was responsible for more than 17.5 million bushels of lost yield in 2015 across the U.S., with a value of $158.1 million. One method of frogeye leaf spot management and subsequent yield protection has been application of foliar fungicide during pod development. However, overuse or misuse of fungicides can result in decreased management efficacy if targeted pathogens acquire resistance to a fungicide.

“This type of fungicide resistance has been found in neighboring states, so it isn’t surprising that it was found in Iowa,” said Daren Mueller, associate professor and extension plant pathologist at Iowa State. “This pathogen population has a lot of variation, which increases the chance we can select for resistance.”

The pathogen that causes frogeye leaf spot is genetically diverse, which is an important reason why fungicide resistance has occurred. C. sojina resistance to QoI fungicide was first documented in Tennessee in 2010 and has been detected in several other states since then. Isolates of C. sojina were sampled from multiple locations across the state and were tested for resistance using established laboratory protocols at the University of Kentucky. All samples evaluated were found to be resistant. The C. sojina isolates from Iowa in 2017 are the first reported to have QoI fungicide resistance in the state.

“An integrated method of management that doesn’t rely solely on fungicides should be employed,” said Carl Bradley, extension plant pathologist at the University of Kentucky. “Farmers should consider other disease management practices such as crop rotation, planting of frogeye leaf spot-resistant cultivars and applying fungicides with multiple modes of action.”

Fungicides are very important for disease management, and it is critical to preserve the usefulness of these crop protection tools. Fields should be scouted approximately two weeks after fungicide application to determine if the fungicide is working. If you believe fungicide resistance may be an issue in your field, contact an Iowa State University Extension and Outreach field agronomist. For resources on fungicide resistance, visit the Take Action website (

Funding for this research has been provided by the Soybean Checkoff through the Iowa Soybean Association and United Soybean Board.

CWT Assists with 2.9 Million Pounds of Cheese Export Sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 11 requests for export assistance from cooperatives that have contracts to sell 2.895 million pounds (1,313 metric tons) of Cheddar, Gouda and Monterey Jack cheese to customers in Asia, Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. The product has been contracted for delivery in the period from February through June 2018.

CWT-assisted member cooperative 2018 export sales total 16.795 million pounds of American-type cheeses and 1.590 million pounds of butter (82% milkfat) to 12 countries on four continents. These sales are the equivalent of 190.781 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.

Kinze Manufacturing Re-Hiring Laid Off Workers

An Iowa agriculture-equipment manufacturer is hiring factory workers as sales continue to improve. Kinze Manufacturing in Williamsburg, which makes planters for row-crop production and grain auger carts, is looking for assemblers, fork truck drivers, CNC operators, machine operators, powder coat painters, robot welders and welders.

"We had a very successful job fair Saturday," said Mike Medhurst, Kinze director of human resources. "We have 100 shop floor openings to fill. I think the job fair will fill 25 percent or 30 percent of the positions. We also have a number of people who have applied online and we are starting to go through those applications. It's not too late for people to continue to apply."

Kinze laid off 121 employees in June 2016, citing sharply reduced orders for equipment as low grain prices prompted farmers to delay purchasing new planters and grain carts.

Medhurst said the company has been able to rehire many of the laid off workers in recent months as business conditions have improved.

Employers contacted for the January Creighton University Mid-America Business Conditions Index cited difficulty in finding and hiring qualified workers as the greatest challenge to their business growth in 2018.

National Ag Coalition Taking California to Court Tuesday Over Unjustified, False Prop 65 Listing

As the state of California attempts to implement a policy that would cause massive damage to American farmers, a national agriculture coalition is going to court tomorrow with a reasonable request: halt California’s extreme action until the judge can consider all of the facts. At issue is California’s unjustified and false Prop 65 listing of glyphosate, one of modern agriculture’s most valuable tools and an industry standard across the world.  

Despite scientific findings from hundreds of studies and conclusions by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and regulatory agencies around the world that glyphosate is safe for use, California ignored facts, data and science, when it added glyphosate to the state’s Prop 65 list.

“While farmers are readying our fields and making plans to put seeds in the ground, California is engaging in aggressive legal wrangling, placing us at risk to crippling liability for using a product that hundreds of studies and the U.S. EPA say is safe for use,” said Gordon Stoner, President of the National Association of Wheat Growers.  “We intend to make clear in this hearing that agriculture is under attack and implementation of this erroneous Prop 65 listing for glyphosate should be halted until there is a final ruling from the judge.”

On Tuesday, the agriculture coalition will make the case for a preliminary injunction in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, which would halt the implementation of the Prop 65 listing until a final ruling is decided by the court.

The National Association of Wheat Growers are the lead plaintiff in the case against California filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California. The plaintiffs include the Agribusiness Association of Iowa, the Agricultural Retailers Association, Associated Industries of Missouri, Iowa Soybean Association, Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, CropLife America, Missouri Farm Bureau, National Corn Growers Association, North Dakota Grain Growers Association, South Dakota Agri-Business Association and United States Durum Growers Association.  In December, the group filed a temporary injunction asking the court to halt the regulation.

Friday February 16 Ag News


Nebraska's number of farms and ranches declined during 2017, according to USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. The number of farms and ranches in the State, at 47,400, was down 1,000 farms from 2016. Numbers of farms and ranches in Nebraska with less than $100,000 in agricultural sales decreased 700 farms from a year earlier while operations with more than $100,000 in agricultural sales decreased 300 farms.

Land in farms and ranches in Nebraska totaled 45.2 million acres, unchanged from 2016. The average size of operation, at 954 acres, was up 20 acres from a year earlier.


The total number of farms in Iowa in 2017 was 86,900, down 100 farms compared with a year ago, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Farms and Land in Farms 2017 Summary report. The largest decrease in number of farms came in the $500,000- $999,999 range with a decrease of 300 farms from 10,000 in 2016 to 9,700 in 2017.

Total land in farms in Iowa in 2017 was 30.5 million acres, unchanged since 2014, however, total land in farms in the $100,000-$249,999 range rose to 3.00 million acres, while total land in farms in the $1,000,000 and over range fell to 9.50 million acres.

The average farm size in Iowa in 2017 was 351 acres, unchanged from last year. The average farm size in the $500,000-$999,999 range increased 28 acres from 890 in 2016 to 918 acres in 2017.

2017 Farms and Land in Farms Highlights

The number of farms in the United States for 2017 is estimated at 2.05 million, down 12 thousand farms from 2016. Total land in farms, at 910 million acres, decreased 1 million acres from 2016. The average farm size for 2017 is 444 acres, up 2 acres from the previous year.

Farm numbers and land in farms are differentiated by six economic sales classes. Farms and ranches are classified into these six sales classes by summing the sales of agricultural products and government program payments. Sales class breaks occur at $10,000, $100,000, $250,000, $500,000, and $1,000,000. Producers were asked during the 2017 mid-year surveys to report the value of sales based on production during the 2016 calendar year.

Point Farms are farms that did not have the required minimum $1,000 in sales for the year to qualify as a farm, but had sufficient crops and livestock to normally have sales of $1,000 or more. Point Farms are assigned a sales class based on the sum of the agricultural point (dollar) values assigned to the quantity of commodities produced but not sold. The 2012 Census of Agriculture showed that 428,810 farms or 20.3 percent of the 2.11 million farms were Point Farms. These Point Farms operated 63.0 million acres or 6.9 percent of the 914.5 million acres of farmland.

Number of farms declined by 12 thousand from 2016. The number of farms in Sales Classes $100,000 - $249,999 and $1,000,000 or more increased while all other sales classes declined. Fifty percent of all farms had less than $10,000 in sales. Eighty percent of all farms had less than $100,000 in sales. Eight percent of all farms had sales of $500,000 or more.

Changes in the number of farms by sales class are:
*    Sales Class $1,000 - $9,999 at 1.02 million farms, declined by 9 thousand farms.
*    Sales Class $10,000 - $99,999 at 618 thousand farms, declined by 3 thousand farms.
*    Sales Class $100,000 - $249,999 at 145 thousand farms, increased by 2 hundred farms.
*    Sales Class $250,000 - $499,999 at 98 thousand farms, declined by 4 hundred farms.
*    Sales Class $500,000 - $999,999 at 82 thousand farms, declined by 3 hundred farms.
*    Sales Class $1,000,000 or more at 83 thousand farms, increased by 4 hundred farms.

The percent of all farms by sales class are:
*    Sales Class $1,000 - $9,999: 49.9%
*    Sales Class $10,000 - $99,999: 30.2%
*    Sales Class $100,000 - $249,999: 7.1%
*    Sales Class $250,000 - $499,999: 4.8%
*    Sales Class $500,000 - $999,999: 4.0%
*    Sales Class $1,000,000 or more: 4.0%

Land in farms, at 910 million acres, was down 1 million acres from 2016. The biggest change for 2017 is that producers in Sales Class $1,000,000 or more operated 1.3 million more acres than in 2016. Similar to the previous year, in 2017 over 30 percent of all farmland was operated by farms with less than $100,000 in sales. Forty-one percent of all farmland was operated by farms with sales of $500,000 or more.

Farmland changes by sales class are:
*    Sales Class $1,000 - $9,999 at 86.0 million acres, declined by 930 thousand acres.
*    Sales Class $10,000 - $99,999 at 191.3 million acres, declined by 720 thousand acres.
*    Sales Class $100,000 - $249,999 at 129.3 million acres, declined by 590 thousand acres.
*    Sales Class $250,000 - $499,999 at 127.0 million acres, declined by 140 thousand acres.
*    Sales Class $500,000 - $999,999 at 156.5 million acres, increased by 40 thousand acres.
*    Sales Class $1,000,000 or more at 220.0 million acres, increased by 1.3 million acres.

Percent of all farmland by sales class are:
*    Sales Class $1,000 - $9,999: 9.5%
*    Sales Class $10,000 - $99,999: 21.0%
*    Sales Class $100,000 - $249,999: 14.2%
*    Sales Class $250,000 - $499,999: 14.0%
*    Sales Class $500,000 - $999,999: 17.2%
*    Sales Class $1,000,000 or more: 24.2%

The average farm size continued to increase in 2017 as the number of farms declined more than land in farms. The overall average size increased by 2 acres to 444 acres per farm. Average farm sizes increased in the $250,000 - $499,999, $500,000 - $999,999, and $1,000,000 or more sales classes and decreased or remained unchanged in the others.

Average farm size by sales class are:
*    Sales Class $1,000 - $9,999: 84 acres
*    Sales Class $10,000 - $99,999: 309 acres
*    Sales Class $100,000 - $249,999: 891 acres
*    Sales Class $250,000 - $499,999: 1,299 acres
*    Sales Class $500,000 - $999,999: 1,904 acres
*    Sales Class $1,000,000 or more: 2,660 acres

Cover Crop Management workshops to be held in Pierce and West Point

Are you interested in learning more about Cover Crop Management?  There are two educational workshops coming up in Pierce and West Point, sponsored by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD).

The workshop in Pierce will be held at the Lied Public Library, 207 W. Court Street, on Tuesday, February 27th from 9:00 a.m. to noon.  The workshop in West Point will be held at the Cuming County Courthouse, 200 S. Lincoln Street, on Wednesday, February 28th from 9:00 a.m. to noon.

The workshops will begin with coffee and rolls at 9:00 a.m., followed by presentations on soil biology, cover crop management, and much more.  Aaron Hird, NRCS State Soil Health Specialist, will visit about why the biology of our soil is so important.  Dan Gillespie, NRCS No-till Specialist, will discuss cover crop management in corn/soybean rotations, what to seed, when to terminate, and what herbicides to use.  Pam Polenske, Stanton County NRCS, will present information on Client Gateway and how to access your NRCS documents online.

Reserve your seat today by calling your local NRCS office or the LENRD in Norfolk.

Ricketts Announces UNL AD Bill Moos as a 2018 Governor’s Ag Conference Speaker

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts announced that University of Nebraska-Lincoln Athletic Director Bill Moos will address the 2018 Governor’s Ag Conference at the “Celebrate Nebraska Agriculture” reception on Wednesday, March 7.  The Governor’s Ag Conference, March 7-8 in Kearney, is a great opportunity for the ag community to discuss important topics like international trade, ag diversification in rural Nebraska, and the importance of state ag leaders advocating at the national level.

After February 21, the conference registration fee increases from $100 to $125.

“The Governor’s Ag Conference has been a long-standing tradition for 30 years,” said Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) Director Steve Wellman.  “It gives producers and agri-business leaders in Nebraska an opportunity to talk with the Governor about the state’s number one industry and provide direct input on how to support future growth in agriculture.  We know it can be hard for farmers and ranchers to rearrange schedules, so we work to make this conference worth the extra effort to attend.”

The conference starts Wednesday, March 7, at 3:30 p.m., with welcomes and remarks from Governor Pete Ricketts and NDA Director Wellman.

A panel presentation will follow featuring Nebraska producers serving in national leadership roles.  Panelists include:
•                     Don Bloss, Chair, National Sorghum Producers;
•                     Lynn Chrisp, First Vice President, National Corn Growers Association;
•                     Jim Miller, Chairman, U.S. Soybean Export Council;
•                     Terry O’Neel, President, National Pork Board; and
•                     Craig Uden, Past President, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association

The “Celebrate Nebraska Agriculture” reception starts at 6 p.m.

“Having Bill Moos speak at the reception is a great addition to the conference,” said Wellman.  “People may not know that Bill was born and raised on a cattle ranch in Washington State.  Even though he has a long career as an athletic director, he was able to step away from sports for a couple of years to run a cattle ranch.”

The conference resumes on Thursday, March 8, at 9 a.m. with a panel presentation on international trade and the benefits gained from companies participating in Nebraska trade missions.  Panelists include:
•                     Jerry Wiggs, Greater Omaha Packing Company, Inc.;
•                     Chris Roth, Reinke Manufacturing Company, Inc.; and
•                     Deb Gangwish, Co-Owner, PG Farms, Inc.

At 10 a.m., a panel representing ag companies that have built businesses and created jobs for small Nebraska communities will discuss the importance of ag diversification in rural Nebraska.  Panelists include:
•                     Norm Krug, owner/founder, Preferred Popcorn;
•                     Troy Becker, co-owner, Unified Pet Products; and
•                     Max and Theresa McFarland, owners, Mac’s Creek Vineyards

Panelists from the last presentation of the day will discuss the growth of the food processing industry in Nebraska.  The panel will include speakers from Costco, Hendrix and Kelley Bean.

The conference ends with lunch and keynote speaker Greg Ibach, Under Secretary of Agriculture for Marketing and Regulatory Programs of the United States Department of Agriculture. Ibach, former director of the NDA, will update conference participants on agricultural activities at the federal level.

The Governor's Ag Conference is coordinated by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture and is co-sponsored by Farm Credit Services of America.  It will be held at the Holiday Inn and Convention Center in Kearney.  Registration and additional information is available online at or by calling 800-831-0550.

Free Webinar on Using Data to Benchmark Your Farming Operation

There is still time to register for a free webinar on Using Data to Benchmark Your Farming Operation, presented by Joe Luck, Ph.D., associate professor of biological systems engineering and a precision agriculture engineer at the University of Nebraska. This is the first webinar in a series of three webinars, sponsored by the United Soybean Board (USB) and American Soybean Association, and designed to help soybean farmers understand how new technology and effective data management can help improve the sustainability of their farming operation. This first webinar on Using Data to Benchmark Your Farming Operation is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 19, 2018, at 1 p.m. Central Time.

Data collection, analysis and benchmarking are essential to achieving and sustaining continuous improvement in the production of soybeans. Dr. Luck will discuss the various tools and techniques required to establish a valid data benchmarking program. Using examples of data applications from farm research studies focused on soybeans, he will show how data can be used to gather knowledge to improve production, and build a more sustainable farming operation.

As more customers of U.S. soybeans demand sustainably produced products, it’s important for all soybean farmers to consider practices on their farm that will meet those demands. Effective use of new technology and on-farm data management can play a key role in the sustainable production of U.S. soybeans and demonstrating that sustainability to our customers.

Click here or visit to register for the webinar on Feb. 19. If you are unable to participate in the live version of the webinar, a recording of this presentation will also be available for farmers to watch after the event at

Two additional webinars, sponsored by ASA, the soybean checkoff and USB, will be held in March and early April. Farmers should stay tuned for more announcements from ASA regarding these future technology-focused webinars.

Nebraska Cattlemen Foundation Announces Availability of Youth Scholarships

The Nebraska Cattlemen Foundation (NCF) is accepting applications for scholarships from qualified youth in Nebraska who have an interest in the beef industry. These scholarships will be awarded for the 2018-2019 academic year and are provided through contributions received by the Nebraska Cattlemen Foundation. Applications are available on the Nebraska Cattlemen website ( or can be obtained by calling the NCF office at (402) 475-2333.

The Nebraska Cattlemen Beef State Scholarship awards a $10,000 scholarship to an outstanding college junior, senior or graduate-level student. Eligible students must be residents of Nebraska and be enrolled in a Nebraska college or university pursuing a beef industry-related degree. The scholarship will be awarded based on student need, Nebraska beef industry involvement (past achievements and future plans) and academics. Students will be required to complete the written application (due in the NCF office by February 15, 2018) and finalists will be invited to an final interview with the selection committee.

NCF offers numerous other $1,000 minimum scholarships, awarded on the basis of academic achievement, beef industry involvement and goals/quality of application from the following funds.  This application is due into the NCF office by March 15, 2018.  Scholarship recipients must be a high school senior or college student, have a "C" or higher grade point average, and be enrolled or intending to enroll full time in a college or university that offers a bachelor degree, an approved vocation or trade school, or a state accredited junior college.  Refer to the application for complete selection requirements.

Interactive Crop Scout Training Available Online

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach has published the Field Crop Scouting book as an online learning tool for crop scouts and other agricultural professionals in Iowa. This interactive textbook allows individuals to acquire knowledge about crop scouting topics such as corn and soybean growth stages, insect identification, crop diseases and weed identification through a self-paced, innovative design.

“This online resource was constructed with information about what a healthy corn and soybean crop looks like, how to assess it, what insects, diseases or weeds are present and the risks associated with these issues to help create stronger crop production systems in Iowa,” said Daren Mueller, assistant professor and extension specialist in plant pathology and microbiology at Iowa State University.

The Field Crop Scouting book was developed for those working in the agriculture industry who wish to learn crop scouting basics. The book allows readers to work at their own pace, using expertly narrated videos, slide shows, interactive graphs and simulations to provide a guided learning experience. Quizzes and self-assessments also provide an opportunity to test knowledge.

A certificate of successful completion is available for crop scouts, agronomists, commodity groups and others working in the agriculture industry. This provides verification to employers that they have been trained in the basic concepts of crop scouting.

The Field Crop Scouting book is $9.99 and may be purchased online at Bleep Blorp Books ( The online book provides high-resolution images, videos, slideshows, interactive graphs and animated figures. Readers will be able to move easily from one topic to another and explore issues based on their interests. The learning tool can be accessed through any online browser or mobile device.

The online book is sponsored by ISU Extension and Outreach, Integrated Pest Management at Iowa State University and the United States Department of Agriculture.


Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today announced two agribusinesses and two Certified Crop Advisers (CCAs) as recipients of the Secretary’s Iowa Ag Leader Award for outstanding leadership in improving Iowa’s water quality.  Northey recognized Farmers Cooperative Society from Sioux Center, CF Industries and CCAs Jason Gomes owner of North Iowa Agronomy Partners in Waverly and Joe Lally from Denison.

“Businesses like Farmers Cooperative Society and CF Industries, as well as Certified Crop Advisers like Jason Gomes and Joe Lally have shown real leadership in advancing water quality efforts in our state,” Northey said.  “All of these award winners are examples of how stakeholders across agriculture are taking on the challenge of improving water quality by providing tools and information to help farmers and landowners make improvements on their farm.”

Joe Lally, Certified Crop Adviser – Denison

Joe Lally’s conservation ethic was developed early on as he grew up on a small dairy and hog farm in the Denison area. His father bought the farm in 1956. By the time Joe left for the Army in 1968, they had installed terraces, grassed waterways, a 5 year crop rotation, among other practices, building a successful small farming operation. Joe bought his first farm in the Denison area in 1977. Within 5 years, Joe had installed terraces, grassed waterways, headlands, and minimum tillage farming practices.  This was one of the first farms in the area with tile placed in the sediment control structures (Joe refers to them as doodle-dams).

Joe received both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Iowa State University and his CCA certification in 2008.  He believes that this certification, along with that as a Technical Service Provider in 2003, provides a level of confidence when providing farmers consultation and planning for their farms. Joe is one of two Technical Service Providers that provides conservation and nutrient management plans developed under the guidance of USDA-NRCS and the EPA. He has written over 500 plans since 1990.  Joe’s other roles have included environmental management services at Farmland Foods and as Project Coordinator for the Heartland Water Quality Program. The Heartland four-state initiative provides education and training to land-grant educators, ag agency staff, EPA staff, and NGO's.

Joe refers to himself as an active conservationist, but a selfish one – or at least when it comes to his farm ground –as he is not interested in sharing it's “natural resources” with anyone else.

Northey presented the awards at the Agribusiness Association of Iowa’s Showcase and Conference at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines.

Proposed Steel Tariffs Raise Potential for Retaliation Against U.S. Soybeans

Following reports today from Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross that the department will recommend tariffs on imported steel and aluminum as a result of its ongoing investigation under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, soybean farmers have voiced their concern about the potential for retaliation against U.S. soybean imports by the Chinese. The American Soybean Association (ASA) has repeatedly noted the potential for retaliation by China, which purchases approximately one third of the soybeans grown in the United States at a value of more than $14 billion. ASA President and Iowa farmer John Heisdorffer issued the following statement today:

“Today’s news from the Commerce Department is very concerning for soybean farmers. China is not only our largest customer, it purchases more than all our other customers combined. Add to that the sobering fact that our capable competitors in Brazil and Argentina are all too happy to pick up whatever slack we leave in supplying the Chinese market, and these potential tariffs have the potential to make life very hard for soybean farmers. In earlier conversations about potential tariffs under Section 232, the Chinese specifically identified U.S. soybeans as a target for retaliation, and the barriers that retaliation would create will add significant further injury to an already-hobbled farm economy. Prices are down 40 percent and farm income is down 50 percent, and we simply can’t afford for those numbers to get worse. Soybean farmers look to the White House to move forward with a China strategy that strengthens the competitiveness of our domestic industries while at the same time growing our export opportunities.”

Judge Dismisses Monsanto Lawsuit Seeking to Block Arkansas Dicamba Ban

(AP) -- Arkansas' ban on the use of a weed killer blamed by farmers in several states for crop damage will remain in place after a state judge dismissed a legal challenge by a maker of the herbicide.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza dismissed the lawsuit by St. Louis-based Monsanto seeking to block the state Plant Board's decision to ban dicamba from April 16 through Oct. 31. Arkansas has the toughest restriction in place on dicamba, though several states have imposed other restrictions or requirements.

Arkansas enacted the ban after receiving nearly 1,000 complaints last year about the weed killer drifting onto fields and damaging crops not resistant to the herbicide. Arkansas is one of several states where farmers have complained about dicamba drifting. Monsanto was also challenging an earlier rule that specifically targeted its brand of dicamba. BASF and DuPont also make dicamba weed killers.

Piazza cited a state Supreme Court ruling last month that said the state Legislature can't waive Arkansas' immunity from lawsuits. That ruling has prompted lawyers and judges around to the state to say it amounts to a blanket protection for the state from a wide range of legal challenges.

"It's obvious that Arkansas is going to have to come up with a constitutional amendment to change this to make it where we can operate again as a court should," Piazza said. "I really think the (state Supreme Court case) prevents us from hearing this case at this moment."

Dicamba has been around for decades, but problems arose over the past couple of years as farmers began to use it to kill invasive weeds in soybean and cotton fields where specially engineered seeds had been planted to resist the herbicide. Because it can easily evaporate after being applied, the chemical sometimes settles on neighboring fields planted with seeds that are not resistant to dicamba.

Piazza issued his ruling after hearing hours of arguments from Monsanto and the state over the company's request for a preliminary injunction blocking the ban, as well as Arkansas' request to dismiss the lawsuit. Monsanto did not say whether it would appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court.

"We are disappointed in the court's decision to dismiss our legal challenge of the plant board's restrictions, and we will consider additional legal steps that might be appropriate," Scott Partridge, the company's vice president of global strategy, said in a statement. "We look forward to the day when Arkansas growers can benefit from the latest weed-control technology on the market."

Among other arguments, Monsanto claimed that the state did not consider the economic impact of the ban. The company also challenged the makeup of the 18-member board, arguing a state law that gives private groups such as the state Seed Growers Association power to appoint members violates Arkansas' constitution. Piazza said he wouldn't going to rule specifically on the request for a preliminary injunction in case his dismissal ruling is appealed and sent back to his court.

During the hearing, Monsanto's attorneys said the state couldn't claim immunity since the company wasn't seeking monetary damages. They argued the state's Claims Commission, which handles economic claims against the state, wasn't the right avenue for the challenge against Arkansas' ban.

Attorneys for the Plant Board argued the company hadn't proven the state acted illegally or unconstitutionally, so the state was immune from the lawsuit.

"They just don't like the decision the Plant Board made," Assistant Attorney General Gary Sullivan said during the hearing.

U.S. Ethanol Industry Making ‘Significant Contribution to the Economy’

The U.S. ethanol industry added nearly $44.4 billion to the nation’s gross domestic product and supported 358,779 jobs in 2017, according to a new study conducted by ABF Economics. The study, released by the Renewable Fuels Association, looked at the contribution of the ethanol industry to the economy of the nation and individual states in 2017.

“The ethanol industry continues to make a significant contribution to the economy in terms of job creation, generation of tax revenue, and displacement of crude oil and petroleum products,” the study noted. “The importance of the ethanol industry to agriculture and rural economies is particularly notable. Continued growth and expansion of the ethanol industry through new technologies and feedstocks will enhance the industry’s position as the original creator of green jobs and will enable America to make further strides toward energy independence,” the study added.

According to the analysis, the production and use of 15.8 billion gallons of ethanol last year:
-    supported nearly 72,000 direct jobs and nearly 287,000 indirect and induced jobs across all sectors of the economy;
-    added more than $24 billion in income for American households;
-    generated an estimated $5 billion in tax revenue to the Federal Treasury and $5.7 billion in revenue to state and local governments;
-    supported almost 15,000 jobs and nearly $6 billion in GDP through exports alone; and
-    displaced 532 million barrels of imported oil, keeping $26.9 billion in the U.S. economy.

For the first time, the analysis also estimated the impact of the ethanol industry on the economy of each state with operating ethanol plants. The 26 states with producing ethanol plants accounted for more than 75% of the industry’s national GDP contribution and about 73% of national employment and household income. Iowa, Nebraska, and Illinois were the top three states in terms of economic impacts, but states like Mississippi, Idaho, Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Oregon, and New York also benefited from the presence of ethanol plants, while all 50 states enjoyed indirect and induced job creation and GDP from ethanol.

“As these figures show, the U.S. ethanol industry is unquestionably a significant contributor to our economy,” said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “Our industry supported nearly 360,000 jobs last year and displaced a substantial amount of imported crude oil, bringing high-paying jobs to rural communities across the nation. The U.S. ethanol industry is an undeniable economic powerhouse, benefitting consumers throughout the country,” he added.

“Unequivocally, the ethanol industry boosts all sectors of our economy,” said Economist John Urbanchuk, the study’s author and a managing partner at ABF Economics. “For example, an ethanol plant in Iowa doesn’t just benefit local and state residents. Its contributions spread throughout our nation, adding to the U.S. gross domestic product and reducing our reliance on imported oil. Now magnify that one ethanol plant’s contributions by more than two-hundred-fold and you have an idea of the benefits that the U.S. ethanol industry provides,” he added.

Leaders of congressional tax-writing committees commit to fixing Section 199A of new tax law

The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) commended the leaders of the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means Committees for their statements committing to addressing as soon as possible the unintended consequences of Section 199A of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act during hearings on Capitol Hill this week.

During a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Feb. 14, Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, noted that the provision's current language "does not maintain the previous competitive balance between cooperatives, other agricultural businesses, and the farmers who sell their crops to them, which existed prior to enactment of the tax reform bill."

The new Section 199A - included during the waning hours of congressional consideration of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 - is influencing producer marketing decisions. As currently written, Section 199A language could significantly skew producers' decisions on which type of business entity with which to market their commodities. The provision unintentionally created a tax advantage for producers who sell to cooperatives instead of private and independent firms.

Hatch said he is committed to working with fellow leaders on the committee, Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa; Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and John Thune, R-S.D., and House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, "to develop a solution to this issue that does not choose winners and losers and is fair to everyone involved.

"Once a suitable solution is identified, my goal is to work with my colleagues to advance legislation that can be sent to the president for his signature as soon as possible," Hatch noted.

During the same hearing, Grassley also commented on the "necessity for correcting" Section 199A. "It is pretty simple that Congress would not pass a law that would put some segments of our economy out of business and that's why it needs to be changed," he said.

In the House Ways and Means Committee hearing on Feb. 15, Chairman Brady echoed those sentiments. "We know that certain parts of this provision have unintended consequences," he said, noting that he's committed to developing "the right solution now - one that's thoughtful, carefully crafted, and effective in restoring balanced competition in the marketplace."

Brady said he is "committed to taking action on a solution as soon as possible."

NGFA President Randy Gordon noted in a media statement that the Association is disappointed that a solution to correct Section 199A has not already been passed by Congress. However, "considerable progress has been made during the last several weeks of intensive effort toward reaching an equitable solution," Gordon said, adding that NGFA is "gratified that the many members of Congress with whom we and other stakeholders are engaged on this issue are equally committed to enacting an equitable solution as part of the next available legislative vehicle."

The NGFA notes that the two fundamental goals of these efforts remain to replicate the tax treatment accorded to cooperatives and their farmer-patrons under previous Section 199 of the tax code, and to do so in a way that restores the competitive landscape of the marketplace that existed prior to the enactment of Section 199A on Dec. 22, 2017.

Deere Reports First-Quarter Loss of $535 Million

Deere & Company reported a net loss of $535.1 million for the first quarter ended January 28, 2018, or $1.66 per share, compared with net income of $199.0 million, or $0.62 per share, for the quarter ended January 29, 2017.

Affecting first-quarter 2018 results were charges to the provision for income taxes due to the enactment of U.S. tax reform legislation on December 22, 2017 (tax reform). The provisional income tax expense includes a write-down of net deferred tax assets of $715.6 million, reflecting a reduction in the U.S. corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent beginning on the enactment date, as well as the cost of a mandatory deemed repatriation of previously untaxed non-U.S. earnings of $261.6 million, partially offset by a favorable reduction in the annual effective tax rate and other adjustments of $12.1 million. Without these adjustments, first-quarter net income would have been $430.0 million, or $1.31 per share. (Information on non-GAAP financial measures is included in the appendix.)

Worldwide net sales and revenues for the first quarter increased 23 percent, to $6.913 billion, compared with $5.625 billion for the same period last year. Net sales of the equipment operations were $5.974 billion for the quarter compared with $4.698 billion a year ago.

"Deere has continued to experience strong increases in demand for its products as conditions in key markets show further improvement," said Samuel R. Allen, chairman and chief executive officer. "Sales gains for the quarter, however, were moderated by bottlenecks in the supply chain and logistical delays in shipping products to our dealers. In line with strengthening conditions, we have raised our sales and adjusted-earnings forecasts for 2018 and have confidence we will be able to fulfill the needs of our customers over the course of the year."

Pilgrim's Pride Reports Higher Quarterly Income

Pilgrim's Pride reported fourth quarter income of $0.54, $0.03 better than the analyst estimate of $0.51. Revenue for the quarter came in at $2.74 billion versus the consensus estimate of $2.55 billion.

"We generated strong, well-balanced consolidated performance in 2017. Our U.S. and Mexico operations were solid despite logistical challenges in Q4 due to the after-effects from natural events in Puerto Rico, Mexico and the U.S., while our newly acquired U.K. and continental Europe operations were consistent," stated Bill Lovette, Chief Executive Officer of Pilgrim's. "The performance once again demonstrated the strength and diversity of our portfolio of bird sizes, and is what fundamentally differentiates us from the competition, giving us the potential to reduce volatility and generate higher margins over time. While small-bird and tray-pack have remained strong during Q4, conditions in the commodity markets declined in-line with seasonality but are already recovering well in the new year, indicating the continuation of chicken demand as the protein of choice in domestic and international markets."

Net Sales of $2.74 billion were reported during the quarter. That's more than the $1.91 billion made during the same three months in 2016.

Adjusted Operating Income margins of 7.3% in U.S., 4.0% in Mexico and 5.0% in Europe operations, respectively, adjusted for non-recurring items related to weather events, Moy Park acquisition and Exchange Rate fluctuations.

Thursday February 15 Ag News

Sen. Fischer Appointed to Chair of Livestock, Marketing, and Agriculture Security Subcommittee
Steve Nelson, President, NE Farm Bureau

“Congratulations to Sen. Deb Fischer on her selection as Chair of the Livestock, Marketing, and Agriculture Security Subcommittee. As a rancher, Sen. Fischer brings a tremendous level of livestock agriculture expertise to the committee and has a proven track record of working with agriculture producers. One of her first actions as a Nebraska state lawmaker was to protect private information shared by Nebraska livestock producers as part of a national animal identification system. She represented the needs and interests of Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers with that successful legislation and has been doing so ever since. We look forward to continuing to work with her in her role as Chair of the Subcommittee, and as a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee.”


Producers, landowners and other agricultural policy stakeholders seeking information on the 2018 farm bill are encouraged to register for a series of five forums scheduled at locations across Kansas and Nebraska. Experts from K-State Research and Extension and Nebraska Extension will discuss farm bill issues and policy options, and gather input to share with policymakers to help inform the continuing development

A new federal farm bill is due this year and is under development in Congress. With action completed on a federal budget including some agricultural programs, the farm bill process could pick up quickly with proposals and legislation fully debated in the coming weeks.The meetings will provide an overview of the current debate and current economic conditions in agriculture which help frame the discussion and will look at crop and dairy commodity programs, conservation programs, and nutrition programs and other policy issues, as well as proposed crop insurance changes.

Leading the discussion will be Mykel Taylor and Art Barnaby from Kansas State University and Brad Lubben from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Taylor is a farm management specialist with expertise in producer decision-making, including in-depth analysis of the 2014 farm program enrollment decision. Her analysis of past decisions and outlook will provide perspective on the commodity programs, the potential changes and the decisions ahead in 2019. Barnaby is a national expert in crop insurance with keen insight on the features and performance of crop insurance. His work will explore the proposed changes and the potential ramifications to the program and to producer crop insurance and risk management decisions. Lubben is a noted expert in agricultural policy with insight on both the farm bill issues and the process. He will help frame the debate and the expectations for new programs and policies to provide perspective on the broader budget and policy challenges facing members of Congress in writing the new farm bill.

Each meeting will run from 9:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Registration will begin at 8:30 a.m. with refreshments and lunch served. The five meetings are scheduled in the following locations:

DODGE CITY, KS.: Feb. 28, Knights of Columbus Hall, 800 W. Frontview, Dodge City, KS
Host: Andrea Burns, or 620-227-4542

MANHATTAN, KS.: March 1, Pottorf Hall - CiCo Park, 1710 Avery Ave., Manhattan, KS
Host: Rich Llewelyn, or 785-532-1504

MEAD, NEB.: March 5, ENREC near Mead, Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center, 1071 County Road G, Ithaca, NE
Host: Keith Glewen, or 402-624-8030

SCOTTSBLUFF, NEB.: March 6, Panhandle Research and Extension Center, 4502 Avenue I, Scottsbluff, NE
Host: Jessica Groskopf, or 308-632-1247

HASTINGS, NEB.: March 7, Adams County Fairgrounds, 946 S. Baltimore, Hastings, NE
Host: Ron Seymour, or 402-461-7209

The registration fee is $20 if pre-registered five days before the date of each meeting, and will increase to $30 after the deadline or at the door. The fee covers the meal, refreshments and meeting materials. To register, visit and clicking on the meeting you wish to attend.

Further information is available on the web from either of the host institutions at K-State at or at Nebraska at or by contacting the meeting host at each location.


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 13 at the Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center near Mead.

Experts from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln will provide in-depth information on topics including: factors influencing the growth and development of corn and soybeans; corn and soybean insect management; weed control management; identifying weeds - plant morphology; using a key to identify weed seedlings; and crop diseases and quiz.

Certified Crop Advisor continuing education credits are available with 6 in pest management, 1 in crop management and .5 in fertility/nutrient management.

Registration begins at 8:30 a.m., and the workshop is from 9 a.m-5 p.m.

Cost for this 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 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.

To register, visit For more information, contact Nebraska Extension at (402) 624-8030, (800) 529-8030, or e-mail Keith Glewen at

York and Seward County Leaders Tour Dairy Farms

Community leaders from York and Seward counties in Nebraska were treated to  dairy tours on January 25. The Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska (AFAN) and the Nebraska State Dairy Association (NSDA) hosted the tour of Beavers Dairy in Carleton and Butler County Dairy in Rising City.  The two dairies provided a good look at two different types of dairy production

The community leaders learned about robotics while touring Beavers Dairy. Brett Beavers talked with them about the challenges that livestock producers face and provided a tour of his dairy, complete with demonstrations of robotic milkers and feed pushers. They discussed the water cycle that dairies implement (from the barn flushes all the way to the pivot), and the leaders learned how dairy expansion can support the economies of their local communities.

The group also toured Butler County Dairy in Rising City, where conversations rolled around how a large dairy can integrate into a community, provide steady jobs and provide a tax base to the county. The group visited the maternity barn and learned about the role genetics plays in milk production and healthy cows. They also visited the calf ranch at the dairy to learn how farmers care for the calves during the drastic weather fluctuations. 

This tour provided these county officials the opportunity to connect with actual dairy farmers and employees to see how dairies both large and small provide a quality product while also benefiting their entire communities.

“Both dairies we toured shared their desire to grow their herds,” said York County’s Lisa Hurley, “but feel they can’t until they have a place for their milk to go. ‘Find me a processor’ was a common statement. This struck home with me because York is continually focused on our seed corn industry, but we have natural resources surrounding our county that could be utilized to our advantage by adding a dairy processor.”

Kristen Hassebrook, Executive Director of AFAN, was pleased with how the tours succeeded in explaining how much positive impact successful dairy operations can make on their communities. “Given the positive response we’ve had from the tour participants,” she said, “we will be planning similar events for other community leaders to introduce them to the commitment and passion Nebraska farmers and ranchers have for providing quality food to the state and the world.”

Nebraska faculty selected by São Paulo Research Foundation for collaborative project funding

Two University of Nebraska-Lincoln faculty members, Steven Thomas and Chris Calkins, have been selected for funding by the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) in Brazil through the SPRINT initiative - São Paulo Researchers in International Collaboration. The program aims to promote the engagement of U.S. researchers with higher education institutions in the State of São Paulo, Brazil. Participants will further develop ongoing research projects and work cooperatively to establish joint research projects for the medium and long term.

Steven Thomas, associate professor in the School of Natural Resources, will explore the influence of land use practices and canopy cover restoration on nutrient spiraling in tropical and temperate stream ecosystems, alongside collaborator Davi Gasparini Fernandes Cunha of the University of São Paulo. Fertilizer use differs considerably between the states of Nebraska and São Paulo. In Nebraska, fertilizer use has been established for decades and nutrient enrichment in streams draining these agricultural landscapes is well documented. In São Paulo, fertilizer use is increasing as agronomic systems modernize but it remains uncertain whether nutrient impacts in these streams parallel those observed in their temperate counterparts.  The study will compare and contrast nutrient retention in Brazilian and Nebraskan streams using state-of-the-art experimental and numerical approaches. The collaboration between Dr. Thomas and Dr. Cunha embodies the fundamental spirit of the SPRINT competition by partnering researchers across career stage, discipline, and geography but who share a common passion to understand our streams and our world.

Chris Calkins, professor in the Department of Animal Science, will address the beef aging process and technological advances to implement systems and evaluate meat quality, collaborating with Sérgio Bertelli Pflanzer Júnior of the State University of Campinas (UNICAMP). Of interest to the two beef-producing powerhouses (Nebraska and Brazil) is the growing popularity of dry-aged beef, both domestically and internationally.  Due to tenderness and enhanced flavor, dry-aged beef is sold at a premium compared with traditional, wet-aged beef, throughout the world.  Traditional wet aging involves storage of beef primal cuts in vacuum bags, which extends shelf life and reduces moisture loss. Dry aging is a process whereby beef carcasses, primals, and/or subprimals are stored unpackaged under controlled temperatures, humidity and/or air flow for a certain period of time to allow the natural enzymatic and biochemical processes that result in improved tenderness and the development of the unique and distinct flavor. Despite the added value, the dry aging process is inconsistent and not well defined, thus the purpose of the collaborative project: defining ideal conditions for dry aging.

The call for proposals invited research in many fields of knowledge, emphasizing agricultural sciences. Nebraska joins the following institutions in being selected for funded proposals: University of Münster (Germany); Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique (FNRS, Beligum); University of Victoria (Canada); Leiden University (the Netherlands); Durham University (United Kingdom); Purdue University, Texas A&M University and the University of California San Diego.

The university’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources (IANR) has prioritized faculty collaborations with institutions in São Paulo state over the last several years, including the signing of an agreement with FAPESP in 2016 to advance these collaborations to the next level and the hosting of the Brazil-USA Research Symposium “FAPESP Week” in September 2017. This relationship, which has been supported by IANR’s Office of Global Engagement and the Agricultural Research Division, has given researchers from both countries the opportunity to engage in ongoing projects and apply for joint funding.

This Week's Drought Summary

During the 7-day period (ending Tuesday morning), heavy to excessive rainfall eased or eliminated dryness and drought across much of the eastern, southeastern, and southcentral U.S. Conversely, drought intensified and expanded from the central Corn Belt southwestward across the southern Plains into the Southwest, including much of southern California. Other modest changes to the nation’s drought depiction over the past 7 days included reductions to drought intensity in Montana as a result of recent snowy, cold weather, while dryness and drought expanded in Oregon due in large part to subpar snowpacks.

High Plains

Additional snow in central portions of the region contrasted with dry conditions elsewhere. There were no changes made to the drought depiction in the Dakotas, where a lack of snowfall to date has led to declining prospects for spring meltoff; resultant detrimental impacts on topsoil moisture and stock pond levels remained a primary concern. Meanwhile, a continuation of the recent snowy weather pattern in northeastern Colorado, southeastern Wyoming, northwestern Kansas, and much of Nebraska (30-day surplus of 1-2 inches, liquid equivalent) supported the reduction of Moderate Drought (D1) and Abnormal Dryness (D0). Likewise, moderate to heavy snow (depths averaging 12 to 24 inches, liquid equivalent 1 to 2 inches) in northeastern Montana supported some reduction of the state’s persistent long-term drought. Conversely, southern Kansas remained locked in the same drought which has held a firm, intensifying grip on the southern Plains. However, additional detailed assessment of data coupled with information from the field led to a minor adjustment of the Extreme Drought (D3) which slices over the south-central U.S., with the depiction shifted slightly east from southeastern Colorado into western Oklahoma to reflect the updated information.


Cold weather prevailed, with a swath of welcomed snowfall in central portions of the region contrasting with intensifying drought to the south. From Iowa into southern Michigan, widespread snow (4-12 inches, locally more) boosted moisture prospects, with a liquid equivalent 0.5 inch to locally more than an inch. As a result, there were modest reductions to Abnormal Dryness (D0) in parts of Iowa, southwestern Minnesota, and east-central Wisconsin. Meanwhile, drought continued to intensify from southeastern Missouri into southern Illinois and west-central Indiana. Dryness was most pronounced across eastern Missouri and neighboring portions of Illinois, where 6-month precipitation has averaged a meager 25 to 50 percent of normal (deficits of 8 to 12 inches). In these locales, Severe and Extreme Drought (D2 and D3) were expanded. Similarly, 2- to 4-inch deficits over the past 90 days (less than 50 percent of normal) were noted in the newly-expanded Moderate Drought (D1) and D0 areas of east-central Illinois and west-central Indiana.

Looking Ahead

An unsettled weather pattern will maintain periods of rain and snow over much of the nation, although pockets of dryness will persist. A series of storms will bring moderate to heavy rain and mountain snow to much of the west, although unfavorably dry conditions will persist from California into western Nevada. East of the Rockies, an active southern storm track will bring much-needed precipitation to locales from southeastern New Mexico across the southern two thirds of Texas into southern Oklahoma and the northern Delta. Despite the welcomed storminess, dry weather will linger from the south-central Plains into western Missouri as well as over the lower Southeast. Farther north, another round of moderate to heavy snow is expected from Montana into the Great Lakes and eastern Corn Belt, and may include the Mid-Atlantic as well as Northeastern States. The NWS 6- to 10-day outlook for February 20 – 24 calls for near- to above-normal precipitation over much of the nation, in particular areas east of the Mississippi save for Florida and the lower Southeast, where drier-than-normal conditions are expected. Below-normal precipitation is also anticipated in the Southwest and on the southern High Plains. Above-normal temperatures over the southern and eastern U.S. will contrast with colder-than-normal weather from the Pacific Coast States into the upper Midwest.

Beef Checkoff Launches New Producer Ad Campaign

In February, a new producer-directed advertising campaign called “Open Doors” launched for the beef checkoff. The cattle-ranching Soucie family of Cambridge, Nebraska, are featured in the national ads.

The “Open Doors” concept was born from the creative insight that you never know what you’ll find when you open a door. We open them to let someone or something in that was previously left out. We open them when others can’t open them for themselves. And we open them because progress doesn’t happen if they remain closed.

The idea behind the creative concept was to bring facts to life by taking beef producers on a journey that allows them to experience first-hand the opportunities that lie behind each door the Beef Checkoff Program has opened – and will continue to open – for the industry and their individual operations.

“Our beef checkoff is committed to creating new opportunities that add more value to a beef producer’s operation,” says Jo Stanko, Investor Relations Working Group co-chair. “But sometimes opening new doors means fighting old beliefs by constantly reminding consumers, mommy bloggers and red-meat cynics just how nutritious this total protein package can be.”

Read about more ways your checkoff is opening doors. And to learn more about your checkoff investment, visit

School for Field Crop Scouts Offered by ISU Extension and Outreach

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach will offer the Field Crop Scout School Saturday, March 24, at the Field Extension Education Lab near Boone. The day-long course prepares beginning crop scouts to be successful in their field scouting work. Sessions on crop growth and development, weed, disease and insect identification, along with scouting methods and techniques are offered.

“The school provides a basic understanding of crop pests, how to identify them and field guides to help with identification,” said Warren Pierson, program specialist for the Field Extension Education Laboratory with ISU Extension and Outreach. “It’s very important to be able to identify insects, weeds and diseases to carry out a successful integrated pest management plan.”

Registration is limited to 100 participants to ensure small, interactive groups. Students will rotate through hands-on, interactive experiences led by ISU Extension and Outreach specialists. Corn and soybean plant samples will be used to give students the opportunity to work with live plants rather than pictures.

An optional agricultural worker pesticide safety training session, as outlined by the Worker Protection Standard, is offered following the school. Certifications of completion will be provided.

Check-in will begin at 8:30 a.m., with sessions beginning at 9 a.m. and adjourning at 3:15 p.m. The optional agricultural worker pesticide safety training session will then continue until 4:20 p.m.

Online registration and downloadable registration forms are available at Pre-registration is required and must be completed before midnight, March 16. The registration fee of $100 includes field guides, course handouts, lunch and refreshments. FEEL is located at 1928 240th Street, Boone. Additional information and directions are available at

CattleFax elects 2018 Officers, Celebrates 50th Anniversary

Dale Smith, a cattle producer from Amarillo, Texas, was elected 2018 President of CattleFax at the 50th annual business meeting of the organization on Feb. 1, 2018 in Phoenix, Ariz.  Smith is a cow/calf, stocker operator and cattle feeder based out of the Texas panhandle with operations in the Texas Panhandle, Colorado and the Southeast. He has served on the boards of the Texas Cattle Feeders Association, Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, among others.

President Elect is Don Quincey of Chiefland, Fla. Quincey is a 5th generation rancher and cattle feeder in Florida and is a past president of the Florida Cattlemen’s Association. Re-elected as executive vice president was Randy Blach of Centennial, Colo. 

Other directors currently serving terms for CattleFax are: Todd Allen of Newton, Kan.; 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., is serving as treasurer.

CattleFax’s 50th anniversary was celebrated at the meeting, which was held in conjunction with the 2018 Cattle Industry Convention. First, to kick off the celebration a video highlighting the history and progress of CattleFax was shown. The video is available to view on the CattleFax website, as well as YouTube.

Topper Thorpe, the first analyst hired by CattleFax and its CEO for 30 years, was on hand to introduce the CattleFax Annual Outlook Seminar.  Dee Likes, a former CattleFax employee and the CEO emeritus of Kansas Livestock Association, emceed the evening reception. All of the CattleFax past presidents were honored for their leadership and guidance, as were long-time members, some of whom have been involved with the organization for 45 years or more. Also recognized were past and current CattleFax staff members.

Multiple University Trials Validate Benefit of Commence® for Soybeans

Agnition announced today that multiple recent university research trials demonstrate that Commence® for Soybeans, a seed treatment, increases yield for greater profits. The trails were conducted by the University of Nebraska – Lincoln and Iowa State University. Results were highlighted by the Iowa State Reseach where replicated trials in Ames and Boone Iowa resulted in an average gain of 4.0 bushels an acre over an untreated check.

Many treatments focus on physically protecting seed. Commence® takes a different approach by utilizing the seed to deliver patented technolgoies that enhance the immediate growing environment for healthier soil and plants.

“Commence® is seed treatment done differently,” said Agnition Brand Manager Andy Lanoue. “We use the seed to target soil microbes in the  immediate soil environment where germination and early plant growth occur. Healthier soil leads to faster and more consistent emergence, improved stand count, improved plant health and vigor and plants with increased stress tolerance. Ultimately that results in greater yields and profits.”

Commence® for Soybeans is powered by patented Microbial Catalyst® Technology which enhances the microbial life in the environment around the seed for improved plant growth and development. Stimulating microbes liberates nutrients and drives production of additional components vital to plant vigor.

“The research trials reinforce what we have seen many times in our research farm trails and producer trials: Commence® creates healthier soil for healthier plants that withstand stress and yield more,” Lanoue said.

Agnition is a brand of Ralco, a third-generation, family-owned multinational company with distribution in more than 20 countries. Ralco is a leading global supplier of livestock nutrition, animal health products and crop enhancement technologies that support large segments of the livestock, poultry, aquaculture and crop production industries.

Syngenta recommends overlapping residuals for season-long waterhemp management

Due to the expanding threat of resistant waterhemp, Syngenta urges corn and soybean growers to prepare a management strategy that includes overlapping residual herbicides with multiple, effective modes of action (MOAs) for the upcoming growing season. 

Waterhemp, a small-seeded broadleaf weed, is one of the most common weeds found in corn and soybean fields. According to Purdue University, it can grow as much as 1 inch per day and up to 4 to 5 feet in height, with some weeds reaching up to 12 feet. Producing as many as one million seeds per plant, waterhemp pollen can travel one-half mile or more, and because of the cross-pollination that occurs, resistance spreads.

"The driver weed across most of Illinois is waterhemp," said Aaron Hager, Extension weed specialist at the University of Illinois. "Twenty-five years ago, you couldn’t find two people in Illinois who knew what waterhemp was. Have farmers learned about it now? They sure have. Biology has forced them to learn about driver weeds to understand how to control them."

Joe Wuerffel, Ph.D., research and development scientist at Syngenta, explained that waterhemp is known to germinate as early as March and continue through August. Because of this, it’s imperative to implement a herbicide strategy to control waterhemp and manage future resistance. Overlapping residuals are recommended to improve yields and keep fields weed-free for longer.

“Herbicide resistance in waterhemp is very widespread,” Wuerffel said. “We’ve seen its resistance to six different unique MOAs. We pretty much assume that if you have a waterhemp plant in a field, it’s probably ALS-resistant.”

According to Wuerffel, growers can control waterhemp and protect yields by using multiple, effective MOAs that provide residual control and a start-clean, stay-clean approach to weed control. Acuron® corn herbicide has four active ingredients and three effective MOAs. Its atrazine-free counterpart, Acuron Flexi corn herbicide, has three active ingredients and two effective MOAs. Both contain the active ingredient bicyclopyrone, which provides improved, more consistent waterhemp control.

“Our biggest problem now is with waterhemp, not because it’s such a tough weed, but because it’s so prolific and it’s building a little resistance,” said Glenn Beller, a grower in Lindsay, Nebraska. “Acuron has pretty much kept the waterhemp at bay.”

Syngenta also offers an effective soybean weed control program that starts with pre-emergence, long-lasting residual control from Boundary® 6.5 EC or BroadAxe® XC herbicides. In addition, a post-emergence application of Flexstar® GT 3.5 is an effective herbicide for control when applied to 2- to 4-inch waterhemp.

“Waterhemp grows so fast and it’s gained so much resistance that there really isn’t anything to stop it once it’s over 3 to 4 inches tall,” said Brian Ellison, a grower in Belleville, Illinois. “The residual component in Flexstar GT 3.5 holds them down.”

Decades of research and development have put Syngenta at the forefront of introducing herbicides with extended residual control to help fight resistance. The Syngenta Resistance Fighter® program provides education, local recommendations, and a comprehensive herbicide portfolio to help growers and retailers effectively manage resistant weeds in their area.

Wednesday February 14 Ag News

Fischer Convenes Ag Stakeholders, FMCSA Over Trucking

U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) Tuesday assembled a meeting with agriculture stakeholders from Nebraska and the deputy administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), Cathy Gautreaux, the agency's acting administrator. The purpose of the meeting, which took place in Fischer's Washington, D.C., Senate office, was to discuss the effect of Hours of Service (HOS) regulations on livestock haulers.

Representatives from Nebraska Cattlemen, Nebraska Farm Bureau, Nebraska Pork Producers, and the Livestock Marketing Association attended the meeting.

"I was happy to convene a meeting today where representatives from Nebraska agriculture had the opportunity to share their concerns and suggestions about the Hours of Service regulations with FMCSA Deputy Administrator Gautreaux directly. During the meeting, we talked about how the agency can bring greater flexibility for livestock haulers. I look forward to continuing these conversations and I thank the Nebraskans who came to share their perspective today," said Senator Fischer.

On December 20, 2017, FMCSA issued a 90-day waiver for livestock haulers and opened a notice of proposed regulatory guidance to review HOS guidance. On January 17, 2018, Senator Fischer sent a letter requesting an extension to the comment period to provide for additional comments to be submitted. FMCSA granted the extension, which will close on February 20, 2018.

Comments on FMCSA's proposed guidance on the transportation of agricultural commodities can be submitted here

Upcoming Dicamba Trainings in the Dodge and Washington County Area

Nathan Mueller, Extension Educator in Dodge and Washington Counties

Upcoming UNL in-person trainings for Dicamba:
Thursday, February 22
10:00 a.m.          Pender                Pender Fire Hall
2:00 p.m.            Tekamah            First Northeast Bank of Nebraska
Tentative:  Mueller will host two video trainings on March 19 in Fremont at 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.

Upcoming BASF Grower in-person trainings, register at:
Wednesday, February 23
9:00 a.m.            Fremont             Holiday Inn Express
1:00 p.m.            West Point         Nielson Community Center

Upcoming Monsanto in-person trainings, more info at:
Wednesday, February 26
9:30 a.m.            West Point         Nielson Community Center
1:30 p.m.            West Point         Nielson Community Center

List of other in-person trainings at
On-line Training option:


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Summer annual grasses often are an important part of many hay and pasture plans.  As you select a variety to plant this coming summer, choose one with a genetic trait that improves animal nutrition.

               Sudangrass.  Cane.  Sorghum-sudan hybrids.  Forage sorghum.  Millet.  These summer annuals can produce much forage even under dry growing conditions.  But they tend to be more stemmy and less digestible than many cattle producers prefer.  Can they be made better?

               These days the answer is – yes.  A natural, genetic trait called bmr is being used in many varieties and hybrids of summer annual grasses to make them more digestible.  This enables your cattle to extract more energy from these forages.

               Bmr stands for ‘brown mid-rib’.  It received this name because the mid-rib or vein that runs down the center of each leaf has a brownish tint in summer annual grasses that have this genetic trait.  Normally this mid-rib is a cream or whitish color.

               Mid-rib color, though, is not what is important.  The important characteristic is how the bmr gene affects forage quality.  Grasses that have the bmr gene produce less lignin than normal plants.  Lignin is a complex compound that attaches to fiber components like cellulose in the plant and make it less digestible.  Since plants with the bmr gene produce less lignin, more of the fiber can be digested by your cattle, increasing the energy or TDN value of this forage.  In addition, animals eat more of the stems, reducing waste.

               The bmr gene has little other affect on these plants, so they respond like normal plants to other management practices, like planting rate, fertilization, and harvest timing.

               Improving forage quality is important for your livestock’s performance.  Give bmr forages a try and I think you will be pleased.

 Study Of U.S. Grains Council ROI: $20 In Tax Revenue For Every $1 In Farm Bill Spending On Export Market Development

Spending on overseas market development for U.S. feed grains and related products increased the value of those exports by an average of $1.71 billion per year from 2010 to 2014 and increased U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) by an average of $5 billion per year, returning $19.76 for every $1 spent by taxpayers.

Dr. Harry Kaiser, professor of applied economics and management at Cornell University, rolled out his study of the ROI of USGC's export market development programs.

Those were key takeaways from a review of the full economic value of the Council’s programs presented by Dr. Harry Kaiser, professor of applied economics and management at Cornell University, during the final day of the organization’s 15th International Marketing Conference and 58th Annual Membership Meeting in Houston.

Kaiser recently analyzed the combined effect of USGC member support and funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) program, together totally approximately $20 million per year during the study period.

In addition to successes related to export value and GDP, Council activities created 23,699 full-time jobs with $1.12 billion in labor income each year while reducing direct government payments to farmers of U.S. grains by an average of $15.3 million a year.

“Dr. Kaiser has extensive experience in looking at programs like ours and telling stakeholders if they are getting their money’s worth,” said Deb Keller, USGC chairman and farmer from Iowa. “We have a great story to tell in this regard. Our programs are not only working for our members, they are returning many times more to the federal treasury than they cost.”

On the cusp of the debate over the new farm bill, Kaiser also presented his analysis of what would happen to grain exports and the economic benefits they produce if USDA funding for market development were to be cut. He found a 50 percent cut in FAS funding would cause farm receipts to fall by almost $1.7 billion, and government payments through farm safety net programs would increase by $76.6 million annually.

“We know from nearly 60 years of experience that market development works, building close relationships with our customers works, and being active on trade policy issues that stymie growth works,” Keller said. “The study Professor Kaiser presented puts numbers to these outcomes and will help us tell our story to the stakeholders investing in us.”

Also at the Wednesday meeting, a panel of USGC international staff shared their perspectives on ethanol market development and promotion efforts in three key and growing markets, Japan, India and Latin America.

“The Council’s global network of staff, consultants and representatives work every day in more than 50 markets,” Keller said. “The combination of their efforts and the commitment of our members to the Council’s mission of developing markets, enabling trade and improving lives is truly impressive.”

Retail Fertilizer Prices Continue Mostly Higher

Most average retailer fertilizer prices continued their upward trend the first week of February 2018, according to retailers surveyed by DTN.

All but one of the eight major fertilizers were higher compared to a month earlier. No fertilizer was up a noteworthy amount.

DAP had an average price of $458 per ton, MAP $493/ton, urea $355/ton, 10-34-0 $415/ton, anhydrous $492/ton, UAN28 $227/ton and UAN32 $261/ton.

One fertilizer was actually slightly lower for the third week in a row compared to the previous month. Potash had an average price of $344 per ton.

Prices for all but three fertilizers are now higher compared to last year with prices pushing higher in recent months. Both urea and anhydrous are now 1% more expensive, potash is 4% higher, DAP is 6% more expensive and MAP is 10% higher than last year.

Three fertilizers are still lower in price compared to a year prior. UAN32 is 4% lower as is UAN28, and 10-34-0 is 6% less expensive looking back a year.

USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue Confirmed as Keynote Speaker at 2018 Commodity Classic

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue will be the keynote speaker during the General Session at the 2018 Commodity Classic held Feb. 27-March 1 in Anaheim, Calif. The General Session is scheduled for Wednesday morning, Feb. 28 at 9:00 a.m. at the Anaheim Convention Center.

Secretary Perdue is expected to share his vision for the U.S. Department of Agriculture including his thoughts on a new Farm Bill, international trade, rural development and the role of agriculture in America’s food security and economic vitality.

Perdue came by his knowledge of agriculture the old-fashioned way: he was born into a farming family in Bonaire, Georgia. From childhood, and through his life in business and elected office, Perdue has experienced the industry from every possible perspective. Uniquely qualified as a former farmer, agribusinessman, veterinarian, state legislator, and governor of Georgia, he became the 31st United States Secretary of Agriculture on April 25, 2017. 

Perdue has served as a board member for the National Grain & Feed Association, and as President of both the Georgia Feed and Grain Association and the Southeastern Feed and Grain Association. Perdue has long-standing, close relationships with the leadership of the American Farm Bureau and has been recognized by the Georgia 4-H and FFA programs, among others, for his leadership in agriculture.

Perdue has been married to Mary Ruff Perdue for 44 years and has four adult children and fourteen grandchildren. He and his wife have served as foster parents for eight children awaiting adoption.

Following Secretary Perdue’s keynote speech, the audience will hear an inspiring presentation from Army Ranger Keni Thomas, who was a member of the harrowing 1993 military mission in Somalia that was recounted in the movie Blackhawk Down.

The General Session will also include comments from the leaders of the five associations that present Commodity Classic: American Soybean Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Sorghum Producers and the Association of Equipment Manufacturers.

Education is a hallmark of Commodity Classic. In addition to the General Session, Commodity Classic offers Learning Centers, What’s New Sessions, Mini What’s New Sessions, Early Riser Sessions and the Commodity Classic Main Stage on the trade show floor. Commodity Classic also features a huge trade show, entertainment and the opportunity to network with thousands of America’s best farmers.

Detailed information on all educational sessions, the entire Commodity Classic schedule and online registration are available at  Attendees can register for all three days or choose one-day registration.

Established in 1996, Commodity Classic is produced by the National Corn Growers Association, American Soybean Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Sorghum Producers, and Association of Equipment Manufacturers.

U.S. Tractor, Combine Sales Rose in January

According to the Association of Equipment Manufacturer's monthly "Flash Report," the sale of all tractors in the U.S. in January 2018, were up 4% compared to the same month last year.

For the month, a total of 11,277 tractors were sold which compares to 10,834 sold thru January 2017 representing a 4% increase for the year.

Two-wheel drive smaller tractors (under 40 HP) were up 6% from last year, while 40 & under 100 HP were down 2%. Sales of 2-wheel drive 100+ HP were down 2%, while 4-wheel drive tractors were up 21%. Combine sales are up 12% for the month.

For the year, two-wheel drive smaller tractors (under 40 HP) are up 6% over last year, while 40 & under 100 HP were up 2%. Sales of 2-wheel drive 100+ HP are down 2%, while 4-wheel drive tractors are up 21%.  Sales of combines for the year total 229 an increase of 12% from 2017.

EIA: Ethanol Stocks Down 600,000 Bbl

The domestic supply of ethanol was drawn down a steep 600,000 bbl, or 2.6% during the week-ended Feb. 9, according to the Energy Information Administration, continuing the recent trend of volatile weekly changes in U.S. inventory.

The steep draw was joined by a 400,000 bbl build during the comparable year-ago period to narrow the surplus compared with the same week in 2017 by 1.0 million bbl to 400,000 bbl.

The drop in ethanol inventory occurred in the PADD 1 East Coast and PADD 2 Midwest producer region, with supply in the three other PADD regions unchanged on the week.

Ethanol supply along the East Coast dropped 400,000 bbl or 5.0% to 7.6 million bbl, which is 100,000 bbl less than year prior. For the Midwest, ethanol inventory was drawn down 200,000 bbl or 2.4% to 8.2 million bbl, while 500,000 bbl or 6.5% above the same week a year ago. U.S. ethanol plants produced 1.016 million bpd during the week reviewed, down 41,000 bpd or 3.9% from week prior with the output rate 21,000 bpd or 2.3% below year prior. During the four weeks ended Feb. 9, domestic output averaged 1.044 million bpd, down 8,000 bpd against the comparable period in 2017.

Refiner and blender net inputs of ethanol averaged 882,000 bpd during the week reviewed, up 14,000 bpd or 1.6% on the week and 35,000 bpd or 4.1% higher than a year ago. During the four-week period ended Feb. 9, blending demand for ethanol averaged 858,000 bpd, up 10,000 bpd from the 2017 pace.

Does Ag Need Biofuels? - A Recap of Growth Energy's Executive Leadership Conference

Agriculture leaders came together last week to discuss why biofuels are so important to the industry. At Growth Energy's Executive Leadership Conference, NCGA past President and Chairman Chip Bowling was part of a panel to discuss the current state of the farm economy and how biofuels can help.

"If the renewable fuels standard stays intact, we will get higher blends of ethanol in the fuel system and that creates higher demand for our corn," Bowling said. "We also see exports of ethanol as a major way to grind corn immediately. We need to keep pressure on lawmakers in Washington D.C. to strengthen and preserve the RFS. That is the best way to increase profitability for corn farmers!"

Joining Bowling on stage were Mark Poeschl, CEO of the National FFA Organization and National FFA Foundation; Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union; Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation; and panel moderator Jeff Broin, chairman and CEO of POET.

The conference kicked-off with Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor outlining the opportunities and challenges the industry will likely face in 2018. "The goal is market share and that means policy should provide a floor, not a ceiling to biofuel consumption," Skor said. This is our opportunity for a real conversation about how we are expanding domestic and foreign markets, forging new relationships with retailers, and shaping critical policies within the Trump administration and Congress."

"Consumer engagement is our true north," Skor added. "Now more than ever before we are focused on opening a new dialogue with consumers. We now know who to talk to, what to say and where to reach them. We know that meaningful change requires meaningful conversation."

The conference covered a variety of topics ranging from transportation trends to global markets to engine mechanics.

National Dairy FARM Program Now Compliant with International Standards Organization

The National Dairy FARM Program is now the first livestock animal care program in the world to be recognized internationally for its industry-leading animal welfare standards. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) affirmed this week that the program complies with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Animal Welfare Management/General Requirements and Guidance for Organizations in the Food Supply Chain.

USDA’s affirmation that the FARM Program is ISO-compliant “validates the hard work of everyone who has contributed to the FARM Program in the past decade — from the veterinarians and academics who helped design the program, to the farmers and dairy cooperatives who implement it,” said Emily Meredith, NMPF’s chief of staff. “The U.S. dairy industry has worked hard to make the FARM Program a best-in-class animal care program, not just in the United States, but now around the world.”

ISO’s animal welfare technical specification was designed to evaluate if animal welfare programs meet international standards for animal care. ISO, an independent, international standards-setting body, has worked for several years with the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) to help farmers and animal welfare programs like FARM determine how to implement species-specific animal welfare standards. The OIE, the World Trade Organization-recognized body for setting animal health and welfare standards affecting international trade, adopted dairy cattle welfare standards in 2015. In the United States, the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) offers a voluntary marketing program that ensures independent welfare programs meet the specifications of the ISO standard.

“ISO compliance means that dairy customers both here and abroad can safely trust that their products meet the stringent, internationally recognized animal welfare standards set by the OIE,” added Meredith. “What’s more, our dairy farmers can rest assured they only need to comply with one program — FARM — and not a potential myriad of other guidelines. This recognition becomes even more critical as nearly 16 percent of U.S. milk production is exported to foreign customers.”

After a lengthy assessment process, the FARM Program now has a prestigious, independent corroboration that its science-based approach to high-quality animal care sets the standard for the dairy value chain in the United States and around the world. Consumers can trust that the dairy foods they consume came from animals treated under internationally recognized, quality animal care standards.

USDA and Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy Work Jointly to Meet Industry’s Environmental Stewardship Goals

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy to jointly promote and enhance environmental sustainability in the dairy industry. The pact extends and builds upon a MOU originally signed in 2009.

Secretary Perdue signed the MOU with Arizona dairy farmer Paul Rovey, chairman of Dairy Management Inc. and an Innovation Center board member, at DeGroot Dairies in Hanford, Calif.

“USDA and the Innovation Center will continue to work together to accelerate the adoption of innovative technologies and increase energy efficiency improvements on U.S. dairy farms,” Secretary Perdue said. “These improvements will help producers diversify revenues and reduce utility expenses, while they strive to support their families and local communities by operating economically, environmentally sustainable dairy farms.”

“USDA has resources that can help the dairy industry be successful but in many cases they are difficult to find because they are spread out through various agencies,” Secretary Perdue continued. “This MOU hopefully will be a potential navigator to the Innovation Center and give a ‘green light’ to interact with our agencies and centralize our various research and voluntary conservation efforts to reach their goals.”

USDA’s support for agricultural and waste-to-energy research has played a key role in the agreement's success to date. USDA will continue to work on enhancing the application and approval process for Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) programs, to make the process more efficient and tailored for producer convenience. USDA will also continue to examine ways to expand the award of conservation grants for sustainability initiatives by producers, cooperatives, non-governmental organizations and state and local governments.

The Innovation Center agrees to work with its member companies to partner with USDA in communicating and educating producers on the value of sustainable practices while encouraging them to take advantage of conservation program opportunities. 

“Over the years, we have pursued creative and common-sense ways to work together that have allowed us to develop research, technologies, and on-the-ground practices that move us closer to our collective goals,” said Barb O’Brien, president of the Innovation Center. “The Innovation Center is proud of the synergy that has resulted from our collaboration with USDA, and we have no question that this public/private partnership works in the best interest of farmers, our dairy community and, most importantly, consumers of dairy who trust us to produce nutritious products they can feel good about feeding to their families.”

USDA’s national and locally-based teams of subject matter experts and portfolio of programs help improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers, and the quality of life in rural America.

“This MOU allows the dairy industry to continue to build on all of the good work we have done for years with USDA,” Rovey said. “It allows our industry to have a voice and work within a structure where we can continue making progress toward our shared goals and priorities. We are thankful to have USDA at the table with us.”

Previous and current collaborations have resulted in research, resources and a variety of programs that have advanced sustainability within the dairy community, including anaerobic digesters on farms, food waste reduction and the development of nutrient recovery technologies through NRCS and dairy’s Newtrient company.  Additionally, the Farm Smart Project led to the Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) Environmental Stewardship module. This voluntary tool empowers farmers to identify opportunities for sustainability improvements on their farm as detailed within the FARM program. Ninety-eight percent of the U.S. milk supply participates in FARM.

Case IH Defines Categories of Autonomy and Announces Pilot Program

Since the reveal of the autonomous concept vehicle, Case IH has been evolving the technology and further defining automation and autonomy as it relates to agriculture. The brand has been in discussions with customers around the world to study how this technology can be implemented for maximum benefit in their operations. Now, through its Autonomy and Automation Program, Case IH is researching and piloting autonomous technology in real-life scenarios.

“While the autonomous concept vehicle reveal in 2016 showed the world what’s possible with autonomous vehicles, it was just that — a concept. This working tractor provided a platform for us to start discussions with farmers and the industry about the technology needed for High-Efficiency Farming operations today and in the future,” said Robert Zemenchik, Case IH AFS global product manager. “We’re ready to show how automation and autonomy applies across agriculture and how it can advance the precision farming solutions our customers are currently using on their farms.”

Five categories of automation for agriculture

Diverse farming operations around the world require varying levels of automation. Through extensive Customer Driven Product Design research, Case IH found that current and future technology needs fall into five categories of automation for agricultural field applications. The categories and types of activities associated with each include:
-    Guidance
-    Coordination & Optimization
-    Operator Assisted Autonomy
-    Supervised Autonomy
-    Full Autonomy

“It’s exciting to explore the efficiencies that automation and, eventually, full autonomy can bring to each farming operation,” Zemenchik said. “The logic behind the categories is to provide a vision of what’s possible. They are not linear, and a given fleet may even fit into more than one category at a time. Today, many of our customers are already operating in the Guidance and/or Operator Assisted Autonomy categories.”

The five categories defined by Case IH start with automating specific tasks on a piece of equipment. Case IH led the way by first providing producers automation technology in the 1990’s with AFS AccuGuide™ autoguidance, and it continues today with more advanced solutions, such as AFS AccuTurn™ automated headland turning technology and AFS Soil Command™ seedbed sensing technology.

Researching and piloting autonomous technology in the field

In 2018, Case IH is collaborating with Bolthouse Farms on an autonomous tractor pilot program. The goal of the program is to understand how new autonomous technology can be used and how it meets real-world, on-farm requirements.

“The only way to validate on-farm uses for autonomous technology is, quite literally, with field pilots where farmers use it on their own farm, integrate it into their own fleet and conduct their everyday activities,” Zemenchik said.

As one of the largest carrot producers in North America, Bolthouse Farms is a year-round operation that farms extensive acreage across four states and Canada. The company’s focus on and openness to advanced technology, coupled with their desire to improve productivity, makes it ideal for the pilot for the Case IH autonomous and automation program.

The pilot program will focus first on primary tillage and deep tillage — both highly repetitive tasks Bolthouse Farms conducts year-round — and a small fleet of autonomous Steiger® Quadtrac® tractors pulling a True-Tandem™ disk harrow or Ecolo-Tiger® disk ripper will be used. This will help evaluate autonomous machine control in a variety of tillage applications, soil types, meteorological conditions and sensing and perception activities.

“One of the primary goals is to receive agronomic and operator feedback on the use of autonomous technology in real-world farm conditions so Case IH can further develop and refine our technological control and machine optimization systems,” Zemenchik said. “Additionally, we will be able to learn from Bolthouse Farms what uses it envision for automation and autonomy that we might not have already thought of.”

Brian Grant, Bolthouse Farms vice president of agriculture, views the autonomous tractor pilot program as an opportunity to find new ways to make the company’s operation more efficient and deliver high-quality food for the growing population.

“We’re just now starting to play the ‘what if?’ game — where we’re asking ourselves and the Case IH engineers the questions about what autonomous tractors are capable of,” Grant said. “And the answers to these questions are not ‘if.’ It’s ‘when.’”

Case IH will provide periodic updates throughout the course of the pilot program.  To learn more, visit

AGCO’s White Planters Brand Introduces Two New Planters During 2018 National Farm Machinery Show

AGCO Corporation (NYSE:AGCO), a worldwide manufacturer and distributor of agricultural equipment, unveiled two new planter models under the White Planters™ brand during the 2018 National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville, Ky. The planters offer features conventional and no-till farmers are requesting, so they can accurately plant more acres of corn during the ideal planting window that is so critical for optimum yields.

“Unpredictable weather and increasing acres are making it harder and harder for corn growers to plant most of their acres within that all-important ideal planting window each spring,” says Joe Whorton, tactical marketing manager for Seeding and Tillage at AGCO. “Our customers have been asking us for planters that will help them plant more acres each day and plant more accurately to help boost yields. These two models expand the White Planters offering to meet those needs. Their introduction marks the next phase in White Planters’ VE planter Series featuring Precision Planting technology.”

More acres, less compaction

Growers who want to accurately plant more acres per day while minimizing yield-robbing compaction can turn to the new White Planters 9924VE planter. This 24-row, 30-inch large-frame planter has a 150-bushel, dual tank, central-fill system that allows planting of approximately 300 acres before a refill is needed. It rides on the industry’s best track system, which is 67 inches long and available in 25-inch or 30-inch widths. This extra flotation helps producers get into the field earlier for planting.

The WP9924VE comes from the factory with the proven and reliable vSet® meter, vDrive® electronic drive system and fully integrated 20/20 SeedSense® monitoring from Precision Planting®. SpeedTube from Precision Planting®. SpeedTube®, when combined with the vSet meter, consistently delivers 99+ percent accurate seed placement of corn at speeds nearly double traditional operating speeds. SpeedTube and DeltaForce® automated downforce are available as factory-installed options.

“The 9924VE brings large-acre producers a strong combination of seed placement accuracy, on-board seed capacity, and flotation to get into the fields earlier and cover a lot of acres. It is a planter that will enhance planting productivity for many operations,” says Whorton. The WP9924VE is the fourth model from White Planters on factory-installed tracks. The White Planters brand introduced the industry’s first commercially available planter on tracks, the WP9836-30 in August 2011.

Precision seed placement in no-till, no problem

The WP9222 wing-fold planter has long been a stalwart cornerstone of the planter line, delivering excellent value and White Planters’ renowned simplicity, reliability and seed placement accuracy to producers across the country. With the addition of Precision Planting technology, the new WP9222VE brings the best in seed placement accuracy to no-till planting.

The WP9222VE planter has vSet meters, the vDrive system, 20/20 monitoring and is available in a 12-row, 30-inch configuration. This flex-frame design makes it easy to add row-unit-mounted tillage coulters to cut residue and prepare the seed zone ahead of double disc openers. The planter is built with extra strength in the wing pivot joint and linkage to handle punishing no-till conditions. It also offers liquid fertilizer options with frame-mounted fertilizer openers.

These new planters are the latest to incorporate planting technology from Precision Planting, taking White Planters to an unprecedented level of seed placement performance.

The vSet meter offers the industry’s most consistent seed singulation plus outstanding reliability for minimal downtime. The vDrive system allows row-by-row seed meter control, providing precise population control around headland curves, saving seed and ensuring ideal plant spacing for optimum yields. The vDrive allows multi-hybrid, prescription planting as well as row shut off to eliminate over planting point rows and end rows. The SeedSense monitor tracks and displays population, speed, skips, doubles, row unit ride, down force and ground contact on the go, allowing the operator to adjust as needed to optimize seed placement and troubleshoot mechanical problems.  

Options and attachments fit individual needs

As with other planters from White Planters, the WP9924VE and WP9222VE planters may be equipped to fit the needs of nearly any production system. For full details about the new White Planters, visit your nearest White Planters dealer or

Syngenta acquires FarmShots, Inc., high-resolution satellite imagery innovator

Syngenta today announced it has acquired FarmShots, Inc., a North Carolina-based innovator of high-resolution satellite imagery that detects plant health by analyzing absorbed light from field images.

This service was developed to help farmers, agronomists and retailers quickly and accurately spot field issues caused by planter skips, emergence, insect feeding, poor plant nutrition, crop diseases, weeds, other pests and environmental damage. With this capability, FarmShots enables growers and their trusted advisers to reduce field scouting by as much as 90 percent and helps them focus on areas of need.

“FarmShots is a new and unique service that helps us deliver on our commitment to further develop farm management and crop decision-making tools,” said Dan Burdett, head, Global Digital Agriculture, Syngenta. “We expect to incorporate FarmShots into our digital portfolio and rapidly accelerate growth from the current eight million enrolled acres in the United States, and globally soon after.”

Cloud-based, proprietary software and interfaces developed by FarmShots create high-resolution images, which can be displayed in multiple formats for rapid and accurate indication of field conditions.

The system provides flexibility with growers’ secure data and is optimized for use on multiple devices including tablets, laptops and smart phones. FarmShots offers access anytime, anywhere, in an easy-to-use web-based app, and data are exportable into most agricultural software. The service can notify farmers and their trusted advisers, and provide a prescription map for input application or other actions.

FarmShots will integrate seamlessly into Syngenta’s AgriEdge Excelsior® whole-farm management system in the U.S., and ultimately will be used by growers worldwide. The Syngenta privacy pledge remains intact with FarmShots: growers maintain control of their data, which continues to be securely hosted in a cloud environment.

In January, John Deere honored FarmShots as its “Dealer’s Choice for Innovation”, noting the system is “realizing for users the reduction in time and effort to target field scouting activities, better manage (and many times reduce) fertilizer usage, and provide visual tools both in the field and in the office.”

Tuesday Februay 13 Ag News

Ricketts Announces Significant Increase in Nebraska Beef, Pork Exports in 2017

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts announced more good news in Nebraska’s number one industry, agriculture.  In 2017, Nebraska increased its total beef exports by 12 percent and its total pork exports by 20 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Global Agricultural Trade System (GATS).

“This impressive growth in Nebraska’s beef and pork exports shows how effective international trade is to growing our state,” said Governor Ricketts.  “Nebraska producers always deliver high-quality products at competitive prices, and we will continue to open new markets and strengthen existing business so the producers in this state can keep feeding the world and growing Nebraska’s ag economy.”

Beef production is Nebraska’s largest industry.  Nebraska’s 2017 total beef exports of $1.26 billion make it the largest beef exporting state in the U.S. for the second year in a row.  This is Nebraska’s fourth year in a row with more than $1 billion in beef exports.  Nebraska is a national leader in every aspect of the beef industry:  cow/calf, backgrounding, corn, cattle feeding and processing.

The 2017 total pork exports of $479 million make Nebraska the fifth largest state in the U.S. in terms of pork exports.

“We are seeing steady gains in the beef trade and even larger gains in pork growth,” said Nebraska Department of Agriculture Director Steve Wellman.  “Nebraska farmers and ranchers take great pride in the beef and pork they produce.  Consumers around the world expect high-quality ag products from Nebraska and the increase in export numbers show that Nebraska producers are exceeding expectations.”

Rescheduled Grassroots Leadership Summit Approaching

The 2018 Grassroots Leadership Summit was rescheduled for MArch 16 at the Holthus Event Center in York. Every other year the Nebraska Corn Growers Association offers a Grassroots Leadership event for members. These events are a chance for members to come together and learn more about what grassroots mean and how they can be involved in the process.

Producers interested in attending should RSVP by March 9 to reserve a spot. Contact Morgan Wrich in the Nebraska Corn Growers Association office at or (402) 438-6459. A limited number of hotel rooms are available through NeCGA for the evening of March 15. If you would like to reserve one of those rooms, please let Morgan know by March 1.

This Summit event is free to attend for all members. Others interested in attending should contact Morgan.

Women in Ag Conference Early Registration Due

The Nebraska Women in Agriculture (WIA) Conference is an annual two-day event designed to educate and uplift women producers involved in any aspect of Nebraska's agricultural industry. Through workshops and presentations, attendees will learn how to better manage risk, improve their farms and ranches and become more successful operators and business partners.

This conference focuses on the five areas of agricultural risk management. Over 30 concurrent workshops will be hosted over the two-day event that focus on:
- Production Risk
- Market Risk
- Financial Risk
- Human Risk
- Legal Risk

The 2018 Women in Agriculture Conference will be held at the Holiday Inn Convention Center in Kearney Feb. 22-23. Over 30 concurrent workshops will be featured during the two-day conference focusing on agricultural risk management topics and tools to help producers make profitable business decisions.

Cost is $150 starting Feb. 14.

For more details and to register, go to

Senators Introduce Bill to Exempt Ag Producers from Reporting Requirements for Animal Waste Emissions

Today, U.S. Senators Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), and Pat Roberts (R-Kansas), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Tom Carper (D-Del.) introduced the Fair Agricultural Reporting Method (FARM) Act. The bill, which has a number of other bipartisan cosponsors, would protect farmers, ranchers, and livestock markets from burdensome EPA reporting requirements for animal waste emissions. These requirements were not intended to affect animal agriculture and instead were meant to address dangerous industrial pollution, chemical plant explosions, and the release of hazardous materials into the environment.

“Nebraska agriculture producers should be able to focus on doing their job of feeding the world without unnecessary distractions. These reporting requirements were designed to apply to industrial pollution and toxic chemicals, not animal waste on a farm or a ranch. Our legislation makes it clear that agriculture is exempt from these requirements and ensures producers in this country can continue to operate as they have been since 2008,” said Senator Fischer, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee and the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW).   

“I’ve heard from Kansas farmers and ranchers that, unless Congress acts, they will be subject to another burdensome and unnecessary regulation that costs time, money, and paperwork. In fact, more than 100,000 operations across the nation would be forced to abide by this reporting requirement that was never intended to affect agriculture. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to act swiftly on this legislation and to get these producers the help they need,” said Senate Roberts, the Chairman of the Agriculture Committee.

The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) are laws on the books that require entities to notify authorities when they release large quantities of hazardous materials. In 2008, the EPA published a final rule exempting most livestock operations from the laws’ reporting requirements.

In April 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled EPA did not have the authority to create this exemption for agriculture, creating confusion and uncertainty for America’s ag producers. 

The FARM Act would:
-    Maintain the exemption for certain federally registered pesticides from reporting requirements within CERCLA.
-    Exempt air emissions from animal waste on a farm from reporting requirements under CERCLA.
-    Provide agriculture producers with greater certainty by reinstating the status quo producers have been operating under since EPA’s 2008 final rule.

Fischer Introduces Bill to Address Air Emission Reporting for Farms, Ranches

Steve Nelson, President, NE Farm Bureau

“We applaud Sen. Fischer’s efforts to bring a common sense, legislative solution to address burdensome and unnecessary air emission reporting regulations on Nebraska’s farm and ranch families. Sen. Fischer’s introduction of the Fair Agricultural Reporting Method Act (FARM Act) would exempt farms and ranches from reporting routine air emissions from farm animals and their manure.”

“Both the Bush and Obama administrations supported a rule exempting farms from these reporting requirements, yet activist groups successfully blocked those rules and their corresponding exemptions through legal action last year. This regulation, known as the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), was founded in law and intended to address hazardous waste from Superfund sites, not air emissions from farm animals.”

“Without a fix to this regulatory problem, as many as 200,000 farms and ranches across America would be required to report their daily emissions, or face fines of up to $54,000 per day, as well as face the threat of activist lawsuits for failure to report. It is critical Congress acts to address this important issue. We thank Sen. Fischer for bringing much needed attention to the matter and for bringing forth legislation that provides a means for Congress to act.”

Cattlemen Applaud Introduction of Strong Bipartisan Bill in U.S. Senate to Prevent Farms, Ranches From Being Regulated Like Toxic Superfund Sites

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) today applauded the introduction of bipartisan legislation in the U.S. Senate that would prevent farms, ranches, and other agricultural operations from having to report livestock manure data under CERCLA, the law that governs toxic Superfund sites. The bipartisan bill was introduced today with the support of 10 Republican co-sponsors and 10 Democratic cosponsors.

“There’s not a lot of truly bipartisan legislation in Washington these days, but one thing that pretty much everybody can agree on is that a responsibly-run cattle ranch isn’t a toxic Superfund site,” said fifth-generation California rancher and NCBA President Kevin Kester. “On behalf of cattle producers across America, I want to sincerely thank the Senators from both parties who worked together to introduce this bipartisan bill. I also want to encourage other Senators to join the effort and pass this bill as quickly as possible.”

Initial bipartisan cosponsors of Fair Agricultural Reporting Method Act (or, FARM Act) are U.S. Sens. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), Bob Casey (D-Penn.), and Tina Smith (D-Minn.). 

The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) was enacted to provide for cleanup of the worst industrial chemical toxic waste dumps and spills, such as oil spills and chemical tank explosions. CERCLA was never intended to govern agricultural operations, for whom emissions from livestock are a part of everyday life.

To make this clear, in 2008, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a rule to clarify that farms were exempt from CERCLA reporting and small farms, in particular, were exempt from EPCRA reporting, given that low-level livestock emissions are not the kind of "releases" that Congress intended to manage with these laws.

Upon being sued in 2009 by environmental advocacy groups, the Obama Administration's EPA defended the exemption in court on the grounds that CERCLA and EPCRA do not explicitly exempt farms because Congress never believed that agriculture would be covered under these statutes, so a specific statutory exemption was not viewed to be necessary. Unfortunately, in April 2017, the D.C. Circuit Court vacated the EPA's 2008 exemption, putting nearly 200,000 farms and ranches under the regulatory reporting authorities enshrined in CERCLA and EPCRA. The new reporting requirements could have gone into effect on Jan. 22, but the Court delayed implementation of the requirements until May 1, 2018, which gives Congress time to act.

NCBA in January kicked off a media campaign on the issue with an online video featuring the group’s Chief Environmental Counsel, Scott Yager. In the video, Yager donned a yellow hazmat suit and explained the issue at an actual toxic Superfund site near Fredericksburg, Virginia. He then shows the contrast between the contaminated Superfund site and a cattle farm in nearby Louisa County, Virginia, that would likely have to comply with the new reporting requirements.

"This is most certainly not a toxic Superfund site,” Yager explained from the Virginia cow pasture. “Unfortunately, a recent court decision may force cattle producers and other agricultural operations to report a bunch of information about their cow poop to the federal government under the Superfund laws that were only meant to deal with toxic waste. That is unless Congress acts soon.”

Bill Would Exempt Farms From Reporting Emissions

Legislation strongly supported by the National Pork Producers Council was introduced today to exempt farmers from reporting to the U.S. Coast Guard emissions from the natural breakdown of manure on their farms.

Led by Sens. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., and Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman John Barrasso, R-Wyo., and Ranking Member Tom Carper, D-Del., the bipartisan “Fair Agricultural Reporting Method (FARM) Act” would fix a problem created last April when a U.S. Court of Appeals rejected a 2008 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rule that exempted farmers from reporting routine farm emissions under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA).

CERCLA, more commonly known as the “Superfund Law,” is used primarily to clean hazardous waste sites but also includes a mandatory federal reporting component.

The appeals court ruling would have forced more than 100,000 livestock farmers to “guesstimate” and report the emissions from manure on their farms to the Coast Guard’s National Response Center (NRC) and subjected them to abusive and harassing citizen suits from activist groups such as the Humane Society of the United States.

“Routine emissions from hog manure do not constitute a ‘hazardous’ emergency that requires the Coast Guard to activate a national cleanup response,” said NPPC President Ken Maschhoff, a pork producer from Carlyle, Ill., “We’re extremely grateful to the 19 cosponsors of the FARM Act for their leadership and common sense on this issue.

“EPA exempted farms from CERCLA reporting because it knew responses would be unnecessary and impractical. Frankly, the court created a problem where none existed.”

Joining Fischer, Donnelly, Barrasso and Carper as cosponsors of the bill are Sens. Bob Casey, D-Pa., Chris Coons, D-Del., Joni Ernst, R-Iowa., Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., John Hoeven, R-N.D., Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Clair McCaskill, D-Mo., Jerry Moran, R-Kan., Mike Rounds, R-S.D., Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Tina Smith, D-Minn., Mark Warner, D-Va., and Roger Wicker, R-Miss.

“NPPC calls on Congress to pass the commonsense, bipartisan Fischer-Donnelly bill, FARM Act,” said Maschhoff, “and we thank all the senators who have joined this effort.”

The appeals court’s April decision originally set a Nov. 15, 2017, deadline for as many as 200,000 farms to report emissions. After petitions from EPA – supported by NPPC motions – the court twice delayed that deadline, with the most recent postponement until May 1.

Some farmers tried filing reports Nov. 15, but the NRC system was overwhelmed. In some instances, NRC operators refused to accept reports for more than a single farm per call because they didn’t want phone lines tied up, and in one case, an operator sent notices to more than 20 state and federal response authorities, including the Department of Homeland Security, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a state police agency, after receiving a report.

“The pork industry was prepared to comply with the reporting mandate,” Maschhoff said,” but EPA, the Coast Guard and state and local emergency response authorities said they didn’t want or need the information, which could have interfered with their legitimate emergency functions.”

NMPF Endorses New Legislation to Prevent Dairy Farms from Facing Air Emissions Reporting Requirement

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) today lauded new bipartisan legislation in the Senate that would prevent dairy farms from having to generate meaningless air emissions data under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA).

The Fair Agricultural Reporting Method (FARM) Act, introduced in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday afternoon, would prevent farms, ranches and other agricultural operations from having to report livestock manure emissions data under CERCLA. The CERCLA provisions in question were originally enacted to address accidental hazardous air emission emergencies from toxic waste sites. However, because of recent court decisions, the CERCLA law soon will require farms to generate reports that regulatory agencies do not want and will not use – unless Congress legislates a change to the underlying law.

“CERCLA was never intended to be applied in this way to dairy farms,” said NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern. “Congress needs to stipulate that this burdensome regulatory overreach serves no legitimate health or safety purpose, and needs to stop.”

The FARM Act’s lead sponsors include Sens. Deb Fischer (R-NE) and Joe Donnelly (D-IN), along with 18 other Republican and Democratic senators, including Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman John Barrasso (R-WY) and Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-DE).

In 2008, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) exempted most farms from reporting the release of manure-related ammonia and hydrogen sulfide under both CERCLA and the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act of 1986 (EPCRA), deeming such reports unnecessary. However, in April 2017, the D.C. Court of Appeals directed the removal of this exemption for dairy and other livestock operations from the two federal laws.

In October 2017, EPA filed a motion requesting that the court extend its stay on requiring livestock farm compliance with CERCLA and EPCRA until January 2018. It also issued its interpretation that reporting under EPCRA was not necessary because the air emissions are associated with routine agricultural operations, which are exempt. EPA plans to address the interpretation further via a rulemaking process. The court was expected to issue its mandate after Jan. 22, but on Jan. 19, EPA filed a request to delay the compliance date for an additional 90 days. The court granted EPA’s request, giving Congress time to change the underlying legislation at issue in the courts.

NMPF and other animal agriculture associations have assisted EPA in petitioning the appeals court to delay issuing a mandate. In the interim, NMPF worked with EPA to clarify reporting obligations in dairy production and develop meaningful guidance for farms of all sizes.

NMPF continues to recommend that producers do not file any emissions reports until the legal issue is resolved. In the meantime, it has been preparing preliminary materials to assist dairy farmers in calculating emissions and filing reports if it becomes necessary.

Iowa State University Leads Harrison County Project to Combat Weeds Resistant to Herbicides

Harrison County is home to a new project focused on combating weed resistance as part of a statewide pest resistance management program led by Iowa State University.

A team of local farmers, landowners, agronomists, crop advisers, bankers, seed and chemical company representatives, and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach specialists are addressing the increasing threat of herbicide resistant weeds, including Palmer amaranth.

Launched in 2017, the Iowa Pest Resistance Management Program is a statewide effort to slow the development of pest resistance using a collaborative approach to promote pest resistance management practices.

The Harrison County team includes farmer cooperators who will help evaluate and demonstrate the cost-effectiveness of weed resistance management for 2018 and beyond.

“I am extremely pleased in how this project is evolving, the interest that it is receiving, and especially our team,” said Larry Buss, a Harrison County farmer and leader of the project. “This team is devoting time and energy to this project because they all feel, as I do, that we have got to get on top of this resistance issue. If we do not, the results will be reduced crop yields and increased production costs, both which will decrease Iowa farmer profitability.”

Palmer amaranth was first discovered in Iowa in 2013 in Harrison County. It is of great concern to farmers due to its competitiveness, high growth rate, prolific seed production and demonstrated ability to evolve resistance to herbicides. Once it is established in a field, weed management costs may rise significantly.

“Combating weed resistance requires both a short-term and a long-term focus and adaptive management as we learn what works and what does not work,” Buss said.

In addition to combating Palmer amaranth, the Harrison County team will focus on improving management of widespread herbicide-resistant weeds — waterhemp, giant ragweed and marestail.

The Harrison County effort is one of several pest resistance management projects around Iowa coordinated by Iowa State, which is working with many partners to develop and implement projects across the state with farmers and their agronomic and farm advisers and agricultural professionals to devise cost-effective resistance management practices to sustain yields.

“The local teams drive these projects,” said Evan Sivesind, program manager in the Department of Entomology at Iowa State who oversees the Iowa Pest Resistance Management Program. “Farmers, crop advisers and other agriculture professionals set the direction for each project and develop strategies that address the issues facing farmers in their area. The Harrison County project has a great team in place that really understands the local landscape and the specific challenges farmers are facing in the area.”

In Harrison County, growing conditions and management practices vary widely. Field demonstrations will take place in both the Loess Hills and the Missouri River Valley. The viability of recommended resistance management practices will be tested and demonstrated in the context of local cropping systems.

Results will be shared through local field days, newspaper articles, handouts, social media and on, which is part of Iowa State’s Integrated Pest Management website.

The Iowa Pest Resistance Management Program is a collaboration of a broad cross-section of the Iowa agriculture industry, including the Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, Iowa Soybean Association, Iowa Soybean Research Center, Agricultural Biotechnology Stewardship Technical Committee, United States Herbicide Resistance Action Committee, United States Insecticide Resistance Action Committee, Agribusiness Association of Iowa, the Iowa Chapter of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers, Iowa Independent Crop Consultants Association, Iowa Institute for Cooperatives, Practical Farmers of Iowa, the Soil and Water Conservation Society, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and Iowa State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Soy Growers Oppose Unprecedented Cut to Crop Insurance, Farm Programs in White House Budget

The American Soybean Association (ASA) today voiced opposition to proposed cuts included in President Donald Trump’s FY2019 budget, including reductions in the federal crop insurance program through a cap on adjusted gross income (AGI) and a reduction in premium subsidy, and elimination of the Foreign Market Development program and Market Access Program. ASA President John Heisdorffer, a farmer from Keota, Iowa, issued a statement warning Congress to avoid the cuts, which would do significant harm to the nation’s soybean farmers:

“The proposed cuts in crop insurance and farm programs make this budget a non-starter. We’ve opposed cuts to crop insurance from Republican and Democratic administrations alike. This budget revisits those cuts to an even greater degree, cutting crop insurance by approximately 30 percent. It would also eliminate the MAP and FMD export promotion programs, which we rely on to expand our reach into new and existing export markets around the world. Additionally in this budget, we’re looking at ill-advised cuts to international food assistance programs, conservation programs and to valuable agricultural research.

“As the farm economy continues to struggle in its recovery, farmers cannot afford these backbreaking cuts. And while we understand that the White House budget is considered by many to be an illustrative policy document, we are concerned that this approach only emboldens those in Congress that would see these programs significantly reduced or entirely eliminated. We strongly urge Congress to push this budget to the side and continue to advance practical farm policy.”

Growth Energy Statement: Deepening Farm Crisis Highlights Need for Biofuels

Bleak economic prospects for America’s farmers, detailed in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) latest 2018 Farm Income Forecast, underscore the need for a strong Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) says Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy.

“Rural communities are falling further behind, and many farmers are wondering if this next harvest will be their last,” said Skor. “The latest figures show farm income hitting a 12-year low, with debt mounting in the face of a global crop surplus. The RFS remains the single most promising tool available to revitalize rural growth and provide a key outlet for the multi-year crop surplus. To make that happen, it’s vital that policymakers reject attempts by a handful of refineries to pull the rug out from under America’s farmers by limiting the growth of biofuels.”

According to the new USDA forecast, net farm income is expected to decline by $4.3 billion (6.7 percent) from 2017 to $59.5 billion in 2018, the lowest level since 2006. Adjusted for inflation, income drops by $5.4 billion, leaving farmers with less income than any year since 2002. At the same time, farm debt is forecast to increase by $3.8 billion, and cash receipts for corn are forecast to fall by $1.9 billion, reflecting a decline in corn prices that has continued without relief since 2012.

“Voters trusted this administration with the power to launch a new wave of growth across rural America, and now is the time to deliver on that promise,” continued Skor. “We cannot leave rural economies in the U.S. to decline or stagnate as they did during the 1980s. We’re grateful to President Trump for his long-standing commitment to the RFS and urge him to stand strong against misguided attempts to undermine rural growth.”

Advisory Teams Engage On Issues Of Trade Policy, Trade Diplomacy In Houston

Grain producers and agribusiness representatives met to help chart the operational course for the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) during advisory team (A-team) meetings Tuesday, held at the ongoing 15th International Marketing Conference and 58th Annual Membership Meeting in Houston, Texas.

“The Council’s A-team meetings allow delegates and members to engage directly on the most critical issues related to international trade,” said Council Chairman Deb Keller, a farmer from Iowa. “The Council will use this input to guide the development of the Council’s programs in more than 50 countries that buy U.S. grains and grains products, like ethanol.”

The Council operates seven advisory teams focused on key regions - Asia, Western Hemisphere and the Middle East and Africa - and topics - ethanol, trade policy, value-added products and innovation and sustainability.

As they do each year at the Council's winter meetings, A-Teams conducted in-depth sessions in Houston to help set USGC global strategy and hear from the Council’s global staff members who work to promote the Council’s key products - U.S. corn, sorghum and barley as well as co-products like ethanol and distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS).

The teams also got information they can take back to the members of the organizations they represent, including checkoffs, agribusiness companies and general farm organizations. In this way, A-team members and Council delegates are acting as diplomats focused on the importance of strong trade policy and market development for the grains sector.

“A-teams leverage the collective perspectives and experiences of the Council’s grassroots membership,” Keller said. “These insights are critical to the Council’s success, and our members’ outreach on behalf of trade is critical to our continued growth.”

USGC delegates also met Tuesday in sector-specific groups, including for corn, barley and sorghum producers as well as agribusinesses and general farm organizations.

The full USGC Board of Delegates and the USGC Board of Directors will both convene on Wednesday during the final day of meetings in Houston.

NMPF Asks USDA to Quickly Open Enrollment Period for Revised Margin Protection Program

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) must move swiftly to re-open sign-up for the dairy Margin Protection Program (MPP) for 2018 now that Congress has made significant improvements to the dairy economic safety net program, according to the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF).

In a letter sent Tuesday to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, NMPF said that the agency needs to quickly re-open the sign-up period to give farmers the opportunity to enroll in or change their calendar year 2018 MPP coverage, given that the program will now provide more affordable coverage for farmers during a time when milk prices are at a two-year low. The enrollment window for selecting 2018 MPP coverage closed in December, but the new disaster aid legislation that Congress approved last week directs the USDA to revise that deadline.

“Congress was clear in the legislation that farmers be given the opportunity to elect or adjust their coverage for all of the 2018 calendar year,” said NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern in the letter. “Thus, it is critically important that the department move quickly to re-open enrollment and provide MPP coverage retroactive to Jan. 1, 2018.”

The larger budget law also makes several crucial improvements to the MPP, including:
-    Raising the catastrophic coverage level from $4.00 to $5.00 for the first tier of covered production for all dairy farmers;
-    Adjusting the first tier of covered production to include every dairy farmer’s first 5 million pounds of annual milk production (about 217 cows) instead of 4 million pounds, a recognition of the growth in herd sizes across the country;
-    Reducing the premium rates, effective immediately, for every producer’s first 5 million pounds of production, to better enable dairy farmers to afford the higher levels of coverage that will provide more meaningful protection against low margins;
-    Modifying the margin calculation to a monthly (from bi-monthly) basis, to make the program more accurate and responsive to producers in difficult months;
-    Waiving the annual $100 administrative fees for underserved farmers.

Mulhern also urged that USDA update its education materials for farmers, so that the department’s Farm Service Agency field offices can “ensure that dairy producers across the country receive accurate, timely information about the changes that have been made to MPP.”

NMPF also asked USDA to remind farmers using the MPP that they can receive catastrophic coverage on 90 percent of their milk production history, “with the option of then purchasing buy-up coverage on between 25 and 90 percent of production history. Since the catastrophic coverage level has been modified, we think farmers will be well-served by this reminder,” NMPF wrote.

The newly passed disaster package also removes the $20 million cap on insurance programs offered by USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA), which NMPF supported as a means to deliver additional risk management options to farms of all sizes. NMPF said it will work with USDA to help farmers understand existing tools and develop future programs that could be made available through USDA.

NMPF also reminded the agency that the current Farm Bill does not allow farmers to opt back and forth between the MPP and Livestock Gross Margin (LGM) programs. “Therefore, we ask that you give producers one-time flexibility to terminate their LGM contracts” if they wish to utilize the revised MPP in 2018, Mulhern wrote.

NGFA looks forward to working with Congress on infrastructure initiative

The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) today said it looks forward to working with Congress on legislation to finance improvements to America's crumbling infrastructure, including rehabilitating dilapidated locks-and-dams on the U.S. inland waterways system.

NGFA said the release on Feb. 12 of President Trump's legislative concepts for rebuilding U.S. infrastructure represented an important starting point for discussions, and commended the administration for its continued focus on infrastructure and for proposing to streamline and improve the cumbersome and costly permitting process for projects. The administration's legislative outline calls for spending $200 billion in federal funds to spur at least $1.5 trillion in infrastructure investments with state, local and private sector partners. The plan includes $50 billion for capital investments in rural infrastructure projects.

"The NGFA is pleased the Trump administration has prioritized rebuilding the nation's infrastructure, particularly in rural America," said NGFA President Randy Gordon. "Infrastructure is integral to maintaining a successful agricultural supply chain, preserving U.S. competitiveness in the global food and agricultural markets and rejuvenating the economic vitality of rural communities."

But for financing the rebuilding of the vital inland waterways system, NGFA said it believes that the existing public-private partnership in which commercial barge users pay a barge diesel fuel tax into a dedicated Inland Waterways Trust Fund (IWTF), matched by general treasury funds, continues to have merit. Currently, the barge diesel fuel tax is 29-cents-per-gallon, which the barge industry and commercial users (including agricultural stakeholders) urged be increased to that level in 2014. The administration's legislative outline would make the Inland Waterways Trust Fund responsible for operating and maintaining the inland navigation system at an estimated cost eight times that of current trust fund income.

"As the president has noted, most of the locks and dams on the U.S. inland waterways system long ago surpassed their 50-year lifespan," Gordon said. "Unscheduled breakdowns and stoppages of barge traffic on the upper Mississippi and Illinois River System have increased 700 percent over the last decade. That is why NGFA will continue to advocate for a final infrastructure package that prioritizes and provides cost-share funding to repair the existing backlog of 25 critical inland waterway modernization projects."

NGFA also expressed strong concern over proposals to impose additional tolling or lockage fees on commercial users of the inland waterways. Such costs likely would result in the diversion of significant volumes of waterborne traffic to other higher-cost and capacity-challenged transport modes -- particularly already-congested highways and several service-challenged freight railroads. NGFA said tolling and lockage fees also would compound existing inequities, given that non-commercial beneficiaries of the inland waterways system, such as municipal and industrial water systems, hydropower generation plants, recreational users and others, do not similarly fund the system.

NGFA noted that inland waterways provide the lowest cost and most environmentally sustainable way to move grains, oilseeds and other agricultural products to export ports, as well as farm inputs (such as fertilizer) to U.S. farmers inland. The United States exports approximately 25 percent of its grain and oilseed crop, with about 60 percent of that volume moving to U.S. Gulf ports via the inland waterways, while another 27 percent moves by a combination of rail and barge (via the Columbia-Snake River System) to Pacific Northwest ports.

NGFA also said it supports deepening and widening navigation channels at U.S. ports to accommodate larger and more efficient vessels that transport bulk and container shipments of grains, oilseeds and grain products.

White House's Budget Proposal Makes Major Cuts to Conservation Funding

Today, the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) released the following statement regarding President Donald Trump’s budget for conservation programs in the 2019 fiscal year.

“Once again, this administration is calling on American producers to do more with less,” NACD President Brent Van Dyke said. “The President’s budget proposes cuts to almost every area of USDA’s discretionary and mandatory budgets, including nearly $15 billion in cuts to farm bill conservation programs and over a 20 percent reduction to Conservation Operations.”

Within the conservation portfolio, the President’s FY19 budget proposes a funding level of $669 million for Conservation Operations, a $200 million cut to the account that funds conservation planning and technical assistance. The budget also requests significant cuts to the Conservation Technical Assistance (CTA) program within Conservation Operations.

“Conservation planning is the lifeblood of voluntary conservation and the building block on which all other conservation programs stand,” Van Dyke said. “Proposing extreme cuts to technical assistance programs at a time when the administration is asking for greater customer service just doesn’t add up. The President’s budget proposal is a reminder that we must continue educating our lawmakers about just how important locally-led conservation efforts are to this country now and for future generations.”

The budget includes a legislative proposal to eliminate the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and funding for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). In addition to eliminating these USDA programs, the budget also requests to completely eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s Section 319 nonpoint source grant program, which helps address nonpoint pollution from agricultural as well as non-agricultural sources.

NACD applauds Congress’ past efforts to support the conservation programs most vital to our nation’s natural resources and calls on Congress to oppose President Trump’s FY19 budget.

NCGA Announces Dr. Goeser Promoted to Vice President of Production and Sustainability

The National Corn Growers Association proudly announces that Dr. Nick Goeser, currently NCGA's Director of Soil Health, has been promoted to the position of Vice President of Production and Sustainability.

"While we had a number of outstanding candidates for this position, it is always nice to find the ideal candidate is already on the job working for you," said NCGA CEO Chris Novak. "We are excited to see how he will grow our sustainability efforts and, given his proven record of excellence, confident that he will shape our organization to benefit farmers both in the near and long term."

Since joining NCGA in April of 2014, Goeser has done an outstanding job developing and building NCGA's Soil Health Partnership.  His leadership in working with farmers in the Soil Health Partnership, his engagement with state corn organizations on environmental programming, and his outreach to a wide range of stakeholders-including other ag organizations, food manufacturers and retailers, and environmental organizations-has been vital to growing the partnership.  Having grown up on a farm in Wisconsin, Goeser understands agriculture and maintains a close connection to his family's farm.

Prior to joining NCGA, Goeser most recently worked for Monsanto as a Technology Development Representative based out of Arlington, Wisconsin.  He previously worked as an agronomist and crop manager and at the University of Wisconsin - Madison as a Graduate Research Assistant in both Agronomy and Horticulture.

Hesston by Massey Ferguson to Debut 2370 Ultra High Density Large Square Baler at World Ag Expo 2018

AGCO Corporation (NYSE:AGCO), a worldwide distributor and manufacturer of agricultural equipment, is debuting the Hesston by Massey Ferguson® 2370 Ultra High Density (Ultra HD) baler to North American producers at the 2018 World Ag Expo in Tulare, Calif., Feb. 13-15. The industry’s first and only Class 8 baler, the 2370 Ultra HD is designed to produce heavy, dense bales from light-weight, dry, slick grass and hard-to-bale crop residue. It is an especially good choice for large commercial hay growers, operations that export hay and biomass material and businesses harvesting biomass for the North American biofuels and livestock feed industries.

    Hesston by Massey Ferguson® 2370 Ultra High Density (Ultra HD) baler, will make its North American debut at the 2018 World Ag Expo. Producers can see it at Lot #46Q along the North Greenbelt between Q and R Streets.

    The 2370 Ultra HD baler is designed to help operators easily and efficiently bale light-weight dry, slick grass and hard-to-bale crop residue. It offers the throughput and reliability large commercial hay growers and businesses harvesting biomass require when harvest windows are small and tons-harvested-per-day is driving an operation’s profitability.

    The new baler is the industry’s first and only Class 8 square baler and produces 3’ X 4’ bales with 20 percent greater density than Hesston’s Model 2270XD baler.

    The Model 2370 Ultra HD has a straightforward design to reduce maintenance and service downtime and is built with the durability and reliability to run under high loads, covering thousands of acres, bale after bale. It was chosen as a 2018 AE50 Award winner by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE).

“As their market demands increase, our customers have asked for even more capacity, density and reliability from large square balers,” explains Matt LeCroy, tactical marketing manager for hay and forage products at AGCO. “Our engineers in Hesston, Kan., went to work, and the result is the industry’s first Class 8 baler. It offers the throughput and reliability large operations require when harvest windows are small and tons-harvested-per-day is driving an operation’s profitability.”

Small and large square balers are ranked in Class 1 through Class 8 using rated plunger load, the most measurable factor impacting a bale’s density. Class 8 is for balers with 750-plus kilonewtons (kN) plunger force, the highest classification.

The Model 2370 Ultra HD makes 3’ by 4’ bales with 20 percent greater density than Hesston’s industry-leading Model 2270XD baler. The Ultra HD is the latest advancement in hay harvesting from Hesston, which introduced the industry’s first large square baler in 1978.

“More crop in the bale means fewer bales to bale, handle, move, store and transport, which cuts operating costs and drives bottom-line returns for the operator. We’ve taken the time-proven design used for all Hesston® square balers and enhanced it to produce the industry’s heaviest bales. We’re excited to bring the first Class 8 square baler to market.” 

In creating the 2370 Ultra HD baler, AGCO began with a faster, 15 percent heavier, more powerful plunger that operates at 50 strokes per minute. It packs a maximum-load capacity punch of 760 kN – 63 percent greater than the 2270XD baler and built with the durability to run at maximum load capacity regardless of crop and field conditions.

Additional key features of the industry’s first and only Class 8 large square baler, include:
-    New Bale Create user interface that is intuitive to use and arms the operator with all relevant baler performance information, for quicker, easier in-field decisions and adjustments to optimize bale quality and bales harvested per hour.
-    Heavy-duty main chassis frame, designed to handle heavier loads commonly seen when producing ultra-high-density bales.
-    All new OptiFlow™ pickup assembly system reliably feeds crop into the baler at higher ground speeds. The OptiFlow pickup has five tine bars and 80 double tines on the pickup assembly, 25 percent more tine bars than previous Hesston balers. A large diameter roller, new curved-design wind guard and powered top auger ensure optimal crop flow.
-    A 28-inch longer bale chamber for greater density control, equipped with dual-acting, 7-inch-diameter, hydraulic density cylinders to create maximum bale density and a more exacting, consistent bale shape.
-    A simple design with fewer cylinders, hoses, couplers and hardware compared to competitive balers, to help reduce maintenance and service.
-    A driveline that includes three clutches in the main drives to protect against damage and downtime. The flywheel now has an auto-reset clutch, making it faster and easier to get back to baling after an overload, compared to the downtime of replacing a shear bolt in a traditional flywheel clutch.

Two gearboxes put the power behind the Ultra HD balers without adding excessive weight or size. A new, heavy-duty midline gearbox increases the flywheel energy by allowing the input speed going into the flywheel and gearbox to “step up” from 1,000 rpm to 1,500 rpm. Next, the heavy-duty Ultra™ gearbox, with maximum rated load of 760 kN, drives the plunger. Its split-torque design transfers extreme loads using maximum load output. 

Design details increase uptime

With nearly 40 years of experience designing large square balers, Hesston engineers understand the factors that cause downtime. In the 2370 Ultra HD, plunger needle slots include brushes to remove debris from needles prior to entering knotters. By keeping trash out, the knotters work better and tie more consistently with fewer missed knots and downtime. The six heavy-duty, double-tie knotters use twine with up to 800-knot-strength twine needed for high-density bales.

Two rows of EasyFill™ twine boxes hold 36 balls of twine for fewer refills, and the swing-out boxes provide easy access to baler components behind the boxes. New exterior shielding makes it easier to access service points such as the convenient ground-level hydraulic fluid reservoir, hydraulic block and fuse block. The new shielding and a unique paint scheme give the baler a sleek look.

Hydraulic brakes and a roller chute with scales come standard on the 2370 Ultra HD. Other features include a lifetime-sealed packer crank and stuffer bearings for less service time and increased baler life, and a replaceable knotter drive cam lobe.

The Model 2370 Ultra HD large square baler will be available in 2018 from Hesston by Massey Ferguson and Challenger® dealers. To find a dealer near you, visit or

Monday February 12 Ag News

Proposed cuts would axe Haskell Ag Lab, Rural Futures Initiative

Monday, UNL Chancellor Ronnie Green informed a number of personal that their programs would be potentially cut.

The announcement comes ahead of a hearing in the Nebraska Legislature after Governor Ricketts slashed the state Univesity budget by approximately $11 million for the current budget year and $23 million for the next budget year.

“They aren’t being eliminated at this point — they are just proposals,” Green said. “But there’s no way to dice it. This is serious business.”

Among the proposed cuts, UNL would close Haskell Agriculture Laboratory, a research center near Concord.   The laboratory serves 28 counties in northeast Nebraska.

The proposal also calls for a deep cut to the Rural Futures Initiative (RFI). RFI was founded in 2012  with a mission to harness the intellectual energy of the  University of Nebraska and its partners to positively impact the future of humankind.

Other  proposed cuts include:
    Eliminating bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in geography.
    Eliminating the electronics engineering bachelor’s degree.
    Eliminating bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in art history.
    Eliminating two teacher’s certification programs, one in business, marketing and information technology and the other in French, Latin and Russian language education.

It could be late March before a final budget decision comes from the State Capitol. Even if the proposed cuts must move forward at that time, Green stressed that they still would be subject to full review by the Academic Planning Committee, including a public hearing and recommended modifications, as described by the process set out here .

“This is not the first time we have had to make these tough decisions — this is the third cut to the university budget in less than a year,” Green said “And, as sad as it is to say, unless something changes dramatically, it is not going to be the last cut either.”

PVC Cattlemen Valentine's meeting

Bradley Christensen, President

Be sure to bring your Valentine for a belated night out Monday, February 19th, at Wunderlich’s Catering in Columbus, NE. The Platte Valley Cattlemen's Ladies Night Out meeting will include a presentation from the owners of Urban Farm Boutique.  The social hour will begin at 6:00 p.m. with dinner to follow at 7:00 p.m. Thank you to our social hour sponsors Lindsay Farmers Coop.

We hope you and your spouse can join us!

Assistance Sought in Identifying Novel, Abnormal Traits in Calves

Steve Niemeyer – NE Extension Educator
UNL researchers, Dr. David Steffen (Veterinary Diagnostic Center) and Dr. Jessica Petersen (Department of Animal Science) are using veterinary and genomic tools to understand the cause of abnormal, unwanted traits in beef cattle. This research, including a careful description of affected calves and collection of genetic samples, is important in the case that these conditions are heritable.

A novel form of severe, lethal dwarfism exemplifies a current study. Beginning in 2016, several calves (Black Angus and Angus cross) born with this phenotype were submitted to the VDC. Genotyping of the calves showed they did not have any genetic mutations that have previously been documented to cause dwarfism. However, the pedigrees of the affected calves suggest this is an inherited, recessive condition. The research team is currently working to identify any new genetic variant(s) causing this condition which could allow for the identification of carriers of this undesirable trait.

THE SUCCESS OF THIS RESEARCH IS DEPENDENT UPON HELP FROM PRODUCERS! The research team is asking producers to report any calf born with an unusual, unwanted phenotype such as dwarfism. All information and samples submitted will contribute to building an understanding of these conditions and the potential identification of means to prevent or manage their occurrence.

In the case a defective calf is identified:
1) If possible - contact Dr. Steffen (402-472-1434; prior to disposal of the calf. Funding is available to assist with diagnosis. In the case of a dwarf calf, examination of the femur, front metacarpal, and head will help verify the phenotype. For other conditions, contact Dr. Steffen or your breed organization to facilitate proper diagnostic sampling.
2) Collect a sample from the calf for DNA analysis (ear or muscle tissue, frozen).
3) If available, collect a blood sample (EDTA tube) from the sire and dam.
4) Photograph the calf.
5) Include pedigree information. Note: the animal’s pedigree and the owners’ information will be kept confidential and used only for the purpose of research.

Success in identifying novel genetic variants before they become widespread is possible only through the continued contributions of producers. Most often, the investigations result in determining a non-genetic cause, such as environment or nutrition. However, new information from those cases can still assist producers in herd management at no disruption to breeding programs. Working together we can improve and understand the health and genetics of our beef herds.

Edited 2/8/2018 - The researchers note that cases of genetically abnormal calves are rare and occur across breeds; further, in many instances the cause of abnormalities is not attributed to genetics. The dwarfism trait noted in the article has been recently reported on three ranches, with a total of 6 calves affected. Calves with similar deformities have previously been reported in several breeds. While it is important to understand the cause of this defect, the dwarfism disorder currently being investigated is not thought to be common nor pose a concern to the industry. Historically, we lacked the tools to fully investigate the cause of these events. Now with new tools and technologies we are fortunate that American Angus Breeders and their leadership are proactive in supporting investigations of emerging issues to prevent problems from disrupting breeding programs.

Vote Feb. 12 - March 12 for Iowa's Best Burger

Iowa’s cattle producers are asking their fellow Iowans to help find Iowa’s Best Burger in 2018. In this year’s quest, the Iowa Beef Industry Council (IBIC) and the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association (ICA) are encouraging you to nominate your favorite burger, whether it’s gourmet or down-home style.

This is the ninth year the two groups are holding the annual Iowa’s Best Burger contest, which officially kicks off February 12. The nomination period will close at 5 p.m. on March 12, 2018. To qualify to and be named Iowa’s Best Burger, the burger must be a 100% beef patty and served on a bun or bread product. 

“We are excited to begin the search for this year’s best burger in Iowa,” comments Katie Olthoff, Director of Communications for the ICA.  “This year, our goal is to get new  restaurants involved in the contest. We know we have many restaurants across the state serving a great beef burger.”

In order to recognize these great burgers, IBIC and ICA are asking Iowans to nominate their favorite burger for the award, and those nominations can be made online or by text. Details about the contest, rules, and the voting form are available on the Iowa Beef Industry Council’s website, Burger lovers can also find a link to the online nomination form at the Iowa Beef Council Facebook page; or by texting BEEF to 313131. Photos of your favorite burger can be shared socially using #IABestBurger.

“Restaurants can download a digital toolkit including promotional materials for the contest from IBIC’s website at to promote the contest to their customers,” says Brooke German, Director of Marketing for the IBIC. “The promotional materials can be used in their restaurants or online such as their social media platforms.”

The nomination period ends March 12, 2018. German noted that the top 10 restaurants with the most votes are eligible for the title of Iowa’s Best Burger. The top ten finalists will be announced on March 19. Finalists will receive a certificate and will be eligible for the secret taste-test of contest judges. The 2018 Best Burger in Iowa will be announced on May 1 with the kick-off of May Beef Month in Iowa.

“Funded by the Iowa State Beef Checkoff program, this contest not only promotes Iowa’s restaurants serving great beef burgers, but also Iowa’s beef farmers producing  safe, wholesome and nutritious products for consumers,” says Steve Rehder, chairman of the Iowa Beef Industry Council. “It is a great partnership between the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association and the Iowa Beef Industry Council to promote Iowa’s beef industry which generates an estimated $6.03 billion in economic activity in the state.”

In 2017, nearly 9,200 nominations for 500 restaurants were received in the contest. The final winners in previous years are: 2017 – The Smokin’ Hereford BBQ, Storm Lake; 2016 – The Chuckwagon Restaurant, Adair; 2015 – The Cider House, Fairfield; 2014 – Brick City Grill, Ames; 2013 – 61 Chop House Grille, Mediapolis; 2012 – Coon Bowl III, Coon Rapids; 2011 – Rusty Duck, Dexter; 2010 – Sac County Cattle Company, Sac City.

NPPC Wants Votes On Four Key Trump Nominees

The National Pork Producers Council today urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to schedule confirmation votes on four long-languishing Trump administration nominees for positions important to U.S. pork producers and American agriculture.

In a letter to the two leaders, NPPC asked the Senate to fulfill its “vital role in ensuring that our federal agencies are adequately staffed by moving quickly to schedule votes and confirm” Gregg Doud as chief agricultural negotiator at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Bill Northey as undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Stephen Vaden as USDA’s general counsel and Andrew Wheeler as deputy administrator at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“All four candidates are highly qualified, and the positions they will fill are extremely important to the U.S. pork industry and American agriculture,” wrote NPPC President Ken Maschhoff, a pork producer from Carlyle, Ill. “The nominees will oversee policies and programs that farmers and ranchers depend on.”

Doud currently is president of the Commodity Markets Council, and he previous was a senior aide to the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. Doud, who grew up on a family farm in Kansas, also worked for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and for U.S. Wheat Associates.

Northey is secretary of the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. He previously served as president of the National Corn Growers Association and on Iowa’s USDA Farm Service Agency state committee.

Vaden, who has been at USDA since President Trump’s inauguration, grew up on a family farm in west Tennessee before coming to Washington to work at two of D.C.’s biggest law firms.

Wheeler is the co-leader of the energy practice at the law firm Faegre Baker Daniels and formerly served on the staff of Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., including as the long-time staff director of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. He also worked at EPA’s Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics during both the George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton administrations.

Conaway, Roberts React to Administration’s FY2019 Budget Proposal

Following the release of the Trump administration’s FY 2019 budget proposal, House Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway (TX-11) and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) issued the joint statement below:

“As Chairmen of the Agriculture Committees, the task at hand is to produce a Farm Bill for the benefit of our farmers, ranchers, consumers and other stakeholders. This budget, as with every other president’s budget before, will not prevent us from doing that job. We are committed to maintaining a strong safety net for agricultural producers during these times of low prices and uncertain markets and continuing to improve our nation’s nutrition programs.”


Today, the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) released the following statement regarding President Donald Trump’s budget for conservation programs in the 2019 fiscal year.

“Once again, this administration is calling on American producers to do more with less,” NACD President Brent Van Dyke said. “The President’s budget proposes cuts to almost every area of USDA’s discretionary and mandatory budgets, including nearly $15 billion in cuts to farm bill conservation programs and over a 20 percent reduction to Conservation Operations.”

Within the conservation portfolio, the President’s FY19 budget proposes a funding level of $669 million for Conservation Operations, a $200 million cut to the account that funds conservation planning and technical assistance. The budget also requests significant cuts to the Conservation Technical Assistance (CTA) program within Conservation Operations.

“Conservation planning is the lifeblood of voluntary conservation and the building block on which all other conservation programs stand,” Van Dyke said. “Proposing extreme cuts to technical assistance programs at a time when the administration is asking for greater customer service just doesn’t add up. The President’s budget proposal is a reminder that we must continue educating our lawmakers about just how important locally-led conservation efforts are to this country now and for future generations.”

The budget includes a legislative proposal to eliminate the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and funding for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). In addition to eliminating these USDA programs, the budget also requests to completely eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s Section 319 nonpoint source grant program, which helps address nonpoint pollution from agricultural as well as non-agricultural sources.

NACD applauds Congress’ past efforts to support the conservation programs most vital to our nation’s natural resources and calls on Congress to oppose President Trump’s FY19 budget.

NCGA Statement on President's Proposed FY19 Budget

The White House today released its detailed proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2019. The budget proposal includes the following:
-    Cutting the federal crop insurance program by $22.4 billion over the 2019-2028 period
-    Targeting program subsidies to those producers that have an Adjusted Gross Income of $500,000 or less for a savings of $3 billion over the 2019-2028 period
-    Reducing underwriting subsidies to participating insurance companies by placing a cap on underwriting gains at 12 percent or $3 billion over the 2019-2028 period

The following is a statement from the National Corn Growers Association:

"The time and place to debate farm bill programs is during the farm bill reauthorization, not the annual budget process. The farm bill represents a 5-year commitment to America's farmers and ranchers, which Congress made in 2014, and is preparing to reauthorize again this year. We are counting on Congress to honor that commitment, and reject cuts that would be harmful for rural America. These proposed budget cuts would simultaneously hurt farmers' ability to manage risk and grow their revenues by undermining the financial wellbeing of the companies upon which they depend.

"Targeting the federal crop insurance program is extremely shortsighted. These cuts would reduce premium subsidies for policies with harvest price coverage by 15 percentage points. It also reduces premium subsidies for policies without harvest price coverage by 10 percentage points.

"This is particularly harmful during an extended period of low commodity prices. NCGA members consistently tell us that crop insurance is their most important risk management tool. This public-private partnership helps farmers manage their risk, and it saves taxpayers money in the long run by reducing reliance on ad hoc disaster assistance.

"MAP and FMD are successful programs that build global demand for U.S. farm products, and increase income and jobs in our communities. NCGA is pleased to see that some funding for these crucial programs has been included.

"MAP and FMD create an average return on investment of $28 for every $1 spent, and account for 15 percent of all U.S. ag export revenue-making them a solid investment. At a time when the farm economy is struggling, we should be investing more in these programs that open markets and increase demand, not less.

"We urge Congress to honor the commitment they made to rural America when they reauthorized the farm bill in 2014. We hope to engage in a meaningful dialogue about how we can support America's farmers, ranchers, and rural communities through these challenging economic times."

Budget Proposal Another Blow to Family Farmers

The White House today released its proposed fiscal year (FY) 2019 budget.

Over the next decade, the $4.4 trillion budget would severely cut many programs that family farmers and ranchers and rural Americans rely on, including $48.6 billion from Farm Bill programs, $3.7 billion from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), $213 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Program (SNAP), $554 billion from Medicare, and $250 billion from Medicaid. These proposed cuts come on the heels of a massive tax cut for corporations and wealthy Americans as well as the fifth straight year of projected declines in net farm income.

National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson released the following statement in response to the budget:

“To say that this budget is disappointing is an understatement. This administration has consistently demonstrated a lack of support for the most vulnerable populations, and this plan is just more of the same. It is frankly disgusting that the government has offered corporations and the wealthiest among us a $1.5 trillion gift in the form of tax cuts while proposing deep cuts to programs so important for low- and middle-class Americans.

“At the same time, this policy fails to step up for family farmers and ranchers, who are expected to endure yet another year of declining farm income. As the farm economy continues to falter, this is the time for the government to step in and boost rural America up, not yank the rug out from underneath them.

“More than anything, the budget proposal reflects a clear misalignment of the government’s priorities compared to the actual needs of the American public. It’s a harmful and short-sighted plan that should be quickly rejected by Congress. Farmers Union urges Congress to recognize the needs of family farmers and ranchers and rural communities by strengthening the farm and social safety net.”

President budget undermines rural America

Center for Rural Affairs policy associate Anna Johnson today said America stands to suffer as a result of President Trump’s 2019 budget, released this afternoon by the U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) and the office of Management and Budget (OMB).

“The President has proposed again to eliminate or shrink many programs that serve rural America, including those supporting rural businesses, cooperatives, and housing,” said Johnson. “The President is also calling for an investment of $50 billion in rural infrastructure, but this could put the onus on states already struggling with the economic fallout of depressed commodity prices.”

In addition, Trump’s budget slashes working lands conservation programs by proposing the elimination of the Conservation Stewardship Program. Johnson said it would be a grave error to remove this vital support to farmers and ranchers.

“The Conservation Stewardship Program gives farmers and ranchers an incredibly important opportunity to plant cover crops, practice soil conservation tillage, and improve pasture land,” she said. “Eliminating it would do serious damage to our farmers’ and ranchers’ abilities to preserve water quality and build soil health while also maintaining productive operations.”

Another program threatened by the President’s budget is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

“SNAP is often the linchpin between rural and urban representatives in the passage of the farm bill, set to expire in September 2018,” said Jordan Rasmussen, Center for Rural Affairs policy associate. “The President’s budget strips away nearly $214 billion in funding for SNAP over the next decade.”

Rasmussen continued, “Beyond the revocation of funding, the budget outlines a plan to reduce direct SNAP assistance, and instead, distribute quantities of ‘American grown,’ shelf-stable items like milk, peanut butter, cereals, and canned meats. This action would not only destabilize attempts to bring more healthy, fresh foods into the homes of America’s food insecure, but would keep dollars out of local grocery stores and farmers markets, which are critical assets to all communities.”

On a positive note, the President’s budget includes proposals that would bring greater fairness to farming communities, according to Johnson. For example, the budget targets commodity, conservation, and crop insurance assistance to producers with adjusted gross incomes of $500,000 or less. A similar proposal would limit the number of people who can register as a farm manager and thereby receive payments.

“These proposals would bring long-awaited fairness to our agricultural communities,” Johnson said. “For too long, the largest farms have had access to more support than small and mid-sized farms. This competitive advantage for large farms has contributed to farm consolidation and shrinking rural communities.”

Johnson said President Trump’s budget proposal would drain support for rural America.

"We fear these actions represent a lack of understanding of rural America’s struggles," she said. "We urge President Trump, U.S. Department of Agriculture Sec. Perdue, and their teams to cease these actions that undercut rural Americans and rural communities.”

Sales Closing Dates Near for Most Crops

Expanded Options available to enhance Farm Safety Net

Last year’s hurricanes, wildfires, and droughts, devastated parts of the South, Midwest, Northern Plains, and California, and were a stark reminder that agriculture is an inherently risky business. Federal crop insurance indemnities for these disasters totaled more than $1 billion in 2017.

“The prosperity of the rural economy depends on our farmers and ranchers and their ability to bounce back from adverse conditions,” said Farm Production and Conservation Acting Deputy Under Secretary Robert Johansson.  “Crop insurance is central to a strong farm safety net, and producers should talk with their agents to purchase their coverage before the sales closing date.”

To prepare for this year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Risk Management Agency (RMA) urges farmers to sign up for crop insurance before the sales closing dates for eligible 2018 spring crops. The sales closing dates for most spring-planted crops is February 28 or March 15. 

Federal crop insurance helps producers recover after severe weather and manage other business risks. RMA implemented a number of program improvements for the 2018 year. Coverage is available for nearly every commodity, including fruit, vegetable, and organic, with crop specific plans or the Whole-Farm Revenue Protection policy.

Sales closing dates vary by crop, state, and county. More information about deadlines are available in the RMA Actuarial Browser. To discuss dates and options, producers should contact their local agent. Learn more at

ASA Hires Ryan Findlay as Chief Executive Officer

The American Soybean Association announced today the selection of Ryan Findlay as its new Chief Executive Officer. Findlay replaces Stephen Censky, who left ASA in October of 2017 after confirmation by the U.S. Senate as Deputy Secretary of Agriculture.

“ASA is extremely pleased to have found someone of Ryan’s caliber and experience to lead us into our next chapter as a first-class U.S. commodity organization” said ASA President John Heisdorffer, a soybean producer from Keota, Iowa. “Ryan’s background growing up on a farm and working for the Michigan Farm Bureau and for Syngenta give him the right combination of life and work experience that will serve ASA well in the coming years,” Heisdorffer stated.

Findlay is a native of Caro, Mich., where his family still farms row crops. He earned a degree in political science from Western Michigan University and an MBA from Northwood University in Midland, Mich. The last four years Ryan worked for the global agricultural company Syngenta, focusing on freedom-to-operate issues impacting farmers. His seven-year tenure with the Michigan Farm Bureau included work on two farm bills, international trade, climate change and regulatory issues. Ryan, his wife Gretchen, and their two children will be relocating to the St. Louis area, where he will work out of ASA’s headquarters office.

“I am honored to be selected to lead a premier policy organization that I have worked with and admired for years,” Findlay said. “I look forward to building on Steve Censky’s strong legacy as ASA and its state affiliates continue to lead the public debate on key policy issues including farm risk management, international trade and rural infrastructure.”

NBB Congratulates New American Soybean Association CEO

Today, the National Biodiesel Board issued the following statement welcoming Ryan Findlay as the new CEO of the American Soybean Association.

“The National Biodiesel Board congratulates Ryan Findlay on his announcement as the new CEO of the American Soybean Association,” said Donnell Rehagen, NBB CEO. “ASA and its membership have been leaders in the advancement of the biodiesel industry since the beginning. We look forward to continuing our strong relationship under Findlay’s guidance as we grow the rural economy, create jobs, and add value to farm commodities through the production of America’s advanced biofuel – biodiesel.”

U.S. Grains Council Kicks Off Winter Membership Meeting, Focuses On Trade Policy And Market Development

Members, delegates and global staff representatives from the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) have gathered in Houston, Texas, for the organization's 15th International Marketing Conference and 58th Annual Membership Meeting, happening until Wednesday.

“At this meeting, we gather with friends, old and new, to discuss issues facing our industry as well as future demand for feed grains and their co-products around the world,” said Deb Keller, USGC chairman and a grain farmer from Iowa. “We have work to do, lessons to learn from our speakers and new frontiers to explore as we expand export opportunities.”

Ted McKinney, under secretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), will address the group during general session on Monday.

He will be joined by other prestigious speakers including Mark Slupek, deputy administrator of the Office of Trade Programs at the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS); Deen Kaplan, partner in leading international trade firm Hogan Lovells; and Professor Harry Kaiser, economist at Cornell University, who has recently completed research on the return on investment of Council market development programs.

USGC advisory teams and commodity sectors will meet on Tuesday to contribute to the Council’s global trade strategy for the coming year, and all delegates will participate in a business meeting on Wednesday.

Throughout the sessions, USGC staff from around the world will speak on issues specific to their respective markets during panel presentations as well as one-on-one with delegates and members. The interaction between international staff and USGC members and delegates is a crucial component of the winter membership meeting.

“Our members are the heart of the Council, guiding the work of USGC leadership and staff,” Keller said. “This meeting allows us to share the important trade work happening around the world with colleagues and neighbors as well as what must be done to continue building global demand and capturing market share for U.S. coarse grains and co-products.”

Under Secretary McKinney Speaks To Trade Cooperation, Announces North Africa And Middle East Training Grant

U.S. Department of Agriculture Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney addressed the delegates and members of the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) on Monday, updating them on ongoing trade negotiations that will affect grains market access and announcing a $1.3 million grant for Council feed industry training programs in North Africa and the Middle East.

Council representatives are meeting as part of the organization’s 15th International Marketing Conference and 58th Annual Membership Meeting in Houston, Texas.

In his role, McKinney leads the development and implementation of the Department’s trade policy, oversees and facilitates foreign market access, and promotes opportunities for U.S. agriculture through various trade programs and high-level government negotiations.

In Houston, he spoke on the ongoing negotiations for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS), potential bilateral trade deals, ethanol exports and the positive reputation of U.S. products globally.

"USDA is all in for all of you," he said. "We have not missed an opportunity to promote your products at the highest levels."

The Council works closely with McKinney's team at USDA as well as a broad array of staff at the Department's Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) in Washington and around the globe. 

The North Africa and Middle East training efforts were recently launched with a memorandum of understanding and initial funding from the U.S. Department of State. It will support a regional training center in Tunisia focused on stimulating feed industry growth in one of the areas of the world with the most potential for increased feed demand.

“Under Secretary McKinney's role and efforts are evidence of the USDA’s sharp focus on trade, shared by the Council’s members, delegates and staff in attendance,” said Deb Keller, USGC chairman and farmer from Iowa. “He is a longtime friend of the Council, and we are thrilled that he is able to share his work with us in Houston.”

McKinney’s speech was followed by remarks from Deen Kaplan, partner in leading international trade firm Hogan Lovells, on how agriculture relates to global trade conflicts, and Mark Slupek, deputy administrator of the Office of Trade Programs at FAS, on public-private partnerships including that between the Council and his agency through the Market Access Program (MAP) and the Foreign Market Development (FMD) program.

Ryan LeGrand, USGC director in Mexico, and Bryan Lohmar, USGC director in China, also updated delegates in attendance on critical issues facing their markets, two of the largest grain buyers globally.

“The partnership between the USDA and the Council helps support the work we do, cemented by a strong foundation of member support,” Keller said. “We appreciate the opportunity to hear from both USDA leadership and our global staff on how our collaborative efforts support U.S. farmers and agribusiness through increased demand for their products.”

Perdue Applauds Trump Infrastructure Agenda, Benefits to Rural America

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today praised the infrastructure agenda laid out by President Donald J. Trump, specifically its emphasis on investment in rural America. The plan calls for 25 percent of new federal funds to be dedicated to rural infrastructure needs, as prioritized by state and local leaders.

Perdue issued the following statement:

“President Trump has made it a priority to rebuild our infrastructure since the day he took office and he has followed through on that commitment. No area of the country needs investment in infrastructure more than rural America. With a quarter of the new federal money heading to rural parts of the country, states will have the ability to expand broadband access, increase connectivity, rebuild roads, and supply affordable utilities. Importantly, states will have the flexibility to choose which projects will best meet their unique needs.

“Our Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity, which President Trump created on my first day as secretary of agriculture, identified infrastructure – and specifically access to high-speed Internet – as a key area where rural America must improve. In my travels across the country, I have heard from the people in the Heartland, and the overwhelming view is that this is just the type of investment they are looking for to help create jobs, improve education, improve the quality of life, and increase overall prosperity. Once again, by his words and deeds, President Trump is proving that he has rural America close to his heart.”

President’s Infrastructure Plan Paves Way for Boosting Rural Economy

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall

“President Trump’s ‘Building a Stronger America’ plan promises to bring long overdue improvements to the country roads, bridges and broader infrastructure that farmers and ranchers depend on to reach customers at home and abroad. While past infrastructure plans have left rural America in the dust, this administration has not forgotten the rural communities that form the backbone of our nation.

“The proposed $50 billion in rural spending will help restore our deteriorating infrastructure and protect U.S. agriculture’s place as a world leader in production. We also applaud the administration for placing the decisions of how these dollars should be spent back at the local level. Governors and local officials know their roads and bridges better than anyone, and they are ready to set the priorities for rebuilding rural America.

“Farmers and ranchers know the pride of ownership and a hard day’s work, and the president’s infrastructure plan rewards those values. With less bureaucratic red tape and more local ownership, we’re confident this plan gives rural America the tools to drive our economy forward.”

Plan Seeks to Address Rural Infrastructure Needs

The White House today released its principles to rebuild America’s long-neglected infrastructure. The plan includes $200 billion in federal investment over ten years, $50 billion of which is designated for rural projects.

In response to the plan, National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson released the following statement:

“We are encouraged that the Administration is acknowledging the need for significant investment in rural infrastructure. With over $3.6 trillion required to overcome decades of deferred maintenance, our nation’s roads, bridges, rails, locks and dams, water and waste systems, and rural broadband are in desperate need of robust funding.

“We look forward to working with Congress to maximize opportunities to improve rural America’s failing infrastructure.”

NCGA Applauds Trump for Prioritizing Infrastructure, Details Concerns Over Waterways Plans

The National Corn Growers Association thanked President Trump following the announcement detailing his plan to rebuild America's infrastructure and making it a national priority today. Noting the particular importance of improving rural infrastructure, and pledging $50 billion dollars to do so, this announcement clearly shows the value the Administration places on rural communities, and NCGA looks forward to working with them in their efforts to achieve this important goal.

While NCGA is pleased in the investment in rural infrastructure, plans outlined to address water transportation systems cause some concern in their current state.

Water transportation systems like the Upper Mississippi River corridor are critical corridors of commerce for many industries including agriculture and the nation's farmers. We are currently depending on a dilapidated system of locks and dams that is more than half a century old, and on borrowed time.

Nearly three-quarters of U.S. grain exports are transported to port via the U.S. river system, but most of the nation's locks and dams have outlived their intended 50-year lifespans. Breakdowns in the river infrastructure add to transport costs, some of which are passed on to farmers. Meanwhile, rural areas rely disproportionately on federal funding for infrastructure projects, underscoring the need for robust federal investment.

Rural communities continue to see infrastructure deteriorate, jeopardizing jobs, our agriculture competitiveness, and the long-term future of family farmers.

When farmers and business owners have to find alternative routes, it creates delays in getting products to market and increases the cost of production and export. These delays have real world results with estimates stating that America's transportation deficiencies will cost U.S. agriculture $1.3 billion in exports by 2020.

CWT Assists with 1.2 million Pounds of Cheese Export Sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 4 requests for export assistance from cooperatives that have contracts to sell 1.213 million pounds (550 metric tons) of Cheddar cheese to customers in Asia and the Middle East. The product has been contracted for delivery in the period from February through May 2018.

CWT-assisted member cooperative 2018 export sales total 13.900 million pounds of American-type cheeses, and 1.590 pounds of butter (82% milkfat) to 11 countries on three continents. These sales are the equivalent of 164.063 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.

Food, Ag Group Expresses Desire to Work with Trump Administration to Reengage in TPP

The Asia-Pacific Working Group of the diverse and broad-based U.S. Food and Agriculture Dialogue for Trade (Dialogue), which represents more than 95 percent of the U.S. farming, ranching and food processing sector, is expressing its desire to share specific ideas with the Trump administration on how to reengage in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade negotiations following President Donald Trump's Jan. 26 address at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, during which he expressed a willingness to consider doing so.

In a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, the Dialogue's Asia-Pacific Working Group said it welcomed President Trump's statement that the United States "is prepared to negotiate mutually beneficial, bilateral trade agreements with all countries...include(ing) the countries within TPP" and "would consider negotiating with the rest (of the TPP countries) either individually or perhaps as a group if it is in the interests of all."

The letter noted that 11 nations currently are planning to sign the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership in March, and that the accord will begin being implemented three months thereafter. "Once this happens, our sector will be placed at a substantial disadvantage, as other countries gain entry into these markets at substantially lower tariffs and under preferential terms," the letter said.  "Given the downturn in U.S. farm prices and profitability that already is hurting rural America, the timing could not be worse. American food and agricultural producers and companies are facing significant barriers in these markets that could be addressed within the improved rules and higher standards through reengagement with the TPP countries."

In its letter, the Dialogue's Asia-Pacific Working Group wrote that there are "compelling reasons to ensure American farmers, ranchers, agribusinesses, retailers, workers and consumers benefit" from trade opportunities that exist in the region.  "We would welcome sharing our specific ideas and supporting your administration's efforts for reengaging with TPP countries in a manner that results in concrete gains for the United States," the letter concluded.

FFA Members Across the Country to Celebrate National FFA Week

Agriculture is part of our daily lives—from the food we eat to the clothes we wear. Next week, more than 653,000 FFA members will celebrate the role agriculture plays in our lives while sharing the message of agricultural education as part of National FFA Week.

 National FFA Week is a time for FFA members to host activities that raise awareness about the role the National FFA Organization plays in the development of agriculture's future leaders and the importance of agricultural education.

 National FFA Week always runs Saturday to Saturday and encompasses Feb. 22, George Washington's birthday. This year, the week kicks off on Feb. 17 and culminates on Feb. 24.

 The National FFA Board of Directors designated the weeklong tradition, which began in 1948, in recognition of Washington's legacy as an agriculturist and farmer. A group of young farmers founded FFA in 1928, influencing generations that agriculture is more than planting and harvesting — it involves science, business and more. The organization’s mission is to prepare future generations for the challenges of feeding a growing population.

 Today, FFA continues to help the next generation meet new agricultural challenges, develop unique talents and explore a broad range of career pathways. Today's FFA members are tomorrow's future biologists, chemists, veterinarians, engineers and entrepreneurs.

 National FFA Week is a time for FFA members to share agriculture with their fellow students as well as their communities. Chapters also give back to their communities through service projects and recruit students to become FFA members. For example, next week, the Kenmare FFA Chapter in North Dakota will work with local partners to fix up apartments at the Community Housing Facility. These apartments are part of a nonprofit that houses community members in need. Another chapter, located in Whiteland, Ind., will collect supplies for 100 art kits that will go to a local children’s hospital. These are just two examples of the service events during the week.

 During National FFA Week, the six national officers will visit chapters across the country. Western Region Vice President Bryce Cluff will visit Utah; Gracie Furnish, eastern region vice president, will visit Alabama; Erica Baier, central region vice president, will visit Virginia; Ian Bennett, southern region vice president, will visit Colorado; Piper Merritt, national secretary, will visit Indiana; and National FFA President Breanna Holbert will visit Minnesota.

National FFA Week is also a time for alumni and sponsors to advocate for agricultural education and FFA. On Tuesday, Feb. 20, the National FFA Foundation will celebrate Give FFA Day, a 24-hour campaign encouraging the public to support various needs impacting FFA members. If interested in giving, visit On Wednesday, alumni and supporters will celebrate Alumni Day and announce a new benefit for members. Friday, Feb. 23, FFA members and supporters are encouraged to wear blue and show their FFA pride!

 Sponsored by Tractor Supply Company, National FFA Week will be featured on social media as well. Follow the #FFAweek hashtag on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and don’t miss @NationalFFA Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat posts, including posts from the National FFA Officer Team while on the road.

Beef is a Favorite for Team USA Athletes

As the anticipation for the Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, ramps up, so does the search for Korean inspired recipes. According to Google, popularity in searches for "Korean Recipes" is almost 30 percent higher than it has been over the past year. Even Chloe Kim, a member of the U.S.A. Snowboarding Team, says in a recent Cosmopolitan interview that she and her sisters were raised in a "very culturally Korean environment," which included their mom's delicious homemade bulgogi (a spicy Korean beef dish). Speed skater, Maame Binney, tells Bon Appetit her favorite type of food is "any type of meat." The U.S. Olympic Committee even shares a great beef stew recipe designed with athletes in mind. Luckily, thanks to these winning beef recipes, you don't have to have be at the games to enjoy the flavors of Korea as you cheer on the home team.

The Beef. It's What's For Dinner. culinary team develops and triple tests every recipe and takes great pride in helping consumers celebrate big moments with beef that put delicious, healthy meals on the table.

"Beef is where nutritious and delicious come together to help people thrive and provide the strength they need to live their lives," said Dr. Shalene McNeill, executive director, nutrition research, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, a contractor to the beef checkoff. "It's exciting when we can use different flavors to highlight beef during an event like the Winter Games and help people enjoy a nutritious meal full of protein that leaves them feeling satisfied, sharp, and strong."

A delicious addition to any viewing party, beef has the essential nutrients, like protein, iron, zinc, and B-vitamins, you need to stay healthy and strong. It's the perfect complement to the inspirational stories of enduring strength displayed by our athletes.

Friday February 9 Ag News

Agricultural Lending Increases, As Do Interest Expenses for Farmers
Cortney Cowley, Economist, Federal Reserve Bank, Kansas City
John McCoy, Research Associate, Federal Reserve Bank, Kansas City

Lending at agricultural banks increased sharply in the fourth quarter, after appearing to stabilize in previous quarters. Large loans drove the increase in farm lending, which may heighten concerns about cash flow in 2018 as interest rates have continued to rise steadily. At the same time, farm income has stabilized somewhat, but at a low level. And while the farm economy has remained relatively steady, further increases in loan obligations could stretch borrowers’ repayment capacity in the coming year.

Fourth-Quarter Survey of Terms of Lending to Farmers

Farm lending at commercial banks increased in the fourth quarter. Demand for all types of loans except farm machinery and equipment increased significantly from a year ago.  Current operating expenses continued to comprise the majority of loan originations, and loans for livestock made up 27 percent of all new non-real estate farm loans. The total value of operating loans and livestock loans increased almost 50 percent from the fourth quarter of 2016, but was still below 2014 and 2015 levels.

Large loans continued to account for the majority of farm loan volumes at commercial banks. With production costs remaining relatively high, loans of $100,000 or more accounted for more than 70 percent of total loan volumes. Although the share of the largest loans was down slightly from 2014 and 2015, it remained high compared to previous decades. In addition, similar to 2014-15, large loans were the primary driver of new loans in the fourth quarter.

Alongside an increase in the share of large loans, the average size of farm operating loans continued to grow. After declining in 2016, the average size of farm operating loans grew in every quarter of 2017. In the fourth quarter of 2017, the average size of farm operating loans nearly matched the previous peak in the fourth quarter of 2015.

The average size of farm loans at commercial banks increased alongside rising interest rates. Interest rates on all types of farm loans increased in the fourth quarter, continuing a trend of recent years. Rates on loans used to finance current operating expenses increased nearly a full percent, from 3.7 percent in 2016 to 4.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017. In addition, for the first time since 2014, more loans were issued with interest rates greater than 6 percent than loans with rates of 3 percent or less.

The combination of larger loans and higher interest rates has, in general, increased farmers’ loan payments. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, interest expenses on farm loans have risen steadily since 2013.  In fact, in 2017 real estate interest expenses were expected to be the highest since 1989, and non-real estate interest expenses were 23 percent higher than in 2013.

Third Quarter Call Report Data

According to commercial bank call report data, total farm debt outstanding increased slightly in the third quarter of 2017 from the previous year.  This slight uptick can be attributed to both real estate and non-real estate debt. Despite the recent uptick, change in outstanding real estate debt is down slightly from its most recent peak. Non-real estate debt, however, after a couple of quarters of negative growth, increased slightly in the third quarter.

Despite the slight uptick in outstanding debt, farm loan delinquency rates have remained low. Delinquency rates on farm loans for real estate and non-real estate stayed near 2 percent in the third quarter of 2017. Rates for both types of farm loans remained below delinquency rates for all commercial bank loans.

In addition to low delinquency rates, the share of nonperforming loans also remained low at most agricultural banks. Although the percentage of banks with more than 5 percent of nonperforming loans edged up slightly, almost all agricultural banks had fewer than 5 percent of their total loans listed as nonperforming.

Farm loan delinquencies and nonperforming loans have remained low, but liquidity at agricultural banks has continued to tighten. Average loan-to-deposit ratios continued to increase, albeit gradually, to 80 percent in the third quarter. Despite the gradual increase, the ratio is nearing the level of the most recent peak in 2009.

Third Quarter Regional Agricultural Data

Similar to survey data of commercial banks, regional Federal Reserve surveys of agricultural credit conditions showed stronger demand for farm loans. Demand for non-real estate farm loans increased in the third quarter from a year ago in most Federal Reserve Districts, with the strongest increases in the Kansas City and Minneapolis Districts. Growth in loan demand in the third quarter was not as high in most Districts compared to previous years, and all Districts except Dallas indicated higher demand for farm loans.

Demand for farm loan renewals and extensions also rose in every District. In the Chicago, Kansas City and Minneapolis Districts, only 1 percent of bankers reported lower renewals and extensions. All other bankers reported that renewals and extensions were higher or unchanged. In the Dallas and St. Louis Districts, more than 80 percent of survey respondents reported that renewals and extensions were unchanged from the third quarter in 2016. Loan repayment rates also continued to decline in each reporting District.

Despite continued moderation in credit conditions, farmland values generally have remained stable. In the Corn Belt and Southern Plains states, farmland values increased slightly or remained steady compared with a year ago. In the mid- to upper-Plains states, farmland values declined slightly, most notably in Nebraska, where farmland values fell 6 percent from the third quarter of 2016.


Farm lending was boosted by larger-sized loans in the fourth quarter even as interest rates continued to rise. Although overall leverage in the agricultural sector has remained relatively modest, the recent uptick in the average size of farm loans at a time of rising interest rates suggests that leverage and liquidity may remain a concern in 2018. Still, delinquency rates have remained low and the value of farm real estate has continued to support farm sector balance sheets as spring planting decisions approach.

Feb. 23 Workshop to Focus on Crop Insurance, Farm Bill 

Brandy VanDeWalle - Extension Educator

Today’s farmers and ranchers not only have to be efficient with production practices, but also need to be well-informed about risk management and the economics of their business. That's why crop insurance, the farm bill and other farm policy issues will be the focus of the next Farmers and Ranchers College program. It will be held Feb. 23 at the Fillmore County Fairgrounds in Geneva. The workshop will start at 10 a.m. with registration at 9:45 and wrap-up at 3 p.m.

Speakers for the program will include:
Steve Johnson, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach farm and ag business management specialist in central Iowa; Brad Lubben, Nebraska Extension policy specialist; and Austin Duerfeldt, Nebraska Extension southeast regional ag economist.

Johnson specializes in education related to government farm programs, crop insurance, crop marketing, grain contracts, farmland leasing and other crop risk management strategies and uses the ISU Ag Decision Maker and Polk County Extension Farm Management websites in his training. He will highlight the 2018 crop supply/demand and cash price outlook, 2018 crop cost estimates and planted acreage; and the weather outlook. He'll also highlight seasonal trends for new crop futures and marketing strategies and tools to implement new crop marketing plans.

In addition to extension programming, Lubben teaches agricultural economics courses on campus and is the director for the North Central Extension Risk Management Education Center. His integrated research, extension, and teaching interests include agricultural policy, trade policy, food policy, conservation and environmental policy and public policy. His presentation will focus on how the current ARC and PLC programs have provided substantial but declining support for Nebraska producers and the changes that lie ahead for these programs. He will discuss the new farm bill, due to be written in 2018, and other farm policy issues under debate in Congress.

Duerfeldt specializes in farm accounting, financial analysis, and taxation. As the Nebraska Extension southeast regional ag economist, he provides educational training on grain marketing, cash rent, land valuation, financial analysis, taxes, and negotiations. He will talk about the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (Farm Edition) in regards to S199A, depreciation, COOPs and other important factors that impact farmers and ranchers.

Ryne Norton, Fillmore County Farm Service Agency director, will provide local FSA updates and Brandy VanDeWalle, Nebraska Extension educator, will discuss farm financial success and ways to cope during difficult times. She'll share resources for handling stress in challenging times.

Due to the generous contributions of many businesses and organizations, the program is free. Registration by Feb. 16 would be appreciated to provide an accurate meal count. To register call the Fillmore County Extension office at (402) 759-3712 or email VanDeWalle at to register.

Managing Risk with Crop Insurance Workshop 

Those looking to improve their understanding of agricultural production risks and crop insurance are encouraged to attend an upcoming crop insurance workshop hosted by the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. University experts, industry representatives, and growers will lead the workshop Feb. 26 at College Park, 3184 US-34 in Grand Island.

Crop insurance represents the cornerstone of risk management due to its ability to transfer large amounts of financial risk from producers to someone else. The workshop will provide guidance on how to select a crop insurance contract and how this decision interacts with other aspects of a farming operation.

“Understanding crop insurance can give producers a financial advantage,” said Cory Walters, assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Nebraska. “Failure to understand how it works can leave producers financially stressed and at a financial disadvantage.”

Walters will kick off the event with an overview of crop insurance in Nebraska. He will also share results of recent crop insurance research conducted at the university. Since crop insurance is closely tied to weather, Eric Hunt, Atmospheric and Environmental Research, Inc. staff scientist, will have an outlook of the upcoming season and what it may mean for your operation. Crop insurance industry representatives will discuss crop insurance contracts, and a panel of Nebraska farmers will share how they manage risk with crop insurance.

“The goal of this workshop is to have a discussion on selecting the right crop insurance products for an individual’s unique situation,” said Walters.

The workshop will start at 8:45 a.m. and end at 2:30 p.m.

The registration cost is $35 before Feb. 20 and $40 afterward. Lunch is included in the registration. To register, visit Paper registration forms can be requested by calling Sandy Sterkel at 402-472-1742.

For questions regarding the workshop, contact Cory Walters at 402-472-0366 or

Characteristics of Financially Resilient Farms 

Robert Tigner - Agricultural Systems Economist Educator

During the last 10 years, the economic environment that US farms have faced has been extremely variable. During the 2009-2012 period incomes and net returns increased and in 2013-14, they peaked. Production costs rose with the increasing income and began to decline in 2013, however, not as rapidly as revenue declined. Farm profitability declined due to the narrowing margins for grain production. The question for farmers is “What management strategies will consistently produce profits?”

Factors of Success Despite Downturn

First let’s look at what works for some real farms. Nicholas Paulson and Dale Lattz, agricultural economists at the University of Illinois, have used Illinois farm data to separate Illinois farms into profitability thirds, as well as time periods 2010-12 (higher prices) and 2014-16 (lower prices). They found a few management strategies that consistently produced higher returns.

The third with the highest profit farms produced more gross revenue per acre than either of the other two groups through a combination of slightly higher yields and price per bushel for corn and soybeans. Both yields and prices were 5-7% higher. None of the farms strove for the highest possible yield, but rather the most profitable yield. During 2010-12 the top third farm group had $112 more return to land and operator than the middle third group of farms. During that period high profit farms had nearly the same per-acre direct costs of production as the middle third farms, but in 2014-16 their costs were $6 less. High profit farms had lower per-acre machinery, depreciation, and repair costs, $17 lower in 2010-12 and $10 lower in 2014-2016. The top-third high profit farms had lower per-acre overhead costs too, $8 less in 2010-12 and $18 less in 2012-16.

The relative importance of revenue versus costs for higher profits also varied during the two time periods. For farms in the higher profit third higher revenues contributed more during 2010-2012 and lower costs contributed more to higher returns in 2014-16 compared to the other farms in the comparison.

Thus the “Take Home Message” from this data set is twofold. Capturing higher revenue during times of rising commodity prices is more important than managing costs. However, farm operators must not lock in costs during these good times that can’t be reduced when prices decline. During times of declining commodity prices, controlling costs is more important.
Steps to Resiliency

Now that we are in a period of tight profits and cash flow, here are some suggestions for managing in this tough economic environment:

1)    Control costs. Evaluate inputs to ensure there is a positive return to their use. For instance, soybean seeding rates might be reduced with little change in yield, but at a much lower cost. Review nitrogen (N) rates to ensure you are using the correct rates and not adding economically unbeneficial N. Look for good feed sources that are less costly but provide the same nutrients. Can you work with neighbors to jointly buy inputs such as seed to get bigger discounts.

2)    Renegotiate cash rent rates. This can be hard to do since Nebraska property taxes have risen recently, but one way to manage this negotiation is to include flexible lease provisions in case of high yields or prices.

3)    Reduce capital spending. Most farmers have already done this, but if the purchase reduces costs and cash flow, it may be a good purchase. Otherwise, repair machinery.

4)    Reduce family living costs. Family living costs rose during the good times in ag, but now family budgets should be reviewed. The nice-to-have items will likely be dropped in favor of the must-haves such as health insurance. Review cell phone plans, satellite TV, the Sirius/XM subscriptions, and any automatic payments. Do not use credit cards for family living. Credit card use could lead to even more debt that can’t be serviced.

5)    Increase revenues. If you have unused or minimal use assets, such as the extra semi, consider renting them to someone else. Make sure you capture all variable costs first and some or all fixed costs of the asset. Have a crop marketing plan that considers today’s marketing environment and your cash flow needs. Execute the plan.

6)    Increase non-farm income. Many spouses already work off-farm to get benefits and health insurance, but everyone in the farm operation may have to do so too. Consider what your skills are and whether the non-farm income will reduce farm income. You may find that planting is delayed, which could be more costly than the additional non-farm income. Can a side business be added? Maybe you have a hobby that can produce income.

These suggestions could take some very serious conversations and open communication within farm families, but the viability of the farm is at stake.

NCTA and Mississippi State announce poultry partnership

Leaders from the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture and Mississippi State University signed a cooperative agreement Wednesday [Feb. 7] designed to train workforce entrants for the midwestern state’s burgeoning poultry industry.    

The newly developed program includes three semesters at NCTA in Curtis, Nebraska and a semester at MSU’s Department of Poultry Science. Upon program completion, students will earn an Associate of Applied Science in Agricultural Production Systems, with a concentration in poultry science.

There are currently no undergraduate poultry science degree programs in Nebraska. Mississippi State’s program is one of only six nationally that offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in the discipline. 

Ron Rosati, dean of the Nebraska two-year college, chose to partner with MSU’s Department of Poultry Science because of its reputation for training leaders in agriculture.

“The quality of the teaching, research and extension programs in poultry science at Mississippi State are well known throughout the country,” Rosati said. “The MSU program offers hands-on learning in facilities that are similar to those found in a commercial setting. This partnership will give our students the tools they need to succeed in Nebraska’s growing poultry industry.”

Nebraska currently produces about one million broilers per year. At full operation, the industry expects expansion will allow production of more than 100 million broilers per year. In Mississippi, poultry is the No. 1 commodity with more than 746 million broilers produced in 2017 across 1,430 farms. The production value of the industry in the Magnolia State tops $2.8 billion.

Mary Beck, poultry science department head, spent 25 years as a faculty member at the University of Nebraska prior to taking the helm at Mississippi State. Her relationship with NCTA, a campus in the University of Nebraska system, helped facilitate the agreement.

“It is exciting to be able to partner with a college in Nebraska to help train the state’s workforce in poultry and expand agriculture in a place where I spent much of my career,” Beck said.  “This is a unique partnership that should be mutually beneficial to our two institutions and states.”

Nebraska is seeing expansion with new facilities at Grand Island and Fremont, in addition to existing operations in eastern and central Nebraska.  The industry has called for educational programs which offer college degrees and technical expertise suited for commercial poultry operations.

“The new NCTA-MSU partnership is ideal for meeting demands for a well-educated and skilled workforce in Nebraska’s expanding poultry industry,” said Steve Wellman, director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture.

Upon completion of the 77-hour program, students can enter the workforce in management positions throughout the industry. Students also have the option to further their education at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln animal science department or in Mississippi State’s poultry science department.

Judy Bonner, Mississippi State provost and executive vice president, spoke to the benefits of the unique partnership.

“We have developed a number of innovative partnerships with Mississippi community colleges and are excited to partner with the state of Nebraska to help students earn a degree and enter the workforce as leaders in the industry there,” Bonner said. “This partnership further expands MSU’s position as an academic leader in poultry science at the national level while providing students an invaluable opportunity to pursue a career in a growing industry."

The partnership provides students access to a cost-effective program with low tuition and quality academics at NCTA and resident tuition at Mississippi State, Rosati said. Current tuition at NCTA is $127.50 per credit hour.

Slated to begin in fall 2018, program details may be found at or from Professor Doug Smith, chair of the NCTA Animal Science and Agricultural Education Division at 1-800-3-CURTIS or at  Review MSU’s program at

Livestock Iowa Master Matrix Adopted in 89 Counties

In January, 89 of 99 Iowa counties notified DNR that they plan to evaluate construction permit applications and proposed locations for animal confinements by using the master matrix. With 10 exceptions, all counties will use the matrix during the next 12 months. The following counties will not use the matrix in 2018: Davis, Des Moines, Keokuk, Lee, Mahaska, Osceola, Plymouth, Wapello, Warren and Washington.

Animal producers in these counties must meet more requirements than other confinement producers who need a construction permit. Producers qualify by choosing a site and using practices that reduce impacts on air, water and the community.

Counties that adopt the master matrix can provide more input to producers on site selection, and proposed structures and facility management. Participating counties score each master matrix submitted in their county and can recommend to approve or deny the construction permit. They can also join in DNR visits to a proposed confinement site.

While all counties may submit comments to DNR during the permitting process, counties that adopt the master matrix can also appeal a preliminary permit to the state Environmental Protection Commission.

The deadline for enrolling in the program is Jan. 31 of each year.

Find more information, including a map of participating counties by searching for Master Matrix at or directly on the master matrix web page.

The master matrix applies to producers who must get a construction permit to build, expand or modify a totally roofed facility. Generally, these are confinement feeding operations with at least 2,500 finishing hogs, 1,000 beef cattle or 715 mature dairy cows.

Drop in Land and Some Input Costs Expected in 2018

Land and input costs for corn and soybean production are expected to decline in 2018, according to research conducted by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

The research, released in ISU Extension and Outreach publication “Estimated Costs of Crop Production in Iowa – 2018” (FM 1712), shows soybean costs falling by $10 per acre from 2017 levels and corn production dropping by $5 per acre. All cost estimates in the report look at average cost for farms in Iowa.

The total cost per bushel of soybeans is projected at $9.46 for the herbicide tolerant variety and $9.41 for non-herbicide tolerant beans, at an expected yield of 50 bushels per acre. The total cost per bushel of corn following soybeans is $3.48 (180 bushels per acre) and $4.07 for corn following corn (165 bushels per acre).

The drop in prices is attributed to a moderate decline in herbicide, fertilizer, lime and seed prices, as well as lower expected cash rent costs. These drops, however, are barely expected to offset increases in machinery, labor, insecticide and crop insurance costs. This is especially true for corn as diesel and gas prices are expected to increase fuel costs by $13-14 per acre.

“This year appears to be a mix of good news and bad news,” said Alejandro Plastina, assistant professor and extension economist at Iowa State University. “The cost of some inputs are going down while labor and fuel costs are going up. The net result is a very small percent reduction in costs for 2018.”

Cost of production has declined significantly since 2012, with total corn costs dropping 19 percent and soybean production falling 14 percent. These reductions in cost, however, are dwarfed by falling prices. The price per bushel of corn is down 53 percent since 2012 and soybean prices have dropped 35 percent.

Stagnant prices and continued tight margins make it even more critical for farmers to know their breakeven price and to have a sound marketing strategy, Plastina said.

“In order for this information to be useful these budgets need to be adapted to the real costs experienced by an operation,” Plastina said. “An accurate breakeven price is based on both costs and expected yields. This is a critical piece of information to have in order to create a marketing strategy.”

Ag Decision Maker file A1-20 has Decision Tools that can help farmers better calculate their operation’s cost of production. Since actual costs vary considerably from farm to farm, the editable spreadsheets can aid them in understanding their crop production budgets for 2018.

“If farmers don’t know their breakeven price then it is really hard for them to determine when to sell their crops,” Plastina said. “Everyone is seeking a higher sales price and if you don’t know when that price is enough to cover costs, then you are always waiting for the next round of price increases to come, which might not happen and you’ve missed an opportunity to sell for a price that will cover costs.”

Iowa Corn Technology Commercialization Manager Named to North American Plant Phenotyping Network Executive Board

Members of the North American Plant Phenotyping Network (NAPPN), an association representing major plant phenotyping centers across the continent, have elected Iowa Corn Technology Commercialization Manager David Ertl to the Executive Board. The goal of the NAPPN is to increase the visibility and impact of plant phenotyping and facilitate communication and cooperation within the plant phenotyping and related communities. Plant phenotyping is the process of measuring and analyzing observable plant characteristics. The organization represents scientists and researchers in the rapidly evolving area of plant phenomics, formed as a regional partner of the International Plant Phenotyping Network (IPPN). By bringing together a diverse group of stakeholders within the scientific community, the Network help farmers advance future corn traits and those of other crops.     

“I am honored to be one of three individuals representing industry elected to the North American Plant Phenotyping Network Executive Board,” said Ertl. “My highest priorities will be finding additional funding for expanding efforts of phenomics initiatives and to collaborate with other crops and to help broaden the Network to collaborate across disciplines and crops.” Ertl also serves on the Executive Committee for the Genomes to Fields Initiative, a public-private partnership building on publicly funded corn genome sequencing projects to identify key corn genetic traits that impact yield and the plant’s ability to respond to environmental conditions.

An important part of NAPPN mission is to broaden the phenotyping community across traditional disciplinary boundaries and promote best scientific practices through encouraging collaboration between this community and different stakeholders from academia, industry, and the public sector.

NAPPN will hold its next General Assembly at Phenome 2018 on February 14-17 in Tucson where the ad hoc Board will pass the torch to the newly elected Executive Board, who will outline next steps for the organization, including a discussion of the network’s provisional bylaws and a vision for the future.

Ertl has been on staff at Iowa Corn since 2011 where he manages contract research projects in both the public and private sectors. Projects include the areas of biotechnology trait development, phenotyping, genetics and genomics, corn production, biomass production, biofuels, biobased chemicals, and startup business ventures.

Ertl’s responsibilities include developing new technology, obtaining intellectual property (patents) and out-licensing technology to commercial providers. Specific projects include developing new traits in the areas of nutrient use efficiency, and involvement with Genomes to Fields.

Previously, Ertl worked at DuPont Pioneer as a corn breeder and later as a research director. During his time there, he helped develop commercial corn hybrids and is an inventor on 15 patents. David holds a Ph.D. in plant breeding from Iowa State University.


The National Pork Producers Council this week submitted comments as part of the U.S. International Trade Commission’s (USITC) investigation of U.S. trade with sub-Saharan Africa. Last November, following the receipt of a letter from U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, USITC launched its investigation into expanding trade in the region. The investigation will examine opportunities for trade expansion between the United States and sub-Saharan Africa.

The U.S. pork industry has seen increased pork sales with South Africa following the country’s decision to partially lift its ban on pork imports. During the first nine months of 2017, U.S. sales to the nation reached 946 metric tons, a 200 percent increase from 2016. South Africa restricts the import of pork from countries with Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS), though the World Health Organization has claimed that trade does not increase the risk of transmitting the disease. The nation also requires non-frozen pork imports to be tested for trichinae, though the parasite is not present in commercial pork.

NPPC supports lifting the trade restrictions imposed by South Africa, which would support the U.S. pork industry’s efforts to expand export markets throughout the region. The USITC is looking to deliver its final report to the USTR by April 30.

USDA to Survey Farmers Planting Intentions for 2018

As the 2018 crop production season begins, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) will contact producers nationwide to determine their plans for the upcoming growing season.

NASS will mail the survey questionnaire in February, asking producers to provide information about the types of crops they intend to plant in 2018, how many acres they intend to plant, and the amounts of grain and oilseed they store on their farms. NASS encourages producers to respond online or by mail. Those producers who do not respond by the deadline may be contacted for a telephone or personal interview.

NASS safeguards the privacy of all respondents and publishes only aggregate data, ensuring that no individual operation or producer can be identified.

Survey results will be published in the Prospective Plantings and quarterly Grain Stocks report to be released on March 29.

Thursday February 8 Ag News

Nebraska Soy Supports Global Seafood Production

Nebraska Soybean Board members and staff saw firsthand how soy grown in Nebraska contributes to seafood production worldwide at the United States Soybean Export Council’s Aquaculture Education Opportunity in Campeche, Mexico.

It was Nebraska Soybean Board Chairman Tony Johanson’s third time attending the Aquaculture Education Opportunity.

“The trip is meant to educate us on some of the practices being used in other countries to incorporate U.S. soybeans into fish diets and feed additives,” Johanson said.

As consumer demand for seafood rises, so does the need for farm-fed fish. Soybean meal is a high-quality protein that can be used in addition to or instead of fish meal in aquaculture. 

Eugene Goering, Nebraska Soybean Board member and secretary of the Soy Aquaculture Alliance, said the Aquaculture Education Opportunity allows soybean growers to better understand the challenges facing aquaculture.

“We get to learn what their needs are, and that helps us decide what projects to fund and what direction we need to be focusing our research on. The soybean checkoff dollars are investing into different research projects. Our own researchers have done a lot specifically with aquaculture feeds,” Goering said.

Some of those projects included the addition of taurine, an important nutrient in fish diets, to soybean meal, research in feeding techniques that prevent overfeeding and cleaning techniques that reduce water use.

Johanson said sustainability is one of the challenges facing aquaculture that the Nebraska Soybean Board hopes to solve with its research.

“We’ve got something we can build upon and keep going for years down the road. U.S. soybeans are one of the most sustainably produced products,” Johanson said. “We’re trying to make sure, year in and year out, that we’re producing a product we can use to supplement fish feed and livestock feed.”

Statement by Steve Nelson, President, Regarding Sen. Briese Tax Relief Bill, LB 1084

“Today, in conjunction with other members of the Agriculture Leaders Working Group, the Nebraska Farm Bureau offered its support for LB 1084, legislation introduced by Sen. Tom Briese to generate new revenues to fund K-12 education, while also providing significant property tax relief.”

“As Nebraskans, quality education is important to all of us, yet we rely far too much on local property taxes to fund this state priority. LB 1084 provides a detailed plan on how the Legislature can move forward to address both. We thank Sen. Briese for bringing these ideas into the property tax discussion and for working with a diverse coalition of Nebraskans to do so.”

“Property tax reform should include relief for all property types: agriculture, residential, and commercial. Reform should include new revenues and fiscal restraints to reduce our property tax burdens. And, it should ensure adequate funding for high quality education for Nebraska students. LB 1084 does all of those.”

“The need for property tax relief is urgent. We cannot wait any longer and are willing to work with anyone and everyone when it comes to timely property tax relief. LB 1084 puts the ball in the Legislature’s court. Should our 49 senators and the governor fail to act, Nebraska’s property owners will be left with no other choice but to pursue relief through a ballot measure.”

ACE elects 2018 executive committee 

During its first quarter meeting, the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) Board of Directors elected its officers and Executive Committee members for 2018.

Re-elected to serve as officers on the Executive Committee are:
 ·    Duane Kristensen, representing Chief Ethanol Fuels, which owns ethanol plants in Hastings and Lexington, Nebraska. Kristensen accepted the nomination of President of the ACE Board.  “It is imperative to be involved in these complex times for our industry,” Kristensen said. “ACE has done tremendous work over the past 30 years, and I look forward through this capable organization and its staff to promote and provide many more opportunities for ethanol in the future.”

 ·    Ron Alverson, who represents Dakota Ethanol in Wentworth, South Dakota. Alverson accepted the Treasurer nomination this year after serving as ACE’s Board President for the past five years.  “Serving as chairman of ACE has been one of the greatest honors of my life,” Alverson said. “The ACE Board of Directors, leadership and staff are the most talented, dedicated, generous and selfless people I’ve ever had the pleasure to be associated with. Duane will be an outstanding President with his world of experience and connections in the ethanol industry. Under his leadership, ACE will move our industry forward. I look forward to continuing to serve with him and others on the Board in the coming year.”

 ·    Dave Sovereign, who represents Golden Grain Energy in Mason City, Iowa, and serves on the board of Absolute Energy. Sovereign now serves as Vice President of the ACE Board of Directors.

 ·    Greg Krissek, who represents the Kansas Corn Growers Association, accepted the nomination of Secretary of the ACE Board of Directors.

 ·    Troy Knecht, representing the South Dakota Corn Growers Association, operates a diversified farming enterprise in Houghton, South Dakota, in addition to serving as the President of SDCGA.

This year, Chris Wilson was elected to ACE’s Executive Committee, representing Mid-Missouri Energy, a 60 million-gallon-per-year plant in Malta Bend, Missouri. Wilson serves as General Manager of the plant.  “I’m excited to join the ACE Executive Committee and looking forward to further advocating for rural America and renewable fuel,” Wilson said.

Swine Building Ventilation Workshops Set for March

Pork producers can learn more about building ventilation from the inside out through a series of workshops in March. Iowa Pork Industry Center joins Iowa Pork Producers Association and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach in offering “Managing Your Unseen Employee: The Ventilation System” at six Iowa locations.

IPIC swine specialist Colin Johnson said this daylong workshop provides a two-pronged approach to understanding issues and consequences of decisions by combining classroom instruction with hands-on trials and application of knowledge gained in a real-world setting.

“Producers often question the efficiencies of their systems and are challenged seasonally in adjusting air exchange rates and the ventilation components within their barns,” Johnson said. “Iowa’s climate can provide a challenge but we aim to equip producers with the knowledge to make the best use of both their heating and cooling mechanisms within a given barn.”

The classroom sessions include the basics of ventilation systems, effective temperature requirements, troubleshooting tools and techniques. Producers will learn how to optimally ventilate their barns while keeping pigs of varying growth stages healthy and productive.

Following the classroom learning segments, Johnson said attendees will be able to see and feel the impacts that design, maintenance and management can have on various ventilation practices through the use of Iowa State’s 24-foot mobile Swine Ventilation Trailer.

“A valuable and much-appreciated benefit of these mobile workshops with Iowa State’s ventilation trailer is the ability to try one’s hand at investigating ventilation and controller settings without risk of on-farm biosecurity breaches,” he said. “This experience is invaluable for those who are responsible for building upkeep and ventilation on their farms.”

Workshop dates, locations and preregistration contacts
-    Thursday, March 1 - Sutherland, Northwest Research and Demonstration Farm, 6320 500th St. Contact: David Stender,, 712-225-6196
-    Tuesday, March 6 - Mason City, NIACC, 500 College Drive. Contact: Russ Euken,, 641-923-2856
-    Wednesday, March 7 - Montezuma, Meyer Seed and Chemical, 5204 Highway 63. Contact: Colin Johnson,, 515-291-9287 
-    Thursday, March 8 - Washington, National Guard Armory, 501 Highway 1 S. Contact: Tom Miller,, 319-653-4811
-    Wednesday, March 21 - Chickasaw County. Contact Mark Storlie for location,, 563-425-3331
-    Thursday, March 22 - Harlan, Ahrenholtz Construction, 2803 Southwest Ave. Contact: Erik Potter,, 515-460-5609

All workshops run from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Registration starts at 9 a.m. Thanks to IPPA and other local sponsors, registration and the noon meal at all workshops are free. However, preregistration is required due to space limitations. Preregister by contacting the ISU Extension and Outreach swine specialist listed for the location you wish to attend.

50+ Organizations Support Moratorium on Iowa "Factory" Farms

Food and Water Watch press release

Today, a coalition of 55 environmental, citizen and agricultural organizations called on Iowa’s General Assembly to support legislative proposals for a moratorium on new and expanding factory farms in the state. The first-of-its-kind legislation moves beyond failed regulation attempts and focuses on implementing a statewide halt to new construction or expansion of factory farms in Iowa.

Currently, Iowa is home to over 10,000 factory farms, which produce more than 22 billion gallons of manure per year. The pollution generated by the industrial animal operations has resulted in widespread water contamination and diminished quality of life throughout the state.

“Across the nation, factory farming destroys communities and contaminates drinking water supplies and air quality,” said Krissy Kasserman, Food & Water Watch’s National Factory Farm Campaigner. “With Big Ag enjoying so many exemptions from key environmental laws, it’s clear that we can’t regulate ourselves out of this problem. A stop to the expansion of factory farming needs to happen now. It begins with Iowa.”

A harsh, unhealthy and environmentally risky form of food production, factory farming employs an unsustainable method of raising food animals that packs together large numbers of animals into confined spaces. Among the destructive results is the production of massive amounts of animal waste, creating risks to the local environment, natural resource contamination, the rise in antibiotic resistant bacteria and public health hazards, including respiratory infections, asthma, skin rashes, nausea and headaches. 

“It’s clear to Iowans that the factory farm industry is out of control. Our state agencies and lawmakers are failing to protect our communities and environment. Yet, we are seeing a massive expansion right now, with Iowa Select alone applying for more than 20 new or expanding factory farms in just a few months,” said Cherie Mortice, board president of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement. “With 750 polluted water bodies in Iowa, we’re at a tipping point and need to put a stop to this industry immediately.”

“The Iowa Alliance for Responsible Agriculture’s member groups are united behind the need to stop the proliferation of factory farms in Iowa in order to protect our environment, rural communities and quality of life,” said Diane Rosenberg, steering committee member for the Iowa Alliance for Responsible Agriculture. “Iowa’s General Assembly must act now to address these concerns by enacting a moratorium on new and expanded factory farms.”

“Our call for a moratorium is a call for the return of plain, old common sense,” said Chris Peterson, an independent Iowa hog farmer and regional representative for the Socially Responsible Agricultural Project. “Iowa is suffering under the enormous weight of a business that has no respect for the people, environment, animals and future of the state. The clock is ticking; we need to respond now.”

 Groups Want Injunction Against WOTUS Rule

The National Pork Producers Council and a diverse coalition of agricultural and business groups late yesterday – in the case American Farm Bureau Federation, et. al. vs. the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – filed a request in federal court for a nationwide preliminary injunction against enforcement of the Obama administration’s Waters of the United States (WOTUS) Rule.

The Clean Water Act regulation issued in 2015 by the EPA gave the agency broad jurisdiction over U.S. waters 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.

A U.S. Court of Appeals in October 2015 blocked the rule’s implementation, but a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that lawsuits against the WOTUS Rule should be heard at the federal District Court level technically lifted that stay. (In 2015, NPPC, other agriculture and business groups and the attorneys general from numerous states filed lawsuits against the regulation in U.S. District Courts around the country.)

Last year, EPA announced it would repeal and replace the rule. The agency recently proposed to amend the existing regulation to delay the applicability date for two years. It is expected soon to propose a regulation to rescind the rule, then promulgate a new rule based on input from regulated parties, including farmers.

In asking the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas for a stay of the WOTUS Rule, NPPC and the other organizations argue that the EPA’s repeal-and-replace process likely will be subjected to legal challenges and that “a nationwide preliminary injunction is imperative.

“The risk that the WOTUS Rule might come in and out of effect repeatedly over the coming years as new regulations are promulgated and new lawsuits are brought represents a manifest irreparable harm not only to the States … but also to private landowners and business owners.”

In addition to a lack of regulatory certainty, the organizations contend, if the current WOTUS Rule were to go into effect, it would subject farmers and business owners to citizen enforcement suits, which, if successful, carry heavy civil and potentially criminal penalties.

NMPF Supports Legislative Provisions to Improve Dairy Safety Net, Expand Risk Management Tools

The National Milk Producers Federation today said the proposed dairy policy reforms included in the newly unveiled congressional disaster assistance package are “much-needed improvements to the dairy safety net,” according to NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern, and come at a time when many of America’s dairy farmers are struggling financially after a third year of stagnant prices.

NMPF sent a letter Thursday to the leaders of the Senate and House of Representatives, urging passage of the larger spending bill that contains reforms to the dairy Margin Protection Program (MPP) and provides access to additional risk management tools from the Agriculture Department (USDA). These key dairy-related elements in the bill will create $1.2 billion in baseline spending for the next Farm Bill, paving the way for additional improvements to the MPP.

The dairy provisions are part of a spending package announced Wednesday night by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. In the NMPF letter sent to McConnell, Schumer, House Speaker Paul Ryan, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, NMPF outlined the difficult economic situation facing dairy producers today, including declining milk prices and global export challenges. The proposed dairy policy changes will better help farmers weather this challenging environment, the letter said.

The MPP reforms included in the dairy package include:
-    Raising the catastrophic coverage level from $4.00 to $5.00 for the first tier of covered production for all dairy farmers;
-    Adjusting the first tier of covered production to include every dairy farmer’s first five million pounds of annual milk production (about 217 cows) instead of four million pounds, a recognition of the growth in herd sizes across the country;
-    Reducing the premium rates, effective immediately, for every producer’s first five million pounds of production, to better enable dairy farmers to afford the higher levels of coverage that will provide more meaningful protection against low margins;
-    Modifying the margin calculation to a monthly (from bi-monthly) basis, to make the program more accurate and responsive to producers in difficult months;
-    Waiving the annual $100 administrative fees for underserved farmers;
-    Directing USDA to immediately reopen the program signup for 2018.

The disaster package also lifts the $20 million annual cap on all livestock insurance, including the Livestock Gross Margin (LGM) program. This will allow USDA to develop a wider variety of additional risk management tools that will be especially important for larger dairy producers and can complement the MPP.

“We applaud Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) for spearheading the badly needed reforms to the MPP, which will make the program a more effective safety net for dairy producers,” said Mulhern. “These critical provisions are based on their proposal that was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee last summer in a bipartisan vote. The reforms also reflect the assistance of Sens. Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Pat Roberts (R-KS), as well as key members of the House.”

“Similarly, we commend Reps. Mike Conaway (R-TX) and Collin Peterson (D-MN) for crafting important language to remove the existing cap on livestock insurance products, including the Livestock Gross Margin-Dairy program. This will give dairy farmers the opportunity to access a variety of additional risk management tools that can complement MPP, and it garnered bipartisan support from our Senate allies. Taken together, these changes will provide important risk management tools for dairy farm operations of all sizes.”

Assuming these dairy provisions – and additional funding for the cotton program – are approved as part of the budget deal this week, NMPF will then focus on working with the Senate and House agriculture committees on shaping the 2018 Farm Bill. The added resources established by the fixes to the MPP and LGM program “help pave the way for final adjustments to the dairy safety net for the next five years as Congress crafts a new Farm Bill,” Mulhern said.

World Ag Supply and Demand Estimates - Feb 8, 2018

COARSE GRAINS:  This month’s 2017/18 U.S. corn outlook is for increased exports and reduced stocks. Exports are raised 125 million bushels, reflecting U.S. price competitiveness and reduced exports for Argentina and Ukraine.  With no other use changes, U.S. corn ending stocks are lowered 125 million bushels from last month.  The season-average corn price received by producers is projected at $3.30 per bushel, up 5 cents at the midpoint.  The U.S. sorghum supply, use, and midpoint price forecasts are unchanged relative to last month.

Global coarse grain production for 2017/18 is projected 2.3 million tons lower to 1,321.9 million.  This month’s foreign coarse grain outlook is for lower production, greater consumption, and lower stocks relative to last month.  Global corn production is lowered 2.8 million tons largely reflecting reductions for Argentina and Ukraine.  For Argentina, persistent heat and dryness during January and early February reduced yield prospects for early-planted corn in key central growing areas.  Production is lowered for Ukraine based on the latest official statistics.  Small increases for Moldova, Mexico, Bangladesh, and Thailand are partly offsetting. Barley production is raised for Argentina.  Mexico sorghum production is increased. 

Major global trade changes for 2017/18 include higher projected corn exports for the United States and Brazil, with reductions for Argentina and Ukraine.  Corn imports are raised for Turkey, the EU, and Brazil.  Foreign corn ending stocks are down from last month, mostly reflecting reductions for Argentina and Ukraine that more than offset increases for Mexico, Brazil, and Turkey.  Global corn ending stocks, at 203.1 million tons, are down 3.5 million from last month.

OILSEEDS:  This month’s 2017/18 U.S. soybean outlook is for reduced exports and increased ending stocks.  Soybean exports for 2017/18 are projected at 2,100 million bushels, down 60 million from last month, reflecting shipments and sales through January and increased export competition on larger supplies in Brazil.  With soybean crush unchanged, soybean ending stocks are raised 60 million bushels to 530 million.

The U.S. season-average soybean price range for 2017/18 is projected at $8.90 to $9.70 per bushel, unchanged at the midpoint.  Soybean oil prices are forecast at 31 to 34 cents per pound, down 1 cent at the midpoint.  Soybean meal prices are projected at $305 to $335 per short ton, up $5 at the midpoint.

Global oilseed production for 2017/18 is projected at 578.6 million tons, down 1.5 million with lower soybean production partly offset by higher cottonseed.  Soybean production is reduced 1.7 million tons to 346.9 million.  Soybean production for Brazil is projected at 112.0 million tons, up 2.0 million, as favorable weather throughout the growing season has raised yield prospects.  Argentina production is reduced 2.0 million tons to 54.0 million on lower harvested area and reduced yields resulting from periods of unseasonable warmth and dryness.  Soybean production is also reduced for several other countries including Paraguay, Bolivia, India, Ukraine, and South Africa.  Other changes include reduced sunflowerseed production for South Africa, increased cottonseed production for China, and lower cottonseed production for India.

Global oilseed crush for 2017/18 is projected at 487.5 million tons, down 1.0 million.  Reduced soybean crush for Argentina and India accounts for most of the change.  Global oilseed stocks are projected lower with reduced soybean stocks for Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay, and India more than offsetting an increase for the United States.

WHEAT:  Projected 2017/18 U.S. ending stocks are raised this month by 20 million bushels as higher food use is more than offset by lower exports, while export forecasts for several major competitors are increased.  Estimated food use is increased by 5 million bushels to 955 million, based on the NASS Flour Milling Products report, which indicated higher-than-expected use in the first half of 2017/18.  Additionally, implied flour extraction rates were lower in the second quarter, as compared to last year, and a continuation of this trend is expected to support increased wheat for food usage into the second half of 2017/18.  No other supply or use categories are changed this month.  Based on NASS prices reported to date and price expectations for the rest of the marketing year, the projected season-average farm price (SAFP) remains unchanged at the midpoint of $4.60 per bushel.  However, the projected SAFP range is narrowed by 5 cents at both ends of the range to $4.55 to $4.65.

Global 2017/18 wheat supplies increased, primarily on higher production forecasts for Argentina and Ukraine.  Argentina’s wheat production increased by 500,000 tons to 18.0 million based on higher than-expected yields from the later harvest stages.  Ukraine wheat production increased 481,000 tons to 27.0 million based on updated government data.

World 2017/18 trade is raised this month as higher exports from Russia, Argentina, and Canada more than offset reduced exports from the EU and the United States.  Projected imports are increased for Indonesia and several African countries while reduced for India, the EU, Iran, Brazil, and Mexico.  Indonesia’s imports are raised 1.0 million tons to 12.5 million on increases for both food and feed use.  Indonesia is now the leading global wheat importer, surpassing Egypt, the traditional leader.  Total world consumption is projected 3.1 million tons higher, primarily on greater usage from Indonesia and China.  Projected global ending stocks are 1.9 million tons lower this month at 266.1 million but remain significantly higher than a year ago.

LIVESTOCK, POULTRY, AND DAIRY:  The 2018 forecast for total red meat and poultry production is raised from last month, as higher forecast broiler production more than offsets lower beef, pork, and turkey production.  The beef production forecast is reduced from the previous month, as expected lower second-half beef production more than offsets higher first-half beef production.  NASS’s Cattle report, released January 31, estimated the U.S. cattle inventory continued to increase for the fourth consecutive year, but the report also indicated that fewer numbers of cattle were being held outside feedlots.  The number of cattle placed on feed in the first part of 2018 is expected to be lower, resulting in lower marketings and beef production in the second half of the year.  The January NASS Cattle on Feed report showed year-over-year increases in placement numbers in December, implying higher numbers of fed cattle will likely be marketed during the spring quarter.  Cattle weights are raised for the first half of 2018 on current weight patterns.  Pork production is reduced on the pace of slaughter to date.  Broiler production is raised largely on continued growth in bird weights.  First-half turkey production is reduced on hatchery data.  First-quarter egg production is reduced on a slower laying rate.  Estimates of 2017 meat and egg production are adjusted to reflect December data.

For 2018, beef exports are raised as demand from several key trading partners is expected to remain robust; no change is made to the beef import forecast.  Pork import and export forecasts are unchanged from last month.  First-half broiler export forecasts are raised on expectations of strong demand while turkey exports are reduced on the slow pace of recovery in exports in late-2017 and lower production in 2018.  Livestock, poultry, and egg trade estimates for 2017 are adjusted to reflect December trade data.

Fed-cattle prices for the first half of 2018 are raised from last month on continued demand strength. First-quarter hog and broiler price forecasts are raised from last month on stronger prices to date. The first-quarter turkey price is also raised, but the annual forecast remains unchanged.  Egg price forecasts are also raised on continued robust demand.

The milk production forecast for 2018 is lowered from last month on expectations of slower growth in milk per cow.  The 2018 fat basis export and import forecasts are unchanged from the previous month.  On a skim-solids basis, the import forecast is raised slightly while the export forecast is raised on strong global demand for skim milk powder, lactose, and whey products.  The 2017 production, trade, and stock estimates are adjusted to reflect December data.

Annual product price forecasts for cheese and butter are lowered from the previous month as demand remains relatively weak.  No changes are made to the annual prices for NDM and whey.  The Class III price is lowered on the cheese price projection while the Class IV price is down on a lower butter price forecast.  The all milk price is forecast is reduced to $15.70 to $16.40 per cwt.

Brazil Raises 2017-18 Soybean Crop Forecast, Citing Good Weather

Brazilian agriculture agency Conab raised its estimate for the country's soybean harvest in the 2017-2018 growing season, helped by good weather, and cut its forecast for the corn harvest.

Brazilian farmers will produce 111.6 million metric tons of soybeans in the season, Conab said Thursday, up from its forecast of 110.4 million tons in January. Brazil produced a record 114.1 million tons of soybeans in the 2016-2017 season.

Conab forecast a total corn crop of 88 million metric tons in the 2017-2018 season, down from the 92.3 million tons the agency forecast in January and less than the record 97.8 million tons produced in 2016-2017.

Brazil's mild winters permit the country's farmers to have two harvests of corn a year, and Conab cut its forecast for both, citing reduced productivity and a smaller area planted with the crop.

Sorghum Industry Builds Response As China Launches Sorghum Trade Investigations

The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) and sorghum industry led by the National Sorghum Producers (NSP) mobilized this week in response to new anti-dumping and countervailing duties investigations launched against imported U.S. sorghum by China.

China's Ministry of Commerce, known as MOFCOM, announced the cases on Sunday. The proceedings will be governed by procedures outlined by the World Trade Organization (WTO) and will likely last for a year or more.

Sorghum markets reacted early in the week as farmers and the trade became concerned about market access in China. NSP CEO Tim Lust and USGC President and CEO Tom Sleight noted in media interviews that the market in China is not shut down and, to the industry's knowledge, sales contracts continue to be executed.

"The U.S.–China agricultural relationship is beneficial to U.S. farmers, Chinese consumers and our respective partners," Lust said in a statement. "We appreciate our deep and long-standing relationships within these buyers and the feed and livestock industries in China."

USGC and NSP will participate fully in the investigations to demonstrate that U.S. sorghum farmers do not dump products into China or elsewhere and that U.S. sorghum is not unfairly subsidized.

"It is a prescribed process. There are lots of steps China must recognize in terms of sheer timing," Sleight said in an interview with the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB). "It is critical to cooperate in these investigations because that's the only way to defend your rights moving forward."

USGC has recently worked on two similar cases with China related to U.S. distiller's dried grains with solubles (DDGS) and one with Peru related to ethanol and has staff prepared to assist the sorghum industry in its defense.

Sleight said Council staff globally is also working to immediately find new export demand for U.S. sorghum, which has been dominated by China in recent years.

China was the largest market for U.S. sorghum in 2016/2017 with 205 million bushels in sales, according to USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service. That represented 82 percent of all U.S. sorghum exports.

Study: Foreign Competitors Increase Investment In Ag Exports; U.S. Lags Behind

The latest analysis of foreign export promotion program investment shows that several competing countries and the European Union spent close to $1 billion in public funds on agricultural export promotion in 2016, outspending the United States 4 to 1. That is an increase of 70 percent in real competitive public spending since 2011. U.S. public funding for the two largest agricultural export promotion programs is about $235 million per year and its real value has declined by 12 percent since 20111. The conclusions echo results of three similar competitive studies since 2013.

This study, "An Analysis of EU and Other Selected Foreign Export Promotion Programs," was commissioned by Wine Institute and other agricultural associations and conducted by Informa Economics, IEG, with Market Access Program funding. With a focus on EU export development investment, Informa Economics also reviewed agricultural export promotion investment by major competitors from Australia, Chile, China, New Zealand and others.

"The total public investment alone from just the EU and four European countries are expected to exceed $550 million in 2019, which is more than twice what the U.S. government authorizes for agricultural export development under the farm bill," said Mark Powers, president of the Northwest Horticultural Council and chairman of the Coalition to Promote U.S. Agricultural Exports.

The study showed the EU is investing about $300 million per year on wine export promotion alone. Canada and Italy doubled their total annual spending, and Brazil and China tripled their total annual export promotion budgets according to the study.

"Other governments are investing more in global food and agricultural markets while inflation, sequestration and administrative costs are chipping away at U.S. funding," said Tom Sleight, CEO of U.S. Grains Council, which is a member of the Agribusiness Coalition for Foreign Market Development. "That also cuts into the ability of American family farmers, livestock and dairy producers, fishermen and small agri-food businesses to compete in growing export markets."

Sleight said increasing competition is one of the reasons why organizations that participate in cost-share export programs with USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service, as well as a number of members of Congress, are calling for more funding for U.S. programs. 

He said by 2016, private funding from industry members provided 70 percent of the total annual investment in the Market Access Program (MAP) and the Foreign Market Development (FMD) program, both administered by USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service. The remaining 30 percent from annual government funding has been stagnant at $200 million for MAP since 2006 and at $34.5 million for FMD since 2002.

Coalition members are asking that MAP and FMD funding be doubled by the last year of the new farm bill. That is also the goal called for in S.1839 and HR 2321, the "Cultivating Revitalization by Expanding American Agricultural Trade and Exports (CREAATE) Act," introduced in 2017.

"All the members of our coalition are grateful for federal export promotion support over the years," Powers said. "The investment has been very successful in boosting U.S. agricultural export volume and revenue at a rate that far exceeds its public expense. Because these programs also protect and create American jobs, and increase farm income2, there is no doubt they are highly successful public-private partnerships worth the increased investment."

Powers pointed out that Informa Economics evaluated future export promotion funding scenarios in November 20163. The econometric analysis suggested that if federal funding doubled and program participants also increased their contribution, after five years U.S. agricultural exports would increase by $22 billion, farm cash income would grow by $3.6 billion and 84,600 new full and part-time jobs would be created.

The executive summary of the Informa Economics competitive study, and more in-depth information about MAP and FMD programs and their outcomes, are posted online at

Wednesday February 7 Ag News


The Nebraska Cover Crop Conference on Feb. 15 will offer information to growers in a corn/soybean rotation and help them understand the value of cover crops.

The conference will be at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center near Mead.

"The conference is designed to provide soybean and corn growers who don't have livestock with information to effectively use cover crops in their operation," said Nebraska Extension educator Keith Glewen.

Topics and presenters include:
> "The Banker Won't Like Wheat, But Your Soil Will – Hear Why," Nathan Mueller, Nebraska Extension educator.
> "Will Cover Crops Be a New Home for Insects?," Justin McMechan, entomologist with Nebraska Extension.
> "Cover Crops for Ephemeral Gully Control," Dan Gillespie, no-till specialist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
> "How Cover Crops Work on My Farm," Bill Nielsen, Minden.
> "Why I Encourage My Customers to Use Cover Crops," Lee Briese, independent crop consultant and recipient of the 2016 International Certified Crop Advisor of the Year Award.
> "Why I Use Cover Crops on My Farm," Kelly Tobin, corn/soybean grower.
> "Cover Crops for Corn and Soybean Producers," panel discussion.

The conference is 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., with registration at 8:30 a.m. Pre-register by Feb. 10 to ensure resource materials are available and for meal-planning purposes.

To register, call 402-624-8000 or email For more information, visit

The conference is sponsored by Nebraska Extension and the Nebraska Soybean Checkoff, in partnership with the Lower Platte North Natural Resources District and USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education.


Nebraska On-Farm Research Network results will be shared during meetings across the state in February. Attendees can learn about more than 80 research projects conducted by Nebraska farmers in partnership with University of Nebraska-Lincoln faculty.

The research network is a statewide program that addresses critical farmer production, profitability and natural resource questions. The meetings provide an opportunity to hear growers who conducted on-farm research share their results from the 2017 growing season.

Research projects to be discussed will include cover crops, variable-rate seeding, planting populations, multi-hybrid planting, starter fertilizer, fungicide applications, alternate crop rotations, multi-hybrid planting uses, seed treatments, side-dress nitrogen management technologies and variable-rate nitrogen management.

Meeting dates and locations include:
> Feb. 19: Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center, 1071 County Road G, Ithaca, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., registration at 8:30 a.m.
> Feb. 20: Lifelong Learning Center, 701 E. Benjamin Ave., Norfolk, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., registration at 8:30 a.m.
> Feb. 21: Hall County Extension Office, College Park Campus, 3180 U.S. Highway 34, Grand Island, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., registration at 8:30 a.m.
> Feb. 27, Henry J. Stumpf International Wheat Center, northeast of Grant, noon to 4 p.m., registration at 11:30 a.m.
> Feb. 28, Knight Museum Sandhills Center, 908 Yellowstone Ave., Alliance, 9 a.m. to noon, registration at 8:30 a.m. 

There is no fee to attend. Pre-registration is requested for meal-planning purposes. To register for any of the five meetings, call 402-624-8030 or email

To learn more about the research network, visit

Precision Farming Dealer awards Central Valley Ag 2018 Most Valuable Dealership

Central Valley Ag (CVA) has been honored by Precision Farming Dealer as the 2018 recipient of its 6th annual Most Valuable Dealership award.

“We’re truly honored to receive this prestigious award,” said Karl Hensley, senior vice president of agronomy. “The recognition helps underscore the emphasis our cooperative puts on constant innovation.”

An independent panel of judges evaluated each of the 27 dealership nominees on precision farming sales growth and diversity, along with how each nominee generates revenue from hardware, software and precision service. The judges also analyzed less quantifiable elements that define the best precision farming dealership, such as employee training, performance standards, innovation, sustainability and community involvement.

CVA marks the third time a farm cooperative has captured the honor.

“It all starts with service,” said Keith Byerly, Advanced Cropping Systems manager for CVA. “To succeed, we need quality employees who are willing to learn something new every day and be able to adapt to each individual grower’s situation and needs. At the end of the day, the widgets are only as good as the person behind them.”

CVA launched its precision ag department more than 20 years ago, and today has a 26-person team dedicated to precision farming operations along with a central dispatch and 48 agronomy locations that operate 60-mile geographies. CVA offers a variety of precision services, including yield and field mapping, GPS and RTK signal subscriptions, soil sampling and equipment installations, and data analysis.

As noted by the judges, “CVA has an extremely balanced and service-oriented approach to their precision ag business.” “The completeness of their precision business is impressive. It’s not just hardware or agronomy. They blend it together in an impressive manner.” “I like that they utilize field research and test plots to prove ROI to customers, rather than just pushing products out the door.”

CVA joins previous award recipients Brokaw Supply Company, Fort Dodge, Iowa (2013); South Dakota Wheat Growers, Aberdeen, S.D. (2014); Ag Info Tech, Mount Vernon, Ohio (2015); Hoober Inc., Intercourse, Pa. (2016); and Southern States Cooperative, Richmond, Va. (2017).

New Records for U.S. Beef Export Value, Pork Export Volume in 2017

2017 was a record-breaking year for U.S. red meat exports, with beef export value exceeding $7 billion for only the second time and pork exports easily surpassing the previous year’s volume record, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

Beef exports totaled 1.26 million metric tons (mt), up 6 percent from 2016. This was the fourth-largest volume on record and the second-largest of the post-BSE era. Beef export value reached $7.27 billion, up 15 percent year-over-year and 2 percent above the previous high achieved in 2014 ($7.13 billion).

“This was a remarkable year for beef exports, in our mainstay markets in northern Asia as well as emerging destinations in South America, Southeast Asia and Africa,” said USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. “The U.S. beef industry gained significant market share in Japan despite considerable obstacles, and posted a record-breaking performance in South Korea and Taiwan. These markets are especially critical for chilled beef exports, which were up about 25 percent year-over-year. This had a tremendous impact on carcass value.”

For December only, beef export value was up 9 percent from a year ago to $672.9 million – the second-highest of 2017 and the third-highest on record. December volume was down 3 percent from a year ago to 113,269 mt.

Beef exports accounted for 12.9 percent of total production in 2017 and 10.4 percent for muscle cuts only, down from 13.7 percent and 10.5 percent, respectively, in 2016. Beef export value averaged $286.38 per head of fed slaughter, up 9 percent from 2016 and the second-highest on record, trailing only the $300.36 average posted in 2014.

Pork exports totaled 2.45 million mt in 2017, breaking the 2016 record by 6 percent. Export value was $6.49 billion – up 9 percent year-over-year and the second-highest on record, trailing only 2014 ($6.65 billion).

“Heading into 2017, we knew U.S. pork production would be record-large and that the industry would be counting more than ever on export growth to support hog prices and sustain profitability,” Halstrom said. “Our international pork customers really stepped up to the plate, and USMEF helped the industry meet their needs through new product development, consumer education and outreach and by creating opportunities for customers to meet with U.S. suppliers. The new volume record for pork is impressive, but it’s important to note that export value increased at an even more rapid pace – which confirms that international demand is robust and that exports deliver a strong return.”

For December only, pork export value was up 5 percent from a year ago to $591.1 million. This was the second-highest total of 2017, trailing only the record value achieved in November ($615.8 million). December volume was down 1 percent from a year ago to 219,809 mt.

Pork exports accounted for 26.6 percent of total production in 2017 and 22.3 percent for muscle cuts only, each up nearly a full percentage point from a year ago. Pork export value averaged $53.47 per head slaughtered, up 6 percent from 2016.

Japan leads beef export growth; value records fall in several key markets

Japan solidified its position as the leading market for U.S. beef in 2017, with volume climbing 19 percent year-over-year to 307,559 mt and value up 25 percent to $1.89 billion – new post-BSE records. Chilled exports to Japan expanded even more rapidly, reaching 148,688 mt (up 32 percent) valued at $1.102 billion (up 37 percent) as U.S. beef captured more than half of Japan’s imported chilled beef market – a new high for U.S. market share. Japan accounts for nearly $75 in export value per head of fed slaughter and delivers critical premiums for certain cuts. For example, Japan’s imports of U.S. beef tongue averaged $12.13 per head and imports of short plate averaged $26.44.

The U.S. industry is marketing a wide range of beef cuts in Japan and the market holds potential for additional growth. But market access is a concern, with imports of Australian and Mexican beef subject to significantly lower duties and beef from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Mexico all poised to gain further tariff relief through the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

Other 2017 beef export highlights include:

-    Beef exports to South Korea increased 3 percent in volume (184,152 mt) and climbed 15 percent in value to $1.22 billion, easily outpacing the previous year’s record. Chilled U.S. beef achieved tremendous growth, increasing 73 percent in volume (45,153 mt) and 78 percent in value ($405.8 million). Demand is especially strong in the Korean retail sector, where consumer confidence in the quality and safety of U.S. beef continues to gain momentum. Korea’s imports of U.S. beef are now subject to a 21.3 percent tariff, down from 24 percent in 2017 and well below the 40 percent rate in effect prior to implementation of the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS). The tariff rate is scheduled to decline to zero by 2026.
-    Mexico remained the second-largest volume market (237,972 mt, down 2 percent from 2016) and third-largest in value ($979.7 million, up slightly). It is an especially important market for U.S. beef shoulder clods, rounds and variety meat.
-    Exports to Taiwan set a new value record, increasing 13 percent from a year ago to $409.7 million. Volume was up 2 percent to 44,800 mt. U.S. beef holds 72 percent of Taiwan’s chilled beef market, the highest share of any Asian destination. Taiwan is a key market for secondary beef cuts such as the clod heart, petite tender and top sirloin cap.
-    Demand in Hong Kong rebounded from a slow start to post a strong performance in 2017, increasing 16 percent in volume (130,726 mt) and 29 percent in value ($884.1 million). After China’s mid-year lifting of its ban on U.S. beef, exports to China totaled 3,020 mt valued at $31 million. While eligible supplies remain limited due to China’s import restrictions, the market holds significant growth potential and is already one of the highest value markets for U.S. beef on a per-pound basis.
-    Record exports to the Philippines and Singapore and strong growth in Indonesia and Vietnam pushed export volume to the ASEAN region up 37 percent to 40,954 mt, while value climbed 34 percent to $210.9 million.
-    Strong performances in Chile, Peru and Colombia led the way for U.S. beef in South America, where export volume increased 24 percent to 28,383 mt and value was up 23 percent to $114.8 million. Shipments to Brazil, which resumed in April after a 13-year absence, totaled 2,035 mt valued at $7.4 million.
-    Led by strong beef liver demand in South Africa, exports to Africa increased 78 percent in volume (22,001 mt) and 74 percent in value ($22 million). Since reopening to U.S. beef in 2016, South Africa has emerged as the sixth-largest destination for U.S. beef variety meat and second-largest for livers.

Mexico, Central and South America, Korea drive outstanding growth for U.S. pork

Strong demand for U.S. hams set the pace for the sixth consecutive volume record for pork exports to Mexico at 801,887 mt, up 10 percent year-over-year. Export value reached $1.51 billion – up 12 percent and the second-highest on record, trailing only 2014 ($1.56 billion). Per capita pork consumption in Mexico has grown by about one-third over the past 10 years and now stands at 18 kilograms. This rapid growth has been bolstered by USMEF’s trade education and outreach efforts and continuous engagement with Mexico’s importers, distributors and processors, as well as duty-free access under NAFTA.

Other 2017 pork export highlights include:

-    Exports to leading value market Japan increased 2 percent in volume (393,648 mt) and 4 percent in value ($1.63 billion). Chilled pork export volume to Japan was down slightly to 217,857 mt, while value was up 4 percent to $1.03 billion. Similar to beef, market access to Japan is a growing concern for the U.S. pork industry as trade barriers for Canadian, Mexican and Chilean pork will be reduced under CPTPP and the European Union will soon finalize an economic partnership agreement with Japan.
-    Exports to Korea soared 28 percent in volume to 173,182 mt, valued at $475 million – up 30 percent year-over-year and the second-highest on record (exports reached $497 million in 2011, when Korea was in recovery from a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak). Korea’s pork consumption set another new record in 2017 and demand has been fueled in part by a growing preference for protein-centric convenience foods and home meal replacement items. Most U.S. pork now enters Korea duty-free under KORUS.
-    Booming demand in Colombia and Chile and a growing presence for U.S. pork in Peru fueled a record performance in South America, where exports were up 57 percent in volume (103,987 mt) and 58 percent in value ($268 million). Most U.S. pork entering South America is destined for further processing, but USMEF continues to make inroads in the retail sector and with U.S.-origin processed products. Exports to the region could gain further momentum in 2018, when Argentina is expected to reopen to U.S. pork and as pork consumption continues to grow in existing markets.
-    Pork exports to Central America were also record-large in 2017 at 73,891 mt (up 6 percent), valued at $179.8 million (up 8 percent), led by solid growth in mainstay markets Honduras and Guatemala. Exports to the Dominican Republic also set a new record, with volume up 20 percent to 30,803 mt and value increasing 26 percent to $71.1 million.
-    Despite being limited to processed products and raw material destined for further processing, exports to Australia set a new volume record at 70,985 mt (up 12 percent) and climbed 17 percent in value to $208.3 million. Australia is an especially important destination for U.S. hams.
-    Strong growth in the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam pushed exports to the ASEAN region up 15 percent in volume (47,725 mt) and 30 percent in value ($128.2 million).
-    China/Hong was the second-largest volume destination for U.S. pork at 495,637 mt. This was down 9 percent from a year ago as China’s total imports decreased, reflecting a rebound in domestic production. However, export value was up slightly from 2016 at $1.08 billion. The region is the largest destination for U.S. pork variety meat, with 2017 exports up 2 percent in volume to 321,116 mt. The value of these exports climbed 16 percent to $741.8 million, as variety meat exports to China/Hong Kong accounted for an average of $6.12 per U.S. hog slaughtered.
-    On a global basis, U.S. pork variety meat exports were up 4 percent to 543,973 mt, while export value was up 17 percent and easily the highest on record at $1.17 billion, averaging a record $9.67 for every hog processed.

Lamb muscle cut exports higher in 2017; variety meats struggle

U.S. lamb exports were down 14 percent in volume (7,261 mt) in 2017, but value increased 7 percent to $19.5 million. The volume decline was due to slow demand for variety meat, as muscle cuts exports increased in both volume (2,421 mt, up 8 percent) and value ($14.2 million, up 16 percent), including strong gains in the Caribbean, Canada and Central America. U.S. lamb gained access to Taiwan in 2016 and recently became eligible for Guatemala and El Salvador. However, expanding market access for U.S. lamb remains a priority for USMEF, as lamb is still ineligible in many key markets including Japan, Korea, China and South America.

“We have had success differentiating U.S. lamb as a premium product,” Halstrom noted. “But the lamb industry cannot fully capitalize on international demand until barriers are removed in some of the most prominent destinations for U.S. red meat.”

U.S. Pork Exports Set New Volume Records in 2017

In 2017, U.S. pork exports recorded the largest year ever in volume, with sales to more than 100 countries around the world. U.S. pork and pork variety meat exports totaled 5.399 billion pounds valued at $6.486 billion, up 6 percent and 9 percent respectively from 2016.

“Exports continue to be an important piece of the puzzle for adding to producers’ bottom line,” said Craig Morris, vice president of international marketing for the Pork Checkoff. “Recognizing the importance of exports, the National Pork Board recently approved nearly $8.7 million for 2018 export market activities, the most significant financial investment of Checkoff dollars in international marketing efforts to date. With more high quality U.S. pork available than ever, we are redoubling efforts to build on the momentum of the past year.”

Pork variety meats were the shining star during 2017. Exports tied the 2011 record, with 82 percent of edible variety meat exported. Pork variety meat exports totaled $1.17 billion, setting a new total value record and surpassing $1 billion for the first time. Together, China and Mexico accounted for 86 percent of U.S. pork variety meat exports. In 2017, total edible pork variety meat exports added $9.67 in value to every hog marketed, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

U.S. pork and pork variety meat exports accounted for 26.6 percent of total pork production, with 22 percent of muscle cuts exported, in 2017. Export value returned an average $53.47 per head back to producers, up 6 percent from 2016.

The top six markets by volume were Mexico (1.768 billion pounds), China/Hong Kong (1.09 billion pounds), Japan (868 million pounds), Canada (459 million pounds), South Korea (382 million pounds) and South America (229 million pounds).

The top six markets by value were Japan ($1.626 billion), Mexico ($1.514 billion), China/Hong Kong ($1.078 billion), Canada ($792 million), South Korea ($475 million), and South America ($268 million).

Farm Sector Profits Expected To Decline in 2018
USDA Economic Research Service - Feb 7, 2018

Net farm income, a broad measure of profits, is forecast to decrease $4.3 billion (6.7 percent) from 2017 to $59.5 billion in 2018, the lowest net farm income level in nominal dollar terms since 2006. Net cash farm income is forecast to decrease $5.0 billion (5.1 percent) to $91.9 billion, the lowest level since 2009. In inflation-adjusted (real) 2018 dollars, net farm income is forecast to decline $5.4 billion (8.3 percent) from 2017 and, if realized, would be the lowest real-dollar level since 2002. Real net cash farm income is forecast to decline $6.7 billion (6.8 percent) from 2017, which would be the lowest real-dollar level since 2009. Net cash farm income includes cash receipts from farming as well as farm-related income, including government payments, minus cash expenses. Net farm income is a more comprehensive measure that incorporates noncash items, including changes in inventories, economic depreciation, and gross imputed rental income.

Cash receipts for all commodities are forecast to fall (in nominal dollars) $2.0 billion (0.5 percent) in 2018 to $363.1 billion. Relatively small annual declines are predicted for both animal/animal product (0.3 percent) and crop (0.8 percent) receipts. Forecast declines in receipts for milk and poultry/eggs are expected to more than offset a forecast increase in meat animal receipts. A forecast $1.7-billion (4.5 percent) increase in soybean receipts will be more than offset by expected declines in receipts for wheat, corn, cotton, fruits/nuts, and vegetables/melons. Direct government farm payments are forecast to decline $2.1 billion (18.6 percent) to $9.3 billion in 2018, reflecting large declines in Agricultural Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage payments.

Total production expenses (including operator dwellings) are forecast up $3.5 billion (1 percent) in nominal terms to $359.2 billion in 2018, led by increases for fuels/oil, interest, and hired labor. Partially offsetting these increases are an expected drop in feed expenses.

The 2018 forecast for farm business average net cash farm income is $93,200, the 4th consecutive decline since 2014 and the lowest average since 2011, in nominal dollars. A 6.2-percent ($2,100) increase is expected for cattle and calf farm businesses. Average net cash farm income for hog, poultry, and dairy farm businesses—along with all crop farm business categories—is forecast to decline in 2018, with wheat and dairy farms expected to see double-digit (percentage) declines.

Farm sector equity (nominal) is forecast up by $43.7 billion (1.6 percent) to $2.7 trillion in 2018. Farm assets are forecast to increase by $47.5 billion (1.6 percent) to $3.1 trillion in 2018, reflecting an anticipated 2.1-percent rise in farm sector real estate value. Farm debt is forecast to increase by $3.8 billion (1.0 percent) to $388.9 billion, led by an expected 1.2-percent rise in real estate debt.

Median Income of Farm Operator Households Expected To Be Relatively Unchanged in 2017 and 2018

Farm households typically receive income from both farm and off-farm sources. The total median income of U.S. farm households increased steadily over 2010-14, reaching an estimated $81,637 in 2014 in nominal terms. Median household income, which fell 6 percent in 2015 and remained flat in 2016, is forecast to rise 3.5 percent from its 2016 level by 2018 to $78,886 (but decrease 0.8 percent in inflation-adjusted terms). Median farm income earned by farm households is estimated at -$940 in 2016 and is forecast to decline to -$1,316 in 2018. In recent years, slightly more than half of farm households have had negative farm income each year. Most of these households earn positive off-farm income—and median off-farm income is forecast to increase 2.3 percent from $66,468 in 2016 to $68,011 in 2017, and another 2.8 percent in 2018 to $69,940. (Because farm and off-farm income are not distributed identically for every farm, median total income will generally not equal the sum of median off-farm and median farm income.)

NCGA Statement on Senate Floor Debate Regarding Agriculture

The following is a statement from North Dakota farmer Kevin Skunes, president of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), in response to today’s debate on the Senate Floor.

“The Senate Agriculture Committee approved Bill Northey’s nomination unanimously, and the full Senate could have approved his nomination today. Farmers need Bill Northey on the job at USDA, and Senator Cruz’s hold is harmful to farmers.

Senator Cruz claims he wants a “win-win” that benefits corn farmers. Corn farmers’ definition of a “win-win” is providing regulatory parity for E15 and higher blends of ethanol, which would increase the supply of RINs to lower RIN values, and improving transparency in the trading system. The only plan Senator Cruz has is to block the confirmation of a well-qualified and much-needed leader at the Department of Agriculture in order to undercut the successful and beneficial Renewable Fuel Standard.

Whether it’s EPA, financial analysts or university experts, all confirm refiners are not facing a RIN price impact because they recover any costs through the price they receive for their refined products. Senator Cruz is trying to upend the RFS to address a non-existent problem and bail out refiners who have made poor business decisions. Unlike farmers – who USDA projects will face the lowest net farm income since 2006 this year – most refiners are reporting surging profits.

Corn farmers are grateful for the leadership of Senators Chuck Grassley, Debbie Stabenow, Joni Ernst and Amy Klobuchar in supporting Bill Northey’s nomination on the Senate floor. Corn farmers also appreciate President Trump’s strong support of biofuels, rural communities and consumers.”

Fix Emissions Reporting Law For Farmers, Says NPPC

The National Pork Producers Council today asked Congress for a legislative fix to a federal emergency response law that now requires farmers to report emissions from the natural breakdown of manure to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Testifying on behalf of NPPC, Dr. Howard Hill told members of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works that livestock producers and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency never believed routine agricultural emissions from manure constituted the type of emergency or crisis the law was intended to address.

Last April, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected a 2008 EPA rule that exempted farmers from reporting routine farm emissions under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Emergency Planning Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA).

CERCLA is mainly used to clean hazardous waste, and it and EPCRA include provisions that require entities to report on the release of various substances over certain thresholds.

The appeals court ruling will force “tens of thousands of livestock farmers to figure out how to estimate and report their emissions,” testified Hill, a veterinarian and pork producer from Cambridge, Iowa, and past president of NPPC. (More than 100,000 livestock farmers likely will need to file emissions reports by a May 1 deadline.)

He pointed out that while the pork industry is prepared to comply with CERCLA and EPCRA, EPA, the U.S. Coast Guard – which takes the emissions reports – and state and local emergency response authorities have said they don’t want or need the information, which could interfere with their legitimate emergency functions.

Hill also told the committee that pork producers are committed to responsibly managing their animals and the manure they produce to protect water and air quality and to maximizing manure’s benefit and value as a source of nutrients for the crops they grow. He said the pork industry, which has worked cooperatively with environmental regulators at the state and federal levels, supports federal environmental policies that: give producers performance expectations that have a high probability of resulting in meaningful environmental improvements; are practical and affordable; and provide producers a realistic amount of time to adapt measures and associated systems to their operations so they can continue to be profitable and successful. 

Rancher to Congress: "Let Us Loose!"

Today Niels Hansen, Secretary/Treasurer of the Public Lands Council and a member of NCBA, testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works to explain how onerous federal regulations undermine conservation goals.

“Cattle producers pride themselves on being good stewards of our country’s natural resources. We maintain open spaces, healthy rangelands, provide wildlife habitat and feed the world. Despite these critical contributions, our ability to effectively steward these resources is all too often hampered by excessive federal regulations like the ones we are discussing today,” Mr. Hansen said in written testimony.

Ranchers own and manage more land than any other segment of agriculture, implementing proven conservation practices that have sustained the environment for generations. Mr. Hansen highlighted how specific laws and regulations pose challenges to this rich heritage:
-    The 2015 Waters of the United States Rule: “As a livestock producer, the 2015 WOTUS Rule has the potential to negatively affect every aspect of my operation by placing the regulation of every tributary, stream, pond, and dry streambed in the hands of the federal government, rather the states and localities that understand Wyoming's unique water issues.”
-    CERCLA/EPCRA reporting: “Congress never intended these laws to govern everyday farm and ranch activity. When the mandate issues, nearly 200,000 farmers and ranchers will be on the hook to report low-level livestock manure odors to the government.”
-    Endangered Species Act: “Cattle producers throughout the country continue to suffer the brunt of regulatory and economic uncertainty due to the abuse of the Endangered Species Act…Years of abusive litigation by radical environmental groups have taken a toll, and the result is a system badly in need of modernization.”

Mr. Hansen – a third-generation rancher and industry leader in environmental stewardship – asked Congress to empower ranchers and local land managers by reducing the regulatory burdens they face.

“By freeing our industry from overly burdensome federal regulations and allowing us to provide the kind of stewardship and ecosystem services only we can, you will do more for healthy ecosystems and environments than top down restrictions from Washington ever can,” he said.

Veterinary researcher makes inroads in fighting classical swine fever

A Kansas State University researcher has licensed a new vaccine to an animal health company to fight a highly contagious swine disease overseas. A second discovery by the researcher could improve vaccines for the disease and help protect the U.S. from an outbreak.

Jishu Shi, professor of vaccine immunology and director ofU.S.-China Center for Animal Health in the university's College of Veterinary Medicine, has developed a method of producing a classical swine fever vaccine safely and inexpensively. The disease can cause devastating epidemics among pigs if left unchecked.

Shi's vaccine uses a protein from the virus rather than a live or attenuated virus, which means the vaccine poses no biosecurity risk to produce in the U.S., where classical swine fever was eradicated in 1978.

Shi licensed his new subunit vaccine to an animal health company in China to continue to study its field efficacy. Classical swine fever has not been eliminated in China, and each of the 700 million pigs raised annually in the country currently receives two doses of vaccine against the virulent disease. Shi's version requires only one dose.

"We need to test the vaccine in the field to prove it will work," Shi said. "If it does, we can help China eradicate the disease, which further secures the U.S. by ensuring the disease doesn't spread to our shores."

Pigs given the current modified live virus classical swine fever vaccine test positive for the disease. Shi's other discovery will help develop a test to differentiate infected from vaccinated animals, known as a DIVA strategy. Shi and his collaborators identified two specific antibodies that can be used to differentiate whether pigs are infected or vaccinated, and he is working with colleagues at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in Europe and in China to conduct more trials and gain full validation.

"This exciting discovery could result in solving an economic and trade problem in China — vaccines are expensive, and countries with classical swine fever can't export pork — and a security problem for the U.S.," Shi said

Peter Dorhout, Kansas State University's vice president for research, said Shi's work highlights the university's capacity for addressing high-consequence diseases.

"Our researchers develop real solutions to problems that threaten global food systems," Dorhout said. "Shi's work shows how we are expanding our reach around the world to build relationships, provide expertise and keep our food industries and supplies safe."

Shi conducted his research in the university's Biosecurity Research Institute, or BRI. The institute gives investigators access to a biocontainment facility in which they can safely conduct research on diseases that threaten animal, plant and human health. Shi's work was supported by a grant from the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility, or NBAF, Transition Fund.

"I couldn't do this work without the NBAF Transition Fund and the BRI," Shi said. "It gives us the competitive advantage of doing research on these diseases. This is an essential capacity, and we have a very good team there."

Stephen Higgs, director of the Biosecurity Research Institute, said Shi's work demonstrates the value of the facility, how funded research at the institute benefits the Kansas State University community as a whole, and how the institute's capabilities dovetail with the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility, which is the Department of Homeland Security's foremost animal disease research facility that is being built adjacent to Kansas State University's Manhattan campus.

"Our mission is to protect the U.S. and the world from diseases that we hope will never spread to North America," Higgs said. "Classical swine fever is one of the diseases that will be studied at NBAF, and we're proud to be supporting progress in fighting this economic threat to pork production worldwide."

Retail Fertilizer Price Moves Stuck on Replay

The retail fertilizer market appears to be stuck on replay, as average prices for most fertilizers moved higher again the last week of January 2018, according to retailers surveyed by DTN.

All but one of the eight major fertilizers were higher compared to a month earlier. One difference from previous weeks was that anhydrous was not significantly higher (5% or more) as it has been for the last eight consecutive weeks.

Seven of the eight major fertilizers were slightly higher than a month ago. DAP had an average price of $458 per ton, MAP $492/ton, urea $355/ton, 10-34-0 $415/ton, anhydrous $491/ton, UAN28 $227/ton and UAN32 $261/ton.

One fertilizer was actually slightly lower for the second week in a row compared to the previous month. Potash had an average price of $344 per 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 $0.41/lb.N and UAN32 $0.41/lb.N.

All but three fertilizers are now higher compared to last year with prices pushing higher in recent months. Urea is 1% higher, anhydrous is now 2% more expensive, potash is 5% higher, DAP is 7% more expensive and MAP is 10% higher than last year.

Three fertilizers are still lower in price compared to a year prior. UAN32 is 3% lower while UAN28 is 4% less expensive and 10-34-0 is 5% lower looking back a year.

Crop Insurance Acreage Sets New Mark in 2017

2017 was a historic year for crop insurance, with 311 million acres enrolled in the system.  For perspective, that’s an area roughly the size of California, Texas and New York combined.

The good news was delivered by Mike Day, chairman of National Crop Insurance Services (NCIS), during the industry’s recent annual meeting.  He also told the group that insurers backed more than $106 billion worth of crops in 2017, up $6 billion since 2016.  And farmers paid $3.7 billion out of their own pockets for insurance protection – a more than $250 million increase from the year before.

“Today, crop insurance protects around 90 percent of the insurable land and more than 130 different kinds of crops,” said Day, who heads Rural Community Insurance Services (RCIS) for Zurich North America.  “Congress made crop insurance the cornerstone of farm policy, and it is important not just for farmers and rural communities, but for taxpayers and consumers alike.”

Despite its popularity, some farm policy opponents are angling to cut crop insurance funding in the upcoming Farm Bill debate.

Day said that would be a mistake, pointing out Congress’ efforts to make crop insurance affordable and available for farmers and economically viable enough to encourage efficient private-sector delivery.

“Interrupt any of those three pillars, as some farm policy critics are advocating, and you undo all the progress that has been made over the past three decades,” he noted.

NCIS President Tom Zacharias echoed Day’s comments and encouraged agriculture to work hand-in-hand during the Farm Bill to defend farmers’ primary risk management tool.  He also urged his colleagues to maintain their vigilance in providing superior customer service and coordinating with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“Farmers must continue to realize the economic value of today’s crop insurance system and have confidence that both government and the private sector are committed to its continued success,” Zacharias concluded.

EIA: Ethanol Stocks Jump

The U.S. Energy Information Administration's latest weekly report shows ethanol supply in the United States up 500,000 bbl or 2.2% to 23.5 million bbl during the week-ended Feb. 2, moving closer to the record high of 23.8 million bbl registered just two weeks prior, while up 1.4 million bbl or 6.3% against year prior.

Domestic plant production and blending demand also increased during the week reviewed, with output up 17,000 bpd or 1.6% to 1.057 million bpd last week, and 2,000 bpd higher on the year. For the four weeks ended Feb. 2, production averaged 1.055 million bpd, unchanged versus a year ago.

Net refiner and blender inputs, a measure for ethanol demand, climbed 10,000 bpd or 1.2% last week to 868,000 bpd. Compared to a year ago, blending demand was down 7,000 bpd or 0.8% at 875,000 bpd. For the four-week period ended Feb. 2, blending demand averaged 852,000 bpd, up 6,000 bpd or 0.7% versus a year ago.

Senators’ Call to Release Northey

Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor released the following statement today after Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Ia.) led a bipartisan group of senators in calling for the Senate to confirm Bill Northey as a U.S. Department of Agriculture undersecretary.

“We applaud Sen. Grassley for stepping up today and calling for a stop to the hold on Bill Northey’s nomination,” Skor said.

“It’s time for the Senate to clear Mr. Northey so that our nation has the leadership in place to move forward on critical issues impacting the American agriculture industry. Sen. Ted Cruz has held Mr. Northey hostage as a means to drag out his so-called ‘negotiation’ to lower RIN prices, when all this time there has been a solution staring us in the face – RVP relief.”

Family Farm Organization Urges Congress to Pass a Stronger Farm Bill in 2018

American family farmers and ranchers are enduring the worst economic slide in generations, and they need Congress to pass a Farm Bill in 2018 to strengthen the farm safety net.

In order to educate the general public and to generate support for a Farm Bill to be passed this year, National Farmers Union (NFU) and Farmers Union state divisions have developed a digital campaign, complete with a new website, a Farm Bill video, animated short videos, weekly promotions and a petition. The family farm organization is calling on Congress to strengthen programs that support family farm agriculture, vibrant rural communities, a clean environment, and hungry Americans.

“Family farmers and consumers alike are in urgent need of strong farm and food policies to be passed in the Farm Bill this year,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “As the agriculture committees ready to propose Farm Bill legislation, Farmers Union wants to be sure all members of Congress understand why the Farm Bill is so vital to family farm agriculture, our land, our rural communities, and our nation’s most vulnerable citizens. We’re hopeful this campaign can bridge the support of the entire farm and food community.”

The campaign features a 9-minute video on the importance of the Farm Bill to family farmers, the environment and consumers, profiling Farmers Union members from across the country. Three short animated videos are also being launched to help the general public understand what the Farm Bill is, what Farmers Union’s ideal Farm Bill looks like, and how to advocate for the Farm Bill. And throughought the next month, NFU will issue short policy briefs on the major components of the Farm Bill.

Family farmers, consumers, lawmakers and advocates are encouraged to share the video on social media, tweet with the hashtag #FarmBillNow, and sign the petition to call on Congress to pass a Farm Bill in 2018. Those interested in showing the videos or sharing the materials should contact Andrew Jerome for more information.


The 2018 American Sheep Industry Association Annual Convention - From the Hill Country to Capitol Hill - provided 500-plus members of the sheep and wool industry with the opportunity to address important issues with congressional and agency leaders Jan. 31-Feb. 3 in San Antonio.

Among them was U.S. Department of Agriculture Under Secretary of Marketing and Regulatory Programs Greg Ibach. He used his audience with the ASI Executive Committee and a room full of convention attendees to announce Janet Bucknall as the new deputy administrator for USDA's Wildlife Services. The announcement of the deputy administrator at the ASI convention - so quickly after the retirement of Bill Clay - clearly demonstrates USDA's recognition of the American sheep industry's support for Wildlife Services and its livestock protection program. ASI has long played an important role in ensuring continual and adequate funding for USDA/WS through annual congressional appropriations.

The under secretary also discussed his agency's efforts to ensure the future use of the M-44 sodium cyanide device in approved states. The M-44 was a great example, as he pointed out, of the increased agency cooperation that the administration has asked at the secretarial and administrator levels.
Having served on the Meat and Livestock Board as a rancher in Nebraska, Ibach expressed his support for checkoff research programs and how enthused he was that the agency was able to announce the new appointments to the American Lamb Board prior to the sheep industry annual meeting.

ASI President Mike Corn thanked the undersecretary for the recent decision that Mandatory Price Reporting staff would be exempt from government furloughs, ensuring the continual release of market reporting. Corn then stressed the importance to the industry of the existing scrapie eradication program and full funding of the program.

While scrapie prevalence is at an all-time low and eradication is in sight, the United States' scrapie status continues to act as a trade barrier. ASI's executive board asked the under secretary to prioritize the rule updating the scrapie program and propose a full budget for eradication. This priority - plus access for American lamb to Japan and Europe - needs to be well ahead of any rule on transmissible spongiform encephalopathy that would aid foreign sheep producers more than American sheep farmers and ranchers.

More welcome news for the sheep industry came from Dr. Maggie Highland's presentation to the Resource Management Council. The USDA/Animal Research Service researcher shared tremendous news that after years of taking wildlife nasal swabs, her lab has found mycoplasma ovipneumoniae (movi) in deer and buffalo. Other species might also be carriers. The research holds the potential to significantly change the existing polices in Washington, D.C., that give wild sheep preference ahead of domestic sheep and have led to the wrongful loss of many domestic sheep allotments and producers' livelihoods.

In other policy news, ASI issued a new directive reaffirming the association's support for H.B. 4092 (the Ag Act) to fulfill critical labor needs within the American sheep industry. The association further directed the need to address health insurance and numerical cap concerns of the sheep industry. The board also approved a new policy encouraging Wildlife Services to look at cost-saving measures to combat reduced federal funding. Unspent funds from the agency's budget could then be directed to support the vastly underfunded livestock protection program.

Texas Rep. Will Hurd of the 23rd Congressional District addressed the full board at the ASI Annual Convention and touched briefly on a number of topics that are important to the industry, such as protecting agriculture opportunities, the minor use drug program, international trade, scrapie and immigration reform. He stressed that input and advocacy from farmers and ranchers on these and other issues is important to protect agriculture as a whole.

Wool prices were certainly a topic worth highlighting during the week. Chris Wilcox of Poimena Analysis and the International Wool Textile Organization titled his presentation to the full board, Let the Good Times Roll? While forecasts call for a slight increase in wool production, demand for the natural fiber remains strong. Fine wool prices have continued to break record highs for an extended time, while coarse wool prices are not realizing the same strength. 

The development of a new American Wool logo and accompanying social media sites in the past two years has been a point of emphasis for ASI and the American Wool Council. But the focus remains on marketing American wool, said ASI Wool Marketing Director Rita Samuelson.

"We're targeting the levels of the wool marketing chain that make decisions to purchase American wool," she told the board of directors. "That has been where ASI has had success in building demand for American wool. We have found that's where we get a better return for you as a producer. These are the decision makers who purchase and choose whether to buy American wool or other country-of-origin wools."

Lamb and wool generate most of the income for producers, but sheep skins are often overlooked as a revenue source. Convention attendees got an up close look at this side of the industry from Nugget International's Mike Wheeler, who led half a dozen tours of his processing facility in San Antonio during the week.

Nugget's goal is to "generate the highest pelt credit possible through a careful mix of merchandising both raw and tanned American lamb skins," he said. While sheep skin processing has most likely peaked in China, Wheeler sees new opportunities in Southeast Asia, India and Myanmar. "We're also investing more and more in our facilities here in San Antonio and in Greeley (Colo.)."

The convention's industry tour included a stop at the historic Hillingdon Ranch near Comfort, Texas. Managed by the Giles family for more than 130 years, the ranch runs fine wool sheep in addition to Angora goats, Angus cattle and whitetail deer. Owner Robin Giles and his family (wife, Carol; son, Grant; and daughter-in-law, Misty) were gracious hosts during the tour.

A panel featuring Brandon Willis of Ranchers Insurance and Burdell Johnson of ASI's Food and Fiber Risk Managers also briefed the full board on insurance options for producers. Programs such as the Whole Farm Revenue Program and Crop Insurance for Ranchers were presented.

"The sheep industry and ASI have been ahead of their time in forming their own insurance company and developing the Livestock Risk Protection-Lamb program," Willis said.

In association business, Brad Boner of Wyoming was elected to serve as the Region 7 Director to the executive committee.

Tuesday February 6 Ag News

Eastern Nebraska Extension Beef Workshops

Nebraska Extension are hosting Beef Profitability Workshops in Eastern Nebraska to help Beef Producers evaluate their operations to make them more profitable through the latest research information. Extension Educators will be presenting the information.

These workshops have been held across Nebraska for the past fifteen years.  Workshops are sponsored by Nebraska Extension.  The cost is $15.00 which is payable at the door, but pre-registration is encouraged so we know how many will be attending.

Workshops that will be held in the area during March include the following locations.

March 13, 2018 – Wayne County at 1:00 p.m. @ Wayne Fire Hall in Wayne, NE.  Topics include “Points of Leverage in a Cow-Calf Operation”, “Unit Cost of Production for Cow-Calf” and “Composting Livestock Mortality”.  Pre-register by contacting Larry Howard at 402-372-6006 by March 9th.

March 14, 2018 – Colfax County at 1:00 p.m. @ Colfax County Fairgrounds in Leigh, NE. Topics include “Round Bale Storage”, “Temporary Fencing and Water” and “Composting Livestock Mortality”. Pre-register by contacting Larry Howard at 402-372-6006 by March 9th.

March 15, 2018 – Washington County Extension Office at 1:00 p.m. in Blair, NE.  Topics include “Points of Leverage in a Cow-Calf Operation”, “Unit Cost of Production for Cow-Calf” and “Composting Livestock Mortality”.  Pre-register by contacting Larry Howard at 402-372-6006 by March 12th.


An upcoming webinar from Nebraska Extension will focus on the economics of producing forage on cropland. The webinar is scheduled for Feb. 13 at 6 p.m. CST.

According to Beef Systems Specialist Mary Drewnoski, current corn prices and limited availability of perennial grass have some producers wondering if growing forages on cropland might be the answer to feeding the cow herd.

“Nebraska Extension is currently receiving many questions from producers and ag lenders about the economics of using cropland to produce forages,” said Drewnoski. “This webinar will answer these questions and provide economic examples to use when making a decision.”  

Common questions from producers include:
-    I can’t find enough pasture. Are annual forages economical?
-    Will growing corn or annual forages net more income?
-    Is converting a pivot to perennial grass economical when I’m in need of pasture?

The integrated systems production team including Jay Parsons, biosystems agriculture economist, Daren Redfearn, forage and crop residue specialist, along with Drewnoski, will be ready to answer questions during the webinar.

There is no cost to participate. Registration is required in advance. To register, visit

After registering, a confirmation email will be sent containing instructions to join the meeting.

New Soybean Disease Identification Resource for 2018

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach has released an updated version of the “Soybean Diseases” (IPM 4) publication to help farmers and other professionals in the agriculture industry identify and scout for disease threats to soybean production in Iowa. The publication includes scouting tips, disease descriptions, hi-resolution images and general recommendations for management. Also included are illustrated disease cycles for many diseases, a foliar disease estimation chart, and soybean growth and development and staging information.

“Soybean disease issues change over time, and the information we have about diseases advances with new research,” said Adam Sisson, extension specialist for the Integrated Pest Management Program at Iowa State University. “We updated 'Soybean Diseases' to reflect these changes and to improve the usefulness of the publication.”

“Several diseases not found in the previous version have been added, such as soybean vein necrosis and tobacco ringspot, along with new images and updates throughout,” said Daren Mueller, associate professor and extension crop plant pathologist at Iowa State University.

The "Soybean Diseases" publication is available to purchase online at the Extension Store. A hard copy of the publication costs $5, but there also is an option to order it in boxed quantities of 50 for a reduced price of $3.50 per publication. Printable downloads are $2.50 each.

SHIC Releases 2018 Plan of Work to Help Safeguard Swine Health

The Swine Health Information Center (SHIC) Plan of Work for 2018, with projects designed to quickly deliver results to safeguard the health of the US swine herd, was approved by the organization’s Board of Directors during their January 26 meeting.

The Plan includes a focused effort to improve transportation biosecurity, next steps for investigating feed as a possible vehicle for pathogen transport into the country and between farms, improving communication about international and domestic swine diseases, and continued testing of the ability to respond to emerging disease through the Rapid Response Corps.

The improved transport biosecurity from points of concentration project begins with better understanding of trucker/facility interactions and transmission pathways. Steps for facilitating improved trailer disinfection will also be investigated.

SHIC is investigating the ability of common inputs to act as biologic or mechanical vectors for disease introduction into the country or between farms. This includes work on feed transport of pathogens, studying imported feed components and their risk, along with what might reduce or eliminate risk.

SHIC programs for improving surveillance and discovery in 2018 will help investigate newly identified agents associated with disease as well as ensure detection of emerging disease to facilitate rapid response.

Being prepared to respond quickly and effectively to emerging disease includes SHIC’s new Rapid Response Program with Corps members already being trained. In the event of an emerging disease, the Corps will help quickly respond to and manage incidents with a focus on communications, quick research of pathogens, and supporting a unified response.

SHIC will continue to identify swine disease risks via domestic and international monitoring. As part of the international program, publications are monitored, international disease databases are watched, and international contacts and allied industry partners are asked to give a “boots on the ground” perspective.

SHIC will continue to support the Morrison Swine Health Monitoring Project to develop industry capacity for detection of emerging disease, rapid response, and continuity of business. The sharing of information through the project will be the foundation for new and innovative analyses to enable prospective swine health decision making.

The Swine Disease Matrix is constantly being reviewed with updates happening in response to disease activity and awareness. In 2018, SHIC will include bacterial pathogens, to reflect the reality seen on farms. Using the prioritized pathogens in the Swine Disease Matrix, SHIC is working to enhance swine disease diagnostic capabilities. SHIC-funded diagnostic tools will be staged for access by Veterinary Diagnostic Labs, so they can quickly be used for disease diagnostic work ups.

Information on all projects, research, and programs can be found on the SHIC website:

Reduce Yield Impact and Disease Risks When Using Cover Crops

Iowa Learning Farms will host a webinar about how producers can reduce yield impact and disease risks when using cover crops on Wednesday, Feb. 21 at 1 p.m.

Despite the many documented benefits of cover crops, some farmers are hesitant to add cover crops to their operations due to perceived risks of yield impact and increased disease. Alison Robertson, a professor in the Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology and an extension field crops pathologist at Iowa State University, will discuss best management practices that can help farmers avoid reduced stands and lower yields. She also will explain how a cover crop may act as a green bridge for oomycete pathogens, thereby creating an increased risk of seedling disease in corn without proper management.

“The goal of our research is to develop best disease management practices that protect yield potential and ensure profitability,” said Robertson. Robertson hopes that webinar viewers will gain a better understanding of the factors that can cause seedling disease of corn when using cover crops so that producers can appropriately manage risk. Robertson specializes in the research of seedling diseases caused by oomycete (water molds).

The Iowa Learning Farms webinar series takes place on the third Wednesday of the month. To watch, go to shortly before 1 p.m. on Feb. 21 and log in through the “guest” option. The webinar will be recorded and archived on the ILF website for watching at any time at

Grassley Analysis Finds RFS Has Minimal Impact on Success of Refineries

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa released the following internal memorandum produced by his energy policy staff who analyzed recent claims made by opponents of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), including Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES), which attributed its recent bankruptcy filing in part to the RFS. The analysis finds that the biofuels blending requirement and the cost of Renewable Identification Number credits (RINs), a compliance mechanism designed for flexibility, have little to do with the success of refineries and were not significant factors in the PES bankruptcy. The Grassley analysis reached similar conclusions as those of multiple recent studies, including multiple by the University of Pennsylvania’s Kleinman Center for Energy Policy. The Grassley staff analysis can be found here.

“I’m concerned any time an American’s job could be lost,” Grassley said. “After I heard that the Renewable Fuel Standard was being blamed for the financial troubles of some refineries, I wanted to know more. So I asked my staff to get to the bottom of the situation. After reviewing the facts, I’m confident that the Renewable Fuel Standard isn’t harming refineries, that other factors are at work, and that the RFS law is working as Congress intended. Once these facts are known, there ought to be an end to the misleading rhetoric blaming the RFS. I’ve always said that I’m for an all-of-the-above national energy strategy. Biofuels are responsible for thousands of jobs across the country. There’s no reason biofuels and other renewables can’t exist alongside conventional fuels. I’m thankful President Trump continues to support biofuels and rural America. The President should be applauded for his ongoing commitment to the RFS, which makes our air cleaner, energy cheaper and country stronger with more domestic energy production.”

The Grassley staff analysis found that, “The publicly available evidence points to the fact that PES finds itself in financial difficulty due primarily to changes in its available feedstocks and other management decisions. It does face a problem of having to acquire RINs to meet the looming RFS compliance deadline, but that is due in large measure to its reported decision last fall to sell off the RINs it had acquired, presumably in hopes of being able to buy them back at lower cost before the compliance deadline. Moreover, if PES had taken the sensible approach of other merchant refiners and invested in ethanol blending infrastructure or partnered with a blender, it appears it would have no need to purchase RINs at all.”

Grassley has said that it’s worth exploring ways to lower RIN prices without undermining the integrity of the RFS. Grassley has suggested making E15 available year-round and that EPA could do more to provide transparency to the RIN market.

ACE commends Senator Grassley for finding RFS not a significant factor in PES bankruptcy

American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) CEO Brian Jennings released the following statement in response to analysis Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa released today on the recent claims made by opponents of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), including Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES), which attributed its recent bankruptcy filing in part to the RFS program.

“Senator Grassley’s analysis that the RFS compliance mechanism (RIN credits) is not the primary reason for the bankruptcy filing of Philadelphia Energy Solutions is spot on.  As more light is shone on the decisions PES management made between 2012 and today, it has become clear that they sacrificed RFS compliance for other investments which went bad.  RIN prices might be a politically convenient excuse for PES but the inconvenient truth is that other merchant refiners who adapted their business model to blend ethanol aren’t running to bankruptcy court for protection.  It would be outrageous for Congress or EPA to reform the RFS based on the mismanagement of one east coast refiner.”

Senator Grassley released an internal memorandum produced by his energy policy staff who analyzed the claims made by PES and other opponents of the RFS. The Grassley analysis reached similar conclusions as those of recent studies, including those of a four-part blog series released by the University of Pennsylvania’s Kleinman Center for Energy Policy this month. 

Record US Ethanol Exports in 2017

The United States exported a record 1.37 billion gallons of ethanol to more than 60 countries in 2017, up 17% from 2016, according to an analysis of data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture by Renewable Fuel Association.

Brazil was the leading destination for U.S. ethanol exports, receiving 446 million gallons, or 33%, of total shipments, the data shows. Canada imported 328 mg from the U.S., while India took in 173 mg. The Philippines and South Korea rounded out the top five destinations in 2017.

Export volumes to nine of the top 10 destinations saw increases over 2016 volumes, with Brazil, India, the Netherlands, Singapore, and United Arab Emirates showing the largest gains.

After being the third-leading ethanol export market for the U.S. in 2016, China finished just out of the top 10 in 2017, as exports to that nation plunged nearly 90% in the wake of new tariffs being implemented.

According to the data, U.S. ethanol exports were valued at $2.4 billion in 2017, up 16% year-over-year.

U.S. ethanol imports remained scarce in 2017, with just 77 mg entering the country, and nearly all of the imported product went to California and was used to meet the state's Low Carbon Fuel Standard requirements.

NMPF Insists on Correction to Scientific Journal Article Falsely Claiming Milk is Food Safety Risk

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) today admonished the authors of a McGill University study for a research article falsely describing milk as a high-risk factor in spreading foodborne illness. NMPF said the study’s authors need to clarify that any significant dairy-related food safety risk is only associated with the consumption of raw milk, not commercially available dairy foods sold in the United States and other developed nations.

Prepared by a graduate student at McGill University of Canada and published in the Journal of Food Science and Technology, the study compared the nutritional profiles of four imitation dairy beverages and conventional cow’s milk. The research demonstrated that none of the plant-based imitations replicates the nutritional benefits of real milk. However, the study also published inaccurate claims that cow’s milk “has been associated to cause wide spread disease outbreaks around the world.”

In a letter to the study’s authors, NMPF rebuked the claim, saying it is actually raw, unpasteurized milk that is a demonstrable source of pathogens.

Dr. Beth Briczinski, NMPF’s vice president for dairy foods and nutrition, said the media attention to this inaccurate claim was disconcerting and had to be addressed.

“Cow’s milk is one of the most regulated food products on the market today,” she said. “To publish such an egregious claim in a scientific journal could damage consumer trust in this great beverage, which is why we insist that the study’s authors issue a correction to the journal article and revise its press release immediately.”

The public health risk associated with raw milk is supported by scientific evidence spanning over one hundred years. Raw milk is a key vehicle in the transmission of human pathogens like E. coli, Listeria and Salmonella, the letter said. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have reported that over 70 percent of foodborne outbreaks involving dairy are attributed to raw milk. It is illegal in both Canada and many U.S. states.

“There is no basis for your statement linking milk consumption to worldwide foodborne outbreaks,” said the letter. “Such a comment has the potential to do incredible, unjustified harm to our industry and has the potential to cause fear in consumers who are seeking nutrient-dense and safe products for themselves and their families.”

ADM, Bunge Reported to be in Advance Merger Talks

Archer-Daniels-Midland Co. is in advanced talks to acquire commodity trader Bunge Ltd., accelerating the pace of consolidation in the global grain-trading industry, according to people familiar with the matter.

Bloomberg reports that ADM and Bunge, which has a market value of about $11.5 billion, could reach an agreement as early as this week, the people said, asking not to be identified because the deliberations are private. The takeover talks are ongoing and could still fall apart, while other bidders could still be interested in acquiring Bunge, the people said. ADM is scheduled to announce full-year earnings on Tuesday.

Bunge, is the B in the so-called ABCD companies that dominate global agricultural trade, alongside ADM, Cargill Inc. and Louis Dreyfus Co. After several years of bumper crops, trading profits have fallen, prompting industry executives to talk of consolidation.

The potential ADM-Bunge deal may trigger a bidding war as Glencore Plc made an approach last year to Bunge about a merger with its own agriculture unit. While Glencore, which is partnering with Canadian pension funds, rarely gets in involved in competitive takeover battles, the commodity trader, led by Ivan Glasenberg, could try to trump ADM with a cash offer.

The takeover would also matter well beyond the tightly-knit world of agricultural traders. The companies buy crops across the planet -- from soybean growers in Brazil to wheat farmers in Ukraine -- and supply the world's largest food companies such as Nestle SA and Kraft Heinz Co. A merger of two giants of American agriculture will also attract the attention of politicians across the bread-basket states of the Midwest.

An ADM merger with Bunge would probably face significant antitrust hurdles in the U.S. and perhaps in Brazil and China. To satisfy regulators, a deal would likely require the divestment of assets, such as silos and processing plants in North America, certain to attract interest from competitors, Bloomberg reports.

ADM, which has a market value of about $23 billion, made a preliminary approach to Bunge in recent months, a person familiar with the matter said in January.

Talking Turkey: Seeing through the Myths on Cages, Factory Farms and Antibiotics

Closing the distance from farm to fork, America's turkey farmers, represented by the National Turkey Federation, have prepared a new series of videos and resources offering common-sense answers about raising healthy turkey flocks on family farms.

The videos are available at

Featuring a series of videos introducing consumers to turkeys raised on corn and soybeans in climate-comfortable protective barns, Minnesota turkey farmer John Zimmerman answers questions in an approachable manner with the view inside his barn. Questions are posed with humor by a cartoon animated tom turkey suggesting the exaggerated myths that consumers are often subjected to about how their food is raised. The videos are formatted for social media and available for online sharing.

"People are curious and like to understand more about their food and where it comes from," said Zimmerman. "It's satisfying to know consumers can appreciate how turkey farming is both practical and sustainable, and the answers to their questions are all common-sense."

Viewers see turkeys walk about freely and safely inside barns without cages, as well as learn how veterinarian-prescribed antibiotics are proven to clear an animal's system before the meat is processed.  The videos also share how healthy turkeys are raised on a nutritious diet of corn and soybeans along with vitamins and minerals, and how turkeys are farm-raised using smart technology and responsible stewardship of resources.

"The videos aim to satisfy the public's curiosity about a turkey farmer's practical approach to raising their flock and to encourage consumers' appreciation of their food from farm to fork," said Keith Williams of the National Turkey Federation. "These short videos present the exaggerated myths of turkey farming with a bit of humor that welcomes curiosity and encourages questions."   

America's Turkey Farmers website introduces the farmers, farmwork, and the food they provide for the consumer enjoyment of Turkey.The Perfect Protein®.  The depth of experience and attention to caring for turkeys can be reviewed on the website in the Stewardship Manual written and adopted by the country's turkey farmers as members of the National Turkey Federation. The website also offers concise fact sheets for turkey's lean protein options among a variety of cuts for meals throughout the week that can be grilled, baked, sautéed or served as snacks.

The online resources follow the successful engagement with the public from 1.3 million views on YouTube of the "Turkey Farm and Processing Plant" video visit by the world's leading animal welfare expert, Dr. Temple Grandin. content was created by the National Turkey Federation with distribution through a grant by USPOULTRY and creative production contributed by Alltech®.

Big Lessons from the Big Game: What Food and Ag Can Learn from Sunday’s Super Bowl Ads
Charlie Arnot, CEO of The Center for Food Integrity

If a TV ad doesn’t entice viewers to buy the product, it’s a failure. Judging by some of the ads seen during this year’s Super Bowl, companies are recognizing the power of demonstrating shared values in order to connect with today’s consumer.

A Budweiser ad shows a plant manager halting beer production in the middle of the night in order to fill cans with water to aid in hurricane relief efforts. Stella Artois devoted its time to promote a program that provides clean water to people in developing countries.

These ads provide clear illustrations of the power of sharing examples of social responsibility – aligning with The Center for Food Integrity (CFI) trust model proving shared values are much more important than information or expertise when it comes to earning consumer trust. Recent research shows consumers now believe their greatest impact on society comes not through voting or community involvement, but through their purchases. And values alignment is an important component of consumer purchasing decisions.

Whether it’s sponsoring a Little League team, a staff Habitat for Humanity volunteer program or efforts to provide fresh water for people in need, those in the food industry who are not documenting their community betterment efforts are missing an opportunity to connect with today’s socially-conscious consumer.

Another commercial during the big game featured snippets of telephone conversations as people thanked first responders for their efforts. Only after the words, “They answer the call. We make sure they can get it” does Verizon’s logo appear at the end of the 60-second spot.

Not to equate farmers with firemen, policemen and other front-line emergency responders, but all have earned high levels of trust and respect. Food companies and suppliers who sell to and buy from farmers likely face a much lower level of trust as evidenced by CFI's research showing the “big is bad” mindset among consumers is very real.

Food system stakeholders would do well to identify farmers as “heroes” who care for the land and provide quality animal care as part of delivering healthy, affordable food. As with the Verizon ad, farm suppliers and food companies can say they provide the tools farmers need to be guardians of the earth and animals.

Agriculture and food have traditionally relied on economics and science to validate their practices and products. Year over year in CFI’s consumer trust research, we see reinforcement that consumers believe that big is bad – that companies will put their interests ahead of consumer interests.

We learned more than a decade ago that while facts and science are imperative, they’re not the most important element if the goal is to grow trust in food. As seen in this year’s Super Bowl ads, sharing stories and data that demonstrate values is an integral part of earning trust. Once shared values have been established, the door is open to introduce factual justification for today’s modern food production practices.

Monday February 5 Ag News

Ricketts Announces Schedule for 30th Governor’s Ag Conference

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts announced the agenda for the 30th annual Governor’s Ag Conference, an important event for farmers, ranchers, ag leaders, and agri-business managers in Nebraska.  The conference is scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, March 7-8, 2018, at the Holiday Inn and Convention Center in Kearney.

“Each year, the Governor’s Ag Conference brings together Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers to share best practices and create networks that help grow our state’s number one industry,” said Governor Ricketts.  “It’s a unique opportunity for our ag producers to discuss the ag industry and provide direct input to the state in our work to support future growth in agriculture.  We look forward to hosting Nebraska’s ag community for the 30th anniversary of the conference and urge interested farm and ranch families to consider joining us to celebrate this special occasion.”

The conference will feature discussions on issues currently impacting the agricultural industry, including: international trade, ag diversification in rural Nebraska, and Nebraska ag leaders undertaking national leadership roles.

“We’ve worked hard to make sure that this year’s Governor’s Ag Conference speakers are personally connected with Nebraska agriculture and are well-respected members of the state’s ag community,” said Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) Director Steve Wellman.  “These speakers understand the importance of Nebraska agriculture and the role it plays in the economic well-being of the state.”

The conference starts Wednesday, March 7, 2018, at 3:30 p.m. with remarks from Governor Ricketts and NDA Director Wellman.

Following those remarks will be a panel discussion featuring Nebraska producers serving in national leadership roles. Panelists include:
·       Don Bloss, Chair, National Sorghum Producers
·       Lynn Chrisp, First Vice President, National Corn Growers Association
·       Jim Miller, Chairman, U.S. Soybean Export Council
·       Terry O’Neill, President, National Pork Board
·       Craig Uden, Past President, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

The annual “Celebrate Nebraska Agriculture” reception, sponsored by Farm Credit Services of America, begins at 6 p.m. on March 7 and features an assortment of food and beverages from Nebraska.

The conference resumes on Thursday, March 8, 2018, at 9 a.m. with a panel presentation on international trade and the benefits gained from companies participating in Nebraska trade missions. Panelists include:
·       Jerry Wiggs, Greater Omaha Packing Company, Inc.
·       Chris Roth, Reinke Manufacturing Company, Inc.

At 10 a.m., a panel representing ag companies that have built businesses and created jobs for small Nebraska communities will discuss the importance of ag diversification in rural Nebraska.  Panelists include:
·       Norm Krug, owner/founder, Preferred Popcorn
·       Troy Becker, co-owner, Unified Pet Products

The last panel presentation of the day will discuss the growth of the food processing industry in Nebraska, featuring speakers from Costco, Hendrix, and Kelley Bean.

Lunch will be served at noon and will include keynote speaker Greg Ibach, Under Secretary of Agriculture for Marketing and Regulatory Programs of the USDA.  Ibach will update conference participants on agricultural activities at the federal level.

“The Governor’s Ag Conference gives producers an opportunity to network with colleagues, share information and prepare for the future,” said NDA Director Wellman.  “We’ve lined up quality speakers, and I appreciate their willingness to share their knowledge and experience with our conference participants.  I strongly encourage anyone with an interest in agriculture to attend.”

A $100 registration fee covers participation at activities on both Wednesday and Thursday.  Registration and additional information is available online at, or by calling NDA toll-free at (800) 831-0550.

2018 CBB Officers Named

Cattle producers Joan Ruskamp of Dodge, Nebraska, Chuck Coffey of Springer, Oklahoma, and Jared Brackett of Filer, Idaho, are the new leadership team for the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion & Research Board (CBB), elected unanimously by fellow Beef Board members during the 2018 Cattle Industry Convention in Phoenix on February 2, 2018. Ruskamp will serve as chairman, Coffey will serve as vice chairman and Brackett as secretary/treasurer to lead the national Beef Checkoff Program for the coming year.


Newly elected CBB Chairman Joan Ruskamp and her husband, Steve, operate a feedlot and row-crop farm west of Dodge, Nebraska. She is a graduate of the University of Nebraska at Curtis, where she earned an associate degree in veterinary medicine in 1980. Joan has been very active in the beef industry, with service to numerous producer organizations. In addition, she has been a 4-H leader for about 20 years, an EMT for more than a decade, and a religious education teacher for nearly 30 years.

Chuck CoffeyVice Chairman Chuck Coffey is a fifth-generation rancher who grew up on a ranch in the hill country of Harper, Texas  He earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in range science from Texas A&M. Chuck taught agriculture at Murray State College in Tishomingo, Oklahoma, after completing his master's in 1985, eventually he chaired the department until he joined the Noble Foundation as a pasture and range consultant in 1993. He is extremely passionate about ranching and feels blessed to be able to work on the ranch every day.

This year's Secretary/Treasurer, Jared Brackett, is a fifth-generation cow/calf producer from Filer, Idaho. Jared BrackettHe graduated from Texas A&M with a degree in agriculture economics and is a diehard Aggie football fan. Brackett is also a past president of the Idaho Cattlemen's Association and continues to serve on a number of other livestock committees and boards. 

The Beef Board also elected members to serve on the Exective Committee and the Beef Promotion Operating Committee.


The 12-member CBB Executive Committee includes the Board’s three officers and eight members elected at-large. The CBB members elected the following members to its 2018 Executive Committee: Amelia Kent of Louisiana, Bill King of New Mexico, Paul Moss of Tennessee, Don Smith of Texas, Jana Malot of Pennsylvania, Jack Parent of Vermont, Irv Petsch of Wyoming and Rob Von Der Lieth of California. CBB Vice Chairman, Chuck Coffey, will serve as chairman of the Executive Committee, and as immediate past CBB Chairman, Brett Morris of Oklahoma will serve as an advisor to the committee.

The Executive Committee operates under the direction of, and within the policies established by, the full Board and is responsible for carrying out Beef Board policies and conducting business and making decisions necessary to administer the terms and provisions of the Act and Order between meetings of the full Board.


The Beef Promotion Operating Committee was created by the Beef Promotion Research Act to help coordinate state and national beef checkoff programs. The 20-person committee includes 10 members of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, among them the Board’s three officers and seven other members of the Board elected at-large by Beef Board members. The other 10 members are appointed from the Federation of State Beef Councils.

CBB members elected to the 2017 Beef Promotion Operating Committee during the annual meeting in Phoenix include: Michael Smith of California, Robert Mitchell of Wisconsin, Hugh Sanburg of Colorado, Tammy Basel of South Dakota, Janna Stubbs of Texas, Ken Blight of Michigan and Rich Brown on New York.

For more information about your beef checkoff investment, visit

Central Plains Irrigation Conference Feb. 20-21 

Get the latest information on using water efficiently in farm production at the Central Plains Irrigation Conference and Expo Feb. 20-21 at Colby, Kansas. Celebrating its 30th year in 2018, the conference offers technical and practical information to help farmers manage irrigation and water resources.

Coordinated by the Central Plains Irrigation Association, a joint effort of extension, growers, and the irrigation industry in Kansas, Nebraska, and Colorado, this year's conference will be held at the City Limits Convention Center, 2225 S. Range Ave. Primary sponsors are Kansas State University and irrigation-related agricultural companies. Kansas Corn will host a dinner and farmer panel.

“This conference is the place to find out about the latest research and technology advances relevant for agricultural producers across the Plains states,” said Danny Rogers, agricultural engineer with K-State Research and Extension. “There’s never been a more important time for farmers to be aware of ways they can conserve water as they help grow the nation’s and world’s food supply.”

The opening day lunch will feature the showing of "Thirsty Land," a documentary film by producer and director Conrad Weaver about drought, water, and agriculture in the western United States. Weaver will introduce the film and answer questions afterward.

CPIA conference speakers include university researchers and extension specialists, government officials, and farmers who will share their experiences, addressing such topics as
-    Using Remote Sensing to Improve Irrigation Uniformity;
-    Irrigating Corn under Reduced Well Capacity Conditions;
-    Impact of Tillage and Crop Residue on Soil Water Storage and Infiltration;
-    Current Research on Maximizing Irrigation Productivity in Corn;
-    Center Pivot Maintenance and Preserving Irrigation Pump Performance;
-    In-Canopy vs. Above-Canopy Sprinklers — Which is Better for your Field?
-    Basic Design, Filtration, and Maintenance of Subsurface Drip Irrigation;
-    KSU Crop Management Results from 28 Years of Subsurface Drip Irrigation Research;
-    Producers’ Reactions to Water Use Restrictions;
-    Center Pivot Safety;
-    and more topics.

Nebraska presenters will include Daran Rudnick, Nebraska Extension Irrigation Management Specialist, Derrel Martin, Irrigation and Water Resources Engineer; Steven Melvin, Extension Educator, and Burdette Barker, post-doctorate researcher in water management, all from the University of Nebraska, and Brian Olson, manager of the Monsanto Learning Center at Gothenburg.

Expo vendors will answer questions about the latest irrigation technology and related services.
Registration and Contacts

The conference registration form is available online. Individuals can register for one or both days of the conference.

Additional conference information is available at the Central Plains Irrigation Association website,, or by contacting Donna Lamm at 785-462-7574 or In Nebraska you can also contact Rudnick, Nebraska Extension Irrigation Management Specialist, at 308-696-6709 or


Those looking to improve their understanding of agricultural production risks and crop insurance are encouraged to attend an upcoming crop insurance workshop hosted by the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. University experts, industry representatives and growers will lead the workshop scheduled for Feb. 26 at College Park, 3184 US-34 in Grand Island.

Crop insurance represents the cornerstone of risk management due to its ability to transfer large amounts of financial risk from producers to someone else. The workshop will provide guidance on how to select a crop insurance contract and how this decision interacts with other aspects of a farming operation.

 “Understanding crop insurance can give producers a financial advantage,” said Cory Walters, assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Nebraska. “Failure to understand how it works can leave producers financially stressed and at a financial disadvantage.”

 Walters will kick off the event with an overview of crop insurance in Nebraska. He will also share results of recent crop insurance research conducted at the university. Since crop insurance is closely tied to weather, Eric Hunt, Atmospheric and Environmental Research, Inc. staff scientist, will have an outlook of the upcoming season and what it may mean for your operation. Crop insurance industry representatives will discuss crop insurance contracts, and a panel of Nebraska farmers will share how they manage risk with crop insurance.

 “The goal of this workshop is to have a discussion on selecting the right crop insurance products for an individual’s unique situation,” said Walters.

 The workshop will start at 8:45 a.m. and end at 2:30 p.m.  Lunch is included in the registration. 

 The workshop cost is $35 before Feb. 20 and $40 afterward. To register, visit Paper registration forms can be requested by calling Sandy Sterkel at 402-472-1742.

For questions regarding the workshop, contact Cory Walters at 402-472-0366 or

 NFU Announces Featured Speakers, Panel for 116th Anniversary Convention in Kansas City

 Family farmers and ranchers traveling to Kansas City for the National Farmers Union (NFU) 116th Anniversary Convention will have the opportunity to hear from top speakers in American and international agriculture during the four-day conference.

Jason Kander, president of Let America Vote, will provide keynote remarks at the convention. NFU President Roger Johnson, American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall, and USDA Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett will take center stage to discuss the scope and solutions to the opioid epidemic in American farming communities. And Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Art Cullen of The Storm Lake Times will offer remarks at the convention opening banquet.

The convention annually brings together members, industry professionals, policymakers, and reporters for a series of educational breakout sessions, award presentations, a local farm tour, and the family farm organization’s unique, grassroots policy adoption process.

NFU 116th Anniversary Convention

Jason Kander, President, Let America Vote
Roger Johnson, President, National Farmers Union
Zippy Duvall, President, American Farm Bureau Federation
Anne Hazlett, Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development, USDA
Art Cullen, Editor, The Storm Lake Times

The Westin Kansas City at Crown Center
1 East Pershing Road
Kansas City, MO 64108

March 4-6, 2018

The most up-to-date convention information, including a tentative agenda and hotel information, can be found on the NFU website at

Dairy Industry Urges Swift Confirmation of Gregg Doud as Trade Negotiator for Agriculture

The U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) today urged the U.S. Senate to swiftly approve Gregg Doud as chief agricultural negotiator in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR).

Doud’s confirmation process was halted last year after Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) placed a hold on his nomination. With Flake’s hold now lifted, USDEC President and CEO Tom Vilsack and NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern are asking the Senate to move quickly to confirm Doud, particularly given the breadth of trade issues in which the USTR is engaged.

"The U.S. dairy industry welcomes this news, and looks forward to working closely with Doud as the new U.S. ag chief negotiator,” said Vilsack. “The role of the agriculture ambassador within the USTR is critical to successful U.S. engagement with current negotiations and growing global markets.”

“America’s dairy farmers depend on carefully calibrated trade agreements, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the U.S.-Korea free trade agreement (KORUS),” Mulhern said. “We need a strong advocate for agriculture in the USTR during this crucial period.”

U.S. dairy exports support millions of jobs, from farmers and processors to distribution and shipping businesses in every U.S. state. During the last several years, exports have become extremely important to the industry. The United States has gone from exporting less than $1 billion in 2000 to exporting more than$7 billion in 2014, before a dip in prices dropped exports to $5 billion in 2016.

CWT Assists with 3.8 million Pounds of Cheese and Butter Export Sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 17 requests for export assistance from Dairy Farmers of America, Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association, Northwest Dairy Association (Darigold) and Tillamook County Creamery Association.

These cooperatives have contracts to sell 2.974 million pounds (1,349 metric tons) of Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese and 859,803 pounds (390 metric tons) of butter to customers in Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. The product has been contracted for delivery in the period from February through May 2018.

CWT-assisted member cooperative 2018 export sales total 12.688 million pounds of American-type cheeses, and 1.590 pounds of butter (82% milkfat) to 11 countries on three continents. These sales are the equivalent of 152.871 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.

Friday February 2 Ag News

Weborg to Serve as Congressional District 1 representative for the Beginning Farmer Board

Tyler Weborg was appointed by the Governor as the congressional District 1 Representative for the Beginning Farmer Board. Among other things, Weborg is serving as Nebraska Cattlemen Region 3 Member Services Vice Chairman.  Effective June 30, 2017 serving through July 16, 2019. The Board is responsible for administering the Beginning Farmer Tax Credit Act marked as NextGen.

NextGen assists farmers and ranchers beginning a career in production agriculture. It provides a Nebraska income tax credit to an asset owner who rents to an eligible beginning farmer for a minimum of a three year lease. The incentive helps beginners gain access to agricultural assets and develop a relationship with the owner. The program also provides the beginner a personal property tax exemption on farm equipment and machinery. For more information on NextGen go to or call 800-446-4071.


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Do you rent pasture?  What happens if drought lowers pasture production below expectations?  Specifically, what does your pasture lease say about drought?

               It’s hard to think about drought in mid-winter but drought can play havoc on pasture leases.  All too often, pasture leases fail to include an appropriate plan to adjust to this problem.

               Without a plan, both the landowner and the tenant are at risk.  Landowners risk having the pasture become overgrazed, resulting in future weed problems, reduced long-term production, and lowered value.  The tenant risks poor performance or health of the livestock due to less forage and lower quality feed.  This can lead to higher supplemental feed costs or being forced to sell the cattle.

               So, who decides when drought has lowered pasture production low enough to remove the cattle?  And, what should be the adjustment in the rent payment?  And who gets insurance or government payments?

               Unfortunately, I can’t give you a specific answer.  Instead, now is the time to discuss these issues as landlord and tenant.  Be sure to list the length of the grazing period in the lease along with beginning and ending dates.  Also make sure that stocking rates are specified in the lease.  Adjust these stocking levels for bigger cow sizes  if necessary.  Usually, it is best to design the lease so both landowner and tenant share in the opportunity and risk associated with drought by adding an appropriate escape clause due to drought.  Indicate how a drought adjustment will be made and how that will affect rent payments.   And get it all in writing to avoid any misunderstandings later.

               Drought can cause a lot of headaches.  But if you’ve planned ahead, making sudden adjustments to your pasture leases won’t be one of them.

Nebraska Cattlemen Held Annual Legislative Meeting Last Week

Nebraska Cattlemen (NC) Board of Directors met in Lincoln for their annual legislative meeting last week. Six NC committees brought numerous new Nebraska Legislative bills and resolutions to the board's attention and revisited bills of interest identified last year that are still alive in the legislative process.

Under close review, in accordance to NC Policy, the Board of Directors considered and took positions on over 50 pieces of legislation and again in 2018, property tax reform and relief are the priorities for the year.

Nebraska Cattlemen recognizes agricultural property owners pay a disproportionate share of Nebraska's total property tax liability. While no single bill introduced this year is a complete solution to lowering property taxes, ideas exist in many bills that could lead to broad, long-term tax relief that begins immediately. Nebraska Cattlemen voted to support and monitor multiple bills this session and will work to align those bills with NC policy.  The Board of Directors encourages the Legislature to consider a comprehensive plan that would reform and reduce that burden.

The board took positions to support and monitor bills that would ease the property tax burden tax and opposed bills that would add more costs to Nebraska agricultural families by adding new taxes or removing exemptions on inputs to business.

NC recommends a broad legislative package that would include lowering and/or capping agricultural land valuations of real property, increasing and protecting the Property Tax Credit Fund, modifications to school funding that reduces the reliance on local property tax dollars and increases overall state dollars for K-12 education, implementing a refundable tax credit for property taxes paid, shifting the current tax burden or modifying/increasing existing revenues to bring dollar for dollar property tax reductions, spending restraints and prudent financial management at all levels of government, and defeating efforts that further burden property tax payers in Nebraska. 

"Our organization diligently reviewed bills in accordance to NC policy and took a stance on proposed legislation this week on behalf of members throughout the state. I am confident the decisions of Nebraska Cattlemen's Board of Directors will encourage our Legislature to pursue this comprehensive approach to provide meaningful, long term property tax relief for all Nebraskans," said Mike Drinnin, chairman of NC Legislative Committee.

Nebraska Farm Bureau Announces the Hiring of Three New Regional Managers

Leann Robitaille of Omaha, Neb., Nick Haack of Upland, Neb., and Heidi Pieper of Farnam, Neb., have accepted regional manager positions within the Nebraska Farm Bureau, Rob Robertson, Nebraska Farm Bureau chief administrator said Feb. 1. Robitaille will serve as the Southeast regional manager, Haack will be the first to serve in the newly formed South Central region as regional manager and Pieper will serve as the Southwest regional manager.

“With the ever-increasing challenges facing our members and Nebraska agriculture, it is imperative the Nebraska Farm Bureau continues to grow and expand its influence in the grassroots advocacy world and with its efforts to attract new members. These three individuals bring excellent skill sets to these positions and they have a lot of new ideas and energy that they will bring to our organization. It is important that we, as staff, empower our members to fulfill our vision to be the trusted voice of Nebraska farm and ranch families,” Robertson said.

Leann Robitaille graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with an Agribusiness degree. Prior to joining Nebraska Farm Bureau, Robitaille served a variety of non-profits in leadership development, event management, and in leadership roles. She grew up on her family farm in Franklin County and has lived the past 12 years in West Omaha. Robitaille and her husband John, have five children together. She is a member of the Douglas County Farm Bureau and is excited to bring her personal attention, leadership skills, and passions to Nebraska Farm Bureau to promote agriculture in Nebraska.

Nick Haack graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Sciences. He lives with his wife, Melissa, and their five children on a farm near Upland. Prior to joining Nebraska Farm Bureau, he was the owner/operator of Arrow H Farm and Ranch Services. Haack brings an excellent skill set to this position. He has been through the rank and file of Nebraska Farm Bureau and understands how our grassroots system works. He has a passion for agriculture, is a member of the Kearney/Franklin County Farm Bureau, and is excited about working with fellow Farm Bureau members in the South Central region.

Heidi Pieper graduated from Iowa State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Studies. She and her husband, Tyler, run a small cow/calf farm outside of Farnam and are members of the Frontier County Farm Bureau. They have two foster children and welcomed a son in December. They feel blessed to live, work, and raise a family in the agricultural industry. Pieper is excited to serve the Southwest Region and looks forward to connecting and serving Nebraska Farm Bureau members.

All three will begin their duties with Nebraska Farm Bureau in February.

Military veteran farmers invited to free conference

Registration is now open for Answering the Call, a free conference for military veteran farmers who are currently farming or want to begin farming. The second annual event is sponsored by Center for Rural Affairs and Legal Aid of Nebraska.

Answering the Call is set for Saturday, March 24, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at Central Community College-Hastings, 550 Technical Blvd., Hastings, Nebraska.

“The conference is an opportunity for veterans to connect with fellow former service members who are engaged or interested in farming,” said Cora Fox, policy program associate at the Center for Rural Affairs. “Veterans can see firsthand how other veterans have translated the duty and drive of military life into a second career on the farm.”

Farmers looking to transition operations to veteran farmers, or who are willing to mentor are also encouraged to attend.

Session topics include programs available to veterans interested in farming, diversified agriculture, conservation, and agritourism.

Conference attendance is free, but pre-registration is required by Friday, March 16. Register at A continental breakfast and lunch will be provided.

Additional support for Answering the Call is provided by Farm Credit Services of America, the Nebraska Tourism Commission, and the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture.

For more information, contact Cora Fox at or 402.687.2100 ext 1012 or visit

Deadline Approaches to Submit Request Form for United Soybean Board

The Nebraska Soybean Board (NSB) is looking for soybean farmers interested in filling one of Nebraska’s four director positions with the United Soybean Board (USB), for a three-year term.

USB is made up of 73 farmer-directors who oversee the investments of the soybean checkoff on behalf of all U.S. soybean farmers. Checkoff funds are invested in the areas of sustainability, soybean meal and soybean oil. As stipulated in the Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soybean checkoff.

Any farmer interested in applying needs to meet the following criteria:
1.     Be involved in a farming operation that raises soybeans
2.     Be a resident of Nebraska
3.     Be at least 21 years of age

To be considered for the national leadership position, interested farmers need to submit a USDA Background Information Form before the March 1, 2018 deadline. To obtain this form, contact Victor Bohuslavsky at the Nebraska Soybean Board office at (402) 432-5720.

The NSB Board of Directors will submit to the U.S. Department of Agriculture a “first preferred choice nominee” and “second preferred choice alternate” for the open positions. The Secretary of Agriculture will make the final appointments. The USDA has a policy that membership on origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation and marital or family status. The chosen individual will begin serving a three-year term in December 2018. Each individual appointed is eligible to serve a total of three consecutive terms.

For more information about the United Soybean Board, visit

Nominations Now Open for 66th Annual Iowa Conservation Farmer of the Year

Nominations are now being sought to find and recognize the 2018 Iowa Conservation Farmer of the Year.  The prestigious honor includes a substantial prize; the winner receives use of a new John Deere 6E utility tractor for a year, courtesy of prize sponsors Van Wall and John Deere.  The award, co-sponsored by the Iowa Department of Ag and Land Stewardship (IDALS) and the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) honors an Iowa farmer who has a proven track record of excellence in soil conservation and water quality improvements and is committed to continuously working to improve the land and water.

“Farmers are the most effective at influencing other farmers to do even more on their land to prevent erosion and protect water quality, so it is important we recognize those that have made a commitment to conservation,” said Iowa Secretary of Agriculture, Bill Northey.  “This award is an opportunity to highlight and recognize a farmer that has gone above and beyond in their conservation efforts and serves as a model of land stewardship in the community and across the state.”

The award, which got its start in 1952, is designed to help raise awareness about the importance of caring for Iowa’s fertile lands and vital waterways and to acknowledge those who accept the challenge of continuously working to improve conservation.

“Water quality is important to all Iowans, and over the years we’ve proudly honored incredible farmers who lead by example and have made great progress in conservation,” says IFBF President Craig Hill.  “Conservation is not optional on Iowa farms, and we all have a role to play as we work to improve water quality and soil health.  This award is a great opportunity to recognize the farmer conservationists who are leading the way.”  

The nomination process is easy; a farmer can apply or be nominated for the award by sending a brief letter, 100 words or less, summarizing the nominee’s conservation efforts to the local Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) by June 1.  The local SWCD will choose one nomination to advance for consideration for a regional award, and the nine regional award winners then compete for the overall award, which will be announced during the Iowa Soil and Water Conservation District Commissioners Annual Conference, September 9-11 in Des Moines.  As part of receiving the award, the 2018 Conservation Farmer of the Year winner will receive free use of a John Deere 6E Series utility tractor, for up to 12 months or 200 hours of use.  The prize, valued at more than $12,000, is sponsored annually by Van Wall Equipment of Perry and John Deere.       


Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today encouraged eligible farm owners to apply for the 2018 Century and Heritage Farm Program.  The program is sponsored by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation and recognizes families that have owned their farm for 100 years in the case of Century Farms and 150 years for Heritage Farms.

“Century and Heritage Farm recognitions at the Iowa State Fair are a great celebration of Iowa agriculture and the families that care for the land and produce our food,” Northey said.  “I hope eligible families will take the time to apply and then come to the State Fair to be recognized.”

Applications are available on the Department’s website at by clicking on the Century Farm or Heritage Farm link under “Hot Topics.”

Applications may also be requested from Becky Lorenz, Coordinator of the Century and Heritage Farm Program via phone at 515-281-3645, email at or by writing to Century or Heritage Farms Program, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Henry A. Wallace Building, 502 E. 9th St., Des Moines, IA 50319.

Farm families seeking to qualify for the Century or Heritage Farms Program must submit an application to the Department no later than June 1, 2018.

The Century Farm program was started in 1976 as part of the Nation’s Bicentennial Celebration.  To date more than 19,000 farms from across the state have received this recognition.  The Heritage Farm program was started in 2006, on the 30th anniversary of the Century Farm program, and more than 1,000 farms have been recognized.  Last year 354 Century Farms and 119 Heritage Farms were recognized.

A full list of all past Century Farm recipients is available at

The ceremony to recognize the 2018 Century and Heritage Farms is scheduled to be held at the Iowa State Fair on Thursday, August 16th in the Pioneer Livestock Pavilion.

“These awards are an opportunity to recognize the hard work and commitment by these families that is necessary to keep a farm in the same family for 100 or 150 years,” Northey said.  “If you consider all the challenges and unexpected obstacles each of them would have had to overcome during their life on the farm, it gives you a greater appreciation of the dedication and perseverance of each of the families being recognized.”

Few Moments Wasted as Thousands Make Memories at Cattle Industry Convention

Nearly 7,600 members of the cattle community enjoyed fellowship, fun, education and leadership opportunities during the 2018 Cattle Industry Convention & NCBA Trade Show, which ended in Phoenix, Ariz., Feb. 3.

Most in attendance enjoyed a huge and energetic trade show, with more than 350 exhibitors on more than seven acres of floor and outside space. Holding business meetings at the event were the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board, American National CattleWomen, CattleFax and the National Cattlemen’s Foundation. Members of NCBA also elected officers and engaged in a grassroots policy process at the event.

Ascending to the position of NCBA president at the NCBA board meeting Feb. 3 was Kevin Kester, who in 2017 served as president-elect. Kester is a fifth generation California rancher who was born and raised in the Parkfield area of southern Monterey County, where his family has lived for more than 125 years. They have a yearling stocker and an Angus-based commercial cow-calf operation, and also farm wine grapes on their 22,000 acre ranch.

Voted in as president-elect was Jennifer Houston of Sweetwater, Tenn., who has been active in the beef industry for more than 30 years. Houston and her husband, Mark, own and operate East Tennessee Livestock Center in Sweetwater, which has a history of embracing change to better serve their customers. In addition to regular weekly cattle sales, they hold video, graded feeder calf and Holstein steer sales. Houston served in 2017 as NCBA vice president.

Marty Smith, a rancher and attorney from Wacahoota, Fla., was elected vice president. Smith previously served as the organization’s treasurer.

Elected chair of the NCBA Policy Division was Jerry Bohn (Kansas), while Don Schiefelbein (Minnesota) was elected vice chairman. Dawn Caldwell (Nebraska) was elected chair of the NCBA Federation Division, and Laurie Munns (Utah) was elected vice chair.

Caldwell will serve as vice-chair of the Beef Promotion Operating Committee. Other Federation representatives of the National Beef Checkoff decision-making body include Katie Brenny (Minnesota), Clay Burtrum (Oklahoma), Gary Deering (South Dakota), Bradley Hastings (Texas), Kristin Larson (Montana), Scott McGregor (Iowa), Clark Price (North Dakota) and Buck Wehrbein (Nebraska). Ten representatives from the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board also serve on the Committee.

For photos from the Convention and more information, go to

Meet Joan Ruskamp -- New Beef Board Chairman

Beef producer Joan Ruskamp from Dodge, Nebraska, was elected by fellow Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB) members to serve as CBB chairman in 2018. The vote came Friday during the 2018 Cattle Industry Annual Convention in Phoenix, Arizona.

Tell us about yourself and your history in the beef industry.

I grew up in Grand Island, Nebraska, with dreams of living on a farm. My dreams were fueled by stories from my dad’s childhood experiences on the farm and my exposure to ranch life from extended family members on my mom’s side. My love for animals grew from dogs and cats to buying a horse with detasseling money. That interest in animals eventually led me to the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis, Nebraska, where I received an associate’s degree in veterinary medicine.

A three-month work experience program in O’Neill, Nebraska, strengthened my desire to work around cattle. While working for a mixed practice veterinary clinic in Fremont, Nebraska, I met my husband. Our first date was riding horses around his family’s farm and feedlot. We married in 1981 and had the opportunity to buy the farm Steve’s dad grew up on.

We grew the feedlot from a few hundred cattle to a few thousand by custom feeding. My role has always been in the cattle doctoring and processing area, along with record keeping.  Working on a farm, raising five children and volunteering in the community gave me little extra time for other organizational work. As our last child graduated from high school, I began sharing the beef story with consumers. My appointment to the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion & Research Board (CBB) has allowed me to serve the beef community by bringing my producer experience and passion for beef together.

What do you believe is the biggest strength you bring to the table as chairman?

I believe my biggest strength is my passion for communicating the beef story. I live the beef story and see first-hand the commitment to quality care and improvement from farmers and ranchers like Steve and me.

There was so much I didn’t know about farm life until I lived on a farm, so I understand the disconnect consumers have. As our checkoff continues the work of growing demand for beef, I hope to channel my passion into serving the beef community as a trusted leader.  

Tell us about your family.

My husband, best friend and business partner for 36 plus years is Steve Ruskamp. He is a fourth-generation farmer and cattle feeder. We’ve been blessed with five amazing children and the people they have brought into our family.

Our oldest daughter, Ginger, is married to her childhood sweetheart, teaches high school English and has two daughters. Scott, our second oldest, is a computer engineer in Santa Barbara, California. He is married and they are expecting their first child in May. Scott is also fluent in Japanese. Emily lives in Chicago and is also married with one son. Emily works for the Archdiocese of Chicago jail ministry. Jeff is currently living in Chincha, Peru. He graduated with a degree in architectural engineering and decided to follow another calling as a consecrated lay person. He is in his sixth year of formation with the Sodalitium Christianae Vitae. Emily and Jeff are both fluent in Spanish. Kim is our youngest; she is married and they are expecting their first child in March. Kim is a middle school math teacher in Lincoln, Nebraska.

What do you hope to accomplish during your year as chairman?

During my year as chairman, I hope to see a growth in the understanding of the checkoff program among producers. I have watched the beef community grow in distrust of the checkoff, while on the outside I am working to communicate a message of trust to the consumer about the beef we produce.

I intend to continue the high level of integrity and team approach modeled to me by my predecessors Kim Brackett, Jimmy Maxey, Anne Anderson and Brett Morris. With a new CEO, I hope to build new industry relationships, strengthen current relationships and continue to keep the focus on serving the producers by increasing demand for beef.

What do you see as one of the biggest challenges facing the checkoff and the industry?

The checkoff continues to face challenges from a variety of organizations about the value of beef in the diet, as well as organizations like HSUS and PETA which challenge our care ethics. Those challengers come with seemingly unlimited funds. The checkoff program has a much smaller budget which must provide quality research and information about the nutritional value and sustainable practices of beef to the consumers, and at the same time provide resources like Beef Quality Assurance to producers. The beef checkoff is our producer-funded front line to defend and safeguard beef producers from misinformation about beef.

The Beef Checkoff Program also faces challenges from within the beef community. I believe the Beef Checkoff Program is the place all beef producers can come together as visionaries, goal setters and decision-makers to drive demand for beef.

What would you like every investor to know about their Beef Checkoff Program?

The Beef Checkoff Program is producer-funded, producer-led and producer-driven. In 1988, 79 percent of beef producers voted by referendum to approve the collection of $1/head for promotion, research and information. What has the beef community gained over the past 30 years from that investment? Research shows we have an ROI of $11.20/dollar invested, but what producers can easily see are:
-    adding value to the carcass with new cuts of beef like the flat iron
-    developing solid research on the nutritional benefits of eating beef
-    helping producers develop standards of care to add consistency and value to beef products
-    providing sustainability research about the importance of cattle to the environment at the national and global levels
-    developing and strengthening export markets, which adds more value to the carcass through demand for beef and the offal desired in numerous countries around the world
-    engaging in the digital age of communication through active participation and behind-the-scenes crisis management. You might remember the first mad cow report in December of 2003 Did you even hear about the last one?

And these are just a few of the activities provided by the checkoff!

Before I was appointed to the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, I had only a glimmer of an understanding of everything the beef checkoff does and how important the role of producers is in guiding the program. I have learned there are numerous checks and balances in place to make sure checkoff dollars are managed according to the Act & Order. I have learned every producer has the responsibility for making sure checkoff dollars are collected when cattle are sold. I have asked questions about contract requests and joined other board members in appreciation of the professional work done by contractors to the beef checkoff. I have met some incredible people with Godly virtues working on behalf of the checkoff program to make sure our investment is used wisely. 

Just like other farmers and ranchers, my husband and I will keep working hard to care for our cattle, and hopefully make wise marketing decisions. It’s good to know I am part of a team through the Beef Checkoff Program that is working for me to keep beef on the plate so we can possibly pass this opportunity down to a grandchild.

For more information about your beef checkoff investment, visit

Brazil's 2017-2018 Soybean, Corn Crops Looking Ever Better

Consultancy INTL FC Stone increased its forecasts for Brazil's 2017-2018 soybean and corn harvests as good weather has helped crop development. The group raised its forecast for the soybean harvest to 111.1 million metric tons, from 110.1 million tons, and increased its expectation for the first corn crop of the season to 23.9 million tons from 23.4 million tons. INTL FC Stone left its forecast for the second corn crop of the season unchanged at 63.2 million tons, for a total of 87.1 million tons. Even with the increased forecasts, analyst Ana Luiza Lodi said she still has concerns about dry weather in the state of Rio Grande do Sul and rain in Mato Grosso state, which has impeded the harvesting in some areas.

Case IH and The Climate Corporation Partner to Deliver Two-way Data Sharing

Case IH and The Climate Corporation, a subsidiary of Monsanto Company, announced today a new partnership that will extend and develop a portfolio of data sharing capabilities to help farmers with real-time agronomic visualization and decision-making solutions. Case IH will provide customers two-way data connectivity between the AFS Connect™ precision farming platform and The Climate Corporation’s industry-leading Climate FieldView™ digital agriculture platform.

“This agreement further integrates agronomy and precision farming for Case IH customers,” said Case IH Brand President, Andreas Klauser. “With this partnership, Case IH will deliver the very best in agronomic data visualization and machine data decision-making and support tools. Having access to this information throughout the growing season will drive productivity and profitability for our customers.

“For more than 20 years, AFS has stood for open architecture to facilitate field operations and give flexibility in sharing and applying data. We are pleased to continue this commitment with an evolving solution set to meet our customer’s needs.”
This partnership offers Case IH customers unique functionality with real-time machine and field data, including agronomic prescriptions, which can be both received and transmitted to Climate FieldView using the AFS Connect platform. To date, this integration with Climate FieldView provides one of the most extensive data sets available. This additional level of real-time data connectivity will enable agribusinesses to fine tune field operations to further enhance their in-field productivity and efficiency across their existing machinery fleets.

“Case IH customers using Climate FieldView and the new features enabled by Case IH machine data within this partnership will have new opportunities for field efficiency and productivity from their data,” says Robert Zemenchik, Case IH AFS global product manager. “This partnership advances our longstanding data-based focus on agronomy and machine optimization for the Case IH brand and its customers.”

In addition to the in-field benefits, this partnership foresees further development to provide dealers offering Climate FieldView additional tools to proactively support their customers. Both companies are working to enable farmers the ability to share real-time machine information with their local dealer, in order for them to receive support even more quickly.

Customers who use Climate FieldView, provided through Case IH dealers, can look forward to additional features within their Climate FieldView Cab application throughout the course of 2018.

Thursday February 1 Ag News

Zalesky named ENREC director

The Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln has named Doug Zalesky director of its Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center (ENREC), located near Mead, Neb. Zalesky will begin April 1.

Since 2011 Zalesky has served as director of the Laramie Research and Extension Center (LREC) at the University of Wyoming. He oversees LREC’s beef unit, swine unit, sheep unit, research greenhouse facility, McGuire ranch, and lab animal facilities. Prior to this role, he was manager and research scientist at Colorado State University, San Juan Basin Research Center, in Hesperus, Colorado. Zalesky has also served as an extension beef specialist for South Dakota State University and Louisiana State University.

Zalesky is a Husker alum, earning a bachelor’s degree in animal science and production, and a master’s degree in physiology of reproduction endocrinology from Nebraska. He also served as a post-doctoral research fellow at Nebraska after earning his Ph.D. in physiology of reproduction and endocrinology from Texas A&M University.

The Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center leverages strengths of existing resources across eastern Nebraska including the university’s Lincoln campus to deliver integrated research and extension programming. The headquarters of the new ENREC is located at the former Agricultural Research and Development Center (ARDC).

Dr. Hughes to Present on the Secure Milk Supply at the Annual Convention

Dr. Dennis Hughes, DVM with the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, will provide information on the Secure Milk Supply during the Nebraska State Dairy Association Annual meeting.  Foot and mouth disease (FMD) is a highly contagious viral infection primarily of cloven hoofed animals (cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, etc.).  Although FMD has not occurred in the U.S. since 1929, there are real threats of FMD invading the U.S.  by accidental or intentional introduction. 

Conventional mitigation has been mandatory depopulation (“stamping out”) of all infected herds, and stop all movement of affected species within control zones. Recently, state and federal animal health officials, veterinary researchers, and industry stakeholders have worked together to develop plans to maintain business continuity during a FMD outbreak. 

The goal of the Secure Milk Supply plan is to provide a workable business continuity plan for dairy producers that have cattle with no evidence of FMD infection, that are located within a FMD control zone.

The NSDA Annual Convention is going to be held on February 27, 2018 at the Ramada Hotel & Conference Center, Columbus, NE.  Details and registration are online at


Those who have inherited farmland or may do so in the future, are encouraged to register for an upcoming two-part online seminar series “So You’ve Inherited a Farm, Now What?” offered by Nebraska Extension.

The seminar will cover topics such as: keeping or selling a farm; farm management; lease provisions; legal considerations; and managing family communication issues and expectations.

“Inheriting a farm usually brings a number of questions, especially for those who are one or two generations removed from the operation” said Jim Jansen, extension economist. “These seminars will help demystify the process of selling or managing the farm.”

The free seminars will be held Feb. 19 and Feb. 26, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Pre-registration is requested. For more information and to register visit,

The program is being provided by members of the Nebraska Extension Land Management Outreach Team. For more information or assistance, contact Allan Vyhnalek, extension educator, at or 402-472-177 or Jim Jansen at or 402-261-7571

Funding for the seminar is provided by the North Central Extension Risk Management Education Center and USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.


The Nebraska Agricultural Youth Institute (NAYI) brings together high school students from around the state to learn more about the ag industry, discover 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 15 to apply.

“There are many careers available in the agricultural industry, and it can be challenging to select one,” said NDA Director Steve Wellman. “NAYI fosters career development by giving students guidance through networking opportunities with agricultural leaders and professionals. Through hands-on experiences to improve leadership and communication skills, students can identify future career goals and evolve into strong agricultural advocates.”

NAYI is a five-day summer program for current high school juniors and seniors. The Institute will be held July 9-13, 2018, at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s East Campus. NAYI features motivational speakers, discussion on agricultural issues and opportunities, a hands-on farm management game, a formal banquet and awards presentation, and a street dance. This is NAYI’s 47th year, making it 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. This is the first year that all applications must be submitted electronically. Finished applications should be emailed to: no later than April 15, 2018, at 11:59 p.m.

“To keep growing Nebraska agriculture, we need to remind students about the many career opportunities available in the ag industry,” said Wellman. “If you know high school juniors or seniors with an interest in agriculture, encourage them to apply to NAYI before the April 15th   deadline.”

Ricketts, Ag Leaders Congratulate Nebraska’s Cattlemen on Growth of Nebraska Herd

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts issued a statement following a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) report showing Nebraska has grown in the total number of cattle in the state.  The report also notes that Nebraska leads the nation in cattle on feed.

“Congratulations to Nebraska’s cattle producers on achieving the distinction of the most cattle on feed of any state.  Consistent focus on opening new markets, like China, and telling the story of Nebraska beef through international promotion efforts are supporting growth in the industry.  We look forward to continued partnership with industry leaders to help create more opportunities to grow our state’s number one industry and the Beef State.”

“Nebraska beef producers are second to none, weathering challenges while continually growing the herd statewide.  Our 6.8 million cattle demonstrate our commitment to the industry we love and continue to grow.  Nebraska agriculture as a whole enables the state’s cattle industry to flourish,” said Galen Frenzen, Nebraska Cattlemen President.

“I am pleased that the number of cattle in Nebraska continues to grow.  Nebraska is known around the world for producing high-quality beef products, so it is only fitting that we lead the nation in this category,” said Nebraska Department of Agriculture Director Steve Wellman.  “The dedication of Nebraska cattlemen in producing top-quality beef products works hand in hand with the synergy of the state’s corn and ethanol sectors.” 

Record Amount of Land Hits the Market Through FNC

Data released by land grant universities and industry organizations point out that there has been less farm and ranch land for sale than usual the past few years. Despite today's slow land market, Farmers National Company is experiencing a 50 percent increase in the land it has for sale over its previous high volume.

The historic run-up in land prices during the decade leading up to and including 2013 faded in to the background as the past four years instead witnessed a steady and measured decline in values for crop and grazing land throughout the Midwest and Great Plains. Some regions experienced the decline sooner with a larger drop-off in land prices, whereas other regions saw less of a decline. Good quality land generally declined less while lower quality tracts saw weak demand and a bigger price decline. At this time, the market for quality land is steady to slightly stronger. So, what’s next for land values, up or down?

Randy Dickhut, AFM, senior vice president of real estate operations for Farmers National Company, said there are a number of positive factors supporting current land values.

“The industry has experienced a post-harvest bump in land prices in most grain producing areas. With above average crop yields in most locations, farmer optimism has increased as has the bidding for quality crop land. The supply of land on the open market remains low while the number of buyers and demand is adequate for what is on the market at this time,” Dickhut said.

Other factors also are providing support for today’s land prices, Dickhut noted. Continued low interest rates are helping create a demand for ag land as a long-term investment for individuals and institutional funds.

:In general, there is still enough purchasing power in the hands of farmers to compete for good land or land that helps grow ones operation. We are also seeing a small increase in 1031 tax deferred exchange buyers as they move to trade into different land or to diversify out of other real estate holdings and into cropland,” Dickhut said.

However, there also are factors on the horizon that could negatively affect land values, Dickhut noted. Current farm economics are not conducive to strength in the land market. Low grain prices are keeping overall farm income levels depressed. That means that lower incomes are reducing the cash flow necessary to finance crop inputs, equipment needs and land payments, leaving less cash for land purchases.

“Individual and institutional investors are well aware of the lower grain prices and incomes. The resulting reduction in the return on investment for land has kept some investors out of the land market during the past few years,” he said.

Another factor that may weigh on land prices is that lenders are being more cautious in the amount of money they will lend for agricultural land purchases. This could dampen demand as farmers and ranchers are the predominant buyers of crop and grazing land, Dickhut pointed out.

“Cash flow and equity concerns of farmers could generate additional land for sale in the market as some producers liquidate either land or equipment to shore up their finances. The magnitude of these additional land sales will probably be small and vary by region, but the potential for an increase in the supply of land on the market bears watching,” he said.

The final factor that could have a downward effect on land values are the outside influences.   This could include negative outcomes for trade that U.S. agriculture depends upon, unexpected consequences from tax laws and potential changes in the next Farm Bill.

“The next six months will determine the direction of land values. Economic and financial factors will become more evident for producers and lenders. The factors and the outside influences will become better defined as we move through 2018. Now more than ever, professional advice and representation are critical to receiving a fair market price for agricultural land no matter if values move up or down. And more and more landowners are putting their trust in Farmers National Company to sell their land,” Dickhut said.



Real estate sales activity in Nebraska has seen sales volume jump ahead of the previous levels in October and November. Paul Schadegg, area sales manager for the company said that “good quality land sells well, whereas lower quality crop or grassland struggles to find buyers.”

“Farmers National Company holds many auctions in Nebraska with most all ending with a successful sale. That is a great outcome for our clients, especially during this slower land market,” Schadegg said. Demand for high quality land extends throughout the state west to east. 

Schadegg reported that sellers in the market at this time are mainly families and estates. “We are experiencing a land market with less property for sale and a more cautious demand. Some additional sales are expected before planting time from financially motivated sellers as the farm economy struggles with low grain prices,” he said.

Demand for high quality cropland in Iowa remains strong despite the reduced farm income picture. “Values for good land have been fairly steady during the past year and have even seen a slight increase since harvest,” according to Sam Kain, ALC, GRI, ABRM, national sales manager for Farmers National Company based in West Des Moines, Iowa.

“Buyers of farmland are being more deliberate about their decisions, but farmers and investors are very interested in purchasing the right piece of ground that makes sense for them. Lenders are being more cautious in the amount of money they will lend on a land purchase, but there is still enough capital in the country to create demand for good land,” Kain said.

Auctions are still the predominate means to sell cropland in Iowa with more than 66 percent of Farmers National Company’s sales in the state being through the bidding process. Sam Kain noted that 99 percent of the Farmers National Company auctions result in a final sale. “We have very good success selling land through auctions in our Iowa marketplace as there is competition from farmers and investors,” Kain said.

Farmers National Company, an employee-owned company, is the nation’s leading agricultural landowner services company. Farmers National Company has sold 3,876 properties and more than $2.23 billion of real estate during the last five years. The company manages more than 5,000 farms and ranches in 28 states comprising more than 2 million acres. Additional services provided by the company include auctions, appraisals, insurance, consultation, oil and gas management, lake management, a national hunting lease program, forest resource management, and FNC Ag Stock. For more information on our company and the services provided, visit the Farmers National Company website at

Iowa Pig Farmer Appointed America’s Pig Farmer of the Year

The National Pork Board has named Leon Sheets, a pig farmer from Ionia, Iowa, as America’s Pig Farmer of the Year® for the remainder of 2017-18 program year. The previous winner, Leslie McCuiston, stepped down after taking a new position in the agricultural industry where she will not directly work with pigs, which is an ongoing requirement for the role. 

“With the unexpected change, the National Pork Board reached out to our America’s Pig Farmer of the year judging panel,” said Terry O’Neel, a pig farmer from Friend, Nebraska, and president of the National Pork Board. “The panel unanimously voted to elevate Sheets, a finalist from last fall, with the move adopted and supported by all members of the National Pork Board.”

For McCuiston’s part, she said, “First and foremost I would like to congratulate Leon and thank him for graciously stepping into the role of America’s Pig Farmer of the Year. He is a great representative of what pig farmers do every day. Although it’s bittersweet for me, on a personal level, one must evaluate professional opportunities as they are presented. I am excited to continue working with pig farmers and veterinarians in my new role.”

Raising pigs has been a life-long passion for Sheets, who started farming with his grandfather when he was a young child. Sheets raises 33,000 pigs on his farm in northeast Iowa, where he focuses on animal care and environmental sustainability. With the help of his employees, son and wife, Sheets also grows corn, soybeans, hay and cover crops.

“Working with pigs has been a rewarding profession,” Sheets said. “Every morning I wake up to new challenges, along with knowing what to expect when I head to the barns,” said Sheets. “Living on a farm is more of a lifestyle than simply a job. I look forward to sharing my passion and experience with others.”

The annual award recognizes a pig farmer who excels at raising pigs using the We CareSM ethical principles and who connects with today’s consumers about how pork is produced. Leon will serve in the role until a new America’s Pig Farmer of the Year is announced in October 2018.

Improve Beef Cattle Management with ISU Extension and Outreach Publications

Raising beef cattle presents a myriad of challenges. In addition to field specialists and faculty who are experts in their field, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach has resources in place to help producers meet these challenges and manage healthy and profitable herds.

beef cattle in pasture“These publications, especially the newer ones, are designed around issues and challenges that are typical among producers,” said Dan Loy, director of the Iowa Beef Center and extension beef specialist with Iowa State University. “There are also options that are broader in their approach for producers who are looking to fine-tune their management to improve the efficiency of their cattle and reduce problems that can occur.”

ISU Extension and Outreach offers the BRaNDS software (BRANDS 500) to producers, who use this computer program to better evaluate rations for groups of differing weight and production stages.

“Producers have many things to think about when raising livestock,” said Dan Loy. “The most elemental consideration is daily care and feeding the animals. Producers must make sure they are comfortable every day, that they have access to clean water, food and adequate bedding in situations where it is required.”

Many of the publications listed here have no charge to download.

Publication “Feed Bunk Management” (IBCR 201A) is extremely useful in helping feedlot managers find the right mix of food for consistent and sustainable animal growth. “Growth Promotant Implants for Cattle” (IBC 113), “Beef Feedlot Systems Manual” (PM 1867) and “Small Open Beef Feedlots in Iowa” (PM 3018) are valuable resources as well.

An increase in efficiency can help producers increase their profit margins, sometimes by implementing small changes into their operation. “Pasture Management Guide for Livestock Producers” (PM 1713) is currently in the final stages of a renovation and will be released this spring. “Pasture and Grazing Arrangements for Beef Cattle” (IBC 119) and “Making the Switch to Baleage” (IBCR 202) are also helpful in managing a herd’s grazing.

An extensive list of publications is also available on keeping beef cattle healthy. These publications include:
    Feeding CTC to Beef Cows (IBC 120)
    Beef and Dairy Cattle Vaccination Programs (IBC 111)
    Heat Stress in Beef Cattle (PMR 1016)
    Pink Eye in Beef Cattle Herds (PMR 1017)
    Weak Calf Syndrome in Beef Cattle Herds (PMR 1018)
    Trichomoniasis in Beef Cattle (PMR 1012)
    Ergot Poisoning in Cattle (PMR 1013)
    Vitamin A Deficiency in Beef Calves (PMR 1014)

“Understanding what causes disease can help prevent it,” Loy said. “The solution isn’t always in a vaccine bottle or antibiotic. Improved biosecurity efforts or attention to cleanliness and sanitation are important factors in keeping animals healthy.”

In addition to these publications, the Iowa Beef Center has reached an agreement with the Iowa Beef Industry Council to provide beef quality assurance certification as a part of its programming. This will allow the Iowa Beef Center to continue its goal of bringing animal health and wellbeing information to beef producers.

Iowa Corn Says Long-term Water Quality Funding Will Accelerate Farmer Led Efforts

One of the key pieces in improving Iowa’s water quality fell into place yesterday, as Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed her first bill into law, providing nearly $300 million of dedicated funding for water quality efforts in Iowa over the next 12 years. Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA) farmer-leaders joined Governor Reynolds as she recognized them and many others for helping to champion water quality funding legislation through the statehouse. 

“We thank Iowa lawmakers and Governor Reynolds for ensuring this stable funding source as it is absolutely critical in encouraging continued collaboration across the state,” said Iowa Corn Growers Association President Mark Recker, a farmer from Arlington. “State grants and loans for water-related projects will spur even greater private investment by farmers. These dollars will provide additional resources, education, and outreach helping farmers scale up conservation practices on their farms and in their communities.”

ICGA also hosted this week two farmer-to-farmer seminars focused on the importance of soil health and conservation at the Iowa Power Farming Show. These represent farmer-led discussions happening across Iowa. “As farmers, we want to do our part,” said Recker. “I see it at every farmer event I attend, a strong desire by farmers to want to adopt conservation practices and to share with one another technical knowledge and key learnings. We are working with experts and scientists to use the latest technology and data in determining best practices. We’re taking on the challenge of making continuous improvements in preserving the water and soil on our farms. As we go forward together, we will take what we learn and adapt what we do to the conditions on our farms.” 

Current Iowa Corn efforts include: 
+    Investing in the Soil Health Partnership (SHP), a farmer lead initiative of the National Corn Growers Association working to quantify the benefits of practices that support soil health from an economic as well as an environmental standpoint. With more than 100 working farms enrolled in the program, including almost 30 in Iowa, SHP tests and measures farm management practices that improve soil health and benefit farmers. 

+    Creating the Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance (IAWA), along with our partners at the Iowa Soybean Association and Iowa Pork Producers Association, which works in priority watersheds in the state providing funding, outreach guidance, watershed planning and conservation expertise. 

+    Supporting the Iowa Nutrient Research & Education Council (INREC) which proactively supports the adoption of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy by bringing together nearly every segment of Iowa’s agriculture industry to help lead environmental efforts related to water quality.  INREC is leveraging private investments to work with Iowa State University on multiple efforts to measure progress in conservation adoption and water quality improvement. 

+    Proactively communicating the positive steps farmers are taking to implement practices on their farms. 

For more information on how Iowa Corn is leading the way on water quality, go to

 NPPC Statement on Pork. The Other White Meat® Ruling

 The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia today issued a ruling on a suit challenging the sale of the Pork. The Other White Meat® trademarks. The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) sold the trademarks to the National Pork Board in 2006. The following statement may be attributed to Ken Maschhoff, an Illinois pork producer and president of the National Pork Producers Council.

“We are conducting a thorough review of the decision and evaluating our options. We are disappointed that the court partially denied the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s motion to dismiss this frivolous lawsuit, one that was never based on a legitimate legal challenge to a federally approved transaction but instead was brought by an anti-meat activist group intent on eliminating meat consumption and harming a vast U.S. industry that employs hundreds of thousands of Americans and feeds billions of people at home and abroad.

“NPPC enjoys the strong support of pork producers nationwide. Regardless of the final outcome in this case, we are well positioned to continue fighting for the livelihood of farmers and others in rural America.”

The court’s decision followed a motion last January to dismiss the lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which authorized the transaction as part of its oversight responsibilities under the 1985 Pork Act.  The Pork Act set up the pork checkoff program and established the National Pork Board to administer it. The USDA’s motion argued that the lawsuit, filed by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and two other parties, lacked merit, was barred by a six-year statute of limitations, that the plaintiffs failed to establish standing to file the lawsuit or show that they were harmed by the sale of the trademarks, and that the agency’s evaluation of the sale of the trademarks showed they provided significant value to the pork industry.

HSUS and other plaintiffs – which included Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, an activist group, and a lone Iowa resident who is a member of this group – claimed that the trademarks were sold for an inflated price. NPPC sold the assets, widely regarded as one of the most recognizable marketing brand assets in history, for $35 million. A USDA-conducted study later valued the trademarks at between $113 million and $132 million.

Perdue Unveils, Interactive Website for Agricultural Producers

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today unveiled, the new interactive one-stop website for producers maintained by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). is now live but will have multiple features added over the coming months to allow agricultural producers to make appointments with USDA offices, file forms, and apply for USDA programs. The website, launched at a breakfast hosted by the Michigan Farm Bureau, gathers together the three agencies that comprise USDA’s Farm Production and Conservation mission area: the Farm Service Agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Risk Management Agency.

“Many farmers are out in their fields using equipment that is connected to satellite and GPS technology, yet when they need to interact with USDA, they have to stop, fill out a paper form, and fax or carry it to their local office. That is a real digital divide,” Perdue said. “Our staff is friendly, and they love to see farmers in person, but they know that time is valuable. Producers are working hard to make their farms profitable, so these tools will help get the paperwork done without taking a big chunk out of the day to fill out forms.” is mobile device-friendly and can identify for farmers the most convenient USDA office locations. New functions will be added shortly, including an interactive calendar, farming success stories, an online appointment feature, digital forms, and a business data dashboard. Additionally, when the 2018 Farm Bill is signed into law, there will be plain language program descriptions and a tool to determine eligibility.

“As I’ve traveled to 32 states in my first nine months as Secretary of Agriculture, I have consistently heard people express a desire for greater use of technology in the way we deliver programs at USDA,” Perdue said. “It’s my goal to make USDA the most effective, most efficient, most customer-focused department in the entire federal government, and is a big step in that direction.”

USDA Announces Commodity Credit Corporation Lending Rates for February 2018

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Commodity Credit Corporation today announced interest rates for February 2018. The Commodity Credit Corporation borrowing rate-based charge for February is 1.750 percent, up from 1.625 percent in January.

The interest rate for crop year commodity loans less than one year disbursed during February is 2.750 percent, up from 2.625 percent in January.

Interest rates for Farm Storage Facility Loans approved for February are as follows, 2.125 percent with three-year loan terms, up from 1.875 percent in January; 2.250 percent with five-year loan terms, up from 2.125 percent in January; 2.375 percent with seven-year loan terms, up from 2.250 percent in January; 2.500 percent with 10-year loan terms, up from 2.375 percent in January and; 2.500 percent with 12-year loan terms, up from 2.375 percent in January.

CattleFax Predicts Large Supply and Strong Demand in 2018

CattleFax celebrated its 50th anniversary during the popular CattleFax Outlook Session at the 2018 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show. CattleFax Senior Analyst Kevin Good highlighted the industry’s profitability during 2017 and said the trend looks to continue into 2018.

CattleFax analysts told the audience U.S beef cow inventory increased 2.8 million head in four years, and an additional 200,000-400,000 head are expected to be added to the herd over the next few years. Good said there are growing supplies of protein coming to market during the year ahead, including large supplies of competing proteins, which will weigh on all beef prices. 

“We have a bigger supply of all proteins ahead in 2018. For the past year we were very fortunate to have solid export volume,” said Good. “We are forecasting trade to increase year-over-year in 2018, but still, the rate of production is out-pacing the rate of exports.”

Although beef production is expected to increase to 27.5 billion pounds during 2018, Good said current consumer demand is expected to remain good and potentially increase as retail prices moderate. He said CattleFax is predicting beef to remain a strong competitor against other proteins.

“Demand is robust on all fronts. Domestically, retail demand is increasing and beef is being featured more in the consumer markets,” said Good. “The retail and foodservice industries are doing very well and the solid economy in the United States is one of the main drivers as unemployment rates continue to decline and per capita income rises.”

Good said even though beef demand is high, leverage will continue to be a challenge for the feedlot and packing segments as shackle space becomes increasingly constrained by rising slaughter rates. With the growth in production, Good said he anticipates lower, but still profitable price levels for the cow-calf segment, while feeders and backgrounders will see their margins narrow.

Input costs are expected to remain manageable, with grain prices expected to remain steady. According to CattleFax, yields will drive corn prices in 2018-19 marketing year with no significant changes anticipated in acreage or demand. Futures corn prices are projected to range from $3.25 to $3.95 per bushel as supplies remain adequate. With more livestock to feed in 2018 and the smallest acreage on record in 2017, CattleFax predicts hay prices will increase $10-$15 per ton with additional weather-related price risks.

Drought conditions have been spreading across the United States since last winter with the Southwest being impacted the most. Art Douglas, professor emeritus, Creighton University, predicts a possible transition from La Niña conditions to a weaker El Niño by summer. U.S. weather patterns over the next three months will be dictated by La Niña. However, equatorial warming could shift drought patterns across North America by late spring and summer.

During the session, CattleFax analysts predicted fed cattle prices lower than prior year levels, averaging $115 per hundredweight (cwt.). Good said fed cattle prices are likely to face resistance near the $130 level, with downside risk in the upper $90 range. He predicted bargaining position will continue to favor cattle processors and retailers, with profit margins at or above 2017 levels.

CattleFax projected 750-pound steers will average $1 lower than 2017 levels at $145/cwt., with a range from the upper $120s to $160/cwt. Meanwhile, U.S. average 550-pound steer calves will see a trading range from $170/cwt. at the spring high to an average price in the upper $130s, during the fall marketing season. For the full year, calf prices are expected to average $158/cwt.

To see more from the CattleFax Outlook Session or to become a member, visit

Cattlemen Applaud Dropped Hold on Doud, Urge Senate to Approve Nomination ASAP

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Craig Uden today issued the following statement regarding the announcement that U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake is dropping his hold on the nomination of Gregg Doud to be the Chief Agricultural Negotiator in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative:

"This is great news for America's cattlemen and women, and for all agricultural producers. We're glad that Senator Flake has finally heard our call for him to drop his hold and allow Gregg Doud to start working to improve market access around the world for our producers. With talks continuing on NAFTA, the Korea-US trade agreement, and access to many other markets still up in the air, it's imperative that the U.S. Senate now move as quickly as possible to confirm Doud's nomination."

Cattlemen Release 2018 Policy Priorities

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association today unveiled its 2018 Policy Priorities, which will guide the group’s lobbying efforts in Washington over the coming year. The document was released at the annual Cattle Industry Convention in Phoenix.

This year’s Priorities focus on five main categories: the 2018 Farm Bill, Trade and Market Access, Regulatory Reform, Antimicrobial Use, and Fake Meat.

Some of this year’s priorities are familiar to longtime industry watchers. Like last year, NCBA will work to ensure that the pending Farm Bill includes full funding for a foot-and-mouth disease vaccine bank, protects conservation programs like the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and prevents market-disrupting policies like mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (COOL).

Likewise, the group’s regulatory-reform efforts will again focus on finding a permanent solution to an electronic logging devices mandate, modernizing the Endangered Species Act, and replacing the 2015 Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule.

New to the Priorities list this year is an emphasis on antimicrobial use - specifically the aim to secure clean Animal Drug User Fee Act (ADUFA) reauthorization and continuing the Key Technologies Task Force action steps on antimicrobials. Another new emphasis in 2018 will be a focus on protecting the industry and consumers from fake meat and misleading labels on products that do not contain real beef.

“With tax reform, regulatory rollbacks, and new access to the Chinese market, we had some big victories in Washington last year, but this is no time to take a break, and 2018 promises a mix of new and familiar challenges,” said incoming NCBA President Kevin Kester, a fifth-generation California rancher. “We’re going to continue to ensure fair access to foreign markets, fight against unnecessary regulation, make sure the Farm Bill addresses our needs, and guarantee that consumers have the ability to purchase a safe, healthy, and accurately labeled protein source.”

Grain Crushings and Co-Products Production

Total corn consumed for alcohol and other uses was 538 million bushels in December 2017. Total corn consumption was up 2 percent from November 2017 and up 2 percent from December 2016. December 2017 usage included 92.3 percent for alcohol and 7.7 percent for other purposes. Corn consumed for beverage alcohol totaled 2.25 million bushels, down 35 percent from November 2017 and down 13 percent from December 2016. Corn for fuel alcohol, at 487 million bushels, was up 2 percent from November 2017 and up 3 percent from December 2016. Corn consumed in December 2017 for dry milling fuel production and wet milling fuel production was 90.2 percent and 9.80 percent respectively.

Dry mill co-product production of distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) was 1.97 million tons during December 2017, down 2 percent from November 2017 and down 6 percent from December 2016. Distillers wet grains (DWG) 65 percent or more moisture was 1.43 million tons in December 2017, up 4 percent from November 2017 and up slightly from December 2016.

Wet mill corn gluten feed production was 319 thousand tons during December 2017, up 2 percent from November 2017 but down 9 percent from December 2016. Wet corn gluten feed 40 to 60 percent moisture was 310 thousand tons in December 2017, up 2 percent from November 2017 but down 3 percent from December 2016.

Fats and Oils: Oilseed Crushings, Production, Consumption and Stocks

Soybeans crushed for crude oil was 5.29 million tons (176 million bushels) in December 2017, compared to 5.20 million tons (173 million bushels) in November 2017 and 5.07 million tons (169 million bushels) in December 2016. Crude oil produced was 2.02 billion pounds up 2 percent from November 2017 and up 3 percent from December 2016. Soybean once refined oil production at 1.42 billion pounds during December 2017 decreased 3 percent from November 2017 but increased 1 percent from December 2016.

Canola seeds crushed for crude oil was 174 thousand tons in December 2017, compared to 151 thousand tons in November 2017 and 179 thousand tons in December 2016. Canola crude oil produced was 150 million pounds up 16 percent from November 2017 and up slightly from December 2016. Canola once refined oil production at 116 million pounds during December 2017 was down 8 percent from November 2017 and down 1 percent from December 2016. Cottonseed once refined oil production at 54.7 million pounds during December 2017 was up 20 percent from November 2017 and up 6 percent from December 2016.

Edible tallow production was 78.2 million pounds during December 2017, down 14 percent from November 2017 but up 3 percent from December 2016. Inedible tallow production was 324 million pounds during December 2017, up 1 percent from November 2017 and up 3 percent from December 2016. Technical tallow production was 96.1 million pounds during December 2017, down 20 percent from November 2017 and down 4 percent from December 2016. Choice white grease production at 104 million pounds during December 2017 decreased 11 percent from November 2017 and decreased 15 percent from December 2016.

Flour Milling Products

All wheat ground for flour during the fourth quarter 2017 was 235 million bushels, up slightly from the third quarter 2017 grind of 234 million bushels and up 1 percent from the fourth quarter 2016 grind of 233 million bushels. Fourth quarter 2017 total flour production was 109 million hundredweight, up slightly from the third quarter 2017 and up 1 percent from the fourth quarter 2016. Whole wheat flour production at 5.73 million hundredweight during the fourth quarter 2017 accounted for 5 percent of the total flour production. Millfeed production from wheat in the fourth quarter 2017 was 1.64 million tons. The daily 24-hour milling capacity of wheat flour during the fourth quarter 2017 was 1.62 thousand hundredweight.

Durum wheat ground for flour and semolina production during the fourth quarter of 2017 totaled 17.5 million bushels, up 8 percent from the third quarter 2017 but down 4 percent from the fourth quarter 2016. Fourth quarter 2017 durum flour and semolina production was 8.39 million hundredweight, up 8 percent from the third quarter 2017 but down 2 percent from the fourth quarter 2016. Whole wheat durum flour and semolina production was 120 thousand hundredweight, down 38 percent from 194 thousand hundredweight in the third quarter 2017 and down 35 percent from 184 thousand hundredweight from the fourth quarter 2016. Fourth quarter durum wheat millfeed production was
116 thousand tons and the daily 24-hour milling capacity for durum and semolina production was
127 thousand hundredweight.

Rye ground for flour during the fourth quarter of 2017 was 494 thousand bushels, up 22 percent from the third quarter 2017 but down 1 percent from the fourth quarter 2016. Rye flour production during the fourth quarter of 2017 was 240 thousand hundredweight, compared to 206 thousand hundredweight in the previous quarter and 238 thousand hundredweight in the same quarter for the previous year. The daily 24-hour milling capacity for rye milling was 9.39 thousand hundredweight for the fourth quarter 2017.

Soy Growers Support Removing Duplicative Regulatory Requirements In House Farm Bill

The American Soybean Association (ASA) joined a large group agriculture organizations and other stakeholders last week in asking the House Committee on Agriculture to include language from H.R.953, the Regulatory Burdens Act, in the anticipated 2018 Farm Bill.

The bipartisan bill, introduced by Congressman Gibbs (R-OH) and passed by the House with wide support May 24, 2017, would provide regulatory relief to producers by removing the requirement for duplicative National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting for pesticides already approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for use under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).

The measure was included in a version of the 2014 Farm Bill that passed the House, but was not included in the final version of the 2014 Farm Bill.

Commodity Classic MAIN STAGE Features High-Profile Presenters and Practical How-To Information

Attendees at the 2018 Commodity Classic February 27-March 1, in Anaheim, California will have the opportunity to hear from a wide range of well-known speakers on the Main Stage, presented by Commodity Classic and Successful Farming®.  The Main Stage is located right on the trade show floor and offers a robust schedule of educational programs, demonstrations and panel discussions.

The Tuesday line-up on the Main Stage includes:
-    Al Kluis, editor of Successful Farming®, on the future of commodity prices in 2018
-    Ag PhD’s Hefty brothers discussing soybean weed control
-    A panel featuring high-yield farmers discussing their agronomic practices
-    A panel of agribusiness executives discussing their views on agricultural technology and the reliance on high-speed broadband access

Wednesday’s Main Stage programming includes:
-    A Learning Center regarding the benefits of data-driven agriculture in terms of sustainability, productivity and profitability
-    Ag PhD’s Hefty brothers presenting on optimizing fertility programs
-    Presentations from Successful Farming® editors on equipment maintenance, successful grain marketing and efficient farm shop design

Thursday presentations on the Main Stage include:
-    A cooking demonstration featuring a top chef focused on nutritious recipes for food that kids crave to eat
-    A Learning Center session on pesticide resistance and pesticide management
-    A presentation by Marji Gauyler-Alaniz, president and founder of FarmHer, which highlights the impact of women in agriculture

Main Stage sessions are included with the general registration fee.  One-day registrations are available, which include access to the trade show and the Main Stage programming for that day.

“The Commodity Classic Main Stage provides yet another venue for attendees to gather critical information and insight for their operations,” said Gerry Hayden, a Kentucky farmer and co-chair of the 2018 Commodity Classic. “When you add the Main Stage schedule to the other educational opportunities, Commodity Classic is truly unmatched when it comes to helping America’s best farmers Grow Beyond—and become even better at what they do.”

Education is a hallmark of Commodity Classic. In addition to the Commodity Classic Main Stage, Commodity Classic offers Learning Centers, What’s New Sessions, Mini What’s New Sessions, Early Riser Sessions and the General Session.  Commodity Classic also features a huge trade show, entertainment and the opportunity to network with thousands of America’s best farmers.

Detailed information on all educational sessions and the entire 2018 Commodity Classic schedule are available at  Online registration and housing are 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.


Ahead of the 2018 growing season, Monsanto is providing hundreds of free, in-person training sessions to help reinforce proper use of low-volatility dicamba formulations to control weeds in the Roundup Ready® Xtend Crop System. Under the new federal Restricted Use Pesticide label, training is mandatory for all applicators prior to using low-volatility dicamba formulations, including XtendiMax® Herbicide with VaporGrip® Technology.

XtendiMax® Herbicide with VaporGrip® Technology has been approved for in-crop use as part of the Roundup Ready® Xtend Crop System in 33 states in 2018. Seven of the 33 states – Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina and Tennessee – require that applicators attend training sessions provided by the state. In the other 26 states, Monsanto and other low-volatility dicamba registrants are providing training. States where Monsanto trainings are scheduled include Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Growers are encouraged to visit to review training dates and locations and to register to attend. New training dates are being added to the site regularly.

Monsanto’s training sessions focus on compliance with the product label, application requirements, required record keeping, understanding of susceptible/sensitive crops, window of application and understanding environmental conditions such as inversions, along with other important topics. The training sessions last approximately 90 minutes, and participants will receive a certificate of completion.

While Monsanto’s training sessions are focused on the federal and state label requirements for its low-volatility product, XtendiMax® Herbicide with VaporGrip® Technology, they are designed to satisfy the mandatory training requirement to apply any of the low-volatility dicamba herbicides approved for use in their states.

“Because of the excellent weed control and strong yields growers saw in 2017, we are seeing a significant increase in demand for Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® Soybeans this year,” said Ryan Rubischko, Monsanto’s dicamba portfolio lead. “As we prepare for the season, we want to remind growers and applicators that under the enhanced federal label, training is mandatory for all applicators this year. In the 26 states where we can provide training directly as a registrant, we are already scheduling hundreds of trainings to ensure that growers have as many convenient and accessible choices as possible, and we will continue to add more training sessions throughout the application season. For the remaining states, we are making information about state-provided training easily accessible on our website.”

“We encourage all growers and applicators to visit to learn about training opportunities in your state,” Rubischko said. “We are committed to ensuring that the training experience for growers is convenient and informative, and we will provide support to our customers every step of the way this season.”

Wednesday January 31 Ag News


All cattle and calves in Nebraska as of January 1, 2018 totaled 6.80 million head, up 5 percent from January 1, 2017, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service.

All cows and heifers that had calved totaled 1.97 million head, down 1 percent from last year.

Beef cows totaled 1.91 million head, down 1 percent from last year.

Milk cows totaled 60,000 head, unchanged from January 1, 2017.

All heifers 500 pounds and over totaled 1.91 million head, up 7 percent from last year.

Steers weighing 500 pounds and over totaled 2.48 million head, up 8 percent from last year.

Bulls weighing 500 pounds and over totaled 110,000 head, unchanged from last year.

Calves under 500 pounds totaled 330,000 head, up 14 percent from January 1, 2017.

All cattle on feed fed for slaughter in Nebraska feedlots totaled 2.77 million head, up 12 percent from the previous year.

The 2017 calf crop totaled 1.70 million head, unchanged from 2016.


All cattle and calves in Iowa as of January 1, 2018, totaled 4.00 million head, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Cattle report. This was up 100,000 head from January 1, 2017. Beef cows, at 970,000 head, were 1 percent above last year. Milk cow inventory was up 5,000 head to 220,000 head.

All heifers 500 pounds and over were down 3 percent to 830,000 head. Heifers for beef cow replacement were down 11 percent from 2017 to 165,000 head; heifers for milk cow replacement, at 135,000 head, were the same as the previous year; and all other heifers were down 2 percent to 530,000 head.

Steers weighing 500 pounds and over were up 6 percent from last year at 1.39 million head. Bulls weighing 500 pounds and over were unchanged from a year ago at 70,000 head. Calves under 500 pounds on January 1, 2018, totaled 520,000 head, up 8 percent from last year.

The 2017 calf crop was estimated at 1.09 million head, the same as the 2016 calf crop. Cattle and calves on feed for slaughter in all feedlots on January 1, 2017, totaled 1.26 million head, up 9 percent from one year ago.

January 1 U.S. Cattle Inventory Up 1 Percent

All cattle and calves in the United States, as of January 1, 2018, totaled 94.4 million head, 1 percent above the 93.7 million head on January 1, 2017.

All cows and heifers that have calved, at 41.1 million head, were 1 percent above the 40.6 million head on January 1, 2017. Beef cows, at 31.7 million head, were up 2 percent from a year ago. Milk cows, at 9.40 million head, were up 1 percent from the previous year.

All heifers 500 pounds and over, as of January 1, 2018, totaled 20.2 million head, 1 percent above the 20.1 million head on January 1, 2017. Beef replacement heifers, at 6.13 million head, were down 4 percent from a year ago. Milk replacement heifers, at 4.78 million head, were up 1 percent from the previous year. Other heifers, at 9.33 million head, were 4 percent above a year earlier.

Steers weighing 500 pounds and over, as of January 1, 2018, totaled 16.4 million head, down slightly from January 1, 2017.

Bulls weighing 500 pounds and over, as of January 1, 2018, totaled 2.25 million head, up slightly from January 1, 2017.

Calves under 500 pounds, as of January 1, 2018, totaled 14.4 million head, up slightly from January 1, 2017.

Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in the United States for all feedlots totaled 14.0 million head on January 1, 2018. The inventory is up 7 percent from the January 1, 2017 total of 13.1 million head. Cattle on feed, in feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head, accounted for 82.0 percent of the total cattle on feed on January 1, 2018, up 1 percent fromthe previous year. The combined total of calves under 500 pounds and other heifers and steers over 500 pounds (outside of feedlots) is 26.1 million head, 2 percent below one year ago. 

Calf Crop Up 2 Percent

The 2017 calf crop in the United States was estimated at 35.8 million head, up 2 percent from last year's calf crop. Calves born during the first half of 2017 were estimated at 26.0 million head, up 2 percent from the first half of 2016. Calves born during the second half of 2017 were estimated at 9.81 million head, 27 percent of the total 2017 calf crop.


All sheep and lamb inventory in Nebraska on January 1, 2018 totaled 80,000 head, down 3,000 from last year, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Breeding sheep inventory totaled 67,000 head, down 4,000 from last year. Ewes one year and older totaled 55,000 head, down 3,000 from the previous year. Rams one year and older totaled 3,000, unchanged from last year. Total replacement lambs totaled 9,000 head, down 1,000 from last year.

Market sheep and lambs totaled 13,000 head, up 1,000 from last year. A total of 1,000 head were mature sheep (one year and older) while the remaining 12,000 were under one year. Market lamb weight groups were estimated as follows: 3,100 lambs were under 65 pounds; 1,900 were 65-84 pounds; 2,400 were 85-105 pounds; 4,600 were over 105 pounds.

The 2017 lamb crop totaled 70,000 head, up 5,000 from 2016. The 2017 lambing rate was 121 per 100 ewes one year and older, compared with 118 in 2016.

Sheep deaths totaled 3,700 head, up 200 from last year. Lamb deaths totaled 8,000 head, down 500 from last year.

Sheep and lambs slaughtered on farm totaled 700 head, up 200 from last year.

Shorn wool production during 2017 was 440,000 pounds, down 10,000 from 2016. Sheep and lambs shorn totaled 62,000 head, down 2,000 from 2016. Weight per fleece was 7.1 pounds, up 0.10 from last year. The average price paid for wool sold in 2017 was $0.79 per pound, compared with $0.94 in 2016. The total value of wool produced in Nebraska was 348,000 dollars in 2017.

Milk goats and kids inventory in Nebraska totaled 3,500 head, down 200 from last year.


All sheep and lambs inventory in Iowa as of January 1, 2018, totaled 165,000 head according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Sheep and Goats report. The sheep and lambs inventory is down 10,000 head from last year. Total breeding stock, at 115,000 head, was 4 percent below one year ago. Market sheep and lambs decreased 9 percent from a year ago and totaled 50,000 head. The lamb crop for 2017 decreased 8 percent to 115,000 head. Wool production for the State was 780,000 pounds, with fleece weights averaging 5.6 pounds.

Milk goat inventory in Iowa as of January 1, 2018 was 31,000 head, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Sheep and Goats report. Iowa ranked third in total milk goats. The inventory was up 2 percent from January 2017. Total meat and other goat inventory was 35,000 head, an increase of 9 percent from the previous year.

January 1 U.S. Sheep and Lambs Inventory Down Slightly

All sheep and lambs inventory in the United States on January 1, 2018 totaled 5.23 million head, down slightly from 2017. Breeding sheep inventory at 3.83 million head on January 1, 2018, decreased 1 percent from 3.88 million head on January 1, 2017. Ewes one year old and older, at 3.01 million head, were 1 percent below last year. Market sheep and lambs on January 1, 2018 totaled 1.40 million head, up 2 percent from January 1, 2017. Market lambs comprised 94 percent of the total market inventory. Market sheep comprised the remaining 6 percent of total market inventory.

The 2017 lamb crop of 3.20 million head was down 2 percent from 2016. The 2017 lambing rate was 105 lambs per 100 ewes one year old and older on January 1, 2017, unchanged from 2016.

Shorn wool production in the United States during 2017 was 24.7 million pounds, down 5 percent from 2016. Sheep and lambs shorn totaled 3.44 million head, down 4 percent from 2016. The average price paid for wool sold in 2017 was $1.47 per pound for a total value of 36.4 million dollars, down 3 percent from 37.7 million dollars in 2016.

Sheep death loss during 2017 totaled 213 thousand head, down 2 percent from 2016. Lamb death loss decreased 2 percent from 373 thousand head to 367 thousand head in 2017.

January 1 All Goats and Kids Inventory Down 1 Percent

All goats and kids inventory in the United States on January 1, 2018 totaled 2.62 million head, down 1 percent from 2017. Breeding goat inventory totaled 2.16 million head, down slightly from 2017. Does one year old and older, at 1.60 million head, were 1 percent below last year's number. Market goats and kids totaled 459 thousand head, down 2 percent from a year ago.

Kid crop for 2017 totaled 1.64 million head for all goats, down slightly from 2016.

Meat and all other goats totaled 2.10 million head on January 1, 2018, down 1 percent from 2017. Milk goat inventory was 380 thousand head, up 2 percent from January 1, 2017, while Angora goats were down 7 percent, totaling 142 thousand head.

Mohair production in the United States during 2017 was 725 thousand pounds. Goats and kids clipped totaled 133 thousand head. Average weight per clip was 5.5 pounds. Mohair price was $5.00 per pound with a value of 3.62 million dollars.


Twenty-seven Nebraska LEAD 36 fellows recently returned from an international study and travel seminar in Argentina, Chile and Uruguay.

"The seminar is designed to provide firsthand appreciation and understanding of our international community and the potential for people of all nations to work together," said Terry Hejny, Nebraska LEAD program director and group leader.

During the Jan. 6-21 seminar, fellows participated in briefings with Carol Perez, U.S. ambassador, and Marcela Rondon, agricultural attache with the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, in Santiago, Chile; as well as Lazaro Sandoval, agricultural attache, and Kenneth Joseph, agricultural specialist, both with the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The fellows also visited international businesses, entrepreneurs and several farms. They were able to meet with officials at Massai Agricultural Services, a seed reproduction facility near Rancagua, Chile, where soybean trials are taking place under the direction of George Graef, professor of agronomy and horticulture at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. While in Montevideo, Uruguay, they toured the parliament building and received a briefing from Sen. Jose Morin.

"The people-to-people encounters provided the members of Nebraska LEAD Group 36 an opportunity to view characteristics, conditions and trends in Chile, Argentina and Uruguay, and determine relationships to issues and situations in our country," Hejny said. "Through this experience, participants develop techniques in identifying comparisons and contrasts of the countries we recently studied in areas such as agriculture, politics, economics, energy, religion, culture and history, as well as technology, trade, food, art and philosophy."

Nebraska LEAD 36 fellows who participated in the seminar, listed by hometown, are:
Arthur: Ty Walker
Broken Bow: Nate Bell
Craig: Johnathan Hladik
Deshler: Ellen Schmidt
Fairfield: Thomas Kluver
Fremont: Andy Langemeier
Gibbon: Shane Bendfeldt, Kimberly Wilkens
Gothenburg: Shane Terrell
Gretna: Kelsey Vala
Hay Springs: Joseph Dorshorst
Holdrege: Chris McQuillan
Johnson Lake: David Rowe
Kearney: Dustin Knuth, Ryan Stien
Kennard: Jennifer Arp
Lexington: Adam Smith
Lincoln: Ben Blomendahl, Nate Blum, Nora Turner
Loomis: Justin Trompke
Martell: Alex McKiernan
North Platte: Kyle Shepherd
Plattsmouth: Dustin Smith
Stapleton: Robert Hecox
Trumbull: Scott Bieck
Waverly: Lori Paulsen

The Nebraska LEAD program includes men and women currently active in production agriculture and agribusiness and is a two-year leadership development program under the direction of the Nebraska Agricultural Leadership Council, in cooperation with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

For more information, or to request an application for Nebraska LEAD 38, contact the Nebraska LEAD Program, 104 Agricultural Communications Building, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE 68583-0763; call 402-472-6810 or email The application deadline is June 15.

LENRD Bazile Groundwater Mgt Area Open House

A major push is underway by the four Natural Resources Districts that share in the protection of the Bazile Groundwater Management Area (BGMA) to help inform citizens and gain participation with solutions that will address serious health risks associated with excessive levels of nitrate and other chemicals in local aquifers and area soils.

A public open house is scheduled for Wednesday, February 7, at the City Auditorium in Osmond, NE between the hours of 11 AM to 2 PM.  A lunch meal will be provided to participants.

Martha Rhoades, Ph.D., from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, will provide a feature presentation that shares the findings of a recent study showing that there are elevated incidents of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, and birth defects for people within the BGMA and some other parts of Nebraska, due to excessive levels of commercial fertilizer components such as nitrate and herbicides such as atrazine.

The open house also provides an important opportunity for individuals to sign up for available grant funding to use toward best management practice (BMP) tools and technology to reduce the levels of nitrate in our soil and water.   There is an urgency for people interested in receiving USDA grant funds because of the application deadline is February 16th.  Individuals will be able to apply for these funds at the open house meeting.

This issue affects people on private wells and community water systems alike.  Information on other best management practices will be provided for urban and rural landowners.

Reports provided by agricultural producers in each of the four NRDs is also demonstrating that despite efforts of efficiency, too much fertilizer is still being applied in many fields throughout the Bazile Groundwater Management Area.  This over application is not only costing producers thousands of dollars in wasted fertilizer, it directly impacts soil health and is not correlating to greater yields.   Natural precipitation and over irrigating then causes excessive levels of nitrate to leach into the aquifer.

The Bazile Groundwater Management Area is 756 square miles consisting of portions of Antelope, Knox and Pierce counties along with portions of the Upper Elkhorn, Lower Elkhorn, Lewis and Clark, and Lower Niobrara Natural Resources Districts.

For more information about this meeting and these topics contact:  the Lower Elkhorn NRD at 402-371-7313.

2018 Farm Bill Conferences Set in Kansas and Nebraska

The new 2018 Farm Bill is coming together and experts are beginning to see the form it will take. Starting in February and extending into early March, economists from the Kansas State University Department of Agricultural Economics are partnering with the University of Nebraska extension to bring the latest information on the new farm bill to a conference near you.

Topics include the economic conditions of farmers and Title I programs with K-State Research and Extension's Mykel Taylor; proposed crop insurance changes with K-State's Art Barnaby, and potential impacts to conservation programs with Nebraska's Brad Lubben. The series will allow Kansas and Nebraska producers to engage presenters with their own thoughts on possible changes, and use the dialogue to further understand issues facing the agricultural community within the new farm bill's framework.

"We want to give our clearest vision of what the new farm bill is shaping to be, and give producers information to help with their operational planning," Taylor said.

Over the years, the farm bill has expanded to include many agricultural and food sectors, plus bioenergy and natural resource management. It encompasses everything from federal funding for agriculture research to nutrition assistance (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP). It is a piece of legislation that touches most every person in the United States in some shape or form. It is reauthorized approximately every five years, and is viewed as a vital support mechanism by many in the industry.

Barnaby was raised on a diversified farm in Elk County, Kansas. He earned a bachelor's degree at Fort Hays State University, a master's at New Mexico State University and a Ph.D. at Texas A&M University. He came to K-State in 1979 where he is a professor. He conducts national programs on market risk, government commodity programs, crop insurance and public policy. In 2016, Barnaby was named one of Farm Credit's Fresh Perspectives Top 100 Honoree.

Taylor is an associate professor at K-State. Her research and extension programs are focused on farm management. She attended Montana State University majoring in agribusiness management. Her Ph.D. in economics is from North Carolina State University. She has worked in extension positions at both Kansas State University and Washington State University. Some of her current research areas include measuring basis risk for commodity grains, and analyzing trends in Kansas agricultural land values, rental rates, evaluation of commodity programs in the 2014 Farm Bill, and leasing arrangements.

Lubben has more than 20 years' experience as an extension agricultural economist, serving in Illinois and Kansas before returning in 2005 to Nebraska, where he grew up on a grain and livestock farm near Burr, Nebraska. He earned bachelor's and master's degrees in agricultural economics from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a Ph.D. from Kansas State University.

Dodge City, Kan: Feb. 28, Knights of Columbus Hall, 800 W. Frontview. Andrea Burns: or 620-227-4542

Manhattan, Kan.: March 1, Pottorf Hall, Cico Park, 1710 Avery Ave. Rich Llewelyn: or 785-532-1504

Scottsbluff, Neb.: March 6, Panhandle Research and Extension Center. Brad Lubben: or 402-472-2235

Hastings, Neb.: March 7, Adams County Fairgrounds, 946 S Baltimore. Brad Lubben: or 402-472-2235

Mead, Neb.: March 8, Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center. Brad Lubben: or 402-472-2235

The fee to attend a conference is $20 if preregistered five days or more prior to the event, or $30 at the door, and includes lunch. Register online at or contact a local representative:

Upcoming “Healthy Farms Conference” Connects Foodies with Farmers

Plan to attend the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society’s Healthy Farms Conference, Feb., 9-10 at the Cornhusker Hotel in Lincoln.

The Healthy Farms Conference has been hosted by the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society for over 40 years. The conference has promoted sustainable agriculture and local foods in Nebraska and the Midwest.

This year’s keynote speaker is Wes Jackson, founder and president emeritus of The Land Institute, which he helped establish in 1976. He is the author of several books, including “New Roots for Agriculture,” “Becoming Native to This Place,” “Consulting the Genius of the Place,” and most recently, “Nature as Measure.” Jackson is widely recognized as a leader in the international movement for sustainable agriculture.

The Healthy Farms Conference features over 20 breakout sessions aimed at equipping farmers, aspiring farmers, foodies, and advocates with skills and knowledge about sustainable agriculture. Breakout session topics range from cover crops to holistic orchards, to pollinators and hops production. This conference encourages the entire family to attend by offering a full youth program including crafts, yoga for kids and growing and preparing your own food. The conference also showcases Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers by hosting an “all-Nebraska evening” featuring food and drink entirely from Nebraska growers and producers.

Participants will have the chance to network with farmers, university faculty, and fellow agricultural colleagues. In addition to providing informative, educational sessions, the conferences has commercial and educational exhibits about local food, holistic health products, sustainability, natural resources, and marketing.

A full conference agenda and on line registration is available on the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society’s web site:

Summit Ag Group to expand FS Bioenergia, Brazil’s leading producer of corn ethanol

Summit Agricultural Group announced today a $100 million expansion of FS Bioenergia, the leading corn ethanol production facility in Brazil. The expansion of the FS Bioenergia plant in Lucas do Rio Verde, Mato Grosso, is forecasted for completion in the first quarter of 2019 and will more than double annual corn ethanol production from 60 million gallons to 140 million gallons.

With this expansion, FS Bioenergia will annually process over 50 million bushels of corn and produce more than 14,000 tons of corn oil and 400,000 tons of valuable feed rations for Brazil’s growing livestock industry.

“This is a significant step for FS Bioenergia, but it’s even more important for the growth of corn ethanol production in Brazil,” said Bruce Rastetter, founder and CEO of Summit Agricultural Group. “When we began this project several years ago, we were confident of the opportunities in Brazilian renewables. Today, we’re more convinced than ever of the potential for corn ethanol in Mato Grosso.”

Driving that optimism are two factors – first, increased production of affordable corn through double cropping. In Mato Grosso, corn production over the last decade has increased five-fold.

Second is the RenovaBio program, which is legislation that would double Brazil’s renewable fuels use by 2030.

“Brazil’s long-standing commitment to renewable fuels coupled with an abundance of affordable feedstocks make for an attractive corn ethanol picture in Brazil,” said Justin Kirchhoff managing director and head of private equity for Summit Agricultural Group. ‘’As we look at the expansion of FS Bioenergia over this next year, we’re in a strong position to benefit from these favorable conditions.”

Recognized today as the most modern and efficient corn ethanol production operation in the world, FS Bioenergia is a collaboration between a Mato Grosso agribusiness and U.S.-based Summit Agricultural Group, a leader in international agribusiness development, renewable energy and production agriculture headquartered in Alden, Iowa. Summit and its Brazilian partner broke ground on the corn-only ethanol production facility in early 2016, with the initial phase of production starting in mid-2017.

As with the plant’s original design and development, the FS Bioenergia expansion will utilize process technologies from ICM, Inc. of Colwich, Kansas. Since 1995, ICM has provided engineering, construction and operational services for more than 100 ethanol plants in North America.

By utilizing the most modern process technology FS Bioenergia is able to produce differentiated high-value co-products such as high-protein and high-fiber dried distillers’ grains (DDG’s) that are targeted towards specific livestock markets. This process technology also improves overall plant yield and efficiency.

FS Bioenergia’s corn ethanol operation is considered a landmark project in Brazil that is already delivering immediate value to the country. Once at full capacity, the plant will offset the country’s increasing demand for domestic ethanol, which can’t be met by existing sugarcane ethanol production. The facility will also introduce to Mato Grosso valuable fiber and protein co-products known as dried distillers’ grains (DDGs), which will serve as high-value feed for the expanding Brazilian livestock industry.

Founded in 1990 by entrepreneur and agribusiness pioneer Bruce Rastetter, Summit Agricultural Group is a diverse farming, agricultural investment and farm management company headquartered in Alden, Iowa. Summit’s diverse operations include successful row crop, beef cattle and pork farms in the U.S. and a growing presence in the South American biofuels market. For additional information, go to

Fort Dodge producer is new Iowa Pork Producers president

Gregg Hora of Fort Dodge began his one-year term as president of the Iowa Pork Producers Association at the conclusion of IPPA's annual meeting in Des Moines on Jan. 23.

Upon accepting the gavel from outgoing President Curtis Meier of Clarinda, Hora challenged the nearly 100 delegates and other producers to stand up and speak out for the industry.

"Consumers, restaurant and food industry groups, as well as social media platforms, need to hear from you as the pig farmers that they trust and respect for your noble effort of caring for animals," he said. "We as pork producers and industry leaders have numerous challenges and issues to continue the efforts in which many before us have dealt with and now we must continue."

Profitability is always a concern for pig farmers and Hora says that will be one of the challenges he and the IPPA Board of Directors face in 2018.

"For people to remain in the business, they have to be profitable, and to have profitability, you have to move your excess product," said Hora.

Current visa programs are widely used by U.S. pork producers. However, they are not effectively addressing the labor shortage faced by the industry and the farming veteran of 32 years says it's a concern.

"Animal production is very labor intensive and one of the things we deal with in labor issues is where the workers are coming from," Hora said. "We know we have more worker programs with more foreign workers moving into the area. We advocate for legal citizens and legal working status."

Hora is a contract grower with three finishing sites in Webster County. He finishes about 25,000 hogs per year and raises corn and soybeans on nearly 2,000 acres. He is a long-time member of the Webster County Pork Producers and serves as the president.

Hora is excited for the coming year and the opportunity to lead the industry.

"I'm representing producers and allied businesses throughout Iowa," he said. "We have about 4,400 pork producers and 1,400 associate members that are partners with the pork production systems in Iowa."

The third-generation farmer is a graduate of Iowa State University with a degree in farm operations/agronomy.  He and his wife, Liddy, have three adult children.

Statement on Governor Reynold's signing of Water Quality Funding Bill

Gregg Hora, President, Iowa Pork Producers Association

"IPPA sincerely thanks and congratulates Gov. Reynolds and legislative leadership on their efforts to establish significant, long-term funding for collaborative water quality improvements. Passage of Senate File 512 is an important step forward and continues the strong momentum of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy.

"This legislation emphasizes collaborative opportunities and efforts among urban and rural partners while enhancing successful programs already well embraced by Iowa farmers. Iowa pig farmers and the Iowa Pork Producers Association remain committed to research and continuous improvement programs to drive water quality solutions."

Register for Industry-Leading Pork Management Conference

The National Pork Board will host its annual Pork Management Conference, April 17-20, in Hilton Head, South Carolina.

The annual conference will accommodate a diverse set of experts from across the U.S. The 2018 conference will address current business trends and challenges facing the U.S. pork industry. Through presentations, breakout sessions and networking, attendees will gain important insight on the pork industry, its challenges and financial management practices that improve the performance and efficiency of pig farming.

“This year’s Pork Management Conference schedule is powerful,” said Andrew Reinecker, chair of the Checkoff’s Producer and State Services Committee and a pig farmer from York Springs, Pennsylvania. “It is vital to provide valuable guest presenters and experts for attendees in an effort to increase industry knowledge among all sectors. This conference is growing and so is its value to producers and attendees.”

In addition to the general sessions open to all attendees on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday morning, two concurrent afternoon sessions are planned on Thursday, April 19. Topics include benchmarking, compensation, on-boarding, food safety, siting, succession planning and tax updates.

The registration fee is $425 per person through March 23 and increases to $475 beginning March 24. No refunds after March 30.  A registration form and a detailed list of events are available at

Cattlemen and Women "Blaze a Trail to Phoenix" for 2018 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show

Thousands of cattlemen and women blazed a trail to Phoenix for the start of the 2018 Cattle Industry Convention & NCBA Trade Show, which started today. The event runs through Feb. 3.

Holding their meetings at this event were the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, the American National CattleWomen, CattleFax and the National Cattlemen’s Foundation.

“Every year the Cattle Industry Convention & NCBA Trade Show hosts members from every segment of the beef industry,” said NCBA President Craig Uden. “Not only is the event a great opportunity for attendees to network and learn about the newest technology and science to improve their operations, but it’s also when we set public policy for 2018. We’ll also manage to enjoy some sunshine while we’re in Phoenix. If you’re connected to the cattle industry in any way, it’s not too late to blaze your trail and join us this week.”

Early arrivers to Phoenix had the opportunity to attend a Pre-Convention Agriculture Tour on Tuesday with stops at the Caterpillar Eloy Dealership, T & K Dairy, Caywood Farms and Queen Creek Olive Mill.

On Tuesday afternoon, Cattlemen’s College, which is famous for stimulating and thought-provoking sessions that can help generate high returns for producers’ operations, kicked off by celebrating its 25th anniversary.

SiriusXM The Highway’s host Storme Warren emceed the opening general session on Wednesday afternoon, with Ree Drummond, host of Food Network’s show The Pioneer Woman, sharing her keynote “From Black Heels to Tractor Wheels.” Drummond is a writer, photographer and ranch wife, helping run a cow-calf operation outside of Pawhuska, Okla., with her husband, Ladd Drummond.

“The one thing I learned right away is how much cattlemen care about the animals they raise,” said Drummond, who grew up in the city before living on her ranch in Oklahoma. Following the Convention’s opening general session, the NCBA Trade Show opened its doors, with over seven acres of indoor and outdoor floor space, and over 350 exhibitors showcasing the industry’s latest products and technology.

Other highlights this week include the “Phoenix Fiesta” hosted at Corona Ranch with country artist Paul Bogart, a keynote speech from former Major League Baseball pitcher Jim Abbott on Friday morning, and the “Cowboy Comedy Club” with comedians Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood from Whose Line Is It Anyway, and founding member of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour Bill Engvall.

The Convention will wrap up Saturday morning with a meeting of the NCBA’s Board of Directors, where official public policy positions will be set for the coming year.

New Study: Many Factors Impacting Domestic Beef Demand

Beef quality, consumer incomes, attention to beef in health articles in medical journals and the general media, and shifts in race composition of the U.S. population are key determinants affecting beef demand in the long term.

So concludes a newly released study commissioned by the Beef Checkoff Program called “Assessing Beef Demand Determinants.”  The study summarizes the current knowledge of consumer demand for beef and identifies the best opportunities for the industry to influence demand positively.

Authors of the report include Dr. Glynn Tonsor, professor of livestock marketing at Kansas State University, Dr. Jayson Lusk, distinguished professor and head of the Department of Agricultural Economics at Purdue University, and Dr. Ted Schroeder, professor of livestock marketing at Kansas State University.

“The information gathered and analyzed for this comprehensive report is invaluable to the beef industry, in general, and to the Beef Checkoff Program, in particular,” said cow-calf producer Jackie Means, a member of the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion & Research Board and chair of the Joint Evaluation Committee that commissioned the research for the checkoff. “Members of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board and directors of the Federation of State Beef Councils will be asked to use the information in this report in making decisions about how to invest checkoff dollars in Fiscal Year 2018 and beyond.”

Understanding beef demand

While recognizing that understanding beef demand and how to affect it is a daunting task, the report’s authors note that it also is critical to the industry’s long-term viability.

Given the state of the cattle industry’s supply, the understanding of beef demand vs. consumption is particularly critical.

One very important point in developing strategies to grow beef demand will be clarification of the role of per capita consumption in beef demand. Per capita consumption is, in effect, per capita availability of beef, the economists note. Demand, on the other hand, effectively refers to the quantity of beef that consumers will purchase at a given price, with all other factors held constant.

"Beef purchasing decisions have become less sensitive to retail beef prices. While prices will always matter, this reinforces the importance of industry focus on beef quality aspects of taste, appearance, convenience and freshness," said Dr. Tonsor.

“In short, both beef supplies and cattle prices increased in 2017 relative to 2016 – an outcome only possible with demand growth,” the report notes. “A perpetual industry priority is to better understand and monitor beef demand, and to inform stakeholders because demand directly influences overall industry success.”

What is important to beef producers?

It has been a critical need for the industry to understand what beef demand is:  Is it as strong today compared to the past? What has made it strong? Those kinds of basic questions have been of importance to the beef checkoff for a very long time. If beef demand is strong, then higher prices are being paid for beef than would otherwise be the case. That’s because higher prices being paid for beef in turn leads to higher prices for wholesale beef, higher fed cattle and higher feeder cattle prices, and most producers recognize that benefit in the form of higher cattle prices.

One of the things the research did was to update elasticity estimates, or how sensitive purchasing behavior is to prices. If the price goes up by one percent, how many fewer pounds are purchased? This study showed U.S. consumers are less sensitive to beef prices than they used to be. That does not mean price doesn’t matter, but the numbers showed that a one percent increase in price has a smaller impact on beef consumption than it used to.

"What I believe that signals is that beef quality issues such as taste, appearance and freshness have elevated over time,” said Dr. Tonsor.

"The tone and impact of 'hot topics' covered in the media and medical community can change notably over time,” continued Dr. Tonsor. “In past years, discussions around fat were a detriment to beef demand but more recently these discussions have enhanced beef demand. Similarly, this study shows how Atkins Diet discussions remain supportive of beef demand, but less so than a decade earlier."

What can the checkoff do?

Based on research, data, and information examined, the researchers prepared five key recommendations for checkoff leaders to consider in making decisions about how to invest checkoff dollars:
-    Beef quality aspects such as taste, appearance, convenience, and freshness are innate product quality attributes identified as top priorities in past beef demand studies, and they remain key for sustaining and growing beef demand.
-    External coverage of “hot topics” is likely to continue to be dynamic for the beef industry. Researchers made the recommendation for systematic re-assessment of which topics have the largest net impact on beef demand and focus on those.
-    Increase collaborative approaches with the U.S. pork and chicken industries. Given limited cross-price sensitivity and a host of common challenges and opportunities, a more collaborative approach may better utilize the industry’s limited resources given recent increases in competition from plant-based protein sources.
-    Recommend additional targeting of beef product development, messaging and marketing to consumers with particular attention to race, income, age, political ideology and product type considerations.
-    Conduct a systematic evaluation of information sources available to gain beef demand insight. Multiple data sources and methods were used to gain a more complete understanding of beef demand determinants, and the researchers encouraged more focus on leveraging existing industry investments to regularly assess beef demand.

“Assessing Beef Demand Determinants” is available on

 Survey Shows Growing Approval of Beef Checkoff Program

An independent survey of beef producers found 74 percent continue to approve of the Beef Checkoff Program; this finding is 5 percent higher than the survey a year ago. Importantly, the more producers know about the program, the more supportive they are. The survey also found that producers are generally more optimistic about the cattle industry than they were a year ago. The random survey of 804 beef and dairy producers nationwide was conducted by the independent firm Aspen Media & Market Research from mid-December 2017 until mid-January 2018. The survey found that in addition to stronger support of the checkoff compared to a year ago, a substantial majority of beef and dairy producers continue to say their beef checkoff is a good value:
-    76% say the beef checkoff has contributed to a positive trend in beef demand
-    78% say the checkoff has value even when the economy is weak, 5% higher than last year
-    65% say the checkoff contributes to profitability of their operations
-    71% say the checkoff represents their interests, 4% higher than last year
-    61% believe the checkoff is well-managed

In addition, while fewer producers (43 percent) said they remembered having seen, read or heard anything about the checkoff in the past six months, 86 percent reported the information they remembered was positive, 8 percent higher than a year ago.

“We are encouraged that three out of four producers continue to support the checkoff,” said Jo Stanko, Investor Relations Working Group co-chair. “On the other hand, it is concerning that fewer producers consider themselves ‘informed’ about the checkoff, and only 43 percent say they have seen, read or heard checkoff news in the past six months. Since most producers believe it’s important for the program to communicate to them checkoff results, it’s clear we will need to step up these communications efforts in the months ahead.”

The survey informs checkoff leaders of strengths and weaknesses in producer communications efforts and is used directly in developing an authorization request for the next year. See this year’s survey results as well as results from previous surveys.

For more information about your checkoff investment, visit

Report Release: U.S. Beef Cattle Identification and Traceability Systems

Background: The 2016-2020 Beef Industry Long Range Plan included the following strategic objective:  Adopt Animal I.D. Traceability Systems - Secure the broad adoption of individual animal ID traceability system(s) across the beef community to equip the industry to effectively manage a disease outbreak while enhancing both domestic and global trust in U.S. beef and ensuring greater access to export markets. Critical and immediate: Conduct a feasibility study to understand the economic opportunity of opening new and expanding markets…and the lost opportunity in the event of an animal disease outbreak.

Report: US. Beef Cattle Identification and Traceability Systems: Opportunities, Obstacles and Incentives Across the Value Chain by World Perspectives, Inc.

The report developed by World Perspectives, Inc. (WPI) was based on the following methodologies:
    600-plus respondent quantitative survey.
    90-plus interviews with industry participants (all sectors).
    23 discussions with state cattle and beef associations.
    20 previous academic/government studies reviewed/analyzed.
    15 years of data analyzed for demand modeling and economic projections.
    9 global systems reviewed via direct interviews with foreign industry association and government officials.

The report addresses an issue that the industry acknowledges needs action, and it contains the information necessary to consider animal identification and traceability in a new framework, including the following conclusions and recommendations:
The industry should be proactive in continuing the discussion of animal identification and traceability based on the framework laid out in the report.

Moving forward, the basic tenets of an ID and traceability system(s) should be [that a system(s)]:
    Is industry driven.
    Is managed and overseen by an entity that includes both private and government interests.
    Maintains data privacy.
    Is equitable to all industry sectors.
    Is compatible with common industry practices.
    Operates at the speed of commerce.
    Is credible in domestic and international markets

Trade Shuffle Poses Risk for US Beef Exports

While the U.S. beef industry is well positioned to capitalize on a growing global middle class and an improving economy, trade uncertainty could hamper the U.S.’s ability to capture market share in the coming years, according to a new report from CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange Division.

The U.S. beef herd is expanding, bolstered by low input costs, and so is the demand for beef around the world. However, approximately 80 percent of beef exports are sold to countries that could be affected by ongoing trade pact negotiations. Trade deals being negotiated or recently approved include the Trans Pacific Partnership, the North American Free Trade Agreement and the United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement, and are either being renegotiated or the U.S. has dropped out of the agreement altogether.

“Beef production in the U.S. is on the rise, and export outlets have never been more important,” said Trevor Amen, industry analyst with CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange Division. “However, the U.S. is threatening to retreat from key trade deals and the U.S.’s beef exporting competitors are forging their own deals with major global beef importers.”

What’s at Stake

Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Canada and Hong Kong top the list of countries importing beef from the U.S., representing 83 percent of all U.S. beef exports. Of these trade partners, only Hong Kong will be unaffected by current trade pact negotiations. Competing exporters that are part of TPP will gain preferential access to Japan, exports to Mexico and Canada are at risk with NAFTA, and beef trade with South Korea could decline if KORUS is renegotiated. New Zealand, Australia, Brazil and Argentina are all hoping to take of advantage of a trade reshuffle. Meanwhile, U.S. beef exporters eye China as a key long-term opportunity; however, current trade requirements are cost-inhibitive for most U.S. exporters, and recently imposed U.S. tariffs on other Chinese goods could aggravate trade progress in the near-term.

Southern Hemisphere Competitors Rising

While U.S. beef production is increasing, so is production in Brazil, Argentina and Australia. Brazil and Argentina are hampered by higher transportation costs to the major importers of beef, and the U.S. still has an advantage in product quality over all three countries. But, as U.S. trade agreements are at risk, and new ones that exclude the U.S. are forged, Brazil, Argentina and Australia will look to capitalize on improved market access.

A video synopsis of the report, “U.S. Beef Exports Are Growing, but so Are Trade Risks” is available at

USDA Launches MARS, Delivering Market Data to Agricultural Producers Around the Globe Faster and Easier

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) today announced the launch of a new electronic data platform to deliver market price information to the commodities industry. The new web-based platform, Market Analysis and Reporting Services (MARS), uses state-of-the-art technology to present detailed data sets in a more customer-focused way to better support competitive markets for producers and help stabilize food prices for American families.

“USDA Market News is the most relied upon source of unbiased agricultural market data,” said Greg Ibach, Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs. “USDA’s on-site market reporters gather, analyze and publish unbiased data all day long to ensure fair food prices for consumers across the country and around the world. The MARS project applies the best data management practices to make that data available when and where farmers, packers and processors need it.”

As Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue promised last summer, USDA staff are using the latest technologies available to deliver the most effective, most efficient, customer-focused service in the federal government. MARS improves the transparency, speed and accuracy of USDA Market News, and facilitates the flow of data from more than 3,600 markets to AMS analysts and ultimately to producers, industry and the public. The new dynamic interface provides data analysts one-stop instant access to agricultural commodity data through a searchable database with the ability to create custom reports, data sets and data visualizations to make large amounts of information more easily understandable in a fraction of the time. Businesses may also utilize the built-in application program interface (API) to use the data to create new uses for the data as customer needs evolve.

On Feb. 2, 2018, Market News information for dairy products will be the first set of data and reports available through MARS followed by Cotton and Tobacco, scheduled for April 2018. Dates for Livestock, Poultry and Grain and Specialty Crops will be announced on the new My Market News website. It is anticipated that all Market News data will be moved to the new system by March 2019. USDA’s existing Market News website will continue to post data until all commodities are available through MARS.

Trump Administration Delays Implementation of Waters of US Rule by Two Years

(AP) -- The Trump administration on Wednesday delayed implementation of an Obama-era clean water rule by another two years to give the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers more time to do away with it.

The move follows a Supreme Court ruling last week that said legal challenges to the Waters of the U.S. rule should be decided in federal district courts. That will result in the lifting of a stay issued by an appeals court blocking the 2015 rule from going into effect.

The rule expanded the definitions for wetlands and small waterways under the Clean Water Act -- prompting opposition from agribusiness, mining and industry groups. The expansion was intended to reduce sources of pollution dumped in the small tributaries of larger lakes and rivers.

President Donald Trump issued an executive order nearly a year ago ordering a review of the WOTUS rule. By moving the effective date to 2020, the Trump administration buys itself more time to issue a replacement.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt routinely cites WOTUS as what he sees as regulatory overreach by the prior administration.

"EPA is taking action to reduce confusion and provide certainty to America's farmers and ranchers," Pruitt said Wednesday, according to a statement. "The 2015 WOTUS rule developed by the Obama administration will not be applicable for the next two years, while we work through the process of providing long-term regulatory certainty across all 50 states about what waters are subject to federal regulation."

NCBA Applauds Two-Year Delay of Waters of the United States Rule

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Chief Environmental Counsel Scott Yager today issued the following statement regarding the Environmental Protection Agency's decision to delay implementation of the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule for two additional years:

"Today’s action from EPA and the Army Corps ensures the 2015 WOTUS Rule never comes back. We thank Administrator Pruitt and his team for this prompt action which protects agricultural producers across the country and we look forward to the next steps — repeal and replace."

Farm Bureau Applauds Delay of Unlawful WOTUS Rule

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall

“The American Farm Bureau Federation applauds today’s action by the U.S. EPA and Army Corps of Engineers to delay implementation of the hopelessly vague 2015 rule that expansively defined ‘waters of the United States.’ That rule would have put a stranglehold on ordinary farming and ranching by treating dry ditches, swales and low spots on farm fields just like flowing waters. Without today’s action, countless farmers and ranchers, as well as other landowners and businesses, would risk lawsuits and huge penalties for activities as common and harmless as plowing a field.

“Today’s announcement is part of a measured and thoughtful process to provide regulatory certainty to farmers and ranchers while the agencies continue the important work of withdrawing and rewriting the unlawful 2015 WOTUS rule. America’s farmers value clean water as much as anyone, and they work hard every day to protect it. But they deserve clear rules, too.”

ASA Applauds President’s Commitment to Infrastructure Improvements

The American Soybean Association (ASA) today applauded the priority placed on improving the nation’s infrastructure in President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address last night.

ASA President John Heisdorffer, a soybean farmer from Keota, Iowa, stated that “the President’s commitment to work with Congress to fashion an initiative that will generate $1.5 trillion in infrastructure investments to upgrade roads, bridges, highways, railways, waterways and broadband addresses a priority that is long overdue.”

“America’s transportation network is U.S. agriculture’s competitive advantage for reaching world markets at less cost than other exporting countries,” Heisdorffer said. “Brazil and other soybean exporters have been making significant investments in bolstering their railroads and river systems in recent years, while our aging infrastructure continues to deteriorate, causing delays and higher freight costs.”

Heisdorffer added that “the emphasis the President placed on investing in rural areas, and to reduce the time required to obtain federal permits for new projects, is welcome news for U.S. soybean farmers.”

The U.S. exports an estimated 60 percent of annual soybean production, expected to total four billion bushels in 2018. Together with the Soybean Transportation Council and other industry stakeholders, ASA has been an outspoken supporter for modernizing locks and dams on the Upper Mississippi River system for over 20 years. Upgrading the system would improve efficiency and our global competitiveness by significantly reducing freight costs and delivery times.

Retail Fertilizer Prices Continue Upward Trend

Average retail fertilizer prices continued to trend higher the fourth week of January 2018, according to retailers surveyed by DTN.

Prices for all but one of the eight major fertilizers were higher compared to a month earlier. Once again leading the way to the high side was anhydrous, which was 5% higher compared to the previous month. The nitrogen had an average price of $490 per ton.

The remaining six fertilizers that were higher saw only slight price gains. DAP had an average price of $458 per ton, MAP $492/ton, urea $353/ton, 10-34-0 $415/ton, UAN28 $226/ton and UAN32 $261/ton.

For the first time in several weeks, one fertilizer was actually slightly lower in price compared to last month. Potash had an average price of $344 per ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.38/lb.N, anhydrous $0.30/lb.N, UAN28 $0.40/lb.N and UAN32 $0.41/lb.N.

All but three fertilizers are now higher compared to last year with prices pushing higher in recent months. Both urea and anhydrous are now 2% higher, while both DAP and potash are 7% higher and MAP is 11% more expensive.

Three fertilizers are still lower in price compared to a year prior. UAN32 is 3% lower while UAN28 is 4% and 10-34-0 is 5% less expensive looking back a year.

Ethanol Stocks Tumble From Record High

Ethanol supply in the United States tumbled 800,000 barrels (bbl), or 3.4%, from a record high to 23.0 million bbl during the week-ended Jan. 26, with plant production also down substantially, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday, Jan. 31.

The draw comes after four straight weekly stock builds. Compared with the corresponding week in 2017, total ethanol supply is up 1.1 million bbl, or 5.0%.

Domestic plant production declined 22,000 barrels per day (bpd), or 2.1%, to 1.04 million bpd last week, while down 21,000 bpd, or 2.0%, year over year. For the four weeks ended Jan. 26, production averaged 1.04 million bpd, down 14,000 bpd, or 1.4%, versus a year ago.

Net refiner and blender inputs, a measure for ethanol demand, climbed 32,000 bpd, or 3.9%, last week to 858,000 bpd. Compared to a year ago, blending demand was up 21,000 bpd or 2.5%. For the four-week period ended Jan. 26, blending demand averaged 834,000 bpd, up 5,000 bpd, or 0.6%, versus a year ago.

Be Counted! Complete USDA Census of Agriculture Today

With only days remaining, the National Corn Growers Association reminds farmers to complete U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service's 2017 Census of Agriculture before the February 5 deadline.

Conducted once every five years, the census aims to get a complete and accurate picture of American agriculture. The resulting data are used by farmers, ranchers, trade associations, researchers, policymakers and many others to help make decisions in community planning, farm assistance programs, technology development, farm advocacy, agribusiness setup, rural development and more.

"The Census of Agriculture is USDA's largest data collection endeavor, providing some of the most widely used statistics in the industry," said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. "Collected in service to American agriculture since 1840, the census gives every producer the opportunity to be represented so that informed decisions can support their efforts to provide the world with food, fuel, feed and fiber. Every response matters."

The census was mailed in several phases through December. Farm operations of all sizes which produced and sold, or normally would have sold, $1,000 or more of agricultural product in 2017 are included in the census. The census is the only source of uniform, comprehensive and impartial agriculture data for every state and county in the nation.

NASS revised the census forms in an attempt to document changes and emerging trends in the industry. Changes include a new question about military veteran status, expanded questions about food marketing practices and questions about on-farm decision-making to help better capture the roles and contributions of beginning farmers, women farmers and others involved in running a farm enterprise.

"Producers can respond to the census online or by mail. We highly recommend the updated online questionnaire. We heard what people wanted and we made responding to the census easier than ever," said NASS Administrator Hubert Hamer. "The online questionnaire now has timesaving features, such as automatic calculations, and the convenience of being accessible on mobile and desktop devices."

The census response deadline is February 5, 2018. Responding to the Census of Agriculture is required by law under Title 7 USC 2204(g) Public Law 105-113. The same law requires NASS to keep all information confidential, to use the data only for statistical purposes, and only publish in aggregate form to prevent disclosing the identity of any individual producer or farm operation. NASS will release the results of the census in February 2019.

For more information about the 2017 Census of Agriculture, visit or call (800) 727-9540.

CNH Industrial Reports Higher Net Income in 2017

CNH Industrial N.V. announced consolidated revenues of $27,361 million for the full year 2017, up 10% compared to 2016. Net sales of Industrial Activities were $26,168 million for the year, up 11% compared to 2016. In the fourth quarter of 2017, consolidated revenues were $8,102 million, up 16% compared to the fourth quarter of 2016. Net sales of Industrial Activities were $7,798 million for the fourth quarter of 2017, up 17% compared to the fourth quarter of 2016.

Net income was $313 million for the full year 2017 and includes a non-cash pre- and after-tax charge of $92 million due to the deconsolidation of CNH Industrial's Venezuelan operations effective December 31, 2017; a non-cash tax charge of $123 million due to the U.S. Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and tax legislation changes in the UK and certain other countries enacted in the fourth quarter of 2017, as disclosed in our press release of January 25, 2018; as well as a total pre-tax charge of $64 million (total after-tax charge of $55 million) related to the repurchase/early redemption of certain notes in 2017.

Adjusted net income was $669 million for the full year 2017 compared to $482 million in 2016. Adjusted diluted EPS in 2017 was $0.48, up 37% compared to 2016. For the fourth quarter of 2017, net loss was $40 million and, as mentioned above, was affected by the $92 million charge for Venezuelan operations deconsolidation, the $123 million charge due to the U.S. Act and other tax legislation changes, as well as a $8 million charge on early redemption of notes. The adjusted net income was $197 million for the quarter, flat compared to the fourth quarter of 2016. Adjusted diluted EPS in the fourth quarter of 2017 was $0.14, flat compared to the fourth quarter of 2016.

Agricultural Equipment's net sales increased 10% for the full year 2017 compared to 2016. The increase was mainly due to higher industry volume, market share gains, a favorable mix of higher horsepower products and net price realization.

Lighten Workloads, Pack on Pounds: Tips for Performance Success at the Feedlot 

You go to work well before sunup, and you don’t hang up your hat until after sundown. But with so much to get done, hours in the feedyard click by in a hot minute. Cattle are constantly moving — feeder cattle coming in, market cattle shipping out. Your list continues, from processing 100-plus head at the chute to moving and checking on cattle that could be miles from the operation where you’re standing now.

It is more important now than ever for feedlot operators to take advantage of every tool and technology available to increase overall gain and to improve labor efficiencies and operational flexibility.

When it comes to evaluating a feedlot’s performance and average daily gain goals, Richard Zinn, PhD, renowned researcher and animal science professor at the University of California, Davis, closely examines four things. “I would first look at the implant program — that’s No. 1. No tool has a greater impact on average daily gain and gain efficiency than the implant, so this is an area that feedlots should pay very close attention to. And then the use of feed additives, feeding management and the effective fiber content of the diet.”

While there are many implant options available to cattlemen, using a long-acting implant can be more sensible than traditional implants, which often require re-implanting to get the same duration.

Long-duration implants can help cattle producers:

Find more time in the day. There’s not enough time in the day to go back and redo anything, especially re‑implanting cattle. Consider 1,000 head. Let’s assume that it takes seven minutes per animal to bring them through the chute to re-implant. This task alone could mean more than 100 hours spent re-implanting cattle, which could add up to $1,222 per employee in hourly wage costs. Could that time have been put to better use?

Improve labor efficiencies. If asked your biggest pain point, “labor” might top the list — high turnover rates, unreliability, finding enough help when you need it most. Imagine if you only had to implant cattle once every 200 days. How would you utilize the extra time and resources?

Reduce risk of injury. One of the major sources of employee injury in the industry can be attributed to handling livestock. Implanting lighter-weight cattle upon arrival at the feedlot is safer than the risk of running a 1,000-pound animal through the chute to re-implant later in the feeding cycle. If you could reduce the risk of injury by not re-implanting and handling cattle less, why wouldn’t you do it?

“The implant program is extremely important,” Zinn said.

Synovex® One Feedlot provides producers a long-duration implant option that is approved for use with both steers and heifers, offering 200 days of uninterrupted performance — nearly twice the duration of conventional implants. Compared with nonimplanted feeder cattle, steers implanted with Synovex One Feedlot saw a 15.4% improvement in average daily gain and 9.8% improvement in feed efficiency. Also when compared with nonimplanted feeder cattle, heifers receiving Synovex One Feedlot demonstrated a 12% increase in average daily gain and a 7% improvement in feed efficiency.

Dr. Zinn recommends that feedlots experiencing decreased feed intake should also look at current feed additive programs to help enhance performance and implement changes if needed.

“When I see a feedlot where the intake is off, then we’re going to look at the feed additive program and try to determine if they’re optimizing the potential of various feed additives to enhance performance,” Zinn said. “The important thing in the feedlot is to maximize average daily gain, and by doing that, they maximize net return.”

Tuesday January 30 Ag News

Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation 2018 Teachers of the Year Announced

The Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation has selected two teachers as their Nebraska Agriculture in the Classroom 2018 Teachers of the Year. The Teacher of the Year is awarded to two outstanding teachers that incorporate agriculture into their classroom through innovative ideas and lessons.

Stephanie Wolf, a special education teacher at Brady Public Schools in Brady and Jennifer Johnson, a third-grade teacher at Sutton Public Schools in Sutton were honored.

“Both Stephanie and Jennifer demonstrate how teachers can use agriculture as the context for hands-on teaching in a standards-based curriculum. They are engaging the next generation in critical thinking about where their food, fiber and fuel comes from, and we are happy to recognize and reward their important work,” said Megahn Schafer, executive director of the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation.

Wolf brings agriculture into her classrooms with the Lincoln County Farm Bureau Learning Barn, live animals, and hatching chicks in her classroom. She also brings in her own knowledge of life experiences on the farm to help the students understand and connect to their projects.

“By bringing in the live animals and showing the kids where their food and fiber come from, it gives them real-life experiences that they might not otherwise have,” said Wolf. “Through these real-life interactions, the student learns much more than just from a book.”

Mrs. Wolf enjoys the Eggology unit the most. To keep the lesson interactive and hands-on, students help setup the incubator, build a pen, and watch the chicks hatch from the shells in the springtime. Students stay involved by feeding and watering the chicks while learning of the important job farmers and ranchers have to their livestock every day.

Jennifer Johnson teaches in Sutton, Nebraska a farming community, so she was shocked when her students struggled to answer her question of “What is agriculture?” That is when she knew she needed to do more this year with agriculture.

Johnson incorporated agriculture into her classroom by transforming her classroom into a farm.

“I knew it was going to be a lot of work, but I also knew this was a class that needed hands-on learning and would learn from these activities,” she said.

She asked the students to dress up like someone who lives on a farm. When the students came in the next morning, they were in awe. They saw straw bales, a saddle, feed, barns, farm equipment, books, magazines, and animals. The rest of the morning, the students discussed each item and how each was used on the farm. In the afternoon, Johnson invited a rancher to visit the classroom and talk about their jobs and how the animals had to be taken care of every day, even on weekends and holidays and in all kinds of weather.

“This activity brought to life agriculture in Nebraska and how important it is to know where your food is coming from,” Johnson said. “In this day and age, we have many types of learners, and my hope was to reach these students in one way or another to appreciate agriculture and life in Nebraska,” she continued.

Each teacher is being awarded an all-expense paid trip to the National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference in Portland, ME on June 26-29. The conference brings educators together from all over the United States to collaborate on how to incorporate agriculture into their curriculum and engage students. Teachers will have the opportunity to attend tours of local ag businesses and farms in the area.

ACE encouraged by Pruitt’s ethanol statements

Brian Jennings, CEO of the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE), releases the following statement in response to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt’s hearing before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee today: 

“ACE members are grateful Administrator Pruitt is committed to completing the review of EPA's legal authority to provide RVP relief for E15 and higher blends and that he reiterated the Agency's interest in how high-octane fuels can meet fuel efficiency standards. 

“RVP relief is not only a commonsense step EPA can take to provide regulatory relief to fuel marketers, it is also the quickest way to take pressure off RIN prices. E15 blending nationwide will increase ethanol blending which will increase the supply of RIN credits and help bring down their price.  For those interests seeking lower RIN prices, RVP relief is indeed a "win-win" solution.

“Administrator Pruitt is to be commended for inviting comment on the role high-octane fuels can play in helping meet future vehicle fuel economy and emission standards.  It is well-documented that blends in the range of E25-40 deliver meaningful efficiency and emission benefits at a low pump price.  We continue to work with other stakeholders to make sure high-octane fuel containing ethanol becomes a reality.”

USDA, FDA Announce Formal Agreement to Bolster Coordination and Collaboration

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. announced at the White House today a formal agreement aimed at making the oversight of food more efficient and effective by bolstering coordination between the two agencies. The formal agreement outlines efforts to increase interagency collaboration, efficiency and effectiveness on produce safety and biotechnology activities, while providing clarity to manufacturers.

“Today, Commissioner Gottlieb and I signed a formal agreement to promote coordination and the streamlining of capacities and obligations on shared concerns and jurisdiction,” said Secretary Perdue. “Congress passed the Food Safety Modernization Act and assigned responsibilities to the USDA and the FDA. The USDA has the knowledge and expertise to support the FDA’s work related to farming. We at the USDA have a motto: Do Right, and Feed Everyone. We believe this joint effort will help us move one step closer to that goal.”

The FDA and the USDA have worked closely over the years to oversee the nation’s food supply. The USDA oversees the safety of most meat, poultry, catfish and certain egg products while the FDA has authority over all other foods such as dairy, seafood, produce and packaged foods. The USDA and the FDA are partnering in many key areas, including the implementation of produce safety measures and biotechnology efforts.

“Secretary Perdue and I share a deep commitment to further strengthening our nation’s food safety system in the most effective and transparent way,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. “Over the last several months, the Secretary and I have worked closely and identified several areas where we can strengthen our collaboration to make our processes more efficient, predictable, and potentially lower cost to industry; while also strengthening our efforts to ensure food safety. This agreement not only formalizes this ongoing coordination, but presents a great opportunity to expand those efforts through better integration and increased clarity to the agriculture and food processing sectors. Our coordination with these sectors plays an integral role in helping to keep our nation’s food supply safe and secure.”

This agreement is the agencies’ newest initiative to expand those efforts and take new steps to streamline regulatory responsibilities and use government resources more efficiently to protect public health. It aims to increase clarity, efficiency and potentially reduce the number of establishments subject to the dual regulatory requirements of the USDA and the FDA. For example, when a facility, such as a canned soup facility, produces both chicken noodle soup and tomato soup, it is currently subject to regulation by both agencies. The agreement tasks both government organizations with identifying ways to streamline regulation and reduce inspection inefficiencies, while steadfastly upholding safety standards for dual-jurisdiction facilities. This can reduce costs on industry and free government resources to better target efforts to areas of risk.

The agreement also commits the USDA and the FDA to identify ways the agencies can better align and enhance their efforts to develop regulatory approaches to biotechnology, as each agency works to fulfill commitments outlined in the September 2016 National Strategy for Modernizing the Regulatory System for Biotechnology Products and the more recent Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity Report. These initiatives established a vision for increasing transparency, predictability and efficiency of the regulatory processes for biotechnology products.

The agreement also calls for the FDA and the USDA to enhance their collaboration and cooperation on produce safety activities. The FDA is implementing the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which shifts the food safety paradigm from one of reaction to prevention of foodborne illness. Under FSMA, the FDA coordinates with state and/or territorial government agencies, which will conduct most farm inspections under FSMA’s Produce Safety rule.

Statement of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue Regarding President Trump’s State of the Union Address

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today issued the following statement regarding President Donald J. Trump’s State of the Union Address:

“President Trump’s unifying address to the nation recounted this administration’s impressive achievements in its first year, which have strengthened the economy for all Americans, including those who do the important work in the agriculture sector.  The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is already helping workers and will allow agricultural producers to invest more in their operations and their own families. President Trump’s optimistic vision for the nation includes massive investment in infrastructure, which will be a boon to a rural America that sorely needs such improvements. The president's emphasis on fair trade gives me confidence that he will strike deals that benefit all parts of the American economy.  Additionally, his focus on eliminating burdensome regulations is freeing up agricultural producers and removing obstacles to productivity. This is a president who has rural America and agriculture close to his heart, as his words and deeds clearly demonstrate.”   

NAWG CEO Responds to State of the Union Address

Tonight, President Donald Trump delivered his first State of the Union Address as President. NAWG CEO Chandler Goule provided the following statement in response:

“While the President addressed many issues of importance to the American people, it was unfortunate that he did not focus more of his remarks on agriculture.

“Much like a strong infrastructure plan, agriculture is also essential for helping Rural America move forward. The Farm Bill provides all farmers with access to programs that allow them to produce abundant and quality crops while using fewer inputs, thus facilitating not only rural economic growth but also a safe and affordable food supply for all Americans.

“The President also called on Congress to end sequestration on Defense. Sequestration has had significant effects on domestic programs, including Farm Bill programs, negatively impacting farmers. Removal of sequestration shouldn’t be limited to Defense programs.

"As we consider our place in the world stage, let's make sure that we preserve smart trade deals that keep American wheat producers in a strong position. This includes remaining in NAFTA and moving ahead with bi-lateral trade agreements.

“We appreciate the President continuing to talk about the need to enforce our trade deals and commend the Administration’s work to ensure countries like China are living up to its commitments on wheat trade.

“NAWG looks forward to continuing to work with the Administration on ways to improve the livelihood of the American wheat farmer.”

NFU Urges Follow-Through on President’s Promises Regarding Trade and Infrastructure

In his first State of the Union address, President Donald Trump continued his promises to turn the page “on decades of unfair trade deals” and to rebuild the nation’s “crumbling infrastructure,” both issues of major concern for American family farmers and ranchers.

National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson issued the following statement in response to the president’s remarks:

    “Family farmers and rural residents are looking to President Trump to deliver on his promises to fix the nation’s failed free trade agreement framework and crumbling rural infrastructure.

    “The President, rightly so, spoke to how our past trade agreements disadvantage the working class, family farmers and their communities. These agreements operate under a failed framework that the president can begin to fix by replacing NAFTA with an agreement that addresses our massive trade deficit and lost sovereignty. Unfortunately, President Trump has gone about this in a fashion that isn’t conducive to positive relations with our trading partners. The administration must produce a better NAFTA and avoid massive market disruption through a NAFTA withdrawal.

    “We also appreciate the President’s attention to current infrastructure woes. There is clearly a growing need for significant federal investment in our nation's roads, rails, broadband, locks and dams. We urge the administration and Congress to move swiftly in developing the promised comprehensive infrastructure package.”

Y-TEX Corporation Launches New TRI-ZAP™ lnsecticide Cattle Ear Tags

Y-TEX Corporation, one of the leading global suppliers of livestock identification and pest control solutions, today announced the launch of its new TRI-ZAP™ Insecticide Ear Tags for beef and dairy cattle.  Featuring three proven active ingredients, new TRI-ZAP tags represent a major advancement in the control of horn flies, face flies, lice and Spinose ear ticks.

“TRI-ZAP combines the repellency of zetacypermethrin and the killing power of abamectin with the synergistic effects of piperonyl butoxide to create the most effective fly control product on the market today for pastured beef and dairy cattle,” stated Dr. Mike Fletcher, Vice President of Research & Development for Y-TEX.  “TRI-ZAP stops both pyrethroid-resistant horn flies and hard-to-control face flies from feeding on your cattle and stealing your profits.  Our data shows the more resistant horn flies are to zetacypermethrin, the more susceptible they are to abamectin, making this combination an ideal part of any rotation strategy to manage horn fly resistance.”

In addition to its new TRI-ZAP tags, Y-TEX markets a full line of insecticide ear tags and strips, including GardStar® Plus, OPtimizer®, PYthon®, PYthon® Magnum™, Warrior™ and XP 820® brands.  The company also offers Brute® Pour-on and GardStar 40% EC Spray insecticides for cattle.

“With the introduction of our new TRI-ZAP tags, along with our new Y-Tags™ one-piece identification ear tag system, Y-TEX offers the broadest, most advanced line of livestock ear tags on the market today,” noted Glenn A. Nielson, President of Y-TEX Corporation.  “Whether a beef or dairy producer is looking for insecticide tags, ID tags or both, we have the products to meet their exact needs.”

Syngenta stresses the importance of a start-clean, stay-clean approach to manage resistant marestail

Marestail, also known as horseweed, is top of mind for many corn and soybean growers preparing for the 2018 growing season. Because of its ongoing threat, Syngenta stresses the importance of a start-clean, stay-clean residual herbicide strategy to help maximize crop yields and manage future resistant marestail.

According to Purdue University, marestail was one of the first glyphosate-resistant weeds identified in U.S. row crops. It’s been reported in more than 10 states since its initial occurrence in 2000. Marestail seeds are highly mobile and can easily spread to new areas. This is especially concerning as each plant can produce up to 200,000 seeds and grow up to 6 feet high.

“Once you have a 4-inch horseweed in your soybeans, it becomes a major limiting factor,” stressed Bryan Young, a weed scientist at Purdue University. “If it’s ALS-resistant, we don’t have those herbicides to use on it. If you’re in a glyphosate system, you don’t have an option unless you go to dicamba- or glufosinate-tolerant soybeans.”

According to the United Soybean Board, marestail populations with evolved resistance to glyphosate and ALS-inhibiting herbicides are widespread, and it is easier to control the weed in the seedling, or rosette, stage. In addition, it has two primary periods of emergence, late March through June and then late summer through late fall.

"If you don’t get marestail early in the spring with spray, you’ll need a tillage tool to uproot them or cut them out of the ground. Otherwise, they are just there for the rest of the season," said Joe Humes, a soybean, corn and wheat grower in Wyaconda, Missouri. "The most important thing to stress to growers is to not cut rates and watch weed height because the bigger it gets, the harder it is to kill. Some guys want to wait and do it all in one pass, and the weeds just get too big. At a certain point, they can’t be controlled."

For corn growers, Syngenta offers Acuron® and Acuron Flexi pre-emergence herbicides, both containing bicyclopyrone, a herbicide technology, which is designed to complement the other active ingredients in the premix to deliver broader, more consistent control of tough weeds other products are missing. A two-pass system works well in areas where marestail has a strong late-season presence and can include a post-emergence application of Halex® GT corn herbicide for an additional mode of action. For the best results, Syngenta recommends applying Halex GT in a tank mix with either atarazine or dicamba.

“A two-pass program is pretty much standard. In my programs, I plan ahead for that,” said Brad Hemeyer, a grower in Gilliam, Missouri. “I try to get out to my fields as early as I can, as far as burndown options. And I’m looking more into fall application, too, especially in our no-till fields with marestail problems.”

For soybean growers, Syngenta offers effective weed control solutions, including Boundary® 6.5 EC herbicide for pre-emergence marestail control and long-lasting residual.

In addition to residual herbicides with multiple non-ALS, non-glyphosate modes of action, growers can adapt to manage the spread of resistant marestail through a variety of other methods.

"There are so many practices that help growers maintain the viability of their herbicide tools," said Dane Bowers, Syngenta herbicide technical product lead. "Crop rotation, cover crops, cultivation and harvest weed seed control are some of the ways to develop a truly diversified program, one that does not depend solely on herbicides. There may be an additional investment up front, but the return on investment is strong over time if we can prevent resistant weeds, like marestail, from developing."

Backed by decades of research and development, Syngenta has been at the forefront of introducing herbicides with multiple, effective modes of action to help fight resistance. The Syngenta Resistance Fighter® program provides education, local recommendations, and a comprehensive herbicide portfolio to help growers and retailers effectively manage resistant weeds in their area.

Farm Dog and John Deere Launch Joint Project to Develop Variable Rate Spray Technology

Farm Dog and John Deere have launched a joint development project to develop variable rate spray technology for pest and disease management.  The project is supported in part by a $900 thousand grant from the Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation (BIRD Foundation) and delivers the next stage in the companies' collaboration to reduce pesticide use, increase yields, and promote environmental sustainability.

"This is a step change for pest and disease management," said Liron Brish, CEO and co-founder of Farm Dog.  "Growers spend more than $60 billion per year on pest and disease management yet still suffer $500 billion worth of crop losses per year.  The combination of Farm Dog insights with John Deere equipment will finally provide growers with the tools needed to make the best in-field decisions for optimizing treatments, increasing yields, and promoting sustainability."

The companies have been working together since 2016.  Building on prior integration of the Farm Dog platform with John Deere Operations Center, this next phase extends data sharing and leverages John Deere's ExactApply spray equipment capabilities.

"The John Deere Operations Center is an open platform that gives producers the opportunity to connect their machine and production data with other software tools and drive deeper insights into their farms," said Lane Arthur, Director of Digital Solutions at John Deere.  "This integration demonstrates our commitment to providing producers with tools to increase the efficiency and profitability of their operations."

In this next phase, both companies will work jointly to design and test variable rate spraying solutions.  Development will occur simultaneously in Israel and Iowa over the next 18 months.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds commended both companies on their relationship.  "I would like to congratulate Farm Dog and John Deere for being awarded the BIRD grant. This collaboration is a perfect synergy between Israeli innovation and Iowa software and manufacturing skills.  Together, these two companies will lead farm production into the future."

Monday January 29 Ag News

LENRD Board to release the approved applications for new irrigated acres
Landowners within the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) boundaries, had an opportunity to apply for new irrigated acres for 2018.

LENRD Assistant General Manager, Brian Bruckner, said, “After much debate last fall, the board voted to take applications for standard variances district-wide.  Applications for nearly 24,000 new irrigated acres were received during the sign-up period, which was open between November 15th and December 15, 2017.”

The board voted at their January meeting to approve up to 2,390 new acres in the Hydrologically Connected or 10/50 Area, and to approve up to 2,530 new acres in the Non-Hydrologically Connected or Non 10/50 Area under the district’s standard variance process.

Bruckner continued, “Staff will now go through the process of contacting the landowners with both approved and non-approved acres.”  After the landowners have been properly notified, the approved list will be available to the public, sometime in February.

In other business, the Board approved an amendment to the LENRD Rules and Regulations for the Management of Groundwater, which will add a new Rule 18 – Transfers of Water Uses.  The addition of this rule will allow the district to consider requests for the transfer of certified acres within the district.  Bruckner said, “Numerous factors will be weighed when evaluating each request, but it will provide both landowners and the district with an additional tool for the management of water resources in the district.”

The board also brought discussion of the Drought Management Plan to a vote at their January meeting and approved adoption of the Drought Management Plan into the LENRD’s Groundwater Management Plan.  Approval of this Plan will merely provide the district with a mechanism to define and categorize drought conditions within the district, and outlines some general response mechanisms that could be utilized in response to each designation.  At the suggestion of the board, the Plan will also integrate real time monitoring well data and a November 1st date for the establishment of any subsequent groundwater controls (for irrigation purposes for the following growing season) as components of the plan.  Most importantly, future effort will be required to develop implementation mechanisms that could be employed by the district to effectively protect groundwater supplies for all groundwater users, during a prolonged period of drought.  LENRD General Manager, Mike Sousek, said, “This is a working document that will be utilized, if and when a drought situation occurs.  It gives the district a place to start.”

In other action, the board approved the amended Recreation Area Rules and Regulations.  One of the amendments kept the current policy in place which does not allow alcohol at the Recreation Areas owned by the LENRD, which includes Maskenthine Lake, near Stanton; Maple Creek Recreation Area, near Leigh; and the Willow Creek State Recreation Area, near Pierce.

The district is inviting the public to attend the Bazile Groundwater Management Area Winter Open House & Informational Meeting in Osmond on Wednesday, February 7th.  The Open House is from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.  Various topics of the day will include the role of the NRDs, health and drinking water, best management practices, as well as soil fertility and cover crop programs.  Contact the LENRD for more information.

The next LENRD board meeting will be Thursday, February 22nd at 7:30 p.m. in the Lifelong Learning Center on the campus of Northeast Community College in Norfolk.

Smith Advocates for Ag Economy at NAFTA Negotiations in Montreal

Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) released the following statement today after returning from the latest round of NAFTA negotiations in Montreal, where he served on the congressional delegation meeting with negotiators, government officials, and business leaders.

“I’m encouraged after our meetings in Montreal about the progress being made on NAFTA,” Smith said.  “Our delegation had productive discussions with senior government officials from both Canada and Mexico, including Ontario’s Minister of Economic Development and Mexico’s Undersecretary for Trade, as well as U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, the Canadian American Business Council, Farmers for Free Trade, the U.S. Chamber, and the U.S. Consul General to Montreal.

“Overall, there is optimism about the path forward and bipartisan support for sustaining and modernizing the agreement.  In our meetings, I not only focused on the importance of NAFTA to U.S. agriculture but also to the numerous manufacturing and service jobs required to support ag.  The successes achieved under this agreement make it clear it is in our country’s best economic interest to maintain these trade ties with our neighbors.

“We know we can’t take anything for granted until we get these negotiations across the finish line.  I will keep sharing the priorities of Nebraska producers and manufacturers as this process continues forward.”

Tissue Sampling Data Reveals Trends in Nebraska Corn Health

Farmers in Nebraska who conducted on-farm tissue sampling with WinField United to evaluate crop health last season were better-equipped to make informed fertilization decisions. Tissue sampling is just part of the program, which also includes soil testing, predictive analysis, product recommendations and expertise to help guide production practices for high-yielding crops.

Corn in Nebraska Saw Fewer Nutrient Deficiencies in 2017

Nebraska farmers submitted over 950 corn tissue samples for evaluation by WinField United in 2017, which is far fewer samples taken than in the previous year. Based on sampling data, corn across the state was less likely to be deficient in several key nutrients compared to the previous year. Nitrogen, sulfur, magnesium and manganese trended in the right direction in 2017 versus the previous year. However, the majority of corn samples were still lacking these nutrients that contribute to yield potential. It’s also notable that a greater percentage of samples were deficient in zinc and/or potassium compared to 2016.

Real-Time Data Guides Inputs

Nutrient availability is dynamic and changes based on environmental conditions and management practices. In-season tissue sampling helped farmers adjust fertilizer plans to meet changing plant nutrition needs as plants developed.

For Nebraska growers, availability of key nutrients at these specific growth stages is critical for a healthy corn crop:
  ·    V5–V8: zinc and boron
 ·    V9–V13: nitrogen, potassium, sulfur and zinc
 ·    V14–VT: nitrogen, potassium, sulfur and magnesium

Comparison of 2016 and 2017 nutrient trends indicates that farmers should tissue sample and reevaluate fertilization plans annually and throughout the growing season. While trends can be recognized across the state, each field and season are different so plants should be tested to ensure proper fertilization. Factors that can affect nutrient availability to plants include soil type and pH, crop rotation and planting population.

Tissue sampling can provide valuable, specific and timely insights so farmers can meet individual field yield goals. Work with your local WinField United retailer to evaluate crop health and develop fertility programs specific for your acres.

For complete information about the WinField® United plant nutrition and performance solutions, visit

Conference to Highlight Latest Agricultural Technologies 

Nathan Mueller - NE Extension Educator

The annual Nebraska Agricultural Technologies Association (NeATA) conference will be Feb. 7-8 in Kearney at the Younes Conference Center, 416 West Talmadge Road.

The first day of the conference will be a symposium on utilizing management zones within production agriculture. The speakers, from both private industry and universities, will discuss management zone data collection, creation of zones, evaluation and economics of management zones. The symposium will wrap-up with round-table discussions of management zones in rainfed fields and irrigated fields. A social hour will follow at 5 p.m.

Day two feature speakers include Josh McGrath, University of Kentucky soil management extension specialist, and Matt Davison, University of Nebraska associate athletic director and voice for Nebraska football and basketball. Attendees will also be able to choose from 16 break-out offerings, covering such topics as nutrient and water management, data management and collection, precision agriculture economics, and future concepts.

The conference is from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Feb. 7 and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Feb. 8.

The registration fee is $200 per person for both days or $125 for one day only. Students may register for $75 per person. There is no registration deadline.

The Nebraska Agricultural Technologies Association is a membership network that provides a venue for members to share agricultural research experiences and knowledge related to current and emerging technologies in agriculture. Membership is not required to attend the conference.

For more information about the conference and to register, visit

Nebraska Cover Crop Conference Feb. 15 for Corn, Soybean Growers 

Keith Glewen - NE Extension Educator

Cover crops offer many benefits, such as improved soil heath and reduced erosion. The challenges lie in the details, including what cover crops to use and how to use them.

The Nebraska Cover Crop Conference will address cover crops for corn/soybean rotations Thursday, February 15 at the University of Nebraska Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center (ENREC) near Mead. The program will be from 9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. with registration beginning at 8:30 a.m.  Preregister by Feb. 10 to ensure resource materials are available and for meal planning purposes.

“The conference is designed to provide soybean and corn growers who don’t have livestock with information to effectively use cover crops in their operation,” said Keith Glewen, Nebraska extension educator and conference coordinator.

Topics and presenters include:
-    The Banker Won’t like Wheat, but Your Soil Will — Here's Why!, Nathan Mueller, Nebraska extension educator;
-    Will Cover Crops Be a New Home for Insects?, Justin McMechan, Nebraska extension crop protection and cropping systems specialist;
-    Cover Crops for Ephemeral Gully Control, Dan Gillespie, Nebraska NRCS no-till specialist;
-    How Cover Crops Work on My Farm, Bill Nielsen, Minden;
-    Why I Encourage My Customers to Use Cover Crops, Lee Briese, independent crop consultant and recipient of the 2016 International Certified Crop Advisor of the Year Award, Edgely, ND;
-    Why I Use Cover Crops on My Farm, Kelly Tobin, corn/soybean grower, New Castle, Iowa;
-    Cover Crops for Corn and Soybean Producers, Keith Berns, Green Cover Seeds, Bladen; and a
-    Farmer Panel with growers, landowners, and consultants.

Preregister by February 9 by calling 402-624-8030 or emailing  Information is online at:

The conference is sponsored by Nebraska Extension and the Nebraska Soybean Checkoff in partnership with the Lower Platte North Natural Resources District and USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education.

For more information on cover crop management throughout the season, check the articles and newsfeed at

Growers Statewide to Share On-Farm Research Results 

Laura Thompson - NE Extension Educator

Farm operators and agronomists from across the state are invited to attend the Nebraska On-Farm Research Network research results update meeting at a location near them.  Producers will obtain valuable crop production-related information from over 80 on-farm research projects conducted on Nebraska farms by Nebraska farmers in partnership with University of Nebraska faculty. These research projects cover products, practices, and new technologies that impact farm productivity and profitability.

The Nebraska On-Farm Research Network is a statewide, on-farm research program that addresses critical farmer production, profitability and natural resources questions. Growers take an active role in the on-farm research project sponsored by Nebraska Extension in partnership with the Nebraska Corn Growers Association, the Nebraska Corn Board, the Nebraska Soybean Checkoff, and the Nebraska Dry Bean Commission.

These February programs will provide an opportunity to hear growers who conducted on-farm research share their results from the 2017 growing season. Field length replicated treatment comparisons were completed in growers’ fields, using their equipment.

Feb. 19 — near Mead, Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center, 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. CT
Feb. 20 — Norfolk, Lifelong Learning Center, Northeast Community College, 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. CT
Feb. 21 — Grand Island, Hall County Extemsion Office, College Park Campus, 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. CT
Feb. 27 — Grant, Henry J. Stumpf International Wheat Center, 12 noon - 4:30 p.m. MT
Feb. 28 — Alliance, Knight Museum Sandhills Center, 908 Yellowstone Ave., 9 a.m. - 12 p.m. MT

Research projects to be discussed will include:  cover crops, variable rate seeding, planting populations, multi-hybrid planting, starter fertilizer, fungicide applications, alternate crop rotations, multi-hybrid planting uses, seed treatments, and sidedress nitrogen management technologies including drone and sensor based management, variable-rate nitrogen management.  Certified Crop Advisor Credits are applied for and pending upon approval.

These programs are free and include lunch, but preregistration is requested for meal planning purposes.  To preregister call (402) 624-8030 or e-mail Registration check-in begins 30 minutes before the program start time at each site.

To learn more about the Nebraska On-Farm Research Network and how to participate, visit


For the month of January 2018, topsoil moisture supplies rated 4 percent very short, 28 short, 66 adequate, and 2 surplus, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 5 percent very short, 30 short, 64 adequate, and 1 surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Winter wheat condition rated 1 percent very poor, 7 poor, 44 fair, 40 good, and 8 excellent.

The next monthly report (for February) will be issued February 26, 2018. Weekly reports will begin April 2nd for the 2018 season.

2018 Iowa Pork Regional Conferences announced

The Iowa Pork Producers Association is inviting the state's pig farmers to attend one of the Iowa Pork Regional Conferences being held in February.  IPPA, along with the Iowa Pork Industry Center and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach swine specialists. will host the meetings at four Iowa locations Feb. 19-22.  All sessions are hosted from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Conference dates and locations are as follows:
 ● Monday, Feb. 19 - Nashua, Borlaug Learning Center
● Tuesday, Feb. 20 - Carroll, Carroll County Extension Office
● Wednesday, Feb. 21 - Le Mars, Plymouth Co. Extension Office
● Thursday, Feb. 22 - Washington, Washington Co. Extension Office

The following presentations will be delivered at each location:

Environmental Regulations: What's New
Eldon McAfee - Brick Gentry Law Firm
McAfee grew up on a dairy farm and has over 25 years of experience practicing law. He will discuss practical aspects of compliance with Iowa DNR regulations as well as other environmental compliance and protection. Eldon will discuss updates on the EPA's notice to livestock farms for reporting air emissions as well as current legislation in the statehouse.

Swine Market Outlook
Dr. Lee Schulz, Extension livestock economist - Iowa State University Department of Economics
Exports, domestic demand, expansion, new packing plants, input costs and a multitude of other factors can impact livestock producers' bottom line. Dr. Schulz will dive into these issues and current projections, review forecasts for input costs and market hog value in 2018 and discuss what profit opportunity may be in store for producers and how you can manage your risk going into another year.

Vaccines and Antibiotic Changes in the New Regulatory Environment
Dr. Chris Rademacher, Extension swine veterinarian - Iowa State University
The first year of the new FDA antibiotic usage guidance 209, 213 and VFD has been completed. What have we learned about using medications in the feed with VFDs? What has this meant to how producers are now using antibiotics and vaccines moving forward? What about non-antibiotic alternatives? How can producers truly use antibiotics in the most judicious means possible? What are some keys to using vaccines in the water? What are some of the newer vaccine technologies being used today with more restrictions on antibiotics? These are just a few of the topics that will be covered during Dr. Rademacher's presentation.

More Tools for your Toolbox
ISU Extension Swine Specialists
Are you prepared for the Common Swine Industry Audit? Do you have questions about managing ventilation in your barns? Perhaps you are interested in collaborating in an applied research trial. The Iowa State University Extension swine specialists are here to help. Their mission is to promote and enable efficient pork production through disseminating decision-impacting information to producers. They will discuss some of the tools they can put in your toolbox.

Free PQA Plus® producer certification training sessions will be held prior to each conference. Training will be hosted from 9:30 a.m. to noon at each location.

"Iowa Pork strives to deliver timely and impactful information in our education sessions that will provide a return on producers' Pork Checkoff investment," said IPPA Producer Education Director Drew Mogler. "This year's conference will provide valuable take-home messages for anyone involved in the day-to-day activities of the Iowa pork industry."

The regional conferences are free for those who pre-register or $5 at the door. To pre-register for the conference and/or certification training, contact IPPA's Carla Vanderheiden at (800) 372-7675 or or Drew Mogler at

Annual Report Shows How NCGA Lays the Groundwork for Success

The National Corn Growers Association's annual report for the 2017 fiscal year is now available online.  Themed "Groundwork," the 2017 report spotlights efforts made by NCGA throughout the year to reach long-term, strategic goals to improve the future of the industry by increasing demand. A printed copy of the report, which also features current financial information, will also be sent to all active members.

Click here to view the full report....

"It could be applying fertilizer to ensure a healthy crop. Or applying crop protection products to reduce pressure from weeds and insects that steal a crop's potential. Perhaps it's adding a cover crop. Whatever practices you use on your farm, you understand the importance of laying groundwork- taking care of the little things that give you an opportunity for a successful harvest," said NCGA Chairman Wesley Spurlock, a grower from Texas, in a joint letter to readers co-authored by NCGA CEO Chris Novak. 

"Laying the groundwork is just as important for the National Corn Growers Association as it is on your farm. Whether it is building out the infrastructure to carry higher blends of ethanol, working to ensure continued access to international markets or fighting to protect your access to viable risk management tools, we know the importance of laying a solid foundation."

The report also includes perspective from grower leaders, information about the activities of NCGA's action teams and committees and updates on its major image programs. This document provides a comprehensive resource for anyone looking to delve further into what NCGA does on behalf of our nation's farmers.

 Dairy Groups Support USDA Proposal Allowing More Milk Options in Schools

Putting low-fat flavored milk back into schools will bolster the nutrition intake of America’s children, according to comments submitted today to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) by the nation’s leading dairy organizations.

In joint comments, both the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) praised a proposed USDA rule for the positive effect it will have on the widely recognized problem of declining school milk consumption. In 2012, USDA eliminated low-fat flavored milk as an option in the school meal and a la carte programs, which resulted in students consuming 288 million fewer half-pints of milk from 2012-2015.

“Removing low-fat flavored milk causes schools to fail the test of how best to provide optimal nutrition for students,” said Dr. Beth Briczinski, Vice President of Dairy Foods and Nutrition for NMPF. “Fortunately, USDA recognizes the need to be more flexible in providing schools a range of milk options to enhance the dietary intake of the nine essential nutrients milk offers.”

Milk is the No. 1 source of three out of four nutrients of public health concern because they are under consumed: potassium, vitamin D and calcium. The dairy groups called the troubling trend “a threat to public health and to the nutritional intakes of all Americans, notably children and adolescents.”

“We appreciate USDA’s commitment to reverse declining school milk consumption by providing students with access to a variety of milk options, including the flavored milks they enjoy,” said Cary Frye, Senior Vice President of Regulatory Affairs for IDFA.

In Summer 2017, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced USDA would reinstate low-fat flavored milk as an option allowed by the department. According to the interim rule published on the Federal Register site in November, school districts can solicit bids for low-fat flavored milk in the spring before the 2018-19 school year, giving milk processors time to formulate and produce a low-fat flavored milk that meets the specifications of a school district. It now allows schools to offer low-fat flavored milk during the next school year without requiring schools to demonstrate either a reduction in student milk consumption or an increase in school milk waste.

This interim rule, the comments noted, is consistent with the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA), which does not suggest that flavored milk should be fat-free or that there is any reason to avoid low-fat flavored milk. In fact, the DGA “acknowledges the potentially positive role of moderate amounts of sweeteners in making foods like milk and yogurt more palatable.” Low-fat flavored milk offers the same nutritional benefits as white milk, but with a taste more children prefer. And with recent formulation changes, flavored milk is now available with significantly lower levels of calories and added sugar.

The two groups told USDA that its interim rule also aligns with the recent re-examination of fat – and dairy fat specifically – in the American diet. As more scientific studies find that advice to reduce fat intake was misguided, they also appear to show that full-fat dairy foods play either a neutral or beneficial role regarding the risk of several chronic diseases.

While the two dairy groups acknowledged that the interim rule does not compel schools to offer more milk options, both hope the option to do so will attract more students to school meal programs and increase the average daily consumption of the drink.

Mary Kay Thatcher to join Syngenta Federal Government Relations

Mary Kay Thatcher will join Syngenta in mid-February 2018 as senior lead of Federal Government Relations, based in Washington, D.C. In this role, Thatcher will support the company’s strategic federal government relations activities including outreach and advocacy.

“Mary Kay’s experience in delivering policy results to America’s producers and consumers demonstrates her unmatched capacity for successful coalition building, strategic insight and political savvy,” said Laura Peterson, head of Federal Government Relations, Syngenta. “She will contribute to our sustainable agriculture policy expertise. As one of the foremost experts on farm policy in the United States, with an exceptional background in legislative and administrative issues – from digital technology to the Farm Bill – Mary Kay will help us better serve farmers across the country.”

Thatcher, a 31-year veteran of the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), said of her appointment, “I have spent my career advocating in the association and government worlds. I am excited to work in an industry capacity at Syngenta, a strong competitor with great people, a focused strategy, and superior products and services. I admire the guiding principles of The Good Growth Plan – it is truly a model approach for agriculture.”

In her role at AFBF, Thatcher primarily lobbied for farm programs, crop insurance, conservation and credit issues. She is widely recognized as one of the most knowledgeable farm policy experts in the U.S.

Prior to joining AFBF in 1982, Thatcher served as a legislative assistant for agriculture and trade to Sen. Roger Jepsen of Iowa. Also, she served in President George H. W. Bush’s Administration as director of Congressional and Public Affairs for the Farm Credit Administration.

Thatcher is a graduate of Iowa State University where she earned degrees in animal science and agricultural economics. As a fifth generation Iowa farmer, Thatcher has owned and operated her farm in Iowa for the past 23 years, producing corn, soybeans and livestock.

CWT Assists with 4.4 million Pounds of Cheese Export Sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 25 requests for Export Assistance from cooperatives have contracts to sell 4.365 million pounds (1,982 metric tons) of Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese to customers in Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. The product has been contracted for delivery in the period from January through April 2018.

CWT-assisted member cooperative 2018 export sales total 9.714 million pounds of American-type cheeses and 729,730 pounds of butter (82% milkfat) to 10 countries on three continents. These sales are the equivalent of 106.075 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.

USDA Announces National Sheep Industry Improvement Center Board of Directors Appointments

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today announced the appointment of three members to serve on the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center Board of Directors. The appointed producers and marketing expert who will serve three-year terms are:
    Jeremy Geske, Producer, New Prague, Minn.
    Brenda J. Reau, Producer, Petersburg, Mich.
    Steve W. Lewis, Expert in Marketing, Artesia, N.M.

“The Sheep Center was established to improve the competitiveness of the U.S. sheep industry and these appointees bring experience that will serve this agricultural sector well,” said Perdue.

The board is composed of seven voting members and two non-voting members. Voting members of the board include four members who are active producers of sheep in the United States, two members that have expertise in finance and management, and one member that has expertise in lamb, wool, or lamb product marketing. Non-voting members of the board include the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Under Secretaries for Marketing and Regulatory Programs and Research, Education, and Economics. USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service provides oversight of the center.

Additional information can be found on the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center Website at

USDA Announces Lamb Board Appointments

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today announced the appointment of five members to serve on the American Lamb Board. The members appointed to serve three-year terms are:
    Sally J. Scholle, Producer, Littlestown, Pa.
    David Quam, Producer, San Angelo, Texas
    Peter J. Camino, Feeder, Buffalo, Wyo.
    Elizabeth A.W. Dressler, First Handler, Parker, Colo.
    Greg Deakin, Seedstock Producer, Cuba, Ill.

“These appointees represent a cross section of the lamb industry with great experience in the industry and I know they will help us better meet the needs of our American farmers, ranchers, and producers,” said Perdue.

The American Lamb Board is composed of 13 members including six U.S. producers, three feeders, three first handlers, and one seedstock producer. The board is authorized by the Commodity Promotion, Research, and Information Act of 1996. Since 1966, Congress has authorized the establishment of 22 industry-funded research and promotion boards. They empower farmers and ranchers to leverage their own resources to develop new markets, strengthen existing markets, and conduct important research and promotion activities. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) provides oversight, paid for by industry assessments, which ensures fiscal accountability and program integrity for participating stakeholders.

Friday January 26 Cattle on Feed Report + Ag News


Nebraska feedlots, with capacities of 1,000 or more head, contained 2.61 million cattle on feed on January 1, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. This inventory was up 10 percent from last year.  Placements during December totaled 460,000 head, up 2 percent from 2016.  Fed cattle marketings for the month of December totaled 425,000 head, down 3 percent from last year. Other disappearance during December totaled 15,000 head, up 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 700,000 head on January 1, 2018, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Cattle on Feed report. This was unchanged from December 1, 2017, but up 17 percent from January 1, 2017.

Placements of cattle and calves in Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head during December totaled 100,000 head, a decrease of 18 percent from last month and down 4 percent from last year.

Marketings of fed cattle from Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head during December totaled 98,000 head, down 11 percent from last month and down 4 percent from last year Other disappearance from feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head in Iowa totaled 2,000 head.

United States Cattle on Feed Up 8 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 11.5 million head on January 1, 2018. The inventory was 8 percent above January 1, 2017. The inventory included 7.34 million steers and steer calves, up 4 percent from the previous year. This group accounted for 64 percent of the total inventory. Heifers and heifer calves accounted for 4.15 million head, up 16 percent from 2017.

By State                      (1,000 hd  -  % Jan 1 '17)

Colorado .......:               970                 108   
Iowa .............:                700                 117      
Kansas ..........:             2,290                106      
Nebraska ......:             2,610                110       
Oklahoma .....:               315                 105     
Texas ............:             2,640                109       

Placements in feedlots during December totaled 1.80 million head, 1 percent above 2016. Net placements were 1.73 million head. During December, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 470,000 head, 600-699 pounds were 410,000 head, 700-799 pounds were 445,000 head, 800-899 pounds were 279,000 head, 900-999 pounds were 100,000 head,and 1,000 pounds and greater were 95,000 head.

By State                (1,000 hd   -   % Dec '16)

Colorado .......:             120            92   
Iowa .............:             100             96      
Kansas ..........:             400            101     
Nebraska ......:             460            102     
Oklahoma .....:              54             100    
Texas ............:             385            105      

Marketings of fed cattle during December totaled 1.75 million head, 1 percent below 2016. Other disappearance totaled 74,000 head during December, 35 percent above 2016.

By State                (1,000 hd   -   % Dec '16)

Colorado .......:            135           100     
Iowa .............:              98             96       
Kansas ..........:             405            94       
Nebraska ......:             425            97      
Oklahoma .....:              52           121       
Texas ............:             385          105       


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

Much expense and many long hours go into harvesting and storing hay for winter feeding.  So why waste it!  Hay feeding waste can be reduced.

Cattle can waste as much as 45 percent of their hay when it is fed without restrictions.  How can you reduce these losses to minimize costs and maintain an adequate hay supply?

Your first step should be to limit how much hay is available.  Research shows that it takes 25% more hay to feed cattle a four-day supply compared to feeding them every day.  Daily feeding reduces the amount of hay refused, trampled, fouled, over-consumed, or used for bedding.

A second step is to restrict access to the hay by using hay racks, bale rings, electric fences, feed bunks, or anything else that will keep animals off the hay.  It’s especially important to limit the amount of hay accessible to trampling.  So use racks or bale rings with solid barriers at the bottom to prevent livestock from pulling hay loose and then dragging it out to be stepped on.

If you feed hay on the ground, either as loose hay, unrolled round bales, or as ground hay, it is especially important to follow these guidelines.  Limit the hay fed to an amount animals will clean up in a single meal.  Anything left over will be stepped on, fouled, or used for bedding instead of as feed.  And if you can – use an electric wire or other barrier to restrict access to only one side of the feed on the ground.  But also be sure to distribute that hay enough so all cows have access to it at the same time.

With a little foresight and careful management, you can stretch your hay further.


A University of Nebraska-Lincoln research team is exploring the potential of sweet sorghum ethanol as an income source for agricultural producers in western Nebraska.

Sweet sorghum is a cultivar of sorghum primarily grown for its juice. Due to its high sugar content and stability during drought, researchers have identified it as a potential ethanol feedstock crop for non-irrigated farmland. The sugar syrup from the stalks would be fermented to make ethanol.

For sweet sorghum to compete with corn – the leading feedstock for ethanol production in the United States – it must be more lucrative and more economical. Considering factors such as yield and the cost of processing, researchers estimate that the current sweet sorghum-ethanol pathway is a barely break-even prospect in western Nebraska.

"Under the typical conditions considered, there are insufficient benefits to farmers and ethanol plants to make the sweet sorghum-ethanol pathway an attractive economic opportunity," said Richard Perrin, Jim Roberts Professor of Agricultural Economics at Nebraska. However, the researchers found that there are a few circumstances that would improve the crop's viability.

Currently, the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard mandates consumption of specific levels of renewable fuels made from various feedstock categories. Under the markets created by the program, ethanol plants would be almost certain to obtain a premium for sweet sorghum ethanol compared to corn ethanol, making the former more economical. However, according to the researchers, the volatility of the premium and political opposition to the program make this benefit risky.

Another consideration that could enhance the crop's viability is an increase in yields. A $13.5 million, multi-institutional research project led by the university may provide the necessary yield increases. That effort aims to improve sorghum as a sustainable source for biofuel production.

"If the research efforts raise biomass yields by 20 to 30 percent, or show that yields are actually 20 to 30 percent higher than our estimate, the benefits to both the producer and the ethanol plant would be sufficient to make adoption of sweet sorghum for ethanol a sustainable possibility," Perrin said.

Joining Perrin in the research effort were Lilyan Fulginiti, professor of agricultural economics at Nebraska; Ismail Dweikat, professor of agronomy and horticulture at Nebraska; and Subir Bairagi, post-doctoral fellow at the International Rice Research Institute.

Details of the research were reported in the January issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics.


The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship today announced that they will continue contacting farmers who have previously registered a livestock premises in an effort to update the Iowa Premises Registration database. Farmers are asked to respond to the letter and either confirm the information is correct or respond with their updated information.

In February, the Department will be sending letters to producers that had previously registered premises in Grundy, Guthrie, Hamilton, Hancock, Hardin, Harrison, Henry, Howard, Humboldt, Ida and Iowa counties

In March, letters will be sent to producers in Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Johnson, Jones, Keokuk, Kossuth, Lee, Linn and Louisa counties.

“We a very appreciative of the positive response we have received from the farmers that have been contacted to this point and just want to encourage those that will be receiving letters in February and March to do the same,” said Mike Naig, Iowa Deputy Secretary of Agriculture.

All Iowa livestock farmers are encouraged to make sure that all locations where they have livestock have a premises identification number (PIN) and to make sure their information is up-to-date.  All the information in the premises ID database is completely confidential and protected under federal law and can only be used for animal health purposes.

Farmers can complete or renew their premises registration by completing the form found on the Department’s website at  and submitting the signed form to the Department.

A Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about premises identification can be found on the Department’s webpage under “Hot Topics.”  Or, if farmers have questions they can contact the Department’s Animal ID Coordinator toll free at 888-778-7675 or by email at More information is also available on the USDA’s Animal Disease Traceability Home Site at

The Department will continue alphabetically through the remaining counties over the next several months.  Iowa currently has more than 32,500 premises registered.


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPAs) this week asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to grant another delay in farm emissions requirements, which were set to begin on Jan 22. A court decision is pending.

The EPA’s request followed a letter sent by ten democratic senators to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt emphasizing the importance of providing more time to effectively inform farms about their reporting requirements, including: Senators Baldwin, D-WI; Bennet, D-CO; Cardin, D-MD; Carper, D-DE; Coons, D-DE; Heitkamp, D-ND; Kaine, D-VA; Klobuchar, D-MN; Smith, D-MN; Van Hollen, D-MD.

In April 2017, the court rejected an exemption for farms from reporting “hazardous” emissions under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Emergency Planning Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA). CERCLA mainly is used to clean hazardous waste sites but has a federal reporting component, while EPCRA requires entities to report on the storage, use and release of hazardous substances to state and local governments, including first responders.

The court late last year pushed back the reporting deadline after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – supported by a brief from the National Pork Producers Council and the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association – asked it to delay the mandate so that the agency could have “more time to provide farmers more specific and final guidance before they must estimate and report emissions and to develop a system that allows farmers to comply with their legal obligations.” 

Farmers, Ranchers Back Precision Ag Bills

New legislation that will help close rural America’s digital divide by creating a task force to focus on the needs of precision agriculture has the support of farmers and ranchers.

The Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act of 2018 (S. 2343, H.R. 4881) would create a task force to bring together public and private stakeholders to evaluate current programs affecting broadband internet access on cropland and ranchland, identify and measure existing gaps in coverage, and develop policy recommendations to address that gap. The task force is also responsible for developing specific steps the Federal Communications Commission, USDA and other federal agencies can take to address gaps in coverage.

Farmers and ranchers rely on data every day to grow more food, fuel and fiber than ever before while lessening their environmental impact, American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall noted in a letter of support to the bills’ sponsors, Sens. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Reps. Bob Latta (R-Ohio) and Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa).

“Today’s farmers and ranchers are using precision agricultural techniques to make decisions that impact the amount of fertilizer they need to purchase and apply to the field, the amount of water needed to sustain the crop, and the amount and type of herbicides or pesticides they may need to apply,” Duvall wrote.

While FCC data shows that 39 percent of rural Americans lack access to minimum broadband speed service (25 Mbps/3 Mbps), compared to only 4 percent of urban Americans, there is no information about connectivity on cropland and ranchland.

“Bringing together the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the FCC and public and private stakeholders to address the needs of precision agriculture ensures current and future generations of farmers and ranchers will have the technology needed to maintain our food security and manage resources efficiently,” Duvall said in the letter.

AFBF is part of the Ag Broadband Coalition, which strongly supports passage of the Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act of 2018.


NPPC Chief Veterinarian Dr. Liz Wagstrom and Director of International Trade Policy, Sanitary and Technical Issues Courtney Knupp last week joined pork producers on NPPC’s Trade Committee and its Animal Health and Food Security Committee in Denmark, Poland and Germany to explore the steps being taken to prevent or limit the spread of African Swine Fever (ASF) to commercial pig production sites. Also on the trip were Barb Determan, president of the U.S. Animal Health Association and representatives with the American Association of Swine Veterinarians and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

All three countries require traceability of animals and reporting of all animal movements. They also enforce increased biosecurity in ASF-positive zones – although Denmark is free of the disease – and focus on surveillance of wild boar and dead domestic animals that have signs consistent with ASF, zoning/regionalization of areas with positive animals and ensuring that meat from animals in positive zones is not exported outside of the domestic market.

The U.S. pork industry representatives are expected to communicate their findings to their respective organizations, and conclusions also will be discussed with the working group for the Secure Pork Supply Plan, a collaboration among the pork industry, state and federal government officials and Iowa State University and the University of Minnesota.

Secretary Perdue Weighs in on H-2A Overhaul

USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue touted the benefits of House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte’s (R-VA) AG Act during a town-hall style event at a Pennsylvania dairy farm this week. Secretary Perdue said that he hopes Chairman Goodlatte’s bill will be included as part of a broader immigration bill, saying he didn’t see another opportunity to address the farm sector’s labor shortages in the near future.

The House is weighing passing the measure which is the closest agriculture has ever come to getting an effective guest worker program. The bill currently has growing support. Read more on Perdue’s comments on Chairman Goodlatte’s AG Act here.....

NSP:  Sorghum Oil to Biodiesel

On Thursday the National Sorghum Producers submitted comments urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to approve the proposed rule to allow sorghum oil produced at ethanol plants to be sold into the biodiesel supply chain. Approval will mean immediate production of up to 20 million additional ethanol-equivalent gallons of clean-burning, job-creating and domestically-produced gallons of advanced biofuel. Approval will also level a playing field long tilted against Sorghum Belt ethanol plants by allowing the same market access enjoyed by corn-only ethanol plants.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue Confirmed for World Meat Congress

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue will be a featured speaker at the 22nd World Meat Congress (WMC), taking place May 30-June 1, in Dallas, Texas. Perdue will address WMC participants on Thursday morning, May 31, during the “Global Politics of Food” session.

Perdue is a strong voice for trade in the Trump administration, stressing the importance of market access for U.S. agricultural exports and preserving the gains achieved through NAFTA and other free trade agreements. He also participated actively in the reintroduction of U.S. beef in China, including a media reception announcing U.S. beef’s arrival in the market and USMEF’s initial supermarket promotions.

“One of the advantages of hosting the WMC is that it provides an opportunity to showcase the U.S. agricultural model for industry leaders from across the globe,” said U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) CEO Emeritus Philip Seng. “We are very excited to have Secretary Perdue on the agenda, because he is such a strong advocate for U.S. producers and a true champion for trade. In addition, we look forward to hearing his insights on the Trump administration’s philosophy on trade and its approach to trade agreement negotiations.”

Registration and lodging details, along with a preliminary agenda, are available from the WMC website Registrations received by March 14 will qualify for the discounted early bird rate.

Bright LED Dairy Cases Speed Off-Flavors in Skim Milk

As grocery stores save energy by changing their dairy cases from fluorescent to LED lighting, Cornell researchers have found that milk -- particularly skim or fat-free milk -- becomes more susceptible to off-flavors from LED light than from standard fluoresence.

To battle bad taste, dairies and grocery stores should consider moving away from plastic packaging that allows light infiltration, the food scientists report in the Journal of Dairy Science.

Light-emitting diode (LED) lighting was always assumed to be less damaging to milk due to its lower power consumption, said Robin Dando, assistant professor of food science and a co-author on the research. That assumption seems to be wrong.

"LEDs look good, save retailers money and keep carbon from damaging the environment," said Dando. "It's less energy, and we assumed it would be less light energy being channeled into the milk too, but that's not what we found. The light still really affects the flavor."

Dando and co-author Ana C. Chang, M.S. '17, now a Cornell doctoral student in nutritional sciences, brought in trained tasters and untrained consumers to compare milk from dairy cases with LED and fluorescent lighting.

Taste-testing panels noted that LED light impairs fresh flavor properties more than fluorescent. An earlier study also said skim milk's taste is more affected than 2 percent fat milk; the researchers believe fat offers protection from the light by either making it harder for the light to reach riboflavin and other photosensitive compounds, or may give the milk a flavor of its own that slightly masks the off-note.

"The consumers did not like the slight off-flavor from the light in the 2 percent milk, but they really didn't like it in fat-free skim milk. It changed much more noticeably," said Dando.

"We were surprised that LED may be causing sensory changes earlier than fluorescent light," said Chang. "There has been more research on fluorescent light, but there isn't much in the literature on LED. We wanted to see the difference between them."

The researchers found light-protective packaging offered near-complete protection from LED exposure, with a similar flavor profile as milk unexposed to light. However, consumers disliked such packaging's appearance, likening it to orange juice jugs.

Why does flavor change in the presence of light? Dando speculates that riboflavin and residual chlorophyll in the milk absorbs energy from light, and can release it into the milk, causing changes to proteins and fats that may have off-putting flavor consequences.

The paper, "Exposure to Light-Emitting Diodes May Be More Damaging to the Sensory Properties of Fat-Free Milk Than Exposure to Fluorescent Light," was funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

From the Cart to the Keyboard: How food purchasing habits will impact the beef industry

The manner in which groceries are bought and sold is undergoing a swift and significant transition. The potential impact of these changes on the beef and cattle sector is the topic of a new report from the RaboResearch Food and & Agribusiness group. The report, “Food Fight! Online and Brick & Mortar Battle for Business. How Can Beef Ensure a Seat at the Table?,” explores how food reaches the average American consumer and what the beef industry will need to do to make beef an integral part of the consumption experience in this new world.

The report finds that of food purchased for in-home consumption, approximately 20 percent will be purchased online by 2025. These online purchases include not only traditionally packaged groceries but also complete meals packaged for home preparation in the meal kit category.

“Changes in where consumers buy groceries, when they buy, and what they buy will inevitably force changes all the way through the supply chain. Nowhere will these changes be more dramatic than in perishables such as meat,” notes report author and RaboResearch Food & Agribusiness Senior Protein Analyst Don Close. “

The report goes on to note that access to a broader pool of customers independent of geography provides online shopping outlets with the ability to meet a wider variety of customer requests than brick and mortar stores; customers who want branded products or prime graded products can be supplied, as can the conventional shopper who wants the mid-range of choice product. This holds true for customers who want a natural, NHTC, organic, or antibiotic-free product, and even for customers who want grass-fed product. Customer pools are large enough for the supplier to be able to fulfil their niche expectations.

“These niche desires will result in additional demands on cattle quality and production specifications, which will lead to a wider price spread across all classes of cattle, as well as a more detailed premium and discount schedule,” notes Close.  “These changes are indicative of a permanent change in the way food reaches the average American consumer—and if the beef industry is to ward off any further decline in beef consumption, it must embrace these changes and make beef an integral part of the consumption experience, regardless of where it is purchased,” notes Close.

Thursday January 25 Ag News

2018 Beef Feedlot Roundtables in Bridgeport, Lexington, West Point

Beef feedlot managers, owners, employees and supporting industry personnel will learn new information related to feedlot nutrition and health at Nebraska Extension’s 2018 Beef Feedlot Roundtables Feb. 6-8 in Bridgeport, Lexington and West Point.

University and industry representatives will speak about new disease emergence, euthanization protocols for cattle, impact of calf nutrition on the cow, BQA transportation issues, and other timely nutrition topics for feedlot operators.

Preregistration is available by phone, fax, e-mail or mail, and requested by Feb. 2. Cost is $20 for those who preregister, and will be accepted at the door. Cost for those who have not preregistered will be $40.

Registration begins at 12:30 p.m. at each location with welcome and introduction at 1 p.m. Roundtables will conclude at 4:45 p.m. Refreshments will be served at the meeting.

Exact dates and locations are as follows:
-    BRIDGEPORT: Feb. 6, Prairie Winds Community Center, 428 N Main St.
-    LEXINGTON: Feb. 7, Dawson County Extension Office, 1002 Plum Creek Parkway
-    WEST POINT: Feb. 8, Nielsen Community Center, 200 Anna Stalp Ave.

For more information or to request a registration form contact Galen Erickson at 402-472-6402 or

2018 Beef Feedlot Roundtables are sponsored by Nebraska Extension and the Nebraska Beef Council.

UNL Grain Marketing Plan app is now available for Android devices

The Grain Marketing Plan mobile application from Nebraska Extension aims to help farmers manage their operations in a rapidly changing price environment. The free Grain Marketing Plan app is now available for Android devices for users marketing corn, soybeans or winter wheat.

The app can help farmers develop customizable grain marketing plans pre- or post-harvest. It has a built-in reminder system so that once a farmer has entered decisions into their plan, he or she will receive alerts once a decision trigger has been hit. The decision triggers can be set up based on a target time or futures price. It is one of the first apps of its kind to allow users to not only view futures price information, but interact with them.

You can download the app from the Google Play store. 

New Site Gives Midwest Farmers Easy Access to Crop Management Resources

Farmers and agribusiness have a new tool to help them tackle crop management challenges. The Crop Protection Network, a multi-state and international collaboration of university and provincial extension specialists, has redesigned its website at

In addition to the corn and soybean publications it is known for, the site now offers videos, newsletter and blog articles, featured articles, and Twitter updates from CPN partners on important crop management issues. The website also features an encyclopedia of field crop diseases designed to help farmers identify diseases using extensive image galleries and keywords to filter results.

“The new website still has all of the great CPN content that users are familiar with, but also adds new resources, and will be updated frequently,” said Kiersten Wise, University of Kentucky Extension plant pathologist, and co-director of CPN. "Our goal is to help farmers make crop management decisions with relevant and timely information.”

Over 45 extension specialists from land-grant universities and CPN partner institutions help develop content, which means that stakeholders can trust that the information they see on the website and in the publications is research-based.

“Farmers and agricultural personnel will be provided with information to help with decisions to protect field crops," said Daren Mueller, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach plant pathologist and co-director of CPN. "Information on wheat management and other crops will be added in 2018, expanding resources for farmers.”

Visit the new Crop Protection Network website at .

USDA Livestock Slaughter - Record High Pork Production for December

Commercial red meat production for the United States totaled 4.40 billion pounds in December, up slightly from the 4.40 billion pounds produced in December 2016.

Beef production, at 2.15 billion pounds, was 1 percent below the previous year. Cattle slaughter totaled 2.58 million head, down 1 percent from December 2016. The average live weight was down 2 pounds from the previous year, at 1,379 pounds.

Veal production totaled 6.6 million pounds, 4 percent below December a year ago. Calf slaughter totaled 46,400 head, down 5 percent from December 2016. The average live weight was up 5 pounds from last year, at 245 pounds.

Pork production totaled 2.23 billion pounds, up 1 percent from the previous year. Hog slaughter totaled 10.5 million head, down slightly from December 2016. The average live weight was up 3 pounds from the previous year, at 286 pounds.

Lamb and mutton production, at 12.8 million pounds, was down 2 percent from December 2016. Sheep slaughter totaled 188,100 head, 5 percent below last year. The average live weight was 136 pounds, up 3 pounds from December a year ago.

By State          (1,000 lbs   -    % Dec '16)

Nebraska ......:     675.8             99      
Iowa .............:     642.0            103      
Kansas ..........:     482.4            103      

January to December 2017 commercial red meat production was 52.0 billion pounds, up 3 percent from 2016. Accumulated beef production was up 4 percent from last year, veal was down 1 percent, pork was up 3 percent from last year, and lamb and mutton production was down 3 percent.

Beef Board’s 2017 Annual Report Released

The 2017 Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board (CBB) Annual Report is now available to provide results of Beef Checkoff programs to the beef producers and importers who invest in this national self-help program. A summarized version of the report is available here, with links to download the full report available within..... 

Included in the annual report is a letter from CBB Chairman Brett Morris and an overview of revenues and expenditures for fiscal 2017. In addition, you’ll find summaries of results from each Beef Board budget category; these include promotion, research, consumer information, industry information, foreign marketing and producer communications.

The goal of the publication is to provide financial transparency to beef producers and importers who invest into the checkoff and disclosure about all that was accomplished with the funds received.

“As a producer, I couldn’t have understood all the thought and process that goes into the consideration of every single dollar invested if not for this honor of being your chairman.,” said chairman Morris.   “From the long hours invested into the Long Range Plan to the time our checkoff program committees spend scoring and analyzing every authorization request before it is brought before the Operating Committee for funding consideration.

“With every hurdle the checkoff meets, I am reminded of the importance of communication and transparency.  I hope this annual report helps any producer who has ever wondered where their checkoff investment is used.  We’ve revamped the layout, making the information easier to find and more interesting to read.  Please click through and take in all the hard work of everyone who works to make your checkoff a success.”

Syngenta herbicides cleared for tank mixes on Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® soybeans and Bollgard II® XtendFlex® cotton

Syngenta has received confirmation from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that several Syngenta herbicide tank-mix options have been cleared for inclusion with both XtendiMax® with VaporGrip® Technology and Engenia® herbicides. These herbicides will be available for use on Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® soybeans and Bollgard II® XtendFlex® cotton traits, providing growers with additional weed management options in 2018.

Syngenta herbicide tank-mix options* now include the following products:
    BroadAxe® XC
    Dual Magnum®
    Flexstar® (currently for XtendiMax only)

“The Syngenta soybean and cotton portfolios provide the most effective dicamba spray programs through overlapping residual applications and multiple effective modes of action,” said John Appel, herbicide product lead, Syngenta. “For example, a soybean program of Boundary followed by dicamba plus Sequence provides residual control and includes four different modes of action – offering growers peace of mind against even the toughest weeds.”

University researchers stress the importance of diversifying modes of action within a weed management system. In continuous crop systems with early and late post-emergence applications with one mode of action, resistance can lead to weed control failure in as little as two years. By comparison, the addition of a pre-emergence herbicide with two effective modes of action can delay resistance for 18 to 20 years in most cases.

Using residual herbicide tank mixes with dicamba is also necessary to help delay the onset of resistance to the technology. “Unless dicamba is used responsibly in combination with other pre- and post-emergence herbicides, the technology will be over-extended and eventually fail,” said Appel. “We can’t afford to put the kind of selection pressure on dicamba as was done to glyphosate.”

All of the recently cleared Syngenta herbicide tank mixes have been tested according to EPA approved protocol, and the results are certified in accordance to the terms and conditions of registration for XtendiMax and Engenia.

Syngenta herbicides cleared for tank mixing with XtendiMax and Engenia may be used only once listed on the following websites, which will happen within 90 days of EPA clearance: and Syngenta does not recommend using any dicamba herbicide tank mixes until they are posted on these websites.

Grain Export Mission Shows Members Market Development Process In Morocco

Corn, barley and sorghum farmers from across the United States traveled to Morocco as part of the U.S. Grains Council's (USGC's) annual Grain Export Mission (GEM) to learn about how the Council’s programs have contributed to the development of the livestock industry in Morocco.

The USGC Grain Export Mission visited the first large commercial dairy in Morocco, established with the help of the Council.

“The GEM is designed to show its members how the Council carries out its mission,” said Martin Kerschen, leader of the USGC Middle East/Africa Advisory Team and farmer from Kansas. “We visited feed mills, dairies, fruit farms, poultry operations and, most importantly, the importers of our grains to learn their needs and wants and how we might facilitate any contributions through the Council.”

Morocco is home to 40 million people and a rapidly expanding commercial feed sector, driven primarily by growth in poultry and dairy production over the past 15 years. Morocco has more than doubled corn imports from one million metric tons (40 million bushels) in 2003 to 2.5 million tons (98 million bushels) in 2017. The country is now also a strong importer of U.S. distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS), at 230,000 tons in 2017.

Eleven producers from Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Texas and Virginia spent a week with their customers in Morocco, where the Council has worked for 23 years. Their primary goal was to learn about growth in demand for meat, milk and eggs by Moroccan consumers as well as how Moroccan buyers access the U.S. feed grains market. Participants also heard firsthand about the realities of the competition they, U.S. farmers, face from other grain exporters in this market.

“Until you get to see it firsthand, you do not really get the full vision of what the Council is doing on the ground,” said Chad Willis, member of the USGC Board of Directors and a farmer from Minnesota. “I think the mission just opened everyone’s eyes.”

The Grain Export Mission aims to show members how the Council achieves all three components of the Council’s mission - developing markets, enabling trade and improving lives. Willis said Morocco is an excellent example of this totality since the Council has worked there to both build the market and a model for market development in other countries like Tanzania. The Council is also partnering with the Moroccan Poultry Association (known as FISA) to sponsor train-the-trainers programs for poultry producers in West Africa at a training facility in Casablanca.

The work to expand the market also continues within Morocco, notably with local dairy cooperatives.

"Seeing how they are working to uplift the whole area through a value-added cooperative, much like we have in the states, was very impressive to the group," Willis said. "Seeing it in action was pretty interesting - they know the more income the farmers receive, they can spend and uplift the entire community."

“This effort is a win-win for U.S. producers," Kerschen said, "helping increase U.S. feed grains exports to Morocco while improving the lives of Moroccan farmers and consumers through trade.”

CattleFax Cow-Calf Survey Released

CattleFax has introduced its Cow-Calf Survey, sponsored by Ritchie Waterers. Information requested in the survey provides participants and the rest of the industry with valuable information regarding industry benchmarks and trends.

Survey participants will receive a results summary packet, with useful information that will allow managers and owners to evaluate their own operations. Items such as cow-calf profitability, tendencies of high and low return producers, regional data and other valuable information are included.

By completing the survey and submitting a valid email address, participants will also be entered into a drawing to win a FREE CattleFax Membership*. (To be entered to win a free membership and receive the full results, a valid email address must be submitted. However, all individual results will be confidential and remain anonymous.)

The survey can be accessed by going to and selecting the About tab at the top of the page, which contains a link for the survey!/about. The deadline is Feb. 23, 2018.

For questions or concerns please contact Ethan Oberst, Market Analyst, at 800-825-7525, or

*Five one year Select level memberships or the equivalent value to be credited to a current account ($200) will be given away. To be considered in the drawing a participant must complete the entire survey and submit a valid email address. Winners will be selected by a random number generator, and will be contacted via email after the survey closes.

NCGA Task Force Tackles Complex but Critical Climate Issue

Family farmers face daily challenges from low prices to battling insect and weed pests but today they are digging deeper to find a new resiliency in their management tactics as they face weather extremes.  Heavier rainfall, more total rain, changing growing seasons, warmer night-time temperatures, shifting frost dates, and higher total CO2 levels frame the climate puzzle.

The National Corn Growers Association's Climate Task Force is working to better understand these developments and conducted its third meeting this week in Chicago. However, the meetings follow months of study and engagement to have a clearer picture of emerging agronomic challenges.

"Attaining profitability and sustainability in tandem are key goals for corn farmers. Changes in climate patterns have short- and long-term implications for farmers who provide feed, food and fuel for the world," said Keith Alverson, chairman of the Climate Task Force. "This producer-led, multi-disciplinary team is charged with examining climate implications and opportunities for the corn industry. It's really about being a resilient farmer and being prepared for what Mother Nature presents."

Although farmers dominate the Task Force, Alverson, a farmer from Chester, South Dakota, notes it also includes outside members representing allied industry, food companies, university scientists, environmental interests and economists.

The key charge of the Task Force is to identify threats and opportunities for corn farmers arising from possible policy or market changes related to climate and greenhouse gas reductions both domestically and internationally.

"The U.S. may have withdrawn from the Paris Climate Accord, but interest remains alive in other quarters as witnessed by the recently surfaced carbon tax in Washington state. We also see a stream of announcements from business and industry related to CO2 reduction goals," Alverson said. "NCGA has a responsibility to our members to conduct economic analysis to determine financial threats or opportunities stemming from climate market or policy changes."

NCGA's work is also focused on identifying educational tools or opportunities that could be used to encourage U.S. corn farmers to access carbon markets and/or adopt carbon-neutral farm practices.

"We have a lot of positive and progressive change underway and it is already reflected through NCGA's programming related to the Soil Health Partnership, Field to Market,  our carbon life cycle assessment, nutrient management planning, production improvements and our work with the North American Climate Smart Agricultural Alliance," Alverson said.

Senate Hearing to Explore Opportunities to Support Domestic Seafood Through Aquaculture

Next week, a Senate hearing will explore future possibilities of domestic aquaculture.  Sen. John Thune, chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation will convene the hearing titled, “Growing the Future: Opportunities to Support Domestic Seafood Through Aquaculture,” at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 30.

-    Dr. Kelly Lucas, director of the Marine Aquaculture Center, University of Southern Mississippi
-    Mark Luecke, managing director and CEO, Prairie AquaTech
-    Donald Kent, president and CEO, Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute
-    Barton Seaver, chef and author

Prairie Aquatech is a Soy Aquaculture Alliance (SAA) member, along with the American Soybean Association (ASA). The SAA works to fund programs and research that increases the utilization of U.S. soybeans in the diets of fish and shrimp.

Witness testimony, opening statements, and a live video of the hearing will be available on

2018 Alltech Global Feed Survey estimates world feed production in excess of 1 billion metric tons for second consecutive year

The 2018 Alltech Global Feed Survey, released today, estimates that international feed tonnage has exceeded 1 billion metric tons for the second consecutive year, with a total of 1.07 billion metric tons of feed produced in 2017. The growth seen in 2017 was strong at 2.57 percent over last year. The feed industry, valued at $430 billion, has seen 13 percent growth over the past five years, equating to an average of 2.49 percent per annum. This substantial growth is supported by the higher reported consumption of meat, milk and eggs.

The seventh edition of the annual survey is the most comprehensive ever, now covering 144 countries and more than 30,000 feed mills. The results show that China and the U.S. remain the top two countries, producing one-third of all animal feed, and that predominant growth came from the pig, broiler and dairy feed sectors as well as the European and Asia-Pacific regions.

“Now in its seventh year of analysis, the Alltech Global Feed Survey continues to serve as a valuable report on the state of the global feed industry,” said Aidan Connolly, chief innovation officer and vice president of corporate accounts at Alltech. “In addition to its insights into the feed industry, it serves as a barometer for agriculture as a whole and oftentimes demonstrates the economic strength of the countries included in the survey.”

The Alltech Global Feed Survey assesses compound feed production and prices through information collected by Alltech’s global sales team and in partnership with local feed associations in the last quarter of 2017. It is intended to serve as an information resource for policymakers, decision-makers and industry stakeholders.

The top seven feed-producing countries in 2017, in order of production output importance, were China, the U.S., Brazil, Russia, Mexico, India and Spain. These countries contain approximately 54 percent of the world’s feed mills and account for 53 percent of total production. These countries can be viewed as an indicator of the trends in agriculture.

Regional results from the 2018 Alltech Global Feed Survey

·        North America: The U.S. remains the second-largest feed-producing country globally, behind China. North America produces a third of the beef feed, five times that of the next-largest producer. The U.S. and Canada are two of the top horse feed producing countries. Feed prices in North America are lower than when compared to other regions.
·        Latin America: Brazil remained the leader in feed production for the region and third overall globally. Brazil, Mexico and Argentina account for almost 75 percent of regional feed production. Mexico leads the region in beef and layer feed production. Latin America as a region has had the third-highest growth rate over five years, seen primarily in aqua, horses and pets.
·        Europe: Tied with Asia-Pacific for the fastest-growing regions, Europe saw a 3 percent feed tonnage growth, resulting from increases in pig, boiler and aqua feed production. The region was led by Russia with 37.6 million tons produced in 2017, moving up in the country rankings from number seven to number four. Russia increased its estimated pig feed, including more private production. Russian broiler feed production also increased by 3 percent, while Ukraine, Romania, the U.K. and Belgium also reported higher numbers, supporting growth in the European region. Europe is the top pet food producing region.
·        Asia-Pacific: The Asia-Pacific region accounts for more than 35 percent of the world’s feed tonnage. China remained the top feed-producing country in the world with 186.86 million metric tons, a slight decline in overall feed production compared to last year. Asia-Pacific increased by 3 percent over the 2017 survey results, primarily due to increases in pig and pet food production. Increased production for Asia-Pacific also came from India with 7 percent and Thailand with 8 percent growth. Vietnam grew 4 percent over the past year and is the second-highest producer of pig and aqua feed in the Asia-Pacific region. Seventy percent of all aqua feed and 44 percent of all layer feed is produced in Asia-Pacific countries.
·        Africa: Africa remains the fastest growing region in the world for dairy and broiler feeds.  With a regional average growth rate of nearly 30 percent over the last five years, it did not show growth in 2017. Pig, dairy, layer and boiler feed production increased, while decreases occurred in beef and aquaculture. Also, on average, Africa is the most expensive region for feeding pigs, layers and broilers. Smaller countries such as Botswana and Mozambique led the growth for pig, dairy, layer and broiler feeds. Beef feed production decreases were reflected in countries such as Zambia and Morocco. While many African nations showed a small increase in aquaculture feed production, the region as a whole was down primarily because of lower reported feed production in Egypt, which has now been surpassed by Nigeria.

Notable species results from the 2018 Alltech Global Feed Survey

·        In the poultry industry, broiler feed production increased across all regions, with the largest growth found in Africa with 10 percent and Europe with 7 percent. Romania, Russia and Ukraine all reported steady growth, contributing to Europe’s overall production, while Africa’s growth came primarily from Egypt, Uganda and Mozambique.
·        Global leaders in pork production, China and Russia, led the way in pig feed production in 2017. Many smaller African countries, particularly Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Uganda and Namibia, also showed increases. 
·        Global dairy feed production saw growth across all regions. Europe, a global leader in dairy production, grew on average by approximately 2 percent. Africa as a region saw the largest dairy feed production increase by 10 percent, with countries such as South Africa, Morocco and Zimbabwe showing significant increases from their reported 2017 dairy feed production.
·        Beef feed production reported an overall global decline of approximately 1 percent, primarily in regions such as Latin America, Africa and Europe. This global downward trend has generally been felt by the industry for some time as more consumers turn to “white” meats such as chicken, pork and fish.
·        Overall aquaculture feeds showed a slight increase, particularly in the European and Asia-Pacific regions. China reported a decline of 5 percent this year and in 2016, which could be linked to government controls on feeding practices and food safety, such as the administration of antibiotics. Brazil, Chile and Peru led the increase in production in Latin America, as did Iran in the Middle East. Carp leads the production of aquaculture feed, followed by shrimp/prawn and tilapia. Catfish, salmon and trout also ranked on the species feed indicator, though to lesser degrees.
·        The pet food sector had a strong year across all regions. Asia-Pacific’s pet food production increased by 13 percent, with China, Thailand and Taiwan as the primary contributors to the increase. Europe increased by 17 percent with Russia, the Czech Republic, Romania, Poland and Hungary producing over 580,000 metric tons of additional pet food. Uruguay, Ecuador, El Salvador, Chile and Argentina represent almost all of the pet food production growth in Latin America, combining for 725,000 more tons.

“The Alltech Global Feed Survey provides valuable data and insights on the health of the feed industry and agriculture as a whole,” said Connolly. “As such, we will continue to offer the findings of the feed survey freely in an effort to demonstrate the significance of the animal feed industry in feeding a growing global population, sustainably and affordably.”

Soy Growers Urge Congress to Pass Tax Extenders

Soy growers are urging Congress to pass a seamless multi-year extension of the “tax extenders” as soon as possible.  The American Soybean Association (ASA) joined a range of several business, transportation, energy and ag stakeholders in a letter this week to both House and Senate leaders, stating the extension of these tax provisions is vital to the economy and jobs.

“The expiration of these tax provisions in 2016, and the failure to extend them before the end of 2017, has negatively impacted businesses and individuals that make important planning decisions based on tax policy,” the groups state in the letter. “Every day that these provisions remain lapsed creates further confusion and uncertainty for taxpayers, while needlessly undermining economic growth and job creation in the private sector.”

Wheat Organizations from the U.S., Canada, and Mexico Call for Successful NAFTA Agreement

Today, organizations along the North American wheat value chain sent a letter to President Trump, President Peña Nieto, Prime Minister Trudeau, as well as with lead negotiators from each country, Ambassador Lighthizer, Minister Freeland, and Minister Guajardo, stressing the importance of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to the wheat industry. Ranging from seed to bread and baked goods, key groups from the wheat value chain signed onto the letter.

“As we enter the sixth round of negotiations, it’s important to remember that NAFTA created the world's largest free trade area between the United States, Mexico, and Canada,” said Gordon Stoner, President of the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) and a wheat farmer from Outlook, Mont. “NAFTA has benefited not only wheat growers but all our partners along the entire value chain from farmers to consumers and everyone in between. The fact that wheat producers and end users from all three countries would speak with one voice about the importance of NAFTA should speak volumes to our leaders.”

“The relationship between U.S. wheat farmers and Mexican flour millers and wheat food companies took off with NAFTA,” said Mike Miller, Chairman of U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) and a wheat farmer from Ritzville, Wash. “It is a highly successful partnership, with tariff-free access, that helped make Mexico our largest customer the past two years and supports revenue for wheat farmers from dozens of states.”

In the letter, the groups emphasized that an updated trade deal is critical to ensure that all of us can work together to provide the highest quality products at the greatest value for both the supply chain and consumers. Further, the letter states that an integrated supply chain between the three countries is only effective with NAFTA in place.

“The industry understands the need to modernize the 23-year-old agreement, but it must be done in a way that benefits the food and agriculture sectors in all three countries,” continued Stoner. “It’s critical that all parties remember during the negotiations that when one link breaks, the entire chain is weakened.”

The following organizations signed the letter: American Bakers Association; Cámara Nacional de la Industria Molinera de Trigo (National Chamber of Industrial Wheat Millers, Mexico); Cereals Canada; NAWG; North American Millers’ Association; USW; Western Canadian Wheat Growers.

Wednesday January 24 Ag News

Trump Urged to Find Markets for Agriculture Commodities on Anniversary of TPP Withdraw

On the one-year anniversary of President Trump signing an executive order withdrawing the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Nebraska Farm Bureau urged President Trump to find new markets for Nebraska agricultural commodities.

“While the outlook of international demand for U.S. agricultural products remains strong, it is clear the U.S. missed a massive opportunity to expand exports to a growing region of the world,” wrote Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson in a Jan. 23 letter to President Trump. “Today we ask you and your administration to renew and strengthen your efforts to find new markets for our state and nation’s agricultural products.”

The missed opportunities for expanded Nebraska agricultural trade through the TPP agreement were further highlighted by the recent announcement that the 10 remaining partner countries intend to finalize the TPP agreement by early March, without U.S. involvement.

“With today’s announcement from the remaining TPP member nations, countries such as Australia, Japan’s largest beef trading partner, continue to have competitive advantage over U.S. farmers and ranchers. Your action to pull the U.S. out of the TPP reset the clock and put our trade negotiators and our nation’s farmers and ranchers back at square one with some of our largest potential trading partners,” Nelson wrote.

Nebraska ranks in the top five among all states in the value of its agricultural exports in USDA’s most recent calculations. Nebraska agricultural exports reached an estimated $6.4 billion in 2015, up from $4.8 billion in 2009. International trade not only impacts farmers and ranchers, but it also plays a major role in the success or failure of Nebraska’s broader economy. As Nebraska’s largest industry, agriculture accounts for more than 40 percent of the state’s economic output and nearly 24 percent of the state’s workforce. Lower prices for virtually every agriculture commodity produced in Nebraska has lowered farm income, leading to significant state revenue shortfalls as a direct result of the weakened agriculture sector.

“The TPP agreement would have provided Nebraska with a $378.5 million yearly boost in agricultural cash receipts and increased net agricultural exports by $229.2 million per year. Along with the monetary increases, the TPP agreement was projected to create 1,730 new Nebraska jobs,” wrote Nelson. “Nations around the world are actively working to expand their agricultural markets. Our farm and ranch families cannot be left behind.”


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

Ponds and creeks often dry up.  If you use them to water your cattle, maybe it is time to develop a more reliable water source.

Many ponds and creeks dry up during dry weather.  Maybe rain will replenish them this spring, but shouldn’t you ask yourself “is this the best way to water my cattle during summer?”  This might be a good time to develop more wells or pipelines to reliably put water into tanks.

Tank water can be cooler and offer easier access than ponds or creeks.   It often is healthier for cattle, and they usually prefer it to ponds or creeks.  When cows walk into ponds and creeks, they stir mud and sediments into the water and often deposit animal wastes.  No wonder calves consistently choose tank water over ponds when given a choice!

Investing in tanks probably will actually pay for itself.  Reports from South Dakota, Montana, Oregon, Canada, and elsewhere show that the higher water quality found in tanks can increase cattle gains.  Calves can weigh an extra 50 pounds at weaning when tank water is available instead of dirty ponds.  Yearling steers can gain an extra three to four tenths of a pound per day.  With this much added performance, pumping water out of ponds, creeks, or wells and into tanks, or laying down pipelines, can pay off in just a few years.  And if it’s a question of having water or not having water, the payoff is even more immediate.

In addition, pumping water into tanks usually improves grazing distribution by attracting cattle to graze areas near the tanks instead of spending time standing in or around the ponds or creek.  This can increase your pasture’s carrying capacity or grazing season.

Think of it — better grazing, higher gains, and reliable water.  So much to gain and so little to lose.


Difficulty filling manufacturing and irrigation jobs are a major problem that faces the manufacturing and irrigation industry.  Reinke is on the move to solve the problems of these shortages and create solutions with job training.

A skilled labor shortage is being addressed by providing student scholarships for workforce training for the manufacturing industry. It's crucial to bridge the skills gap, and that's where Reinke Manufacturing's partnership comes into play with the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture (NCTA) in Curtis.

Reinke Manufacturing has teamed with NCTA to offer an Irrigation Technician Area of Concentration. This 34-credit, hands-on program helps students obtain knowledge in electricity and mechanized irrigation systems. Reinke Manufacturing's partnership offers access to the Reinke PLUS Certification program.

"If you learn hands on, this is an awesome program for you," said Collin Overmann, NCTA student in Curtis. "There's always different companies calling our program expressing their need for technicians, so [job] placement is pretty good."

Since 2012, Reinke Manufacturing has donated thousands in scholarship funds to students enrolled in NCTA classes focusing on the Irrigation Technician concentration. Reinke Irrigation dealers including Holdrege Irrigation are a key component in the success of this program by providing students the opportunity to set forth a career plan in irrigation.

"Reinke is honored to support students focused on technical skills especially with the shortage of skilled labor," said Reinke President Chris Roth.

For details, see


Milk production in Nebraska during the October- December 2017 quarter totaled 364 million pounds, up 4 percent from the October-December quarter last year, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. The average number of milk cows was 60,000 head, unchanged from the same period last year.

October-December Milk Production up 1.1 Percent

Milk production in the United States during the October - December quarter totaled 53.1 billion pounds, up 1.1 percent from the October - December quarter last year.  The average number of milk cows in the United States during the quarter was 9.40 million head, 3,000 head less than the July - September quarter, but 55,000 head more than the same period last year.

December Milk Production up 1.2 Percent

Milk production in the 23 major States during December totaled 17.0 billion pounds, up 1.2 percent from December 2016. November revised production at 16.2 billion pounds, was up 1.0 percent from November 2016. The November revision represented a decrease of 24 million pounds or 0.1 percent from last month's preliminary production estimate.

Production per cow in the 23 major States averaged 1,943 pounds for December, 11 pounds above December 2016. This is the highest production per cow for the month of December since the 23 State series began in 2003.

The number of milk cows on farms in the 23 major States was 8.74 million head, 54,000 head more than December 2016, and 3,000 head more than November 2017.Iowa Milk Production

Iowa:  Milk production in Iowa during December 2017 totaled 442 million pounds, up 4 percent from the previous December according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Milk Production report. The average number of milk cows during December, at 220,000 head, was 1,000 more than last month and 5,000 more than last year. Monthly production per cow averaged 2,010 pounds, up 30 pounds from last December.

ISU sophomore is 2018 Iowa Pork Queen

The Iowa Pork Producers Association has selected a young woman from Altoona to serve as the 2018 Iowa Pork Queen and lead the Iowa Pork Youth Leadership Team during the coming year.

Jordan Travis bested nine other young women at tonight's 46th annual Iowa Pork Congress banquet in Des Moines. She is a sophomore at Iowa State University and is majoring in animal science. The daughter of Sean and Darcy Travis of Altoona has an immense passion for swine and hopes to have a career in human resource management for a large swine company after graduation. She will represent Story County during her year-long reign.

The only two young men among the 12 total contestants competing to serve on the 2018 Iowa Pork Youth Leadership Team were both selected as youth pork ambassadors. Spencer Cook of Winthrop in Buchanan County and Cole Spain of Castalia in Fayette County will both join Travis on the new team.

Cook is the son of Aaron and Trish Cook of Winthrop. He is a senior at East Buchanan High School and plans to study agricultural business at ISU in the fall. Spencer looks forward to advocating for farmers and being a voice for the agricultural industry.

Spain is the son of Vince and Stephanie Spain of Castalia. He is a freshman at ISU and is pursuing a degree in agricultural education. Cole is minoring in animal science. He hopes to one day return to northeast Iowa and become an agricultural education teacher, while expanding his show pig herd.

All 12 contestants participated in interviewing and communications exercises at the Iowa Pork Congress this week and were judged on their skills, poise, presentation and overall knowledge of the pork industry and Iowa agriculture.

The top female contestant is crowned pork queen and the top remaining contestants, male or female, are named youth ambassadors. Each receives a $4,000 scholarship from IPPA.

The new youth leadership team members will represent IPPA at various pork promotional and educational events throughout the year.

The 2017 Iowa Pork Youth Leadership Team of Queen Clare Conley of Cherokee in Cherokee County and ambassadors McKenna Brinning of Keota in Washington County and Dylan Riedemann of Calumet in O'Brien County concluded their terms with farewell speeches at tonight's banquet.

Perdue Announces USDA’s Farm Bill and Legislative Principles for 2018

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Bill and Legislative Principles for 2018 during a town hall at Reinford Farms in Mifflintown, Pennsylvania.

“Since my first day as the Secretary of Agriculture, I’ve traveled to 30 states, listening to the people of American agriculture about what is working and what is not. The conversations we had and the people we came across helped us craft USDA’s Farm Bill and Legislative Principles for 2018,” said Secretary Perdue. “These principles will be used as a road map – they are our way of letting Congress know what we’ve heard from the hard-working men and women of American agriculture. While we understand it’s the legislature’s job to write the Farm Bill, USDA will be right there providing whatever counsel Congress may request or require.”

USDA’s 2018 Farm Bill and Legislative Principles:


-    Provide a farm safety net that helps American farmers weather times of economic stress without distorting markets or increasing shallow loss payments.
-    Promote a variety of innovative crop insurance products and changes, enabling farmers to make sound production decisions and to manage operational risk.
-    Encourage entry into farming through increased access to land and capital for young, beginning, veteran and underrepresented farmers.
-    Ensure that voluntary conservation programs balance farm productivity with conservation benefits so the most fertile and productive lands remain in production while land retired for conservation purposes favors more environmentally sensitive acres.
-    Support conservation programs that ensure cost-effective financial assistance for improved soil health, water and air quality and other natural resource benefits.


-    Improve U.S. market competitiveness by expanding investments, strengthening accountability of export promotion programs, and incentivizing stronger financial partnerships.
-    Ensure the Farm Bill is consistent with U.S. international trade laws and obligations.
-    Open foreign markets by increasing USDA expertise in scientific and technical areas to more effectively monitor foreign practices that impede U.S. agricultural exports and engage with foreign partners to address them.


-    Harness America’s agricultural abundance to support nutrition assistance for those truly in need.
-    Support work as the pathway to self-sufficiency, well-being, and economic mobility for individuals and families receiving supplemental nutrition assistance.
-    Strengthen the integrity and efficiency of food and nutrition programs to better serve our participants and protect American taxpayers by reducing waste, fraud and abuse through shared data, innovation, and technology modernization.
-    Encourage state and local innovations in training, case management, and program design that promote self-sufficiency and achieve long-term, stability in employment. 
-    Assure the scientific integrity of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans process through greater transparency and reliance on the most robust body of scientific evidence.
-    Support nutrition policies and programs that are science based and data driven with clear and measurable outcomes for policies and programs.


-    Enhance our partnerships and the scientific tools necessary to prevent, mitigate, and where appropriate, eradicate harmful plant and animal pests and diseases impacting agriculture.
-    Safeguard our domestic food supply and protect animal health through modernization of the tools necessary to bolster biosecurity, prevention, surveillance, emergency response, and border security.
-    Protect the integrity of the USDA organic certified seal and deliver efficient, effective oversight of organic production practices to ensure organic products meet consistent standards for all producers, domestic and foreign.
-    Ensure USDA is positioned appropriately to review production technologies if scientifically required to ensure safety, while reducing regulatory burdens.
-    Foster market and growth opportunities for specialty crop growers while reducing regulatory burdens that limit their ability to be successful.


-    Protect public health and prevent foodborne illness by committing the necessary resources to ensure the highest standards of inspection, with the most modern tools and scientific methods available.
-    Support and enhance FSIS programs to ensure efficient regulation and the safety of meat, poultry and processed egg products, including improved coordination and clarity on execution of food safety responsibilities.
-    Continue to focus USDA resources on products and processes that pose the greatest public health risk.


-    Commit to a public research agenda that places the United States at the forefront of food and agriculture scientific development.
-    Develop an impact evaluation approach, including the use of industry panels, to align research priorities to invest in high priority innovation, technology, and education networks.
-    Empower public-private partnerships to leverage federal dollars, increase capacity, and investments in infrastructure for modern food and agricultural science.
-    Prioritize investments in education, training and the development of human capital to ensure a workforce capable of meeting the growing demands of food and agriculture science. 
-    Develop and apply integrated advancement in technology needed to feed a growing and hungry world.


-    Create consistency and flexibility in programs that will foster collaboration and assist communities in creating a quality of life that attracts and retains the next generation.
-    Expand and enhance the effectiveness of tools available to further connect rural American communities, homes, farms, businesses, first responders, educational facilities, and healthcare facilities to reliable and affordable high-speed internet services.
-    Partner with states and local communities to invest in infrastructure to support rural prosperity, innovation and entrepreneurial activity.
-    Provide the resources and tools that foster greater integration among programs, partners and the rural development customer.


-    Make America’s forests work again through proactive cost-effective management based on data and sound science.
-    Expand Good Neighbor Authority and increase coordination with states to promote job creation and improve forest health through shared stewardship and stakeholder input.
-    Reduce litigative risk and regulatory impediments to timely environmental review, sound harvesting, fire management and habitat protection to improve forest health while providing jobs and prosperity to rural communities.
-    Offer the tools and resources that incentivize private stewardship and retention of forest land.


-    Provide a fiscally responsible Farm Bill that reflects the Administration’s budget goals.
-    Enhance customer service and compliance by reducing regulatory burdens on USDA customers.
-    Modernize internal and external IT solutions to support the delivery of efficient, effective service to USDA customers.
-    Provide USDA full authority to responsibly manage properties and facilities under its jurisdiction.
-    Increase the effectiveness of tools and resources necessary to attract and retain a strong USDA workforce that reflects the citizens we serve.
-    Recognize the unique labor needs of agriculture and leverage USDA’s expertise to allow the Department to play an integral role in developing workforce policy to ensure farmers have access to a legal and stable workforce.
-    Grow and intensify program availability to increase opportunities for new, beginning, veteran, and underrepresented producers.

NMPF Statement on USDA’s 2018 Farm Bill & Legislative Principles

Jim Mulhern, President and CEO, NMPF:

“We are encouraged that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) principles for the next farm bill, released by Secretary Sonny Perdue on Wednesday, start with improving the farm safety net. The current farm bill’s dairy Margin Protection Program (MPP) has proven to be inadequate in providing help to America’s dairy farmers, and fixing it must be a priority in 2018.

“The USDA has taken significant steps at NMPF’s request in the past three years to improve the MPP, but more is needed. NMPF continues to work with USDA and lawmakers in the House and Senate to strengthen the MPP to ensure meaningful assistance for those relying on it, and to find ways to expand risk management options for farmers. Making the MPP a reliable program for dairy farmers is vital to encouraging future farmer participation in the program. Additional risk management tools are also critical for the future of our dairy farmer community. Raising the current expenditure cap on programs available under USDA’s Risk Management Agency is vital to increasing the toolbox of options for farmers.

“As we begin 2018, milk prices and on-farm dairy margins are poor. It’s time to expand access to risk management tools and rectify the flaws in the MPP to create a workable safety net for dairy farmers.”

USDA Cold Storage December 2017 Highlights

Total red meat supplies in freezers on December 31, 2017 were down 1 percent from the previous month and down 6 percent from last year. Total pounds of beef in freezers were up 1 percent from the previous month but down 14 percent from last year. Frozen pork supplies were down 2 percent from the previous month but up 3 percent from last year. Stocks of pork bellies were up 13 percent from last month and up 121 percent from last year.

Total frozen poultry supplies on December 31, 2017 were up 1 percent from the previous month and up 10 percent from a year ago. Total stocks of chicken were down 1 percent from the previous month but up 10 percent from last year. Total pounds of turkey in freezers were up 8 percent from last month and up 12 percent from December 31, 2016.

Total natural cheese stocks in refrigerated warehouses on December 31, 2017 were up 2 percent from the previous month and up 7 percent from December 31, 2016.  Butter stocks were up 6 percent from last month and up 2 percent from a year ago.

Total frozen fruit stocks were down 6 percent from last month and down 13 percent from a year ago.  Total frozen vegetable stocks were down 6 percent from last month but up 2 percent from a year ago.

Things to Consider as Beef Production Sales Ramp Up

Brian R. Williams, Assistant Extension Professor
Department of Agricultural Economics, Mississippi State University

The holidays are behind us, the spring calving season is just a few weeks away, and in just a few short months the grass will begin to green up across much of the country. It's the perfect time to attend a beef production sale. But there is much more to it than simply browsing through a sale catalog and picking out a bull or bred heifer that looks good. For most beef producers, decisions that are made this time of year will impact their operation for years to come. That is why it is important to very carefully consider all of the variables when making a purchasing decision regarding breeding stock. Here are a few things to consider:

What do I expect the markets to do over the next several years?

The expected direction of the markets should play a major role in the budgeted price for new breeding stock purchases. Pay too much and that new animal will lose money over the course of its productive lifespan. Set the budget too low and you could go home empty handed.

What characteristics are most important to me and how much am I willing to pay for them?

It is important to identify the most important things you are looking for in bull or a replacement heifer. Each characteristic often has its own tradeoffs. Purchasing breeding stock with low birth weights or better calving ease EPD's can reduce the chances of losing calves at birth, but low birth weights could also mean a smaller frame size or reduced weaning weights. A large frame size will often be associated with larger weaning weights, but can also mean higher feed costs and worse calving ease EPD's. Each of these are tradeoffs that an individual must weigh. Once the most important characteristics are identified, one must decide how much you are willing to pay for that characteristic. The better the EPD's are, the higher the price will be. What is the happy medium for your own operation? There really are no right or wrong answers to this question, and everyone at the sale will likely have a slightly different answer in terms of their preferences and willingness to pay for those preferences.

How will my breeding stock purchases impact the prices I receive for my calves?

Outside of show animal purchases, this is the question that everything should boil down to. Most producers are constantly trying to improve their herd genetics, but often those changes can be years in the making. Breeding stock purchases are an investment in the herd's future, and those decisions will impact the marketability of future calves. Cattle buyers have certain characteristics that they are willing to pay more (or less) for, so ultimately a herd's genetics will not only drive production aspects of a herd but also the price received for feeder calves.

Retail Fertilizer Prices Continue to Push Higher

For the third week in a row, average retail prices for all eight major fertilizers were higher the third week of January 2018, according to retailers surveyed by DTN.  Though prices for all fertilizers were higher, the price of only one fertilizer was up by a noteworthy amount. Anhydrous was up 5% compared to a month prior and had an average price of $485 per ton.

Prices for the remaining seven fertilizers were up just slightly. DAP had an average price of $456 per ton, MAP $491/ton, potash $345/ton, urea $355/ton, 10-34-0 $407/ton, UAN28 $226/ton and UAN32 $260/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 $0.40/lb.N and UAN32 $0.41/lb.N.

All but three fertilizers are now higher compared to last year with prices pushing higher in recent months. Anhydrous is 2% higher, urea is 3% more expensive, both DAP and potash are 6% higher and MAP is 11% more expensive.

Three fertilizers are still lower in price compared to a year prior. UAN32 is 3% lower while UAN28 is 4%, and 10-34-0 is 7% less expensive looking back a year.

Ethanol Stocks Soared to 23.8M Bbl

The Energy Information Administration showed in supply data released midmorning a buildup in U.S. ethanol stocks continued last week, reporting a 1.1 million bbl or 4.8% spike in domestic inventory for the week ended Jan. 19 to a record high of 23.8 million bbl. The increase was the fourth straight weekly stock build, with inventory 2.1 million bbl or 9.7% higher than year ago.

Domestic plant production was little changed, up 1,000 bpd to 1.062 million bpd last week. Compared with a year ago, plant output was up 11,000 bpd or 1.0%. For the four weeks ended Jan. 19, production averaged 1.038 million bpd, down 11,000 bpd or 1.1% versus year ago.

Net refiner and blender inputs, a measure for ethanol demand, dropped 30,000 bpd or 3.5% last week to 826,000 bpd. Compared to a year ago, blending demand was down 7,000 bpd or 0.8%. For the four-week period ended Jan. 19, blending demand averaged 833,000 bpd, up 2,000 bpd versus a year ago.

Industry honors biodiesel champions, reflects on history

As the U.S. biodiesel industry celebrates 25 years, the National Biodiesel Board’s annual awards recognize a diverse group of individuals and organizations who have made significant contributions to biodiesel. From long-time champions to present-day breakthroughs, the commercial biodiesel industry wouldn’t be where it is today without these individuals.

“The biodiesel industry has been built from visionary leaders all throughout our history,” said Donnell Rehagen, NBB CEO. “Reflecting on our relatively brief time as an industry reveals some truly remarkable achievements that serve as building blocks for where we are and where we intend to go. I’m proud to recognize this group of award winners as integral pieces of the biodiesel story.”

NBB recognizes the 2018 “Eye on Biodiesel” award winners throughout the week at the National Biodiesel Conference & Expo. The honorees are:

Stephen Censky – Pioneer Award. Deputy Secretary, United States Department of Agriculture

As the long-time CEO of the American Soybean Association, Censky was instrumental in the growth and advancement of biodiesel over the years. ASA’s primary focus as an organization is policy development and implementation of soybean farmer issues, including biodiesel. The organization, under Censky’s guidance as CEO from 1996 to 2017, played a critical role in passing the biodiesel tax incentive in 2005, and the inclusion of biodiesel in the revised Renewable Fuel Standard through their national network of farmer leaders and extensive grassroots advocacy power. As USDA Deputy Secretary, Censky continues to provide critical leadership on agricultural policies as he has done throughout his career. He has also served at USDA in the administrations of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, including as administrator of the Foreign Agricultural Service.

City of Seattle – Climate Leader Award

The City of Seattle is one of the leading biodiesel fleet users in America. Looking for ways to power their operations in a cleaner, more environmentally friendly way, city fleet directors turned to biodiesel for its carbon reduction benefits and ease of use. In 2014, the city enacted the Green Action Fleet Plan with a goal of reducing their carbon emissions by more than 40 percent by 2020. This began their use of B20 biodiesel blends. Seattle now uses nearly 200,000 gallons of biodiesel per year, significantly lowering their carbon emissions. Along with being an avid user of the fuel, the city also works proactively to educate other fleets who are interested in transitioning to biodiesel by attending and hosting workshops, speaking at national fleet and transportation events, and even partnering with NBB as a featured fleet in the 2015 national biodiesel advertising campaign. This role as a third-party validator is a critical piece of the puzzle to ensuring continued confidence in biodiesel.

Samuel P. “Pat” Black, III – Initiative Award. Founder & CEO, HERO BX.

With a vision to help revitalize Erie, Pennsylvania with a return to a booming manufacturing sector, Samuel P. “Pat” Black, III, founded Lake Erie Biofuels dba HERO BX in 2005. HERO BX bears witness to the commitment of Black to investing, creating, and managing companies with innovative products to capitalize on economic opportunities in the Lake Erie region and beyond with a focus on the creation of manufacturing jobs. He envisioned a company that would create meaningful jobs, spur technological innovation and produce eco-friendly products. HERO BX is the largest biodiesel plant in the Northeastern United States, and they operate a production facility in Moundville, Alabama, and a blending and distribution terminal in North Hampton, New Hampshire. November of 2017 marked the ten-year anniversary of the first production batch at the Erie plant and was celebrated across the HERO BX family. This year, Black combined his philanthropic mindset with his passion for biodiesel and commissioned a book, “The Biodiesel Solution,” to help bring the biodiesel story to a mainstream audience and to capture the early history and numerous achievements of the industry as a collective.

Mike Youngerberg – Impact Award. Director of Product Development & Commercialization, Minnesota Soybean

Since 1986, Mike Youngerberg has worked to advance soybean industry priorities as a member of the Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council and the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association staff. He has a passion for biodiesel and currently serves as the Executive Director of the Minnesota Biodiesel Council which represents the biodiesel producers and feedstock providers in the State. Youngerberg has served in a critical role in one of the most proactive biodiesel states in the country. In 2002, Minnesota passed landmark legislation requiring that diesel fuel sold in the state contain at least two percent biodiesel. The law was implemented on September 29, 2005, becoming the first state to require biodiesel blends. The program increased to B5 in May 2009, to B10 for the summer months in July 2014, and is scheduled to move to B20 on May 1, 2018. This tremendous growth faced challenges every step of the way and wouldn’t have been possible without strong leadership like Youngerberg’s.

Earl Christensen – Innovation Award. Senior Chemist, National Renewable Energy Lab

Confidence in biodiesel blends in the marketplace rely on sound scientific data. Christensen has been instrumental in conducting work related to biodiesel stability that has bolstered confidence in B20 by both Original Equipment Manufacturers and end-users alike. In his role at NREL, he has led critical efforts to analyze the positive benefits of stability enhancing additives in pure biodiesel, as well as the positive impacts of re-additizing B100 whose oxidative reserve has gone down over time. His recent work showed all samples of current market B20 biodiesel blends meeting today’s ASTM specifications had a minimum simulated shelf life of at least one year, with many samples having simulated shelf life of over three years. With re-additization, values were extended to over four years. This work shows that with biodiesel meeting industry specifications, using the proper handling and storage practices, it is possible for B20 to be stored as long or longer than petroleum diesel currently in the marketplace, potentially opening the door to new biodiesel markets where storage longer than one year is needed.

Tuesday January 23 Ag News

Dicamba Training Hefty Office Jan 30th
Jacob Gubbels, Hefty Seed - West Point

New requirements call for Dicamba specific training for applicators and operators in 2018. If you plan to buy or apply dicamba, join us Tuesday, January 30th from 10am to noon at the West Point office for this important training. We’ll have a few pieces of advice for you including what you need to do so your neighbors aren’t affected AND so you get the weed control you are looking for. See you Tuesday from 10-noon for Dicamba Required Training at the Hefty Seed office south of West Point on Hwy 275.

Four Finalists Named in Nebraska Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers Discussion Meet

Chris Niemann of Dwight, Erin Norman of Crawford, Jason Perdue of York, and Brady Revels of Omaha advanced to the final round of the Nebraska Farm Bureau (NEFB) Young Farmers and Ranchers (YF&R) Discussion Meet to be held at the next NEFB Annual Convention, Dec. 2-4, 2018.

Eleanor Aufdenkamp of North Platte was named first alternate and Luke Norman of Crawford is the second alternate.

Rather than debating, contestants work to develop a solution to a problem being discussed, building on each other’s contributions. Competitors in the annual contest must be prepared to speak on any number of agriculture-related topics; the selected question is announced a short time prior to the contest round. Finalists received the top scores of contestants after competing in three rounds of the discussion meet at the YF&R Conference, Jan. 19-20.

Niemann is a fourth-generation farmer who grows corn, soybeans, and raises beef cattle on his family farm in Butler County where he serves on his county Farm Bureau board. He and his wife, Ashely, have a son, 3-year-old Colton, who they hope will become the fifth generation to farm in their family.

Erin Norman is a Dawes County Farm Bureau board member and she serves on the YF&R Committee. Norman is a teacher at Chadron State College and is a registered dietician. She is currently working towards earning a PhD in public health. She lives on the family ranch with her husband, Luke, and their four children, Ada (7), Ben (5), Claire (3), and Axel (1).

Perdue is a York County Farm Bureau member who works for a family owned Ag Retail company that distributes crop protection products. He also serves as the York County Farm Bureau president and serves on the YF&R Committee. Perdue raises corn and soybeans, has a small cattle herd, and is a contract poultry farmer. He and his wife, Karah, have four children Annah (8), Lane (7), Bennett (4), and Jase (2).

Revels is a Douglas County Farm Bureau board member and serves on the YF&R Committee. He grew up on a family farm in Florida, but relocated to Nebraska when his job as a sales representative for an animal health company moved him to Omaha. He helps coach several area FFA judging teams and volunteers with the Nebraska State Dairy Contest. His wife, Katie, is a chiropractor.

Aufdenkamp is a Lincoln County Farm Bureau member and a graduate of the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis. She is currently studying Agriculture Education at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her goals include becoming a high school ag teacher and FFA advisor. Aufdenkamp is heavily involved in her Collegiate Farm Bureau, livestock judging team, Collegiate Cattlemen, and NCTA Women in Ag.

Luke Norman is a member of the Dawes County Farm Bureau board. He runs a cow/calf ranch in Western Nebraska, is a feed salesman, and recently expanded the family business by selling registered Angus bulls. He ranches with his wife, Erin, and their four children, Ada (7), Ben (5), Claire (3), and Axel (1).

Finalists received a $50 prize and a chance to compete for $500 and an all-expenses paid trip to compete in the American Farm Bureau Discussion Meet in New Orleans, La. in January 2019. Farm Bureau members between the ages of 18 and 35 are eligible to compete in the Young Farmers and Ranchers Discussion Meet. For more information, visit

Individual Classes of Farm Beginnings Program Starts This Saturday

Gary Lesoing, Nebraska Extension Educator, Nemaha County

This year we are making individual sessions of the Farm Beginnings program available to the public if they are interested.  Classes are being held on different Saturdays at the Douglas County Extension office on 8015 West Center Rd. in Omaha. 

We have a class scheduled this Saturday and have two speakers making presentations.  The program will be held from 10:00 – 2:00 p.m. Lunch will be provided. Travis Dunekacke of  T D Niche Pork near Elk Creek, NE in Johnson County Nebraska and Paul Rohrbaugh of Pawnee Pride Meats, near Steinauer, NE is Pawnee County will discuss their marketing plans for the local food they are producing on their farms. 

If you are interested in attending this program, the cost is $25 a session, payable with a check or cash at the door.  To register contact John Porter, Extension Educator in Urban Ag from Douglas County at (402) 444-7804 or Gary Lesoing, Extension Educator in Nemaha County (402) 274-4755.

Future classes in Farm Beginnings in Douglas County this spring:
January 27, 2018 - 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. – Building Your Business Plan
• Farm Planning and Marketing - Paul Rohrbaugh, Natural Grass-fed Beef, Pasture Poultry and Egg Producer
• Travis Dunekacke – Niche Pork Producer and Marketer

February 3, 2018 – 10:00 a.m.- 2:00 p.m. Marketing and Farm Planning & Farm Leases
• CSA Organic Vegetable Farm - Evrett Lundquist & Ruth Chantry (Common Good Farms)

February 9-10, 2018 - Healthy Farms Conference – Lincoln, NE

February 24, 2018 – 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Farming in Small Spaces
• Urban farming or space is limiting – John Porter – Extension Educator,UNL
• Farm Leases & other legal matters – Amy Swoboda – Legal Aid of Nebraska

March 3, 2018 – 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. – Financial Management
• Ralph Tate

March 17, 2018 - 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. – Farm Loan Opportunities and Crop Insurance
• Farm Loan Programs & Resources for Beginning Farmers – Karla Bahm from NE Department of Ag; NAP Crop Insurance, FSA Loans & Microloans, USDA Farm Service Agency Representatives - Wes Finkner or Gina Essink

March 24, 2018 - 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. – Marketing and Finances
• Organic Crops and Direct Market Poultry and Beef – Dave & Deb Welsch, West Blue Farms 
• Enterprise Budgets for Entrepreneurs - Rex Nelson, Extension Educator-UNL

April 7, 2018 - 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. – Food Safety & Farmer’s Responsibility, Farming on an Acreage & SARE Resources
• Connie Fisk, Northwest Regional Extension Associate
• Gary Lesoing, Extension Educator Nemaha County & SARE State Coordinator

April 21, 2018 - 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. – What Have We Learned?
• Farm Beginnings® Graduate Presentations

April 28, 2018 – 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
• Presentations of Farm and Business Plans by Farm Beginnings® Participants

Here is the link to the remainder of the Farm Beginning Sessions:

Iowa Corn Praises Legislature’s Passage of Substantial State Water Quality Funding

Iowa House lawmakers passed legislation today, increasing state dollars to improve Iowa’s water quality, mirroring a bill passed by the Iowa Senate during the 2017 legislative session. The bill, Senate File 512, now awaits Governor Reynolds's signature. The Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA) sees this step as key in supporting the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy. This strategy calls for a nutrient reduction in Iowa’s waterways through a practical and technology-based approach involving farmers and both urban and rural Iowa communities.

"Long-term, consistent water quality funding was a top policy priority for corn growers this session," said Iowa Corn Growers Association President Mark Recker, a farmer from Arlington. “This is encouraging news for farmers who continue to look for ways to step up our conservation efforts to better water quality for all Iowans. We commend the legislature's actions to appropriate funds to this important topic."

Passage of this legislation will provide nearly $300 million for water quality efforts in Iowa over the course of the next 12 years. These state dollars will be matched by federal, private, farmer and landowner investments being made for conservation projects happening across the state.

“Iowa farmers are taking on the challenge and making continuous improvements in preserving the water, soil, air and habitat on our farms. We are committed to making long-term, dedicated and significant investments to continuously improve water quality. This funding will be a catalyst for the efforts already underway,” said Recker. “We are working with conservation experts, scientists and in collaborative public and private partnerships to adopt new practices and technologies in improving our water.”

He went on to say that the number of farmers who sign up for voluntary cost sharing programs often outstrips the amount of tax dollars currently available and a stable funding stream for water quality is critical as it encourages continued collaboration between urban and rural partners across the state.

For more information on how Iowa Corn is leading the way on water quality, go to

 Passage of SF512 proves need for watershed approach, says Iowa Soybean Association

Funding for water quality approved today by the Iowa Legislature is a step forward in advancing Iowa’s nutrient reduction goals.

But Senate File 512 represents a timid response to a vital need for establishing widespread, sustained and measurable progress on an issue important to farmers and all Iowans, says the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA).

“It’s nibbling around the edges of what’s truly needed,” remarked ISA CEO Kirk Leeds. “While some additional funding continues to point us in the right direction, it doesn’t get us too much further down the road in achieving the kind of results we all know are attainable and necessary.

“We’ll take the governor at her word,” Leeds added, “that the legislature’s action today ignites a much more constructive and reality-based conversation and approach for achieving goals established in the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy.”

Leeds’ reference was to comments delivered by Gov. Kim Reynolds in her Condition of the State address earlier this month. Iowa’s 43rd chief executive pledged that passage of any new funding would “ignite the conversation” about ways to scale up water quality practices.

The bill’s passage makes that conversation more important than ever. It would reallocate tax money currently going to Iowa's state budget while dipping into the state’s existing infrastructure fund. Annual approval of more than $20 million in funding could be challenging during years when the state budget is pressured. And it only references the importance of planning and partnerships rather than developing the blueprint for fully implementing the nutrient reduction strategy.

“We look forward to picking up where this legislation leaves off,” said Roger Wolf, director of ISA’s Environmental Programs & Services. “The legislation puts some fuel in the tank but doesn’t provide the horsepower needed to ramp up the pace and scale of practices proven to have a positive and measurable impact on water quality.”

Wolf said the ISA, in partnership with other rural, urban, agriculture and environmental stakeholders, has been actively engaged in funding and conducting in-field research on thousands of acres involving hundreds of farmers.

Knowledge gained from nearly two decades of work and investment underscores the association’s continued call for a “watershed approach” to tackling the bipartisan goal of improving water and soil quality.

“Increased funding is just one piece of a much larger effort,” Wolf said. “Watershed planning and implementation follow a simple philosophy: plan the work, work the plan.

“In addition to state funding, real and long-term improvements in water quality will require the shared involvement of rural and urban stakeholders. It will also demand identifying and unleashing new and impactful sources of financing above and beyond what the state can provide.”

The ISA and soybean farmers will continue to press the merits of the watershed approach to the governor and lawmakers.

“There’s no shortcut to success on an issue this complex,” Leeds added. “And there’s no victory in trying to fund this work year-over-year from a declining general fund.

“For those truly serious about long-term and measurable improvement and accountability on water quality, then the watershed approach must be part of the discussion and implementation. We welcome the challenge and the opportunities it provides for farmers and all Iowans.”

Northey statement on passage of SF512

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey issued the following statement regarding final passage of SF 512, which provides nearly $300 million for water quality efforts in Iowa over the next 12 years.

“Passage of this long-term water quality funding bill with bipartisan support is a tremendous next step as we work to continue scaling up the water quality efforts underway statewide.  We have seen Iowans all across the state taking on the challenge of improving water quality and this funding will help us build on these efforts.

“I want to thank the Governor for her strong support for this legislation and thank leadership in both the House and Senate for their commitment to this important issue.  To think we have gone from no funding specifically for water quality when the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy was released in 2012 to passage of this legislation is a testament to their commitment to making water quality improvements.

“This funding will allow the Department to expand our investment in locally led water quality projects in targeted watersheds while also giving farmers and landowners statewide a chance to try practices focused on water quality.  We will continue to offer innovative new approaches, such as the first-of-its-kind crop insurance incentive program aimed at increasing acres of cover crops.  We will also scale-up the investment in edge-of-field and in-field infrastructure, like wetlands, saturated buffers and bioreactors to improve water quality.

“We are excited to continue the conversation on this important issue and are committed to working with all Iowans interested in protecting our state’s water quality.”

First Annual Soil Health Summit Awards Honor Best in Soil Health

Innovators. Educators. Communicators. Those are just some of the words used to describe the four recipients of the newly inaugurated “Seeds of Change Awards” at the 2018 Soil Health Partnership Summit, Jan. 18-19 in Chicago. These awards were developed to highlight those members of the Soil Health Partnership who go above and beyond to advocate for the partnership and for soil health throughout the year.

“The Soil Health Partnership could not exist without the willingness and enthusiasm of our partners—especially the farmers and agronomists on the front lines of our research,” said Nick Goeser, director of the Soil Health Partnership. “These four individuals exemplify the very best of our dedicated partners, and we look forward to honoring others as the research continues and our partnership expands.”

The four award recipients are:

    Super Spout: Andrew Reuschel, Golden, Illinois. Andrew is a first-year member of the partnership who is passionate about soil health, enthusiastic to take on new challenges and is always willing to share his experience with others. Andrew practices reduced tillage and cover crops on his farm and became interested in expanding soil and water conservation efforts.  Andrew comes by this interest in soil health naturally— his grandpa tried working with cover crops in the '70s, and his dad in the '90s. He says he is currently enjoying spending less money on chemical and fertilizer inputs!​

    Champion Communicator: Mark Mueller, Waverly, Iowa. Mark often takes the initiative to tell the story of what’s happening on his farm – a vital way to encourage other farmers to consider adopting new practices, and to share the progress agriculture is making with the public. In the last year, he drafted an opinion editorial on the soil health practices on his farm, published in three Iowa newspapers, including the Des Moines Register.  He’s done several other media interviews, including Wallaces Farmer and Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier. He also spent four weeks journaling for Farm and Ranch Living Magazine, discussing his soil health journey in many of the entries, and hosting a professional photo shoot on his farm. The feature is scheduled to run in 2018.

    Ace Agronomist: Jack Hardwick, Beardstown, Illinois. Approachable and knowledgeable agronomists are a critical link between SHP and farmers when it comes to implementing and collecting data on new farming techniques. Both an agronomist and a farmer, Jack’s interest in soil health started with his degree in soil science. He then spent 12 years in various roles with FS, AgriGold, and BRANDT before going back to the family farm and starting a crop consulting business. His farmers look to him to answer their questions, and get sound advice and expertise. They often remark on how much they appreciate his insights into their farming operation.

    Data Digger: Tom Vaske, Masonville, Iowa. You know there’s always that one guy who has perfect records and precise notes. Tom Vaske is that guy. The research of the Soil Health Partnership relies on good data collection.  He is always on time, meticulous and accurate with his data, and ensures his trial location is correct each year. Tom started farming on his own in 2001 by renting land from a neighbor who wished to have conservation tillage practices maintained on the farm, so Tom converted an old planter into a strip till bar. He was initially skeptical of the practice and assumed he would eventually want to go back to plowing.  Years later, Tom is still utilizing strip till as an important tool in his operation. Tom has been testing the use of interseeding cover crops on his farm through randomized, replicated field trials with SHP.

An initiative of the National Corn Growers Association, the Soil Health Partnership is a data-driven program working to quantify the benefits of practices that support soil health from an economic as well as environmental standpoint.

TPP Eleven Members Reach Agreement

Negotiators from 11 Pacific Rim nations agreed Tuesday on a Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, the Japanese minister in charge of TPP said, a year after President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the talks.

The 11 nations were close to a deal at a summit in Vietnam in November but fell short at the last minute after Canada raised objections.

Negotiators gathered again in Tokyo Tuesday and cleared away the remaining sticking points, said Toshimitsu Motegi, the Japanese minister handling the talks. He said the 11 nations aim to sign the agreement on March 8 in Chile.

Among Canada's issues was its desire for an exemption that it said was needed to protect Canadian cultural products from the effects of free trade. Mr. Motegi said the parties agreed to exchange a side letter with Canada over the issue after the pact goes into effect.

A Canadian official said Canada also secured "real gains" in terms of labor and environmental standards, and applauded the removal of text related to intellectual property. As for automotive rules, the official said Canada has one bilateral agreement with Malaysia on rules of origin, one pending with Australia, and another side deal with Japan regarding nontariff barriers pertaining to motor vehicles.

News of a TPP deal comes as the latest round of trilateral talks aimed at revamping the North American Free Trade Agreement formally began in Montreal on Tuesday. Among the most contentious sticking points is on the automotive front, regarding a Trump administration demand that regional content of light vehicles made in North America be increased to 85% from the current 62.5%, and that half the vehicle's parts be U.S.-made, to qualify for duty-free trade among the countries.

Both Canada and Mexico -- which is also part of the TPP pact -- oppose the U.S. NAFTA proposal on autos and are preparing counteroffers during the Montreal talks.

News of the pending TPP deal drew immediate concern from Canada's auto-parts makers, who have been focused of late on NAFTA and U.S. proposals that they believe threaten to upend the North American auto supply chain.

"Trophy-hunting trade deals that hurt the biggest sector in Canada is irresponsible and also makes us look weak to the U.S. in a NAFTA week," said Flavio Volpe, president of the Toronto-based Automotive Parts Manufacturers Association.

The TPP deal came just a half-day after the Trump administration slapped steep tariffs on imported solar panels and washing machines, a move to implement Mr. Trump's harder line on trade that he has touted since his election campaign.

Japan has depicted itself as a free-trade champion that can assume the kind of leadership role previously taken by U.S. administrations.

"Now in some parts of the world, there is a move toward protectionism, and I think the TPP-11 is a major engine to overcome such a phenomenon," Mr. Motegi said.

He said the deal was "epoch-making for Japan as well as for the future of the Asia-Pacific region." He also reiterated a hope frequently expressed by Japanese officials that once the 11-nation TPP is up and running, the U.S. might consider rejoining the deal.

The TPP agreement could also provide a framework for a future NAFTA deal should the current one be scrapped by the Trump administration, according to people familiar with the trade talks. Senior Mexican officials see the TPP agreement as an indication that the free-trade train is rolling forward with regional pacts, with or without the U.S. aboard, as NAFTA is being renegotiated.

Vice President Mike Pence said on a visit to Tokyo last year that as far as the Trump administration is concerned, the TPP is a "thing of the past."

Cattlemen on TPP Moving Forward Without U.S. - "Missed Opportunity to Gain Greater Access" to Foreign Markets

Kent Bacus, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association's Director of International Trade and Market Access, today issued the following statement in response to news reports that eleven nations have finalized a revised version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership without the United States:

“Withdrawing from TPP was a missed opportunity for the United States to gain greater access to some of the world’s most vibrant and growing markets. As we now enter a pivotal round of NAFTA negotiations, the last thing we need is to take a step backwards in our relationships with Canada and Mexico.

“We encourage negotiators in Montreal to continue building on the progress made in previous rounds so the United States can focus on tearing down trade barriers in Asia and around the world.

“Unfortunately, the U.S. Senate’s unwillingness to confirm key negotiators like Gregg Doud as the Chief Agricultural Negotiator, leaves the ag sector unfairly underrepresented at the world’s negotiating tables. It’s imperative that the Senate confirm Doud and the many other unconfirmed nominees as soon as possible.”

TPP-11 Puts U.S. Wheat Exports at Risk

U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) and the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) are expressing concern that a revised Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that excludes the United States puts overseas demand for U.S. wheat at serious risk. 

“On January 23, 2017, exactly one year ago, President Trump announced the United States would pull out of the TPP. The announcement today that the eleven remaining TPP members have concluded talks on a revised deal without us sends another discouraging signal to our long-time wheat importing customers in Japan,” said Ben Conner, USW Director of Policy. 

Japan imports an average of 3.1 million metric tons of U.S. wheat every year. After full implementation of the new TPP, Japan’s import tariffs on Canadian and Australian wheat would drop by about $65 per ton. 

“That would put U.S. wheat producers at a total price disadvantage of more than $200 million per year from TPP alone,” Conner said. “As the agricultural community warned when the President made the announcement, withdrawing from TPP was shortsighted and unnecessary, and now U.S. wheat farmers could take the hit.” 

“As expected, the remaining members of TPP are moving forward without the United States,” said Gordon Stoner, NAWG President and a wheat grower from Outlook, Mont. “If nothing else, this announcement should serve as a rallying cry for farmers, ranchers and dairy producers calling for the new trade deals we were promised when the President walked away from TPP. The heat needs to be turned up on the administration and on trade negotiations with Japan. An already stressed agriculture sector needs the benefit of free and fair trade now.”

The so-called TPP-11 countries include Canada and Australia, which are major competitors to the United States in the Japanese wheat market. Other TPP countries with rapidly growing demand for imported wheat include Mexico, Vietnam, Malaysia, Chile and Peru. Singapore, Brunei and New Zealand round out the remaining TPP partner countries. 


Today, Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), a national cooperative owned by family farmers, was awarded Dairy Foods magazine’s 2017 Processor of the Year Award.

DFA was recognized for its investments in the dairy processing industry, strategic partnerships, product innovation and commitment to sustainability. Dairy Foods magazine presented the award to executives from DFA at an awards luncheon at the International Dairy Foods Association Dairy Forum on January 23, 2018 in Palm Desert, Calif.

“One of the key reasons that Dairy Foods selected DFA as the 2017 Processor of the Year is because of the cooperative’s tremendous growth,” says Kathie Canning, editor-in-chief of Dairy Foods magazine.

DFA received the Processor of the Year Award for its investment in the processing industry, as evidenced by the new construction and expansion of dairy plants in Kansas, Michigan, New York, Missouri and Maryland. It has also been instrumental in developing and expanding innovative products such as the Sport Shake® Sportsman line of protein shakes as well as focusing on new product formats for several of its legacy brands such as Borden® Cheese, Kemps® and Keller’s® Creamery Butter. The cooperative also made strides in 2017 to achieve sustainability-minded improvements such as water usage reduction in its plants, as well as forming key partnerships to enhance sustainability practices on its members’ farms via anaerobic digestion and solar panel technologies. Finally, DFA is engaged and committed to the overall industry with company executives and board members playing key leadership roles in organizations that promote the industry, including the International Dairy Foods Association, the National Milk Producers Federation’s board of directors and the U.S. Dairy Export Council, to name a few.

“Everything that we do at DFA is ultimately about delivering value to our farm family owners and the marketplace by working to increase demand for dairy products in the U.S. and throughout the globe,” says Monica Massey, senior vice president and chief of staff at DFA. “We work to achieve this through continued investments, growth and innovation. Being recognized as the dairy industry’s Processor of the Year is truly an honor, and we are thrilled to accept the award on behalf of our more than 13,000 farmer-owners.”

 Ford’s New 2018 F-150 Joins Ranks of Diesel Vehicle Models Supporting B20 Biodiesel

Several automakers’ new 2018 diesel models are being featured this week at the Fort Worth Convention Center as the U.S. biodiesel industry celebrates its 25th Anniversary at the 2018 National Biodiesel Conference & Expo. And full-size diesel truck fans also have reason to celebrate this year as Ford – America’s truck sales leader – delivers the first-ever Ford F-150 diesel with a targeted EPA-estimated 30 mpg highway rating, best-in-class diesel towing and payload, and full B20 support. B20 is a fuel blend of 20 percent low-carbon biodiesel with petroleum diesel.

The Ford F-150 joins the F-250/350/450 Super Duty® and F-650/750 medium duty trucks as well as the Transit van to round out Ford’s strong line-up of diesel models supporting the use of B20 biodiesel blends.  Attendees at the National Biodiesel Conference will have the opportunity to test drive the 2018 Ford F-250 Super Duty during a Biodiesel Ride-and-Drive Event at the Fort Worth Convention Center on Wednesday, and Ford’s new F-150 diesel is on display there this week in the Biodiesel Vehicle Technology Showcase.  In mid-January, Ford dealers begin taking orders for the 2018 F-150 with all-new 3.0-liter PowerStroke® diesel engine, and deliveries begin this spring.

Dominic DiCicco, Ford’s Manager of Environmental Policy and Fuel Quality, commented, “Ford is committed to offering our customers the power of choice with a wide range of alternative fuel and advanced powertrain options to help fleets reduce their carbon footprint and help our nation achieve its goals.  Adding the new F-150 3.0L Power Stroke diesel to our lineup of diesel models supporting the use of clean, renewable, low-carbon B20 biodiesel blends, complements Ford’s sustainability goals, and we are excited to bring this product to market for our customers.”

General Motors is also bringing a strong lineup of 20 different diesel vehicle options to market in the 2018 model year, spanning the car, truck, van and compact SUV categories.  General Motors supports B20 in all 20 of its diesel models.  One of GM’s flagship models, the 2018 Chevrolet Silverado HD pickup with a 6.6L Duramax® turbo diesel engine, as well as the new 2018 Chevy Equinox SUV with 1.6L turbo diesel engine, will be featured at the National Biodiesel Conference this week compliments of The Thompson Group Classic Chevrolet in Grapevine, TX.

The important off-road equipment market is also represented in the Biodiesel Vehicle Showcase this week by long-time biodiesel supporter John Deere, featuring its best-selling utility tractor, the John Deere 5075E with a B20-supported PowerTech™ turbocharged diesel engine. John Deere was one of the first original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to get involved with biodiesel, and this year the company is celebrating an important anniversary of its own – the 100th year since the first John Deere tractor was built.

Equipment giant Caterpillar Inc. is also featured at the National Biodiesel Conference this week. The Cat equipment product line, consisting of more than 300 machines, sets the standard for the off-road equipment industry.  Also long-time supporters of B20 biodiesel blends, Caterpillar is showcasing a CAT 938M Small Wheel Loader with a high torque, low speed C7.1 ACERT engine in the Biodiesel Vehicle Technology Showcase.

Customers from coast to coast have used B20 successfully in virtually every make and model diesel engine, and the vast majority of new diesel engines now have full OEM support for B20 with no vehicle modifications required. Yet in the ever-increasing drive to cut carbon and lower CO2 emissions, forward looking fleets and users are investigating higher biodiesel blends to maximize the reduction in their carbon footprint.  To address the interest, another vehicle showcase participant, Optimus Technologies, has developed aftermarket technology to enable B100 use even in the coldest climates. With its controller and second heated B100 tank system, Optimus is providing fleets an easy and cost-effective way to use pure B100 biodiesel in their existing vehicles and reduce carbon by 80 percent at a fraction of the cost of conversion to other fuel alternatives being considered that don’t provide as much carbon reduction, like compressed natural gas.

Scott Fenwick, Technical Director for the National Biodiesel Board and Chairman of the ASTM Committee on Petroleum Products, Liquid Fuels, and Lubricants, stated, “For 25 years, the National Biodiesel Board and the U.S. biodiesel industry have worked closely with our partners in the auto and engine manufacturing community to ensure that biodiesel - America’s Advanced Biofuel - continues to keep pace with the nation’s increasing demands for cleaner, more efficient, and sustainable modes of transportation.  As we continue to demonstrate that the biodiesel industry is producing a consistently high-quality product that meets specifications, support from the original equipment manufacturers grows.” Today over 80 percent of the diesel vehicles coming off production lines fully support the use of B20, and OEMs are beginning to look into higher blends as well.

U.S. Wheat Industry Celebrates Japan Flour Millers Association Anniversary

Several representatives from the U.S. wheat industry joined members of the Japan Flour Millers Association to help celebrate the association’s 70th anniversary in Tokyo on Jan. 23, 2018. Senior managers from U.S. Wheat Associates (USW), as well as state wheat commission representatives and farmers from Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana participated in events commemorating the anniversary.

Japan has purchased significantly more U.S. wheat than any other country since 1949, when the Oregon Wheat Growers League first organized a trade delegation to investigate opportunities for expanding U.S. wheat sales there.

Today, the Japanese domestic milling and wheat foods industries are highly advanced and demand consistent, high quality wheat and flour. USW Chairman Mike Miller, of Ritzville, Wash., told members of the association that U.S. farmers are very proud to supply much of that wheat every year.

“It is good to know that our wheat is an essential ingredient in the wonderful wheat foods the Japanese people enjoy — and an essential ingredient in the success of these flour millers,” Miller said. “I reassured them that to honor their achievements, farmers will continue to invest in trade service and technical support in Japan, and to improve the quality and wholesomeness of our wheat to meet their needs in the future.”

“It was a great pleasure to congratulate the association's Chairman, Mr. Masayuki Kondo, President of the Japan Flour Millers Association, and the members of the association in person on their important anniversary,” said USW President Vince Peterson. “We were also able to thank our respected friend and colleague, Mr. Masaaki Kadota, who is retiring after many years serving as the association’s Executive Director.”

With support from state wheat commissions and USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service, USW focuses on providing up-to-date market information and collaborating with Japanese industry groups to demonstrate the quality and value of U.S. wheat. The mills provide purchase specifications to Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Forestry (MAFF) based on the strict characteristics their wheat food customers demand. Japanese grain trade organizations act as intermediaries between MAFF and overseas sellers. Then MAFF carries out all milling wheat purchases and sells the wheat to Japanese flour mills.

“It is difficult to express how much we value our partnership with Japan’s flour millers and the rest of the wheat foods industries,” Peterson said. “We have developed a deep level of trust by maintaining an open dialogue with them. That has been so important to our mutually beneficial, long-term trading relationship and we confirmed our commitment to continue our partnership in that spirit.”

U.S. farmers continue to earn the largest market share in this well-established and quality conscious wheat market. MAFF issues consistent weekly tenders for U.S. hard red spring (HRS), hard red winter (HRW) and Western White, a blend of soft white (SW) and up to 20 percent club wheat. As a result, Japan has purchased an average of 3.1 million metric tons (about 114 million bushels) of wheat annually the past five years.

Also honoring the association at events in Japan were: wheat farmers Bill Flory of Culdesac, Idaho., Walter Powell of Condon, Ore., and Darren Padget of Grass Valley, Ore.; Damon Filan, manager of Tri-Cities Grain, LLC in Pasco, Wash.; Glen Squires, chief executive officer of the Washington Grain Commission; Michelle Hennings, executive director of the Washington Association of Wheat Growers; Collin Watters, executive vice president of the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee; Mark Fowler, USW vice president of overseas operations; Mr. Wataru “Charlie” Utsunomiya, USW/Japan country director; and Ms. Sadako Ishida, USW/Japan program assistant. 

Y-TEX Corporation Introduces New Y-Tags™ One-Piece Ear Tagging System

Y-TEX Corporation, one of the leading global suppliers of livestock identification and pest control solutions, today announced the launch of its new Y-Tags One-Piece Ear Tagging System for beef and dairy cattle.  Featuring 100% PureLaser™ permanent imprinting and the unique Surgi-Tip™ self-piercing tip, Y-Tags represent a major advancement in one-piece ear tagging technology.

“Everyone at Y-TEX is extremely excited about this latest addition to our line of visual identification ear tags,” noted Stu Marsh, Vice President of Sales & Marketing for Y-TEX.

“Y-Tags are molded from advanced thermo polyurethane (TPU) and acetyl nylon to withstand extremes in heat and cold, as well as ultra-violet light, moisture and mold.    And unlike some tags, Y-Tags are pliable, yet durable, so they hang tough without cracking or breaking.  It’s a difference you can actually see and feel.”

Another feature that sets Y-Tags apart from conventional one-piece tags is the 100% PureLaser™ permanent imprinting.  Y-TEX employs a proprietary process that delivers the deepest, darkest 100% pure laser imprint on the market.  While some other imprints fade over time, the Y-Tags PureLaser™ permanent imprint is guaranteed legible for the life of the animal.

“Livestock producers will also appreciate the new Surgi-Tip™ self-piercing tag tip,” Marsh said.  “Its unique four-sided design delivers a precise incision for less tissue damage, faster healing and improved retention.  Research shows that a clean incision and faster healing are two keys to better ear tag retention.”

Rounding out the Y-Tags system is the new Y-Tags one-piece applicator.  With its wider jaw, flip-out pin and ergonomic design, the Y-Tags applicator works seamlessly with the Surgi-Tip self-piercing tip to make tagging easier than ever.  Studies show that Y-Tags require less force to apply than other one-piece tags, resulting in less producer fatigue during the busy tagging season.

Y-Tags come in cow (large), calf (medium) and feedlot sizes in a wide variety of high-visibility colors.  The cow and calf tags are offered in 25-count and 100-count packages, while the feedlot tags are available in 1,000-count cartons containing 20 packages of 50 tags each.  Like all Y-TEX products, Y-Tags are made with pride in the USA.

“Our new Y-Tags One-Piece Ear Tags System marks an important addition to our growing line of top-quality livestock products,” stated Glenn A. Nielson, President of Y-TEX Corporation.  “For years, Y-TEX has been a leader in the visual identification ear tag industry, and our new Y-Tags serve to solidify our position in the marketplace while answering the need for new and better livestock ID solutions.”

Eggland's Best Launches New, Premium Chicken Food For Backyard Chickens

With more than 25 years in the business, Eggland's Best (EB) is known for its highest standards in taste, nutrition, freshness and quality – and now the brand is sharing its expertise with backyard chicken owners nationwide.  The new line of Eggland's Best Chicken Food and Chick Food features the same wholesome, all-vegetarian formula used by EB egg farmers. The formula consists of premium ingredients rich in 15 vitamins and minerals that helps hens be healthier and of course results in healthier eggs too. Multiple varieties will be available for both chickens and chicks, including a USDA certified organic option made with Non-GMO Project Verified ingredients.

"Since backyard chickens rely on chicken food as their primary source of nutrition, it's important to select the most nutritious and best quality product available," said Dr. Bart Slaugh, Director of Quality Assurance at Eggland's Best. "At Eggland's Best, we adhere to the strictest of quality standards, so consumers can feel confident that they are purchasing the highest quality chicken food that will help keep their hens healthy and produce a nutritionally superior egg. We even take the extra step of pasteurizing our products to provide an additional layer of safety for our feathered friends."

Eggland's Best unique chicken food formula consists of a proprietary all-vegetarian blend of healthy grains, canola oil, and a supplement of rice bran, alfalfa, sea kelp, and Vitamin E, resulting in higher amounts of omega 3's as well as 15 different vitamins and minerals crucial for supporting the overall immune health, bone, muscle and overall development, energy, eye health, egg production and metabolism of backyard layers. Just like all other Eggland's Best products, EB Chicken Food never contains any animal by-products, recycled or processed foods, and never uses hormones, steroids, or antibiotics ever.

"We know many backyard chicken owners look at their hens as almost being members of their family. Being able to feed their 'girls' such a rich, premium, and proven diet, we knew, would be of great interest to those owners. And the more nutritious eggs are the reward they get for taking such good care of their flock. It's a really virtuous cycle for hens and humans alike," said Frank Bergin, General Manager, Strategic Ventures and Innovations for Eggland's Best. "We are excited to make our proprietary premium formula available to passionate backyard chicken owners everywhere so they can now rest easy that their 'girls' are getting the nutrition they need and deserve to live their best life."

Feeding backyard layers Eggland's Best Chicken Food not only helps keep hens healthier, but also produces superior eggs with six times more vitamin D, 25 percent less saturated fat, more than double the omega-3s, ten times more vitamin E, and more than double the amount of vitamin B12 than ordinary eggs.  The premium ingredients within the chicken food also help produce stronger shells and consistently plumper eggs with more vibrantly colored yolks than ordinary eggs store-bought eggs, so consumers never have to settle for ordinary.

Eggland's Best Chicken Food is now available at select farm supply, pet, mass merchandiser and grocery retailers nationwide, including Tractor Supply, Co.. Eggland's Best Chicken Food comes in crumble and mini-pellet varieties and in multiple sized bags. Eggland's Best Chick Food is available in crumble form and in multiple bag sizes as well. There are Organic versions of both Eggland's Best Chicken Food and Chick Food. 

For more information on Eggland's Best Chicken Food or where to find the product, visit

Monday January 22 Ag News

Preparing For Pre-Harvest Marketing In 2018
Amy Timmerman – NE Extension Educator

Selling corn under $4.00/bushel is not fun for anyone, but it will be a reality for Nebraska producers this year. Despite low prices, there will be opportunities for savvy marketers. The 2018 marketing year is shaping up to be similar to 2017 for corn. Here we will review some the challenges producers faced in 2017 and how we can avoid them in 2018.

In 2017, corn accumulated a record amount of global ending stock, placing downward pressure on corn prices. Without a major market jolt, we can expect 2018 corn prices to be shaped by this large quantity of corn. 


1.    Basis: Because of the high volume of corn available, basis has been weak across the state. Grain buyers (elevators, ethanol facilities, feedyards) have access to plenty of grain and do not need to improve basis to attract farmers to sell. Remember basis values, especially for new crop, seldom change throughout the year. Furthermore, any changes that do occur are likely to be minimal (a few cents). Do not let a weak, unwavering basis keep you from selling grain when futures prices spike.
2.    Early futures price peak: Another symptom of high ending stocks, are that prices reach their peak much earlier in the year, February-April rather than April-June. Figure 1 compares a 20-year average percent price increase over January 1 to the average of years with “Very High” ending stocks. In 2017 many producers did not price corn early enough to capture seasonal highs.
3.    Unrealistic price targets: One barrier many farmers ran into in 2017, was that their pre-harvest price targets were too high. Producers had set target prices at and above $4.00/bushel cash in 2017. For most Nebraska farmers they had a small window, if any, to pre-price at this level.

Combating the Challenges

1.    Basis: There is little to nothing that individual farmers can do to improve the basis. However, this is a good time to consider which delivery locations are most profitable. Each grain buyer sets their own basis. Thus, shopping around your area for the best basis may help you gain a couple of cents. If you have the ability to haul grain to another area, you will want to calculate if the cost of hauling grain to receive the better cash price is worth the expense of hauling.
2.    Early futures price peak: Be prepared to sell grain early in 2018. Accept that you may be pricing a crop that you have yet to plant. Remember, in pre-harvest marketing plans it is not recommended that you forward contract or hedge 100% of expected production. The rule of thumb is to not pre-price more than insured production (Actual Production History (APH) times your percent of coverage). Most producers price 25%-50% of insured production.
3.    Unrealistic price targets: The market does not care if prices are below your cost of production until prices are so low that you decide not to produce anymore. Realistic target prices should be set based on grounded market expectations. The USDA releases the World Agriculture Supply and Demand Estimate monthly. In this report they predict farm prices for corn, soybeans and wheat, giving us a good gauge to set price targets. The December 12 USDA WASDE report estimates that national average cash price will be between $2.85 and $3.55/bushel.

This year will be a challenge for many grain producers. Having a written marketing plan that addresses the pitfalls outlined above will help keep you on track. For more grain marketing information check out the articles at

 Farmland Values Stabilize in 2017 in Grain Belt States

Farmland values in the grain belt states served by Farm Credit Services of America (FCSAmerica) stabilized in 2017, a reflection of continued market demand for quality land.

Sales of higher quality farm ground contributed to an uptick in average sale prices in 2017. Where prices dropped at local or regional levels, sales generally involved lower quality land. Average sale prices rose slightly in Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota. Wyoming had too few sales to identify a trend.

FCSAmerica compiles sales records and, twice a year, appraises 64 benchmark farms. The cooperative’s objective is to track real estate values without the influence of changes in land quality on sale prices. Iowa and Wyoming saw modest overall increases in real estate values in 2017, while Nebraska and South Dakota declined.


Five benchmarks farms increased in value, while two showed no change. The remaining 11 declined an average of 6.1 percent.  Total sales declined in 2017, with dry cropland dropping 15 percent and irrigated 25 percent compared to 2016. Public land auctions dropped 16 percent and auction “no sales” increased to 5.2 percent, up from 2.2 percent in 2016.


Eleven benchmark farms saw an increase in value in the last six months of 2017, while 10 showed no change. Overall farmland sales activity was down 20 percent. However, public land auctions increased 2 percent compared to the previous year. The percent of auction “no sales” fell to 2.7 percent, down from 3.2 percent in 2016.

“Overall real estate values have stabilized in the past year, but continued low profit margins and potential for an increase in sales activity could put downward pressure on real estate values,” said Tim Koch, FCSAmerica’s chief risk officer.

Farmland values remain well below the market’s peak of three to four years ago. Overall, values are off about 20 percent.


The Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) is currently accepting grant proposals for its 2018 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP). NDA administers the program, which is funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The deadline for submitting proposals is Feb. 9.

“Nebraska’s specialty crop industry is thriving with help from the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program,” said NDA Director Steve Wellman. “The program supports research, development and marketing of specialty crops and offers resources for innovative projects and ideas that help grow Nebraska’s ag industry.”

Specialty crops are fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, horticulture and nursery crops (including floriculture).

For the 2018 SCBGP, NDA anticipates approximately $600,000 will be available to fund new projects. Producers, organizations and associations, as well as state and local agencies, educational groups and other specialty crops stakeholders are eligible to apply.

Thirteen specialty crop projects were funded in Nebraska last fall through the program for a total of nearly $600,000.

This year’s proposals will be reviewed and scored using select criteria. Applicants who make it through the first round will be asked to submit additional information. NDA and USDA will announce the projects receiving funding in the fall.

Instructions for submitting a proposal, proposal applications, performance measures and program guidelines are available on NDA’s website at All proposals should be saved as a Microsoft Word .docx file and sent electronically to by the Feb. 9 deadline. For additional information contact: Casey Foster at (402) 471-4876, or by the email listed above.

To view a comprehensive list of eligible specialty crops and examples of projects funded under the SCBGP, visit USDA’s website at

NPPC Commends USDA for Maintaining Essential Livestock Market Programs

Two U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs critical to the continuity of livestock market operations will continue during the current federal government shutdown. The Livestock Mandatory Reporting (LMR) program, managed by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, is the sole source of market information on sales to packers of cattle, swine and lambs and on the subsequent sale of meat products. Inspection services provided by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Services also will continue as an essential activity, ensuring a key element of America’s food supply -- safe, nutritious and affordable meat and poultry -- are available to consumers.

“NPPC appreciates the leadership provided by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, Undersecretary of Marketing and Regulatory Affairs Greg Ibach and Acting Deputy Undersecretary of Food Safety Carmen Rottenberg,” said NPPC President Ken Maschhoff, a pork producer from Carlyle, Illinois. “Inspection and market news reporting are essential to the proper functioning of responsible commerce in the U.S. pork industry during the uncertainty of a federal government shutdown.”

Maschhoff added, “The availability of LMR market data ensures that reliable and accurate information that influence critical business decisions are available to thousands of producers and other market participants, including those in the futures market.” 

Farm Bureau Statement on WOTUS Jurisdiction Decision

Ellen Steen, General Counsel of the American Farm Bureau Federation

“The U.S. Supreme Court ruled correctly today that federal district courts—not federal courts of appeals—have jurisdiction to review the 2015 Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule. This Supreme Court decision brings greater clarity to an important issue that has bogged down the litigation over this and other Clean Water Act regulations for years. That is a positive result, but it also creates uncertainty and confusion in the short term, because the Sixth Circuit must soon lift its nationwide stay of the 2015 rule.

“At this time, the Environmental Protection Agency has not yet finalized its proposed rule to delay the application of the unlawful and dangerous 2015 WOTUS rule while the agency considers whether to permanently repeal that rule. AFBF is considering its options to avoid application of the 2015 rule while EPA moves forward with an appropriate long-term solution that provides clear rules and clean water without requiring a federal permit to plow a field.”  

Fort Worth Hosts National Biodiesel Conference & Expo

The National Biodiesel Conference & Expo opens today at the Fort Worth Convention Center and offers a vehicle showcase and ride-and-drive opportunity alongside demonstrations and presentations on the latest in the industry.

And this year’s conference takes on special significance as the title sponsor, the National Biodiesel Board, celebrates 25 years.

“For the visionaries who launched what would become the National Biodiesel Board in 1992, we want to say ‘thank you,’” said NBB CEO Donnell Rehagan. “We look forward to taking this opportunity to reflect on those first 25 years, but we are also excited to launch into the next era of growth for America’s Advanced Biofuel.”

Following a University of Missouri study that demonstrated biodiesel had potential as a diesel fuel replacement, the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council created the National SoyDiesel Development Board in 1992. Sensing the opportunity to utilize the vast surplus of soybean oil collected each year, while also expanding energy security and environmental benefits, other state soybean associations quickly joined the effort. The new association changed its name to the National Biodiesel Board in 1994 to reflect the diversity of fats and oils that can be made into biodiesel.

In the early days, NBB spearheaded diesel engine research and emissions testing to demonstrate biodiesel’s environmental benefits, leading to official specifications for the fuel used in diesel cars and trucks today and earning the reputation as America’s first commercially produced advanced biofuel. The producers then were primarily a collection of small businesses serving their communities, distributing a few hundred million gallons of biodiesel by the turn of the century.

Today, with support from a bipartisan strategy to bring transportation fuel options into the mainstream through implementation of the federal Renewable Fuel Standard and a tax incentive to spur growth, the advanced biofuel has blossomed into a nearly 3 billion gallon per year industry. A renewable, clean-burning diesel replacement that can be used in existing diesel engines without modification, biodiesel is now produced in every corner of the country made from an increasingly diverse mix of resources such as recycled cooking oil, soybean oil and animal fats. As biodiesel has grown over the last 25 years, it has stayed true to its local roots. The more than 64,000 jobs the industry supports are often the highest paying in many rural areas. To be called biodiesel, the fuel must meet the strict quality specifications of ASTM D6751.

“Biodiesel is an American success story,” said Rehagen. “We have overcome countless challenges, and we will undoubtedly face many more as we continue to grow the industry. But for everyone who has pulled together for the past 25 years to make our success a reality, this conference is a great time to celebrate."

A celebration of the 25th anniversary will be front and center when conference organizers pull back the curtains on the main stage -- constructed in an even larger Expo Hall for the first time this year -- to open the festivities on Tuesday morning.

And the conference isn’t just for industry insiders. The public is invited Tuesday to join in the discussions focused on biodiesel technology, public policy and more. They will also have the opportunity to explore the event’s Expo Hall, where they can learn all about how biodiesel is made from an increasingly diverse mix of resources such as recycled cooking oil, soybean oil and animal fats. A Texas driver’s license is required for local residents to attend free of charge. Wednesday, the public is invited back to participate in a “ride-and-drive” with vehicles provided by area dealers and equipped with the latest diesel engines.

Other highlights for attendees include a session with the filmmakers who premiered “Hot Grease” at the prestigious DOC NYC film festival before its debut on the Discovery Channel last November. The feature length documentary tells the story of biodiesel’s rise and the industry fight for survival in the face of numerous public policy challenges. The producers spent countless hours documenting the experiences of biodiesel entrepreneurs in Texas, while advocates in Washington, D.C., come together to protect the industry from a barrage of attacks from opponents more interested in protecting the status quo.

The National Biodiesel Conference & Expo takes place January 22 - 25 at the Fort Worth Convention Center. To learn more about the conference, including a full schedule of events and information on how to register, visit

US Government Report Strengthens Consensus on Biodiesel Benefits

A new study on biodiesel’s lifecycle energy and greenhouse gas (GHG) emission effects updates and reaffirms the long-understood benefits of using the renewable fuel. The study is the latest in the significant body of transparent, peer-reviewed, studies that conclusively quantify biodiesel’s widespread benefits. The report, recently published by a collaboration between Argonne National Laboratory, Purdue University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), represents the most up-to-date and comprehensive lifecycle analysis of biodiesel ever produced. Results confirm that biodiesel compared to petroleum diesel reduces GHG emissions by 72 percent and fossil fuel use by 80 percent.

“This is the highest GHG reduction of any heavy-duty transportation fuel and reflects biodiesel’s natural ability to store solar energy in a liquid form compatible with today’s engines and power generation technologies,” said Jim Duffield, who coauthored numerous lifecycle reports for USDA’s Office of the Chief Economist prior to his recent retirement.

“It’s encouraging to see the commitment to data and quality analysis brought together in this study,” said Don Scott, sustainability director for the National Biodiesel Board. “It’s not news that biodiesel is good for the environment. Where credible results are needed for sound policies, it serves us well to look at transparent, reliable science.”

This study represents the first time Argonne National Laboratory has published a lifecycle assessment of biodiesel including indirect land use change (ILUC). The theory of ILUC suggests that economic benefits from renewable fuels impact farming patterns globally. ILUC modeling attempts to quantify the future impact of such predicted land use change. ILUC has been included in analyses by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) that independently conclude biodiesel’s GHG advantage exceeds 50 percent reduction over diesel fuel.

“The improvements to ILUC modeling in this study were not possible just a few years ago, because we did not have as much data as we do today,” said Farzad Taheripour, one of the authors of this paper from Purdue University’s Department of Agricultural Economics. “Data available today shows that farmers all around the world are increasing productivity on existing farm land. Calibrating the model to these real-world trends improves the accuracy and reduces the predicted emissions of biofuel expansion.”

The more the models reflect real world data, biodiesel’s benefits become even clearer. The improved model reduces ILUC emissions by more than 30 percent relative to the score adopted by CARB in 2015.

“Biodiesel’s emission-reduction benefits are so great that you can overapply penalties aligned with the most conservative models and biodiesel is still the cleanest alternative for today’s diesel engines and the heavy-duty transportation of tomorrow,” said Scott.

For example, although CARB applies an ILUC penalty to soy biodiesel, biodiesel remains a key component to reducing greenhouse gas emissions under the Low Carbon Fuel Standard.

Using its flagship GREET® LCA model, Argonne computes the GHG advantage of biodiesel as reducing emissions by 76 compared to petroleum. GREET®—whose acronym stands for Greenhouse Gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy Use in Transportation—houses the best engineering data for allocating process emissions, but it does not make predictions of future economic changes. When predicted economic impacts are added, the GHG benefit lands in the range of 66 to 72 percent better than petroleum. The lower end of this range results from using CARB’s emission factor model developed specifically for the California market. The higher end of this range results from using the emission factor model developed by the national laboratory, which includes higher resolution for organic carbon where that data is available.

Roughly half of the biodiesel used in the US is made from soybean oil. The other half is produced from sources like used cooking oil, animal fats, and other fats and oils. The authors of this study began by collecting the latest data on the energy and emissions from farming soybeans. Soybeans are grown primarily to produce protein meal for livestock feed. So, the first processing step after soybeans leave the farm is to a soybean crush facility where 80 percent of every soybean is used to produce livestock feed. The volume of oil that remains after protein extraction exceeds demand for feed or food, (i.e. salad dressing, frying and baking, etc.), so a portion of that oil that we cannot eat or export is used to produce biodiesel.

“This study includes the largest ever survey of biodiesel production facilities to capture the energy used in the form of natural gas and electricity to convert fats, oils, and grease into biodiesel fuel,” said Jeongwoo Han, who maintains the GREET® model for Argonne National Lab.

All these emissions were also combined with the emissions of transporting raw ingredients and finished fuel to market. By including all the emissions in the entire fuel lifecycle, this report presents a comprehensive comparison with the emissions of producing and using diesel fuel. This study includes more data but yields consistent results with other studies published over the last two decades.

 Farmers Union Urges Increased Funding for Farm Safety Net, Releases Priorities for Farm Bill

Given the persistent and ongoing economic challenges in farming and rural economies, National Farmers Union (NFU) is calling on Congress to increase funding for farm programs in the farm bill and pass the legislation as soon as possible. The NFU Board of Directors recently passed a resolution to this effect, outlining requirements for a farm bill that family farmers and ranchers can support.

“American farmers are not only suffering from price pressure that has reduced net farm income by half over the last four years, but devastating wildfires, hurricanes, and other natural disasters continue to punish agricultural communities,” said the Board. “Trade policies continue to promote the sale of farm products at prices below the cost of production. Farm bill legislation in 2018 must strengthen the safety net so that farmers and ranchers can manage risk, stay in business and continue to feed our country.”

The Board laid out a series of 14 recommendations that Congress should follow to provide a sufficient farm safety net, support rural communities, protect natural resources, improve beginning farmers’ and ranchers’ opportunities for success, and ensure the nation’s most vulnerable people have enough to eat.

“The farm bill, rightly so, touches all aspects of our food system,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “As such, Congress must write and pass a farm bill this year that adequately supports each part of the food system—from the family farmers who grow our food, to the land they do it on, to the rural communities they support, and all the way to the consumers who rely on safe, affordable food. Providing adequate support begins with a recognition of the dire economic conditions of the farm economy, the impacts of food production on the land, and the moral imperative of our country to ensure its most vulnerable citizens have access to food.”

Among the NFU Board’s recommendations were a set of changes to the Farm Bill’s commodity title, Title 1, which has not provided adequate relief for farmers amidst the recent, dramatic slide in net farm income. It called for “increased and robust reference prices under the Price Loss Coverage program,” technical corrections to the Agricultural Risk Coverage program, and an “incentives-based inventory management program to manage milk supplies based on market demand.” The Board also called for mechanisms to address oversupply of grain and dairy, and for meaningful assistance to cotton producers.

Recognizing the role family farmers play as stewards of our natural resources, NFU recommended a strong conservation title that provides “additional acreage under the Conservation Reserve Program,” maintains “funding for working lands conservation programs that promote active stewardship and locally led conservation activities,” and funds “climate mitigation research and technical assistance at national and local levels.”

Central also to the family farm organization’s concerns are the farm bill’s impacts on rural communities. The NFU Board urged Congress to include “robust funding for programs that promote economic, infrastructure and clean energy development in rural communities,” and to prioritize development of local cooperatives.

To ensure the success of beginning and future farmers and ranchers, NFU called for implementation of programs within the farm bill that improve beginning, veteran, and socially disadvantaged farmers’ and ranchers’ access to land, capital, efficiency and markets.

Finally, and of equal importance, Farmers Union called for strong nutrition programs in order to provide a safety net against hunger.

“The family farm is the keystone of a free, progressive, and democratic national society as well as a strong America, and is the basis of a safe, secure, and stable food system,” wrote the NFU Board. “It provides opportunities for individual enterprise to all families in our society to achieve economic and social stability, as well as soil, water, and environmental stewardship of our natural resources and unparalleled production efficiency. “

“National Farmers Union’s Board of Directors, in its continued efforts to protect family farms, calls on Congress in 2018 to provide strong support and increased funding in the best interests of family farms, rural communities and consumers.”

CWT Assists with 2.7 million Pounds of Cheese and Butter Export Sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 17 requests for export assistance from Dairy Farmers of America, Land O’Lakes, Northwest Dairy Association (Darigold) and Tillamook County Creamery Association. These cooperatives have contracts to sell 2.692 million pounds (1,221 metric tons) of Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese and 39,683 pounds (18 metric tons) of butter to customers in Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and Oceania. The product has been contracted for delivery in the period from January through April 2018.

CWT-assisted member cooperative 2018 export sales total 5.334 million pounds of American-type cheeses and 729,730 pounds of butter (82% milkfat) to 10 countries on three continents. These sales are the equivalent of 65.744 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.

China Pork Output Edged Up in 2017

Chinese farmers are just starting to recover after pork output dropped to its lowest level in five years in 2016. According to Reuters, China's 2017 pork output rose 0.8 percent from the year before to 53.4 million tonnes, the National Statistics Bureau said on Thursday, increasing supply in the world's top consumer of the meat.

Pork output had dropped to its lowest level in five years in 2016, after farmers shrank their herds following financial losses in previous years. But even as herds began to recover during 2017, growing 0.4 percent to 433 million head, Thursday’s data showed, a crackdown on farm pollution across the country forced many small farms to close, pushing up slaughter rates.

Some analysts said they had expected the pork output number to be higher, given prices fell by around 20 percent during the year and imports also dropped.

Beef production in 2017 reached its highest level in records going back 20 years. It came in at 7.26 million tonnes, up 1.3 percent on the year. Output has risen in recent years as low milk prices prompted farmers to slaughter more dairy cattle and as the country’s growing middle class developed a taste for steak and hamburgers.

Poultry output climbed 0.5 percent to 18.97 million tonnes in 2017, while lamb production was up 1.8 percent at 4.68 million tonnes, the data showed.

Friday January 19 Ag News

Emissions Reporting for Cattle Operations
(from Nebraska Cattlemen)

This is an update on our progress related to CERCLA and EPCRA reporting requirements for cattle producers. To recap, in April 2017, the D.C. Circuit Court determined that EPA did not have the authority to exempt agriculture from these reporting requirements, thus vacating an exemption that was on the books for 10 years.

The D.C. Circuit is expected to issue the mandate (make it official) on CERCLA reporting (air emissions) on Monday, Jan. 22.  This could take a few days before it is issued on paper, but once it's official the reporting period will be triggered.  Please hold off on reporting until you hear from NC or NCBA that the D.C. Circuit has issued the mandate.

NC is working with other state affiliates on both compliance with the mandate as well as a congressional fix.  Please know that NC and NCBA are doing all that we can to prevent this mandate from going forward.
Compliance Materials

When the court issues the mandate (the order that will officially vacate the exemption), NCBA will post compliance documents on its webpage. While this could happen as early as next Monday, Jan. 22nd, nothing will be official until the court actually issues the mandate on paper, which could take additional days. Upon the court issuing the mandate, NCBA will provide members with step-by-step instructions to complete the reporting process, in addition to a one-page form that may be used by producers to complete the written report requirement.

Additionally, you can access the EPA's EPCRA guidance and CERCLA compliance information by going to
PR Campaign

On Tuesday, NCBA kicked off a Public Relations campaign to highlight the absurdity of the reporting requirement. To officially kick off the campaign, NCBA released a video to show the contrast between a true Superfund site and a cattle operation.

Additionally, NCBA has joined with other livestock associations to create a website dedicated to our grassroots campaign -

Smith Selected to Serve on Congressional Delegation to NAFTA Negotiations

Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) announced today he has been selected to serve on the congressional delegation traveling to NAFTA negotiations in Montreal next week, where he will meet with negotiators, government officials, and business leaders to stress the importance of the trade agreement.

“NAFTA is vital to Nebraska agriculture, and I have been focused throughout the negotiations on making the case to do no harm to the ag economy,” Smith said.  “I am pleased to have the opportunity to serve on this congressional delegation and bring Nebraska’s voice to the table in the next round of NAFTA talks.  As negotiations move forward, I will continue to lead on this crucial issue and work to strengthen the market access ag producers have achieved under NAFTA.” 

Smith serves on the Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over trade.

Nebraska Corn Board celebrates 40th anniversary in 2018

The Nebraska Corn Board is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2018. Throughout its 40-year history, the state’s corn checkoff has remained committed to its mission of promoting the value of corn by creating opportunities.

Instated in 1978 as part of the Corn Resources Act, the Nebraska corn checkoff was the first corn checkoff to be approved in the nation. The effort to pass the bill was led by Nebraska farmers – most notably members of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association.

Although this is a milestone year for the checkoff, the Board is not taking this as an opportunity to reflect on past accomplishments.

“We’ve achieved a lot throughout the corn checkoff’s 40-year history in Nebraska, but we’re not dwelling on past successes,” said Dave Merrell, chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board. “We’re more focused on the next 40. How do we build upon our successes with ag trade? What is the next ethanol? What’s new in research and biotechnology? How do we better engage with consumers who don’t understand where their food comes from? These are the questions we’re actively working to answer.”

To kick off its 40th year, the Nebraska Corn Board is releasing a special edition of its CornsTalk newsletter, which highlights significant accomplishments, and looks to the future in areas like research, news uses, biofuels, policy, education and consumer engagement. The 16-page publication will first be released as an insert included in the February edition of the Nebraska Farmer magazine and will then be distributed to weekly and daily newspapers in the state. A redesigned website will also be released in 2018.

“Nebraska’s corn industry is a key economic driver for the state,” said Kelly Brunkhorst, executive director of the Nebraska Corn Board. “Over the last four decades, Nebraska has been a national leader in many sectors in agricultural production, and much of that can be attributed to our state’s farmers and the value-added corn industries that the corn checkoff has supported.”

Over 60 farmer-directors have served on the nine-member board since the Nebraska Corn Board’s inception in 1978. Board members represent eight districts across the state and one director serves as an at-large member.

Colfax County Farm Service Agency Reminds Producers to Signup for the 2018 Farm Program

Farmers and ranchers with base acres in the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) or Price Loss Coverage (PLC) safety net program may enroll for the 2018 crop year. Failure to enroll will result in no program benefits being earned for crop year 2018, noted Bruce Coffey County Executive Director of the Colfax County FSA office.

Since shares and ownership of a farm can change year-to-year, producers must enroll by signing a contract each program year.

The producers on a farm that are not enrolled for the 2018 enrollment period will not be eligible for financial assistance from the ARC or PLC programs for the 2018 crop should crop prices or farm revenues fall below the historical price or revenue benchmarks established by the program. Producers who made their elections in previous years must still enroll during the 2018 enrollment period.

The ARC and PLC programs were authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill and offer a safety net to agricultural producers when there is a substantial drop in prices or revenues for covered commodities. Covered commodities include barley, corn, grain sorghum, oats, soybeans, and wheat. For more details regarding these programs, go to

Coffey encouraged producers to call (402) 352-5200 to schedule an appointment and to update their records in the county office. For more information, producers are encouraged to visit their local FSA office. To find a local FSA office, visit

NRD's Educate Hundreds at Conference on State Sustainability

The NRDs are proud to announce Governor Pete Ricketts will be kicking off the Natural Resources Districts 2018 Legislative Conference at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Lincoln, Nebraska on Tuesday, January 23rd at 8:45 am. The NRDs protect people’s lives, property and future by helping conserve the state’s natural resources and soils, preserve the water below the ground and protect our rivers, fight potential flooding, and much more. Media is invited to attend the conference to learn how the NRDs are working to create a sustainable future.

Speakers will present information Tuesday, January 23rd starting at 9:00 am and also Wednesday, January 24th from 8:30 am – Noon (Wednesday is when most presentations are scheduled). An agenda is attached.

A few important topics that affect all Nebraskans include:

    Learn about Lincoln Premium Poultry and Costco’s innovative project that will push forth environmental stewardship and best practices being implemented across the project spectrum at the Costco Poultry facility being built in Fremont. (Wed. Jan. 24, 2018, 10:20 am – 11:05 am, Room: Regents C)

    In Nebraska, thousands of miles of riparian forest have been removed, increasing damage to soil and water resources threatening communities with declining air and water quality. Find out what Nebraskans can do about this and how to increase our air quality. (Wed. Jan 24, 2018, 9:20 am – 10:05 am, Room: Regents DE)

    A variety of groups are in the process of getting the public more involved in their operations including the Nebraska Corn Growers. They have a new focus on stewardship and will answer why they believe it is the key to reaching their goals long-term. (Wed., Jan. 24, 2018, 11:10 am – 11:55 am, Room: Regents F)

Several Nebraska senators are confirmed they’ll be attending the conference. It’s being held at Embassy Suites-Lincoln at 1040 P St, Lincoln, NE. You can find parking in the parking garage at the corner of Q St. and 11th St in downtown Lincoln.

Assistance Available to Agricultural Producers through the Conservation Stewardship Program

Agricultural producers wanting to enhance current conservation efforts are encouraged to apply for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).

Through CSP, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) helps private landowners build their business while implementing conservation practices that help ensure the sustainability of their entire operation. NRCS plans to enroll up to 10 million acres in CSP in 2018.

While applications for CSP are accepted year round, applications must be received by March 2, 2018, to be considered for this funding period.

Through CSP, agricultural producers and forest landowners earn payments for actively managing, maintaining, and expanding conservation activities like nutrient and pest management, cover crops and tree plantings– all while maintaining active agriculture production on their land. CSP also encourages the adoption of cutting-edge technologies and new management techniques such as precision agriculture applications, on-site carbon storage and planting for high carbon sequestration rate, and new soil amendments to improve water quality.

Some of these benefits of CSP include:
·       Improved cattle gains per acre;
·       Increased crop yields;
·       Decreased inputs;
·       Wildlife population improvements; and
·       Better resilience to weather extremes.

NRCS recently made several updates to the program to help producers better evaluate their conservation options and the benefits to their operations and natural resources. New methods and software for evaluating applications help producers see up front why they are or are not meeting stewardship thresholds, and allow them to pick practices and enhancements that work for their conservation objectives. These tools also enable producers to see potential payment scenarios for conservation early in the process.

NCC Hosts “Classic On The Road” Meetings

Albion Country Club, Albion, Nebraska
Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Free Beef Supper & Opportunities for Cattlemen
6 pm Social Hour - 7 pm Beef Supper

The Classic On The Road meetings are for you and your family to come and enjoy a fun night with area farmers and ranchers. Plus, enjoy a FREE beef supper.

There will be displays from Purina Mills, Merck Animal Health, Alligare, Multimin 90, Platte Valley Auto, Aurora Cooperative, and Modern Woodmen Financial.

These Cornerstone sponsors will have several drawings and promotional items to be given out at this meeting.

The Nebraska Cattlemen’s Classic will be handing out the 2018 Classic Beef and Horse Catalogs. You will want to come pick up your copy of the Classic Catalog.

They are bringing the Classic Catalogs to you! Below is the complete schedule of all meetings....
Monday, January 22nd, Burwell 883 Grand Event Centre
Tuesday, January 23rd- Albion Country Club
Wednesday, January 24 - Fairfield Opera House
Thursday, January 25th - SoKol Hall, Wilber
Monday, January 29th - Ne Salt Grain, Gothenburg

Call Ronette Heinrich at 308-627-6385, to make your reservation for this fun event for you and your family! When you make your reservation, indicate the location you are attending.

Prescribed burn workshop ignites efforts to equip land stewards with tools for success

Pheasants Forever, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, and Lower Elkhorn NRD will host a basic prescribed burn workshop on Tuesday, January 30. The workshop will be held at the Lifelong Learning Center in Norfolk from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Generally, individual landowners interested in prescribed fire lack necessary training or resources to achieve their goals independently. “It takes the time and coordination of many people working together to successfully and safely complete a prescribed burn” according to wildlife biologist Scott Schmidt.  For this reason, Pheasants Forever, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, and other conservation partners led an effort to educate, empower, and align land stewards who share a common goal: to increase the health of the land as Mother Nature intended, with fire. Workshops equip participants with a basic understanding of how to use prescribed fire safely and effectively. Topics such as fire behavior, prescribed burning techniques, writing burn plans, equipment use, and smoke management are presented by experienced natural resource managers and wildlife biologists.

Prescribed burn associations provide “next step” opportunities to gain experience with hands-on involvement. Dan Kathol, president of the Lower Elkhorn Prescribed Burn Association, meets with members to ensure that prep work and burn plans are complete before the spring burn season. Kathol said, “We will need to combine as many burns into a single day in order to get as many burns done on a day when the weather is conducive.” In 2017, the burn association had a record 27 burns totaling 2,260 acres in northeast Nebraska.

While landowners often seek their assistance, prescribed burn associations are not a work-for-hire operation. Like any other volunteer group, success depends on members who are willing to lend their time and resources to accomplish mutually beneficial goals for everyone involved. It’s a neighbor-helping-neighbor model. Burn association members must attend a basic burn workshop and participate in at least 1-2 burns each year. A small favor to ask, considering the benefit of having access to an 81-member network and a mobile prescribed burn trailer, complete with about $28,000 worth of burn equipment.

To attend the prescribed burn workshop in Norfolk, visit the events page at or call Ashley at 308-850-8395. A $10 registration fee covers the classroom training, workshop materials, and lunch. Please register by January 24, 2018.

Since 2008, a total of 118 workshops have increased prescribed fire knowledge among 2,791 attendees thanks to the collaboration of Pheasants Forever, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Nebraska Environmental Trust, and other conservation partners throughout the state.

Iowa DNR to Roll Out Manure Filing Process at Pork Congress

It's been more than a year since the Iowa DNR partnered with groups to develop a better way for farmers to file annual manure management plan updates.

The Iowa DNR introduces the project at Pork Congress, Jan. 24 and 25, in Des Moines. Attend an educational seminar at noon on Jan. 25 or stop by the DNR's booth, number 1511, to learn more.

Called the eMMP, the online application will go live early in March when DNR sends letters to livestock and poultry producers who must file annual updates to their MMPs.

Farmers and consultants can save time, effort and mileage by filing the required plans from their home, office or smart phone--instead of driving to each county office where manure will be applied. If everyone uses it, DNR estimates the online solution will save driving at least 178,000 miles per year.

Participating farmers and consultants will receive emailed reminders 60 days before the plans are due. Then they can file and pay fees for multiple plans at one time.

The eMMP frees up county staff from signing each of the 7,000-plus plans, signing corrections to those plans and storing the paper forms. Instead, counties will receive an email when plans are completed. Filing online will reduce the number of file cabinets needed to store paper records in county and DNR offices.

"It took a group effort and was sometimes challenging to meet the needs of producers, their consultants, 99 counties and the folks at DNR who process these plans," said Ted Petersen, DNR coordinator of the project. "Not everyone got exactly what they wanted, but the final product will benefit everyone."

The process is relatively simple: producers must use their secure DNR-issued PIN number to log in to a State of Iowa account, fill out the annual MMP short form online, and choose one of several options to pay annual compliance fees.

The public will continue to have access to information about the status of individual plans, statewide or county-by-county. Producers who prefer paper forms will still have that option.

For more information, see While visiting the DNR's eMMP web page, subscribe to AFO eNews, a newsletter for livestock and poultry animal feeding operations, and sign up for a Feb. 28 in-depth "how-to" webinar, "Save Time and Money--File your MMP Online."

Manure management plans are required of confinement site (totally roofed) facilities with more than 500 animal units or 1,250 finishing hogs. Farmers use the MMP to plan the amount of manure that can be land applied based on nitrogen and phosphorus needs of the upcoming crop.

Every four years, producers are required to test soils for nutrient levels and update their complete MMPs. Three out of four years, they can file a simplified annual MMP short form. Starting in March, they can file the annual short form electronically.

USDA Announces Proposed Rule to Modernize Swine Inspection

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) today announced its continued effort to modernize inspection systems through science-based approaches to food safety. USDA is proposing to amend the federal meat inspection regulations to establish a new voluntary inspection system for market hog slaughter establishments called the New Swine Slaughter Inspection System (NSIS), while also requiring additional pathogen sampling for all swine slaughter establishments.

The proposed rule also allows innovation and flexibility to establishments that are slaughtering market hogs. Market hogs are uniform, healthy, young animals that can be slaughtered and processed in this modernized system more efficiently and effectively with enhanced process control.

For market hog establishments that opt into NSIS, the proposed rule would increase the number of offline USDA inspection tasks, while continuing 100% FSIS carcass-by-carcass inspection. These offline inspection tasks place inspectors in areas of the production process where they can perform critical tasks that have direct impact on food safety.

“FSIS is excited to continue modernizing inspection practices, while allowing opportunities for industry to innovate and streamline food production,” said Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Carmen Rottenberg. “There is no single technology or process to address the problem of foodborne illness, but when we focus our inspections on food safety-related tasks, we better protect American families.”

In this proposal, USDA would also amend the regulations that apply to all establishments that slaughter swine. The new requirements would ensure that establishments implement measures to control enteric pathogens that can cause foodborne illness. Specifically, all swine slaughter establishments would be required to implement appropriate measures to prevent contamination throughout the entire production process in their Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) plans, Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (Sanitation SOPs), or other prerequisite programs. The new requirements would ensure that both USDA and the establishment have the documentation they need to verify the effectiveness of these measures on an ongoing basis.

There will be a 60-day period for comment once the rule is published in the Federal Register.

To view the proposed rule and information on how to comment on the rule, visit the FSIS website at

NPPC Supports New Pork Inspection Model

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has proposed a new pork processing inspection rule, a decision strongly supported by the National Pork Producers Council. As a result, the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) HACCP Inspection Model (HIMP) will be expanded from five current pilot locations to full-scale implementation.

“We support the USDA’s decision to advance HIMP as it introduces new pork production efficiencies while encouraging the deployment of new food safety technologies in packing plants,” said NPPC President Ken Maschhoff, a pork producer from Carlyle, Illinois. “The pilot program yielded very positive results; expanding the program is another step forward in the industry’s ongoing focus on continuous improvement of food safety and cost efficiency.”

The new inspection model, subject to a 60-day comment period, assigns increased inspection responsibility to plant operators, allowing the USDA to dedicate its resources to general oversight of food safety standards and the overall inspection process. Plants can choose to adopt the HIMP model or continue operating under the current inspection system.

Maschhoff added, “The U.S. pork industry is the most competitive in the world because we have built a reputation for quality, affordability and food safety. We applaud the USDA for taking this step to strengthen our competitive position.”

Perdue Outlines USDA Services in the Event of a Government Shutdown

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today outlined U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) services available in the event of a government shutdown.

“USDA is committed to safeguarding life and property through the critical services we provide – and should the government shut down, we will continue to do just that," said Secretary Perdue. “I am proud of each USDA employee for everything they do to benefit the farmers, ranchers, foresters, and producers who depend on our services. It is their mission each day to fulfill our USDA motto, 'Do right and feed everyone.'”

While you may click HERE to view USDA’s lapse in funding plans, background information on USDA services available in the event of a government shutdown are below:

Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS):

In the event of a lapse in appropriation – among other duties listed HERE – FSIS will continue work to:
-    Ensure meat, poultry, and egg products are safe and prevent the movement or sale in commerce of any meat or poultry products which are adulterated;
-    Inspect before and after slaughter those birds and animals intended for use as food for humans and inspect the further processing of meat and poultry products;
-    Apply foreign governments’ inspection requirements and procedures to verify that products exported from the United States are safe;
-    Conduct emergency operations in connection with the voluntary recall of meat or poultry products determined to be adulterated or misbranded;
-    Conduct epidemiological investigations based on reports of food-borne health hazards and disease outbreaks;
-    Monitor allied industries to prevent uninspected, misbranded, or adulterated meat, poultry and egg products from illegally entering channels of commerce;
-    Provide pathological, microbiological, chemical, and other scientific examination of meat, poultry and egg products for disease, infection, contamination, or other types of adulteration;
-    Conduct a microbiological monitoring and surveillance program;

Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service (APHIS):

In the event of a lapse in appropriation – among other duties listed HERE – APHIS will ensure:
-    Imported products do not bring pests and diseases into the U.S.;
-    In the case of a pest or disease outbreak, the appropriate emergency personnel would come back to work immediately;
-    Overseas staff that provide for national security, including the conduct of foreign relations essential to the national security or the safety of life and property, are excepted;
-    Personnel from the APHIS Emergency Management, Safety and Security Division will respond as necessary to provide technical assistance and conduct investigations for excepted and exempt activities;
-    Animal Care will have staff on call to address issues related to licensed or registered facilities (such as immediate needs related to the care or treatment of animals; capture or containment of dangerous animals, or the required confiscation of animals);
-    Biotechnology Regulatory Services will monitor the compliance call line for incidents related to genetically engineered organisms. If an incident needs follow up, the correct regulatory and investigative personnel will be called in to work;
-    Security staff will be available on a case-by-case basis to respond to security incidents and to coordinate facility access;
-    Foreign animal disease (FAD) diagnosticians and incident command system (ICS) teams will be available on a case-by-case basis to respond to FAD investigations and FAD emergencies;
-    Laboratory personnel will be available to run tests on samples associated with foreign animal disease investigations, and, at the beginning of the period, to close out pending lab tests;
-    Staffing at National Wildlife Research Center and its associated field stations to care for the animals being studied.

Food and Nutrition Service (FNS):

In the event of a lapse in appropriations – among other duties listed HERE – FNS will ensure:
-    Ongoing activities include essential Federal functions to maintain the core programs of the nutrition safety net, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Child Nutrition Programs, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC);
-        All of these programs will continue to serve eligible people through USDA’s partners (State agencies and other grantees) utilizing legally available Federal resources previously provided to them or their own resources.  All have funding available to operate through the month of February, and many have funds to continue operations through March, without additional appropriation.
-    Disaster feeding operations under the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 and the Stafford Act would remain available based on the exception to fund functions critical to health and safety;
-    The smaller discretionary programs should utilize funds already allocated and made available for operation of programs. Food already purchased for delivery to the Food Distribution programs; The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR), USDA foods for Child Nutrition Programs, and the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), will continue to be delivered to program operators.

Rural Development (RD):

In the event of a lapse in appropriation – among other duties listed HERE – RD will:
-    Continue its fiduciary responsibilities in accounting for and processing customers’ funds, such as loan escrow accounts, in an accurate and timely manner;
-    Ensure those individuals who hold single family housing loans from RD are able to make their monthly payments and will be held accountable to monthly mortgage payment deadlines;
-    Ensure organizations holding USDA Rural Development loans will still be able to make their payments and will be held accountable for making on-time loan payments;
-    Ensure Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands offices will continue to be open during a federal funding lapse to assist in continued disaster recovery efforts;
-        Staff at these offices will be able to conduct inspections of existing projects, and they will also be available to provide technical assistance to USDA customers.

Risk Management Agency (RMA):

In the event of a lapse in appropriations – among other duties listed HERE – RMA will ensure:
-    Crop insurance companies will continue to deliver and service the federal crop insurance program during a government shutdown; 
-    Approved Insurance Providers (AIPS) will stay open and agents and loss adjustors will be fully available;
-    Indemnity payments will continue to be made.

U.S. Forest Service (USFS):

In the event of a lapse in appropriations – among other duties listed HERE – the USFS will continue work in:
-    Emergency and Defense Preparedness;
-    Fire Suppression including fire fighters and all necessary equipment costs to protect life and property, Law Enforcement personnel and all necessary equipment costs to protect life and property, and emergency and natural disasters response or preparation (e.g., floods and avalanche control);
-    Protection of Federal lands, buildings, waterways, equipment and other property and investments owned by the United States when the suspension of such activities would cause an imminent threat to human life and property. This includes nurseries, insectaries, tree seed labs, and the minimum level of staffing to administer permits and contracts needed for protection of National Forest System lands;
-    All contracts in support of cyber security, land-based radio communications, and infrastructure operations to support key positions and essential personnel;
-    Protection of Research studies where lack of continuation measurements or maintenance would destroy or endanger validity of research findings;
-    Job Corps operations unless directed otherwise by Department of Labor.

Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS):

In the event of a lapse in appropriation – among other duties listed HERE – the following services will remain available through AMS:
-    Commodity Procurement;
-    Grading and Inspection;
-    Cotton Classing;
-    Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act Program (PACA);
-    Research and Promotion Board Oversight;
-    FGIS: Inspection and Weighing Services (user fee funded activities);
-    Farm-Bill Funded Activities.

Economic Research Service (ERS):

In the event of a lapse in appropriations – among other duties listed HERE – ERS will:
-    Ensure coordination of data calls;
-    Maintain agency Local Area Network (LAN) and Wide Area Network (WAN) systems;
-    Ensure all systems remain online and functional;
-    Require COOP team staff for both readiness activities such as maintaining operable communications as well as implementation or activation activities, and to ensure adequate communication with the USDA OpsCenter.

National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS):

In the event of a lapse in appropriations – among other duties listed HERE – NRCS will continue their work in:
-    Puerto Rico and Virgin Island Activities;
-    Emergency Watershed Protection;
-    Dam monitoring.

Agricultural Research Service (ARS):

In the event of a lapse in appropriations – among other duties listed HERE – ARS will:
-    Continue performing duties related to preserving and protecting ARS facilities, animals and critical research infrastructure.

Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS):

In the event of a lapse in appropriations – among other duties listed HERE – FAS will:
-    Support NAFTA negotiations;
-    Engage on issues pending in the World Trade Organization;
-    Operate the Commodity Credit Corporation-funded Export Credit Guarantee Program (GSM-102);
-    Maintain international offices at U.S. embassies around the world.

Farm Service Agency (FSA):

In the event of a lapse in appropriations – among other duties listed HERE – FSA will ensure:
-    All FSA local service centers and farm loan programs in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands remain active.

Office of the Chief Economist (OCE):

In the event of a lapse in appropriation – among other duties listed HERE – OCE will continue Supporting:
-    The ongoing NAFTA negotiations;
-    The China negotiations in Geneva;
-    The OECD.

USDA Announces a Near-Record Year for Farm Loans - Infusing Rural Communities with Stronger Businesses and Sounder Agricultural Economies

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) today announced another year of high activity in its farm loan programs. Hard-working farm families across the country accessed nearly $6 billion in new credit, either directly or guaranteed through commercial lenders in 2017. At year end, FSA was assisting more than 120,000 family farmers with loans totaling just over $25 billion.

“FSA loan funds have been in high demand the last few years,” said Dr. Robert Johansson, Acting Deputy Under Secretary for the Farm Production and Conservation mission area. “We provide opportunities to qualified small, beginning and underserved farmers who are unable to obtain commercial credit, to help them get started, gain access to land and grow their operations. Family farmers across America also come to us for credit when they face challenges to stay in business. We’re proud to support rural prosperity by providing credit to those who need it most.”

FSA provides a variety of loan assistance, including direct and guaranteed farm ownership loans, operating loans and even direct Microloans up to $50,000 and EZ Guarantees up to $100,000 with streamlined application processes.

More than 25,000 direct and guaranteed FSA loans went to beginning or underserved farmers and ranchers. Over 4,200 beginning farmers received direct farm ownership loans from FSA to make their first land purchase. And of the approximately 6,500 Microloans made in the last fiscal year, three-quarters (almost 4,900) went to beginning farmers, 1,000 went to women and 400 to veterans.

FSA’s direct farm loans are unique in that the agency provides technical assistance in addition to credit. Consistent with efforts to continually improve technical assistance, today FSA announced the publication of two booklets that will serve as important informational tools and resources for existing and prospective farm loan borrowers.

Your FSA Farm Loan Compass booklet was recently developed specifically for farmers and ranchers who have an existing farm loan with FSA. It provides detailed guidance outlining borrower responsibilities and the servicing options that FSA offers. It also addresses common questions borrowers may have as they navigate through loan program requirements and the financial concepts involved.

Originally published in 2012, Your Guide to FSA Farm Loans was designed for new loan customers. It provides information about the various types of farm loans available and guides new borrowers through the application process. The revised version addresses program changes and includes new loan offerings, like the popular Microloan program that was rolled out after the publication of the original Guide.

“Your FSA Farm Loan Compass” and “Your Guide to FSA Farm Loans” are available on the FSA website at Farmers and ranchers are encouraged to download and share them with others in their community who may require assistance in understanding FSA’s loans and servicing processes. For additional information about FSA farm loans, please contact your loan officer or other FSA staff at your local office. To find your local FSA office, visit


National Pork Producers Council Deputy Director of Science and Technology Dr. Dan Kovich this week participated in a briefing for staff of the Senate Committee on Health Education, Labor and Pensions on reauthorizing the Animal Drug User Fee Act. ADUFA provides user fees to supplement the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s rigorous and robust review of animal drugs by providing additional resources for timely reviews of new animal drug applications. The law must be reauthorized every five years. Kovich told staffers that more timely reviews ensure that pork producers and their veterinarians have expedited access to new and innovative products for pigs, which help ensure public and animal health.

Icy Rivers Slow Grain Shipments

Ice is clogging major US waterways, slowing the flow of crops out of the agricultural heartland and lowering prices for farmers. Bouts of frigid temperatures in the Midwest froze portions of the Mississippi, Illinois and Ohio rivers in recent weeks. That's prompted some grain and soybean shippers to lower prices offered as they contend with reduced capacity, while others facilities have closed altogether. Farmers delivering to a grain facility in Naples, Ill., will receive 13 cents less per bushel of soybeans, according Mike Steenhoek of the Soy Transportation Coalition, while others are forced to hold onto their crops until the rivers thaw. The USDA says that grain barge tonnage on those rivers in the first two weeks of January fell 63% from the previous year.

ADM Has Made Takeover Approach to Bunge

Archer Daniels Midland Co. has made a takeover approach to Bunge Ltd., according to people familiar with the matter, setting up a possible bidding war after Glencore PLC earlier made an overture to the agricultural powerhouse.

Details of the ADM approach are unclear and it's possible neither company would succeed in buying Bunge, which had a market value of about $9.8 billion as of Friday afternoon. ADM's valuation was $22.6 billion.

Mining conglomerate Glencore approached White Plains, N.Y.-based Bunge, which ranks among the world's largest traders and processors of crops like soybeans and corn, The Wall Street Journal reported in May. The two companies have a standstill arrangement that temporarily prevents Glencore from making a hostile bid for Bunge. It's unclear whether the expression of interest from ADM negates the standstill, which expires in coming weeks, and enables Glencore to make another move now.

Glencore has been widely expected to re-engage with Bunge once the standstill expires though it's unclear what its intentions are at present.

ADM and Bunge represent the "A" and "B" in the so-called ABCDs, the global commodity-trading companies that dominate the world-wide flow of basic foodstuffs. Minnesota-based Cargill Inc. and Louis Dreyfus Commodities, headquartered in the Netherlands, are the other two.

A deal with Bunge would represent a strategic shift for Chicago-based ADM, which competes with Bunge in the business of buying, selling and processing crops. While ADM maintains one of the world's largest agricultural trading networks, the company in recent years has prioritized investing in food ingredients and flavorings, which executives tout as more profitable and more stable than the sometimes-volatile grain industry.

A combination between ADM and Bunge would likely face stiff regulatory hurdles, given the companies' competing grain facilities, shipping terminals and processing plants.

Glencore's agricultural division has a smaller presence than ADM's and Bunge's in key crop-exporting bread baskets like the U.S. and Brazil, so a Glencore deal could face fewer such hurdles.

A deal could fortify the companies at a time when agricultural traders are struggling. A string of bumper crops in North America, South America and Eastern Europe have swelled stockpiles and pushed down agricultural commodity prices.

Ample supplies mean fewer and smaller price swings, making it harder for grain companies to make profitable trades. Low prices have also left farmers reluctant to sell crops to grain companies, with many instead choosing to stash away crops on their own farms and wait for prices to improve. And food companies that buy raw or semi-processed grain from commodity firms are placing fewer long-term orders, since prices are expected to remain low.

Bunge shares have given back their sharp gain after the Journal reported on Glencore's approach, as a result of poor earnings.

Bunge traces its roots to a Dutch firm founded in 1818. Its controlling families, the Bunges and Borns, moved the company to South America and eventually the U.S. The company went public in 2001 and rode a commodity boom that ran from 2007 to 2013.

ADM's history dates back to 1902, when Daniels Linseed Co. was founded in Minneapolis to process linseed oil. The company later changed its name to Archer Daniels Midland before listing shares on the New York Stock Exchange in 1924, later expanding into grain trading and crop processing in Europe and South America. The company runs about 500 crop-buying facilities and 250 processing plants around the world.

Thursday January 18 Ag News

Rural Mainstreet Index Sinks for January:  Rising Farm Loan Defaults Identified as Greatest 2018 Challenge

The Creighton University Rural Mainstreet Index declined slightly in January from December’s weak reading, remaining below growth neutral, according to the latest monthly survey of bank CEOs in rural areas of a 10-state region dependent on agriculture and/or energy.  

Overall: The index, like all indices in the survey, ranges between 0 and 100 with 50.0 representing growth neutral, fell to 46.8 from 47.8 in December. Though the overall index remained below growth neutral, it is significantly higher than the reading for January 2017.

“While the overall Rural Mainstreet Index (RMI) for January declined and remained below growth neutral, year-over-year indices are trending higher. Clearly, based on our recent surveys, the negatives are getting less negative,” said Ernie Goss, Jack A. MacAllister Chair in Regional Economics at Creighton University’s Heider College of Business.

When asked to name the greatest 2018 economic challenge for their banks, four in 10 bankers reported that loan defaults represented the biggest challenges for the year ahead. This is well ahead of the second ranked challenge of competition from Farm Credit coming in at 15.6 percent.
Farming and ranching: The farmland and ranchland-price index for January rose to 42.2 from 39.8 in December. This is the 50th straight month the index has fallen below growth neutral 50.0.

The January farm equipment-sales index slumped to 24.4 from December’s 29.3. This marks the 53rd consecutive month the reading has dropped below growth neutral, 50.0.

Below are the state reports:

Nebraska: The Nebraska RMI for January sank to 46.3 from December’s 48.3. The state’s farmland-price index climbed to 42.1 from last month’s 35.8. Nebraska’s new-hiring index stood at a strong 60.6, up from 59.6 in November.

Iowa: The January RMI for Iowa dipped to 47.3 from 48.0 in December. Iowa’s farmland-price index for January increased to 42.4 from December’s 39.8. Iowa’s new-hiring index for January declined to 52.1 from December’s 60.0.

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

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

Two legislative bills seek to expand broadband access to rural Nebraska

Residents in many areas of rural Nebraska do not have access to high speed internet. Two legislative bills introduced today by Sen. Lynne Walz, of Fremont, seek to close the digital divide.

LB 1113 introduced by Sen. Walz and co-sponsored by Sen. Tom Briese of Albion, would make it easier for public entities to work with private companies to install fiber optic cable required for broadband internet access. Currently, there are regulations and restrictions that interfere with private companies and political subdivisions from entering into public-private partnerships in an effective and cost-efficient manner.

“The current path to public-private partnerships is cumbersome and inefficient,” said Jordan Rasmussen, policy associate with the Center for Rural Affairs. “The city of Lincoln laid conduit and then leased the space for fiber in the conduit. With the passage of this legislation, the municipality could lay and lease the fiber directly if they have a private partner in place to provide the services. This would result in a cost saving to the municipality, the service providers, and ultimately, the customer.”

The second bill, LB 1114, seeks to reinstate requirements for more detailed reporting of broadband service access. Current reporting standards allow for telecommunications services to be reported at the census block level. For many rural areas of Nebraska, the census block is the entire county.

For example, Rasmussen said residents of Taylor may have high speed access, but that doesn’t mean access spans all of Loup County.

“This enhanced reporting will provide service providers and municipalities with a more accurate depiction of where service is and is not available,” Rasmussen said. “Reporting access at the census block level leaves room for error and misallocation of funds to build out broadband services.”

The Center for Rural Affairs recognizes the opportunities of expanded rural broadband service, and has endorsed both LB 1113 and LB 1114.

“Funding opportunities and legislative changes are key to the extension of internet access to all residents,” Rasmussen said. “The ability to expand broadband access in the state’s rural communities expands social and economic opportunities for Nebraskans.”

Pork producers to discuss industry issues in Kansas City

Producer delegates from across the United States will gather in Kansas City Feb. 28 – March 2 for the annual National Pork Industry Forum.

The 15 producers who serve as members of the National Pork Board will hear directly from Pork Act Delegates appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. Each year the delegates confer, vote on resolutions and advisements and provide valuable direction on the important issues facing pork producers and the industry. Delegates will learn about the aggressive promotions to grow consumer demand and plans to build consumer trust and drive sustainable production.

The theme for this year’s Pork Forum, We Care® - A Decade of Commitment, references the 10-year anniversary of the We Care ethical principles. Adopted in 2008, the ethical principles show pork producers’ commitment to producing safe food, protecting and promoting animal well-being, safeguarding natural resources, promoting public health, promoting a safe work environment and contributing to a better way of life in their communities.

“The We Care ethical principles are at the core of who we are as pig farmers,” said Terry O’Neel, president of the National Pork Board and a pig farmer from Friend, Nebraska. “They show consumers that we are committed to doing what’s right on the farm for people, pigs and the planet.”

At the meeting, Pork Act Delegates will rank eight candidates for the National Pork Board and submit the list to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture for approval. The candidates, in alphabetical order, are:
    Gary Asay – Illinois
    Richard Deaton – Ohio
    Patricia Dumoulin – Illinois
    Todd Erickson – North Dakota
    Patrick FitzSimmons – Minnesota
    Bill Kessler – Missouri
    David Newman – Arkansas
    Bill Tentinger – Iowa

Prior to the annual meeting, members of the National Pork Board also will convene their March board of directors meeting. The agenda will include updates on 2018 plans to enhance pork demand, increase market opportunities, improve pork production practices and invest in research priorities.

Included on the 2018 Pork Forum agenda will be opportunities for pork producers to become certified in the pork industry’s Pork Quality Assurance® Plus program, as well as learn more about other pork industry programs. The full agenda is available at


The 20th Annual Iowa Farmers Market Workshop will be held on Saturday, February 3rd from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Grace Lutheran Church at 3010 52nd Street in Des Moines.

Topics to be covered will include the new FDA Produce Safety Rule, wine sampling and sales at markets, insurance needs of vendors and markets, a panel of market managers sharing successes and challenges, updates on the state’s Double Up Food Bucks Program as well as from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture and Land Stewardship Bill Northey will provide the welcome at the opening of the workshop.

“It’s always an honor to help welcome the market managers, lead personnel and vendors to the workshop.  In many cases these market leaders are the face of Iowa agriculture to market goers. The Department really appreciates the work they do in organizing the state’s farmers markets and supplying locally grown fresh produce, baked goods, and other items to Iowans,” Northey said.

Again this year, the Iowa Farm Bureau will be offering free consumer market bags on a market basis. Attendees will also have the opportunity to receive training to be certified in the Farmers Market Nutrition Program.

“The Iowa Farmers Market Association is so pleased to have put on these workshops now for 20 years. These events are a great way for our statewide group to reconnect with one another.  Each workshop is unique and we cover so much during the day. We have an exciting agenda lined up for this year’s workshop,” said Iowa Farmers Market Association President Donna Brahms.

More information including the full agenda and registration form can be found on the IFMA website: .

New Coalition Advocates for North American Free Trade Agreement Preservation and Modernization

A broad-based group of over 30 organizations representing growers, refiners, producers, transporters, retailers and consumers announced the formation of Americans for Farmers & Families (AFF), a coalition that will work to ensure President Donald Trump and Congressional leaders understand the importance of preserving and modernizing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to America's agricultural and retail economies.

Since taking effect in 1994, the positive impacts of NAFTA extend beyond America's farming community, and have helped the food and agricultural industries to grow to support more than 43 million jobs.  But it is rural economies and communities that are among the biggest winners under NAFTA, the very same communities that powered President Trump to victory in 2016.

Under NAFTA, food and agriculture exports have more than quadrupled and account for 25 percent of American exports.  One in every 10 acres of American crops is for export to NAFTA partners.  NAFTA has fueled agriculture-related industries' growth, which in turn has been a driver in building American jobs.  Today, American food and agriculture supports more than 20 percent of the U.S. workforce and provides more manufacturing jobs than any other sector. And NAFTA has helped keep grocery prices down for all Americans.

"Farm Belt voters supported President Trump by a three-to-one margin in the last election and they are counting on President Trump to improve NAFTA in the modernization negotiations," said John Bode, president and CEO of the Corn Refiners Association and a member of AFF's leadership committee.  "It's not an exaggeration to say many farmers are still farming today because of NAFTA.  We know that President Trump has a lot of experience negotiating good deals.  We support him in updating and improving NAFTA."

NAFTA has opened markets to America's farmers, grown domestic jobs and supported $127 billion in annual economic activity.  Fruit and vegetable exports alone from the United States to Canada and Mexico have more than tripled under NAFTA.  As President Trump's negotiators are debating major changes to the agreement, we will ensure they keep a clear eye on the positive impact NAFTA has had on the American economy, job growth and wages.

"NAFTA has opened new markets to America's farmers and ranchers, and U.S. agricultural exports to Canada and Mexico have quadrupled under the agreement," said Zippy Duval, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation and a member of AFF's leadership committee.  "The current negotiations should build upon that success. Farm Bureau is pleased to work with AFF as well as Farmers for Free Trade and other collaborative efforts to engage farmers and leaders at the local, state and national levels and deliver that message to Congress and the President."

As part of this effort, AFF will be launching a robust educational campaign to highlight the positive impact NAFTA achieves for hard-working Americans and lay the groundwork for an updated trade agreement that preserves America's strong economic standing for decades to come.

"We look forward to being active participants in this discussion as we ensure the growers, producers, processors, transporters, retailers and consumers we represent have their voices heard," added Chris Novak, CEO of the National Corn Growers Association and another member of AFF's leadership committee. "This issue is simply too important for us to sit on the sidelines."

"Canada and Mexico represent the second and third largest markets for U.S. agriculture," said AFF leadership committee member Neil Dierks, CEO of the National Pork Producers Council.  "A modernized NAFTA is critical to the prosperity of rural America."

For more information on AFF, including an initial membership list, please visit

Soy Growers Join New Initiative to Protect & Modernize NAFTA for the 21st Century

The American Soybean Association (ASA) supports the Americans for Farmers & Families (AFF), a new coalition of growers, producers, suppliers and consumers dedicated to preserving the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

NAFTA has greatly benefited the U.S. through strong job growth, higher wages and low consumer prices, and has particularly enabled a booming agricultural and energy export economy that has upheld America’s independence. But its livelihood is at stake.

The mission of AFF is to educate policymakers on the best way to modernize NAFTA to fit America’s evolving needs. Improvements to NAFTA should be pursued by policymakers to ensure fair and balanced trade with our partners that benefits American exporters, consumers and helps create and grow American jobs.

To be an impactful voice in the debate over the future of NAFTA and change perceptions about the trade agreement, the coalition will focus on supporting the negotiations with political grasstops, coalition building and earned media campaigns in Republican-leaning states across the nation. Mobilizing a unique coalition of our industry and supporters of President Donald Trump and Republican governors, senators and members of Congress will be critical to success of the negotiations.


The U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) and the Midwest Shippers Association (MSA) announced today that the sixth annual U.S. Soy Global Trade Exchange and the 15th annual Midwest Specialty Grain Conference and Trade Show will be jointly held in Kansas City, Missouri from August 29 – 31, 2018, marking the sixth year that the two organizations will co-host this event.

USSEC CEO Jim Sutter said that USSEC’s portion of the conference is expected to draw more than 250 qualified soybean buyers from more than 50 countries.

“Kansas City offers a superb location for our joint international conference, trade show, and the global buyer / U.S. supplier meetings,” said MSA CEO Bruce Abbe. “There is a host of leading agriculture export companies located in the nearby region, and Kansas City is a center for U.S. agriculture transportation, including major intermodal rail operations going to all coasts. There will be much to do and see for our international visitors.”

This year’s event will feature a refined schedule that will spread out the trade team meetings between commodity and food soy and grain buyers and suppliers throughout two days, aimed at maximizing productive exchange meetings. Follow developments at

Missouri ranks sixth in production of U.S. Soy. In 2016, Missouri soybean farmers harvested 271.5 million bushels on more than 5.6 million acres, worth over $2.6 billion. In 2016, Kansas ranked tenth in production of U.S. Soy with the state’s soybean farmers harvesting 192.5 million bushels on just over 4 million acres, worth $1.8  billion.

The U.S. Soybean Export Council aims to maximize the use of U.S. Soy internationally by meeting the needs of global customers that use U.S. Soy in human food and feed for poultry, livestock, and fish. The organization uses a global network of stakeholder partnerships, including soybean farmers, exporters, agribusinesses, agricultural organizations, researchers and government agencies, to accomplish that mission.

The Midwest Shippers Association is a trade association consisting of companies and producers devoted to supplying the highest quality oilseeds, grain, and grain ingredients to international and domestic customers. The organization works to find logistics and global shipping transportation solutions for the Upper Midwest region. MSA is a networking organization that brings together its member companies, international and domestic food manufacturers, and an extensive range of supply chain providers that enables the region to deliver high quality products to customers around the world.

AFBF Releases Strategic Action Goals for 2018

The American Farm Bureau Federation today released its 2018 strategic action plan goals. The goals, which identify the organization’s top public policy issues for 2018, were approved last week in Nashville by the AFBF Board of Directors following delegate action during the organization’s 99th annual convention.

The action plan goals will serve as the focus of intensive, cross-functional planning and organizational engagement by AFBF throughout 2018. The four top issues include:
-    Farm Policy: Enact a farm bill in the 115th Congress that benefits farmers and ranchers, rural communities, and food security.
-    Immigration Reform: Enact immigration reform in the 115th Congress that helps meet farmers’ and ranchers’ labor needs.
-    Regulatory Reform: Work for reform to ensure that federal rules are limited to what is necessary, are supported by science, appropriately balance costs and benefits, are clearly authorized by law, are created in a transparent manner, and allow farmers and ranchers to remain productive.
-    Trade: Defend and expand trade opportunities for U.S. agriculture.

Additional watch-list issues will be monitored for developments that warrant increased strategic planning and collaboration. These include:
-    Energy: Ensure policy that enhances the availability and affordability of energy for farmers and ranchers and encourages the growth of renewable energy production.
-    Infrastructure: Work for greater investment in rural and agricultural infrastructure, including broadband Internet access, rural roads and bridges, inland waterway locks and dams, sea ports and agricultural research.
-    Tax Reform: Continue working to eliminate the estate tax and monitor implementation of the 2017 tax reform law.

The list is not inclusive of all the issues the organization will address in 2018, as AFBF will continue to look for opportunities to implement actions compatible with the policies set forth by 353 farmer and rancher delegates from across the nation during last week’s annual convention.

American Drivers Top 3 Billion Miles Driven on E15

Today Growth Energy announces that American drivers have logged yet another billion miles on clean burning E15 in just the past three months. The total number of miles driven on E15 now sits at more than 3 billion.

“E15 is taking off with consumers wherever it’s available and rapidly becoming drivers’ go-to fuel,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “At the forefront of this incredible growth are forward-thinking retailers who have figured out that E15 is smart business, as well as consumers who have come to rely on the better value proposition E15 presents. It’s a win-win on both ends, and that means E15’s growth is only going to continue.”

Growth Energy works hand-in-hand with Prime the Pump, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping build the infrastructure and distribution of higher biofuel blends, to give more Americans the choice of E15 at the pump. We are proud to partner with leading retailers including Casey’s, Cenex, Family Express, Kum & Go, Kwik Trip, MAPCO, Minnoco, Murphy USA, Protec Fuel, QuikTrip, RaceTrac, Sheetz, and Thorntons to offer E15 to customers at more than 1,300 stations across 29 states.

“Consumers are reaching for E15 because it provides unrivaled value that benefits their engines, the environment, and their wallets. This is how the number of E15 sites has doubled in 2017 for the fourth year in a row,” Skor added.

E15 is cleaner burning and has higher octane, which makes it a smart choice for drivers who want better engine performance and lower emissions for the environment. It is approved for use in all vehicles 2001 and newer, as well as in all flex-fuel vehicles, which combined represent more than 87 percent of vehicles on the road.

For more information on biofuels, or to find your nearest E15 or E85 station, visit

Retail Fertilizer Trends

For the second week in a row, average retail prices for all eight major fertilizers were higher compared to a month earlier, according to DTN's survey of retailers. However, only one fertilizer was up a significant amount. As has been the case in recent weeks, anhydrous was up 10% compared to last month. The nitrogen fertilizer's average price is $479 per ton.

The remaining fertilizers were up by smaller amounts. DAP had an average price of $456/ton, MAP $491/ton, potash $346/ton, urea $352/ton, 10-34-0 $410/ton, UAN28 $220/ton and UAN32 $258/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.38/lb.N, anhydrous $0.29/lb.N, UAN28 $0.39/lb.N and UAN32 $0.40/lb.N.

All but three fertilizers are now higher compared to last year with prices pushing higher in recent weeks. Anhydrous is 3% higher, urea is 4% more expensive, DAP is 5% higher, potash is 8% more expensive and MAP is now 12% higher.

Three fertilizers are still lower in price compared to a year prior. Both UAN28 and UAN32 are 1% lower, while 10-34-0 is 6% less expensive looking back a year.

EIA: Ethanol Stocks Steady

U.S. ethanol stockpiles held steady at 22.7 million barrels (bbl) during the week-ended Jan. 12 while plant production and blending demand increased following declines the week prior, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported on Thursday, Jan. 18.  Relative to a year ago, domestic ethanol stockpiles were 1.6 million bbl, or 7.6%, higher.

cDomestic plant production increased 65,000 barrels per day (bpd), or 6.5%, to 1.061 million bpd last week. Compared with a year ago, plant output was up 7,000 bpd, or 0.7%. For the four weeks ended Jan. 12, ethanol production averaged 1.045 million bpd, up 1,000 bpd versus a year ago.

Net refiner and blender inputs, a measure for ethanol demand, climbed 61,000 bpd, or 7.7%, last week to 856,000 bpd, rebounding from a three-year low the week prior. Compared to a year ago, blending demand was up 16,000 bpd, or 1.9%. For the four-week period ended Jan. 12, blending demand averaged 863,000 bpd, up 7,000 bpd, or 0.8%, versus a year ago.

DDGS Exports Set New Record To Southeast Asia

Considerable concern surrounded the export potential for U.S. distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) following an adverse trade policy decision by Vietnam, a historic top buyer, in December 2016. Instead, other countries in the region increased DDGS purchasing, the Vietnamese market re-opened and the region set a new record at 2.3 million metric tons in DDGS imports in 2016/2017.

“Offsetting the decline in sales to Vietnam, the market for U.S. DDGS in Southeast Asia diversified significantly,” said Manuel Sanchez, U.S. Grains Council (USGC) regional director for Southeast Asia. “We lost the largest DDGS market in the region for eight months and still reached a record import volume overall.”

Following the detection of quarantine pests, the Vietnamese Plant Protection Department (PPD) issued a decision in October 2016 to temporarily suspend DDGS importation. As a result, Vietnam purchased 50 percent less U.S. DDGS in 2016/2017 at nearly 495,000 tons, compared to almost 986,000 tons the year prior.

The Vietnamese government lifted its suspension of U.S. DDGS imports in September 2017, following an intense effort by the Council, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR). Thus far in the 2017/2018 marketing year (September-November 2017), Vietnam has purchased more than 213,000 tons of U.S. DDGS, a steady uptick in the market.

Elsewhere in the region, the Council continued to expand DDGS sales by providing technical expertise and support as well as connecting grain buyers and end-users with U.S. suppliers. Programs in Vietnam are targeting aquaculture and swine programs whereas activities in Indonesia and Malaysia focus on boiler and layer sectors. In the Philippines, the Council is providing information on storing and handling.

This work throughout the region is helping end-users determine how best to incorporate U.S. DDGS into their rations. Combined with one of the lowest per unit of protein cost compared to other feed ingredients in the market, the Council saw notable increases in demand for U.S. DDGS from buyers in Southeast Asia in 2016/2017.

“We saw notable year-over-year growth in both Thailand and Indonesia,” said Sanchez. “New buyers like New Zealand, Cambodia and Myanmar also made a big splash this past marketing year.”

Thailand was the fourth largest buyer of U.S. DDGS in 2016/2017, purchasing 791,000 tons. Already in the new marketing year, Thailand has purchased more than 206,000 tons, bolstered by the Council’s trade servicing and technical assistance to the country’s feed manufacturers for swine, broilers and layers sectors, among the largest in the world.

“Thailand’s growth can be directly attributed to the Council’s programs in country,” Sanchez said. Indonesia has also steadily increased imports of U.S. DDGS over the three marketing years, importing about 512,000 tons in 2016/2017. Indonesia has already purchased more than 251,000 tons of U.S. DDGS in 2017/2018.

Smaller buyers are also substantially increasing their purchases of U.S. DDGS. New Zealand more than quadrupled purchases of U.S. DDGS with 151,000 tons in 2016/2017, compared to 32,600 tons the previous marketing year. New Zealand has already purchased 50,000 tons of U.S. DDGS in 2017/2018.

“Market potential for DDGS exports to the region remains optimistic in 2017/2018,” Sanchez said. “We expect demand for U.S. DDGS strengthen as industries in these countries continue to grow and incorporate more co-products into their rations.”

IGC Raises 2017-18 Forecast

The International Grains Council said on Thursday that it has raised its global forecast for grain-production in 2017-18 to 2,100 million metric tons, due to better-than-expected wheat production in Russia and Argentina.

The new forecast represents an increase of 21 million tons from the forecast given in late November, but a drop from the previous season's record of 2,140 million tons, the IGC said, citing smaller planting areas and poorer average yields. Nevertheless, the IGC said that its latest forecast is the second largest on record.

The revised figure means that global grain output for 2017-18 is expected to fall 1.9% from the record.

The IGC edged up its 2016-17 monthly output forecast to 2,140 million tons in January, an increase of 6 million tons. That represents a 6.2% increase on the 2015-16 season.

Maize-production forecasts for 2017-18 rose by 14 million tons in the latest report.

The grain body increased its wheat production estimate by 8 million tons to 757 million tons.

The IGC raised its forecasts for rice by 2 million tons to 484 million tons and for soybeans by 1 million tons to 349 million tons.

While the adjustment in the IGC's maize expectations are due to a combination of a change in historical figures in China and higher-than-expected production in the European Union, the U.S., China, Nigeria and Ethiopia, a projected fall in global grain production "still represents the first contraction in five years," the body said in its report.

As for 2018-19, "a 2% fall in world wheat production is projected... and given likely firm demand, the first drawdown of stocks is predicted since 2012-13," the IGC said. "Trade is seen at a record, bolstered by growing import needs in Africa and Asia, including in India," the body added.

Wheat was last up 0.53% at $4.24 a bushel, corn was down 0.14% at $3.53 a bushel and soybeans were last up 0.43% at $9.73 a bushel.

Algeria Removes Value-Added Tax On U.S. DDGS, Corn Gluten Feed

The government of Algeria has lifted a value-added tax (VAT) on U.S. distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) and corn gluten feed (CGF) for 2018, affording new opportunities this marketing year.

“The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) has been demonstrating the clear advantages of using DDGS and CGF in feed rations through activities in Algeria,” said Ramy Hadj Taieb, USGC regional director for the Middle East and North Africa. “This success was made possible thanks to efforts deployed by the Council and our various partners in Algeria.”

Algeria is the second largest corn market in North Africa, second only to Egypt. The poultry and dairy sectors are growing industries where U.S. co-products fit well into rations. However, a complex environment and government influence on the economy complicates market development efforts.

For the last two years, the Algerian government has imposed regulations and made decisions to restrict imports in order to offset the persistent drop in international oil and gas prices. That included a 17 percent VAT on both U.S. DDGS and CGF. Combined with existing import duties of 30 percent, imports of these products were simply uncompetitive with other feed ingredients.

However, thanks to work by the Council and partners in country to push for a reduction in tariffs, the Algerian government released a list of feed ingredients benefiting from an exoneration of a value-added tax until Dec. 31, 2018. The list notably includes corn, barley, DDGS and CGF, a particular success in this economical context.

“The difference of cumulated import and value-added tax tariffs has considerably narrowed, especially when compared to competing feed ingredients,” Taieb said. “This situation offers new and interesting import perspectives for U.S. co-products in Algeria as the Council continues to promote the value of U.S. DDGS and CGF in improving feed conversion rates.”

While the exemption from the value-added tax is a success, U.S. DDGS and CGF are still subject to import duties of 30 percent, compared to 5 percent for both corn and soybean meal. As a result, the Council will continue efforts to bring these import duties in line with other feed ingredients as well as to demonstrate the value of utilizing U.S. DDGS and CGF in poultry and dairy feed rations to Algerian producers.

Recombinetics and DNA Genetics Form Alliance to End Surgical Castrations of Swine by Developing Precision Breeding Technology

Recombinetics, a pioneer in gene editing solutions for animal agriculture and human health, and DNA Genetics, a swine genetics supplier, today announced an alliance to end surgical castrations by developing precision breeding technology that results in male piglets born naturally castrated. This breeding technology focuses on swine health and well-being while ensuring good meat quality.
This partnership will help evaluate, develop and commercialize the castration-free swine trait with the goal to get the technology into the hands of pork producers globally.

Male piglets used for pork production are routinely castrated to improve the quality of meat for consumers. Castration is used to avoid “boar taint”, an unpleasant odor and an unsavory taste, that affects the pork product’s marketability to consumers. Currently, castrations are performed surgically or chemically, impacting animal well-being and adding health risks to animals from potential side effects of these management interventions.

Scientists at Recombinetics developed a precision breeding method resulting in male piglets that remain in a pre-pubertal state. This approach will eliminate the need for castration, either surgical or medicinal. To determine the commercial viability of pigs bred to be castration-free, alliance researchers will evaluate findings to investigate feed efficiency, meat quality and best practices for recovery of puberty and fertility. Research is being led by Principal Investigator Tad Sonstegard, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer of Acceligen, Recombinetics’ agriculture division.

“We create technology-driven solutions that improve animal health and well-being. From producing naturally hornless cattle to now eliminating the routine castration of swine, we have a proven track record of bringing science-based solutions to benefit animal health. By partnering with industry leader DNA Genetics, we have the combined expertise to bring the castration-free trait to market and provide solutions that can benefit the entire pork industry,” said Recombinetics’ President and CEO, Tammy Lee Stanoch.

“Precision breeding includes a range of technologies that will have a strong impact on genetic improvement programs. We are pleased to be a part of furthering these technologies and increasing our understanding of precision breeding and its application in a breeding system. This specific project is an innovative use of precision breeding techniques that have the potential of improving both animal health and efficiency. We are pleased to be a part of making this technology available to the pork industry,” Tom Rathje, Chief Technical Officer, DNA Genetics.

“To support the needs of the international swine marketplace, we will continue to explore additional opportunities to deploy our technologies with key partners that support the importance of improving animal health and well-being,” said Recombinetics’ Chief Commercial and Scientific Officer, Mitch Abrahamsen, Ph.D.

On December 14, 2017, The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) awarded a $500,000 grant to Recombinetics to use new techniques to breed swine that will eliminate the need for surgical castration. Additional funding is provided by The Open Philanth