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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 April 18 Ag News

Northeast Nebraska RC&D Receives Grant from Nebraska Environmental Trust

Northeast Nebraska Resource Conservation & Development (RC&D) announced today that it will receive $49,280 from the Nebraska Environmental Trust for the “Early Detection and Integrated Management of Invasive Plants” project. The Trust Board announced funding for the project at its meeting on April 5, 2018 in Lincoln. This is the first year of award with a potential for 2nd year funding totaling $49,280. The project is one of the 105 projects receiving $18,301,819 in grant awards from the Nebraska Environmental Trust this year. Of these, 66 were new applications and 39 are carry-over projects.

Invasive species are cited frequently as significant threats to biological diversity in Nebraska’s Natural Legacy Project planning document (NNLP) and to address those issues NNLP recommended development of collaborative conservation efforts to seek effective control measures, increase awareness of biological diversity, and implement strategies addressing specific issues in biologically unique landscapes (BUL’s). The Northeast Nebraska Weed Management Area (NNWMA), established in 2004, seeks innovative, collaborative, and effective means to reduce ecological and economic impacts of invasive and noxious weed infestations.  NNWMA has a diverse group of partners.  Their area covers 8 counties and 4,610,212 acres of private, public, and tribal land.  NNWMA has technical support from the Northeast Nebraska RC&D, a local non-profit. Beginning in 2018 NNWMA will help protect the Elkhorn River in Antelope County and its tributaries from Yellow flag iris (YFI) plants that may inhibit flows, impact native vegetation, and/or impact native wildlife.  This invasive species has the potential to negatively impact BUL’s by competing with or reducing native vegetation, invading areas not typically vegetated, and reducing water flows in small channels. They will also conduct Salt cedar "search and destroy" surveys, acquire biological control agents (insects) to control noxious weeds on ecologically sensitive sites, and conduct annual education and outreach events.  Insect releases will be prioritized and targeted at places where herbicide use is not desired (i.e. high diversity grasslands, wetland/riverine habitats, rangeland with organic designations or sensitive/endangered species, etc.).       Targeted plants are Yellow flag Iris, Spotted knapweed, Purple loosestrife, Leafy spurge, Salt cedar, and non-native Phragmites.

The Nebraska Legislature created the Nebraska Environmental Trust in 1992. Using revenue from the Nebraska Lottery, the Trust has provided over $289 million in grants to over 2,000 projects across the state. Anyone – citizens, organizations, communities, farmers and businesses – can apply for funding to protect habitat, improve water quality and establish recycling programs in Nebraska. The Nebraska Environmental Trust works to preserve, protect and restore our natural resources for future generations.


The University of Nebraska–Lincoln has joined 15 other public and private universities in FedByScience, an effort to boost federal investment in agricultural research.

The initiative, timed with the release of the 2018 House Farm Bill, focuses on demonstrating to the public and policymakers the many ways that U.S. Department of Agriculture-funded universities and researchers are creating a safer, healthier and more productive food system.

FedByScience launched April 18 with two briefings for Senate and House of Representatives staff. The effort tells stories in which scientific discoveries and innovations have improved the way food is produced and distributed.

Nebraska Chancellor Ronnie Green, a FedByScience co-chair, is in Washington, D.C., for the launch.

"U.S. farmers are confronted by turbulent commodity markets, extreme weather and an uneven economy," Green said. "A stronger investment in agricultural research can provide the science and innovation that farmers need to navigate these obstacles. Universities are now joining together to ensure that our stories about the value of food and ag research are heard."

The agriculture and food production industries are facing considerable challenges. Such challenges can only be addressed through additional research, yet the U.S. agricultural research budget has declined in real dollars since 2003. The U.S. has been second to China in total public agricultural research funding since 2008. In 2013, China's spending on public agricultural research and development became nearly double that of the United States.

In addition to Nebraska, other participating universities are Colorado State University, Cornell University, Iowa State University, Kansas State University, Michigan State University, New Mexico State University, North Carolina State University, Purdue University, Texas A&M University, the University of California at Davis, the University of Florida, the University of Georgia, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Washington University in St. Louis.

Ricketts Welcomes South Korea’s Consul-General to Nebraska

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts hosted South Korea’s Consul-General Jong-Kook Lee at the Nebraska State Capitol.  Consul-General Lee serves at the Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in Chicago, which oversees 13 states in the American Midwest.

“South Korea and Nebraska are great partners,” said Governor Ricketts.  “Beef exports to South Korea increased by 14 percent in 2017.  That increase helped push our total beef exports up by 12 percent from 2016.  I’m glad to have the chance to meet with Consul-General Lee and discuss opportunities to deepen our ties.”

South Korea is Nebraska’s fourth-largest ag export market.  The market is poised to grow following a renegotiated United States-Republic of Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS).


Declining tariffs brought about by KORUS helped America become South Korea’s largest beef supplier in 2016.  America exported $1.1 billion in beef exports to South Korea in 2017.

South Korea is Nebraska’s fourth-largest agriculture export market, with $499.9 million worth of exports in 2016.  They are a top-five customer for Nebraska beef, hides and skins, corn, distillers grains, pork, ethanol, and wheat.
·         Beef: $221.5 million – 2nd largest market
·         Corn: $101 million – 3rd largest market
·         Hides and Skins: $66.4 million – 2nd largest market
·         Pork: $39.2 million – 4th largest market



The U.S. Grains Council confirmed yesterday that Japan has finalized a change in the country’s biofuels policy allowing for imports of the oxygenate ETBE made from U.S. corn-based ethanol. As farmers, we welcome this news as we know that U.S. ethanol can meet Japan’s need for a high octane, low-carbon fuel source in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and improving air quality.

The best way to enhance farmer profitability is to create new demand for corn through value-added products such as ethanol. With more than $1.2 billion in U.S. ethanol exported last year, ethanol exports have become extremely important to Iowa farmers’ profitability.

Japan will now allow U.S. ethanol to meet up to 44 percent of a total estimated demand of 217 million gallons of ethanol used to make ETBE, or potentially 95.5 million gallons of U.S.-produced ethanol annually. Japan imports nearly all its ETBE from ethanol.

This decision by the Japanese government is based on its evaluation and life cycle assessment update of U.S. corn-based ethanol. The U.S. industry’s efforts to maximize production efficiency through technological innovations that lead to higher GHG emission reductions for corn-based ethanol and the emergence of co-products like distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) have supported this new access to the Japanese market while positively contributing to the feed and energy value chains.

The Council and its partners, Renewable Fuels Association, Growth Energy and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, have been engaging with the Japanese fuel industry and Japanese policymakers to showcase U.S. corn ethanol. USGC also funded a study that helped to dispel myths about U.S. ethanol helping to make the case for opening the door to the Japanese market.

Iowa’s investments in the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) has helped increase demand for U.S. ethanol exports. The Council has strategically focused on the promotion of ethanol for its environmental benefits that include reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The Council works to sync global ethanol policies that include a role for trade as well as overcome restraints related to inadequate infrastructure. USGC works in multiple countries, with the focus on Asia as the fastest growing market for fuel consumption in the world.

House Ag Committee Advances Agriculture and Nutrition Act

The House Agriculture Committee today passed out of committee the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 (H.R.2)  – critical legislation to address the economic challenges facing the nation’s farmers and ranchers, while making historic investments in opportunities for SNAP recipients. Upon passage, Chairman K. Michael Conaway (TX-11) issued the below remarks:

“Today’s vote was about America’s farmers and ranchers. It was about a better future and greater opportunities for SNAP recipients. It was about fulfilling an obligation to lead, rather than standing on the sidelines.

“I’m disappointed that my Democrat colleagues have turned their backs on America’s heartland – that they’ve chosen partisan politics over the three years of bipartisan work in this committee. Democrats halted talks over their objection to requiring work-capable adults to either find employment or receive free training for 20 hours per week. Yet, despite this turn of events, I remain hopeful. When House Democrats pushed a partisan farm bill that raised taxes in 2008 over Republican objections, Republicans worked alongside Democrats to fend off hostile amendments aimed against the legislation on the House floor and worked in conference committee to achieve a bipartisan farm bill. I am hopeful Democrats will not hold the nation’s farmers and ranchers hostage in this process over the SNAP work and training requirements, which will provide SNAP beneficiaries not just a benefit, but a better future that only a job can provide.

“But we’ll continue fighting, we won’t settle for the status quo – because America needs a farm bill. America deserves a farm bill. And I look forward to taking this vote to the people’s House – to debating these policies on the floor and to sharing our vision with the American people. We have cleared this hurdle and will deliver a strong, new farm bill on time.”

Perdue Statement on House Committee Passage of 2018 Farm Bill

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today issued the following statement regarding approval of the 2018 Farm Bill by the House Committee on Agriculture:

“I commend Chairman Conaway and the House Committee on Agriculture for passing a comprehensive Farm Bill out of the Committee today. The bill closely aligns with the Farm Bill Principles released by USDA in January and is nearly identical to the legislation first introduced last week. We are encouraged that the Committee heard the voices of their constituents, who want to preserve and enhance programs contained in the 2014 Farm Bill, as I learned in my conversations with farmers, ranchers, foresters, and producers in 35 states in the last twelve months. As the bill heads to the floor, I hope the House recognizes the long-term certainty it provides for America’s farmers, just as it preserves nutrition programs for people who need help feeding themselves and their families. USDA stands ready to provide technical assistance as the bill progresses in the House, and we look forward to working with our friends in the Senate as well. As Republicans and Democrats have farm interests in their own districts and states, we are hopeful that the 2018 Farm Bill can move forward in a bipartisan manner.”

House Agriculture Committee Approves 2018 Farm Bill

The House Committee on Agriculture today approved the “Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018” (H.R. 2), which includes several provisions important to U.S. pork producers. The 2018 Farm Bill is strongly supported by the National Pork Producers Council.

Among the provisions included in the legislation is language establishing and funding a vaccine bank to deal with an outbreak in the United States of Foot-and-Mouth Disease in livestock.

FMD is an infectious viral disease that affects cloven-hooved animals, including cattle, pigs and sheep; it is not a food safety or human health threat. Although it was last detected in the United States in 1929, the disease is endemic in many parts of the world.

“Pork producers are pleased that the Agriculture Committee approved the 2018 Farm Bill,” said NPPC President Jim Heimerl, a pork producer from Johnstown, Ohio, and chairman of NPPC’s Farm Bill Policy Task Force. “We now need the full House to pass it soon and the Senate to follow suit. There are several very important provisions for pork producers in this legislation.”

The agriculture panel’s Farm Bill calls for first-year mandatory funding of $150 million for the FMD vaccine bank, $70 million in block grants to the states for disease prevention and $30 million for the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN), which provides disease diagnostic support. For the other years of the 5-year Farm Bill, there’s $30 million in mandatory funding for state block grants and $20 million to be used at the Agriculture secretary’s discretion for the vaccine bank, the NAHLN and the states.

NPPC is urging lawmakers to provide funding of $150 million for the vaccine bank, $70 million for state block grants and $30 million for the NAHLN for each year of the Farm Bill.

“The United States is not prepared for an FMD outbreak, so we are urging Congress to provide the full five-year mandatory funding,” Heimerl said. “We need this to protect the country from the financial devastation this dreadful disease would wreak on farmers and the U.S. economy.”

The House bill also includes funding for the NPPC-supported Market Access Program and the Foreign Market Development Program, both of which help support exports markets for U.S. goods. The programs are consolidated as the International Market Development Program.

Additionally, the measure has money for feral swine eradication. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, there are an estimated 5 million feral swine in at least 39 states; the cost of controlling them and the amount of damage they do is about $1.5 billion annually.

NCBA Applauds House Agriculture Committee Approval of Farm Bill

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Kevin Kester today issued the following statement in response to the U.S. House Agriculture Committee's markup and approval of the 2018 Farm Bill:

"We want to thank Chairman Mike Conaway and the other members of the House Agriculture Committee who have worked so hard to craft this Farm Bill and to ensure that it protects the priorities of America's cattle producers. We'll continue to work through the Farm Bill process to make sure that it includes authorization and full funding for a Foot and Mouth Disease vaccine bank, as well as funding for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), research, foreign market development, and market access programs." 

NCGA Statement on Today’s House Agriculture Committee Farm Bill Markup

Kevin Skunes, president of the National Corn Growers Association

“The House Agriculture Committee’s action today is the first step to enacting a new farm bill. NCGA is pleased the bill restores full funding to the Market Access and Foreign Market Development Programs and makes administrative reforms to the revenue-based Agriculture Risk Coverage Program (ARC), which are welcome provisions for corn farmers facing uncertain times. NCGA also appreciates the bill’s expansion of grower participation in working lands conservation programs and the research title’s funding for the phenotyping initiative.

“Moving forward, NCGA will remain focused on our growers’ top policy concerns – a robust federal crop insurance program, ensuring the ARC-county program is a viable risk management option, and increased resources for trade promotion programs.

“We urge the House to pass a farm bill that strengthens risk management tools and provides the needed resources to enhance U.S. farmers and ranchers’ competitive position in international markets. NCGA looks forward to working with members of both the House and Senate to build a strong, bipartisan coalition that can support the entire farm bill and see it signed into law this year.”

ASA Following Progress of House Farm Bill

The American Soybean Association (ASA) continues to follow efforts to pass a new farm bill in the House of Representatives, and noted passage of legislation today by the House Committee on Agriculture. ASA strongly supports enacting a new farm bill before the current Agricultural Act of 2014 expires at the end of September. ASA President John Heisdorffer, a soybean farmer from Keota, Iowa, issued the following statement.

“ASA continues to support completing the farm bill process as soon as possible this year to provide the long-term certainty farmers and ranchers need in the face of low farm prices and the volatile outlook for agricultural trade. After today’s Committee action, we hope sufficient votes can be found to pass a bill on the House floor in the coming weeks. However, we are concerned by the absence of bipartisan support for the current bill, and encourage the House and Committee leadership to work toward legislation that can receive the broad support that farm bills traditionally require.”

NAWG Comments on House Agriculture Committee Farm Bill Markup

Today, the House Committee on Agriculture marked-up its version of the 2018 Farm Bill, or H.R. 2 Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018. In response, NAWG President Jimmie Musick made the following statement:

“NAWG commends the House Agriculture Committee on continuing to move the Farm Bill forward and urges a bipartisan process to enable a bill to pass out of the House. In order for the bill to be completed and reauthorized this year, Republicans and Democrats must work together on legislation that works for both sides and all of agriculture. 

“There are several provisions in H.R. 2 that will be good for wheat growers, and NAWG will continue to work with Congress to make improvements. Absolutely our top priority throughout this process is to maintain a strong crop insurance program. NAWG also envisions a well-rounded Farm Bill to have a strong safety net program which allows producers to choose between revenue-based (Agriculture Risk Coverage) and price-based (Price Loss Coverage) coverage, and improvements to both programs to enable them to serve as a better safety net for wheat growers. 

“We applaud the Committee for including funding for the Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development Program and will continue working to increase resources for both. Additionally, NAWG supports provisions that provide financial incentives for farmers to adopt conservation practices into their operations. The bill also rightly reauthorizes the Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative and other important research programs that will help wheat growers continue to produce the highest quality crop. 

“Again, we are pleased that the House has started the Farm Bill reauthorization process and encourage the Senate Committee on Agriculture to do the same.”

NMPF Backs Dairy Safety Net Improvements in House Agriculture Committee Farm Bill

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) today lauded the House Agriculture Committee for approving a draft of the 2018 Farm Bill that contains key dairy policy improvements, a significant first step toward enacting a new Farm Bill before the current one expires this fall.

Among the provisions of significance to the U.S. dairy industry in the House bill are additional improvements to the dairy Margin Protection Program (MPP). The measure raises the maximum covered margin to $9/cwt. and adjusts the minimum percentage of milk that can be insured; both measures will offer greater flexibility for dairy producers. It also includes provisions of an important agreement reached between NMPF and the International Dairy Foods Association on price risk management.

“It’s important that the Farm Bill process continue moving forward,” said NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern. “As U.S. dairy farmers weather a fourth-straight year of depressed milk prices, making additional improvements to the dairy safety net through this farm bill becomes more critical with each passing day.”

The House bill also addresses several other NMPF priorities. The conservation title helps producers access technical and financial assistance to carry out multiple conservation practices on their land and water. Under the trade title, the Farm Bill authorizes the trade promotion programs that are critical to dairy farmers and their cooperatives. The bill also includes helpful provisions intended to increase fluid milk consumption. NMPF looks forward to working with Congress on these issues as the process continues.

In a letter sent to Chairman Mike Conaway (R-TX) and Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-MN) before the committee’s markup, NMPF expressed gratitude for the members’ engagement and efforts in securing the aforementioned NMPF proposals, and others, in the House bill.

“We recognize that the process of completing each Farm Bill is long and complex, with many twists and turns in the road,” said the letter. “As the process continues, we look forward to continuing to work with you and your Senate counterparts to complete work on a bipartisan, bicameral bill that can be signed into law by the President before the current law expires.”

House passes farm bill version that undermines rural America

Today, the House Agriculture Committee passed the draft of the farm bill, the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018, that they released last week. During their meeting today, the committee made very few changes to the draft of the bill before voting.

In response, the Center for Rural Affairs released the following statement:

The House Agriculture Committee has passed an entirely partisan bill that would gut working lands conservation, eliminate many long-standing subsidy payment limitations for the largest farms, and remove funding for programs that support rural innovations. These proposals are deeply troubling and must not be included in a final farm bill. 

The draft bill proposes steep funding cuts to working lands conservation programs, by nearly $5 billion over 10 years. Within these cuts is the elimination of the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). CSP currently protects over 70 million acres nationwide. By removing the program, the draft bill sends the message that conservation should be a low priority for rural America.

While our agricultural system needs a strong safety net, the current crop insurance system provides unlimited support to the largest farms in the form of premium subsidies. The draft bill instead includes proposals that backtrack on existing payment limitations. By removing subsidy payment limits for corporate farms and widening other payment loopholes, the draft bill would practically guarantee a return to unlimited farm program payments. The country needs a farm safety net, not handouts to the largest and wealthiest operations.

Finally, the draft bill proposes to completely eliminate the funding for several programs that support beginning farmers, rural entrepreneurs, and on-farm diversification. These include: the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program, the Value-Added Producer Grant Program, the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program, and several others.

America needs a bipartisan farm bill that supports rural communities. The House Agriculture Committee was unable to deliver that today.

Current House Farm Bill Fails to Meet Needs of Family Farmers

The U.S. House Agriculture Committee today marked up the 2018 Farm Bill, H.R. 2, sending the bill to the full U.S. House of Representatives for its consideration.

National Farmers Union (NFU), the nation’s second largest general farm organization, opposes the legislation as it is currently written, as it fails to provide an adequate safety net to family farmers and consumers, fails to support the long-term sustainability of family farms and ranches, and fails to ensure fair and diverse markets for farmers and ranchers. In a series of recommendations released today, NFU urged House members to make significant improvements on the floor prior to passing the bill.

“This bill is wholly inadequate for providing family farmers with the resources they need to endure the worst decline in the farm economy in decades,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “Congressional leadership’s directive to withhold any additional support has hamstrung the committee’s ability to address the six-year, fifty percent drop in net farm income. This bill lacks the improvements needed to provide sufficient farmer and consumer safety nets, it upends programs that improve sustainability, and it removes programs that aid the growth of fair and diverse markets for family farmers. Farmers Union is also deeply disappointed in the partisan nature of the House Farm Bill deliberations thus far. We urge members of Congress to make significant improvements to the bill prior to its passage.”

In its list of recommendations, NFU urged House members to significantly improve the farm safety net to reflect the current state of the farm economy. It noted the safety net needs to be improved to keep family farmers in business during down market cycles, yet the current version of the House Farm Bill does not provide enough support to help family farmers and ranchers make ends meet.

“Farmers need higher PLC reference prices for commodities that have been underwater for years,” said NFU’s recommendations list. “Dairy farmers need both price supports and a mechanism that manages our nation’s oversupply of milk. At the same time, these programs should be implemented responsibly by capping payments and directing them solely to family farmers.”

NFU also suggested the bill needs to ensure credit availability for family farmers and ranchers, whereas the bill currently does nothing to increase loan authority for FSA’s overall loan portfolio. And to ensure a strong consumer nutrition safety net, the NFU recommended the Farm Bill should maintain funding levels for consumer benefits under nutrition programs. “Unfortunately, the multitude of changes proposed in the bill would compromise food security for working families who currently use SNAP while adding to needless bureaucracy,” said NFU.

NFU’s second major recommendation is to promote the long-term sustainability of family farms and ranches. The organization urged the House to provide incentive-based working lands programs, whereas the current version of the farm bill cuts $5 billion from these programs over the next decade, and it eliminates the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). NFU also called for funding to energy programs to be restored, as Farm Bill energy programs help family farmers and ranchers lower their environmental footprint, reduce their energy usage, and improve their bottom lines.

“Sustainability is critical for farm productivity and the health of rural communities now and for generations to come,” NFU said. “The House Farm Bill must be improved to provide family farmers and ranchers the tools they need to be the best possible stewards of our natural resources.”

Finally, Farmers Union urged House members to ensure fair and diverse markets for family farmers.

The current version of the House Farm Bill eliminates mandatory funding for key programs that are critical in promoting access to local, regional and specialty markets. “The Farmers’ Market and Local Foods Promotion Program (FMLFPP) and Value Added Producer Grants (VAPG) improve market opportunities and increase the farmer’s share of the consumer dollar. At the same time, the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program (NOCCSP) and the Agricultural Marketing Assistance (AMA) program make it easier for farmers to transition into organic agriculture. Congress must recognize the value of the programs referenced above and restore mandatory funding,” NFU said.

The House Farm Bill also lacks provisions to ensure the fair treatment of family farmers and ranchers in the exceptionally consolidated markets they operate in. NFU recommended the House include a title that promotes competition in the marketplace, enhances antitrust enforcement, and establishes protections from unfair and deceptive practices in the contract poultry and livestock sectors.

“Farmers Union has tirelessly advocated for these priorities over the past many years,” said Johnson. “We cannot support a bill that does so little to improve the farm safety net, and that guts important conservation and market access programs. If the House of Representatives wants to pass a Farm Bill that is worthy of the men and women who produce our food, fuel and fiber, they need to make significant improvements to the current version of the Farm Bill.”

Most Fertilizer Prices Continue Steady Climb Higher

Most average retail fertilizer prices continued their slow but steady trek higher the second week of April 2018, according to retailers surveyed by DTN.

Snapping a string of four straight weeks where prices for all eight major fertilizers were higher, prices for seven of the eight fertilizers were up while the price of one fertilizer was down last week compared to the previous month. However, for the fourth consecutive week, none of the fertilizers that saw price increases were up by a significant amount.

DAP had an average price of $482 per ton, MAP $504/ton, potash $353/ton, urea $369/ton, anhydrous $510/ton, UAN28 $241/ton and UAN32 $275/ton.

The one fertilizer that was slightly lower in price compared to the previous month was 10-34-0. The starter fertilizer had an average price of $427 per ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.40/lb.N, anhydrous $0.31/lb.N, UAN28 $0.43/lb.N and UAN32 $0.43/lb.N.

Five of the eight major fertilizers are now higher compared to last year with prices pushing higher in recent months. Anhydrous is now 1% higher, potash is 4% more expensive, urea is 5% higher, MAP is 8% more expensive and DAP is 10% higher compared to last year.

The remaining three fertilizers are lower in price compared to a year ago. UAN32 is 2% less expensive while both 10-34-0 and UAN28 are 3% less expensive than a year ago.

Nevada Rancher Warns Senators: Federal Regulation of Groundwater Could Be Worse Than WOTUS

Testifying on behalf of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Public Lands Council, Nevada rancher Joe Guild today warned members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works that federal regulation of groundwater under the Clean Water Act would have a detrimental impact on America’s cattle producers.

“One of the most complex environmental issues facing our country in recent history has been the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) attempted definition of Waters of the United States, known simply as WOTUS,” Guild testified. “NCBA has worked hard, and continues working to ensure that the definition of WOTUS is not expanded to include water that Congress never intended to regulate. However, if the EPA finds authority to regulate discharges to surface water via groundwater, any progress made on this front will be lost. The regulation of groundwater has the potential to impact even more cattle operations than the damaging 2015 WOTUS definition.”

Guild told Senators about how the Carson River and a tributary run through part of a ranch that he manages in western Nevada, and how he works to move his cattle away from the water to keep it clean.

“I’ve implemented voluntary conservation practices on my operations, including the strategic placement of wells and underground pipelines to move water throughout the operation,” Guild said. “Such voluntary practices increase efficiency and maintain natural resource quality, both on my operation and downstream. However, the expansion of the Clean Water Act to regulate discharges into groundwater would change all of this. Not only would such an expansion directly contradict the intent of the law, but take authority from those who can best manage groundwater quality.”

Wednesday’s hearing was held as an information-gathering session for Senators in response to recent federal court decisions that could undermine the way many states currently regulate groundwater.

“States are uniquely qualified to manage and prevent the discharge of pollutants into groundwater,” Guild said. “Regulation under the Clean Water Act would only lead to unnecessary, duplicative permitting and enforcement, usurping current state authority.”

Secretary Perdue Statement Regarding Chinese Duties on U.S. Sorghum

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today issued the following statement regarding China’s announcement of duties of almost 179 percent on U.S. sorghum imports:

“The international grain market is about the freest market there is, and it is ludicrous to even mention ‘dumping,’ because China can buy product from anywhere they choose. This is clearly a political decision by the Chinese and we reject their premise. Our sorghum producers are the most competitive in the world and we do not believe there is any basis in fact for these actions. As we explore options, we are in communication with the American sorghum industry and stand united with them. The fact remains that China has engaged in unfair trade practices over decades and President Trump is correct in holding them accountable. We remain committed to protecting American agricultural producers in the face of retaliatory measures by the Chinese.”

Coalition works to expand rural e-connectivity

A coalition of stakeholders committed to the expansion of broadband services in rural America today launched the first in a series of workshops to focus attention on the wide-ranging challenges to achieving connectivity, and the opportunities improved e-connectivity could bring to the people and economies of the nation's rural regions.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai joined executives from the five partner organizations --Farm Foundation, NTCA--The Rural Broadband Association (NTCA), National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), CoBank, and the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation (CFC)--in kicking off the listening sessions by highlighting the importance of e-connectivity to all sectors of rural America.

The next listening session will be in June 2018 in Minnesota, with additional sessions to be completed over the next six months.

"Broadband is vital to the rural economy in what is now a highly interconnected global marketplace," said Tom Halverson, President and CEO of CoBank. "We need leaders on both sides of the aisle in Washington to work together to facilitate broadband investment and ensure that rural America remains competitive and strong."

Achieving e-connectivity across rural America is not a simple task. "Actions needed to improve e-connectivity vary widely by community and region," notes Farm Foundation President and CEO Constance Cullman. "These listening sessions will serve to highlight common issues, success stories to build strong broadband systems, and challenges that are yet to be met."

Executives from regional telecommunications companies participated in the kickoff to provide perspectives on the broadband service issues. This panel included Levoy Knowles of the Tennessee Telecommunications Association, Mel Coleman of the North Arkansas Electric Cooperative, and Ken Johnson, Administrator of Rural Development's Rural Utilities Service.

"We are excited for the prospects of enhanced cooperation and coordination between USDA, the FCC, and private operators like those in NTCA's membership--all of whom recognize the value of and critical need for sustainable broadband in rural America. In that spirit, it is an honor to have both USDA Secretary Perdue and FCC Chairman Pai offer remarks at today's kickoff event," said NTCA CEO Shirley Bloomfield. "NTCA's nearly 850 members connect many of America's rural communities to the world with robust broadband, and we are pleased to participate in this collaborative effort to promote better access to rural broadband."

Rural electric cooperatives are well aware of the needs of e-connectivity in their communities, and more than 100 electric cooperatives already are providing broadband service to their members. "The widening digital divide is a national crisis deserving of a national response," said Jim Matheson, CEO of NRECA. "For decades, electric cooperatives have enhanced the quality of life throughout rural America. Now, many of those same electric co-ops are helping reinvigorate rural economies by bringing broadband to rural homes, businesses and farms. High costs to serve areas with low population density remain the biggest obstacle to expanded rural broadband access. An expanded combination of federal grant and loan funding through USDA is a critical step to connecting rural America."

Stakeholders emphasized the need for collaborative efforts to enhance broadband services in rural America. "Leveraging additional investment in rural broadband infrastructure will require a team effort," said Sheldon Petersen, CEO of CFC. "Local partnerships can be a wonderful way to leverage resources, expertise and efficiencies to ensure that rural communities can fully participate in today's 21st century economy."

Tuesday April 17 Ag News

CVA Elgin Obtains Perfect Score During HACCP Recertification
Central Valley Ag (CVA) feed mill in Elgin Nebraska recently went through their annual HACCP recertification inspection and received a perfect score of 100 percent. This year marks the third audit that the Elgin location has undergone to obtain their HACCP certification. “In the beginning, they were scoring in the high 99 percentile, but this year was a solid 100,” said Abby Simonsen, CVA HACCP Coordinator.

HACCP certification is a program implemented to ensure the quality of feed and safety at the mills. It is up to CVA to develop a solid plan that meets the requirements, and then an auditor comes to review the locations process. The audit program looks to make sure procedures meet the Feed Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) requirements by the FDA. HACCP auditors choose 3-4 days out of the last 8-12 months and review production records for that day to ensure that the location is implementing the plan the right way. “They look at everything we are doing at a location; receiving trucks, unloading trucks, mixing feed, finished products, and drug reconciliation,” said Simonsen. “It’s all about quality and safety of the product we are delivering to our customers.”

Validus, the company who performs these audits, informed Simonsen that scoring a 100 percent is unique and is something they don’t see very often. The Elgin location should be incredibly proud of obtaining this perfect score.

“We wanted to celebrate this location because it is the first one of our mills to get 100% on an audit. We have somebody come in from the outside to audit us, so it’s great to hear what a great job this location is doing from outside of CVA. Martin Wid and his crew, they just do a wonderful job. I can write the best plan ever, but that doesn’t mean anything unless people are living it and breathing it every day and making it happen. And that’s what happens here in Elgin.”

Robert Turek, CVA SVP of Feed, “There aren’t very many outfits that have a HACCP certification, and to score a perfect 100 is a big deal. I can’t compliment the Elgin location enough for the great job that they are doing to ensure quality products. This location is a big source of pride for CVA and the CVA feed division.”

Six of Central Valley Ag’s feed mills are currently HACCP certified.

When and Why is Hi Mag Mineral a Good Option for Cattle?

Brandi Salestrom, Central Valley Ag Coop, West Point, NE

If you are like me and are tired of this cold-long winter, you are also looking forward to green grass and getting the cow-calf pairs out of the mud.

Most of us have heard about grass tetany but what does it mean and why should we supplement our cows with Hi Mag mineral?

Grass tetany is a magnesium deficiency that can occur in ruminants, like beef cattle, after grazing pastures in early spring that have rapidly growing grass. Grass tetany is most often associated with conditions of low magnesium and high potassium in growing pastures. Soil temperature, moisture, and fertilization can affect mineral levels. A cow’s requirement for magnesium increases after calving. Older animals are more at risk than young animals because they are not able to mobilize magnesium from bones like a young animal when magnesium in blood levels drop. Symptoms are loss of muscle control, irritability and unfortunately, this can result in rapid death.

Grass tetany is preventable by offering a Hi Mag mineral 2-3 weeks before grass exposure and fed for a month after first grass growth. Recent research suggests that heifers born to mothers that received adequate mineral supplementation are more productive throughout their lives than those born to inadequately supplemented cows. Fetal programming experts say that the benefits of mineral supplementation are way beyond the animal that directly ingests the mineral supplement.

At Central Valley Ag we offer a few options for Hi Mag mineral. Weatherized Hi Mag mineral bags are very popular, or if you prefer the convenience of a tub, we have them as well. Hi Mag minerals come in combination with Availa 4 for rebreeding and have the Altosid (fly control) option.

Nebraska BQA Provides Resources Online

Larry Howard, NE Extension Educator, Cuming County

Nebraska Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) provides a number of resources online at for producers, veterinarians and Educators. The website offers a number of opportunities and tools to use to implement and evaluate BQA Best Management Practices for producers. 

In addition to information on BQA Training and certification, on the front page there are resources links for BQA manuals, supplemental guides and Executive Summaries of the 2016 National Beef Quality Audits for both Fed Cattle and Market Cow/Bull Audits. There is also a set of record keeping worksheets for a valid Veterinarian-Client-Patient Relationship, building a herd health plan, and record keeping sheets for vaccinations, treatments and Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD).

There is also a tab on top of the page dedicated to BQA Assessment tools. This link has complete BQA Assessment Guides or the basic worksheets required to do an assessment on your operation. As assessment and audit are becoming part of doing business for feedyards, there is a complete set of templates for developing Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) in Word format to help in developing these protocol for your operation.

As your operation prepares for summer, there is also a tab to Heat Stress information and resources to prepare your operation prior to the arrival of summer heat. Be sure to download the Heat Stress Monitor app (link available on the website).

USDA Offers Help to Blizzard-Affected Farmers and Ranchers in Nebraska

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Nebraska Farm Service Agency (FSA) State Executive Director Nancy Johner reminds farmers and ranchers affected by the recent blizzard that disaster assistance programs are available to support their recovery efforts.

FSA can assist farmers and ranchers who lost livestock, fences or eligible trees, bushes and vines as a result of a natural disaster. FSA administers a suite of safety-net programs to help producers recover from eligible losses, including the Livestock Indemnity Program, the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program and the Tree Assistance Program. Detailed information on all of these disaster assistance programs can be found online at

In addition, the Emergency Conservation Program provides funding and technical assistance for farmers and ranchers to rehabilitate farmland damaged by natural disasters. Producers located in counties that receive a primary or contiguous disaster designation are eligible for low-interest emergency loans to help them recover from production and physical losses. Compensation is also available to producers who purchased coverage through the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program, which protects non-insurable crops (including native grass for grazing) against natural disasters including excessive wind, that result in lower yields, crop losses or prevented planting.

“The recent blizzard may have caused losses for farmers and ranchers in our state,” said Johner. “Natural disasters such as blizzards are unavoidable, but USDA has strong safety-net programs to help producers get back on their feet.”

More Details:  USDA Offers Blizzard Recovery Assistance
USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) offers disaster assistance and low-interest loan programs to assist agricultural producers in their recovery efforts following blizzards or other qualifying natural disasters.

Available programs and loans include:
-    Non-Insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) - provides financial assistance to producers of non-insurable crops when low yields, loss of inventory, or prevented planting occur due to natural disasters including freeze, excessive wind and moisture. Eligible producers must have purchased NAP coverage for 2018 crops. A notice of loss must be filed within 15 calendar days of when the loss is apparent or 15 calendar days after the normal harvest date.
-    Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) - offers payments to eligible producers for livestock death losses in excess of normal mortality due to adverse weather. Eligible losses may include those determined by FSA to have been caused by wildfires, hurricanes, floods, blizzards, tropical storms, tornados, lightning, extreme heat, and extreme cold. Producers will be required to provide verifiable documentation of death losses resulting from an eligible adverse weather event and must submit a notice of loss to their local FSA office within 30 calendar days of when the loss of livestock is apparent.
-    Tree Assistance Program (TAP) – provides assistance to eligible orchardists and nursery tree growers for qualifying tree, shrub and vine losses due to natural disasters including excessive wind and qualifying drought.
-    Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) - provides emergency relief for losses due to feed or water shortages, disease, adverse weather, or other conditions, which are not adequately addressed by other disaster programs. ELAP covers physically damaged or destroyed livestock feed that was purchased or mechanically harvested forage or feedstuffs intended for use as feed for the producer’s eligible livestock. In order to be considered eligible, harvested forage must be baled; forage that is only cut, raked or windrowed is not eligible. ELAP also covers up to 150 lost grazing days in instances when a producer has been forced to remove livestock from a grazing pasture and for beekeepers, ELAP covers colony losses. Producers must submit a notice of loss to their local FSA office within 30 calendar days of when the loss is apparent.
-    Emergency Loan Program – available to producers with agriculture operations located in a county under a primary or contiguous Presidential or Secretarial disaster designation. These low interest loans help producers recover from production and physical losses.
-    Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) - provides emergency funding for farmers and ranchers to rehabilitate land severely damaged by natural disasters; includes fence loss.
-    HayNet - is an Internet-based Hay and Grazing Net Ad Service allowing farmers and ranchers to share ‘Need Hay’ ads and ‘Have Hay’ ads online. Farmers also can use another feature to post advertisements for grazing land, specifically ads announcing the availability of grazing land or ads requesting a need for land to graze.

How to Document Blizzard Losses

Producers who suffered excessive livestock death losses and grazing or feed losses due to recent blizzards may be eligible for disaster assistance programs through the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA).

The Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) offers payments to eligible producers for livestock death losses in excess of normal mortality due to adverse weather and the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) provides emergency relief for losses due to feed or water shortages, disease, adverse weather, or other conditions, which are not adequately addressed by other disaster programs.

To participate in LIP, producers will be required to provide verifiable documentation of death losses resulting from an eligible adverse weather event and must submit a notice of loss to their local FSA office within 30 calendar days of when the loss of livestock is apparent. To participate in ELAP, producers must submit a notice of loss to their local FSA office within 30 calendar days of when the loss is apparent and should maintain documentation and receipts.

Producers should record all pertinent information regarding livestock losses due to the eligible adverse weather or loss condition, including:
-    Documentation of the number, kind, type, and weight range of livestock that have died, supplemented if possible by photographs or video records of ownership and losses;
-    Rendering truck receipts by kind, type and weight - important to document prior to disposal;
-    Beginning inventory supported by birth recordings or purchase receipts;
-    Documentation from Animal Plant Health Inspection Service, Department of Natural Resources, or other sources to substantiate eligible death losses due to an eligible loss condition;
-    Documentation that livestock were removed from grazing pastures due to an eligible adverse weather or loss condition;
-    Costs of transporting livestock feed to eligible livestock, such as receipts for equipment rental fees for hay lifts and snow removal;
-    Feed purchase receipts if feed supplies or grazing pastures are destroyed;

For more information on these programs and documentation requirements, visit or contact your local FSA office.


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               How is your hay supply?  How about for next winter?  Maybe you need to think about boosting yields from some older, thinning alfalfa fields this spring.

               Let me paint a verbal picture for you.  Just a little carryover hay following winter.  Fewer alfalfa acres than ususal.  And some of that alfalfa is old and noticeably thinning.

               Does this describe your operation?  If so, how does your hay supply picture look for next winter?  Even if you receive average rainfall throughout the growing season, your hay tonnage could be down and not meet next winter’s needs.  And if it turns dry, there could be big problems.

               Maximizing tonnage from every inch of rain your alfalfa hay fields receive this year may be necessary.  Unfortunately, alfalfa uses quite a bit of water for each ton of hay, especially as temperatures rise.  So it is critical to get as much tonnage out of first cutting as possible, before summer heat sets in.

               One way to boost first cutting hay yield from older, thinner alfalfa stands is to drill cereals like oats, spring triticale, or spring barley right now into those alfalfa stands.  Try to get the seed about one inch deep.  These cereals will use spring moisture very efficiently to add tonnage to your first cutting.

               Drill 30 to 60 pounds per acre directly into your existing alfalfa stand as soon as possible.  Where alfalfa is thick you may not get much but in thin spots these cereals should fill in rapidly.  Cut the hay a little later than usual to get the most yield benefit from this addition.

               Getting the most out of each inch of moisture could be especially important this year.  Using cereals is one way to do it.

 Iowa State University Nematologist Urges Farmers to Refocus on Soybean Cyst Nematodes

Farmers preparing for spring planting would do well to renew their commitment to managing soybean cyst nematodes, according to an Iowa State University plant pathologist.

“I’m doing everything I can to convince farmers that we are on a slow-moving train heading towards a cliff,” Greg Tylka, professor of plant pathology and microbiology, said of the push to revive a program called the SCN Coalition.

The SCN Coalition started in the 1990s to raise awareness and provide information about the yield-robbing pest of soybeans. The program was successful in getting farmers to test for soybean cyst nematodes (SCN) and take steps to manage them if they were found to be a problem.

One of the popular management techniques was planting soybean varieties that had resistance to the worm, which latches on to the plant’s roots and feeds on its fluids. Tylka said that although resistant varieties worked well, most of the resistance is based on a single genetic factor called PI 88788.

His research team has documented steady increases in SCN reproduction on soybean varieties with PI 88788 and accompanying yield decreases since 2001. Other university researchers across the country report a similar trend of increased SCN reproduction.

“Unfortunately, almost all SCN-resistant varieties available nationwide have the PI 88788 source of resistance,” Tylka said. “That’s why it’s going to take active management to lower your SCN numbers and raise your yield potential.”

The number of SCN in a field can be greatly reduced through proper management, but it is impossible to eliminate SCN from fields once it has become established, so it requires continual monitoring.

Ways to manage SCN include rotating crops, because SCN doesn’t affect corn, oats or alfalfa; and rotating with a resistant soybean variety based on the PI 548402 breeding line, commonly known as Peking. Farmers also should consider using a seed treatment nematicide.

Tylka said SCN is a problem across the states that grow soybeans. The coalition’s website has more information based on location at:

The coalition is supported by the soybean checkoff with funding from the North Central Soybean Research Program and the United Soybean Board. Coalition members include university research and extension faculty from 12 Midwestern states and Ontario, Canada plus industry partners BASF, Bayer CropScience, DuPont Pioneer, GROWMARK, Monsanto, Syngenta, Winfield United and the Corn and Soybean Digest.

Four new Crop Protection Network publications available through ISU Extension Store

Four new publications are available on the ISU Extension Store from the Crop Protection Network, representing the group’s first forays out of plant pathology by incorporating new disciplines into its available resources.

“These publications have given us the opportunity to bring in agronomists and entomologists, allowing us to provide all the information they need to make management decisions in one place,” said Daren Mueller, associate professor and extension specialist in plant pathology and microbiology at Iowa State University.

“Selecting a seed variety or treatment is not an easy decision. Our goal is to help farmers know this isn’t a decision that should be made based on a knee jerk reaction because of something that happened in their field last year. We want to make sure farmers are thinking about the best practices involved in making these decisions.”

Publication “Crop Management Considerations for Selecting Soybean Varieties” (CPN 4004 W) deals with the main factors that should be considered when selecting soybean varieties to plant. “Crop Management Factors to Consider Before Using a Soybean Seed Treatment” describes the factors that should be considered when deciding on the right soybean seed treatment for an operation.

The final two new publications deal with fungicide use – “Fungicide Efficacy for Control of Corn Diseases” (CPN 2011 W) and “Optimizing Fungicide Use for Fusarium Head Blight (Scab) and Associated Mycotoxins” (CPN 3001).

“Fungicides aren’t all created equal, they should be used to help combat specific diseases,” Mueller said. “These two publications provide basic information on active ingredients in fungicides and the specific diseases they combat. Farmers know their field history and can see the issues that arise. They can then see what fungicides are available and make an informed decision.”


 The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship announced that online dicamba/auxin trainings have been approved for farmers and applicators who wish to use dicamba products.

Farmers and applicators can access the online trainings or find details about any upcoming in-person trainings at The expanded training requirement is based on the need to provide Iowa farmers and applicators with training around the risks associated with dicamba and should help reduce problems associated with off-target movement.

“This past growing season showed how important it is that applicators closely follow all aspects of the product label when using dicamba products and the training requirements are designed to help reduce off-site impact from the product,” said Mike Naig, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture.  “Approximately 200 in-person training events took place in Iowa from January-March with more than 7,000 participants attending. With spring planting nearing, few in-person trainings are scheduled, so the online courses will ensure continued access for farmers and applicators.”

XtendiMax with VaporGrip Technology Herbicide, DuPont FeXapan Herbicide Plus VaporGrip Technology, and Engenia Herbicide are restricted use pesticides that can only be applied by certified pesticide applicators that have completed the auxin-specific (dicamba) training.

The topics that are covered in the training are:
-    New Use Pattern for Dicamba-Tolerant Soybeans
-    Application Requirements to include Wind Speed and Direction, and Use of a Buffer
-    Temperature Inversions
-    Changes in Record-Keeping Requirements
-    Sprayer Tank Clean-Out
-    Off Target Movement

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s Pesticide Bureau is responsible for responding to complaints and investigating potential misuse of pesticides. It is important all applicators read and follow the label directions on any pesticide when using. It is a violation of state and federal law to use a pesticide in a manner inconsistent with label directions.

If there is concern about a specific pesticide misuse incident, Iowans can file an “Incident Report” with the Department’s Pesticide Bureau by phoning 515‐281‐8591 or by emailing the information to This report must be filed within 60 days after the alleged date that damages occurred.

More information about activities of the Department’s Pesticide Bureau can be found at


Dairy Farmers of America’s (DFA) state-of-the-art ingredients plant in Garden City, Kan., recently received the Sustainable Plant of the Year Award from Food Engineering magazine. The award was presented at Food Engineering’s Food Automation & Manufacturing Conference and Expo in Bonita Springs, Fla., and honors a newly constructed food facility focused on reducing, reusing and recycling.

“This plant helps DFA meet the needs of domestic and global customers, while also bringing value to our farmer-owners,” says Michael Lichte, vice president and general manager, dairy powder ingredients at DFA. “Being recognized for Sustainable Plant of the Year is a tremendous honor. As a farmer-owned Cooperative, we’re committed to safely and responsibly producing high-quality, nutritious milk. This plant and its sustainability measures are absolutely a testament to that commitment.”

The plant, which is a partnership between DFA and 12 of its member farms in Southwest Kansas, fulfills a key sustainable strategy by providing a local home for local farmers’ milk, which was previously being transported to other areas of the country. Now, the moment a tanker truck enters the plant, it takes about 68 minutes to off-load the milk, clean the truck and test the milk. In the past, a tanker might have been on the road for a couple of days — now the same tanker returns to the dairy in the same day. This drastically reduces hauling and trucking costs, as well as conserves energy and resources.

In addition to transportation from farm to the plant, the facility was built with a focus on conserving natural resources as much as possible, including the plant’s wastewater treatment facility. With this process, all the water utilized at the plant is recycled and can be used by the city as a source of non-potable water.

DFA Garden City produces whole and skim milk powder, nonfat dry milk powder and cream, and receives approximately 4 million pounds of milk a day from regional farms. The first load of milk was delivered in late September 2017.

The plant was designed and built by Shambaugh & Son L.P. (, utilizing the company’s vertically integrated project delivery model. Shambaugh self-performed wet process/drying/packing, mechanical, electrical, refrigeration, fire protection, process controls, wastewater treatment and building automation. Tetra Pak and McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. also served as sub-contractors on the development of the plant.  

Ethanol Market Development Organizations Applaud Japan Policy Shift To Allow Use Of U.S. Ethanol

The U.S. Grains Council (USGC), the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), Growth Energy and their member organizations welcome the news Tuesday that the Japanese government's new biofuel policy will allow imports of ETBE made from U.S. corn-based ethanol.

“The U.S. Grains Council is pleased by this decision and that Japan recognizes these improved benefits of U.S. product. We continue to work around the world, sharing the benefits of U.S. ethanol with other countries that are serious about reducing their GHG emissions,” said Tom Sleight, president and chief executive officer of the U.S. Grains Council, which has an office in Japan working closely with the Japanese government and industry. “From this decision, it is unequivocal that continued improvements in carbon intensity reductions are critical to gain and maintain market access for U.S. ethanol.”

The change comes as part of the country’s update of its existing sustainability policy, approved in 2010, in which only sugarcane-based ethanol was eligible for import and which only allowed sugarcane-based ethanol for the production of ETBE, an oxygenate. The new policy calls for an increase in the carbon intensity reduction requirements of ethanol used as a feedstock to make ETBE to meet a 55 percent reduction, up from 50 percent, and recognizes corn-based, U.S.-produced ethanol’s ability to meet that goal, even with the higher greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction standard.

Japan will now allow U.S. ethanol to meet up to 44 percent of a total estimated demand of 217 million gallons of ethanol used to make ETBE, or potentially 95.5 million gallons of U.S.-produced ethanol annually. Japan imports nearly all of the ETBE from ethanol that it uses.

This decision by the Japanese government is based on its evaluation and life cycle assessment update of U.S. corn-based ethanol. The U.S. industry’s efforts to maximize production efficiency through technological innovations that lead to higher GHG emission reductions for corn-based ethanol and the emergence of co-products like distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) have supported this new access to the Japanese market while positively contributing to the feed and energy value chains.

"For the first time, the U.S. ethanol industry will have the opportunity to compete for a portion of Japan’s fuel blending market," said Growth Energy Chief Executive Officer Emily Skor. "This new policy represents a new trade opportunity for the U.S. to continue to work with Japan to demonstrate the economic value, sustainability, and environmental advantages of utilizing our product in their consumer market for motor fuels."

U.S. organizations promoting the global use of ethanol will continue to work closely with the Japanese government as it implements its new policy and provide updated technical information about GHG reductions and other benefits of corn-based ethanol.

Since 2014, the U.S. ethanol industry and the U.S. government have partnered to develop a robust ethanol market development program that demonstrates the environmental, health and economic benefits of ethanol use and why strong ethanol policies include a role for trade.

“We are pleased Japan now allows ETBE imports from U.S. corn-based ethanol, as this opens an important and growing market for American farmers. ETBE is an ethanol-based oxygenate frequently used in overseas markets. Japanese consumers will now have access to cleaner, cheaper, American high-octane fuels. We look forward to beginning a dialogue on how Japan’s new policy could be improved, such as moving towards direct blending rather than having to convert our ethanol into an ether like ETBE. But we certainly welcome Japan’s first step toward the use of U.S. ethanol," said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen.

NSP Statement on Preliminary Duties from China Against U.S. Sorghum

“National Sorghum Producers is deeply disappointed in the preliminary antidumping determination issued today by China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM). U.S. sorghum is not being dumped in China, and U.S. sorghum producers and exporters have not caused any injury to China’s sorghum industry.

“National Sorghum Producers, alongside our producers, stakeholders and partners, has cooperated fully with China’s antidumping and countervailing duty investigations, including submitting several thousand pages of data demonstrating conclusively that U.S. sorghum is neither dumped nor causing any injury to China. None of this information appears to have been seriously considered or used in today’s preliminary determination, which is neither fair nor appropriate.

“We continue to greatly value our Chinese customers and what has been a win-win business relationship between U.S. sorghum producers and our Chinese partners. Today’s decision in China reflects a broader trade fight in which U.S. sorghum farmers are the victim, not the cause. And U.S. sorghum farmers should not be paying the price for this larger fight.

“Understanding the serious impact this preliminary decision will have on our farmers, NSP and our partners will continue to demonstrate U.S. sorghum farmers are not injuring China. We are evaluating all legal options moving forward.”

Syngenta herbicide, Fusilade® DX, cleared for tank mix on Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® soybeans

Syngenta has received confirmation from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that Fusilade® DX herbicide has been cleared for tank mixing with both XtendiMax® with VaporGrip® Technology and Engenia® herbicides. Fusilade DX will be available for use on Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® soybeans, providing growers with more options for a strong weed management plan this growing season.

Volunteer corn, one of the most common weed escapes in soybeans, is efficiently controlled by Fusilade DX. Research conducted by Syngenta in Waterloo, Nebraska, found that when it comes to yield loss, volunteer corn is more competitive than giant ragweed, velvetleaf and pigweed.

“Fusilade DX offers superior control of volunteer corn in soybeans,” said John Appel, herbicide product lead at Syngenta. “The ability to tank mix this herbicide with dicamba expands the options for growers to manage a wider variety of weeds.”

Fusilade DX offers post-emergence weed control for soybeans in all tillage situations. In addition to XtendiMax and Engenia, Fusilade DX readily tank mixes with a variety of other broadleaf herbicides. In a 2017 Syngenta cooperator trial, Fusilade DX tank mixed with XtendiMax had 87 percent control of volunteer corn 21 days after treatment, while Clethodim herbicide had only 70 percent control.

Fusilade DX, along with all of the other recently cleared Syngenta herbicide tank mixes, has 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.

Diamond V Announces $30 Million Plant Expansion

As the structural steel rises at Diamond V's South Plant 2, the company's vision of global growth brings greatly expanded manufacturing capacity.

Construction on Diamond V's 97,000 square foot plant expansion resumed with the spring weather at the corporate campus and global headquarters on 60th Ave. SW in Cedar Rapids. The initial investment in the expansion - announced in 2016 - is $30 million. When all phases of the expansion are complete, the total cost is expected to exceed $70 million.

"We're continuing to expand to supply the needs of the industry and meet the demands of consumers who want our natural, non-antibiotic solutions," said Diamond V Executive Vice President Mike Goble. "As we meet those needs, not only domestically but internationally, we see that growth continuing to accelerate."

Diamond V's Kevin Corizzo interviewed Goble as part of the company's monthly video series "Diamond V at 75: Immune Strength for Life," which celebrates Diamond V's 75-year history in the animal and feed industries and highlights its scientific research, technical expertise, and vision for the future. As part of the April video, released this week, Corizzo also spoke with Director of Operations Pat Manternach and Project Manager Ryan Gusta.

Gusta said all the structural steel for the expansion is expected to be in place by the end of June and the new plant will be enclosed by the end of September. Machinery will be brought in around February and March of 2019 with the goal of being operational starting in May 2019.

When all systems are installed, the expansion is expected to double the current production capacity at Diamond V's south manufacturing facilities, which includes the current 126,000 square foot plant. The plant expansion is expected to create nine new jobs initially with the potential for 26 new jobs in the next five years. Diamond V also operates its north plant on G Ave. NW in Cedar Rapids.

Monday April 16 Ag News + Crop Progress NE - IA - US


For the week ending April 15, 2018, there were 4.0 days suitable for fieldwork, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 2 percent very short, 16 short, 78 adequate, and 4 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 3 percent very short, 22 short, 73 adequate, and 2 surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Corn planted was 1 percent, near 3 last year and 2 for the five-year average.

Winter wheat condition rated 1 percent very poor, 6 poor, 38 fair, 43 good, and 12 excellent.

Oats planted was 35 percent, well behind 65 last year and 61 average. Emerged was 4 percent, behind 23 last year and 17 average.


As cold, wet weather persisted yet another week, statewide Iowa farmers had only 1.3 days suitable for fieldwork during the week ending April 15, 2018, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. When conditions allowed, farmers in the southern two-thirds of the State were busy applying fertilizer and seeding oats with isolated reports of tillage.

Topsoil moisture levels rated 1 percent very short, 7 percent short, 70 percent adequate and 22 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated 3 percent very short, 12 percent short, 74 percent adequate and 11 percent surplus. Recent heavy snow and rain have left northern Iowa with surplus soil moisture.

Twelve percent of the expected oat crop has been planted, 9 days behind last year and 10 days behind the 5-year average. While one-quarter of the oats have been planted in east central and southwest Iowa, northwest and north central Iowa have yet to get planting underway.

Livestock producers continue to experience challenges with snowfall and below normal temperatures stalling spring pasture growth and making tending to calves difficult throughout much of the State.

Corn Planting Progress Frozen

Cold, snowy weather across much of the Midwest and Northern Plains kept farmers from making much progress on corn planting last week, according to USDA's latest weekly Crop Progress report issued Monday.  As of Sunday, April 15, only 3% of U.S. corn was planted, up just 1 percentage point from the previous week and behind the five-year average of 5%.

Meanwhile, there was both good news and bad news for winter wheat in Monday's report. The good news was that the percentage of the crop rated in good-to-excellent condition was up 1 percentage point from 30% the previous week to 31% last week. The bad news was that the percentage of the crop in very poor-to-poor condition increased 2 percentage points from 35% the previous week to 37% last week.

Sorghum was 20% planted, compared to 21% last year and a 20% five-year average. Oats were 29% planted as of April 15, compared to 43% last year and a 44% average. Oats emerged was at 26%, compared to 29% last year and a 30% average.

Cotton planting was 8% complete, compared to 8% last year and a 7% average. Rice was 32% planted, compared to 52% last year and a 35% average. Fifteen percent of rice was emerged, equal to the average pace.

Cold Germination Test for Corn and Soybeans

Steve Knox - Manager of the Nebraska Crop Improvement Association

A cold germination test is used to evaluate the emergence of a seed lot in cold wet soils, which can cause poor field performance. The cold test was developed to simulate adverse field conditions and measure the ability of seeds to emerge. It is the most widely used vigor test for corn and soybean.
soil paste applied to paper

Cold germination testing not only measures the percentage of viable seed in a sample, it also reflects the ability of those seeds to produce normal seedlings under less than optimum growing conditions like those which may occur in the field. Seeds grown under optimum conditions including temperature, moisture, and light usually produce normal seedlings. However, seeds grown under adverse conditions, such as a wet/cold environment, can cause seeds with low vigor to produce abnormal seedlings that are unable to grow to a mature plant or not grow at all. Generally, seeds start to lose vigor before they lose their ability to germinate. Therefore, cold germination testing is an effective way to learn how the seeds will preform under adverse field conditions.

A cold germination test is conducted similarly to the warm germination test. First, a soil paste is made and applied on a wet thick paper towel. Then the seeds are counted and placed on the towel and covered with a wet thin paper towel. The rolled paper towel is placed in a chamber with cold temperature of 50°F for seven days. It is transferred to a chamber with ideal temperature, humidity, and light for an additional seven days. When the test is completed, seedlings that have emerged with the necessary plant parts to develop into a normal plant are counted and the cold germination percentage is calculated.

Nebraska Crop Improvement Association (NCIA) is the only AOSA/SCST official seed laboratory in Nebraska. A Registered Seed Technologist (accredited by the combined organizations of the Association of Official Seed Analysts and the Society of Commercial Seed Technologists) conducts all official tests.

For more information, go to the NCIA website at and click on the Seed Lab Services for more information on testing seed.

Nebraska Extension Field Scout Training at ENREC

A May 9 Nebraska Extension training course is scheduled for industry representatives and corn and soybean growers wanting to learn how to better manage corn and soybean pests.

“The training is designed for entry-level scouts who are working for crop consultants, industry agronomists or farm service centers in Nebraska and neighboring states”, said Keith Glewen, Nebraska Extension educator. Glewen says the training course is also ideal for growers who scout their own fields or are interested in improving productivity, as well as for students being employed by agribusinesses.

The course is from 8:55 a.m. to 5:10 p.m. with registration at 8:30 a.m. at the University of Nebraska’s Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center near Mead.

“Past participants have consistently given the training high marks and state that the knowledge gained from attending improved their scouting skills,” Glewen said.

Topics and presenters include: Corn and Soybean Insect Scouting, Identification and Management; Crop Diseases; Identifying Weeds - Plant Morphology, Using a Key to Identify Weed Seedlings; Nutrient Deficiencies in Corn and Soybeans; and Understanding Corn and Soybean Growth and Development.

“Some of the benefits registrants stated the training provided included practical/working knowledge and better accuracy in field scouting,” Glewen said. “Other participants appreciated the hands-on, practical format.”

Cost for the program is $165, which includes lunch, refreshment breaks, workshop materials and instruction manual. Updated reference materials are included in this year’s take-home instruction manual. For those attending the daylong training without the resource book, the fee is $50. Attendees should preregister to reserve their seat and to ensure workshop materials are available the day of the training session.

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

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

Extension is in the university’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Download the flyer at:  

Nebraska named among world’s best colleges for precision agriculture

Joe Luck, UNL Associate Professor and Precision Agriculture Engineer

The University of Nebraska–Lincoln has been named one of the world’s best four-year colleges for precision agriculture. PrecisionAg released their top 25 institutions based on feedback from peer institutions, industry experts, and internet searches.

Nebraska’s efforts in precision agriculture span its teaching, research and extension missions. Field research projects focus on the application of state-of-the-art technologies for improving input use efficiencies in cooperation with Nebraska producers and on university research farms. Results from these projects are communicated regularly through Nebraska Extension workshops and field days and are used in the classroom to teach students about site-specific crop management strategies.

“Precision agriculture will continue to play a critical role in the industry’s efforts to sustainably meet the food and fiber needs of a growing world population,” said Joe Luck, associate professor of biological systems engineering and extension precision agriculture specialist. “For the group working in this space at UNL to be recognized on PrecisionAg’s list of the institutions making strides in this area is a great honor.”

Project SENSE, for example, consists of a multidisciplinary team of precision agriculture research and extension personnel led by Richard Ferguson, professor and interim head of the  Department of Agronomy and Horticulture. The team has worked for three years with local producers to examine how one new technology— crop canopy sensors —might benefit producers in the future. The project has identified the opportunity for reductions of up to 25 percent in nitrogen required with minimal losses of 2 to 3 bushels per acre in corn yield.

Another project demonstrated the potential application of multi-hybrid planters in corn and soybean production. The planter can plant at least two seed varieties in one trip through a field or manage multiple seed treatments from separate bulk tanks on the planter. Preliminary results indicated the potential for improved management in soybean fields with sudden death syndrome; drought tolerant hybrid placement studies produced inconsistent results. However further analysis may highlight the potential for risk mitigation in drought years. Results from the field sites have been distributed through extension’s On-Farm Research Network.

According to Luck, cooperation with local producers to conduct field research is a great opportunity for both parties involved to learn. And, he added, “The technological needs of a producer farming 1,000 acres are very different from a producer farming 10,000 acres.”

PrecisionAg is a diversified, independent media enterprise serving the global community using precision agriculture techniques. PrecisionAg includes multiple industry publications and a web presence.

To learn more about precision agriculture efforts at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, visit

Record-breaking "I Believe in the Future of Ag" Program Results

Last August, 18 corporate sponsors challenged Nebraska’s FFA members to raise $300,000 at the local level. The results are in and Nebraska’s FFA chapters rose to the challenge by raising over $343,000.

The I Believe in the Future of Ag campaign educates the public on the importance of agricultural education in Nebraska’s schools through an educational marketing campaign and serves as a fundraising campaign to grow the capacity of Nebraska FFA at both the state and local levels.

18 corporate partners participated in the 2017-18 campaign providing funds to develop the campaign, fund the educational marketing piece and provide $35,000 in matching funds for Nebraska’s FFA chapters.

“The beauty of this campaign is that it gives a local FFA advisor the opportunity to ask for a tax-deductible donation to do things they couldn’t otherwise afford. It also helps them develop a group of community supporters,” says Stacey Agnew, Executive Director of the Nebraska FFA Foundation. “We’re seeing some really unique initiatives in our FFA chapters.”

Anyone can donate to their local FFA chapter through the I Believe program. Contact the local FFA advisor or visit to learn more.

ISU:  Feed Cows to Meet Requirements of Early Lactation

Prolonged winter weather has limited forage growth thus far this season, which means many producers are still feeding cows. Iowa State University extension beef specialist Chris Clark reminded producers of the importance of feeding cows appropriately this spring. Nutritional requirements are significantly greater during lactation and it is critical for producers to adjust rations appropriately.

“Energy and protein requirements are significantly greater during lactation. Many spring calves have been born but because of the weather, pastures are not yet growing well,” Clark said.  “It is important to realize that whether they're in a lot setting or already on pasture, cows need to be fed well enough to support early lactation.”

Typical winter diets, balanced for gestational requirements, may not offer enough energy and protein to meet requirements of early lactation. Producers may need to supplement with some type of concentrate or at least strive to use high quality hay.

“To help cows milk well and maintain condition, we need to feed them well as we are waiting for the grass to grow,” Clark said.  “They really need some good hay and in many cases some additional supplementation to keep them on a good plane of nutrition. The challenge is that not everyone has a good handle on the quality of their hay, plus at this point in the season, hay inventories may be running pretty low.”

Corn coproducts are low-starch feeds very compatible with forage-based diets, and Clark said distillers grains can work well to supplement and stretch hay supplies. Other feeds such as soybean hulls, corn and corn silage also can be used for supplementation. Whatever feed is used, supplements must be fed appropriately to optimize rumen function, digestibility and animal health.

The Iowa Beef Center website has numerous resources available on beef cow nutrition, forages, and many other topics. Iowa State University beef specialists are also available to answer questions and help with feeding and supplementation decisions.  Feel free to contact Clark or a regional beef specialist for assistance.

U.S. Grains Council Releases Seventh Corn Export Cargo Quality Report

The quality of corn assembled for export early in the 2017/2018 marketing year was better or equal to U.S. No. 2 on all grade factors, based on the information aggregated and reported in the recently-released seventh edition of the U.S. Grains Council’s (USGC’s) Corn Export Cargo Quality Report.

“An advanced infrastructure system and robust inspection and grading standards bolster the United States’ reputation as the world’s largest and most reliable supplier of corn,” wrote Deb Keller, USGC chairman and farmer from Iowa, in the report’s greeting. “However, members of the U.S. corn marketing system also understand the importance of consistent quality to food and feed end-users.”

Average test weight found by the analysis was the same as 2016/2017, indicating overall good quality. Chemical composition attributes indicated similar protein, lower starch and higher oil concentrations than 2016/2017. The early 2017/2018 corn exports had larger kernels and higher stress cracks, true density and horneous endosperm, but lower whole kernels than the prior year. Importantly, all of the samples for aflatoxin and deoxynivalenol (DON) or vomitoxin were below the U.S. Food and Drug Administration action and advisory levels, respectively.

The export cargo quality report is based on 430 yellow commodity corn samples collected from corn export shipments undergoing the federal inspection and grading processes at export terminals.

The report is a companion to another analysis, the 2017/2018 Corn Harvest Quality Report, which provided information about the quality of the most recent U.S. corn crop at harvest as it entered international merchandising channels.

Together, the two reports provide reliable information on U.S. corn quality from the farm to the customer based on transparent and consistent methodology. These reports provide an early look at the grade factors established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), moisture content and additional quality characteristics not reported elsewhere. Examining both reports is important to identify and understand any noticeable changes occurring between these two time periods.

The Council will roll out the new report's results during a series of crop quality seminars around the world, beginning in the next two weeks in Mexico. These outreach activities help to establish clear expectations with buyers and end-users regarding the quality of corn this marketing year in addition to providing information on grading, handling and how U.S. corn is moved and controlled through export channels.

“The Council is committed to continuous export expansion based on the principles of mutual economic benefit and increased food security through trade,” Keller said. “Our global staff serves as a trusted bridge between international corn buyers and the world’s largest and most sophisticated agricultural production and export system.”

Read both reports at

Perdue Applauds President Trump’s Selection for USDA’s Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today applauded President Donald J. Trump’s selection of James Hubbard to be the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment. Following the announcement, Secretary Perdue issued the following statement:

"I am very excited by the selection of Jim Hubbard for this leadership role at USDA. Congress passed and President Trump signed into law meaningful reforms and forest management tools that will help us better maintain our national forests. Under Jim Hubbard's leadership, we will put these tools to use, restore our forests to health, and get them back to work for the taxpayers. Jim's service with the Forest Service and the Department of Interior makes him exceptionally qualified for this post, and I am eager to have Jim join the team.

"At the same time, there are several other qualified USDA nominees still awaiting Senate confirmation. I urge the Senate to take up these nominations as quickly as possible.”

Growth Energy Congratulates Andrew Wheeler on EPA Confirmation

On Friday, Andrew Wheeler was confirmed as Deputy Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In response to Mr. Wheeler’s confirmation, Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor issued the following statement:

“We congratulate Mr. Wheeler on his confirmation as Deputy Administrator of the EPA. We are encouraged by the fact that Mr. Wheeler has extensive experience in matters relating to the EPA, and trust that he will work to uphold the president’s commitment to the Renewable Fuel Standard.

“The ethanol industry has played a crucial role in reinvigorating the American heartland, supporting American jobs, and giving consumers access to cleaner burning, renewable biofuels. We will continue to work with the administration to ensure that biofuels can continue to move America forward.”

Midlevel Ethanol Blends Key to More Efficient Engines, Meeting Future Vehicle Standards

Growth Energy today released the following statement regarding the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Revised Final Determination Regarding Model Year 2022-2025 Light-Duty Vehicle GHG Emissions Standards.

“For several years, Growth Energy has strongly emphasized the fact that fuels and engines are a system and that high-octane fuels – such as ethanol blends like E25-E30 – should be part of this discussion,” Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor said.

“We have provided a wealth of data to show that midlevel ethanol blends can be used by automakers to produce smaller, more efficient engines that will help meet future vehicle standards. We will continue to remain engaged with automakers and government stakeholders to ensure that biofuels are part of any long-term plan for engine efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction.”

In October 2017, Growth Energy submitted comments to the EPA in support of the use of higher biofuel blends in the Final Determination of the Mid-Term Evaluation of Greenhouse Gas Emission Standard for Model Years 2022-2025 Light-Duty Vehicles. Growth Energy also filed comments in August 2017 with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to inform its preparation of an environmental impact statement to analyze the potential environmental impacts of new CAFE standards for model year 2022-2025 light-duty vehicles.

Oklahoma Cattlemen's Foundation Launch Fire Relief Fund

A relief fund has been established by the Oklahoma Cattlemen's Foundation (OCF) to help Cattlemen who have been affected by on-going wildfires in Western Oklahoma.

"Oklahoma wind and drought conditions spurred several large fires on the western side of the Oklahoma yesterday effecting many cattlemen," said Tiffani Pruitt Coordinator of the OCF, a charitable arm of the Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association. "One thing we've learned from the wildfires in the past few years is that folks are quick to want to help those in unfortunate situations, and that is truly humbling. The OCF is happy to provide a place for funds to be held. We will coordinate with the Extension Offices in the effected areas to organize relief efforts and to identify ranchers that are in need."

According to Michael Kelsey, Executive Vice President of the Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association, "OCA is coordinating with Extension, The Farm Service Agency and others to bring information to ranchers about disaster assistance. We humbly ask for prayers for ranchers, firefighters and folks in the paths of these devastating fires."

100% of donations will be distributed to ranchers who have been affected by the fires. You may donate to this relief effort by mail or online. Make checks payable to Oklahoma Cattlemen's Foundation, with "Fire Relief" in the memo line and send to P.O. Box 82395., Oklahoma City, OK 73148. To donate online, visit

CWT Assists with 2.1 million Pounds of Cheese and Butter Export Sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 13 requests for export assistance from Dairy Farmers of America, Land O’Lakes, Northwest Dairy Association (Darigold), Tillamook County Creamery Association and United Dairymen of Arizona. These cooperatives have contracts to sell 1.435 million pounds (651 metric tons) of Cheddar cheese and 639,341 pounds (290 metric tons) of butter to customers in Asia, Central America, Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and Oceania. The product has been contracted for delivery in the period from April through July 2018.

CWT-assisted member cooperative 2018 export sales total 31.848 million pounds of American-type cheeses, and 7.011 million pounds of butter (82% milkfat) to 25 countries on five continents. These sales are the equivalent of 451.697 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.

Farmer Co-ops Applaud Introduction of S. 2641, the American Food for American Schools Act

The National Council of Farmer Cooperatives today applauded the introduction of legislation in the Senate that would strengthen monitoring and enforcement of “Buy American” provisions of the National School Lunch and Breakfast programs. The bill, S. 2641, was introduced by Senators Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and is a companion bill to legislation introduced in the House, H.R. 1241.

“On behalf of America’s farmer co-ops, I would like to thank Senators Sullivan and Cantwell for their leadership in introducing this bill,” said Chuck Conner, president and CEO of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives. “While USDA has distributed multiple guidance memos to schools across the country on how to comply with the Buy American provisions of school nutrition programs, the last several years has seen an alarming increase in the amount of foreign-produced food served in schools when comparable American-grown products are readily available and competitively priced.”

Beginning in the late 1980s, provisions were added to the school lunch and breakfast programs that require schools to purchase domestic commodities and food products; the provision has become known as “Buy American.” Only two exceptions to these requirements were provided by USDA in the regulations: for when a product is not produced in the United States in sufficient quantity or quality (such as bananas) or for when competitive bids reveal that U.S. products cost significantly more than foreign ones. Numerous recent media reports have found troubling disregard for the Buy American provisions.

In particular, Conner noted that examinations of relevant data by several industry groups have found that 50 to 60 percent of fish served in U.S. schools is caught on Russian ships and processed in China; that 81 percent of apple juice served in schools in 2014 was imported; and that Chinese canned peaches are served to students in 26 states, including major domestic producers like California and Georgia.

“NCFC believes that the legislation introduced today will help to shed light on the extent of this problem and help ensure that taxpayer money is used in the way the Congress intended,” concluded Conner. “We hope that the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry will take up this legislation soon and advance it to the Senate floor for action.”

Five Agronomy Insights That Could Boost Yield in 2018

With a challenging market and an uncertain spring, farmers want to feel confident they’re choosing the right crop inputs and the right management strategies. Using insights derived from two decades of data from thousands of field trials across the U.S., the WinField United agronomy team has released five recommendations for the 2018 growing season that can help farmers increase yields and improve return on input investments.

-    You could be leaving 90 bushels on the table. Response-to scores help farmers manage input decisions with a clear understanding of potential ROI. The Answer Plot program measures crop response to management strategies, including plant population, nitrogen application, continuous corn and fungicide application. The bottom line: Nearly 90 bushels could be at risk on any acre every year if farmers are not using all the management strategies at their disposal.
-    Plant with confidence. To help farmers choose the right seed for each acre, WinField United collects data on 240 corn hybrids and 360 soybean varieties at nearly 200 Answer Plot locations each season. That information populates the R7® Tool by WinField United Top 10 feature, which finds the best 10 products for any fields and expected growing conditions, including geography, soil type, crop maturity and irrigation.
-    Let fungicide data do the talking. Beyond guiding hybrid or variety selections, response-to-fungicide (RTF) scores indicate where to scout for conditions that favor disease growth to best predict return on investment from fungicide use. The Answer Plot program gauges RTF scores on 240 corn hybrids every year. In 2017, based on data from 41 locations, average yield response after fungicide application was 11.2 bushels per acre.
-    Keep nitrogen in its place. Nitrogen stabilizers slow the rate of nitrogen conversion so nutrients are ready and waiting for developing plants. The Answer Plot team is actively applying learnings from more than 400 independent research trials, which found treating fields with NutriSphere-N® Nitrogen Fertilizer Manager increased corn yield by an average of 10.0 bushels per acre compared to untreated plots.1,2
-    Seed treatment stops small pests from becoming big problems. A well-chosen seed treatment can prevent damage from soybean yield threats including soybean cyst nematode (SCN) and sudden death syndrome (SDS). Based on testing at 25 Answer Plot locations with moderate to high SCN pressure, combining Warden® CX and ILeVO® seed treatments boosted soybean yield by 2.8 bushels per acre.

Applying 20 Years of Insights

The Answer Plot® program is an industry leader in agronomic research and demonstration initiatives. Celebrating its 20th year, the program includes trials conducted at nearly 200 locations across 30 states and in five countries. Every year, more than 6 million data points are collected and analyzed by location, hybrid or variety, management strategy and more to uncover timely information farmers can use to get more from every acre.

“We have packed a lot of learning into the first two decades of the Answer Plot® program,” says Kevin Eye, vice president, WinField United. “The insights we’ve discovered are helping farmers get more from their input investments by making more confident decisions. We are thrilled to play a role in that success.

“At the same time, there is so much left to evaluate and learn. We’re already well into the 2018 season and we look forward to the insights we can discover and share from this year’s trials.”

To learn more about the Answer Plot® program, including agronomic insights and information on events in your local area, go to

Seven Tips to Consider for Investing a Tax Refund on Your Acreage

Acreage owners who have a tax refund check coming their way may want to consider using it to make improvements that can boost the value of what is likely your largest asset - your acreage.

1. Regardless of the property, bathrooms and kitchens sell homes. Your home is likely the largest asset on your acreage and if your kitchen or bathroom needs updating, Helen Saylor-Kimes of Saylor Realty in Osceola, Iowa, recommends spending money in these two rooms. According to 2018 remodeling statistics, a homeowner will recoup approximately 81.1 percent of the costs of a minor kitchen remodel and 70.1 percent for a midrange bathroom remodel.

2. Pay down your mortgage. With low interest rates there's the argument that you should invest extra cash in the stock market where greater returns are possible. But there are benefits to paying off your mortgage early, including fewer financial obligations in retirement and peace of mind. While paying off your mortgage early won't eliminate your housing costs entirely - you'll still have property taxes, insurance and maintenance - it lessens the burden. While mortgage interest is tax deductible, in the long run you can save a bundle of interest costs by paying off your mortgage early.

3. Enhance the curb appeal of your house and grounds.  According to Saylor-Kimes, that includes landscaping or possibly adding a pond. Not to mention the enjoyment you'll get from these projects, they typically add value to an acreage. It could be as simple as improving the plantings around the house or adding landscaping throughout the property. For larger projects, spending money upfront to have a landscape designer develop a master plan is good place to start.

4. Plant trees. Do not underestimate the aesthetics of your property. Planting trees can add value, beauty and privacy as well as add value as timberland. If you live in an area of the country where snowdrifts can block driveways and roads, consider planting a live snow fence. It may qualify for cost-share under the Continuous Conservation Reserve Program if planted into an area that has a previous cropping history. Check with your local NRCS or FSA office regarding this possibility.

5. Invest in a tractor. Living on an acreage often means work that you didn't have when you were an urban dweller. Maintaining a yard, removing snow and mending fences are just a few. A tractor is often an acreage owner's new best friend. Before purchasing one, Roger Harrod, a Massey Ferguson compact tractor dealer in Roopville, Ga., recommends customers test-drive the tractors they are considering buying.

“I strongly recommend customers test-drive the tractors they are considering buying,” says Harrod.  “A consumer shouldn’t make that investment without getting a feel for its maneuverability, ease of operation, comfort and power.” Harrod adds that before purchasing a new tractor (or beginning a test drive), customers should ask their dealer for a full explanation of the tractor and the controls on the model they are interested in purchasing.

Before visiting a dealership, make a list of what you need and want in a tractor to ensure you purchase the right tractor for the jobs on your acreage. For more buying tips, check out this list of  top 10 things to consider when buying a tractor.

6. Improve an existing structure or add a building. Another capital investment is to use the money toward building a shed, garage, a workshop or to make improvements such as fixing a barn roof or replacing siding on an existing building. Few people every say they have too much storage and now you may have room to store your SUV, ATV and snowmobile. While building structures can add value, remember that doing so may add to the cost of property taxes.

7. Add fencing. Whether it's fencing to protect valuable landscaping or to establish the perimeter of the property, fencing will almost always enhance the value of the land. Make sure to choose the right type of fencing based on what the land is used for. Regardless of the type of fencing used, it should be well-maintained, and the maintenance cost should be a consideration when selecting the fencing.

To learn more about Massey Ferguson products suited for use on acreages and small farms or to find a dealership near you, visit 

Friday April 13 Ag News

Ricketts, Ethanol Board Advocate for a Robust RFS

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts and the Nebraska Ethanol Board teamed up to push for a strong commitment to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).  The Governor spoke at the Ethanol 2018: Emerging Issues Forum and discussed ethanol’s role in growing Nebraska and the importance of the RFS for Nebraska’s ethanol industry.

“Yesterday, we had a really interesting and exciting meeting where the President came out and said that he supports E15 all year round.  That is a big deal.  We’ve been asking for that for quite some time,” said Governor Ricketts.  “Whether it’s our ethanol boards, our federal delegation, or as governors, we all have to continue to put forward that voice for our American farmers and ranchers to continue to support ethanol.”

Governor Ricketts held a press conference following his remarks at the Forum alongside Ethanol Board Chairman Jan tenBensel.

“On behalf of the Nebraska Ethanol Board, I would like to thank the Governor for his support of agriculture and the ethanol industry,” said Jan tenBensel.  “Thank you for your support in Washington yesterday.  This has led to the potential for year-round use of E15.  This is a win-win for farmers, ethanol producers, and oil refiners.”

In Nebraska, ethanol plants use roughly 40 percent of the state’s corn crop.  The demand for ethanol has increased with the introduction of new ethanol blends.  Blends of E10, E15, E30, and E85 are available in Nebraska today.  There are over 70 pumps with high-ethanol blends available at 19 retail locations across Nebraska.

As Governor, Pete Ricketts has served as chairman of the Governors’ Biofuels Coalition.  In 2017, Governor Ricketts testified in front of the Environmental Protection Agency in support of the RFS.  He also recently joined a letter with the Governors of Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, and South Dakota that emphasized the importance of ethanol and the RFS to President Donald J. Trump.

Governor Ricketts has also directed the state fleet to replace E10 with E15 with the aim of moving to higher-ethanol blends over time.  As the state fleet administrators purchase new vehicles, they have been directed to only purchase Flex Fuel vehicles or vehicles that are designed to burn at least E15 fuel.


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Can’t make money on your crop ground and need more pasture?  Double cropping annual forages may be a better option.

               Successful double cropping of annual forages requires good planning and timely operations along with some timely moisture.  To use this approach this spring, small grains like oats or spring triticale, maybe mixed with field peas or some brassicas like collards or forage rape, need to be planted as soon as possible.  Grazing of these plantings can begin six to eight weeks after planting and can last until early to mid-June if stocked and managed properly.

               As portions of this spring planting get grazed out, a summer annual grass like sudangrass or pearl millet can be planted.  With adequate moisture, the summer annual grass will be ready to graze in forty-five to fifty days and may last through September.

               This double crop forage strategy works even better if winter annual cereals like winter rye, wheat, or triticale were planted last fall for spring forage.  They will be ready to graze soon.  Just like with the spring plantings, as portions are grazed out, plant summer annual grasses to begin grazing them by mid-summer.

               Another strategy is to plant summer annual grasses first in mid- to late May.  Graze portions of them out in August, then plant oats with or without turnips for late fall and winter grazing.

               Of course, adequate moisture or irrigation is needed for these options to produce both double crops.  Thus, it is wise to have extra hay or a nearby pasture where animals can be placed and fed temporarily if extra time is needed to grow sufficient forage for grazing.

               An extensive description of these forage systems is available on-line at  Again, that address is  Click on extension and outreach.

 What’s New with K Fertilizer Use?

Charles Wortmann - Extension Soil and Nutrient Management Specialist

Available research-based information continues to verify that the soil test potassium (K) level of 125 ppm as a critical level for K application is adequately high for agronomic crops of Nebraska. The probability of profitable response to K application is very low if soil test K is above 125 ppm.

In three studies of corn response to applied K involving over 50 trials, there was a 2-4 bu/ac average decrease in yield during the year of application. The decrease was not greater with application of 86 compared with 43 lb/ac of K2O. The cause of the decrease has not been well determined. There is no evidence for such a decrease with other crops or of the reduction effect for corn persisting beyond the year of application although this has not been well-studied. These results suggest that
-    fertilizer K should not be applied if not needed;
-    infrequent higher rate applications are better than annual lower rate applications; and
-    K may be better applied to another crop in the rotation rather than corn.

The UNL K recommendations are available in the Nebraska Extension publication, Nutrient Management for Agronomic Crops of Nebraska (EC155). We realize that some advisors recommend K rates in excess of UNL recommendations, but available research-based information indicates that these higher rates reduce profit potential.

 What’s New with P Fertilizer Use? 

A six-year study at three locations for continuous corn response to differing phosphorus (P) application practices was completed in 2016. The locations were at the university's Haskell Ag Lab, the Eastern Nebraska Research and Education Center near Mead, and the West Central Research and Education Center at North Platte. All sites had initial Bray 1 P of less than 10 ppm. The results have not yet been fully interpreted for Extension purposes. The results show, however, that
-    annual application of P at rates equal to the P removed in the previous harvest when Bray-1 P is less than 20 ppm has a slightly better profit opportunity compared with the current UNL recommendation, and
-    maintaining Bray-1 P at 25 or 35 ppm resulted in less profit than the UNL recommendation.

For other crops, available research-based information does not challenge existing UNL recommendations as reported in the Nebraska Extension publication, Nutrient Management for Agronomic Crops of Nebraska (EC155) if the farmer’s primary objective is profit optimization. We realize that:
-    some producers give priority to objectives other than maximization of profit which may justify their maintenance of very high soil test P levels, and
-    some advisors recommend P rates in excess of UNL recommendations.

Available research-based information indicates that these higher rates reduce profit potential.

 What's New with S Fertilizer Use?

Approximately 100 trials have been conducted since 2000 to evaluate sulfur (S) use in corn, sorghum, and soybean. The trial results have validated
-    the UNL recommendations of applying S to sandy soils in consideration of soil test results; and
-    the probability of profit gain due to increased yield from S application to medium and fine textured soil is very low.

The S recommendations are addressed in the Nebraska Extension publication, Nutrient Management for Agronomic Crops of Nebraska (EC155).

Deposition of atmospheric sulfur and sulfur application in fertilizers such as single super phosphate is much less than it was three to four decades ago. This implies that S availability needs to be monitored.
-    The probability of response to S has been determined in recent years to be high enough for some parts of Iowa to justify routine application.
-    Soil test results for sulfur availability continue to be of little or no value and response is best monitored with on-farm trials comparing yield with and without sulfur applied.
-    Applying S often does result in greener crops while not increasing grain yield. This can be important to farmer satisfaction and impressing neighbors and land managers.

Sulfur is abundantly available and fertilizer sulfur use can be of modest cost without much environmental concern. Sulfur applied as sulfate does not affect soil pH, but applied as elemental S, it can contribute to soil acidification. Gypsum is often abundantly available and can be a good sulfur source. Flue gas desulfurization gypsum, a by-product of coal-fired electrical power generation, is a potential sulfur source with a liming effect.

Center for Rural Affairs: Farm bill first draft makes the wrong sweeping change

Center for Rural Affairs Policy Associate Anna Johnson said today that the released draft of the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018, commonly known as the farm bill, has several proposals of concern for rural America. The draft bill was released yesterday by the House Agriculture Committee. The current farm bill expires Sept. 30, 2018.

“The House farm bill is a nonstarter,” said Johnson. “It completely eliminates the popular Conservation Stewardship Program that currently protects 70 million acres nationwide. It wipes out funding for the Value-Added Producer Grant Program and the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program, two programs that support new enterprise creation in rural America. And it fails to put any sort of cap on unlimited crop insurance subsidies for the largest farms.”

Johnson continued on the subject of crop insurance premium subsidies.

“Structural reforms of this nature, that put common-sense limits on subsidies to only the largest operations, are needed to level the playing field for all farmers. The House Agriculture Committee’s decision to ignore these needed changes indicates an unfortunate reluctance to do what is right for our small and mid-sized farmers.”

The proposed elimination of the Conservation Stewardship Program wipes out the largest working lands conservation program in the U.S. The Conservation Stewardship Program offers farmers and ranchers who can demonstrate existing land stewardship efforts the opportunity to improve and expand them for their whole operation. The program emphasizes conservation practices that support natural resource concerns, such as soil erosion and water quality.

“Terminating the Conservation Stewardship Program undermines farmers’ and ranchers’ abilities to implement conservation practices on their land,” said Johnson. “Hundreds of farmers from around the Midwest have shared with us how important Conservation Stewardship Program is to their operations and stewardship efforts. Ending the program, along with the more than $7 billion in proposed cuts to other working lands conservation programs, would strike a serious blow to farmers’ and ranchers’ abilities to better steward their soil and water.”

Members of the House Agriculture Committee describe proposed changes to crop insurance as minor.

“This is a missed opportunity to create a stronger connection between conservation and crop insurance,” Johnson said. “Offering higher subsidies for higher levels of stewardship would make crop insurance more accountable to taxpayers and reduce risks for farmers – these measures would go a long way toward creating further support for conservation.”

The draft bill also proposes changes to several programs that support beginning farmers, rural development, value-added production, and rural entrepreneurs.

“Seeing level funding in the bill for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, the Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program, and the Conservation Reserve Program – Transition Incentive Program is encouraging,” Johnson said. “However, the bill eliminates mandatory funding for the Value-Added Producer Program and the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program, which is a step towards disinvesting in rural small businesses. The similar decision to not renew organic cost-share program funding also undermines farmers’ and ranchers’ abilities to certify as organic and access the higher price points that organic products provide.”

The House Agriculture Committee will revise this draft during a meeting called “markup,” announced by Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX), chairman of the committee, set for 10 a.m. Eastern on Wednesday, April 18, 2018.

“We hope the House of Representatives can make needed amendments to improve this bill, restore these valuable programs, and reach bipartisan agreement,” said Johnson.

AgGateway's Mid-Year Meeting June 11-14 in Iowa

Registration is now open for AgGateway's Mid-Year Meeting June 11-14 at Prairie Meadows in Altoona, Iowa, just outside of Des Moines. The meeting will provide valuable insights and networking to better enable the industry's transition to digital agriculture. Much of the meeting consists of open working group sessions where teams discuss ways to more efficiently exchange information in agriculture to maximize efficiency and productivity.

This year's general session speaker is Jim Krogmeier, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Purdue University, who will discuss blockchain technology and its potential impact on agriculture. Other highlights include the first face-to-face meeting of AgGateway's new Traceability Working Group, a luncheon for first-time attendees, a "Quick Connect" session featuring face-to-face meetings between trading partners implementing electronic connections, and multiple networking events.

"We anticipate a great meeting this year, with continued work on interoperability in precision agriculture, traceability in a variety of ag operations, efficiencies for the specialty chemical sector, and much more," said AgGateway President and CEO Wendy Smith. "We invite companies to learn and participate. There are huge benefits to the efficient and accurate exchange of information all along the agricultural and specialty chemical supply chains."

AgGateway has again set modest registration fees to encourage maximum participation in the collaborative discussions and projects. Registration is just $175 for both members and non-members. In addition, those who register by May 4 will be entered into a drawing to win a special VIP attendee package, including a complimentary hotel room upgrade to a suite. The special hotel rate at Prairie Meadows available until May 22 is $109/night.

More information is available on AgGateway's Mid-Year Meeting webpage, found under "Events" at Explore sponsorship opportunities by reviewing the sponsorship program on the event webpage or email General inquiries can also be directed to AgGateway's Member Services at or (+1) 866-251-8618.

AgGateway is a non-profit organization dedicated to the expanded use of information to maximize efficiency and productivity, promoting and enabling the industry's transition to digital agriculture.

Iowa Swine Day 2018 Showcases National Industry Speakers

The seventh annual Iowa Swine Day will feature speakers addressing important issues facing pork producers. The event, scheduled for Thursday, June 28 on the Iowa State University campus, Ames, is planned and hosted by Iowa State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Iowa Pork Industry Center, and by the Iowa Pork Producers Association. Co-organizer John Patience, professor of animal science, said planners continue to reply to producer input as they develop a strong program relevant to the industry.

“The morning plenary session features Ray and Dave Price from Canada’s Sunterra Farms, who will describe the strategic decisions made to transition their family’s traditional farrow-to-finish farm of the 1970s into a multinational producer, processor, retailer and exporter of pork,” Patience said. “Their most recent innovation is construction of an Italian dry-cured meat plant in Canada in partnership with the Simonini family from Modena, Italy.”

Also during the morning session, David McDonald of the OSI Group will talk about the global future of the food industry. In addition to his role with the OSI Group, McDonald serves on the board of directors for the North American Meat Institute affording him unique perspectives on the trends influencing global consumption of protein.

Jeff Ansell, president of Jeff Ansell and Associates, will provide the very entertaining yet practical and instructive presentation, “When the headline is you!” Ansell has taught classes at both Duke University and Harvard University, and shares strategies, techniques and tips to help his clients become better communicators.

Following lunch, 16 presentations will be part of four concurrent sessions. Co-organizer Jason Ross said the afternoon topics range from updates on the use of sexed semen to cyber security to pricing/negotiating hog prices. Ross, who is associate professor of animal science and director of IPIC, said topics also include mitigation of mycoplasma pneumonia and best practices in siting new barns.

Following the day’s program, attendees are invited to a barbecue in the Iowa State Center courtyard, organized by TechMix and AB Vista. Ross said attendees won’t want to miss this relaxing and tasty end to the day.

Check-in and onsite registration opens at 7:30 a.m. on June 28, with sessions beginning at 8:30 a.m. The program will adjourn at 4:30 p.m. followed by the conference barbecue. Registration is $50 and includes lunch, refreshments and barbecue. Early registration ends midnight, June 15. Late or on-site registration is $75. Students may register at no cost prior to the early deadline. Their fee increases to $45 thereafter. Iowa Swine Day will be held at the Scheman Building, Iowa State Center, 1805 Center Drive, Ames, Iowa. Additional information, directions and online registration is available on the Iowa Swine Day conference website....

USDA: Farm Share of Food Dollar Declines Again

On average, U.S. farmers received 14.8 cents for farm commodity sales from each dollar spent on domestically-produced food in 2016, down from 15.5 cents in 2015. Known as the farm share, this amount is at its lowest level for the period 1993 to 2016, and coincides with a steep drop in 2016 average prices received by U.S. farmers, as measured by the Producer Price Index for farm products.

USDA's Economic Research Service uses input-output analysis to calculate the farm and marketing shares from a typical food dollar, including food purchased at grocery stores and at restaurants, coffee shops, and other eating out places.

2016 was the fifth consecutive year that the farm share has declined, though the 4.5-percent drop in 2016 was below 2015's 9.9-percent fall.

The drop in farm share also coincides with five consecutive years of increases in the share of food dollars paying for services provided by the foodservice industry.

Since farmers receive a smaller share from eating out dollars, due to the added costs for preparing and serving meals, more food-away-from-home spending will also drive down the farm share.

USDA and USTR Finalize Access for U.S. Pork Exports to Argentina

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer today announced the government of Argentina has finalized technical requirements that will allow U.S. pork to be imported into Argentina for the first time since 1992.

Since the White House announced an agreement with Argentina last August, technical staff from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative have been working with Argentina’s Ministry of Agro-Industry on new terms for market access that are practical, science-based and consistent with relevant international animal health standards. The finalization of these technical requirements means that U.S. exports of pork and natural swine casings can now resume.

“This breakthrough is the result of efforts by this Administration to help America’s farmers and ranchers reach new markets and ensure fair trade practices by our international partners,” Perdue said. “Once the people of Argentina get a taste of American pork products after all this time, we’re sure they’ll want more of it. This is a great day for our agriculture community and an example of how the Trump Administration is committed to supporting our producers by opening new markets for their products.”

“I welcome Argentina’s decision to allow imports of U.S. pork products and the economic opportunity it will afford to U.S. pork producers,” said Lighthizer. “This effort demonstrates the Trump Administration’s continued commitment to address foreign trade barriers to American agriculture exports.”

The United States is the world’s top pork exporter, with global sales totaling $6.5 billion last year. Argentina is a potential $10-million-per-year market for America’s pork producers, with significant growth opportunities possible in subsequent years.

Argentine Market Now Open To U.S. Pork

With strong support and input from the National Pork Producers Council, the United States and Argentina this week finalized an export certificate that allows the U.S. pork industry to ship product to the South American country.

“Argentina has tremendous potential for U.S. pork exports,” said NPPC President Jim Heimerl, a pork producer from Johnstown, Ohio. “This is great news for America’s pork producers, who last year exported almost $6.5 billion of pork around the world.”

Argentina, which had a de facto ban on U.S. pork, has a population of more than 44 million and a per capita income of $17,250 – higher than Mexico’s – making it an attractive market for U.S. pork. Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes has noted that fresh pork consumption in the country has increased from about 2 lbs. in 2005 to 22 to 26 lbs. today. The Argentine pork industry estimates that by 2020 consumption will increase to 35 to 44 lbs.

The new opening represents the first time in 25 years that U.S. pork will be allowed into Argentina, which has the potential to be a $10 million-a-year market for U.S. pork producers.

NPPC helped the U.S. Department of Agriculture address concerns raised by Argentine officials, and in October, the organization urged the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to reinstate Argentina’s eligibility for the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences, which allows some foreign products into the United States without tariffs, after the country in August agreed to re-open its market to U.S. pork imports. The export certificate allows the shipment of fresh, frozen and processed pork to the South American country.

“This development demonstrates the Argentine government’s commitment to expanded and more open trade with the United States,” said Heimerl. “And it will help us grow our exports, which the U.S. pork industry is very dependent on. Last year’s exports, for example, added more than $53 – representing almost 36 percent of the $149 average value of a hog in 2017 – to the price we received for each animal marketed.

“The United States can’t sit on its hands when it comes to trade. Opening new markets, such as Argentina, and expanding existing markets is imperative.”

USMEF Statement on Argentina Opening to U.S. Pork

Today the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that U.S. pork is eligible for export to Argentina for the first time since 1992.

Statement from U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) President and CEO Dan Halstrom

Argentina's per capita pork consumption has grown rapidly over the past several years, increasing nearly 60 percent since 2011 (based on USDA estimates), and Argentina is the third-largest pork-importing country in South America (behind Chile and Colombia). USMEF has been researching the Argentine market for some time in order to identify commercial opportunities for U.S. pork, and our South America representative, Jessica Julca, is scheduled to meet with importers and other prospective buyers in Argentina next week. Significant interest in the Boston butt has already emerged and we anticipate demand for U.S. hams, picnics and trimmings to be used as raw material for further processing. Argentina also holds potential for U.S.-produced processed pork products.

U.S. pork exports have achieved excellent growth in South America in recent years, with most of the volume destined for Colombia, Chile and Peru. U.S. pork is also eligible for export to Ecuador and Uruguay, and recently gained access to Paraguay. Expanding the range of export opportunities for U.S. red meat is especially important at a time of increased uncertainty in some of our leading markets. Argentina is an exciting addition with solid growth potential, and USMEF thanks USTR and USDA for their steadfast efforts to regain access to the Argentine market.

NCGA Statement on Today's High-Octane Hearing in Washington D.C.

The following is a statement from North Dakota farmer Kevin Skunes, president of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), on today’s Environment Subcommittee Hearing “High-Octane Fuels and High Efficiency Vehicles: Challenges and Opportunities.”

“While corn growers are pleased that the value of octane that comes naturally from ethanol is being recognized by automakers, we need to look at the whole of any policy being proposed. We can’t look at an octane standard in isolation. We must look at the sum of all the parts.

“Congress enacted the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) because it was important to diversify the transportation fuel supply, and that diversity remains an important energy policy objective. One way to evaluate any proposal related to the transportation fuel supply is to ask whether it makes our transportation fuel more dependent on oil or whether it continues to provide opportunities to expand the use of homegrown biofuels. 

“With the ongoing push for cleaner burning fuels, ethanol can be a growing contributor to the solution. Ethanol is the cleanest burning fuel in the marketplace. Now is not the time to take a step backward.

“Corn growers view the octane discussion as one step in the changing fuel and vehicle marketplace.  A high-octane, midlevel ethanol blend would benefit consumers by providing more options and cost savings at the pump. Ethanol also has environmental benefits and provides an additional market for the abundance of corn we have in the United States.

“It is apparent however, the small move on octane that could be met by the premium fuel already on the market today is not sufficient, and NCGA will continue to provide input to Members of Congress interested in these issues.

“Corn growers vehemently oppose EPA’s efforts to rewrite the RFS, and we appreciate House Energy and Commerce Committee members for recognizing this harm and drawing attention to EPA’s exemptions to small refiners that appear to have waived at least 1 billion gallons of ethanol from the RFS volumes and adversely impacted corn demand.”

ACE: High octane ethanol the solution to improved emissions, fuel economy in future vehicles

The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment is holding a hearing this morning on “High Octane Fuels and High Efficiency Vehicles: Challenges and Opportunities,” looking at the potential for high octane fuels and the vehicles designed for them to further the goals of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and Corporate Average Fuel Economy and Greenhouse Gas (CAFE-GHG) programs. In a letter to the subcommittee, American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) CEO Brian Jennings explains that ethanol-enriched, high octane fuels are the most affordable way to thread the needle for reduced tailpipe emissions and improved fuel economy, advancing goals of both programs, simultaneously. Excerpts from the letter are below:

“…high octane fuels represent a complementary link between automaker compliance with EPA’s GHG standards and fulfilling the intent of the Renewable Fuel Standard. To be more exact, high octane fuel comprised of 25 to 30 percent (98 to 100 RON) ethanol is a cost-effective, low-carbon solution to successful implementation of both the RFS and GHG standards.

“One of the reasons Congress enacted the RFS is because refiners control nearly all of the nation’s fuel supply terminals.  In other words, the “free market” is a myth when it comes to motor fuel because refiners decide whether or not to blend low-cost renewable fuels such as ethanol into the gasoline they make. Similarly, if refiners are left to their own devices, a new minimum high octane fuel will not materialize. It will require a push either by EPA through future automobile GHG standards or by Congress taking action to require a minimum octane rating for fuel.

“Some oil refiners will testify today in support of a transition to a new 91 AKI (95 RON) fuel.  As we understand this concept, it would limit ethanol’s contribution to just 10 percent by volume, falling short of the need to reduce tailpipe emissions and save consumers money at the pump.  For these reasons, ACE cannot support any new high octane fuel standard which restricts ethanol’s share to just 10 or 15 percent by volume.

“…to gain widespread consumer acceptance and save motorists money at the pump it will be necessary for a new high octane fuel to be a minimum of 98 RON and contain much higher ethanol inclusion rates.”

World Meat Congress to Feature Argentine and Canadian Ag Ministers, Leading Economists, Frontline Trade Negotiators

The premier gathering of red meat industry leaders from across the globe is coming to Dallas, Texas, May 31-June 1. The 2018 World Meat Congress (WMC) is hosted by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) and the International Meat Secretariat. The WMC is a biennial event, with this year’s theme being “Trusting in Trade.”

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue will deliver the WMC’s opening keynote presentation, focusing on the challenges of feeding a growing world as well as trade policy initiatives undertaken by the Trump administration.

Secretary Perdue’s address will be followed by Argentine Agriculture Minister Luis Miguel Etchevehere, who will discuss Argentina’s recent transition to a pro-trade economic philosophy for its agricultural sector, and Canadian Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Lawrence MacAulay, who will explain Canada’s approach to agricultural trade and how the Canadian production model compares to that of its competitors.

“For many years Argentina pursued a policy of managed trade that imposed restrictions on agricultural exports, but with a change in government it is now pursuing an export-driven agenda that has significantly improved the outlook for Argentina’s agricultural economy,” said Seng. “Canada’s positions on red meat trade are also of great interest to WMC attendees, especially given its new trade agreement with the EU, its role in the TPP-11 agreement and the ongoing NAFTA negotiations.”

Leading economic experts will share their insights with WMC participants in a session titled, A World of Change: Factors Affecting Red Meat Trade.

Moderated by USMEF Economist Erin Borror, this session’s panelists include Amy Xu, head of purchasing for COFCO Meat Group Inc.’s trade department, Daniil Khotko, leading analyst at IKAR LLC in Russia, Pablo Sherwell, head of RaboResearch Food & Agribusiness for North America and Michael Drury, chief economist for McVean Trading and Investments. Topics addressed will include:

-    Factors shaping China’s red meat market over the near and medium term, including the current rebound in domestic pork production and whether there is room for further growth in pork consumption; whether China’s booming demand for imported beef will continue to gain momentum; and the projected impact of higher tariffs on U.S. pork and proposed tariffs on U.S. beef and soybeans.

-    Challenges faced by Russia’s pork producers and whether investment in the Russian pork industry is sufficient to sustain expansion; how is this situation impacted by the suspension of pork and beef imports from Brazil – which is now in its fifth month?

-     Mexico’s cattle and hog sectors have attracted significant investment, but what are the prospects for production growth and related implications for global trade? Does this include diversification of Mexico’s red meat exports and imports beyond the United States?

-    From a macroeconomic standpoint, what is the near-to-medium term outlook for the global economy and what factors or uncertainties are most likely to impact demand for red meat?

Trade policy will also be front-and-center at the WMC as a distinguished panel of experts will exchange views on the likely future direction of the global trading system. Moderated by Ambassador Darci Vetter, former chief agricultural negotiator for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), the panel will include Kenneth Smith Ramos, chief NAFTA negotiator for the Mexican Ministry of the Economy, and Jean-Marc Trarieux, who heads the office that manages trade issues with North and South America for the European Commission’s Directorate General for Agriculture and Rural Development. Trarieux formerly served as the Directorate General’s representative in Washington, D.C. USTR has also been invited to provide the Trump administration’s perspective on current trade negotiations and policy initiatives.

“With NAFTA negotiations reaching a critical phase and the United States, Mexico and the European Union engaged in a wide range of trade talks, this session will truly offer a view from the front lines of negotiations that will shape global trade for years to come,” Seng said. “We also look forward to gaining expert insights on the future direction of the World Trade Organization and the rules-based trading system.”

Additional activities offered at the conclusion of the WMC allow attendees to participate in a cattle ranch tour, experience American barbecue or spend a day getting to know historic Fort Worth. Additional information is available online and space is limited, so make your tour reservations soon.

For registration information, the full WMC agenda and other details, please visit Register now – the standard rate deadline is April 20 and pre-registration closes May 14.

Dairy Groups Support Trump Administration Examination of India, Indonesia Compliance under Generalized System of Preferences

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) yesterday accepted a petition from the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) to examine India’s failure to follow through on its obligations to provide “equitable and reasonable access to its market” for dairy products. In addition, Indonesia, which has also been pursuing dairy trade distorting policies, will be included in USTR’s review to assess that country’s compliance with its market access obligations.

India has for many years maintained unjustified market access barriers to U.S. dairy products, despite receiving preferential access to the U.S. market under a special duty-free trade arrangement called the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP). India abruptly began denying dairy exports in 2003, citing safety concerns and demanding revised government-issued health certificates. The U.S. industry and U.S. government have worked in good faith over the last 15 years to remove this intractable barrier, but have been met with a shifting litany of demands not founded on sound science.

Meanwhile, since last year Indonesia has been advancing a policy aimed at mandating that importers and manufacturers in its country purchase local milk or contribute monetarily to support the local dairy industry, even though this runs counter to its WTO commitments.

GSP benefits come with the expectation that the trading partners using the program comply with a baseline level of requirements, including those related to reasonable market access terms. USTR has rightfully determined that a thorough examination of these countries’ adherence to these terms of the deal is necessary.

Industry officials praised USTR’s decision to review India’s and Indonesia’s GSP status, and are hopeful that the move will force the countries to halt unfair trading practices that harm U.S. farmers.

“Dairy farmers across the country applaud the White House and USTR for taking this step and holding these countries accountable for their unlawful actions,” said NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern. “We’ve been wrongly blocked from the Indian market for more than a decade, and Indonesia has recently been heading down a similar route. If these nations refuse to embrace free and fair trade, there must be consequences.”

“We export dairy products to more than 100 countries and our products are universally recognized as safe,” explained Tom Vilsack, USDEC president and CEO and former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. “Exports are essential to rural America’s future, and our government must prioritize the removal of trade impediments like this to foster an open and healthy market.”

The two organizations thanked the Trump Administration for sending a strong message that trade should be a two-way street. They said USTR has the opportunity to lead on other key dairy trade issues, such as tearing down policies erected by Canada that are harming U.S. dairy exports and run counter to what is needed from a modernized North American Free Trade Agreement.

USTR indicated that a public hearing and comment period for the new GSP reviews of India and Indonesia will be announced in an upcoming Federal Register notice.

Thursday April 12 Ag News - E15 RVP - Farm Bill - TPP - plus more!

Ricketts Visits White House for Roundtable on Agriculture & International Trade

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts participated in a roundtable discussion hosted by President Donald J. Trump at the White House with members of Nebraska’s federal delegation and other governors.  During the roundtable, Governor Ricketts urged President Trump to continue to open up new markets for Nebraska’s quality agriculture products and to pursue trade strategies that help grow agriculture.

“Nebraskans appreciate the work the President has done to open new markets for Nebraska beef and pork, but there is also uncertainty around the disruption tariffs may cause,” said Governor Ricketts.  “The President led a great working meeting today on agriculture, trade, and ethanol issues.  During the discussion, I urged the President to put a continued focus on expanding markets for agriculture.  He listened and expressed a commitment to growing international trade so we can grow opportunities for our farmers and ranchers.”

Governor Ricketts has been an advocate for expanding international trade opportunities for Nebraska’s farm and ranch families.  The Governor has led trade missions to China, Japan, Canada, and the European Union to expand markets and build new partnerships.

The roundtable discussion comes amidst concerns about the impact of trade negotiations on Nebraska’s farm and ranch families.  To date, President Trump’s trade discussions have resulted in the opening of negotiations in key markets such as China, Japan, Vietnam, Argentina, and South Korea.  This week amidst negotiations, President Xi Jinping of China declared that the country would open sectors such as banking and auto manufacturing, increase imports of American goods, and expand intellectual property protections, among other reforms.


International trade is a key driver of Nebraska’s economy.  Statistics for 2017 show that Nebraska increased total pork exports by 20 percent and beef exports increased by 12 percent.  Every dollar in agricultural exports generates $1.22 in economic activities such as transportation, financing, warehousing, and production.  Nebraska’s $6.4 billion in ag exports during 2016 translated to $7.8 billion in additional economic activity.

Top 5 Ag Export Products:
1.   Soybeans and Soybean Products - $2.08 billion
2.   Beef – $1.26 billion
3.   Corn - $1.16 billion
4.   Pork - $479 million
5.   Hides and Skins - $291.9 million

Top 5 Ag Export Markets:
1.   China - $1.43 billion
2.   Mexico - $956 million
3.   Japan - $887.1 million
4.   South Korea - $499.9 million
5.   Canada - $433.5 million

Fischer Presses for Nebraska at Trade Meeting with President

U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, released the following statement today after meeting with President Donald J. Trump at the White House to discuss the benefits of trade to production agriculture:

“At the White House today, I spoke in person with President Trump about a number of agriculture issues causing anxiety and uncertainty for many Nebraskans. NAFTA, potential Chinese tariffs, and upholding the Renewable Fuel Standard were among the topics we covered. I provided the president with factual information about our state’s ag exports and the central role agriculture plays in Nebraska’s economy. Furthermore, I conveyed to him how critical it is that we work together to protect markets – domestically and internationally – for our families. I’m encouraged by the president’s desire to move forward with the sale of year-round E-15 with a RVP waiver and to reengage with TPP nations in discussions to open new markets. I will continue to press this case for the people of Nebraska.” 

Sasse Statement on President’s Reconsideration of TPP

U.S. Senator Ben Sasse, an outspoken advocate for trade and agriculture, issued the following statement regarding his meeting with the President today.

“The best thing the United States can do to push back against Chinese cheating now is to lead the other eleven Pacific nations that believe in free trade and the rule of law. It is good news that today the President directed Larry Kudlow and Ambassador Lighthizer to negotiate U.S. entry into TPP.”

Wheat Groups Applaud Decision to Negotiate for TPP Membership

U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) and the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) are very happy to learn that President Trump is directing U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer and National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow to begin negotiating for the United States to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

“Putting it simply, joining TPP is the best way to avoid a potentially devastating loss of wheat sales to Japan,” said USW Chairman Michael Miller, a wheat farmer from Ritzville, Wash. “If the United States joins TPP, U.S. wheat should be able to compete on a level playing field with Canadian and Australian wheat, which will soon have a major advantage once TPP is implemented. That would keep U.S. wheat sales that currently represent 50 percent of Japan’s total wheat imports competitive in this crucial market.”

“It is very encouraging that the President is taking this step,” said NAWG President Jimmie Musick, a wheat grower from Sentinel, Okla. “If we can find a way to join this trade agreement, it will go a long way toward helping protect the incomes of every American wheat farmer. We also want to thank the members of Congress who pushed very hard to see this opening.”

USW and NAWG look forward to working with the Administration to provide any information and support it needs to achieve a successful negotiation that brings the United States back into the agreement. Read more at

 Smith Statement on Administration Decision to Expand Access to E-15 Gasoline Blends

Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE), a senior member of the Committee on Ways and Means, released the following statement today after President Trump announced his intention to expand access to 15 percent ethanol blends in gasoline (E-15) year-round.

“I’m proud to hear President Trump’s support for expanded access to E-15 gasoline blends year-round. This is a decision which will allow greater access to cleaner and more affordable fuel options throughout the year while also benefiting Nebraska agriculture as various ethanol blends become more widely available.

Having long supported this expansion, I introduced the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act to bring about broader access to higher ethanol blends. I applaud this move by the administration and urge its swift implementation in order to guarantee the maximum benefit for consumers and producers alike.”



President Trump announced today that he supports approval for year-round consumer access to E15, a high-octane fuel composed of 15 percent ethanol, 85 percent gasoline. This is welcome news for Iowa’s farmers and American motorists as it will help expand the availability and market access for higher blends of ethanol.

The Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA) thanks U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst as well as Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds for their unwavering support for creating a path for E15 full availability especially during the White House discussions this week. We also thank President Trump for his public support of year-round E15 sales that will provide consumers greater access to lower-cost, cleaner-burning fuel at the pump.

However, our work in defending the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is still not done. We continue to work with the President and our elected leaders to protect the integrity and intent of the RFS from potentially damaging RIN price cap proposals and small refinery exemptions. Iowa farmers will continue to stand up for their farms and support the biofuels industries that have kept our communities in rural America alive and thriving.

For Iowa’s corn farmers, ethanol remains our top market. By allowing year-round E15 sales, we will increase demand for corn and provide homegrown fuels to consumers supporting our state.
As a nation, we should be doubling down on our need for reliable, homegrown biofuels not blocking their market access. Maintaining a strong Renewable Fuel Standard and year-round sales of E15 keeps Iowa’s ethanol industry viable and provides a key market for our corn going strong.

NCGA Statement on President Trump’s Announcement on RVP Parity

Kevin Skunes, president of the National Corn Growers Association

“Today, at a meeting at the White House with governors and lawmakers, President Donald Trump committed to making policy changes that would allow for the sale of blends greater than 10 percent, such as E15, year-round. The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) is very pleased with this announcement, and we thank the President for this commitment to America’s corn farmers and rural America.

“Allowing the sale of E15 all year, will allow for less confusion and more savings at the pump for consumers, continue to benefit the environment with the further reduction of emissions and provide corn farmers with a more stable market.  NCGA has been advocating for this parity for higher blends of ethanol not only for these benefits but also because of the additional ethanol blending addresses refiner concerns about RIN values. Increased blending lowers RIN values.

“NCGA realizes there is still work that needs to be done to make this happen, but we will work alongside the President and Administration to make sure this regulatory burden is removed.

“NCGA has been working closely with Members of Congress and President Trump’s administration to be sure farmers’ voices are heard. We applaud Secretary Perdue and farmers’ champions in Congress for their steadfast support.

“Even with the positive news from the White House today, NCGA continues to call on EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to stop granting small refinery exemptions, giving extremely profitable refiners a pass on meeting their RFS obligations and destroying demand. We remain opposed to further demand destruction through a RIN price cap or other policies that undermine the RFS.”

ACE thanks president for pledge to support the year-round sale of E15

Today, President Trump publicly pledged his support of allowing the sale of E15 year-round. Below is a statement from American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) CEO Brian Jennings:

“ACE has been calling for a legislative or administrative fix to this outdated regulatory burden for a long time now, and we’re grateful the president has publicly expressed his support to help the industry move in a positive direction. Allowing the sale of E15 year-round is not only a commonsense step to provide regulatory relief to retailers, it is a win for their customers, who save about a nickel to a dime with each gallon of E15 at the pump. 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.  E15 is a clean and safe fuel with lower evaporative emissions than E10 and straight gasoline and will help further decrease tailpipe emissions.

“There’s a clear recognition of refinery wins in the form of so-called hardship waivers and collapsing RIN prices have caused real damage in rural America — it is time to allow E15 to be sold year-round. We look forward to participating in the process to finally make E15 sales year-round a reality.”

Growth Energy Welcomes President Trump’s Support for E15

Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor today applauded President Trump’s commitment to lifting outdated Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) limits on summer-time sales of E15 without tying RVP relief to any refinery-backed limits on Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) and the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

“We applaud President Trump for embracing a common-sense fix to create a level playing field for cleaner, more affordable fuel options during the summer driving season. The White House clearly understands that RVP relief will expand a growing market for America’s farmers while letting consumers pick the fuel of their choice.

“This simple fix allows retailers to offer better options alongside traditional blends all year long."

Biodiesel Stakeholders Unite in Concern for RFS

The National Biodiesel Board today joined the American Soybean Association and the National Renderers Association urging President Trump to keep his promises to rural voters.

“Recent Actions by the EPA have undermined President Trump’s commitment to support consumer access to domestic renewable fuel and rural economies supported by upholding a strong Renewable Fuel Standard,” said Kurt Kovarik, vice president of federal affairs. “The EPA’s decision to give large, profitable refiners free passes are hurting biodiesel producers, renderers and farmers. If the President is serious about keeping his promise, he needs to pay attention.”

In the letter the three organizations thank the president for his support saying, “We appreciate your ongoing efforts to champion the entrepreneurs, farmers, and manufacturers working to grow our nation’s domestic renewable energy industry.”

They also note concern surrounding the seeming inconsistent signals from the administration. The letter states, “Contrary to your steadfast support, the EPA has undermined the RFS through recent actions granting so-called “hardship” exemptions designed for small refiners.  This has a direct impact on consumers, renderers, fuel marketers, biofuel producers and hundreds of thousands of American soybean farmers. The actions taken by the EPA undermine the integrity of the RFS and stand in direct contrast to your pledge of support in Iowa.”

Press coverage has indicated the EPA has granted exemptions to several refineries for the 2016 and 2017 compliance years, including one of the nation’s largest. EPA has apparently granted Andeavor a hardship waiver for its three smallest refineries, while their profits last year were approximately $1.5 billion dollars. At least two other refineries with hundreds of millions of dollars in annual profits appear to have also been granted exemptions. 

The Renewable Fuel Standard is a federal program that requires transportation fuel sold in the United States to contain a minimum volume of renewable fuels. The RFS originated in a bi-partisan Congress with the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and was expanded and extended by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

 NFU Applauds E15 Waiver, Says More Needs to be Done for Higher Blends of Ethanol

President Donald Trump today announced the administration would allow the year-round sale of E15, or gasoline blends comprised of 15 percent ethanol, which had previously been barred from being sold in the summer.

National Farmers Union (NFU) applauded the President’s move and called on the administration to eliminate similar barriers to expanded use of higher blends of ethanol. NFU President Roger Johnson released the following statement in response to the announcement:

“Family farmers are facing severely depressed prices due to massive oversupply of corn and other commodities. We appreciate the administration’s move to remove this unnecessary regulation that decreases demand for farm products.

“While this waiver will go a long way towards cutting into the corn supply, more can and should be done for higher blends of ethanol, like E30. This high-octane fuel offers better economic, fuel economy and air quality benefits than do lower blends of ethanol, yet far too many barriers continue to exist to keep it from being used. Farmers Union encourages the administration to build on the President’s support for farmers and rural communities by building demand for higher blends of ethanol in our transportation fuels.”

Chairman Conaway Introduces the Agriculture and Nutrition Act

Today, House Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway (TX-11) introduced the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 (H.R. 2) – critical legislation to address the economic challenges facing the nation’s farmers and ranchers, while making historic investments in opportunities for SNAP recipients. Upon introducing the bill in the House, Chairman Conaway said:

“Rural America is hurting. Over the last five years, net farm income has been cut in half. Natural disasters and global markets distorted by predatory trade practices of foreign countries, including high and rising foreign subsidies, tariffs and non-tariff barriers, have resulted in huge production losses and chronically depressed prices that are today jeopardizing the future of America’s farm and ranch families.

“The farm bill keeps faith with our nation’s farmers and ranchers through the current agriculture recession by providing certainty and helping producers manage the enormous risks that are inherent in agriculture. The farm bill also remains faithful to the American taxpayer and consumer. Under the farm bill, consumers will continue to enjoy the safest, most abundant and most affordable food supply in the world, and taxpayers will reap the more than $112 billion in budget savings projected under the current law.

“Ensuring an affordable food supply is important to every citizen, but it is absolutely critical to the most vulnerable among us who struggle every week to put food on the table. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which is reauthorized under the farm bill, is essential to helping many Americans feed themselves and their families.

“The farm bill also keeps faith with these families by not only maintaining SNAP benefits but by offering SNAP beneficiaries a springboard out of poverty to a good paying job, and opportunity for a better way of life for themselves and their families.

“I’m excited to share our vision with the American people – and eager for people to see the details of a proposal that offers people real hope and promise.

"I’m also looking forward to quickly moving this farm bill through the House and working with the Senate to deliver a farm bill to the president’s desk that is on time, as the president has asked us to do.”

For more information on the bill, visit

Secretary Perdue Statement on Release of 2018 Farm Bill

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today issued the following statement on the release of the 2018 Farm Bill:

“I applaud Chairman Conaway and the House Agriculture Committee for their diligence and hard work in crafting the 2018 Farm Bill. The trend of low commodity prices over recent years and headlines about trade disputes have caused anxiety among agricultural producers these days, so this legislation is critically important to give them some much-needed reassurance.  In my travels across the country, I have found that farmers have confidence in President Trump’s ability to negotiate strong trade deals with other nations, but they also want a strong, bipartisan Farm Bill that puts their needs above Washington, D.C. politics.  While there is still much work to be done, I am pleased that this Farm Bill aligns with many of the principles USDA released in January.  I look forward to working with the Agriculture Committees and members of Congress from both sides to pass a comprehensive Farm Bill in a timely fashion to provide the needed support and certainty to our farmers.  The Trump Administration has made rural prosperity a priority for the country, and a Farm Bill that works for agriculture is a key component of the agenda.”

ASA Welcomes Introduction of Chairman's Mark

The American Soybean Association (ASA) responded this afternoon to the introduction of the chairman's mark of the farm bill from House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway of Texas. ASA President John Heisdorffer issued the following statement:

"We commend Chairman Conaway for moving the farm bill process forward with the introduction of the chairman's mark today. We recognize this process has many stages, and while this version lacks support from Democrats, we hope that the chairman will continue to work to negotiate to get the needed support to pass a bill that can conference with the Senate and become law in 2018.

"We need to get this farm bill done this year to provide long-term certainty for farmers, given lingering questions on trade and the shaky state of the farm economy.

"We also appreciate the chairman for including authorization for the Foreign Market Development program, as well as funding for FMD and the Market Access Program. ASA will continue to press for the doubled funding we originally requested for these programs, which farmers across the country leverage to expand our overseas markets."

House Farm Bill Establishes, Funds FMD Vaccine Bank

The National Pork Producers Council hailed the House Committee on Agriculture’s inclusion in its 2018 Farm Bill of language establishing and funding a vaccine bank to combat an outbreak of Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD).

FMD is an infectious viral disease that affects cloven-hooved animals, including cattle, pigs and sheep; it is not a food safety or human health threat. Although the disease was last detected in the United States in 1929, it is endemic in many parts of the world.

“This is a great first step for the livestock industry,” said NPPC President Jim Heimerl, a pork producer from Johnstown, Ohio, and chairman of NPPC’s Farm Bill Policy Task Force. “Right now, we’re ill-prepared to deal with an FMD outbreak, which would be devastating for pork producers and other sectors of agriculture.”

The agriculture panel’s Farm Bill calls for first-year mandatory funding of $150 million for the vaccine bank, $70 million in block grants to the states for disease prevention and $30 million for the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN), which provides diagnostic support to assist in managing diseases in the United States. For the other years of the 5-year Farm Bill, there’s $30 million in mandatory funding for state block grants and $20 million to be used at the Agriculture secretary’s discretion for the vaccine bank, the NAHLN and the states.

NPPC is urging lawmakers to provide annual funding of $150 million for the vaccine bank, $70 million for state block grants and $30 million for the NAHLN over the life of the Farm Bill.

Currently, the United States does not have access to enough FMD vaccine to handle more than a very small, localized outbreak. According to Iowa State University economists, an FMD outbreak in the United States, which would prompt countries to close their markets to U.S. meat exports – thus creating a surplus of meat on the domestic market – would cost the beef and pork industries a combined $128 billion over 10 years if livestock producers weren’t able to combat the disease through vaccination. The corn and soybean industries would lose over a decade $44 billion and $25 billion, respectively; and economy-wide job losses would top 1.5 million.

“These costs can only be mitigated if the U.S. can mount a swift and robust response once FMD is detected,” Heimerl said. “Including FMD language in the House Farm Bill is a huge first step in addressing this gap in our disease prevention preparedness. We are very grateful to the House Agriculture Committee for its efforts on this very important issue for livestock agriculture.”

The House bill also includes funding for the NPPC-supported Market Access Program and the Foreign Market Development Program, both of which help support exports markets for U.S. goods. The programs are consolidated as the International Market Development Program.

NCBA "Pleased" To See U.S. House Farm Bill Language, Ready to See It Move Forward

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Kevin Kester today issued the following statement in response to the release of the 2018 Farm Bill text in the U.S. House of Representatives:

”We're pleased to see the House Agriculture Committee's language for the 2018 Farm Bill. and we're ready to see the bill move forward.

"We appreciate the Committee authorizing the Foot and Mouth Disease vaccine bank, which is vitally important to the safety of our industry. However, we were hopeful for full funding levels, which this bill does not provide in years two through five. We'll continue fighting to secure that funding through all possible avenues.

"We're also happy to see the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) bolstered in this bill, as well as funding for research, foreign market development, and market access programs.

"We will continue to work with the Committee to get this bill onto the House floor as quickly as possible." 

Farm Bureau Statement on 2018 Farm Bill

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall:

“Today’s release by House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway of the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 (H.R. 2) assures America’s farmers and ranchers that congressional agriculture leaders recognize the economic challenges our producers face.

“Farm Bureau is pleased to see meaningful adjustments to the current farm bill’s provisions for dairy and the Agriculture Risk Coverage program, as well as new provisions for cotton farmers included in the commodity title. We also appreciate improvements proposed for federal crop insurance. There are additional provisions aimed at improving conservation programs, the specialty crops program and research and rural development programs that will benefit our members across the nation.

“The House Agriculture Committee’s proposed 2018 farm bill shows the committee is aware of a farm economy teetering on a knife’s edge. The legislation released today will assist farmers and ranchers battered by commodity prices that often do not cover the costs of production. This is one step to bring certainty to our farmers when we face challenges from many different directions. There are still details to be worked out, and we stand ready to work closely with leadership and members of the committee to move forward. We urge Congress to complete a new farm bill soon that promotes food security, a strong farm economy and the thousands of jobs that are supported by America’s agricultural productivity.”

NMPF Statement on Introduction of New Farm Bill in House Agriculture Committee

Jim Mulhern, President and CEO, NMPF:

“Congress made important improvements to the dairy safety net earlier this year, but as we have said repeatedly, there is more that must be done in the upcoming Farm Bill. That need is particularly urgent given the ongoing economic distress facing America’s dairy farmers.

“As the House developed its Farm Bill, we have worked closely with the leaders of the Agriculture Committee, including Chairman Mike Conaway, Ranking Member Collin Peterson, Vice Chairman Glenn Thompson and others to make further improvements to the Margin Protection Program and enhance farmers’ ability to use the Livestock Gross Margin program and other risk management tools.

“The bill introduced today includes several changes we have advocated for, particularly in improving coverage levels and providing greater coverage flexibility for dairy producers. It also includes important language on price risk management, which NMPF has worked on closely alongside the International Dairy Foods Association. As the Farm Bill moves forward, we will continue to work with our allies in Congress on a bipartisan, bicameral basis to further strengthen the dairy safety net for producers of all sizes.”

NAWG Responds to the House Committee on Agriculture’s Release of its 2018 Farm Bill Text

Today, the House Committee on Agriculture released its language for its version of the 2018 Farm Bill. In response, NAWG President Jimmie Musick made the following statement:

“We are glad to see that the House is taking a first step in the 2018 Farm Bill reauthorization process by releasing its draft bill. NAWG is currently reviewing the text and will continue to work with Members of the Committee and their staff to ensure our priorities are addressed in the bill.”

“NAWG continues to advocate for a strong crop safety net program which means no cuts to the crop insurance program and maintaining a producer choice between revenue-based (Agriculture Risk Coverage) and price-based (Price Loss Coverage) programs, as well as improvements to both. Further, NAWG continues to advocate for prioritizing working lands conservation programs in the Conservation Title, reauthorization and increased funding for MAP and FMD, as well as a strong research title. 

“We urge Congress to move forward in a bipartisan manner in order to enable a bill to pass both chambers.”

 NFU Appreciates House Ag Committee Work on Farm Bill, Urges Stronger Provisions for Family Farmers Amidst Financial Struggles

U.S. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway today released the heavily anticipated text of a new Farm Bill.

National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson thanked the committee for their work to put together a farm bill and encouraged Congress to work together in a bipartisan fashion to advance a stronger farm bill for family farmers in 2018. Johnson issued the following statement in response to the release:

“Farmers Union appreciates the hard work of the House Agriculture Committee over the past couple years to develop a farm bill that works to improve the lives of all Americans.

“Farm income stands at just half of what it was when the last farm bill was written, leaving thousands of farm families struggling financially. Under current conditions and with the programs we have in place, we’re losing farmers. Family farmers and ranchers simply need more resources.

“Yet congressional leadership has severely hamstrung the committee’s ability to address the six-year, 50 percent decline in the farm economy. While they’ve shown little regard for spending and deficits this Congress, they’ve failed to provide adequate resources for food and agriculture at a time of grave financial strain on family farmers and ranchers. This is irresponsible and harmful.

“Family farmers deserve to be a priority. They deserve to have a safety net that addresses current economic conditions. They deserve strong programs that help them improve the long-term sustainability of their farms. And they deserve access to fair and diverse markets. The final version of this farm bill must reflect the growing challenges family farmers face.”

16th IPPA tenderloin contest set to begin

There are many Iowa restaurants that serve great breaded pork tenderloin sandwiches and the Iowa Pork Producers Association is ready to launch the search for the state's best.

IPPA will begin accepting nominations for this 16th annual contest on April 18 and give consumers the opportunity to nominate their favorite tenderloin restaurant, café or pub. Nominations can be submitted at or by using the form in the May issue of the Iowa Pork Producer magazine. The nomination process closes on June 5. Nominations are limited to one per household.

Any café, restaurant or tavern that serves hand-breaded or battered pork tenderloins is eligible to be nominated. An establishment must be open year-round to win, but seasonal restaurants can make the top five. The top five restaurants with the most nominations from each of the eight IPPA districts will be judged. The IPPA Restaurant and Foodservice Committee reserves the right to add additional restaurants to the judging process as it sees fit. Restaurant owners and operators are prohibited from nominating their own establishment.

"We look forward to this contest each year because it's consumer-facing and we love how excited and passionate some tenderloin connoisseurs' get," said Kelsey Sutter, IPPA marketing and program director. "We're looking forward to discovering more of the greats and finding Iowa's best of 2018!

Restaurants can help promote nominations in their establishment by downloading and printing a specially designed poster from the Iowa Pork website.

One person who nominates the winning restaurant will be entered in a drawing to win $100. The winning restaurant will receive $500, a plaque to display in the establishment and statewide publicity.

IPPA received 3,014 nominations with 271 different establishments named in the 2017 contest, won by the Grid Iron Grill in Webster City. The committee judged 43 establishments last summer on the quality of the pork, taste, physical characteristics and eating experience.

Iowa pork industry representatives will judge the tenderloins and IPPA will announce the winner during National Pork Month in October.

The contest recognizes Iowa dining establishments that have pork as a regular menu feature in support of Iowa's nation-leading pork industry.

Online BQA Certification Surpasses 20,000 Mark

More than 20,000 individuals have gone online to obtain Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) certification since online training modules were relaunched on Feb. 1, 2017. BQA certifications are also available at in-person training events offered through state beef councils, cattlemen’s affiliates, extension programs and other local efforts throughout the country. The BQA program is funded by the Beef Checkoff Program.

By showing how common-sense husbandry techniques can be coupled with accepted scientific knowledge to raise cattle under optimum management and environmental conditions, BQA helps beef producers capture additional value from their market cattle, and more. It also reflects a positive public image for the beef industry and instills consumer confidence in it. When producers implement the best management practices of a BQA program, they assure their market steers, heifers, cows and bulls are the best they can be.        

The online BQA experience is tailored to each participant by industry sector and interest. After registering, participants are taken through an interactive training module that can be completed online, anytime, with participants starting and stopping training at their convenience without losing progress. Categories for training and certification include Cow-Calf, Stocker, and Feedyard.  Online training and certification is available for free and accessible twenty-four hours a day, seven days each week, making it a convenient option for busy farmers and ranchers.

States with most online certifications to date are Texas, Kansas, Iowa, Tennessee and California.  To find out more about BQA online certification, go to

ASA’s Heisdorffer Testifies on Importance of Trade with China

American Soybean Association (ASA) President John Heisdorffer today provided testimony before the House Committee on Ways and Means on the potential impact of Chinese tariffs on U.S. soybeans.

Heisdorffer, who farms in Keota, Iowa, highlighted the importance of maintaining China as a robust market for U.S. soybean exports, and the lasting effects implemented tariffs and a trade war would have on soybean farmers.

“Through a long-term and comprehensive program to demonstrate the value of soy-based feeds, ASA and the U.S. Soybean Export Council helped build demand for soybeans to the level of Chinese imports today,” Heisdorffer said.

In 2017, China imported 1.4 billion bushels of U.S. soybeans, 62 percent of total U.S. exports and nearly one-third of our annual soy production. According to a study conducted by Purdue University, soybean exports to China could drop dramatically if China chooses to impose a 25 percent tariff on U.S. soybeans.

“Retaliation by China against U.S. tariffs would undercut prices received by soybean producers and further hurt the already depressed farm economy. Crop prices are down 40 percent since 2013, and farm income has fallen by 50 percent. Operating margins are slim, and farmers cannot absorb additional hits to the farm economy.

“As producers of the Nation’s number one agricultural export, soybean farmers want to be an essential part of helping lower our trade deficit with China. We believe that expanding market access can play a vital role in increasing our agricultural trade surplus. We ask this Committee and Members of Congress to help allow soybean farmers be part of the solution instead of collateral damage from a potential trade war,” concluded Heisdorffer.

NCGA Statement on House Ways and Means Committee Hearing on China Tariffs

Kevin Skunes, president of the National Corn Growers Association

“Ag exports support more than one million American jobs and are a major driver of the U.S. economy. With 95 percent of consumers living outside the U.S., the future of American agriculture depends largely on the ability to sell to foreign markets.

“As corn farmers, we need open markets for our agricultural goods and want the trade doors with China to remain open. While not a lot of U.S. corn is exported to China today, we view China as having great potential as a market for U.S. corn and corn products.  We appreciate President Trump’s commitment to agriculture by offering Secretary Perdue the option to make emergency assistance payments to farmers, but farmers prefer having a market for their crops.

“With commodity prices so low, we cannot afford another blow to farm income. While we are grateful for the support, America’s farmers prefer building markets through trade, not relying upon aid payments.

"If aid becomes necessary, it should come as a part of the farm bill. The farm bill is the best vehicle to provide this risk management tool, as payments are only paid when a farmer faces low prices, something that is beyond their control. If this is the route that is taken, the amount of funds needed to be appropriated by Congress to write a farm bill needs to reflect the severity of the situation.”

April 19 Webinar by Genetics Experts to Give Cattlemen Guidance on Creating the Best Herd

This year’s edition of the NCBA Cattlemen’s Genetics Webinar Series comes to a close April 19, with a special presentation that puts a focus on honing bull selection.  The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association teamed up with six genetics specialists from across the country to offer this series, which kicked off Jan. 18.

The Genetics Webinar Series was designed for producers who would benefit from genetics knowledge, from the experienced seedstock breeder to someone who might be new to the cattle industry and needs to better understand genetics. It is being coordinated by the NCBA producer education team. Earlier webinars were “The 4 S’s of Crossbreeding: Simple, Structured, Successful and Sustainable,” “Show Me the Money! Are there EPDs for Profit?”, and “Fake News: EPDs Don’t Work.” These webinars can be accessed at under the Producer Education tab.

Titled “Putting the Tools to Use: Buying Your Next Bull,” the April 19 webinar puts the genetic concepts covered in the first three seminars to work, as attendees will go to a virtual bull sale and select the best bull from a sale catalog for two distinct production scenarios. The webinar begins at 7 p.m. CDT.

Leading discussion on the topic at the webinar will be Matt Spangler, Ph.D., associate professor and extension beef genetics specialist at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, and Bob Weaber, Ph.D., professor and beef extension specialist at Kansas State University. Joining in the discussion will be other members of the eBEEF team, a group of six genetic specialists from five academic institutions who have invested time and resources in the advancement of the cattle industry through genetics.

According to Josh White, NCBA executive director of producer education, the genetics webinar series has been an effective extension of NCBA educational webinars, which was started several years ago. “Some of the largest participations in our webinars have been for genetics topics in the spring,” said White. “This 2018 partnership with the eBEEF team has been a terrific addition to the education we can provide.”

Cattle producers are invited to join the webinar live, although “homework” for the seminar – available at – is advised. The homework includes the eBEEF bull sale catalog and the eBEEF bull selection scenario.

For more information, go to the Producer Education tab of the website.

Quality Counts: Go The Extra Mile At Every Stage Of The Corn Value Chain

From the start of the corn planting season to the ramp up of the U.S. Grains Council’s (USGC) information-sharing activities on last year’s crop as it moves into international channels, quality is more important than ever. The Council recently received reports of stones in corn shipments to Japan - a reminder of how important it is to ensure the U.S. corn crop maintains its high quality at each step of the value chain.

No matter where foreign material - including non-grain plant materials and other objects – is inadvertently mixed with corn cargoes, one point is certain: the presence of foreign material can undermine the reputation of U.S. grains.

“The size of the stones is like that of corn kernels,” said Tommy Hamamoto, USGC director in Japan, of the rocks found in Japanese corn shipments. “However, the stones have to be picked up by hand because they cannot be removed by sieves before they go to roller mills.”

Many factors in grain purchasing decisions are beyond control, but by working together, the entirety of the corn value chain can have a large influence over corn quality. Even small actions far removed from U.S. export customers can influence the quality image of U.S. corn when it is received by export customers.

“Quality counts at every point along the way,” said USGC President and Chief Executive Officer Tom Sleight. “It is important to pay attention to good handling practices - from seed development and equipment design, to storage and transporting. The more we pay attention, the more we minimize end-users’ issues, and the more our relationships overseas continue to grow.”

Close attention to quality at each step in the marketing chain pays off among export customers, and U.S. grain industry maintains a good reputation for transparency about grain quality. Each year, the Council produces two corn quality reports, the Corn Harvest Quality Report, released after the U.S. harvest season, and the Corn Export Cargo Quality Report, when corn is assembled for export to overseas customers. These reports, and the Council’s educational events to present the information to buyers, are key parts of continual outreach and are well received each year.

To maintain that reputation, quality is an issue the entire U.S. corn industry must continue to address – working to further learn about the nature of these customer concerns as well as create and implement achievable solutions throughout the process. The Council is committed to having those conversations and finding productive paths forward for all involved.

Global customers value the U.S. grain industry's ability to meet their needs year-in and year-out via investment and open communications regarding their quality concerns. The industry must continue to commit to the highest levels of grain quality at every level of the supply chain.

NAMA Honors Kendal Frazier with 2018 Ag Association Leader of the Year Award

The National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA) has named Kendal Frazier, Chief Executive Officer of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), as the inaugural Ag Association Leader of the Year.

This award recognizes outstanding achievement and excellence among senior executives who have made significant contributions to the agriculture industry in their roles with association or commodity organizations. Frazier will be honored during the 2018 Agri-Marketing Conference, April 11-13, in Kansas City, Missouri.

Frazier’s tenure with NCBA began in March 1985, and during his more than three decades with the association he held leadership roles with its communications, governance and issues management functions. Frazier served as the Chief Operating Officer before being named CEO in 2015.

Throughout his years of service to the beef community, Frazier has worked on numerous high-profile projects and issues. For instance, he played a lead role in coordinating the beef industry response to the first U.S. case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy. He also developed and/or managed award-winning communication tools utilized by NCBA today, including NCBA’s Cattlemen to Cattlemen, National Cattlemen and Directions.

Frazier was also instrumental in retooling the annual Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show to expand the industry-leading trade show, along with increased opportunities for experiences and entertainment, improving the event for attendees. This strategic shift has spurred significant growth in attendance, leading to consecutive attendance records in recent years, thanks in part to Frazier’s leadership and vision.

In addition to his work at NCBA, Frazier has also served in volunteer leadership roles with the Livestock Publications Council, Agriculture Council of America and more recently with the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance (USFRA).

USDA Proposes Branding Updates for Mexican Cattle

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is proposing to update its branding requirements for cattle entering the United States from Mexico. The changes would simplify the branding requirements, making the brands easier to apply and read, reducing errors. They would ensure Mexican cattle are easily identifiable and traceable for the remainder of their lives in the event of a disease detection.

The Mexican government requested changes to address issues with the current branding requirements, including confusion between the Mx and MX brands used for spayed heifers and breeding cattle respectively; the small size of the brands, which can cause blotching and require rebranding; and the rejection of animals at ports entry based on questions about whether they were branded correctly.

The proposed rule addresses these concerns by requiring an M brand for all cattle. The brand would also be larger in size for better readability. Together, these steps will reduce branding errors. To make it easy to distinguish between feeder and breeding cattle, brands for breeding animals would be placed on the shoulder. Feeder cattle would continue to be branded on the back hip.

The proposed rule would still allow an MX ear tattoo option for breeding cattle, instead of a brand, because the tattoos have not posed a readability problem and are a permanent form of identification. Cattle imported from Mexico would still require an approved eartag for traceability purposes.

USDA is already allowing Mexico to use the M brand on spayed heifers and breeding cattle as an alternate to the Mx and MX brands. This has reduced errors and confusion at border ports. The change is proving to be beneficial for both countries.

USDA will accept comments on this proposed rule for 60 days following publication in the Federal Register. This proposed rule may be viewed in today's Federal Register at: Beginning April 12, members of the public will be able to submit comments at:

Wednesday April 11 Ag News

AFAN Announces Two New Staff Hires

The Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska (AFAN) has announced two new hires at its Lincoln office. 

William Keech, from Hickman, Nebraska, has been named Director of Livestock Development. He will take the lead in building relationships, programming and the creation of tools that will enhance on-going development of livestock agriculture in Nebraska. Ashley Babl, from Albion, Nebraska, has joined the AFAN team as Livestock Programming Coordinator with responsibilities in creating and managing programming events for producers and communities to enhance education about the industry.

Both Keech and Babl are producers themselves and have a solid background working in the agriculture industry.  Keech comes to AFAN from the finance industry, where he created and led an agriculture lending division. He holds a B.S. degree in Agriculture Business from Northwest Missouri State University and has been active in the operation of his family’s business, Keech Farms, in Hickman. Babl has worked with precision farming equipment where she served as a consultant to producers about technology. She holds associate degrees from Northeast Nebraska Community College, Norfolk, in agronomy and agribusiness.

“We are excited to welcome William Keech and Ashley Babl to the AFAN team,” said AFAN Executive Director Kristen Hassebrook. “We look forward to expanding AFAN’s outreach with programming and services for both producers and community leaders with the goal of continuing to grow the livestock industry in Nebraska.”

Nebraska Farm Bureau Petitions USDA to Limit the Definition of Beef

Nebraska Farm Bureau is urging the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to not use the term “meat” when referring to all lab-grown and plant-based meat alternatives. The request to limit the definition of “beef” and “meat” to only products from live animals born, raised, and harvested in the traditional manner, comes from a strong movement to develop and commercialize alternative protein products, particularly “clean meat,” also called lab-grown or cultured meat, and plant-based proteins.

“The production and processing of livestock is of vital importance to our members and our states economy. Nebraska currently ranks first in commercial red meat production (over 8.1 billion lbs/year), commercial cattle slaughter (over 7.4 million head), and all cattle on feed (over 2.7 million head). All of this translates into tens of billions of dollars of economic activity as well as thousands of jobs,” Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau president said in a letter to USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

“Consumers depend upon the USDA FSIS to ensure that the products they purchase at the grocery store match their label descriptions,” Nelson said. In a letter he specifically requested FSIS to support the following:
-    Prohibit products derived from alternative sources, e.g. synthetic products from plants, insects, non-animal components, and lab-grown animal cells, from being labeled as “beef” or “meat”;
-    limit the definition of “meat” to the tissue or flesh of animals that have been harvested in the traditional manner;
-    limit the definition of “beef” to products from cattle born, raised, and harvested in the traditional manner; and
-    adding the definitions, as identified above, to FSIS’s Food Standards and Labeling Policy Book.

Back in January of 2018, delegates from the American Farm Bureau Federation adopted a policy proposed by delegates from Nebraska which supported the prohibition of the use of “commonly known and industry recognized ‘meat’ terms in the labeling and advertising of all lab-grown and plant-based alternatives.”

“This Nebraska-led effort was originally approved by our voting members, Nebraska farmers and ranchers, at our state annual meeting last December as the production and processing of livestock is of vital importance to our members and our states economy. Nebraska’s farmer and rancher bottom lines and the overall agriculture economy is at risk and we urge FSIS to support this petition,” Nelson said.

Midwest Dairy Unveils New Logo and Brand Identity

Midwest Dairy unveiled a new logo this week as part of the organization’s new vision, mission and strategic plan focused on bringing dairy to life for the consumer and giving them an excellent dairy experience. Serving as a visual connection between farmers and consumers, the new, more simple design is not only intended to convey the goodness of products Midwest dairy farmers so proudly produce but also, for the first time, to represent Midwest Dairy as one entity, no longer including the words Association or Council, to more prominently showcase the values that both organizations bring to consumers.

“Under our new strategic plan, our goal is to sit beside consumers and have conversations that demonstrate our openness, transparency and willingness to listen first and then share the farm to table journey,” says Midwest Dairy CEO Lucas Lentsch. “We also want our new logo to convey the strong traditions of our dairy farmers and their ongoing commitment to producing quality, nutritious dairy products for today’s consumers.”

Midwest Dairy’s new logo, vision and mission are the result of a year-long comprehensive strategic planning process that incorporated input from Midwest Dairy farmers, staff and a variety of partners throughout the dairy community, including retailers, processors and manufacturers, cooperatives and other industry leaders.

The new Midwest Dairy logo conveys the timelessness of dairy farming and reminds consumers that dairy is, and always will be, wholesome and enjoyable. The color blue represents the friendly, trustworthy farmers, and the yellow “smile” or splash makes you think of the richness that would be associated with butter or cream.

“Our new approach and logo will help us work with partners to develop stronger relationships with consumers to better understand what is important to them,” says Lentsch. “We will be working even more collaboratively with our farmers, wellness, manufacturing, retail and co-op partners to provide valuable resources and new product innovations that meet emerging trends and consumer demands.”

Iowa Center Leads Industry-Wide Collaboration on Sow Mortality

Healthy and productive sows help ensure profitable and efficient herds. In turn, maintaining this type of herd assists in providing financial stability to producers and the industry in general. So, when the sow mortality rate due to pelvic organ prolapse started to increase throughout the industry with no apparent defined reasons, that's cause for concern. That's why Iowa Pork Industry Center at Iowa State University is leading an industry wide research effort on identifying specific factors leading to pelvic organ prolapses contributing to the higher mortality rate.

IPIC director Dr. Jason Ross said funding for this project came from National Pork Board, which realized the need for a coordinated approach to the problem. The project involves 10 faculty from Iowa State, extension specialists and a large group of industry partners that bring different thoughts and perspectives to tackling an important issue such as this.

"The long-term objective of the project is to identify causes of pelvic organ prolapse so specific mitigation strategies can be developed and used," he said. "At this point, the project includes more than 400,000 sows on more than 100 farms across 16 U.S. states. The farms are of varying sizes, ownership, facility types and genetics."

IPIC is working with large production systems, smaller independent producers, a variety of sow housing designs, and numerous genetics, with a goal of representing the industry as a whole. Enrolled farms may have high, medium or low reported levels of prolapses, Ross said. This will help researchers identify and analyze possible risk factors that appear to be commonly associated with pelvic organ prolapses.

"A major component of our work is to gather consistent mortality data from all farms to create accurate benchmarks," he said. "This data is shared with the participating groups in a confidential manner on a regular basis."

IPIC swine program specialist Amanda Chipman leads the data collection and analysis portion of the project.

"My role includes collecting weekly data on mortalities and prolapses from sow farm managers, and I work with veterinarians, nutritionists and others from production systems to gather historical production, health, nutrition and management information," she said. "We started collecting on-farm data in mid-January and were on 45 farms by the end of March. The opportunity to be on the farms collecting data and meeting the sow farm managers and company representatives has really been a privilege."

Chipman also works with ISU faculty through the entire data collection process, from deciding what to collect and how to collect it, to how to summarize and analyze the findings.

"While the project remains in its relatively early stages, it has been quite successful in underscoring the collaborative nature of pork producers and their commitment to continuous improvement of animal health and well-being," Ross said. "Also, the networks we've established with industry and academic partners are expected to facilitate rapid dissemination of project results as they become available."

More information and weekly reports are available on the IPIC website.

IFU: Bayer-Monsanto Merger will Lead to Less Innovation, Fewer Choices

The following statement was issued by Aaron Lehman, Iowa Farmers Union president regarding the approval of the Bayer-Monsanto merger:

"The approved merger is bad news for Iowa farmers. The decrease in competition will result in fewer innovations in research, fewer choices for farmers to buy our inputs, and to higher costs to grow our crops."

"The timing of this decision couldn't be worse. According to the USDA, Iowa farmers will have lower farm income for the fifth year in a row. Less competition will ultimately lead to higher prices for farmers buying inputs and even less income left on the farm."

"Leaving so much leverage in the hands of just a few multi-national agribusiness giants is just inviting abuses of power."

Lehman is a fifth generation farmer from rural Polk County.

GMO Answers Releases Out Latest Graphic - Countering the Marketing Claims of Non-GMO Vodka

Late last year, one vodka company starting to heavily market their non-GMO vodka online and on social media. The only problem with this line of  marketing? There is no GMO wheat!

Non-GMO vodka is just one of the many products being put out by companies trying to hop on the non-GMO train. From non-GMO water to non-GMO salt (neither of which even have DNA to genetically modify), companies are taking advantage of people's lack of understanding of science and of GMOs to charge a premium for a product that confers no benefits. Just as a reminder, there are only 10 GMOs on the market in the U.S today.

GMO Answers has just released a new graphic that pokes a hole in this marketing, by pointing out that there is currently no GMO wheat on the market today (and even if there was, what would it matter?)  Click here to see the graphic....

Click here to find out more about GMO Answers....

Early Registration Ends This Friday for CUTC Event

Early registration for the 2018 Corn Utilization and Technology Conference (CUTC) ends this Friday April 13, at Midnight. The biennial event will be held June 4-6, 2018 at the Sheraton Westport Chalet Hotel in St. Louis, Missouri.

With a theme of "Increasing Efficiency Across the Supply Chain to Enable New Products," the conference provides a great opportunity to showcase and learn about new technology and track the changes in new corn uses and relate technology made over the last two years.

This year's planning committee, made up of industry experts, has developed a dynamic program with a focus on new uses with strong market expansion potential while continuing to advance long-term goals of improving quality and efficiency.

The hallmark of CUTC since 1987 is the goal of bringing leading innovators in the corn industry together for broad scientific exchange and well as very specific and targeted conversations related to research progress, processor needs and challenges and interaction with peers throughout the supply chain. You can view the entire program here.

Increasingly recognized as an important industry networking event, CUTC offers attendees the chance to meet hundreds of valuable business contacts, identify potential new customers and learn how new technologies will enhance the value of corn. CUTC poster presentations will again provide an ideal showcase for the latest research and present students with a challenging competition.

Retail Fertilizer Prices Continue to Creep Higher

Average retail fertilizer prices continued to creep higher the first week of April 2018, according to retailers surveyed by DTN. This marks the fourth straight week that prices for most of the eight major fertilizers have been higher compared to last month.

However, for the third consecutive week, no fertilizer price was up a significant amount. DAP had an average price of $478 per ton, MAP $508/ton, potash $352/ton, urea $370/ton, 10-34-0 $425/ton, anhydrous $508/ton, UAN28 $239/ton and UAN32 $274/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.40/lb.N, anhydrous $0.31/lb.N, UAN28 $0.43/lb.N and UAN32 $0.43/lb.N.

Five of the eight major fertilizers are now higher compared to last year with prices pushing higher in recent months. Anhydrous is now 1% higher, potash is 4% more expensive, urea is 5% higher and both DAP and MAP are 9% more expensive than last year.

The remaining three fertilizers are lower in price compared to a year prior. UAN32 is 2% less expensive while both 10-34-0 and UAN28 are 4% less expensive looking back a year.

EIA: Ethanol Stocks Lowest Since Nov.

Domestic ethanol inventories fell for a fourth straight week, reaching a more-than-three-month low, Energy Information Administration data shows.

Data shows ethanol stockpiles fell 579,000 barrels (bbl) to 21.846 million bbl during the week-ended April 6, the lowest level since the week-ended Nov. 10, 2017 when supply held was 21.497 million bbl.  At the current level, domestic ethanol inventory is roughly 5% lower than the same week a year ago.

Plant production fell 4,000 barrels per day (bpd) on the week to 1.034 million bpd during the week-ended April 6, 48,000 bpd, or 4.9%, higher than the same week in 2017. For the four-week period ended April 6, production averaged 1.040 million bpd, up from 1.026 million bpd during the same four-week period in 2017.

Net refiner and blender inputs, a measure for ethanol demand, gained 1,000 bpd during the week profiled to 904,000 bpd, down 4,000 bpd versus a year ago. For the four weeks ended April 6, blending demand averaged 906,000 bpd, down 7,000 bpd versus same period in 2017.

U.S. March Tractor, Combine Sales Rose Four Percent in March

According to the Association of Equipment Manufacturer's monthly "Flash Report," the sale of all tractors in the U.S. in March 2018, were up 4% compared to the same month last year.  Two-wheel drive smaller tractors (under 40 HP) were up 5.4% from last year, while 40 & under 100 HP were up .7%. Sales of 2-wheel drive 100+ HP were up 4.5%, while 4-wheel drive tractors were down 5%.  Combine sales were down 20% for the month.

For the three months in 2018, a total of 42,006 tractors were sold which compares to 41,871 sold thru March 2017 representing a .3% increase for the year.  For the year, two-wheel drive smaller tractors (under 40 HP) are up 1% from last year, while 40 & under 100 HP are even. Sales of 2-wheel drive 100+ HP are down 4%, while 4-wheel drive tractors are up 4.8%.  Sales of combines for the year total 721 compared to 693 in 2017, a 4% increase.

Small state-level impacts of potential Chinese import tariffs…for now

Tom Jackson, US Regional Economics Manager, IHS Markit

At the end of March, China imposed tariffs on imports from the United States on aluminum scrap, steel pipe, and a variety of agricultural products including pork products, many types of fruits and nuts, ethanol, and wine. The new tariffs cover goods that amounted to roughly $3 billion in US exports to China last year.

Both sides upped the ante during the first week of April, with announcements of broader lists of threatened sanctions on items accounting for around $50 billion worth of annual trade flowing each way. China’s list of threatened tariffs on imports from the United States includes certain commercial aircraft, automobiles, soybeans, and many other items at the top of the list of US exports to China. Those tariffs are not yet in force, but would take effect by late May pending negotiations.

Agriculture Tariffs: Economic Impact

The announced tariffs on agricultural products are not welcome news for US farmers, especially amid a multiyear slump in farm incomes. The economic impact in the United States of the sanctions currently in place, including 25% on pork and 10% on a list of fruits and tree nuts, is likely to be minor. The bigger issue for US farmers will arise if the prospective 25% tariff on soybeans is enacted. US soybean exports to China have grown rapidly in recent years and totaled $12.4 billion in 2017, accounting for over 75% of total US exports of agricultural products to China and nearly 10% of total US merchandise exports to China last year. In recent years China has been the destination for around 60% of total US soybean exports, accounting for around 30% of annual US soybean production. Looked at from the other side, US imports accounted for more than one-third of China’s total soybean usage during the last marketing year.

Agriculture Tariffs: States Affected

Any action that reduces demand for US agricultural products would reduce prices received by farmers for their output, and diminish farm incomes. Not surprisingly, states in the midsection of the country would be hit the hardest. Nebraska, South Dakota, and Iowa have the most exposure, with farm income accounting for at least 3% of total personal income in the state from 2014 to 2016. Some states with very large agricultural industries, such as Illinois, have small shares of farm income as a percent of total personal income because of their large metro areas. Outside of the middle of the country, California and Washington will see tariff impacts as they are major producers of fruits and tree nuts that are on the initial tariffs list.

Other Tariffs: Economic Impact

Trade in aircraft also has been mentioned as a possible future target of trade sanctions by China. US exports of civilian aircraft, engines, and parts to China totaled $16.3 billion in 2017, and made up the single biggest category within the Harmonized Schedule of exports.

Other Tariffs: States Impacted

Washington and South Carolina are major producers of aircraft and are among the states with the most reliance on China as an export market; in fact, aircraft are the top export item from each of those states. Alaska and Louisiana also are among the states most economically reliant upon exports to China, thanks to shipments of petroleum and its products.

Bottom line

As things stand in mid-April, trade actions already taken by the United States and China are causing market unease, but the overall economic impact on states would be relatively low. If the broader set of sanctions on around $50 billion worth of US exports to China goes into effect, however, then the impacts will be more economically significant. In the interim, the policy uncertainty will continue to roil the business plans of manufacturers, farmers, and other capital-intensive industry segments that feature long-term planning horizons.

Organic Valley Posts First Annual Loss in Co-op History

It appears that the struggling dairy industry is also having a negative impact on the organic sector. The Wisconsin-based Organic Valley Cooperative announced it has posted its first-ever financial loss for fiscal year 2017. Company officials say a surplus of dairy products and falling milk prices are to blame for the off year, in which the co-op reported an after-tax loss of about $10 million.

During the group's annual meeting, CEO George Siemon reported gross sales at more than $1.1 billion during the past year. That was four percent more than the previous year, but still short of the company's total expenses on its balance sheet.

"Organic Valley has flourished over the past three decades and exceeded our founders' expectations in nearly every way," Siemon said. "Bumps in the journey, such as market fluctuations are inevitable. But our priorities are, and always have been, our farmer-members, our employees, our animals and our consumers. We're confident that as we continue to work together as a cooperative, we are a force for good in a troubled time."

The co-op paid its dairy patrons an average of $32 per hundredweight for their milk in 2017, which is about double the price conventional producers get from their processors. Siemon says that price may have to go down in order to keep the company from losing too much money.

Organic Valley, which is located in La Farge, is the nation's top organic food supplier of grass-fed dairy and meat products. The group also has a new cheese plant in Cashton and another facility in McMinnville, Oregon. As of this past year, they had over 2,000 farmer-members that farm about a half-million organic acres in 35 states and Canada.

Yara and BASF open world-scale ammonia plant in Freeport, Texas

Yara International ASA and BASF today celebrated the opening of a new world-scale ammonia plant in Freeport, Texas, USA. The $600-million, state-of-the-art facility uses a cost-efficient and sustainable production process, based on by-product hydrogen instead of natural gas.

Yara Freeport LLC is owned 68 percent by Yara and 32 percent by BASF. The plant, located at BASF’s site in Freeport, has a capacity of 750,000 metric tons of ammonia per year. Each party will off-take ammonia according to their ownership share.

“Together with our partners at BASF, we built a world-scale ammonia plant that not only raises the bar in terms of safety, efficiency and quality but also applies the principles of industrial symbiosis by using a by-product as feedstock for ammonia production,” says Yara President and CEO, Svein Tore Holsether. “Yara Freeport strengthens our leading position in the global ammonia market and expands our production footprint in North America.”

“This joint venture with Yara not only strengthens our production Verbund at the Freeport site, it demonstrates BASF’s commitment to investing in North America,” said Wayne T. Smith, member of the Board of Executive Directors of BASF SE and Chairman and CEO, BASF Corporation. “The new plant allows us to take advantage of world-scale production economics and attractive raw material costs to strengthen the competitiveness of our customer value chain in the region.”

Conventional ammonia plants use natural gas to produce the hydrogen needed during ammonia production. Yara Freeport’s hydrogen-based technology allows the plant to forego this initial production step, leading to lower capital expenditure and maintenance costs. By using hydrogen, which originates from the production processes of various petrochemical plants nearby, Yara Freeport safeguards resources and mitigates environmental impact.

A long-term supply agreement for hydrogen and nitrogen with industrial gases company Praxair Inc. links feedstock cost to the advantageous natural gas prices on the U.S. Gulf coast.

BASF will use its share of ammonia off-take to produce polyamide 6, which is commonly used in the production of carpet fibers, packaging and casings for the wire and cable markets. Polyamide 6 for injection molding is used in high-performance engineering plastics for automotive applications. Yara will market its share of ammonia to industrial customers and the agricultural sector in North America. To support the new plant, Yara built an ammonia storage facility at Port Freeport. BASF upgraded its existing terminal and pipeline assets.

EFSA issues positive scientific opinion for Syngenta’s Agrisure Duracade® trait

Syngenta today announced that the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has issued a positive scientific opinion for Syngenta’s event 5307 (Agrisure Duracade®) for food and feed use, allowing event 5307 to progress to the next step in the process of final grain import approval.

“The positive scientific opinion means Agrisure Duracade has successfully completed scientific evaluation in the European Union,” said Scott Huber, Syngenta head of seeds & traits regulatory affairs for North America. “We look forward to the application moving to the Standing Committee of representatives from the EU Member States, and ultimately completing the EU authorization process for final import approval.”

Syngenta will continue a program of grain marketing options for grain containing the Agrisure Duracade trait for 2018 planting. Working with Gavilon Grain, LLC, Syngenta is providing services to help growers identify accepting locations in their local geography with an expanded list of elevators, ethanol plants, feedlots, feed mills and livestock feeders.

“Hybrids with the Agrisure Duracade trait offer growers the latest genetics and trait technology with a simple in-bag E-Z Refuge® seed blend,” said David Hollinrake, president of Syngenta Seeds, LLC. “We are invested in enabling access to these technologies because we believe growers will benefit from their performance and convenience.”

The Agrisure Duracade trait is available in the Agrisure Duracade 5222 E-Z Refuge and Agrisure Duracade 5122 E-Z Refuge trait stacks.

Agrisure Duracade 5222 E-Z Refuge represents the most advanced trait stack on the market, offering premium, broad-spectrum insect control to protect genetic yield potential. Featuring the Agrisure Duracade and Agrisure Viptera® traits, it offers a unique protein and multiple modes of action against corn rootworm and above-ground insects to control 16 yield-limiting pests ― all while providing the convenience and simplicity of E-Z Refuge, a 5 percent in-bag refuge.

Agrisure Duracade 5122 E-Z Refuge includes multiple modes of action against corn rootworm and corn borer. Both Agrisure Duracade trait stacks are also available in water-optimizing Agrisure Artesian® hybrids, helping growers make the most of their available water.

Grain containing the Agrisure Duracade trait already has cultivation approval in the U.S. and Canada, as well as import approval in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, Colombia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan and Vietnam.

Tuesday April 10 Ag News

Class II of Nebraska Corn Growers Association’s PRIME Program Announced

The Nebraska Corn Growers Association is pleased to announce the next class of the PRIME Program. Over the course of this year, eight participants will come together for three seminars to learn and discuss new ideas to bring back to their own farms. The PRIME Program was founded in 2017 as a way for those newer or younger farmers who are not as interested in policy to be involved in the association.

Class II Participants include:
Sam Creal, Prauge
Derek Dam, Hooper
Chase Johnson, York
Jason Lewis, Henderson
Kerry McPheeters, Gothenburg
Schuyler Tomes, Waco
Sam Zach, Humphrey
Ethan Zoerb, Litchfield

“We are excited for this next group of young members to become more involved in the association and learn a few things along the way. Not only will they learn from the seminars presented, but perhaps even more importantly, they will learn from each other,” said Dan Wesely, President of NeCGA.

NCB 2018 Ag Champions Winners Announced

The Nebraska Corn Board, in partnership with Nebraska FFA, recognized three high school students as Ag Champions at the 2018 State FFA Convention in Lincoln. The Ag Champions program is designed to encourage and develop future advocates for the agricultural industry.

The contest was open to all Nebraska FFA students. Students were asked to develop a website or blog to release educational, positive messages about Nebraska agriculture. Students were encouraged to incorporate a variety of text, photos, videos and social media content into their projects to enhance their entries. Participants discussed a wide variety of topics, such as current agricultural issues, family farming and modern production practices.

This year’s Ag Champions award winners are:
    Kylie Gana, junior at Norris High School
    Tayte Jussel, senior at O’Neill Public High School
    Justin Mensik, senior at North Bend Central High School

“I participated in the Ag Champions Program because I really wanted to help advocate or ‘agvocate’ for the agriculture industry, because it does so much by providing the fuel, food and fiber that our nation thrives on,” said Tayte Jussel, a senior FFA member at O’Neill Public High School.

2018 Ag ChampionsThrough the Ag Champions program, students must think strategically to determine how to best craft their messages to ensure they resonate with their target audiences. FFA members are encouraged to utilize online media tools to reach consumers in urban areas.

“Social media is a huge tool for us because it’s just so easy to reach so many people,” said Justin Mensik, a senior FFA member at North Bend Central High School. “With social media, with just a click of a button, we can reach literally thousands of people.”

By reaching a vast online audience, the 2018 Ag Champions have a unique opportunity to connect farmers with consumers to help explain modern sustainable agricultural practices and dispel myths and misconceptions. Through education, students hope to prove the safety of the U.S. food production system, which helps meet rising consumer demand.

“It’s important for consumers to understand agriculture because in a couple years, we have to feed over nine billion people,” said Kylie Gana, a junior FFA member at Norris High School. “We need to have people educated on what to do and how we need to get there.”

The three winners each receive $500 scholarships to be used to further their agricultural advocacy efforts. This is the fourth time the Nebraska Corn Board partnered with Nebraska FFA to host the Ag Champions program. The 2018 Nebraska State FFA Convention was held April 4-6 in Lincoln, Nebraska.


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Have you noticed green-up in your pastures?  This usually is a good sign, except when the green is weeds in warm-season grasses.

               Early weeds should be controlled in warm-season grass pastures.  Weeds remove moisture that could be used for grass growth later on and they remove valuable nutrients from the soil.  Early weeds also can develop so much growth that they can shade, smother, and reduce early growth of your summer pasture grasses.

               Herbicides like glyphosate as well as prescribed burning can control many early weeds, but I think another method actually is better — grazing.  Heavy, pre-season grazing costs you nothing.  In fact, you get some feed from these weeds while herbicides or burning would only kill and remove growth.  Plus, this early pasture might be especially valuable if it gets your cattle out of mud or saves you from feeding expensive hay this spring.

               Pre-season grazing will not harm your summer grass — provided you stop grazing before new grass shoots get more than a couple inches tall.  This usually doesn’t occur until late April or early May in southern Nebraska and slightly later as we move farther north.  Early, pre-season grazing of warm-season grass also removes some old growth from last year, which starts the recycling of nutrients trapped in dead plant tissue.  In fact, about the only bad news about early, pre-season grazing is you have to get fences and water ready earlier, you need to move animals to the pasture, and you won't completely kill out these weeds in one year.

               Funny thing, though.  These so-called weeds might actually make pretty timely and valuable pasture.  Give pre-season grazing a try, I think you'll like it.

Bayer/Monsanto Takeover OK'd

The Justice Department has decided to allow Bayer AG's megadeal to acquire Monsanto Co., valued at more than $60 billion, after the companies pledged to sell off additional assets to secure government antitrust approval, according to people familiar with the matter.

An agreement in principle between the companies and the department, brokered in recent days, marked a breakthrough in the U.S. merger review process, which had remained in limbo because of Justice Department concerns about the deal.

Germany's Bayer, a pharmaceutical and chemical conglomerate, is a leading player in the pesticide industry, while Monsanto, based in St. Louis, is a market leader on seeds and crop genes. The deal, which was announced in September 2016, would make Bayer the world's biggest supplier of pesticides and seeds for farmers.

The European Union last month conditionally approved the deal after Bayer agreed to sell off more than $7 billion worth of assets to rival BASF SE. The sales include Bayer's soybean and cottonseed businesses, as well as Bayer's glufosinate weedkiller, which competes against Monsanto's Roundup.

U.S. antitrust officials continued to harbor concerns. After the EU's move, the Justice Department said the deal could have different competitive effects on American farmers and consumers, citing for example the market for genetically modified seeds, which are widely used in the U.S. but largely prohibited in Europe.

As part of an agreement with U.S. antitrust enforcers, people familiar with the matter said Bayer will divest additional seed and seed-treatment assets and will make concessions related to its digital agriculture business, which provides data-driven farming advice and services. BASF will also acquire those assets, the people said.

It isn't clear when U.S. approval could be completed.

Latest seed merger is a blow to family farmers and ranchers

A major wave of consolidation that kicked off in 2016 continues to move forward with the U.S. Department of Justice allowing chemical producer Bayer to acquire the U.S. based seed company Monsanto, reported yesterday.

“As giant transnational corporations increase their power over the market, independent farmers are left with fewer options and suffer from less competition among input providers,” said Center for Rural Affairs Policy Associate Anna Johnson.

For nearly two years, this proposal has worked its way through both domestic and international boards for approval. In March, the European Union released their consent of the $62.5 billion buy, after Bayer agreed to sell assets to rival BASF. The newly merged company will have control of more than a quarter of the world’s seed and pesticides market.

“Fewer and fewer companies producing seeds and chemicals for farmers spells fewer choices and higher prices in return,” Johnson said. “The vast majority of the globe’s seed is developed by private companies, which means their profits come first – before the health of rural communities or natural resources.”

Johnson continued, “With lax enforcement of existing anti-monopoly laws, it is increasingly clear that legislative action will be required to preserve competition in the marketplace.”

This is the latest in a trio of mega mergers of seed companies. Other unions include Dow and Dupont, and ChemChina and Syngenta.

The sale of Monsanto to Bayer is anticipated to close during the second quarter.

ICA’s Immigration Task Force heads to DC

Labor issues in agriculture, both on the farm and in related business, such as processing plants, has become an urgent issue, according to Iowa Cattlemen’s Association members.

At the 2017 Iowa Cattle Industry Leadership Summit, past ICA presidents and others voiced their concerns.

“If we exported or deported all of the illegal immigrants in Sioux County, Iowa, our economy would collapse, plain and simple, there’s no question about it,” said Kent Pruismann, past ICA president and Sioux County feedlot operator.

Ed Greiman, another past president of the association and current manager of the Lime Springs packing plant, agreed. “We’ve got to figure out a way to make it simple, with a path they know they can follow to become legal citizens,” he said.

The policy committee created an immigration task force to study the issue, and also passed policy supporting legal immigration and a pathway to citizenship.

The task force, a group appointed by ICA President David Trowbridge, met on March 1 in Sioux Center. The group discussed the challenges of a labor shortage across sectors of the cattle industry and acknowledged the importance of immigrant labor.

After discussing the current U.S. immigration system, proposed legislation, and facts about the role of immigrants in the agricultural workforce, the task force developed questions to be answered and action items to move forward on.

Are labor shortages affecting Iowa’s farmers?

Iowa’s unemployment rate is currently 3%, among the lowest in the nation. In Sioux County, Iowa’s most livestock-dense county, unemployment is at 1.7%. This means that competition for employees is fierce, in agriculture and other industries, and finding able-bodied employees is a challenge.

ICA Immigration Task Force members, several of whom are from northwest Iowa, indicated that producers they’ve talked to are having difficulty meeting the labor demands of their day to day operations. Supporting businesses, especially packing plants, are also experiencing labor shortages.

How do labor shortages at packing plants affect producers?

Reports from packers in the midwest indicate that labor shortages have had a direct impact on the amount of cattle slaughtered over the past couple of years.

Following the drought of 2012, slaughter numbers decreased, and the number of shifts and employees at packing plants followed suit. As beef herd expansion has gained steam since then, the packing industry has, at times, struggled to keep up, resulting in a lot of market-ready fed cattle with nowhere to go.

History has taught Iowa’s cattle industry that packing plant labor can have an impact on the bottom line. Labor availability was one of several factors in the rapid decline of the market in October 2015. According to Lee Schulz, Assistant Professor in Iowa State University’s Department of Economics, “The industry was in a situation where supply was right up against packing capacity. That left both cattle supply and demand the same and fixed in terms of quantity — the packers weren’t be able to take any more cattle (in part due to limited operational capacity from limited labor) and producers weren’t able to ship any fewer. The result of this is what economists call an ‘indeterminate price’ — it could be anything from zero up to, perhaps, last year’s price level. In late 2015 in Iowa, it was a $40/cwt lower price than the previous year.” A steady source of workers is necessary to keep product moving through the supply chain and keep that situation from happening again.

What’s next?

Four members of the task force are visiting Washington, D.C. this week to share their concerns about labor shortages, and other issues affecting cattle producers, with Iowa’s congressional delegation. In the meantime, ICA staff and leaders are reviewing the current immigration system as well as proposed bills that would help provide agriculture with a stable, legal workforce.

While federal lawmakers have seen several proposals for immigration reform offered, so far Congress has not been successful in addressing some of the challenges with the current system. One proposal that specifically addresses the need of ag labor and is still viable in Congress is the Ag Guestworker Bill which is now part of the “Securing America’s Future Act”. Proposed by Congressman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, this proposal would replace the existing H-2A program with an H-2C. Among other provisions, this bill would provide temporary legal, skilled guest workers who would go home after a period of time but could re-certify to come back to the U.S. Proponents say the program would provide enough workers (450,000) to do the needed jobs with a portion of those allocated for packing house workers, useful as cattle numbers increase.

Other federal priorities for ICA include changes to CRP, funding for the FMD vaccine bank, a permanent solution to the Electronic Logging Device and Hours of Service issue for livestock haulers, increasing international trade and protecting the industry from "fake meat" and misleading labels.

Iowa Soybean Association president invites Trump to his farm to discuss, resolve trade dispute

Bill Shipley, Iowa Soybean Association president, delivered the following speech at Governor Reynolds' press conference at the Iowa State Capitol today. Shipley grows soybeans, corn and hay near Nodaway, Iowa.

"To say China matters to U.S. soybean farmers would be an understatement.

"China is the world’s largest consumer of soybeans. The United States supplies roughly 40 percent of China’s annual soybean imports, valued at almost $14 billion. 

"That said, soybean farmers recognize there are legitimate trade issues that must be resolved between the two countries. They include intellectual property rights and requirements placed on U.S. companies wanting to do business in China. The ag industry acknowledges the importance of these matters and encourages their swift resolution.

"We believe this can be done absent targeting food and agricultural trade. Exports of U.S. soybeans, beef, pork and other commodities provides a trade surplus for our country. Encouraging more of it is advantageous for both countries. Agricultural trade boosts jobs and economic activity in America while reducing the economic trade imbalance existing between China and the U.S. 

"China’s proposal to add tariffs on soybeans adds to the uncertainty U.S. farmers face as we prepare to head to the fields to plant another crop. Longer-term, we’re concerned about the establishment of anti-American sentiment in China. If allowed to take hold, it could jeopardize the ability of U.S. farmers to do business in China for generations.

"Trade wars involving food are a lose-lose. Here at home, Iowa soybean farmers would be negatively impacted by higher input costs and lower market prices. Chinese consumers would lose a reliable supplier and pay more for soybeans due to reduced competition.

"I invite President Donald Trump to my farm to see and experience soybean planting season in Iowa. He will meet the farmers who help create one of America’s most valuable exports, contributing to jobs and economic activity here at home and improved human health throughout the world, including China. It’s a discussion we welcome as we work to resolve this matter to the benefit of America and China.

"The Iowa Soybean Association urges U.S. and Chinese officials to pivot from the politics and posturing to resolving this escalating trade dispute for the benefit of American farmers and our Chinese customers."

Argentine Harvest Shrinks Amid Drought

A drought in Argentina is eating into this season's crop harvest, though U.S. farmers will struggle to reap the benefits of their competitor's smaller bounty.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Tuesday put Argentina's soybean bounty at 40 million metric tons, down from 57.8 million last year and below pre-report estimates. The agency's corn production figure also fell to 33 million tons from 41 million last year.

A multimonth drought in Argentina, the world's largest soybean-meal exporter, decimated swathes of the country's crops. Soybean prices have rallied as traders sensed an opportunity for the U.S. to fill the gap, but some of that enthusiasm has waned on bets that mounting trade tensions between the U.S. and China could limit export opportunities.

Instead, a bumper harvest in Brazil is expected to offset some of the benefit. The USDA forecast Brazil's soybean bounty this season at a record 115 million tons, above 114.1 million last year.

Government forecasters expect domestic supplies of crops to remain large. The USDA cut its soybean stockpile estimate for 2017-18 to 550 million bushels from its previous forecast of 555 million, but that figure was still well above last year. It raised its expected corn surplus to 2.18 billion bushels, along with larger wheat supplies.

Brazil Raises 2017-2018 Soybean, Corn Crop Forecasts on Good Weather

Brazilian agriculture agency Conab raised its estimate for the country's soybean and corn harvests in the 2017-2018 growing season, as good weather helped boost productivity in some regions.

Brazilian farmers will produce a record 115 million metric tons of soybeans in the season, Conab said Tuesday, up from its forecast of 113 million tons in March. Brazil produced 114.1 million tons of soybeans in the 2016-2017 season, the previous record.

Favorable weather in the main soybean-producing area of Brazil's center-west states is helping increase productivity in the region, Conab said. The harvest in that area is almost finished, and is advancing in other regions as well, according to the agency.

Conab forecast a total corn crop of 88.6 million metric tons in the 2017-2018 season, up from the 87.3 million tons the agency forecast in March, though less than the record 97.8 million tons produced in 2016-2017.

NCBA Lays Out Principles for Regulating Fake Meat

Today the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association submitted official comments to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) outlining key principles for the regulation of fake meat products. The comments, filed in response to Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) Petition Number 18-01, encourage USDA to look beyond modifying “standards of identity” in order to provide adequate protection for beef producers and consumers.

“It is critical that the federal government step up to the plate and enforce fair and accurate labeling for fake meat,” said Kevin Kester, President of NCBA. “As long as we have a level playing field, our product will continue to be a leading protein choice for families in the United States and around the world.”

NCBA’s regulatory principles are designed to effectively address both plant-based and lab-grown imitation beef products. Specifically, NCBA:

1) Requests that USDA work with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to “take appropriate, immediate enforcement action against improperly-labeled imitation products."

NCBA firmly believes the term beef should only be applicable to products derived from actual livestock raised by farmers and ranchers. For misbranded and mislabeled plant-based protein products, existing legislation gives FDA the authority to take enforcement actions. However, the agency has a history of failing to enforce labeling laws. Rather than expending time and resources to develop a standard of identity the FDA will blatantly ignore, NCBA requests USDA engage with FDA to facilitate immediate, appropriate enforcement actions against imitation meat product labels that clearly violate existing laws.

2) Urges USDA to “assert jurisdiction over foods consisting of, isolated from or produced from cell culture or tissue culture derived from livestock and poultry animals or their parts.”

NCBA believes that USDA-FSIS is the agency best placed to regulate emerging lab-grown meat products. First, USDA-FSIS possesses the technical expertise and regulatory infrastructure to ensure perishable meat food products are safe for U.S. consumers. Lab-grown meat must comply with the same stringent food safety inspection standards as all other meat products.

Second, USDA-FSIS labeling standards provided greater protection against false and misleading marketing claims. Unlike the FDA, USDA-FSIS requires pre-approval of all labels before products hit the marketplace. This will ensure consistent labeling practices across all products, and prevent misleading marketing labels such as “clean meat.” 

Momentum Against Checkoff Continues with Ninth Circuit Ruling

The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Monday upheld a lower court ruling that the USDA's Beef Checkoff program is being administered in a way that interferes with ranchers' First Amendment rights, and that the government should be enjoined from collecting funds for the program without rancher consent.

The Beef Checkoff is a federal tax that compels producers to pay $1 per head every time cattle are sold, half of which is used to fund the advertisements of private state beef councils, like the Montana Beef Council. The Montana Beef Council is a private corporation whose members include representatives of the largest multinational beef packers.

The plaintiff in the case is independent rancher organization the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America (R-CALF USA). Public Justice is lead counsel in this constitutional challenge.

The court wrote in its opinion that "the district court did not abuse its discretion by finding that the instant assessment likely violated R-CALF USA's First Amendment rights." The preliminary injunction upheld by the Ninth Circuit today enjoins Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue from compelling Montana ranchers to subsidize the private speech of the Montana Beef Council without first obtaining the affirmative consent from the rancher-payees.

"Today's ruling ensures that for the first time in over three decades Independent Montana cattle producers have a choice as to whether to continue funding a private message that essentially says that beef is beef regardless of where the cattle from which the beef was derived was born or raised. That generic message is contrary to the interests of Montana ranchers who want to capitalize on the superior beef products that are produced from their high quality, USA-produced cattle," said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard.

The Montana Beef Council promotes the message that there is no difference between domestic beef produced under U.S. food safety laws and beef produced in foreign countries. It has paid for advertisements for the fast-food chain Wendy's, for example, to promote hamburgers that use North American beef, meaning beef that can come from anywhere on the continent, but not necessarily Montana or even the United States.

Before the appellate court in early March, Public Justice's David Muraskin argued that the government needs to take more steps to control the Montana Beef Council if it wanted to compel ranchers to fund its message. Unless the government actually appoints the council and reviews its activities, the First Amendment prevents ranchers from being forced to fund the private council's speech. Domestic ranchers have the right to fund a message they believe in, or at least one for which they can hold their government accountable.

"The Ninth Circuit's decision today means that yet another set of federal judges has ruled that the government cannot compel independent ranchers to fund the speech of multinational corporations. This ruling may only apply to Montana, but the momentum towards reform of the entire Beef Checkoff system is clear," said David Muraskin, a Food Project Attorney at Public Justice.

In addition to its lead counsel David Muraskin, R-CALF USA is also represented in its checkoff case by J. Dudley Butler, of the Farm and Ranch Law Group, and Bill Rossbach of Rossbach Law, P.C. in Missoula, Montana.

Monday April 9 Ag News


For the week ending April 8, 2018, there were 2.6 days suitable for fieldwork, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 2 percent very short, 17 short, 77 adequate, and 4 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 3 percent very short, 25 short, 70 adequate, and 2 surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Winter wheat condition rated 1 percent very poor, 7 poor, 34 fair, 46 good, and 12 excellent. Oats planted was 18 percent, behind 36 last year, and well behind 38 for the five-year average. Emerged was 2 percent, near 5 last year and 4 average.


Another cold, wet week prevented fieldwork across most of Iowa with just 0.8 day suitable for fieldwork during the week ending April 8, 2018, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Isolated reports of grain transport and fertilizer application were received.

Topsoil moisture levels rated 2 percent very short, 7 percent short, 76 percent adequate and 15 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated 3 percent very short, 12 percent short, 77 percent adequate and 8 percent surplus. South central and southeast Iowa moisture conditions continue to be dry with over one-third of topsoil considered short to very short and over one-half of subsoil short to very short.

Four percent of the expected oat crop has been planted, 8 days behind both last year and the 5-year average.

Livestock conditions continue to be mixed. Cold temperatures and snows have hampered early spring pasture growth and continue to present challenges for calving throughout much of the State.

USDA: Winter Wheat Condition Worsens

U.S. winter wheat condition worsened last week, according to USDA's latest weekly Crop Progress report issued Monday.  For the week ended April 8, 2018, winter wheat was rated only 30% in good-to-excellent condition, down 2 percentage points from 32% the previous week and well below 53% at the same time last year. It is the crop's lowest good-to-excellent rating in over 20 years. Thirty-five percent of winter wheat was rated poor to very poor, up 5 percentage points from 30% the previous week and well above 13% last year.

USDA also reported national corn planting progress for this first time this season. As of Sunday, 2% of corn was planted, down 1 percentage point from last year but equal to the five-year average.

Sorghum was 17% planted, compared to 18% last year and a 15% five-year average. Oats were 27% planted as of April 8, compared to 32% last year and a 34% average. Emergence was at 25%, compared to 26% last year and a 27% average.

Cotton planting was 7% complete, compared to 6% last year and a 5% average. Rice was 21% planted, compared to 29% last year and a 22% average. Eleven percent of rice was emerged.

Agriculture Teacher & FFA Advisor of the Year Awarded to Two Nebraska Teachers

The Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation selected two recipients for the Agriculture Teacher and FFA Advisor of the Year award. Casey Carriker from Raymond Central High School and Ashton Bohling from Auburn High School were honored at the Nebraska FFA Convention on Thursday, April 5, in Lincoln. The winning advisors received a plaque and a $1,000 donation to their FFA chapters.

The teachers were nominated by their own students and chosen based upon their school and community involvement, leadership development in their classroom, and their ability to keep their students involved in agriculture.

“Both teachers are exceptional educators, leaders, and role models for their students,” said Megahn Schafer, executive director of the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation. “Not only do these teachers go above and beyond for their students, they support the future of agriculture through encouragement of FFA leaders.”

Casey Carriker is an FFA Advisor at Raymond Central High School in Raymond, NE. Mr. Carriker uses reliable materials and hands-on activities to engage students in learning.  Carriker emphasizes to the students the importance of having passion and a connection to their Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) projects to have success.

"This award is a great honor because my students had to nominate me and that shows that I am having an impact on them. Having Agriculture Education and FFA is essential for any school because it produces well rounded students that will excel after high school,” Carriker said.

Ashton Bohling is an FFA Advisor at Auburn High School in Auburn, NE. Ms. Bohling is always looking for ways to network with the community and maintain strong connections for the success of the chapter. She enlists members of her community to visit her classes and bring current, real-world examples of Nebraska agriculture. This enriches the learning experience for her students and creates strong ties to their community.

“I am honored to receive this award for doing a job that I love to do anyway,” Bohling said. “It is encouraging to know that agriculture education is supported by so many other great organizations. It is especially neat to be co-advisor of the year with Casey Carriker as we
were classmates and friends throughout college.”

“We had a number of exceptional nominations this year. All of the advisors and agriculture education teachers nominated are a showcase of agriculture leaders in their communities,” Shafer said. “The students these teachers impact are the future of our great state, and we are proud to recognize their excellent service.”

Injectable Trace Mineral did not Influence Reproductive Performance in Beef Heifers

Steve Niemeyer – NE Extension Educator
Many producers provide a free-choice trace mineral to grazing cattle throughout the year. Trace minerals have been shown to have an essential role in reproduction. When a free-choice trace mineral supplement is provided, some individual animals will consume more than the recommended amount, while others may consume none at all. In addition to variation in intake, the absorption of trace minerals can be negatively impacted by the consumption of other nutrients during the digestive process. Providing an injectable trace mineral (ITM) with a free-choice trace mineral prior to the breeding season may be beneficial to ensure that the trace mineral status of cattle being bred is adequate.

A study was conducted to analyze the impact of providing an injectable trace mineral supplement in addition to a free-choice trace mineral supplement on the reproductive performance of replacement heifers. Prior to the study, a liver biopsy was conducted on 22 heifers in the study to assess trace mineral status. Liver concentrations of copper, manganese, selenium and zinc were adequate in the heifers tested.

There were 799 heifers in this study that were split into two groups. One group of 399 heifers received an injection of a trace-mineral at the time of insertion of progesterone releasing controlled internal drug-releasing device (CIDR) which was 33 days prior to a timed artificial insemination (AI). The second group consisted of 400 heifers that were administered the same estrus synchronization protocol, but did not receive an injection of trace-minerals at the time of CIDR insertion. After timed AI on day 33, both groups of heifers were exposed to bulls for 60 days.

At pregnancy diagnosis, there was no statistical difference in the percentage of heifers breeding in the first 21 days of the breeding season as well as the first 33 days of the breeding season. Overall pregnancy rates were similar with 95% of the control and 93% of the heifers receiving an injectable trace mineral being identified as pregnant. In this study, the use of an injectable trace mineral at CIDR insertion prior to breeding did not influence reproductive performance of heifers with adequate trace mineral status. For more information on this study, see the 2018 Nebraska Beef Cattle report at

Webinars Target How You Can Prevent Grain Engulfment 

In five seconds a worker can become engulfed in flowing grain, unable to get out; within 60 seconds, the worker can be completely submerged.

Preventing tragic deaths from grain suffocation is the purpose of Stand Up for Engulfment Prevention Week, April 9-13.

Three safety webinars on the topic are scheduled for 12-1 p.m. CDT on April 10, 11 and 13. Sponsors are AgriSafe, the Grain Handling Safety Coalition and the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety.

While free, registration is required to access the webinars, which will be archived through 2018.  Archived (on demand) webinars may be accessed by logging into and clicking under the Quick Links heading to the Grain Safety tab. Live webinar registration is found under the Upcoming Events heading or via the links below.

Tuesday, April 10: “Confined Space – Grain Bin Entry.”

For workers and managers of grain elevators, farm operations, grain hauling, and agricultural businesses. The major focus is on safety in confined work spaces, it covers entry, respiratory protection, and prevention of grain dust explosions. Topics include:
-    hazards that lead to dust explosions and how to prevent them,
-    hazards of working in confined grain spaces,
-    process of lock-out procedures, and
-    respiratory protection.
To register, go to

Wednesday, April 11: “Understanding Agricultural Respiratory Hazards with Emphasis on Respirator Selection as a Prevention Strategy.” 

Information about common agricultural respiratory exposures and diseases, particularly for grain handling. It's directed to agricultural producers and employers of agricultural workers, and addresses how to:
-    recognize grain handling respiratory hazards,
-    understand and implement “Lungs for Life” resources for appropriate respirator options, especially in grain handling, and
-    implement respiratory disease prevention options
To register, go to

Friday, April 13: “Reducing Grain Bin Entry Risks.”

This session guides participants through the bin entry process. Presenters are Jeff Decker and Robert Aherin, members of the Grain Handling Safety Coalition (GHSC). Decker provides safety training and is experienced in all aspects of hazard identification analysis and accident investigations. Aherin, an extension specialist at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana, is a GHSC cofounder and agricultural safety and health expert. This webinar will cover:
-    hazard assessment, methods to reduce hazards or the need for entry and safe entry procedures and
-    lifeline use, how and when lifelines are effective in protecting entrants, and proper set-up and use of lifelines.
To register, go to

The mission of AgriSafe is to support a growing network of trained agricultural health and safety professionals that assure access to preventative services for farm families and the agricultural community. For more, see

Ricketts Welcomes Israel’s Minister of Agriculture to Nebraska

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts hosted Israeli Minister of Agriculture Uri Ariel at the State Capitol in Lincoln.  Minister Ariel’s visit is part of a five-state tour of Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, and Indiana.

“Israel is one of Nebraska’s greatest friends, and a growing market for our quality products,” said Governor Ricketts.  “This partnership is expanding opportunities for both the people of Nebraska and Israel.  Thank you to Minister Ariel for visiting Nebraska to discuss how we can grow our relationship even further.”

Governor Ricketts and Minister Ariel discussed the recent reintroduction of U.S. beef to Israel during their meeting.  They also discussed opportunities for increased collaboration in the agro-tech industry.

“Many of my colleagues have understood the map of the USA to be centered around major cities like Washington, New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, etc.,” said Minister Ariel.  “I have understood that the challenges of climate and water and food protection and production are bringing back in centrality the importance of America’s heartland as well as Israel’s opportunity for new and stronger cooperation with America’s leading agriculture states.”

In 2016, Nebraska exported the first significant shipment of beef from the United States to Israel since 2003.  The opening of the export market spurred a plant expansion by WR Reserve and the creation of 100 new jobs.

Nebraska exported $1.4 million of beef to Israel in 2017.  In 2016, Nebraska exported $18.1 million worth of goods to Israel, including $8.2 million of corn, $4.5 million of distillers grains, and $2.5 million of soybeans.

In 2017, Nebraska exported a grand total of over $31 million worth of goods to Israel, up from $27.5 million in 2014.

Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) Assistant Director Mat Habrock traveled with Lt. Governor Mike Foley to Israel in 2016 to celebrate the reopening of the U.S. beef market and welcome beef from Hastings, Nebraska into Israel.

“It was an honor to meet with Israeli Minister of Agriculture Uri Ariel today to discuss our shared vision of a strong agriculture sector,” said NDA Assistant Director Mat Habrock.  “Israel and Nebraska are both interested in being leaders in agriculture production through the development and implementation of technology, particularly in water use.  Additionally, Israel is a great trading partner for Nebraska’s agricultural products.”

“We appreciate our state’s robust, mutually-beneficial trade relationships with Israel, both in terms of agriculture and other industries,” said Nebraska Department of Economic Development Director Dave Rippe.  “We look forward to working to deepen these connections, and we eagerly anticipate attending this year’s Agritech Israel exhibition in Tel Aviv to discuss new horizons for collaboration. It was a privilege to meet with Minister Ariel this afternoon to discuss strengthening our bonds for the future.”


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Most plantings of alfalfa begin with a conventionally tilled and prepared seedbed.  No-till might be just as good, though.

               How about planting alfalfa no-till?  With less crop residue remaining from last year in some fields and the always present need to conserve soil moisture, no-till might be a good way to establish alfalfa this spring.

               There are some obvious advantages to seeding no-till, like fuel and time savings due to fewer trips across the field.  In addition, you reduce soil erosion by retaining crop residues rather than tilling them under.  No-till also conserves soil moisture, which may be the best reason of all this spring.  Also, due to lack of tillage the seedbed is good and firm for rapid seedling emergence.  Finally, no-till will limit the number of new weed seeds near the soil surface.

               Disadvantages to no-till include relying solely on clipping or post-emerge herbicides for weed control.  Fortunately, we have good post-emerge herbicides available to control most weed problems.  Another problem is ridges from prior row crops that can interfere with uniform seeding as well as make fields rough for future haying operations.  And finally, some drills do not work well for no-till seeding so equipment might limit your options.

               If you can do it, though, no-till alfalfa is worth trying.  It works really well in bean stubble and almost as well in small grain stubble.  No-till is a bit more difficult in corn and milo stubble, especially if there is much row ridging.  Be sure to kill any early weeds with Roundup or Gramoxone before planting.  And last but not least, use a drill that places seed about one-half inch deep and then covers seed with soil using a good press wheel.

               Try no-till alfalfa.  It could be very effective this year.

Have You Read Your Pesticide Labels Lately? 

Clyde Ogg - Pesticide Safety Extension Educator

As you ready your field equipment for the coming crop season, are you including a respirator as part of your personal protective equipment? If you haven’t thought about it, now is the time to read and understand the labels of pesticides intended for use in 2018.

Certain pesticides, such as formulations of Engenia® and Lorsban™, require a NIOSH-approved respirator to mix, load, handle, and apply.

In addition, when the Worker Protection Standard applies and the label requires respiratory protection, a medical exam, fit test, and training are required before the respirator is used. Even if not required, these are good practices to follow. They ensure that you are physically able to wear a respirator, that the respirator fits correctly to keep you safe, and that you know how to use it. The product label will tell you what is needed. Remember, the label is the law, and as such, using pesticides is a big responsibility for you, your family, and your neighbors.

Resources are available to help you better understand the legal and safety requirements. This University of Minnesota Crop News article is one: Respirator Requirements for Engenia® and Lorsban™.

In addition see two detailed Nebraska Extension publications:
-    Respirators for Handling Pesticides and
-    Fit Testing a Respirator for Pesticide Applications.

BASF launches new spray tool to help ensure on-target applications

BASF launched its latest stewardship resource to assist growers with on-target applications this season – the  Engenia®  Herbicide Spray Tool.  The mobile-friendly website gives applicators key weather information at the touch of a button without downloading an application. The tool uses a phone’s location services, or a desktop’s IP address to provide localized information for determining the right time to apply Engenia herbicide.

“Weather plays a big role in spray application decision-making,” said Logan Grier, BASF Technical Marketing Manager, Product Stewardship. “We created a resource for growers that has all of the Engenia herbicide weather-related label requirements in one place and supplements the many other tools applicators can use when planning their Engenia herbicide application this growing season.”

The free tool, available at, covers all U.S. geographies and incorporates key Engenia herbicide weather-related label restrictions and considerations for the next 36 hours, so applicators can plan ahead. In addition to hourly temperature and cloud cover information, the spray tool also includes:
-    Inversion potential, which compares the temperature at ground-level and two meters above the ground to provide the likelihood for an inversion.
-    Precipitation probability for the next 24 hours, which helps growers follow the 24-hour rain-free interval.
-    Time of sunrise and sunset, including a reminder that no nighttime spraying is permitted.
-    Wind speed and direction

Paired with in-field observation at the time of application, along with BASF resources like spray checklists, online training and more, applicators can stay ahead of weed management issues in their fields.

“Stewardship is a top priority at BASF, and we know it is important to growers,” said Grier.  “We reached out to them, listened to their concerns and developed resources they can use when planning for an Engenia herbicide application.”

The Engenia Herbicide Spray Tool was developed with the proprietary forecasting technology from ZedX, Inc. which was acquired by BASF in April 2017. Since 1987, ZedX has been at the forefront of integrating weather and agronomic data to provide business intelligence that supports on-farm decision-making.

To access additional Engenia herbicide stewardship resources, visit

CWT Assists with 2.1 million Pounds of Cheese and Butter Export Sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 10 requests for export assistance from Dairy Farmers of America, Maryland & Virginia Milk Producer Cooperative Association, Northwest Dairy Association (Darigold), Tillamook County Creamery Association and United Dairymen of Arizona. These cooperatives have contracts to sell 1.250 million pounds (567 metric tons) of Cheddar and Gouda cheese and 842,166 pounds (382 metric tons) of butter to customers in Asia, Central America, the Middle East, and North Africa. The product has been contracted for delivery in the period from April through July 2018.

CWT-assisted member cooperative 2018 export sales total 30.413 million pounds of American-type cheeses, and 6.455 million pounds of butter (82% milkfat) to 22 countries on five continents. These sales are the equivalent of 425.950 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.

NAFTA Agreement Possible by May

MEXICO CITY (AP) -- Trade negotiators from the U.S., Canada and Mexico are looking to agree on a revamp of the North American Free Trade Agreement in early May, Mexico's Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said Monday.

"There's a very high probability of reaching an agreement in principle, an 80% chance," Mr. Guajardo said in an interview on the Televisa network.

U.S. negotiators have accelerated negotiations and want to reach a deal in principle that they can present to the U.S. Congress under the existing trade promotion authority.

Mr. Guajardo, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland met in Washington last week seeking to step up negotiations and clear roadblocks on the most controversial issues, such as rules of origin for cars and light trucks manufactured in North America.

Mr. Guajardo said there were no conditions to reach an agreement in principle at that meeting, but that trade teams agreed to be in "permanent talks" instead of having a formal eighth round of negotiations. "The teams are in Washington," he said.

The official confirmed that negotiators are discussing a proposal from the U.S. that calls for certain vehicle parts to be made in zones where wages average at least $15 an hour, which excludes Mexico, as part of the content calculation.

"The proposal would be aspirational, unreachable for Mexico in the short-term," because the country doesn't have such wage levels, he said. But the U.S. government first needs to reach an agreement with its own car manufacturers on such a plan.

"The devil is in the details," Mr. Guajardo added. With U.S. eagerness to reach a deal soon, "when there's urgency, there must be flexibility," he said.

The Nafta countries originally set January 2018 as the goal for concluding Nafta talks, then pushed the deadline to March 31.

USDA Announces a Near-Record Year for Farm Loans

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

Farm and Rural Groups Urge Congress to Address Farmer Suicides in Farm Bill

Farmers and ranchers commit suicide at a rate five times that of the general population. In an effort to address this crisis, National Farmers Union and a coalition of 36 prominent farm and rural advocacy groups are urging Congress to make mental health treatment more accessible to farmers through the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network (FRSAN).

The groups sent a letter to U.S. Senate and House of Representatives agriculture committees’ leadership today, urging Congress to reauthorize FRSAN and to provide the program with adequate funding in the next Farm Bill.

“Farming is a high-stress occupation,” noted the groups. “Financial risk, volatile markets, unpredictable weather, and heavy workloads can all place a significant strain on a farmer or rancher’s mental and emotional well-being. Due to the prolonged downturn in the farm economy, many farmers are facing even greater stress. We urge you to reauthorize FRSAN in the next farm bill and to provide funding necessary to meet the needs of farmers and ranchers as they endure increasing financial, mental, and emotional stress.”

The 2008 Farm Bill established FRSAN to provide grants to extension services and nonprofit organizations that offer stress assistance programs to individuals engaged in farming, ranching, and other agriculture-related occupations. Eligible programs include farm helplines and websites, community outreach and education, support groups, and home delivery of assistance.

Yet, “despite the growing need, FRSAN has never received funding, leaving many producers without access to important behavioral health services,” said the groups.

The groups pointed to a 2016 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that revealed farmers had a much higher rate of suicide than any other occupation. And mental health issues are exacerbated by the fact that 60 percent of rural residents live in areas that suffer from mental health professional shortages.

Net farm income has dropped by more than 50 percent since 2013, and current projections indicate the rebound could be years away. In fact, the Economic Research Service recently forecast net farm income to drop another 6.7 percent in 2018, its lowest level since 2006. “As Congress works to pass a new farm bill, it’s critical that farmers and ranchers are given the resources they need, including a strong network of support,” the groups said.

National Farmers Union encourages farmers in personal financial stress to visit to find out what resources are available to them. Visitors to the website also have the ability to advocate for FRSAN by selecting “Take Action.”

Perdue Commits to One Federal Decision Framework for Environmental Reviews and Permits for Infrastructure Projects

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with other Trump Administration cabinet secretaries and leaders of federal agencies, committing to following the President’s One Federal Decision framework for processing environmental reviews and permits for major infrastructure projects. Under the direction of President Donald J. Trump, One Federal Decision will drive infrastructure projects to meet environmental standards, but complete the review and permitting process in a reasonable amount of time.

“This MOU will eliminate the potential for conflicting decisions, so that project sponsors don’t get one answer from agency and another answer from another agency. In agriculture, we’ve gotten some of those mixed signals before, and they’re very frustrating,” Secretary Perdue said. “President Trump is making good on his promise to free our economy from needless regulations and bureaucratic delays, and One Federal Decision is another example.”

Many of the major projects the U.S. Department of Agriculture is involved in can be very complex and require input and decisions from many other federal agencies. Projects like the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines, which require extensive research and inter-agency coordination, are challenging under the old system. Those challenges force agencies to wait extended periods for multiple redundant reviews before making decisions which, in some cases, are unrelated to the information being gathered, causing costly project delays, confusion about who is responsible for making decisions, and conflicting outcomes from multiple agency decisions.

President Trump established the policy of One Federal Decision for the federal government’s processing of environmental reviews and permits for major infrastructure projects in Executive Order 13807. Under One Federal Decision, Executive Order 13807 requires that each major infrastructure project have a lead federal agency that is responsible for navigating the project through the process, all Federal agencies to sign one “Record of Decision” (for purposes of complying with the National Environmental Policy Act), and relevant Federal agencies to issue the necessary permits for the project within 90 days of the signing of the Record of Decision. Executive Order 13807 established a 2-year goal for the completion of the environmental review and permitting processes for the signature of the Record of Decision and issuance of the necessary permits.

In signing the MOU, Perdue joined Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Dr. Ben Carson, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, and Secretary of the Army Mark Esper. Additional signatories to the MOU including the Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Chairman of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and the Acting Executive Director of the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council. These officials signed the MOU pursuant to a joint memorandum issued by Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, and Mary Neumayr, the Acting Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality.

Under the MOU, the agencies commit to working together to make the necessary environmental and permitting decisions for major infrastructure projects with a goal to complete the entire process within 2 years. In general, the MOU commits agencies to processing their reviews in accordance with the following 4 principles:
-    Establish a Lead Federal Agency for the Complete Process. Under the current process, project sponsors are responsible for navigating the decision-making processes of multiple Federal agencies. Under the MOU, Federal agencies agree to establish one Lead Federal Agency that will navigate the Federal environmental review and permitting process.
-    Commitment to Meeting the Lead Federal Agency’s Permitting Timetable. Under the current process, agencies are not generally required to follow a comprehensive permitting timetable. Under the MOU, Federal agencies agree to follow the permitting timetables established by the Lead Federal Agency with the goal of completing the process to 2 years.
-    Commitment to Conduct the Necessary Review Processes Concurrently. Under the current process, agencies may conduct their own environmental review and permitting processes sequentially resulting in unnecessary delay, redundant analysis, and revisiting of decisions. Under the MOU, Federal agencies agree to conducting their processes at the same time and relying on the analysis prepared by the Lead Federal Agency to the maximum extent possible.
-    Automatic Elevation of Interagency Disputes. Under the current process, interagency disputes sometimes linger for years in agency field offices before being elevated and resolved. Under the MOU, Federal agencies agree that interagency disputes will be automatically elevated and expeditiously resolved.

Friday April 6 Ag News

Ricketts Celebrates Nebraska Ag Youth at FFA Convention

This week, Governor Pete Ricketts helped honor some of Nebraska’s outstanding youth involved in agriculture at the annual Nebraska FFA Convention. 

“The Nebraska FFA is instrumental in developing our state’s youth to become leaders of tomorrow,” said Governor Ricketts.  “With agriculture as Nebraska’s number one industry, the FFA is raising up the next generation of our state’s farmers and ranchers.  Expanding opportunities in agriculture is vital to growing the Good Life that we enjoy.  With record levels of membership in the Nebraska FFA, it is great to see so many young Nebraskans involved and developing the skills they will need to lead agriculture and their communities into the future.”

“The Nebraska FFA program has a rich history of educating students about agriculture and the many careers available to them in the agriculture industry,” said Nebraska Department of Agriculture Director Steve Wellman.  “The annual State FFA Convention allows students an opportunity to join together to celebrate their successes and learn from each other.  Congratulations to all the FFA members on their accomplishments.”

Nebraska currently has over 8,500 FFA members in 185 chapters.  Nebraska FFA is dedicated to making a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth, and career success through agricultural education.

Krausnick Accepted into Nebraska Water Leaders Academy

Marie Krausnick has been accepted into the Nebraska Water Leaders Academy Class of 2018. Krausnick earned an associate of science degree from Northeast Community College and a B. S. in agronomy from the University of Nebraska. She is Water Department Manager at the Upper Big Blue Natural Resources District in York.

The Nebraska Water Leaders Academy is one-year program that provides leadership training and educates participants about the vital role of rivers, streams and aquifers play in the economic sustainability of the state.

A project of the Water Futures Partnership-Nebraska, the Academy sessions feature classroom, as well as field trip experiences presented by acknowledged experts in leadership and natural resource topics held at locations across the state.

The Water Leaders Academy is partially funded through a grant from the Nebraska Environmental Trust and more than 25 other organizations and individuals.

More information can be found at

2018 Nebraska Beef Ambassador Contest

Consumer Promotion Education Committee with Nebraska Cattlemen would like to announce the 2018 Nebraska Beef Ambassador Competition that will be held June 6th at College Park Grand Island beginning at 1:00pm cst. The competition is targeted towards youth that are passionate about the beef industry.

The Nebraska Beef Ambassador Program provides an opportunity for youth, ages 14 – 24 years old, to become spokespersons and future leaders for the beef industry. The two divisions, senior and collegiate, are judged on three different areas of the industry consisting of a mock consumer promotional event, mock media interview and an issues response.

Along with a scholarship from the Nebraska Cattlemen Research and Education Foundation the collegiate winner will have the opportunity to go on and compete at the National level.

The Nebraska Beef Ambassador Contest provides an opportunity for youth to become spokespersons and future leaders in the beef industry. Registration deadline is Friday, June 1, 2018.

Brochure for the contest can be found here...

For more information contact Bonita at -or- 402-450-0223

40 Receive National Ag in Classroom Conference Scholarships

Teachers from around the United States have been selected to receive scholarships from the CHS Foundation to attend the 2018 National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference 'Agriculture for ME on Land and Sea' scheduled for June 27-29 in Portland, Maine.

Forty K-12 teachers were selected for their desire to learn more innovative ways to use agricultural concepts to teach reading, writing, math, science and social studies and more. Onsite and traveling workshops at the conference will provide these teachers with demonstrations of how effective the use of agricultural concepts in classroom instruction can be. In addition, teachers will network with other educators who have a passion for K-12 agricultural literacy.

"We're happy to assist teachers who are interested in educating their students about agriculture by helping them attend the National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference," said Nanci Lilja, president of CHS Foundation. "The CHS Foundation is committed to developing agriculture leaders for life and these teachers introduce students to the industry and spark interest in agriculture careers."

The CHS Foundation has provided these scholarships to teachers since 2013.

"Thanks to the CHS Foundation we are able to involve even more teachers in the National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference," said Willie Grenier, president of the National Agriculture in the Classroom Organization (NAITCO) and executive director of Maine Agriculture in the Classroom. "NAITCO highly values partnerships like the one it has with the CHS Foundation, which helps us expand its K-12 agricultural literacy outreach to many more teachers across the country."

The teachers will receive scholarships to the conference, which covers early registration of $435, including Kathy Bohac, Nebraska, East Butler Public School; and Patricia Romshek, Nebraska, East Butler Public School.  There are also several Iowa teachers that will receive scholarships, including Cathryn Carney, Iowa, Boyden-Hull Community School District; and John Seiser, Iowa, Northeast Hamilton Elementary.

The CHS Foundation is funded by charitable gifts from CHS Inc., the nation's leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grains and foods company. The CHS Foundation is focused on developing a new generation of agriculture leaders. We are achieving our goals through these strategic initiatives: advancing innovation in cooperative education, cultivating opportunity through university partnerships, growing high-impact youth leadership programs and accelerating potential for careers in agriculture. Together with our signature partners, we develop ag leaders for life. For more information on CHS Foundation programs, please visit

NAITCO is a non-profit organization made up of Agriculture in the Classroom programs in most of the 50 states and six territories. Its mission is to educate teachers and students in kindergarten through 12th grade about the importance of agriculture by incorporating agricultural concepts into classroom instruction.

Iowa Farm Bureau appoints Joe Johnson new Executive Director

Iowa’s largest grassroots organization, the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF), today announced that Joe Johnson has been named the new executive director and secretary-treasurer of the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation.

Johnson assumes his new position on April 20, 2018. He succeeds Denny Presnall who will retire after 36 years with Farm Bureau.

“As a long-time leader in our organization, Joe is passionate about Farm Bureau and brings in-depth knowledge of the organization and agriculture that will be a tremendous asset to us,” says IFBF President Craig Hill. “The IFBF Board of Directors believes his integrity, proven leadership experience and ability to build solid relationships will help lead IFBF into the next century and we look forward to working with him.”

Johnson, a 33-year veteran of Farm Bureau, has served as Director of Field Service since 2010, where he oversees and guides the activities of the Regional Managers and 100 county Farm Bureaus, as well as the Leadership and Farm Business Development areas. In this capacity, Johnson was instrumental in spearheading the creation of a new farm transition program, Take Root, that has assisted over 5,000 members in 99 counties and helped increase participation in the Young Farmer program to a record high.

Prior to that, he served as Senior State Policy Advisor in Government Relations for 13 years, working with the Iowa Legislature to guide policy efforts on behalf of members. From 1985 to 1997, he also served as Regional Manager for six counties in southeast Iowa.

Johnson is a graduate of Wartburg College. He and his wife, Karen, have two grown children and six grandchildren.

U.S. Red Meat Exports Continued to Outpace Year-Ago Levels in February

February exports of U.S. pork, beef and lamb were higher than a year ago in both volume and value, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

Pork exports totaled 205,466 metric tons (mt) in February, up 4 percent from last year’s large total, while export value increased 12 percent to $547.2 million. Through February, pork exports were 2 percent ahead of last year’s pace at 408,934 mt, while export value climbed 10 percent to $1.09 billion.

February exports accounted for 27.8 percent of total pork production and 24 percent for muscle cuts only – up from 27.6 percent and 22.9 percent, respectively, a year ago. Through February, the percentage of total pork production exported was slightly lower year-over-year at 26.1 percent, while the percentage of muscle cuts exported edged higher to 22.7 percent. February export value averaged $56.78 per head slaughtered, up 9 percent from a year ago. Through February, per-head export value was $53.70, up 5 percent.

February beef export volume improved 11 percent from a year ago to 100,593 mt, while export value increased 18 percent to $599.8 million. Although this was the lowest monthly value total since May 2017, it is the highest on record for the month of February. January-February volume was 206,079 mt, up 10 percent from the first two months of 2017, while export value was 20 percent above last year’s pace at $1.22 billion.

Exports accounted for 13.6 percent of total beef production in February, up one full percentage point from a year ago. For muscle cuts only, the percentage exported was 10.8 percent (up from 10.1 percent last year). Through February, beef exports accounted for 13 percent of total production (up from 12.4 percent) and 10.4 percent for muscle cuts (up from 9.8 percent). February beef export value averaged $322.29 per head of fed slaughter, up 16 percent from a year ago. Through February, per-head export value averaged $306.69, up 15 percent.

“Red meat exports are off to a strong start in 2018 and continue to deliver excellent returns for U.S. producers,” noted USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. “The outstanding level of export value per head slaughtered is especially encouraging at a time in which U.S. meat production is high and the trade climate is somewhat volatile. Through all the uncertainty, international customers remain very committed to U.S. pork and beef. This reinforces the importance of having experienced USMEF staff members located in key markets, working every day to maintain customer loyalty and reinforce the United States’ reputation as a reliable supplier.”

Pork exports steady to Mexico; solid growth in Korea, Japan and Latin America

February pork exports to leading volume market Mexico were steady with last year at 64,523 mt, while export value was slightly higher at $117.5 million. Through February, export volume was steady with last year’s record pace at 137,520 mt, while export value increased 3 percent to $251 million.

In Japan, the leading value destination for U.S. pork, February volume was steady year-over-year at 32,418 mt, while value was up 3 percent to $134.7 million. Through February, export volume to Japan increased 6 percent from a year ago to 67,466 mt and value climbed 10 percent to $281.1 million. This included a 7 percent increase in chilled pork exports to 36,929 mt, valued at $176.9 million (up 11 percent).

Pork exports to South Korea climbed 33 percent in volume (40,710 mt) and 43 percent in value ($119 million). Most U.S. pork products now enter the Korean market duty free under the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS), and high-quality, affordable U.S. pork is helping to underpin Korea’s record-breaking pork consumption. USMEF continues to help position U.S. pork in new and exciting ways in Korea, including the addition of pulled pork to many restaurant menus, a selection of high-end sausages at convenience stores and a wide array of home meal replacement and snack items sold at retail and through e-commerce.

Through the first two months of 2018, other highlights for U.S. pork include:

-    Led by strong growth in Colombia and Peru, pork exports to South America were 9 percent ahead of last year’s pace in volume (17,855 mt) and 14 percent higher in value ($43.1 million), with consumption growth in the region continuing to outpace domestic production.
-    Solid growth in Honduras, a doubling of exports to El Salvador and a steady performance in Guatemala pushed pork export volume to Central America 16 percent above last year’s pace at 12,255 mt, while value climbed 20 percent to $28.9 million. Exports also increased year-over-year to Nicaragua, Panama and Belize.
-    Exports to the Philippines, the mainstay destination for U.S. pork in the ASEAN and the region’s largest import market, increased 3 percent in volume (4,746 mt) and remained steady with last year’s pace in value ($10.8 million). Exceptional growth in Vietnam (901 mt valued at $3.7 million, up 272 percent and 469 percent, respectively) pushed exports to the ASEAN region 18 percent higher in volume (6,178 mt) and 29 percent higher in value ($16.9 million). Exports also increased year-over-year to Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia.
-    In China/Hong Kong, pork export volume fell 14 percent year-over-year to 69,515 mt, but value increased 3 percent to $164 million. Muscle cut exports increased 7 percent to 28,775 mt, while variety meat exports declined 24 percent in volume (40,740 mt) but with sharply higher prices value only dipped 2 percent to $107.4 million. The Chinese government recently imposed a 25 percent tariff on imports of U.S. pork and pork variety meat, in addition to the 12 percent tariff already in effect in China. The higher tariff rate is not reflected in the January-February results, as it took effect April 2. But the additional tariff will put U.S. pork at a significant disadvantage compared to China’s other major suppliers: the European Union, Canada, Brazil and Chile. China’s total import demand has also slowed with its rebound in domestic production and a significant decrease in domestic hog prices.

Chilled beef shipments to Japan, Korea and Taiwan drive export growth; Mexico and Hong Kong also trend higher

Beef export volume to leading market Japan declined in February (20,314 mt, -15 percent year-over-year), as the frozen beef safeguard tariff (50 percent, up temporarily from 38.5 percent) contributed to a slowdown in frozen shipments. However, February export value to Japan was down only slightly at $133.4 million. Through February, total exports to Japan were 4 percent below last year’s volume pace at 44,282 mt, but still increased 9 percent in value to $282 million. This included an 18 percent increase in chilled beef exports to 22,809 mt, valued at $175 million (up 29 percent). Japan’s safeguard tariff on imports of frozen beef from the United States (and from other suppliers that do not have a free trade agreement with Japan) expired March 31, so the tariff rate for both frozen and chilled imports from the U.S. is now 38.5 percent. Japan’s tariffs on imports of Australian chilled and frozen beef edged slightly lower on April 1 and now stand at 29.3 percent and 26.9 percent, respectively, under the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement.

Beef exports to South Korea maintained a torrid pace in February, increasing 24 percent from a year ago in volume (16,193 mt) and 31 percent in value ($112.4 million). Through February, exports to Korea climbed 18 percent in volume to 33,326 mt and were 32 percent above last year’s record value pace at $234.8 million. This included chilled beef exports of 7,231 mt (up 34 percent year-over-year) valued at $68 million (up 44 percent). U.S. beef is driving new consumption trends in Korea, where retailers and foodservice operators have intensified their focus on steak cuts and are highlighting features such as dry and wet aging. USMEF continues to educate the Korean meat trade and consumers about the quality and convenience of U.S. steaks in this increasingly protein-centric market.

Through the first two months of 2018, other highlights for U.S. beef include:

-    Exports to Mexico, which is a critical destination for beef rounds, shoulder clods and variety meat, were 10 percent above last year’s pace in volume (39,987 mt) and 19 percent higher in value ($175 million). This included an 11 percent increase in variety meat export volume (18,720 mt) and an impressive 36 percent jump in variety meat value ($44.4 million).
-    Partly driven by demand for the Chinese New Year holiday, exports to Hong Kong jumped 41 percent in volume (22,807 mt) from a year ago and 61 percent in value ($168.6 million). Exports to China, which resumed in June 2017, totaled 1,187 mt valued at $11.1 million.
-    In Taiwan, an outstanding destination for chilled U.S. beef, exports increased 25 percent from a year ago in volume (8,106 mt) and 42 percent in value ($78.2 million). Chilled exports to Taiwan were up 53 percent in volume (3,800 mt) and 61 percent in value ($48 million) as the U.S. holds 72 percent of Taiwan’s chilled beef market.
-    Exceptional growth in Chile and Colombia pushed exports to South America up 68 percent year-over-year in volume (5,296 mt) and 62 percent in value ($25.2 million). Exports to Brazil, which resumed in April of last year, totaled 215 mt valued at $2 million.
-    Strong performances in Indonesia and Vietnam pushed beef exports to the ASEAN region 42 percent ahead of last year’s pace in volume (6,794 mt) and 34 percent higher in value ($36.7 million). The region is especially strong for beef variety meat, with exports up 74 percent in volume (2,008 mt) and 93 percent in value ($4.4 million).
-    Strong growth in Angola and steady volumes to South Africa pushed beef exports to Africa up 26 percent year-over-year in volume (1,981 mt) and 77 percent higher in value ($3.1 million).

Lamb exports sharply higher year-over-year

Bolstered by a strong rebound in lamb variety meat demand in Mexico, U.S. lamb exports are trending significantly higher in 2018. In February, lamb export volume climbed 85 percent from a year ago to 899 mt – the highest since May 2017. Export value was $1.85 million, up 42 percent and the highest since March 2017. Through February, lamb exports were 55 percent higher year-over-year in volume (1,639 mt) and up 24 percent in value ($3.33 million), led by growth in Mexico, the Philippines, the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

“Trump Has Not Forgotten Rural America’s Needs, Contributions”

By Secretary Sonny Perdue

While Congress continues its work on the Farm Bill, rural prosperity, and many other agriculture priorities, this administration remains committed to being a voice for America’s farmers, ranchers, producers, and foresters.

In the 11 months since I was sworn in as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, I have traveled to 35 states, helping fulfill President Donald Trump’s promise that the men and women of America, who once felt forgotten, never will again.

First, [President] Trump is committed to ensuring our economy grows and thrives. That is why he led the fight to pass historic tax cuts and reforms back in December, which are already benefiting the agriculture community. When it comes to trading goods and products with our partners and allies, this administration is committed to sending the bounty of American harvest around the globe.

Second, as we all know, our economy cannot succeed without a capable and legal workforce. Trump understands we must have an equipped and competitive workforce. That is one reason why he signed an executive order establishing the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity, which I proudly chaired.

Our task force also stressed the importance of assisting our workforce through infrastructure reforms. Enacting Trump’s infrastructure plan would create jobs for our rural workforce and unleash our economy’s full potential. Infrastructure has been the core of American economic success for more than two centuries. America’s infrastructure needs attention; our nation’s prosperity is at stake.

Finally, if we are going to encourage the next generation to step forward, we must first tackle the burdensome regulations facing today’s industry. Throughout this tour, I have heard from farmers and ranchers who are hamstrung by meddlesome rules. They know that Trump has aggressively and effectively dismantled unnecessary barriers to productivity, eliminating 22 federal regulations for every new rule added. Trump’s regulatory agenda meets the needs of rural Americans who are held back by harmful decisions that came from Washington.


The National Pork Producers Council this week released a study from Iowa State University (ISU) on the agricultural workforce. ISU economists determined that a reduction in the foreign-born workforce – prompted by a change in immigration policy – would not be offset by native-born workers and permanent residents. Instead, they found, the tighter supply of foreign-born workers would reduce overall demand for workers as production costs increase and would decrease agricultural output as farmers abandon labor-intensive operations. The result would be a 3.4 to 5.5 percent decrease in the total number of farm workers.

NPPC is supporting congressional legislation creating a new visa program for non-seasonal foreign agricultural workers to remain in the United States for up to three years while deferring a portion of their pay as incentive for periodic “touchbacks” to their country. The H-2C visa would replace the current H-2A temporary, seasonal agricultural worker program. The legislation initially would let agricultural employers hire up to 410,000 foreign workers for on-farm jobs and 40,000 for meatpacking plants. It also would put the H-2C program under USDA rather than the Department of Labor.

Click here to read the study.....


NPPC next Wednesday and Thursday will host its spring Legislative Action Conference in Washington, D.C. The biannual fly-in draws from around the country about 125 pork producers who will lobby congressional lawmakers on issues of importance to the U.S. pork industry, including the importance of maintaining and expanding export opportunities, funding a Foot-and-Mouth Disease vaccine bank in the next Farm Bill and establishing a regulatory environment that keeps food affordable. The popular Congressional Bacon Fest will be held April 11.

Ag & Ethanol Groups Holding RFS Twitter Townhall Monday

On Monday, April 9, from 7 - 10 AM Central Daylight Time (CDT) several agriculture and ethanol groups will be participating in a Twitter Townhall, prior to the scheduled meeting happening at the White House regarding the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

Yesterday, NCGA sent out a Grassroots call to action, asking members to send a letter or call President Trump and their appropriate member of Congress. This social media effort provides another opportunity for your voice to be heard.

You can participate in the Twitter Townhall, by using the #RFSWorks.

To find out more about the Grassroots call to action on the RFS, you can go to the legislative action section on our website at

Mexico Not Ruling Out Quick NAFTA Result

The Mexican Foreign Minister says he’s not ruling out a quick ending to the North American Free Trade Agreement talks. The top Mexican diplomat says progress is being made on several issue-specific tables of the negotiations. The U.S., Canada, and Mexico’s top negotiators were meeting late in the week to continue discussions. The talks have moved slowly for the past eight months and all three countries want to settle the process as quickly as possible. They all want to finish before the Mexican presidential election on July 1.

The upbeat Mexican comments are similar in tone to the positive comments from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau earlier in the week. U.S. President Donald Trump said Thursday that he expects the three nations to have something to announce on the NAFTA negotiations very soon. Some challenges still remain, including the U.S. demand that the North American content of vehicles produced in the NAFTA nations be increased from 62.5 percent to as much as 85 percent. A Mexican source close to the talks told Reuters the U.S. has shown some flexibility in the rules-of-origin discussions, and the three countries are now looking at alternatives.

Cargill reports fiscal 2018 third-quarter results

Cargill today reported financial results for the fiscal 2018 third quarter and first nine months ended Feb. 28, 2018. Key results include:
-    Adjusted operating earnings were $559 million, a 22 percent decrease from last year’s $715 million. Nine-month earnings totaled $2.4 billion, down 7 percent from $2.58 billion a year ago.
-    These earnings included a net charge of $161 million related to the recently enacted U.S. Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Excluding the charge, Cargill’s results were on pace with last year’s third quarter and first nine months.
-    Net earnings for the quarter on a U.S. GAAP basis were $495 million compared with $650 million a year ago. Nine-month net earnings equaled $2.39 billion compared with last year’s $2.49 billion. Excluding the tax charge, the third quarter was in line with last year; the nine-month figure exceeded the prior period.
-    Third-quarter revenues rose 2 percent to $27.85 billion, increasing the year-to-date figure to $84.32 billion.

“Our steady results from operations demonstrate that our strategic direction is the right one,” said David MacLennan, Cargill’s chairman and chief executive officer. “The performance of our team worldwide keeps Cargill moving ahead, preparing us to continue to grow.”

During this extended period of sluggish agricultural commodity markets, Cargill is taking action to transform and differentiate itself. MacLennan cited the company’s integrated approach to global operations, its ongoing appraisal and enhancement of assets along supply chains, and its investment in new capabilities and technologies. “In a time of continually changing expectations, we are setting ourselves apart in order to help our customers succeed.”

Global Dairy Production Expected to Pick up This Year

Global dairy production is expected to pick up with milk production in Europe rising gradually in response to higher domestic prices, while domestic demand will drive increases in India and China, according to BMI Research in a note. Government reforms in China have reduced local grain prices and are encouraging the consolidation of dairy farms, a factor that will increase yields and profitability over the coming years, it adds. BMI expects Chinese production growth of 5% in 2018.

Missouri Man Charges with Defrauding Investors in Cattle Scheme

A Missouri resident has been indicted in a $4.7 million investment scheme that defrauded 89 investors.

Cameron J. Hager of Clinton was charged in a nine-count federal indictment that alleges he persuaded people to invest in a cattle fund that he said would be used to buy herds of cattle and then sell them later at a substantial profit. Hager, who operated the scheme from July 17, 2015, to March 28, 2018, never purchased the animals and never intended to buy them, according to court documents.

Kansas City Business Journal reports that Hager received about $4.7 million from investors, who gave amounts ranging from $1,000 to $267,000. He also roped in others to recruit investors and paid their commissions from the investments he received.

He also used investor funds on personal living expenses, including home mortgage payments, paying taxes, travel expenses, lodging and religious conferences, and used some funds to provide "returns" to other investors, according to court documents.

Thursday April 5 Ag News

National Drought Summary for April 3, 2018
With a blocking ridge of high pressure anchored over the Southwest, a series of cold fronts tracked across the eastern two-thirds of the Nation. The fronts, however, slowed their southeastward advance across the South and Southeast, and after picking up Gulf moisture, produced numerous and widespread showers and thunderstorms with heavy precipitation (more than 2 inches) from the southern Great Plains northeastward into the northern Appalachians. This was similar to the weather pattern back in mid- to late February when the lower Mississippi, Tennessee, and Ohio Valleys were deluged. Lighter precipitation also occurred across the northern halves of the Rockies and Plains, the upper Midwest, Great Lakes region, western New England, the central Gulf Coast States, and along the Pacific Northwest Coast. Little or no precipitation fell on the remainder of the Far West, Southwest, southern halves of the Rockies and High Plains, western Corn Belt, along the eastern Gulf and Atlantic Coasts, and most of Alaska. Weekly temperatures averaged below normal in the northern Rockies, northern and central Plains, Midwest, mid-Atlantic, and Carolinas, and above-normal in the Far West, Southwest, southern Plains, along the Gulf Coast, and in northern New England. In Alaska, readings were much-above normal in western and northern sections and near to below normal in southern and eastern portions. Most of Hawaii and Puerto Rico observed showery weather.


Light to moderate precipitation (0.5-1.5” liquid equivalence) fell across central Minnesota, northern Wisconsin, and the UP of Michigan, increasing the snow cover in the region and decreasing the short-term deficiencies. With most tools out to 6-months showing near or wet conditions, D0 was removed from central and southeastern Wisconsin and part of the UP of Michigan, but left where the same indices showed D0-D1. The small D0-D1 in northern Minnesota was dry, but is covered under a blanket of snow with frozen ground and will be reassessed once conditions thaw. Elsewhere, southern Iowa and northern and western Missouri had lingering drought, and some of these locations received 0.5-1 inches of precipitation. With moderate to heavy precipitation occurring in mid-February and lighter amounts during March, this week’s additional precipitation was enough to erase deficits at 90-days and create short-term surpluses. Accordingly, D0 was removed from southwestern and along the northern Missouri D0 edge, along with a small area of D1 improved to D0 in northeastern Missouri. Elsewhere in the Midwest, there was no prior dryness or drought, and 2018’s wet pattern continued this week.

High Plains

The persistent fall and winter pattern of above-normal precipitation and subnormal temperatures continued this week across Montana, Wyoming, and the western Dakotas, building up the existing snow cover and gradually providing additional relief from long-term drought. In eastern Montana, SPIs out to 9-months were wet except in the extreme northeastern part of the state (Daniels and Sheridan counties) where D2 lingered. Similarly in extreme western Dakotas and northeastern Wyoming, additional precipitation allowed for a slight nudge of the D0-D2 areas to the east (improvement). However, since this drought goes back to 12-15 months ago, it will take more precipitation to remove these long-term deficits (6-10 inches) and subsoil impacts where D1 and D2 are currently depicted, hopefully during the upcoming wet season (April-July). In central and eastern North Dakota where the drought was short-term, snow totals of 1-2” in the central and 4-6” in the east added to 90-day surpluses. Even though soil moisture conditions are less than desired (ground barely frozen at 4” depth), 90-day percent of normal precipitation has shown significant improvement. Therefore, some D1 was improved to D0 in central parts of the state while D0 was erased from eastern areas. In Nebraska, moderate snows fell across southern sections of the state, but D0 was kept as subsoil dryness lingered due to frozen ground earlier in the year that limited infiltration of melting snow or rain. As conditions thaw and additional storms occur, infiltration should increase. Farther south in Kansas, little or no precipitation meant another week of growing deficits, and based upon indices going out to a year, D3 conditions were common in central and northeastern portions of the state; therefore D3 was expanded northeastward.

Looking Ahead

During April 5-9, 2018, unseasonably heavy precipitation (2-6 inches) is expected in western sections of Washington, Oregon, and the northern half of California, plus the Cascades and Sierra Nevada, with lesser amounts in the remainder of the Northwest and northern and central Rockies. Unfortunately, a sharp cutoff of precipitation (dry) is forecast for southern California, southern Nevada, and much of Arizona, New Mexico, and west Texas. Light precipitation (less than half an inch) is predicted across the northern half of the Plains, Midwest, and southern Great Plains, with greater totals (1-3 inches) in the lower Mississippi Valley, Southeast, mid-Atlantic, and New England. Temperatures will average above-normal west of the Rockies, southern Texas, and Florida, and below-normal east of the Rockies except along the Gulf Coast.

For the ensuing 5 days (April 10-14), odds favor above-median precipitation for much of the Far West, northern thirds of the Rockies and Plains, Midwest, lower Mississippi Valley, New England, and southern Florida, with sub-median totals in the Southwest and south-central High Plains, Southeast, and northern Alaska. Chances for sub-median temperatures are likely across the northern half of the Nation, but especially in the upper Midwest and along the Northeast Coast. A tilt toward above-median readings are expected in the Southwest, southern Rockies, southern half of the Plains, southern Florida, and southern Alaska.

Sasse on Trump's Trade War

U.S. Senator Ben Sasse, who represents one of the most pro-trade states in the country, issued the following statement regarding President Trump’s new $100 billion of tariffs.

“Hopefully the President is just blowing off steam again but, if he's even half-serious, this is nuts. China is guilty of many things, but the President has no actual plan to win right now. He’s threatening to light American agriculture on fire. Let’s absolutely take on Chinese bad behavior, but with a plan that punishes them instead of us. This is the dumbest possible way to do this.”

Midwest Dairy Elects Leadership

Allen Merrill, a dairy farmer from Parker, South Dakota, was re-elected chairman of Midwest Dairy during the organization’s annual meeting held in conjunction with the Western Dairy Forum in Phoenix, Arizona.

Elections for the Corporate board officer team also were held. Charles Krause, Buffalo, Minnesota, was re-elected first vice chairman; Dan Hotvedt, Decorah, Iowa, was elected second vice chairman; Lowell Mueller, Hooper, Nebraska, was re-elected secretary; and Barb Liebenstein, Dundas, Minnesota, was elected treasurer.

New members elected by their Divisions to the Midwest Dairy Corporate board include:
Kevin Buss, Hutchinson, Minnesota;
Karen Kasper, Owatonna, Minnesota;
Rita Mosset, Linton, North Dakota; and
Annelies Seffrood, Summit, South Dakota.

Division board officers and new members include:

Iowa Division

Chairman – Dan Hotvedt, Decorah;
Vice Chairman – Bruce Brockshus, Ocheyedan;
Secretary – Jonna Schutte, Monona; and
Treasurer – Larry Shover, Delhi.
Kelly Cunningham, Atlantic; Stephanie Dykshorn, Trenton; Madison Roth, Wayland; and Matt Schelling, Orange City; were seated as new members of the Iowa Division board.

Nebraska Division

Chairman – Marry Temme, Wayne;
Vice Chairman – Joyce Racicky, Mason City; and
Secretary/Treasurer – Deb Eschliman, Ericson.
Jodi Cast, Beaver Crossing, was seated as a new member of the Nebraska Division board.

Day 2 NE FFA Convention

The 90th Nebraska FFA Convention second general session took place on April 5, 2018 at the Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska with state officer Lydia Vinton serving as the session chairperson.

The keynote address was presented by Leslie McCuiston, the 2017 Pig Farmer of the Year.  She shared a message of how becoming a leader doesn’t simply begin when we receive a title.  “Look at leadership a little differently.  Sit next to the kid who doesn’t have anyone to sit with at lunch,” she told the audience.

Nebraska FFA then welcomed state officers from the Illinois, North Carolina, Kansas, and Iowa associations to give remarks. 

Many chapters were recognized for their programming in the areas of growing leaders, building communities, and strengthening agriculture. Chapters are judged by a series of questions on the quality of innovativeness of ideas and accomplishing pre-determined goals.  These awards are sponsored by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, Nebraska Association of Natural Resource Districts, and Frank Fleecs.

State officer Isabelle Stewart from the Lakeview FFA Chapter gave her retiring address entitled “Find the Good” during the second general session, sharing her inspiring story about choosing to find joy in challenging situations. She remarked, “How can we be the good? It can be as simple as telling someone the good that we see in them.”

Afternoon session

The 90th Nebraska FFA Convention third general session took place on April 5, 2018 at the Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska with State Officer Hailey Coufal serving as the session chairperson.

Nebraska FFA welcomed Dr. Mark Balschweid on behalf of the Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communication at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to give remarks.  Dr. Balschweid shared information about experiences that the ALEC department provides students preparing for careers in the human side of agriculture.

Ag Champions Recognition
The Nebraska Corn Board sponsors the Ag Champions program, which encourages FFA members to become advocates for agriculture.  This year, FFA members created digital platforms to share an agricultural topic of their choosing.  Each of the six winners will receive a $500 scholarship for their advocacy efforts. Students recognized were:
Kylie Gana, Norris
Tayte Jussel, O’Neill
Justin Henzlik, North Bend

State Officer Kelli Mashino gave her retiring address entitled “Your Sun Will Still Shine” during the third general session. She encouraged all to learn, accept, and own what happens when our perfect vision is ruptured.  “We must own who we are and be proud of it,” Kelli encouraged.

The Nebraska Farm Bureau recognizes two outstanding Teachers and Advisors each year as the Nebraska Farm Bureau Teacher and Advisor of the Year Award recipients. Teachers receiving this award have displayed outstanding leadership in their school and community, influenced students to purposefully begin their SAE programs, and create a learning community through relationships with other teachers, community members, students and industry leaders. The 2018 Nebraska Farm Bureau Teacher and Advisor of the Year Award recipients are Casey Carriker of the Central agricultural education program, and Ashton Bohling of the Auburn agricultural education program.

Evening session

The 90th Nebraska FFA Convention fourth general session took place on April 5, 2018 at the Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska with State Officer Brock Vetick serving as the session chairperson.

Nebraska FFA welcomed Governor Ricketts to give remarks. Governor Ricketts shared information about the importance of agriculture to Nebraska, and the role of FFA members in the future of agriculture. “Agriculture is how we are going to grow our state, and you are part of agriculture,” he shared.

I Believe in the Future of Ag
Corporate sponsors have partnered with the Nebraska FFA Foundation for the 2016-17 I Believe in the Future of Agriculture campaign. In response to their challenge, FFA chapters raised $343,402.72 at the local level. I Believe sponsors have offered up to $35,000 in matching funds. As part of this program, local supporters can donate to their local FFA chapter through the Nebraska FFA Foundation. The designated chapter will receive 100% of the money and a portion of the $35,000 matching fund money. Local chapters are using their money for a variety of innovative projects in their communities and schools. The following chapters were recognized for their outstanding efforts and participation in the “I Believe” campaign.
Oakland Craig
McCool Junction
West Holt
Shelby-Rising City

State Officer Jessica Rudolph gave her retiring address entitled “The World Needs Your Love” during the second general session. She encouraged listeners to take care of themselves in order to serve others.  Jessica encouraged the audience to “Feed yourself and give your love to the world.”

The Gary Scharf Helping Hand Award was presented to Mr. Dana Anderson of Aurora for his outstanding dedication as an agriculture instructor and FFA advisor. A student commented on Mr. Anderson’s leadership helping students through grief as the chapter tragically lost a member.

The keynote speaker was the 2017-2018 National FFA Southern Region Vice President Gracie Furnish. She encouraged listeners to find the opportunities that come when we are told “no.”

The 2018 NE FFA Convention wraps up Friday in Lincoln.


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Small grains planted last fall are greening up and may be ready to graze in a few weeks.  This spring, let’s make sure these pastures are productive and safe.

               Did you look ahead and plant rye or triticale or even wheat last fall to use as early pasture this spring?  If so, you soon will be rewarded.  Before long these fields will be ready to graze.

               These small grain pastures will relieve you from feeding hay, get your animals out onto clean green grass, and produce excellent gains.  They’ll also help you wait longer before turning onto your other pastures, giving them a chance to have good growth before grazing.

               To maximize grazing from small grain pastures, wait until grass is 4 to 8 inches tall before starting to graze.  Then stock heavily enough to maintain plant height between 6 and 12 inches.  To accomplish this, either adjust the number of animals according to grass growth or sub-divide the pasture into smaller paddocks and graze rotationally.  I also like to provide some good grass hay in these lush pastures to help stabilize the animal’s digestive system.  Grass stands, soils, fertility, and moisture all will affect stocking rate, so adjust stock numbers for your conditions.  With careful management and proper stocking, you could graze all the way to mid-June.

               One concern when grazing small grain pasture is grass tetany.  Tetany is more common in lactating cows than in dry cows or young stock.  Reduce tetany risk by starting to feed magnesium oxide supplements mixed with salt, molasses, or grain at least a couple weeks before starting to graze.  Monitor consumption carefully and adjust the mixture so cattle consume about one-quarter pound of magnesium oxide per cow each week.    

               Small grain pastures can be convenient and profitable.  Just use good management to optimize production and prevent livestock losses.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Putting the Tools to Use: Buying Your Next Bull webinar

Thursday, April 19, 2018 at 7 p.m. CT

The fourth and final webinar in the genetics webinar series puts all of the genetic concepts covered in the first three seminars to work as attendees go to a virtual bull sale and select the best bull from a sale catalog for two distinct production scenarios. Participants will receive a sale catalog via email and must decide which bull to purchase for each scenario, and then compare results with all of the other participants on the webinar. Leading the discussion will be Matt Spangler, Ph.D. Associate Professor and Extension Beef Genetics Specialist at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, and Bob Weaber, Ph.D., Professor and Beef Extension Specialist, at Kansas State University, and the entire eBEEF team will join in the discussion.

If you missed the last three webinars in this 4-part genetics series which focused on EPDs and Indexes be sure to find the link at WWW.NCBA.ORG



Our state has enjoyed a long-standing and prosperous relationship with China. Iowa corn farmers have worked for decades to support fair and open trade practices because we understand that trade is a two-way street. Yet, we have operated in a tense trade policy environment with China for several years and have worked hard to diversify our customer base to create new demand for U.S. corn in all forms.

The retaliatory actions by China did not come unexpectedly. No one doubted China would punch back with tariffs. The imposition of tariffs on U.S. ag exports will make American farmers less competitive at a time when Iowa farmers already anticipate another year of diminished income.

Our message to President Trump and his administration remains decidedly clear. We cannot lose this market. Iowa’s farm families must not be collateral damage in a trade dispute. The impact of these potential tariffs does not hurt just one agricultural sector or commodity but threatens the whole industry and Iowa stands at the epicenter.

Corn farmers continue to maintain constant engagement with the Administration and our trade partners in China. We remain committed to working long-term in the China marketplace. We do have a window of opportunity to reach a mutually beneficial trade position with China before the deadline for the tariffs nears. We need the administration to understand the implications for agriculture and to come to the negotiating table with China. We need policies that give farmers consistent access to markets and a level global playing field.

Some animal viruses may survive in imported feed ingredients

A journey over land and sea may not keep animal diseases away.

Researchers from South Dakota State University, Pipestone Veterinary Services in Minnesota and Kansas State University found that seven of the 11 animal viruses tested can potentially survive the transglobal journey from Asia or Europe to the United States in at least two commonly imported feed ingredients. The scientists examined virus survivability in 11 imported feed ingredients and products by replicating the environmental conditions in shipping containers.

“The findings of this study show that feed biosecurity should be a major priority for pork producers and ultimately, the livestock industry,” said assistant professor Diego Diel, DVM who led the SDSU team. Scott Dee, DVM, director of research at Pipestone Veterinary Services, said, “For the first time, we have data to support that certain feed ingredients are risk factors for moving viruses between farms and around the world. ”Diel and his team at the South Dakota Animal Disease Research and Diagnostic Laboratory assessed the ability of 10 viruses to survive the 37-day journey from Beijing, China, to Des Moines, Iowa. One postdoctoral researcher, three research associates and a microbiologist worked on the project.

Kansas State University, which has a Level 3 biosecurity laboratory, evaluated the ability of African swine fever virus to survive the 30-day trip from Warsaw, Poland, to Des Moines.

In previous work, Dee and ADRDL researchers discovered that porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) can survive the simulated trip from Beijing to Des Moines in five feed ingredients—vitamin D, lysine, choline and organic and conventional soybean meal. That National Pork Board-funded research led to this larger study, which is supported by the Swine Health Information Center (SHIC). The study results are published in the March 20 issue of PLOS ONE at
Paul Sundberg, DVM, SHIC executive director, said, “This is foundational research. Dr. Diel and Dr. Dee identified a new avenue through which we may be transporting pathogens around the country and the world.” The researchers are now looking for cost-effective ways to mitigate this risk through continuing support from SHIC.

Identifying high-risk ingredients
Dee worked with a colleague at the Lincoln Memorial University College of Veterinary Sciences to expand the list of ingredients beyond those in the PEDV study. The researchers added soy cake and dried distillers grain solids (DDGS), moist and dry dog food, and moist cat food. The use of feline calici virus and canine distemper as surrogate viruses further supported inclusion of these ingredients, he explained.

Because the U.S.  also imports sausage casings, a product of pork origin, from Asia, the researchers added this product to the most recent study.

 “We’re in a global economy; people and products are moving around the world,” Sundberg said. More than 47,000 tons of imported feed ingredients arrived in San Francisco from China in 2016, according to the International Trade Commission Harmonized Tariff Schedule. 

Six viruses survived in conventional soybean meal, while only two did so in organic soybean meal. Though the researchers don’t know what accounts for this difference, Diel said preliminary analysis showed the organic soybean meal had a higher fat content and lower protein content.

Conventional soybean meal is treated with hexane, while the organic soybean meal was not, Dee explained. Because of the processing method used, the organic meal tested had a high fat content and lower protein level. “Those ingredients with higher protein levels seemed to be more conducive to virus survival,” he said.

Four viruses survived in soy oil cake, which is imported from China in the largest quantities of any of the ingredients evaluated.  Only two viruses survived in DDGS, which ranks second among imported ingredients.

Four viruses survived in sausage casings. The amount of this processed product returning to the United States has quadrupled from 2012 to 2016.

Pinpointing key viruses
Due to the inability to work with certain target pathogens, surrogate viruses were used to study closely related and structurally similar viruses. For foot-and-mouth disease, Senecavirus A was studied. For classical swine fever, bovine virus diarrhea was reviewed. For pseudorabies virus, bovine herpes virus-1 was the surrogate. For nipah virus, canine distemper virus was substituted. For swine vesicular disease, research focused on porcine sapelovirus. And for vesicular exanthema virus, feline calicivirus was the surrogate.

“Certain ingredients seem to provide an ideal matrix for virus survival, and our study identified some of the high risk combinations of viruses and ingredients,” Diel explained. The SDSU team found viable Senecavirus A, the surrogate for foot-and-mouth disease, survived in all the ingredients except organic soybean meal. In addition, porcine sapelovirus, a surrogate for swine vesicular disease, survived in all ingredients except DDGS and choline.

African swine fever survived in eight ingredients. It was the only virus that survived the simulated trip without a feed matrix. Furthermore, when Iowa State researchers analyzed virus half-life, they found that meal African swine fever was most stable of the three viruses in conventional soybean.

The researchers also found that PRRSV can be added to PEDV as a pathogen circulating among swine in the United States that can survive the simulated trip from China and it did so in conventional soybean meal and DDGS.  “That was really surprising because PRSSV is quite unstable,” Dee said.

“Though the original goal was to assess potential for transboundary movement, there are also implications for pathogen transport at the regional or national level,” Diel said.

“This research gives us a model to uncover potential pathways for pathogen transport,” Sundberg said. “Publishing the research in a peer-reviewed journal is extremely important. We want scientists to scrutinize it, repeat it and give constructive criticism. This underscores the importance and the credibility of the results and increases confidence in the outcomes.”

Dee said agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have shown interest.

“We all need to consider the implications of this research and then to understand if this potential transport could lead to transmission to animals and what we need to do next,” Sundberg said. “We must work together with government agencies and the feed industry to protect U.S. meat protein agriculture.”

Saturated Buffers Topic of Iowa Learning Farms Webinar

Iowa Learning Farms will host a webinar about the latest research, installation standards and best management practices for saturated buffers on April 18 at 12 p.m.

Saturated buffers are the newest edge-of-field practice for removing nitrate from tile-drained fields. Dan Jaynes, research soil scientist with the National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment (USDA-ARS), will share the latest research and installation standards for saturated buffers. The presentation will provide a brief overview of the practice, share research results from several saturated buffers and cover some of the recent changes in the practice standard.

"Saturated buffers are an inexpensive and effective practice for removing nitrate from tile drainage when properly located and designed," said Jaynes. Jaynes has spent the past 20 years researching both in-field and edge-of-field practices for reducing the loss of nitrate from tile drained corn fields while maintaining yields and soil health.

The Iowa Learning Farms webinar series takes place on the third Wednesday of the month. To watch, go to shortly before 12 p.m. on April 18 and log in through the "guest" option. The webinar will be recorded and archived on the ILF website for watching at any time at

CHS reports a net income of $346.7 million for the first half of fiscal 2018

CHS Inc. (NASDAQ: CHSCP, CHSCO, CHSCN, CHSCM, CHSCL), the nation's leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grains and foods company, today reported net income of $346.7 million for the first half of its 2018 fiscal year (six-month period ended Feb. 28, 2018), compared to net income of $223.7 million for the same time period a year ago.

Consolidated revenues for the first half of fiscal 2018 were $14.9 billion, down from $15.4 billion for the first half of fiscal 2017. Pretax income was $185.0 million and $249.1 million for the first half of fiscal 2018 and 2017, respectively.

"CHS made meaningful progress in the first half of fiscal year 2018 as we continue to position CHS for higher performance," said CHS President and CEO Jay Debertin. "The global environment for our businesses serving agriculture remains challenged and we continue to drive towards our priorities of better efficiency, strengthening relationships, and a more focused business portfolio.  We have more work to do and we are seeing improvement that will make us a stronger company."

For the second quarter of fiscal 2018 (Dec. 1, 2017 through Feb. 28, 2018), CHS reported net income of $166.7 million compared with earnings of $14.6 million for the same period in fiscal 2017. Revenues for the second quarter of fiscal 2018 were $6.9 billion, down from $7.3 billion for the second quarter of fiscal 2017.

Results for the quarter were attributed to:
    Increased margins at the Company's refineries.
    Decreased volumes and margins within the Ag segment.
    A significant tax benefit recorded during the quarter related to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.

For the first half of fiscal 2018, reporting segment results include:

    Energy generated pretax income of $122.1 million during the first half compared to $86.6 million during the same period last year.
    The $35.5 million increase reflects improved market conditions in the company's refined fuels business, primarily driven by wider manufacturing margins in our refining operation.

    The Ag segment, which includes domestic and global grain marketing and crop nutrients businesses, renewable fuels, local retail operations and processing and food ingredients, generated pretax income of $43.6 million for the six months ending Feb. 28, 2018. That compares to $99.9 million for the same period the previous fiscal year.
    The $56.3 million decrease was primarily the result of a decline in grain and oilseed volumes in the grain marketing and country operations businesses, and lower prices across the majority of the Ag sub-segments.

Nitrogen Production
    This segment is comprised of the Company's investment in CF Industries Nitrogen, LLC (CF Nitrogen) and generated pretax income of $10.2 million during the first half of fiscal 2018 compared to $32.4 million during the same time in fiscal 2017.
    The $22.3 million decrease in earnings was primarily due to a gain in fiscal 2017 of $29.1 million associated with an embedded derivative asset that did not reoccur in fiscal 2018. This was partially offset by improved prices on urea, produced by CF Nitrogen.

Corporate and Other
    This category is primarily comprised of the company's wheat milling joint venture (Ardent Mills), its investment in Ventura Foods, LLC (Ventura Foods) and its financing, hedging and insurance operations. Corporate and Other generated pretax income of $9.1 million in the first half of 2018 compared to $30.2 million for the same period of fiscal 2017.
    The $21.1 million decrease was due to reduced interest revenue from the company's financing business resulting from the sale of loans receivable and lower earnings from our investment in Ventura Foods.

NCGA Grant Supports State Educational Events for Beef Producers

The National Corn Growers Association is stepping up to support the education of U.S. beef producers in states around the country. The assistance is being provided through a grant program offered to state affiliates of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association that conduct Cattlemen’s Education Series events.

The Cattlemen’s Education Series is a collaborative effort to advance grassroots education on topics that improve cattle production efficiency, profitability and sustainability. The partnership builds on other successful programs currently in NCBA’s Producer Education portfolio, such as Stockmanship & Stewardship, Cattlemen’s College and the Cattlemen’s Webinar Series. The Cattlemen’s Education Series provides grants for state affiliates to host timely and relevant education sessions for their local members.

“Corn plays an important role in the cattle industry, and NCGA is excited about this opportunity to help enhance cattle operations through the Cattlemen’s Education Series,” according to Bruce Peterson, chairman of NCGA’s Feed Fuel and Industrial Action Team. “Partnering with NCBA on this project will not only provide a benefit to cattle producers, it will also provide an opportunity to share research on the value corn and corn based feed ingredients provide within feed rations.  The series demonstrates the importance of collaboration within agriculture, as it allows corn farmers to directly support and interact with their cattle industry peers.”

NCBA state affiliates will be eligible to apply for grants ranging in value from $2,000 to $4,000, depending on a variety of factors, including event participation and membership numbers. Topics eligible for grants will be developed as a partnership between NCBA and NCGA.

US Ethanol Exports Record High in Feb.

 Ethanol exports from the United States reached a record high in February of 218.7 million gallons, up 148% from January, according to the Renewable Fuels Association, with the trade group citing the record after reviewing government statistics. The previous record high was reached in December 2011.

For the fourth consecutive month, Brazil was the top destination market for U.S. ethanol exports, which reached a record high of 103.2 million gallons.

China was the second-largest destination point, importing 33.1 million gallons of U.S. ethanol in February, which is a 22-month high.

Canada took in the third most ethanol exported by the United States at 22.0 million gallons, and Singapore was fourth with 14.8 million gallons.

For the first two months of 2018, U.S. ethanol exports were up 18% from a year ago.

U.S. exports of biodiesel totaled 14,550.8 metric tons in February, up 80% from a year ago. Canada was the top destination in February, taking 49% of U.S. exports while Peru was second with 25%. So far in 2018, U.S. exports of biodiesel are up 104% from a year ago.

U.S. exports of distillers grains totaled 835,707 metric tons in February, down 22% from a year ago. Mexico was the top export destination again in February, accounting for 22% of the total and followed by Vietnam, South Korea, and Thailand. The first two months of distillers grains exports were down 14% in 2018 from a year ago.

ASA Welcomes USDA Announcement on Plant Breeding Innovations

The American Soybean Association (ASA) registered strong support of a recent announcement by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that it has no plans to regulate plants that could be developed through traditional breeding techniques, including genome editing. ASA President John Heisdorffer, a farmer from Keota, Iowa, issued the following statement on Tuesday:

“ASA commends Secretary Perdue and USDA for their decision to clarify that plant breeding innovations will be treated in a similar manner as plants developed through traditional breeding methods. This science-based approach encourages innovation and economic development. Farmers, small agribusinesses, researchers, and others will have the exciting opportunity to pursue new and advanced ways to grow our food, fight plant pests and disease, reduce reliance of fertilizers and other resources, and respond to consumer demands to reduce the impact of agriculture on the environment.

“It will also facilitate the development of new and beneficial crop traits by reducing the cost and time required to bring products to the marketplace. This, in turn, will give a boost to continuing efforts to meet the food needs of the world’s growing population, estimated to reach 9.7 billion by 2050.

“At the same time, making the regulatory process more predictable for new technologies will require close coordination between APHIS and EPA and FDA, the agencies that share responsibility under the Coordinated Framework for the Regulation of Biotechnology, to prevent any bottlenecks. This decision also will require the federal government to take a lead role in working with other countries to ensure that they adopt science-based regulatory systems that are consistent with that of the U.S. This effort must be a top priority for the administration and pursued without delay to bring about a coherent international regulatory environment in which these gene-edited commodities will not face unnecessary hurdles in the global supply chain.

“We appreciate USDA’s role in the regulation of biotechnology and Secretary Perdue’s confirmation that plant breeding innovations, which can be developed through traditional breeding techniques, are separate and distinct in both the science and risk to plant health. By taking this science- and risk-based approach, it allows USDA to focus its time and resources on those plant varieties that actually could pose a risk to plant health.

“Consumer interest in how their food is produced continues to evolve, and it is important that we evolve similarly to meet those needs, and that our rules and regulations reflect that trend. ASA stands ready to participate in efforts by the administration to move ahead with this initiative in the coming weeks and months.”

USGC Releases Online 2017 Year In Review

The past year included opportunities and challenges for the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) staff, membership and partners. The Council has worked to capture a collection of market stories that illustrate how exports in 2017 reflect shifting dynamics in world markets and global policy and is now presenting these online with its annual year in review. 

The new microsite - - includes information on worldwide initiatives as well as specific activities related to corn, sorghum, barley, distiller’s dried grains with solubes (DDGS) and ethanol.

For example, Mexico set a new record for U.S. corn imports as the top buyer, and the story of developing an integrated market between U.S. barley and Mexican beer was one of the year’s most popular. These successes were achieved in spite of significant uncertainty as modernization talks began for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and as Mexico’s buyers began considering alternative grain suppliers.

The Council worked to resolve a major trade disruption in Vietnam, while at the same time focusing on helping end-users around the world determine how to best incorporate U.S. DDGS into their rations. Efforts led to significant sales diversification with a total of 54 countries buying the ethanol co-product.

Additionally, as a result of the Council’s active global engagement and the competitiveness of U.S. ethanol, nearly 1.4 billion gallons were exported worldwide to 76 countries, an all-time record. Through the successful Ethanol Summit of the Americas, the Council connected domestic stakeholders with government and industry representatives, forming connections already yielding results.

These successes, and more described on the microsite, are a result of the Council’s work to support U.S. producers and agribusinesses by identifying short-term market opportunities and building long-term demand for U.S. coarse grains and co-products, aided by an intense focus on trade policy issues. These efforts are supported by the Council’s diverse membership that provides critical support by helping identify issues, provide valuable information and implement solutions.

View the full 2017 year in review at

Smithfield Foods Announces Partnership with Anuvia™ Plant Nutrients to Develop and Market Bio-Based Sustainable Fertilizer Products

Smithfield Foods, Inc. and Anuvia™ Plant Nutrients are pleased to announce a new partnership to create sustainable fertilizer from renewable biological materials collected from manure treatment systems at Smithfield’s hog farms. This project is part of Smithfield Renewables, the company’s new platform dedicated to unifying and accelerating its carbon reduction and renewable energy efforts.

The project reuses organic matter found in hog manure to create a commercial-grade fertilizer that is higher in nutrient concentration than the original organic materials. Farmers are able to better manage nutrient ratios while using less fertilizer by applying precisely what they need for optimal plant growth. Because Anuvia’s products contain organic matter, nutrient release is more controlled, resulting in reduced greenhouse gas emissions and a smaller environmental footprint.

Anuvia will utilize remnant solids from Smithfield that accumulate over time at the bottom of the anaerobic lagoons, basins designed and certified to treat and store the manure on hog farms. Anuvia, which specializes in the transformation of organic materials into enhanced efficiency fertilizer products, will manufacture and sell these commercial-grade fertilizer products to farmers nationwide.

“Through Smithfield Renewables, we are aggressively pursuing opportunities to reduce our environmental footprint while creating value,” said Kraig Westerbeek, senior director of Smithfield Renewables. “Along with projects that transform biogas into renewable natural gas, this is another example of how we are tackling this goal on our hog farms.”

“This is the beginning of a partnership based on a shared vision that will positively impact livestock and crop production,” says Amy Yoder, Anuvia Plant Nutrients CEO. “Our proprietary manufacturing process which converts organic waste into novel bio-based plant nutrients is both environmentally friendly and sustainable. Our products reduce leaching and put organic matter back in the soil. Our process is a prototype for a circular economy as we reclaim organic waste, convert and reuse on cropland. This relationship provides a new sustainable way for Smithfield to return its remnant solids back to the land for use on the crops grown to feed the hogs. The impact of this is extremely significant for hog production and the livestock industry. We look forward to helping achieve both Smithfield’s and Anuvia’s environmental goals.” 

Company-owned and contract hog farms in North Carolina will participate in this project. Smithfield will collect and begin the process by de-watering the waste solids before providing the remnants to Anuvia. Once acquired, Anuvia will pick-up and transport the material to their processing plant to create the fertilizer.

 CWT-Assisted Cheese, Butter Sales Contracts Total 13.5 Million Pounds in March

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) assisted member cooperatives in securing 78 contracts last month to sell 10.64 million pounds of American-type cheeses and 2.92 million pounds of butter to customers in Africa, Asia, Central America and the Middle East. The product will be shipped to customers in 12 countries in five regions of the world during the months of March-June 2018.

These contracts bring the 2018 total of the CWT-assisted product sales contracts to 29.19 million pounds of cheese, up 23% from the first three months of 2017, and 5.61 million pounds of butter, up 293%. These transactions will move the equivalent of 395.46 million pounds of milk on a milkfat basis overseas.

Helping CWT member cooperatives gain and maintain world market share through the Export Assistance program in the long-term expands the demand for U.S. dairy products and the U.S. farm milk that produces them. This, in turn, positively impacts all U.S. dairy farmers by strengthening and maintaining the value of dairy products that directly impact their milk price. CWT is preparing more detailed education materials for member use as they discuss the future role of the program.

 2018 Enrollment for MPP Dairy Safety Net Program Will Open from April 9-June 1

Following an Agriculture Department announcement that it would re-open the enrollment period for the dairy Margin Protection Program (MPP), NMPF encouraged producers to review the new coverage options available under the improved program, which will open for sign up on April 9 and close June 1.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on April 3 that it would re-open the sign-up period, and encouraged producers to take a second look at the new program since it had been revised under the Bipartisan Budget Act passed by Congress in February. NMPF thanked Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue for the agency’s prompt implementation of a re-opened sign-up period and other much-needed changes to the MPP.

According to USDA, dairy producers must select new coverage for 2018, even if they enrolled during the previous sign-up period last fall. Coverage choices made this spring for calendar year 2018 will be retroactive to Jan. 1, 2018. All dairy operations desiring coverage must sign up during the eight-week enrollment period. USDA also announced that dairy producers can participate in either MPP or the Livestock Gross Margin program for dairy (LGM-Dairy), but not both.

The changes to the MPP were part of a larger dairy package that was included in the disaster spending bill passed by Congress two months ago. The provisions included increasing the first tier of covered production from four million pounds to the first five million pounds of a farm’s annual milk production history, and reducing the supplemental coverage premium rates on the first tier.  The disaster package also lifted the $20 million annual cap on all livestock insurance, including the Livestock Gross Margin (LGM) program. This change will enable USDA to develop additional dairy risk management programs that can be provided to producers.

USDA’s web tool allows dairy farmers to quickly and easily combine unique operation data and other variables to calculate their coverage needs based on price projections. NMPF’s Future for Dairy website also offers informative resources and tools to help farmers determine the best insurance options for their operations.

USDA Dairy Products February 2018 Production Highlights

Total cheese output (excluding cottage cheese) was 982 million pounds, 4.2 percent above February 2017 but 10.5 percent below January 2018.  Italian type cheese production totaled 424 million pounds, 4.3 percent above February 2017 but 10.6 percent below January 2018.  American type cheese production totaled 397 million pounds, 6.1 percent above February 2017 but 8.5 percent below January 2018.  Butter production was 169 million pounds, 4.7 percent above February 2017 but 7.4 percent below January 2018.

Dry milk products (comparisons in percentage with February 2017)
Nonfat dry milk, human - 159 million pounds, up 12.1 percent.
Skim milk powder - 36.5 million pounds, down 8.9 percent.

Whey products (comparisons in percentage with February 2017)
Dry whey, total - 89.4 million pounds, up 14.6 percent.
Lactose, human and animal - 86.8 million pounds, up 2.3 percent.
Whey protein concentrate, total - 39.9 million pounds, up 10.7 percent.

Frozen products (comparisons in percentage with February 2017)
Ice cream, regular (hard) - 55.5 million gallons, down 5.8 percent.
Ice cream, lowfat (total) - 35.2 million gallons, up 3.5 percent.
Sherbet (hard) - 2.88 million gallons, up 6.4 percent.
Frozen yogurt (total) - 4.62 million gallons, down 9.8 percent.

NCGA Statement on PES Bankruptcy Settlement

The following is a statement from North Dakota farmer Kevin Skunes, president of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), on yesterday’s Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES) Bankruptcy Settlement, granted by a federal Bankruptcy Court in Delaware.

“The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) is extremely disappointed in the bankruptcy court’s ruling, allowing PES to waive the majority of its obligation under the RFS. This settlement is not acceptable and completely undermines the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). This settlement negotiated is just another example of how the Agency is willing to dismantle the RFS. This settlement rewards corporations, such as the $12 billion Carlyle Group, which should be liable for PES’ RFS obligations, at the expense of farmers. Farmers are entering their fifth year of low prices and net farm losses and can’t afford reducing demand for ethanol, as corn is the primary feedstock used in the production of conventional biofuel. As EPA’s actions continue to chip away at the RFS, farmers continue to ask President Trump to remember his promise to rural America and farmers and to keep the integrity of the RFS.”

NGFA partners with OSHA to launch 'Stand-Up for Grain Engulfment Prevention Awareness Week'

The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are launching a major safety outreach effort, the "Stand-Up for Grain Engulfment Prevention Awareness Week" from April 9-13, to help raise awareness about grain bin engulfment hazards, provide education and training, and convey safety best practices.

Made possible by the NGFA-OSHA Alliance in collaboration with Grain Elevator and Processing Society, the stand-up week will promote grain bin safety on both farms and at commercial grain handling facilities.

Kick-Off Event and Press Conference in Adrian, Mo.:
The week will formally kick off with an event and press conference on Monday, April 9 at 1 p.m. Central at the Scoular grain facility located at 15 Quail Run in Adrian, Mo., near Kansas City.  The event will feature Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Loren Sweatt, as well as a reading of the Governor of Missouri's Proclamation on Grain Bin Safety by Anna Hui, director of the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations. NGFA Executive Committee Chairman John Heck, senior vice president of Scoular, Omaha, Neb., will host and moderate the event.

The week continues with a free webinar on April 10 that provides an overview of the material available on OSHA's engulfment prevention website. From April 11-13, NGFA will issue information for safety briefings on such topics as grain bin entry, mechanical hazards and grain engulfment.

Background and more information:
Engulfment in grain is one of the leading types of fatalities inside a grain bin; however, there are numerous OSHA and industry resources available to assist in preventing future incidents. During the Stand-Up for Grain Engulfment Prevention Awareness Week, employers and their employees are encouraged to emphasize effective grain-bin safety practices to protect workers and ways to reduce injuries and prevent fatalities resulting from engulfment.

Companies may participate by providing a focused activity or toolbox talk on topics such as lock-out/tag-out, walk down, fall prevention, permitting or other prevention measures. These events are to provide information to workers about hazards, protective methods, and the company's safety policies, goals and expectations, while also serving as an opportunity to receive feedback from employees. During these events, employers may be able to conduct site activities, such as employee training, hazard hunts, audits of prevention measures, corrections of identified hazards, and a review of lock-out/tag-out and engulfment-prevention measures and procedures. Participating companies will be encouraged to fill out information about their safety activities on this website, which provides training materials and a certificate of participation to demonstrate involvement in the engulfment-prevention initiative.

The NGFA has provided several resources, including Safety Tip Sheets, guidance documents and training videos for companies wishing to become involved in the "Stand-Up for Grain Engulfment Prevention" campaign on the campaign website. The material also is available on the Safety section of the NGFA website.

Wednesday April 4 Ag News

Sasse Hosts Agriculture and Trade Roundtable 

U.S. Senator Ben Sasse released the following statement after hosting an Agriculture Roundtable with USDA Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney and some of Nebraska’s key agriculture leaders. Prior to the Under Secretary’s confirmation, Senator Sasse received a commitment from Mr. McKinney to come to Nebraska.

“Here’s a fundamental truth: Nobody knows trade better than Nebraska,” said Sasse. “That’s why I keep working to put Nebraskans at the head of the table during these discussions. It’s clear that the anti-trade talk coming out of Washington needs to stop. Those voices would be better served by listening to our state’s producers. Today, farmers, ranchers, and even some FFA students from across the state joined me with this simple message – and it’s a message I hope Washington hears: trade is good.”


In 2016, Nebraska exported $6.6 billion in commodities to:
-   CHINA $1.43 billion
-   MEXICO $956 million
-   JAPAN $887.1 million
-   SOUTH KOREA $499.9 million
-   CANADA $433.5 million

Nebraska ranks 5th in total ag products exported by value among the 50 states:
-   1st in total beef exported
-   8th in total pork exported
-   3rd in total corn and feed exported
-   5th in total soybeans exported

From 2004 to 2014, Nebraska’s exports have increased 211% to countries with Free Trade Agreements in effect.

NEFB – Steve Nelson & Mark McHargue
NE Cattlemen – Craig Uden & Buck Wehrbein
NE Pork Producers – Al Junke
NE Sorghum Producers – Don Bloss
NE Soybean Assoc. – Dennis Fujan & Ken Boswell
NE Wheat Growers – Caroline Brauer
NE Corn Growers – Kelly Brunkhorst & Dan Wesely
Bryan High School FFA Students
Cindi Allen – Ogallala
Rod Gangwish – Shelton
Jeff Wilmes – Fremont
Tom Weitzenkamp – Hooper
Alice Licht – Lincoln
Todd Schroeder – Wisner
Bart Ruth – Rising City

NE FFA Convention Opens in Lincoln

The 90th Nebraska FFA Convention first general session took place on April 4, 2018 at the Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska with state officer Kelli Mashino serving as the session chairperson. Kelli is originally from the Boyd County FFA chapter, advised by Mr. Jerome Engelhaupt.

Nebraska FFA welcomed Dean of the University of Nebraska - Lincoln’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Dr. Tiffany Heng-Moss. Dean Heng-Moss spoke about the importance of the student leadership Nebraska FFA members exhibit, her enthusiasm for those students and agriculture on UNL’s campus, and her love for Nebraska FFA. 

State Vice President Hailey Coufal gave her retiring address entitled “We Get To” during the first general session, and she encouraged Nebraska FFA members to appreciate the opportunities in their lives.  The briefest interactions influence our attitudes and productivities.  “One little act of appreciation can motivate, inspire, and even change a life.”

The exciting opening session of the 90th Nebraska FFA Convention included a moving message from Melvin Adams from Texas.  He was a two-time All-American NCAA basketball player, and now shares his passion for travel and life. “Don’t quit! You got one more move.” Adams shared a message of perseverance no matter the situation, and that we are important, cared for, and in charge of our own decisions. “You are great - not because you won an award, not because of the money you don’t have to impress the people that you don’t like, but because of the one hair that you were born with that makes you different.”

The NE FFA Convention continues through Friday. 

Women Caring for the Land meeting to take place in Dakota City

Women who live in the Sioux City and surrounding areas, and own or manage farmland are invited to a conservation discussion focused on soil health and conservation practices.

This “Women Caring for the Land” meeting is hosted by the Center for Rural Affairs and made possible by funding from a Conservation Innovation Grant from the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The event is set for Wednesday, April 18, 2018, from 9 to 11 a.m., at USDA Service Center conference room, 1505 Broadway St., Dakota City, Nebraska.

Women non-operator landowners who own more than 40 acres, may have inherited farmland, or are feeling overwhelmed with all the decisions of farmland management will find this event especially helpful.

“Maintaining healthy soil is the key to productivity and environmental health for our farmland,” said Sandra Renner, project specialist for the Center for Rural Affairs. “Women landowners who attend this meeting will learn to assess and improve the health of their soil, and there is no obligation to pursue any new management style.”

Registration is required by April 17. The cost of the workshop is $10 and includes a light breakfast. No walk-ins due to limited space.

To register, contact Sandra Renner at or 402.320.3444. Visit for more information.

Newly Elected Leaders of Nebraska Association of Resources Districts Ready to Make Difference

New officers for the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts (NARD) were elected during the NARD Board meeting on March 12, 2018.

Larry Reynolds from the Tri-Basin Natural Resources District (TBNRD) was elected President of the NARD Board of Directors. Reynolds has been a member of the TBNRD board for 33 years and served in the United States Air Force for eight years and in the Nebraska Air National Guard for 18 years. Reynolds currently farms and helps manage the family cow/calf operation near Lexington. Reynolds served as the NARD secretary-treasurer from 2014-16 and the vice-president from 2016-18.

“It is an honor to serve with elected citizens who are concerned about the wise and sustainable use of our natural resources, not the least of which is water,” Larry Reynolds said. “Their expertise and willingness to participate in a natural resources district system, which is the envy of the nation, is truly inspirational.”

The NARD Board elected Jim Eschliman from Lower Loup Natural Resources District (LLNRD) as vice-president. Eschliman is also the vice-chair of the Lower Loup NRD Board and has served on the NARD Board since 2016. He has served on the LLNRD Board for 13 years. He has also served as program and projects committee chairman. Jim operates Eschliman Family Dairy along with his wife, Deb, in Wheeler County by Ericson. In addition, Eschliman is on the local Coop Board and the Cattleman’s Beef Board.

“I am very humbled and honored to be elected to the position of vice-president of the NARD board,” Jim Eschliman said. “I’m excited to work with Chairman Larry Reynolds and Secretary-Treasurer Milt Schmidt to further the NRDs’ mission.”

The NARD Board elected Milt Schmidt from the Lower Platte South NRD (LPSNRD) as secretary-treasurer. Schmidt has served as the Lower Platte South NRD representative to the NARD Board since 2016. He also served as the alternate NARD Board member from 2014-16. Schmidt was elected to LPSNRD in 2012 and has served in several leadership roles for the district. He served two years as chairman of the Recreation, Forestry & Wildlife Sub-committee and two years as chairman of the Platte River Sub-committee. He has also served two years as Secretary for the LPSNRD. Schmidt retired from Goodyear after 35 years. After that, he worked for the United Way in Lincoln for five years. He continues to volunteer his time for many charities in the Lincoln community.

“The NRDs work hard to protect the future of Nebraska as we conserve our natural resources,” Milt Schmidt said. “I’m excited to work with this team to continue making a positive difference in people’s lives now and for generations to come.”

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

Jim Bendfeldt from the Central Platte Natural Resources District (CPNRD), will serve on the NARD Executive Committee as the past NARD Board President. Bendfeldt is currently board chairman of the CPNRD. Bendfeldt previously held the president, vice president and secretary-treasurer positions. In 2011, Bendfeldt was awarded the NARD Director of the Year award. Bendfeldt also serves on the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program Board as a land acquisition member.

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

At the March 7, 2018 NRD managers meeting, John Berge, general manager of the North Platte NRD, was elected as chair of the NRD Managers Committee and Dave Eigenberg, general manager of the Upper Big Blue NRD, was elected vice-chair of the NRD Managers Committee. The NRD Managers Committee includes managers from all 23 districts. The committee meets five times a year to coordinate NRD activities with state and federal agencies, conservation partners and other parties to protect natural resources.

Nebraska leads Water for Food discussions at the 8th World Water Forum in Brazil

At an event that drew more than 20,000 participants from 170 countries around the world, a small team of experts from Nebraska led the way in sessions related to water use in food production or processing. The 8th World Water Forum, held in Brasilia, Brazil, March 18-23, focused on the challenges and solutions to ensuring water security around the world. The event, organized by the World Water Council, is held every three years to build awareness and promote action on global water issues, along with planning and managing environmentally sustainable use of limited water resources.

The Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute at the University of Nebraska (DWFI) coordinated the Water for Food track of sessions with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Three sessions were organized: (1) Soil and Water Conservation Practices; (2) Water for Food Processing, Waste Reduction, Optimization and Reuse; (3) Floods, Droughts, Wind, Fire: Building Resilient Agricultural Systems. The University of Nebraska was the only U.S. university to co-lead a thematic track of the World Water Forum.

The institute organized a High Level Panel on Water for Food, moderated by DWFI executive director Peter G. McCornick, featuring five international leaders:
-    Blairo Maggi, Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, and Supply of Brazil
-    Claudia Sadoff, director general, International Water Management Institute
-    Celestino Zanella, president, Association of Farmers and Irrigators of Bahia, Brazil (AIBA)
-    Isabel García Tejerina, Minister of Agriculture Fisheries, Food and Environment of Spain
-    Mauricio Antonio Lopes, president, EMBRAPA, The Federal Agricultural Research Agency of Brazil

The panelists shared their views and experiences on ways organizations and nations can work together to improve food security and successful farming production, conserve natural resources and mitigate the effects of climate variability.

“Where we have irrigated farming, we have younger, more productive rural areas. Irrigation is synonymous with prosperity and vitality," said Isabel Garcia Tejerina, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, Food and Environment of Spain.

Claudia Sadoff, director general of the International Water Management Institute, suggested that large irrigation schemes are just part of the solution, and not suitable for all types of farming. “There are general challenges in water scarcity, access, quality, availability and predictability. But solutions are more context specific. For example, there are areas of Asia with too much water in one season and not enough other times of the year. We need solutions for monsoonal regions that capture and store the excess water so it can be used during the dry seasons.”

Producer Celestino Zanella said that farmers often get blamed for “hurting the environment,” but that farmers are the ones actually working to preserve and improve the environment. “We have mitigated forest fires and insect damage. We share knowledge with smallholders about effective farming practices and good water management,” he stated.

From discussing techniques to maximize water use in food processing, to tools to monitor and mitigate drought, to sustainable groundwater management techniques used in Nebraska and other states, DWFI delegates shared their expertise and perspectives on a range of topics related to its mission to ensure water and food security throughout the world.

“Water reconditioning and reuse in the food industry is a helpful solution to the challenge of water scarcity. Technologies available today enable us to obtain specific water quality for reuse that does not compromise food safety,” said Yulie Meneses, DWFI water for food processing specialist.

A session featuring representatives from the North Platte Natural Resources District and the Upper Big Blue Natural Resources District gained a lot of interest and questions from the crowded room. Many countries are looking at Nebraska’s model of water governance to see how they may implement similar groundwater management systems.

“This is just amazing – that we are here sharing the things that work for us in the middle of Nebraska with people from Nigeria, India, Australia and China,” said John Berge, general manager of the North Platte Natural Resources District.

“No matter who you are or where you’re from, it all comes down to building trust,” added Scott Snell, public relations manager of the Upper Big Blue Natural Resources District. “Our farmers want clean water, too. We work on solutions together so there is transparency in the process.”

DWFI also held a side event to discuss ways in which organizations can support farmer-led agricultural production, including access to irrigation for small-scale farms. Participants recommended looking at a variety of projects in this focus area, building on successful programs that have the potential to be scaled-up.

“We are building awareness of the urgent importance of looking at water issues differently, especially when it comes to agriculture,” said McCornick. “If we’re not including agriculture in the water security challenge, we’re ignoring 70 percent of the equation [the estimated amount of fresh water used in agriculture], and missing the opportunity to increase resilience in our food systems. Nebraska has a lot of expertise to share, as well as a lot to gain through our involvement with the many partners participating in the World Water Forum – developing potential projects that will further our goal of ensuring water and food security.”

Grassley to Join Delegation Trip to China and Korea

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa will join a delegation led by Sen. Steve Daines of Montana that also includes Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, David Perdue of Georgia and Ben Sasse of Nebraska on a congressional delegation trip to China, South Korea and the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). The trip has been developed over the past six months.

"We are looking forward to traveling to China, South Korea and the DMZ as part of a congressional delegation trip. On our trip we will address issues important to the United States including trade, intellectual property, technology, security and human rights," the delegation members said.

The delegation also commented on today's announcement by the United States Trade Representative regarding trade tariffs on China.

"Today, the president announced a series of tariffs on China in response to concerns over the country's trade practices. Given this announcement, we look forward to engaging in strategic discussions about how best to ensure free and smart trade," the delegation members said.

While on their trip, the senators will prioritize the following trade concerns in discussions with Chinese leaders:
- Forced technology transfers
- Discriminatory licensing restrictions
- State-coordinated and supported acquisition of advanced technologies and strategic assets
- Unauthorized intrusions into computer networks and intellectual property theft

Details regarding the delegation trip will be available following the conclusion of the trip.

USDA Looks Into On-Farm Labor

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) will conduct its biannual Agricultural Labor Survey during the second half of April. The survey will collect information about hired labor from more than 550 Iowa farmers and ranchers.

“The beginning of the year is the time when agricultural producers plan out the rest of their growing seasons and it is a great time to assess on-farm labor needs,” said Greg Thessen, Director of the NASS Upper Midwest Regional Field Office. “The data that farm operators provide through NASS’s Agricultural Labor Survey help federal policymakers base farm labor policies on accurate information.”

USDA and the U.S. Department of Labor use statistics gathered in the Agricultural Labor Survey to establish minimum wage rates for agricultural workers, administer farm labor recruitment and placement service programs, and assist legislators in determining labor policies.

In the survey, NASS asks participants to answer a variety of questions about hired farm labor on their operations, including total number of hired farm workers, the average hours worked, base wage rate, and wage rates paid for the weeks of January 7-13 and April 8-14. For their convenience, survey participants have the option to respond online.

“By asking about two separate time periods each of the two times we collect data during the year, we are able to publish quarterly data and capture seasonal variation,” said Thessen. “This approach reduces the number of times we survey farm businesses while ensuring that accurate and timely data are available for anyone conducting research or analyses.”

NASS will compile, analyze, and publish survey results in the May 17 Farm Labor report.

National Young Farmers Coalition releases innovative calculator tool for farmers seeking land

Beginning farmers have a powerful new tool in their digital toolbox. The Finding Farmland Calculator (, developed by the National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC) and Fathom Information Design, brings together innovative design and practical resources to help farmers overcome two top obstacles to starting a farm—access to land and capital.

“Buying land is one of the most consequential decisions that a farmer can make,” said Lindsey Lusher Shute, executive director and co-founder of NYFC. “We built the Finding Farmland Calculator to help farmers make that choice with more confidence. The tool helps users understand their financing options, the full cost of buying land, and strategies to make a farm more affordable.”

“Purchasing farmland can be remarkably complex,” said Ben Fry, principal of Fathom. “So we worked with NYFC to provide perspective on affordability in a way that's simple and clear. This updated tool captures all the details of the process and helps current and aspiring farmers identify their best possible scenarios.”

A decision-making tool designed specifically for farmers seeking land, the Finding Farmland Calculator makes it easy for farmers to understand and compare farm financing options, determine what they can afford, and prepare to work with a loan officer. The calculator was created in consultation with young farmers and farm service providers, such as Farm Credit, to fill a specific need: giving farmers free and easy access to information that will help them find affordable farm financing and successfully pay it back.

With nearly 100 million acres of the nation’s farmland expected to change hands in the next five years, and young farmers citing land access as their top challenge, NYFC is focused on making secure, affordable access to land possible for the next generation of farmers and ranchers. NYFC’s Finding Farmland Calculator is part of a larger land access campaign strategy, which includes farm bill and state policy advocacy, land access workshops for farmers, a land access webinar series, and a series of trainings for land conservation professionals around the country.

This project was made possible by a grant from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture through its Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, which supports projects that develop and offer education, training, outreach and mentoring programs to enhance the sustainability of the next generation of farmers.

Most Retail Fertilizer Prices End March Slightly Higher

Average retail prices for all but one fertilizer continued to edge higher the fourth week of March 2018, according to retailers surveyed by DTN.

Prices for seven of the eight fertilizers were up slightly from the previous month. DAP had an average price of $470 per ton, MAP $506/ton, potash $350/ton, urea $370/ton, 10-34-0 $425/ton, anhydrous $507/ton and UAN28 $237/ton.

For the first time in a few weeks, one fertilizer was slightly lower in price compared to the previous month. The average price of UAN32 was down about 2.5% from last month at $272 per ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.40/lb.N, anhydrous $0.31/lb.N, UAN28 $0.42/lb.N and UAN32 $0.43/lb.N.

Half of the fertilizers are now higher in price compared to last year with prices pushing higher in recent months. Both potash and urea are 4% higher, DAP is 7% more expensive and MAP is 9% higher than last year.

The remaining half of fertilizers are lower in price compared to a year prior. Anhydrous is 1% less while UAN32 is 3% less and both 10-34-0 and UAN28 are 4% less looking back a year.

Loss Of Foreign Workers Would Hurt Agriculture

Given a tight labor market, particularly in rural areas, the loss of foreign-born workers would lead to a drop in agricultural jobs, according to a study commissioned by the National Pork Producers Council.

Economists with Iowa State University (ISU), using a study from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, determined that a reduction in the foreign-born workforce – prompted by a change in immigration policy – would not be offset by native-born workers and permanent residents. Instead, they found, the tighter supply of foreign-born workers would reduce overall demand for workers as production costs increase and would decrease agricultural output as farmers abandon labor-intensive operations.

The result would be a 3.4 to 5.5 percent decrease in the total number of farm workers.

Several factors have led to a severe labor shortage in agriculture, including a negative population growth rate in rural areas since 2010, an aging rural workforce increasingly unable or unwilling to do strenuous agricultural work, a decline in immigrants going into rural labor markets and an unemployment rate hovering near 4 percent (most economists consider 4 percent “full employment”), the ISU economists found.

“The U.S. pork industry needs access to a legal and productive workforce,” said NPPC President Jim Heimerl, a pork producer from Johnstown, Ohio. “And skilled and unskilled foreign workers have been crucial to maintaining and growing the workforce and revitalizing rural communities across the United States. We need more of them, not less.”

NPPC is supporting congressional legislation that would create a new visa that allows non-seasonal foreign agricultural workers to remain in the United States for up to three years while deferring a portion of their pay as incentive for periodic “touchbacks” to their country. The H-2C visa would replace the current H-2A temporary, seasonal agricultural worker program. The legislation initially would let agricultural employers hire up to 410,000 foreign workers for on-farm jobs and 40,000 for meatpacking plants. It also would put the H-2C program under USDA rather than the Department of Labor.

“If we don’t address the current labor shortage or it gets exacerbated, we could see animal health and well-being suffer and agricultural facilities shutting down, causing severe financial harm for farmers and ranchers and to rural communities,” Heimerl said.

EIA: Ethanol Stocks Decline

Domestic ethanol inventories fell nearly 2% last week as production slipped and blending demand edged higher, Energy Information Administration data released Wednesday shows.  EIA reported ethanol supply fell about 400,000 barrels (bbl), or 1.8%, to 22.4 million bbl during the week-ended March 30, 1.3 million bbl, or 5.5%, lower than a year ago.

Plant production dipped 1,000 barrels per day (bpd) on the week to 1.038 million bpd, down 19,000 bpd, or 1.9%, from the same week in 2017. For the four-week period ended March 30, production averaged 1.038 million bpd, down 2,000 bpd versus same period in 2017.

Net refiner and blender inputs, a measure for ethanol demand, gained 3,000 bpd during the week profiled to 903,000 bpd, down 15,000, or 1.6%, versus a year ago. For the four weeks ended March 30, blending demand averaged 907,000 bpd, down 7,000 bpd versus same period in 2017.

NCGA Statement on Small Refinery Exemption

Kevin Skunes, president of the National Corn Growers Association

“Today the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) along with state corn grower associations, sent a letter to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt on the small refinery exemptions being granted, allowing refineries to avoid meeting their RFS volume obligations.

“EPA continues to take actions that undermine the RFS and contradict President Trump’s commitments to America’s corn farmers. EPA is clearly overstepping its bounds, and we ask Administrator Pruitt to stop granting these waivers and damaging the RFS behind closed doors.

“Yesterday, EPA reportedly granted exemptions to one of the nation’s largest refiners, Andeavor, which posted net profits of $1.5 billion in 2017. This improper application of the small refinery hardship exemption is yet another example of EPA actions that destroy demand for ethanol and corn.

“EPA reportedly has more than 30 petitions under consideration, and up to 25 waivers may have been handed out in secrecy last year. Granting this number of exemptions would remove a significant amount of renewable fuel gallons from the RFS volume requirement. This would have a direct impact on corn demand and corn prices at a time when net farm income has already decreased more than 50 percent over the past four years.

“EPA needs to stop granting these waivers and fully weigh the impact of these decisions on rural communities and America’s corn farmers.”

 EPA’s Undermining of RFS Through Waivers Must Cease, NFU Says

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has improperly handled the administration of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) by lowering total volume requirements and granting “hardship waivers” to large corporations, according to National Farmers Union (NFU).

NFU President Roger Johnson sent a letter to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt today, insisting the agency either cease granting the waivers or raise volume obligations to account for a large increase in waivers the agency is handing out.

“The RFS was passed by Congress to spur growth in the American-grown biofuels industry, and, to date, it has reaped significant economic and environmental benefits for rural America,” said Johnson. “EPA’s recent trend of undermining this law on behalf of the oil industry is disturbing, and it flies in the face of the Administration’s numerous promises to farmers and rural communities to support the RFS. They must stop these actions and instead work towards expanded use of biofuels in our transportation fuel sector as intended by the RFS law.”

 NFU’s criticism stems from recent reports that the EPA, who sets RFS volume obligations and ensures compliance with the law, has allowed major oil refiners to skirt the law. Reuters reported today that EPA granted 25 exemptions to oil refineries in 2017, roughly three to four times the amount that previous administrations granted on a yearly basis. In fact, three “hardship waivers” were given to refineries owned by Andeavor, a corporation who took in $1.5 billion in profits last year.

Johnson noted it is EPA’s responsibility to ensure transportation fuel sold in the U.S. includes a certain amount of renewable fuel. Congress set these volume obligations and gave EPA limited authority to reduce the amount. Since 2016, the agency set volumes below their statutory levels in order to make them “reasonably attainable” to meet for the oil industry. Importantly, said Johnson, EPA lowered the obligations and found the new levels would not have significant economic impacts on small oil refiners.

The RFS statute allows small refineries an exemption from complying with annual RFS requirements, and an extension of this exemption if the refinery can demonstrate that compliance with the RFS will cause them “disproportionate economic hardship.”

“What’s troubling is the EPA would lower volume obligations, say they are attainable to small refineries, and then grant small refineries waivers when they say the levels are not attainable,” said Johnson.

Johnson said these actions work contrary to the intent of the RFS law by reducing demand for biofuels. In fact, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the three “small refineries” owned by Andeavor represent over 2.3 billion gallons of production capacity, resulting in a reduction of the 2016 RFS requirements by almost 200 million ethanol-equivalent gallons. Estimates indicate that the requests that have been submitted could represent a reduction of approximately 1 billion gallons of renewable fuel for 2017.

Johnson also took issue with the agency’s lack of transparency. The RFS statute requires public notice and comment for waivers under the statute, but EPA is granting these exemptions (and therefore waivers) without any public input. “This Administration has provided little, if any, information on small refinery exemptions, which is causing speculation and market disruptions that they have indicated need to be addressed,” he said.

“Exempting refiners from RFS compliance essentially waives away demand for corn at a time when family farmers need to significantly cut into corn oversupply. And it is certainly contrary to the intent of the RFS,” said Johnson. “NFU asks that EPA cease granting these waivers or act to adjust for these additional waivers and comply with its obligations under the statute. EPA should also adjust its process in the future to ensure that these exemptions do not reduce the applicable volumes required under the RFS.”

Chinese Retaliation is No Longer a “What If” for Soybean Farmers

Following China’s announcement of a proposed 25 percent tariff on imported U.S. soybeans, the American Soybean Association (ASA) is again expressing its extreme frustration about the escalation of a trade war with the largest customer of U.S. soybeans, and calling on the White House to reconsider the tariffs that led to this retaliation. China purchases 61 percent of total U.S. soybean exports, and more than 30 percent of overall U.S. soybean production. ASA President and Iowa farmer John Heisdorffer issued the following statement:

“It should surprise no one that China immediately retaliated against our most important exports, including soybeans. We have been warning the administration and members of Congress that this would happen since the prospect for tariffs was raised. That unfortunately doesn’t lend any comfort to the hundreds of thousands of soybean farmers who will be affected by these tariffs. This is no longer a hypothetical, and a 25 percent tariff on U.S. soybeans into China will have a devastating effect on every soybean farmer in America.

“Soybean futures are already down nearly 40 cents a bushel as of this morning. At a projected 2018 crop of 4.3 billion bushels, soybean farmers lost $1.72 billion in value for our crop this morning alone. That’s real money lost for farmers, and it is entirely preventable.

“We regret that the administration has been unable to counter China’s policies on intellectual property and information technology in a way that does not require the use of tariffs. We still have not heard a response from the administration to our March 12 letter requesting to meet with President Trump and discuss how the administration can work with soybean farmers and others in agriculture to find ways to reduce our trade deficit by increasing competitiveness rather than erecting barriers to foreign markets.

“But there is still time to reverse this damage, and the administration can still deliver for farmers by withdrawing the tariffs that caused this retaliation. China has said that its 25 percent tariff will only go into effect based on the course of action the administration takes. We call on President Trump to engage the Chinese in a constructive manner—not a punitive one—and achieve a positive result for soybean farmers.”


In response to today’s announcement that China is proposing to tax U.S. soybean imports by 25 percent, according to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, the American Soybean Association (ASA), the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) and the United Soybean Board (USB) release the following statements.

“ASA has consistently raised our significant concern since the prospect for tariffs was raised. Now this is no longer a hypothetical, and a 25 percent tariff on U.S. soybeans into China will have a devastating effect on every soybean farmer in America,” says ASA President John Heisdorffer. “We believe strongly that soy can help reduce our trade deficit by increasing competitiveness, and we will continue to work with our partners at USB and USSEC to show how that’s possible.”

“The U.S. Soy industry has a 36-year track record of actively investing and partnering in programs that support China’s goals of achieving sustainable food security and food safety,” says USSEC Chair Derek Haigwood, a soybean farmer from Newport, Arkansas. “U.S. soybean farmers and exporters should know that USSEC is continuing to work on their behalf to build global demand and expand market access for U.S. Soy products in China and other markets.”

“Today China announced a proposed 25 percent tax on U.S. soy imports into China,” says USB Chair Lewis Bainbridge, a soybean farmer from Ethan, South Dakota. “I want to assure farmers that their soy checkoff will continue to invest in new market opportunities to build a portfolio of global demand for U.S. soy products.” 

Iowa Soybean Association Statement on China announcement of tariffs on U.S. soybeans

China’s proposed 25 percent tariff on U.S. soybean imports was anticipated by the industry. The country is very politically astute and had promised to respond in-kind to tariffs announced by the White House. China has followed through on that promise.

Trade issues between China and the U.S. are not new. Iowa soybean farmers understand there are legitimate issues needing resolution, particularly those involving intellectual property rights. We appreciate the importance of these matters and encourage additional dialogue between the two countries to resolve them.

It’s important to note that the announced tariffs on U.S. soybeans have not been imposed; they are targets.

That said, China’s proposed tariff on U.S. soybean imports is disconcerting for Iowa farmers poised to plant this year’s crop. Short term, the volley of proposed tariffs between the countries will negatively impact soybean prices. Long-term, an ongoing trade dispute with China risks stoking anti-Americanism sentiment that could jeopardize the strength of trade relations between the two countries – relationships that have taken U.S. soybean farmers nearly 35 years to develop.

China is a significant player in the global soybean market. The country consumes nearly 62 percent of all soybean exports. Approximately 33 percent of total U.S. soybean production is destined for China, fulfilling almost 40 percent of China’s total soybean imports. Therefore, both stand to lose if this trade dispute escalates.

A study recently conducted by Purdue University on behalf of U.S. soybean farmers finds that a 30 percent tariff on U.S. soybeans could result in a 71 percent reduction in soybean exports from the United States to China. Total U.S. soybean production would decline by 17 percent. The study also indicates reductions of:
    U.S. producer soybean prices by 5.2 percent
    U.S. economic welfare by $3.3 billion
    Chinese economic welfare by $2.6 to $8.4 billion

China needs U.S. soybeans. The U.S. soybean farmer needs China. It is our hope that U.S. and Chinese officials will quickly transition from politics and posturing to resolving this escalating trade dispute for the benefit of American farmers and our Chinese customers.

Fischer Statement on China’s Retaliatory Tariff List

U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, released the following statement today on China’s list of retaliatory tariffs for U.S. agricultural exports that includes soybeans, sorghum, and beef:

“Agriculture is the economic engine of Nebraska and these retaliatory tariffs proposed by China will hurt our state.

“After reviewing the list of ag commodities and industries targeted this morning, I immediately reached out to the administration. I’ve spoken directly today to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and White House Legislative Affairs Director Mark Short. In my conversations, I emphasized the significant market loss our producers would face should China’s tariffs be finalized.

“Additionally, this afternoon I held a meeting with Agriculture Under Secretary for Trade, Ted McKinney, and several of Nebraska’s top agribusiness leaders where we communicated our concerns in person.

“I will continue to work with Nebraskans and the administration to reach a positive outcome for our farmers and ranchers who feed the world.”

Statement by Steve Nelson, President, Regarding China’s Tariff on U.S. Soybeans

“When President Trump first announced he was considering tariffs on Chinese goods, we voiced our strong concerns that such action would lead to retaliatory tariffs and a potential “trade war” with China, one of the largest consumers of U.S. and Nebraska agricultural products. Despite these warnings, this Administration moved forward. Over the course of the last three days those actions have led to China enacting retaliatory tariffs on U.S. pork, and today, U.S. soybeans. These actions have cost farmers hundreds of millions of dollars in lost value in agriculture markets at a time when they can least afford it. Nebraska farmers and ranchers and the markets they rely on should not be sacrificed as a negotiation tactic. It’s critical the United States and China stop the ‘eye for an eye’ tactics and return to negotiations that serve the greater good for both interests.”

Cattlemen Respond to China Including U.S. Beef on Retaliatory Tariff List

Kent Bacus, Director of International Trade and Market Access for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, today issued the following statement regarding the announcement that China has included American-produced beef on a list of proposed retaliatory tariffs:

“It is unsettling to see American-produced beef listed as a target for retaliation. Sadly, we are not surprised, as this is an inevitable outcome of any trade war. This is a battle between two governments, and the unfortunate casualties will be America’s cattlemen and women and our consumers in China. The Trump Administration has until the end of May to resolve this issue. We believe in trade enforcement, but endless retaliation is not a good path forward for either side.”

 Iowa beef included in China’s proposed tariff hike

Iowa’s agricultural products, including beef, have become victims of a trade war meant to benefit the US manufacturing industry.

In addition to a 25% tariff on pork and ethanol that went into effect on April 2, the Chinese government announced a proposal to increase tariffs on US soybeans, corn and beef by 25%. The April 4 proposal was made in retaliation for tariffs levied by the Trump administration on Chinese products.

“The Chinese export market for beef has been growing since 2017, when US beef was allowed into China for the first time since 2003,” says Matt Deppe, CEO of the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association. “An additional 25% tariff, on top of the 12% tariff currently in place, definitely has the potential to slow that growth and ultimately, hurt our Iowa cattle producers.”

According to the US Meat Export Federation, US beef exports to China totaled 3,020 metric tons valued at $31 million in the second half of 2017, following the market reopening.  In January 2018, exports reached the highest monthly volume to date at 819 metric tons, valued at $7.5 million.

“It’s not surprising that China retaliated through agricultural tariffs. The US truly feeds the world, and exports are an important market for farmers, especially in Iowa,” says JanLee Rowlett, Government Relations Manager for the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association. “These proposed tariffs have already affected corn, soybean and cattle futures, and our top priority now is ensuring that they do not go into effect. We are hopeful that the Trump administration can resolve this trade war before farmers are hurt any more.”

The Iowa Cattlemen’s Association policy, developed and ratified by its 10,000 members across the state, supports trade agreements that benefit beef producers. Following US withdrawal from the Trans Pacific Partnership, an agreement that included 11 other countries, including several major US beef importers, ICA’s focus has been on preserving the positive aspects of NAFTA and advocating for bilateral trade agreements, like the recently renegotiated US - Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS) which includes favorable terms for US beef exports to South Korea.

Iowa has over 27,000 cattle producers and is 4th in the nation for cattle on feed. The majority of Iowa’s beef producers are also corn and soybean farmers, and the tariffs on ethanol, corn, and soybeans are also concerning, given the current agricultural economy. US net farm income is expected to fall in 2018 for the 4th time in 5 years.

Grassley Statement on Chinese Tariffs

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, a lifelong family farmer and member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, today issued the following statement regarding China’s second wave of tariffs targeting U.S. commodities, including soybeans, which were announced in retaliation to the Administration’s tariffs on Chinese products.

“We need to protect U.S. intellectual property and American competitiveness. Foreign theft of intellectual property, forced technology transfers, discriminatory licensing restrictions and other unfair practices harm U.S. innovation and affect every sector of our economy, including agriculture. On my recent congressional delegation trip to China, I urged Chinese government officials to rein in unfair trade practices and policies, including the theft of U.S. intellectual property, which have adversely impacted American businesses. I’m concerned that my urging fell on deaf ears.

“The United States should take action to defend its interests when any foreign nation isn’t playing by the rules or refuses to police itself. But farmers and ranchers shouldn’t be expected to bear the brunt of retaliation for the entire country. It’s not fair, and it doesn’t make economic sense. The Administration knew that if it imposed tariffs on Chinese goods, China would retaliate against U.S. agriculture. I warned President Trump as much in a White House meeting in February. Today shows that’s exactly what happened. If the federal government takes action on trade that directly results in economic hardship for certain Americans, it has a responsibility to help those Americans and mitigate the damage it caused.

“I will be addressing these issues through the Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over trade policy. I’ll also be addressing these issues as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is responsible for patent, copyright and trademark policy.”

Grassley is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a senior member and former chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

USMEF Statement on China’s Latest Tariff Announcement

On April 4, the Chinese government announced a proposal to levy retaliatory tariffs of 25 percent on China's imports of agricultural and food products from the United States, including U.S. beef.

Statement from U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) President and CEO Dan Halstrom

China is a promising market for U.S. beef, and, since the June 2017 reopening, the U.S. industry has made an exceptional effort to provide customers with high-quality beef at an affordable price. This is not an easy task, due to our 13-year absence from the market and China’s beef import requirements.

Over the past nine months, interest in U.S. beef has steadily gained momentum in China and our customer base has grown. But if an additional import tariff is imposed on U.S. beef, these constructive business relationships, and opportunities for further growth, will be put at risk. USMEF is hopeful that this trade dispute can be resolved without China introducing additional obstacles for U.S. beef.

In the second half of 2017, following the market reopening, U.S. beef exports to China totaled 3,020 metric tons valued at $31 million. In January 2018, exports reached the highest monthly volume to date at 819 metric tons, valued at $7.5 million.

NCGA Statement on Proposed Tariffs and Trade with China

Wesley Spurlock, chairman of the National Corn Growers Association

“There are no winners in a trade war, only casualties.  As trade tensions continue to mount with China, the expanded list of tariffs on food and agriculture exports are making America’s farmers the first casualties.

“Our corn farmers have worked for decades to support fair and open trade practices because we understand that trade is a two-way street.  In today’s global economy, we know that we need to be competitive to grow and maintain our market share.  Our farmers have done that, which is why agriculture has a positive trade balance.  In 2018, the U.S. is forecast to export $139.5 billion in agricultural goods to the 95 percent of consumers who live outside the U.S.  Instead of new protectionist policies, our nation’s focus should be on growing market access and promoting expanded trade from our most competitive industries.

“We do have a window of opportunity to reach a mutually beneficial trade position with China until the time that tariffs are fully implemented. We need to be measured, professional and business-like in our approach to keeping the trade doors open with China. Equally important, we need the President to understand the implications that these trade actions have for America’s farm families.”

NFU Calls for Plan to Protect Family Farmers from Brunt of Trade War

In the latest of a series of tariff threats exchanged between the United States and China, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOC) this morning announced plans to impose a 25 percent tariff on $50 billion worth of U.S. goods, including soybeans corn, beef, and other agricultural products.

National Farmers Union (NFU), a family farmer-led organization who supports aggressive efforts to fight unfair trade practices, is urging the Trump Administration to work with Congress to develop a Farm Bill that protects family farmers from harm as a result of retaliatory tariffs. NFU President Roger Johnson issued the following statement in response to the announcement:

“These tit-for-tat tariff threats were expected from the moment the administration first engaged China. The President and his administration continue to claim there won’t be a ‘trade war,’ and that agriculture won’t feel the brunt of retaliation, but the daily news announcements indicate otherwise.

“As trade tensions escalate, Farmers Union is increasingly concerned that there is not a plan in place to protect our family farmers and ranchers who are always the first to bear the brunt of retaliatory tariffs. Farmers are dealing with severely depressed farm prices and a 12-year low in farm income, and a trade war will undoubtedly make these conditions worse.

“We urge the President and the administration to immediately engage with the Senate and House Agriculture Committees to develop a Farm Bill that will protect farmers and ranchers from the collateral damage that we are seeing as a result of these actions.”

Farm Bureau Statement on Chinese Tariff Announcement

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall:

“Farmers and ranchers are, by necessity, patient and optimistic. We know markets ebb and flow. But China’s threatened retaliation against last night’s U.S. tariff proposal is testing both the patience and optimism of families who are facing the worst agricultural economy in 16 years. This has to stop.

“Growing trade disputes have placed farmers and ranchers in a precarious position. We have bills to pay and debts we must settle, and cannot afford to lose any market, much less one as important as China’s. We urge the United States and China to return to negotiations and produce an agreement that serves the interests of the world’s two largest economies.”

China’s Response to New U.S. Tariffs Will Hurt U.S. Wheat Farmers

 With the announcement today that China intends to retaliate against the latest proposed U.S. tariffs, hard-working U.S. farmers are clearly in the line of fire from what looks more and more like an escalating trade war with China.

U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) and the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) believe wheat farmers are going to get hurt by the 25 percent tariffs China quickly proposed after the United States government announced new tariffs on $50 billion of imported Chinese goods on April 4, 2018.

“People may not know that China imported more than 61 million bushels of U.S. wheat in marketing year 2016/17, making it our fourth largest buyer in the world,” said USW Chairman Mike Miller, a wheat farmer from Ritzville, Wash. “Farmers across the country have invested a lot of money and time over the years to develop a Chinese market that has great potential to buy even more American wheat. Now that effort is in jeopardy at a time when big global supplies have already pushed farm gate wheat prices down to unsustainable levels.” 

“America’s wheat farmers are experiencing several hardships and adding a 25 percent tariff on exports to China for U.S. wheat is the last thing we need during some of the worst economic times in farm country,” stated NAWG President Jimmie Musick a wheat farmer from Sentinel, Okla. “Continued drought, low prices and trade uncertainty adds pressure to passing a Farm Bill on time as well as creating uncertainty for producers and lenders. In a trade war, agriculture is always the first target. The Administration can support rural Americans by working with Chinese officials to avoid these damaging tariffs.”

The proposed Chinese tariffs would further erode the incomes of farm families who strongly support addressing the real concerns about China's trade policies. USW and NAWG know that farmers still want our organizations to keep fighting for fair opportunities to compete in China and other countries. They would prefer, however, to see our government do that within the processes already in place, as the Administration has done by challenging China's domestic support and tariff rate quota policies through World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute cases.

We have also said that the proposed U.S. tariffs represent unilateral actions that violate WTO rules. We urge the Administration to pull back from this dangerous course that puts vulnerable U.S. industries like wheat production at risk and in a larger sense undermine the established rules-based global trading system.

China Retaliation Threatens to Further Harm U.S. Sorghum Farmers

China’s announcement today of a possible future retaliatory 25 percent tariff on imported U.S. sorghum will not help China’s consumers or U.S. farmers, according to National Sorghum Producers.  Such tariffs would mean additional financial burdens on U.S. sorghum farmers, who are already in the midst of cooperating with China’s self-initiated anti-dumping and countervailing duty investigations of U.S. sorghum.  More tariffs would also mean higher prices for Chinese consumers for whom sorghum is an important product. Chinese customers are valued trading partners of the U.S. sorghum industry and farmers, purchasing over half of total U.S. sorghum exports. NSP Chairman and Nebraska farmer Don Bloss issued the following statement:

“Right now we are taking a close look at the list indicating sorghum and many other important agriculture products are among those included for a possible future 25 percent Chinese tariff. There are additional steps in the process announced today. The proposed tariffs are not immediate and the timing of possible additional tariffs remains uncertain. But the financial toll on our producers is already taking place with this morning’s widespread market reaction to the announcement by the Chinese government.

“Unfortunately, this is not the first time sorghum farmers have faced depressed prices and market uncertainty.  We saw a similar reaction after the announcement of anti-dumping and countervailing duty investigations on imports of U.S. sorghum into China on February 4, following the Administration’s tariff action on imports of Chinese solar panels and washing machines.

“Trade wars are not good for anyone, and we urge President Trump and other negotiators to take a constructive approach in the ongoing negotiations that do not threaten more harm to U.S. sorghum producers. Our hope is that this situation will be resolved sooner rather than later. Sorghum is good for U.S. farmers and traders, and good for China.”

NMPF Urges Enforcement Action Against Mislabeled Bolthouse Farms Pea Powder-Based Beverage Marketed as “Milk”

Bolthouse Farms’ pea powder-based beverage is unfairly and illegally skirting federal regulations by marketing its product labeled as milk, according to the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), and FDA must take enforcement action against the maker of the product, Campbell Foods.

In a letter sent today to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), NMPF criticized both Campbell Foods and its California-based Bolthouse brand for the prominent use of the word “MILK” on the center of its package. According to NMPF, Bolthouse violates federal regulations by inaccurately labeling its product as milk, and ignoring FDA standards of identity that make clear milk and other dairy products must be sourced from animals, not plants.

Adding to the concern, the letter noted that in many grocery stores the Bolthouse product is sold in the dairy case immediately adjacent to real cow’s milk, further leading to consumer confusion about the origin and nutritional content of the product. The “lack of segregation, combined with the deliberate attempt to mislead consumers with the prominent use of the term ‘MILK’ on the label,” can easily confuse customers into believing the pea powder-based product is another brand of cow’s milk, NMPF wrote.

“At first glance, a consumer will see the word ‘milk’ and assume it’s an attractively packaged dairy product,” said NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern. “Bolthouse shouldn’t deceive consumers in this way. FDA needs to immediately stop Campbell’s egregious violation of longstanding food labeling laws.”

The opaque powder-based fluid sold by Bolthouse Farms attempts to replicate the color, taste and mouthfeel of regular milk. But compared to milk’s three ingredients, Bolthouse’s pea product contains 14, all of which are added during factory processing.

At a time when consumers are seeking clean labels and more natural products, “Bolthouse is inaccurately labeling its product and deceiving consumers about its true content. Regular milk is the simple, natural product of a healthy dairy animal,” said NMPF’s Beth Briczinski. “No matter how much gum and vitamin or mineral supplements you add to a product, it will never replace milk’s natural goodness.”

In the fall of 2016, NMPF and the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) contacted Campbell Foods before the launch of its new Bolthouse Farms’ pea powder-based beverage, telling the company’s general counsel that the product did not adhere to federal standards of identity for dairy foods and therefore should not be labeled as “milk.” The dairy groups sent the letter “to provide Campbell’s an opportunity to address these issues before officially launching the product line.”

NMPF’s previous outreach to Campbell Foods “unfortunately has fallen on deaf ears, requiring us to bring this matter to the attention of FDA,” Mulhern said.

Syngenta breaks ground on $30 million Trait Conversion Accelerator in Nampa, Idaho

Syngenta has broken ground on a Trait Conversion Accelerator at its Nampa, Idaho, research and development and seed production facility. Construction of the $30 million site enhancement is expected to be completed in 2019.

The Nampa site will accommodate the majority of Syngenta’s North American corn trait conversion work previously done in open field or semi-controlled environments. It will provide a reliable growing environment to conduct marker-assisted backcrossing and version generation, as well as deliver the introgression of market-leading traits into Syngenta’s most advanced corn germplasm.

“Put simply, the Trait Conversion Accelerator will enable Syngenta to more quickly, reliably and efficiently deliver corn hybrids with its latest trait packages to market,” said Ciriaco Franks, Nampa site manager for Syngenta. “This investment, which reinforces Syngenta’s commitment to a research and development presence in the region and the jobs located here, will result in state-of-the-art greenhouses and laboratories to help shorten product development life cycles.”

According to Dirk Benson, head, seed development – product selection at Syngenta, the Nampa site was chosen for this investment in trait conversion because it offers an excellent combination of climatic factors (e.g., solar radiation, heating and cooling, etc.) as well as access to a highly skilled workforce.

“At Syngenta, our mission in research and development is to design and consistently deliver products that go beyond current limits,” Benson said. “The Nampa Trait Conversion Accelerator demonstrates Syngenta’s ongoing commitment to increased investment in genetics and traits and to rapidly deliver new products to market.”

The Nampa facility will house the capabilities and capacity to bring choice in traits to corn growers. Customers of the NK® and Golden Harvest® corn seed brands, as well as independent seed companies that license Syngenta technologies through Greenleaf Genetics®, will benefit from faster access to more hybrids with the latest Agrisure® trait technologies.

“We aspire to offer – and do offer – unique choice to the market,” said David Hollinrake, president of Syngenta Seeds and North America region director. “We have one of the largest global germplasm pools in the industry and a proprietary trait platform that is equipping growers with market-leading insect protection and enzyme capability, and weed control choice. This world-class facility will provide access to our traits paired with the latest genetics even more quickly than before.”

Syngenta invests more than $1.3 billion each year in research and development globally. The Nampa Trait Conversion Accelerator is part of an incremental investment over the next five years that includes adding significantly more resources in product breeding, product selection leads and trialing.

“Syngenta’s work is clear – to help growers be successful year after year,” Hollinrake added. “We do this through ongoing innovation, by designing and consistently delivering products that provide greater value to our customers and channel partners.”

Dow AgroSciences Donates $10,000 to Feeding America

To encourage farmer usage of the 4R Nutrient Stewardship program practices and to support finding solutions for nationwide hunger issues, Dow AgroSciences has donated $10,000 to Feeding America.

The donation was made possible thanks to farmer pledges made at this year’s Commodity Classic, Feb. 27 to March 1 in Anaheim, California. At the Dow AgroSciences booth, farmers were asked to pin the location of their farm on an oversized map of the United States, expressing their 4R commitment. For each pin on the map, Dow AgroSciences donated $100 to Feeding America, the show’s official charity partner. With 100 total farmer commitments, Dow AgroSciences donated $10,000 in total.

“The 4R’s of nutrient management are important guidelines for farmers to implement along with a nitrogen stabilizer, especially given the current low price of commodities,” said Kenny Johnson, CCA U.S. product manager, nitrogen stabilizers at Dow AgroSciences. “By encouraging farmers to commit to the 4R’s, we’re helping them maximize their ROI and they’re helping us support Feeding America’s mission to battle hunger issues.”

At the show, farmers learned about the 4R’s, which are simple, best-management practices for fertilizer application and maintenance. The concept focuses on applying the right source of nutrient, at the right rate, at the right time and in the right place. Farmers also learned how using the right nitrogen stabilizer, like Instinct® or N-Serve®, in conjunction with 4R practices can provide better protection against uncertain environmental conditions.

Dow AgroSciences’s donation to Feeding America helps solve hunger issues across the nation via food banks, disaster food assistance and senior-, school- and children-specific programs. Currently, a $10,000 donation would provide 100,000 meals secured by Feeding America on behalf of member food banks.

Tuesday April 3 Ag News

Food Connection returns to UNL City Campus April 17

The Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska (AFAN) and numerous agricultural clubs on East Campus have teamed up to re-establish an event that began seven years ago. Husker Food Connection helps students gain a better knowledge of agriculture within the state of Nebraska.

“Husker Food Connection’s purpose is to engage university students about where their food comes from and how it is produced,” said David Schuler, President of the UNL Collegiate Farm Bureau Club. “Anyone from the public is welcome to come and take part in the celebration of our industry.” Schuler is a senior Animal Science major from Bridgeport, Nebraska.

The event will feature a free lunch catered by Skeeter Barnes, farm equipment displays and an opportunity to interact with farm animals at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln City Campus Union Plaza.

The 2018 Husker Food Connection theme is “Connecting with Consumers.” HFC organizers want to answer questions and share personal experiences from production agriculture by engaging in one on one conversations. Students and faculty are encouraged to take part in the interactive event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesday, April 17.

“Living in an agricultural state, like Nebraska, and recognizing that only 2 percent of the population comes from a farm, and two to three generations removed, linking producers and consumers is an important task for the future of the agriculture industry,” said Schuler.

Student organizers include representatives from campus groups such as Collegiate Farm Bureau, Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow, Sigma Alpha, Block and Bridle, Agricultural Economics/Agribusiness Club, Rodeo Club and the Tractor Restoration Club. The Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska (AFAN) is a nonprofit organization formed by leading agricultural membership groups in Nebraska. The AFAN mission is to encourage the development of environmentally responsible and economically viable livestock production in the state.

Lindsay Corp. Reports Second Quarter Results

Lindsay Corporation, a leading global manufacturer of irrigation and infrastructure equipment and technology, announced results for its second quarter ended February 28, 2018.

Revenues for the second quarter of fiscal 2018 were $130.3 million, an increase of 5 percent compared to revenues of $124.1 million in the prior year's second quarter. Net earnings for the quarter were $1.7 million and diluted earnings per share were $0.16, compared with net earnings of $5.0 million and diluted earnings per share of $0.47 in the prior year. Net earnings for the quarter were reduced by tax expense of $2.6 million due to the enactment of the U.S. Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and by after-tax costs of $1.7 million comprised of severance costs and professional consulting fees related to the Company's Foundation for Growth initiative. Adjusted net earnings for the second quarter were $6.0 million, or $0.56 per diluted share.1

"We were pleased to have achieved revenue and operating income improvement in both the Irrigation and Infrastructure segments for the quarter," said Tim Hassinger, president and CEO. "Improved demand in North America irrigation drove overall revenue growth, and growth in our Road Zipper System business continues to support solid performance in our Infrastructure segment."

Irrigation segment revenues increased 5 percent to $111.9 million from $106.2 million in the prior year's second quarter. North America irrigation revenues increased 23 percent, driven by an increase in irrigation system unit volume. International irrigation revenues for the second quarter were $33.0 million, a decrease of 22 percent compared to the second quarter of the prior year. The second quarter of the prior year included revenues from projects in developing markets that did not repeat in the current period, while demand in core markets remained stable.

Irrigation segment operating margin was 10.7 percent of sales in the second quarter (11.2 percent adjusted)1, compared to 10.6 percent of sales in the prior year. Improved volume leverage from higher North America irrigation system sales was partially offset by the impact of lower project sales and margins in international markets.

Second quarter earnings include a $2.6 million, or $0.241 per diluted share, expense for the estimated impact of the U.S. Tax Cuts and Jobs Act enacted during the quarter. This amount includes one-time impacts from the deemed repatriation transition tax on certain foreign earnings and from the remeasurement of deferred tax items at a lower rate.

During the quarter the Company initiated a focused performance improvement initiative referred to as Foundation for Growth. Objectives include setting strategic direction, defining priorities, and improving overall operating performance. A key financial objective is to achieve operating margin performance of 11 percent to 12 percent in fiscal 2020 without assuming improvement in the market environment. Second quarter earnings include after-tax costs of $1.7 million, or $0.151 per diluted share, related to severance costs and professional consulting fees incurred in connection with the initiative. Additional costs anticipated in connection with this initiative, over each of the next several quarters, are expected to be recovered through improved operating income in fiscal 2020.

"Although we have seen improved demand this year in North America, agricultural market conditions are expected to remain challenging until there is a meaningful improvement in commodity prices and farm income. In our Infrastructure business, a growing backlog of Road Zipper projects provides for growth," said Hassinger. "The recently announced tariffs on steel and aluminum product imports are concerning because of the potential impact on raw material cost and possible trade retaliation that would affect U.S. agricultural products, however it won't be possible to fully assess the impact until more details are known."

Hassinger continued, "The organization is excited about the launch of our Foundation for Growth initiative. This effort, focused on delivering better results to our customers and shareholders, is already underway and I look forward to providing regular updates as this initiative progresses."

Iowa Farm Bureau applauds passage of Senate File 2349 to help thousands of Iowans lacking

According to recent reports from the Iowa Insurance Division, more than 20,000 Iowans could not afford to keep their health care coverage in 2018 because they don’t qualify for Affordable Care Act (ACA) subsidies.   Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF), Iowa’s largest grassroots farm organization, is pleased Iowa lawmakers moved with bi-partisan support and Governor Reynolds signed the measure, bringing a new option for many Iowans caught up in a desperate health care coverage spiral.

“According to our annual membership survey, the cost of health care is the number one concern facing our members,” says IFBF President Craig Hill.  “That’s why more than 1,500 IFBF members answered the call for action and urged Iowa lawmakers to pass SF2349.  This legislation came together because our organization exists to serve its members.  Although it isn’t meant to be a solution for all, we are pleased that lawmakers and the Governor agree it is an option for thousands who need an affordable health plan that works until Congress passes a permanent solution to the ACA-inspired health care coverage crisis.”    

Senate Bill 2349 calls on established Iowa organizations, IFBF and Wellmark, to partner and develop an affordable health care option for Iowans.  To be eligible for health care plan coverage offered in SF2349, Iowans would need to be IFBF members.  Farm Bureau, a century-strong organization with offices and membership in every county in Iowa, has provided individual health insurance to Iowans in partnership with Wellmark since 1969, prior to the implementation of the ACA; this legislation continues that decades-long partnership.  This legislation will not diminish the impact of the ACA on people it helps—they will continue to have their subsidized coverage through the ACA.  Instead, SF2349 provides an opportunity to create coverage for Iowans who don’t qualify for the ACA subsidy or have been forced out of the market by exorbitant premiums.  The measure comes at a critical time as Iowa farmers face a fourth year of high production costs and low market prices for their commodities.   However, IFBF leaders say SF2349 can bring relief to Iowans well beyond the farm gate.

“We’ve been hearing from our members about the financial burden of getting health care coverage as they took on a second or third job to pay for premiums that inexplicably climbed 300 percent.  Many more had to forgo coverage all together because they didn’t qualify for ACA subsidies. That’s just not workable,” says Hill. 

Kenneth, a Grundy County Farm Bureau member, agrees the situation is dire.  “My oldest daughter just went off our plan two years ago or my premiums would be well over $2,500.  Yet, we pay more for health care than housing and food combined! This is unsustainable!”

“I don’t mind paying more than my share to help stabilize the marketplace, but there is no reason that a healthy 32-year-old should be paying more for health insurance than her mortgage.  Between student loans, a mortgage and a fledgling farm business, these rates do not fit into my budget,” says Rose, an Iowa County Farm Bureau member.

“We’ve heard from thousands of members who share similar stories, so we’re pleased lawmakers and the Governor passed this critical measure with expedience,” says Hill. “The signing of this legislation provides the path for us to move forward with Wellmark and begin to develop the plans.”

IFBF anticipates benefits possibly being available by January 2019 with enrollment applications to be opened for members in the fall of this year.

USDA Reopens Enrollment for Improved Dairy Safety Net Tool

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue is encouraging dairy producers to consider enrolling in the new and improved Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP-Dairy), which will provide better protections for dairy producers from shifting milk and feed prices. With changes authorized under the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) has set the enrollment period to run from April 9, 2018 to June 1, 2018.

"We recognize the financial hardships many of our nation’s dairy producers are experiencing right now. Folks are losing their contracts and they are getting anxious about getting their bills paid while they watch their milk check come in lower and lower each month. The Bipartisan Budget Act provided some much-needed incentives for dairy producers to make cost-effective decisions to strengthen their farms, mitigate risk, and conserve their natural resources,” said Secretary Perdue. “This includes our support of America’s dairy farms. We encourage dairy producers to review the provisions of the updated program, which Congress shaped with their feedback. Those changes are now in effect, and I’d ask any producers who are interested to contact their local USDA service centers.”

About the Program:
The program protects dairy producers by paying them when the difference between the national all-milk price and the national average feed cost (the margin) falls below a certain dollar amount elected by the producer.

Changes include:
-    Calculations of the margin period is monthly rather than bi-monthly.
-    Covered production is increased to 5 million pounds on the Tier 1 premium schedule, and premium rates for Tier 1 are substantially lowered.
-    An exemption from paying an administrative fee for limited resource, beginning, veteran, and disadvantaged producers. Dairy operators enrolled in the previous 2018 enrollment period that qualify for this exemption under the new provisions may request a refund.

Dairy operations must make a new coverage election for 2018, even if you enrolled during the previous 2018 signup period. Coverage elections made for 2018 will be retroactive to January 1, 2018. All dairy operations desiring coverage must sign up during the enrollment period and submit an appropriate form (CCC-782) and dairy operations may still “opt out” by not submitting a form. All outstanding balances for 2017 and prior years must be paid in full before 2018 coverage is approved.

Dairy producers can participate in FSA’s MPP-Dairy or the Risk Management Agency’s Livestock Gross Margin Insurance Plan for Dairy Cattle (LGM-Dairy), but not both. During the 2018 enrollment period, only producers with an active LGM-Dairy policy who have targeted marketings insured in 2018 months will be allowed to enroll in MPP-Dairy by June 1, 2018; however, their coverage will start only after active target marketings conclude under LGM-Dairy.

USDA has a web tool to help producers determine the level of coverage under the MPP-Dairy that will provide them with the strongest safety net under a variety of conditions. The online resource, available at, allows dairy farmers to quickly and easily combine unique operation data and other key variables to calculate their coverage needs based on price projections. Producers can also review historical data or estimate future coverage based on data projections. The secure site can be accessed via computer, smartphone, tablet or any other platform.

USDA is mailing postcards advising dairy producers of the changes. For more information, visit or contact your local USDA service center.

USDA Re-Opens 2018 Enrollment for New Dairy Margin Protection Program

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) today expressed thanks to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue for his agency’s prompt implementation of changes in the dairy Margin Protection Program (MPP), and urged dairy producers to review the new coverage options available under the improved program, which will have a new enrollment window from April 9-June 1, 2018.

“We appreciate the steps taken by USDA to implement the new MPP provisions. It is important to provide information on the changes to dairy farmers so they can make informed decisions about enrollment in the program for this year, and we look forward to assisting the department in this effort,” said NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced today that it will re-open the sign-up period next week, and encouraged producers to take a second look at the program since it was revised under the Bipartisan Budget Act passed by Congress in February.

“NMPF worked with Congress during the past year to improve the dairy safety net to make it more effective for all farmers,” Mulhern said. “While the previous structure of the program offered an inadequate safety net, the changes made this year greatly enhance the value of the program to farmers, and we really want them to consider how to use this program in 2018. With these changes in place, we will continue to work with USDA and Congress to further strengthen the program in the 2018 Farm Bill.”

According to USDA, dairy producers must select new coverage for 2018, even if they enrolled during the previous sign-up period last fall. Coverage choices made this spring for calendar year 2018 will be retroactive to Jan. 1, 2018. All dairy operations desiring coverage must sign up during the eight-week enrollment period. USDA also announced that dairy producers can participate in either MPP or the Livestock Gross Margin program for dairy (LGM-Dairy), but not both.

The changes to the MPP were part of a larger dairy package that was included in the disaster spending bill passed by Congress two months ago. The provisions include:
-    Adjusting the first tier of covered production to include every dairy farmer’s first five million pounds of annual milk production history (about 217 cows) instead of four million pounds
-    Reducing the premium rates, effective immediately, for every producer’s first five million pounds of production history, to better enable dairy farmers to afford the higher levels of coverage;
-    Modifying the margin calculation to a monthly (from bi-monthly) basis;
-    Raising the catastrophic coverage level from $4.00 to $5.00 for the first tier of covered production for all dairy farmers; and
-    Waiving the annual $100 administrative fees for underserved farmers.

The disaster package also lifted 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.

NCGA Statement on RFS Waivers Issued to Large Refiner by EPA

Kevin Skunes, president of the National Corn Growers Association

“EPA’s reported actions are unacceptable,” Skunes said. “EPA cannot undermine the RFS by granting waivers to refiners who are making profits as large as the one reported by Reuters. Granting these waivers significantly reduces the number of gallons of fuel blended with ethanol hurting rural economies and the nation’s corn farmers. When refiners aren’t meeting their blending obligations, corn farmers pay the price.

“EPA’s small refiner exemption process has no transparency,” Skunes said. “We need the EPA to live up to Administrator Pruitt’s October commitment to senators to, ‘act consistent with the text and spirit of the RFS,’ and to do so in an ‘open and transparent manner that advances the full potential of this program.’ We call on the EPA to stop granting these waivers to refiners who make billions of dollars and do not face a true hardship.”

ACE responds to EPA providing a large refiner a “small refiner” RFS waiver

The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) CEO Brian Jennings released the following statement in light of recent reporting that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has exempted Andeavor, one of the nation's largest oil refining companies, from complying with its 2016 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) blending obligation at three of its 10 refineries:

“The law allows a small refiner (producing less than 75,000 barrels per day) to seek an exemption from the annual blending obligation if it can prove the RFS is causing ‘disproportionate economic hardship’ on its operations.  On what planet does Andeavor’s 2017 net profit of $1.5 billion constitute ‘disproportionate economic hardship’ for a “small refiner”? Refiners are reporting billion-dollar profits today while farmers are facing their fifth year of prices at or below the cost of production.  Net farm income is dropping to levels not seen since the last economic disaster in rural America in the early 2000s which prompted Congress to enact the RFS in the first place. EPA’s recent waivers reduce demand for ethanol making economic conditions worse in rural America and breaking promises President Trump has made to protect the RFS.

“Since EPA refuses to disclose which refiners get these RFS exemptions, it blurs the transparency of the RIN market giving an advantage to refiners receiving waivers.  With nearly 30 small refiner exemptions pending, it appears EPA’s priority is not to fix the outdated Reid vapor pressure restriction on the year-round use of E15 but rather to unravel the RFS for refiners.

“When the Obama Administration unlawfully took the RFS off-track, we were forced to sue. As the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled in Americans for Clean Energy et al. v. EPA, the “intent of the RFS’s increasing requirements are designed to force the market to create ways to produce and use greater and greater volumes of renewable fuel each year.” Waiving RFS obligations based on ethanol use thresholds violate the intent of the RFS and invite litigation.”

ITC Vote Levels Playing Field in Biodiesel Trade Dispute

Today the International Trade Commission (ITC) voted 4-0 in favor of the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) Fair Trade Coalition’s position that the industry has suffered because of unfairly dumped imports of biodiesel from Argentina and Indonesia. This affirmative vote on injury is the last remaining procedural hurdle before final antidumping orders can be issued later this month.

“This vote today finalizes the case to address the harm that unfair trade practices have had on the U.S. biodiesel industry,” said Donnell Rehagen, chief executive officer of the National Biodiesel Board. “Foreign producers dumping product into American markets below cost has undermined the jobs and environmental benefits that U.S. biodiesel brings to the table. Establishing a level playing field for true competition in the market will allow the domestic industry the opportunity to put to work substantial under-utilized production capacity.”

Last month, the Commerce Department calculated final dumping rates ranging from 60.44% to 86.41% for Argentine producers, and 92.52% to 276.65% for Indonesian producers.

The NBB Fair Trade Coalition filed this antidumping petition in parallel to a countervailing duty petition to address a flood of subsidized and dumped imports from Argentina and Indonesia that resulted in market share losses and depressed prices for domestic producers. Biodiesel imports from Argentina and Indonesia surged by 464 percent from 2014 to 2016, taking 18.3 percentage points of market share from U.S. manufacturers. These surging, artificially low-priced imports prevented producers from earning adequate returns on their substantial investments and stifled the ability of U.S. producers to make further investments to serve a growing market.

A final determination by the Commerce Department in the companion countervailing duty determination was announced in early November, resulting in duty deposit rates of 71.45% to 72.28% for Argentina and 34.45% to 64.73% for Indonesia. 

The U.S. biodiesel market supports nearly 64,000 jobs nationwide and more than $11 billion in economic impact. Every 100 million gallons of increased biodiesel production supports some 3,200 additional jobs. Producers nationwide are poised to expand production and hire new workers with steady growth in the industry.

US Proposes Tariffs on $50 Billion in Chinese Imports

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Trump administration on Tuesday escalated its aggressive approach to trade by proposing 25 percent tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese imports to protest Beijing's alleged theft of American technology.

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative issued a list targeting 1,300 Chinese products, including industrial robots and telecommunications equipment. The suggested tariffs wouldn't take effect right way: A public comment period ends May 11, and a hearing on the tariffs is scheduled for May 15. Companies and consumers will have the opportunity to lobby to have some products taken off the list or have others added.

The move risks heightening trade tensions with China, which on Monday slapped taxes on $3 billion in U.S. products in response to earlier U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

On Tuesday night, the Chinese embassy in Washington issued a statement saying it "strongly condemns" the move: "It serves neither China's interest, nor the U.S. interest, even less the interest of the global economy."

China is likely to retaliate against the new tariffs, which target the technology and advanced manufacturing industries that Beijing is nurturing. The sanctions are designed to punish China for using strong-arm tactics in its drive to become a global technology power.

These include pressuring American companies to share technology in exchange for access to the Chinese market, forcing U.S. firms to license their technology in China on unfavorable terms and even hacking into U.S. companies' computers to steal trade secrets.

The administration sought to draw up the list in a way that limits the impact of the tariffs --- a tax on imports --- on American consumers while hitting Chinese imports that benefit from Beijing's sharp-elbowed tech policies. But some critics that American will end up being hurt.

"If you're hitting $50 billion in trade, you're inevitably going to hurt somebody, and somebody is going to complain," said Rod Hunter, a former economic official at the National Security Council and now a partner at Baker & McKenzie LLP.

Even representatives of the tech industry, which has complained for years that China has pilfered U.S. technology and discriminated against U.S. companies, were critical of the administration's latest action.

"Unilateral tariffs may do more harm than good and do little to address the problems in China's (intellectual property) and tech transfer policies," said John Frisbie, president of the U.S.-China Business Council.

And the Internet Association, which represents such companies such as Google, Facebook and Amazon, expressed concerns, too.

"There's no doubt the U.S. government can and should address China's trade practices," Melika Carroll, the association's senior vice president of global government affairs. "But consumers and American job creators should not be caught in the crossfire. . . . These tariffs will leave our customers worse off, stifle growth and make it harder for the digital economy to succeed."

At the same time, the United States has become increasingly frustrated with China's aggressive efforts to overtake American technological supremacy. And many have argued that Washington needed to respond aggressively.

"The Chinese are bad trading partners because they steal intellectual property," said Derek Scissors, a China specialist at the conservative American Enterprise Institute.

In January, a federal court in Wisconsin convicted a Chinese manufacturer of wind turbines, Sinovel Wind Group, of stealing trade secrets from the American company AMSC and nearly putting it out of business. And in 2014, a Pennsylvania grand jury indicted five officers in the Chinese People's Liberation Army on charges of hacking into the computers of Westinghouse, US Steel and other major American companies to steal information that would benefit their Chinese competitors.

To target China, Trump dusted off a Cold War weapon for trade disputes: Section 301 of the U.S. Trade Act of 1974, which lets the president unilaterally impose tariffs. It was meant for a world in which much of global commerce was not covered by trade agreements. With the arrival in 1995 of the Geneva-based World Trade Organization, Section 301 largely faded from use.

Dean Pinkert, a partner at the law firm of Hughes Hubbard & Reed, found it reassuring that the administration didn't completely bypass the WTO and act only unilaterally: As part of its complaint, the U.S. is bringing a WTO case against Chinese licensing policies that put U.S. companies at a disadvantage.

China has been urging the United States to seek a diplomatic solution and warning that it would retaliate against any trade sanctions. Beijing could counterpunch by targeting American businesses with a big exposure to the Chinese market: Aircraft manufacturer Boeing, for instance, or American soybean farmers who send nearly 60 percent of their exports to China.

In fact, rural America is especially worried about the risk of a trade war. Farmers make tempting targets in trade spats because they depend heavily on foreign sales and because they are spread across congressional districts and are quick to complain to their representatives when government policy threatens their livelihoods.

"The next couple of weeks will be very interesting," says Kristin Duncanson, a soybean, corn and hog farmer in Mapleton, Minnesota.

NCGA Expands Partnership with USA Poultry and Egg Export Council

The National Corn Growers Association partnered with the USA Poultry and Egg Export Council to conduct a study on the benefits of poultry exports to corn. The study, conducted by World Perspectives, Inc., entitled "Corn and Poultry: A Great Partnership," outlined the benefits realized by America's corn farmers from exports of poultry and eggs.

"Continuing to partner with the poultry industry is a key priority for our organization," said Feed, Food & Industrial Action Team Chair Bruce Peterson, a grower in Minnesota. "Poultry producers are a large customer of corn, both domestically and abroad. It's important to grow demand through our partnerships in animal agriculture, which is why we funded the study."

Some highlights of the study include:

Poultry feed utilization:
-    6 lb. broiler uses 8 lb. of corn, 1 lb. of DDGS and 3 lb. SBM
-    28 lb. turkey uses 47 lb. of corn, 4 lb. of DDGS and 18 lb. SBM
-    1 dozen eggs from a layer represents 2 lb. of corn and 1 lb. of SBM

Poultry exports help corn and poultry farmers through additional volume and value:
-    Export growth supports flock expansion, driving additional domestic demand for U.S. corn
-    Exports provide poultry producers additional value for products that are often undervalued in the United States

Poultry exports value to corn price:
-    $.28/bushel with the 2016/2017 season average corn price of $3.36.
-    Without poultry exports, corn growers would have missed about $4.1 billion in revenue.

"The partnership between the National Corn Growers Association and the U.S. Poultry & Egg Export Council is incredibly important to the long-term success of both organizations," said USAPEEC Senior Vice President Greg Tyler. "The economic impact study, showed that growth in the demand for feed corn is strongly tied to poultry production, as the United States is the largest poultry producer in the world. The study noted that the U.S. poultry industry consumed more than 30 percent of all feed use of corn and estimated that this equated to roughly 1.663 billion bushels. The driving force behind growth in this production is exports. Thus, our industries working together is crucial as we seek to expand exports of our products around the world and invest in market development around the globe." 
This week, USAPEEC held their International Marketing and Strategic Planning Conference in South Africa. After 15 years, South Africa recently reopened access for U.S. broilers. Broiler exports to South Africa are expected to utilize about 7.25 million bushels of corn and more than 15-thousand tons of DDGS per year.

CropLife Foundation and Partners Launch “No Taste for Waste” Campaign

Today, together with key partners, the CropLife Foundation and Meredith Agrimedia launched the “No Taste for Waste” campaign, an initiative to reduce food waste and loss. The campaign, which includes an interactive website, special edition “bookazine” and social media messages, is a resource for consumers interested in reducing household food waste, while educating the public on how farmers take steps to fight food loss on their farms.


The bookazine, titled Waste Less, Save Money!, produced and distributed by Meredith Agrimedia, is an illustrated publication that looks like a magazine but acts like a book. It includes recipes, meal planning tips and stories about how farmers use innovative agricultural technology to reduce food loss on the farm and food waste in their communities. Consumers can find it at newsstands and grocery stores nationwide beginning April 2018.

The bookazine provides readers with the opportunity to learn about people like Brett Reinford, a Land O’Lakes dairy farmer in Pennsylvania, who powers his farm and more than 100 other homes with energy from food waste processed in a digester. They can also read about Luella Gregory, a cattle farmer and soon-to-be cookbook author in Iowa, who educates elementary school kids about sustainability and how technology makes farms more efficient. Six other farm families are profiled in the magazine, along with tips for decreasing food waste, straight from the people who grow our food.


Timed to launch simultaneously, the accompanying website,, brings the bookazine to life. Consumers will have access to a weekly meal planner, online tools to help reduce waste at home and more stories from farmers combating food loss and waste. A growing collection of recipes from farmers, bloggers and the Meredith test kitchens will also be a highlight on the new site. In addition, consumers can share their stories and food preservation tips using #NoTasteForWaste on Facebook (@NoTasteForWaste) and Instagram (@NoTaste4Waste).


The CropLife Foundation and Meredith Agrimedia have partnered with the American Farm Bureau Federation, Land O’Lakes SUSTAIN, Valent, CropLife America and FLM Harvest to implement the campaign. Leveraging these partnerships, the campaign connects consumers to real farmers who work hard to produce food, fiber and fuel sustainably and to be good stewards of the land, while reducing food loss.

“Everyone can do something to reduce food waste, whether they’re in the kitchen or on the farm,” said Jay Vroom, vice chairman of the CropLife Foundation. “This initiative gives consumers an exclusive look at how today’s farmers are leveraging technology, sustainable farming practices and community networks to minimize food waste and protect the environment.”

Consumers are increasingly aware of the environmental, economic and social price tags attached to food waste. Reducing food waste is set to become a hot trend at restaurants, grocery stores and home kitchens in 2018, according to the National Restaurant Association, Forbes Magazine, and Food & Wine Magazine. In the United States, up to 40 percent of all food produced is lost to waste, according to United States Department of Agriculture estimates.

Join the food waste movement by visiting or pick up Waste Less, Save Money! at select newsstands and grocery stores.

Monday April 2 Crop Progress + Ag News

For the week ending April 1, 2018, there were 3.3 days suitable for fieldwork, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 2 percent very short, 18 short, 73 adequate, and 7 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 2 percent very short, 23 short, 73 adequate, and 2 surplus.

Field Crops Report: Winter wheat condition rated 1 percent very poor, 5 poor, 43 fair, 39 good, and 12 excellent.

Oats planted was 10 percent, behind 25 last year and 20 for the five-year average.


A cold, wet week prevented fieldwork across most of Iowa during the week ending April 1, 2018, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Statewide there was just 0.4 day suitable for fieldwork.

Topsoil moisture levels rated 3 percent very short, 9 percent short, 73 percent adequate, and 15 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated 4 percent very short, 14 percent short, 74 percent adequate, and 8 percent surplus. Northwest Iowa reported the highest surplus subsoil moisture level at 22 percent while parts of south central and southeast Iowa remain in abnormally dry to moderate drought conditions according to the March 27, 2018, U.S. Drought Monitor.

Two percent of oats have been planted, 4 days behind last year’s progress at this time and 3 days behind the 5-year average.

Livestock conditions varied across the State. Heavy snow and muddy lots have both presented challenges for calving in many areas.

First Crop Progress Report of Season Shows Worst Winter Wheat Conditions Since 2002

U.S. winter wheat appears to be starting off the 2018 growing season in the worst condition in over a decade, according to USDA's first weekly Crop Progress report issued Monday.

For the week ended April 1, 2018, winter wheat was rated only 32% in good-to-excellent condition, well below 51% at the same time last year and the lowest good-to-excellent rating since 2002.

Meanwhile, for the crops USDA included in its report this week, planting was progressing at a near-average pace. Sorghum was 9% planted, compared to 13% last year and an 11% five-year average. Cotton planting was 7% complete, compared to 3% last year and a 3% average. Rice was 17% planted, compared to 15% last year and a 13% average.  Oats were 26% planted as of April 1, compared to 24% last year and a 29% average. Emergence was at 25%, compared to 21% last year and a 25% average.

Nationwide, based on reports from 48 states, topsoil moisture was rated 24% very short to short compared to 14% last year and 76% adequate to surplus compared to 86% last year. Subsoil moisture was rated 28% short to very short compared to 19% last year and 72% adequate to surplus compared to 81% last year.


                Every growing season, agronomists play a vital role in providing expertise and support for farmers. Once again this season, farmers can show their appreciation for their agronomic support teams during Agronomy Week to be celebrated April 2-6.

                Launched last year by the DEKALB, Asgrow and Deltapine brands, the annual event takes place the first week of April to help farmers recognize the contributions of their agronomists, seed dealers and crop consultants who help them get the most out of every acre.

                Pete Uitenbroek, DEKALB, Asgrow and Deltapine brand lead, notes that Agronomy Week was created as an industry-wide celebration. “We’re proud to promote recognition for agronomic team members throughout our industry,” he says. “These dedicated professionals work closely with farmers throughout the growing season, guiding key decision-making and monitoring crop performance to help them maximize their success.”      

                During Agronomy Week, farmers, regardless of seed brand, can pay tribute to their agronomic team by nominating up to three individuals. U.S. farmers who submit nominations will be entered into a sweepstakes for a chance to win a daily prize as well as the grand prize – tickets to a NASCAR race for one farmer and up to three members of their agronomic support team.*

                Farmers can nominate their agronomic professionals and enter the sweepstakes at or by posting the professionals’ names on the DEKALB Asgrow Facebook page or Twitter with #AgronomyWeek and #contest.

                Returning this season to help encourage farmer participation in Agronomy Week will be NASCAR driver Clint Bowyer, who spoke with farmers about the event at the recent Commodity Classic show in Anaheim, California.  “Growing up in Kansas, I have a great appreciation for farmers,” Bowyer says. “I’m honored to support such a worthy industry and excited to be part of Agronomy Week again.”

                Uitenbroek notes that in farming, like racing, an experienced support crew is essential for a strong start and winning performance. “We encourage all farmers to participate in Agronomy Week and help establish this celebration as a strong tradition throughout our industry.”  

Nebraska Beef Council Seeks Director Candidates

Nebraska Beef Council directors volunteer their time to represent beef producers’ checkoff collections and investments on the state, national and international level. The board’s major responsibility is to oversee checkoff expenditures by determining promotion, research and education programs for checkoff investments. The term is four years and will begin on January 2, 2019.

Producers interested in becoming a beef council director are encouraged to visit with current and past directors to learn more about this valuable experience and its commitment.

Election packets are available beginning on April 2, 2018 and can be obtained by calling the Nebraska Beef Council office at 800-421-5326. All candidate materials contained in the election packet must be completed and mailed to the third party office, postmarked by June 15, 2018.

“Beef producers who are passionate about the industry and who are willing to provide leadership to the beef checkoff program and its investments are needed as we face the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead,” said Ann Marie Bosshamer, executive director for the Nebraska Beef Council. “We need strong leaders to enhance our mission and strengthen beef demand in the global marketplace.”

Districts hosting an election in 2018:
District 2- Cherry, Keya Paha, Brown, Rock, Grant, Hooker, Thomas, Blaine, Loup
District 4- Boyd, Holt, Knox, Antelope, Wheeler, Boone
District 6- Arthur, McPherson, Logan, Keith, Lincoln, Perkins, Chase, Hayes, Dundy, Hitchcock
District 8- Seward, Lancaster, Otoe, Adams, Clay, Fillmore, Saline, Gage, Johnson, Nemaha, Webster, Nuckolls, Thayer, Jefferson, Pawnee, Richardson

For additional information, visit or contact the Nebraska Beef Council office at 1-800-421-5326.

NCBA Cattlemen's Webinar Series: "Cattle Traceability Study Overview"

April 3, 7:00 p.m. CDT

The webinar will detail the research behind the report including results of producer and stakeholder surveys, economic analysis of obstacles and opportunities, and a look at other beef exporting country traceability efforts.

The next webinar, "Genetics: Putting the Tools to Use: Buying your next Bull", will be held on April 19th.  Register for either NCBA webinar at

Management Considerations to Improve Success of Artificial Insemination Program April 10 

Producers with an interest in the use of artificial insemination are encouraged to attend an upcoming program “Management Considerations to Improve Success of Artificial Insemination” by Dr. Rick Funston on Tuesday, April 10 at 6:30 PM MDT / 7:30 PM CDT. This will be an online meeting which can be accessed via the internet or by calling in by phone.

Dr. Funston will address the following:
• Benefits of utilizing estrus synchronization
• Fixed timed artificial insemination protocols
• Management strategies to achieve higher conception rates

The meeting is free to attend. To participate, participants need to register for the meeting in order to receive the meeting room link or phone number. To register, please email Nebraska Extension Educator Aaron Berger at or contact by phone at 308-235-3122 by Monday, April 9.


The monthly meeting of the Dodge County Cattlemen will be held on Tuesday April 10th at Z's Bar and Grill in Scribner, NE.  Social hour is at 6:30pm, and the meal will follow.  The social is sponsored this month by Central Valley Ag.  The featured presenter after the meal is Andy Langemeier with the Nebraska LEAD program.  Spouses are encouraged to attend.  Hope to see you there! 

Ragweed Can Pose a Serious Threat to Soybean Yield 

Once thought to be an innocent bystander to field crop production, common ragweed can "drastically reduce soybean yields," according to research conducted by University of Nebraska-Lincoln agronomy graduate student Ethann Barnes and other weed scientists at the Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center near Mead.

An article published this week on the American Society of Agronomy website described Barnes' 2015-2016 research and the journal article reporting it: Common Ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia L.) Interference with Soybean in Nebraska. The journal article was co-authored by Ethann R. Barnes, Amit J.Jhala, Stevan Z. Knezevic, Peter H. Sikkema, and John L. Lindquist. Barnes, Jhala, Knezevic and Lincquist are in the university's Department of Agronomy and Horticulture and Sikkema is at the University of Guelph-Ridgetown.

Among the findings reported was that one ragweed plant every 1.6 feet of soybean row decreased soybean yield by 76% in 2015, and by 40% in 2016. The yield loss was attributed to competition for light rather than competition for water or other mediating factors.

“The ultimate goal of this area of science is for growers to count the number of weeds or make a measurement in their field three weeks into the season. From there they could see whether it's financially a viable option to control their weeds or just leave them in the field,” Barnes said in the web article. By knowing how much damage the weeds might do, farmers can weigh that loss against the cost of killing the weeds.


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               This winter left many of you with more hay and corn stalk bales left over than expected.  Save some of that feed in case of drought, but any extra hay might provide extra value if it is used strategically.

               Get extra value from carryover hay by using that hay in ways that will be valuable especially to you.  Usually that means feeding hay instead of something else that would be more expensive.  Another option, though, is to feed hay so you can make other resources more profitable.

               For example, replace old, thinning alfalfa fields with new seedings this spring.  Then use carryover hay to substitute for lost yield during this seeding year.  Future hay yields from new fields should be more abundant and reliable.

               Or how about adding legumes to cool-season grass pastures or hay meadows.  We usually lose some forage production during the year of legume establishment as you control competition from the existing sod, but your carryover hay can be fed instead as needed.  Better grazing and future meadow production should be the result.

               Another possibility that could be especially useful is to feed hay a little longer this spring before turning cows out to pasture.  Or maybe feed this hay mid-summer to provide extra rest and recovery time for your pastures, increasing their productivity.  Grass that is growing slowly due to dry or cold conditions then will get extra time to recover before experiencing this year’s stress of grazing.

               You also could use less fertilizer on pastures or haylands and make up for the reduced production with your carryover hay.  Or maybe chop less silage and use hay next winter instead.

               If you think about other ways you can use that hay yourself, maybe you, too, can find its extra value.


               Spring is approaching and cool-season grass pastures are starting to green-up.  We should begin thinking about fertilizing.

               Grass growth is stimulated by nitrogen fertilizer just like other crops.  Although nitrogen fertilizer can be costly, it is less expensive this spring and favorable cattle prices greatly increase the potential to profit from the increased grass growth produced from nitrogen.

               Our Nebraska research shows that you get about one pound of additional calf or yearling gain for every pound of nitrogen fertilizer applied.  With grazingland becoming more scarce and expensive, boosting yield with fertilizer should be especially valuable this year.

               However, this fertilization rule-of-thumb assumes that the amount applied is within our general recommendations, which are based on the potential amount of extra grass growth expected.  This is affected mostly by moisture.  More importantly, it also assumes that your grazing management will efficiently harvest this extra growth.

               If your animals graze continuously on one pasture throughout the season, much of the extra growth is wasted.  They trample, manure and foul, bed down on, and simply refuse to eat much of the stemmy grass.  Less than one-third of the extra grass ends up inside your livestock.

               To make fertilizer pay, cross-fence pastures to control when and where your animals graze.  Give animals access to no more than one-fourth of your pasture at a time, letting the rest regrow.  Graze off only about one-half of this growth before moving to another subdivision.  Maybe even save one subdivision for hay.  If your pastures aren’t subdivided, fertilizer dollars might be better spent on cross-fences and watering sites.

               Follow these suggestions and more of your pasture growth will be eaten, and more profits will come from fertilizer and pastures.


Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig today announced that Julie Kenney has been hired as the new Deputy Secretary for the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. She started with the Department on April 2.

“Julie has a passion for agriculture and will be a tremendous asset to the Department.  Her background and experience are a natural fit for the Department and I’m excited to have her on our team,” Naig said.

As Deputy Secretary, Kenney will assist in management responsibilities for the Department focused on the areas of personnel, budget and policy.  She will also support the Department’s efforts to be accessible to Iowans by traveling regularly to represent the Department at meetings across the state.

“It’s an honor to serve as Deputy Secretary and I look forward to working with Secretary Naig and the team at the Department. The Department plays an important role in protecting consumers, improving our natural resources and promoting Iowa agriculture,” Kenney said.

Before joining the Department, Kenney had been active in the agribusiness industry for nearly 15 years, serving in marketing and communications roles for private industry and agricultural associations and checkoff programs. Kenney and her family also own and operate a corn and soybean farm in Story County.

Kenney, maiden name Kock, grew up on her family’s crop and livestock farm near Lohrville, Iowa.


ICGA President Mark Recker

On behalf of Iowa’s corn farmers, I would like to congratulate Julie Kenney on her new role as Deputy Secretary of Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship under Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig. Julie has been an active member of the Iowa Corn Growers Association and contributed significantly to the success of the CommonGround program as a longtime volunteer.

CommonGround, a key National Corn Growers Association program, includes 19 different states with over 200 women farmer volunteers. In Iowa, CommonGround volunteers focus on engaging those who make the food purchasing decisions for their families and giving them the tools to make informed food choices. During her time as a volunteer, Julie used her communications expertise and her role as a mother and farm wife to help tell the story of America’s farm families. One of the highlights of her time as a volunteer included serving as a guest on Bill Nye the Science Guy television show talking about the science behind GMOs. We know this experience will serve her well in connecting with consumers and promoting Iowa agriculture in her new position.

As Deputy Secretary, Kenney will aid in management responsibilities for the Department focusing on the areas of personnel, budget, and policy. She will also support the Department’s efforts of being assessable to all Iowans by traveling regularly to represent the Department at meetings across the state.

Before joining the Department, Kenney worked as a marketing and communications professional for nearly 15 years, serving various roles for private industry, agricultural associations, and checkoff programs. She has a bachelor’s degree in Marketing from Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa.
Julie and her husband Mark own and operate a fifth-generation corn and soybean farm in Story County and have two children, Lauren and Landon.

We look forward to working with Deputy Secretary Kenney in her new role on several key issues facing Iowa’s corn growers.

Iowa Pork invests in continued water quality progress

The Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA) is once again partnering with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) to offer funding for pig farmers interested in new nutrient loss reduction technologies.

IPPA has provided $25,000 to IDALS to be used for various projects over the next year. The funds will help offset up to 50 percent of the costs for pig farmers to install saturated buffers or bioreactors on their farm land. Preference will be given to sites that provide the greatest opportunity for nitrate reduction and be geographically dispersed throughout the state to aid in education and demonstration opportunities.

"This additional $25,000 investment by the Iowa Pork Producers Association will help support our efforts to scale-up the adoption of these edge-of-field practices focused on improving water quality. Both bioreactors and saturated buffers are still fairly new practices and this investment will help us continue to place these practices throughout the state to show farmers how they might fit in their operation," said Mike Naig, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture. "Thank you to the Iowa Pork Producers Association for continuing to invest in the water quality efforts in our state."

Participating producers will be asked to share information and experiences with other farmers through IPPA and IDALS programs. 

Hog farmers interested in the program can submit basic farm information for project consideration at For more information, contact either Tyler Bettin at IPPA at (800) 372-7675 or; or Matt Lechtenberg at IDALS at (515) 281-3857 or

"IPPA is very pleased to continue this successful partnership with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. While these are not specific practices to livestock, we know public/private partnerships such as this continue to drive momentum of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy," said 2018 IPPA President Gregg Hora, a producer from Fort Dodge. "Efforts from the 2017, and now 2018 funding, will allow enhanced demonstration of these projects across the state while continuing to move the needle on water quality improvements."

Bioreactors are excavated pits filled with woodchips, with tile drainage water flowing through the woodchips. As water from the tile line passes into the bioreactor, denitrifying bacteria converts nitrate into di-nitrogen gas.

Saturated buffers divert water flowing through underground tile lines into buffers along a river or stream, aiding nutrient removal before the water enters the waterway.

This new offering from IPPA builds on its continuing efforts in support of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy, including cover crop research, field day support and educational outreach.

"Through funding of this effort, support of the Water Quality Initiative, continued investments in the Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance and many other projects, Iowa pork producers remain committed to continuous improvement and practice adoption, while also celebrating tremendous positive strides that have been made over previous decades," Hora said. "Pig farmers take environmental management and regulations designed to protect our natural resources very seriously. Today's barns contain all manure to be used as crop nutrients and are designed to protect our rivers, streams and drinking water."

The Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy science assessment cites an average 4 percent reduction in Nitrate loss and up to 46 percent reduction in Phosphorous loss when using swine manure as a nutrient source compared to commercial fertilizer, while also having positive impacts on soil organic carbon, soil structure and runoff. Research from the University of Arkansas shows that efficiencies of modern pork production enabled pig farmers to reduce water use 41 percent land use 78 percent and carbon footprint 35 percent from 1959-2009.

NPPC Pre-World Pork Expo tours showcase pork production

The 2018 World Pork Expo, June 6-8, will showcase a wealth of activities, but now there are two more to add to the list. The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) has organized one- and two-day pre-Expo tours to provide intimate views of Midwest pork production and a range of agriculture.

"Whether traveling from another state or another country, Expo visitors should plan to arrive early and take advantage of the informational opportunity that these tours offer," says Greg Thornton, tour organizer for NPPC. "Not only are the tours a great way to gain insight and ask questions, but also to interact with fellow pork professionals from all over the world."

Two-day Midwest Agriculture Tour

The Midwest tour makes stops in Iowa, Illinois and northern Indiana to provide an up-close look at modern pork production practices, facilities, equipment and feed processing. Insights into the growth of U.S. pork exports and agricultural shipping practices round out the tour.

The tour starts on Monday with a visit to Fair Oaks Farms and the Pig Adventure and Pork Education Center in Indiana. Visitors will get an insider's view of modern pork production in a bio-secure environment. They can also tour the Dairy Adventure and Crop Adventure centers before enjoying lunch on site.

The next stop includes a barge cruise down the Mississippi River, where participants will learn how agricultural products move from the Midwest to the rest of the world.

Highlights for Tuesday, June 5, include a presentation on how U.S. pork production systems are organized and the growth in exports; a stop at a large feed mill owned and operated by JBS; and a visit to a modern grow-finish barn to view facilities and equipment from manure handling to ventilation.

"All stops will allow ample time for attendees to interact with industry experts and ask questions," Thornton notes. The tour bus will return to Des Moines by late afternoon on June 5.

Cost for the Midwest Agriculture Tour is U.S. $450 per person, which includes bus transportation, lodging on June 4, meals on tour days and World Pork Expo admission. Individuals are responsible for booking their own hotel rooms before the tour begins and during Expo.

One-day Iowa Agriculture Tour

Iowa is the United States' agricultural heartland and this one-day tour is designed to provide a snapshot of area agri-businesses related to modern pork production.

The tour begins in Des Moines on Tuesday morning, June 5, when attendees will board a tour bus to visit DuPont Pioneer headquarters to learn how researchers are improving agriculture productivity through seeds with better herbicide tolerance, disease and insect protection, improved agronomic performance, and increased end-use value. During lunch, there will be a presentation by a leading expert who will further explain the business and management sides of U.S. pork production. Attendees will visit JBS for a walking tour of a large feed mill, and a grow-finish barn will showcase production technologies and equipment, with the opportunity to interact with farm personnel.

The tour ends in Des Moines in late afternoon. The cost for this all-day tour is U.S. $150 per person, which includes bus transportation, breakfast and lunch on the tour, and admission to World Pork Expo.

"The tours are designed to build a deeper understanding of U.S. pork production and the businesses that support the industry," says Jim Heimerl, NPPC president and producer from Johnstown, Ohio. "Tour participants will further benefit from their experiences as they attend Expo and walk the trade show aisles, sit in on seminars or visit with producers."

Tour Registration is Open

Registration for both tours is available online as part of attendee registration — space is limited, so don't delay. In addition to tour details, the website provides information on World Pork Expo hotels, advice for international visitors, helpful travel tips and Expo facts.

Celebrating 30 years of World Pork Expo, the 2018 event takes place June 6-8 at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines. This year, Expo features an expanded trade show with record-setting exhibit space and more than 500 U.S. and international companies. Trade show hours run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, June 6, and Thursday, June 7, and from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday, June 8. Free educational seminars, entertainment, swine shows and breeding stock sales are just some of the other events scheduled.

Whether you're a producer, an employee or a visitor from another country, World Pork Expo is the place to see all things pork.

USMEF Statement on China’s Additional Duties on U.S. Pork

U.S. Meat Export Federation President and CEO Dan Halstrom

We regret the Chinese government’s decision to impose an additional 25 percent duty on imports of U.S. pork and pork variety meat. The United States is a reliable supplier of pork products to China, and this decision will have an immediate impact on U.S. producers and exporters, as well as our customers in China. We are hopeful that the additional duties can be rescinded quickly, so that U.S. pork can again compete on a level playing field with pork from other exporting countries.

Exports have been a key driver of growth in the U.S. pork industry, and with nearly 27 percent of U.S. pork production exported last year, international trade is critical to the continued success and profitability of the U.S. industry. China is a leading destination for U.S. pork and especially for pork variety meat. In 2017, U.S. exported 495,637 metric tons (mt) of pork and pork variety meat to China/Hong Kong, valued at $1.08 billion – our second-largest international market by volume and third-largest by value. For pork variety meat exports only, this was our largest destination in both volume (321,116 mt) and value ($741.8 million), accounting for 63 percent of U.S. export value. Variety meat exports make a critical contribution to industry profitability, and last year these exports to China/Hong Kong alone equated to more than $6.00 per U.S. hog slaughtered.

With U.S. exporters facing tariff and non-tariff barriers in China and other key markets, it is especially important to expand and diversify our export destinations for U.S. red meat. USMEF is working constantly to identify new and emerging markets in regions such as Central and South America, Southeast Asia and Africa, and to expand our customer base in mainstay markets such as Mexico, Japan, South Korea and Canada.

Statement by Steve Nelson, President, Regarding China’s Tariff on U.S. Pork

“Today, China announced it will levy a tariff of 25 percent on U.S. pork and pork products in retaliation to the U.S. imposing tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. China’s response is what we had feared all along and we are extremely concerned about this turn of events.”

“These tariffs will impact Nebraska’s already hurting agriculture economy. Nebraska Farm Bureau recently released a trade report called ‘Nebraska Agriculture & International Trade,’ and it showed Platte and Holt Counties were the most reliant on exports of pork, with each county receiving more than $20 million in value from pork exports. Several other counties in Northeast and North Central Nebraska derive more than $10 million in value from pork exports and would also be sensitive to any export slowdown related to the Chinese tariffs. Also, with pork processing facilities in Fremont, Crete, and Madison, these communities could feel the effects too.”

“These Chinese tariffs could be a damper on pork prices, slowing an already struggling agriculture economy in Nebraska and the U.S. We can’t emphasize enough the importance of trade and how concerning this latest action by China is for Nebraska farmers and ranchers.”

U.S. and Nebraska Numbers on Trade

What are the potential effects to the U.S. and Nebraska from the Chinese tariff on pork?
-    The National Pork Producers Council has said that the U.S. exported $1.1 billion in pork to China last year.
-    According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Foreign Ag Service, Nebraska exported $479 million in pork, of which $29 million, or 6 percent, went to China and Hong Kong.
-    The USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (USDA-NASS) recently released its Quarterly Hogs and Pigs report. The report showed the overall U.S. hogs and pigs count as of March 1 was 3.1 percent greater than last year. The March 1 market hog number reached 66.7 million head, the largest ever recorded. In other words, U.S. supplies of pork are growing, and growth in exports is needed to help absorb the growing supplies.  The Chinese tariff will make the needed growth more difficult to attain and could be a damper on pork prices. Today, the June lean hog futures contracts were off nearly 4 percent with the news from China.


NPPC newsletter

The Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) last week released a favorable and broad interpretation of the omnibus spending bill provision addressing the Electronic Logging Device mandate.  The interpretation states, “Livestock (as defined in 49 CFR 395.2) and insect haulers are not required to comply with the ELD rule for the duration of the fiscal 2018 appropriations bill, which runs through Sept. 30, and any subsequent continuing resolutions.”

Last week, the president signed $1.3 trillion federal spending bill that provided for a delay in the mandate.

Fats and Oils: Oilseed Crushings, Production, Consumption and Stocks

Soybeans crushed for crude oil was 4.95 million tons (165 million bushels) in February 2018, compared to 5.24 million tons (171 million bushels) in January 2018 and 4.54 million tons (155 million bushels) in February 2017. Crude oil produced was 1.89 billion pounds down 5 percent from January 2018 but up 8 percent from February 2017. Soybean once refined oil production at 1.26 billion pounds during February 2018 decreased 1 percent from January 2018 and decreased slightly from February 2017.

Canola seeds crushed for crude oil was 152 thousand tons in February 2018, compared to 157 thousand tons in January 2018 and 167 thousand tons in February 2017. Canola crude oil produced was 128 million pounds down 6 percent from January 2018 and down 8 percent from February 2017. Canola once refined oil production at 112 million pounds during February 2018 was up 11 percent from January 2018 but down 3 percent from February 2017. Cottonseed once refined oil production at 49.0 million pounds during February 2018 was up 17 percent from January 2018 and up 8 percent from February 2017.

Edible tallow production was 86.8 million pounds during February 2018, up 31 percent from January 2018 and up 21 percent from February 2017. Inedible tallow production was 323 million pounds during February 2018, up 9 percent from January 2018 but down 3 percent from February 2017. Technical tallow production was 110 million pounds during February 2018, up 16 percent from January 2018 but down 4 percent from February 2017. Choice white grease production at 114 million pounds during February 2018 increased 7 percent from January 2018 but decreased 5 percent from February 2017.

Grain Crushings and Co-Products Production

Total corn consumed for alcohol and other uses was 482 million bushels in February 2018. Total corn consumption was down 8 percent from January 2018 but up 2 percent from February 2017. February 2018 usage included 91.7 percent for alcohol and 8.3 percent for other purposes. Corn consumed for beverage alcohol totaled 2.36 million bushels, down 19 percent from January 2018 and down 23 percent from February 2017. Corn for fuel alcohol, at 434 million bushels, was down 9 percent from January 2018 but up 2 percent from February 2017. Corn consumed in February 2018 for dry milling fuel production and wet milling fuel production was 90.7 percent and 9.3 percent respectively.

Dry mill co-product production of distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) was 1.83 million tons during February 2018, down 8 percent from January 2018 and down 3 percent from February 2017. Distillers wet grains (DWG) 65 percent or more moisture was 1.26 million tons in February 2018, down 12 percent from January 2018 but up 3 percent from February 2017.

Wet mill corn gluten feed production was 285 thousand tons during February 2018, down 6 percent from January 2018 but up 6 percent from February 2017. Wet corn gluten feed 40 to 60 percent moisture was 255 thousand tons in February 2018, down 7 percent from January 2018 and down 13 percent from February 2017.

USDA Announces Commodity Credit Corporation Lending Rates for April 2018

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Commodity Credit Corporation today announced interest rates for April 2018. The Commodity Credit Corporation borrowing rate-based charge for April is 2.000 percent, up from 1.875 percent in March.

The interest rate for crop year commodity loans less than one year disbursed during April is 3.000 percent, up from 2.875 percent in March.

Interest rates for Farm Storage Facility Loans approved for April are as follows, 2.375 percent with three-year loan terms, up from 2.250 percent in March; 2.625 percent with five-year loan terms, up from 2.500 percent in March; 2.750 percent with seven-year loan terms, unchanged from 2.750 percent in March; 2.875 percent with 10-year loan terms, up from 2.750 percent in March and; 2.875 percent with 12-year loan terms, up from 2.750 percent in March.

CWT Assists with 2 million Pounds of Cheese Export Sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 11 requests for export assistance from cooperatives that captured contracts to sell 2.017 million pounds (915 metric tons) of Cheddar and Gouda cheese to customers in Asia, Central America and the Middle East. The product has been contracted for delivery in the period from March through June 2018.

CWT-assisted member cooperative 2018 export sales total 29.146 million pounds of American-type cheeses, and 5.613 million pounds of butter (82% milkfat) to 20 countries on five continents. These sales are the equivalent of 395.464 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 Issues Final Decision on California Federal Milk Marketing Order

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today published in the Federal Register a final decision to establish a Federal Milk Marketing Order (FMMO) for California. The proposed FMMO would incorporate the entire state of California. The final decision is based on the evidentiary record of a public hearing held in Clovis, Calif., from September to November 2015. A recommended decision regarding the proposed program was published Feb. 14, 2017.

USDA will conduct a referendum among dairy producers to determine whether they support the proposed FMMO. The referendum will be held from April 2, 2018 through May 5, 2018. USDA will mail ballot materials to all known eligible dairy producers supplying milk to the proposed marketing area. The FMMO would become effective if approved by two-thirds of the voting producers, or by producers of two-thirds of the milk represented in the voting process.

FMMOs are legal instruments that regulate the sale of milk between dairy farmers and the first buyer. Where appropriate, the proposed California FMMO adopts the uniform order provisions contained in the 10 current FMMOs in the national system. These uniform provisions include, but are not limited to, dairy product classification, end-product price formulas, and the producer-handler definition. The proposed order would recognize the unique market structure of the California dairy industry through tailored, performance-based standards to determine eligibility for pool participation. The proposed order provides for the recognition of producer quota as administered by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA).

California represents over 18 percent of all U.S. milk production and is currently regulated by a state milk marketing order administered by CDFA.

Along with issuing this final decision, USDA conducted a Regulatory Economic Impact Analysis to determine the potential impact of regulating California milk handlers under a FMMO on the milk supply, product demand and prices, and milk allocation in California and throughout the United States. The entire hearing record, including the Regulatory Economic Impact Analysis, is available at Today’s Federal Register notice is available at:

USDA will hold a public meeting beginning at 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday, April 10, 2018, in Clovis, Calif., to answer questions related to how the proposed California FMMO would operate and how eligible dairy producers can participate in the referendum. Interested parties will have the opportunity to attend in person or watch the meeting live via webcast. Meeting details, as well as information regarding the producer referendum, are available on the AMS website at

American Lamb Board Establishes Goal of 2 Percent Demand Growth Yearly

The American Lamb Board (ALB) has approved a new long range plan for 2018-2022 to focus the work of the checkoff and its stakeholders in the areas of promotion, information and research over the next five years – and it boldly sets a demand growth goal.

The strategic objective of the plan is to increase demand for American Lamb by 2 percent annually over the next five years, for a total demand growth of 10 percent. Per capita consumption of lamb in the U.S. has remained steady over the past ten years at approximately one pound per person per year with nearly 20 percent of lamb consumption occurring during the spring holidays. Urban shoppers are the most likely to consume lamb with the highest consumption occurring on the East and West Coasts. In 2015, lamb demand was up 7 percent compared to 2014 and increased again in 2016 by 2.5 percent.

“The future holds tremendous promise for our industry which produces a unique, flavorful, tender and nutritious protein that meets the changing needs and preferences of consumers,” says Jim Percival, Xenia, Ohio, ALB chairman. “Improving the quality and consistency of our products to ensuring consumers have a great eating experience every time, increasing our industry’s productivity and stabilizing our prices are all critical to the success of creating demand for American Lamb.”

ALB is committed to Five Core Strategies outlined in the Long Range Plan that aim to increase the demand for American Lamb.
-    Grow awareness and increase usage of American Lamb among chefs and consumers.
-    Promote and strengthen American Lamb’s Value Proposition.
-    Improve the quality and consistency of American Lamb.
-    Support industry efforts to increase domestic supplies of lamb.
-    Collaborate and communicate with industry partners and stakeholders to expand efforts to address the first four strategies.

“Using these core strategies, the ALB will create budgets and annual work plans to achieve the goals and initiatives set by the Long Range Plan. America’s lamb producers are excited about the work we’ll be doing over the next several years to increase the demand not just for lamb, but specifically for American Lamb,” Percival says.

The Long Range Plan identifies key trends and opportunities in today’s marketing climate. Global demand growth, interest in buying local and production practices, changing consumer preferences, nutrition perceptions of lamb, as well as the price and perceived value of American Lamb all influenced the five core strategies outlined in the Long Range Plan.

“We trust that other stakeholders and allied industry partners will seek opportunities to align their plans with this plan and find ways to support the industry-wide objectives. We all benefit when we focus our efforts to build demand for American Lamb,” Percival says.

To download the full version of the Long Range Plan, go to

Bank Loans to US Farmers Increase in 2017

Farm banks lent more to the troubled agricultural sector in 2017, according to the American Bankers Association, increasing lending by almost 6% to $106B. Low commodity prices have pushed US agriculture into a multi-year slump, with farm incomes due to fall to the lowest point since 2006. Some farmers have turned to creditors for relief while others have gone out of business altogether. "We're starting to see the effects of a weaker ag sector," says ABA's Brittany Kleinpaste. Farm bank profitability slowed in 2017 from the previous year, with around 96% profitable and around 55% increasing earnings. Banks held a total of $180B in agricultural loans at the end of the year.

Titan Machinery Revenues Up

Titan Machinery Inc. reported financial results for the fiscal fourth quarter and full year ended January 31, 2018.

"We were well positioned to capture the anticipated fiscal fourth quarter acceleration in Agriculture sales activity due to better than anticipated crop yields in our footprint and the resulting improvement in grower sentiment," said Chairman and CEO David Meyer. "As a result of our improved inventory position, we continue to experience increased equipment margins compared to the prior year."

In addition, fiscal full year 2018 performance was highlighted by reduced operating expenses and a more efficient operating structure due to the completion of our restructuring efforts.

For its Agriculture Segment, revenue for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2018 was $205.3 million, compared to $201.1 million in the fourth quarter last year. Pre-tax income for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2018 was $2.2 million, compared to pre-tax loss of $5.9 million in the fourth quarter last year. Adjusted pre-tax income for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2018 was $2.0 million, compared to an adjusted pre-tax loss of $4.8 million in the fourth quarter last year.

Thursday March 29 USDA Reports + Ag News


Nebraska corn growers intend to plant 9.30 million acres this year, down 3 percent from 2017, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Soybean planted acreage is expected to be 5.60 million acres, down 2 percent from last year.

All hay acreage to be harvested is expected to total 2.70 million acres, up 3 percent from 2017.

Winter wheat acres seeded in the fall of 2017 are estimated at a record low 1.07 million, down 4 percent from last year.

Sorghum growers in Nebraska intend to plant 200,000 acres, up 11 percent from a year ago.

Oat intentions are estimated at 135,000 acres, up 23 percent from last year.

Dry edible bean acreage intentions are estimated at 145,000 acres, down 19 percent from 2017.

All dry edible bean acreage estimate includes chickpea acreage estimates.

All chickpea planted acreage intentions are estimated at 5,000 acres.

Sugarbeet growers expect to plant 45,600 acres, down 1 percent from last year.

Sunflower producers expect to plant 43,000 acres, down 5 percent from 2017. Oil type varieties account for 33,000 acres, up 10 percent from a year ago. Non-oil varieties made up the balance of 10,000 acres, down 35 percent from the previous year.

Dry edible pea acreage intentions are estimated at 52,000 acres, down 10 percent from last year.

Estimates in this report are based on a survey conducted during the first two weeks of March.


Iowa farmers intend to plant 13.3 million acres of corn for all purposes in 2018 according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Prospective Plantings report. This is unchanged from 2017.

Producers intend to plant 9.80 million acres of soybeans in Iowa this year. This is a 200,000 acre decrease from 2017.

Iowa farmers intend to plant 140,000 acres of oats for all purposes, up 25,000 acres from last year. If realized, this would be the largest planted acreage since 2014.

Farmers in Iowa expect to harvest 1.10 million acres of all dry hay for the 2018 crop year. This is 20,000 acres more than harvested in 2017.

Planted acres of winter wheat, at 20,000 acres, is up 4,000 acres from last year.

U.S. Prospective Plantings:  Corn Planted Acreage Down 2 Percent from 2017

Soybean Acreage Down 1 Percent
All Wheat Acreage Up 3 Percent
All Cotton Acreage Up 7 Percent

Corn planted area for all purposes in 2018 is estimated at 88.0 million acres, down 2 percent or 2.14 million acres from last year. Compared with last year, planted acreage is expected to be down or unchanged in 33 of the 48 estimating States.

Soybean planted area for 2018 is estimated at 89.0 million acres, down 1 percent from last year. Compared with last year, planted acreage intentions are down or unchanged in 20 of the 31 estimating States.

All wheat planted area for 2018 is estimated at 47.3 million acres, up 3 percent from 2017. This represents the second lowest all wheat planted area on record since records began in 1919. The 2018 winter wheat planted area, at 32.7 million acres, is up slightly from both last year and the previous estimate. Of this total, about 23.2 million acres are Hard Red Winter, 5.85 million acres are Soft Red Winter, and 3.64 million acres are White Winter. Area planted to other spring wheat for 2018 is estimated at 12.6 million acres, up 15 percent from 2017. Of this total, about 12.1 million acres are Hard Red Spring wheat. Durum planted area for 2018 is estimated at 2.00 million acres, down 13 percent from the previous year.

All cotton planted area for 2018 is estimated at 13.5 million acres, 7 percent above last year. Upland area is estimated at 13.2 million acres, up 7 percent from 2017. American Pima area is estimated at 262,000 acres, up 4 percent from 2017.


Nebraska corn stocks in all positions on March 1, 2018 totaled 956 million bushels, down 5 percent from 2017, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Of the total, 540 million bushels are stored on farms, down 8 percent from a year ago. Off-farm stocks, at 416 million bushels, are up 1 percent from last year.

Soybeans stored in all positions totaled 166 million bushels, up 18 percent from last year. Onfarm stocks of 51.0 million bushels are up 13 percent from a year ago and off-farm stocks, at 115 million bushels, are up 20 percent from 2017.

Wheat stored in all positions totaled 52.7 million bushels, down 15 percent from a year ago. Onfarm stocks of 2.60 million bushels are down 24 percent from 2017 and off-farm stocks of 50.1 million bushels are down 14 percent from last year.

Sorghum stored in all positions totaled 5.50 million bushels, down 48 percent from 2017. Onfarm stocks of 750 thousand bushels are up 9 percent from a year ago but off-farm holdings of 4.75 million bushels are down 52 percent from last year.

On-farm oat stocks totaled 500 thousand bushels, up 25 percent from 2017.


Corn stored in all positions in Iowa on March 1, 2018, totaled 1.70 billion bushels, down 1 percent from March 1, 2017, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Grain Stocks report. Of the total stocks, 59 percent were stored on-farm. The December 2017 - February 2018 indicated disappearance totaled 685 million bushels, 1 percent below the 690 million bushels from the same period last year.

Soybeans stored in all positions in Iowa on March 1, 2018, totaled 366 million bushels, 18 percent above the 310 million bushels on hand March 1, 2017. Of the total stocks, 41 percent were stored on-farm. Indicated disappearance for December 2017 - February 2018 is 121 million bushels, 18 percent below the 148 million bushels from the same quarter last year.

Oats stored on-farm in Iowa on March 1, 2018, totaled 750 thousand bushels, down 22 percent from March 1, 2017.

U.S. Corn Stocks Up 3 Percent from March 2017

Soybean Stocks Up 21 Percent
All Wheat Stocks Down 10 Percent

Corn stocks in all positions on March 1, 2018 totaled 8.89 billion bushels, up 3 percent from March 1, 2017. Of the total stocks, 5.00 billion bushels were stored on farms, up 2 percent from a year earlier. Off-farm stocks, at 3.89 billion bushels, are up 5 percent from a year ago. The December 2017 - February 2018 indicated disappearance is 3.68 billion bushels, compared with 3.76 billion bushels during the same period last year.

Soybeans stored in all positions on March 1, 2018 totaled 2.11 billion bushels, up 21 percent from March 1, 2017. Soybean stocks stored on farms are estimated at 855 million bushels, up 28 percent from a year ago. Off-farm stocks, at 1.25 billion bushels, are up 17 percent from last March. Indicated disappearance for the December 2017 - February 2018 quarter totaled 1.05 billion bushels, down 9 percent from the same period a year earlier.

All wheat stored in all positions on March 1, 2018 totaled 1.49 billion bushels, down 10 percent from a year ago. On-farm stocks are estimated at 259 million bushels, down 26 percent from last March. Off-farm stocks, at 1.24 billion bushels, are down 6 percent from a year ago. The December 2017 - February 2018 indicated disappearance is 379 million bushels, 10 percent below the same period a year earlier.

Durum wheat stocks in all positions on March 1, 2018 totaled 49.2 million bushels, down 7 percent from a year ago. On-farm stocks, at 25.8 million bushels, are down 20 percent from March 1, 2017. Off-farm stocks totaled 23.4 million bushels, up 14 percent from a year ago. The December 2017 - February 2018 indicated disappearance of 6.86 million bushels is 66 percent below the same period a year earlier.

Barley stocks in all positions on March 1, 2018 totaled 129 million bushels, down 11 percent from March 1, 2017. On-farm stocks are estimated at 48.5 million bushels, 14 percent below a year ago. Off-farm stocks, at 80.8 million bushels, are 8 percent below March 2017. The December 2017 - February 2018 indicated disappearance totaled 29.5 million bushels, 38 percent below the same period a year earlier.

Oats stored in all positions on March 1, 2018 totaled 55.1 million bushels, 13 percent below the stocks on March 1, 2017. Of the total stocks on hand, 17.2 million bushels were stored on farms, down 23 percent from a year ago. Off-farm stocks totaled 37.8 million bushels, down 7 percent from the previous year. Indicated disappearance during December 2017 - February 2018 totaled 11.4 million bushels, 7 percent below the same period a year ago.

Grain sorghum stored in all positions on March 1, 2018 totaled 138 million bushels, down 23 percent from a year ago. On-farm stocks, at 13.3 million bushels, are down 38 percent from last March. Off-farm stocks, at 125 million bushels, are down 22 percent from a year earlier. The December 2017 - February 2018 indicated disappearance from all positions is 89.2 million bushels, 30 percent below the same period last year.

Sunflower stocks in all positions on March 1, 2018 totaled 1.24 billion pounds, 8 percent below March 1, 2017. All stocks stored on farms totaled 546 million pounds and off-farm stocks totaled 692 million pounds. Stocks of oil type sunflower seed are 1.05 billion pounds; of this total, 482 million pounds are on-farm stocks and 565 million pounds are off-farm stocks. Non-oil sunflower stocks totaled 191 million pounds, with 64.4 million pounds stored on the farm and 127 million pounds stored off the farm.


Nebraska inventory of all hogs and pigs on March 1, 2018, was 3.45 million head, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. This was up 5 percent from March 1, 2017, but down 4 percent from December 1, 2017.

Breeding hog inventory, at 420,000 head, was up 1 percent from March 1, 2017, but down 2 percent from last quarter. Market hog inventory, at 3.03 million head, was up 5 percent from last year, but down 4 percent from last quarter.

The December 2017 - February 2018 Nebraska pig crop, at 2.11 million head, was up 4 percent from 2017. Sows farrowed during the period totaled 180,000 head, up 3 percent from last year. The average pigs saved per litter was a record high of 11.70 for the December - February period, compared to 11.55 last year.

Nebraska hog producers intend to farrow 180,000 sows during the March - May 2018 quarter, down 3 percent from the actual farrowings during the same period a year ago. Intended farrowings for June - August 2018 are 190,000 sows, unchanged from the actual farrowings during the same period the previous year.


On March 1, 2018, there were 22.6 million hogs and pigs on Iowa farms, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Hogs and Pigs report. The March 1 inventory is up 5 percent from the previous year.

The December 2017-February 2018 quarterly pig crop was 6.16 million head, up 27,000 head from the previous quarter and 12 percent above last year. A total of 560,000 sows farrowed during this quarter. The average pigs saved per litter was 11.0, down slightly from last quarter.

As of March 1, producers planned to farrow 550,000 sows and gilts in the March-May quarter and 560,000 head during the June-August quarter.

United States Hog Inventory Up 3 Percent

United States inventory of all hogs and pigs on March 1, 2018 was 72.9 million head. This was up 3 percent fromMarch 1, 2017, but down 1 percent from December 1, 2017. 

Breeding inventory, at 6.20 million head, was up 2 percent from last year, and up slightly from the previous quarter.

Market hog inventory, at 66.7 million head, was up 3 percent from last year, but down 1 percent from last quarter.

The December-February 2018 pig crop, at 32.3 million head, was up 4 percent from 2017. Sows farrowing during this period totaled 3.06 million head, up 2 percent from 2017. The sows farrowed during this quarter represented 49 percent of the breeding herd. The average pigs saved per litter was a record high of 10.58 for the December-February period, compared to 10.43 last year.

United States hog producers intend to have 3.08 million sows farrow during the March-May 2018 quarter, up 2 percent from the actual farrowings during the same period in 2017, and up 4 percent from 2016. Intended farrowings for June-August 2018, at 3.16 million sows, are up 1 percent from 2017, and up 4 percent from 2016.

The total number of hogs under contract owned by operations with over 5,000 head, but raised by contractees, accounted for 47 percent of the total United States hog inventory, down from 48 percent the previous year.

Northeast prepares to host hundreds of college and university students for national ag conference

From outward appearances, it’s classes as scheduled for faculty and the 350 agricultural students at Northeast Community College in Norfolk. However, a closer look reveals a flurry of activity behind the scenes as the College and its Agriculture Department ready hundreds of details in preparation for a major agricultural competition.

As of late March, 650 students, representing 38 two and four-year institutions, were registered for the 2018 North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) Judging Conference to be conducted from Wednesday, April 18, through Saturday, April 21.

“It’s a huge undertaking, but we’ve (Northeast) been involved in competing at NACTA (since 2000), and it’s our turn to host,” said Mike Roeber, Northeast livestock judging coach and animal science instructor. “We (Northeast) need to put in the time and work to get that accomplished.”

Throughout the conference, he said, “We’ll be showcasing the campus and its facilities and the Norfolk community.”

Roeber said the registered schools hail from 17 states with a soils and crops judging team traveling from Australia.

The list includes Purdue University, Penn State, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture, Texas A & M, Casper Community College and Murray State University (the host site for the 2019 NACTA conference).

Northeast President Dr. Michael Chipps said, “It’s an exciting opportunity for Northeast Community College to host … this great exposition, if you will.” The event, he said, will especially showcase the College’s agricultural presence that dates to 1973. 

Roeber said Northeast hosted the 2005 NACTA Judging Conference, with three faculty still on staff who were involved in that event.

He is currently finishing his third year as president of the NACTA Coaches Association. His duties include scheduling the host judging conference schools, verifying eligibility of participating schools with the NACTA organization headquarters, and providing information to the educational branch of the NACTA organization.

NACTA, a professional society, focuses on the scholarship of teaching and learning agriculture and related disciplines at the postsecondary level, according to its website. Members are two-and four-year public and private colleges and universities.

This year’s 13 contests will primarily be conducted on campus and at Northeast’s Chuck M. Pohlman Agriculture Complex, along with some off-campus judging sites as well, Roeber said.        

The schedule includes:

April 19 – dairy judging, horticultural, precision agriculture, agribusiness and agricultural knowledge bowl (preliminaries) contests;

April 20 – livestock judging, soils, agricultural mechanics, computer applications and ag knowledge (finals) contests; and

April 21 – livestock management, crops, agricultural communications/agricultural sales and equine judging contests. The 2018 conference concludes with an awards banquet that night at the DeVent Center.

Roeber said all of the College’s agriculture faculty and staff members, as well as a number of ag students, will be involved in various aspects of the conference. Several of the College’s ag graduates also volunteered to assist, some of whom were involved in past NACTA competitions as students, he added.

Northeast Community College officially decided to host the 2018 NACTA Judging Conference four years ago, Roeber said, with preparations underway since 2015.

The checklist includes:
. Compiling the wording and ordering of 510 plaques, trophies and banners for the top individuals and teams;
. Securing the animals (ewes, beef cattle, and market hogs, lambs and goats) for the 12 livestock judging classes, as well as the dairy cattle and equine judging contests;
. Digging more than one dozen six-foot-deep practice and contest holes for the soils contest; and
. Lining up the official judges for each of the 13 contests.

Bernie Thyen, an agronomy instructor at Northeast, is engaged in a major task: growing more than 120 different species of plants for the crops contest. Thyen, who is coordinating this year’s contest, said he began collecting seeds for the contest two years ago.

He said many seeds were collected from plants growing in the area, some gleaned from ditches, fields and even flower pots. Some rare seeds – such as castor, sesame and tobacco -- were ordered. A corn plant planted last December 3 now towers 10 feet.

Grow lights, operational from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, simulate mid-summer growing conditions and maintain the plants’ normal growing state, he said. Some plants have to be “tricked” so they are headed out or flowering at the time of the contest.

“Can you imagine the challenge to keep plants growing inside this winter?” Thyen asked, noting outside temperatures as low as a minus 28.

Thyen said he has spent “hundreds and hundreds of hours” tending to the more than 300 potted plants under cultivation in a College greenhouse.

The crops judging contest is designed to prepare students for agronomic careers. The two-year college and university contestants vie individually, side by side.

An hour is devoted to each of the sections: math practical, agronomic exam, laboratory practical, and plant and seed identification. The latter requires identification of 75 crop and weed plants and their seeds with more than 150 possible species on the exam.

At the end of this year’s crops contest, Thyen said he wants the contestants to say: “Wow! He had good plants, and it was tough.”

Sarah Sellin, an agronomy and animal science instructor at Northeast, is in charge of the soils competition. The contest, she said, is “very science based” with focuses on such areas as soil slope, type, texture, color, structure and grade.

“We want to find unique soil types that can showcase Nebraska soils,” Sellin said.

Twelve practice pits, as well as four contest pits, will be dug at undisclosed sites shortly before the conference. During the contest, a student will spend an hour each at the four pits, including 10 minutes in the pit gleaning specific information.

Sellin also is coordinating the equine contest and securing the horses for the halter, performance and body conformation classes. Some area 4-H members will be involved as horse owners and riders/handlers, she said.

Over the years, Northeast has annually fielded several first-place NACTA conference teams, Roeber said. 

As the host school this year, Northeast students may compete in some contests but will not be in contention for any awards. The Northeast students will mostly be assisting the faculty and staff in conducting the 13 contests.

Nebraska Hall of Agricultural Achievement honors, elects new members

The Nebraska Hall of Agricultural Achievement honored David and Ann Bruntz, and Don Hutchens at a banquet on March 23 at Nebraska East Union in Lincoln.  Formed in 1916, the Nebraska Hall of Agricultural Achievement is dedicated to preserving and improving Nebraska agriculture. Each year, the group recognizes at least one honoree and elects new members.

David Bruntz grew up on a family farm near Friend, and Ann (Ramm) was raised on a family ranch near Stuart. They met while attending while attending the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis. After they married they began their farming operation near Friend, Bruntz Farming & Feeding Inc., which consisted of corn, soybeans, milo alfalfa and cattle.

Both have served in several key volunteer and leadership positions. David’s roles have included chairman of the Nebraska Cattlemen Farmer/Stockman Council and president of the Nebraska Cattlemen Research and Education Foundation, a role that Ann has also held. In addition, Ann has served as chairman of the board for two terms at the Nebraska Beef Council. She has also been president of both the Nebraska Livestock Feeders Auxiliary and the Nebraska Cattlewomen. In 2003, Ann was honored with the Nebraska Cattlewoman of the Year award.

The couple are very involved within the agricultural industry and their community of Friend. They are active in the Nebraska Agribusiness Club, Agriculture Builders of Nebraska, Farmers Union Cooperative, Friend Chamber of Commerce and Friend United Methodist Church.

Hutchens grew up on the family farm southeast of Geneva. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and then returned to the family farming operation for 14 years before beginning his career in agricultural leadership. In 1985, Hutchens was named assistant director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, eventually serving as director in 1986. He was selected as executive director of the Nebraska Corn Board in 1987, a role he held until retiring in 2014.

As a graduate of the inaugural class of the Nebraska LEAD Program, Hutchens recognizes the value of giving back to the industry through service and as a mentor. A few of his volunteer involvements have been with the Nebraska 4-H Foundation, Nebraska FFA Foundation and the Agriculture Builders of Nebraska.

Honors Hutchens has received include an honorary American farmer degree from National FFA, outstanding member award from Nebraska Young Farmers and Ranchers, outstanding professional contact from the mayor’s committee for international friendship, the leadership alumni award from the Nebraska LEAD Program, and an award for outstanding leadership and dedicated service to agriculture from KRVN.

NHAA also welcomed new members at the banquet. New members were nominated by a fellow member of the hall for their significant contributions to the state’s agriculture industry.  This year’s new NHAA members, listed by hometown are:
    BROKEN BOW: Bill Adams, chief engineering officer, Adams Land and Cattle; Jerry Adams, chief executive officer, president, Adams Land and Cattle; and R.T. Thomas, owner/operator, Thomas Livestock Inc.
    EDGAR: Dawn Caldwell, head of government affairs, Aurora Cooperative
    FIRTH: Ed Woeppel, education and program director, Nebraska Cooperative Council
    LINCOLN: George Graef, professor of plant breeding and genetics, University of Nebraska–Lincoln
    SCOTTSBLUFF: Arden Wohlers, rancher and retired veterinarian
    ST.PAUL: Fred Meyer, farmer and rancher
    WESTON: Gregg Fujan, owner/operator of soybean and corn production enterprise


The Animal Science Department at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln will present three awards of distinction at their Animal Science Alumni and Friends Roundup on April 13 in Lincoln. The inaugural awards will recognize the outstanding accomplishments of undergraduate and graduate alumni, and the contributions individuals have made to the department through their commitment to the industry.

The recipients will be honored at 6 p.m. at Nebraska Innovation Campus, 2021 Transformation Drive.

Jerry Connealy, BS 1981, of Whitman, will be honored with the undergraduate of distinction award. Over the past 30-plus years, Connealy has developed the leading Angus seedstock herd in Nebraska. Through his visionary leadership and tremendously focused hard work, Connealy Angus has grown from 250 cows to 2500 registered cows, selling over 750 bulls per year. Connealy bulls frequently populate the pages of bull stud catalogs across the country. Nominator Merlyn Nielsen says, Connealy is the epitome of humbleness, not seeking the limelight.

Michael Lewis, Ph.D. 1988, of Blair, will be honored with the graduate of distinction award. While working as a student under Terry Klopfenstein, Lewis developed the NEBRIS data collection system for the university feedlot that is still in use 30 years later. Today, Lewis is vice president and feed segment leader for value-added feed and meal products for Cargill's wet milling facilities. His support of the department has been in the form of feed donations, facility tours and undergraduate training resources. Nominators Galen Erickson and Terry Klopfenstein said the university’s beef and dairy programs are indebted to Cargill and especially, Lewis for the generous financial support.

Alan (Al) Svajgr, BS 1964, MS 1968, of Cozad, will be recognized with a distinguished service award honoring his outstanding contributions to the department. Svajgr’s record of service to the department and the university is quite impressive and shows his commitment to the institution and its land-grant mission. He has been called upon to give guest lectures, provide tours, sit on advisory committees and more. He has served as president of Agriculture Builders of Nebraska, sat on the chancellor's advisory board, and for the last several years, has provided tremendous financial support for graduate student travel to scientific meetings. Svajgr has been selected as a Block & Bridle Honoree and has been inducted into the Nebraska Cattlemen's Hall of Fame. Nominators say he is always looking for ways to support the university’s mission and has been very effective in those endeavors.

Tickets to the Animal Science Alumni and Friends Roundup are $30 and can be purchased at

For more information, contact Jennifer Dush at 402-472-3571 or

The Animal Science Department at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln is made up of internationally-recognized faculty who lead programs in breeding and genetics, meat science, non-ruminant and ruminant nutrition, physiology, animal well-being, production and management. To learn more about the department, visit

Newton restaurant voted IPPA 'Pulled Pork Madness Champion'

A Facebook contest designed to find Iowa's best pulled pork sandwich has produced a winner.

Moo's BBQ in Newton was crowned the winner of the Iowa Pork Producers Association Pulled Pork Madness contest and it was announced on the IPPA Facebook page this morning. The restaurant offers five different pulled pork items and claims to serve "the finest smoked meats that Jasper County has to offer."

The month-long contest was all built around the March Madness college basketball tournament craze and it was held to capitalize on the popularity and success of IPPA's annual Best Breaded Pork Tenderloin contest.

IPPA Consumer Outreach Director Kelsey Byrnes initially invited Facebook followers to nominate the Iowa restaurant they feel has the best pulled pork sandwich and 1,200 people responded in the week-long nomination process. Pork fans nominated 125 restaurants and Byrnes then selected the top two vote getters in each of IPPA's eight districts to fill out the "Sweet 16" bracket.

Subsequent voting narrowed the field to the "Elite 8" and then the "Final Four." Voting for the two finalists was conducted from March 23-28 and Moo's edged out Guys with Grills BBQ and Catering in Story City to become the 2018 "Pulled Pork Madness Champion" 3,450 total votes to 3,420.

"We held the social media contest to attract new pork fans and remind people that there are restaurants in all parts of Iowa that offer really great barbeque pork," Byrnes said.

Throughout the contest, 4,200 people participated and 6,100 total votes were cast.

IPPA will present Moo's BBQ with $250 and a handsome "Pulled Pork Madness" plaque for its restaurant in Newton tomorrow.

Soy Growers, Ag Groups Talk Farm Bill Status

The American Soybean Association (ASA) staff met with representatives of other farm organizations this week to discuss the status of preparations to write a new farm bill this year. The groups discussed what they can do to improve chances of completing the process before the Agricultural Act of 2014 expires at the end of September.

Disagreement between Republican and Democrat members of the House Agriculture Committee before the current Easter recess over whether to reform the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamp program, have continued and escalated into this week. There is growing concern that both sides are digging in and reducing prospects for progress when Congress returns to Washington on April 9.

The focus of attention is turning to negotiations between Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), of the Senate Agriculture Committee, who both said they are prepared to put forward a bipartisan bill by the end of April that would include few if any changes in the SNAP program.

If the Committee leadership is able to take through both their panel and across the Senate floor on strong bipartisan votes, it will raise pressure on the House to resolve its differences and move forward to mark-up a bill in Committee that can receive a majority vote on the House floor, as opposed to the failed effort in 2013 that resulted in splitting the last farm bill in two.

It is considered likely that Chairman Mike Conaway (R-TX) will not be able to find 218 votes among fellow Republicans to pass a bill without changing the SNAP provisions, meaning that enough moderate Democrats will need to support a bill with changes that are more acceptable to the anti-hunger community.

In addition to ASA, also attending the meeting this week were representatives of the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Farmers Union, National Corn Growers Association, National Barley Growers Association and National Association of Wheat Growers.

ASA Submits Comments to the EPA on Neonics

The American Soybean Association (ASA) submitted comments to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the registration reviews of certain neonicotinoids last week. Specifically, the comments discussed the use and benefits of imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam for soybean growers.

The comments discussed the important role of neonics as part of integrated pest management (IPM) programs and how they can help manage resistance while also aiding in sound conservation.

“One of the most common uses is to utilize seed treatments that contain imidacloprid, thiamethoxam or clothianidin to protect vulnerable soybean seedlings from insects in the soil that could destroy the crop before it ever matures,” ASA states in the comments. “Furthermore, these chemicals can aid in sound conservation techniques.”

The public comment period is open until April 21, 2018.

Electronic Logging Device Requirements Delayed

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) recently announced another 90 day extension on the deadline for livestock haulers to comply with the electronic logging device (ELD) requirements.

Subsequently, in the Omnibus Appropriations bill passed by Congress last week, a provision was included to prevent DOT from enforcing the ELD mandate through the end of the current fiscal year (Sept. 30, 2018).  The initial extension issued by DOT expired on March 18.

Most farmers are exempt from the ELD mandate under the covered farm vehicle exemption, however, that does not apply to all livestock or other agriculture related haulers. Several livestock groups along with American Farm Bureau have petitioned DOT for a waiver due to concerns about livestock haulers ability to comply with the mandate and the impact it would have on animal welfare.

In the latest extension DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) indicated it will issue new guidance on the agricultural 150 air-mile exemption and hours of service rules. The additional action by Congress to delay enforcement of the ELD requirements will provide more time for livestock and agriculture groups to analyze the requirements and seek changes, if necessary.

Field to Market and USRSB Announce Partnership to Advance Sustainability for Beef Value Chain

Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture and the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (USRSB) today announced an agreement establishing mutual recognition of the value and importance of each organization’s work and a commitment to foster an increased level of collaboration. In the agreement, USRSB agreed to recognize the role Field to Market plays in defining sustainable production for feed commodities utilized in beef production. In the same way, Field to Market agreed to recognize USRSB’s role in defining sustainable beef production.

“By collaborating with the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, we can offer tangible solutions to the livestock value chain by exploring opportunities to combine our measurement approaches,” said Rod Snyder, president of Field to Market. “We are particularly excited to bring greater transparency and continuous improvement in feed production, which in turn will positively impact the overall sustainability of beef.”

Under the agreement, both organizations committed to:
·        Recognize Field to Market’s Indicators, Metrics and Benchmarks within USRSB documents discussing sustainable feed;
·        Recognize USRSB’s Indicators and Metrics within Field to Market documents discussing sustainable beef production;
·        Encourage USRSB and Field to Market members, where applicable, to utilize the resources of both organizations in pilot projects, potential supply chain agreements and appropriate public facing communication;
·        Share scientific learnings where appropriate; and
·        Participate in the other’s meetings and work sessions, providing feedback and expertise where needed.

“We realize the sustainability of the beef industry must include all facets of the what goes in to putting that hamburger or steak on our tables,” said Rickette Collins, Chair of the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef. “By sharing learnings and expertise, USRSB and Field to Market can lead the beef industry to better solutions to the sustainability challenges we all face throughout the value-chain.”

As the first step in identifying opportunities for increased collaboration, both organizations have formed a joint task force to identify areas of engagement as well as explore potential pilot projects. The task force is comprised of members in Field to Market and/or USRSB, including: Cargill, Corteva Agriscience - the agriculture division of DowDuPont, McDonald’s, National Corn Growers Association, Texas Cattle Feeders Association, The Nature Conservancy, and World Wildlife Fund.

Agriculture Coalition Launches ‘Fix Prop 65’ Site in Effort to Halt California’s Unsound Glyphosate Regulation

The Ag Defense Alliance, a national coalition of farmers and agriculture networks, today launched a new website providing resources and information about its case against California’s unjustified Prop 65 listing of glyphosate.

“The new site will be used to communicate the importance of one tool to farmers, glyphosate. Glyphosate is a safe for use and effective crop protectant used by growers to provide an abundant, safe, and affordable supply of food,” stated Chandler Goule, Chief Executive of the National Association of Wheat Growers, the lead plaintiff in the case against California. “Our coalition understands the importance of glyphosate to our nation’s agriculture economy and we are committed to communicating with all interested stakeholders as our case moves forward against California’s unjustified Prop 65 listing of glyphosate.”

The Fix Prop 65 website provides research and background on the case, testimonials from farmers, information about glyphosate, how it is used, and what the scientific community has stated about this safe-for-use, environmental sustainable herbicide. 

Last month, Judge William Shubb of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting California from implementing its “false and misleading” Prop 65 labeling requirement for glyphosate. The injunction was sought by the agriculture coalition and supported by eleven attorneys general across the U.S. The preliminary injunction halts California’s labeling requirement until a final ruling on the matter is issued by the court.

The National Association of Wheat Growers is 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.

For more information, visit  FIXPROP65.COM!

More Accurate Methane Estimates from Dairy Cattle Developed

Leading the worldwide effort to get a better handle on methane emissions from animals, an international consortium of researchers devised more accurate models to estimate the amount of the potent greenhouse gas produced by dairy cattle.

In a large study that involved individual data from more than 5,200 lactating dairy cows, assembled through a collaboration of animal scientists from 15 countries, researchers discovered that methane emissions from dairy cattle can be predicted using simplified models. Because feed dry-matter intake is the key factor for methane production prediction, the new models require readily available feed-related variables.

These more accurate models can be used to develop region-specific enteric --intestinal -- methane inventories, explained lead researcher Alex Hristov, professor of dairy nutrition, Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences. He pointed out that the large scope of the project resulted in previously unreachable conclusions.

"Developing such a large database of individual animal data has never been done before," he said. "When we put this project together four years ago, we contacted researchers around the world with a consortium agreement so we could collect confidential data from their studies, and they provided individual animal data for methane emissions and all related measurements. That gave us the opportunity to develop more robust, more accurate prediction models for enteric methane emissions."

Although complex models that use both feed intake and detailed chemical composition had the best performance in predicting methane production, models requiring only feed dry-matter intake and dietary fiber content had the second-best predictive ability. Those offer an alternative to complex models currently being used by regulatory agencies such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

"The EPA inventory is based on a complicated set of equations with high uncertainty," Hristov said.

A major finding of the research, which was published this month in Global Change Biology, is that revised methane emission conversion factors for specific regions are expected to improve emission estimates in national inventories. The concept of applying a methane emission conversion factor was introduced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to indicate the proportion of an animal's energy intake that is converted to energy in methane.

This factor is widely used for national greenhouse gas emission inventories and global research on mitigation strategies. The research by the consortium, Hristov noted, offers opportunities to include region-specific methane conversion factors in national inventories. This is essential to improve the accuracy of carbon footprint assessments of dairy cattle production systems in regions around the world and to help devise mitigation strategies.

"Dairy cows in different regions of the world, depending on their diets, their genetics and their management systems, belch different amounts and intensities of methane," Hristov said.

The team that conducted the study -- part of the Feeding and Nutrition Network of the Livestock Research Group within the Global Research Alliance for Agricultural Greenhouse Gases -- is currently developing similar databases for predicting enteric methane emissions from beef cattle, sheep and goats. "We started with dairy cattle because more research data is available for dairy animals," Hristov said.

Having more robust and accurate models for predicting enteric methane emissions from livestock is important, Hristov pointed out, because these emissions represent a significant portion of global greenhouse gases blamed for causing climate change. And if current and future mitigation efforts are to be measured and analyzed for their effectiveness, regulatory agencies must have accurate data for existing enteric methane levels and resulting decreases.

Thirty-six researchers from the U.S., Europe, Australia and New Zealand were involved in the study.

Dairy Groups Applaud U.S.-South Korea Trade Agreement

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) today applauded the Trump Administration’s swift and effective negotiation with South Korea regarding the terms and implementation of the U.S.-Korea free trade Agreement (KORUS).

In a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, the two dairy groups expressed appreciation that trade officials were able to secure a result with South Korea that addressed certain dairy industry concerns while preserving the overall agreement.

South Korea is the fourth-largest U.S. dairy export market. Last year, it accounted for over $230 million in U.S. dairy sales. It is also the second-largest cheese market in the world.

“Preserving free trade agreements (FTAs) like this one is essential to strengthening our economy and expanding opportunities for America’s dairy producers and processors,” said Tom Vilsack, president and CEO of USDEC.

With KORUS, the U.S. dairy industry will remain a competitive dairy exporter to South Korea in a world in which most other major dairy exporters have access to the South Korean market through a trade agreement. This puts U.S. companies, shipping products, manufacturers and American-made milk on the same footing with dairy competitors from other countries.

“KORUS has had a demonstrable impact on the success of U.S. dairy exports,” said NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern. “A renegotiated KORUS will strengthen our trade relationship with Korea, ensuring that the country continues to receive nutritious U.S. dairy foods. This will benefit both Korean citizens and the U.S. farmers producing these products.”

Leading up to the KORUS negotiations in early October 2017, USDEC and NMPF encouraged an approach that would address specific U.S. concerns, including that of customs procedures, while preserving the agreement. U.S. dairy exporters have repeatedly encountered challenges with South Korea’s overly narrow interpretation of which goods qualify as those originating from the United States. This meant that even goods produced in the United States with American-made ingredients and certified as such by the U.S. Department of Agriculture sometimes faced rejection. The letter thanked USTR for recognizing these types of issues and their impact on trade. “Resolving them can ensure that the agreement operates as it was truly intended to,” the groups said.

Wednesday March 28 Ag News

Meet the 10 Farmer Finalists in Power to Do More Contest

Three farmers — to be selected from a field of 10 farmer finalists introduced today — will receive $10,000 for their community and a trip for two to their dream sports field as winners of the Power to Do More contest, sponsored by Resicore® corn herbicide from Corteva Agriscience™, Agriculture Division of DowDuPont™.

The top 10 finalists were selected by the originality and creativity of their photo and story about the power on their farm. The three farmers who receive the most votes on by Sunday, April 22, will win. Winners will be announced this summer.

“We were thrilled to see the number of entries for the second season of the Power to Do More contest,” said Lyndsie Kaehler, U.S. corn herbicides product manager, Corteva Agriscience™, Agriculture Division of DowDuPont™. “This year, many farmers shared pictures that embody the power of their farm and shared stories that showcase the passion they have for farming, their families and their communities.” 

The 10 finalists represent a range of farming operations across eight states:
    James Kirch, Nebraska
    Ryan Nickerson, Nebraska
    Ryan Heiniger, Iowa
    Shirley Schroeder, Iowa
    Todd Yackley, South Dakota
    Shana Guttery, Kansas
    Charles Krause, Minnesota
    Val Wagner, North Dakota
    Dean Atkins, Illinois
    Jonathan Lawler, Indiana

Last year, the three winners of the Power to Do More contest were Curt Robbins, Fairfield, Illinois; Chad Hibma, Harris, Iowa; and Lee Stammen, Fort Recovery, Ohio. To learn more about last year’s winners, and to watch short videos showcasing the power on their farms, visit here. Resicore®, the sponsor of this contest, provides trusted residual control and versatility to give farmers power over more than 75 tough weeds and grasses that rob corn yield, profit and time.

To vote for your favorite finalist, visit daily and share the voting website with your family, friends and community until Sunday, April 22.

Foley Announces Platte County as Newest Nebraska Livestock Friendly County

Lt. Governor Mike Foley designated Platte County as Nebraska’s newest Livestock Friendly County (LFC) at a March 27th ceremony at Ag Park in Columbus, Nebraska.  The LFC program is administered by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA).  Platte County, located in eastern Nebraska, is the 45th county in the state to receive the livestock friendly designation.

“With more than $652 million dollars in yearly agriculture receipts, agriculture is a driving force for the local communities of Platte County,” said Lt. Governor Foley.  “By requesting and receiving the official Livestock Friendly County designation, Platte County has made a strong commitment to supporting rural economic development.”

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, of the $652 million Platte County had in agricultural receipts for the year 2012, $415 million, or 64 percent, came from livestock sales, and $237 million, or 36 percent, came from crops.

“There are more than 900 farms located in Platte County, making it an ideal Livestock Friendly County,” said NDA Director Steve Wellman.  “The LFC designation shows that the citizens of Platte County can actively support growth and development in the livestock industry and gain the benefits that come with responsible livestock production.”

The LFC program was created by the Nebraska Legislature in 2003 to recognize counties that support the livestock industry and new livestock developments.  A county wishing to apply for the LFC designation must hold a public hearing, and the county board must pass a resolution to apply for the designation.  Additional information about the LFC program can be found on the NDA’s website at or by calling 800-422-6692.

Economics of Producing Forage on Cropland

Steve Neimeyer – NE Extension Educator

Current corn prices coupled with reduced perennial pasture availability have producers asking questions about the economics of using cropland to produce forage for cow/calf production. This was the subject of a webinar offered by Nebraska Extension on the evening of February 13. Three specific questions were addressed:
  - “Will producing annual forages have greater net returns than growing corn?”
  - “Can growing forages pay the cash rent on good crop ground?”
  - “Is converting a pivot into perennial grasses for pasture going to improve profits?”

The short response to each question is “no” but, like the answers to most economic questions, it comes with a disclaimer. To understand the results of our look at each of these questions, it is necessary to understand differences between “providing an answer” and “finding the best solution” for your operation.

In our analysis of these questions, major assumptions have to be made and they are critical in determining the answer provided. Our approach is cost-based and includes the assumptions that: land costs remain the same whether you grow corn or forage; ownership costs on equipment do not change (i.e. you don’t sell the combine); and, a grazing day is valued according to pasture rental rates.

We also need to qualify that our look at these questions assumed the land in question was productive corn ground (230 bushel average yield). Given this platform, the long response to each of the questions can be summarized as follows.

Growing corn will have greater net returns than converting to annual forages unless corn revenues drop well below $600 per acre. Input costs for growing corn including fuel, labor, machinery repairs, etc. are likely to be comfortably under $500 per acre. Rental value on the annual forage produced is likely going to struggle to exceed the out of pocket expenses in producing it by much more than $100.

Growing forages will not pay the cash rent because cash rent is going to be determined in the short run by the value of growing corn on the land. As noted above, this is likely to be higher than what the forage will produce in net returns.

It is not economical to convert a pivot of good corn ground into perennial grasses for pasture. In the short run, establishment costs could be a challenge to cash flow. In the long run, even a ten year amortization period on establishment costs makes it a struggle for the forage rental value to exceed annual costs by more than $150. While performing a little better economically than annual forages, this scenario still falls well short of current expectations for corn returns.

Annual forages that are double cropped (i.e. cover crops used for forage) and planted after the primary crop can pay off in many cases. This is because the cost of the land is billed to the primary crop.

Producing forage on cropland can obviously turn a profit and can be extremely good for the soil. It can make sense to include it in your rotation. However, it is important to evaluate potential change relative to what you could be doing. Honest assessment of the costs and returns that go away as well as those that come on board is needed to see how the proposed change will affect your bottom line. Our examples are just meant to be that; examples given our assumptions. Your situation may be quite a bit different. We have posted the slides and decision tool files populated with our examples on our website. These can and should be modified to evaluate the options for your situation.

The recorded webinar can be accessed at

It is important to seek the best long-term use of cropland that is both economical and sustainable. For more information about producing and using forage on cropland (including using cover crops and crop residues) see

Congress funds rural programs in 2018 spending bill

Center for Rural Affairs Policy Associate Anna Johnson said today that the 2018 federal spending bill passed last week provides support for rural America. The bill funds the government through Sept. 30, 2018.

“First, Congress provided healthy funding for conservation,” Johnson said. “Not only did Congress refrain from cutting farm bill conservation programs for the first time in several years, they also increased funding for Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) technical assistance.”

NRCS funding for technical assistance increased to $874 million from 2017. This funding supports local NRCS offices, where farmers and ranchers access technical assistance for conservation practices.

In addition, Congress rejected proposed cuts to rural development programs.

The bill funds the Value-Added Producer Grant Program, which allows farmers and ranchers to diversify their income by processing farm and ranch products. This program was funded at the same level as 2017, $15 million.

The Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP), which provides loan funds and technical assistance to rural entrepreneurs, remains at the funding level provided in the previous farm bill, $2.8 million, without additional support.

The Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program received its highest funding level in 30 years, at $35 million.

“We are very encouraged that Congress has shown this support for publicly funded research in sustainable agriculture,” Johnson said.

The Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program, also known as the 2501 Program, received $3 million in funding for 2018, which is in addition to the $10 million in funding provided by the farm bill. This program has allowed many farmers and ranchers from around the country, who are new to farm programs, to access U.S. Department of Agriculture support.

“These funding levels show heartening support for rural America,” Johnson said. “We are glad to see legislators are understanding the importance of these programs to rural communities.”


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               This winter left many of you with more hay and corn stalk bales left over than expected.  Save some of that feed in case of drought, but any extra hay might provide extra value if it is used strategically.

               Get extra value from carryover hay by using that hay in ways that will be valuable especially to you.  Usually that means feeding hay instead of something else that would be more expensive.  Another option, though, is to feed hay so you can make other resources more profitable.

               For example, replace old, thinning alfalfa fields with new seedings this spring.  Then use carryover hay to substitute for lost yield during this seeding year.  Future hay yields from new fields should be more abundant and reliable.

               Or how about adding legumes to cool-season grass pastures or hay meadows.  We usually lose some forage production during the year of legume establishment as you control competition from the existing sod, but your carryover hay can be fed instead as needed.  Better grazing and future meadow production should be the result.

               Another possibility that could be especially useful is to feed hay a little longer this spring before turning cows out to pasture.  Or maybe feed this hay mid-summer to provide extra rest and recovery time for your pastures, increasing their productivity.  Grass that is growing slowly due to dry or cold conditions then will get extra time to recover before experiencing this year’s stress of grazing.

               You also could use less fertilizer on pastures or haylands and make up for the reduced production with your carryover hay.  Or maybe chop less silage and use hay next winter instead.

               If you think about other ways you can use that hay yourself, maybe you, too, can find its extra value.


               Spring is approaching and cool-season grass pastures are starting to green-up.  We should begin thinking about fertilizing.

               Grass growth is stimulated by nitrogen fertilizer just like other crops.  Although nitrogen fertilizer can be costly, it is less expensive this spring and favorable cattle prices greatly increase the potential to profit from the increased grass growth produced from nitrogen.

               Our Nebraska research shows that you get about one pound of additional calf or yearling gain for every pound of nitrogen fertilizer applied.  With grazingland becoming more scarce and expensive, boosting yield with fertilizer should be especially valuable this year.

               However, this fertilization rule-of-thumb assumes that the amount applied is within our general recommendations, which are based on the potential amount of extra grass growth expected.  This is affected mostly by moisture.  More importantly, it also assumes that your grazing management will efficiently harvest this extra growth.

               If your animals graze continuously on one pasture throughout the season, much of the extra growth is wasted.  They trample, manure and foul, bed down on, and simply refuse to eat much of the stemmy grass.  Less than one-third of the extra grass ends up inside your livestock.

               To make fertilizer pay, cross-fence pastures to control when and where your animals graze.  Give animals access to no more than one-fourth of your pasture at a time, letting the rest regrow.  Graze off only about one-half of this growth before moving to another subdivision.  Maybe even save one subdivision for hay.  If your pastures aren’t subdivided, fertilizer dollars might be better spent on cross-fences and watering sites.

               Follow these suggestions and more of your pasture growth will be eaten, and more profits will come from fertilizer and pastures.

USDA Offers Renewal Options for Expiring Conservation Stewardship Contracts

Agricultural producers wanting to enhance current conservation efforts are encouraged to renew their Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) contract.

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.

Participants with existing CSP contracts expiring on Dec. 31, 2018, can access the benefits of the recent program changes through an option to renew their contracts for an additional five years if they agree to adopt additional activities to achieve higher levels of conservation on their lands.

NRCS will mail contract renewal notification letters to all participants whose contracts expire in 2018, which will contain instructions on how to apply for renewal.

Applications to renew expiring contracts are due by April 13.

Through CSP, agricultural producers and forest landowners earn payments for actively managing, maintaining, and expanding conservation activities like cover crops, ecologically-based pest management, buffer strips, and pollinator and beneficial insect habitat – 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.

Fischer on U.S.-South Korea Trade Deal

U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, released the following statement today on the administration’s announcement of an important trade deal with South Korea:

“I am pleased to see the administration has made a good trade deal with South Korea. This is a step in the right direction that will expand opportunities for our producers and the state of Nebraska. I have been outspoken about the value of the South Korean market to Nebraska’s high-quality agriculture products. That is why, in September, I began advocating to stay in the KORUS FTA and visited with both U.S. administration officials and South Korea officials to stress the importance of the trade relationship between our two countries.”


-          On September 26, 2017, Senator Fischer met with South Korea’s Trade Minister Kim Hyun-chong on the KORUS FTA.
-          On September 5, 2017, Senator Fischer wrote a letter a letter to President Donald Trump urging him not to terminate the KORUS FTA.

Key Nebraska Ag Stats

South Korea was Nebraska agriculture’s fifth-largest customer in 2016. South Korea imported $340 million of Nebraska agricultural products that year. Click here for more information.

Ricketts Applauds President Trump’s New U.S. Trade Deal with South Korea

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts welcomed news from the White House that President Donald J. Trump has secured a new trade deal with South Korea.

“South Korea is home to some of Nebraska’s best customers and investors,” said Governor Ricketts.  “Beef exports to South Korea increased by 14 percent in 2017.  That increase helped push our total beef exports up by 12 percent from 2016.  This new trade deal demonstrates a long-term commitment to this partnership with South Korea, which will deepen our ties and encourage even more investment in our future.”

The trade deal extends and expands the United States-Republic of Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS).  Details of the renegotiated deal can be found here.

“The updated agreement between the U.S. and South Korea is certainly good news for Nebraska,” said Nebraska Department of Agriculture Director Steve Wellman.  “The free trade pact will continue to be valuable for Nebraska agricultural exports.  Total exports in 2016 were $499.9 million, making South Korea our fourth largest market.  Value added products of beef and pork total over $327 million with corn, distillers grain, and soybean exports adding to the total.”


Declining tariffs brought about by KORUS helped America become South Korea’s largest beef supplier in 2016.  America exported $1.1 billion in beef exports to South Korea in 2017.

South Korea is Nebraska’s fourth-largest agriculture export market, with $499.9 million worth of exports in 2016.  They are a top-5 customer for Nebraska beef, hides and skins, corn, distillers grains, pork, ethanol, and wheat.
·       Beef:  $221.5 million – 2nd largest market
·       Corn:  $101 million – 3rd largest market
·       Hides and Skins:  $66.4 million – 2nd largest market
·       Pork:  $39.2 million – 4th largest market
·       Distillers Grains:  $23.4 million – 4th largest market
·       Soybeans:  $22.8 million


In January, Governor Ricketts welcomed back a trade delegation made up of trade representatives from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development, Nebraska Innovation Campus (NIC), Lincoln Partnership for Economic Development, and Gage Area Growth Enterprise (NGage).  The delegation met with companies and industry associations in Seoul, South Korea, on Tuesday and Wednesday, January 9-10, to promote Nebraska as a destination for foreign direct investment.

Statement by Steve Nelson, President, Regarding Continuation of KORUS Trade Agreement

“We are extremely pleased by today’s announcement that the United States-Republic of Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS) will continue into the future. For months, Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers have dealt with the uncertainty surrounding whether President Trump would withdraw from the KORUS agreement and weaken the relationship with our South Korean trade partners.”

“Nebraska Farm Bureau’s own economic analysis* shows the KORUS agreement was worth roughly $340 million to Nebraska agriculture in terms of total exports in 2016. On an individual basis our analysis shows the KORUS agreement is worth $34.35 cents per-head to Nebraska beef producers and $11.52 cents per-head for Nebraska pork producers. The fact this trade agreement will continue is a win for Nebraska agriculture, our farm and ranch families, and Nebraska’s broader economy.”

Perdue Statement on Agreement in Principle on KORUS

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue issued the following statement today regarding the agreement in principle reached by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Republic of Korea Minister for Trade Hyun Chong Kim regarding modifications to the U.S.-Republic of Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS):

“I applaud President Trump, Ambassador Lighthizer, and the U.S. trade team for partnering with the Republic of Korea to modernize KORUS and protect the strong agricultural components that were built into the pact. Korea has long been an important trading partner for U.S. agriculture and currently ranks as our 6th-highest value market. U.S. agricultural exports to the country have increased 95 percent over the past decade and we look forward to continued growth. Through this new agreement in principle, progress was also made with regard to Korea’s customs verification procedures, which have been a substantial concern related to exports of U.S. agricultural and industrial goods.”

Lawrence named vice president of Iowa State University Extension and Outreach

After a nationwide search, John Lawrence has been appointed vice president of Iowa State University’s extension and outreach programs.

Lawrence, interim vice president since March 2017, previously served as associate dean in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and director of extension and outreach. He will begin the permanent VP role immediately.

“John has a long history of scholarship and administrative service, and is uniquely qualified to lead ISU Extension and Outreach,” said President Wendy Wintersteen. “I feel confident he will work to strengthen important extension programs and partnerships and enhance the connections of our faculty, staff and students to Iowa communities.”

Lawrence holds a bachelor’s degree in animal science and a master’s degree in economics, both from Iowa State; and a Ph.D. in agricultural economics from the University of Missouri. He joined Iowa State as an assistant professor of economics in 1991, serving as an extension livestock economist. He also has served as assistant director of the Agriculture Experiment Station, and director of the Iowa Beef Center.

Lawrence also led the Iowa Nutrient Research Center, established in 2013 to develop science-based approaches for reducing the level of nutrients delivered to Iowa waterways and the Gulf of Mexico.

“I am honored to serve my colleagues, the university, and the entire state of Iowa as the leader of Extension and Outreach,” Lawrence said. “I look forward to working with our talented faculty, staff and partners to make a meaningful difference in the lives of Iowans.”

In making the announcement, Senior Vice President and Provost Jonathan Wickert praised Lawrence for his performance in the interim role, and thanked members of the search committee for their thoughtful consideration of candidates.

Iowa Corn Promotion Board: Building Demand for Long-Term Iowa Farmer Profitability

The fundamentals of any good business model look for ways to increase demand for your product. In Iowa, there is no greater force driving demand for corn than the Iowa Corn Promotion Board (ICPB). ICPB represents thousands of Iowa farmers to create an economic climate in which the Iowa corn industry will be successful through market development, research for new uses and educating the public about corn in all forms. 

“We work to defend our current markets, while simultaneously looking for new market opportunities,” stated Iowa Corn Promotion Board President Duane Aistrope, a farmer from Randolph. “Half of the Iowa Corn Promotion Board budget goes to building export markets, livestock production and offering consumers higher blends of ethanol at the gas pump. These demand building efforts remain key to stopping the red ink and bringing vitality back to Iowa’s rural economy.”

To see how markets work, and to talk face-to-face with customers around the world, Iowa farmers from ICPB, along with U.S. Grains Council (UCGC) and the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), have boots on the ground in major export markets. Checkoff funds are matched by government funds, like the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development, to support international market development programs for both USGC and USMEF.

Iowa Corn board and committee members participate in several USGC trade missions throughout the year, traveling to thriving corn markets around the world. People want to do business with individuals and organizations they know, and trust and these missions do just that helping build relationships with international buyers. These trade missions focus on topics from crop progress and DDGS, to red meat exports. ICPB farmer-leaders also host trade teams who visit Iowa to learn more about the corn and meat produced here.

USGC builds the relationships to increase our exports of corn, ethanol and dried distillers grains (DDGS) with foreign trading partners. This includes everything from putting foreign buyers in touch with U.S. sellers to educate regulators about how to use ethanol fuels in their countries. For example, global markets are responding to the Council’s efforts to expand U.S. ethanol use worldwide by demonstrating it to be a reliable and affordable source of octane. U.S. ethanol exports set a record in 2016/2017 at 1.37 billion gallons (488 million bushels in corn equivalent) a 34 percent increase year-over-year, exported to 76 countries. Brazil was the year’s top buyer, setting a new export record with 499 million gallons (178 million bushels in corn equivalent) in purchases.  They have also worked with livestock farmers in foreign countries to show them the benefits of feeding DDGS to livestock.

“If we want to continue to enhance profitability for farmers, we must continue to work with organizations like the U.S. Grains Council to create new demand for corn through value-added products like ethanol,” explained Aistrope. “Building demand for ethanol creates additional markets both domestically and internationally for our corn crop.”

Domestically, ICPB’s ethanol efforts target consumers, gas retailers, and corn farmers to share the benefits of higher blends of ethanol. Introducing higher ethanol blends, such as E15 and E85, requires customer education to build demand for American-made ethanol. ICPB supports retailer grand openings to educate consumers and drive traffic to new retail locations and has for the last seven years supported the Retailer Outreach Program which has resulted in many new retail locations offering E15 to E85. The program makes fuel station owners aware of state and federal grant programs and encourages retailers to provide higher ethanol blends by presenting the benefits of offering customers more fuel choices and the impact to their bottom line.

ICPB, alongside other corn states, ethanol producers, engine manufacturers and fuel experts, participate in the Ag Auto Ethanol Work Group to design future engine technology that will meet increasingly stringent CAFE standards and result in a more efficient internal combustion engine.

In 2018, ICPB will be expanding its Clean Air Choice™ campaign with the American Lung Association to help drivers understand the correlation between ethanol and lung health. This will include a driver’s education initiative, which will include providing an educational video and information on using higher blends of ethanol to high schoolers and it will include advertorials in major Iowa daily newspapers.

Secretary Perdue Issues USDA Statement on Plant Breeding Innovation

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today issued a statement providing clarification on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) oversight of plants produced through innovative new breeding techniques which include techniques called genome editing.

Under its biotechnology regulations, USDA does not regulate or have any plans to regulate plants that could otherwise have been developed through traditional breeding techniques as long as they are not plant pests or developed using plant pests. This includes a set of new techniques that are increasingly being used by plant breeders to produce new plant varieties that are indistinguishable from those developed through traditional breeding methods. The newest of these methods, such as genome editing, expand traditional plant breeding tools because they can introduce new plant traits more quickly and precisely, potentially saving years or even decades in bringing needed new varieties to farmers.

“With this approach, USDA seeks to allow innovation when there is no risk present,” said Secretary Perdue. “At the same time, I want to be clear to consumers that we will not be stepping away from our regulatory responsibilities. While these crops do not require regulatory oversight, we do have an important role to play in protecting plant health by evaluating products developed using modern biotechnology. This is a role USDA has played for more than 30 years, and one I will continue to take very seriously, as we work to modernize our technology-focused regulations.”

“Plant breeding innovation holds enormous promise for helping protect crops against drought and diseases while increasing nutritional value and eliminating allergens,” Perdue said. “Using this science, farmers can continue to meet consumer expectations for healthful, affordable food produced in a manner that consumes fewer natural resources. This new innovation will help farmers do what we aspire to do at USDA: do right and feed everyone.”

USDA is one of three federal agencies which regulate products of food and agricultural technology. Together, USDA, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have a Coordinated Framework for the Regulation of Biotechnology that ensures these products are safe for the environment and human health. USDA’s regulations focus on protecting plant health; FDA oversees food and feed safety; and EPA regulates the sale, distribution, and testing of pesticides in order to protect human health and the environment.

USDA continues to coordinate closely with its EPA and FDA partners to fulfill oversight responsibilities and provide the appropriate regulatory environment. This ensures the safety of products derived from new technologies, while fostering innovation at the same time.

NGFA issues statement on regulation of plant breeding innovation

The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) issued the following statement on plant breeding innovation, such as gene editing techniques, following today's announcement by Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue stating that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) "does not regulate or have plans to regulate plants that could otherwise have been developed through traditional breeding techniques as long as they are not plant pests or developed using plant pests."

NGFA President and Chief Executive Officer Randy Gordon:
"For grain handlers, grain processors and exporters, it is essential that the U.S. government exert strong and effective leadership in interacting with governmental authorities in other countries to urge adoption of science- and risk-based approaches to the regulatory treatment of plant breeding innovation so there is not a recurrence of the significant and costly international trade disruptions that occurred with some transgenic biotech traits," Gordon said.  "Time is of the essence, and we have every reason to believe USDA will do its part within a coordinated and robust U.S. government outreach effort that also needs to involve the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency. Engagement with these agencies' governmental counterparts in U.S. export markets is critical in bringing about development of a coherent international regulatory environment that preserves the benefits and efficiencies of a commingled, fungible grain and oilseed supply chain, while enabling efficient, cost-effective trade to continue unabated.

"It also is fundamentally important that those developing and commercializing innovative plant breeding techniques accept their rightful responsibility to communicate proactively with consumers about the safety and benefits of these new plant-breeding techniques to foster consumer acceptance," Gordon continued.  "It also is incumbent upon plant breeders and the seed industry to be forthcoming with accurate and timely information about the specific innovative plant breeding techniques being developed for commercial use in food and feed crops - through a proactive, comprehensive advance notification and ongoing consultation process - to enable the grain and food industries to respond to commercial demand and inquiries from domestic and international customers and consumers."

From feed to fever: Kansas State University researcher studies risk of African swine fever in feed

If African swine fever virus reaches the U.S., it could cause more than $16.8 billion in economic losses to swine and other industries. It would devastate trade and international markets, researchers say.

Megan Niederwerder, Kansas State University assistant professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology in the College of Veterinary Medicine, wants to prevent that.

Her latest research has found that African swine fever could survive in a simulated feed shipment across the ocean, which suggests that feed may be a potential way that pathogens such as African swine fever virus spread.

The research appears in the journal PLOS ONE in the collaborative publication, "Survival of viral pathogens in animal feed ingredients under transboundary shipping models." It is the first publication demonstrating the survival of African swine fever virus in feed ingredients.

"The ultimate goal of our research is to understand what mitigation tools may be utilized to reduce the risk of African swine fever virus being introduced, whether in the country of origin or once feed arrives in the U.S.," Niederwerder said.

Since 2007, African swine fever virus, or ASFV, has spread throughout Eastern Europe and Russia but is not present in the U.S. There is no vaccine or cure for the disease, which causes hemorrhagic fever and high mortality in pigs. It does not infect humans.

Niederwerder is collaborating with Kansas State University's Biosecurity Research Institute to continue studying the risk of African swine fever virus in feed and feed ingredients. She is studying the whole swine feed transport cycle — from the shipment of feed as it is imported to the U.S. to when swine consume their feed on the farm.

"This research is extremely important to the swine industry, not only in Kansas and the U.S. but also around the world," Niederwerder said. "There are many countries, including the U.S., that are currently free of ASFV and it is critical to understand how we prevent this virus from being introduced. Through this research, we seek to understand and further define the risk of ASFV transmission when consumed in feed, a recently identified risk factor for the introduction of swine pathogens."

African swine fever is one of the diseases slated to be researched at the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility or NBAF, which is under construction adjacent to Kansas State University's Manhattan campus. Niederwerder's work at the Biosecurity Research Institute will provide the foundational knowledge that can then transition into further studies at the NBAF once it is fully functional.

Niederwerder's research is organized into three parts:
1. Understanding if the virus survives in feed ingredients using a transboundary model that simulates the shipment of feed from other countries into the U.S.
2. Determining the oral dose of African swine fever virus necessary in feed to cause infection.
3. Identifying mitigants that reduce or eliminate the risk of African swine fever virus transmission in feed ingredients, including any additives that may inactivate the virus in swine feed.

Niederwerder and her team are performing the research in a biosafety level-3 laboratory at the Biosecurity Research Institute. They have been studying 5-gram amounts of complete feed and feed ingredients, some of which include soybean meal, lysine, dried distillers grains, choline and vitamin D.

Researchers place the ingredients in 50-milliliter tubes in an environmental chamber and use meteorological data to program the chamber's temperature and humidity, which mimics a cargo ship's journey from Eastern Europe to North America. For example, the trans-Atlantic model that simulates travel from Eastern Europe takes 30 days.

The researchers then study if the virus is still present at a dose infectious to pigs after the simulated shipment and if there are any additives that may stop the virus from spreading through feed.

"Our aim is to understand if we can mitigate this risk and protect the U.S. swine industry from the introduction of African swine fever as well as other foreign animal diseases," Niederwerder said.

To support this research, she has been awarded more than $700,000 from the State of Kansas National Bio and Agro-defense Facility Fund, the National Pork Board and the Swine Health Information Center. Niederwerder recently presented this research at the North American PRRS symposium, the American Association of Swine Veterinarians annual meeting, and the Midwest Animal Science meeting.

Other Kansas State University collaborators on this work include Raymond "Bob" Rowland, professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology; Cassie Jones, associate professor of animal sciences and industry; Steve Dritz, professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology; Trevor Hefley, assistant professor of statistics; Jason Woodworth, research associate professor of animal sciences and industry; and Mike Tokach, university distinguished professor of animal sciences and industry. Other collaborators include Scott Dee of Pipestone Veterinary Services and Diego Diel of South Dakota State University.

Checkoff Scientists Help McDonald’s USA Create Dairy-Focused Offerings

Dairy checkoff scientists who work onsite at McDonald’s headquarters have helped the chain launch three items that continue its commitment to elevate dairy and provide customers with great-tasting menu choices.

Scientists working for Dairy Management Inc. (DMI), which manages the national dairy checkoff, collaborated with members of McDonald’s culinary team to create the following items:

 ·    McDonald’s Signature Crafted Recipes sandwiches and the Egg White Delight McMuffin will now feature sharp white cheddar cheese slices that are more than 30 percent larger than the pasteurized process version previously used. The cheese will be available in all 14,000 restaurants by April 2. Celebrating this debut, a new Signature Crafted Recipe – Garlic White Cheddar – will be added to the Signature Crafted Recipes lineup.

 ·    McDonald’s launched limited-time-offer McCafe Turtle Coffee Beverages with advertising starting April 2. Consumers can choose Turtle Macchiato Iced, Turtle Macchiato Hot and Turtle Iced Coffee. These beverages join a McCafé lineup that offers dairy in 90 percent of its items.

 ·    McDonald’s in partnership with Coca-Cola recently launched a line of ready-to-drink McCafé Frappes at grocery stores nationwide. Three flavors – caramel, vanilla and mocha – are available, and McDonald’s plans to expand its line-up later this year.

DMI dairy scientists Divya Reddy and Porter Myrick worked with the McDonald’s team to make each project a reality and to ensure real dairy products were used. DMI also provided McDonald’s with insights on dairy and consumer trends and taste preferences.

“We work here every day alongside the McDonald’s culinary staff and we very much feel like one team,” said Myrick, who has been working with the McDonald’s culinary team for five years. “The McDonald’s employees are just as excited as we are to showcase the goodness and versatility of dairy. They understand, as we do, that creating offerings such as these gives consumers what they want, and it’s also good for dairy farmers.”

Marilyn Hershey, Pennsylvania dairy farmer and chairman of DMI, said this is another example of how national dairy checkoff partnerships deliver results.

“Projects such as these require the right strategy, consumer insights and testing, as well as marketing know-how, which is the benefit that comes from working with a global leader such as McDonald’s,” Hershey said. “Our teamwork has consistently resulted in quality offerings that bring the dairy experience at McDonald’s to a whole new level.”

EIA: Ethanol Stocks Fall 1.0M Bbl

The latest weekly supply report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows domestic ethanol supply declined for the second straight week, down 1.0 million bbl or 4.2% to a five-week low of 22.8 million bbl during the week ended March 23 and down 500,000 bbl or 2.1% versus a year ago.

Plant production declined 10,000 bpd or 1.0% to 1.039 million bpd last week while up 15,000 bpd or 1.4% compared to a year ago, with a number of plants still in seasonal maintenance programs. For the four weeks to March 23, production averaged 1.043 bpd, up 2,000 bpd versus same period in 2017.

Net refiner and blender inputs, a measure for ethanol demand, dropped 16,000 bpd or 1.7% last week to 900,000 bpd while down 11,000 or 1.2% versus a year ago. For the four-week period ended March 23, ethanol blending demand averaged 905,000 bpd, up 2,000 bpd versus same period in 2017.

Fertilizer Prices Continue to Inch Higher Third Week of March

Average retail fertilizer prices inched higher the third week of March 2018, continuing a trend that has been in place since last fall, according to retailers surveyed by DTN.  One difference was that the price moves higher were smaller than the increases seen the previous three weeks.

DAP had an average price of $469 per ton, MAP $504/ton, potash $349/ton, urea $368/ton, 10-34-0 $422/ton, anhydrous $503/ton, UAN28 $236/ton and UAN32 $269/ton.

MAP, which has been above the $500-per-ton level for the last couple of weeks, is at its higher price level since the fourth week of May 2016. That week, MAP's average price was $501 per ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.40/lb.N, anhydrous $0.31/lb.N, UAN28 $0.42/lb.N and UAN32 $0.42/lb.N.

Prices for half of the fertilizers DTN tracks are now higher compared to last year with prices pushing higher in recent months. Both potash and urea are 3% higher, DAP is 7% more expensive and MAP is 9% higher than last year.

The remaining half of fertilizers are lower in price compared to a year prior. Anhydrous is 1% less expensive while both UAN32 and 10-34-0 are 4% less. UAN28 is 5% less expensive looking back a year.

NCGA Submits Comments to DOJ on Proposed PES RIN Settlement

This week, the National Corn Growers Association submitted formal comments to the U.S Department of Justice on the proposed Settlement Agreement between Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding the outstanding RFS compliance obligations the refiner has included in its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing. NCGA is opposed to the proposed settlement, as it would undermine the RFS.

"As producers of the primary feedstock used in the production of conventional biofuel, a key component of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), corn farmers maintain a vested interest in the integrity of the RFS and in the Renewable Identification Number (RIN) compliance system for obligated parties," said NCGA President Kevin Skunes. "This proposed settlement agreement would have negative policy implications for the RFS and future compliance with the Clean Air Act. As such, NCGA urges DOJ to withdraw and reconsider the proposed Settlement Agreement because it undermines the RFS and fails to hold all parties liable for violations of the Clean Air Act responsible."

Poor financial decisions and management caused PES to file for bankruptcy protection, not the RFS, yet this proposed settlement agreement would allow the refiner to walk away from more than half of its outstanding RFS obligations and allow its parent companies to avoid liability for these obligations. The RFS has helped the United States become more energy independent, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce the price of gas at the pump for consumers. If EPA and the bankruptcy court disregard RFS obligations as proposed, this settlement agreement undermines the RFS.

"NCGA urges the DOJ to reject the proposed Settlement Agreement in order to ensure that PES and its ownership group's environmental responsibilities under the Clean Air Act are properly fulfilled," Skunes said.

The bankruptcy court will make a decision on this settlement agreement on April 4. Yesterday, the bankruptcy court did approve the overall Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization plan for PES.

ICBA White Paper Outlines Farm Policy Recommendations

With Congress planning to write a new farm bill in the coming months, the Independent Community Bankers of America® (ICBA) today released a white paper with its principles for a new multi-year farm bill. ICBA’s white paper details its community banker-inspired farm policy reforms as lawmakers work to replace the current bill expiring Sept. 30.

“ICBA believes a new farm bill is vitally important to our nation’s farmers and ranchers and the community bankers who work so closely with them,” ICBA President and CEO Camden R. Fine said. “A new farm bill provides a multi-year framework for farmers and their community bank lenders to engage in longer-term business planning, and it offers an essential safety net of risk-management tools.”

ICBA’s “Focus on Farm Policy” white paper outlines key agricultural focus areas:
-    Adequately Fund Commodity Programs and Crop Insurance, which are key risk-management tools that enable producers to obtain farm loans.
-    Enhance the USDA’s Farm Loan Programs—which provided more than $7.7 billion in loans for producers in 2017 and supported 42,000 farmers and ranchers—by increasing loan limits, providing greater flexibility for loan approvals, and eliminating unnecessary regulatory burdens.
-    Sustain USDA Rural Development Programs by maintaining the USDA’s focus on guaranteed loan programs and preserving funding for programs such as the Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program for small businesses.
-    Reform the Farm Credit System, which has experienced dramatic growth while sharply reducing service to family farmers, to ensure this government-sponsored enterprise remains focused on serving farmers and does not venture into broad non-farm lending activities.
-    ICBA’s Five Key Farm Bill Principles, which include ample funding, regulatory relief, fair treatment of all stakeholders, and more.

Monday March 26 Ag News

When Hail Strikes, Find Answers at Hail Know 
Ashley Mueller - Extension Educator and Disaster Education Coordinator

Hail strikes Nebraska crops each year, creating uncertainty and questions for farmers: “Does the level of damage warrant replanting or will the remaining stand yield better than a replant would? How should I adjust inputs for the remaining season? Would a cover crop be cost effective?”

The Hail Storm: Why Here? Why Now?

The highest chances for hail on any given day in the U.S. are in late spring and early summer in the Great Plains. The higher elevation of the Great Plains allows the freezing level in the atmosphere to be closer to the ground, which helps hailstones grow larger than in other parts of the country. In Nebraska most hail events occur from May to July.

When hail strikes and growers have questions, Nebraska Extension has new resources to answer them at Hail Know. Videos, infographics, and articles by a team of Extension experts in climate science, agronomy, engineering, agricultural technology, economics, and disaster education have been developed to build upon and expand Extension’s hail-related programs.

Annually, hail causes over $1 billion in economic losses. In Nebraska hail-producing storms are all too common, especially during the planting and growing seasons. Though hail can’t be prevented, farmers, crop consultants, and others can use the information at Hail Know to become better prepared for timely decision-making after hail events.

Hail Know focuses on six key topics:
-    hail formation and storms;
-    damage assessment;
-    crop insurance and risk management;
-    replanting considerations;
-    managing a recovering crop; and
-    cover crops.

In the aftermath of a hailstorm visit Hail Know for the answers and certainty you need to make sound, research-based decisions to manage your crop.

Hail Know is also on social media. Follow @HailKnowUNL on Twitter at and like Hail Know on Facebook at for all the latest information and updates.

Hail Know is a section of, Nebraska Extension’s crop production and crop pest management website.

The development of Hail Know was funded by a USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Smith-Lever Special Needs Grant with matching funds from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

NeGFA Hosts Grain Engulfment & Confined Space Entry Training in West Point

Venue Name: Prinz Grain and Feed
Location: 575 South Main Street, West Point, NE

Organization Name: Nebraska Grain and Feed Association
Contact: Maggie Kramer
Phone: 402.476.6174

This one-day hands-on workshop will provide attendees an opportunity to actively participate in live engulfment exercises.  The engulfment training places a strong emphasis on entrapment prevention and safe work practices. There are no prerequisites to participate.

Participants will:
-    Become aware of the hazards of flowing grain and confined spaces, allowing them to work safer and prevent grain entrapment.
-    Meet the OSHA training requirements for OSHA 1910.272 (Grain Handling Standard), qualifying them to work around flowing grain.
-    Be qualified to make bin entries, be a bin entry attendant and be part of a rescue team.
-    Be able to retrieve an incapacitated worker from a confined space without making a confined space entry.
-    Actively participate in a live engulfment / rescue scenario in a controlled environment.
-    Actively participate as part of a grain bin entry team and practice the non-entry rescue of an incapacitated worker.

8:00 am - Group 1: Engulfment Training - Group 2: Confined Space Entry
12:00 pm - Lunch
12:30 pm - Group 1: Confined Space Entry - Group 2: Engulfment Training
5:00 pm - Adjourn

The workshop will be instructed by the Safety & Technical Rescue Association (SATRA).  Cost covers materials, meals and breaks. Limited to the first 40 registered participants.

Center Pivot Handbook a Comprehensive Guide for Growers

Is your center pivot irrigation system performing as efficiently as it should be? Are you getting optimal crop yield for the amount of water applied? What steps can you take to assess your system and improve performance?

Irrigation is one of the largest users of water and energy in the state, emphasizing the importance of having your system designed and operating at top efficiencies. Center pivot irrigation now accounts for approximately 85% of the irrigated land in Nebraska and is the most rapidly expanding form of irrigation in the US.

To help growers, consultants, and pivot industry personnel manage and get the most from their system, Nebraska Extension has published the Center Pivot Irrigation Handbook, a 134-page comprehensive guide.

The handbook covers topics related to center pivot system design, including wells, pumps, and pipelines, optimizing water and energy use efficiency, and managing and operating the equipment. It can help operators determine if an irrigation system is using only the amount of energy it should and, if not, how to tune up the current system or design a better one. Readers can learn why selecting the proper sprinkler package is vital to the efficiency of an irrigation system and how to design a system that applies water uniformly while reducing runoff, evaporation, and drift.

Written by Extension specialists and educators, it is in an easy-to-read format for general farm and layman readers. Color photos, graphs, and charts on almost every page illustrate the text and more than 25 tables create a handy reference for irrigation management.

Chapters cover:
    pivot performance,
    soil water management,
    sprinkler packages,
    pumping plants,
    pipeline systems,
    energy use in irrigation,
    crop water use,
    water resource management,
    limited irrigation, and
    center pivot management.

The handbook is available in print for $12.50 and as a free downloadable file. To order the print version go to

To download a PDF of the handbook, go to

Weather Ready Farms: Irrigation Water Management

Chuck Burr - NE Crops and Water Extension Educator
Daran Rudnick - NE Extension Irrigation Management Specialist

Climate variability is something all farmers need to react to in most years. One of the main weather extremes that impacts irrigation management is extended periods of dry conditions, commonly referred to as drought. Drought can increase daily crop water use due to lower relative humidity and is often accompanied by higher temperatures. When managing under these extreme conditions, irrigators need to understand daily and seasonal crop water use patterns, as well as adopt practices and technology that result in more bushels of grain per inch of water applied.

Adaptation Strategies

     Schedule irrigation based on soil water data. The 2013 Census of Ag Irrigation survey indicated that only 23% of Nebraska irrigators use soil sensing as a basis for irrigation scheduling. This number needs to increase if we are to improve irrigation water use efficiency. With the technology we have available today, we need to help irrigators move away from using the feel of the soil (44%) as a scheduling method. Information on selecting and using soil water sensors is described in two Nebraska Extension publications: Soil Water Sensors for Irrigation Management (EC3002) and Principles and Operational Characteristics of Watermark Granular Matrix Sensor to Measure Soil Water Status and Its Practical Applications for Irrigation Management in Various Soil Textures (EC783).

    Conserve water by decreasing evapotranspiration during vegetative growth stages. Approximately 30% of crop water use is due to evaporation, and evaporative losses are highest early in the growing season prior to canopy closure. Reducing evaporation via no or reduced tillage, narrower row spacing, etc. can lead to more water being available for transpiration, which is the driving force for yield production. Furthermore, research has shown that both corn (Rudnick et al. 2017) and soybeans (Payero et al. 2005) can be stressed during vegetative growth stages without significantly affecting yield. This may leave more water available for grain fill.

    Residue cover/cover crops can increase infiltration of precipitation and irrigation. In addition to infiltration, improving soil structure can lead to higher amounts of precipitation being stored in the profile. This increased storage would be available for crop production, potentially helping meet crop water demands in excess of irrigation capacity during droughts. In addition, increasing infiltration and water-holding capacity can allow for increased irrigation application amounts, as water is less likely to runoff. This decrease in the number of applications is beneficial to reduce canopy evaporation and get more of the applied water into the soil.


For the month of March 2018, topsoil moisture supplies rated 4 percent very short, 19 short, 69 adequate, and 8 surplus, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 5 percent very short, 26 short, 67 adequate, and 2 surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Winter wheat condition rated 1 percent very poor, 6 poor, 42 fair, 41 good, and 10 excellent.

Weekly reports will begin April 2nd for the 2018 season.

Farm Finance and Ag Law Clinics This April

Openings are available for one-on-one, confidential farm finance and ag law consultations being conducted across the state each month. An experienced ag law attorney and ag financial counselor will be available to address farm and ranch issues related to financial planning, estate and transition planning, farm loan programs, debtor/creditor law, water rights, and other relevant matters. The clinics offer an opportunity to seek an experienced outside opinion on issues affecting your farm or ranch.

Clinic Sites and Dates
    Grand Island — Thursday, April 5
    Fairbury — Thursday, April 5
    Norfolk — Tuesday, April 10
    North Platte — Thursday, April 12
    Lexington — Thursday, April 19
    Valentine — Wednesday, April 25

To sign up for a free clinic or to get more information, call Michelle at the Nebraska Farm Hotline at 1-800-464-0258.  The Nebraska Department of Agriculture and Legal Aid of Nebraska sponsor these clinics.

Dicamba Training Available Online

Nebraska Extension has completed its in-person dicamba training programs for spring 2018. If you still need to take dicamba training, Extension offers free online training.

This training fulfills the label requirements for three new RUP dicamba products: Xtendimax, Engenia, and Fexapan. It is illegal to apply these products without first having taken state-authorized training.

Commercial training opportunities, along with dicamba resources, are listed at the Pesticide Safety Education Program website at Information is also available on the Nebraska Department of Agriculture Dicamba Information website....

Ricketts Unifies Support for Major Tax Relief with Farm, Business Groups

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts was joined by pro-growth groups from across Nebraska in support of LB 947, the Property Tax Cuts and Opportunities Act.  Representatives from major agriculture associations and chambers of commerce joined Governor Ricketts to call on State Senators to pass LB 947 this legislative session.

Governor Pete Ricketts: “Nebraska’s farmers, ranchers, homeowners, and businesses are hurting from the burden of high taxes.  Today, agricultural and urban interests are uniting to urge Senators to come together and pass LB 947, so Nebraskans can get the tax relief they need this year.  We look forward to working with Senators to pass the Nebraska Property Tax Cuts and Opportunities Act in the final days of the legislative session.”

Revenue Committee Chair Jim Smith: “Thank you to agriculture and business interests for their leadership and their willingness to work together for the well-being of all Nebraskans.  I continue to believe that the path to success is narrow, but that our hard work and cooperation on LB 947 is critical to the image and to the future of our state.”

Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson: “LB 947 as advanced from the Revenue Committee moves in a direction that addresses many of our organization’s goals for property tax.  Those goals include a property tax solution that is significant, providing between $600 million and $1 billion in property tax relief, one that puts us on a path for long-term relief for all property tax payers, and one that provides relief as soon as possible.  LB 947 meets these objectives.”

Nebraska State Dairy Association Bill Thiele: “Thank you to Governor Ricketts for helping pave the way to tax relief with LB 947.  If passed by the Legislature, these much-needed cuts are coming at a critical moment for Nebraska agriculture.  On behalf of Nebraska’s dairy farmers, we urge Senators to send LB 947 to the Governor’s desk.”

Nebraska Pork Producers Vice President Kevin Peterson: “The farm and ranch families of Nebraska have been asking for tax relief, and LB 947 will help deliver that relief.  We hope that the Legislature does the right thing and pass the Property Tax Cuts and Opportunities Act to keep agriculture strong.”

Nebraska Soybean Association President Robert Johnston: “Governor Ricketts has listened to the call for property tax relief, which LB 947 seeks to deliver.  This bill promises real relief for Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers, and we look forward to working with the Governor to make the case to Senators to pass LB 947.”

Americans for Prosperity-Nebraska State Director Jessica Shelburn: “Senators have a critical opportunity to set aside their differences and work together to provide Nebraskans with some much needed tax relief and growth for our state.  The benefits Nebraskans will see from this bill are above politics, and we shouldn’t delay in sending this tax reform package to Governor Ricketts’ desk.  AFP-Nebraska applauds the Revenue Committee for putting Nebraskans first and advancing the Property Tax Cuts and Opportunities Act. ”

Greater Omaha Chamber President David Brown: “Making ongoing investments in workforce development and business tax relief will make Nebraska a more attractive state for the kinds of businesses we’re working to recruit and retain.  We appreciate Governor Ricketts and Senator Smith’s work on this package, and urge Senators to get tax relief done before session concludes.”

Lincoln Chamber of Commerce President Wendy Birdsall: “Our future growth is dependent on Nebraska’s ability to compete on a national and global stage.  LB 947 will help Nebraska maintain our competitive edge and deliver new tools to attract and retain opportunities.  The Lincoln Chamber looks forward to working with Senators in the Legislature to deliver LB 947 to the Governor’s desk by the end of session.”

National Federation of Independent Businesses Nebraska State Director Bob Hallstrom: “The small business owner members of NFIB favor significant and meaningful property tax relief.  NFIB supports the provisions of LB 947 which would provide property tax relief to residential and agricultural land owners and the proposed reductions in corporate income tax rates which will spur economic growth.”

Nebraska Bankers Association President Richard Baier: “LB 947 is designed to provide true property tax relief for residential and agricultural property owners.  In addition, the proposed reductions in corporate income tax rates will benefit businesses.  We believe that the combined property tax and corporate income tax relief proposed under LB 947 will serve to grow our state’s economy and make Nebraska more competitive with surrounding states.”

Nebraska State Chamber of Commerce & Industry President Barry Kennedy: “LB 947 gives Nebraska businesses and job creators tax certainty and relief that they need to grow into the future.  We look forward to working with legislators to get this proposal to the Governor’s desk before session ends.”

Platte Institute for Economic Research Director of Government Relations Nicole Fox: “If there’s no significant action in this legislative session, Nebraskans could force a property tax ballot initiative.  If it passes, the state would likely be forced to significantly cut spending on services and increase state tax rates at the same time.  LB947 offers a reasonable path to steer the state away from this kind of uncertainty.  It would have the state taking a greater role in property tax relief for Nebraskans in the years ahead, while safeguarding the state budget from unrealistic promises.”

Tax Foundation Senior Policy Analyst Jared Walczak: “Your neighbors are making their tax codes more competitive.  The federal government has changed the rules of the game. Nebraska’s 1967 tax code is out of date, and its rates are out of line with peer states.  Nebraska has an opportunity to make the tax code more competitive, and LB 947 offers a way forward.  Tax reform isn’t easy, but neither is continuing to operate under a tax system that is falling behind other states.  This committee has an opportunity for a robust debate about tax reform.  It is a challenge worth embracing.

Some Ag and Rural Organizations Oppose LB947

They Prefer LB1084 for Immediate Property Tax Relief

Nebraska Women Involved in Farm Economics, Nebraska Grange, Center for Rural Affairs, Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska, and Nebraska Farmers Union signed a letter sent to Nebraska State Senators asking them to oppose LB947.

The five organizations signing the letter opposing LB947 have been working together with education and public interest organizations the past year to develop legislation that supports adequate funding for K-12 education paid for in a more fair and balanced fashion, and to immediately reduce the use of property taxes from all classes of property to fund K-12 education.

The letter in part states:
“The state’s reliance upon property taxes to fund K-12 education has placed an unsustainable burden upon on our state’s residential and agricultural land property owners and undue blame upon our school systems. We need to address our state’s school funding dilemma and bring property tax relief to residents. And quite simply, LB947 does not offer the solution.”

“Our farmers and ranchers do not have the luxury of waiting until 2030 for property tax relief, and our state stands to suffer substantially from their loss. A vote in opposition of LB 947 leaves way for the Legislature to work through a real solution to problem at hand.”

“We need a real property tax reform solution that:
- Lessens the state’s dependence upon property taxes to fund K-12 education
- Provides immediate and substantial property tax relief to all property tax payers
- Protects the state’s cash reserves and funding for vital services
- Requires a long-term, sustainable solution to how the state funds education.”

“Nebraskans are in need of property tax relief, but they are not asking to sidestep their responsibility to help fund the schools and services that uphold their communities. They are simply asking for balance in the way the state meets it obligations to pay for education and other critical services. We ask that you vote no on LB 947 and instead take up debate on a real solution to the state’s property tax dilemma.”


The 11th Annual Nebraska Wind & Solar Conference will be held Tuesday, October 16 and Wednesday, October 17, 2018 at the Cornhusker Marriott Hotel in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The conference is a two-day event that brings together a diverse range of stakeholders from Nebraska and across the country to share the latest information and innovations in wind and solar development.  Over 350 people are expected to attend this year’s conference to hear from and network with wind and solar industry experts and leaders.

In addition to general sessions and workshops, the conference features a tradeshow with 30 to 40 exhibitors showcasing the latest advancements in technology and development.  The tradeshow includes interactive and educational displays from exhibitors that include governmental agencies, nonprofits, and a wide range of professional service and product providers related to wind and solar development. 

The conference programming is guided by a planning committee of volunteers from state agencies, farmer and rancher organizations, public power utilities, the renewable energy industry, and academia working together to present accurate and objective information pertaining to all aspects of wind and solar development. Among others, attendees include private sector developers, public officials, landowners, environmental and wildlife interests, public utilities, and the public at large.

“This unique ‘Nebraska Nice’ conference is able to keep the registration costs much lower than most comparable conferences because of the generous support of our sponsors.  Every year we have new sets of challenges, information, ideas, and solutions to share,” said John Hansen, Conference Co-Chair. “If you are interested in wind and solar energy, this is the one state conference to attend.”

Early bird registration is $125 until September 15. Tickets are $175 after September 15 and $200 the day of the conference. Students are encouraged to attend at a discounted rate of $65.

Rooms at the Cornhusker Marriott Hotel are $114 per night until September 15 (conference block rate includes free parking). More information and past presentations are available on the conference website ( 

Iowa Cattlemen at the Capitol

Cowboy hats and polished boots have been a common sight around the grounds of the Iowa State House in 2018. In addition to the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association’s lobbyist, who is at the Capitol daily, ICA has also been using a boots-on-the-ground approach through the Young Cattlemen’s Leadership Program, Cattlemen at the Capitol and Youth Beef Team.

The Iowa Cattlemen’s Association (ICA) is Iowa’s only membership organization dedicated to the needs of cattle producers. With more feedlots than any other state in the country, as well as a robust cow/calf and seedstock industry, ICA’s 10,000 members play an important role in Iowa’s economy and communities.

Throughout the year, ICA staff and members work to build relationships with elected and regulatory officials, to protect and improve the opportunities for the cattle production in the state. In addition to events throughout the year with legislators, ICA keeps its members and priorities front and center during the legislative session.

The 2018 Young Cattlemen’s Leadership Program (YCLP) Class visited the capitol on February 21. The 22-member class met with several elected officials, as well as Governor Reynolds and Lt. Governor Gregg. YCLP participants emphasized the importance of Iowa’s cattle industry, which contributes almost $7 million to the state’s economy annually.

The class also met with former Secretary Northey, DNR Director Chuck Gipp, DNR Deputy Director Bruce Trautman and Steve Ferguson with the Iowa Finance Authority. These meetings provided the young leaders with a first-hand look at ways ICA works cooperatively with state agencies to protect and grow Iowa’s beef business.

Then, in March, the annual Cattlemen at the Capitol event brought beef industry leaders from around the state to Des Moines. “Though cattlemen’s priorities are represented at the Capitol on a daily basis by staff and lobbyists, meeting constituents from their district really strikes a chord with lawmakers,” says JanLee Rowlett, ICA’s Regulatory and Government Affairs Manager.

After visiting with the governor and legislators, elected officials and cattlemen enjoyed a brisket lunch served by Madison County Youth Beef Team members. In conversations throughout the day, cattlemen shared their support for a new ISU Veterinary Diagnostic Lab as well as additional funds for the state’s Foreign Animal Disease response program.

“We’ve had great participation by members from around the state,” says President David Trowbridge, Tabor, of ICA’s presence at the Capitol this year. “And we’ve been addressing issues to our legislators that affect not just our membership, but the entire beef industry.”

Finally, a small group of Youth Beef Team students visited the capitol March 21 to continue to foster the relationships ICA members and staff have been building and to learn about their state’s political process. Youth Beef Team is open to students in grades 7-12 who are interested in learning more about the beef industry, and this event gave participants a first-hand look at how issues that impact their opportunity to continue their families’ legacy are addressed through legislation and regulation.

ICA staff and members will continue to lobby for the beef industry throughout the rest of this year’s legislative session before gathering input from producers this summer and fall to determine the 2019 policy priorities. Producers impacted by rules or regulations should contact ICA to share their concerns.

National Pork Board Collaboration Continues to Multiply Checkoff Value for Farm-Level Research

The National Pork Board has announced a new collaboration with the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, a nonprofit established in the 2014 Farm Bill, to support a competitive research program to improve pig health, productivity and well-being. The end goal is to improve pig survival during all stages of production. The joint venture has $2 million of grant funds available to potential investigators.

As U.S. pork producers strive to produce more pork in a sustainable way, animal care, pig health, well-being and productivity are all critical pieces of production. This grant program is designed to focus research, education and training in these key areas of pork production to help producers achieve their goals in a responsible way. 

“As animal caretakers, America’s pig farmers strive to give their animals the best opportunity to reach marketable weight,” said Dustin Kendall, a swine nutritionist with Prestage Farms in Clinton, North Carolina and chair of the National Pork Board’s Animal Science Committee. “Unfortunately, data from the Pork Checkoff’s Industry Productivity Analysis suggests the trends are negative in this area. Focusing Checkoff funds in this underserved research area will allow us to find solutions that significantly benefit all of our producer stakeholders.”

The grant funding is anticipated to be awarded to one scientifically diverse group of researchers willing to pool talent and resources to make a significant, immediate impact on pig survival. Potential research areas may include health, genetics, nutrition, facility design, management, monitoring, economics and welfare.

“The most meaningful agricultural research is designed in partnership with stakeholders,” said Sally Rockey, executive director of the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research. “The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research is pleased to join the National Pork Board to support this important initiative to address swine mortality rates on farms across the United States.”  In addition to research, successful applicants are expected to conduct outreach to industry stakeholders and train graduate and veterinary students involved as assistants on the project. Applicants are required to submit a clearly defined outreach plan with specific objectives for disseminating research results to the scientific community as well as to pork producers and their staff.

“Investing Checkoff funds in production research makes a real difference at the farm level,” said Chris Hostetler, director of animal science at the National Pork Board. “In fact, every dollar invested in production research returns of $83 in industry-wide benefit according to a third-party audit by Cornell University. This collaboration with FFAR is just one of the ways producer dollars can be leveraged to magnify the return on investment.”

Potential applicants should contact Chris Hostetler at Applications are due May 15, 2018.

Automated Milking Systems Slowing Farm Consolidation

Various forms of robotic milking are helping sustain small- to medium-sized dairy farms amid broader industry consolidation and improving labor efficiency for some larger operations according to a new report from CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange Division.

Dairy robots, also referred to as automated milking systems, take a variety of forms. From “box” style units to robotic components on rotary style milking parlors, they all provide an alternative to traditional dairy labor, which has become more expensive and harder to find in many regions of the U.S.

“Labor and finance are two of the most important issues when large farms are considering dairy robotics, but when I spoke to smaller-scale producers, the primary drivers of adopting this technology were around quality of life,” said Ben Laine, senior analyst with CoBank. “However, the future growth of this technology and possible broader adoption will be centered on labor costs, milk production per robot, and proximity to dealers and service technicians.”
A single box style unit can cost around $200,000 without housing, and the target production for one unit is 4,500 pounds of milk per day.

“As the technology improves and labor costs increase, we will see the tradeoffs continue to shift in favor of robotics,” said Laine. “But, there is still plenty of uncertainty around useful life of the units and milk production efficiency that will give many producers pause.”

CWT Assists with 2.6 million Pounds of Cheese and Butter Export Sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 15 requests for export assistance from Dairy Farmers of America, Northwest Dairy Association (Darigold) and United Dairymen of Arizona. These cooperatives have contracts to sell 1.911million pounds (867 metric tons) of Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese and 716,502 pounds (325 metric tons) of butter to customers in Asia, Central America, Europe and the Middle East. The product has been contracted for delivery in the period from March through June 2018.

CWT-assisted member cooperative 2018 export sales total 27.146 million pounds of American-type cheeses, and 5.613 million pounds of butter (82% milkfat) to 19 countries on five continents. These sales are the equivalent of 376.845 million pounds of milk on a milkfat basis. Totals adjusted for cancellations.

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.

NGFA members elect new chairman and industry officers

The NGFA's 122nd Annual Convention attracted more than 650 NGFA members to Scottsdale, Ariz., last week, during which they elected NGFA's industry officers and several NGFA industry leaders to serve on the Board of Directors.

During the Association's annual business meeting, the membership elected Eric Wilkey, president of Arizona Grain Co., Casa Grande, Ariz., as NGFA chairman. They also elected David Baudler, managing director, grain, Cargill Agricultural Supply Chain North America, Cargill Inc., Minneapolis, Minn., as first vice chairman and JoAnn Brouillette, president of Demeter LP, Fowler, Ind., as second vice chairman.

In addition, NGFA members elected the following persons to serve three-year terms on the organization's Board of Directors:
Keith Bailey, Chief Operating Officer, Highline Grain Growers, Waterville, Wash.
Gary Beachner, President and CEO, Beachner Grain Inc., Parsons, Kan.
Greg Beck, Vice President, Grain, CGB Enterprises, Covington, LA
Jean Bratton, Chief Executive Officer, Centerra Co-op, Ashland, OH
Sharon Clark, Senior Vice President, Transportation and Regulatory Affairs, Perdue Agribusiness LLC, Salisbury, Md.
Chris Faust, Chief Operating Officer and Commercial Manager, Grains and Oilseeds USA, COFCO International, Chicago, IL
Matt Murphy, Senior Location Manager, Lansing Trade Group LLC, Overland Park, KS
Chad Nagel, Manager of Trading, Nagel Farm Services Inc., Wye Mills, Md.
Carl Schwinke, Vice President, Grain Supply, Siemer Milling Co., Teutopolis, Ill.
Benjamin Smith, Managing Director, Attebury Grain LLC, Amarillo, Texas; and
Will Waters, Principal and Vice President, Harris-Crane, Inc., Clinton, N.C.

Subsequently, the following members of the NGFA Board of Directors were elected by that body to serve on the NGFA Executive Committee for the coming year:
Jim Banachowski, Vice President and General Manager, The Andersons, Maumee, Ohio.
Gary Beachner, President and CEO, Beachner Grain Inc., Parsons, KS
Chris Boerm, President, Global Transportation, Archer Daniels Midland, Decatur, Ill.
Sharon Clark,Senior Vice President, Transportation and Regulatory Affairs, Perdue Agribusiness LLC, Salisbury, Md.
John Fletcher, General Manager, Central Missouri AGRIService LLC, Marshall, Mo.
Roger Fray, Executive Vice President, Landus Cooperative, Ralston, Iowa
Matt Gibson, Vice President and General Manager, Grain Division, Bunge North America, St. Louis, Mo.
David Hoogmoed, Chief Operating Officer, Purina Animal Nutrition; and Executive Vice President, Land O'Lakes Inc., Arden Hills, Minn.
Diana Klemme, Vice President, Grain Service Corp., Atlanta, Ga.
Alan Koenig, Chief Supply Chain Officer, Grain Craft, Chattanooga, Tenn.
Todd Lafferty, Vice President and General Counsel, Wheeler Brothers Grain Co., Watonga, Okla.
Chris Peha, General Manager, Northwest Grain Growers, Walla Walla, Washington
Ryan Pellett, President and Chief Executive Officer, J.D. Heiskell & Co., Elkhorn, Neb.

In addition, the following NGFA officers are members of the Executive Committee by virtue of their office:
    Chairman Eric Wilkey
    First Vice Chairman David Baudler
    Second Vice Chairman JoAnn Brouillette
    Immediate Past Chairman John Heck, Scoular, Omaha, NE

    NGFA President Randy Gordon

Subsequently, the Executive Committee elected John Heck to serve as its chairman.

Easter Eggs for Your Basket Will be a Bit Higher This Year

Higher retail prices for several foods including eggs, orange juice, meat products, bagged salad, shredded cheddar and vegetable oil resulted in a slight increase in the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Spring Picnic Marketbasket Survey.

The informal survey showed the total cost of 16 food items that can be used to prepare one or more meals was $51.05, up $1.02 or 2 percent compared to a year ago. Of the 16 items surveyed, nine increased and seven decreased in average price.

“Most of the increase in the marketbasket was due to higher retail egg prices. Easter eggs are going to be a bit more expensive—37 percent higher than a year ago,” said John Newton, AFBF’s director of market intelligence. “U.S. egg exports were up nearly 50 percent in 2017 while egg production remained flat.”

A bird flu outbreak in South Korea contributed to the increase in U.S. export volumes.

“A surge in egg exports combined with relatively flat production led to the strong rise in retail egg prices,” Newton said.

“Orange juice was another significant driver for the increase in the basket, up 24 cents or 7.5 percent. A devastating hurricane late last year that came through parts of Florida, where most orange juice comes from, led to growers harvesting the smallest crop in 70 years,” he added.

Several foods showed modest retail price decreases from a year ago: whole milk, white bread, chicken breasts, toasted oat cereal, apples, potatoes and flour.

Milk decreased in price by 6 percent (20 cents per gallon) due to continued record production volumes in the United States and a very competitive beverage case.

Retail price changes from a year ago:
eggs, up 37 percent to $1.80 per dozen
orange juice, up 8 percent to $3.46 per half-gallon
bagged salad, up 4 percent to $2.42 per pound
deli ham, up 3 percent to $5.59 per pound
vegetable oil, up 2 percent to $2.61 for a 32-ounce bottle
shredded cheddar cheese, up 2 percent to $4.20 per pound
ground chuck, up 2 percent to $4.01 per pound
bacon, up 2 percent to $4.75 per pound
sirloin tip roast, up 2 percent to $5.12 per pound
white bread, down 7 percent to $1.60 per 20-ounce loaf
whole milk, down 6 percent to $3.07 per gallon
chicken breast, down 2 percent to $3.10 per pound
toasted oat cereal, down 2 percent to $2.78 for a 9-ounce box
apples, down 1 percent to $1.53 per pound
flour, down less than 1 percent to $2.34 for a 5-pound bag
potatoes, down less than 1 percent to $2.67 for a 5-pound bag

Price checks of alternative milk and egg choices not included in the overall marketbasket survey average revealed the following: half-gallon whole regular milk, $2.04; half-gallon organic milk, $4.24; and one dozen “cage-free” eggs, $3.53.

The year-to-year direction of the marketbasket survey tracks closely with the federal government’s Consumer Price Index ( report for food at home. As retail grocery prices have increased gradually over time, the share of the average food dollar that America’s farm and ranch families receive has dropped.

“Through the mid-1970s, farmers received about one-third of consumer retail food expenditures for food eaten at home and away from home, on average. Since then, that figure has decreased steadily and is now about 14.8 percent, according to the Agriculture Department’s revised Food Dollar Series,” Newton said.

AFBF, the nation’s largest general farm organization, began conducting informal marketbasket surveys of retail food price trends in 1989. The current series includes a spring picnic survey, summer cookout survey, fall harvest survey and Thanksgiving dinner cost survey. A total of 93 shoppers in 23 states participated in the latest AFBF survey, conducted in March 2018.

According to USDA, Americans spend just under 10 percent of their disposable annual income on food, the lowest average of any country in the world.

Friday March 23 Cattle on Feed + More Ag News


Nebraska feedlots, with capacities of 1,000 or more head, contained 2.69 million cattle on feed on March 1, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. This inventory was up 10 percent from last year.  Placements during February totaled 440,000 head, up 4 percent from 2017.  Fed cattle marketings for the month of February totaled 410,000 head, down 2 percent from last year. Other disappearance during February totaled 10,000 head, down 5,000 head from last year.


Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 730,000 head on March 1, 2018, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Cattle on Feed report. This was up 1 percent from February 1, 2018 and up 12 percent from March 1, 2017. Iowa feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head had 585,000 head on feed, up 1 percent from last month but down 2 percent from last year. Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in all Iowa feedlots totaled 1,315,000 head, up 1 percent from last month and up 5 percent from last year.

Placements of cattle and calves in Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head during February totaled 118,000 head, a decrease of 9 percent from last month but up 16 percent from last year. Feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head placed 45,000 head, down 38 percent from last month and down 24 percent from last year. Placements for all feedlots in Iowa totaled 163,000 head, down 20 percent from last month but up 1 percent from last year.

Marketings of fed cattle from Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head during February totaled 106,000 head, down 1 percent from last month but up 19 percent from last year. Feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head marketed 38,000 head, down 24 percent from last month and down 10 percent from last year. Marketings for all feedlots in Iowa were 144,000 head, down 8 percent from last month but up 10 percent from last year. Other disappearance from all feedlots in Iowa totaled 4,000 head.

United States Cattle on Feed Up 9 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 11.7 million head on March 1, 2018. The inventory was 9 percent above March 1, 2017.

Placements in feedlots during February totaled 1.82 million head, 7 percent above 2017. Net placements were 1.76 million head. During February, placementsof cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 325,000 head, 600-699 pounds were 335,000 head, 700-799 pounds were 537,000 head, 800-899 pounds were 420,000 head, 900-999 pounds were 150,000 head, and 1,000 pounds and greater were 50,000 head.

Marketings of fed cattle during February totaled 1.68 million head, 2 percent above 2017.  Other disappearance totaled 57,000 head during February, 2 percent above 2017.


All layers in Nebraska during February 2018 totaled 7.52 million, down from 8.64 million the previous year, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Nebraska egg production during February totaled 177 million eggs, down from 210 million in 2017. February egg production per 100 layers was 2,353 eggs, compared to 2,433 eggs in 2017.


Iowa egg production during February 2018 was 1.20 billion eggs, down 7 percent from last month and down 3 percent from last year, according to the latest Chickens and Eggs report from the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

The average number of all layers on hand during February 2018 was 55.9 million, up slightly from both last month and last year. Eggs per 100 layers for February were 2,151, down 8 percent from last month and down 3 percent from last year.

U.S. Chickens and Eggs - February Egg Production Up Slightly

United States egg production totaled 8.14 billion during February 2018, up slightly from last year. Production included 7.10 billion table eggs, and 1.05 billion hatching eggs, of which 972 million were broiler-type and 73.7 million were egg-type. The average number of layers during February 2018 totaled 384 million, up 2 percent from last year. February egg production per 100 layers was 2,121 eggs, down 2 percent from February 2017.

All layers in the United States on March 1, 2018 totaled 386 million, up 3 percent from last year. The 386 million layers consisted of 324 million layers producing table or market type eggs, 57.9 million layers producing broiler-type hatching eggs, and 3.49 million layers producing egg-type hatching eggs. Rate of lay per day on March 1, 2018, averaged 76.0 eggs per 100 layers, down 1 percent from March 1, 2017.

Egg-Type Chicks Hatched Up 4 Percent

Egg-type chicks hatched during February 2018 totaled 50.5 million, up 4 percent from February 2017. Eggs in incubators totaled 55.9 million on March 1, 2018, up 7 percent from a year ago.

Domestic placements of egg-type pullet chicks for future hatchery supply flocks by leading breeders totaled 153 thousand during February 2018, down 15 percent from February 2017.

Broiler-Type Chicks Hatched Up 1 Percent

Broiler-type chicks hatched during February 2018 totaled 735 million, up 1 percent from February 2017. Eggs in incubators totaled 682 million on March 1, 2018, up 2 percent from a year ago.

Leading breeders placed 7.63 million broiler-type pullet chicks for future domestic hatchery supply flocks during February 2018, down 3 percent from February 2017.

Record High Red Meat and Pork Production for February

Commercial red meat production for the United States totaled 4.06 billion pounds in February, up 3 percent from the 3.94 billion pounds produced in February 2017.

By State             
   (1,000 lbs  - % Feb '17)
Nebraska ....:          608.1            101 
Iowa ...........:          590.0            107      
Kansas ........:          418.0            105      

Beef production, at 1.98 billion pounds, was 3 percent above the previous year. Cattle slaughter totaled 2.42 million head, up 2 percent from February 2017. The average live weight was up 8 pounds from the previous year, at 1,368 pounds.

Veal production totaled 5.8 million pounds, 3 percent above February a year ago. Calf slaughter totaled 41,100 head, up 2 percent from February 2017. The average live weight was up 1 pound from last year, at 242 pounds.

Pork production totaled 2.06 billion pounds, up 4 percent from the previous year. Hog slaughter totaled 9.64 million head, up 3 percent from February 2017. The average live weight was up 2 pounds from the previous year, at 286 pounds.

Lamb and mutton production, at 11.8 million pounds, was up 5 percent from February 2017. Sheep slaughter totaled 164,800 head, 3 percent above last year. The average live weight was 143 pounds, up 3 pounds from February a year ago.

January to February 2018 commercial red meat production was 8.65 billion pounds, up 5 percent from 2017. Accumulated beef production was up 5 percent from last year, veal was up 4 percent, pork was up 5 percent from last year, and lamb and mutton production was up 4 percent.

USDA:  Cold Storage February 2018 Highlights

Total red meat supplies in freezers on February 28, 2018 were down slightly from the previous month but up 1 percent from last year. Total pounds of beef in freezers were down 8 percent from the previous month and down 8 percent from last year. Frozen pork supplies were up 6 percent from the previous month and up 8 percent from last year. Stocks of pork bellies were up 6 percent from last month and up 188 percent from last year.

Total natural cheese stocks in refrigerated warehouses on February 28, 2018 were up 3 percent from the previous month and up 7 percent from February 28, 2017.  Butter stocks were up 22 percent from last month and up 3 percent from a year ago.

Total frozen poultry supplies on February 28, 2018 were up 6 percent from the previous month and up 14 percent from a year ago. Total stocks of chicken were up 3 percent from the previous month and up 15 percent from last year. Total pounds of turkey in freezers were up 14 percent from last month and up 13 percent from February 28, 2017.

Total frozen fruit stocks were down 10 percent from last month and down 21 percent from a year ago.  Total frozen vegetable stocks were down 8 percent from last month and down 1 percent from a year ago.

Former Nebraska Farm Bureau President Bryce Neidig Passes Away at the age of 86

Bryce Neidig, the second longest serving president of Nebraska Farm Bureau, was remembered for being an articulate and popular president who was enthusiastic about the future of Farm Bureau and agriculture. He died March 22 at the age of 86.

“Bryce Neidig was a tremendous advocate for agriculture and Nebraska Farm Bureau. You will not find a stronger champion for agriculture and Farm Bureau policy. Bryce drove thousands of miles, crisscrossing the state to attend local Farm Bureau meetings and to build relationships with government officials and others throughout the state. If I could cite only one of Bryce’s accomplishments, it would be raising Farm Bureau’s public profile through his willingness to be a tireless spokesman for agriculture,” Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau president said March 23.

Neidig grew up on a farm near Madison, where his family raised corn and soybeans. He was elected as Nebraska Farm Bureau President in 1981 and served through 2002. He saw the value of working cooperatively with the news media to inform the public and policymakers about Farm Bureau’s viewpoints on agriculture. As he built relationships with government officials from across the state, he achieved respect from both sides of the political aisle.

“Bryce was a quick study when it came to learning about issues; as a trained Toastmaster and winner of Toastmaster competitions, he was an excellent extemporaneous speaker. Bryce excelled at explaining complex issues in a short and easily understood manner, often with real life stories,” said Rob Robertson, Nebraska Farm Bureau chief administrator.

In the past, Farm Bureau had often been content to let things happen, and not make waves. “We have changed that into an attitude of action. Today, Farm Bureau is willing and eager to attack problems that are affecting our members with a 'let's do something about it' attitude," Neidig was quoted as saying. This action-oriented approach was the hallmark of the Neidig presidency and the growth of Farm Bureau's image as the state's most influential agricultural organization.

“Bryce always said to keep going in a straight line, you have to keep an eye on the horizon, just like when you're disking,” Nelson said.

Over the years he served as Nebraska Farm Bureau president, Neidig saw both a period of economic prosperity and uncertainty in the farm economy. He believed being a visionary would be the key to Farm Bureau and agriculture’s future.

“Bryce Neidig was a stark defender of Farm Bureau policy and agriculture. He was always ready to defend, interested in getting something done, and doing something positive,” Robertson said.

“He was a true visionary on water issues and always involved with farm policy nationally and school and tax policy in the state. For example, he was a leader in campaigns to get the State Constitution amended to value agricultural land on its productivity,” Robertson said.

Neidig was elected to the American Farm Bureau Board of Directors in 1988, on which he served until retirement, and represented Farm Bureau on a number of trade missions. He also accompanied Governors Nelson and Johanns on several trade missions to open and increase international markets with Nebraska.

“Many times, Bryce was called on by the American Farm Bureau to visit Washington, D.C. to present testimony before Congressional committees. Nebraska Senators Hagel and Kerrey also asked him to come to Washington, D.C. to present Farm Bureau’s perspective on pending agricultural legislation,” Nelson said.

Neidig married his wife Shirley in 1952 and is survived by her and their four children Neal, Kim, Kay, and Van. Neal and Van are the fifth generation to farm their Madison County land.


Greg Ibach, a fifth-generation farmer and rancher from Sumner, Nebraska, will be honored by the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Block and Bridle Club.

The Block and Bridle Club’s annual award recognizes an honoree who has contributed to Nebraska agriculture through leadership, service, youth projects, community activities and involvement with the university.

Ibach currently serves as the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s under secretary for marketing and regulatory programs, where he sets national standards for the marketing of U.S. agricultural products, along with the health and care of animals and plants. He began his professional career working for Farm Credit Services of America.

In 1989, Ibach and his wife, Teresa, returned to the family farm. They served on the Nebraska Farm Bureau Young Farmer Rancher Committee, and Ibach was elected for two terms on the Nebraska Beef Council. He was on the executive committee of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association when he was appointed to be assistant director of agriculture by then-Gov. Mike Johanns, and later was appointed director by Gov. Dave Heineman and Gov. Pete Ricketts. Ibach is Nebraska’s longest-serving director of agriculture, with more than 12 years in the role.

Most of Ibach’s career has aligned with the Block and Bridle Club’s core objectives, which are to promote a higher scholastic standard and a more complete understanding of animal science among student members; to promote animal agriculture through development of a program of activities that will supplement students' study of the animal sciences; to enhance professionalism of students who will one day be leaders in the animal agriculture industry; and to bring about a closer relationship among all students pursuing some phase of animal agriculture as a profession.

In his spare time, Ibach plays an active role in his family’s central Nebraska farm and in youth activities. As the state’s director of agriculture, Ibach provided vision and support for the Nebraska Agricultural Youth Council and Nebraska Agricultural Youth Institute and has been involved in FFA chapters and 4-H clubs at local and state levels.

Ibach graduated from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln in 1984 with a Bachelor of Science in agriculture. He served as an officer for the Block and Bridle Club and FarmHouse fraternity. Ibach serves as co-chairman of fundraising efforts for the new FarmHouse Chapter House, as well as serving as a mentor for FarmHouse student members.

Ibach and his family will be honored at the Block and Bridle Club Honors Banquet, 6 p.m. April 14 at Nebraska Innovation Campus, 2021 Transformation Dr., Lincoln, NE 68508. A reception for Ibach and his family, friends and past honorees is at 5 p.m. Tickets to the banquet are $25 and can be purchased by contacting Andi Hallberg at

The Block and Bridle Club is part of the Animal Science Department within the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.

Colfax, Platte, and Stanton County Farm Bureaus Sponsor District 22 Candidate Forum

Those interested in learning more about the candidates running for the District 22 seat in the Nebraska Legislature are invited to a candidate forum to be held, Wednesday, April 4 at 7 p.m. (CDT) at Wunderlich’s Banquet Hall located at 304 23rd St., Columbus. The event is sponsored by Colfax, Platte, and Stanton County Farm Bureaus.

The forum will provide an opportunity for the public to meet and ask questions of the candidates who are seeking to represent the district in the Nebraska Legislature. The event is free and open to the public. Doors will open 30 minutes before the forum begins to enable attendees the opportunity to meet the candidates and submit written questions for consideration at the forum. The forum will last 90 minutes.

All of the filed candidates seeking to represent District 22 have indicated they will participate, including Francis Kuehler of Humphrey, Kenneth Leischner of Columbus, Mike Moser of Columbus, and Doug Oertwich of Pilger.

Legislative District 22 encompasses all of Platte county and parts of Colfax and Stanton counties. The seat is currently held by Sen. Paul Schumacher, who is unable to seek re-election due to term-limits.

Accepting Applications for the 2018 Nebraska Pork Youth Conference: Makin’ Bacon … and a Whole Lot More!

Sophomores, juniors, and seniors in high-schools across Nebraska  are encouraged to apply to participate in the 2018 Nebraska Pork Youth Conference: Makin’ Bacon … and a Whole Lot More! Applications will be reviewed and up to 32 students  will be selected to participate. The deadline to apply is April 13th. Students may apply for the opportunity by visiting the youth tab on

The conference will be conducted from Wednesday afternoon, May 3oth through approximately noon, Friday, June 1st, at the University of Nebraska Lincoln’s East Campus. Other than the youth’s transportation to and from Lincoln, there will be  no cost  to participate. All lodging, meals, and conference materials are covered!

Due to the activities in the meat lab, students must be 16 years or older at the time of the conference. Current seniors who will be graduating in May are also welcome to apply to participate in this conference.

Participants will evaluate market animals, grade carcasses, fabricate carcasses into wholesale and retail cuts, and exercise basic culinary methods on a variety of different pork products. Additionally, lab activities include a hands-on genetics lab, a food safety lab, and a biosecurity and animal health activity. Not only will youth learn about pork as a wholesome food product, but they will also learn how the pork industry is using science to address many significant challenges, plus, throughout the conference, participants will discuss consumer issues.

Finally, participants will enjoy engaging life skills activities will be intermixed throughout the program that focus on development of communication, leadership, and networking skills.

Upon conclusion of this workshop, our youth will have a more thorough understanding of the pork products produced, the consumers who purchase those products, and will have greater confidence in their ability to effectively communicate with one another regarding the many issues and challenges facing the pork industry.

The 2018 Nebraska Pork Youth Conference: Makin’ Bacon … and a Whole Lot More! is sponsored by the Nebraska Corn Board, Nebraska Soybean Board, Nebraska Pork Producers Association, as well as Nebraska Extension and the University of Nebraska Lincoln’s Department of Animal Science.


Fellowship applications for Nebraska LEAD group 38 are now available for men and women involved in production agriculture or agribusiness.

“Up to 30 motivated men and women with demonstrated leadership potential will be selected from five geographic districts across our state," said Terry Hejny, director of the Nebraska LEAD program.

Now in its 37th year, the Nebraska Leadership Education/Action Development program is designed to prepare spokespeople, problem-solvers and decision-makers for Nebraska’s agricultural industry.

In addition to monthly three-day seminars held across Nebraska from mid-September through early April, Nebraska LEAD fellows participate in a 10-day national study/travel seminar and a two-week international study/travel seminar.

Seminar themes include leadership assessment and potential; natural resources and energy; agricultural policy; leadership through communication; Nebraska’s political process; global perspectives; nuclear energy; social issues; understanding and developing leadership skills; agribusiness and marketing; advances in health care; and the resources and people of Nebraska’s panhandle.

Applications are available by emailing or calling 402-472-6810. Requests can also be sent to 104 ACB, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 68583-0940. Applications are due by June 15.

The program is operated by the Nebraska Agricultural Leadership Council, a nonprofit organization, in collaboration with the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Other partners include Nebraska colleges and universities, business and industry, and individuals throughout the state.

For information about the selection process, go to


The Nebraska Agricultural Leadership Council elected new officers and board members during its annual meeting on March 9.

Newly elected officers include: chairman of the board, Stephanie Liska of Wayne; vice chair, Brad Lubben of Eagle; secretary, Bryan Barrett of Gering; and treasurer, William Rhea III of Arlington.

Newly elected board members include: Jolene Messinger of McCook and Tracy Olson of North Platte. Re-elected for a second three-year term were: Lori Pankoke of Lincoln, Pat Rasmussen of Geneva, and Ed Woeppel of Firth.

Board members also include: Cindi Allen of Ogallala, Eric Brown of Lincoln, Kelly Brunkhorst of Lincoln, Jerry Catlett of Bruning, Gerald Clausen of Lincoln, Jim Farrell of Omaha, Galen Frenzen of Fullerton, Carol Hudkins of Malcolm, Royce Schaneman of Denton, Ray Ward of Kearney, and Dennis Nun of Lincoln who serves as the president of the Nebraska LEAD Alumni Association. The council’s president is Terry Hejny, who also serves as the Director of the Nebraska LEAD Program.

The Nebraska LEAD Program includes men and women, currently active in production agriculture and agribusiness and is a two-year leadership development program under the direction of the Nebraska Agricultural Leadership Council in cooperation with the University of Nebraska's Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

For more information, or to request an application for Nebraska LEAD 38 which will begin in September of 2018, contact the Nebraska LEAD Program, 104 ACB, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE 68583-0940.  You may also call 402-472-6810 or email Applications are due June 15.

Study: Climate effects on ag yields vary by location, crop

The global emergence of climate change should get farmers thinking and acting locally, according to nearly a half-century of data analyzed at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The new Nebraska study suggests that climate shifts between 1968 and 2013 drove about 25 percent of the collective fluctuations in corn, soybean and sorghum yields across the Great Plains.

“Both temperature and precipitation had their fingerprints on that quarter of the variability, which (itself) varied with location and crop,” said study co-author Meetpal Kukal, doctoral student in biological systems engineering. “There are clear signatures of climate in the crop-yield patterns that we quantified here.”

But the magnitude and direction of those climatic effects often differed within a state, sometimes even across neighboring counties. In certain counties, temperature and precipitation shifts accounted for up to 52 percent of the variance in crop yields; in others, those factors seemed to have virtually no effect. The study further found that corn, soybean and sorghum responded differently to similar changes in climate factors.

“People talk a lot about global climate change and continent-level change,” said senior author Suat Irmak, Eberhard Distinguished Professor of biological systems engineering. “Quantifying what’s happening globally is great, but we cannot generalize that to everywhere. We need to go into more local areas to look at those interactions so that effective region- or location-specific methods and strategies can be developed.”

“We have average, aggregated numbers over the (whole) region,” Kukal said. “But it’s always better to look at finer scales when possible.”

Irmak and Kukal analyzed U.S. Department of Agriculture data for 834 counties across nine states -- North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas -- that collectively produced 46 percent of U.S. corn yields, 89 percent of sorghum and 36 percent of soybean. The 46-year span is among the longest analyzed in a study of climatic effects on agriculture, the researchers said, with most prior studies covering a maximum of 30 years.

The study’s findings could help guide the allocation of vital but limited resources, Irmak said, including the aquifer-derived water used to irrigate crops. Because some areas of a state produce far greater yields than do others, even moderate shifts of temperature or precipitation in those areas could substantially affect the food and fuel production of an entire state or even a region, he said.

Whereas precipitation shifts explained the sorghum variance in just 17 percent of counties, for instance, those counties produced 49 percent of the sorghum in the Great Plains. And though only 18 percent of counties could pin their soybean variance on precipitation shifts, those counties produced 32 percent of the region’s soybean.

The three crops showed varying degrees of sensitivity to temperature increases, which occurred in 578 of the 834 counties. Irmak and Kukal concluded that corn -- followed by soybean, then sorghum – is most susceptible to rising temperatures. Despite this -- and further emphasizing the importance of county-level analysis – the researchers found that more counties actually saw their corn yields increase rather than decrease under a warming climate. How? Corn was often irrigated, which seemed to more than offset the potential effects of rising temperatures. Non-irrigated corn was roughly twice as sensitive to temperature increases, the study reported.

This buffering effect of irrigation, which aligns with prior research, also appeared when examining overall yields. The variance in yields of non-irrigated corn, sorghum and soybean was 77, 69 and 63 percent higher, respectively, than their irrigated counterparts.

Changes in climate accounted for just 8 percent of the yield variance in irrigated corn vs. 41 percent of non-irrigated corn; 4 percent vs. 35 percent of soybean; and 9 percent vs. 23 percent of sorghum. Yet the interactions between precipitation and irrigation differed among the crops: Non-irrigated corn was 43 times more sensitive than irrigated corn to shifts in precipitation, whereas non-irrigated soybean and sorghum were only about three times more sensitive.

Those nuances illustrate the value of collecting local data that accounts for different climate variables, crop types and growing conditions, the researchers said.

“I hope we are successful in getting across the message that there are changes in temperature and precipitation, (but) those changes are different over time and location, and they are having different impacts on our agricultural productivity,” Irmak said. “That can help high-level advisers, decision-makers and policymakers to identify locations where those impacts are greatest so that resource allocation or re-allocation can make (fields) even more productive.

“Our agricultural productivity has national implications on the economy, on jobs, on social issues – these are really important and big topics. I hope they take home the message that things are changing, and we need to be proactive and pay attention to those so that we can sustain our productivity.”

Irmak and Kukal reported their findings in the journal Scientific Reports. The study is available at


California’s Department of the Environment this week held a public hearing in San Francisco on the implementation of the Antibiotic Use in Food Animals Ordinance signed on Oct. 24, 2017, and effective Nov. 23, 2017. The ordinance requires 120 large grocery retailers in San Francisco to report annually on antibiotics used in meat sold in their stores.

Witnesses at the hearing countered those who support the measure by noting the unintended consequences of the ordinance. Diane Sullivan, an anti-hunger advocate, cited existing federal regulations that already ensure food safety and responsible antibiotic use and expressed concern about increased food costs caused by unwarranted regulations like this in a city where one in four struggle with food insecurity.

A representative from the California Farm Bureau testified that responsible antibiotic use is a priority for agriculture and that healthy animals lead to decreases in food borne illnesses. The California Grocers’ Association said adherence to the ordinance would be a challenge since grocers do not have the ability to compel information from producers.

ASA DuPont Young Leaders Explore Issues, Participate in Leadership Training

The 34th class of American Soybean Association (ASA) DuPont Young Leaders completed their training, Feb. 25 – March 2, 2018 in conjunction with the annual Commodity Classic Convention and Trade Show in Anaheim, Calif.

“The ASA DuPont Young Leader Program has provided the soybean industry and all of agriculture strong and well-connected leaders,” ASA President John Heisdorffer said. “The program fosters innovation, provides a forward looking training opportunity that fosters collaboration and strengthens the voice of the farmer. We are grateful to DowDuPont for their commitment to this program and for helping secure the future of the soybean industry.”

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

The 2018 class of ASA DuPont Young Leaders includes: James Wray (AR); Rick Dickerson (DE); Jonathan Snow (DE); Joshua Plunk (IL); Chris Steele (IN); Chris Gaesser & Shannon Lizakowski (IA); Kevin & Kim Kohls (KS); Jared & Kimy Nash (KS); Clay & Lindsey Wells (KY); Caleb & Jordan Frey (LA); Walter & Kristen Grezaffi (LA); Brian & Michelle Washburn (MI); Scott & Polly Wilson (MI); Adam & Melanie Guetter (MN); James Locke (MS); Tyler Clay (MS); Dane Diehl & Erica Wagenknecht (MO); Kevin & Heather Kucera (NE); Scott Langemeier (NE); Philip & Lindsay Sloop (NC); Logan Ferry (ND); Justin Cowman (OH); Kevin & Brianna Deinert (SD); Jordan & Samantha Scott (SD); Charlie & Bettye Jane Roberts (TN); AJ Teal (TN); Tanner Johnson (WI); Pat & Sheri Mullooly (WI); and Ann & Jeff Vermeersch (Ontario, Canada).

“It is critically important that our industry have strong leaders who are well-equipped to advocate for policies that benefit farmers,” said Krysta Harden, Vice President, External Affairs & Chief Sustainability Officer, Corteva Agriscience™, Agriculture Division of DowDuPont™. “I am so proud of these young leaders who are stepping forward to ensure the farmer’s voice is heard.”

Step Up and Lead! Members Called to Higher Service

With only one week remaining, the National Corn Growers Association reminds farmers that they are invited to become a part of the change they desire by actively honing their leadership skills through the NCGA Leadership At Its Best Program, sponsored by Syngenta, or through the DuPont New Leaders Program.

Growers interested in the LAIB Program must be nominated by their state corn association for either program.  Interested members should contact their state associations.

Open to all NCGA membership, Leadership At Its Best provides training to interested volunteers of all skill levels.  The first session, held in August in Greensboro, N.C., addresses interpersonal communications skills, strategic social media engagement, and media training. The second session, which will be held in January of 2019 in Washington, D.C., focuses on public policy issues, meeting with your congressional delegation and parliamentary procedure.  Through this program, participants build the skill set needed to become a more confident public speaker with a solid advocacy background to be a more effective leader for their state corn grower or marketing associations.

For more than three decades, NCGA, state corn associations and, most importantly, the U.S. corn industry, have benefited tremendously from the Syngenta co-sponsored Leadership At Its Best Program.  More than 600 growers have gained invaluable knowledge and skills in media, communications, association management and public policy over the lifetime of the program.

Those interested should contact their state corn organization, which will submit nominees for the program. To learn more, click here.

The DuPont New Leaders Program, designed for corn growers who are newly active or considering involvement in agriculture leadership, helps them build their communications skills so they can better serve their peers.

Ideal participants will be farming couples or individuals from NCGA's affiliated states, such as those considering a board position. Those interested must be at least 21 years of age, active in corn farming, NCGA members and not currently serving as an officer on their state affiliate board.
The first session will be held the week of June 18th in Des Moines, Iowa and will feature small-group, interactive workshops focusing on storytelling, social media, and advocacy. The second session will be held during agriculture's largest farmer-led trade show, Commodity Classic, in Orlando, Florida next February. Applications are due Friday, March 30, and will be reviewed by the NCGA and forwarded to the appropriate state affiliate association for approval.

Participants accepted for the program will be notified in late April. All program-related travel and lodging expenses will be covered, per NCGA policy and procedures. For more information or to fill out the online application, please visit

USMEF News Release: WH Group CEO to Address World Meat Congress

The U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) announces that Long Wan, executive director, chairman and chief executive officer of WH Group, will be a featured speaker at the World Meat Congress (WMC), May 31-June 1 in Dallas. 

Formerly known as Shuanghui International, WH Group is the largest pork company in the world. It is the majority shareholder in Shuanghui Development, China’s largest meat processor, and owner of Smithfield Foods.

“Long Wan has played a leading role in the growth and success of WH Group, and is a strong champion of international trade,” said Philip Seng, USMEF CEO emeritus. “Mr. Wan brings a unique perspective on how to succeed in an ever-changing global environment, and how to attract customers in a wide range of markets.”

In addition, the WMC will feature several expert panel discussions, including On the Cutting Edge: What’s New in the Red Meat Supply Chain? In this session, the red meat industry’s brightest scientific minds will introduce participants to cutting-edge technologies that are reshaping meat production around the world and provide a preview of what is coming next. Highlights include: 
-    Dr. Martin Wiedmann, professor of food safety at Cornell University and co-director of the New York Integrated Food Safety Center of Excellence, will share his insights on how whole genome sequencing research is being applied to food safety systems, its application to modern microbiological testing and its role in combating antibiotic resistance.
-     Gary Rodrigue, one of IBM’s foremost food industry block chain experts, will present how block chain traceability is used to track meat products at the retail level and the future applications of this emerging technology.
-    Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam, cooperative extension specialist at the University of California-Davis, will explain the practical applications of gene editing, from the perspective of current use and how the technology will apply to the livestock and meat industries moving forward.

Other featured WMC speakers include U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and FutureCast President Jeff Fromm, a best-selling author and expert on marketing to Millennials and Generation Z.

More details, including the full agenda, registration and lodging information are available on the WMC website.

NCBA Calling for Nominations for Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) Awards

Award applications for the 12th annual National Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) Awards now are being accepted. The 2019 National BQA Awards recognize five winners in the areas of beef, dairy, marketing and education:
-    The BQA Cow Calf and BQA Feedyard awards recognize producers who best demonstrate the implementation of BQA principles as part of the day-to-day activities on their respective operations.
-    The BQA / FARM (Farmers Assuring Responsible Management) award honors those dairy operations that demonstrate the best in animal care and handling while implementing the BQA and FARM programs at the highest levels.
-    The BQA Marketer Award acknowledges livestock markets, cattle buyers and supply-chain programs that promote BQA to their customers and offer them opportunities to get certified.
-    The BQA Educator Award celebrates individuals or companies that provide high quality and innovative training to individuals that care and handle cattle throughout the industry chain.

The National BQA Awards are selected by a committee of BQA certified representatives from universities, state beef councils, sponsors and affiliated groups. Nominations are submitted by organizations, groups or individuals on behalf of a U.S. beef producer, dairy beef producer, marketer or educator. Individuals and families may not nominate themselves, though the nominees are expected to be involved in the preparation of the application. Past nominees are encouraged to submit their application under the new nomination structure. Previous winners may not reapply.

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association manages the BQA program as a contractor to the Beef Checkoff Program. Funding for the BQA Awards is made possible by the generosity of Cargill, which has supported the program since its inception, and Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health, which sponsors the BQA Educator Award.

Find the application and nomination requirements here. Applications are due by June 1, 2018.  For more information about BQA visit

Smith Statement on Passage of “Grain Glitch” Fix

Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE), a member of the Committee on Ways and Means, released the following statement today after voting to address the “grain glitch” as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018.

“By fixing the ‘grain glitch’ we are ensuring producers and buyers across agriculture will benefit from an improved tax code without unnecessarily shifting the commodity marketplace.  Replicating the Section 199 treatment of cooperatives under the previous tax code, combined with the lower rates and simplified compliance, will ensure as many producers as possible see tax cuts, which was the intent of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.  I appreciate the willingness of cooperatives, non-cooperative buyers, and end users to collaboratively solve this issue, and the efforts of Chairman Brady to work with me to ensure this is enacted as soon as possible.

“While I share the concerns of the President and many Nebraskans about the overall spending level in this bill, it enacts many important priorities, including regulatory relief for agriculture, properly funding our military, and beginning work on the border wall.”

Other provisions beneficial to agriculture in the Consolidated Appropriations Act include the FARM Act, prohibiting the regulation of farms and ranches as toxic waste sites, of which Smith is an original cosponsor, and an extension of the Electronic Logging Device exemption for agriculture through Fiscal Year 2018.  The bill also funds the Department of Defense at the President’s requested level and provides $1.6 billion for fence construction on the southern border.

NGFA praises Section 199A fix in omnibus spending bill

The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) today commended Congress for voting to pass and President Donald Trump for signing into the law the stakeholder-driven provisions included in the omnibus fiscal year 2018 appropriations bill that correct the unintended consequences of Section 199A of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.

The House voted on the omnibus legislation (H.R. 1625) on March 22, with the Senate subsequently voting to pass the bill late last night. Trump signed the bill earlier today prior to the midnight deadline to avert another shutdown of the federal government. The provisions amending Section 199A are retroactive to Jan. 1, 2018.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, who during his keynote address at NGFA's 122nd annual convention had stressed the need to rectify the unintended consequences of Section 199A, issued a media statement today saying that "fixing Section 199A was a fundamental issue of fairness."
"We should not be picking winners and losers through the federal tax code by favoring one side over another," Perdue said. "During my travels across the country, I met with countless farmers and members of the agriculture community who were affected by this so-called 'grain glitch.' I applaud Congress for hearing their voice."

The NGFA and National Council of Farmer Cooperatives had issued a joint statement on March 13 supporting prompt enactment of the legislative language, which was developed by the tax-writing committees of Congress after months of collaboration and extensive analysis among and with stakeholders. The provisions replicate to the greatest extent possible the tax benefits accorded to farmer-owned cooperatives and their farmer-patrons under the previous Section 199 (also known as the Domestic Production Activities Deduction, or DPAD), while also restoring the competitive landscape of the marketplace as it existed in December 2017 so that the tax code does not provide an incentive for farmers to do business with a company solely because it is organized as a cooperative or private/independent firm.

NGFA President Randy Gordon today commended and expressed profound appreciation to the dedicated tax experts from NGFA-member companies -- half derived from cooperatives and half from private/independent organized businesses -- who provided "sound, factual advice and analysis in a totally professional and above-board process throughout the two-plus months that it took to develop and analyze the real-world impacts of an equitable concept to correct Section 199A."
He also praised what he called the "indispensable and critical involvement" of hundreds of NGFA-member companies that took the time to repeatedly contact their members of Congress to urge enactment of the solution.

NGFA noted that great care was taken by stakeholders to develop a concept that provides tax relief to farmers, as envisioned in the tax-reform law, while restoring to the maximum extent possible the competitive balance of the marketplace. NGFA verified that the final language to correct Section 199A included in the omnibus legislation accurately reflected the concepts developed by NGFA and NCFC.

Perdue Praises Section 199A Tax Code Fix in Omnibus

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue issued the following statement today regarding the fix of Section 199A of the federal tax code found in the omnibus spending bill passed by Congress and signed into law by President Donald J. Trump:

“Fixing Section 199A was a fundamental issue of fairness.  We should not be picking winners and losers through the federal tax code by favoring one side over another. During my travels across the country, I met with countless farmers and members of the agriculture community who were affected by this so-called ‘grain glitch.’ I applaud Congress for hearing their voice.”


The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed in December of 2017 was meant to spur economic growth across the entire American economy, including the agriculture sector, and its positive results can already be felt. However, the unintended consequences of Section 199A, originally designed to preserve benefits for cooperatives and their patrons, disadvantaged the independent operators in the same industry. Many members of the agriculture community began to raise questions about the potential market effects on cooperatives and independent grain-related businesses.

The solution passed by Congress, to equalize federal tax treatment of cooperatives and non-cooperates, is overwhelmingly supported throughout the agriculture community. Secretary Perdue and members of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) leadership, including Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Greg Ibach, have voiced the agriculture community’s concerns throughout the year in statements and speeches across the country.

Soy Growers Welcome Ag Measures in Omnibus

The American Soybean Association (ASA) today applauded measures in the Omnibus Appropriations Bill which will fund and revise many key agriculture measures.

“We’re glad to see issues important to soy growers like rural broadband, waterways infrastructure and agriculture research included in the Omnibus and we now urge a swift passage,” said ASA President and Iowa soybean farmer John Heisdorffer.

Specific to soy, the Omnibus includes language requiring transparency and scientific justification by the Defense Logistics Agency prior to regulating food ingredients in military rations, including soy products, which ASA has previously advocated for and strongly supports.

ASA supports the resolution of the Section 199A tax issue, which has created significant uncertainty for farmers, ag cooperatives, and grain processors since enactment of the tax reform bill in December.

Additionally, ASA applauds the inclusion of $600 million to launch a pilot loan-and-grant program for deploying broadband in rural America, which adds funding to existing USDA broadband programs.

ASA also cheered the increased and record funding levels provided for inland waterways infrastructure and port and harbor maintenance in the Energy & Water Appropriations portion of the Omnibus Appropriations bill.

Another funding increase important to ASA is $400 million for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, which is a $25 million funding increase from last year.

“Soy is America’s top agricultural export, and all of these funding increases in the Omnibus Appropriations bill will enhance soy grower’s ability to farm, find markets for and transport beans. We urge the Congress to pass this bill, and look forward working on other legislation that benefits rural America.”

NBB Again Disappointed by Failure to Renew Biodiesel Tax Credit

Today, the U.S. Congress is expected to pass an omnibus spending bill to fund the government that did not include a reinstatement of the biodiesel tax credit.

“The National Biodiesel Board is again disappointed that Congress has failed to provide pro-growth tax certainty for a domestic energy industry that has broad, bipartisan support. The lack of urgency by Congress to extend this expired tax credit continues to frustrate the producers, blenders and marketers of biodiesel,” said Kurt Kovarik, vice president of federal affairs for the National Biodiesel Board (NBB). “We will work to educate members of the economic and environmental benefits of increased use of biodiesel, so that Congress is poised to drive investments in this American energy industry.”

In February 2018, Congress passed a retroactive extension of the biodiesel tax incentive for 2017 only. But producers continue to operate in 2018 without a tax credit, which is forcing biodiesel producers nationwide to carry the risk of the uncertainty caused by the lack of the tax credit. For some small biodiesel producers, that can be the difference between keeping the lights on or shuttering down.

NBB has engaged in aggressive legislative outreach on this issue, taking meetings with elected officials each week on Capitol Hill, participating in a recent Congressional hearing on the issue and sending multiple letters to Congressional leaders making the case for renewal of the biodiesel tax incentive.

Congressional Spending Bill Advances Several NMPF Priorities

CERCLA, Section 199 Provisions, Dairy Labeling Fix Included in Omnibus Measure

The massive congressional spending bill approved today by the Senate and just signed into law by the president contains several important achievements for America’s dairy farmers, including relief from potential regulation under the CERCLA law, according to the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF).

The omnibus bill contains a provision strongly supported by NMPF that would relieve dairy and other livestock producers from having to report manure-related air emissions under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). NMPF helped organize a coalition of farm groups to urge Congress to clarify that the measure – aimed at monitoring emissions from hazardous waste sites – was never intended to generate reports on low levels of emissions of ammonia and hydrogen sulfide from farms.

“Because of recent court decisions, the CERCLA law was poised to require farms to generate meaningless reports that regulatory agencies do not want and will not use,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “We worked very hard to build bipartisan support for this legislation, which represents a common-sense fix to this looming legal dilemma.”

The congressional spending measure also includes a provision to recreate the Section 199 Domestic Production Activities Deduction (DPAD) tax provision that was repealed by last year’s tax reform bill. The measure largely refashions the DPAD to help preserve the competitive position of farmer-owned cooperatives in the marketplace. NMPF worked with other agricultural organizations to address the competitive implications created by last year’s tax law, emphasizing the need to maintain the prevailing tax treatment of dairy cooperatives and their farmer members in this area.

The omnibus bill also expresses Congress’ concern that many plant-based foods and beverages are not properly labeled, building on language from the DAIRY PRIDE Act (DPA), a bipartisan bill introduced last year in both chambers of Congress to compel FDA to act against misbranded imitations.

Given the existing definition of milk as a product of a dairy animal, NMPF said that Congress’ instructions to FDA in the omnibus bill should restrict the ability of beverages made from plant foods from using the term “milk” on their labels. This will also affect products misusing other dairy food names such as “cheese” and “yogurt” that are defined in the Code of Federal Regulations and cited in the congressional bill.

Mulhern expressed NMPF’s appreciation for the support of congressional members in both parties to ensure the spending bill included these and other priority issues of importance to dairy producers.

“It’s shaping up to be a difficult year economically for many dairy farmers, and the passage of these provisions is a bright spot for our members,” Mulhern said.  “We will continue to work with the House and Senate on other priorities, such as additional improvements to the dairy safety net, and changes to our immigration policies that address the labor needs of our farmers.”

Farmers Again Exempt From Reporting Air Emissions

The catch-all federal spending legislation approved by the Senate and House and now on its way to President Trump for his signature restores the exemption for farmers from reporting to the U.S. Coast Guard emissions from the natural breakdown of manure on their farms. The National Pork Producers Council applauded inclusion in the so-called Omnibus bill of the exemption provision, which had strong bipartisan support in both legislative chambers.

“This is fantastic news for hog farmers,” said NPPC President Jim Heimerl, a pork producer from Johnstown, Ohio. “NPPC thanks the more than 100 members of both houses of Congress who supported restoring the farm emissions exemption through legislation and by voting in favor of the provision in the Omnibus bill.”

Companion bills were introduced earlier this year in the Senate by 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., and in the House by Reps. Billy Long, R-Mo., and Jim Costa, D-Calif. The Senate legislation had 20 original cosponsors – 10 Republicans and 10 Democrats – while the House measure had 85 cosponsors. Both bills sought to 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 tens of thousands of livestock farmers to “guesstimate” and report the emissions from manure on their farms to the Coast Guard’s National Response Center (NRC) and subject them to citizen lawsuits from activist groups such as the Humane Society of the United States.

“America’s pork producers are grateful to Sens. Fischer, Donnelly, Barrasso and Carper and Congressmen Long and Costa for their efforts to fix this problem,” Heimerl said. “EPA exempted farms from emissions reporting because it was unnecessary and impractical, and we’re pleased so many members of Congress recognized that and voted to restore the exemption.”

As many as 200,000 farmers were facing a May 1 deadline for reporting emissions. Some farmers tried filing reports on the initial court-ordered Nov. 15 deadline, but the Coast Guard’s 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. (Given the confusion, the appeals court twice delayed the reporting deadline.)

“The pork industry was prepared to comply with the reporting mandate,” Heimerl 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.”

Cattlemen Applaud Final Approval of Omnibus Bill

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Kevin Kester today issued the following statement in response to President Trump signing the omnibus spending bill, which includes several provisions that will directly benefit cattle producers:

"Thanks to our dues-paying NCBA members and the hard work of our team in Washington, this omnibus spending bill includes several provisions that represent major victories for America's cattle producers.

"First, we were able to kill the notion that our farms and ranches will be regulated like toxic Superfund sites under the CERCLA law. Second, we were able to secure another delay of the Electronic Logging Device mandate for livestock haulers. And finally, we were able to get Congress to address the 199A tax issue.

"These are all provisions that will help producers, and I want to thank all of our allies on Capitol Hill who helped secure them in the final legislation.

"I also want to again thank all of our dues-paying members - without them these victories almost certainly wouldn't have been possible."


    CERCLA Reporting: A provision would relieve livestock producers of the emissions reporting requirements under CERCLA, protecting 200,000 farms and ranches around the country. NCBA has been urging affiliates and members to support stand-alone legislation in the House and Senate that would also exempt agricultural producers from CERCLA reporting requirements. Passage of the omnibus spending bill would achieve the same goal.

    Electronic Logging Devices: The bill includes a provision that would grant livestock haulers an exemption from ELDs until September 30, 2018. A further delay will provide the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) more time to educate our livestock haulers on the ELDs while industry works on solutions to the current Hours of Service rules that do not currently work for those truckers driving livestock across this great nation. Recent NCBA actions on this issue include:
        September 2017 – NCBA and allied groups petition Department of Transportation for ELD waiver.
        September 2017 – NCBA and affiliates ask Congress to support one-year delay of ELD implementation for livestock haulers.
        November 2017 – NCBA helps secure 90-day waiver from ELD implementation
        March 2018 – NCBA and allied groups successfully petition for another 90-day wavier from ELD implementation.

    Section 199A Fix: The 199A fix included in the bill will equalize tax treatment of commodity sales to cooperatives and non-cooperatives, while also providing flow-through deduction from co-ops to their members similar to the old Section 199 deduction for domestic production activities.

Chinese Retaliation On U.S. Pork Exports Will Harm The Rural Economy

The National Pork Producers Council warned that possible Chinese tariffs on U.S. pork could have a significant negative impact on rural America. China has indicated it will impose the duties in response to U.S. tariffs and restrictions – announced today – being placed on a host of Chinese goods.

“We sell a lot of pork to China, so higher tariffs on our exports going there will harm  our producers and undermine the rural economy,” said NPPC President Jim Heimerl, a pork producer from Johnstown, Ohio. “No one wins in these tit-for-tat trade disputes, least of all the farmers and the consumers.”

Last year, the U.S. pork industry exported $1.1 billion of product to China, making that country the No. 2 value market for U.S. pork.

Many economists, including Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes, have cautioned that tariffs on U.S. agricultural products could disrupt exports to China. Lost sales would have severe economic consequences for America’s farmers, who shipped nearly $20 billion of goods to the Asian nation in 2017.

The U.S. restrictions on Chinese imports come after an inquiry by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) into China’s practices related to technology transfer, licensing and intellectual property rights. USTR’s Section 301 – of the 1974 Trade Act – investigation determined that U.S. companies have lost billions of dollars from being forced by China to disclose intellectual property and to transfer technology.

“When it comes to trade, we expect all countries to follow international rules and to trade fairly,” Heimerl said. “We also expect all countries to resolve trade disputes in a way that doesn’t harm businesses, farmers and consumers.”

USMEF Statement on Possible Retaliatory Duties on U.S. Pork

U.S. Meat Export Federation President and CEO Dan Halstrom

The announcement by the Chinese government that it is placing pork on a list of U.S. products that could be subject to increased import duties is cause for great concern in the pork industry. USMEF is seeking further details on this announcement and on the likely timing of any action by the Chinese government.

China is a key market for U.S. pork and especially for pork variety meat. In 2017, the U.S. industry exported 309,284 metric tons (mt) of pork and pork variety meat to China, valued at $663.1 million – our third-largest international market by volume and fourth-largest by value. For variety meat exports only, China was our largest destination in both volume (181,351 mt) and value ($425.2 million). In fact, China accounted for more than one third of U.S. pork variety meat exports last year.

Variety meat exports make a very important contribution to hog carcass value, and last year these exports to China alone equated to more than $3.50 per U.S. hog slaughtered. China is a price-sensitive market, so any tariff rate increase would affect the competitive position of U.S. pork.

Statement by Steve Nelson, President, Regarding President Trump Ordering Stiff Tariffs on China

“Today’s action by President Trump to impose tariffs on a number of Chinese goods in order to address the United States’ trade imbalance with China is cause for great concern.”

“This move has the potential to launch the U.S. into a trade war with China. While we anticipate retaliatory measures to be both strategic and overtly political, it is likely, a number of agricultural products will be targeted for retaliation.”

“China remains the number one customer of U.S. soy, buying more than one of every four rows of soybeans growing in U.S. farm fields. With Nebraska farmers and ranchers already suffering through a 50 percent drop in net farm income in the past five years, this action has the potential to make this situation considerably worse.”

“These tariffs may be aimed at China, but the cost will be incurred on American consumers who will pay more at the checkout line for the items they shop for every day. We can’t emphasize enough the importance of trade and how concerning this latest action by the Trump administration is for Nebraska farmers, ranchers, and consumers.”

White House announcement on China tariffs poses grave threat to Iowa, U.S. soybean farmers

Iowa soybean leaders said today’s announcement by the White House of its intentions to impose up to $60 billion in tariffs and sanctions against China poses an immediate and grave threat to their industry and Iowa agriculture.

Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) President Bill Shipley said it also jeopardizes more than three decades of efforts to establish relationships with soybean processors, buyers and traders.

Shipley, who farms near Nodaway in southwest Iowa, provided the comments from China where he is currently participating in a week-long trade mission. It includes stops in Beijing, Wuhan City, Zhanjiang and Shenzhen.

“No winners emerge from a trade war and that’s particularly true when it involves food and nutrition,” he said. “It’s very clear from our conversations this week in China that our most important customer of U.S. soybeans doesn’t desire a trade war. The people just want to do business.

“So, too, do Iowa and U.S. farmers, particularly as we prepare to go to the fields and plant what could be a record number of acres.”

China, with a population of more than 1.4 billion, imports 62 percent of global soybean production. Nearly 39 percent of China’s soybean imports originate from the United States valued at nearly $14 billion.

Iowa and U.S. agricultural officials have long warned the White House about the negative implications for the soybean industry if sanctions and tariffs are imposed. In just five years, farm income has declined 50 percent while crop prices have dropped 40 percent.

Retaliation by U.S. soy’s largest trading partner will place a further drag on prices received by soybean producers and further hurt the already-challenged farm economy.

Ironically, agricultural trade nets the United States one of its few trade surpluses, with soybeans among the most valuable, Shipley said.

Soybean officials have heard directly from the Chinese government that soybeans are a prime target for retaliation. The move would significantly endanger a relationship that goes back more than 30 years when China’s population was approaching 800 million.

“A trade war with China involving soybeans would be devastating,” said ISA CEO Kirk Leeds. “With U.S. commodity prices struggling and other countries ramping up soybean production, this is precisely the wrong time for the U.S. to retreat as a trusted source of high-quality soybeans. South America will be the primary beneficiary if we do.”

Last year, Iowa soybean farmers produced 562 million bushels of the oilseed valued at more than $5 billion.

The impact of the tariffs will have reverberations far beyond Iowa’s soybean fields. Iowa soybean production involves numerous and important sectors of Iowa’s ag economy including seed, transportation, processing and manufacturing.

Leeds, who’s also participating in this week’s ISA-led trade mission to China, echoed calls by other agriculture officials for the White House to quickly reconsider its call for such massive and immediate sanctions.

“Unfortunately, agricultural trade is often the first casualty in any trade war or retaliation,” he said. “When that happens, everyone loses.”

Soy Growers: Retaliation by China Will Cost Farmers Their Livelihoods

Following the announcement of approximately $60 billion in tariffs against Chinese goods under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 Thursday, the American Soybean Association (ASA) reiterated its significant concern about the potential for China to retaliate against U.S. soybeans. China is the largest purchaser of U.S. soybeans, consuming nearly a third of U.S. production worth $14 billion annually. ASA President and Iowa farmer John Heisdorffer issued the following statement:

“Multiple reports indicate the Chinese have U.S. soybeans squarely in their sights for retaliation, and this decision places soybean farmers across the country in financial danger. Farm incomes are down nearly 50 percent from 2013. There is a real struggle in agriculture to keep everything going right now. It’s extremely frustrating to have the administration taking aim at our largest trading partner.

“If there was any question about the likelihood of retaliation by China after previous actions by the administration to protect domestic manufacturers, that doubt was erased today. American soybean producers oppose this decision by the administration that puts exports of our soybeans to China in jeopardy.

“American agriculture has tremendous potential to improve our trade balance. Soybeans can lead this growth in China, which is projected to significantly increase soybean imports over the next ten years. We should be talking about actions that grow this important market, not risk losing it.

“Agriculture is not like other industries that can sustain extreme volatility in markets and prices. If demand drops and prices collapse, soybean farmers will go out of business. Not in five or ten years, but this year and next. Trade is an existential issue for soybean farmers. We export over half of our crop. China is the largest driver of world demand for soybeans. The tough line the administration is taking on China will lead to retaliation that will cost many farmers their livelihoods.

“We previously requested a meeting with President Trump to discuss our concerns and have received no response to date. On National Ag Day Tuesday, the president tweeted that his administration is delivering for farmers. But delivering for farmers means supporting trade and, for soybean farmers, that means supporting trade with China.”

 Trump Administration Unveils Trade Actions Against China

The Trump administration today unveiled trade actions against China that will likely spur significant retaliatory measures aimed at U.S. agricultural products. The move is in response to a U.S. Trade Representative office investigation on China’s violations of intellectual property rights.

National Farmers Union (NFU), a family farmer-led organization who supports aggressive efforts to fight unfair trade practices, lamented the administration’s apparent lack of a plan to safeguard the interests of family farmers. NFU President Roger Johnson released the following statement:

“Our trade agenda for the past 30 years has been to promote free trade at all costs, ignoring countries cheating on intellectual property rights and currency manipulation. While we’re appreciative of the administration’s focus on creating fair trade between the U.S. and our trading partners, their ‘bull in a china shop’ approach to fixing our trade woes is dangerous.

“Family farmers and ranchers are always the first to be hit by retaliatory tariffs, and in the case of China, significant exports markets are likely to be the first casualty. NFU is very concerned about the effects that China’s proposed retaliatory efforts would have on all agricultural products, particularly given our already burdensome inventories of grains. The President must have a plan in place to protect family farmers before seeking to remedy unfair trade practices."

Wheat Grower Organizations: Enforcing Trade Rules is Best Done Within the Rules

While U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) and the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) understand and support the need to enforce international trade rules, we are very concerned about the implications of the Trump Administration’s decision today to impose more than $60 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974.

We agree that unfair Chinese government policies create unnecessary trade distortions that hurt U.S. farmers and other industries. Our organizations urged the U.S. government to challenge China’s domestic price support and tariff rate quota compliance that led to cases disputing these policies within the World Trade Organization (WTO). Such cases served notice to China and our trading partners that the United States would lead a legitimate effort to enforce existing trade rules — by following those rules. We believe that it is in the nation’s best interests, and the interests of the wheat farmers we represent, to challenge trade distorting policies to the maximum extent possible within WTO rules.

It is unfortunate that the well-intentioned decision to challenge other Chinese trade policies has been implemented in a way that violates the rules outlined in Article II of the GATT Agreement. Recent actions including withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and implementing steel and aluminum tariffs on the basis of national security have already undermined U.S. leadership in international trade. Now this action further erodes historical support for rules-based trade policies, even though China will likely bring a case against the tariffs within the WTO dispute settlement process.

In addition, USW and NAWG fear that applying unilateral tariffs could invite retaliation that, as recent history shows, would be aimed at U.S. agricultural products. This could very well include China throwing up road blocks to U.S. soybeans, wheat, corn and other commodity imports, which would cut into already unsustainable farm incomes.

We welcome the administration’s strong support for enforcing trade rules. We only wish it would have challenged China’s state-driven policies in ways that complied with and strengthened existing trade rules.

Wednesday March 21 Ag News


New research at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is bringing tractor testing into the modern era.

Though tractor technology has changed rapidly, the testing techniques used on the machines have not changed in several decades, said Santosh Pitla, project lead and assistant professor in biological systems engineering.

“Research in precision agriculture often focuses on agronomy, but there has not been as much focus on the power houses, or tractors,” Pitla said. “Tractors are a primary power source for operations, and they rely heavily on fuel and energy efficiency.”

Tractors play an important role in precision agriculture, which is seen as one of the primary ways to provide food, fiber and fuel for a growing population. This project will assess three different types of power -- power takeoff, hydraulic and drawbar -- used by tractors to pull implements such as planters, field cultivators or ammonia applicators.

Older implements would use only one type of power at a time, but today’s modern implements use a combination of PTO, hydraulic and drawbar power simultaneously. Because current tractor testing looks only at the drawbar, the research project will focus on implementing mixed mode testing so all three powers can be evaluated at the same time.

“The biggest opportunity for improved tractor-testing techniques in this area is in fuel efficiency,” Pitla said. “It’s about matching the right tractor to the right implement. Right now, tractors are oversized for some of the implements they are pulling, so they are wasting a lot of energy.”

The research will occur at the university’s Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center near Mead and at the Nebraska Tractor Test Laboratory. The tractor test lab is the officially designated testing station for the United States and gauges tractors according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development codes. The long, oval track on East Campus has completed more than 2,000 tractor tests since 1920.

“The university is uniquely positioned to conduct this research because of our Nebraska Tractor Test Laboratory,” Pitla said. “We’re the only facility of our kind capable of testing the largest tractors, and the only facility in the Western Hemisphere.”

For this project, instrumentation such as sensors and data-logging devices will be placed on the tractors pulling an implement. The instrumentation will help the researchers gather fuel-rate, engine-load and hydraulic-power data. Using this data, the researchers will assess what kind of power is needed for different implements.

The data collected from the mixed-mode testing could support manufacturers in their efforts to design more efficient engines. According to Pitla, the research will not be specific to one company and could easily be adopted across the tractor industry.

This project is funded by a four-year, $472,887 grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative.

Others researchers involved include: Roger Hoy, director of the Nebraska Tractor Test Laboratory; Joe Luck, associate professor in biological systems engineering; and Rodney Rohrer, research engineer at the Nebraska Tractor Test Laboratory.

To learn more about the Nebraska Tractor Test Laboratory, visit


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Thin alfalfa stands can be rejuvenated by interseeding grasses and converting them to pasture or haying as a grass-alfalfa mixture.

               Most alfalfa fields start to lose stand and production ability after cutting hay for several years.  Sometimes winterkill thins stands.  As your stands begin to get thin, consider interseeding grasses into this thinning alfalfa.  Not only might you extend the useful life of your alfalfa field by several years, you also will develop excellent hay or grazing for your livestock.

               The most common grasses interseeded into alfalfa are orchardgrass and smooth brome, but other grasses like endophyte-free tall fescue, meadow brome, festulolium, and wheatgrasses also can be used.  If you plan to use this field as pasture, include other legumes like red clover for short-term pasture or birdsfoot trefoil if you plan to graze this as pasture more than three years.  This will add diversity to your animals' diet and help assure good legume growth for several more years.

               You must get these new seedlings off to an early start, so be sure to interseed as soon as soils thaw and conditions allow tractor and drills to operate properly.  If your alfalfa still is relatively thick and vigorous, also take a very early hay cutting well before buds form, probably during the first week of May.  This will allow sunlight to continue to reach new seedlings below the alfalfa.  Then use your good judgement regarding competition from the existing alfalfa for subsequent hay cuts.  By mid- to late summer you could be able to start to graze rotationally.  The new seedlings won’t contribute much forage this year, but next year they should be a welcome addition.

               Interseeding grass into existing alfalfa takes timely planting and haying, but both land and livestock can improve with your efforts.

Iowa Corn Farmers Take Their Priorities Issues to the State Capitol

Nearly 100 Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA) members filled the State Capitol rotunda today for the “Iowa Corn Day on the Hill” lobbying event. This delegation included ICGA Board, county leaders and student FFA members from across the state. Their lobbying efforts focused on increasing state coupling of the federal section 179 expensing provision, protecting agriculture in comprehensive tax reform, and obtaining funding for biofuels infrastructure. In addition, farmers took time to thank the state lawmakers who helped pass water quality legislation, Senate File 512, signed into law earlier this session.

“Iowa Corn Day on the Hill events facilitate one-on-one interactions with state legislators where members can discuss and promote ICGA policy priorities and issues important to Iowa agriculture,” stated Iowa Corn Growers Association President Mark Recker, a farmer from Arlington. “The dedication and engagement of our members allow ICGA to have a strong, unified voice at the State Capitol.”

ICGA’s “Day of the Hill” efforts focused on the organization’s top state legislative priorities for this session, including:
 ·    Conservation/Water Quality – Long term, increased funding for Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy
 ·    Ethanol: Obtaining funding for Iowa’s biofuels infrastructure cost-share program (RFIP)
 ·    Taxes: Full state coupling of the federal Section 179 small business expensing provision
 ·    Taxes: Protect agriculture in comprehensive tax reform

“Our focus is on measures that will help Iowa’s struggling farm economy, and at the top of our list is Section 179,” explained Recker. “We are asking for full coupling of Section 179 to the federal provision allowing farmers and small businesses to expense and depreciate capital expenses on their tax returns. Section 179 is a key tool for farmers and small businesses alike, as it allows businesses to deduct the full purchase price of qualifying equipment during that tax year.”

One of ICGA’s legislative successes this legislative session was the signing of water quality legislation by Governor Reynolds. “We thank the legislature and the governor for the passage and signing of SF512, allowing for a stable and increased funding source to improve Iowa’s water quality,” said Recker. “These dollars will provide additional resources, education, and outreach helping farmers scale up conservation practices on their farms and in their communities.”

If you missed this Day on the Hill event, we encourage you to contact your legislators by other means, including by attending local townhalls or forums. To see ICGA’s full list of state and federal priorities for 2018, please visit

Feed at Night, Calve During the Day

Does feeding time influence the time of calving? To answer this question, SDSU Extension Cow/Calf Field Specialists Adele Harty and Taylor Grussing look to research data.

"Yes, feeding affects time of calving," Harty said. "Feeding cows later in the day and evening will increase the number of calves born during daylight hours, when it is easier for livestock producers to watch them more closely."

Gus Konefal, a rancher from Manitoba, Canada first developed this feeding method after he discovered 80 percent of his cows calved between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. when they were fed later in the day.

Konefal's method included a twice a day feeding, with first feeding between 11 a.m. and noon and second feeding between 9:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Similar research was conducted at Iowa State University.

"This research used the Konefal feeding system, but only feeding one time per day at 4 p.m., starting two weeks prior to the expected start of calving," Grussing said.

The result? Eighty-two percent cows calved between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. with 91 percent of the calves born before 11 p.m.

"Only 9 percent of calves were born outside the window when traditional calf checks are performed," Harty said.

When heifers were separated from the data set and analyzed, 90 percent calved in this same time frame.

A survey collected from 15 beef producers in Iowa and Missouri also reported that when they fed once daily between, 5 p.m. and 10 p.m., the result was 85 percent of cows calving between 5 a.m. and midnight.

Compare this data to cows from herds not on the Konefel feeding system. That data showed an equal distribution of cows calving during the night as during the day, a 50/50 split.

Researchers at USDA-ARS at Miles City, Montana completed at three-year study evaluating differences in feeding time on calving time.

"The numbers were not as dramatic as Konefel and Iowa State data," Grussing said. "However, there was a consistent 10 to 20 percent decrease in the number of cows calving between 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. in the late fed cows compared to the early fed cows."

If you're a cattle producer who would like to see more calves born during daylight hours, below are some points to consider when implementing the Konefal calving method.

- Research indicated for this method to be most effective, evening feedings should be implemented one month prior to the scheduled start of calving. If feeding times are changed closer to calving, this will result in a more calves born during the day than morning feeding.

- Iowa State University data advises staying as close to the same feeding schedule and feed amount as possible each day. Deviating more than 15 minutes, or providing too much feed, will yield less desirable results.

- Maintain regular night checks. Konefal calving may simply mean that there will be less work to be done between checks due to fewer calves born during the night.

- The Konefal calving method works best in a drylot situation where all feed is provided. Desired effect in a grazing situation may not be seen unless supplemental hay or timing of grazing can be regulated.

- Weather can play a role in effectiveness. Before or during storms, cattle may not come to the bunk to eat and may be more likely to calve at night.

Additional research indicates that a first calf heifer who calves during the day will tend to calve during the day the remainder of her productive years.

Low Steer Slaughter Fuels Spring Cattle Prices

David P. Anderson, Extension Economist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

A nice Spring (or we might say late winter) rally has had fed cattle in the upper $120s for most of the last 8 weeks. While a first reaction might be "well, its Spring and we usually get a grilling season demand bump" there is a supply contribution to this story. Steer slaughter has been below a year ago while heifer and cow slaughter have been boosting beef production.

After January steer slaughter was up 5.5 percent, February steer slaughter was 2.1 percent below that of February 2017. March is even with a year ago, through mid-month including an estimate of steer slaughter using the preliminary data.

Heifer slaughter is up about 5.5 percent for the year to date. In contrast to steer slaughter, heifer slaughter was up 7.8 percent in February. Thinking back to the last cattle on feed report that split out the on-feed data into steers and heifers, there were 15.9 percent more heifers on feed January 1 of this year ago compared to last year. More beef and dairy cows have moved to market this year, with beef cow slaughter up 11.5 percent and dairy cow slaughter up 4.3 percent.

Weights contribute to beef production along with slaughter numbers. So far this year steer dressed weights are up about 2.5 pounds over last year, while heifer weights are up 7.2 pounds. Cow dressed weights are up 13.3 pounds. Heifer dressed weights are 56 pounds less than steer dressed weights. The mix of animals going to market is an important part of this spring rally in prices. Relatively more heifers and cows than steers is working to moderate beef production, which is only up 2.5 percent so far, this year. Beef from cull cows is certainly destined for different products and different markets than beef from fed steers and heifers. Relatively tighter supplies of beef from steers has contributed to smaller growth in beef production and the recent rally in cattle prices. The expectation of growing steer and heifer supplies is contributing to falling live cattle prices on the futures market.

A quick note on this week's cattle on feed report. My pre-report estimates are for marketings to be 101.3 percent, placements at 101.0 percent, and cattle-on-feed to be 107.8 percent of a year ago. Recent feeding profits and good demand for cattle would encourage placements. It wouldn't be a surprise to see larger placements in the Southern Plains due to the worsening drought.

ACE DC fly-in underscores RFS importance to rural America

The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) and 70 of its grassroots members are in Washington, D.C. as part of the organization’s 10th annual fly-in today and tomorrow. The two-day event brings together ethanol producers, retailers, investors, corn growers, service and product providers, and more to participate in over 120 scheduled meetings on Capitol Hill.

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

This year, ACE is doubling down on the importance of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) on rural America in its meetings with Members of Congress, along with paid advertising, and social media messaging, due to recent attempts to undermine the RFS coupled with the down rural economy.
“There is no time like the present to ensure the voices of our grassroots members are heard on Capitol Hill, as the President and Congress weigh the impact these harmful changes could have,” Jennings said. “Our fly-in provides corn farmers, flex fuel retailers and biofuel advocates – those who represent rural America -- the opportunity to educate our office holders about how the RFS works for them, and how the high-octane ethanol the industry produces can help jumpstart economic growth in the U.S. if the RFS is left to function as intended by Congress.”

ACE is running a paid digital ad campaign in E&E News, a news organization focusing on energy and the environment, utilizing a voice from its grassroots membership, Marietta Lakness, a farmer and ethanol plant investor from South Dakota. Marietta represents the people who count on the RFS. The ads call on the President to stand up for Marietta by standing by the RFS. The RFS helps boost demand for crops and prices received by farmers. Ethanol production has become a vital market for U.S. agriculture and supports 360,000 jobs in rural communities.

However, oil companies are demanding President Trump and Congress weaken the RFS by capping or waiving renewable identification number (RIN) obligations. History shows undermining the RFS hurts rural America, and there is a “win-win” solution on the table that doesn’t involve dismantling the RFS. The quickest way to reduce RIN prices is to blend more ethanol by granting Reid vapor pressure (RVP) relief for E15.

Retail Fertilizer Prices Continue to Climb Higher

Retail fertilizer prices continued their recent upward trend, moving higher again the second week of March 2018, according to retailers surveyed by DTN. Prices for all eight of the major fertilizers were higher compared to last month.

As has been the case in the past couple of weeks, the price of only one fertilizer was up a significant amount. UAN32 was 7% more expensive compared to a month earlier. The nitrogen fertilizer had an average price of $282 per ton.

The remaining seven fertilizers were all higher compared to the prior month, but none were up a significant amount. DAP had an average price of $466 per ton, MAP $503/ton, potash $350/ton, urea $368/ton, 10-34-0 $421/ton, anhydrous $503/ton and UAN28 $237/ton.

Anhydrous is above the $500-per-ton level for the first time since the second week of June 2017. That week, the price was right at $500 per ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.40/lb.N, anhydrous $0.31/lb.N, UAN28 $0.42/lb.N and UAN32 $0.44/lb.N.

Five fertilizers are now higher compared to last year with prices pushing higher in recent months. UAN32 is now 1% more expensive, urea is 2% higher, potash is 4% higher, DAP is 5% more expensive and MAP is 9% higher than last year.

The remaining three fertilizers are lower in price compared to a year prior. Anhydrous is 1% less expensive while UAN28 is 4% lower and 10-34-0 is 5% lower looking back a year.

Ethanol Stocks Down from Record High

Domestic ethanol supply declined 500,000 barrels (bbl), or 2.1%, from a record high during the week-ended March 16 to 23.8 million bbl, although supply is up 1.2 million bbl, or 5.3%, versus a year ago, the U.S. Energy Information Administration's latest weekly report shows.

Plant production increased 24,000 barrels per day (bpd), or 2.3%, to 1.049 million bpd last week while up 5,000 bpd, or 0.5%, compared to a year ago, with a number of plants returning from their seasonal maintenance programs. For the four-weeks to March 16, production averaged 1.044 bpd, up 7,000 bpd, or 0.7%, versus same period in 2017.

Net refiner and blender inputs, a measure for ethanol demand, increased 6,000 bpd, or 0.7%, last week to 916,000 bpd while down 1,000 bpd versus a year ago. For the four weeks to March 16, ethanol blending demand averaged 899,000 bpd, up 3,000 bpd, or 0.3%, versus same period in 2017.


More than 20 years ago, farmers from four U.S. dairy cooperatives came together to form Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), with a strategic vision to establish the first national dairy cooperative with investments across the U.S. dairy supply chain.

Today, as more than 1,600 people gather in Kansas City for the Cooperative’s Annual Meeting, DFA is not only a leading Cooperative owned by family-farmers from across the U.S., but also the largest supplier of milk in the world and the fourth-largest global dairy foods company.

With this year’s meeting theme, “Real People, Real Dairy,” DFA is putting the spotlight on the foundation for the Cooperative’s success: its dairy farm families and their commitment to working hard every day to deliver real dairy to real families across the country and the world, which is why the DFA mark matters.

“Over the last 20 years, DFA has experienced tremendous success, and the Cooperative’s vision is truly becoming a reality with more than 40 processing plants across the country, a strong portfolio of branded dairy products and growing global investment strategies,” says Randy Mooney, chairman of DFA’s Board of Directors. “As we think about the next 20 years, our focus will continue to be on our farmer-members and investing in what makes sense for the greater good of not only the dairy industry, but also the global food industry.”

The meeting kicked off with the Chairman’s Report, delivered by Mooney, who operates a dairy farm in Rogersville, Mo. Mooney, who also serves as chairman of National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), talked about the importance of providing value to members and ultimately working together and building a Cooperative that will thrive and remain relevant for years to come.

An overview of DFA’s business was delivered by President and Chief Executive Officer Rick Smith. His presentation highlighted DFA’s financials for 2017 as well as updates on DFA’s commercial investments that provide a market for members’ milk through new and expanded plants. Investment highlights included: opening a satellite office in Singapore, building a joint venture cheese and whey facility in Michigan, along with Glanbia plc and Select Milk Producers, Inc., as well as investing in a state-of-the-art dairy ingredients plant in Garden City, Kan.

“Since DFA began twenty years ago, our primary focus has been about bringing value to our farmer-owner members and that still remains true today,” says Smith. “We continually strive to remain competitive in our core business of marketing members’ milk, while also looking to grow and expand our commercial investments, which not only deliver profits to our farmer-owners, but also help ensure DFA remains financially secure.”

Special guests and additional highlights of the meeting included:
    Siobhán Talbot, group managing director at Glanbia plc, discussing strategies for delivering better nutrition for every step of life’s journey
    Tim Brown, president and chief operating officer at Chobani, providing insights into the brand’s commitment to providing better food for more people
    An overview of the latest dairy promotion activities by Tom Gallagher, chief executive officer at Dairy Management Inc.

The Cooperative’s Annual Banquet brought a host of recognitions, including the 2018 Members of Distinction. Every year, family members at one farm from each of DFA’s seven regional Areas are recognized for service to their dairies, their families, communities and the industry.

In addition, outgoing Board of Directors Bill Herr of Greenwood, Wis., Chris Kraft of Fort Morgan, Colo., and Urban Mescher of Maria Stein, Ohio, were recognized for their contributions to DFA.

Winners of the 2018 DFA Cares Foundation Scholarship were announced at the banquet. DFA Cares scholarships are awarded to outstanding students pursuing a career in the dairy industry. This year, 45 recipients will receive a combined total of $57,000 toward their undergraduate and graduate studies.

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

NCBA Encouraged by "Positive Developments" in Omnibus Spending Bill

Today Colin Woodall, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA), released the following statement:

“The omnibus spending bill includes a number of positive developments for cattlemen and women, including language that would prevent 200,000 farms and ranches from being regulated like toxic waste sites, delay the implementation of electronic logging devices for livestock haulers for another six months, and provide a critical fix for wildfire funding that also provides expedited authority to implement much-needed vegetation management on federal lands. We are also glad to see refinements to the tax code that address the 199A issue. NCBA and our affiliates have been working closely with Congress to ensure the spending bill addresses issues of concern for U.S. ranchers and beef producers, and we are glad to see our policy priorities reflected in the legislation. We urge Congress to take the next step and vote ‘Yes’ when the bill comes up for a vote.” 

    CERCLA Reporting: A provision would relieve livestock producers of the emissions reporting requirements under CERCLA, protecting 200,000 farms and ranches around the country. NCBA has been urging affiliates and members to support stand-alone legislation in the House and Senate that would also exempt agricultural producers from CERCLA reporting requirements. Passage of the omnibus spending bill would achieve the same goal.

    Electronic Logging Devices: The bill includes a provision that would grant livestock haulers an exemption from ELDs until September 30, 2018. A further delay will provide the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) more time to educate our livestock haulers on the ELDs while industry works on solutions to the current Hours of Service rules that do not currently work for those truckers driving livestock across this great nation. Recent NCBA actions on this issue include:
        September 2017 – NCBA and allied groups petition Department of Transportation for ELD waiver.
        September 2017 – NCBA and affiliates ask Congress to support one-year delay of ELD implementation for livestock haulers.
        November 2017 – NCBA helps secure 90-day waiver from ELD implementation
        March 2018 – NCBA and allied groups successfully petition for another 90-day wavier from ELD implementation.

    Section 199A Fix: The 199A fix included in the bill will equalize tax treatment of commodity sales to cooperatives and non-cooperatives, while also providing flow-through deduction from co-ops to their members similar to the old Section 199 deduction for domestic production activities.

NGFA commends congressional leadership for including Section 199A fix in omnibus spending bill

The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) today commended the bipartisan congressional leadership for reportedly including in the omnibus fiscal year 2018 appropriations bill stakeholder-driven provisions that would correct the unintended consequences of Section 199A of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.

The NGFA and National Council of Farmer Cooperatives had issued a joint statement on March 13 supporting prompt enactment of the legislative language, which was developed after months of collaboration and extensive analysis in an effort to replicate to the greatest extent possible the tax benefits accorded to farmer-owned cooperatives and their farmer-patrons under the previous Section 199 (also known as the Domestic Production Activities Deduction), while also restoring the competitive landscape of the marketplace as it existed in December 2017 so that the tax code does not provide an incentive for farmers to do business with a company solely because it is organized as a cooperative or private/independent firm.

Pending verification that the final language accurately reflects the concepts developed by NGFA and NCFC, NGFA said it will urge its prompt passage.

"There is a huge sense of urgency in getting this issue resolved, as producers continue to make marketing decisions, particularly given the welcome rally in corn and soybean prices in recent weeks," said NGFA President and Chief Executive Officer Randy Gordon.  "Thousands of grain elevators and other agribusinesses, most of them small businesses that provide economic vitality to rural communities, will be making costly decisions on whether to reorganize their business to be able to compete or even whether to remain open for business during coming weeks.  NGFA is confident Congress understands the calamity that will result unless the current Section 199A is corrected, and we will be working tirelessly until it is.  The inclusion of these provisions in the omnibus bill is a huge step in the right direction to preserve competitive choices for producers when marketing their agricultural products."

The legislative provisions would amend Section 199A as it exists in current law, under which producers can deduct up to 20 percent of gross payments received on sales of agricultural cooperatives, without certain limitations based on income.  Meanwhile, farmers selling to private/independent companies are restricted to deducting 20 percent of net business income, a considerably smaller deduction.

Gordon also noted the urgency and necessity of correcting the current Section 199A is compounded by the fact that the skewed tax benefits are not limited to agricultural cooperatives, but conceivably to any business or group of citizens that might want to form a cooperative.  "The implications of this spreading well beyond agricultural businesses could be devastating to the generation of tax revenues to the federal treasury," he said. 

The NGFA had noted previously that great care was taken by stakeholders to develop a concept that provides tax relief to farmers, as envisioned in the tax-reform law, while restoring to the maximum extent possible the competitive balance of the marketplace.  NGFA's membership consists of an almost equal number of grain, feed, grain-processing and export businesses organized as cooperatives or private/independent companies.

NCFC President Chuck Conner on Section 199A Provisions in the Omnibus Appropriations Bill

"I would like to commend congressional leadership for inclusion of provisions to address the marketplace impacts of Section 199A of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in the omnibus government funding package unveiled today. 

"These provisions will accomplish the goal that NCFC and our member co-ops set out at the beginning of the tax reform debate last fall—preventing a tax increase on farmers and their co-ops by keeping the Domestic Production Activities Deduction, or DPAD. DPAD will largely be recreated in this bill, which also preserves the competitive position of co-ops in the marketplace. In fact, by combining the individual-level business deductions that farmers can claim and the recreated DPAD pass-through from their co-ops, farmers selling to cooperatives have the opportunity to see more of a tax deduction than farmers selling to non-cooperatives.

"This action fits in line with Congress's long history of public policy in support of co-ops and shows an appreciation of the unique relationship that co-ops have to their farmer-owners. It is a recognition that for many farmers, their co-op isn’t simply some business that they buy from or sell to, it’s an integral part, an extension of their operations. 

"The benefits of these tax provisions will also be seen beyond just agriculture itself. A farmer with more money in his pocket will spend it with Main Street businesses in his community. When a co-op is able to generate more business and expand its operations, the profits go back to the member-owners to spend locally, not off to faceless Wall Street investors or absentee owners hundreds of miles away. The recreation of DPAD will help to ensure that co-ops remain a cornerstone of American agriculture and rural communities."

Aquaculture: Looking at the Potential for Corn Growers

The National Corn Growers Association recently attended the Aquaculture America Conference to learn more about the industry and make connections with companies to discuss the benefits of corn and corn byproducts in aquaculture diets.

NCGA met with a number of companies and representatives while at the conference, including tru SHRIMP of Minnesota, Prairie Aquatech of South Dakota, Eagles Catch of Iowa, and various feed mills and feed ingredient companies including Cargill, Zeigler, ADM, Blue Ridge Aquafeeds and BlueWater Feed Company.

"Aquaculture is the fastest growing food sector in the world," said Feed Food & Industrial Action Team Chair Bruce Peterson. "However, 90 percent of U.S. seafood is imported today, representing a large opportunity to expand domestic production facilities. Aquaculture farmers continue to explore opportunities to increase the amount of plant-based feed ingredients used in their operations. Corn-based feed could provide an economical and sustainable option compared to traditional fish meal and would represent an incremental source of demand for corn and corn-based products."

"Additional research, development and feed trials are needed to better understand the value proposition that corn may bring to their industry," Peterson added.

Various topics discussed at the conference included feed ingredients, food safety and quality, nutrition and alternative feeds.

NCGA will continue to interact and build relationships with the aquaculture community to help grow demand for corn DDGs in the future.

EU Approves Bayer Takeover of Monsanto After Concessions

(AP) -- The European Union has approved Bayer's buyout of Monsanto in a massive agriculture business deal, but says they will have to shed some $7.4 billion in firms and other remedies to ensure fair competition in the market.

The $57 billion takeover has been watched by rivals and environmental groups, who are fearful that the number of players in the business of selling seeds and pesticides will shrink further and give one company a suffocating grip on the market.

EU Antitrust Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said Wednesday that the remedies proposed by Bayer and Monsanto are worth well over 6 billion euros in business and "meet our competition concerns in full."

Monsanto in September accepted Bayer's offer, in which it also assumes $9 billion in debt, in a move affecting anything from tomatoes and cucumbers to the use of pesticides across the globe.

Without the remedies, Vestager said that the buyout would have significantly reduced competition in the market and hindered innovation. She said the deal would create the world's largest pesticides and seeds company and therefore needed a large number of remedies to be approved.

"We have made sure that the number of global players actively competing in these markets stays the same," said Vestager. "That is important because we need competition to ensure farmers have a choice of different seed varieties and pesticides at affordable prices."

Bayer CEO Werner Baumann said that "the European Commission's approval is a major success and a significant milestone." He said the companies were still working with U.S. authorities on the deal, which they hope to close in the second quarter of 2018.

Vestager made her approval dependent on the remedies and business sales.

She said the divestitures remove all overlaps in seeds and pesticide markets and streamlines R&D.

And, Vestager said, Bayer committed to work to keep open the emerging market in digital farming, which focuses on the use of data to guide agriculture. Bayer proposed BASF as the company to take over the business it sells in this sector.

Tuesday March 20 Ag News

Help Celebrate 2018 National Agriculture Day and Agriculture Week this week
Larry Howard, NE Extension Educator

This week is National Agriculture Week and is celebrated March 18  –  24, 2018 and it is a time when producers, agricultural associations, corporations, universities, government agencies and countless others across America take time to recognize and celebrate the abundance provided by American agriculture.  This year’s Ag Day theme is “Agriculture: Food for Life.”    March 20 is the 45th anniversary of National Ag Day, celebrating agriculture and all those who feed our world, care for crops and livestock, and bring awareness to agricultural production.

According to the Agriculture Council of America, Ag Day is about recognizing and celebrating the contribution of agriculture in our everyday lives. The National Ag Day program encourages everyone to: 1) Understand how food and fiber products are produced  2) Value the essential role of agriculture in maintaining a strong economy 3) Appreciate the role agriculture plays in providing safe, abundant and affordable products and 4) Acknowledge and consider career opportunities in the agriculture, food and fiber industry.

Agriculture provides almost everything we eat, use and wear on a daily basis. But too few people truly understand this contribution. This is particularly the case in some of our schools, where students may only be exposed to agriculture if they enroll in related vocational training.  By building awareness, the Agriculture Council of America is encouraging young people to consider career opportunities in agriculture.

Each American farmer feeds more than 165 people ... a dramatic increase from 25 people in the 1960s. Quite simply, American agriculture is doing more and doing it better. As the world population soars, there is an even greater demand for the food and fiber produced in the United States.  Agriculture is this nation's #1 export and vitally important in sustaining a healthy economy. In 2016, $135.5 billion worth of American agricultural products were exported around the world.

It's not just the farmer who makes our food possible. The entire agriculture industry, all the way to the grocery store, are the vital links in a chain that brings food to every resident and millions of people abroad.  It's easy to take agriculture for granted in America as our food is readily accessible and safe. Today, there are 3.75 million Americans employed full- and part-time in agriculture, including forestry, fishing and other activities. If one were to look at food-related industries, the numbers jump way up. In fact, one in 12 American jobs is dependent on agriculture.

If you are a farmer, an agricultural producer or anyone in that food chain, we say thanks to you for all that you do each and every day to provide food for the world.  I would encourage each of you to share your agricultural story with a friend, your neighbor or share your story on social media using #AgDay or #NationalAgWeek or #FoodforLife so others know what you do on a daily basis.  The rest of us need to be sure to tell those individuals that we appreciate what they do.

Secretary Perdue Celebrates National Ag Day

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue issued the following statement regarding National Agriculture Day and President Donald J. Trump’s Proclamation recognizing the importance of America’s farmers, ranchers, foresters, and producers:

“For the past 45 years, National Ag Day has played a key role in helping people understand where their food and fiber comes from and how important agriculture is to our national economy,” said Secretary Perdue. “Our farmers, ranchers, foresters, and producers in America are feeding and clothing the world – and it’s important to never forget that. I am thrilled that we have a day, really a whole week, where we can celebrate the bounty of the American harvest.”

Vice President Pence Presents National Ag Day Proclamation to Secretary Perdue

Vice President of the United States Mike Pence presented President Donald J. Trump’s National Agriculture Day Proclamation to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Washington, D.C.

“Since day one of this administration, President Trump and our entire team have been working tirelessly to stand with our nation’s farmers, producers, ranchers, and foresters, and everyone involved in agriculture,” said Vice President Pence in his remarks at USDA.  “As the President has said, in his words, in ‘every decision we make, we are honoring,’ and supporting, ‘America’s proud farming legacy.’ And I promise you we always will.”

ICBA: Celebrate America’s Agriculture Tradition

In recognition of National Ag Day, the Independent Community Bankers of America® (ICBA) celebrates American agriculture and the nation’s nearly 5,700 community banks for their enormous role in helping America grow by lending to local farmers, ranchers and agricultural enterprises.

“Community banks provide an overwhelming share of credit to local farmers and ranchers,” said ICBA President and CEO Camden R. Fine. “They understand the essential role these producers serve in supporting our nation’s food supply and bolstering our economy.

 “Many community banks have been serving agricultural enterprises and family farms in their communities for more than 100 years and will continue to serve as financial first responders even in these times of stress within the agricultural economy,” Fine said.

The total impact of agriculture and food industries on the U.S. economy is estimated at nearly $7 trillion or 20 percent of the U.S. economic output.

Across the nation, community banks operate approximately 52,000 locations, employ 760,000 Americans, and hold $4.9 trillion in assets, $3.9 trillion in deposits, and $3.3 trillion in loans to consumers, small businesses, and the agricultural community

Community banks under $10 billion in assets provide more than 75 percent of agricultural loans and community banks under $50 billion provide 86 percent of ag loans within the commercial banking sector and are often the catalysts for new and expanded business opportunities within their communities to ensure long-term economic viability and vitality. In fact, community banks provide approximately $180 billion in agriculture loans.

This year marks the 45th anniversary of National Ag Day, organized by the Agriculture Council of America to increase public awareness of agriculture’s role in modern society. Visit to learn more.

 NFU Celebrates National Agriculture Day

As the national agriculture community joins together to celebrate National Agriculture Day, National Farmers Union (NFU) is recognizing family farmers and ranchers for the wide array of contributions they make to consumers’ everyday life. This year’s National Ag Day theme is “Food for Life.”

“National Ag Day provides a special opportunity to highlight family farm agriculture and why it is of vital importance to our communities and to our country,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “Americans have access to an abundance of safe and affordable food when we visit the grocery store because of the daily sacrifices of family farmers and ranchers. When we stop by the gas station, we’re paying less for gasoline because of biofuels grown by family farmers. Nearly half of our nation’s land is taken care of by family farmers, and our waterways and ecosystems benefit from their stewardship. Whether you’re from a rural town, a big city, or somewhere in between, you benefit economically, environmentally, and socially from family farm agriculture.”

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, family-run farming operations make up 99 percent of America’s 2.1 million farms and 89 percent of agricultural production. Important to National Farmers Union’s mission is ensuring consumers understand the scope of these family farmers’ contributions to their daily lives.

“One trend that continues to this day is the widening divide between consumers and the people who produce their food, fiber and fuel,” said Johnson. “It’s important we recognize that there are families out there who have dedicated their lives to ensuring that the rest of us can enjoy the modern conveniences we do. And it’s even more important for us as a country to support these families as much as they support us.”

Johnson noted that one way consumers can support family farmers is by supporting what is known as the “Farm Bill.” The Farm Bill is federal legislation that provides a safety net for farmers when the farm economy drops, conservation programs to aid land stewardship, and nutrition programs, like SNAP, to protect consumers when they can’t afford to buy food.

“Most consumers are probably unaware of the current economic crisis facing many farmers today,” said Johnson. “The farm economy plummeted 50 percent from 2013-2016, and it has remained in this severely depressed state for the past two years. In fact, more than half of all farmers have had negative farm income in recent years. At this rate, we’re looking at losing a significant number of family farmers in the coming years if we don’t have an adequate safety net in place. And that safety net comes from the Farm Bill.”

Johnson encouraged consumers to visit to learn more about the Farm Bill and its programs. Visitors to the website can also learn how to advocate for a Farm Bill that supports family farmers, beginning farmers, and strong environmental and nutrition programs.

Johnson also urged all family farmers and ranchers to celebrate National Ag Day by making sure they are counted in the 2017 Census of Agriculture. The deadline for filling out the census was extended through this spring.

Farmer Co-ops Celebrate Ag Day

The National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC) joins farmers and other agricultural associations across the country to celebrate the importance of American agriculture during the 45th National Agriculture Day on March 20.  

“National Ag Day gives us an amazing opportunity to showcase agriculture across the United States in all its amazing diversity—from corn, soybeans and wheat in the Midwest to cotton, rice and peanuts in the South and including fruit, vegetables and nuts along the East and West Coasts and dairy and livestock nationwide,” said Chuck Conner, president and CEO of NCFC. “Today, even though fewer and fewer of our fellow citizens have a direct connection to the farm, consumer interest in where and how their food was produced is higher than ever. Events like National Ag Day are essential to connecting with consumers and telling the fantastic success story of American agriculture.”

“The conversation this year is especially timely, as both the House and Senate agriculture committees look to begin work on a new farm bill in the coming weeks,” Conner continued. “This debate will be especially critical this year, as farmers across the country continue to struggle through the fourth year of low commodity prices and uncertainty over trade and tax policy.”

National Ag Day is organized by the Agriculture Council of America and celebrated in classrooms and communities across the country. ACA is a nonprofit organization composed of leaders in the agricultural, food and fiber community, dedicating its efforts to increasing the public's awareness of agriculture's role in modern society.

Founded in 1973, National Ag Day encourages every American to:
• Understand how food and fiber products are produced.
• Appreciate the role agriculture plays in providing safe, abundant and affordable products.
• Value the essential role of agriculture in maintaining a strong economy.
• Acknowledge and consider career opportunities in the agriculture, food and fiber industry.

Farm Bureau Report: Soybeans Lead the Way in Agriculture Trade in the Beef State

Nebraska may be known as the beef state, but when it comes to agriculture exports, international sales of soybeans bring home the greatest value to Nebraska agriculture, according to a report released by the Nebraska Farm Bureau, Tues. March 20. The report, “Nebraska Agriculture and International Trade”, is the latest in a series of analysis highlighting the importance of agricultural trade to Nebraska farmers, ranchers, rural communities, as well as the state’s broader economy.

“At a time when President Trump and the administration is looking to implement trade tariffs and considering withdraw from existing trade deals, our analysis continues to show that trade is critical to the long-term health of Nebraska agriculture, and any actions that weaken our agriculture trade position would be a mistake,” said Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson, March 20.

While previous reports have focused on impacts the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the U.S.- South Korea Trade Agreement (KORUS), the “Nebraska Agriculture and International Trade” report provides a comprehensive review of Nebraska agricultural trade and the dollar and cents impact on individual agriculture commodities and how that translates to farmers, ranchers, and Nebraska counties.

According to the report Nebraska was the fifth-largest agricultural exporting state in the country in 2016, exporting $6.6 billion in agricultural goods. Nebraska also topped the nation in beef exports, is the third-largest exporter of corn, feed and other grains, and processed grain products, and the fifth-largest exporter of soybeans and soybean meal.

“Nebraska’s exports of soybeans, corn, and beef have climbed significantly over the last decade and Nebraska’s total agriculture exports in 2016 were three times the amount our state exported in 2000,” said Jay Rempe, Nebraska Farm Bureau senior economist and author of the report. “In terms of total export value, soybeans topped the list in Nebraska generating more than $1.6 billion in sales in 2016, followed by sales of corn ($1.1 billion), beef and veal ($1 billion), distillers dried grains ($300 million), soybean meal ($297 million), ethanol ($287 million), pork ($230 million), wheat ($121 million), and grain sorghum ($32 million).

According to the report, nearly one-half of the soybeans produced in Nebraska annually are exported, whereas more corn produced in Nebraska stays in the country and is fed to livestock or is feedstock in ethanol production.

To help bring the value of agriculture trade closer to home for farmers and ranchers, the report identifies the value of agriculture trade on an individual commodity basis.

“What we found is the value of international trade translates to a per-unit value of $6.27 per bushel of soybeans, $1.03 per bushel of corn, $2.04 per bushel of wheat, $169 per head of beef animal, and $68 per head for pork. When you look at the price of individual commodities, you get a strong sense of just how important trade is when farmers are looking at $3.30 per bushel price for corn,” said Rempe, “we’re talking about roughly one-third of the value coming from trade.”

The report also outlines the per-farm/ranch, and per county implications of international trade, as well as examining the value of trade on a commodity-by-commodity basis for each Nebraska county.

In terms of counties, Platte County relies more heavily on international trade than any other county in the state with roughly $148 million of Platte County agriculture commodities and products exported each year. In total, 11 Nebraska counties derived more than $100 million in value from export sales.

On a per-farm basis, Phelps County farms were the most reliant on trade with an export value per-farm just shy of $266,000, according to the report.

“The importance of trade to Nebraska agriculture can’t be understated and this report provides a complete and comprehensive view of what it means to the pocketbooks of Nebraska’s farm and ranch families and the impacts of trade on our rural counties that ultimately translate into the success of our state’s broader economy,” said Nelson. “The message to Washington, D.C. from Nebraska is clear. Don’t do anything that would harm agriculture trade.”

The “Nebraska Agriculture and International Trade” report containing the full economic analysis is available on the Nebraska Farm Bureau website at

Local NRD Run Raises Funds for Youth Education in Natural Resources

The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) is reaching out across the district to help support youth education in natural resources. The LENRD is hosting a 5K Run, 1 Mile Walk and Kids Dash fundraiser at Ta-Ha-Zouka Park in Norfolk, NE on Saturday, April 14, 2018.  Join the LENRD for the 4th annual trail run that raises money to educate our youth about protecting the state’s water, soil, wildlife and vibrant Nebraskan landscape through the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts (NARD) Foundation.  The run kicks off at 9 AM. Runners, walkers and families ready to explore the outdoors will get to enjoy a scenic, out and back run next to the beautiful Elkhorn River.

Each dollar raised goes to several programs the NARD Foundation sponsors. These include programs like FFA, Adventure Camp about the Environment (ACE Camp) and Envirothon. Programs like these provide students of all ages an opportunity for hands-on experiences with our natural resources. The Foundation hands out more than $25,000 every year for this cause.

The 23 natural resources districts move the race to a different area of the state every year to promote natural resources opportunities for our youth through the Foundation. The race also highlights one of 80 multi-purpose recreation areas created by the NRDs across the state. If you’d like to check out other recreation areas, go to

You can register by going to If you’d like to donate, contact the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts at 402-471-7670.

The 5K run raised more than $5,000 last year in Lincoln. In 2016, the run raised more than $4,000 in Omaha. This year, the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District is teaming up with the local community and NARD Foundation with a goal to raise even more.

The state’s NRDs are proud to protect lives, property and future of Nebraska. We encourage the public to come out and support our youth.

Ricketts, Revenue Committee Work Together to Move Property Tax Relief Forward

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts, Revenue Committee members, and cabinet members issued statements following news that the Revenue Committee voted to advance the Nebraska Property Tax Cuts and Opportunities Act (LB 947) for debate by the full Legislature.

Governor Pete Ricketts: “Thank you to Chairman Smith and the Revenue Committee for their significant investment of time and work to move the Nebraska Property Tax Cuts and Opportunities Act (LB 947) forward.  High property taxes are hurting farm families and homeowners across our state, and the Legislature needs to take action this session.  I look forward to working with pro-growth Senators to deliver this major property tax relief for the people of Nebraska.”

Revenue Committee Chair Jim Smith: “Thank you to our committee members who have worked together to move major tax relief forward.  This has been a collaborative process, and today’s action is a significant step forward.  The Governor and I are committed to working with the full Legislature to get tax relief done this session.”

Agriculture Committee Chair Lydia Brasch: "Nebraska's farm families need property tax relief now.  Today, the Revenue Committee took a significant step towards making that a reality by advancing the Nebraska Property Tax Cuts and Opportunities Act.  I urge my colleagues to step up and commit to getting this property tax relief passed this session."

General Affairs Committee Chair Tyson Larson: "Doing property tax relief is at the top of the list of priorities for Nebraska families, and today's decision to advance LB 947 ensures that the entire Legislature will vote up or down on this issue.  I urge Nebraskans who want to see property tax relief to contact their senators now and make their voices heard."

Banking, Commerce, and Insurance Committee Chair Brett Lindstrom: "Tax relief is critical to growing our communities and putting more money back in the pockets of our families.  I appreciate the commitment of my colleagues to making tax relief a priority.  I am hopeful that urban and rural senators will come together on the floor and do the right thing for taxpayers by passing LB 947."

Lt. Governor Mike Foley: “Governor Ricketts has been working with Senators relentlessly to deliver tax relief.  The Nebraska Property Tax Cuts and Opportunities Act contains major tax relief for farmers, ranchers, homeowners, and job creators.  I urge Senators to seize this opportunity and to work to get this to the Governor’s desk before session concludes in the next few weeks.”

Agriculture Director Steve Wellman: “The governor’s proposal, the Nebraska Property Tax Cuts and Opportunities Act (LB 947), provides an opportunity for rural and urban senators to work together to deliver major, responsible relief that fits within the budget.  I urge senators to work together and get property tax relief done through LB 947 this session, so our farm families get the relief they need this year.”

Economic Development Director Dave Rippe: “To remain competitive, Nebraska must improve our tax climate.  The Nebraska Property Tax Cuts and Opportunities Act achieves that by delivering major property tax relief and providing the first business income tax rate reduction in a generation.  This would be a significant win for the economic development community and everyone working to grow Nebraska.”

Tax Commissioner Tony Fulton: “The Governor and Revenue Committee have demonstrated a great commitment in time and effort towards delivering major tax relief.  We look forward to working with the entire Legislature to pass the Nebraska Property Tax Cuts and Opportunities Act and get major tax relief done for Nebraskans.”


Celebrating its 30th anniversary, 2018 World Pork Expo — Bigger, Better than Ever

The 2018 World Pork Expo will mark its 30th anniversary by presenting the world’s largest pork-specific trade show with more exhibit space and featuring more U.S. and international companies than ever before. Presented by the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), the world’s largest pork-specific trade show takes place Wednesday, June 6, through Friday, June 8, at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines.

“The Expo’s 30th anniversary is a great time to look back at all we’ve accomplished as pork producers,” says Jim Heimerl, NPPC president and producer from Johnstown, Ohio, “But more important, it provides us with the perfect place to look forward to the many opportunities and advancements that lie ahead.”

Each year, more than 20,000 producers and pork professionals visit the three-day exhibition to attend educational seminars, learn more about the latest industry innovations at the trade show and network with peers.

Record-setting trade show to cover over 360,000 square feet

For the first time, the Jacobson Exhibition Center (JEC) will join the Varied Industries (VI) building and open its doors to Expo exhibitors and attendees.

“This will add 300 prime exhibit spaces in a building that will allow companies to display larger exhibits with more elaborate designs,” says Doug Fricke, director of trade show marketing for NPPC. “We will have well over 500 companies at the show this year. If it relates to pork production, you’ll find it at the trade show.”

With JEC located just south of the VI building, the corridor in between will provide a new outdoor exhibit area, allowing attendees to more easily access all areas of the show. Producers and other pork professionals will find more outdoor exhibits throughout the fairgrounds, including displays around the swine, sheep and cattle barns associated with the Expo’s live hog shows. More hospitality tents will give producers the opportunity to connect with exhibitors in a more casual setting.

With its combination of indoor and outdoor exhibit space, Fricke expects this year’s trade show to easily exceed 360,000 square feet — up more than 40,000 square feet from 2017. Expo attendees can visit the trade show from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, June 6, and Thursday, June 7, and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday, June 8.

So much to learn, do and see

There’s never a shortage of things to do and see at Expo. Always high on the list are the nearly two dozen free educational seminars. The PORK Academy and Business Seminars run throughout the day on Wednesday and Thursday, allowing Expo attendees to catch a discussion on topics such as marketing, herd health, nutrition, employee management and much more. Pork producers and their employees can meet leading experts and hear the latest developments in pork production and business strategies.

Other must-see activities include:
    Swine shows — Attend the World Pork Expo Junior National and the open shows and sale, hosted by the National Junior Swine Association (NJSA) and Team Purebred — which kick off Expo week with activities beginning on Monday, June 4. Since it began in 2003, the Expo Junior National has grown annually to become one of the nation’s premier youth shows, offering a variety of show opportunities from Monday, June 4, through Saturday, June 9
    Pre-Expo tours — Expand your experience by attending one of two tours prior to Expo. A two-day Midwest Agricultural Tour takes place on Monday, June 4, and Tuesday, June 5, and travels across Iowa into Illinois and Indiana. A one-day tour on Tuesday will provide a first-hand look at a variety of Iowa agribusinesses
    NPPC hospitality tent — Visit with board members and staff for updates on legislation, regulation and public policy issues that impact their businesses
    MusicFest — Interact with pork industry peers while enjoying live music, grilled pork and refreshments on Thursday evening
    Big Grill — Enjoy free lunch during the show from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

"It’s exciting to see Expo’s continuous growth," Heimerl says. "It's a testimony to the vibrancy of the U.S. pork industry. If you haven’t been to Expo in a while, you want to make this the year to attend. You have to see how much it’s changed and how much it offers."
Online registration is open

Online registration is up and running. Individuals planning to attend World Pork Expo can pre-register to capture discounted rates of $10 per adult (ages 12 and up) and $1 for children, 6 to 11 years old, which covers all three days of Expo. Children under 5 years old get in free. On-site registration will be $20 per adult, with a special Friday-only rate of $10.

Whether your priority is to visit the trade show, network with fellow pork professionals or gather the latest information, now is the time to start planning your trip to the 2018 World Pork Expo, June 6-8.

February Milk Production in the United States up 1.8 Percent

Milk production in the United States during February totaled 17.0 billion pounds, up 1.8 percent from February 2017.  Production per cow in the United States averaged 1,807 pounds for February, 24 pounds above February 2017.  The number of milk cows on farms in the United States was 9.41 million head, 45,000 head more than February 2017, and 1,000 head more than January 2018.

Milk production in Iowa during February 2018 totaled 402 million pounds, up 2 percent from the previous February according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Milk Production report. The average number of milk cows during February, at 220,000 head, was unchanged from last month but 4,000 more than last year. Monthly production per cow averaged 1,825 pounds, down 5 pounds from last February.

NMPF Supports FDA Proposal to Revoke Heart Health Claim for Soy Protein

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) supports the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) proposal to revoke an authorized health claim that links soy protein with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease. The organization also repeated its insistence that FDA take action against plant-based food companies that inappropriately use dairy terminology to market inferior imitation dairy products, such as soy “milk.”

Last fall, FDA announced its proposal to revoke the health claim because numerous studies since its original authorization in 1999 have presented “inconsistent findings” regarding the relationship between soy protein and a reduced risk of coronary heart disease. In comments submitted Monday, NMPF commended the agency for undergoing the rigorous review of recent science to take a closer look at the health benefits of soy protein.

Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF, lauded FDA for acknowledging the continuing evolution of nutrition science and information. “Research on nutrition and health continually changes, and FDA’s regime for health claims must recognize this basic fact,” he said. “FDA is appropriately acknowledging that health claims are not carved in stone, but can and should be periodically reviewed in light of evolving nutrition evidence.”

“New research revealing the lack of heart benefits from soy protein or just as important, a positive effect from dairy fat, means that Americans can make more informed, healthier decisions regarding their diets,” he said.

FDA’s proposed rule comes almost 10 years after the agency initially announced its intent to re-evaluate the science behind the soy protein health claim. During this extended time, NMPF said, soy food manufacturers have exploited the claim to advertise their products as healthy, when science has not supported that claim.

Certain soy food companies have used the claim when labeling their imitation dairy products, insisting that because of soy’s purported healthful properties, soy “milk” is a healthy alternative to conventional cow’s milk. Not only is this health claim without significant scientific support, based on FDA’s proposed rule, it also blatantly skirts federal regulations on the labeling of dairy foods like “milk,” “cheese” and “yogurt,” said NMPF.

“It is imperative that consumers have accurate label information in addition to health claims – specifically the name of the food, which also conveys nutrition information,” said NMPF, reiterating its plea for FDA to take enforcement action against such products.


Wheat Researchers and Farmers Take to Capital Hill to Discuss Research Priorities for Wheat

Today concluded the 2018 National Wheat Improvement Committee Fly-in, where more than 20 researchers and farmers from across the country visited Capitol Hill to discuss with Members of Congress and their staff the importance federal funding of research to the wheat industry. The NWIC is comprised of 24 members representing regional public and private sector researchers, growers and the food processing industry.

“Growers are dealing more and more with extreme weather conditions, disease, and pest challenges, which can only be addressed through public and private research efforts,” said Chandler Goule, CEO of the National Association of Wheat Grower.  “In order to maintain an adequate food supply and keep the United States as the source of premier quality wheat on the world market, we must have robust and stable federal, state, and private investment in wheat research.”

During their meetings, NWIC researchers will make specific FY2018 and FY2019 Ag Appropriations requests including maintaining and/or increasing the funding levels for NIFA Hatch Act (at least $243.7 Million), Smith-Lever Formula Grants (at least $300 Million) and Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (at least $375 Million). The NWIC is also requesting a funding increase of $1.3 million for the US Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative (USWBSI) to bring appropriated funding levels to the $10 million authorized in the 2014 Farm Bill.

NWIC members will put in an ask of a $2.44 million increase for the Small Grains Genomic Initiative. Lastly, NWIC supports the inclusion of report language in the final FY 2018 Agriculture Appropriations bill to direct $1 Million to address the issue of financial losses and potential losses of export markets due to weather-induced poor end-use quality as indicated by low Falling Numbers (FN). The same language should be included in the FY 2019 Ag Appropriations.

“We believe NWIC’s appropriations requests will help maintain and improve the success of the public wheat research community and strengthen and increase the much needed public-private partnerships” said Chandler Goule, CEO of the National Association of Wheat Grower.  “NAWG will continue to work with Congress during the 2018 Farm Bill reauthorization to ensure a strong and well-funded research title is included in the legislation.”

Monday March 19 Ag News

Burt Co. Cattlemen's Ladies Night
Sat Mar 24th 6:30pm - Tekemah Auditorium, Tekemah NE

Saunders Co. Livestock Assoc.
Tue Mar 27th 6:00pm - 4H Building Saunders Co. Fairgrounds - Wahoo NE
6pm social - 7pm meal

Washington County Cattlemen Banquet
Sat Mar 31st 6:00pm - Washington County Fairgrounds, Arlington NE
It's at a new location this year, in the Rybin Building at the Washington County Fairgrounds.  Social sponsored by Washington County Bank with meal and auction to follow.  Highlighted auction item is a brand new John Deere 825i UTV!

Transitioning to Regenerative Farming in Fremont Event on March 26th

Monday March 25, 2018 - 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM
YMCA Hazel Keene Lodge, 3402 W Military Ave, Fremont, NE 68025
FREE and Open to The Public - RSVP:

RegeNErate Nebraska, a growing community of local farmers, community groups, urban consumers, tribes, and everyday citizens working together for more local control over how their food is produced and distributed, will be holding a FREE community event at the YMCA Hazel Keene Lodge just west of Fremont. The discussion will cover numerous topics ranging from diversifying farm operations while regenerating the soil, transitioning from conventional to regenerative at low cost and increasing access to locally produced food. Additionally, the event will discuss scaling up regenerative poultry as a safer alternative to Costco’s contract grower poultry system, which will subject area residents to air and water pollution and put area farmers at risk. The workshop will also reveal recent FOIA’d USDA lab testing results on livestock and increasing glyphosate levels in humans.

When it comes to farmers transition to regenerative agriculture, local farmer Del Ficke makes the reasoning clear, “It’s not rocket science, it’s not even arithmetic, it’s just common sense.”

“As a fifth-generation farmer, it’s been painful to watch industrial agriculture’s impact to family farmers and our rural communities,” said RegeNErate co-founder Graham Christensen. He added, “more urban and rural people alike realize that the transition to regenerative agriculture is in the best interest of the people and the planet.  These events are an overdue first step in bringing new people together to develop rural to urban food pipelines and break down food access issues, while regenerating the soil and Nebraska communities at the same time.

“Modern farming techniques are letting this country down,” said Nebraska Communities United President Randy Ruppert.  “We have more food insecure people than any time in our history, and we lead western civilization in food related diseases.  We need to re-examine where our food comes from, we need to know the food we eat is healthy, and we need to ensure that we are contributing to a health community, state, and nation.  RegeNErate Nebraska addresses the solution to these growing problems.”

The RegeNErate Fremont Event will also feature a FREE local prepared dinner with regenerative beef and side products produced from Nebraska Regenerative Farmers.

NCW Beef Ambassador Contest

Are you passionate about the Beef Industry?  The Nebraska Beef Ambassador Contest provides an opportunity for youth to become spokespersons and future leaders in the beef industry.  If public speaking or industry advocacy is your thing, you should compete.

June 6, 2018
1:00 pm
College Park Grand Island, NE

Registration deadline: Friday, June 1

More Information...

Applications for Innovative Youth Corn Challenge Due by April 1

Nebraska Extension and the Nebraska Corn Board are offering the seventh Innovative Youth Corn Challenge contest. This contest, open to 4-H members (ages 10 and older as of January 1) or FFA members (in-school members), guides participants through all aspects of corn production, as well as agricultural careers related to corn production.

As a team (two or more participants), youth will be challenged to implement a production practice different than normal to determine if they increased yield. Economics and sustainability of the practice also will be considered. Yields, cropping history, and production information will be collected in the Corn Yield Challenge management summary.

Cash prizes and plaques are given. First place receives $1,000, second place receives $500, and third place receives $250.  Sustainability, crop scouting and “extra mile” awards are also given as cash awards.   

To participate in 2018, youth must complete and return an entry form by April 1 to the Extension Office in Geneva. Forms can be downloaded at

For more information, contact Brandy VanDeWalle at

Northeast seeks Ag-ceptional Woman of the Year nominations

Each year, Northeast Community College recognizes the vital role that women play in agriculture and honors one individual each year during its AG-ceptional Women’s Conference. 

Nominations are currently being accepted for the 2018 AG-ceptional Woman of the Year Award, which will be presented during the 10th Annual AG-ceptional Women’s Conference on Friday, November 16, in the Lifelong Learning Center at Northeast Community College in Norfolk. The recipient will be featured in a video tribute sponsored by Farm Credit Services of America.

Corinne Morris, dean of agriculture, math and science, said she looks forward to honoring all women in agriculture during the annual event.

“This will be our 10th annual conference and we expect it to be the best conference so far!  At Northeast Community College, we recognize the contributions women make as advocates for agriculture, in their own operations, and in their communities. They make a difference and we want to provide a day to educate, motivate and celebrate these special people. The AG-ceptional Woman of the Year Award draws attention to the importance of their role in agriculture. We encourage you to nominate a deserving woman in agriculture for this award.”

Liz Doerr, Creighton, was honored as the 2017 AG-ceptional Woman of the Year for her dedication, strength, skills, and impact on agriculture. She was nominated by several individuals, including her husband, Gary, who said his wife, “always has a very positive attitude and a smile on her face. She enjoys being a problem solver, and isn’t afraid to take on a challenge.”

Other past AG-ceptional Woman of the Year honorees include: Bonnie Schulz, Battle Creek, in 2010; Jan Miller, Belden, in 2011; Nancy Kirkholm, Homer, in 2012; Jan Frenzen, Fullerton, in 2013, Dawn Winkelbauer, Norfolk, in 2014, Karen Grant, Meadow Grove, in 2015, and Anne Meis, Elgin, in 2016.

The deadline for nominating the 2018 AG-ceptional Woman of the Year recipient is April 30. Nomination forms may be accessed at:

For additional information, contact Morris at (402) 844-7361.

GROW Act strengthens conservation programs

Late last week, Iowa’s Sens. Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) as well as Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Bob Casey Jr. (D-PA) introduced the Give our Resources the Opportunity to Work, or GROW, Act (S. 2557).

The act would maintain funding and acreage levels for the farm bill’s three largest conservation programs: the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), and Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).

“The GROW Act demonstrates clear support for our nation’s farmers to strengthen conservation efforts across the landscape,” said Anna Johnson, policy associate with the Center for Rural Affairs. “At a time when building healthy soils and protecting water quality are of utmost importance, any cuts to these conservation programs would weaken farmers’ ability to preserve these important natural resources.”

Johnson said the GROW Act provides avenues for farmers to access higher levels of conservation.

“Some of the exciting proposals in the bill are that it incentivizes cover crops under CSP, increases set-aside funds for conservation buffers within continuous CRP, and maintains an emphasis on water quality under EQIP in support of farmers who steward natural resources for future generations,” Johnson said. “We thank Sens. Ernst and Grassley for demonstrating such strong support for farmers in the stewardship of their land.”

The Center for Rural Affairs also supports a similar bill, Strengthening Our Investment in Land (SOIL) Stewardship Act of 2018 (H.R. 5188), introduced in the House last week by Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN).

Adding Grass to Thinning Alfalfa Offers a Win-Win

Amy Timmerman – Extension Educator

Thin alfalfa stands can be rejuvenated by interseeding grasses and converting them to pasture or haying as a grass-alfalfa mixture.

Most alfalfa fields start to lose stand and production ability after cutting hay for several years. Sometimes winterkill thins stands, As your stands begin to get thin, consider interseeding grasses into it. Not only might you extend the useful life of your alfalfa field by several years, you also will develop excellent hay or grazing for your livestock.

The most common grasses interseeded into alfalfa are orchardgrass and smooth brome, but other grasses like endophyte-free tall fescue, meadow brome, festulolium, and wheatgrasses also can be used. If you plan to use this field as pasture, include other legumes like red clover for short-term pasture or birdsfoot trefoil if you plan to graze this as pasture more than three years. This will add diversity to animal diets and help assure good legume growth for several more years.

You must get these new seedlings off to an early start, so be sure to interseed as soon as soils thaw and conditions allow tractor and drills to operate properly. If your alfalfa still is relatively thick and vigorous, also take a very early hay cutting well before buds form, probably during the first week of May. This will allow sunlight to continue to reach new seedlings below the alfalfa. Then use your good judgment regarding competition from the existing alfalfa for subsequent hay cuts. By mid- to late summer you could be able to start rotational grazing. The new seedlings won’t contribute much forage this year, but next year they should be a welcome addition.

Interseeding grass into existing alfalfa takes timely planting and haying, but can improve both the land and the livestock.

Top 10 Best Burgers in Iowa Announced

Iowans submitted nearly 9,200 nominations between February 12 – March 12 to kick off the quest to find the best burger in Iowa. Nominations were accepted online by the the Iowa Beef Industry Council and the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association. The number of votes each restaurant received determined the 2018 Top Ten restaurants. The restaurants making the Top Ten list (in alphabetical order) include:
BurgerFiend, Cedar Rapids
Cafe Beaudelaire, Ames
The IowaStater Restaurant, Ames
Moo’s BBQ, Newton
Morgan’s Corner, Ottumwa
Rides Bar & Grill, Fort Dodge
Robin’s Nest Cafe, Clarinda (formerly Vaughn’s Cafe and Bakery)
Saucy Focaccia, Cedar Rapids
The Twisted Tail Steakhouse, Logan (BeeBeeTown)
Wrangling Grace Cafe, Bancroft

"Iowa has over 27,000 beef producers, and this contest is a great way to celebrate the beef they produce and the impact they have on Iowa," says Katie Olthoff, Director of Communications for the Iowa Cattlemen's Association.

To qualify, the burger must be a 100% beef patty or patties, although other ingredients may be added such as spices, and served on a bun or bread product. Burgers may include any combination of condiments, sauces, cheese or toppings.

“We moved all of the voting to online this year and set a new record with over 700 restaurants receiving at least one nomination,” comments Brooke German, Director of Marketing for the Iowa Beef Industry Council. “In total, we had over 300 towns and cities across Iowa represented which proves that there are a lot of great tasting burgers all across the state.”

Seven restaurants are new to the contest’s Top 10 list and include: BurgerFiend, Cedar Rapids; Cafe Beaudelaire, Ames; Iowa Stater Restaurant, Ames; Moo’s BBQ, Newton; Morgan’s Corner, Ottumwa; The Twisted Tail Steakhouse, Logan; and Wrangling Grace Cafe, Bancroft.

Returning contestants include: Ride’s Bar and Grill, Fort Dodge; Robin’s Nest Cafe, Clarinda (formerly Vaughn’s Cafe and Bakery); and Saucy Focaccia, Cedar Rapids.

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

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

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



Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig highlighted the ongoing biosecurity efforts by Iowa turkey, egg and broiler farmers and the preparations undertaken on the state and federal level following the confirmation of low pathogenic avian influenza in Missouri and Texas in recent weeks.

Low pathogenicity avian influenza (LPAI) virus strains occur naturally in wild migratory waterfowl and shorebirds without causing illness.  LPAI can occur in domestic poultry, with little or no signs of illness. However, there is the potential for low pathogenic viruses to evolve into highly pathogenic viruses, which are extremely infectious, often fatal to domestic poultry, and can spread rapidly from flock-to-flock.  As a result, it is important to monitor and respond to both low-path and high-path avian influenza detections.

“The low path avian influenza cases in Missouri and Texas highlight again the risks facing our poultry producers. We have seen poultry farms investing in biosecurity improvements in recent years to protect their birds and keep them healthy.  That is their focus all year long, but as we enter the spring migration season it is important they remain diligent in their biosecurity efforts,” Naig said.

Biosecurity Important for Farmers

Iowa turkey, egg and broiler farmers have updated their biosecurity measures and made significant investments to help prevent the disease from getting on their farm. They focus every day on biosecurity in recognition of the potential that Avian Influenza and other diseases are always a risk.  All poultry farms need to have a biosecurity plan to qualify for USDA indemnification.

Iowa's egg, turkey and broiler companies have implemented company-wide biosecurity plans. The Center for Food Security and Public Health, Iowa State University, College of Veterinary Medicine has produced numerous materials to help farmers update biosecurity measures on their farm.  More information about their suggestions can be found at

It is also recommended all livestock premises that have one or more animals have an official premises identification number, which may be obtained for free by contacting the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.

The Department is in the process of 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.

Farmers can update their premises information or receive information on how to obtain premise identification number at or by calling the Department toll free at 888-778-7675.

Animal Health Emergency Preparations Continue

The Department continues efforts to update response plans for potential animal disease emergencies. As part of those efforts, the Department hired an Emergency Management Veterinarian for Iowa.

The Department received an additional $100,000 from the Iowa Legislature to support preparations for a foreign animal disease outbreak and a portion of that funding is being used for this position.  This new position supports the Departments efforts to ensure emergency response plans are up to date, organize disease response exercises and work with industry partners.

The Iowa response to Avian Influenza operates under a Unified Command involving the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) and USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Veterinary Services.  We also work closely with partners in the Poultry industry as well as other state agencies, including the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Iowa Department of Public Health and Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

ISU Extension and Outreach Celebrates National Ag Day

Agriculture is important to Iowa. Iowans grow crops and raise livestock that feed our state, nation and global community.

Celebrating the efforts of American agriculture and reminding citizens that agriculture is part of all of us is the focus of 2018 National Ag Day. This year’s theme is “Agriculture: Food For Life” and the day will be celebrated across the country.

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is committed to helping farmers grow more sustainable and profitable enterprises through objective, scientific solutions to the issues and opportunities unique to agriculture in Iowa.

“Research that is conducted on campus and by our field specialists helps improve the lives of farmers across the state,” said Jay Harmon, interim director of Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension and Outreach at Iowa State. “This research reaches Iowans through programming conducted by extension specialists and county staff.”

ISU Extension and Outreach saw its impact felt through a variety of avenues in 2017:
-    Over 6.7 million people visited ISU Extension and Outreach webpages.
-    Specialists made 1,900 presentations at agriculture and natural resources meetings, workshops and field days, coming in contact with more than 195,900 people.
-    68,000 people subscribed to 39 ISU Extension and Outreach agriculture-related newsletters.
-    ISU Extension and Outreach Agriculture and Natural Resources specialists wrote 1,200 articles, with more than 1.9 million print publications being distributed and downloaded. Specialists also were interviewed more than 2,900 times for popular press articles.
-    Face-to-face connections remained popular, with 7,931 meetings between agriculture and natural resources extension specialists and their clients.

“ISU Extension and Outreach specialists serve their communities and Iowa agriculture by providing timely, relevant information that impacts the lives of those they come in contact with,” Harmon said. “This has always been our mission, and it is what we will continually strive to do.”

CWT Assists with 2.6 million Pounds of Cheese and Butter Export Sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 17 requests for export assistance from Dairy Farmers of America, Northwest Dairy Association (Darigold), Tillamook County Creamery Association and United Dairymen of Arizona. These cooperatives have contracts to sell 2.361million pounds (1,071 metric tons) of Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese, and 220,462 pounds (100 metric tons) of butter to customers in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. The product has been contracted for delivery in the period from March through June 2018.

CWT-assisted member cooperative 2018 export sales total 25.234 million pounds of American-type cheeses, and 4.896 million pounds of butter (82% milkfat) to 18 countries on four continents. These sales are the equivalent of 343.081 million pounds of milk on a milkfat basis. Totals adjusted for cancellations.

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.

U.S. Corn Sales Break Records

U.S. corn merchants have sold in excess of 650 million bushels since early January, shockingly more than usual for any time of year, and the demand prospects continue to look good as of mid-March with the U.S. product plentiful and attractively priced. According to Reuters, this comes despite earlier doubts from industry analysts that the 2017-18 U.S. export campaign could be as successful as the prior year amid increasing competition from South America and relatively elevated global stocks.

The 650 million bushels of corn sold within the nine weeks ended March 8 represent more than a quarter of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's annual target of 2.225 billion bushels. It is also the largest-ever volume of net U.S. corn sales for a nine-week period since records began in 1990.

Just two months ago, USDA's forecast called for a much more modest 1.925 billion bushels of corn to be shipped during the 2017-18 marketing year, which would have represented a 16 percent decline from the previous year.

But things are certainly looking up as of late, and USDA has recognized it with a pretty historic adjustment. If the trend continues, USDA will likely need to lift the annual target again in the coming months, which could help bring domestic year-end supply near or below 2 billion bushels, reports Reuters.

At the beginning of the 2017/18 marketing year on Sept. 1, sales were sluggish and the hopes for U.S. corn exports were looking fairly bleak relative to the prior year. Late in September, total net sales were about 35 percent behind where they were a year earlier.

Friday March 16 Ag News

Ag Coalition Calls for Increased Flexibility on Truck Hauling Regulations

We Support Agriculture (WSA), a coalition of livestock stakeholders, has received numerous reports of livestock and agricultural haulers being pulled over, despite the recent additional 90-day Electronic Logging Device (ELD) wavier issued earlier this week and is asking for more flexibility from enforcement agencies.

“Despite promises from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) of a ‘soft enforcement,’ it is clear haulers in Nebraska should exercise caution,” WSA Executive Director Kristen Hassebrook said. “We have asked for all interested parties to be brought together to work through these issues.”

The compliance date for drivers hauling agricultural products using ELDs, including livestock, was extended to June 18, 2018. However, livestock and other ag haulers operating under this exemption, will need to keep a copy of the federal register notice in their trucks at all times as required by the federal waiver regulation. To complicate matters, the federal register has not been updated to reflect the newest wavier, but a copy of the current register extending the compliance date to March 18, 2018 can be found here....

“While the extension of the ELD exemption will provide time to examine this regulation and work with FMCSA to address our concerns, the livestock and ag hauling community should keep in mind there are still requirements related to ELDs, and agriculture is absolutely still subject to Hours of Service (HOS) regulations, an area where additional flexibility and common sense is needed,” Hassebrook said.

ELDs are a mechanism to ensure compliance with the underlying HOS rules, but for now, written logs are acceptable if the driver also has a copy of the federal register notice. WSA has received notice that drivers hauling livestock and other commodities in Nebraska have been asked to provide copies of the federal register, a requirement that was included when both waivers were issued.

“The livestock industry takes animal health and welfare, as well as food safety, very seriously. All of this highlights the need for increased flexibility in ELD and HOS rules to account for the uniqueness of hauling livestock and other agricultural commodities,” Hassebrook stressed.

Nebraska Corn Board Vacancies

Notice is hereby given that the terms for three members of the Nebraska Corn Development, Utilization and Marketing Board will expire June 30, 2018. The members represent Districts 6, 7 and 8.

District #6:
Includes the counties of Hayes, Frontier, Gosper, Phelps, Kearney, Hitchcock, Red Willow, Furnas and Harlan (Note:  Dennis Gengenbach, the current District 6 director, has indicated he will not pursue re-appointment.)

District #7:
Includes the counties of Boyd, Holt, Antelope, Garfield, Wheeler, Boone, Platte, Valley, Greeley and Nance.  (Note: David Merrell, the current District 7 director, has indicated he will pursue re-appointment.)

District #8:
Includes the counties of Sioux, Dawes, Box Butte, Sheridan, Scotts Bluff, Banner, Kimball, Morrill, Cheyenne, Garden, Deuel, Cherry, Keya Paha, Brown, Rock, Grant, Hooker, Thomas, Blaine, Loup, Arthur, McPherson, Logan, Custer, Keith, Lincoln, Perkins, Chase, and Dundy. (Note:  Jon Holzfaster, the current District 8 director, has indicated that he will pursue re-election.)

Appointments to the board for Districts 6, 7 and 8 are made by the Governor. Any candidate for appointment may place his or her name on the candidacy list by filing a petition with the Nebraska Corn Board. Qualified candidates include those individuals who are citizens of Nebraska, are at least 21 years old, have been actively engaged in growing corn in Nebraska for a period of five years and derive a substantial portion of their income from growing corn. Board members who currently represent these districts are also eligible to re-petition.

Petitions may be obtained by writing the Nebraska Corn Board (P.O. Box 95107, Lincoln, NE 68509-5107), by calling 800-632-6761 or emailing A candidacy petition must carry the signatures of at least 50 corn producers from that district. All petitions must be received by the Nebraska Corn Board no later than 5:00 p.m. on Friday, May 18, 2018.  Faxed copies do not qualify.

Deadline Approaches to File Candidacy Petitions for Nebraska Soybean Board July Election

This year, the Nebraska Soybean Board (NSB) will be seeking three soybean farmers to serve on the Board of Directors and to represent fellow soybean farmers and the industry.

How does the Election work?
The election is conducted by mail-in ballot in July. Soybean farmers who reside in counties that are up for election in 2018 will receive ballots and candidate information regarding NSB’s election process via direct mail.

What are the 2018 Election Districts and Counties?
District 1: Counties of Antelope, Boyd, Cedar, Holt, Knox, Pierce and Madison.
District 3: Counties of Butler, Colfax, Dodge, Douglas, Sarpy, Saunders and Washington.
District 6: Counties of Fillmore, Gage, Jefferson, Saline, Seward and Thayer.

Who Can Be a Candidate for the NSB Seat on the Board?
· Be a resident of Nebraska
· Be a resident of the district in which the election is being held
· Be a soybean farmer in Nebraska for at least the previous five years
· Be 21 years of age or older
· Have submitted a NSB candidacy petition

Candidacy Must:
· Obtain a NSB Candidacy Petition by contacting NSB’s Executive Director, Victor Bohuslavsky, at (402) 432-5720
· Complete the petition and collect the signatures of 50 soybean farmers in their district
· Return such petition to the NSB office on or before April 15, 2018

Roles and Responsibilities of Soybean Board Member Representative:
· Attend every NSB Meeting – 8 day fiscal year commitment
· Attend/participate in other educational events sponsored by the Nebraska Soybean Checkoff
· Receive no salary but are reimbursed for expenses incurred while carrying out board business
· Serve a three-year term that would begin October 1, 2018

Candidacy Must:
As an elected representative from NSB, you will help guide the Nebraska soybean industry in the areas of research, education, domestic and foreign markets, including new uses for soybeans and soybean products.

If you have any questions regarding the election process, please contact NSB’s Executive Director, Victor Bohuslavsky, at (402) 432-5720. For more information about the Nebraska soybean checkoff, visit


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Alfalfa will soon green up and start to grow in many areas.  At least those plants that survived the winter.

               Alfalfa usually comes through the winter in pretty good shape in our area, so rarely do I worry much about it.  And I hope we will avoid serious losses this year.

               But this has been an unusual winter.  The lack of snow cover earlier this winter when we experienced sub-zero temperatures could have permitted cold injury.  Or more likely, it enabled dry winter winds to dry out and kill some exposed plants, especially in areas that were dry last fall.  In addition, more fields than usual were cut during alfalfa’s winterizing period last fall, increasing their risk of winter injury.

               Evaluate your own stands early this spring.  Older, dryland fields that have fewer than 30 new shoots per square foot coming from 2 or 3 plants may need to be planted soon to a different crop and new fields planted to alfalfa.  Very productive sites, such as irrigated and sub-irrigated fields, should have at least 40 shoots per square foot from 4 to 6 plants.  Anything less is a strong candidate for rotation.  We tend to lose about one tenth of a ton in yield potential for every shoot below these recommended numbers.

               Check for these densities in several areas of your fields when the early shoots are 4 to 6 inches tall.  Since some shoots begin growing later than others, stands with enough plants but slightly low shoot density may be alright, especially if shoot height and distribution is fairly uniform.  But, if plant density is low, or shoot growth is not uniform, yields probably will be lowered.

               Check your alfalfa stands soon after growth begins.  Then you will still have time to make any needed changes in your cropping plans.

Senator Hughes to address NCTA graduates

A Nebraska agricultural producer, businessman and state senator will deliver the commencement address for the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture at Curtis on May 3.   

State Senator Dan Hughes of Venango will speak to NCTA graduates and guests at the 1:30 p.m. ceremony at the Curtis Memorial Community Center, announced Ron Rosati, NCTA dean.

“Senator Hughes is well respected across Nebraska and the nation as a state leader and wheat grower in Perkins and Chase Counties,” Rosati said.

Hughes and wife, Josie, have farmed southwest of Grant for 41 years. He has been active in agricultural leadership with Nebraska Wheat Growers Association, Nebraska Ethanol Board, Nebraska Wheat Board, and was board chair of U.S. Wheat Associates in 2012 and 2013.

He has represented District 44 for four years in the Nebraska Legislature, chairs the Natural Resources Committee and serves on the Executive Board.

“Our NCTA Dean’s Council is honored to host Dan and Josie Hughes at the 2018 graduation events,” Rosati said. “We appreciate his frequent visits to campus and the interaction he has with our agricultural and veterinary technology students.”

The statewide, two-year college, which is part of the University of Nebraska system, will confer about 90 degrees or certificates to graduates who completed programs in December or May.

The public ceremony will be followed by a reception, also at the Curtis Community Center.

ISU Extension and Outreach Survey Shows Decline in Custom Rates

An overall decrease of 5.6 percent for custom work can be expected in 2018, according to results of a survey conducted by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

The 2018 Custom Rate Survey, which is available in the March issue of Ag Decision Maker or through the ISU Extension Store, was conducted by Alejandro Plastina, assistant professor and extension economist at Iowa State.

“Even with an increase in the price of diesel fuel assumed, the majority of operations reported a rate decline,” Plastina said. “This is in response to tight margins continuing for farm operations across the state.”

While the cost of labor rose by 4.6 percent from a year ago, all other categories saw declines. The cost for harvesting and hauling grain dropped 9.4 percent while preharvest operations, harvesting forages and bin and machinery rental fell by more than 4 percent.

The survey received input from 124 farmers, custom operators and farm managers to determine estimated pricing for custom work. Custom rates are provided for tillage, planting, drilling, seeding, fertilizer application, harvesting, drying and hauling grain, harvesting forages, complete custom farming, labor, and bin and machine rental.

“We appreciate the respondents to the survey, as the information available in the Custom Rate Survey is only possible due to their responses provided each year,” said Plastina.

The reported rates are expected to be charged or paid in 2018, including fuel and labor. The average price for diesel fuel was assumed to be $2.95 per gallon. The values presented in the survey are intended only as a guide.

There are many reasons that the rate charged in a particular situation should be above or below the average. These include the timeliness with which operations are performed, quality and special features of the machine, operator skill, size and shape of fields, number of acres contracted, and the condition of the crop for harvesting. The availability of custom operators in a given area will also affect rates. Any custom rate should cover the cost of operating the farm machinery (fuel, repairs, depreciation, interest) as well as the operator’s labor.

The Ag Decision Maker website offers a Decision Tool (download Excel file at to help custom operators and other farmers estimate their own costs for specific machinery operations.

Dealing with Herbicide-Resistant Weeds Addressed in Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll

The Iowa Pest Resistance Management Program was released in 2017, outlining a number of activities that will be pursued to help Iowa’s farmers and other agricultural stakeholders increase their awareness of and capacity to address pesticide resistance.

The 2017 Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll surveyed farmers to learn about their perspectives on the potential effectiveness of several hypothetical approaches to addressing herbicide-resistant weeds. The poll presented nine different resistance management approaches and asked farmers to rate their likelihood of success on a 5-point scale from very unlikely to very likely.

The two highest rated options were “quick fix” approaches using new technology. “Private company discovery and development of new herbicides” and “private company discovery and development of new herbicide-tolerant crops” received 69 and 68 percent likely or very likely responses, respectively. “Land grant university discovery and development of new weed management strategies” was close behind with 62 percent likely or very likely responses.

“Farmers would love to have new products and technology that they could easily add to their weed management strategies,” said J. Arbuckle, associate professor and extension sociologist at Iowa State University. “Unfortunately, there don’t seem to be major new herbicide products in the pipeline.”

A second set of items focused on financial incentives and mandates as potential approaches to address herbicide resistance. Farmers rated these as the least likely way to reduce the spread of herbicide resistant weeds. Only about a third (36 percent) of respondents thought financial incentives provided by private companies would be likely or very likely to work, while 34 percent said they were unlikely to work (31 percent selected “neither likely nor unlikely”). Similarly, just 35 percent rated financial incentives through the government as likely to be effective, and 35 percent rated them as unlikely to work. Government-mandated weed best management practices requirements were seen as unlikely to work by nearly half (46 percent) of farmers, while only 20 percent thought they would be effective.

“That most farmers didn’t think financial incentives to support weed best management practice adoption would be effective was surprising, because cost-share is a familiar way to help farmers with soil and water conservation practices,” said Arbuckle.

A series of cooperative approaches were also presented, proposing partnership scenarios among farmers and between farmers and key agricultural stakeholders to manage herbicide resistance. The cooperative scenario that farmers thought would have the best chance of success was the broadest coalition: “local farmers, agricultural input supplier representatives, Iowa State University research and extension staff, state agency staff, and commodity group staff working together to improve adoption of weed Best Management Practices.” This approach was thought to be likely or very likely to succeed by 64 percent of respondents. Local farmers and agricultural input supplier representatives working together was seen by 61 percent as likely or very likely to succeed. Local farmers working together earned just 39 percent likely or very likely, while 31 percent thought it was unlikely or very unlikely.

“The finding that two-thirds of farmers rated the most complex cooperative resistance management scenario as likely to succeed is important,” Arbuckle said. “Cooperation between farmers and other agricultural stakeholders is a cornerstone of the Iowa Pest Resistance Management Program, and these results suggest that most farmers think such approaches are potentially effective.”

The Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll has been in existence since 1982, surveying Iowa farmers on issues of importance to agricultural stakeholders. It is the longest-running survey of its kind in the nation.

USDA Rejects Mercy for Animals Humane Bird Slaughter Request

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture has rejected a petition from an animal rights group that sought more humane treatment for turkeys and chickens sent to slaughter.

California-based Mercy For Animals filed a petition in November asking the USDA to include poultry in the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, a 1958 law that makes it a crime to abuse or neglect pigs and cows during slaughter.  The head of the USDA's Office of Food Safety said in denying the petition that other regulations ensure humane poultry treatment.

Mercy for Animals says it has proof chickens are abused or scalded to death in tanks of hot water and sometimes have legs and wings cut off while still conscious.  The group's attorney said Friday legal options to overturning the decision are under consideration.


NPPC Newsletter

The House Energy and Commerce Committee Health Subcommittee met this week to discuss reauthorization of the Animal Drug User Fee Act (ADUFA) and the Animal Generic Drug User Fee Amendments (AGDUFA). Set to expire Sept. 30, both grant the U.S. Food and Drug Administration permission to collect fees from the makers of new animal drugs, including generic animal drugs, which are used to support the agency’s approval and market introduction programs. Senate and House bipartisan draft reauthorization legislation includes a requirement that all requests for new animal drugs be submitted electronically beginning Oct. 1. Dr. Steven Solomon, director of FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, testified before the subcommittee and affirmed the agency’s objective to work with Congress to advance the legislation.  The National Pork Porducers Council supports the reauthorization of ADUFA and AGDUFA, which are crucial for ensuring that animal health, human health and food safety are protected. Failure to renew the laws by the deadline will result in a major disruption for the livestock production industry.

Walmart Files Six Patents for AgTech Projects

Not to be outdone by Amazon, Walmart has rolled out a series of updates to its grocery business recently, including a partnership between its Sam's Club wing and Instacart, the acquisition of Parcel, and the recent announcement of its Eden technology, which could help save the giant retailer $2 billion in food waste costs over the next half-decade.

But as a new research brief from CB Insights points out, all these endeavors could benefit from Walmart's getting involved in the other end of its grocery store supply chain-that is, farming the crops that eventually wind up on its store shelves.

To that end, the retailer giant recently applied for a series of six patents aimed at farm automation.

These include an application that uses machine vision for identifying pests and monitoring crop damage, drones that shoot targeted sprays of pesticides instead of the usual cloud, and the "robot bee" patent, which would carry pollen from plant to plant. There's also potential for drones to act as the next generation of "scarecrows or shiny devices" to scare away hungry birds, according to the patent.

Thursday March 15 Ag News


The average for Nebraska agricultural land values has declined by 3 percent over the last year, according to preliminary findings from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Farm Real Estate Market Survey. This marks the fourth-consecutive year of decline. Market values have dropped 17 percent since reaching a high of $3,315 in 2014.

The statewide all-land average value for the year ending Feb. 1 averaged $2,745 per acre. Average farmland values for the eight districts and the percentage decrease from 2017 were: northwest, $720 (5 percent); north, $1,095 (6 percent); northeast, $5,420 (2 percent); central, $3,280 (3 percent); east, $6,260 (2 percent); southwest, $1,700 (3 percent); south, $3,775 (3 percent); and southeast, $4,810 (1 percent).

Survey participants pointed to low commodity prices over the prior year and current property tax policies as the reason for declining farm real estate values.

Tillable grazing land values declined by 6 percent, the largest percentage decline of the seven land classes. Sharp drops in the northeast (11 percent) and central (10 percent) districts contributed to the overall reduction in tillable grazing land values. Hayland in the central and southwest districts also experienced 10 percent declines in value.

Values for dryland and irrigated cropland across Nebraska declined 1 to 7 percent. Several districts exist where regional land values increased 2 to 6 percent, but these instances were small, indicating a fairly unchanged land market for this region.

Future prospects for cropland in Nebraska remain interlaced with the earning potential for the major commodities grown across the state, input expenses and monetary policies influencing the cost of borrowing for future land purchases. Regulation policies guiding the use of water for irrigation were also noted as a potential driver for the changes in the future value of irrigated cropland in certain areas of the state, according to survey participants.

Land classes serving the cow-calf industry, including grazing land and hayland, experienced a wide range in declines between 1 and 10 percent across the state. According to survey participants, demand for beef and availability of forages during periods of drought were two of the major drivers for the future value of these land classes.

Recent increases in exports of beef from Nebraska to China remain critical for the value of cattle raised in the state.

Irrigated cropland rental rates on average declined between 2 and 5 percent across Nebraska with a small increase noted in the north district. Survey participants indicated that property taxes are one of the landowners' most critical concerns during rental negotiations. Landlords face the prospects of low returns on their land after accounting for property taxes, while tenants face tight cash flows with current commodity prices, input expenses and rental payments.

Annual maintenance of fence, weed control, removal of unwanted brush or cedar trees, and watering systems for livestock also factor into the rental rates paid across Nebraska for grazing land.

The preliminary report can be found at

Land values and rental rates presented in the report are averages of survey participants' responses by district. Actual land values and rental rates may vary depending upon the quality of the parcel and local market for an area. Preliminary land values and rental rates are subject to change as additional surveys are returned. Final results from the survey will be published in early June 2018 and will be available at

Smith Supports Biodiesel Tax Credit Extension

Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) spoke in favor of the biodiesel tax credit for domestic fuel production Wednesday in a Ways and Means Tax Subcommittee hearing on expired tax extenders.  Cal Meyer, Group Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Ag Processing Inc. of Omaha, testified in the hearing.

“We need to diversify our country’s energy supply, and tax incentives play a significant role in bolstering domestic biodiesel production and consumption,” Smith said.  “Biodiesel also adds value to U.S. agriculture, especially soybeans.  Through innovation and technological advancements, the efficiency of biodiesel production has increased from 25 million gallons in 2004 to 2.9 billion gallons today.

“Producers need certainty to make decisions going forward.  I appreciate Mr. Meyer coming to Washington, D.C., to share his expertise with the committee and stress the importance of this issue to both the future of agriculture and our country’s energy independence.”

Smith is a strong supporter of biofuels and has cosponsored legislation to renew the biodiesel tax credit and transition it to the producer level.

UNL Feedlot Webinar March 28

Nebraska Extension is offering a new way to get information on timely beef topics in a series of hosted webinars. The webinars will be on select Wednesdays 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. CST, and will feature discussions from participants to determine educational needs on new topics, presentations by experts, and updates on current activities. The educational presentations will be recorded and posted at for later viewing. The upcoming feedlot webinar is on Heat Stress Preparedness by Terry Mader from 12:30-1:30 P.M. CST, Wednesday, March 28.

You can connect and find more details at:

UNL Bull Sale, April 14

Each year UNL has a bull sale conducted by the UNL Beef Cattle Merchandising Class. It is an unique learning environment for students and has commercial bulls that will work for you. The event takes place at the Animal Sciences Complex in the arena on East Campus in Lincoln with bulls penned in the morning and a complimentary lunch served before the sale commences at 1:00 p.m.

For more details, contact Dr. Matt Spangler, UNL, Animal Geneticist, 402-472-6489.

ACE applauds governor letter to reject proposals to reduce RFS levels

The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) applauds the letter Midwest governors sent to President Trump today thanking him for his continued support of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and urging the President to reject proposals designed to weaken – or waive – this key pillar of the farm economy, including Senator Ted Cruz’s waiver credit proposal, or “RIN cap.”  ACE CEO Brian Jennings issued the following statement applauding the governor’s for encouraging President Trump to reject any RIN cap or waiver credit proposal to reduce RFS levels:

“We appreciate the leadership these governors are showing in support of keeping the RFS on track.  We hope the administration and Congress will listen to their advice and not take any steps to undermine an already shaky farm economy.”

The letter is signed by six governors, including Kim Reynolds (IA), Pete Rickets (NB), Eric Holcomb (IN), Jeff Colyer (KS), Eric Greitens (MO), and Dennis Daugaard (SD).

Nebraska Farmers See Soybean Export Process First-Hand

Nebraska soybean growers traveled to the Pacific Northwest last week to see how their product is exported worldwide.

The trip was part of the Nebraska Soybean Board (NSB) See For Yourself program that’s designed to give farmers a hands-on opportunity to learn about their checkoff.

The farmers visited the AGP terminal at Grays Harbor, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Northwest Fisheries Science Center, Pike Place Market and the Tacoma Export Marketing Company (TEMCO) grain terminal.

Dave Utrecht, a soybean producer from Hastings, Neb. and a first-time See For Yourself attendee, was awestruck by the size of the TEMCO terminal.

“It just boggles the mind how much grain can move in such a short period of time,” Utrecht said. “There’s a soybean processing plant in Hastings, and within 35 days that soy meal can travel across the world to China.”

Dale Blum of Hildreth, Neb. said the trip opened his eyes to the impact Nebraska soybeans have worldwide.

“It kind of amazes me how everything has to work in conjunction to keep rails going, to keep ships loaded, to keep enough soy product to fill the ships,” Blum said. “I’ve always said we all have to work in this together, and after going on this trip I realized how big the whole system is.”

Ron Stech from Osmond, Neb. agreed.

“There’s all we do on our end, producing the crop, a whole host of things that need to happen after to get it loaded onto the ship. Any little hiccup along the way can affect everything that’s going on,” Stech said. “It really hit home when we were at the terminal and they advised us that the very next train unit that was coming in was less than 12 hours away and it was coming in from Nebraska.”

Blum said he hoped Nebraska producers could continue to grow their exports.

“After talking to some of the people who are handling and selling the soybean, I learned they know we consistently produce a pretty good product out here,” Blum said. “I think the overseas market realizes that and they rely on us a little bit more because of that. It makes me feel good that I can keep producing and it has a place to go.”

Stech said he would recommend the See For Yourself trips to any producer who wanted to learn more about how their product affects the global economy.

“When we get too comfortable in our own little surroundings we tend to forget the big picture and how much is going on out there, and when you do something like this, it really opens your eyes to what our products are part of,” Stech said. “We affect a lot of people in the world.”

 Iowa soybean leaders travel to China to reaffirm commitment to ag trade

Maintaining strong agricultural trade relations with China is a priority for the Iowa Soybean Association and the purpose of a delegation’s visit to the country of 1.4 billion March 16-25.

Led by ISA President Bill Shipley of Nodaway and President-elect Lindsay Greiner of Keota, the delegation will meet with U.S. Ambassador Terry Branstad at the U.S. Embassy in China and key Chinese officials representing soybean processors and feed companies.

“China consumes 60 percent of global soybean production and Iowa farmers are a key supplier,” Shipley said. “With U.S. commodity prices sliding and other countries ramping up production, this is precisely the wrong time for the U.S. to retreat as a trusted source of high-quality soybeans.” 

While preparations for the visit began last year, the timing of this month’s discussions is opportune.

Farmers are increasingly concerned about trade disruptions between the United States and China caused by steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. The White House is also said to be considering tariffs on imports of Chinese technology and telecommunications resulting from a “Section 301” intellectual property investigation.

Last year, Iowa’s nearly 42,000 soybean farmers produced 562 million bushels of the oilseed. The crop is valued at more than $5 billion. Nearly one of every four rows of soybeans grown in Iowa is destined for China. Nationally, U.S. soybean exports to China totaled 1.3 billion bushels in 2017 valued at $12.4 billion.

“China, which wasn’t even in the market for soybeans 16 years ago, is now our largest customer, purchasing more soybeans than all others combined,” Shipley added. “Iowa soybean farmers, with the support of their association and investment of the soybean checkoff, have developed strong relationships with Chinese soybean buyers, industry representatives and the Chinese government.

“We’re committed to maintaining these relationships while navigating these unsettled times,” he added. “Our time in China will offer the opportunity to share this important message personally.”

Imposing tariffs may help U.S. steel workers and steel industry, but the potential damage to the overall economy might be greater, said ISA Chief Executive Officer Kirk Leeds, a delegation participant.

“Unfortunately, given the importance of exports to U.S. farmers and the overall farm economy, agriculture trade is often the first casualty in any trade war or retaliation,” he said.

The ISA continues to work with Iowa’s Congressional delegation in communicating concerns about the way tariffs are being proposed and their potential impact on soybean farmers and U.S. agriculture.

“It’s clear underlying challenges remain in overall trade relations between China and the U.S., and for that matter between trading partners around the world,” Leeds added. “The best strategy for maintaining strong trade relations between China and the U.S. is to make sure that both sides continue to fully engage in conversation, negotiations and open dialogue. That’s what we’ll do during our time in China.”

Shipley said Iowa farmers are optimistic that U.S. and Chinese government officials will expand, not restrict, trade.

“We excel in producing high-quality grain and meat, important staples for a Chinese population that is increasing and becoming more affluent,” he added. “The best option is to keep trade flowing.”

IFBF Young Farmer Gate to Plate Tour to Highlight Diversity

The 2018 Iowa Farm Bureau Young Farmer Gate to Plate Tour will give Farm Bureau members, ages 18 to 35, an opportunity to tour diverse farms on June 29 and 30 in Wisconsin, the land of cheese and a few other surprising types of agriculture.

"The ag economy is proving more challenging than ever for young farmers getting started in agriculture. The Gate to Plate Tour is designed to get participants thinking about how we can innovate on the farm by observing the ways farm families in rural Wisconsin have added value to the commodities they produce," said Laura Cunningham, IFBF's Young Farmer Advisory Committee chair. "I hope others will join me to see some unique farms, taste test the products produced on each farm and meet new young farmers from around the state."

The first day will take these young farmers to Perlick Distillery, where five generations of the Perlick family have been farming since 1920. They grow corn, wheat, rye, flex, soybeans and sunflowers. In May of 2016, the family celebrated the one-year anniversary of a new endeavor--a distillery where they produce vodka made from the grain grown on their farm.

Just a 15-minute drive south of the Perlick Distillery is the tour's second destination. Northstar Bison is owned by the Graese family who claim the title for being the largest distributors of grass-fed bison meat in the United States. The family started this operation with two young bison and grew into a vertically-integrated enterprise with 600 bison being raised in northwest Wisconsin and east central Minnesota. The bison are humanely harvested and processed at a plant owned by NorthStar.

The next day will be all about what Wisconsin is known for--dairy. The 350 cows at Marieke Gouda Dairy are milked three times per day to create cheese that is "handcrafted with passion." Owner Marieke Penterman grew up on a dairy farm in the Netherlands. Her and her husband, Rolf, came to Wisconsin to start their dairy because of the location and farm-friendly people. Their signature cheese was named the 2013 Grand Champion of the U.S. Championship Cheese Contest and is made from an authentic Old World Gouda recipe with herbs and spices imported from Holland.

The founders of the final stop, Nelson Cheese Factory, made cheese for more than 100 years. While they no longer make cheese, the shop includes a selection of wines and cheese made locally in Wisconsin and around the world. They feature cheeses like Irish Cheddar, Danish Blue and Fromager d'Affinois and also offer unique local meats from lamb cuts to German style sausages.

The tour is $75 per person which includes overnight accommodations (double occupancy), charter bus fees and group meals. Seats are limited and preference will be given to members who have not participated in a previous IFBF young farmer tour.

For more information or to register by May 25, visit

NGFA commends introduction of bipartisan Senate CRP reform bill

The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) today commended the introduction of bipartisan legislation in the Senate designed to reform the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) to target enrollment of truly environmentally sensitive acres.

The legislation (S. 2557) was introduced today by Sens. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Bob Casey, D-Pa., each of whom serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee. The "Give Our Resources the Opportunity to Work" (GROW) Act would direct the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to modify the CRP to avoid enrollment of productive farmland that can be cropped in environmentally sustainable ways, as well as generally prohibit the enrollment of whole farms. It also would invest scarce conservation dollars on working lands conservation programs, as long advocated by the NGFA.

"We commend Sens. Ernst, Grassley, Brown and Casey for introducing this bipartisan legislation to guide the development of the conservation title of the Senate's farm bill," said NGFA President Randy Gordon. "We believe it is important that the next farm bill look to the future by providing opportunities for the next generation of American farmers to access land to build economically viable farm enterprises without having to compete against existing artificially high CRP rental rates and other CRP policies that currently create substantial barriers to entry. Reversing this trend is essential to the future lifeblood of rural communities.

"Focusing CRP on environmentally sensitive acres also enhances the sustainability of U.S. agriculture and is essential to enabling the United States to remain competitive in international markets and to capture the increasing global demand for food and fiber," Gordon added.

Among other things, the GROW Act would cap CRP rental rates for acres enrolled under general sign-ups to 80 percent of a county's average cash rental rate. Currently, CRP rental rates often are considerably higher than local farmland cash rental rates, thereby pitting the U.S. government as a competitor against young and beginning farmers trying to enter production agriculture and remain in rural communities.

The NGFA also noted that based upon the most recent data available, more than 25 percent of the 24 million acres now enrolled in the CRP consists of productive farmland. The GROW Act also would retain the current CRP enrollment cap at 24 million acres.

"This bipartisan legislation is a positive step forward in retargeting the CRP away from enrolling large tracts of productive farmland, and provides concepts that warrant serious consideration as development of the next farm bill proceeds," NGFA said.

House Bill Exempts Farms From Reporting Emissions

A bipartisan bill to exempt farmers from reporting to the U.S. Coast Guard emissions from the natural breakdown of manure on their farms yesterday was introduced in the U.S. House. The National Pork Producers Council strongly supports the legislation, which is similar to a bipartisan bill introduced last month in the Senate.

Sponsored by Reps. Billy Long, R-Mo., and Jim Costa, D-Calif., along with 85 cosponsors, the “Agricultural Certainty for Reporting Emissions (ACRE) Act,” H.R. 5275, 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 could force 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 subject them to citizen lawsuits from activist groups such as the Humane Society of the United States.

“America’s pork producers are grateful to Congressmen Long, Costa and their 80 colleagues for introducing legislation to fix this problem,” said NPPC President Jim Heimerl, a pork producer from Johnstown, Ohio. “Routine emissions from hog manure do not constitute a ‘hazardous’ emergency that requires the Coast Guard to activate a national cleanup response.

“EPA exempted farms from CERCLA reporting because it knew responses would be unnecessary and impractical. We need to have that exemption reinstated, and NPPC calls on the House and Senate to pass their respective commonsense, bipartisan bills as soon as possible.”

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 Coast Guard’s 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,” Heimerl 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.”

February Soybean Crush Rises to Record

Soybean processors crushed a record amount of oilseed in February, a trade group said, beating pre-report expectations. The National Oilseed Processors Association said that its members crushed 153.7M bushels of soybeans in February, above 142.8M a year earlier and more than average analyst estimates of 148.5M bushels. Strong demand for soybeans to crush has been a bright spot for a market pressured by large supplies. Soybean oil stocks in February rose to 1.856B pounds, up from 1.728B a month earlier and above expectations.

NCBA Hosts Webinar - The 4's of Crossbreeding: Simple, Structured, Successful, and Sustainable

Thursday, March 22, 2018 at 7 p.m. CT

Structured crossbreeding systems have been shown to have substantial impacts on the production efficiency of commercial cow-calf operations. Join the webinar to discuss keys for successful and profitable crossbreeding systems that enhance profit and sustainability. Managed heterosis, simple breeding systems and breed complementarity are the key value drivers you’ll learn about. Megan Rolf, PhD at the Kansas State University and Bob Weaber, PhD at Kansas State University will lead the discussion.

If you missed the last two webinars in this 4-part genetics series which focused on EPDs and Indexes be sure to find the link at WWW.NCBA.ORG.

USDA Announces Regionalization Agreement with South Korea to Help Protect U.S. Trade During HPAI Detections

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced an agreement with the government of South Korea that significantly reduces negative impacts on trade should another detection of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) occur in the United States. The agreement will allow for trade restrictions at the state level instead of the country level during any future HPAI detections.

This action bolsters the already strong trade relationship between the United States and South Korea and will prevent a repeat of trade actions taken in 2015 when all U.S. poultry, poultry products and eggs were banned as a result of a detection of HPAI.

“Limiting trade restrictions during future HPAI detections to only those states with positive detections will help keep trade flowing,” said Greg Ibach, USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs. “The new science-based agreement will allow unaffected U.S. producers to keep poultry, poultry products and eggs going to South Korea. This helps us meet Secretary Perdue’s vision of doing right and feeding the world.”

“Trade is critical for the health of American agriculture, and to support vibrant rural economies. Keeping markets open to exports of U.S. poultry is an important part of that story,” said USDA Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney. “This success with South Korea, a top ten market already for poultry products, means we will continue to grow exports to a critical market.”

USDA plays a vital role in ensuring the free flow of agricultural trade by certifying that the millions of U.S. agricultural and food products shipped to markets abroad meet the importing countries' entry requirements. USDA also keeps export markets open for American agricultural products by addressing concerns about plant and animal health raised by U.S. trading partners. Under the new agreement, if there is an HPAI detection in the United States, unaffected states would continue to trade with South Korea.


In 2014, the last full year without any HPAI-related trade restrictions in place, South Korea purchased $122 million in U.S. poultry and products, including eggs, making it the United States’ tenth-largest market. South Korea’s imports from all sources were nearly $426 million in 2017, but only $46 million came from the United States. In August 2017, South Korea lifted its most recent HPAI-related ban on imports of U.S. poultry, poultry products and fresh eggs, imposed in response to an HPAI outbreak in March 2017.

Brazilian U.S. Ethanol Demand Remains High

Last year, the Brazilian Government announced a tariff rate quota for ethanol imports, where imports in excess of 600 million liters are subject to a 20-percent tariff. However, U.S. ethanol has been priced so low that it is still an economical alternative in Brazil.

Currently, ethanol is $1.50 per gallon at the Gulf Coast Ports in the United States, while ethanol in Brazil is $2.32 per gallon.

According to the USDA, demand for ethanol in Brazil is robust because of widespread use of flex-fuel vehicles and a mandate requiring a minimum of a 27-percent ethanol blend in gasoline.

Due to price competitiveness and strong demand, Brazil, the second largest global ethanol producer, is also the largest overseas buyer of U.S. ethanol.

One contributing factor is the internal distribution of ethanol in Brazil.

Ethanol mills are mostly located in the sugar producing areas of southern Brazil.

Because of infrastructure constraints, it is cheaper to ship ethanol by boat from the U.S. to the northern regions of Brazil than by overland transport through Brazil.

Wednesday March 14 Ag News

Unlike parts of Colorado and Kansas, Nebraska isn't in danger of running out of groundwater from the High Plains Aquifer anytime soon. But the largest source of usable water in the state is still on average below pre-pumping water levels, according to the 2017 Nebraska Statewide Groundwater-Level Monitoring Report.

The recently released annual report examines groundwater level changes, including increases and decreases measured in regional wells in spring 2017. In addition to current levels, it also looks at historical trends, comparing regional water levels over extended periods of time.

The report is available for $7 from the Nebraska Maps and More Store, 3310 Holdrege St., and at Phone orders also are accepted at 402-472-3471, and a PDF of the report can be downloaded at

"The reports coming out of Denver, Colorado, and Garden City, Kansas, are accurate for those regions, but they don't accurately portray conditions in Nebraska," said Aaron Young, survey geologist with the Conservation and Survey Division at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and lead author of the report.

Nebraska has seen a slight decline in groundwater levels over the five-year period starting in the drought year 2012, with 71 percent of the 5,200 wells recorded showing water levels dropped by about 1.9 feet on average in that time period.

"From 2016 to 2017, groundwater levels in Nebraska haven't really changed," Young said. "Most of Nebraska received near-average precipitation, which reduced the need for supplemental irrigation, leading to little change in average water levels."

About half of the wells in the state saw groundwater levels decline; the other half recorded increases from 2016 to 2017. Increases of 1 to 10 feet were recorded in northeast Nebraska, where above-average precipitation fell. Declines of 1 to 5 feet were recorded in areas along and to the south of the Platte River in south-central Nebraska, in correlation with below-average precipitation and increased irrigation pumping.

Problem areas in Chase, Box Butte, Perkins and Dundy counties in the far-west portion of the state continued to persist, due to irrigation use in regions with limited precipitation. Since about 1950, some of these counties have seen declines of up to 122 feet.

In-depth maps in the report give visual representations of these changes, conveying the information in one-year, five-year, 10-year and since-pre-irrigation (about 1950) increments. The maps are based on information collected by the Conservation and Survey Division, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Nebraska Natural Resources Districts and Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District. The reports and maps have been produced by the Conservation and Survey Division since the 1950s. Groundwater monitoring began in Nebraska in the 1930s.

Other authors of this year's report are Mark Burbach, environmental scientist; Leslie Howard, geographic information science and cartography manager; Michele Waszgis, research technician; Matt Joeckel, state geologist and CSD associate director; and Susan Lackey, research hydrogeologist.

NeFU Spring District Meetings Schedule to date

District 7 Spring Meeting: Barnstormers Family Bar & Grill, 4100 S. 13th St., Norfolk
Thursday, March 15, 2018, 6:00 pm buffet supper on own with meeting to follow.
· District 7 Director’s Report:  Martin Kleinschmit
· NFU Convention, Farm Bill, NeFU Activities, NE Legislature:  John Hansen
Bring a friend, neighbor or family member.
For more info, call Art Tanderup (402) 278-0042 or (402) 887-1396.

District 2 Spring Meeting: Wolbach Community Center 268 Center St, Wolbach, NE 68882
Monday, March 19, 2018 6:00 pm Potluck Supper with meeting to follow.
 · District 2 Director’s Report:  Jim Knopik
 · NFU Convention, Farm Bill, NeFU Activities, NE Legislature:  John Hansen
Bring a friend, neighbor, or family member.
For more information, call Jim Knopik (308) 550-0288 cell or Bill Rolf (308) 536-2976 home.

District 5 Spring Meeting:  Lippy’s BBQ, 126 2nd St, Malcolm, NE 68402
Tuesday, March 27, 2018.  6:00 pm supper on your own with meeting to follow.
 · District 5 Director’s Report:  Ben Gotschall
· NFU Convention, state & national issues:  John Hansen
Bring a friend, neighbor, or family member.
For more information, call Ben Gotschall (402) 705-8679.

District 6 Spring Meeting:  Fernando's Restaurant, 1600 Washington Street, Blair, NE
Thursday, April 12, 2018, 6:00 pm supper on your own with meeting to follow.
 ·District 6 Director’s Report:  Graham Christensen
· NFU Convention, Farm Bill, NeFU Activities, NE Legislature:  John Hansen
· Featured speakers:   Candidates Chuck Hassebrook, LD16 & Mena Davis, LD8.
Information about UNMC Free Water Testing Program.
Bring a friend, neighbor or family member.
For more information, call Paul Poppe (402) 380-4508.

Valmont Board Declares Quarterly Dividend

The Board of Directors of Valmont Industries, Inc. (NYSE: VMI) has declared a quarterly dividend of 37.5 cents per share payable on April 16, 2018 to shareholders of record on March 29, 2018. The dividend indicates an annual rate of $1.50 per share.

Valmont is a global leader, designing and manufacturing engineered products that support global infrastructure development and agricultural productivity. Its products for infrastructure serve highway, transportation, wireless communication, electric transmission, and industrial construction and energy markets. Its irrigation equipment for large scale agriculture improves farm productivity while conserving fresh water resources.

In addition, Valmont provides coatings services that protect against corrosion and improve the service lives of steel and other metal products.


Honey production in 2017 from Nebraska producers with five or more colonies totaled 2.65 million pounds, up 20 percent from 2016, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service.

There were 42,000 honey producing colonies in Nebraska during 2017, down 13 percent from 2016. Average yield was 63 pounds per colony, up 17 pounds from 2016. Producer stocks were 423,000 on December 15, 2017, down from 640,000 pounds a year earlier.

Prices for the 2017 crop averaged 199 cents per pound, up from 191 cents in 2016. Prices were based on retail sales by producers and sales to private processors and cooperatives. Total value of honey produced in 2017 was $5.27 million, up 25 percent from 2016.


Honey production from producers with 5 or more colonies in Iowa totaled 2.03 million pounds in 2017 according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service Honey report. This was a 14 percent increase from the 1.78 million pounds produced in 2016. The number of honey producing colonies in the state decreased from 37,000 colonies in 2016 to 35,000 colonies in 2017. This number does not include producers with fewer than 5 colonies or producers who did not harvest honey. Colonies that produced honey in more than one state were counted in each state where they produced honey. Yield per colony in Iowa averaged 58 pounds, up from 48 pounds per colony in 2016. Iowa remains ranked nineteenth nationally in honey production, unchanged from 2016.

On December 15, 2017, producer honey stocks in Iowa, excluding stocks under government loan programs, were 1.04 million pounds, a 39 percent increase from 2016. The state’s 2017 honey crop was valued at $4.51 million, up 22 percent from the previous year’s $3.69 million. The average price per pound for all marketing channels in Iowa was $2.22, up 14 cents from 2016.

United States Honey Production Down 9 Percent for Operations with Five or More Colonies in 2017

United States honey production in 2017 from producers with five or more colonies totaled 148 million pounds, down 9 percent from 2016. There were 2.67 million colonies producing honey in 2017, down 4 percent from 2016. Yield per colony averaged 55.3 pounds, down 5 percent from the 58.3 pounds in 2016. Colonies which produced honey in more than one State were counted in each State where the honey was produced. Therefore, at the United States level yield per colony may be understated, but total production would not be impacted. Colonies were not included if honey was not harvested. Producer honey stocks were 30.6 million pounds on December 15, 2017, down 26 percent from a year earlier. Stocks held by producers exclude those held under the commodity loan program.

Operations with Less than Five Colonies Produced 599 Thousand Pounds of Honey in 2017

United States honey production in 2017 from producers with less than five colonies totaled 599 thousand pounds, down 22 percent from 2016. There were 20 thousand colonies from which honey was harvested in 2017, down 17 percent from 2016. The average yield was 30.0 pounds per colony in 2017, down 6 percent from the previous year.

Honey Prices Up 2 Percent for Operations with Five or More Colonies in 2017

United States honey prices decreased during 2017 to 215.6 cents per pound, up 2 percent from 211.9 cents per pound in 2016. United States and State level prices reflect the portions of honey sold through cooperatives, private, and retail channels. Prices for each color class are derived by weighting the quantities sold for each marketing channel. Prices for the 2016 crop reflect honey sold in 2016 and 2017. Some 2016 crop honey was sold in 2017, which caused some revisions to the 2016 crop prices.

Price Paid per Queen was 14 Dollars for Operations with Five or More Colonies in 2017

For operations with five or more colonies, the average prices paid in 2017 for honey bee queens, packages, and nucs were $14, $76, and $107 respectively. The average prices paid in 2017 for operations with less than five colonies were $34 per queen, $117 per package, and $138 per nuc. For operations with five or more colonies, pollination income for 2017 was $435 million, up 29 percent from 2016. Other income from honey bees for operations with five or more colonies in 2017 was $163 million, up 10 percent from 2016. 

Ibach on Section 199A Tax Code Fix Agreement

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Greg Ibach today issued the following statement regarding an agreement among Congressional leaders to address concerns with recent changes to Section 199A of the federal tax code. Some agriculture stakeholders had raised questions about potential market effects on cooperatives and independent grain-related businesses.

Ibach’s statement is as follows:
“The sweeping tax cuts and reform package championed by President Trump and passed by Congress is already working as designed, empowering growth across all economic sectors, including agriculture. An unintended consequence of the new law caused disparate treatment among independent operators and cooperatives in the same industry. Federal tax policy should not be picking winners and losers in the marketplace. We applaud Congress and stakeholders for coming together and agreeing to a solution for the good of all agriculture. At USDA, we will provide whatever information is necessary to support Congress in their efforts to have the proposal included in the Omnibus appropriations bill.”

NCGA Statement to 199A Resolution

The following is a statement from North Dakota farmer Kevin Skunes, president of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), in response to the Legislation Amending Section 199A:

“We are pleased with the outcome of the recent negotiations to craft a solution for Section 199A of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. This agreement is extremely important for addressing the provision’s unintended consequences and restoring certainty to the marketplace for farmers.  NCGA has supported coalition efforts to replicate the tax benefits of the original Section 199 within the tax reform bill.  We greatly appreciate the work of Senators John Hoeven (R-North Dakota) and John Thune (R-South Dakota) along with the leadership of House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) to develop this critical legislation.  NCGA urges the Congress to adopt the proposed changes with bipartisan support later this month.”

NFU Urges Congress to Reject Elimination of Section 199A

Members of Congress are proposing to undo a newly instated tax break that is meant to level the playing field between agricultural cooperatives and corporations who received a dramatic tax break under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

National Farmers Union (NFU) is urging Congress to instead seek a balance that does not weaken the important tax break for family farmers who sell to cooperatives. NFU members recently passed a special order of business regarding the provision, Section 199A, due to its value in improving the livelihood of farm families and in strengthening rural communities.

NFU President Roger Johnson issued the following statement in response to the proposal:
“Corporations just received one of the largest tax breaks in their history, the addition of 199A was an attempt to level the playing field for cooperative businesses. To repeal parts of this important tax break would be to strike at the single most important benefit family farmers received from tax reform.

“Not only would corporations be better off, but farmers would be disadvantaged by working with their cooperatives.  Wage limits contained in this proposal will discriminate against family farms that don’t hire outside workers, especially if they work with small cooperatives who also have a limited wage base.  Farmers could alternatively see the 20 percent deduction on taxable income reduced to 11 percent, if they do business with a coop. Under this new proposed language, farmers could sell to a private company and lock in the 20 percent deduction, or they can sell to a coop and receive an 11 percent deduction.

“Farmers Union calls on Congress to reject this draft language as it currently stands. We urge lawmakers to advance bipartisan legislation that removes wage limitations and maintains a farmer gross sales deduction that evens the playing field between corporations and cooperatives.”

US to import a small share meats and dairy in 2018

USDA Economic Research Service

Import data for all of 2017 shows that, consistent with past years, the United States is a relatively small importer of meat and dairy products. USDA import forecasts for 2018 show an extension of this tendency. In 2017, U.S. beef imports were 11.3 percent of total domestic disappearance. In 2018, forecasts for U.S. beef imports leave the ratio nearly unchanged (11.0 percent). The United States imports mostly lean beef from Australia, mainly for final use as hamburger and as an input to processed and prepared food products. For pork, imports accounted for 5.3 percent of disappearance last year. Based on forecasts, that ratio is expected to be somewhat smaller this year—4.8 percent—due largely to increased domestic production. Most imported pork comes from Canada and the EU. Imports from Poland, in particular, have accelerated recently. Compared with beef, pork, and dairy products, lamb is exceptional in that imports typically account for more than half of domestic disappearance. Most U.S. lamb imports originate from Oceania. In 2017, imports made up about 64 percent of disappearance; this year, the ratio is expected to be slightly larger at 64.3 percent. For imported dairy products—most of which come from the EU and New Zealand—imports comprised about 2.9 percent of U.S. disappearance last year, on a milk-fat milk-equivalent basis. The ratio of imports to disappearance based on dairy trade forecasts, is mostly unchanged for 2018, at 2.7 percent.

Cattle/Beef: Beef production was reduced on a slower than expected pace of slaughter in the first quarter and lighter cattle weights anticipated in early 2018. However, second-quarter production was raised. Based on higher to-date cow slaughter data, first-half non-fed beef production is expected to be higher, mitigating some of the decline in the first-quarter reduction and contributing to the increase in the second-quarter forecast. With these partly offsetting factors, the beef production forecast was trimmed slightly to 27.69 billion pounds. Based on the current pace of U.S. beef imports and strong domestic demand for lean beef, imports for 2018 were revised upward.

Poultry: Broiler production and weights were up again in January in line with expectations, while broiler prices were generally steady during February. Table egg production in January contracted about 1 percent, contributing to a lower production forecast. Lower-than-expected production and recent price surges moved price forecasts higher. January turkey production was down on a per day slaughter basis. Production in 2018 is expected to be fractionally lower than 2017 as low wholesale prices pressure producer returns.

Dairy: Due to expectations of stronger growth in milk per cow, the 2018 milk production forecast has been increased to 219.0 billion pounds, 0.3 billion higher than last month’s forecast. With competitive U.S. prices and recent strength in cheese and whey product exports, 2018 export forecasts have been raised to 9.6 billion pounds (+0.1 billion) on a milk-fat milk-equivalent basis and 42.8 billion (+0.3 billion) pounds on a skim-solids milk-equivalent basis. While butter and cheese price forecasts have been raised, the nonfat dry milk price forecast has been lowered. With offsetting changes in dairy product price forecasts, the all-milk price forecast for 2018 is $15.75-$16.35 per hundredweight (cwt), unchanged at the midpoint from last month’s forecast.

Pork/Hogs: Commercial pork production for 2018 is revised upward to 26.9 billion pounds, 5.2 percent above a year ago, due to higher pork carcass dressed weights. Hog prices for the first quarter are expected to average $51-$52 per cwt, almost 4 percent above a year ago, largely on the strength of increased demand for hogs from expanded processing capacity. January pork export data showed solid demand—6.2 percent above a year ago—particularly in Asia.

New Concepts for U.S. Beef and Pork Dishes Highlighted at Foodex Japan

Noting that booming meat demand among Japanese consumers continues to gain momentum, the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) seized the opportunity by introducing new and unique U.S. beef and pork dishes at Asia’s largest food trade show. USMEF’s efforts at Foodex Japan, which attracted more than 80,000 visitors over four days (March 6-9), were funded by the USDA Market Access Program (MAP), the Beef Checkoff Program, the Pork Checkoff and the Texas Beef Council. USMEF is a contractor to the beef checkoff.

Set up inside the USA Pavilion, USMEF shared information and educated food buyers about the advantage of U.S. beef and pork over the products of competitors – many of whom also participated in Foodex.

“Japan is one of the largest importers of food in the world and they also pay some of the highest premiums,” explained Greg Hanes, USMEF assistant vice president for international marketing and programs. “That’s why Foodex is such an important trade show. Exporters from Canada, Mexico, China, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and South America were there to try to capture a greater the share of the market.”

USMEF’s booth included a dedicated area where U.S. red meat exporters could meet one-on-one with buyers, and a special kitchen area allowed USMEF chefs to prepare U.S. beef and pork tasting samples over the course of the event.

“Exporters met with hundreds of buyers and representatives of Japan’s retail and foodservice industries and the samples we served attracted tremendous traffic,” said Hanes. “This year we were really focused on new trends and menu concepts. We brought in several companies that import food and educated them on these concepts, then let them taste the dishes for themselves. That’s an important step for winning new customers in Japan.”

Because the U.S. pork industry sees an opportunity to move more loins in the Japanese market, USMEF highlighted a new dish called “pork cheese teji karubi,” a Korean-style barbecue dish traditionally made with chicken. USMEF developed the dish using thin-sliced U.S. pork.

“It’s really taken off, and we got an excellent response to the dish during the show,” said Hanes. “We are hoping that the momentum carries over and restaurants and retail outlets will continue to pick up on it. This could be really big for U.S. pork loins.”

On the beef side, U.S. pound steak was highlighted, along with new gourmet hamburger concepts and a soup made with U.S beef large intestine.

“The catchphrase ‘pound steak’ is all about U.S. beef thick-cut steak, which is something we are trying to establish as a consumer food trend in Japan,” said Takemichi Yamashoji, USMEF-Japan director. “Typically, steaks in Japan are served in sizes from 6 to 8 ounces. Our idea is to convince foodservice operators and restaurants to serve steaks that are 15 to 16 ounces, which is equal to one pound – thus the ‘pound steak’ campaign, a way to enjoy the taste and quality of U.S. beef as thick-cut steak.”

The gourmet hamburger concept, which has become popular in other Asian countries like South Korea and Taiwan, is also gaining popularity in Japan, said Hanes.

“During Foodex, we showed buyers how to grind different cuts of U.S. beef and how to prepare these gourmet hamburgers – then, of course, we gave them samples to taste,” said Hanes. “This is something that could really move a lot of beef cuts, especially if the idea of grinding their own burgers catches on.”

Promotion of U.S. beef large intestine at Foodex was part of an effort to sell more variety meat in this high-value market.

“This is an opportunity to add value to an item that commands little attention at home,” noted Hanes, who said the large intestine was offered to Foodex visitors in a tasty soup.

Foodex 2018 clearly demonstrated that Japan remains a hot market for red meat.

“There was a steady stream of visitors to the USMEF booth, and it often seemed that it was one of the busiest places at the entire show,” said Hanes. “The mix of attendees was amazing. It ranged from representatives of small importers or restaurants all the way to the presidents of some of the largest food companies in the world.”

Special visitors to the USMEF booth were USDA Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney and U.S. Ambassador to Japan William Hagerty. Both spent time talking with international visitors and meeting with USMEF staff.

NCBA Hails Introduction of Bipartisan ACRE Act in U.S. House of Representatives

The National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) today applauded the introduction of bipartisan legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives that would prevent 200,000 farms and ranches from being regulated as if they were toxic Superfund sites.

The bill, introduced by U.S. Reps. Billy Long (R-Mo.) and Jim Costa (D-Calif.), is known as the Agricultural Certainty for Reporting Emissions (ACRE) Act and is supported by 85 original co-sponsors.

"There's not a lot of bipartisan consensus on Washington, DC, these days, but one thing that a lot of folks on both sides of the aisle can agree on is that the CERCLA law that regulates toxic Superfund sites shouldn't apply to animal agricultural operations," said fifth-generation California rancher and NCBA President Kevin Kester. "CERCLA was never intended to regulate cow manure, and Congress should fix this situation as soon as possible."

Similar bipartisan legislation - the Fair Agricultural Reporting Method (FARM) Act - was introduced in the U.S. Senate by U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) on Feb. 13. That bill currently has 37 co-sponsors and could be marked up by the Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee as soon as next week.

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.

NMPF Statement on House Bill Protecting Dairy Farms from Air Emissions Reporting Requirement
Jim Mulhern, President and CEO, NMPF

“With the introduction today of H.R. 5275, the Agricultural Certainty for Reporting Emissions (ACRE Act), there is now bipartisan, bicameral support for legislation that will reduce a significant regulatory burden on U.S. dairy farms. We fully support the House companion to the Senate’s Fair Agricultural Reporting Method (FARM) Act, which would prevent dairy farms from having to generate meaningless air emissions data under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA).

“The CERCLA provisions in question were originally enacted to address accidental hazardous air emission emergencies from toxic waste sites, and were never intended to be applied to dairy and other livestock farms. Through this legislation, Congress is stipulating that this burdensome regulatory overreach serves no legitimate health or safety purpose.

“We appreciate the efforts of the House bill’s lead sponsors, Reps. Billy Long (R-MO) and Jim Costa (D-CA), to generate the widespread support of more than 80 other Republican and Democratic lawmakers for this legislation.”

ACRE Act Stops Unintended Regulation of Farms

The newly introduced and bipartisan H.R. 5275, Agricultural Certainty for Reporting Emissions (ACRE) Act would avoid unnecessary environmental reporting, which has been opposed by Republican and Democratic administrations alike. Reps. Billy Long (R-Mo.) and Jim Costa (D-Calif.) introduced the bill together with 85 original, bipartisan cosponsors.

“This legislation is critical,” American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said. “Without it, farmers and ranchers must comply with a law that was never supposed to affect them – the Superfund program (CERCLA). Congress never meant to include agriculture under these reporting obligations, but because of a misguided court ruling, farmers and ranchers are vulnerable. We support swift passage of the ACRE Act and applaud Reps. Long and Costa for their work on this issue.”

Under current regulations, approximately 200,000 farms and ranches could be legally obliged to report emissions from animal agricultural operations, even though those rules were written to cover industrial emergencies, rather than routine, low level emissions from farms and ranches

The EPA under both the Bush and Obama administrations supported exempting these agricultural producers, but a federal court found the law did not clearly exclude farms and ranches. The ACRE Act would clarify that such producers are not required to report these emissions.

In the Senate, S. 2421, the Fair Agricultural Reporting Method (FARM) Act has been introduced by Sens. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.). The legislation also has bipartisan support and could be brought up in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee soon.

Biodiesel Industry Makes Strong Case for Tax Credit Before Congress

Today, the National Biodiesel Board (NBB)’s Member Company, Ag Processing Inc (AGP), testified before a tax-writing committee in the U.S. House of Representatives in support of the biodiesel tax incentive. The hearing was focused on the future of tax extenders in a post-comprehensive tax reform world.

“We urge Congress to renew the biodiesel blender’s tax incentive through 2018 at a minimum, while considering a multi-year approach. Doing so would drive new investment and establish market certainty for U.S. farmers, ranchers, petroleum marketers, blenders and fuel retailers,” said Cal Meyer, chief operating officer of Ag Processing Inc.

The committee heard from more than 20 witnesses over the course of four panels. NBB’s witness accurately pointed out that the biodiesel blender’s tax credit has helped achieved the desired goals of expanding domestic production of American energy resources and jobs here at home. The biodiesel industry supports roughly 64,000 jobs, $11.42 billion in economic impact and $2.54 billion in wages paid.

Biodiesel also adds value to other sectors of the economy, like agriculture. For example, biodiesel allows farmers to be more competitive in the global protein market, as demand for biodiesel supports U.S. soybean processing and export opportunities. Lastly, America benefits from fewer toxic pollutants and improved air quality thanks to increased use of biodiesel, which reduces particulate matter by 47 percent, hydrocarbon emissions by 67 percent and lifecycle greenhouse gases by 86 percent.

“The public policy benefits of the tax incentive are clear,” Meyer said. “These benefits, however, will be jeopardized without reinstatement of the biodiesel tax incentive.”

 NFU Applauds Introduction of STRESS Act

The STRESS Act, introduced by U.S. Reps. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), Tom O’Halleran (R-Ariz.), Rick Nolan (D-Minn.), David Young (R-Iowa), Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.), John Katko (R-N.Y.), and Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), would provide vital assistance to family farmers and ranchers who are struggling amidst a five-year, 52 percent decline in net farm income.

The bill would reauthorize the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network (FRSAN), a program authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill to provide farmers with stress assistance programs. FRSAN has not been funded since being authorized. National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson issued the following statement in response to the bill’s introduction:

“Farming and ranching is a highly stressful occupation. As the downturn in the farm economy worsens, many producers are finding themselves in a state of financial crisis. Unfortunately, many family farmers and ranchers lack access to the support they need in times of extreme duress. FRSAN would fund partnerships to train farm advocates, establish helplines, and provide outreach and support services.

“NFU has long advocated for these resources, and we applaud the efforts of Representatives Emmer and O’Halleran to ensure family farmers get the support they need to stay healthy and afloat through these tough times. We urge Congress to strengthen FRSAN and provide it with robust funding in the next Farm Bill.”

Fertilizer Prices Still on High Side

The trend of higher fertilizer prices appears to be firmly entrenched with average retail prices for all fertilizers rising again the first week of March 2018, according to retailers surveyed by DTN.

As has been the case the past several weeks, all eight of the major fertilizers were up from last month, though only one fertilizer was up a significant amount. UAN32 was 4% more expensive than compared to a month earlier. The nitrogen fertilizer had an average price of $272 per ton.

The remaining seven fertilizers were just slightly higher in price compared to the prior month. DAP had an average price of $463/ton, MAP $503/ton, potash $349/ton, urea $367/ton, 10-34-0 $422/ton, anhydrous $499/ton and UAN28 $234/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.40/lb.N, anhydrous $0.30/lb.N, UAN28 $0.42/lb.N and UAN32 $0.43/lb.N.

Four fertilizers are now higher compared to last year with prices pushing higher in recent months. UAN32 is now 1% more expensive, potash is 3% higher, DAP is 6% more expensive and MAP is 9% higher than last year.

The remaining four fertilizers are still lower in price compared to a year prior. Both anhydrous and urea is now 1% less than, while both UAN28 and UAN32 is 5% lower looking back a year.

Tune in Thursday for a GMO Answers Facebook LIVE Chat

GMO Answers will be holding a Facebook Live event on Thursday, March 15th at 1pm Eastern to help launch our GMO Myth Spotting campaign.

The Facebook Live chat will feature GMO Answers volunteer expert Chef Jonathan Bardzik, who will be streaming live on the GMO Answers Facebook page from a local supermarket with a cart filled with groceries/products labelled non-GMO. 

He'll highlight the facts about and benefits of GMOs and point out misinformation and fearmongering about labeling products non-GMO where there is no GMO equivalent. He'll also explain how the non-GMO label tells you nothing about the ingredients, nutrition, or safety of said products. It's important for people to know what's in their food and how it was grown - but the information should be fact-based and scientifically backed, not driven by myths and fear.

He'll also encourage viewers to comment with their examples of GMO label misinformation, with a call to action for people to download our new GMO Myth Spotter Facebook frame, and to  share photos and videos from their own trips to the grocery store.

Please join the GMO Answers Facebook Live event at the GMO Answers Facebook page Thursday, March 15th, at 1pm Eastern. Please help us promote the event by sharing on social media and in your networks.  

Air quality expert to debunk environmental myths at 2018 Stakeholders Summit

Frank Mitloehner, PhD, will debunk myths about animal agriculture’s environmental impact at the Animal Agriculture Alliance’s 2018 Stakeholders Summit, set for May 3-4, at the Renaissance Capital View Hotel in Arlington, Va.

Mitloehner is a professor and extension air quality specialist in the Department of Animal Science at the University of California, Davis. He is an expert on agricultural air quality, livestock housing and husbandry. Overall, he conducts research that is directly relevant to understanding and mitigating of air emissions from livestock operations, as well as the implications of these emissions for the health and safety of farm workers and neighboring communities.

“There is a lot of misinformation about how much animal agriculture actually contributes to the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions and overall environmental impact,” said Kay Johnson Smith, Alliance president and CEO. “With the industry’s commitment to continuous improvement, Summit attendees will find Mitloehner’s research enlightening and refreshing.”

The Alliance also announced that the Summit has been approved for 8 continuing education credits by the American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists. ARPAS members in attendance can request credit using or by contacting Cornicha Henderson at

Discounted early registration fees and a special hotel rate are available through April 1 (pending availability). To register, visit  

Syngenta helps to feed the hungry, celebrates being #RootedinAg

As a global leader in agriculture, Syngenta understands that to be #RootedinAg means to be committed to feeding the world. As part of that commitment, Syngenta recently partnered with Rise Against Hunger® – a North Carolina-based, international hunger-relief organization.

“It is going to take the right resources to end hunger worldwide,” said Wendell Calhoun, Syngenta communications manager. “Every day at Syngenta, we work to provide growers with the tools they need to sustain the population. Partnering with Rise Against Hunger gave us a chance to take that one step further, through a monetary donation and volunteer efforts.”

As part of a U.S. holiday campaign centered on the #RootedinAg community, Syngenta pledged to donate $5 per qualifying submission. The final donation from this campaign totaled $10,000 or the equivalent of 34,000 meals for those in need. Syngenta also participated in a meal-packing event, where volunteers assembled nutritious dehydrated meals for distribution to those in need around the world. Through team fundraising for the event, Syngenta volunteers donated more than $10,000 in additional funds.

“We know that through providing nutrition today, we can change lives and build strong communities for tomorrow," said Rod Brooks, CEO and president of Rise Against Hunger. “Ending hunger by the year 2030 is at our fingertips, but it cannot be done single-handedly. By joining together, it is possible to end hunger in our lifetime.”

This statement echoes the sentiment of “This is possible,” an ongoing awareness campaign by Rise Against Hunger. The campaign aims to show how hunger can be broken up into smaller, more achievable goals, creating hunger champions and connecting real people in the movement to end hunger together by the year 2030. Syngenta is proud to be part of the movement.

Tuesday March 13 Ag News

Missouri River Basin Landowners Secure Legal Victory in Mass-Action Lawsuit for Flooding Against U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

A federal judge in Washington, D.C. ruled today that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers bears responsibility for causing recurrent flooding and damaging farms and property in four Midwest states along the Missouri River: Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas. The ruling states that the government must compensate farmers, landowners and business owners for the flood damage, which has been estimated to exceed $300 million.

The case, Ideker Farms et al v. United States of America, was brought by 372 plaintiffs comprised of farmers, landowners and business owners, and has been led by Polsinelli in partnership with Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll.

The mass action lawsuit was originally filed on Mar. 5, 2014 and alleged that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ actions have violated the takings clause of the Fifth Amendment that bars the Government from taking private property without just compensation. Judge Nancy B. Firestone with the United States Court of Federal Claims found in favor of the plaintiffs in five of the six years that the flooding was claimed dating back to 2007, disallowing the flood claims in 2011. The Court found that the Corps’ deprioritized flood control in 2004.

Judge Firestone stated in her Trial Opinion that the evidence established that the Corps’ changes to the river “had the effect of raising the Missouri River’s water surface elevations (“WSEs”) in periods of high flows.” She found that since 2007, the flooding has been among the worst in the history of the river and the Corps’ changes in the management of the river caused or contributed to the flooding. Citing the testimony of plaintiffs’ experts, the Court acknowledged that “recurrent flooding in the Missouri River Basin . . . will continue into the future,” and that increased blocked drainage of farm lands due to higher river levels is a problem.

“As a farmer and landowner who has experienced substantial losses from these floods, I’m extremely pleased with this outcome,” said lead plaintiff Roger Ideker of Ideker Farms in St. Joseph, Mo. “It rightfully recognizes the Government’s responsibility for changing the River and subjecting us to more flooding than ever before.”

Polsinelli Shareholder R. Dan Boulware of the firm’s St. Joseph office served as lead counsel on the case.

“Today is the day the plaintiffs have patiently waited for and have fought for during the past four years. Although we do not concur with the Court’s conclusions regarding the 2011 flood event, we are very pleased with the Court’s conclusions regarding the Corps changes to the river causing flooding, and we are certainly pleased with an outcome that will provide substantial compensation to plaintiffs living along the river who have suffered significant flood damage and losses throughout the past decade,” said Boulware. “It should now be clear that we have a changed river – one that is flood prone. We hope the Corps of Engineers will now do the right thing for our clients and that Congress will also act soon to restore flood control to a higher priority as it was during the last century.”

The ruling also addressed the critical shift in the management of the river by the Corps in 2004 to restore its ecosystem and benefit and create habitat for threatened and endangered species. The court found that the notching of dikes and revetments, as well as the reopening of the historic chutes, which allows the river to meander and erode the bank, created potential flood impacts. These changes to the river, coupled with increased reservoir storage and threatened and endangered species releases from the dams during high river stages below the dams, served to cause or contribute to cause flooding in 2007, 2008, 2010, 2013, 2014 and since.

“For nearly a decade, these individuals have suffered not only serious flood damage, but more critically, threats to their fundamental livelihood,” said plaintiffs’ attorney Benjamin Brown, Partner and Co-Chair of the Antitrust Practice Group at Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll. “Today’s decision reflects what we have been saying since the outset of this litigation – all Americans should share the costs of protecting threatened and endangered species and the entirety of this burden should not be foisted on those who happen to live and work on the river.”

The Ideker Farms, Inc. et al v. United States of America case has two phases. This ruling marks the end of phase one, which began on Mar. 6, 2017, focusing on liability and the cause of the flooding. The trial in the Federal Claims Court began in Kansas City, Mo. before moving to Washington, D.C. It involved 44 plaintiff “bellwether” tracts and more than 90 witness testimonies over the course of the 63-day trial. Closing arguments were held in November and concluded in December. In total, over 100 depositions were taken and in excess of 20 million documents were produced throughout phase one.

The case will next proceed to phase two, where the Court will determine the extent of losses due to the taking.

The plaintiffs are represented by Am Law 100 firm Polsinelli, led by Boulware, who is recognized by his peers as among the top 1 percent of all trial attorneys in the country, Edwin Smith, Seth Wright, Todd Ehlert and Sharon Kennedy. Brown and Laura Alexander of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, one of the nation’s leading plaintiffs’ firm based in Washington, D.C., also supported plaintiffs in this case.

For more information, including historical background, on this case, please visit

FieldNET® by Lindsay Connects with John Deere Operations Center

Lindsay Corporation (NYSE: LNN), a leading global manufacturer and distributor of irrigation and infrastructure equipment and technology, announced today a new data connection between its industry‑leading pivot telemetry tool, FieldNET®, and the John Deere Operations Center, giving growers increased access to farm irrigation data. The connection will help growers improve irrigation precision and productivity.

“We understand the power that comes with the ability to leverage big data,” said Randy Wood, president of Agricultural Irrigation at Lindsay Corporation. “This new connection will help growers who utilize both FieldNET and the John Deere Operations Center platforms to share their data between the two systems to achieve greater operational efficiencies.”

FieldNET is a fully integrated wireless management tool giving growers the ability to remotely monitor and control entire irrigation systems, regardless of electric pivot brand. The platform delivers real-time status updates and alerts about possible performance issues. For added decision support, FieldNET Advisor™ takes this to the next level, giving growers science-based recommendations to make faster, better-informed decisions about when, where and how much to irrigate.

“An industry first, FieldNET Advisor combines environmental inputs, including soil type and hyper-local weather, with key crop statistics, including hybrid, planting date, and evapotranspiration, to automatically create an optimized irrigation schedule and variable rate irrigation recommendation,” Wood said. “The grower can then put the schedule and recommendations into action with the simple touch of a button on a smartphone, tablet or laptop.”

This data connection will allow users of both platforms to establish an automatic flow of relevant data from the John Deere Operations Center, delivering additional data points informing irrigation recommendations from FieldNET Advisor. Automatically populating FieldNET Advisor with this data, such as crop details and planting dates, will save growers time and improve the precision of the resulting crop zones and variable rate irrigation recommendations. The data connection is now available to FieldNET and John Deere Operations Center users.


Nebraska farmers and ranchers still have time to be counted in the 2017 Census of Agriculture, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). Although the first deadline has passed, NASS will continue to accept Census information through the spring to get a complete and accurate picture of American agriculture that represents all farmers and ranchers.

"We thank everyone who has completed their Census to date. Nebraska currently has a return rate of just over 46 percent of the Census questionnaires mailed to producers last December," said Dean Groskurth, director of the NASS Northern Plains Field Office. "A lot is at stake if producers are not represented in this data. Census data have and will continue to influence important decisions for American agriculture.

The data will affect every operation and every farming community at some point, whether it be through farm policy, disaster relief, insurance or loan programs, infrastructure improvements, or agribusiness setup. There is accuracy and strength in numbers, which is why NASS is committed to giving producers every opportunity to respond."

Federal law mandates that everyone who received the 2017 Census of Agriculture questionnaire complete it and return it even if not currently farming. NASS will continue to follow-up with producers through the spring with mailings, phone calls, and personal visits. To avoid these additional contacts, farmers and ranchers are encouraged to complete their Census either online at or by mail as soon as possible. Responding online saves time by skipping sections that do not apply and automatically calculating totals. The online questionnaire is accessible on desktops, laptops, and mobile devices.

For more information about the 2017 Census of Agriculture, visit For questions or assistance filling out the Census, call toll-free (888) 424-7828.

Ag Haulers Get 90-Day Waiver From Hours of Service Regulations

Today, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced the agency has issued a 90-day waiver for agriculture haulers from hours of service regulations. This announcement follows a meeting Senator Fischer facilitated last month between several Nebraska agriculture representatives and the Deputy FMCSA Administrator, Cathy Gautreaux. The waiver will provide the agency with more time to release guidance on the hours of service regulations as they relate to agriculture.

“It’s good to see the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration be responsive to the concerns raised by Nebraskans following our meeting last month with Deputy Administrator Gautreaux. Nebraskans in agriculture want more flexibility when it comes to these regulations. By issuing this waiver, the agency will have more time to release important guidance for agriculture commodity and livestock haulers,” said Senator Fischer.

The meeting with Deputy Administrator Gautreaux, Senator Fischer, and Nebraska ag stakeholders took place on February 13, 2018. Representatives from Nebraska Cattlemen, Nebraska Farm Bureau, Nebraska Pork Producers, and the Livestock Marketing Association attended the meeting.

Nebraska Cattlemen Announce Additional 90-Day Exemption from ELDs

Nebraska Cattlemen is pleased to announce that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has extended the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate exemption for ag haulers by an additional 90 days.  This delays the compliance date until June 18, 2018 for drivers hauling agricultural products, including livestock.

The impending ELD mandate and underlying hours of service have caused a great deal of consternation among Nebraska's cattle industry.  On February 13, 2018, Nebraska Cattlemen met with FMCSA in Senator Deb Fischer's D.C. office to discuss the need for increased flexibility to account for the uniqueness of livestock hauling.

"Nebraska Cattlemen applauds the Agency for making the right determination that the ELD mandate is not ready for primetime with respect to livestock haulers.  In addition to compliance issues and lack of Agency outreach, we remain deeply concerned that the underlying hours of service limitations pose serious consequences on the health and welfare of live animals," said Galen Frenzen, President of Nebraska Cattlemen.

Nebraska plays an integral role in the beef production chain, which includes diversified farms and ranches that span the entire United States.  Beef cattle are born and raised in every state in the country; however, the vast majority of feed yards and processing facilities are located in the Midwest and Great Plains.  As a result, almost all beef cattle are shipped much farther than 150 miles from the farm or ranch where they originated.

The nationally recognized and scientifically proven Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program outlines numerous safety protocols for transporting livestock, including the recommendation to avoid stopping the vehicle.  This can be dangerous for livestock, especially during the summer months when high temperatures and humidity can be stressful on cattle.  BQA makes a similar recommendation regarding cold and windy conditions.

The U.S. livestock industry also has an excellent record of public safety.  Major studies reviewed by the U.S. Department of Transportation illustrate that livestock hauling-related injuries and fatalities are exceptionally rare:
-    Of 1,123 accidents involving trucks hauling cargo, a mere 5 involved the transportation of livestock - Large Truck Crash Causation Study, FMCSA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Institute
-    20 out of 4,352 - 2008 Center for National Truck and Bus Statistics at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (TIFA study)
-    FMCSA relied on the TIFA study in its decision to exempt livestock haulers from the 30-minute break rule under HOS, citing the low number of fatal crashes for an industry that includes 66,316 active livestock carriers.

Hauling livestock is very different than hauling any other commodity.  Nebraska Cattlemen will continue to work with FMCSA and Congress to develop livestock specific solutions to the underlying hours of service concerns while still maintaining safety of our roads.

Reminder: livestock haulers operating under this exemption will need to keep a copy of the federal register notice in their trucks at all times.  Please use this form for now.  We will update our members when the federal register notice accounting for the new delay is issued.

Nebraska Cattlemen will also be hosting an exclusive webinar on ELD compliance for members on March 20, 2018.  Please check for more details on how to register.

Statement by Steve Nelson, President, Regarding 90-Day Waiver for Ag Haulers from Electronic Logging Device Mandate

“We are extremely pleased with the 90-day waiver for agriculture haulers from electronic logging device (ELD) regulations made by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The current wavier, which was set to expire March 18, did not provide the necessary time for FMCSA to educate agricultural haulers as well as local carrier enforcement personnel. The decision to offer an additional extension also provides the agency with more time to examine this regulation and work with the agricultural community to address some of our concerns related to ELD’s and hours of service regulations.”

“Agricultural haulers need more flexibility when it comes to these regulations. By issuing this waiver, the agency will be able to define the problem and offer up genuine guidance for agriculture commodity and livestock haulers.”

“Nebraska Farm Bureau, other Nebraska agriculture stakeholders and Sen. Deb Fischer met with FMCSA, Feb. 13 in Washington, D.C. to discuss this issue in more depth. We thank Sen. Fischer for her leadership on these issues. We look forward to working with her, the rest of the Nebraska Delegation, and FMCSA in the weeks and months ahead.”

Livestock Haulers Get Another Waiver From ELD Rule

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) today granted drivers who haul livestock an additional 90-day waiver from a regulation that could have negative effects on animal well-being, a move applauded by the National Pork Producers Council.

A DOT rule issued in 2015 required truckers of commercial vehicles involved in interstate commerce to replace their paper driving logs with Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) by Dec. 18, 2017. In September 2017, NPPC petitioned the agency for a waiver and exemption from the requirement, and DOT provided an initial 90-day waiver – until March 18 – from the mandate for livestock haulers. A final decision on NPPC’s request for an exemption still is pending.

ELDs, which can cost from $200 to $1,000 plus a $30-$50 monthly fee, record driving time, engine hours, vehicle movement and speed, miles driven and location information. They electronically report that data to federal and state inspectors and supposedly help the DOT enforce its Hours of Service regulation. That rule limits commercial truckers to 11 hours of driving time and 14 consecutive hours of on-duty time in any 24-hour period. Once drivers reach that limit, they must pull over and wait 10 hours before driving again.

But because livestock such as pigs are vulnerable to health issues triggered by extreme temperatures, long-established industry standards preclude drivers from stopping while hauling animals, and that could run them afoul of the ELD and Hours of Service rules, NPPC argued in asking DOT Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Administrator Raymond Martinez for the waivers.

“The U.S. pork industry is grateful to DOT Secretary [Elaine] Chao and FMCSA Administrator Martinez for this additional waiver from the ELD rule, which poses some serious challenges for livestock haulers and the animals in their care,” said NPPC President Jim Heimerl, a pork producer from Johnstown, Ohio. “This will provide the department and Congress additional time to find a solution that meets the unique needs of livestock haulers.

“Drivers transporting livestock have a moral obligation to care for the animals they’re hauling regardless of any regulation.”

DOT did exempt from the Hours of Service regulations and from any distance-logging requirements truckers hauling livestock within a 150-air-mile radius of the location at which animals were loaded, but the exemption is not uniformly recognized and its implementation varies by state.

Develop a Weed Management Plan Using Tools Provided by Online Course

An online course has been designed by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach to provide farmers and agribusinesses the information needed to better manage weeds in crop fields.

Herbicide Resistance and Weed Management course (CROP 3138) is now available at The cost for the course is $50.

The United States Department of Agriculture estimates the cost of dealing with herbicide resistance once it occurs to be $20-60 an acre.

“This course provides tools to help farmers and agribusinesses, either independently or working together, develop long-term weed management plans that will delay the development of herbicide resistance in crop fields and help reduce the long-term expenses of dealing with future development of herbicide resistance,” said Virgil Schmitt, field agronomist with ISU Extension and Outreach. “These plans will help provide effective weed management in the near term and to avoid the expense of dealing with herbicide resistance in the future.”

All farmers and agribusiness professionals who serve farmers are invited to complete the course.

Those who successfully complete the course are also eligible for three Certified Crop Advisor Continuing Education Units. The cost of the CCA credits is included in the course price.

Perdue Statement on Extension of Agriculture Exemption from ELD Mandate

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today applauded Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao for her announcement of an additional 90-day extension of the agriculture exemption from the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate. Agricultural compliance with the mandate would have been problematic for the agriculture industry because the devices do not accurately account for the agricultural exemptions currently provided in the law.

The ELD rule went into effect in December 2017, with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) granting the agriculture industry an initial exemption that was set to expire on March 18, 2018. 
With the granting of another extension, the agriculture industry will now have additional time to comply.
Secretary Sonny Perdue issued the following statement:

“The ELD mandate imposes restrictions upon the agriculture industry that lack flexibility necessary for the unique realities of hauling agriculture commodities. If the agriculture industry had been forced to comply by the March 18 deadline, live agricultural commodities, including plants and animals, would have been at risk of perishing before they reached their destination. The 90-day extension is critical to give DOT additional time to issue guidance on hours-of-service and other ELD exemptions that are troubling for agriculture haulers.”

“Current ELD technologies do not recognize the hours-of-service exemptions for agriculture that are in federal law. This is a classic example of a one-size-fits-all federal regulation that ignores common sense to the detriment of sectors like agriculture.

“I applaud Secretary Chao for recognizing these obstacles and giving extra time for compliance while DOT issues guidance. While public safety is a critical concern for all of trucking, the safety of living agricultural commodities in transport must also be considered.”

BACKGROUND: Agriculture haulers operating within 150 air miles of the source of their agriculture products or livestock do not have to comply with DOT’s hours-of-service regulation, which limits driving hours to only 11 hours after being off duty for more than 10 consecutive hours.  For more information on the hours-of-service exemption for agriculture shipments, visit this U.S. DOT webpage:

For more information on agriculture commodities that are transported to domestic and foreign markets, visit this USDA webpage:

NCGA Encourages Participation in Updated Pollinator Initiative

Corn farmers and Midwest landowners who want to help honey bees and Monarch butterflies have a unique opportunity to do this in a strategic fashion through The Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund's SEED A LEGACY Pollinator Habitat Program, which is being supported by the National Corn Growers Association.

The updated program, expanded in 2018 to include 11 states, seeks partnerships between landowners and beekeepers to provide cost-effective, high-quality pollinator habitat to ensure honey bee and Monarch butterfly populations thrive.

Applications for each state are being accepted online at through March 31, 2018 for spring planting. A second application period will open later in 2018 for projects to be planted in the fall.

Native pollinators, honey bees and Monarch butterflies have experienced population declines over the last two decades. The Habitat Fund offers a way for farmers to incorporate the latest innovation and technology into their stewardship efforts and do so in a way that is cost effective, establishes quickly, provides greater pollinator value and addresses weed competition.

Enrollment is open to public, private and corporate landowners in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin. These states were selected based on their critical role to address National Pollinator Partnership Action Plan goals.

Submitted applications will be ranked to ensure projects maximize benefits for both pollinators and landowners. Successful applicants will receive free or highly discounted pollinator seed mixtures proven to provide pollinator value for Monarch butterflies, honey bees and native pollinators. All projects must meet program guidelines and complete the appropriate state application online at

CattleFax Supporters, Staff Look Back on 50 Years of Providing Valuable Market Information

                Challenges to profitability in the cattle industry have been relentless throughout its history. Over the past 50 years, however, an organization created by cattle producers has helped effectively address those challenges.

                Started in 1968, CattleFax is a member-owned organization that serves producers in all segments of the cattle and beef business. For half a century, it has been a global leader in beef industry research, analysis and information. Its exclusive industry database has set the standard for market information and analysis.

                The organization has since its inception had supporters who saw the value of knowing the market and what it was going to do. Cattle producer Jeff Sparrowk, for instance, says his family has trusted and valued services provided by CattleFax for more than 40 years.

                “My dad (Jack) has always been a big believer in CattleFax and what they do,” according to Jeff Sparrowk of Sparrowk Livestock, Clements, Calif. “They’ve helped us in our mission to sustain and improve an efficient, economically sound cattle operation since the 1960s.”

                “If not on the ground floor, we were certainly early adopters,” according to Mark Frasier, Frasier Farms, Last Chance, Colo. “We relied heavily on the information and insights that CattleFax provided. We knew that information was key, and my father (Marshall) realized the value there.”

                “You think of the 50 years that CattleFax has been around, and it’s a remarkable story,” says Tom Field, director of the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship program at the University of Nebraska, and a Colorado rancher. “What they’ve done is taken data and turned it into information.”

                That information was critical in the 1960s to cattle producers, who believed their negotiating power for marketing their animals needed improvement. The answer was partially found in mining and sharing data.

                “It felt like we needed our own information and data sharing business, where you could see some of the trends more frequently during the year, and also have our own double check on the system,” according to Randy Blach, CattleFax CEO. Still, it wasn’t a bed of roses as things got started.

                “We knew the industry pretty well, but we didn’t know the markets nearly as well as our customers,” he said. “We would get schooled on a regular basis. But I think we were able to learn under fire. We had some of the greatest mentors and greatest teachers in the industry.”

                One of those teachers was CattleFax’s first market analyst, Topper Thorpe. Thorpe became the CattleFax general manager in 1972, and for 30 years provided a steady hand for staff leadership and guidance. According to Blach, Thorpe helped revolution both the gathering and sharing of market information in the cattle industry, and allowed CattleFax to deliver the most complete, accurate information from which beef producers could make better marketing decisions.
Broader than Markets

                Increasingly it wasn’t just cattle markets that were getting the attention of CattleFax, its staff and customers. Grain, weather, beef demand and competing proteins – not just domestically but globally – were carefully monitored.