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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
Thursday January 19 Ag News

Record Red Meat and Pork Production for December

Commercial red meat production for the United States totaled 4.40 billion pounds in December, up 3 percent from the 4.27 billion pounds produced in December 2015.

Beef production, at 2.17 billion pounds, was 6 percent above the previous year. Cattle slaughter totaled 2.61 million head, up 7 percent from December 2015. The average live weight was down 7 pounds from the previous year, at 1,381 pounds.

Veal production totaled 6.8 million pounds, 13 percent below December a year ago. Calf slaughter totaled 48,800 head, up 8 percent from December 2015. The average live weight was down 55 pounds from last year, at 240 pounds.

Pork production totaled 2.21 billion pounds, up slightly from the previous year. Hog slaughter totaled 10.5 million head, up 1 percent from December 2015. The average live weight was down 2 pounds from the previous year, at 283 pounds.

Lamb and mutton production, at 13.1 million pounds, was down 1 percent from December 2015. Sheep slaughter totaled 197,100 head, 2 percent below last year. The average live weight was 133 pounds, up 1 pound from December a year ago.

Dec '16 Production by State

                         (million lbs.  -  % of Dec '15)

Nebraska ........:     680.4            101      
Iowa ...............:     620.8            102      
Kansas ............:     468.7            111      

January to December 2016 commercial red meat production was 50.4 billion pounds, up 4 percent from 2015. Accumulated beef production was up 6 percent from last year, veal was down 9 percent, pork was up 2 percent from last year, and lamb and mutton production was down slightly.

Iowa Learning Farms to Host Winter Cover Crop Workshops

Iowa Learning Farms, in partnership with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, will host cover crop workshops this winter in Floyd, Linn, Marion, Sioux and Hardin counties. The workshops are free, open to the public, and include a complimentary meal.

Cover crops continue to grow in popularity in Iowa due to their many benefits, reduced nitrogen and phosphorus loads entering water bodies, increased soil organic matter and reduced soil erosion. Fall 2016 was another good season for cover crop establishment and growth, with adequate moisture and warm growing temperatures. Great fall growth can help protect the soil during the heavy rain events, and equipped with a good termination plan and equipment adjustments, farmers can minimize any potential yield impacts.

At the beginning of each workshop, facilitators will invite questions and concerns from the participants. For the remainder of the workshop, Matt Helmers, professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering, and Mark Licht, assistant professor of agronomy, will address the topics and questions raised by the participating farmers and landowners.

They will also be prepared to discuss herbicide recommendations for termination and establishment, planter settings to handle higher amounts of biomass, cover crop seed selection, impacts on crop yields and soil health and more.

“These workshops will allow participants to discuss topics of importance with peers. In doing so, the educational program can be tailored to the needs of the audience,” said Helmers on beginning the workshops with questions and discussion. “As an extension specialist my time is my clients’ and this allows us to make sure we are addressing client and stakeholder questions.”

Iowa workshop dates and locations

-    Feb. 22, 12:30-2:30 p.m.: Borlaug Learning Center, ISU NE Research Farm, 3327 290th St, Nashua
-    Feb. 23, 12:30-2:30 p.m.: Central City American Legion Post 421, 6 Central City Rd, Central City
-    Feb. 28, 12:30-2:30 p.m.: Marion County Extension Office, 210 N Iowa St, Knoxville
-    March 8, 12:30-2:30 p.m.: Dordt College Commons Dining Hall, 498 4th Ave NE, Sioux Center
-    March 9, 12:30-2:30 p.m.: St. Paul Lutheran Church Fellowship Hall, 1105 Washington St, Eldora

Workshops are free and open to the public, but reservations are suggested to ensure adequate space and food. Contact Liz Juchems at 515-294-5429 or email  For details on the workshops, and for more information about Iowa Learning Farms, visit:

Weekly Ethanol Production At A New All-Time High

According to EIA data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association, ethanol production averaged 1.054 million barrels per day (b/d)—or 44.27 million gallons daily. That is up 5,000 b/d from the week before and a new all-time high. This marks the third straight week of record production. The four-week average for ethanol production stood at 1.044 million b/d for an annualized rate of 16.00 billion gallons.

Stocks of ethanol stood at 21.1 million barrels. That is a significant 5.5% increase from last week, and a 26-week high.

Imports of ethanol were nonexistent for the 21st week in a row.

Gasoline demand for the week averaged 338.9 million gallons (8.069 million barrels) daily, the lowest in nearly three years (2/14/2014). Refiner/blender input of ethanol averaged 840,000 b/d, meaning gasoline contained an average of 10.41% ethanol—an all-time high.

Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production was 13.06%—the largest percentage ever recorded.

Proposed Rule on Biotech a Progressive Step for Plant Breeding Innovation

The American Soybean Association (ASA) responded positively today to a notice of proposed rulemaking from USDA on the regulatory framework for plant breeding innovation. ASA welcomed the proposed rule, which continues to require pre-market approval by USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of plants derived through transgenic biotechnology while excluding products from new breeding innovations, such as gene editing. ASA President Ron Moore, a farmer from Roseville, Ill., issued the following statement on the proposed rule.

“ASA is pleased to see this common-sense rule put forward by USDA. The innovations in plant breeding we’re seeing right now are precision tools that work within a species, and shouldn’t be subject to the same regulatory hurdles as first-generation transgenic biotechnology. USDA’s proposed rule acknowledges this distinction, and we look forward to working with the incoming Administration to ensure that this key aspect of the rule remains throughout the process.

“Practical regulation is critical to encouraging continued innovation in the agriculture industry,” Moore continued. Farmers face a range of challenges and require a complementary range of solutions to remain competitive. As the seed technology within our industry evolves, the regulatory framework must evolve with it. Today’s announcement is a great step forward for USDA.”

USGC Releases Corn, Sorghum Harvest Reports, Begins Global Rollouts

The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) recently published the first two of its annual reports on corn and sorghum harvest quality, offering grain buyers updated, detailed information about these U.S. commodities as the global market becomes increasingly competitive.

In 2016, U.S. farmers produced a corn crop estimated at 387 million metric tons (15.24 billion bushels) and a sorghum crop of approximately 12 million metric tons (472.42 million bushels). The U.S. exports corn and sorghum to more than 70 countries, making the producers of these crops cornerstones of global food security.

The 2016/2017 Corn Harvest Quality and the Sorghum Harvest Quality reports continue a series started in 2011 for corn and last year for sorghum. Covering grade factors, chemical composition and physical factors, they are powerful tools for USGC’s outreach to customers looking at price, quality and supplier reliability when they make their buying choices.

This past production year, a warm, dry vegetative period, followed by a warm and wet grain-filling period and harvest produced superior quality for corn. The good sorghum quality is the result of favorable growing and harvest conditions, which also resulted in high yields.

Highlights of the 2016/2017 reports are as follows:


The corn report is based on 624 yellow commodity corn samples taken from defined areas within 12 of the top-producing and exporting states. The report shows that 87.9 percent of U.S. corn samples were rated U.S. grade No. 2 or better. The following are highlights of the corn report:
-    Average test weight of the samples was 58.3 pounds per bushel (75.0 kilograms per hectoliter), indicating good kernel filling and maturation.
-    No observed heat damage was noted in the samples.
-    More than 96 percent of the samples were within the range for U.S. No. 1 grade for broken corn and foreign material (BCFM), meaning little cleaning will be required.
-    Average elevator moisture of 16 percent shows slightly more samples required drying than in 2015, but less than 2014.
-    Average protein concentration was 8.6 percent on dry basis, higher than 2015.
-    Average oil concentration of 4.0 percent on a dry basis was higher than the 2015 crop and the five-year average.
-    Average starch concentration was 72.5 percent on a dry basis.

A second, complimentary report covering the condition of corn ready for export will be released later this year.


This report is based on 254 commodity sorghum samples taken from defined areas in nine top-producing states. The sorghum samples showed the following characteristics:
-    Average test weight of the samples was 59.1 pounds per bushel (76.1 kilograms per hectoliter), which indicates good kernel filling and maturation.
-    More than 86 percent of the samples were at or below the limit for U.S. No. 1 grade for broken kernels and foreign material (BCFM), signaling little cleaning will be required.
-    Neither tannis nor heat damage were observed in the sample.
-    Average protein concentration was 8.5 percent on a dry basis, lower than 2015.
-    Average starch concentration and oil concentration (on a dry basis) were 72.6 percent and 4.4 percent, respectively.

The Council will highlight the results of each report through its overseas missions and international programs with rollouts over the next several months.

As quality of grain remains an important characteristic sought by buyers and demand for U.S. commodities increases, the Council looks forward to engaging with global partners to promote and develop markets for U.S. feed grains in the coming year.

NPPC Endorses Pruitt For EPA Administrator

Calling him a champion for American agriculture and a strong advocate for sound science and the rule of law, the National Pork Producers Council today endorsed Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt for administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Pruitt, who as Oklahoma’s top law enforcement officer sued the EPA over its controversial Waters of the United States rule and investigated the fund-raising practices of the Humane Society of the United States, last month was nominated for the EPA post by President-elect Donald Trump.

“As Oklahoma attorney general, Scott Pruitt has struck a balance between protecting the environment and protecting the livelihoods of farmers and business owners,” said NPPC President John Weber, a pork producer from Dysart, Iowa. “Everyone, particularly farmers, wants to have clean air and water and to preserve and protect our natural resources. But you don’t achieve those by piling regulation upon regulation on the very people who are the stewards of the land, air and water. General Pruitt understands that, and that will serve him well as administrator of EPA.”

Among his efforts to protect farmers, Pruitt most recently helped craft a 2016 Oklahoma ballot initiative that would have made it easier to challenge environmental and animal-rights regulations in state court. The “right-to-farm” initiative, which was rejected by voters, would have required the state’s courts to overturn any agricultural or livestock regulations unless there was a “compelling state interest” to uphold them.

The attorney general also joined a lawsuit related to California’s 2008 Proposition 2 initiative, which banned certain housing methods for egg-laying hens, pigs and veal calves. The California Legislature subsequently approved a law that prohibits the sale in the state of eggs, pork and veal from animals raised in the banned housing outside of California. In late 2014, Pruitt and five other state attorneys general filed suit over the law, claiming it restrains interstate trade, a violation of the Constitution’s Commerce Clause.

In 2015, Pruitt sued EPA over the Waters of the United States rule, saying the regulation appeared to be “another attempt by federal agencies to implement an agenda through regulations to affect land-use decisions that should be left to the states and private property owners.”

“NPPC strongly endorses General Pruitt for EPA administrator,” Weber said. “He’s a champion for American agriculture who will rely on science and support the rule of law in advancing common sense regulations that will protect our environment without overburdening farmers.”

EPA Finalizes Neonicotinoid Policy, Finds Most Uses ‘Do Not Pose Significant Risks’

Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Pesticide Programs finalized its “Policy to Mitigate the Acute Risk to Bees from Pesticide Products,” which is aimed at protecting bees from neonicotinoid exposure.

The preliminary risk assessments looked at three neonicotinoid pesticides: clothianidin, thiamethoxam and dinotefuran. The EPA found that “spray applications to a few crops, such as cucumbers, berries, and cotton may pose risks to bees that come in direct contact with residue.” However, they concluded that most approved uses “do not pose significant risks.”

For certain crops that use bees for pollination services when grown for seed, including soybeans, “the EPA will generally permit modification of the label restriction for crops that utilize commercial pollination services and have an indeterminate blooming period.”

Neonicotinoid pesticide application to soybeans and other crops in this category will be allowed during specified time windows or under certain temperature conditions. This includes from two hours before sunset until sunrise, or when the temperature is below 50°. Application is also allowed if state or local health agencies determine it to be in the interest of public or animal health.

Supporting Organic Integrity with Clear Livestock, Poultry Standards

Elanor Starmer, Ag Marketing Service Administrator

The mission of the National Organic Program, part of USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), is to protect the integrity of organic products in the U.S. and around the world. This means creating clear and enforceable standards that protect the organic integrity of products from farm to table. Consumers trust and look for the USDA organic seal because they know that USDA stands behind the standards that it represents.

Today, USDA announced a final rule regarding organic livestock and poultry production practices. The rule strengthens the organic standards, and ensures that all organic animals live in pasture based systems utilizing production practices that support their well-being and natural behavior. It's an important step that will strengthen consumer confidence in the USDA organic seal and ensure that organic agriculture continues to provide economic opportunities for farmers, ranchers, and businesses across the country.

The rule clarifies how organic producers and handlers must treat their animals, brings clarity to the existing USDA organic regulations, and adds new requirements for organic livestock and poultry living conditions, transport, and slaughter practices. For example, the rule establishes minimum indoor and outdoor space requirements for organic chickens, clarifies that outdoor spaces must include soil and vegetation, adds humane handling requirements, and clarifies humane slaughter requirements.

The final rule is based on extensive input from the organic community and stakeholders. It's consistent with direction from Congress in the Organic Foods Production Act, which provides USDA the authority to develop regulations to ensure consumers that organic products meet a consistent standard. This includes developing detailed standards for organic livestock and poultry production. The rule supports this core goal of the OFPA. The regulations that created the National Organic Program also explained that USDA would develop species-specific guidelines and space requirements for organic animals. Additionally, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), a 15-member advisory committee that represents all sectors of the organic community, made a number of recommendations that were vital to the development of the rule.

There are three stages to implementing the rule. Within one year, all provisions -- except for outdoor access requirements for layers and indoor space requirements for broilers -- must be implemented. Within three years, organic broiler operations must comply with the indoor space requirements. Within five years, all organic poultry operations must comply with the outdoor access requirements.

Most organic livestock and poultry producers already comply with the new requirements. In fact, many producers use multiple certifications to demonstrate their animal health and welfare practices to consumers. This rule could make additional animal health and welfare certifications unnecessary, reducing the burden on organic producers.

USDA offers assistance programs and services to assist producers who need to modify their operations in response to these changes. From conservation financial and technical assistance from USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service to loans for equipment and purchases from USDA's Farm Service Agency, we are here to help. For a comprehensive list of resources available, visit Technical and Financial Assistance for Organic Producers. You may also visit to learn more about USDA's programs and services tailored to meet the needs of the organic sector.

USDA is committed to supporting the continued growth of the organic livestock and poultry sector, and ensuring consumer confidence in the organic market, which in 2015 was worth over $43 billion in the U.S. alone. To build on this support, it has been a top priority to strengthen standards for organic livestock and poultry, ensuring that we meet consumer expectations and maintain the integrity of the USDA organic seal. You can learn more about the final rule on our website.

Study Measures Effectiveness of NFL PLAY 60 on Youth Fitness

The National Football League (NFL) Foundation has invested heavily in its NFL PLAY 60 initiative to promote fitness and health among youth over the past decade. Its impact on childhood fitness and obesity levels, however, has lacked scientific evaluation -- until now.

A new study in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine found that NFL PLAY 60 programming significantly improved both aerobic capacity and body mass index among a large percentage of the approximately 100,000 students who participated in the program between 2011 and 2015. The study, funded by the NFL, was conducted by The Cooper Institute and led by lead author Yang Bai, assistant professor in rehabilitation and movement sciences at the University of Vermont.

The study focused on the impact of the two most popular NFL PLAY 60 programs: Fuel Up to PLAY 60 coordinated by the National Dairy Council; and NFL PLAY 60 Challenge developed with the American Heart Association. Among the 95 programming schools, researchers found larger gains in the percentage of youth that achieved national health standards for aerobic fitness between 2012 and 2015. The percentage of youth classified as overweight or obese also declined during the same time period.

Overall, schools that implemented the programs had better health and fitness profiles than schools that chose not choose to implement them or only did so partially. Students from the schools that did not implement the programs remained at almost the same level of aerobic capacity and weight status. The study also showed that schools that implemented the programming for four years tended to have greater fitness improvements compared to schools that participated for just two or three years. Approximately 500 schools were involved in the study at varying levels.

"Our research shows that NFL PLAY 60 programs actually work in reality based on data collected over the past four-to-five years," says Bai, adding that the NFL plans to provide additional funding for five schools in each of the its 32 host cities that agree to fully implement the program. "It's rare to see such a large-scale program involving around 1,000 schools over multiple years. It's different from conventional intervention programs in that teachers and staff along with parents and community members are the key players in promoting healthy eating and a physically active environment for kids. The program cannot be sustained over time without those motivated and hardworking teachers. We are eager to see how this additional funding and support might help local teachers and their students."

The Fuel Up program focuses on how students can fuel up properly by eating healthy, local, nutritious foods. The PLAY 60 Challenge is focused more on how to get 60 minutes of activity every day including interactive games, dancing, running, biking and other activities. Most of the programs offer a variety of options and are easy to modify by local schools and communities.

The NFL PLAY 60 FitnessGram Partnership Project was used to evaluate student progress as recorded by teachers at participating schools who received training on how to use of the FitnessGram program by staff from The Cooper Institute, a non-profit agency that coordinated the study, and study author Greg Welk, professor at Iowa State University and Scientific Director of FitnessGram. Teachers were trained to assess their student's fitness each year and to enter it through the web-based software.

Presidential Inaugural Parade to Highlight Agriculture

In its continuing effort to “reconnect city with country,” RFD-TV has organized the Rural Tractor Brigade which has been added to the 2017 Presidential Inaugural Parade, themed “We The People:  Our American Journey.”  RFD-TV invited every tractor manufacturer to participate and those confirmed include Case IH, Challenger, John Deere, Kioti, Kubota, Mahindra, Massey-Ferguson, and New Holland who will showcase tractors used in modern agriculture production.  The parade will be broadcast LIVE on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC at 3 p.m. EST.

Members of the National FFA, the world’s premiere youth organization, will carry the banner for the Rural Tractor Brigade and lead this contingent of colorful tractors that help make America’s farmers and ranchers the most efficient food and fiber producers in the world.  RFD-TV and Rural Radio, channel 147 on SiriusXM will carry updates throughout the week on “Market Day Report” and “Rural Evening News.” On Inauguration Day, RFD-TV and Rural Radio will have live updates beginning at 9 a.m. EST and continue through the course of the day, with complete highlights on the “Rural Evening News” at 11:30 p.m. EST.

“RFD-TV is on a mission to reconnect city with country again,” stated Patrick Gottsch, founder and president of RFD-TV.  "The invitation from the Inaugural Parade to include agriculture in this celebration with tractors going down Pennsylvania Avenue is confirmation that progress is being made.  We are proud to have the Rural Tractor Brigade represent agriculture in Washington D.C. on this historic day and hope that this kicks off a year where there is a new appreciation for the importance of working together is recognized and embraced by all in this great country.”

Several leaders of agriculture associations will be representing their members by driving a tractor in the parade.  Those leaders include Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation and their 5.9 million members; Ron Moore, president of the American Soybean Association and his wife Deb; Randy Krotz, CEO of the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance; John Weber, president of the National Pork Producers Council; and Jim Odle, co-founder of Superior Livestock Auction.  Also driving to represent rural media include National Association of Farm Broadcasting past and current presidents Mark Oppold and Max Armstrong, Duncan Smith of Sinclair Broadcasting, and Patrick Gottsch, founder and president of RFD-TV and RURAL RADIO on SiriusXM.

The Inaugural Parade, generally held on the afternoon of the swearing-in ceremony, is a popular part of the inaugural festivities.  After the President and Vice-President have been sworn in (and after the inaugural luncheon), they typically travel down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House, where they remain while they review the rest of the parade as it passes by.  The tradition of the inaugural parade goes back to the first inauguration of George Washington, though it has changed in a variety of ways over the centuries.  The event is currently coordinated by the Armed Forces Inaugural Committee in conjunction with the Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC).


Central Iowa-based small business, Agren, Inc. has partnered with Land O'Lakes, Inc. one of America's premier agribusiness and food companies, to use emerging precision conservation technology to help farmers improve soil and water quality.

The Land O'Lakes SUSTAINbusiness unit will use Agren's technology platform to deliver scalable, geo-spatial tools that are designed to identify highly-erodible spots in a farmer's field and plan practical, effective, in-field best practices to protect soils from erosion and improve water quality. Branded as SoilVantage®, Land O'Lakes SUSTAIN will be the first to deliver precision conservation tools and services to farmers across the US.

"When coupled with other agronomy tools and insights, we are helping farmers drive productivity and sustainability, making them more efficient," said Matt Carstens, Senior Vice President of Land O'Lakes SUSTAIN in a recent interview. "Then, the next step is enhancing dialogue between farmers and their customers. It's really about helping farmers communicate how they are achieving continuous improvement in on-farm sustainability to their customers, who ultimately supply retailers such as Wal-Mart."

"We are very excited by the commitment shown by the Land O'Lakes SUSTAIN® business," said Jamie Ridgely, Agren's President. "They have shown a real desire to help farmers confront sustainability and water quality issues head-on. We are extremely proud to be part of this partnership."

Agren is a leading provider of sustainability solutions to agriculture. With 20 years of experience in agricultural and environmental consulting, Agren is uniting ag technology with proven soil and water management practices to meet the rising demand for sustainably-sourced commodities. The company is an integral part of Central Iowa's Cultivation Corridor, an initiative led by public and private partners focused on supporting and sustaining the science that feeds the world.

Trump Nominates Sonny Perdue for USDA Sectretary....

Sasse Statement on Secretary of Agriculture Nominee

U.S. Senator Ben Sasse issued the following statement regarding the news that President-elect Donald Trump will nominate former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue to be Agriculture Secretary.

“I look forward to sitting down with Governor Perdue and talking about the unique challenges and opportunities facing Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers. We have a lot to discuss: trade, regulatory burdens, and the unique interests of Midwest agriculture. Nebraskans feed the world and our Agriculture Secretary needs to understand what we bring to the table.”

Statement by Steve Nelson, President, NE Farm Bureau, Regarding Nomination of Sonny Perdue as Secretary of Agriculture

"We welcome the nomination of Sonny Perdue as the next U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. We have great confidence that Sonny can and will be a strong voice for America’s farmers and ranchers.”

“Today, the individual who leads USDA must be more than just an advocate, but also an ambassador for American agriculture. We believe Sonny can fulfill that role. We look forward to working with him and the USDA under his leadership.”

Soy Growers Welcome Perdue as Nominee to Lead USDA

American Soybean Association President and Illinois soybean farmer Ron Moore welcomed the forthcoming announcement of former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue as the nominee to lead the U.S. Department of Agriculture under the administration of President Donald Trump in a statement late Wednesday.

“Congratulations to Governor Perdue. USDA touches the lives of every American, and it is among the most crucial government functions for farmers across the United States. For soybean farmers, USDA serves us in so many ways. From working to implement a viable risk management framework to helping expand our markets overseas, to investing in agricultural research here at home, these are critical elements of the farm economy, and we look forward to working alongside USDA under Secretary Perdue to ensure that the department continues to serve American soybean farmers in the most effective manner possible.”

Cattlemen Support Nomination of Gov. Perdue to Lead U.S. Department of Agriculture

Tracy Brunner, president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, today released the following statement in support of President-elect Trump’s nomination of former Gov. Sonny Perdue to be Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture:

“Governor Perdue’s an excellent pick to head the Agriculture Department. As a lifelong agri-businessman and veterinarian, as well as the two-term governor of a state where agriculture’s the largest industry, Gov. Perdue has a unique and expert understanding of both the business and scientific sides of agriculture. In a time of increasing regulations and a growing governmental footprint, we have no doubt that Gov. Perdue will step in and stand up for rural America so that we can continue to do what we do best – provide the safest and most abundant food supply in the world.”

In addition, Kyle Gillooly, a seedstock cattle farmer in Wadley, Ga., and president of the Georgia Cattlemen’s Association, released the following statement:

“The Georgia Cattlemen's Association is excited to hear the selection of Gov. Sonny Perdue to lead the USDA. Governor Perdue has always been a strong supporter of agriculture. His background in agribusiness and as a veterinarian will bring a wealth of knowledge and real-world common sense to a department that is vitally important to the success of our nation. As a graduate of the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine, he understands the issues we face in the livestock industry and he is a true believer in the land grant university system, their mission, and how they impact the cattle industry across the nation. His experience leading the State of Georgia, with its large agriculture heritage, will be invaluable to the Trump Administration.”

NPPC Backs Perdue For Agriculture Secretary

Saving the best for last, President-elect Donald Trump has decided to tap former Georgia Gov. George “Sonny” Perdue as his secretary of agriculture. The National Pork Producers Council hailed the pick – the final Trump cabinet post to be filled – as “very good for America’s farmers and ranchers.”

Perdue, who is a veterinarian, was governor of Georgia from 2003 to 2011. Prior to that, he served in the Georgia Senate for 10 years. A part of Trump’s agricultural advisory team, Perdue grew up on a row crop farm in central Georgia and owned agricultural businesses.

“Well, we don’t have a lot of pork production down in Georgia,” said NPPC President John Weber, a pork producer from Dysart, Iowa. “but Sonny Perdue is from a farm family and he’s a veterinarian. As head of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, he’ll be very good for America’s farmers and ranchers.

“You know, the last guy we had at the head of USDA was from the No. 1 corn, egg and pork producing state in the nation, and that didn’t do us much good,” he added.

In his two terms as governor, Perdue presided over the state’s top-ranked agricultural economy. Georgia is perennially ranked in the top two for producing cotton, eggs, peanuts and poultry and near the top in the production of fruits, including blueberries, cantaloupes, peaches and watermelon. Other top crops include cabbage, sweet corn, onions, bell peppers and tomatoes.

“NPPC believes Sonny Perdue will make a great secretary,” Weber said. “He knows farming, he knows exports are vital to U.S. agriculture and he knows you need to run USDA like a business, not like the bureaucracy it’s been for the past eight years. We strongly support him, and we urge the Senate to confirm him as the 31st secretary of agriculture.”

NGFA commends Trump for 'outstanding' choice of Sonny Perdue as next secretary of agriculture

The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) today commended President-elect Donald J. Trump on his "outstanding" choice of former two-term Georgia Gov. George E. (Sonny) Perdue III to serve as the 31st secretary of agriculture.

As the owner of three agribusiness and transportation firms serving farmers across the Southeast, Perdue had served as a member of the NGFA's Board of Directors from 2014 until his nomination. He previously served on the NGFA's Country Elevator Committee in the late 1980s before successfully winning election to the Georgia state Senate in 1991, where he served until 2001. He won election as Georgia's governor in 2003 - the first Republican to do so in 135 years - and was reelected to a second term in 2006 with 58 percent of the vote.

"Gov. Perdue is an accomplished, innovative, problem-solving and proven public servant, and is an excellent choice to serve as secretary of agriculture," said NGFA President Randy Gordon. "He has strong rural roots, having grown up on a row-crop and dairy farm, and is a person of impeccable character, trustworthiness and integrity who is an energetic, passionate and tireless advocate for U.S. agriculture and for America. Gov. Perdue also is a very open and receptive person who seeks out and listens to advice. He also possesses the business acumen, experience, common sense and sound policy-making background that will serve him extremely well as a member of the president's cabinet."

Gordon also stressed Perdue's belief in and commitment to agricultural trade, and its importance to U.S. economic growth, job creation and the vitality of rural communities. During his two terms as Georgia governor, Perdue promoted the state and its products to 25 countries, while making significant investments in the state's port infrastructure, leading to record levels of exports of Georgia products. As leader of his agribusiness enterprises, Perdue also has traded agricultural commodities in domestic and export markets.

"We believe Gov. Perdue will be a proactive advocate for U.S. agriculture in expanding mutually beneficial trade that is so essential to the future economic well-being of U.S. farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses in all regions of the country, given the fact that 95 percent of consumers live outside our borders," Gordon said.

The NGFA also noted that Perdue is a fierce advocate of regulatory reform, and brought those talents to the Georgia statehouse while serving as governor. "There's no question he will bring that same zeal to roll back regulatory excesses within the federal government that have undermined the competitiveness and efficiency of America's farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses," Gordon said.

The NGFA said it looked forward to the Senate Agriculture Committee conducting confirmation hearings on Perdue's nomination as soon as practicable, given the importance of having strong leadership at the helm of USDA, and to working with the new secretary agriculture once he is confirmed.

NMPF Statement on Announcement of Agriculture Secretary Nominee Gov. Sonny Perdue

From Jim Mulhern, President and CEO, National Milk Producers Federation:

“America’s dairy farmers are looking forward to working with Secretary of Agriculture-designate Sonny Perdue, whose role as the chief advocate for farmers and rural America is absolutely crucial in the new Trump Administration, especially when milk prices have been in a prolonged slump.

Former Gov. Perdue is well-qualified to run the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a result of his eight years of executive experience as Georgia’s governor, and his career as a state legislator and small businessman.  His educational training as a veterinarian also gives him unique insights into the important issues facing America’s livestock producers in the areas of animal health, food safety and the environment.

Dairy producers, like most other farmers and ranchers across America, have experienced significant economic challenges for more than a year. Starting right away in 2017, NMPF will seek to collaborate with Secretary Perdue on ways to strengthen the safety net for dairy farmers, relieve regulatory burdens and enhance opportunities to keep and grow markets abroad for our dairy exports.

In particular, we will continue to advise the Agriculture Department on efforts to improve the dairy Margin Protection Program to best benefit America’s dairy producers. We will also continue our dialogue with USDA and others in the Trump Administration on the importance of enforcing previous trade agreements, as well as pursuing future well-negotiated trade agreements that bolster our ability to serve consumers in foreign markets.

We’re excited to work with Gov. Perdue on these challenges and opportunities in the days ahead.”

NCGA Welcomes Governor Perdue to Lead USDA

National Corn Growers Association President and Texas farmer Wesley Spurlock today congratulated former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue on his nomination to be Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“The National Corn Growers Association congratulates Governor Perdue on his nomination to lead USDA. We look forward to his confirmation hearing, and learning more about his positions on issues important to corn farmers and the entire agriculture industry.

“Agriculture is the backbone of rural America, and we need strong leadership within USDA to keep moving the industry forward through difficult economic times. That means protecting risk management programs, continuing to grow the renewable fuels industry, expanding foreign markets and increasing demand for U.S. agricultural products throughout the world.

We stand ready to work with President-Elect Trump and the new USDA leadership to move agriculture and our country forward.”

 NFU Statement on Sonny Perdue’s Selection to Agriculture Secretary

President-elect Donald Trump has selected former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue to be the U.S. Agriculture Secretary in the incoming Trump administration. National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson released the following statement in response to today’s announcement:

“Given the challenging state of the farm economy, more than ever, family farmers and ranchers need a champion in Washington. I am hopeful we will find that champion in Sonny Perdue.

“USDA is more than agriculture’s agency; it is America’s agency. We look forward to working with Mr. Perdue and the new administration to create and defend a strong farm safety net and provide meaningful farm policy solutions for producers, particularly dairy farmers and cotton growers, in the next Farm Bill. We will also ask that USDA take a proactive approach to building opportunities for rural America, increase support for conservation as a way to manage risk on the farm, and expand market opportunities for all types of agriculture production.”

Regarding Sonny Perdue as Secretary of Agriculture

Joel G. Newman, President and CEO, American Feed Industry Association

"The American Feed Industry Association is pleased with President-elect Donald Trump's latest, and final, cabinet selection--former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue as secretary of agriculture. AFIA works with USDA on a broad slate of issues such as trade and implementation of the farm bill. We believe Gov. Perdue's political and agriculture-related background make him a sound fit for the role.

"Gov. Perdue holds a doctorate in veterinary medicine, and following his service as a captain in the U.S. Air Force, he became a successful small business owner, concentrating in agribusiness and transportation.

"We look forward to working closely with the new agriculture secretary, assisting him and his staff on animal food-related topics, and how our industry relates to other agriculture sectors and to consumers. This will be particularly important as Congress, the administration and industry come together to draft and enact the new farm bill."

Peterson Statement on Perdue Nomination to Lead USDA

House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson today made the following statement on the announcement that Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue will be nominated to serve as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“Agriculture and rural America play such an important role in our economy. With the appointment of Perdue, who has a background in agriculture, I am hopeful we will get a better sense of the incoming administration's policy plans for rural America. There is a lot of work ahead of us including reauthorizing the farm bill, maintaining the RFS and rolling back some of the regulations that are negatively impacting farmers. I look forward to sharing the concerns of Midwestern farmers with Perdue and getting to work.”

Rep. Bacon Statement on Secretary of Agriculture Nominee Sonny Perdue

U.S. Representative Don Bacon (NE-02) released the following statement regarding President-elect Donald Trump’s nomination of former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue to lead the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA):

“The Secretary of Agriculture serves as an important voice for rural Americans.  As a new member of the Agriculture Committee, I look forward to working constructively with Governor Perdue to help convey to the President the vital role the Farm Bill plays in maintaining and improving a meaningful safety net for American agriculture that reflects the needs of producers in our state.  As a practicing veterinarian and advocate for Georgia farmers and ranchers, his many years of leadership in the agribusiness sector give him a strong grasp of the challenges and opportunities faced by rural Americans.  Nebraska’s agriculture community is one of the most vibrant in the nation and a leader in global exports.  I look forward to working with Governor Perdue to advance the priorities for family farming and value-added agriculture in Nebraska.”

CropLife America Supports Perdue as Ag Secretary Pick

President-elect Donald J. Trump announced former Georgia Governor George “Sonny” Perdue as his long-awaited pick for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary. A statement released by the incoming administration spoke to Perdue’s background as the governor of a big agriculture state and experience growing up on a farm.

“CropLife America (CLA) is looking forward to working with Governor Perdue as USDA Secretary,” stated Jay Vroom, president and CEO of CLA. “USDA is sure to benefit from his proven leadership and experience in managing a large government entity. His background as a veterinarian and direct connection to the farming community will help to enhance the relationship between the department and those on the ground in modern agriculture in every state who seek to make their voices heard.”

The announcement came after several months of vetting potential candidates. CLA’s Rebeckah Adcock has been a member of Trump’s campaign agricultural advisory committee, established during the election. “It’s wonderful to see Sonny Perdue acknowledged for his farming experience and understanding of rural America. Because of his background and involvement with the advisory committee, he was always a frontrunner and we are very pleased to support him,” said Adcock. The committee continues to advise the transition team on matters concerning agriculture. 

National Grange President Betsy Huber commented on the announcement made by the Trump administration that Georgia Gov. Sonny Purdue has been tapped to be the next Secretary of Agriculture

“It is a pleasure to welcome Gov. Sonny Perdue of Georgia to Washington D.C. as the incoming Secretary of Agriculture.

“The National Grange, America’s oldest general farm and rural public interest organization, is largely credited with the successful push to make the highest-ranking U.S. official for Agriculture a cabinet-level position in the late 1800s. We are pleased to see the respect the incoming administration and transition team has given the seat, which greatly impacts many aspects of rural life.

“Mr. Perdue is certainly well qualified to head up the United States Department of Agriculture, from his roots growing up on a rural crop and dairy farm to his education as a veterinarian and ownership of small agribusinesses, Purdue has a personal perspective of agriculture and rural matters. The Governor understands the plight of agriculture, the challenges facing rural America, and the business acumen required to oversee our nation’s massive food and agriculture policy system.  We look forward to working with future Secretary Perdue on agriculture, food, land, water, rural healthcare, rural broadband, conservation and other issues affecting rural and small town America.”

NAWG Applauds Selection of Ag Secretary Nominee

Today, President-elect Donald Trump announced his choice to lead the U.S. Department of Agriculture, former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue.  Agriculture is a top industry in the state of Georgia, and Governor brings with him a significant pedigree that will enable him to be an effective voice for farmers in the incoming Administration. 

“I applaud President-elect Trump for selecting an Agriculture Secretary nominee that’s a former governor and has extensive experience in agriculture,” said NAWG President Gordon Stoner.  “He grew up on a row crop farm, has had great success in agribusiness, and his been a champion for farmers in developing public policy.  With USDA as one of the largest federal departments, covering mission areas ranging from farm programs to nutrition assistance to rural development, the announcement of Governor Perdue is welcome news to America’s wheat farmers.”

In the coming weeks, the Senate Agriculture Committee is expected to hold a confirmation hearing before full Senate consideration.  NAWG looks forward to discussing with Governor Perdue the difficult economic conditions in wheat country, as well as to engage other USDA nominees as they are put forth.

Growth Energy Congratulates Sonny Perdue on Secretary of Agriculture Nomination

President-elect Donald Trump will nominate former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue to lead the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as Secretary of Agriculture. In response to this news, Growth Energy CEO, Emily Skor issued the following statement:

“We congratulate Governor Perdue on his nomination to be the next Secretary of Agriculture. We are confident that each of President-elect Trump’s cabinet picks are fully aware of his vocal support of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and the ethanol industry.

“Growth Energy is ready to work with Governor Perdue to promote biofuel production and to protect the economic vibrancy of rural America. The ethanol industry provides more than 400,000 jobs across America’s heartland, while ethanol and its byproduct, Dried Distiller’s Grain (DDGS), are vital international commodities for U.S. agriculture.

“We look forward to working with Governor Perdue to protect the growth of American agriculture and economic welfare of American farmers, all while providing consumers access to higher performing, more economical, American-made options at the gas pump.”

Wednesday Jan 18 Ag News

Ag PhD Soils Clinic Feb 22 in West Point

Free Ag PhD Soils Clinic hosted by Hefty Seed West Point is Wednesday, February 22nd at the Nielsen Center in West Point. Anyone involved in ag should be at this event. Starts at 9:30 in the morning and goes until 3pm. Walk-ins welcome but RSVP’s encouraged. Free lunch. Offering the best agronomic advice and this is the time to get your questions answered. 

FREE Ag PhD Soils Clinic
Wednesday, February 22, 2017
9:30 AM to 3:00 PM
Nielsen Center
200 Anna Stalp Ave
West Point, NE 68788

– Lunch will be provided, so please RSVP.  Call 402-372-9900. 

2017 NeATA Conference, Feb. 1-2 in Lincoln, NE

The Nebraska Agricultural Technologies Association (new website at will be hosting their annual 2-day conference on Wednesday February 1st and Thursday, February 2nd in Lincoln, NE. The conference is held at the Nebraska Innovation Campus Conference Center located at 2021 Transformation Drive. The Nebraska Agricultural Technologies Association (NeATA) is a network for all stakeholders to share applied and on-farm research experiences and gain knowledge from each other related to current and emerging technologies in agriculture. The NeATA Board encourages farmers, Ag retailers, government/university employees and others to attend the two-day conference that runs from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm on Wednesday February 1st, and 8:00 am to 4:00 pm on Thursday February 2nd.

On Wednesday, a full-day symposium on aerial imagery in agriculture will feature 6 speakers, both from private industry and governmental agencies, discussing satellite, plane, and UAV platforms for capturing imagery. One featured speaker is Rick Mueller, Head of Spatial Analysis Research at USDA-NASS. The symposium will finish up with a panel discussion with all 6 speakers.  Attendees are encouraged to take the setup tours of the new Food Processing Center and Greenhouse Innovation Center between 4:00 and 5:00 pm before leaving for the evening.

On Thursday, Dave Varner, Nebraska Extension Associate Dean & Director, will start the day at 8:00 talking about the history and future of NeATA and Nebraska Extension related to Ag technologies. Attendees will then be able to pick 4 sessions out of the 16 breakout sessions available (view full program online at  Speakers are split into 4 rooms each with focused areas including: Soil management, water management, data management, and machinery and hardware. Over lunch, UNL Chancellor Ronnie Green will welcome the crowd and Jeremy Wilson with Crop IMS will discuss Ag Data Issues and The Agricultural Data Coalition. The closing keynote speaker at 3:00 pm will be Lisa Prassack, AgriFood Innovation Expert and Data Strategy Consultant, discuss Assembling the Precision Agriculture Puzzle for Farm Profit.

To register for one or both days visit  To get more information about the upcoming Nebraska Agricultural Technologies Association Conference on February 1st and 2nd in Lincoln NE, visit the association’s new website at

Biodiesel industry honors year of achievements, industry growth

The biodiesel industry saw record market growth in 2016 and this year’s National Biodiesel Board industry awards highlight champions who have had a major impact on the use of biodiesel. Clean air champions, policy drivers, fleet vehicle influencers, and lifetime biodiesel advocates were all honored this week during the National Biodiesel Conference and Expo.

“The biodiesel industry has seen record growth over the last decade which means the fuel is reaching more markets than ever before,” said Kent Engelbrecht, chairman of the National Biodiesel Board. “As we continue to grow it becomes increasingly important that we tell our industry’s story of being an American-made, clean burning, advanced biofuel. We are proud to recognize these individuals and organizations for going above and beyond to advance this industry that benefits American consumers so much.”

NBB recognizes the 2017 “Eye on Biodiesel” award winners this week. The honorees are:

Climate Leader Award – Costa Constantinides – New York City Council Member
New York City has been a leader on biodiesel and clean air issues, taking a giant leap forward in 2016. In September, the New York City Council voted overwhelmingly to pass INT. 642-A, led by Council Member Costa Constantinides, that creates a fuel standard for heating oil that includes increasing amounts of biodiesel over time. The measure grows the amount of biodiesel in heating oil in the City from the current two percent level to five percent October 1, 2017. The blend level then moves to 10 percent in 2025, 15 percent in 2030, and 20 percent in 2034.

Constantinides has long been a champion of improving air quality in the city and recognizes policies that reduce the fossil fuel content of heating oil and increase the use of cleaner-burning, renewable energy will pay dividends from a health perspective. Constantinides represents the New York City Council's 22nd District, and serves as the chair of the City Council's Environmental Protection Committee.

It is estimated that the increase from a two percent biodiesel blend to a five percent blend in the City would reduce the emissions equivalent to taking 45,000 cars off the road with the increase to 20 percent the equivalent of removing more than a quarter of a million cars.

National Energy Leadership Award – Gov. Terry Branstad

The state of Iowa is a national leader in clean energy production and is the number one biodiesel producing state in the country, thanks in large part to strong leadership within the state. Last year saw a host of new and renewed policies supporting the biodiesel industry in Iowa. In 2016, Governor Branstad rallied support for, and signed legislation, that extended the Biodiesel Production Credit through 2024, extended and expanded the Biodiesel Promotion Retail Tax Credit, also through 2024, and secured another year of funding for the state’s successful biodiesel and ethanol blender pump program, the Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Program. All of which will keep Iowa at the forefront of biodiesel production and use, driving growth in rural economies, economic development, and cleaner air for Iowans.

Additionally, the governor has provided critical national leadership through his service on the Governor’s Biofuels Coalition. These efforts have a major impact on the national energy landscape as more American-made, environmentally friendly, advanced biofuels like biodiesel make their way into the marketplace.

Industry Partnership Award – The Illinois Soybean Association Checkoff Program and the American Lung Association in Illinois for the B20 Club
Together, the two organizations have created a unique and impactful program in Illinois called the B20 Club. This program is focused on raising the profile of exemplary fleets that use B20 in any type of diesel engine. Members range from municipalities to school buses to over-the-road trucking companies. Sharing their success stories with other fleet managers and decision makers has had a significant impact on those who have been hesitant to use B20 for reasons ranging from economics to engine warranty questions. The B20 Club showcases real stories of how, when, and why members began using B20, what their experiences have been since the switch, and provides peer support for fleet managers and other decision makers who are considering B20 for their own fleets. The efforts of the club have provided confidence in biodiesel and a platform for showcasing successful biodiesel user stories in the media, to decision makers, and the general public.

Influence Award – Ron Flowers – Greater Washington, DC Clean Cities
Ronald “Ron” Flowers is the Executive Director of the Greater Washington, D.C. Region Clean Cities Coalition, a post he has held since 2010. To the biodiesel industry, Ron is a well-connected and respected voice of wisdom with more than 45 years of service in the public and private sector. Ron has worked closely with the National Biodiesel Board as well as the National Biodiesel Foundation, resulting in the use of thousands of gallons of B20 blends. His knowledge of fuels and fleets was instrumental in transforming the nation’s capital region from a community of biodiesel naysayers to biodiesel believers. He has been instrumental in the DC Government, Smithsonian Institution, American University and many others switching to biodiesel. With Ron at their side, many of these fleet staff not only switched their own fleets but became champions of biodiesel who mentor their peers to join them in reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil and improving air quality with biodiesel.

FFA Members Return from Educational, Cultural Experience in South Africa

During the past two weeks, 75 FFA members visited South Africa for a 12-day educational and cultural experience.

Members participated in the 2017 International Leadership Seminar for State Officers (ILSSO) as an annual, international opportunity through the National FFA Organization. The seminar allows FFA members to experience foreign culture, learn about international agriculture and become more knowledgeable on the global marketplace.

Seventy-five past and present state FFA officers representing 20 states left the United States on Jan. 4. The group traveled throughout five of South Africa’s nine provinces while surveying the agricultural landscape. FFA officers met with government and U.S. Embassy officials to learn about U.S. and South African trade relations; toured crop and livestock operations; met with business and industry leaders; and explored a private game reserve that is home to lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos, and buffalo. The group also met with fruit exporters, olive oil producers and more.

“This seminar exposes students to culture and food production practices beyond what they are accustomed to in the United States,” said Shane Jacques, education specialist with the National FFA Organization. “Our hope is that through a structured experience like ILSSO, these students will see that study abroad opportunities or global internships and careers are not only attainable, but essential to providing a sustainable talent pipeline for agriculture and feeding the world.” Jacques added that, on average, nine out of 10 students who participate in the program admit that they would be receptive to living and working abroad as a result of this experience.

Prior to departing the United States, the students completed eight weeks of online coursework related to cross-cultural adaptability. The program was made possible by corporate sponsors Bunge North America and John Deere.

 Students shared their experience throughout their trip on Twitter and Instagram. To see a recap of their adventures, visit:

Those students who participated in the trip were: Foster Thompson of Jonesboro, Ark.; Mariah Alvarez of Sebring, Fla.; Hunter Burnsed of Macclenny, Fla.; Anna Conrad of Dover, Fla.; William Jameson of Lake Panasoffkee, Fla.; Emily Little of Sebring, Fla.; Catharin MacFarlane of Deltona, Fla.; Mason Taylor of Cottondale, Fla.; Brett Vorheis of Ocoee, Fla.; Faith Gilman of Commerce, Ga.; Angel Rewis of Fargo, Ga.; Cully Forsyth of Charles City, Iowa; Zach Hamilton of Bryant, Iowa; Zach Hoffman of Creston, Iowa; Chase Kusel of Belle Plaine, Iowa; Blake Lineweaver of Milford, Iowa; Zach Becker of Amboy, Ill.; J.C. Campbell of Little York, Ill.; Corrine Harding of Trivoli, Ill.; Paxton Morse of Eldorado, Ill.; Cody Suddeth of Steward, Ill.; Katelyn Bohnenblust of Clay Center, Kan.; Jacob Grinstead of Hutchinson, Kan.; Grace Luebcke of Marysville, Kan.; Elizabeth Meyer of Tampa, Kan.; Trenton Smedley of Thayer, Kan.; Clara Wicoff of Iola, Kan.; James Clay Ballinger of McKee, Ky.; Ben Pinkston of Salvisa, Ky.; Bayli Quick of Saline, La.; Jessica Corazza of Clarksburg, Md.; Evelyn Etchison of Woodsboro, Md.; Amanda Farmer of Frederick, Md.: Ellie Grossnickle of Myersville, Md.; Nicole Michol of Hampstead, Md.; Kelcey Trewin of Freeland, Md.; Josephine Forbush of Byron, Mich.; Loren King of Burr Oak, Mich.; Mariah Daninger of Forest Lake, Minn.; Clay Newton of Echo, Minn.; Rebekka Paskewitz of Browerville, Minn.; Joe Ramstad of Forest Lake, Minn; Katie Rogers of Worthington, Minn.; Spencer Wolter of Windom, Minn.; Kayla Mercer of Walnut, Miss.; Gabrielle Simpson of Tupelo, Miss.; Manuel Acosta of Bayard, Neb.; Christy Cooper of Waverly, Neb.; Cheyenne Gerlach of De Witt, Neb.; Kaitlyn Hanvey of Center, Neb.; Halle Ramsey of Sidney, Neb.; Collin Swedberg of North Platte, Neb.; Nicholas Taylor of Nickerson, Neb.; Josh Loew of Newport, N.J.; Morgan Rutar of Stewartsville, N.J.; Renee Stillwell of Cream Ridge, N.J.; Jeremy Posluszny of Cream Ridge, N.J.; Erin Langdale of Warwick, N.Y.; Kameron Rinehart of Jeffersonville, Ohio; Trisha Seckel of Caledonia, Ohio; Shea Booster of Bend, Ore.; Liberty Greenlund of Wasco, Ore.; Hailee Patterson of Imbler, Ore.; Bryson Price of Oakland, Ore.; Raymond Seal of Joseph, Ore.; Zanden Unger of Dallas, Ore.; Mackenzie Clark of Cedar Grove, Tenn.; Ally Clark of Decatur, Tenn.; Taylor Curtis of McEwen, Tenn.; Sam Daniel of Covington, Tenn.; Allison Parker of Gallatin, Tenn.; Dalton Teel of Lebanon, Tenn.; Megan Gould of Castle Rock, Wash.; Luke Moore of Garfield, Wash.; and Andrew Hauser of Eglon, W.Va.

The National FFA Organization provides leadership, personal growth and career success training through agricultural education to 649,355 student members who belong to one of 7,859 local FFA chapters throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The organization is also supported by 225,891 alumni members in 1,934 alumni chapters throughout the U.S.

FSBC Successful Ibotta Mobile Commerce Campaign

A successful campaign to drive nationwide sales of fresh beef at retail has resulted in the confirmed movement of more than 270,000 units of fresh ground beef in less than two weeks. Today, the Federation of State Beef Councils of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association approved an additional $300,000 to extend the partnership with the mobile rebates app Ibotta through the Super Bowl, giving consumers more reasons to purchase great tasting beef.

Ibotta is a consumer mobile app that has a subscriber rate of 19 million mostly-millennial consumers and growing. Consumers who download the app can browse the grocery category for rebates on fresh beef products, unlock the rebates and after reviewing educational information about beef buy the items at any grocery store nationwide to get cash back through Ibotta. Beef only pays for verified sales.

Initial results from the first few weeks of the campaign have been impressive. Nearly half of the redemption budget was exhausted in the first weekend. As of Jan. 16, more than 700,000 users unlocked ground beef rebates demonstrating the strong consumer demand for beef. Redemption rates for beef have been 35 percent, far surpassing the Ibotta average rate of 22 percent and delivering more than 14 million brand impressions for beef system-wide. In addition to increasing sales, more than 700,000 consumers received educational messaging about beef as a part of the campaign. These educational opportunities were delivered in the form of a beef recipe or an in-app task that helps consumers better understand nutritional benefits of beef.

“We have seen tremendous success from the initial thrust of our campaign, so this additional investment makes sense,” according to Steve Hanson, a beef producer from Elsie, Neb., and chairman of the Federation of State Beef Councils. “State beef council partners agree with the Executive Committee that this move to further boost consumer retail beef sales is the right move at the right time.”

In addition to the national campaign, many state beef councils contributed additional funding to promote the campaign to consumers in their markets. Through in-app media tiles, email newsletters and social media engagement, state partners helped drive traffic to the app and create broader visibility of lower beef prices for 2017.

“The Ibotta campaign is a tremendous opportunity to connect with a highly engaged community of shoppers at that critical time for purchase inspiration,” said Patti Brumbach, executive director for the Washington State Beef Commission. “Through partners like Ibotta, the beef community is helping revolutionize how beef is marketed to today’s consumer and transforming the shopping experience.”

The $300,000 in funding approved today is in addition to an initial $300,000 Federation reserve allocation directed toward the Ibotta program last November, with the expectation that it will double the confirmed units of beef sold. The initial investment was part of a $940,000 package for both international and domestic beef sales-enhancement efforts during a time of high protein production that is putting significant pressures on the cattle market.

Another ‘Midnight’ Regulation Dumped On Farmers

In another poke in the eye to agriculture, the Obama administration tomorrow will issue a regulation that adds animal welfare standards to the nation’s organic food production law. The National Pork Producers Council will work with the Trump administration and Congress to repeal yet another “midnight” regulation.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s amendment to the Organic Food Production Act of 1990 would strictly dictate how organic producers must raise livestock and poultry, including during transport and slaughter, and specify, without scientific justification, which common practices are allowed and prohibited in organic livestock and poultry production, thereby eliminating producers’ discretion to make sound decisions about animal care. It also would establish unreasonable indoor and outdoor space requirements for animals. The regulation was cleared by the Office of Management and Budget Wednesday, the last step before becoming final.

“This parting gift from Agriculture Secretary [Tom] Vilsack is not welcomed,” said NPPC President John Weber, a pork producer from Dysart, Iowa. “This unnecessary, unscientific midnight regulation won’t win him any friends in the agriculture community he’s apparently joining. (Vilsack, whose last day at USDA was Friday, is taking over the Dairy Export Council.)

“This is precisely the type of executive branch overreach that Congress will reign in through regulatory reform,” Weber said.

NPPC, which in July submitted comments in opposition to the regulation, said the welfare standards are not based on science and are outside the scope of the organic food production law, which limits consideration of livestock as organic to feeding and medication practices. Additionally, the organization pointed out, animal welfare is not unique to organic production.

“Animal production practices have nothing to do with the concept of ‘organic,’” Weber said. “These new standards will present serious challenges to livestock producers and add complexity to the organic certification process, creating significant barriers to existing and new organic producers.

“The standards seem to be based on public perception – or USDA’s understanding of that perception – of what good animal welfare is and don’t reflect a consensus by experts in animal welfare and handling,” he added. “The inclusion of animal welfare requirements into the organic food production law is no different than requiring that all farmers wear bib overalls or paint their barns red in deference to public sentiment.”

Some of the standards even could jeopardize animal and public health, said NPPC in its comments to USDA. The provision on outdoor access, for example, is in conflict with best management practices to prevent swine diseases that pose a threat to animal and human health.

The organization also pointed out that livestock industry-driven animal care and handling standards, such as ones included in the National Pork Board’s Pork Quality Assurance Plus program, already exist and that such programs can more rapidly accommodate new practices and procedures that promote animal health and welfare than a federal regulation can. Many of the programs already are available to organic producers.

Administration Pushes Forward with Organic Marketing Rule

NCBA President Tracy Brunner released the following statement in response to the USDA Agriculture Marketing Service’s Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices final rule:

“The Obama Administration has bowed to the whims and demands of animal activists rather than talking to the industry as a whole to see what is best for the program and for consumers. This rule sends a clear signal that an activist agenda is more important to the outgoing Administration than any true attempt to clarify a consumer’s perception of what ‘organic’ means.

“NOP is a marketing program, not an animal health, welfare, or safety program and certainly not a place to set animal welfare requirements. Cattlemen and women have worked diligently over the past 30 years to develop and improve animal care and handling standards through the Beef Quality Assurance Program, which is continuously reviewed and updated as new science becomes available.”

Initial Assessment of Biotech Regulatory Documents Pleases NCGA

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration published documents today addressing the pre-market regulatory oversight of biotechnology-based agricultural tools. The National Corn Growers Association is pleased that the agency has included input given by NCGA and others throughout the rule-making process while focusing on the importance of science-based regulations.

Corn farmers have a strong interest in the availability of new technologies to enhance the sustainability, productivity and competitiveness of U.S. agriculture. Agriculture biotechnology and next generation breeding techniques allow growers to increase yields while decreasing inputs. Meeting demand, improving processes and minimizing environmental impacts are what make modern corn production a dynamic industry. The documents published indicate that, in large part, federal agencies agree with the basis of our stance and strive to create a more efficient regulatory process allowing growers greater access to new products.

NCGA continues working to fully analyze the implications and impacts of these documents with awareness of the importance of the balance of access to technology and markets.

NGFA emphasizes importance of engaging with trading partners as USDA proposes new biotech regulatory review policies

In response to today's release of proposals regarding the U.S. government's pre-market regulatory oversight of genetically engineered plants, the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) emphasized the importance of working to achieve consistent regulatory policies globally for products of the latest plant breeding methods to avoid costly disruptions in international trade.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published several documents related to the pre-market regulatory oversight of genetically engineered plants and plants and animals derived from certain newer precision breeding techniques, commonly known as genome editing. The NGFA still is reviewing in detail the USDA's pre-published proposed rule on the "Importation, Interstate Movement, and Release into the Environment of Certain Genetically Engineered Organisms," as well as a companion proposal and guidance document issued by FDA.

The NGFA said given the global nature of agriculture and the importance of trade to the economic well-being of farmers, ranchers and the nation as a whole, consistent regulatory policies among governments for products of the latest plant breeding methods, such as gene editing, are needed so that trade in U.S. commodities, research collaborations and global seed movement are not hindered or disrupted.

"It is critical that the U.S. government actively engage with our trading partners around the world, and secure alignment in regulatory approaches with U.S. trading partners before these regulations are finalized and take effect," the NGFA noted.

USDA's proposal recognizes that some applications of gene editing result in plant varieties that are essentially equivalent to varieties developed through more traditional breeding methods, and proposes to exclude such traits from pre-market regulatory review.

The NGFA also noted that consumer education about the safety of these products should be a top priority. 

"It will be imperative that the U.S. government and the seed industry, technology providers and the value chain explain the scientific basis and rationale for this regulatory approach to consumers to facilitate understanding and acceptance of these technologies and their commercial application in the marketplace," the NGFA stated.

Fertilizer Prices Continue to Drift

According to fertilizer retailers surveyed by DTN for the second week of January 2017, fertilizer price trends continue to be stuck in a narrow price range. For the first time in recent weeks, however, more fertilizers are now trending slightly higher than lower.

Five of the eight major fertilizers edged higher although none by any substantial amount. Potash averaged $320/ton, urea $338/ton, anhydrous $467/ton, UAN28 $222/ton and UAN32 $258/ton.

The remaining three fertilizers were slightly lower but none of these moves to the low side were that significant. DAP averaged $432/ton, MAP $441/ton and 10-34-0 $437/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.37/lb.N, anhydrous $0.29/lb.N, UAN28 $0.40/lb.N and UAN32 $0.40/lb.N.

Retail fertilizers are lower compared to a year earlier and should offer relief to many farm budgets this season. All fertilizers are now double digits lower.

Urea remains down 11%, DAP is 13% less expensive, MAP is 15% lower and potash is 18% less expensive versus the same time a year ago. Both UAN28 and UAN32 are now 19% lower while anhydrous is 20% less expensive and 10-34-0 is 24% lower compared to a year prior.

Wholesale Choice Beef Prices Falling Faster Than Retail

Retail and wholesale food prices often move closely together. When wholesale prices rise, retail prices typically follow. The price of choice beef in wholesale and retail markets moved upward in 2014 and most of 2015.

Wholesale prices increased from roughly $3 per pound to nearly $4 per pound by mid-2015. As wholesale prices rose, retail prices followed, moving from just over $5 per pound in January 2014 to a peak of $6.41 in June 2015.

Both prices decreased in 2016, with the wholesale price falling below $3 in late 2016.

While retail prices dropped also, they fell at a slower rate. As a result, the ratio of retail to wholesale prices has increased to above 2 to 1, 20 percent higher than the ratio in June 2015 when both prices were highest.

This highlights an aspect of the interplay between wholesale and retail prices, in which retail prices respond slower when wholesale prices decline compared to when prices increase.

Hay Acres Revision Cause Outlook Prices to Edge Upward

Katelyn McCullock, Economist, American Farm Bureau Federation

The USDA NASS annual crop production report showed significant revisions to the hay acres harvested in 2016.  Changes from the October crop report indicated a 7% (1.2 million) reduction in the number of alfalfa acres harvested and a 4% (1.5 million) reduction in all other hay acres harvested.  Final acres showed South Dakota, Wisconsin and Iowa having more than 200 thousand acres taken out of alfalfa production.  North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Missouri, Kentucky, all had declines of 100 thousand acres or more in other hay acreage declines. New alfalfa seedlings for the 2017/18 marketing year are also continuing the long term trend downward, posting an 11% year over year decrease.

Despite large acreage revisions, December 1 hay stocks moved up slightly relative to last year by 1%, and production was unchanged from last year.  Pasture and range conditions were excellent this year and very few problem areas in the plains region required supplemental feeding during the warm months.  High numbers of wheat acres and low cost of gain also contributed to ample wheat grazing opportunities over the winter.  Both of these factors allowed hay prices to continue to slip from last year's prices.  Alfalfa prices have averaged nearly $30 per ton below last year's price over this marketing year.  Other hay prices have been even to slightly lower, averaging $2 per ton lower.

Alfalfa and other hay prices have posted year over year declines since the 2012/2013 marketing year, but still remain above the historical long term average prior to that drought year.  If disappearance remains light for the second half of this winter, alfalfa prices are expected to post another year over year decline in prices, while other hay prices are expected to be even.  The loss or continued loss of hay acres to other crops make it unlikely this short term trend of price declines will continue.  In the 2000's alfalfa prices averaged $115 per ton annually, a figure prices have not seen since 2009/10.  Other hay prices averaged $91 per ton over that same decade, an annual average season price not seen since 2005/06.  Hay stocks are also much lower than they have been in previous decades. December 1 hay stocks 2001-2010 averaged about 105 million tons, compared to 2011-2016, averaging 92 million tons.  Tighter supplies mean drought or poor pasture and range conditions can aggressively move prices upward.  Cattle feeders and dairymen alike should expect hay prices to average higher, but still are very much dependent on regional weather events. 

CWT Assists with 272,000 Pounds of Cheese and Butter Export Sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 2 requests for export assistance from member cooperatives. These member cooperatives have contracts to sell 51,809 pounds (24 metric tons) of Cheddar cheese, and 220,462 pounds (100 metric tons) of butter to customers in Asia and the Middle East. The product has been contracted for delivery in the period from January through April 2017.

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.

The amounts of dairy products and related milk volumes reflect current contracts for delivery, not completed export volumes. CWT will pay export assistance to the bidders only when export and delivery of the product is verified by the submission of the required documentation.

New CFI Approach Provides Insights for Food and Ag to Earn Trust

A new research approach from The Center for Food Integrity (CFI) identifies influential consumer groups and the motivations that not only dictate food trends, but drive conversations that impact the decisions of others as they make choices at the grocery store or form opinions about the products, processes, people and brands that define today’s food system.

For the past 10 years, CFI has conducted annual consumer trust research to better understand public opinion and how to engage with consumers to earn trust. In the first-of-its-kind consumer research, the 2016 survey used an innovative research methodology called digital ethnography. It can help those in food and agriculture more effectively engage and balance the conversation as it provides much deeper insights into influencers including unspoken motivations, values, top-of-mind issues, emotional triggers, preferred social channels and sources, behaviors and trusted brands.

The research goes beyond surveying what people say they do to demonstrating what they are actually doing.

“We’re currently in the midst of a shift in the marketplace where the culture and conversation around conventional food, particularly online, is changing as consum­ers navigate which foods to adopt, moderate or abandon,” said Charlie Arnot, CFI CEO. “Digital ethnography identifies influencers who shape those trends.”

Digital ethnography pinpoints why consumers form beliefs and develop behaviors around food, and the why speaks to what they value, said Arnot.

“That’s important because the CFI consumer trust model shows that communicating with values is three-to-five times more important to earning trust than simply communicating facts and science,” he said.

“Better understanding why consumers make their food decisions and what they value in their food choices helps companies be more responsive to consumer needs. CFI’s latest research will help food companies do a better job of communicating what’s most important to consumers and the values we share,” said Leigh Horner, vice president, communications and CSR at The Hershey Company.

Of the five Consumer Types identified in the research, one of particular interest to the food system is Providers?, the largest group representing a third of the U.S. population.

“Providers? never feel quite good enough,” said Arnot. “And the last thing they want is to be seen as a neglectful parent or to be caught snoozing when some­thing new is known about the foods they buy for their family. To ease the anxi­ety, they look to other Consumer Types for guidance.” 

This influence is why more Americans are flocking toward various attributes of food that they consider evolved and that signify prog­ress, Arnot said. “We see that in the demand for food less processed, simpler labels and labels that indicate the product is 'free from everything from gluten to GMOs.”

“Understanding consumer attitudes toward food and how those attitudes influence the conversation allows food companies to more effectively talk with consumers. Consumers want to feel good about the products they buy for themselves and their families and want easy access to balanced, useful information to know they are making the right choices,” said Horner. “These insights will help food companies build trust by meeting consumers’ expectations for transparency and engaging in a meaningful conversation about the food they buy.”

Tuesday January 17 Ag News

10 Auctioneers Move on to WLAC from West Point qualifier
West Point Livestock hosted the final of three regional qualifying events for the 2017 World Livestock Auctioneer Championship (WLAC) Monday.  A total of 26 contestants competed for a top 10 placing, granting them a spot in the 2017 WLAC at Public Auction Yards in Billings, Montana.  The reigning World Livestock Auctioneer Champion, Andy White, served as the event emcee.

Here are the results of Monday's qualifying event...
Champion: Lander Nicodemus, Cheyenne, Wyo.;
Reserve Champion: Mike Godberson, Pawnee, Okla.;
Runner Up Champion: Dan Koupal, Dante, S.D.;
Top Rookie: Cody Lowderman, Macomb, Ill.;

Others that qualified for the finals in Billings include...
Neil Bouray, Superior, Neb.;
Albert Carroll, Downeyville, ON;
Lance Cochran, Medford, Okla.;
Brian Little, Wann, Okla.;
Blake McDaniel, Tallassee, Ala.;
and Jared Miller, Leon, Iowa

The qualifying event was a live sale where the contestants auctioned cattle to actual bidders in the seats. Contestants were judged on the clarity of their auction chant; vocal quality; and their ability to catch bids and conduct the sale. Judges are livestock market owners and managers from across the United States.


Iowa’s Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) Commissioners, along with conservation partner agencies, met for the annual Conservation Partnership Day held at the Capitol in Des Moines on Tuesday, January 17.

Focusing on “Our Water, Our Land, Our People,” this year’s event included displays highlighting conservation efforts in each of the nine Conservation Districts of Iowa (CDI) regions across the state.  Displays highlighted how funds are used for technical assistance, watershed projects, wetlands, cost share, urban and agricultural conservation practices and more.

Gov. Terry Branstad, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey visited with the Commissioners and viewing displays.

The annual event is coordinated through partnership of the Conservation Districts of Iowa and the State Soil Conservation Committee.

Vilsack to Take Helm of U.S. Dairy Export Council

The U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) today announced that former U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will join the organization as president and CEO, effective Feb. 1, 2017. USDEC is a non-profit, independent organization that seeks to enhance the global demand for U.S. dairy products and ingredients.

"Growing the global market for U.S. dairy products is essential to the future of the dairy industry and America's dairy farmers. I've spent my career in public service as a tireless advocate for farmers and American agriculture and can think of no better way to continue this service than by leading the U.S. Dairy Export Council," said Vilsack. "I look forward to partnering with the dynamic team at USDEC as well as agriculture, food industry and key stakeholders at home and abroad to advance the council's mission and strengthen trust in American dairy."

As president and CEO, Vilsack will provide strategic leadership and oversight of USDEC's global promotional and research activities, regulatory affairs and trade policy initiatives. This includes working with industry leaders to develop a long-term vision for building sales and consumer trust in U.S. dairy. Together with the USDEC board, he will create strategies to successfully achieve the shared vision. He will serve as the organization's primary spokesperson and ambassador to a host of global and domestic stakeholders.

"The global dairy market is more competitive today than ever. Ambitious trade agreements, reasonable labeling and product standards, and other issues are vital to the growth of America's dairy industry," noted Thomas Gallagher, CEO of Dairy Management Inc. (DMI), the umbrella organization that represents the broad interests of U.S. dairy and founded USDEC in 1995. "Secretary Vilsack's impressive record of leadership and his proven ability to manage complex issues, combined with his breadth and depth of industry knowledge, made him the preeminent choice to take the helm of USDEC. I look forward to working with him."

USDEC routinely partners with other dairy industry groups such as the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, the International Dairy Foods Association and the National Milk Producers Federation to address the needs of its members, which include producers, processors and cooperatives, ingredient suppliers and export traders. An important component of Vilsack's role will be working with and through these organizations to achieve results on behalf of the value chain.

"Secretary Vilsack is a proven leader on global issues ranging from child nutrition and food security to biotechnology and sustainable agriculture. He shares the dairy community's commitment to advancing responsible solutions to global challenges and collaboration across the industry," said Paul Rovey, USDEC Chairman and Arizona dairy farmer.

Vilsack will succeed Tom Suber, who served as president of USDEC since its founding in 1995, and retired at the end of 2016. Under Suber's leadership, global U.S. dairy exports showed significant growth, rising from the equivalent of roughly 5 percent of U.S. milk production to a high of 15.5 percent.

"We thank Tom Suber for his tremendous contributions to the growth of U.S. dairy exports and elevating U.S. dairy's position globally. He leaves an impressive legacy at USDEC," noted DMI's Gallagher.

USDEC has more than 100 dairy industry, dairy exporter and affiliated entity members. Its work is supported by staff across the United States and internationally in Mexico, South America, Asia, the Middle East and Europe.

Cattlemen Call on U.S. Senate to Confirm Scott Pruitt as EPA Administrator

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association today sent a letter to the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works expressing strong support for the nomination of Scott Pruitt to be Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and called for his swift confirmation.

“As Oklahoma’s Attorney General, Mr. Pruitt led the fight to bring common sense back to environmental regulation and he was an unrivaled defender of private property rights,” NCBA’s President, Tracy Brunner, said in the letter. “In fact, in 2015 the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association honored Mr. Pruitt with its Distinguished Service Award for his dedication to those principles.”

Decisions made by EPA impact America’s hundreds of thousands of cattle producers every day. NCBA’s top priority at EPA is stopping its “waters of the United States” rule, which the group says is so broad that it would give federal agencies jurisdiction over all types of features, including dry features, including ditches, swales, gullies, and mudflats. NCBA has sued EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to block the rule, and is calling on Congress and the incoming Administration to kill the regulation. NCBA last Friday hailed the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to grant a cert petition for the industry coalition lawsuit challenging EPA on the rule.

NCBA directly represents more than 30,000 American cattle producers as members, and through state affiliates represents 175,000 of America’s farmers and ranchers who help provide the safest and most abundant food supply in the world.

Pig Farmers Very Aware of and Complying with New Antibiotic Rules

U.S. pig farmers are not only well aware of new federal rules for on-farm antibiotic use, but already are complying. In a survey conducted by the National Pork Board in November, 95 percent of pig farmers surveyed said that they were ready to be fully compliant by the time the rules took effect on Jan. 1, 2017.

“The pork industry worked toward the Jan. 1 implementation date for nearly two years. There was a concern that some producers would not make changes until after the date of implementation, but that does not seem to be the case,” said Jan Archer, National Pork Board president and a pig farmer from Goldsboro, North Carolina. “Pig farmers are committed to the substantive changes regarding antibiotic use, and many discontinued using antibiotics for growth promotion years ago, while also reviewing swine medical treatment uses of antibiotics as well.”

One of the key changes to the new Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rules is that medically important antibiotics could no longer be used for growth promotion. Today, human medically important antibiotics can only be used to treat sick animals or to prevent disease and/or control it.

Archer added that a key hurdle in complying with new FDA rules is ensuring that every pig farmer has a defined and ongoing client relationship with a veterinarian. That can be a challenge in remote areas of the country where the nearest veterinarian could be hundreds of miles away. Last month the Pork Checkoff announced a partnership with Global Vetlink of Ames, Iowa, to offer a veterinarian locator tool, which is available at

“Complying with the new rules is critical to maintaining consumer trust in the high quality and safety of pork produced in the U.S.,” Archer said. “The two key elements are having an established veterinarian-client-patient relationship and ensuring that antibiotics are administered under the guidance of a veterinarian. To do so without veterinarian oversight is now illegal.”

In addition to information about antibiotic use changes, the National Pork Board’s annual November survey was designed to take the pulse of U.S. pork production. The survey showed that for the seventh consecutive year, pork producer support for the Pork Checkoff increased and is now at a record 91 percent – up 1 percent from the 2015 survey. Meanwhile, opposition to the Checkoff remains at a record low 4 percent. These results are the most positive in the history of the survey.

Other highlights included:
-    Right direction/wrong track: 76 percent of producers – a full three out of four – said that the industry is heading “in the right direction,” improving from the previous year’s score of 70 percent. Of those surveyed, 19 percent feel the industry is “on the wrong track.” This improvement in optimism is encouraging despite the market supply pressure many are feeling with lower prices for pigs.
-    The biggest challenge facing producers is “too many rules/regulations.” In previous years, the main challenge was viewed as “managing hog health and disease.” That previously No. 1 concern fell to No. 4 this year, a significant drop.
-    Single most important request: Producers’ No. 1 request of the Checkoff is to educate consumers on pork production and the industry. This was followed closely by advertising and promoting pork and opening new markets.

“America’s pig farmers understand that growing domestic and export demand for pork is critical, but it all starts with building trust,” Archer said. “This survey bears out that it begins with educating consumers about how pigs are raised, pork’s safety and its nutritional value.”

In response to specific questions about the National Pork Board’s strategic plan implemented early in 2015, the awareness and importance of each goal remains strong. On a 10-point scale:
-    Build Consumer Trust rated a mean score of 8.91 (a decrease from 9.04 in 2015).
-    Grow Consumer Demand rated a mean score of 8.70 (an increase from 8.63 in 2015).
-    Drive Sustainable Production rated a mean score of 8.18 (an increase from 7.96 in 2015).

“Clearly, the implementation of the strategic plan is aligned with the concerns, interests and thoughts of producers,” Archer said. “Pig farmers tell us that their investment in the Pork Checkoff is at work, with 17 defined objectives directly supporting each of the three goals.”

General Motors Announces 20 for B20 in its Diesel Vehicle Lineup

General Motors is taking bold steps to expand the U.S. diesel vehicle market beyond its traditional stronghold in full-size pickups, and providing more options than ever before for customers to reap the additional benefits of fueling up with B20 biodiesel blends, America’s Advanced Biofuel. With eight new diesel vehicle options hitting the roadways in 2017 – 2018, General Motors now offers a full line-up of twenty different diesel models, from passenger cars, to pickups and SUVs, to commercial vans and low cab forward trucks - all of which are approved for use with B20.

John Schwegman, Director of Commercial Product and Medium Duty Product for General Motors, delivered the welcome news to an enthusiastic crowd at the National Biodiesel Conference & Expo today in San Diego.

“Diesel propulsion deserves wider consideration by fleet managers across the country,” Schwegman said.  “With biodiesel production and retail distribution expanding, and so many proven benefits, we believe more fleets will embrace the technology as part of their sustainability plans. If our diesel customers fueled exclusively with biodiesel, we estimate that consumption of petroleum-based fuels would be reduced by hundreds of million gallons annually.”

GM’s announcement, along with additional new diesel model introductions this year, sends a strong signal that diesel remains an important option for meeting the current and future needs of U.S. drivers. Including 2017 and 2018 models, Chevrolet and GMC will offer one of the largest portfolios of vehicles capable of running on B20, a blend of 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent ultra-low sulfur diesel.

GM Fleet’s B20 Capable Options Include:
    Chevrolet Express full-size vans (Cargo, Passenger, Cutaway)
    Chevrolet Low Cab Forward commercial truck
    Chevrolet Colorado mid-size pickup
    Chevrolet Silverado (2500HD, 3500HD, Chassis Cab) pickups
    Chevrolet Equinox crossover vehicle
    Chevrolet Cruze (Sedan, Hatchback) passenger cars
    GMC Savana (Cargo, Passenger, Cutaway) full-size vans
    GMC Sierra (2500HD, 3500HD, Chassis Cab) pickups
    GMC Canyon mid-size pickup
    GMC Terrain crossover vehicle
    In 2018, Chevrolet will add a fifth diesel-powered truck line: a new Class 4/5 conventional cab truck being developed jointly with Navistar.

Donnell Rehagen, CEO of the National Biodiesel, welcomed the news from GM by stating, “General Motors is a shining example of a company that is getting it right by continuing to invest in new technology diesel engines to meet consumer demands for powerful, clean and fuel-efficient vehicles capable of running on clean, renewable B20 biodiesel blends.  We applaud GM for its efforts, and look forward to partnering with you in your continued support for biodiesel as your diesel vehicle product line continues to expand.”

Automakers Fuel the U.S. Market With More Biodiesel Capable Diesel Vehicle Models

U.S. auto manufacturers have introduced a record number of new biodiesel capable diesel vehicle options for consumers as the push for increased fuel efficiency, performance, and sustainability in America’s transportation sector grows. Despite a challenging marketplace, automakers and fleets remain bullish on new diesel engines that lower carbon emissions by increasing fuel economy over their gasoline counterparts—and that can provide even further benefits when powered by clean, low carbon biodiesel blends.

“Biodiesel is a renewable, domestically produced fueling option that amplifies the already substantial benefits of new technology diesel vehicles,” said Steve Howell, Senior Technical Advisor for the National Biodiesel Board. “NBB and the U.S. biodiesel industry remain committed to working closely with our partners in the auto and engine manufacturing community to ensure that the high quality biodiesel fuel of today and tomorrow will continue to provide OEMs, fleets, and consumers with a reliable, fit-for-purpose fuel that keeps pace with the nation’s increasing demands for cleaner, more efficient, and sustainable modes of transportation.”

Several automakers’ new 2017 diesel models are being featured this week at the San Diego Convention Center as part of the National Biodiesel Conference & Expo. The Biodiesel Vehicle Showcase event is presented by NBB and General Motors Fleet.  General Motors is bringing an industry-leading lineup of 20 different diesel vehicle options to market in the 2017-2018 model year, setting records by approving all 20 models for use with B20, a blend of 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent ultra-low sulfur diesel.  One of GM’s flagship models, the 2017 Chevrolet Silverado HD pickup with a 6.6L Duramax® turbo diesel engine, is on proud display in the vehicle showcase, and will be joined on the roadways this year by additional GM diesel model offerings in the car, truck, van and compact SUV categories.

Ford Motor Company is also showcasing one of its new 2017 B20 capable pickups this week with the Ford F-250 Super Duty powered by its 6.7L Power Stroke® turbo diesel V8 engine. And Ford just announced it is adding a new 3.0L Power Stroke® turbo diesel engine option to its popular Ford F-150 for 2018, joining the Ford F-Series Super Duty and Ford Transit in the company’s diesel lineup.

Rounding out the pickup options featured in the Biodiesel Vehicle Showcase event is Nissan’s answer to the “Every Duty® Truck”, the 2017 Nissan Titan XD powered by a Cummins® 5.0L V8 turbo diesel engine.

The important off-road equipment market is also represented in the Biodiesel Vehicle Showcase this week by long-time biodiesel supporter John Deere, featuring its best-selling utility tractor in the San Diego area, the John Deere 5045E with a PowerTech® turbocharged diesel engine approved for use with B20 biodiesel blends.  John Deere was one of the first original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to get involved with biodiesel, approving B5 biodiesel blends for use in its engines in 2001. It was also one of the first off-highway equipment manufacturers to factory fill biodiesel blends in North America. Since then, John Deere has continued to conduct biodiesel research and perform lab and field tests using biodiesel fuel, and now supports up to B20 or higher biodiesel blends in its equipment.

Customers from coast to coast have used B20 successfully in virtually every make and model diesel engine, and the vast majority of new diesel engines now have full OEM support for B20 with no vehicle modifications required. Yet in the ever-increasing drive to cut carbon and lower CO2 emissions, forward looking fleets and users are investigating higher biodiesel blends to maximize the reduction in their carbon footprint.  To address the interest, another vehicle showcase participant, Optimus Technologies, has begun to manufacture biodiesel conversion systems that enable vehicles to run up to B100—even in the coldest climates.  With its simple heated fuel system approach, Optimus could potentially provide fleets an easy and cost effective way to use pure B100 biodiesel in their existing vehicles and reduce carbon by 80 percent at a fraction of the cost of conversion to other fuel alternatives being considered, like compressed natural gas.

Biofuels Champ Richard Childress Makes NASCAR Hall of Fame

This week, Growth Energy will join racing fans across the country to celebrate the induction of NASCAR’s 2017 Hall of Fame honorees, including racing legend Richard Childress, a longtime champion for ethanol-based fuels.

 “Richard Childress purchased his first racecar for $20 dollars at the age of 17 and has been making automotive history ever since,” said Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy. “In fact, he helped introduce the sport to ethanol, demonstrating time and again the performance benefits of higher-octane, homegrown fuels. We could not be more excited to join loyal fans across the country in celebrating his recognition by the Hall of Fame.”

 Childress, who also serves as a Board member at Growth Energy, got his start in 1969 and earned 76 top-10 finishes in 285 races before handing over driving duties to Dale Earnhardt in 1981. He later founded Richard Childress Racing, a 12-time NASCAR championship-winning organization that continues to drive innovation in the sport.

 In 2011, Childress was among the leaders who helped launch the NASCAR Green initiative, which included a switch to Sunoco Green E15, a 21st century fuel containing 15 percent American ethanol. Since then, NASCAR has surpassed 10 million miles on the fuel. E15 is also available off-the-track, and American consumers have driven more than 500 million miles on the blend, reducing emissions, saving money, and boosting engine performance. 

 “I congratulate Richard on this historic achievement and all those victories still yet to come,” added Skor. “His career is a tribute to American ingenuity and perseverance, and we’re proud to count him as a friend.”

USDA Collecting Data on Dairy Sector

Representatives of the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service are in the process of visiting dairy farms across the nation this month to collect data for the final phase of the 2016 Agricultural Resource Management Survey.

The survey is an annual program that gathers in-depth information on production practices, costs and financial well-being of American farm families. ARMS targets select commodities on a rotational basis. This year, the survey places additional focus on corn, and conventional and organic dairy sectors.

The results of the 2016 ARMS will help USDA and other policymakers analyze the impacts of the new Dairy Margin Protection Program, introduced in the Agricultural Act of 2014. With operational costs driving structural changes within the dairy industry, this new program aims to help dairy producers when milk prices drop and feed prices remain high. USDA launched the program in 2015, making the current survey crucial to measuring its initial effects.

All dairy farmers selected to participate in the 2016 ARMS will be notified by a mailed postcard. After that, trained enumerators will make appointments and visit the participating farms to gather the information through personal interviews. These visits will begin in late January and will continue through early April.

The last time ARMS focused on the dairy sector was in 2010 and focused only on the conventional dairy sector. This will also be the first time ARMS will include additional focus on the organic dairy production.

Early Riser Sessions Reward Commodity Classic Early Birds

At Commodity Classic, the early bird catches some great education thanks to a great line-up of Early Riser Sessions.

Early Riser sessions begin each day at 7:00 a.m.  They are eye-opening presentations on market trends, ag issues and other important topics. 

Early Riser Sessions kick off the morning of Thursday, March 2 with “The Great 2017 Grain Marketing Debate” sponsored by Corn+Soybean Digest and Farm Futures Magazine, Penton Agriculture and Channel Seed.  The session features Bryce Knorr, senior market analyst for Farm Futures; Ed Usset, contributing editor to Corn+Soybean Digest and author of Grain Marketing is Simple; and Matt Bennett, grain marketing consultant for Channel Seed.  This session could be crucial in figuring out ways to maneuver in a market filled with uncertainty.

A live taping of U.S. Farm Report, the nation’s longest-running, syndicated agriculture news program is the Early Riser session for Friday, March 3, sponsored by Farm Journal Media.  Attendees can be part of the live audience as host Tyne Morgan and a panel of commodity traders and analysts debate market trends, futures and important ag issues.  Panelists will include Chip Flory of Pro Farmer, Ted Siefried of Zaner Ag Hedge, and Bob Utterback of Utterback Marketing.

On Saturday, March 4, there are two concurrent Early Riser Sessions.  Advance Trading, Inc. presents “What Would Make Someone Invest in Your Farm?”, in which presenter Tommy Grisafi outlines what is needed to stay in business and pass the farm on to the next generation. 

The other Saturday session, sponsored by Commodity Classic, is entitled “Piles to Files:  Weed Through Your Paperwork.”  Lori Firsdon, owner of Forte Organizers, will share strategies to reduce paper clutter and organize your office paperwork for quick and easy reference and retrieval.

“Early Riser sessions really bring out the crowds at Commodity Classic,” said Kevin Ross, an Iowa farmer and co-chair of the 2017 Commodity Classic. “These sessions are real eye-openers and are well worth setting the alarm a few minutes early.  We even reward your early start with complimentary coffee and pastries!”

Education is a hallmark of Commodity Classic.  Early Riser sessions are just part of the wide range of educational sessions which also includes Learning Centers, What’s New Sessions, Mini What’s New Sessions, the AG CONNECT Main Stage and the General Session.  Commodity Classic also features a huge trade show, entertainment and the opportunity to network with thousands of America’s best farmers.

Detailed information on educational sessions and the entire Commodity Classic schedule are available at

 NFU Statement on Trump Transition Team Deal with Bayer

 President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team announced today that it has struck a deal with Bayer AG, committing the German agricultural input company to investing $8 billion towards research and development should the company be permitted to acquire competitor Monsanto Co.

In response to the announcement, National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson released the following statement:

“Today’s announcement that President-elect Trump's transition team has struck a deal with Bayer and Monsanto is deeply disturbing if it leads to an approval of the Bayer-Monsanto acquisition by the incoming Trump Administration.

“Family farmers and rural communities came out in droves to support President-elect Trump and his campaign messaging of fighting the power structure, putting a stop to corporate mega mergers, and standing up for the little guy.

"The touted benefits of these deals pale in comparison to the adverse effects family farmers and ranchers will face with continued mergers in the agriculture sector. Corporate consolidation in agriculture leads to less competition and choice in the marketplace and higher input costs for family farmers and ranchers.

"We strongly urge the President-elect reject the notion that corporate consolidation benefits family farmers and rural America by putting an end to the endless string of mergers in agriculture."

Precision Planting Launches SmartFirmer™ for Organic Matter and Furrow Environment Sensing

Precision Planting is launching SmartFirmer™, a seed firmer with unprecedented sensing capability that will allow farmers to not only map row by row organic matter, soil moisture, and furrow residue, but also to perform on-the-go control of planting population or hybrid based on organic matter measurement.  Compatibility with Climate FieldViewTM makes SmartFirmer data viewable on the industry-leading digital agriculture platform.

In any field, there are multiple yield environments that are determined by soil type, organic matter, topography, drainage, and dozens of other attributes.  To better manage these yield environments, the SmartFirmer high definition organic matter map will be a key input for developing precise prescriptions for planting population, seed hybrid, and fertility applications.  Alternatively, farmers could allow SmartFirmer to simply control seeding based on the real-time organic matter measurement and the corresponding population or hybrid selected by the farmer or their trusted advisor.

Soil moisture is a critical component for seed germination and uniform plant emergence, and ultimately crop yield.  SmartFirmer will give farmers row-by-row visibility to soil moisture in the seed furrow, allowing farmers to choose the right planting depth as soil conditions change.

In-furrow crop residue has well-known negative impacts on seed germination and growth.  SmartFirmer will allow farmers to measure the quantity of in-furrow residue and adjust row cleaners accordingly, thus ensuring residue won’t limit seed moisture uptake or transmit disease.

SmartFirmer will be compatible with 20/20 SeedSenseTM SRM systems with quick-attach Keeton firmer brackets. 

Monday January 16 Ag News

2017 NE Extension Beef Feedlot Roundtable
February 9: West Point, Nielsen Community Center

Please plan to participate in this meeting at a location nearest you. Topics and speakers were chosen to benefit feedlot managers, owners, employees, and allied industry. Sponsors include the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension and Nebraska Beef Council. 

12:30—1:00 Registration
1:00 Introduction and Welcome - Local Extension Personnel
1:15 Effects of Environment on Bovine Respiratory Disease - Brian Vander Ley, Great Plains Veterinary Educational Cener
2:00 Marketing fat cattle options and what the fed cattle exchange entails -Steve Sunderman, Producer; Nebraska Cattlemen Committee Co-chair
2:45 Break -Sponsored by the Nebraska Beef Council
3:00 Livestock and Climate Change– Facts and Fiction -Frank Mitloehner, University of California-Davis (via remote connection)
3:45 UNL Feedlot Research Update -Matt Luebbe, UNL Panhandle Research and Extension Center
-Galen Erickson, UNL Animal Science Industry Updates
4:15 Beef Quality Assurance– Feedlot Assessments -Rob Eirich, UNL Panhandle Research and Extension Center
4:30 Nebraska Beef Council- Doug Straight, Nebraska Beef Council
4:45 Adjourn
5:00 Optional: Beef Quality Assurance Training -Rob Eirich, UNL Panhandle Research and Extension Center (Additional cost for BQA training. For more information please contact Rob at 308-631-2311 or e-mail

Pre-registration ($20 for pre-registration, $30 at the door) for the Roundtable is due by Wednesday, February 1st 2017.   Please pre-register by phone, fax, e-mail, or mail. Checks can be made out to “UNL” .  Return completed registration form to: Matt Luebbe, Panhandle Research and Extension
4502 Ave. I Scottsbluff, NE 69361 - Phone: 308-632-1260 Fax: 308-632-1365 - E-mail:  Or contact Larry Howard in the Cuming County Extension office at 402-372-6006. 

Sixth Annual Innovative Youth Corn Challenge 

Do you enjoy being outside? Learning new things about crops? Are you considering a career involving crops, insects, diseases, soils, water or more? Do you want to help figure out how to feed the world’s growing population sustainably?

Innovative Youth Corn Challenge

Nebraska Extension and the Nebraska Corn Board are offering the sixth Innovative Youth Corn Challenge contest. This contest, open to 4-H members (age 10 and older as of January 1) or FFA members (in-school members), guides participants through all aspects of corn production and explores 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 and determine whether they increased their 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 will be given to the first, second, and third place teams. First place will receive $1,000, second place will receive $500, and third place will receive $250. Sustainability, crop scouting, and “extra mile” awards also will be given, each worth $150.    

To participate in 2017, youth must complete and return an entry form by March 15 to the Fillmore County Extension Office, 1340 G St.,Geneva, NE 68361. Forms can be downloaded here or at

For more information, contact one of these Nebraska Extension educators:
    Brandy VanDeWalle at
    Aaron Nygren at
    Amy Timmerman at

Preparing for Farm Loan Renewal Time

Tina Barrett - Executive Director of Nebraska Farm Business Inc.

Shortly before Christmas, I was watching a Christmas movie with my family about a farm family who was in jeopardy of losing the operation if they didn’t come up with the required payments by January 2. You can guess, as well as I did, that it was a Christmas miracle and the necessary funds were found on Christmas Eve. While the story was predictable, it made me wish the struggles of the real farm economy could be fixed in less than two hours, with no family arguments and the only unknown being how it would be solved, not if.

The reality is that some operations are going to be faced with the real issue of foreclosure this year.  Others will need to look hard at restructuring debt, switching lenders, making major changes to their operation and/or living, and maybe even selling off excess assets.  So how can you make your operation be the best it can be through a stressful renewal season?  Here are a few things to consider before you go into your renewal appointment:

    Be prepared.  Come into your renewal appointment with a plan.  Have detailed estimate of your costs for the coming year, a cash flow that makes sense and is grounded in reality (no $7 corn sales), and include reasonable spending for family living. If your cash flow shows significant changes from previous years, come with an explanation. For example:  “My family living is down 20% from last year. We have a monthly budget and a commitment from our family to stick to it. We will send monthly accountability reports to show we are serious.” If you just reduced family living to make the cash flow work without a plan on how to make that change actually work, it’s not believable.

    Be honest.  Being honest with yourself is just as important as being honest with your lender. Take a hard look at your operation and figure out WHY your operation is having a tough time at renewal. It isn’t just because commodity prices are down. If that were the case, every operation would be experiencing this stress and they are not. So what’s different about your operation?  What costs have changed in the past five to six years? Where can you make different choices about your costs?

    Be accountable. This is YOUR farm operation. YOU get to make the choices about how the money is spent. Many times I hear, “We just don’t have a choice on how much we spend.” The reality is you make choices every day. You can choose a different seed variety or a different seed vendor (or any other input). You can choose to operate older equipment instead of having the latest and greatest technology. You can choose between buying a $60,000 family vehicle or a $30,000 one. You may have to make unpleasant choices, but they are still your choices to make. The choice of whether or not a bank continues to finance you may not ultimately be yours, but the choices that led to that decision were yours.

Being ready for your appointment may only be half the battle, but it will show you have a commitment to turning your operation around.

When a Farm Operation Loan is Denied

If your bank does deny continued funding, there are other options to consider.

-    Your current bank is not the only one who can finance your operation.  You can go back to the “drawing board,” get even more organized and prepared, and try another bank or two.

-    If you are unable to obtain credit elsewhere, you may qualify for a loan from the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA). The funding for these loans can change from year to year and is set by the government so there may be first come-first served access to these loans. More information about these loans can be found at:

-    Consider liquidating some assets.  It may seem like you can’t operate without ALL of your equipment, but it may be a good time to rent some of those larger assets such as a combine or have your harvest done by a custom harvester. If you sell some equipment so you can retire debt, you may be able to put yourself into a position where you can service the remaining debt while continuing to farm. You also may need to liquidate some land to keep going. Don’t forget to hold back some proceeds for income taxes.

-    Bankruptcy may be a word that comes back into normal conversation. Our office is preparing to dust off old books and take classes to prepare for potential questions from farmers hoping to avoid or best navigate through the potential reality of bankruptcy.  While avoiding bankruptcy will be ideal, the laws exist for a reason and may be a good tool for you to use so your operation can continue.  Unfortunately, bankruptcy is complicated and the services of a good attorney and accountant will be necessary to complete the process.

Seek Expertise and Engage Your Support Network

Regardless of the outcome, going through a stressful renewal is tough on everyone. I don’t know a single lender who got into the business with the goal of putting farmers out of business and I don’t know a single farmer who wanted their business to end with a liquidation.

Using your management team is going to be important. It may seem silly to be paying professional fees when you are trying to cut costs, but many of these issues are very complex and require detailed expertise.

It is also stressful for your family. Consider professional counseling to protect those relationships, your marriage, and your mental health. Talking about financial struggles is never fun, but keeping it to yourself could cause even bigger consequences.

Several sources of assistance are readily available to you.
-    Nebraska Extension has developed a team of educators trained to help producers improve their financial literacy. For more information, contact your local extension educator.
-    The State of Nebraska also has the Farm/Ranch Hotline ready to provide immediate help. Call 1-800-464-0258 to find financial, legal and counseling services and referrals. The schedule of

For more information on farm financial management, see farm management information in, published by Nebraska Extension, and on the Department of Agricultural Economics website.

The author, Tina Barrett, is executive director of Nebraska Farm Business, Inc. and a program manager in the UNL Department of Agricultural Economics.

BQA Producer Forum Open to All Cattle Producers

Attention all dairymen, cattle farmers and ranchers:  The Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) Producer Forum will be held Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017 from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. in Nashville, Tenn., during the Annual Cattle Industry Convention. The forum is open to all cattle producers and BQA stakeholders.

This is a time for cattle producers to have their voices heard about the checkoff-funded BQA program and where it’s headed in the future.

“This is where the grassroots ‘rubber meets the road’,” says Dan Kniffen, BQA Advisory Board chair. “As we work to shape the program into what’s best for producers and the beef industry as a whole, your input is highly encouraged and appreciated at this critical time."

During the forum, producers will hear updates on current programs and resources, meet the BQA program staff and leaders, and have an opportunity for engagement and discussion.

Major Accomplishments are Fueling Biodiesel’s Future At the National Biodiesel Conference & Expo

From the streets of New York City to the surf of the California Coast, big things are happening to fuel biodiesel’s future. So it’s no surprise enthusiasts of America’s Advanced Biofuel are excited to converge this week in San Diego at the industry’s largest gathering of producers, distributors and fans.

San Diego residents are invited to join the action free-of-charge when the 14th Annual National Biodiesel Conference & Expo kicks off in earnest Tuesday. The day opens with an overview of the industry at the conference’s General Session, which is followed by numerous breakout sessions where experts will present on the latest trends in the industry. Local fans will be particularly interested in the discussion in the session, “California’s Thriving Low Carbon Markets.”

“The General Session is one event attendees won’t want to miss,” said Donnell Rehagen, CEO of the National Biodiesel Board, which produces the annual conference. “Not only will they get presentations on what’s been accomplished and what’s expected ahead, we are looking forward to a very special announcement from General Motors that will be exciting news for biodiesel fans everywhere.

“Plus we all will be treated to a keynote address from master negotiator Chris Voss,” Rehagen added. “Chris has used his many years of experience as an FBI agent in international crisis and high stakes negotiations to develop a unique program and team that applies globally-proven techniques to the business world. This is a great opportunity for everyone to learn from an expert that can make us all better at what we do in business and in life.”

Attendees will also enjoy the Biodiesel Vehicle Showcase that kicks off Tuesday in the Expo Hall. There they will find the latest biodiesel-capable vehicles, technologies and special announcements on what to expect in the future.

Throughout the week, attendees will have an opportunity to learn more about the exciting developments for the biodiesel industry that have occurred in the past calendar year. Thanks to new legislation, New York City residents will see the amount of biodiesel used in place of conventional heating oil gradually grow over the coming years. In fact, the amount of biodiesel used for home heating oil there is expected to skyrocket from 50 million gallons last year to 200 million gallons by 2034.

And in Oregon, residents there have followed California’s lead and instituted their own Low Carbon Fuel Standard, which means more clean-burning biodiesel being substituted for petroleum diesel. Not to be outdone, California last year took it to another level by extending the state’s targets for carbon emissions reductions to 2030. Biodiesel and renewable diesel are leading credit generators under the low carbon fuel standard and their presence will continue growing with the expansion of this landmark policy.

Beyond the victories in individual states and municipalities, much of the discussion this week will center on what the new Congress and Administration will mean for the biodiesel industry in general and the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) specifically. The RFS is the program signed into law under the George W. Bush administration with bipartisan support in Congress that guarantees minimum levels of biodiesel and other alternative fuels are blended into the nations fuel supply.

“There’s no question this is an interesting time for biodiesel and our industry,” Rehagen said. “Like so many others we are eager to see what the coming months and the Trump Administration will mean for renewable energy, for tax reform and for the RFS.  Biodiesel is one of the few truly bi-partisan issues and we are confident our new Congress and new leadership will continue to support a smart solution that is working for America on so many levels.”

FARM Version 3.0 Launched Jan. 1

The new FARM Animal Care Version 3.0 went into effect on Jan. 1, 2017. This latest version of FARM includes new documents and guidelines to update and strengthen the program, which now enjoys the support of companies marketing 98% of the nation’s milk supply. These requirements include a signed Veterinary-Client-Patient Relationship (VCPR) form, a signed Dairy Cattle Care and Ethics agreement, FARM training in basic stockmanship by all employees, and the phaseout of tail docking.

Revisions to the FARM Program occur every three years and are based on input from farmers, veterinarians and others involved in the FARM Program’s Technical Writing Group, NMPF’s Animal Health and Wellbeing Committee, and recommendations received through a public comment period. The revision process began in May 2015. The NMPF Board of Directors approved the changes at its board meeting last March.

FARM Animal Care is one silo within the broader National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) Program, alongside the Antibiotic Resistance and the new Environmental Stewardship components. A complete summary of the Version 3.0 updates can be found on the FARM website...

 CWT-Assisted Export Sales Contracts Total 7.8 Million Pounds in December

Cooperatives Working Together assisted member cooperatives in winning 48 contracts to export 4.75 million pounds of American-type cheeses and 3.03 million pounds of butter in the holiday-shortened month of December. The products will go to customers in Asia, Central America, the Middle East, North Africa, and Oceania, and will be shipped from December 2016 through March 2017.

The contracts captured in December raise the 2016 CWT-assisted sales totals to 50.32 million pounds of American-type cheese, 12.13 million pounds of butter (82% milkfat) and 21.32 million pounds of whole milk powder destined for customers in 23 countries on five continents. The sales are the equivalent of 892.91 million pounds of milk on a milkfat basis. Totals are adjusted for cancellations received during the month.

Assisting CWT member cooperatives gain and maintain world market share through the Export Assistance program expands the long-term demand for U.S. dairy products and the U.S. farm milk that produces them. This increases demand which positively impacts all U.S. dairy farmers by strengthening and maintaining the value of dairy products that directly impact their milk price.

Vilsack Resigns Early as Ag Secretary

Friday was Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack's last day as head of the USDA. He resigned his position a week before tenure.

In a blog post, he says, "I have been honored to serve my country. I will always love the people I worked with at USDA and the people we work for."

The Agriculture Secretary position is now vacant, the last to be filled by the Trump Administration. Many names have been tossed around but none have stuck.

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says he's talked to Vice-President Elect Mike Pence and didn't get an answer.

He says he can't give an update nor can he get an update, "I've suggested several times to this team that they take a real hard look at Iowa secretary of agriculture Bill Northey but there doesn't seem to be any indication out there. I imagine over a period since the election, I've seen almost a dozen names pop up. Never one has popped up a second time."

Grassley adds he's talked to Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee Pat Roberts who also hasn't gotten an update.

NCBA/PLC Support Confirmation of Rep. Zinke for Secretary of Interior

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Public Lands Council released the following statements today in support of the confirmation of Congressman Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.) for the Secretary of Interior:

“During his tenure in the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Zinke has consistently advocated for our western communities, economies, and ranchers,” said Tracy Brunner, NCBA president. “He has demanded transparency and the inclusion of stakeholders when it comes to land management decisions, and has a strong understanding of the challenges that come with stewarding the West.”

Western ranchers own approximately 120 million acres of the most productive private land in the West and manage nearly 250 million acres of public land. Ranchers who hold grazing permits on public land do vital work that benefits public land including the improvement of water sources, improvement of wildlife habitat, and maintaining the open space that Americans enjoy, yet are often targeted by outside interest groups.

“For too long, ranchers have been marginalized and overlooked during planning processes and the benefits they provide to public rangelands, wildlife and natural resources have gone unrecognized,” said Dave Eliason, PLC president. “The current leadership of the Department of Interior refuses to stand up for the very people who have invested their time and livelihoods into the management and improvement of public lands. Having a Secretary of Interior who understands public lands, and who values true cooperation with stakeholders is in the best interest of all Americans. We are excited for Representative Zinke to refocus the agency’s efforts to their core mission, and to have someone in this role that understands the unique challenges we face in the West.”

Friday January 13 Ag News

Nebraska’s Presence Guided National Issues at the American Farm Bureau Convention

Nebraska voting delegates at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s (AFBF) 98th annual meeting approved resolutions that will provide the organization with authority from its grassroots members to push Congress toward the goal line on issues, like protecting crop insurance in the next farm bill, making the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) more flexible, and revamping the regulatory process that has been unworkable for the past eight years under the Obama administration, Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation (NFBF) President Steve Nelson said Jan. 13.

“Securing victories on those issues is critical to our competitiveness as individual farmers and ranchers, and Nebraska agriculture will find more success locally and abroad,” Nelson said.

On the Farm Bill front, delegates reaffirmed their strong support for maintaining and looking at crop insurance products for all commodities, not just for the typical corn and soybean farmers, but for livestock and aquaculture.

“The delegates laid out a set of principles highlighting our very clear support for crop insurance and commodity programs as top priorities,” Jordan Dux, NFBF’s director of National Affairs said. Dux sits on a AFBF Farm Bill Task Force. “Congress will begin to have field hearings on the Farm Bill soon since it expires in 2018.” We probably won’t see big changes, more fine tuning to programs like ARC (Agriculture Risk Coverage) and PLC (Price Loss Coverage). But you may see some changes on the dairy side to the MPP (Margin Protection Program) and the new cotton program. Anything we can do to provide producers with risk management tools will be important,” Dux said.

On other issues, AFBF delegates adopted Nebraska’s resolution to support telemedicine as an option for veterinarians to make animal health diagnoses. This, in turn, would allow some flexibility for producers and veterinarians as they work to be in compliance with the new VFD, which went into effect Jan. 1, 2017.  The VFD final rule outlines the process for authorizing use of VFD drugs (animal drugs intended for use in animal feed that require the supervision of a licensed veterinarian) and provides veterinarians in all states with a framework for authorizing the use of medically important antimicrobials in feed when needed for specific animal health purposes.

“Our Nebraska delegates offered language to change the definition of the vet/client/patient relationship, allowing for the use of telemedicine. For example, if a veterinarian has a good working relationship with a producer it doesn’t require him to come on the farm to physically see the animal before offering a course of treatment. We hope this provides another option for producers and vets who are still trying to wrap their arms around these new requirements” Nelson said.

The delegates also approved a special resolution urging Congress to enact swift, meaningful, and strongly bipartisan regulatory reform. The resolution, comes in the wake of the introduction of bills in Congress that would pare back the rapid growth of oppressive regulation and government overreach by agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Delegates called on the federal government to adhere to a series of principles, including:
•           the use of sound science;
•           consideration of costs and benefits to stakeholders;
•           transparency in federal agencies and departments;
•           reduction of abuses of the court settlement process;
•           limiting deference granted by courts to agencies’ interpretation of law;
•           prohibiting agency misuse of social media to lobby the public in support of proposals;
•           greater congressional oversight of agencies;
•           congressional approval of major rules;
•           a minimum comment period for rules; and
•           reform of the Equal Access to Justice Act.

Delegates also affirmed their support for Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as the nominee for administrator of the EPA.

NE Corn Board to Meet

The Nebraska Corn Board will hold its next meeting on Wednesday, January 25, 2017 at The Cornhusker Marriott, located at 333 South 13th Street in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The Board will meet jointly with the Nebraska Corn Growers Association, however, the Board will not conduct any regular board business at this meeting.

The Board will conduct a subsequent meeting and address regular board business on March 16, 2017 at Embassy Suites, located at 1040 P Street in Lincoln, Nebraska. The Board will also meet on March 17, 2017 at UNL East Campus to hear proposed research projects.

These meetings are open to the public, providing the opportunity for public comment. A copy of the agendas are available by writing the Nebraska Corn Board, PO Box 95107, Lincoln, NE 68509, emailing or calling 402/471-2676.

Nebraska Soybean Board Seeks Leaders to Represent Nebraska Soybean Farmers

This year, the Nebraska Soybean Board (NSB) will be seeking soybean farmers to serve on the Board
of Directors and to represent fellow soybean farmers and the industry.

How does the Election Work?

The election is conducted by mail-in ballot in July for District 5 and 7. Soybean farmers who reside in counties that are up for election in 2017 will receive ballots and candidate information regarding NSB’s election process via direct mail. The At-Large position on the Nebraska Soybean Board is open to all soybean farmers in Nebraska and will be elected by the NSB Directors at the July Board meeting.

What are the 2017 Election Districts and Counties?

The election districts and counties are:
District 5: Counties of Cass, Johnson, Lancaster, Nemaha, Otoe, Pawnee and Richardson.
District 7: Counties of Adams, Buffalo, Clay, Franklin, Hall, Kearney, Nuckolls and Webster
At-Large: All counties in Nebraska

Who Can Be a Candidate for the NSB seats or the At-Large Position on the Board?

· Be a resident of Nebraska
· Be a resident of the district in which the election is being held
· Be a soybean farmer in Nebraska for at least the previous 5 years
· Be 21 years of age or older
· Have submitted a NSB candidacy petition

To apply for Candidacy in District 5 and 7 or the At-Large Position you must:

· Obtain a NSB Candidacy Petition by contacting NSB’s executive director, Victor Bohuslavsky, at 402-432-5720.
· Complete the petition and collect the signatures of 50 soybean farmers in their district
· Return such petition to the NSB office on or before April 15, 2017.

Roles and Responsibilities of Soybean Board Member Representative:

· Attend every NSB meeting – 8 day fiscal year commitment.
· Attend/participate in other educational events sponsored by the Nebraska Soybean Checkoff, in your district.
· Receive no salary but are reimbursed for expenses incurred while carrying out board business.
· Serve a three-year term that would begin October 1, 2017.

Areas of Focus for the Soybean Industry:

As an elected representative to NSB, you will help guide the Nebraska soybean industry in the areas of research, education, domestic and foreign markets, including new uses for soybeans and soybean products.

If you have questions regarding the election process, please contact NSB’s executive director, Victor Bohuslavsky, at 402-432-5720. For more information about the Nebraska soybean checkoff, visit

March 1, 2017 Deadline for Soybean Farmers Interested in United Soybean Board Nominations

The Nebraska Soybean Board (NSB) is looking for soybean farmers interested in filling one of Nebraska's four director positions with the United Soybean Board (USB), for a three-year term.

USB is made up of 73 farmer-directors who oversee the investments of the soybean checkoff on behalf of all U.S. soybean farmers. Checkoff funds are invested in the areas of animal utilization, human utilization, industrial utilization, industry relations, market access and supply. As stipulated in the Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soybean checkoff. 

Any farmer interested in applying needs to meet the following criteria:
1. Be involved in a farming operation that raises soybeans
2. Be a resident of Nebraska
3. Be at least 21 years of age

To be considered for the national leadership position, interested farmers need to submit a USDA Background Information Form before the March 1, 2017 deadline, to obtain this form, contact Victor Bohuslavsky at the Nebraska Soybean Board office at 402-432-5720.

The NSB Board of Directors will submit to the U.S. Department of Agriculture a "first preferred choice nominee" and "second preferred choice alternate" for the open positions. The Secretary of Agriculture will make the final appointments. The USDA has a policy that membership on USDA boards and committees is open to all individuals without regard to race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation and marital or family status. The chosen individual will begin serving a three-year term in December 2017. Each individual appointed is eligible to serve a total of three consecutive terms.

For more information about the United Soybean Board, visit

USDA Rural Development Nebraska State Director Maxine Moul Retires

Maxine Moul announced today she is retiring as the Nebraska USDA Rural Development State Director, effective January 20, 2017.

"I am proud of our accomplishments during the Obama administration. We worked to transform USDA Rural Development into a more effective agency that strives daily to improve the quality of life of rural Nebraska.”  Moul added, “This agency is well positioned to continue to provide important services to rural residents in Nebraska, with a strong staff of competent, experienced employees.”

On June 29, 2009, Moul was appointed to the position of State Director for USDA Rural Development by President Barack Obama.  In this position she managed a staff providing more than 40 housing, business, electric, telecommunications, water and wastewater and community facility programs designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities.  During that time, Moul and her staff managed a grant, loan and loan guarantee housing portfolio of $853 million and made new investments of nearly $2 billion that positively impacted communities across rural Nebraska.

“I have enjoyed this job tremendously,” said Moul.  “I won’t forget meeting homeowners moving into their first home with a USDA loan, helping residents of communities who have clean healthy water piped to their home for the first time in their lives, or the business owners we helped to expand their operations.  I will cherish those memories and forever value the opportunity given to me to help our rural communities.”

During her tenure, Moul was an avid supporter of the programs offered by USDA Rural Development. The Nebraska Single Family Housing program helped 10,235 rural Nebraska families obtain nearly $920 million in guaranteed and direct loans. The Agency’s energy efficiency programs helped rural businesses, farmers and ranchers save on energy costs, through 1,431 in loans and grants totaling $18.3 million.  An additional $16.8 million was expended to support and ensure an expanding production of advanced biofuels.  Two regions of the state, in Northeast and Southeast Nebraska engaged in the USDA Stronger Economies Together program to help them map their future, post-recession.

“USDA Rural Development always excelled at financing infrastructure and during the last eight years we continued that important work.  We financed more than 130 water and wastewater projects that secured cleaner water service to tens of thousands of Nebraskans.  Many community hospitals, community centers and libraries received grants and loans from USDA. We made historic upgrades to rural energy services and expanded broadband services across the state,” said Moul.

The Multi-Family Housing (MFH) program provides financing to develop rental housing in rural areas for persons with very-low, low and moderate incomes.  Funds are also available to construct a new facility or to rehabilitate Rural Development financed apartments or convert existing buildings into apartments.  Nebraska has 195 rental complexes financed through Rural Development that provide 3,139 affordable rental units.

Moul was no stranger to the state’s highways and byways as she visited Nebraska rural communities from Falls City to Chadron during her time at USDA. She began working on community and economic development 45 years ago, when she and her husband, Francis, bought the Syracuse, Nebraska Journal-Democrat newspaper.  As a public servant, she was Nebraska’s Lt. Governor, Director of the Nebraska Department of Economic Development and a founder of the Nebraska Community Foundation.

President Obama’s plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President’s leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America’s economy, small towns and rural communities. USDA’s investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values.

Hall Returns to ISU Extension and Outreach as Dairy Specialist

Fred M. Hall, an Iowa State graduate, is returning to the university as a dairy specialist. He will cover the northwest portion of the state with his office based out of Sioux County.

Hall rejoins the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach staff, having served as the Chickasaw County education director from 2005-09. In his current position Hall will be responsible for working with dairy farmers throughout the northwest region while also developing youth dairy programming.

“Over the years I have specialized in non-traditional programs that meet the needs of citizens, from resource management and disaster response to new enterprise development. Each program will be driven by the needs of producers,” said Hall.

Hall has worked for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Services since 2009 as a county agent serving Tarrant, Williamson and Wichita counties. Hall’s duties included coordinating programming being done in those counties while also working to develop programming, awareness and the impact of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension.

While in Texas, Hall served on regional livestock and livestock mentoring program development committees, the Earth-Kind Living development committee, the 4-H photography publication committee while helping judge district dairy and horse shows. He was also on the originating board of the Texas Master Bee Keeper certification program. Additionally, Hall served on the Central Texas Animal Issues Committee, several FFA advisory boards and the research animal treatment review board at Midwestern State University. He also contributes to the eXtension dairy, bee and horticulture programs.

He has experience as a journalist as the president of Stone County Publishing Company and editor of the Stone County Republican and Marionville Journal weekly newspapers, developing the only weekly newspaper farm section in southwest Missouri. Hall was also the managing editor of the Michigan/Indiana Holstein News, the fifth-largest purebred dairy publication in the United States at the time.

Hall is a graduate of Iowa State, holding a degree in dairy science.

CHS reports $209.2 million first quarter earnings for fiscal 2017

CHS Inc. (NASDAQ: CHSCP), the nation's leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grains and foods company, today reported net income of $209.2 million for the first quarter of its 2017 fiscal year.

Earnings for the period (Sept. 1 – Nov. 30, 2016) declined 22 percent from the same period of fiscal 2016. The decrease was primarily attributed to lower pretax earnings in the company's Energy and Foods segments along with Corporate and Other. These declines were partially offset by increased pretax earnings in the CHS Ag segment as well as earnings from the new Nitrogen Production segment.

"We've been in business for nearly nine decades, so we've experienced these types of cycles before," said CHS President and Chief Executive Officer Carl Casale. "Although it's not possible to predict how long the current down cycle in the ag and energy industries will continue, we'll navigate through this period by continuing to run our businesses efficiently and effectively, by maintaining a strong balance sheet and by ensuring we serve our owners' and customers' needs in all we do."

The CHS Energy segment generated a pretax income of $70.0 million for the first three months of the 2017 fiscal year, compared to $192.9 million for the same period in 2016, representing a decline of 64 percent. This reduction is primarily due to the down cycle in the energy sector and significantly reduced refining margins for the company's two refineries. In addition, earnings for the company's transportation business declined while the lubricants business remained flat and propane earnings increased from the same period a year ago.

The CHS Ag segment, which includes its domestic and global grain and crop nutrients businesses, renewable fuels, local retail operations and processing and food ingredients, generated income of $109.2 million, an increase of 58 percent over the same period a year ago. Grain marketing earnings increased as a result of increased grain margins. Earnings from renewable fuels marketing and production operations increased as a result of higher ethanol sales margins. The wholesale crop nutrients business increased mainly due to increased margins. Country operations earnings increased because of increased grain volumes and other income, which was partially offset by loan loss reserves. CHS processing and food ingredients businesses experienced decreased earnings due to the sale of an international location and lower margins in the domestic soybean crushing business. These reductions were partially offset by higher margins in the canola crushing and soybean refining businesses.

The Nitrogen Production segment generated income of $27.0 million before taxes during the first three months of the fiscal year. This increase in income was primarily driven by a gain of $29.1 million associated with an embedded derivative asset established due to the terms of our strategic investment in CF Industries Nitrogen, LLC ("CF Nitrogen"). There are no comparable results in the prior year as this segment represents our investment in CF Nitrogen, which occurred in February 2016.

First quarter results for the Foods segment, which was previously reported as a component of Corporate and Other, generated pretax earnings of $10.6 million during the first quarter of 2017. This represents a decrease of $7.7 million compared to the same period the year before. This segment consists solely of our equity investment in Ventura Foods, LLC.

Corporate and Other generated pretax earnings of $8.8 million during the first quarter of fiscal 2017, compared to $9.4 million during the same time period the previous year. This segment primarily represents the company's equity investment in the Ardent Mills, LLC wheat milling joint venture and Business Solutions operations. 

CHS New Leader Forum helps young producers enhance skills

More than 100 young producers learned more about how they can play a crucial role in helping agriculture and the cooperative system thrive during the CHS New Leaders Forum held in conjunction with the CHS Annual Meeting.

Participants representing 12 states and Canada were nominated by their local cooperative to participate in the program held Nov. 29 - Dec. 2, 2016.  During the event, attendees explored more about the cooperative system, cooperative board leadership and succession planning.  The group also developed advocacy skills by participating in discussions on the issues and challenges facing cooperatives, agriculture and rural America.

 “It was interesting to learn the economic side of agriculture from the CHS perspective,” says Max Hart, loan officer, Black River Country Bank, Black River Falls, Wis. “Agriculture economics is so international and CHS is involved in all of it. I enjoyed learning how it applied back to me and my farm.”

The New Leaders Forum also featured networking events with fellow producers, the CHS Board of Directors, management and employees.

“The workshops were informative, but I enjoyed the networking and learning about the diversity of farming the most,” says Hart. “In Wisconsin, we think of corn, beans, cows and alfalfa. It’s important to step back and realize the different aspects of farming.  It’s all important and interesting to learn about.”

Supreme Court To Hear Waters of the U.S. Case

The U.S. Supreme Court today agreed to consider whether jurisdiction rests with the federal district or appellate courts to hear a lawsuit brought by the National Pork Producers Council and dozens of other agricultural organizations, businesses and municipalities against a Clean Water Act rule that would give the government broad jurisdiction over land and water.

The Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, which took effect Aug. 28, 2015, was proposed in April 2014 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to clarify the agencies’ authority over various waters. That jurisdiction – based on several U.S. Supreme Court decisions – had included “navigable” waters and waters with a significant hydrologic connection to navigable waters. But the regulation broadened that to include, among other water bodies, upstream waters and intermittent and ephemeral streams such as the kind farmers use for drainage and irrigation. It also covered lands adjacent to such waters.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit in Cincinnati in October 2015 issued a stay on implementation of the regulation pending disposition of numerous lawsuits filed in U.S. district courts around the country. Last year, however, the 6th Circuit consolidated the suits under its jurisdiction. NPPC and other groups in November submitted briefs to the appellate court, arguing that the agencies promulgated the WOTUS rule without following federal rulemaking procedures, the regulation is arbitrary and capricious or contrary to law and the agencies exceeded their authority under the Clean Water Act and the U.S. Constitution. (With just days left in the administration, the Obama EPA today filed its brief in defense of the rule with the 6th Circuit.)

“The WOTUS rule is vague, overbroad and fails to let regulated parties know when their conduct violates the law,” said NPPC President John Weber, a pork producer from Dysart, Iowa. “We all want clean water, but this regulation is a big land grab that promotes growth of government and allows activists to extort and micromanage all kinds of farming and business activities.”

In their brief to the appellate court, NPPC and the other groups said EPA and the Corps of Engineers failed to reopen the public comment period after making fundamental changes to the proposed rule and withheld until after the comment period closed the scientific report on which the rule rested. The agencies also refused to conduct required economic and environmental analyses, engaged in a propaganda campaign to promote the rule and rebuke its critics and illegally lobbied against congressional efforts to stop implementation of the rule.

Supreme Court Agrees to take EPA WOTUS Rule

Scott Yager, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association environmental counsel, today released the following statement in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to grant the cert petition for the industry coalition lawsuit challenging the Environmental Protection Agency on its “waters of the United States” rule:

“The Supreme Court’s decision to hear our appeal is a victory for America’s cattle producers and all private property owners across the country. It shows that the Court has a continued interest in private property rights and we look forward to oral arguments this spring.”

Fischer Applauds SCOTUS Decision to Take Up WOTUS Jurisdiction Dispute

Today, U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, released the following statement regarding the Supreme Court’s decision to take up the dispute over which courts have jurisdiction to hear challenges to the Obama administration's “Waters of the U.S.” or WOTUS rule:

“I’m encouraged that the Supreme Court will explore the dubious legality of the WOTUS rule. This is good news. From the very beginning, this rule’s shocking federal overreach and potential harmful effects on Nebraska families have caused serious anxiety. I will continue to pursue policies that will scrap this rule altogether for the sake of all Nebraskans.”

Earlier this week, Senator Fischer and Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) introduced a Senate resolution that expresses the need to vacate the WOTUS rule. The resolution signifies the senators’ intent to continue working to roll back the harmful rule once the new administration takes office.

Regarding Sen. Fischer, Sen. Ernst, Resolution on EPA “Waters of the U.S.” Rule

Statement by Steve Nelson, President, NE Farm Bureau

"We greatly appreciate the ongoing efforts of Sen. Fischer to eliminate EPA’s “Waters of the U.S.” Rule. Today’s introduction of a resolution by Sen. Fischer and Sen. Ernst to force EPA to withdraw or vacate this far reaching federal regulation is welcomed news to Nebraska farmers, ranchers, and other landowners.

“Even though the federal Sixth Circuit court issued a stay in 2015 immediately blocking implementation of this EPA power grab, we will not rest until this rule is withdrawn and this issue is put to rest.”


The House Thursday passed a bill that would improve protections for farmers and ranchers (and others) who use the futures markets to manage risk, legislation backed by numerous agricultural groups, which this week urged lawmakers to approve the “Commodity End-User Relief Act” (H.R. 238). The measure includes provisions that would:

-    Codify customer protections to help prevent another MF Global situation. The commodities brokerage firm, which comingled customer and company funds, went bankrupt in 2011 and couldn’t repay customers.
-    Provide a permanent solution to the residual interest problem that would have put customer funds at risk – and potentially driven farmers, ranchers and small hedgers out of futures markets – by forcing them to put more of their money into hedge accounts.
-    Relief from burdensome and technologically unfeasible recordkeeping requirements in commodity markets.
-    Require the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to conduct a study and issue a rule before reducing the de minimis threshold for swap dealer registration to make sure doing so would not harm market liquidity and end-user access to markets.
-    Confirm the intent of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act that anticipatory hedging is considered bona fide hedging activity.

House Advances CFTC Reauthorization Bill

This week, the House of Representatives passed legislation to reauthorize the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) on a 239-182 vote.  The Commodity End-User Relief Act (H.R. 238) includes a number of important provisions, including customer protections intended to help prevent another MF Global situation, relief from infeasible recordkeeping requirements in commodity markets, and other provisions that are beneficial to agriculture.  Earlier in the week, the National Association of Wheat Growers sent a letter to Congressional offices with a number of other agricultural associations urging Members of Congress to support the reauthorization bill.  The legislation will now head to the Senate for consideration. 

House Approves Regulatory Reform Bill

The US House earlier this week passed Farm Bureau-supported legislation that would ensure transparency and accountability by regulatory agencies, reaffirm congressional intent in rulemaking and strengthen the public’s right to know. As approved by lawmakers, the Regulatory Accountability Act of 2017 (H.R. 5) included an amendment offered by Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) that would limit a federal agency from lobbying for its own rulemaking.

On Jan. 8, more than 1,500 Farm Bureau members contacted their legislators in support of the regulatory reform bill and the Peterson amendment after American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall issued a call to action during his opening address at the organization’s 2017 Annual Convention & IDEAg Trade Show.

The legislation now goes to the Senate.

USDA Expands Grasslands Conservation Program to Small-Scale Livestock Producers

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Val Dolcini today announced that USDA will accept over 300,000 acres in 43 states that were offered by producers during the recent ranking period for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) Grasslands enrollment with emphasis placed on small-scale livestock operations. Through the voluntary CRP Grasslands program, grasslands threatened by development or conversion to row crops are maintained as livestock grazing areas, while providing important conservation benefits. Approximately 200,000 of the accepted acres were offered by small-scale livestock operations.

“Producers of all sizes are interested in USDA’s Conservation Reserve Program,” said Dolcini. “This latest round of CRP Grasslands enrollment, where much of the acreage comes from small-scale livestock operations, shows that our nation’s family farmers and ranchers can have a big impact on environmental conservation.”

The most recent ranking period closed on Dec. 16, 2016, and included for the first time a CRP Grasslands practice specifically tailored for small-scale livestock grazing operations to encourage broader participation. Under this ranking period and for future periods, small-scale livestock operations with 100 or fewer head of grazing cows (or the equivalent) can submit applications to enroll up to 200 acres of grasslands per farm. Larger operations may still make offers through the normal process. USDA met its goal of 200,000 acres under this small-scale initiative. The new practice for small-scale livestock grazing operations encourages greater diversity geographically and in all types of livestock operations. Visit to view the complete list of acres accepted by state.

Participants in CRP Grasslands establish or maintain long-term, resource-conserving grasses and other plant species to control soil erosion, improve water quality and develop wildlife habitat on marginally productive agricultural lands. CRP Grasslands participants can use the land for livestock production (e.g. grazing or producing hay), while following their conservation and grazing plans in order to maintain the cover. A goal of CRP Grasslands is to minimize conversion of grasslands either to row crops or to non-agricultural uses. Participants can receive annual payments of up to 75 percent of the grazing value of the land and up to 50 percent of the cost of cover practices like cross-fencing to support rotational grazing or improving pasture cover to benefit pollinators or other wildlife.

USDA selects offers for enrollment based on six ranking factors: (1) current and future use, (2) new farmer/rancher or underserved producer involvement, (3) maximum grassland preservation, (4) vegetative cover, (5) environmental factors, and (6) pollinator habitat. Offers not selected in a ranking period are rolled over into the next ranking period.

Small livestock operations or other farming and ranching operations interested in participating in CRP Grasslands should contact their local FSA office. To find your local FSA office, visit To learn more about FSA’s conservation programs, visit

World Food Prices Drop for Five Consecutive Years

World food prices fell for a fifth straight year in 2016 as losses in cereals, meat and dairy outweighed rises in sugar and vegetable oils, the United Nations food agency said on Thursday. Reuters reports that prices remained stable in December from the month before, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO) main food price index, which has edged up steadily after hitting a seven-year low in January.

The full year 2016 logged a 1.5 percent annual drop in the index, which measures monthly changes for a basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy products, meat and sugar.

December's reading of 171.8 points versus 171.9 points in November resulted from strong gains in vegetable oils and dairy largely offseting falls in sugar and meat, the FAO said.

Cereal prices steadily declined during the year, ending 39 percent below their 2011 peak.

Vegetable oil prices reached their highest since July 2014 in December. Palm oil rose on low global inventory levels and tight supplies, while soy oil quotations were boosted by the prospect of rising use for biodiesel in North and South America.

Beef On Hand at NBC4 Health & Fitness Expo

Beef Checkoff staff was on hand during the nation’s largest, best-attended health & fitness expo in Washington D.C., Jan. 7-8.

Hundreds of consumers from the Northeast started the New Year on a healthful note, thanks to a partnership between the national beef checkoff and the Kentucky and Virginia beef councils.

Those attending the 24th NBC4 Health & Fitness Expo were invited to participate in a variety of activities in the beef checkoff booth. Participants captured fun memories at the #BeefHealthy photo booth and tested their beef-nutrition knowledge with Beef Spin Wheel Trivia, and were awarded beef jerky for participating.

Beef Checkoff Executive Chef Dave Zino demonstrated the checkoff’s “Four-Way Slow Cooker Shredded Beef” recipe on the Healthy Cooking 4 You Stage. Chef Zino talked about beef’s versatility in batch cooking, which is of interest to many millennial consumers. Nearly 100 participants watched the demo and taste-tested the results.

While visiting the booth, consumers had the chance to enter to win a steakhouse gift card by participating in an educational survey. Of those polled, 95 percent said they were “more likely” or “just as likely” to serve beef over other proteins after interacting with the checkoff; 88 percent of survey entrants also had a favorable opinion about beef.

Events such as this allow the checkoff to engage directly with consumers, including millennials, to highlight beef’s taste and nutritional benefits, as well as cooking techniques. Checkoff-funded research in the Northeast shows that consumers are not confident in their abilities to pair the correct cut of beef with the appropriate cooking method. Interacting face-to-face with them helps get their cooking questions answered.

EPA Expands Registration of Enlist Duo® Herbicide to 34 States

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has expanded the geography for application of Enlist Duo® herbicide from 15 to 34 states. This means Enlist Duo can be applied to Enlist™ corn and soybeans on the majority of U.S. corn and soybean acres, once all necessary state registrations are received.

The EPA also has registered Enlist Duo herbicide for use on Enlist cotton.

The Enlist weed control system allows growers to use Enlist Duo herbicide — a combination of glyphosate and new 2,4-D choline. This gives growers more flexibility and better performance in their weed control programs. In the United States, more than 90 million acres are infested with resistant and hard-to-control weeds. Growers are searching for solutions that are effective and easy to use.

“With the Enlist system, weeds no longer have the upper hand,” says John Chase, Enlist™ commercial leader. “Growers can use multiple modes of action that deliver proven results, controlling even glyphosate-resistant weeds in the field.”

Enlist Duo controls tough weeds and features Colex-D® technology, which provides four key benefits to growers:
-    Minimized potential for physical drift: Compared with a tank mix of traditional 2,4-D and glyphosate, Enlist Duo® herbicide with Colex-D technology reduces physical drift by up to 90 percent when applied with a low-drift nozzle.
-    Near-zero volatility: With new 2,4-D choline, volatility is reduced by 96 percent compared with 2,4-D ester.
-    Low odor      
-    Improved handling characteristics

The EPA registration means corn, soybean and cotton growers can take advantage of this new formulation to handle their tough weeds and limit the potential for off-target herbicide movement, once necessary state registrations are received.

Effective, on-target applications please growers

Missouri grower Josh Turner saw firsthand how effective Enlist Duo is on the most difficult weeds on his farm.

“We got excellent weed control, even of tough-to-control weeds,” Turner says. “I didn’t notice any off-target movement. There was no damage to any crops directly next to the Enlist field. There was no evidence at all of any drift or anything affecting those plants.”

Looking forward to 2017

Dow AgroSciences is fully prepared to launch Enlist corn and Enlist soybeans upon receipt of pending import approvals. The Enlist cotton trait will be available this spring in a number of high-yielding PhytoGen® brand varieties.

Thursday January 12 Ag News


Corn for grain production in Nebraska, based on year-end surveys, is a new record high of 1.70 billion bushels, up slightly from 2015, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Yield of 178 bushels per acre is down 7 bushels from last year. Farmers harvested 9.55 million acres of corn for grain up 4 percent from 2015.

Soybean production for 2016 is a new record high of 314 million bushels, up 3 percent from 2015. Yield, a new record high of 61.0 bushels per acre, is up 3 bushels from a year earlier. Area for harvest, at 5.15 million acres, is down 2 percent from 2015.

Sorghum for grain production in 2016 is estimated at 17.9 million bushels, down 23 percent from 2015. Yield, at 102 bushels per acre, is up 6 bushels from a year earlier. Area harvested for grain, at 175 thousand acres, is down 27 percent from 2015.

Alfalfa production, at 3.11 million tons, is down 8 percent from a year earlier. The average yield, a new record high of 4.15 tons per acre, is up 0.2 tons per acre from 2015. Area harvested for dry hay, at 750thousand acres, is down 12 percent from 2015. Seedings of alfalfa during 2016 totaled
110 thousand acres, down 30 thousand acres from the year earlier. All other hay production, at 2.64 million tons, is down 11 percent from last year. The average yield, at 1.55 tons per acre, is down 0.05 tons per acre from last year. Area harvested of other dry hay is 1.70 million acres, down 8 percent from 2015. Total forage production from alfalfa and other hay was 5.88 million tons in 2016, down 9 percent from a year earlier.


Corn for grain production in Iowa for 2016 is estimated at 2.74 billion bushels, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service Crop Production 2016 Summary report. This record high production is 9 percent above the previous record of 2.51 billion bushels set in 2015. Iowa has led the Nation in corn production for the last 23 consecutive years and 38 of the last 39 years. Iowa's corn for grain yield is estimated at 203 bushels per acre. This is the first time Iowa’s average corn for grain yield has been over 200 bushels per acre. Area harvested for grain is estimated at 13.5 million acres, equal to the November 1 forecast but 450,000 acres above 2015. Corn planted for all purposes in 2016 is estimated at 13.9 million acres, equal to the November 1 estimate and the most planted acres since 2012.

Corn for silage production is estimated at 7.92 million tons, down 3 percent from 2015. The silage yield estimate of 24.0 tons per acre tied the record high, set in 2015. Producers harvested 330,000 acres of corn for silage, down 10,000 acres from 2015.

Soybean production is estimated at 572 million bushels in 2016. This is a record high production, topping the previous record of 554 million bushels set in 2015 by 3 percent. The Iowa soybean crop yielded 60.5 bushels per acre in 2016. This yield is also a new record high, 7 percent above the previous record of 56.5 bushels per acre set in 2015. The harvested acreage of 9.45 million is down 50,000 acres from the November 1 estimate, and 350,000 acres below 2015. Soybean planted acreage, at 9.50 million, is down 50,000 acres from November 1, and 350,000 acres below 2015.

All hay production for the state is estimated at 3.21 million tons, down 19 percent from the 3.94 million tons produced in 2015. Producers averaged 3.53 tons per acre, up from 3.40 tons in 2015. All hay harvested acres are estimated at 910,000, down 250,000 acres from 2015.

Alfalfa and alfalfa mixtures production is estimated at 2.31 million tons, down 23 percent from 2015. Producers averaged 4.2 tons per acre, up 0.3 tons from 2015. This ties the record high yield previously set in 2004. Harvested acres are down 220,000 from last year, to 550,000. Iowa producers seeded 80,000 acres of alfalfa in 2016, down 10,000 acres from 2015.

Other hay production is estimated at 900,000 tons, down 4 percent from 2015. Producers averaged 2.5 tons per acre, 0.1 ton per acre above the 2015 yield. Harvested acres of other hay, at 360,000, are 8 percent below 2015.


Nebraska corn stocks in all positions on December 1, 2016 totaled 1.43 billion bushels, up 3 percent from 2015, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Of the total, 870 million bushels are stored on farms, up 6 percent from a year ago. Off-farm stocks, at 555 million bushels, are down 2 percent from last year.

Soybeans stored in all positions totaled 233 million bushels, up 9 percent from last year and a record high. On-farm stocks of 84.0 million bushels are 20 percent above last year, and off-farm stocks, at 149 million bushels, are up 3 percent from 2015 and a record high.

Wheat stored in all positions totaled 81.3 million bushels, up 56 percent from a year ago and a record high. On-farm stocks of 7.50 million bushels are up 47 percent from last year, and off-farm stocks of 73.8 million bushels are up 57 percent from last year and a record high.

Sorghum stored in all positions totaled 14.9 million bushels, down 4 percent from 2015. On-farm stocks of 2.20 million are down 39 percent. Off-farm holdings of 12.7 million are up 6 percent from last year.

Oats on-farm stocks totaled 780,000 bushels, down 26 percent from 2015.

Hay stocks on Nebraska farms totaled 4.60 million tons, down 10 percent from last year.

Grain storage capacity totaled 2.10 billion bushels, up 8 million from last year. The total is comprised of 1.18 billion bushels of on-farm storage, unchanged from last year, and 923 million bushels of off-farm storage, up 8 million bushels from last year.


Iowa corn stocks in all positions on December 1, 2016, totaled 2.41 billion bushels, up 10 percent from December 1, 2015, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Grain Stocks report. This is the highest total corn stocks on record, surpassing the previous record set in 1988. Of the total stocks, 61 percent were stored on-farm. The September 2016 - November 2016 indicated disappearance totaled 753 million bushels, 9 percent above the 689 million bushels from the same period last year.

Iowa soybeans stored in all positions on December 1, 2016, totaled 458 million bushels, slightly above the 456 million bushels on hand December 1, 2015. Of the total stocks, 40 percent were stored on-farm. Indicated disappearance for September 2016 - November 2016 is 151 million bushels, 11 percent more than the 135 million bushels from the same quarter last year.

Iowa oats stocks stored on-farm on December 1, 2016, totaled 1.30 million bushels, down 19 percent from December 1, 2015.

Dry hay stored on Iowa farms as of December 1, 2016, is estimated at 2.65 million tons, a decrease of 19 percent from December 1, 2015, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Crop Production report. Disappearance from May 1, 2016, through December 1, 2016, totaled 1.18 million tons, compared with 1.36 million tons for the same period in 2015.

Iowa on-farm storage capacity on December 1, 2016, was 2.00 billion bushels, unchanged from December 1, 2015, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Grain Stocks report. Iowa’s 890 off-farm storage facilities have a storage capacity of 1.43 billion bushels, unchanged from the previous year. As of December 1, 2016, Iowa had a total of 3.43 billion bushels of storage capacity, the largest total storage capacity of any State.


Winter wheat seeded area for harvest in 2017 is estimated at 1.09 million acres, down from last year’s seeded area of 1.37 million acres, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. If realized this would be a new record low, below the 1.37 million acres planted for harvest in 2012 and 2016.

Fischer, Ernst Introduce Senate Resolution Against “WOTUS”

Today, U.S. Senators Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), both members of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, introduced a resolution that expresses the need to vacate the Obama administration’s “Waters of the United States” or WOTUS rule. The resolution signifies the senators’ intent to continue working to roll back the harmful rule once the new administration takes office.

“We all want clean air and clean water, but the federal overreach we saw with the WOTUS rule was completely unprecedented,” said Senator Fischer. “This rule would hurt all Nebraskans: families, communities, ag producers, and businesses. This resolution signifies our intent to quickly get to work to stop WOTUS in its tracks once the new administration takes office.”

“I’ve heard from farmers, manufacturers, and small business owners across the state of Iowa about the confusion and burdensome red-tape the expanded WOTUS rule creates, and the urgency for it to be scrapped immediately,” said Senator Ernst. “That’s why I led an effort in 2015 to disapprove this rule. It is imperative we relieve hard-working Americans from this power grab, and allow Iowans to care for their land without the heavy hand of the EPA determining their every move. Today’s action reaffirms that Iowans’ voice will be heard in Washington and stresses the need to protect our rural communities from this federal overreach.”

The senators’ resolution expresses a sense of the Senate that the final rule expanding the definition of WOTUS must be withdrawn or vacated. It also recognizes that the Clean Water Act (CWA) is critical to protecting water resources, but the final WOTUS rule goes too far, blatantly violating the original intent of the CWA.

In October 2015, the Sixth Circuit federal court of appeals issued a stay immediately blocking the implementation of WOTUS nationwide. The ruling demonstrates the dubious legality of the rule and further underscores the need for the rule to be withdrawn.

Regarding Governor Ricketts State of the State Address

Comments by Steve Nelson, President, NE Farm Bureau

"Today, as part of his state of the state address, Governor Ricketts outlined his ideas for providing property tax relief to Nebraskans. While we appreciate his continued interest in property taxes and willingness to bring ideas to the table, including his proposal related to agricultural land valuation, the actions outlined today fall short of moving Nebraska toward overdue tax reform that reduces Nebraska’s over-reliance on property taxes to fund government services.”

 “The Nebraska Farm Bureau has made it clear to the Governor and others that smaller, band-aid solutions, that provide minimal property tax relief, are not the solution to the property tax problem. As I’ve said on numerous occasions, property taxes account for 48 percent of the total combined collections of property, state sales, and state income taxes, while sales tax accounts for only 19 percent of the burden. Nebraska Farm Bureau’s solution to the property tax problem is not increased taxes and spending. It is revenue neutral tax reform, where Nebraska’s tax policy better balances the tax burden among these three tax sources.”

 “I understand politics, but I also understand good public policy. Nebraska Farm Bureau and the Governor agree we should not raise taxes, which is why we have proposed a revenue neutral approach of broadening the sales tax base to secure equal dollar-for-dollar reductions in property taxes for all property owners as a way to balance the tax burden. It is important to remind everyone that politics as usual is what has led Nebraska homeowners, businesses, and farmers to pay the seventh highest property tax rate in the nation.”

“It’s time for major solutions. It’s critical the Legislature and Governor Ricketts demonstrate to the vast majority of Nebraskans who want property tax reform that they’ve not only heard the message, but are willing to show leadership to act on property tax reform to make Nebraska a better place for Nebraska families to live and grow their businesses. Far too many elected officials have promised to fix our state’s flawed tax structure that places a disproportionate burden on property taxpayers when campaigning, only to turn their backs on the issue once in office.”

“We look forward to continuing the dialogue with the Governor, the Legislature, and others as we work to secure tax reform for Nebraska’s property taxpayers.”


 In the next 50 years, the world needs to double the amount of food it produces in order to feed a growing population. That responsibility doesn't lie only with farmers and scientists, but with everyone, according to Mark Poeschl, chief executive officer of the National FFA Organization and the National FFA Foundation.

"If there's a blemish on an apple, accept it," Poeschl said. "The amount of food that is wasted on a daily basis because it isn't perfect is staggering."

Society demanding "perfect food" was just one of the topics discussed when Poeschl presented his thoughts on sustainably feeding the world during a Heuermann Lecture Jan. 10 at Nebraska Innovation Campus. He also talked about challenges with water conservation, land availability, infrastructure and deploying innovation.

According to Poeschl, the amount of food wasted in the world today is enough to feed 3.2 billion people.

"There's 1 billion people in the world that are malnourished today …," he said. "Maybe one solution is to get on the bandwagon and figure out how to address food waste."

Water conservation is another issue that needs to be addressed to feed 9 billion people by 2050. Poeschl, who said he believes wars will be fought over water in his lifetime, commended the Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute at the University of Nebraska for its work in this area.

"I want to tip my hat to the university for the work that's being done globally to understand our resources, how we can utilize water more effectively for crop production and how we can be more conservative in the nature that we use water," he said.

Poeschl also discussed the challenges of land availability and infrastructure. While there are huge sections of land available in Africa for agricultural production, the equipment, fertility, seeds to grow in those environments and education are missing. One of Poeschl's priorities as CEO of the National FFA Organization is to recruit and retain more agriculture instructors, something he views as a priority for the viability of FFA and sustainably feeding the world.

Even if more land in Africa is developed for agriculture, transporting food can be difficult.

  "Roads are critical," Poeschl said. "The inadequacy of getting food from point A to point B in developing countries is a huge hurdle."

Poeschl said he believes innovation and technology will play a huge role in solving these issues. He credits STEM education with furthering these developments. Genetically modified organisms often come up in a controversial way in discussions about innovation but that doesn't sway Poeschl from starting a conversation about them.

"Genetically modified organisms are one of the most misunderstood developments in agriculture," Poeschl said. "If we don't deploy technologies like GMOs, then we can't feed everybody."

A dialogue about these technologies and other difficult topics such as food waste, water conservation, land availability and infrastructure needs to happen, Poeschl said.

"We need to talk to people who may not agree with us, and we need to be willing to have critical dissemination of information to figure out how to feed everyone," he said.

Poeschl, a native of Mead, is responsible for the operations and long-term success of the National FFA. Together with the board of directors and the board of trustees, he assures FFA's relevance and service to agriculture and agricultural education. Prior to this role, he was vice president and group director, stakeholder engagement, at Cargill Animal Nutrition. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in agriculture from Nebraska in 1983.

"FFA is the best in the world at leadership development, and we do that so we can create a talent pipeline for the industry of agriculture to help us address the issues that we're facing to feed everyone," Poeschl said.

Heuermann Lectures in the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln are possible through a gift from B. Keith and Norma Heuermann of Phillips. The Heuermanns are longtime university supporters with a strong commitment to Nebraska's production agriculture, natural resources, rural areas and people. Lectures are streamed live at and air live on campus channel 4. They are archived after the event and later air on NET2 World.

USDA Releases New Report on Lifecycle Greenhouse Gas Balance of Ethanol

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the release of a report studying the lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) balance of corn ethanol. The report, A Life-Cycle Analysis of the Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Corn-Based Ethanol, finds that GHG emissions associated with corn-based ethanol in the United States are about 43 percent lower than gasoline when measured on an energy equivalent basis. Unlike other studies of GHG benefits, which relied on forecasts of future ethanol production systems and expected impacts on the farm sector, this study reviewed how the industry and farm sectors performed over the past decade to assess the current GHG profile of corn-based ethanol.

"This report provides evidence that corn ethanol can be a GHG-friendly alternative to fossil fuels, while boosting farm economies" said Vilsack.

This report found greater lifecycle GHG benefits from corn ethanol than a number of earlier studies, driven by a variety of improvements in ethanol production, from the corn field to the ethanol refinery. Farmers are producing corn more efficiently and using conservation practices that reduce GHG emissions, including reduced tillage, cover crops and improved nitrogen management. Corn yields are also improving—between 2005 and 2015, U.S. corn yields increased by more than 10 percent.

Between 2005 and 2015, ethanol production in the U.S. also increased significantly—from 3.9 to 14.8 billion gallons per year. At the same time, advances in ethanol production technologies, such as the use of combined heat and power, using landfill gas for energy, and co-producing biodiesel helped reduce GHG emissions at ethanol refinery plants.

By 2022, given current trends, the GHG profile of corn-based ethanol is expected to be almost 50 percent lower than gasoline primarily due to improvements in corn yields, process fuel switching, and transportation efficiency.

The report also examines a range of factors that could enhance the GHG benefits of corn ethanol production and provides estimates of how those factors change ethanol's lifecycle GHG emissions. For example, the report examined the benefits of improving the efficiency of ethanol refinery plants and adoption of additional conservation practices on corn-producing farms. In a scenario where these improvements and practices are universally adopted, the GHG benefits of corn ethanol are even more pronounced over gasoline, about a 76 percent reduction.

There are several reasons this report found greater lifecycle GHG benefits from corn ethanol than a number of earlier studies. Previous estimates anticipated that growing corn to produce ethanol would result in "indirect land use change"—in other words, land would be converted from grasslands and forests to commodity production as a result of increased demand for corn used in ethanol production. But based on new data and research, there is compelling evidence that while land use changes have occurred, the actual patterns of changes and innovation within the farm sector have resulted in these indirect emissions being much lower than previously projected.

Recent studies of international agricultural land use trends show that that the primary land use change response of the world's farmers from 2004 to 2012 has been to use available land resources more efficiently rather than to expand the amount of land used for farming. Instead of converting new land to production, farmers in Brazil, India and China have increased double cropping, expanded irrigation, reduced unharvested planted area, reduced fallow land and reduced temporary pasture. Much of the international attention on supply of corn for ethanol has focused on Brazil, where earlier estimates anticipated conversion of rainforests to commodity production. But between 2004 and 2012, at the same time U.S. corn ethanol production increased more than 200 percent, deforestation in Brazil's Amazon decreased from 10,200 to 2,400 square miles per year.

The report also demonstrates the added GHG benefits of on-farm conservation practices like reduced tillage, nitrogen stewardship, and cover crops—the same practices outlined in USDA's Building Blocks for Climate Smart Agriculture and Forestry strategy, which aims to reduce GHG emissions by over 120 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year by 2025.

Continuing to support adoption of these practices on farms will further reduce GHG emissions associated with agriculture—as well as benefiting the positive trends in lifecycle GHG balance of corn-based ethanol.

USDA Analysis: Ethanol Reduces Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Corn ethanol achieves a 43 percent reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions when compared to the 2005 baseline for gasoline, according to a new analysis released today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Based on current trends in crop production and ethanol production efficiency, the study projected that by 2022, corn-based ethanol will achieve a 50 percent reduction in GHG emissions compared to the gasoline baseline. The study was conducted by ICF International.

Today’s announcement reaffirms the importance of ethanol and the Renewable Fuel Standard, said National Corn Growers Association President Wesley Spurlock, a farmer from Stratford, Texas.

“Ethanol and the Renewable Fuel Standard are a true American success story. Corn farmers and ethanol producers are using less energy than ever before to produce cost-effective, clean and renewable fuel for consumers across the country and around the world. Today, USDA has reaffirmed what we already know: ethanol does more than just save consumers money at the gas pump, it’s also better for the environment.”

The report also demonstrates the added GHG benefits of on-farm conservation practices including reduced tillage, nitrogen stewardship and cover crops—the same practices promoted by NCGA’s Soil Health Partnership.

Corn Ethanol Reduces Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 43 Percent Compared to Conventional Gasoline Says USDA Lifecycle Analysis

Today, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a peer reviewed report examining the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions from corn-based ethanol. The report found that corn ethanol reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 43 percent compared to conventional gasoline today, would further reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by 2022, and has the potential to reduce emissions by as much as 76 percent.

Growth Energy CEO, Emily Skor, issued the following statement regarding the report:

“This USDA report clearly demonstrates what we have known for years – that biofuels like ethanol are the most effective alternative to fossil fuel and a critical tool for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving air quality. Ethanol is an earth-friendly biofuel produced in America that not only significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions, but also improves engine performance and saves consumers money at the pump.

“As the report notes, corn ethanol has the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 76 percent when accounting for advancements in production efficiency techniques and sustainable agricultural practices. The ethanol industry works every day to improve production processes, ensuring that ethanol will continue to provide even greater benefits well into the future. The ethanol industry is proud to provide a product that helps clean our air, improves engine performance, and saves consumers money when they fill up their tank.”

U.S. Ethanol Exports Up 85 Percent In First Quarter of 2016/2017 Marketing Year

Exports of U.S. ethanol are off to a strong start for the first quarter of the 2016/2017 marketing year and are at their highest levels during that time frame over the past five years, according to data recently released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Global Agricultural Trade System (GATS).

Exports totaled 353.2 million gallons for the months of September, October and November 2016, the first quarter of marketing year 2016/2017.

Brazil, Canada and China were the top customers for U.S. ethanol, respectively. India, Peru, South Korea and Mexico were the next largest markets with U.S. ethanol exports totaling 62.4 million gallons over the same time period. These top seven markets accounted for 88 percent of U.S. ethanol exports in the first quarter and are markets the U.S. Grains Council and its industry partners are currently or will be working in to develop demand for U.S. ethanol.

Exports of U.S. ethanol to Brazil have increased substantially to 111.6 million gallons in the first three months of the current marketing year, representing nearly a third of total U.S. ethanol exports, the second highest volume of U.S. ethanol exports to that country over the last decade. Enforceable government ethanol mandates are driving the increases in Brazilian imports of U.S. ethanol, as Brazilian sugarcane has been diverted to sugar production to capture a price premium. To enforce its mandates, Brazil ramped up imports of price-competitive U.S. ethanol, highlighting the important role of trade in meeting ethanol mandates globally.

U.S. ethanol exports to Canada totaled 87.8 million gallons during the first quarter of the 2016/2017 marketing year. This is the highest level of U.S. ethanol imports by Canada during this time frame, with a 26 percent increase in imports over the first quarter of marketing year 2015/2016.

The U.S. Grains Council along with its partners in global ethanol market development, Growth Energy, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), recently conducted technical workshops in Asia and Latin America describing the positive environmental and public health benefits of increased ethanol use. USGC also uses trade missions to target countries, trade teams bringing stakeholders to the United States, and industry working groups to support the development of the global ethanol market.

Weekly Ethanol Production Increases

According to EIA data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association, ethanol production averaged an unprecedented 1.049 million barrels per day (b/d)—or 44.06 million gallons daily. That is an increase of 6,000 b/d from last week’s now-broken record. The four-week average for ethanol production stood at 1.039 million b/d for an annualized rate of 15.93 billion gallons.

Stocks of ethanol stood at 20.0 million barrels. That is a significant 7.1% increase from last week.

Imports of ethanol remained flat at zero b/d for the 20th week in a row.

Gasoline demand for the week averaged 355.7 million gallons (8.470 million barrels) daily. Refiner/blender input of ethanol averaged 806,000 b/d.

Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production was 12.38%.

Dairy Farmer and Dairy Foods Groups Support Senate Bill Prompting FDA Enforcement of Milk Labeling Standards

New Senate legislation to enforce the proper labeling of imitation dairy products drew an endorsement today from the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), which together agreed that steps need to be taken to defend the integrity of federal food labeling standards and prevent the misbranding of dairy imitators.

Sen. Tammy Baldwin’s (D-WI) DAIRY PRIDE Act would protect the integrity of food standards by prompting the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to enforce existing labeling requirements, specifying foods labeled as “milk” and “cheese” have to come from dairy animals. The Baldwin bill would require FDA to issue a guidance for nationwide enforcement of these definitions within 90 days. It also would require FDA to report to Congress two years after the bill’s enactment to hold the agency accountable for this update in their enforcement obligations.

According to NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern, “For too long, the FDA has turned a blind eye to the misbranding of imitation dairy products, despite the decades-old federal law that milk comes from animals, not vegetables or nuts. None of these imitators provides the same high quality and quantity of nutrition offered by real milk. Sen. Baldwin’s DAIRY PRIDE Act will simply ensure that FDA enforces current law by requiring marketers of these imitation products to call them something other than milk.”

FDA regulations (CFR 131.110) define milk as a product of a cow, with a similar stipulation for yogurt and cheese. Though existing federal policy is clear on this subject, FDA has not challenged the incorrect use of the terms “milk,” “yogurt” and “cheese” on imitators that have proliferated during the past two decades, according to the dairy industry.

“These plant-based products are imitations, but they are not substitutes for the comprehensive nutrient package offered by real milk,” said Michael Dykes, president and CEO of IDFA.  “The reason we have food standards is to preserve the integrity and consistency of what’s inside the packages. Milk should be milk.”

The lack of enforcement of proper dairy terms in the U.S. market stands in sharp contrast to how the matter is handled in similar nations, which actually police the matter. While the term “almond milk” is seen on products sold in the U.S., it is absent from the same brand of almond beverage also sold in Canada and the United Kingdom.

The Baldwin legislation comes one month after Reps. Mike Simpson (R-ID) and Peter Welch (D-VT), supported by a bipartisan coalition of 32 other members of the House, sent a letter to FDA urging the agency to more aggressively police the improper use of dairy terminology.

U.S. Tractor Sales Were Up in December

According to the Association of Equipment Manufacturer's monthly "Flash Report," the sale of all tractors in the U.S. in December 2016, were up 6% compared to the same month last year.

For the twelve months in 2016, a total of 211,245 tractors were sold which compares to 205,223 sold thru December 2015 representing a 3% increase year to date.

Agri Marketing magazine reports that for the month, two-wheel drive smaller tractors (under 40 HP) were up 18% from last year, while 40 & under 100 HP were up.8%. Sales of 2-wheel drive 100+ HP were down 19%, while 4-wheel drive tractors were down 41%.

For the twelve months, two-wheel drive smaller tractors (under 40 HP) are up 12% over last year, while 40 & under 100 HP are down 4%. Sales of 2-wheel drive 100+ HP are down 22%, while 4-wheel drive tractors are down 26%.

Meanwhile, combine sales were down 29% for the month. Sales of combines for the first twelve months totaled 3,972, a decrease of 26% over the same period in 2015.

USDA Announces Farm Service Agency Cooperative Agreements

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced cooperative agreements with 46 partners to educate producers, including those who have been historically underserved by USDA programs, about Farm Service Agency (FSA) programs that provide financial, disaster or technical support. Nearly $2.5 million will go to nonprofits and universities that will provide training and access to FSA programs, financial resources and other information.

“We’re always innovating to find new ways for our programs to reach more producers and create more jobs in agriculture,” said FSA Administrator Val Dolcini. “The organizations selected as part of this effort share USDA’s priority of helping more Americans build successful farms and ranches.”

Cooperative agreements totaling nearly $2.5 million and encompassing 24 states, will range from $25,000 to $99,999 each. This additional investment builds on the $2.5 million in cooperative agreements awarded in 2016.  A list of awardees can be found at

Over the past eight years, USDA has taken big, bold steps to forge a new era for civil rights and ensure all Americans who come to USDA for help are treated fairly, with dignity and respect. Through coordinated outreach and consistent engagement, USDA is forming new partnerships in diverse communities and regaining trust where it was once lost.  Learn more about our progress during the Obama Administration to increase access to opportunity for all Americans, and to create a more equal and inclusive USDA in Chapter 8 of our yearlong results project: The People’s Department: A New Era for Civil Rights at USDA.

USDA Announces $252 Million Available for Regional Conservation Partnership Program

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today invited potential conservation partners, including private industry, non-government organizations, Indian tribes, state and local governments, water districts, and universities to submit project applications for federal funding through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).

Through this fourth RCPP Announcement for Program Funding (APF), USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will award up to $252 million dollars to locally driven, public-private partnerships that improve the nation's water quality, combat drought, enhance soil health, support wildlife habitat, and protect agricultural viability. Applicants must match or exceed the federal award with private or local funds.

"Through unprecedented collaboration, the Regional Conservation Partnership Program has established a new paradigm for working lands conservation that yields unparalleled results," Vilsack said. "Working together, RCPP projects in every state are demonstrating the ways in which locally-led initiatives can meet some of our most pressing natural resource concerns."

Created by the 2014 Farm Bill, RCPP connects partners with producers and private landowners to design and implement voluntary conservation solutions that benefit natural resources, agriculture, and the economy. By 2018, NRCS and its more than 2,000 conservation partners will have invested at least $2.4 billion in high-impact RCPP projects nationwide.

For example, three existing RCPP projects bring together more than 40 partners, including USA Rice, Ducks Unlimited, California Rice Commission, the Walmart Foundation and The Mosaic Company, to accelerate conservation on rice lands in six states facing water quality and quantity challenges. These projects, collectively called the USA Rice-Ducks Unlimited Rice Stewardship Partnership, aim to conserve water and wildlife habitat while sustaining the future of rice farming in the United States. With unique technical expertise and needs, each state is leading a partner-driven, local approach to conservation in rice agriculture.

In its most recent RCPP awards, NRCS last month announced that 88 high-impact projects across the country will receive $225 million in federal funding, with more than double that investment from partners. The new Gulf of Mexico – Forest to Sea RCPP project will conserve Florida's pristine "Big Bend" area along the northeastern Gulf by implementing innovative conservation solutions with private working forest owners. Using an impact investment approach, The Conservation Fund and 12 partners will implement an easement and restoration plan on large forested tracts to address the natural resource concerns while allowing sustainable timber harvesting and maintaining local jobs. The project will serve as a model for further conservation and impact investing in the region and beyond.

NRCS Chief Jason Weller encourages partners to consider conservation finance and environmental markets as they develop RCPP project applications. "The growing field of conservation finance provides opportunities to inject significant investment capital into projects that protect, restore and maintain our natural ecosystems," says Weller.

USDA is now accepting proposals for Fiscal Year 2018 RCPP funding. Pre-proposals are due April 21.


Monsanto Company (NYSE:  MON) and NRGene announced today that the companies have reached a non-exclusive, multi-year global licensing agreement on NRGene’s genome-analysis technology to enhance Monsanto’s ability to predict, compare and select the best genetic makeup from its vast data sets of genetic, genomic and trait information.

NRGene’s platform, GenoMAGICTM, was developed by a unique mix of highly experienced algorithm designers, software engineers, plant breeders and plant geneticists and is used by seed companies and major academic and research institutions around the world.

“Monsanto employs best-in-class data analytics technologies to help unlock the genetic potential of our research and development pipeline for our farmer customers,” said Tom Osborn, Monsanto’s Molecular Breeding Technology Director. “Our focus on data is allowing us make better decisions than ever before – and with GenoMAGIC, we expect to provide our plant breeders with a more comprehensive view to improve their analyses and decisions.”

“Monsanto is a global leader in technology that provides farmers with high-yielding seed hybrids and varieties, and we are proud that they have selected GenoMAGIC as a tool to support their advanced breeding programs,” says Dr. Gil Ronen, NRGene Chief Executive Officer. “Partnering with companies like Monsanto – combined with our recent achievements, including being the first to map the wheat genome – are significant milestones on our roadmap to become the worldwide leader of genomic big data solutions.”

Both companies noted their dedication to developing technologies that support farmers as they work to grow better harvests, protect their crops and deliver more to society in the face of mounting environmental challenges. Monsanto’s research and development (R&D) pipeline is focused on providing solutions to those challenges through plant breeding, plant biotechnology, crop protection, ag biologicals, and data science.

With nearly half of Monsanto’s annual R&D investment focused on plant breeding, the use of leading genome analysis technologies like GenoMAGIC – along with the industry’s largest testing capability and scale and premier discovery technologies – are expected to increase current genetic gain. Monsanto may expand its relationship with NRGene into a longer-term commitment following an in-depth evaluation of the technology. The GenoMAGIC platform extends Monsanto's capabilities for genome selection, trait discovery, and genome enhancement.

Thur Jan 12 USDA Reports

USDA Crop Production 2016 Summary - January 12, 2017

Corn for grain production is estimated at 15.1 billion bushels, down 1 percent from the November forecast but up 11 percent from the 2015 estimate. The average yield in the United States is estimated at 174.6 bushels per acre. This is down 0.7 bushel from the November forecast but 6.2 bushels above the 2015 average yield of 168.4 bushels per acre. Area harvested for grain is estimated at 86.7 million acres, down slightly from the November forecast but up 7 percent from 2015.

Sorghum grain production in 2016 is estimated at 480 million bushels, up 4 percent from the November forecast but down 20 percent from the 2015 total. Planted area for 2016 is estimated at 6.69 million acres, down 21 percent from the previous year. Area harvested for grain, at 6.16 million acres, is down 22 percent from 2015. Grain yield is estimated at a record 77.9 bushels per acre, up 1.4 bushels from the previous forecast and up 1.9 bushels from 2015.

Rice production in 2016 is estimated at 224 million cwt, down 5 percent from the previous forecast but up 16 percent from the revised 2015 total. Planted area for 2016 is estimated at 3.15 million acres, up 20 percent from 2015. Area harvested, at 3.10 million acres, is also up 20 percent from the previous crop year. The average yield for all United States rice is estimated at 7,237 pounds per acre, down 256 pounds from the previous forecast and 235 pounds below the 2015 United States average of 7,472 pounds per acre.

Soybean production in 2016 totaled a record 4.31 billion bushels, down 1 percent from the November forecast but up 10 percent from 2015. The average yield per acre is estimated at a record high 52.1 bushels, 0.4 bushel below the November forecast but 4.1 bushels above the previous record yield in
2015. Harvested area is up 1 percent from last year to a record 82.7 million acres.

All cotton production is estimated at 17.0 million 480-pound bales, up 3 percent from the December forecast and up 32 percent from 2015. The United States yield is estimated at 855 pounds per acre, up 34 pounds from the December forecast and up 89 pounds from last year. Harvested area, at 9.52 million acres, is down 1 percent from the December forecast but up 18 percent from last year.

USDA Grain Stocks

Corn Stocks Up 10 Percent from December 2015
Soybean Stocks Up 7 Percent
All Wheat Stocks Up 19 Percent

Corn stored in all positions on December 1, 2016 totaled 12.4 billion bushels, up 10 percent from December 1, 2015. Of the total stocks, 7.61 billion bushels are stored on farms, up 11 percent from a year earlier. Off-farm stocks, at 4.77 billion bushels, are up 8 percent from a year ago. The September - November 2016 indicated disappearance is 4.50 billion bushels, compared with 4.10 billion bushels during the same period last year.

Soybeans stored in all positions on December 1, 2016 totaled 2.90 billion bushels, up 7 percent from December 1, 2015. Soybean stocks stored on farms totaled 1.34 billion bushels, up 2 percent from a year ago. Off-farm stocks, at 1.56 billion bushels, are up 11 percent from last December. Indicated disappearance for September - November 2016 totaled 1.61 billion bushels, up 15 percent from the same period a year earlier.

All wheat stored in all positions on December 1, 2016 totaled 2.07 billion bushels, up 19 percent from a year ago. On-farm stocks are estimated at 571 million bushels, up 13 percent from last December. Off-farm stocks, at 1.50 billion bushels, are up 21 percent from a year ago. The September - November 2016 indicated disappearance is 472 million bushels, 34 percent above the same period a year earlier.

Durum wheat stored in all positions on December 1, 2016 totaled 72.9 million bushels, up 21 percent from a year ago. On-farm stocks, at 49.2 million bushels, are up 38 percent from December 1, 2015. Off-farm stocks totaled 23.7 million bushels, down 4 percent from a year ago. The September - November 2016 indicated disappearance of 19.0 million bushels is 40 percent above the same period a year earlier.

Barley stored in all positions on December 1, 2016 totaled 193 million bushels, up 7 percent from December 1, 2015. On-farm stocks are estimated at 99.1 million bushels, 2 percent above a year ago. Off-farm stocks, at 93.4 million bushels, are 12 percent above December 2015. The September - November 2016 indicated disappearance is 37.8 million bushels, 2 percent below the same period a year earlier.

Oats stored in all positions on December 1, 2016 totaled 75.5 million bushels, down 9 percent from the stocks on December 1, 2015. Of the total stocks on hand, 30.4 million bushels are stored on farms, down 17 percent from a year ago. Off-farm stocks totaled 45.1 million bushels, down 2 percent from the previous year. Indicated disappearance during September - November 2016 totaled 3.06 million bushels.

Grain sorghum stored in all positions on December 1, 2016 totaled 311 million bushels, down 3 percent from a year ago. On-farm stocks, at 43.0 million bushels, are down 17 percent from December 1 last year. Off-farm stocks, at 268 million bushels, are down 1 percent from a year earlier. The September - November 2016 indicated disappearance from all positions is 206 million bushels, down 30 percent from the same period in 2015.

USDA World Ag Supply and Demand Estimates - Jan 12, 2017

COARSE GRAINS:  This month’s 2016/17 U.S. corn outlook is for lower production, reduced feed and residual use, increased corn used to produce ethanol, and smaller stocks.  Corn production is estimated at 15.148 billion bushels, down 78 million from last month on lower harvested area and a reduction in yield to 174.6 bushels per acre.  Imports are raised based on the pace of corn imports through November.  Feed and residual use is lowered 50 million bushels to 5,600 million based on the smaller crop, increased corn used to produce ethanol, greater sorghum feeding, and indicated disappearance during September-November as reflected by the December 1 stocks.  Corn used to produce ethanol is raised 25 million bushels to 5,325 million based on the most recent data from the Grain Crushings and Co-Products Production report which estimated the amount of corn used to produce ethanol during September-November to be record high.  With supply falling faster than use, corn ending stocks are lowered 48 million bushels from last month.  The projected range for the season-average corn price received by producers is raised 5 cents on both ends to $3.10 to $3.70 per bushel.

Sorghum production for 2016/17 is estimated 18 million bushels higher on increases in both harvested area and yield.  Grain sorghum prices are projected to average $2.65 to $3.15 per bushel, down 15 cents at the midpoint reflecting the weakening relationship to corn prices in interior markets.

Global coarse grain production for 2016/17 is forecast 1.7 million tons lower to 1,327.7 million.  This month’s 2016/17 foreign coarse grain outlook is for marginally lower production, higher consumption, and increased trade relative to last month.  Serbia corn production is raised reflecting the latest information from the Foreign Agricultural Service office in Belgrade.  Partly offsetting is lower corn production for Bolivia where the impact of a severe drought during the growing season was worse than previously expected.  Russia barley production is lowered based on the latest government statistics.  Argentina barley production is lowered on dryness in southern Buenos Aires province during crop heading and grain fill in November and December.

Major global trade changes for 2016/17 this month include lower projected corn exports for India, more than offset by increases for Serbia and the EU.  Imports are raised for Bolivia, but lowered for Indonesia.  Foreign corn ending stocks are virtually unchanged from last month, with reductions for Indonesia, Mexico, and the EU offset by an increase for Canada. 

OILSEEDS:  U.S. oilseed production for 2016/17 is estimated at 127.3 million tons, down 1.5 million from last month.  Lower soybean and peanut production is partly offset with higher canola, sunflowerseed, and cottonseed crops.  Soybean production is estimated at a record 4,307 million bushels, down 54 million from last month on lower yields.  Harvested area is estimated at 82.7 million acres, down 0.3 million from the previous forecast with lower planted area.  Yield is estimated at a record 52.1 bushels per acre, down 0.4 bushels.  Soybean supplies are down 60 million bushels on lower production and imports.  With exports and crush unchanged, ending stocks are projected at 420 million bushels, down 60 million from last month.  Although soybean crush is unchanged, soybean meal production is reduced on a lower extraction rate.  Soybean meal exports are also reduced on lagging sales.  Soybean oil balance sheet changes include increased production on a higher extraction rate, and increased ending stocks.

U.S. peanut production is reduced 9 percent from the previous forecast based on lower harvested area, mainly in Texas, and lower yields in most states.  With reduced supplies, peanut exports, crush, and ending stocks are reduced. 

The 2016/17 U.S. season-average farm price forecast for soybeans is projected at $9.00 to $10.00 per bushel, from $8.70 to $10.20, up 5 cents at the midpoint.  The soybean meal price forecast is unchanged at $305 to $345 per short ton.  The soybean oil price forecast of 34 to 37 cents per pound is lowered 0.5 cents at the midpoint. 

The 2016/17 global oilseeds supply and demand estimates include higher production and exports compared to last month.  Oilseed production is projected up 0.1 million tons to 554.8 million on increases for cottonseed, rapeseed, and sunflowerseed partly offset by reductions for soybeans and peanuts.  Soybean production is lowered 0.2 million tons as increases for Brazil and China are offset by declines in Bolivia, Uruguay, and the United States.  The largest change to production is a 2.0-million-ton increase to 104.0 million for Brazil, where beneficial rain has resulted in improved yield prospects. 

Global oilseed trade is projected at 160.3 million tons, up 0.4 million from last month.  Increased soybean exports for Brazil more than offset lower soybean exports for Bolivia and Uruguay and lower rapeseed exports for Canada.  Global oilseed crush is projected higher on increased soybean crush for Argentina and India and increased rapeseed crush for Canada.  Global oilseed stocks are projected at 93.7 million tons, down 0.9 million, mainly on lower soybean stocks for the United States.

WHEAT:  U.S. 2016/17 all wheat ending stocks are raised this month and projected to reach the highest level since the late 1980’s.  Feed and residual use is lowered 35 million bushels reflecting disappearance for June-November as implied by the December 1 stocks estimated in the Grain Stocks report.  Seed use is lowered 8 million bushels on the winter wheat planted area released today in the Winter Wheat and Canola Seedings report.  Total supplies for 2016/17 are lowered fractionally on lower beginning stocks while 2016 production is unchanged.  Projected ending stocks for 2016/17 are raised 43 million bushels.  The season-average farm price is raised $0.10 at the midpoint to $3.80 on higher-than-expected cash prices to date.  However, this season-average price would still be the lowest since 2005.

Global wheat supplies for 2016/17 are raised 1.3 million tons on a production increase that is only partially offset by lower beginning stocks.  The largest increases are for Argentina, Russia, and the EU.  Global exports are raised 1.2 million tons led by increases for Argentina, Australia, and the EU.  Partly offsetting is a reduction in Canadian exports reflecting the slow shipment pace so far this year.  Global use for 2016/17 is raised 0.1 million tons with increased food use partially offset by a reduction in feed and residual use.  With total global supplies increasing faster than use, ending stocks are increased 1.2 million tons to a new record of 253.3 million. 

The estimate for total red meat and poultry production for 2016 is raised slightly from last month.  Beef production is raised on increased fed cattle slaughter and heavier carcass weights.  Pork production for 2016 is raised based on slaughter data.  Broiler and turkey production for 2016 is slightly lower based on the recent slaughter.  For 2017, red meat and poultry production is raised largely on higher forecast pork production, although forecasts of beef and broilers are raised.  Higher expected cattle placements in late 2016 and early 2017 underpin higher forecast beef production in 2017.  USDA will release its semi-annual Cattle report January 31 which will provide estimates of heifers held for breeding along with indications of the availability of cattle for placement during 2017.  Pork production for 2017 is raised based on estimates from the December Quarterly Hogs and Pigs report.  The 5 percent year-over-year increase in the September–November pig crop will be slaughtered largely in the second quarter of 2017.  Producers indicated intentions to farrow 1 percent more sows in the first half of 2017 which, coupled with expected growth in pigs per litter, will support a higher level of slaughter during the second half of the year.  Broiler production is raised for early 2017 on recent hatchery data, but the turkey production forecast is unchanged.  Egg production for 2017 is raised slightly based on hatchery data.

Both beef and pork 2016 export estimates are raised based on November trade data and expectations of strong export demand in December.  Beef imports are lowered, but no change is made to pork imports.  Broiler and turkey exports are lowered on recent trade data.  No change is made to the 2016 egg export estimate.  For 2017, beef exports are raised as current demand strength is expected to carry into 2017.  Imports are forecast higher on expectations of slightly larger supplies from Oceania in early 2017.  No changes are made to pork, broiler, or turkey trade forecasts. The 2017 egg export forecast is raised on expectations of stronger sales in the first half of the year.

Livestock and poultry prices for 2016 are adjusted to reflect December price data.  The 2017 cattle price forecast is increased on continued strong demand into the first part of 2017.  The hog price forecast for first quarter 2017 is raised on demand strength, but price forecasts for subsequent quarters are lowered as hog supplies are expected to be large.  Broiler prices are raised slightly on early-year demand strength.  Turkey prices are forecast lower on relatively soft demand. Egg prices are increased. 

Milk production for 2016 is raised on slightly larger milk cow numbers.  The 2017 milk production forecast is raised from last month as improved returns support increases in both cow numbers and milk per cow.  Fat and skim-solids basis exports for 2016 are raised on recent trade data.  Imports are unchanged.  Exports on a fat basis are reduced slightly for 2017, but are raised on a skim-solids basis.  Import forecasts are unchanged for 2017.

Dairy product prices and Class prices for 2016 are adjusted to incorporate December price data.  For 2017, butter, cheese, nonfat dry milk, and whey prices are raised from last month on demand strength.  Class prices for 2017 are raised, reflecting higher product price forecasts.  The all milk price range is raised to $17.60 to $18.40 per cwt.

Winter Wheat and Canola Seedings

Planted Acres Down 10 Percent

Winter wheat seeded area for 2017 is expected to total 32.4 million acres, down 10 percent from 2016. Approximate class acreage breakdowns are: Hard Red Winter, 23.3 million; Soft Red Winter, 5.68 million; and White Winter, 3.37 million.

Winter wheat: Planted area for harvest in 2017 is estimated at 32.4 million acres, down 10 percent from 2016 and 18 percent below 2015. This represents the second lowest United States acreage on record. Seeding began in early September and remained at or ahead of the 5-year average seeding pace through the middle of November when seeding was mostly complete.

Hard Red Winter (HRW) wheat seeded area is expected to total 23.3 million acres, down 12 percent from 2016. Planted acreage is down from last year across most of the growing region. The largest declines in planted acreage are estimated in the Great Plains. Record low acreage was seeded in Nebraska and Utah.

Soft Red Winter (SRW) wheat seeded area totals 5.68 million acres, down 6 percent from last year. Acreage decreases from last year are estimated in most of the SRW growing States, while increases are expected in the Carolinas, Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, and Maryland. Record low acreage was seeded in Louisiana, New Jersey, Ohio, and West Virginia.

White Winter wheat seeded area totals 3.37 million acres, down 4 percent from 2016. Planting in the Pacific Northwest got off to a normal start, but by the middle of October, progress was behind the 5-year average pace in Idaho and Washington. By October 30, seeding was virtually complete in the region.

Durum wheat: Seedings in Arizona and California for 2017 harvest are estimated at a combined 140,000 acres, down 8 percent from 2016 and 38 percent below 2015. In Arizona, seeding was well underway by January 1 at 22 percent complete, 8 percentage points ahead of last year. Wet conditions in California are negatively impacting planting progress.

Canola: This report contains the first estimate of seedings for canola for Kansas and Oklahoma. Seedings in Kansas and Oklahoma for 2017 harvest are estimated at a combined 130,000 acres, an increase of 24 percent from 2016.

Wednesday January 11 Ag News

2i Conference returns to West Point’s Nielsen Center

Wednesday January 25th, is the day slated for the 4th 2i Conference to be held at the Nielsen Center in West Point. The 2i Conference is hosted by three area businesses with the goal of bringing information and innovation to farmers and livestock producers. Nutrient Advisors, Summit Ag Inc. and the Agronomic Consulting Group (ACG) are excited to bring back this popular event that will host over 450 progressive farmers and livestock operators from at least four different states.

David Kohl, PhD, will again be a featured keynote speaker. Dr. Kohl, who is Professor Emeritus at Virginia Tech, is widely recognized as one of the most respected Ag Economy speakers in the United States. Dr. Kohl provides cutting-edge information in a dynamic format based upon his many years of academic research and working with commercial banks, ag lenders and producers throughout the world. Dr. Kohl's personal involvement with agriculture and interaction with key industry players provide unique perspective into the future trends of the agricultural industry and economy.

New this year, Gary Baise will be the second keynote speaker at the 2i Conference. Mr. Baise is a principal attorney at OFW Law, is also co-head of the litigation practice, specializes in Clean Water Act (CWA), Clean Air Act (CAA), National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), and Solid Waste Disposal Act (SWDA) litigation as well as agricultural corporate governance issues. Gary Baise will be bringing his vast knowledge to the 2i Conference to educate producers. Gary Baise is a very active member of the Trump transition team and is responsible for putting together Trump's Agricultural Advisory Committee. Gary was mentioned as a possible choice for the Director or the EPA under the Trump Administration.

The 2i Conference will also feature a trade show with curated vendors who will be showcasing innovative services and products throughout the event. The 2i Conference will begin with registration and the opening of the trade show at 10:00am Wednesday, January 25th, followed by a lunch served at 11:00am, with Dr. Kohl taking the stage at noon. Gary Baise will discuss “Regulatory Changes and the American Farmer” at 2:00pm. Following the second keynote speaker an expert panel will convene on stage and field questions from the audience. Both Dr. Kohl and Mr. Baise will be a part of the panel discussion. The event will wrap up with a social hour during the trade show.

A limited number of tickets are available for purchase. To acquire tickets to the 2i Conference please contact Ellan Ruskamp at Nutrient Advisors at 402-372-2236. For additional information please visit the event website at  

Rep. Bacon Named to House Agriculture Committee

Today, Representative Don Bacon (NE-02) was named to the House Agriculture Committee for the 115th Congress. Representative Bacon’s rural upbringing on a family farm with corn, soybeans, hay and beef cattle will prove valuable experience and insight to benefit bot the Second Congressional District and Nebraska.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway (TX-11) said, “I look forward to Rep. Don Bacon joining us on the House Agriculture Committee for the 115th Congress. With nearly 49,000 farms in Nebraska, I am confident Don will be a tremendous asset and strong voice for his home state. From being raised on a farm in the Midwest to his distinguished experience in the U.S. Air Force, Don brings a unique and valuable skillset to our committee, and I am excited to have him as a part of our new team.”

Representative Bacon grew up in Momence, Illinois where he worked on the family farm until he was 21 years old prior to joining the United States Air Force.

“I am eager to serve Nebraskans as our delegation member on the Agriculture Committee, representing the most productive farmers and ranchers in the world," Rep. Don Bacon said. "I was raised on the farm and know the hard work that it takes to make a living. Our farmers and ranchers feed our nation and the world. Nebraska and United States agriculture is a national treasure.”

Representative Bacon added, “A few goals I’ve heard from Nebraskans include opening up more markets overseas, lowering the costs of health insurance, and easing the burden of regulations that hurt our agriculture community. I appreciate the selection for this highly competitive position on the Agriculture Committee in order to best serve Nebraska.”

The new House Agriculture Committee members are as follows:

  - Don Bacon, representing Nebraska's 2nd District
  - Jodey Arrington, representing Texas’ 19th District
  - James Comer, representing Kentucky's 1st District
  - Neal Dunn, representing Florida’s 2nd District
  - John Faso, representing New York’s 19th District
  - Roger Marshall, representing Kansas’ 1st District

Below is the complete House Agriculture Committee Majority roster for the 115th Congress:

  - Chairman K. Michael Conaway (TX-11)
  - Vice Chairman Glenn 'GT' Thompson (PA-5)
  - Don Bacon (NE-2)
  - Steven King (IA-4)

  - Frank D. Lucas (OK-3)
  - Bob Goodlatte (VA-6)
  - Mike Rogers (AL-3)
  - Bob Gibbs (OH-7)
  - Austin Scott (GA-8)
  - Rick Crawford (AR-1)
  - Scott DesJarlais (TN-4)
  - Vicky Hartzler (MO-4)
  - Jeff Denham (CA-10)
  - Doug LaMalfa (CA-1)
  - Rodney Davis (IL-13)
  - Ted Yoho (FL-3)
  - Rick Allen (GA-12)
  - Mike Bost (IL-12)
  - David Rouzer (NC-7)
  - Ralph Abraham (LA-5)
  - Trent Kelly (MS-1)
  - James Comer (KY-1)
  - Roger Marshall (KS-1)
  - John Faso (NY-19)
  - Neal Dunn (FL-2)
  - Jodey Arrington (TX-19)

Chairman Conaway added, “This is a great group of incoming and returning members, both for the Agriculture Committee and the Republican conference as a whole. Their diverse backgrounds will be integral as the committee goes to work – from protecting the farm safety net for producers, to ensuring the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) works to help lift families out of poverty, to rolling back burdensome regulations that strangle businesses. I am confident in the team we have assembled, and I look forward to working alongside my new colleagues.”

The House Agriculture Committee’s oversight includes policy and legislation related to farm policy for agriculture and rural America.

Nebraska Agriculture, Natural Resources Groups Encourage Landowners to Consider New Conservation Program Option

The Nebraska Farm Bureau, the Nebraska Cattlemen, the Rainwater Basin Joint Venture, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, the Nebraska Farm Service Agency and others today joined in an announcement to encourage the state’s landowners to learn more about a new U.S. Department of Agriculture Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) option. Under the “Migratory Birds, Butterflies and Pollinators” State Acres for Wildlife (Migratory Birds SAFE) option, up to 10,000 acres can be enrolled in this CRP initiative in areas of the state known for playa wetlands.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) manages the CRP program. Nebraska FSA will open enrollment for this new SAFE in the coming weeks.

“This CRP option gives Nebraska farmers another tool they can use to improve the economic viability of their operations, especially in marginally productive and flood prone acres. Such tools and options are particularly important in these challenging times,” said Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau president.

According to Andy Bishop, Rainwater Basin Joint Venture coordinator, the Joint Venture partnered with several other entities to develop and present this project proposal to USDA FSA as a way to provide landowners with farmed crop acres that continually flood a financially viable alternative that also increases important habitat for migratory birds.

“These wetlands support millions of migratory birds during their biannual migrations from the wintering grounds to the breeding grounds. Acres enrolled in this program will also serve to improve water quality and seasonally recharge groundwater in the Ogallala Aquifer,” said Bishop.   

Roric Paulman, a producer near Sutherland, Nebraska, praised the partners for developing an economically viable conservation program with the programmatic flexibility to fit into irrigated agriculture operations.

“Nebraska’s producers recognize the importance of good stewardship, but conservation programs have to be economically viable and complement the farm operation or they simply can’t be implemented,” said Paulman.      

The program allows for a minimum parcel size of two acres up to a maximum of 160 acres.

“Mid-contract management, meaning the application of management practices to keep the cover healthy, will be required,” said Greg Reisdorff, Nebraska FSA chief for Conservation and Environmental Programs. “This includes the option for managed harvesting of the acres and/or prescribed grazing. Contracts will be for 10-15 years.”

Landowners interested in learning more about this CRP SAFE project should visit their local FSA office. To find a county office in Nebraska, visit, and click on “county offices” in the left hand toolbar.

For more on the Nebraska Cattlemen visit

For more on the Rainwater Basin Joint Venture visit

For more on the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission visit

For more the Nebraska Farm Service Agency visit

Mo Valley Crop Fair - Growing Success on Your Farming Operation

January 17, 2017 - 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Rand Center - 100 S. 4th St., Missouri Valley, IA

This FREE crop fair is designed to give you direct access to timely information that can help make your operation more profitable. 


9:00AM - 2017 Market Outlook- What will the Crop Market look like?  Jim Engler, Senior Broker, AgWest Commodities

10:00AM - 2017 Weather Outlook - Elwynn Taylor, Climatologist, Iowa State University
11:00AM - U.S. Grains Council Overview- Programs, Challenges, Opportunities for Growth in Exports and Ethanol Markets - Lindsey Erb, Director of Industry Relations, US Grains Council
12:00PM  - Lunch - Free to all crop fair attendees

RSVP’S appreciated by January 16th to Janelle Kracht by calling 515.229.9980 or email

Joining the Iowa Corn Growers Association gives you a seat at the table on issues that impact your farming operation. Become a member by calling the Iowa Corn office at 515-225-9242 or visit

Veterinary Feed Directive Module Available

USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's (APHIS) National Veterinary Accreditation Program (NVAP) is announcing the availability of a new training, Module 29 Veterinary Feed Directive. NVAP worked with the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Center for Veterinary Medicine and Iowa State's Center for Food Security and Public Health to create this training.

Upon completion of this module, participants will be able to:
- Describe the need for antibiotic stewardship in regard to antibiotic resistance;
- Understand the FDA's regulatory oversight of animal drugs;
- Describe the Federally-defined key elements of a lawful veterinarian-client-patient relationship;
- Recognize the classes and uses of antibiotics requiring a Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD);
- Describe the components of a complete VFD;
- Understand the recordkeeping requirements associated with a VFD;
- Apply expiration date and duration of use guidelines to a VFD; and
- Locate additional resources related to VFDs.

In 2011, NVAP launched online, classroom, and hard-copy versions of APHIS Approved Supplemental Training modules which are required for veterinarians to renew their accreditation every three years. The audience for these modules, however, has proven to be much larger, including non-accredited veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and veterinary students from all over the world.

In December 2013, the FDA took a significant step in addressing antimicrobial resistance by publishing Guidance #213, which calls on animal drug sponsors of approved medically important antimicrobials administered through medicated feed or water to remove from their product labels indications for use related to growth promotion, and to bring the remaining therapeutic uses of these products under the oversight of a veterinarian by the end of December 2016. All of the affected drug sponsors notified the FDA of their intent to make the recommended changes to their products within the established timeframe.

By January 1, 2017, the FDA expects all drug sponsors will complete the necessary label changes of their affected products and then changes in drug use practices will begin. The marketing status of affected drugs will change from over-the-counter to Rx status for drugs administered through drinking water or to VFD for drugs administered in medicated feeds. Distributors or retail establishments that handle these products will be required to meet all applicable State and Federal regulations for Rx and VFD drugs when dispensing these products.

The module, which is free of charge and does not require a user name or password, is available at

U.S. Grains Council Statement on China Actions

USGC President and CEO Tom Sleight

"The announcement Tuesday by China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) that it will subject U.S. distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) to anti-dumping and countervailing duties (AD/CVDs) is the latest in a rash of measures taken by the Chinese government to restrict access to that market for U.S. feed grains and related products, specifically corn, distiller's dried grains (DDGS) and ethanol.

"It came just ten days after action by the Chinese government to dramatically increase tariffs on imported U.S. ethanol from 5 to 30 percent, effectively stopping a growth market for U.S. farmers and ethanol producers. U.S. farmers also continue to wait for China's approvals of biotech corn events, which last happened in 2014.

"The U.S. Grains Council is deeply disappointed in this series of events that is a severe departure from our industry’s three decades of broad, cooperative work with China's government and livestock industry and that follows a year of extensive cooperation on the part of the U.S. DDGS and ethanol industry with MOFCOM investigations.

"The decisions in the anti-dumping and countervailing duties investigations are not supported by the evidence and raise serious questions regarding the Ministry’s compliance with standard AD/CVD procedures and with China’s international obligations. While painful and damaging to the U.S. DDGS industry, their biggest negative impact will ultimately be on China’s feed and livestock industries, which risk losing access to an important and cost-effective feed ingredient, and on millions of Chinese households that will likely face greater food price inflation and less access to affordable, wholesome pork, poultry and dairy products.

"The decisions to raise tariffs on ethanol and to delay further the approval of helpful plant technology that enhances food safety and environmental protection are short-signed trade barriers that also, ultimately, most hurt the Chinese people, who deserve cleaner air and increased food security through both production and trade.

"This new year marks the 35th anniversary of U.S. Grains Council programs in China. We deeply appreciate the opportunities we have had over this time to partner with a broad cross section of members of local industries and government who are working to make their production more efficient, safer and more environmentally-friendly. The implication of these recent moves is clearly that we are less than welcome in their market, and this will challenge the extent of our engagement with China.

"Protectionist trade restrictions based on false allegations do not benefit either China or the United States and represent a threat to a global trading system that has promoted consumer welfare and jobs around the world while lifting millions of families out of poverty. We look forward to and will continue to work toward the day when U.S.-China trade relations are back on a better and more sensible course that results in benefits for both countries, their farmers and their consumers. Thirty-five years of solid work and cooperation have showed this is possible."

Canada’s Protectionist Policies Will Harm U.S. Economy, Dairy Groups Tell President-Elect Trump

U.S. dairy organizations and the state departments of agriculture across the country today told President-elect Donald Trump that Canada’s existing and soon-to-be-expanded protectionist policies are intentionally designed to block imports from the United States. These policies are in direct violation of Canada’s trade commitments under the North American Free Trade Act (NAFTA) and the World Trade Organization, said IDFA, NMPF, NASDA and USDEC in a letter urging the president-elect and his key cabinet members to take immediate action.

The letter to Trump outlined estimates from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that show each $1 billion of U.S. dairy exports generates more than 20,000 jobs for Americans and almost $3 billion of economic output. U.S. dairy suppliers are reporting that they are already losing business because of these programs, demonstrating that Canada’s actions are resulting in lost revenues and jobs for dairy farmers and processors across the United States.

“This negative impact is conservatively estimated at $150 million worth of ultra-filtered milk exports being lost by companies in Wisconsin and New York, which are highly reliant on their trade with Canada. In fact, the entire U.S. dairy industry is being hurt, as milk prices are being driven down nationally by Canada’s trade actions,” the groups said. “Having an even wider impact on America’s dairy farmers and processors, additional large volumes of skim milk powder will be forced onto the thinly traded global market resulting in a further depression of prices that will negatively impact the revenues of dairy farmers around the world.”

The letter sent to Trump was signed by the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) and the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA).

Canada is Flouting Trade Obligations

The U.S. dairy industry is already restricted by Canada’s exorbitant tariffs, they said, and only limited market access is granted under NAFTA. Canada is one of America’s top trading partners, yet the country is clearly flouting its trade obligations by implementing and enforcing these policies.

“The U.S. dairy industry is highly competitive internationally, and overseas markets represent a vital source of future growth opportunities including thousands of new American jobs,” the groups said. “Not long ago, the United States was a net importer of dairy products, but now our nation benefits from a dairy trade surplus of over $2 billion. Enforcement of current trade agreements, whether bilateral or multilateral in nature, is central to strengthening the U.S. economy.”

Copied on the letter were several Cabinet nominees, including Robert Lighthizer, the Trump Administration’s nominee for U.S. Trade Representative, along with the leaders and members of the House and Senate agricultural committees.

Nationwide Hosts Annual Grain Bin Safety Contest

For the fourth consecutive year, Nationwide is collaborating with industry leaders and agricultural professionals to host the Nominate Your Fire Department Contest as part of this year's Grain Bin Safety Week, which will be observed Feb. 19-25, 2017. The event kicked off in Des Moines, Iowa.

The safety contest runs through May 31. It will award grain rescue tubes and specialized hands-on training to help first responders save lives when farmers and other workers become dangerously entrapped in grain bins and other grain storage structures.

"Deploying a grain rescue tube is the only way to safely remove someone trapped in grain," said Brad Liggett, president of Nationwide Agribusiness. "Until we can convince all farmers and other grain handlers to develop a zero-entry mentality, we will continue to make tubes available."

Since its inception in 2014, the contest has attracted over 1,000 nominations and awarded tubes and training to 32 fire departments across 15 states. One of those winners -- the Westphalia Fire Department in Kansas -- used their new skills in 2015 to rescue a man who became entrapped in a grain bin.

Grain Bin Safety Week 2017 is made possible by Nationwide, the No. 1 farm insurer, CHS, West Side Salvage, Specialty Risk Insurance, ABIS, KC Supply Co., The Scoular Company, Authur J Gallagher & Co., NOHR Wortmann Engineering, National Farm Medicine Center and the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety.

For more information about the program, purpose or nomination process, visit

Retail Fertilizer Prices Start 2017 With Mixed Moves

Retail fertilizer prices started 2017 the same way they ended 2016 -- with some fertilizer prices lower and some higher compared to a month earlier, according to retailers surveyed by DTN the first week of January 2017.

Five of the eight major fertilizers were lower again, although none were considerably lower. DAP with an average price of $431 per ton, MAP $442/ton, 10-34-0 $436/ton, UAN28 $218/ton and UAN32 $255/ton.

The remaining three fertilizers were slightly higher, though none of these moves were significant. Potash had an average price of $322/ton, urea $339/ton and anhydrous $465/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.37/lb.N, anhydrous $0.28/lb.N, UAN28 $0.39/lb.N and UAN32 $0.40/lb.N.

Retail fertilizers are lower compared to a year earlier. All fertilizers are now double digits lower.

Urea is now down 11%, DAP is 13% less expensive, MAP is 15% lower and potash is 18% less expensive. UAN32 is 19% lower while both anhydrous and UAN28 are 20% less expensive and 10-34-0 is 24% lower compared to a year prior.

Federally mandated databank at Kansas State University serves as vital tool for food animal health

The Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank, or FARAD, hosted by Kansas State University, is continuing its work helping protect the nation's food supply.

The databank received $360,000 as part of an annual, renewable grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture in September 2016.

"FARAD is a federally mandated collaborative project that's been going on for about 35 years," said Ronette Gehring, associate professor of anatomy and physiology in the College of Veterinary Medicine. "The project started off as a collaboration of North Carolina State University, the University of Florida and University of California, Davis, with Kansas State University a new addition in 2012."

The databank is a risk-management program that provides science-based expert advice to help mitigate unsafe chemical residues, such as from drugs, pesticides and biotoxins, that might be found in products derived from food animals.

"We are the only resource for drug withdrawal interval recommendations following extra-label drug use and accidental exposure to environmental contaminants," Gehring said. "Pharmacokinetics is the scientific underpinning for our work, which describes how drugs move through the body using mathematical models. We can extrapolate and give scientifically based recommendations for veterinarians to help food producers."

The databank was co-founded by Jim Riviere while he was at North Carolina State University. Riviere is now the MacDonald endowed chair in veterinary medicine, a Kansas Bioscience eminent scholar and a university distinguished professor at Kansas State University, where he directs of the Institute of Computational Comparative Medicine and continues as the national coordinator for the Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank.

"FARAD is a valuable tool to the practicing veterinarian by providing professional advice in real time," Riviere said. "It could also be considered an excellent example of translational medicine applied to animal health. FARAD's call volume has increased yearly by double digits, supporting its value to the veterinary profession. Having a FARAD site at the Institute of Computational Comparative Medicine at Kansas State University strengthens the computational basis upon which withdrawal time estimations are based."

Databank personnel provide scientifically derived answers to residue questions from licensed veterinarians, extension specialist and regulators.

"FARAD is able to answer questions regarding drug regulatory laws, veterinary feed directives, requests for drug withdrawal interval recommendations for extra-label use, and mitigating accidental exposure for most major and minor food animal species," Gehring said. "We also work with the database administrators and responders at the other centers to help each other address questions and issues that might come up."

Gehring said members of the other Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank centers will visit Kansas State University this spring for a special continuing education meeting that will feature extensive pharmacokinetics training.

"We are constantly working on providing tools for our people at the other centers," Gehring said. "We want to keep improving the accuracy and consistency of outward recommendations. We are currently making a WIC – withdrawal interval calculator – a program with a graphical user interface that can be used by respondents at our different centers. It allows them to enter information and to ensure there's a formal approach to finding out what data are out there on which we can base our recommendations."

Kansas State University's Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank also serves in different educational capacities.

"What we do at FARAD feeds into how Kansas State University trains veterinary students," Gehring said. "We can provide unique perspectives in courses focused on veterinary pharmacology. We are also involved with doctoral students in statistics and growing collaborations with that department. Those skills are very sought-after in the pharmaceutical industry, with the unique aspect of different species and residues."

More information about FARAD is available at Interested parties can call 1-888-US-FARAD to submit general questions or receive advice regarding residue avoidance.

Trump Meets with Top Executives About Bayer's Planned Purchase

Top executives of Bayer AG and Monsanto Co. met with President-elect Donald Trump Wednesday in New York to pitch the benefits of their planned deal.

Bayer Chief Executive Werner Baumann and Monsanto CEO and Chairman Hugh Grant outlined at the meeting Bayer's planned $57 billion purchase of Monsanto, agreed in September, representatives for the companies said.

The German pharmaceutical giant's planned purchase of Monsanto is one of three planned multibillion-dollar deals set to reshape the global seed and pesticide industry. While the companies have said that combining Bayer's broad portfolio of pesticides with Monsanto's sector-leading capabilities in seed engineering will accelerate breakthroughs in new crops and sprays, some farmers worry that the consolidation will boost the market power of the sector's biggest players and leave farmers with fewer choices for critical supplies, and higher prices.

Several members of Trump's agricultural advisory committee, formed to advise Trump on farm policy during last year's presidential campaign, have spoken out against the merger deals and called for the president-elect to block them. Trump has previously expressed skepticism about megamergers, including AT&T Inc.'s planned purchase of Time Warner Inc., but he hasn't weighed in on the agricultural deals.

Monsanto's Grant said in an interview last month that Monsanto hadn't engaged with the Trump transition team regarding the Bayer deal, but that the sale would translate to larger investment in research and development that would benefit farmers and create new jobs.

Bruce Rastetter, a member of Mr. Trump's agricultural committee and chief executive of Summit Agricultural Group, an Iowa-based grain and livestock farming operation, said he plans to raise his concerns about the mergers directly with Trump in the near future.

Farm size and productivity to be focus of international conference

The relationship between agrarian structure and agricultural productivity will be the subject of an international conference planned Feb. 2-3 in Washington, D.C.

The conference--Farm Size and Productivity: A Global Look--is a collaboration of USDA's Economic Research Service and Farm Foundation, NFP. Researchers and economists from Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and the United States will discuss new research findings on agricultural development.

Sessions will be 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 2, and 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Feb. 3 at the First Floor Auditorium of Patriot's Plaza III, 355 E. Street SW, Washington, D.C.

Several of the papers to be presented move beyond comparisons of land productivity to total factor productivity (TFP). They explore newly available panels of farms to compare not only differences in productivity levels, but also productivity growth by farm size. Other studies examine how specific policies, institutions and behaviors may explain observed productivity differences across farms.

"Sustaining agricultural productivity growth is a key factor in our ability to feed the world's increasing population," says conference organizer Keith Fuglie, an economist in the Structure, Technology and Productivity Branch of the Resource and Rural Economics Division of ERS. "This conference is an important opportunity to expand our understanding of the relationship between the size and structure of farm operations and agricultural productivity in different location and cropping scenarios worldwide."

Presentation topics will include: consolidation in U.S. agriculture; farm size and productivity in the U.S. Corn Belt; the relationship between farm size and productivity in Australia's grain industry; policy reforms and productivity growth in the European Union dairy sector; and the farm size productivity relationship in Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.

This conference is targeted to public policy officials, economists and those interested in global development and productivity. The workshop is free of charge but registration is requested. Complete online registration at:

The Not-so-Obvious Signs of Calfhood Respiratory Disease

Calves impacted by pneumonia during the first 90 days of life are more likely to experience increased age at first calving, higher incidence of dystocia and greater mortality before first calving.

“Bovine respiratory disease (BRD) is far too common on dairies,” said Greg Edwards, managing veterinarian, Dairy Technical Services, Zoetis. “Detecting respiratory disease symptoms early in a calf’s life can help prevent chronic infections and lead to better future lifetime productivity.”

Are producers looking for the right signs to know if a calf has contracted BRD? Both the University of Wisconsin-Madison and University of California, Davis, offer scoring systems to help determine whether calves are showing clinical signs of respiratory disease, which could include:
·   Eye discharge
·   Nasal discharge
·   Ear droop
·   Head tilt
·   Cough
·   Increased breathing rate
·   Elevated temperature
·   Slow, reduced or zero milk intake during feeding
·   Slow to rise at feeding time
·   Slow to lie down after eating

Producers can use either the UW-Madison scoring system or UC Davis scoring system to record their calves’ symptoms on a daily basis to help determine which animals are sick. Early detection and treatment with an antibiotic approved for use in calves, such as DRAXXIN® (tulathromycin) Injectable Solution, may reduce the risk of treatment failure to help get its health back on track.

Take the opportunity to head off the disease before it affects long-term wellness by identifying animals at high risk, such as those experiencing:
-    Commingling
-    Weaning
-    Seasonal temperature change
-    Introduction to new animals
-    Transportation

Research shows control of BRD during high-risk times can improve dairy heifer growth and performance.

Vaccinate to help prevent pneumonia. The cost to raise a heifer from birth to freshening can exceed $2,000 per head.3 Does it pay to put a calf’s future at risk before she even has a chance to return her profit as a lactating cow? Producers should work with their veterinarian to set up a vaccination program for young calves. Ask him or her about introducing an intranasal vaccine, such as INFORCE™3 respiratory vaccine, that helps protect against three major viral pathogens that cause pneumonia in dairy calves — bovine respiratory syncytial virus (BRSV), infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR) virus and parainfluenza 3 (PI3) virus. Vaccines are an important part of helping the immune system fight off BRD.

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION: DRAXXIN has a pre-slaughter withdrawal time of 18 days in cattle. Do not use in female dairy cattle 20 months of age or older. Do not use in animals known to be hypersensitive to the product.

Tuesday January 10 Ag News

Are You Ready for Calving?
Larry Howard, NE Extension Educator, Cuming County

It is already time to start thinking about and planning for calving season. Planning ahead and being prepared can help increase the chances of success. You can begin by asking yourself two simple questions. Are my cows ready for calving? Am I ready for calving?

Ideally, we would like our cows to give birth to healthy, vigorous calves with little calving difficulty and successfully re-breed. A major factor to this happening is the nutritional status of the cows at calving. Calving takes work and cows that are undernourished have a greater chance of problems such as prolonged calving, increased calving difficulty, weak calves, colostrum issues, and prolapses. Evaluating the nutritional status of your cows using Body Condition Scores (BCS) 60 to 80 days prior to the calving season provides a means to offset these problems. Cows with a BCS 5 and heifers with a BCS 6 on a 1 to 9 scale at calving are much less likely to suffer these problems and have a much greater chance of re-breeding. For more information on BCS scoring please see Body Condition Scoring Your Beef Cow Herd (

Getting yourself ready for calving season starts with evaluating calving areas to make sure that all are clean, dry, strong, safe, and functioning correctly. Consider assembling an obstetrical kit with needed supplies so everything is in one place. Supplies should include disposable obstetrical sleeves, disinfectant, lubricant, obstetrical chains, and obstetrical handles.

Lastly, before calving season starts, review and develop a protocol. See Assisting the Beef Cow at Calving Time ( for information. You should plan what to do, when to do it, who to call for help, and how to know when you need help. Review these plans with all family members or helpers. Make sure everyone is familiar with what to expect during a normal calving and how to determine if there is a problem. Visit with your veterinarian about the protocol and incorporate his/her suggestions. Having a plan and being prepared will help make the calving season a success.

2017 Nutrient Management Record Keeping Calendars are Now Available

This easy-to-use record keeping calendar for livestock operations that keeps track of manure related records is available to all livestock producers. The calendar was designed to be used by all sizes of livestock operations and includes all records required for operations permitted for the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). It has been approved by the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) and recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a valuable resource for livestock producers.

Records of rainfall, storage depth gauge levels, and storage and equipment inspections are an important aspect of required manure and runoff storage records for a NDEQ permit. These and other records will help you gain value from manure nutrients and document your stewardship of the environment.

The calendar is available for free by contacting Leslie Johnson (, the NDEQ office or you can pick one up at the Cuming County Extension office. Calendars are good through January 2018. On-line orders can also be made at To view an electronic sample of the calendar, go to

R-CALF meeting info

Area livestock producers are invited to a R-CALF meeting in Norfolk and Columbus areas January 24 2017.  Bill Bullard CEO of R-CALF USA will be here discussing the causes of the recent collapse of the cattle market and identify solutions to help reverse the unprecedented price decline. Also updates on Country of Origin Labeling, GIPSA rules and Check-off law suite. These meetings will be held at Shadows Restaurant and Pub in Columbus January 24 @ 1:30pm. In Norfolk@ Divots Conference Center in the Dakota Room January 24 @ 7:00 pm.  Meetings are free of charge and the public is welcome to attend.  For more information call Richard Schrunk@ (402)-340-1222.

Trade Travels Build Business, Personal Ties

Nebraska farmers export more than half of the soybeans they grow. Nationwide, more than 60 percent of the soybean crop is shipped to other nations. But strong export markets don’t just happen. It takes a lot of time and effort to build the kinds of relationships necessary to sell more soybeans abroad.

Chapman soybean farmer Greg Greving has seen the value of meeting with overseas customers and getting to know them on a personal level firsthand. Greving is a past director on the United Soybean Board and an ex officio member of the Nebraska Soybean Board. He recently returned from a trade mission to the Philippines and Thailand, one of several visits he’s made to Southeast Asia since 2013.

“Someone once told me the Asian people value a contact more than a contract, and I’ve found that to be very true,” said Greving. “It’s important for U.S. farmer leaders to meet with overseas customers and put a face on American soybean producers.”

The Philippines is the second largest customer for U.S. soybean meal, and Greving has seen every step of the supply chain there—from the unloading facilities to feed mills and, ultimately, the livestock producers and aquaculture facilities that use the soybean meal. In return, Greving has hosted visitors from the Philippines and other Southeast Asian nations at his farm during harvest. He’s made lasting friendships that go beyond business.

“The first time I hosted a delegation, I made sure to include my parents and my sons, who farm with me, because it was important to my guests to meet my family.”

Over the years, Greving has made a lot of friends through the trade visits, including family members of the largest importer of soybeans in the Philippines. The quality and reliability of U.S. soybeans are important to all customers, but so is the friendship.

“We’re friends on Facebook and frequently talk on the phone. They’ll ask how my beans are doing, and I can just post a picture to keep them up-to-date,” said Greving.

The most recent trade mission was conducted in cooperation with grain marketer AGP, which sponsors annual trips to Southeast Asia to promote understanding between soybean farmers and their overseas customers. 

Nebraska Agriculture Leaders Outline Principles for Property Tax Reform

Leaders of Nebraska agriculture organizations who represent tens of thousands of Nebraska farmers, ranchers, and livestock feeders have come together to outline principles to guide actions on comprehensive tax reform for Nebraska. The principles are targeted at addressing Nebraska’s current tax system, which has led to an imbalance and overreliance on property taxes to fund government services, said Dennis Fujan, president of the Nebraska Soybean Association, Jan. 10.

“With the legislature convening, it’s important we collectively share where we believe the discussion on tax reform needs to go. Our principles provide parameters for the critical discussions that need to take place this session,” said Fujan. “It’s also important Nebraskans know we believe tax reform should benefit all Nebraska property taxpayers, including Nebraska homeowners and businesses.”

The Agriculture Leaders Working Group which developed the principles, include member-elected leaders from the Nebraska Cattlemen, Nebraska Corn Growers Association, Nebraska Farm Bureau, Nebraska Pork Producers Association, Nebraska Soybean Association, and the Nebraska State Dairy Association. The group has been meeting for several months to discuss priority issues for Nebraska agriculture, specifically tax reform and property taxes.

The Agriculture Leaders Working Group principles for tax reform state:
1.            Tax reform, whether through legislation or ballot initiative, should seek a more balanced tax system to fund government services and education and benefit all property owners, including agriculture, residential, and commercial property. Collections from property, sales, and income taxes shall share the burden with none of the three individually exceeding 35 percent of the tax liability.

2.            Agricultural property owners currently pay a disproportional amount of the total property tax liability. All future property tax relief produced at the state level must seek to reduce this proportional share.

3.            Tax reform should encourage fiscal responsibility and be revenue neutral. Actions to achieve such measures may include new tax sources or modify existing revenue sources to provide dollar for dollar reductions in property taxes.

4.            Reform must ensure adequate funding for high quality education for Nebraska students, but reduce the reliance on property taxes for educational funding.

5.            Tax reform must provide fiscal restraint in government spending, including budget growth limitations.

“With property taxes comprising 48 percent of the combined collections of property taxes, state sales tax, and state income tax, it is critical we work to re-balance the tax burden in a way that benefits all Nebraskans. These principles will move us in that direction,” said Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau president.

While members of the Agriculture Leaders Working Group organized to identify ways to work together on issues across both crop and livestock sectors, it became apparent in discussions that property taxes and tax reform is the top issue.

“Property tax and the need for tax reform has been at the forefront of every conversation we’ve had. It’s time fixing this issue moved to the front of the Legislature’s “to do” list. We’re committed to working with the governor, the Legislature and others to make it a reality,” said Troy Stowater, Nebraska Cattlemen president.

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

Ag Land Values in Limbo in 2017 - Interest rates will play a role in setting the stage

Several factors will come into play in 2017 that will determine the direction of land values.

Randy Dickhut, senior vice president of real estate operations for Farmers National Company, said that in the past three years, agricultural landowners in many regions across the country have seen a decline in profits, which also pushed land values lower.

“This winter, questions abound as to the direction of commodity prices, interest rates, inflation, challenges in the world economy, weather and U.S. tax law,” Dickhut said. “Buyers of ag land are asking if it is an opportune time to make a purchase of a farm or ranch, while sellers are asking if the market dynamics are indicating that it is good time to sell land. Depending on location, quality of land and other factors, our agents report seeing regions and local areas where land prices are stable to somewhat strengthening post-2016 harvest. Then there are other areas where land values have continued to decline.”

A key factor impacting land prices will be interest rates, Dickhut said. Grain and livestock prices affecting farm and ranch income also will influence land values.

“Foreign trade policy and its effect on agriculture will be closely watched over the next few months. Potential changes in tax laws could affect estate taxation and capital gains rules that in turn influence buying and selling decisions,” Dickhut said.


Land values for the first half of 2017 in Nebraska likely will remain relatively flat unless there is an uptick in grain and livestock commodity prices, said JD Maxson, assistant area sales manager for Farmers National Company in North Platte, Neb. Overall, the land market has softened due to weak grain and livestock commodity markets. But, Maxson anticipates high quality land in sought-after locations to continue to be in demand in the first half of the year.

“A farm with Class I and II soils, good access, water and a level to gently rolling topography has and will continue to get the attention of local neighboring farms and investors,” Maxson said. “Typically, this type of farm offers high yields and excellent productivity, which translates to bottom line profits and above average return-on-investment. In comparison, an average to medium quality farm with any tract needing improvements such as gravity irrigation to pivot, which is a combination farm with Class III and above soils and may need cedar tree removal, is being discounted by as much as 25 to 30 percent.”

Maxson also said inflation could be on the horizon with the recent one-fourth of a percent hike in interest rates.

“However, land is a hard asset and can be leveraged against inflation versus other paper investments,” he said.

Still, since August 2016, top quality land in Nebraska continues to hold its value, while medium and low quality land is trending lower. Hard grass and meadow acres, as well as soft grazing acres, also are trending lower.

High quality farms are selling best through the auction process and sell within days if priced for the market, while medium and low quality farms are moving better with private treaties, but sit on the marketplace for longer periods of time. Almost all auctions have been successful in this state from June 2016 forward.

Unfortunately, Maxson has seen a few forced sales due to farmers’ financial constraints.

“However, lenders have been meeting with the producers after harvest. We certainly could see an 80-acre farm or short-quarter come on the market to generate operating capital for 2017,” he said.
Active sellers include absentee land owners, farmers/owner-operators and trusts. In the last few months, buyers have been investors.

“1031 money has had a huge impact in the last 90 days,” Maxson said. “High quality farms are holding value, while medium and low quality farms with issues like access, soil and water, along with a low percentage of tillable acres or land that needs improvements, are taking a hit of 25 to 35 percent.”


The second half of 2016 saw a jump in land auctions in the state of Iowa with a $34.859 million greater volume in the second half of the year and 3,763 more acres sold, said Sam Kain, ALC,
GRI, ABRM, national sales manager for Farmers National Company based out of West Des Moines, Iowa. Auctions are the most successful approach to selling land in Iowa, with 97 percent of auctions resulting in a sale the day of the event.

Top quality land remains stable with a possible five percent decrease. Medium quality land is experiencing a five percent decrease and low quality land is seeing a 10 percent decrease in value. Pasture ground remains stable. Kain said he is seeing some land sales resulting from farmers experiencing financial pressures. Approximately 85 percent of buyers are local farmers and 15 percent are investors.

“The land market has been stronger since harvest was completed, which I attribute to above average yields,” Kain said. “For 2017, a lot will depend upon how much land comes on the market. Current commodity prices indicate land values should be trending downward, but if we continue to see so few farms come on the market, prices will stay steady.”

Farm Bureau Convention Concludes with 2017 Policy Roadmap

Delegates to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 2017 Annual Convention today approved a host of public policy measures designed to help assure a prosperous future for farmers, ranchers and everyone who depends on them for food, fuel and fiber.

Delegates covered the full range of agriculture policy over the day-long session. Resolutions passed included important measures covering regulatory reform, crop insurance, the inclusion of food assistance in the upcoming farm bill, school nutrition, biotechnology, energy and more.

“The actions taken today by our farmer and rancher delegates from across the nation represent the culmination of our year-long grassroots policy process,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “It also provides us a roadmap for actions AFBF will take to implement our policies throughout this year, and I am optimistic about those prospects.”

Regulatory Reform

Delegates approved policy supporting regulatory reform, including legislation to eliminate “judicial deference,” which has essentially nullified the power of the courts to serve as a check on agency abuses.

Also on the topic of regulations, delegates approved policy to oppose agency advocacy campaigns in support of their own proposed regulations.

Delegates passed a sense-of-the-body resolution calling for comprehensive regulatory reform, driving home the importance of the issue for farmers and ranchers.

New language was approved to require the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other federal agencies to coordinate and cooperate in a meaningful way with state and local governments in making land management plans and decisions as required by Congress. They also supported mandatory recusal for federal officers who face conflicts of interest in their work.

Hunger and Nutrition

Delegates overwhelmingly approved language supporting efforts to fund nutrition programs including food assistance and school lunches through the same, unified farm bill that funds farm safety-net programs.

Delegates also called on Congress to support incorporating all types of domestic fruits and vegetables into the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program for schools. Delegates supported the use of fresh and locally grown product when available.

Farm Support

Delegates reaffirmed strong support for risk-management and safety-net tools to defend against volatile commodity markets.


Delegates reaffirmed support for flexibility in the H-2A program that would allow workers to seek employment from more than one farmer.

Big Data

Delegates reaffirmed support for the protection of proprietary data collected from farmers, voting that farmers should be compensated when their data is used by third parties. Delegates also supported sale of proprietary data to third parties.

USDA Licenses Diagnostic Kit to Improve Management of Johne’s Disease in Cattle

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has issued Thermo Fisher Scientific a Veterinary Biological Product License for its Applied Biosystems VetMAX-Gold MAP Detection Kit, a real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based solution designed to detect the bacterium that causes Johne’s disease. The debilitating condition costs the dairy and beef cattle industries up to $350 million each year in the United States alone.

A serious problem among production and dairy cattle worldwide, Johne’s disease is a chronic and sometimes fatal condition caused by the presence of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis (MAP) in the small intestine of ruminants. Diagnosis of clinical infection is usually confirmed by the detection of the causal organism in feces or in intestinal tissues postmortem.

Approval of the VetMAX Gold MAP Detection Kit is based on the successful completion of the USDA’s stringent review process to ensure safety and effectiveness of the test and evaluation of production and quality systems compliance at the manufacturing site. With the addition of this recent license, Thermo Fisher now offers six USDA-licensed molecular diagnostic tests for customers, more than any other company in the animal health space.

“We strive to provide products that will help our lab partners bring real value to their customers and help maximize their profitability,” said Martin Guillet, global head and general manager of AgriBusiness at Thermo Fisher. “With the availability of VetMAX-Gold MAP Detection Kit, labs will have the confidence they are using a functionally validated test that is subjected to ongoing quality monitoring and USDA product release requirements. This will in turn build confidence among their customers that the best tools are being used to effectively monitor and manage Johne’s disease in their herd.”

Corn Consumption from Ethanol Production

Todd Hubbs, University of Illinois

The U.S. ethanol industry ended 2016 on a high note. Ethanol production for the week ending December 30 set a new ethanol production record with an average of 1.043 million barrels per day. The March futures price for corn moved higher last week to close at $3.58 in large part due to strength in the ethanol sector. Ethanol production and exports returned strong numbers over the first quarter of the marketing year. Currently, the WASDE forecast for corn consumption for ethanol production is 5.3 billion bushels. When taking into account an increase in projected gasoline consumption in 2017 and robust ethanol export levels, the ability to surpass this projection is a strong possibility.

Domestic ethanol consumption in 2017 will be influenced by domestic gasoline consumption, due to the ethanol blending requirement, and the biofuels volume requirement associated with the Renewable Fuels Standard. The EPA final rulemaking for the Renewable Fuels Standard for 2017 was released on November 23 and is discussed in greater detail in this November 30, 2016 farmdoc daily article. In brief, the renewable fuels volume requirement is set at 19.28 billion gallons for 2017 which is up from the 18.11 billion gallons required in 2016. The conventional ethanol requirement is set at 15 billion gallons for 2017, 500 million gallons larger than 2016 and equal to the statutory requirement level. If the gasoline consumption forecast used by the EPA is correct, the E-10 blend wall will be 14.36 billion gallons in 2017. The EPA believes an ethanol supply of 14.56 billion gallons is reasonably attainable in 2017. Within the 14.56 billion gallons, E15 and E85 blends are expected to be 107 and 204 million gallons respectively. The ability to attain the E15 and E85 blend levels remains to be seen but the increase in ethanol requirements provides support for greater corn usage in 2017.

U.S. retail gasoline prices averaged $2.14 per gallon in 2016 which is 12% less than the price experienced in 2015 and is the lowest price since 2004. The December Energy Information Agency (EIA) Short Term Energy Outlook projected an increase in gasoline prices for 2017 to $2.30 per gallon. Despite the projection of higher gasoline prices, gasoline consumption is forecast at 143.60 billion gallons in 2017 which is up from the 142.72 billion gallons consumed in 2016. Ethanol production is forecast to be 1 million barrels per day. If the EIA projection is correct, approximately 15.3 billion gallons of ethanol will be produced in 2017. When considering the robust ethanol export trade currently in process, the U.S. ethanol industry is expected to produce a record level of ethanol in 2017.

Ethanol export numbers are available from U.S. Census trade data for 2016 through November. U.S. exports of ethanol thus far are at 948 million gallons which is up almost 27% from the similar period in 2015. For 2016, the prospect of ethanol exports exceeding 1 billion gallons is not unreasonable. Canada, China, and Brazil imported approximately 67% of the ethanol shipped from the U.S. through November. The increase in ethanol exports is driven largely by increased volumes sent to China and Brazil. China imported 179 million gallons through November which far exceeds the 73.8 million gallons imported during the entirety of 2015. Brazil imported 224 million gallons through November which is almost double imports from 2015. As we progress into 2017, the increases are expected to persist in Brazil since high sugar prices are expected to decrease ethanol production as mills allocate cane for sugar production in 2017. There is concern that China could raise ethanol tariffs and reduce ethanol imports in 2017 due to a possible trade dispute with the new administration.

The implications for corn consumption during the 2016-17 marketing year can be seen in the USDA Grain Crushing and Co-Product Production report released on January 3. Grain crushing for fuel alcohol is available through November. For the first three months of the marketing year, 1.34 billion bushels of corn has been processed for ethanol. This is up 3.2% from 2015 processing numbers. If corn used for ethanol production maintains this pace, 5.37 billion bushels will be processed in the marketing year. Using EIA weekly ethanol production numbers, December ethanol production averaged over 1 million barrels per day. These production levels place corn use for ethanol production in a range of 455 to 460 million bushels for the month if corn use maintains the pace of the three previous months. With a conservative estimate of corn crush in December, total corn consumption for ethanol production through the first third of the marketing year would be above the current WASDE projection.

Lower corn prices, strong ethanol exports, and greater blending requirements combine to make 2017 appear to be a strong year for corn consumption in ethanol production. If the U.S. ethanol industry produced over 1 million barrels per day for the entire year, the ability to blend at requirement levels under an expanded gasoline consumption scenario and meet potential export market demand bodes well for corn use in the sector for 2017.

Poll: Trump Voters Overwhelmingly Support Ethanol

A new post-election survey released today shows that decisive voters in the 2016 presidential election are staunch supporters of American ethanol. The survey of 3,000 Trump voters in the Midwestern battleground states of Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Iowa, Indiana and Minnesota found that more than eight in 10 respondents agree with the President-elect’s vocal support for ethanol and believe the homegrown biofuel is vital to American jobs and energy security.

“Conservatives and liberals alike need to take a fresh look at Trump voters in the Midwest – they are staunchly pro-ethanol,” said Emily Skor, Growth Energy CEO. “These are voters who clearly understand that biofuels like ethanol are delivering greater U.S. energy security, more jobs, cleaner air, and better fuel options for consumers. The road to victory is powered by clean-burning, homegrown biofuels.”

According to the poll, conducted between December 6 and 22 by Quadrant Strategies, 83 percent of Midwestern Trump voters agreed with the President-elect's campaign promise to promote the addition of more homegrown ethanol in America's fuel supply.

Voters overwhelmingly indicated their support for the fuel based on its importance to energy security and American jobs. 85 percent of respondents said ethanol was important to U.S. energy security and 88 percent indicated that ethanol was important to creating American jobs.

“Support for biofuels is something that resonates across party lines, especially in America’s heartland, and President-elect Trump tapped into that,” added Skor. “Lawmakers can see what happens when you underestimate rural and Midwestern voters.”

This survey was conducted by Quadrant Strategies between December 6 and 22 among 3,000 Trump voters across six Midwestern states: Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Iowa, Indiana and Minnesota. The sample size in each state was 500. The overall margin of error for this survey is +/-1.8 percent. The survey was conducted using major, best-in-class national online sample vendors who curate demographically-representative panels, adhering to market research industry standards.

Federal Agencies Partner to Motivate Americans to Be Healthy and Active

Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that USDA's free online tool, SuperTracker, has incorporated the President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition's (PCFSN) Presidential Champions program as an additional incentive to motivate Americans to be more physically active. Gamification, the application of points and achievements to non-game contexts, has been shown to inspire both youth and adults to engage in physical activity and to monitor progress toward their own health goals. Now, anyone who has a SuperTracker account can participate in the Presidential Champions program by simply logging into their SuperTracker account and recording their daily physical activity.

Since 2003, the Presidential Champions program has motivated Americans ages six and older to become physically active and live a healthier lifestyle. Based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, SuperTracker empowers people to improve eating habits, manage weight, and reduce risk of chronic disease. Users can determine what and how much to eat; track their food intake, physical activity, and weight; and personalize their SuperTracker experience by setting individual goals, journaling, and receiving virtual coaching. With the addition of the Presidential Champions program, SuperTracker's millions of users can now also be recognized with awards. Through SuperTracker, Presidential Champions participants can now sync their Fitbit accounts and easily track their activity without manually entering data to accumulate points.

"The partnership between these two agencies is truly a win for all involved. We know that the Presidential Champions program has dedicated participants who will benefit from the incredible suite of tools available in the SuperTracker application," said Angie Tagtow, Executive Director for the USDA's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, which created and manages SuperTracker. "We now have yet another way for existing SuperTracker users to stay motivated to make positive choices every day on their path to a healthier lifestyle."

"We are excited for our long-time Presidential Champions participants to continue earning awards for achieving their healthy goals, while gaining access to the personalized physical activity and nutrition features of SuperTracker," said Dr. Don Wright, Acting Executive Director of PCFSN. "This partnership encompasses the core theme of the Council's 60th anniversary #0to60 Campaign – inspiring all Americans to accelerate their journey to living healthy."

Monday January 9 Ag News


The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) is taking proactive steps to reduce the impacts of future drought events.  One of these steps is the development of the Drought Management Plan.  The Drought Management Plan defines drought locally and identifies processes to respond to and manage the impacts of future drought events.

LENRD Water Resources Manager, Brian Bruckner, said, “The Drought Management Plan was developed with the intention that it be adopted as an appendix of the district’s Hazard Mitigation Plan.  The Drought Management Plan draft is available on the LENRD website.  The public is encouraged to review the plan and provide comments, no later than January 25th, 2017.”

The Drought Management Plan was funded by a FEMA planning grant. The cost is shared 75% through federal funding and 25% through a local match.  The LENRD is providing the 25% local match.  The LENRD hired JEO Consulting Group, Inc. to assist with the plan development.

For more information on this planning effort, contact Brian Bruckner at 402-371-7313 or

Fremont Citizens Amend Lawsuit to Combat “December Surprise” Expansion of Costco-Lincoln Poultry Plant Site

Friday, two Fremont citizens filed an amended complaint to their current lawsuit against the City of Fremont contesting the illegal blighting of farmland for the massive $275 million Costco-Lincoln Premium Poultry chicken processing plant slated for the town. In a December 27th vote, Costco-Lincoln won unanimous approval to expand their proposed cropland blighting and receive millions in additional Tax Increment Financing (TIF). Nebraska statute NEB. REV. STAT. § 18-2103 does not provide for blighting large portions of agricultural land for the use of TIF money. The disputed area, by law, must be urban or suburban, and not rural in character.

The amended complaint was filed with the Nebraska District Court of the 6th Judicial District by Lincoln-based attorney, Greg Barton of Barton Law P.C., L.L.O., representing plaintiffs James Jaksha and Pamela Allen.

“It’s a December surprise that we should have expected,” said Randy Ruppert, leader of the citizens group Nebraska Communities United (NCU). "The staff report from the meeting contained a map from June 2016 that shows a large expansion of buildings that was not part of the public process to promote this project last summer. Accuracy and transparency do not appear to be high on their list of priorities.”

The issues addressed in the amended complaint involve a large expansion of the processing plant, an increase in the size of the feed mill and hatchery, and new “extraordinary grading.” Also tacked on is a hefty $5 million in additional TIF money for the project. The increased tax-dollar grab is based on the fact that the size and scope of the project will increase an estimated 44 percent. The total TIF amount for the project now stands at $18, 322,000 -- a surge of over $5 million from the original $13,475,000 in taxpayer money.

“It’s simple. They want more,” said Ruppert, “And this community would be foolish to think it’s the last time.”

A review of the amended plan appears to reveal that the “extraordinary grading” could change the elevation of the Costco-Lincoln site in some areas from a 500-year floodplain to a much riskier 100-year floodplain. The proposed plant’s proximity to the Platte River creates potential health and environmental issues for many Nebraskans.

“Recent rain events during the last few years prove that our environment has changed and that so-called 100-year flood events are occurring more like every few years,” said Denise Richards, a member of the NCU steering committee. “With the 100-year mark breached more frequently, we need to ask ourselves -- what will happen if this huge operation is repeatedly flooded and its waste and contaminants run into the Platte?”

Originally named “Project Rawhide,” the proposed massive Costco-owned poultry operation will be operated by Lincoln Premium Poultry, a subsidiary of Georgia-based Crider Foods. Lincoln Premium Poultry plans to run a sprawling industrial poultry processing complex that will include a 360,000-square-foot slaughter facility processing nearly 470,000 chickens a day, an 85,000-square-foot hatchery , and a 32,000-square-foot mill that will make 1.314 million tons of animal feed a year, according to a recent Lincoln Star Journal report.

Lifelong local farmer and NCU member John Schauer supports Jaksha and Allen in their legal action, and wonders when the City of Fremont will begin to put public health and the rule of law first.

"The amended plans now show a sewage lagoon and stormwater retention pond sited nearly on top of what appears to be a public water supply well,” said Schauer. “There are state and federal laws preventing this type of situation from happening. Why do Costco and the Fremont City Council think they’re above the law?"

Nebraska Recognized for Student Involvement in Farm Bureau at AFBF

The Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation (NFBF) was recognized at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 2017 Annual Convention for its performance in membership achievement and implementation of outstanding programs serving Farm Bureau members in 2016.

Nebraska earned its first President’s and New Horizon Award. The President’s Award is presented for meeting membership quota and demonstrated superiority in the Awards for Excellence categories. The New Horizon Award focuses on the state Farm Bureau with the most innovative new programs. Nebraska Farm Bureau was honored for its development of The Crew, a program designed to engage Farm Bureau student members through social media. Farm Bureau.

“We are very honored to receive these recognitions,” Steve Nelson NFBF president said Jan. 9.  “The New Horizon Award was especially nice because Nebraska Farm Bureau places high priority on training the next generation of agriculture leaders as part of our strategic plan. In coordination with NFBF student membership, The Crew is provided as an added benefit of being a student member and an opportunity to gain hands on agriculture communication experience. We are proud of this program and the growth it has shown,” Nelson said.

Nebraska was also recognized in all of the Awards of Excellence categories. The Awards of Excellence is given to state Farm Bureaus that demonstrate outstanding achievements in six program areas: Education and Outreach; Leadership Development; Member Benefits; Membership Initiatives; Policy Development and Implementation; and Public Relations and Communications.

Nebraska was also one of 32 State Farm Bureaus recognized for receiving the Apex Award. The Apex Award is given to state Farm Bureaus that have increased total contributions to the American Farm Bureau Foundation by 10 percent or more over the previous year. The Foundation supports agriculture literacy across the nation. The American Farm Bureau Federation’s 2017 Annual Convention & IDEAg Trade Show is from Jan. 7-10.

Lancaster County Farm Bureau Honored at AFBF Annual Convention

Congratulations to Lancaster County Farm Bureau who was, one of 34 county Farm Bureaus nationwide, honored by the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) for innovative program ideas in the organization’s County Activities of Excellence Awards (CAE) program. The winners were highlighted at AFBF’s 2017 Annual Convention & IDEAg Trade Show, which runs through Jan. 11.

Lancaster County Farm Bureau held an Antique Tractor & Car Show in Lincoln’s Haymarket District Aug. 17, 2016. The Ag Night Antique Tractor and Car Show provided an opportunity to connect people who live in the capital city back to the farm.

The event was a hands-on learning environment, celebrating the days gone by with classic cars and antique tractors, while looking forward to the future of ag innovation. Local area farmers and car enthusiasts were on hand to answer questions about equipment and discuss Nebraska’s roots in agriculture.

“It’s a pleasure to recognize the outstanding efforts of grassroots Farm Bureau members who join at the county level,” said NFBF President Steve Nelson. “Members are the heart and soul of Farm Bureau. It’s encouraging to see the creative way Lancaster County reached out to their urban counterparts to share information about today’s food and farming system.”

This year’s CAE award winners, come from 11 states besides Nebraska. They include: California, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia.

Nebraska’s Levrack Team Wins People’s Choice Contest in Farm Bureau Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge

Congratulations to the Levrack team of Ryan and Austin Stauffer and Peter Miller of Seward and Windcall Manufacturing, led by Martin Bremmer of Venago, for participating in the American Farm Bureau Federation’s (AFBF) Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge. These two entrepreneurial teams were part of the final four to compete for Farm Bureau’s Entrepreneur of the Year by pitching their business ideas to a panel of judges before a live audience. The four finalists each received $15,000 in October for advancing in the competition.

The Levrack team won the People’s Choice award in the competition and an additional $10,000 in prize money. They garnered 73 percent of the vote, when members of the live audience at the finals competition and members of the general public voted online to select the People’s Choice winner. Levrack produces efficient storage systems for farm shops. Bremmer’s business, Windcall Manufacturing, Inc., designed a product called the GrainGoat, a hand-held harvester that collects, cleans, and calculates the moisture of small grains all within minutes.

“We are proud of our Nebraska entrepreneurs and we are excited about the participation in this program from Nebraska innovators. We look forward to this program opening new doors for other rural entrepreneurs. This national competition is a great way to connect people with great ideas to financial and mentorships opportunities, to support rural businesses that will strengthen rural communities in Nebraska,” Audrey Smith, director of generational engagement said Jan. 9.

American Farm Bureau Federation’s entrepreneur winner was Vertical Harvest Hydroponics of Alaska. The team was led by Linda Janes and Dan Perpich. AFBF announced the winner at its 2017 Annual Convention & IDEAg Trade Show in Phoenix. Janes and Perpich took home a total of $30,000 in prize money, including $15,000 from sponsor Farm Bureau Bank to produce hydroponic vegetables housed in 40’ insulated shipping containers.

Grow Bioplastics of Tennessee, led by Tony Bova, was the other finalists who competed in the final round of the challenge in Phoenix.

The challenge, now in its third year, provides opportunities for individuals to showcase business innovations being developed in rural regions of the U.S. It is the first national business competition focused exclusively on rural entrepreneurs working on food and agriculture businesses. The top challenge teams were selected by 40 judges with expertise in business development, equity investment funding management, agribusiness lending, and entrepreneurial coaching.

State Ag and Rural Leaders Explore How CommonGround Bridges Gap with Consumers

Last weekend, CommonGround volunteer Dawn Caldwell, who farms and ranches in Edgar, Neb., spoke about how the program addresses consumers concerns about food, farming and ranching as part of a panel at the annual meeting of the State and Ag Rural Leaders. SARL, which fosters cooperation, leadership and educational opportunities among and for state and provincial legislators, brought together this panel and focus group to help attendees better understand consumer concerns and also to look at the best ways to work with agriculture to foster productive communications.

The panel, which opened the conference during initial general session, began with a consumer focus group on food topics including the use of GMOs, pesticides, grocery purchasing patterns and antibiotic and hormone use in animal ag. Following the consumer focus group, Caldwell and presenters from SaksCanola and the Foundation for Biomedical Research shared their own experiences working to address consumer concerns. Caldwell highlighted the activities of CommonGround over the past six years, shared the importance of the program's positive approach and urged legislators to work to launch a program in their state if one was not already in place.

"Legislators hear from all sides of each argument on a regular basis," Caldwell said on her experience.  "To ensure that our voices are heard, we must not only speak up but also help them understand what we have learned thus enabling them to better speak on our behalf. By working together with our elected representatives on these important educational issues, we can amplify our voices and reach a broader and more diverse audience."

During her time speaking, she also mentioned important work done by the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, such as the curriculum developed to accompany the movie Farmland and involvement in events targeting food influencers.

 Signs of Insecticide Resistance Appear in Soybean Aphid Treatments

The "2016 Yellow Book for Soybean Aphid" (CROP 3109) is now available as a free download through the Extension Store. The publication provides soybean aphid treatment recommendations and application rates based on research conducted at the Iowa State University Northeast Research and Demonstration Farm and the Northwest Research and Demonstration Farm in 2016. The report also includes insecticide effectiveness on the soybean aphid and yield, and information on the soybean aphid life cycle and scouting methods.

The Yellow Book has been published annually since 2005 with trial results and evaluations. Erin Hodgson, associate professor and extension specialist in entomology at Iowa State University, has been writing the publication since 2009.

For the first time during the 2016 growing season, insecticide failure was confirmed in Iowa. Pyrethroids are a common insecticide group, but did not have any knockdown in this commercial field.

“This may force farmers to switch to a different kind of insecticide, most likely organophosphates,” Hodgson said. “If pyrethroid resistance becomes more common, it limits the tools that can be used and can increase input costs.”

Checking to make sure insecticides are working now becomes a priority.

“If you are going to apply a foliar insecticide, make sure to go back and scout to insure there are no survivors after application,” Hodgson said.

Hodgson will present much more information about the insecticide failure during the 2017 Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Crop Advantage Series meetings.

Researchers used land in two sections of the state, getting dramatically different results in each area. Soybean aphid populations never reached their threshold at the Northeast Research Farm, while significantly exceeding that threshold at the Northwest Research Farm.

“Overall in my evaluations, treating with insecticides at the economic threshold provides a strong yield response,” Hodgson said. “That tells me the threshold is still valid and farmers should adopt scouting to reduce input costs.”

November Pork Exports Set New Record; Beef Exports also Strong

U.S. red meat exports continued to build momentum in November, highlighted by a new monthly volume record for pork exports. Both pork and beef exports exceeded year-ago levels by more than 20 percent in both volume and value, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

November pork exports totaled 225,757 metric tons (mt), up 24 percent year-over-year and breaking the previous record (218,132 mt) set in October 2012. Export value was $586.8 million, up 30 percent from a year ago and the highest since May 2014. For January through November, pork export volume was up 7 percent from a year ago to 2.09 million mt, while export value increased 5 percent to $5.38 billion.

Even with U.S. pork production reaching record levels, exports are accounting for a larger share. November export volume equated to 28 percent of total production and 23 percent for muscle cuts only – substantial increases over the November 2015 ratios of 24 percent and 21 percent. For January through November, exports accounted for 25.5 percent of total production and 21.4 percent for muscle cuts – up from 24.2 percent and 20.9 percent, respectively, in 2015. November export value averaged $55.09 per head slaughtered, up 19 percent year-over-year. The January-November average was $49.63 per head, up 2 percent.

November was also a very strong month for beef exports, which totaled 155,335 mt – up 20 percent year-over-year and the largest since July 2013. Export value increased 21 percent to $619.1 million, the highest since December 2014. This pushed January-November export volume to 1.07 million mt (up 10 percent year-over-year) valued at $5.72 billion (down 1 percent).

November exports accounted for nearly 15 percent of total beef production and 11.7 percent for muscle cuts only – the highest levels since 2014. January-November exports accounted for 13.5 percent and 10.3 percent, respectively – up from 13 percent and 10 percent during the same period in 2015. Beef export value per head of fed slaughter reached a 2016 high of $294.39 in November, up 5 percent from a year ago. For January through November, per-head export value averaged $258.48, down 7 percent.

“With recent increases in both pork and beef production, the U.S. industry faces a significant challenge in terms of moving these larger supplies,” said Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO. “But with aggressive and well-targeted international marketing efforts, this also presents an outstanding opportunity to grow our market share in established export destinations and cultivate new opportunities in emerging markets. U.S. exports are achieving success on both fronts, and USMEF is committed to keeping this strong momentum going in the New Year.”

Mexico a powerful pacesetter, but positive results across the board for U.S. pork

Demand for U.S. pork gained further momentum in Mexico in November, where a fifth consecutive record year for export volume is now within reach. November exports totaled 73,984 mt, up 21 percent year-over-year and pushing January-November volume (649,992 mt) nearly even with the record pace of 2015. Export value was up 32 percent in November ($139.2 million) and January-November export value increased 4 percent to $1.19 billion.

Though still lower year-over-year, pork exports to leading value market Japan continued to strengthen in November, increasing 24 percent from a year ago in volume (37,317 mt) and 35 percent in value ($153.4 million, the highest since April 2015). Through November, export volume to Japan was down 5 percent to 357,808 mt, while export value ($1.44 billion) pulled within 1 percent of the previous year’s pace. 2016 will be a record year for chilled pork exports to Japan, which were up 10 percent through November to 201,828 mt.

Other highlights to U.S. pork include:

-    While pork muscle cut exports to China/Hong Kong continue moderate, pork variety meat demand remains very strong. In November, pork variety meat exports to the region increased more than 90 percent in volume (32,398 mt) from a year ago and more than doubled in value ($69.9 million). Through November, pork variety meat exports were up 60 percent in volume (281,273 mt) and 51 percent in value ($569 million), while combined pork and pork variety meat exports totaled 497,701 mt (up 63 percent) valued at $978.9 million (up 55 percent).
-    Pork exports to Central and South America increased 7 percent in volume through November to 120,502 mt, valued at $297.4 million (up 5 percent). Year-over-year increases were achieved in all seven Central American countries, led by mainstay markets Honduras and Guatemala, as well as in Chile. After a difficult first half, exports to Colombia have rebounded significantly in the past four months and are now just below their 2015 pace.
-    January-November exports to Canada were up 2 percent from a year ago in both volume (186,724 mt) and value ($731 million). This included a 13 percent increase in pork variety meat volume (12,451 mt), valued at $17.8 million (up 5 percent).
-    Larger exports to both Australia and New Zealand pushed January-November exports to the Oceania region up 9 percent year-over-year in volume (63,653 mt) and 2 percent higher in value ($179.6 million).

Led by Japan and Korea, Asian markets shine for U.S. beef

Following a down year in 2015, U.S. beef exports to Japan continue to stage a very impressive rebound. November exports to Japan surged by 63 percent in volume (23,598 mt) and 58 percent in value ($149.5 million) from a year ago. For January through November, export volume increased 24 percent to 237,234 mt. This included a 44 percent increase in chilled exports to 102,090 mt. January-November export value to Japan increased 16 percent to $1.39 billion.

Beef exports to South Korea have already set a new value record ($929.3 million, up 25 percent), breaking last year’s mark of $847.4 million in just 11 months. When 2016 results are final, Korea will become the fifth market (joining Japan, Mexico, Hong Kong and Canada) in which U.S. exports have exceeded $1 billion in a single year. January-November export volume to Korea was 158,947 mt, up 38 percent year-over-year. This included a 37 percent increase in chilled beef exports to 20,325 mt.

Other highlights for U.S. beef exports include:

-    November was another very strong month for beef exports to Taiwan, pushing January-November results 22 percent above of the 2015 pace in volume (39,299 mt) and 10 percent higher in value to $319.5 million – already setting a new full-year value record.
-    Fueled by a resurgence in shipments to Indonesia, January-November beef exports to the ASEAN region increased 32 percent in volume (26,003 mt) and 8 percent in value ($138.6 million). Exports also posted impressive gains in Vietnam, helping offset lower exports to the Philippines.
-    Beef exports to Mexico continue to strengthen in volume, which was up 8 percent through November to 217,790 mt. Export value to Mexico was down 10 percent to $891.1 million.
-    Beef variety meat exports increased 10 percent from a year ago in volume (308,712 mt) through November and 4 percent in value ($820.7 million). This performance was bolstered by the addition of Indonesia, which reopened to beef variety meat in August, and South Africa, which was closed to all U.S. beef products until last January. Both are now top 10 volume markets for beef variety meat.

Momentum continues to grow for lamb muscle cut exports

January-November lamb exports were lower year-over-year in both volume (7,931 mt, down 5 percent) and value ($16.7 million, down 3 percent) due to weak variety meat demand. But lamb muscle cuts continue to trend upward, increasing 21 percent in volume (1,991 mt) through November and 13 percent in value ($11 million). November muscle cut exports to leading market Mexico were the highest of 2016 at 182 mt, and results were also bolstered by strong exports to Vietnam, Bermuda and the Netherlands Antilles.

Pig Farmers Very Aware of and Complying with New Antibiotic Rules

U.S. pig farmers are not only well aware of new federal rules for on-farm antibiotic use, but already are complying. In a survey conducted by the National Pork Board in November, 95 percent of pig farmers surveyed said that they were ready to be fully compliant by the time the rules took effect on Jan. 1, 2017.

“The pork industry worked toward the Jan. 1 implementation date for nearly two years. There was a concern that some producers would not make changes until after the date of implementation, but that does not seem to be the case,” said Jan Archer, National Pork Board president and a pig farmer from Goldsboro, North Carolina. “Pig farmers are committed to the substantive changes regarding antibiotic use, and many discontinued using antibiotics for growth promotion years ago, while also reviewing swine medical treatment uses of antibiotics as well.”

One of the key changes to the new Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rules is that medically important antibiotics could no longer be used for growth promotion. Today, human medically important antibiotics can only be used to treat sick animals or to prevent disease and/or control it.

Archer added that a key hurdle in complying with new FDA rules is ensuring that every pig farmer has a defined and ongoing client relationship with a veterinarian. That can be a challenge in remote areas of the country where the nearest veterinarian could be hundreds of miles away. Last month the Pork Checkoff announced a partnership with Global Vetlink of Ames, Iowa, to offer a veterinarian locator tool, which is available at

“Complying with the new rules is critical to maintaining consumer trust in the high quality and safety of pork produced in the U.S.,” Archer said. “The two key elements are having an established veterinarian-client-patient relationship and ensuring that antibiotics are administered under the guidance of a veterinarian. To do so without veterinarian oversight is now illegal.”

In addition to information about antibiotic use changes, the National Pork Board’s annual November survey was designed to take the pulse of U.S. pork production. The survey showed that for the seventh consecutive year, pork producer support for the Pork Checkoff increased and is now at a record 91 percent – up 1 percent from the 2015 survey. Meanwhile, opposition to the Checkoff remains at a record low 4 percent. These results are the most positive in the history of the survey.
Other highlights included:

-    Right direction/wrong track: 76 percent of producers – a full three out of four – said that the industry is heading “in the right direction,” improving from the previous year’s score of 70 percent. Of those surveyed, 19 percent feel the industry is “on the wrong track.” This improvement in optimism is encouraging despite the market supply pressure many are feeling with lower prices for pigs.
-    The biggest challenge facing producers is “too many rules/regulations.” In previous years, the main challenge was viewed as “managing hog health and disease.” That previously No. 1 concern fell to No. 4 this year, a significant drop. 
-    Single most important request: Producers’ No. 1 request of the Checkoff is to educate consumers on pork production and the industry. This was followed closely by advertising and promoting pork and opening new markets.

“America’s pig farmers understand that growing domestic and export demand for pork is critical, but it all starts with building trust,” Archer said. “This survey bears out that it begins with educating consumers about how pigs are raised, pork’s safety and its nutritional value.”

In response to specific questions about the National Pork Board’s strategic plan implemented early in 2015, the awareness and importance of each goal remains strong. On a 10-point scale:
-    Build Consumer Trust rated a mean score of 8.91 (a decrease from 9.04 in 2015).
-    Grow Consumer Demand rated a mean score of 8.70 (an increase from 8.63 in 2015).
-    Drive Sustainable Production rated a mean score of 8.18 (an increase from 7.96 in 2015).

“Clearly, the implementation of the strategic plan is aligned with the concerns, interests and thoughts of producers,” Archer said. “Pig farmers tell us that their investment in the Pork Checkoff is at work, with 17 defined objectives directly supporting each of the three goals.”

This most recent national survey is based on phone interviews with 550 producers across the country.

Interactive 2016 CBB annual report highlights results

The 2016 Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB) Annual Report now is available to provide results of Beef Checkoff Programs to the beef producers and importers who invest in this national self-help program. Located at, the report is offered in electronic form only, though the publishing program allows for interactive examples of checkoff programs and conversion to a pdf document for easy self-printing.

Included in the annual report is a letter from CBB Chairman Anne Anderson, an overview of revenues and expenditures for fiscal 2016, as well as names and photos of the beef producers and importers who served on the Board during the year. In addition, you’ll find summaries of results from each Beef Board budget category; these include promotion, research, consumer information, industry information, foreign marketing, and producer communications, and a multitude of storytelling images.

The goal of the publication is to demonstrate to beef producers and importers who pay into the checkoff not only how their dollars are being invested, but also the results of those investments. (In addition to the direct link above, all CBB annual reports since the start of the national checkoff program are available on, at

“Fiscal 2016 marked the 30th year of national demand-building programs funded by America’s beef producers and importers,” said Chairman Anderson. “This is particularly momentous to me, because I remember participating in the meetings and phone calls and faxes and discussions that led to 79 percent of America’s beef producers voting to create this much-needed program to build demand for beef.

“As a cattle producer and the 2016 chairman of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board,” she continued, “I can say with confidence that our checkoff dollars have been and continue to be invested for the benefit of our entire beef community and in concert with what producers said they wanted the program to do from its very start."

Commodity Classic Learning Center Sessions Feature Wide Range of Relevant Topics

The schedule of Learning Center Sessions has been announced for the 2017 Commodity Classic, March 2-4, 2017, in San Antonio, Tex. Commodity Classic is America’s largest farmer-led, farmer-focused convention and trade show.

Education is a hallmark of Commodity Classic—and Learning Centers are just one of the many educational opportunities during the event.  Learning Centers are in-depth discussions of current issues and topics that have a direct impact on a farmer’s operation, production and profitability.

“Learning Center presentations are selected by farmers for farmers, so that means you can be assured that the content, presenters and information are relevant, current and essential to a farmer’s success,” said Kevin Ross, an Iowa farmer and co-chair of the 2017 Commodity Classic.  “During these challenging times, it’s even more important for all of us to ‘farmer up’ and find ways to become even smarter, more efficient and more profitable.”

Learning Center Sessions on Thursday, March 2, include:
-    “Break Through Yield Barriers:  Production Practices for High-Yield Acres Nationwide” sponsored by Stoller USA: A panel of growers shares their season-long approaches to managing crops for maximum performance.
-    “The Ag Economy Barometer:  A Look at Conditions Headed into 2017” sponsored by Purdue University Center for Commercial Agriculture:  A panel discussion of key economic and financial insights producers need to know heading into 2017.

Learning Center Sessions on Friday, March 3, are as follows:
-    “The Link Between USDA Statistics and Administration of Farm Bill Programs” sponsored by USDA National Agricultural Statistics Services (NASS) and National Corn Growers Association: How statistics and grower data are used to implement Farm Bill programs.
-    “Plant Health:  A Pivotal Input in a Successful Management Plan” sponsored by BASF:  How growers can reduce risk on their operation and maximize yield potential with healthy plants throughout the season.
-    “Achieving Sustainability with a Certified Crop Adviser” sponsored by American Society of Agronomy’s International Certified Crop Adviser Program:
-    “Collaboration is Key to the Future of Mississippi Watershed:  Agriculture, Conservation, Transportation working Together for America’s Watershed Initiative” sponsored by National Corn Growers Association: How stakeholders are working together to improve the economic and environmental assets in the 31- state Mississippi River Watershed.
-    “Taking Weed Management to the Next Level” sponsored by Monsanto Company:  A discussed on weed management best practices with a focus on dicamba application and improved stewardship.
-    “Mitigating Risk, Maximizing Input Efficiency and Farm Profitability, and Increasing Sustainability with Drip Irrigation Technology” sponsored by Netafim: An examination of the role of rip irritation in high-yield growth strategies.
-    “Lady Luck, is Thy Name La Nina?” sponsored by DTN/The Progressive Farmer:  Agricultural Meteorologist Bryce Anderson discusses the potential impact of weather patterns on the 2017 growing season.
-    “Preserving New Soybean Herbicide Technologies in the First Against Resistant Weeds” sponsored by Syngenta: A discussion of herbicide resistance and preserving the efficacy of soybean technologies.
-    “Soil Health Farming:  Optimizing the Use of Cover Crop, Conservation Tillage and Nutrient Management Approaches On-Farm for Economic Profitability, Productivity and Environmental Protection” sponsored by National Corn Growers Association: A panel discussion soil health practices featuring farmers, educators and crop consultants.

Learning Center sessions scheduled for Saturday, March 4, are:
-    “The Emerging Bioeconomy:  Opportunities and Challenges in Achieving Scale” sponsored by Corn Refiners Association:  A discussion of the barriers, opportunities and potential of the bioeconomy.
-    “Capturing the Genetic Potential of Today’s Hybrids” sponsored by AgriGold Hybrids:  NCGA Corn Yield Champion Randy Dowdy shares keys to achieving higher yields.
-    “Hot Topic from Our Nation’s Capital 2017” sponsored by John Deere:  A panel of DC insiders will share their thoughts on what lies ahead for farm policy in Washington, DC in 2017 and beyond.
-    “GMOs and Sustainability Go Hand ‘n Hand” sponsored by U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance:  A presentation on how farmers can talk with consumers about the sustainability behind GMO technology.

Details on the Learning Center sessions as well as other educational offerings at the 2017 Commodity Classic are available at   Registration and housing are also available at this website.

Commodity Classic also features a huge trade show, entertainment and the opportunity to network with thousands of America’s best farmers.

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

Families Projected to Spend an Average of $233,610 Raising a Child Born in 2015

Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released the 2015 Expenditures on Children by Families report, also known as "The Cost of Raising a Child." The report, developed by economists at USDA's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP), estimates that for a child born in 2015, a middle-income* married-couple family will spend between $12,350 and $13,900 annually (in 2015 dollars) – or $233,610 from birth through age 17 – on child-rearing expenses. Families with lower incomes are expected to spend $174,690 and families with higher incomes are expected to spend $372,210 from birth through age 17. Many state governments use this annual report, first issued in 1960, as a resource in determining child support and foster care guidelines.

"As the economy continues to improve, USDA is committed to supporting the nutrition and health of individuals and families through our research and programs," said Kevin Concannon, Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services. "This report, which we have produced for 55 years, gives families a greater awareness of the expenses they are likely to face, and serves as a valuable tool for financial planning and educational programs, as well as courts and state governments."

"Understanding the costs of raising children and planning for anticipated and unexpected life events is an important part of securing financial health. The U.S. Department of the Treasury, among other Federal agencies, has a wealth of information and tools that can help Americans plan for their future. can help you make a budget, find assistance with child care costs and save for emergencies or big purchases like a home or college education," said Louisa Quittman, Director of the Office of Financial Security for the U.S. Department of the Treasury. " can also help you provide money management lessons for your children to help them be more prepared for their financial future."

The report details spending by married-couple and single-parent households; for married-couple households, spending in various regions of the country are examined. Housing (29 percent) and food (18 percent) account for the largest share of child-rearing expenses for middle-income, married-couple families, followed by childcare/education (16 percent), transportation (15 percent), and health care (9 percent). Clothing was the smallest expense, at 6 percent, and other miscellaneous child-rearing necessities from birth to age 18 accounted for 7 percent. This report does not include costs related to pregnancy or college costs.

"When CNPP first issued this report in 1960, housing and food were the two highest expenses, just as they are today," said CNPP Executive Director Angie Tagtow. "But while housing costs have increased over time, changes in American agriculture have resulted in lower food costs, and family food budgets now represent a lower percentage of household income. For families who wish to lower their food costs even more, we offer a variety of resources at"

Across the country, costs were highest in the urban Northeast, urban West, and urban South; while lowest in the urban Midwest and rural areas. Much of the regional variation in expenses was related to housing. Differences in child care and education expenses also contributed to regional variation. Overall, child-rearing expenses in rural areas were 24 percent lower than those in the region with the highest expenses, the urban Northeast.

It is important to note that child-rearing costs vary greatly depending on the number and ages of children in a household. As family size increases, costs per child generally decrease. Report author and CNPP economist Mark Lino, PhD emphasized how significantly costs are impacted by the number of children in a household.

"There are significant economies of scale, with regards to children, sometimes referred to as the 'cheaper by the dozen effect.' As families increase in size, children may share a bedroom, clothing and toys can be reused, and food can be purchased in larger, more economical packages." said Dr. Lino.

As a result, compared to a child in a two-child family, families with one child spend 27 percent more on the only child and families with three or more children spend 24 percent less on each child.

CNPP economists used data from the most recent Consumer Expenditure Survey to present the most recent and comprehensive estimates. The full report, Expenditures on Children by Families, 2015, is available on the web at The CNPP website also offers downloadable infographics and an interactive Cost of Raising a Child Calculator that can be used to view costs associated with different geographic locations, income levels and family sizes.

First-year users report exceptional performance from Trivapro® fungicide

With the new growing season around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about inputs for 2017. As growers weigh their fungicide options, Syngenta presents 2016 performance data and testimonials for Trivapro® fungicide to remove any question about which fungicide will help them get the job done.

During its first season of use, Trivapro combatted gray leaf spot, Northern corn leaf blight and rust in several states and helped crops withstand extreme weather like heavy wind, rain and drought. Its long-lasting residual control of diseases and crop-enhancement benefits helped protect leaf integrity, resulting in lengthened grain-fill window and maximized yield potential at harvest.

Across the Midwest and South, Trivapro-treated acres produced:
·         An average of 27 bushels per acre (bu/A) more corn than untreated[1]
·         An average of 8 bu/A more soybeans than untreated[2]
·         Between 11 and 27 bu/A more wheat than untreated and competitive brands[3].

“Despite the adverse weather and other bad conditions we experienced, Trivapro fungicide kept our corn green and healthy,” said Luke Lauritsen, a grower and Golden Harvest® Seed AdvisorTM in Arlington, Nebraska. “We were very happy with its 45-day residual control.”

Even under stress from disease and unpredictable weather, Trivapro-treated fields were stronger and visibly superior to untreated checks and competitive brands. In fact, Trivapro was the only fungicide rated excellent for Southern rust control by several university extensions including: Purdue, Tennessee and Arkansas. Across all registered crops, first-year users experienced this high-level of control from Trivapro firsthand.

Randy James, a wheat grower in Dayton, Washington explained, “Visually, we definitely saw a difference, and then when we looked at the yield, we had a 14-bushel increase compared to Priaxor® and Propi-Star®, the other treatment we used.”

Trivapro contains three active ingredients – azoxystrobin, propiconazole and Solatenol® fungicide – that combine to provide both preventive and curative disease control. Solatenol binds tightly to the waxy layer of the leaf, setting it apart from competitive brands and increasing the length of control through the season.

“In several on-farm trials, Trivapro residual lasted 15 to 20 days longer than competitive brands. That type of result from a fungicide does more than pay for itself; it helps add to your bottom line,” said Andrew Fisher, fungicide brand manager at Syngenta. “Ultimately, if you want to control key diseases and maximize yield in 2017, Trivapro will provide the most value for your dollar.”

Friday December 6 Ag News

World Livestock Auctioneer Championship Qualifier in West Point

West Point Livestock, West Point, Neb., will host the final of three regional qualifying events for the 2017 World Livestock Auctioneer Championship (WLAC). The midwestern regional qualifying event will be January 16, with opening ceremonies beginning at 11:00 a.m. CST. A total of 31 contestants will compete for a top 10 placing, granting them a spot in the 2017 WLAC at Public Auction Yards in Billings, Montana.

The reigning World Livestock Auctioneer Champion, Andy White, will attend the qualifier as event emcee.

In conjunction with the contest, West Point Livestock will host a special preconditioned feeder cattle sale. More information, including a list of consignments, can be found at

Nebraska Cattlemen's Classic

The 26th Annual Nebraska Cattlemen's Classic will be held February 18th - 26th in Kearney, NE.  The Classic On The Road meetings will be in the following communities:

Monday, January 23rd - Harlan Co. Fairgrounds - Orleans, NE
Tuesday, January 24th - KO Bar Grill- Bladen, NE
Wednesday, January 25th - Broken Bow Country Club - Broken Bow, NE
Thursday, January 26th -  Ole's Steakhouse- Paxton, NE
Monday, January 30th -  Sokol Hall, Wilber NE
Tuesday, January 31st - Nielsen Community Center, West Point NE

Social Hour will be 6 pm and Beef Supper served at 7pm.

Nebraska On-Farm Research Network  2017 Annual Results Update meetings

Feb. 20 | Agricultural Research and Development Center, near Mead | 9 a.m.- 4:30 p.m.
Feb. 21 | Lifelong Learning Center, Northeast Community College, Norfolk | 9 a.m.- 4:30 p.m.
Registration begins ½ hour prior to the start times listed above.

The Nebraska On-Farm Research Network is a statewide on-farm research program addressing critical farmer production, profit­ability and natural resource questions where growers take an active role in the research.  Come hear about research projects conducted in 2016 by farmers across the state in cooperation with Nebraska Extension.  Research topics include: Variable Rate Seeding, Multi-Hybrid Planting Applications, Tools for Sidedress Nitrogen Management, Precision Seed and Fertilizer Application, Starter Fertilizer, Fungicide Applications, Row Spacing, Planting Populations, Cover Crops, Seed Treatments, Project SENSE (crop canopy sensor directed in-season nitrogen application), AND MORE!  

There is no cost to attend.  Please pre-register at least 2 days in advance for meal planning purposes.  Contact: or 402-624-8030. 

NePPA Accepting Applications for Pork Leadership Program

The Nebraska Pork Producers Association believes in, and is committed to helping develop agricultural leaders. If you are connected to agriculture and believe in the future of the pork industry, you are encouraged to apply for the Pork Leadership Program. Interested participants may apply for this opportunity online by visiting the youth tab on, or request an application by emailing, Applications are due January 15, 2017.

The Pork Leadership Program serves as a resource for talented people who want to contribute to the future of Nebraska’s pork industry. The Pork Leadership Program will build awareness, interest, and involvement in the pork industry at the state level. Program participants will develop their skills as leaders and will naturally emerge as the next wave of active and engaged members of committees and board of directors.

The year-long program runs from February to February. During that time, the Pork Leadership Program participants will engage in six meetings and activities where they will learn about various aspects of the pork and agriculture industries and will also promote Nebraska’s pork industry. Program participants will not be responsible for any expenses to participate in the program.

CVA Welcomes Tom Palmertree as SVP of Marketing

Central Valley Ag (CVA) is pleased to announce the hiring of Tom Palmertree as Senior Vice President of Marketing. He will be responsible for the marketing and communication efforts of CVA.  Palmertree comes to CVA from Reinke Manufacturing Co., Inc. where he worked as the Director of Marketing overseeing the strategic marketing and corporate communications efforts for the company.

“We are excited to have Tom join our team, his background and experience will be a valuable addition to our Senior Team and organization,” said Carl Dickinson, CEO of Central Valley Ag. “We look forward to the contributions Tom and our marketing team will make towards CVA’s future.”

Palmertree, along with the marketing team at CVA, work to communicate the CVA brand message, market leadership position, and value with clarity and effectiveness. He holds a bachelor’s degree in communication, journalism, media studies from Boise State University in Boise, Idaho.


The Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) is once again asking kids to channel their creativity and enter this year’s poster contest highlighting the state’s ag industry. The contest, open to all Nebraska students in grades 1-6, is in its 14th year. This year’s theme is “Good Life. Great Roots.”

“The word ‘roots’ has many positive links to agriculture,” said NDA Director Greg Ibach. “From the nourishing roots of a plant, to defining who we are through our past and into our future, all of us are rooted in some way to agriculture.”

The poster contest is divided into three age categories: first and second grade students; third and fourth grade students; and fifth and sixth grade students. The deadline to submit entries is March 1, 2017.

Since agriculture is Nebraska’s number one industry, NDA will announce the winners of the poster contest during National Ag Week, March 19-25, 2017. National Ag Week highlights the diversity of agriculture and celebrates the food, feed and fuel that farmers and ranchers provide every day.

“This contest is a great opportunity for students to be creative and to share what agriculture means to them,” said Ibach. “It’s also gives teachers a chance to talk about where food comes from and the effort, skill and care it take to produce it.”

NDA will feature winning entries on its website and in promotional materials and publications.

Contest rules and official entry forms are available online at For more information, contact Christin Kamm at (402) 471-6856 or by email at


    University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Ronnie Green has been appointed to lead the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities' Commission on Food, Environment and Renewable Resources.

    The commission, known as CFERR, focuses on issues related to agriculture, food, fiber, human sciences, natural resources, oceans, atmosphere, climate and veterinary medicine in the functional areas of research, extension and teaching.

    The group works to formulate and implement an integrated federal-relations program and create congressional budget recommendations in high-priority areas of national concern, as well as forge partnerships with government agencies.

    "I am pleased to be able to provide national leadership in an important area of engagement for land-grant universities," said Green, who served as the university's Harlan Vice Chancellor for the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources and vice president for agriculture and natural resources for the University of Nebraska system for six years before being named Nebraska's chancellor in April 2016. "It has never been more important, as we seek to sustainably feed and fuel a growing world population while improving the health of our natural resources."

    With a membership of 236 public research universities, land-grant institutions, state university systems and affiliated organizations, the APLU works to increase degree completion and academic success; advance scientific research; and expand engagement. Every year, APLU member institutions enroll 4.8 million undergraduates and 1.3 million graduate students, award 1.2 million degrees, employ 1.2 million faculty and staff and conduct $43.2 billion in university-based research.

    Representatives from the association's councils and commissions, six president/chancellor representatives and five elected officers constitute the APLU board. Each representative is elected to a three-year term, with the exception of the officers, who are elected to one-year terms. Green's term ends in 2018.

    "Chancellor Green will chair this commission at a critical time. We face urgent questions surrounding climate change; healthy populations; antibiotic resistance; feeding the world's growing population; developing research, education, and extension and outreach priorities for a new administration and Congress; and much more," said Ian Maw, APLU's vice president for food, agriculture and natural resources. "Chancellor Green is the perfect choice to help guide our nation's colleges of agriculture collective work on these issues."

    In addition to Green, the association's 2017 board of directors includes Teresa Sullivan, University of Virginia; Bernadette Gray-Little, University of Kansas; Robert Caret, University System of Maryland; Michael Drake, Ohio State University; Mildred Garcia, California State University, Fullerton; Jay Akridge, Purdue University; Mark Becker, Georgia State University; Angel Cabrera, George Mason University; Rita Cheng, Northern Arizona University; Waded Cruzado, Montana State University; Andrew Furco, University of Minnesota; David W. Harris, University of New Mexico; Susan Herbst, University of Connecticut; Pradeep Kholsa, University of California, San Diego; Harold Martin, North Carolina A&T; Jack Martin, University of Washington; April Mason, Kansas State University; Sethuraman Panchanathan, Arizona State University; Stacy Rastauskas, Ohio State; Edward Ray, Oregon State University; Lori Reesor, Indiana University; Kevin Rome, Lincoln University; Mark Rosenberg, Florida International University; Kirk Schulz, Washington State University; Satish Tripathi, University at Buffalo, SUNY; Laura Voisinet, Georgia State; and M. Roy Wilson, Wayne State University.


The U.S. Department of Agriculture this week filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) against the agency over the sale by NPPC to the National Pork Board of the Pork. The Other White Meat trademarks. National Pork Producers Council sold the trademarks to the Pork Board in 2006 for about $35 million. It financed the purchase over 20 years, making the Pork Board’s annual payment $3 million. The sale was an arms-length transaction with a lengthy negotiation in which both parties were represented by legal counsel, and USDA, which oversees the federal Pork Checkoff program administered by the Pork Board, approved the purchase.

In 2012, HSUS, a lone Iowa farmer and the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement filed suit against USDA, claiming the trademarks were overvalued and seeking to have the sale rescinded. The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Circuit dismissed the suit for lack of standing, but a federal appeals court in August 2015 reinstated it, sending the case back to the District Court. But before any proceedings on the merits of the lawsuit, USDA inexplicably entered into settlement talks with HSUS. USDA conducted a valuation of the trademarks, finding their current worth is between $113 million and $132 million. Despite the nearly four-fold increase in value, HSUS decided to continue its lawsuit.

In its a motion for summary judgment filed with U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Circuit, USDA argues that the HSUS lawsuit lacks merit, is barred by the six-year statute of limitations, that the plaintiffs failed to establish standing to file the lawsuit or show that they were harmed by the sale of the Pork. The Other White Meat trademarks and that the agency’s evaluation of the sale of the trademarks showed they provided significant value to the pork industry. 

USFRA Debuts New Communications

At CES, the largest consumer electronics show in the world, U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) introduced a new communications concept, called SMART Farm, aimed at bridging the gap between the acceptance of innovation that's a part of consumers' everyday lives with the science and technology happening on today's farms and ranches.

"Science and technology are embraced by consumers in all aspects of their lives," said Brad Greenway, USFRA chairman and South Dakota crop and pig farmer. "We want to demonstrate that farmers and ranchers are using similar technology to produce food in a way that is good for the soil, air, habitat and water on and around our farms and ranches -- without compromise on cost, quality or taste."

Today's SMART Farms use data and technology to help farmers and ranchers become more efficient, nimble, and more equipped to protect the planet's resources while producing food. While at CES, USFRA and its partners will showcase a few examples of these innovations that, for example, result in better care for animals, fewer trips across the field and more precise application of water and crop inputs like fertilizer and pesticides.

"Media, influencers and consumers all understand the notion of 'smart' as a descriptor for the innovation and technology that helps improve their lives -- the smart phone, the smart home, the smart classroom," said Randy Krotz, USFRA Chief Executive Officer. "Just like every other forward-thinking industry, American agriculture is employing science and technology to help build an ever-improving version of the American farm."

In the coming year, USFRA will incorporate programs and activities, such as 360 videos, infographics, events, speaking opportunities and more, to demonstrate SMART Farming practices.

Roberts Again Tapped to Lead Ag Committee

U.S. Senator Pat Roberts, R-Kan., has been tapped to lead the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry during the 115th Congress, continuing his efforts to put the concerns of farmers and ranchers first.

"I am humbled to be chosen by the Senate Republican Conference to lead the Agriculture Committee as we head into the 115th Congress," said Roberts. "We just wrapped up a productive two years in the Agriculture Committee, and I look forward to an even busier schedule as we point our focus to completing a new Farm Bill. We're going to take a hard look at what is and isn't working, and we'll start by listening. As I said when I first became Chairman of the Agriculture Committee, we must to listen to farmers and ranchers first. My focus remains the same."

"Times are tough right now in farm country. We have low commodity prices and a tightening credit situation. We have immediate supply and demand challenges to address as well. Farmers and ranchers are asking me what can be done, especially for new and beginning producers just starting their operations. We will see what dials can be turned up or down in the current Farm Bill to provide some relief.

"We will also work with the Trump Administration to roll back regulations that have left those in farm country feel ruled, not governed.

"But we must also look ahead -- way ahead -- to the challenges agriculture faces in feeding the world. Too often the Congress looks in the rear view mirror. We need to look out over the dash at long term problems that we cannot ignore like water management, energy use and production, and the promise of developing agriculture technology."

Republican members of the Senate Agriculture Committee were announced this week. They include:
- Joni Ernst, Iowa
- Chuck Grassley, Iowa

- Thad Cochran, Mississippi
- Mitch McConnell, Kentucky
- John Boozman, Arkansas
- John Hoeven, North Dakota
- Jeff Sessions, Alabama
- John Thune, South Dakota
- Steve Daines, Montana
- David Perdue, Georgia

ASA, Farm Groups Stress Importance of Agricultural Trade with Trump Administration

In a letter to President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence Friday, the American Soybean Association (ASA) and a coalition of 15 other farmer organizations called on the incoming administration to protect and enhance the positive impact of agricultural trade on jobs and growth in rural America. The groups also noted the special importance of trading relationships with China, Canada and Mexico, U.S. farmers’ and ranchers’ first, second and third largest export markets.

“We know that securing positive benefits for American farmers, ranchers, and workers in trade will be a priority in your Administration. This includes enforcing existing agreements so that other countries abide by their commitments, as well as expanding market access for U.S. producers through new agreements. As the Trump Administration assembles its team and policies, U.S. agricultural trade interests must be maintained, not only in existing markets but by expanding access to new markets,” wrote the groups. “Existing markets include China, Canada, and Mexico— U.S. farmers’ first, second, and third largest foreign customers. U.S. agricultural exports in FY-2016 were nearly $27 billion to China, over $24 billion to Canada, and nearly $19 billion to Mexico. Disrupting U.S. agricultural exports to these nations would have devastating consequences for our farmers and the many American processing and transportation industries and workers supported by these exports.”

The groups further highlighted the significant economic contributions and job creation of the U.S. farm sector, as well as the critical nature of expanding overseas markets for American agricultural products.

“Agriculture and agriculture-related industries contributed $835 billion to the U.S. GDP in 2014, a 4.8 percent share. Our industry employs millions of hard working Americans. In 2014, 17.3 million full and part-time jobs were related to agriculture – about 9.3 percent of total U.S. employment. Food manufacturing accounts for 14 percent of all employees – the largest single sector,” wrote the groups in the letter.

“Throughout the campaign, Mr. Trump and Gov. Pence committed to having farmer voices at the table when decisions are made that affect our industry. Nowhere is the potential effect more serious than in our trading relationships and as such we look forward to partnering with the Trump Administration on these issues,” said Illinois soybean and corn farmer Ron Moore, who serves as ASA’s president. “As we noted in the letter, exports account for more than 60 percent of domestic soybean production, as well as over 70 percent of U.S. production of tree nuts and 50 percent of rice and wheat. As go our trading partnerships, so goes the success of our farm economies.”

ASA has committed to engaging with the incoming administration on the important nature of trade, as well as many other issues that impact soybean farmers as it transitions in the coming weeks.

NMPF Joins Farm Groups Touting Benefits of Agricultural Trade in Letter to Incoming Trump Administration

The National Milk Producers Federation today joined 15 other farm organizations in sending a letter to President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Michael Pence highlighting the importance of trade to America’s farmers.

Echoing points made in NMPF’s own letter to the President-elect last month, the producer groups’ Jan. 6 letter stated: “We know that securing positive benefits for American farmers, ranchers, and workers in trade will be a priority in your Administration. This includes enforcing existing agreements so that other countries abide by their commitments, as well as expanding market access for U.S. producers through new agreements. As the Trump Administration assembles its team and policies, U.S. agricultural trade interests must be maintained, not only in existing markets but by expanding access to new markets,” wrote the 16 groups.

NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern noted that farm groups must continue to emphasize that “the health of U.S. agriculture depends on our ability to sell our products outside of the United States. The growth of America’s dairy sector is directly tied to our ability to export. We have a positive trade balance in agriculture, and don’t want to see those hard-earned export markets eroded.”

Mulhern said the U.S. dairy sector exports 14 percent of its milk production, “which last year was worth over $5 billion, in the process generating more than 120,000 jobs in dairy farming, manufacturing and related sectors. Any disruption in exports of dairy and other food products would have devastating consequences for our farmers, and the many American processing and transportation industries and workers supported by these exports.”


Legislation to permanently repeal the federal estate, gift and generation-skipping taxes was introduced this week in the House by Mac Thornberry, R-Texas. The estate tax is levied on the net value – less an exemption – of an owner’s assets transferred at death to an heir or heirs.

For the 2016 tax year, the exemptions for the estate, gift and generation-skipping taxes are $5.45 million for an individual and $10.9 million for couples. Transferred estates valued at more than those figures are subject to a maximum tax rate of 40 percent on the amount of assets above those levels. Individuals and couples who give property during their lifetimes also are subject to the top tax rate of 40 percent for “gifts” that exceed the lifetime exemption amounts. But individuals and couples for 2017 may make gifts of up to $14,000 and $28,000, respectively, without reducing their lifetime exemption amounts, which for 2017 are $5.49 million and $10.98 million. (An individual who in 2017 gifts $25,000 to a relative, for example, would reduce his or her lifetime exemption by $11,000 – from $5.49 million to $5.38 million.) The generation-skipping tax applies to gifts and transfers in trust to, or for the benefit of, unrelated persons who are more than 37.5 years younger than the donor or to related persons more than one generation younger than the donor, such as grandchildren. The top tax rate of 40 percent is applied only if such gifts or transfers avoid the gift or estate taxes.

NCBA, PLC Praise Senate Effort to Curb Abuse of Antiquities Act

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Public Lands Council applaud the introduction of the Improved National Monument Designation Process Act, championed by Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). The bill, which has 25 co-sponsors, would require congressional and state approval for the designation of any new monument. 

“Executive branch abuse of the Antiquities Act has moved far beyond its original intent, with devastating effects for local economies – particularly in rural areas of the West,” said Tracy Brunner, NCBA president. “It’s unacceptable for any President to have this much unilateral authority over land management decision-making; impacted local communities and the American people deserve a seat at the table as well.”

Under the 1906 Antiquities Act, the President has the power to unilaterally designate national monuments without the consent of Congress, state or local governments, or impacted stakeholders. These designations often come with overreaching and restrictive management provisions in the name of environmental protections. President Obama has taken full advantage of his executive power, using the Antiquities Act more than any other president before him and locking up millions of acres. 

 “Public land ranchers own nearly 120 million acres of private land and manage more than 250 million acres of land under management of the federal government,” said Public Lands Council President Dave Eliason. “These ranchers provide food and fiber for the nation, protect open spaces and critical wildlife habitat, and promote healthy watersheds for the public. Sen. Murkowski’s bill is critical to protecting local input into decisions that can make or break a community.”

NCBA and PLC urge the Senate to pass the Improved National Monument Designation Process Act without delay.

Thursday January 5 Ag News

Nebraska Corn Board Joins Field to Market

The Nebraska Corn Board has joined Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture. The organization is a leading multi-stakeholder initiative that is working to unite the agricultural supply chain in defining, measuring and advancing the sustainability of food, fiber and fuel production in the United States.

Representing all facets of the U.S. agricultural supply chain, Field to Market provides an unparalleled platform that helps the food and agricultural supply chain benchmark sustainability performance, catalyze continuous improvement and enable supply chain sustainability claims.

“Joining Field to Market as a member gives us as corn farmers a seat at the table when it comes to discussions around sustainability,” said Brandon Hunnicutt, a farmer from Giltner and a director on the Nebraska Corn Board. “Whether or not we use the term “sustainable”, farmers are continuously looking to improve how they produce crops in ways that are both economical and conserve the natural resources that we rely on.”

Field to Market engages in broad communication and collaboration with stakeholders to ensure a coordinated, outcomes-based approach to sustainable agriculture that is grounded in science. By providing useful measurement tools and resources, Field to Market helps growers and the supply chain track and promote continuous improvement at the field and landscape levels.

As an active member in Field to Market, the Nebraska Corn Board will work together with grower organizations, academia, conservation groups, public sector partners and leading companies to help to catalyze opportunities for continuous improvement in productivity, environmental quality and human well-being across the agricultural value chain.

In support of Field to Market’s vision to catalyze continuous improvement in commodity crop production, the Nebraska Corn Board is partnering with Nebraska Extension to hold a series of free workshops that will introduce producers to Field to Market’s Fieldprint Calculator tool. Using producer data on farming practices and production, this tool quantifies several environmental metrics that may impact the profitability of a field, while also allowing producers to confidentially compare their field to national, state, and local averages for these metrics.

“Producers are looking for tools to help them expose areas of potential inefficiencies in their current production practices,” said Boone McAfee, Nebraska Corn Board’s director of research. “We strongly encourage producer attendance at these workshops to learn how the Fieldprint Calculator can be used to identify opportunities to improve efficiency and sustainability on their farms.”

For more information on these workshops, visit For more information on Field to Market, visit


Agriculture (8)
Rm. 2102 - Tuesday
Brasch (C), Albrecht, Blood, Chambers, Halloran, Harr, Krist, Lowe

Appropriations (9)
Rm. 1524 - Monday & Tuesday
Rm. 1003 - Wednesday, Thursday, & Friday
Stinner (C), Bolz, Hilkemann, Kintner, Kuehn, McDonnell, Vargas, Watermeier, Wishart

Education (8)
Rm. 1525 - Monday & Tuesday
Groene (C), Ebke, Erdman, Kolowski, Linehan, Morfeld, Pansing Brooks, Walz

Natural Resources (8)
Rm. 1525 - Wednesday, Thursday, & Friday
Hughes (C), Albrecht, Bostelman, Geist, Kolowski, McCollister, Quick, Walz

Revenue (8)
Rm. 1524 - Wednesday, Thursday, & Friday
Smith (C), Brasch, Friesen, Groene, Harr, Larson, Lindstrom, Schumacher

Transportation and Telecommunications (8)
Rm. 1113 - Monday & Tuesday
Friesen (C), Bostelman, Briese, Geist, Hilgers, Hughes, Murante, Smith

Midwest Cover Crops Council to Discuss Making Cover Crops Work

A pair of Iowa State University professors will represent the state at the 2017 Midwest Cover Crops Council Conference. The conference will be held in Grand Rapids, Mich. on March 15.

This year’s conference is titled "Making Cover Crops Work – Experiences from the Field" and will feature concurrent sessions on cover crop use in field crops, vegetable crops and grazing.

Andrew Lenssen, professor of agronomy at Iowa State, will represent Iowa during the conference’s business meetings. Ajay Nair, assistant professor of horticulture and extension vegetable production specialist, will present during the conference on cover crops and conservation tillage systems in organic broccoli, peppers and squash.

Iowa State is a founding member of the Midwest Cover Crops Council.

“Cover crops can improve and protect soil health,” Lenssen said. “They also recycle nutrients, which can help improve water quality. Cover crops alone won’t eliminate nitrate in water supplies, but they can decrease nitrate losses in tile drainage by 30-50 percent in Iowa.”

A goal of the council is to increase the amount of cover crops used by farmers.

“Last year Iowa had less than 2 percent of its 24 million acres of row crops planted to cover crops after harvest,” Lenssen said. “Cover crops can also tremendously decrease erosion, which is a long-term threat to the productivity of our soils.”

Registration is available online for the conference. Registration is $85 until Jan. 31, when it jumps to $100. Graduate student registration is $50 until Jan. 31 and $60 after that date. Registration will remain open until March 1.

Visitors to the MCCC website will find it has been newly updated. The new website design allows for users to find resources and access the site on mobile technology more easily.

The website also includes the MCCC Cover Crop Calculator, which allows users to determine the best cover crop to be used in their farm operation. The calculator provides information on species adaptation down to the county level for each state within the MCCC.

Weekly Ethanol Production is Higher

According to EIA data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association, ethanol production averaged an unprecedented 1.043 million barrels per day (b/d)—or 43.81 million gallons daily. That is up 15,000 b/d from the week before and a record high to end a banner year for ethanol production. Weekly production averaged more than 1 million b/d for ten straight weeks to finish the year. The four-week average for ethanol production stood at a record 1.037 million b/d for an annualized rate of 15.90 billion gallons.

Stocks of ethanol remained unchanged at 18.7 million barrels.

Imports of ethanol were nonexistent for the 19th straight week.

Gasoline demand during the holiday week averaged 355.5 million gallons (8.465 million barrels) daily, the lowest since the week ended 1/29/2016. Refiner/blender input of ethanol averaged 845,000 b/d, a 48-week low.

Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production was 12.32%–a new record high.

USGC Education Mission Focuses on Growing Ireland and Israel Markets

Grain trade experts from the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) visited Ireland and Israel late last year to meet with customers in those markets, which have become increasingly important if non-traditional importers of U.S. corn and co-products.

Ireland has imported 95,000 metric tons (3.7 million bushels) of U.S. corn in the first three months of this marketing year, which is nearly half the amount it imported the prior marketing year, 170,000 metric tons (6.7 million bushels). Israel imported 386,000 metric tons (15 million bushels) of U.S. corn in the last marketing year.

Both countries also imported significant quantities of distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) and corn gluten feed, with Ireland importing 460,000 metric tons and Israel importing 327,000 metric tons of the two products combined.

All told, these two countries imported 1.34 million metric tons of corn and corn co-products from the United States since January 2016, and buyers in both countries see potential for increasing their purchases from the United States given the competitive pricing of corn and DDGS against other exporters. 

Alvaro Cordero, USGC manager of global trade, and Dr. Alvaro Garcia from South Dakota State University visited feed grain importers in both countries to highlight buying opportunities.

“The Israeli buyers are very savvy price buyers, however they admitted that they are missing out on significant price opportunities to buy larger vessels out of the U.S. right now,” Cordero said.

Cordero provided importers with information on freight rates spreads, which are currently very narrow, and encouraged importers to be more aggressive in their purchases of U.S. products in the coming months in order to take advantage of this buying opportunity.

Ireland has significant import opportunities also in both the poultry and ruminant sectors.

“Buyers in both countries are underutilizing U.S. DDGS, and trips like this once again highlight the importance of buyer education programs,” Cordero said.

2016 Annual Report Focuses on Strategic Approach, Efforts to Sustainably Grow Demand

NCGA's annual report for the 2016 fiscal year is now available online.  A printed copy of the report, which highlights the association's achievements over the previous year and features current financial information, will also be sent to all active members.

Click here to view the full report....

"As the saying goes, change is the one thing we can count on," said NCGA Chairman Chip Bowling, a grower from Maryland.  "Certainly, we've seen a lot of change in the last few years in terms of technology, production, pricing, sustainability, consumer expectations and market demand. This is why over the last two years we've worked diligently to examine every facet of your national membership organization to ensure we are in a position to continue to propel the corn industry forward to create a plan that matches our vision: Sustainably feed and fuel a growing world.

Themed "Focused on Sustainable Demand," the 2016 report spotlights efforts made by NCGA throughout the year to reach long-term, strategic goals to improve the future of the industry by increasing demand. Including perspective from grower leaders, information about the activities of NCGA's action teams and committees and updates on its major image programs, the report provides a comprehensive resource for anyone looking to delve further into what NCGA does on behalf of our nation's farmers.

Nomination Period Now Open For the 6th Annual U.S. Dairy Sustainability Awards

The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy®, established under the leadership of dairy farmers, is accepting nominations for the sixth annual U.S. Dairy Sustainability Awards honoring exceptional dairy farms, businesses and partnerships for their socially responsible, economically viable and environmentally sound practices.

"Communities – urban and rural – benefit from the individual and collective efforts of dairy farmers and dairy companies that work to advance sustainability," said Barbara O'Brien, president of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy. "We are excited to collect and share success stories that exemplify this commitment, and we continue to depend on people to nominate themselves, their business partners and their neighbors."

Nominations are open through March 3, 2017. All segments along the U.S. dairy value chain and those who promote dairy-related health and wellness are eligible to submit nominations in the following categories:

-    Outstanding Dairy Farm Sustainability: Recognizes three farms that serve as examples of socially responsible, economically viable and environmentally sound dairy production. Successful nominees take a holistic approach to sustainability and provide replicable results that can inspire greater industrywide change.

-    Outstanding Dairy Processing & Manufacturing Sustainability: Recognizes dairy processors and manufacturers whose businesses exemplify the triple bottom line of sustainability. Successful nominees have demonstrated both measurable progress and corporate commitment.

-    Outstanding Achievement in Resource Stewardship: Recognizes dairy operations (both on and off the farm) that have measurable success in managing their resources with optimal efficiency and quality. Successful nominees have implemented efficiencies or innovations in areas such as energy, water and soil conservation, manure and waste management and/or renewable energy generation.

-    Outstanding Achievement in Community Partnerships: Recognizes collaborations (both on and off the farm) that improve lives and communities by making positive impacts on health and wellness, hunger relief, workforce development and/or environmental stewardship. Successful nominees will demonstrate instances in which organizations collaborate with other stakeholders in their community to develop practical and effective solutions for shared challenges and goals.

Winner Benefits

The U.S. Dairy Sustainability Awards have honored 39 businesses in the past five years. Help us celebrate others who make sustainability a reality every day. The 2017 winners will receive:
-    An expense-paid trip to Chicago in June 2017 to the awards ceremony and dairy sustainability events
-    National and local recognition of their stories and passion for sustainability
-    A featured case study on to share insights and lessons learned with industry peers
-    Opportunities to work with others in the dairy community to help advance sustainability

Program Details

The awards are part of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy's commitment to Americans to ensure a socially responsible and ever-improving dairy community.

An independent panel of judges evaluates all nominations based on measurable results and the potential for other dairy farms and businesses to adopt the practices. Nominations are also evaluated for demonstrated learning, innovation and improvement as well as scalability. Judges and sponsors will be announced soon.

Visit to submit your nomination by March 3, 2017. There is no fee to enter. Winners will be announced in June 2017.

USDA Dairy Products November 2016 Production Highlights

Total cheese output (excluding cottage cheese) was 1.01 billion pounds, 2.7 percent above November 2015 but 2.6 percent below October 2016.  Italian type cheese production totaled 436 million pounds, 2.6 percent above November 2015 but 2.3 percent below October 2016.  American type cheese production totaled 395 million pounds, 3.9 percent above November 2015 but 1.0 percent below October 2016.  Butter production was 144 million pounds, 5.7 percent below November 2015 but 1.5 percent above October 2016.

Dry milk powders (comparisons with November 2015)
Nonfat dry milk, human - 127 million pounds, down 0.9 percent.
Skim milk powders - 48.1 million pounds, up 7.0 percent.

Whey products (comparisons with November 2015)
Dry whey, total - 73.5 million pounds, down 6.9 percent.
Lactose, human and animal - 87.2 million pounds, up 5.7 percent.
Whey protein concentrate, total - 37.6 million pounds, down 8.9 percent.

Frozen products (comparisons with November 2015)
Ice cream, regular (hard) - 52.0 million gallons, down 5.3 percent.
Ice cream, lowfat (total) - 27.8 million gallons, up 3.6 percent.
Sherbet (hard) - 1.97 million gallons, down 22.1 percent.
Frozen yogurt (total) - 4.56 million gallons, up 1.5 percent.

Sanofi and Boehringer Ingelheim confirm Closing of business swap on January 1st 2017

Sanofi and Boehringer Ingelheim confirmed today that the strategic transaction signed in June 2016, which consists of an exchange of Sanofi’s animal health business (Merial) and Boehringer Ingelheim’s consumer healthcare (CHC) business, has been successfully closed in most markets on January 1st 2017.  This closing marks the successful outcome of the business swap which started with exclusive negotiations in December 2015. The closing of the acquisition of Merial in Mexico and the Merial and CHC swap in India have been delayed pending receipt of certain regulatory approvals but both are expected to close early 2017.

The Chairman of the Board of Managing Directors of Boehringer Ingelheim, Hubertus von Baumbach, said: “This important achievement is the result of a mutually beneficial agreement implemented in the spirit of a shared vision. Driven by the desire to serve the needs of our customer, and enabled by value of our innovative product portfolio, the combined strength of the two organizations will improve Boehringer Ingelheim’s competitiveness in the Animal Health business segment that is so strategically important to our company. We are delighted to welcome the employees of Merial to our team.”

Olivier Brandicourt, M.D., Chief Executive Officer of Sanofi, stated: “With this successful closing of the business swap with Boehringer Ingelheim, Sanofi is building a strong and innovative CHC Global Business Unit. The integration of Boehringer Ingelheim’s highly skilled CHC team and its well established products, allows Sanofi to enhance our positions in core strategic categories in a promising CHC market. Indeed this market serves the growing expectations of consumers to be more in control of their own health and wellness.”

Over the last months, Sanofi and Boehringer Ingelheim have diligently prepared for the integration of the businesses and employees as of the first day under new ownership. In the interest of all customers and to ensure uninterrupted business continuity, it is both companies’ priority to achieve a smooth integration of the transferred businesses.

Alan Main, Executive Vice President Consumer Healthcare and member of Sanofi’s Executive Committee, will ensure Sanofi’s CHC business including the former Boehringer Ingelheim CHC brands will continue on its growth path. The Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health business unit will be headed by Dr. Joachim Hasenmaier who will remain as Member of the Boehringer Ingelheim Board of Managing Directors.

SA Seed Sales Boost Monsanto Profits

Monsanto Co., in the middle of being bought by Bayer AG, said it returned to profitability in its latest quarter, helped by strength in South America.

In the first quarter, which ended in November, revenue from seeds and genomics, Monsanto's biggest business, surged 32% to $1.85 billion. The company said it remained on track with its expansion of Intacta RR2 Pro soybeans in South America, expecting to reach a target of 45 to 55 million acres in its current year.

The company has sought to increase penetration of soybean technologies and improve soybean costs to drive growth in the seeds and genomics segment. Growth in the segment during the quarter was also helped by a more than 25% increase in planted corn acres in Argentina and more than a 10% increase in corn acres planted in Brazil. Sales in Monsanto's agricultural productivity segment, meanwhile, slid 2.2% to $802 million.

Bayer started courting Monsanto in May and in September Monsanto agreed to sell itself in a $57 billion deal, which would pivot Bayer heavily toward agriculture in a long-range bet on high-tech crops to sustain a growing global population.

Executives from the companies believe combining Monsanto's prowess in engineering seeds with Bayer's much broader pesticide portfolio will bolster their research and development operations, benefiting farmers and adding jobs with increased resources over time.

The deal, which would rank as the largest-ever takeover of a U.S. company by a German firm, is moving toward regulatory reviews in the U.S. The election of Donald Trump as president has raised questions around large-scale merger deals and foreign investment in U.S. companies. Monsanto said Thursday it still expects the transaction to close by the end of 2017.

Monsanto reported net income of $29 million, or 7 cents a share, compared with a year-prior's net loss of $253 million, or 56 cents a share.

The BioAg Alliance advances new microbial solutions for agriculture

The BioAg Alliance, Monsanto’s and Novozymes’ collaboration to improve crop harvests through products containing naturally-occurring microbes, today announced results from its 2016 field trial program and shared an updated research pipeline. Yield increases among top microbial strains averaged over 3 bushels per acre for corn and over 2 bushels per acre for soy.

Among the pipeline highlights is the Corn BioYield 2 project, which builds upon the recently-launched Acceleron®  B-300 SAT. Field trial results in 2016 showed Corn BioYield 2 project strains – combined with Acceleron B-300 SAT - increasing corn yields by up to an average of 5 bushels per acre over a base Acceleron seed treatment. A Corn BioYield 2 product is expected to launch in 2019. In earlier stages of development are other yield-increasing products for corn and soy, and a microbial product that can protect soy plants against nematodes. The Alliance also announced that it will start developing new products for wheat, the third crop in its pipeline.

The BioAg Alliance will introduce two new products in 2017. Acceleron B-300 SAT is a corn inoculant based on a fungus found in soil. The fungus grows along the roots of corn plants and increases nutrient uptake to the plants. Acceleron® B-200 SAT stimulates the growth of beneficial microbes in the soil to improve nutritional uptake of soy plants, which can lead to improved soy plant health.

“We have great new products on the market that will help farmers produce more crops in a sustainable way,” said Colin Bletsky, Novozymes’ Vice President for BioAg. “We continue to increase our understanding of how plants and microbes interact and this is reflected in our strong pipeline. It will help propel biological solutions from agricultural niche to industry mainstream over the coming decade.”

“This year’s field trial results are especially encouraging given the backdrop of overall record crop yields in 2016,” said Juan Ferreira, Vice President of Monsanto’s Vegetable Seeds, Seed Applied Solutions and Crop Protection businesses. “Our field testing program remains the largest, most extensive and integrated compared to others in the industry. We are automating our data collection and integrating our field testing network, and with each season of field trials, we are getting even better at evaluating microbe and environment interactions to understand and optimize precise product placement.”

BioAg Alliance biological products are derived from naturally-occurring microbes such as bacteria and fungi. The Alliance markets BioYield products, which help plants with nutrient uptake, and BioControl products, which help protect plants against pests and diseases. The products can be applied to seeds before planting, to soil in-furrow, or to growing crops. They can be used by farmers that grow broad-acre crops such as corn and soy, and on fruits and vegetables. Microbial products can increase crop yields and complement or replace agricultural chemicals and fertilizers, while helping farmers reduce the amount of CO2 produced from their land.

BioAg Alliance products are currently used on more than 80 million acres of farm land, primarily in North and South America. The Alliance envisions that BioAg products will be used on 250-500 million acres globally by 2025.

The 2016 field trial results were announced as part of Monsanto’s annual pipeline update. For more information, go to

Pipeline highlights

    Acceleron® B-200 SAT enhances soy plants’ nutritional uptake. The product existed in Novozymes’ portfolio before the formation of The BioAg Alliance, but is now being applied as part of Monsanto’s Acceleron product line. Acceleron B-200 SAT is available in 2017.
    Acceleron B-300 SAT is the world’s first upstream corn inoculant. It increases plants’ ability to take up nutrients and is an improved formulation of the JumpStart® inoculant (Penicillium bilaiae), a product that existed in Novozymes' pipeline before the formation of The BioAg Alliance. Acceleron B-300 SAT has been shown to increase yields by an average of more than 3 bushels per acre and is available in 2017. Read more here.
    The Corn BioYield 2 project combines Acceleron B-300 SAT with the signal molecule LCO (lipo-chitooligosaccharide) to enhance natural growth processes such as root and shoot development and improve nutrient uptake. Corn BioYield 2 strains have delivered up to an average of 5 bushels per acre yield increase in 2016 field trials. Estimated launch: 2019.
    The Corn BioYield 3 project – The BioAg Alliance is testing multiple microbial strains for a new corn inoculant. The leading strains have shown to increase yields by more than 3 bushels per acre. Corn BioYield 3 is anticipated to be the first product invented and developed from discovery to launch through The BioAg Alliance.
    The Soy BioNematicide project is expected to provide an additional tool for growers to control nematodes, microscopic parasitic worms that damage plants. This microbial product is expected to show activity against different nematodes, including soybean cyst nematode. The Alliance will continue field tests to confirm efficacy in combination with a range of other chemical and biological seed treatments.

Syngenta warns: Palmer amaranth top of weed watch list yet again

Syngenta agronomists warn that last year’s most notorious weed, Palmer amaranth, will continue to hold its place as the No. 1 weed to monitor in 2017. Not only has the weed continued to spread northward to new states, it also is now showing resistance to multiple herbicide modes of action.

Palmer amaranth has earned its title as one of the most threatening weeds because it has shown the ability to reduce soybean yield by up to 79 percent and reduce corn yield up to 91 percent. Found for the first time in Minnesota this fall, Palmer amaranth hasn’t spread to North Dakota yet, and researchers with the North Dakota State University Extension urge landowners to keep it that way. This comes a year after South Dakota reported its first detection of Palmer amaranth in 2015.

The weed’s spread is accelerated by its ability to produce nearly half a million seeds that are relatively small and travel easily, according to Purdue University Extension.

“Palmer amaranth is quickly moving across a larger geography than we’ve seen with any other resistant weed. The movement is occurring through equipment, feed, seed and even waterfowl,” said Kevin Bradley, associate professor at the University of Missouri.

States are now also reporting the first confirmed cases of multi-herbicide-resistant Palmer amaranth. This October, the University of Missouri identified a population of Palmer amaranth with resistance to both glyphosate and PPO-inhibitors. The more a mode of action is applied, the more easily Palmer amaranth adapts before quickly spreading herbicide-resistant genes. The combination of its ability to develop resistance, its aggressive and competitive growth, and its extended emergence period makes Palmer amaranth especially difficult to control.

“You’ve got to have a certain amount of fear to attack resistant weeds. I had to see up close and personal the damage that Palmer amaranth can do,” said Tim Hambrick, agriculture extension and NC Cooperative Extension agent. “That was a turning point for me in understanding the damage resistant weeds can cause and the time and effort needed to fix those fields over several years.”

To avoid spreading Palmer amaranth to nearby fields and other states, growers can regularly mow ditches, waterways and field borders; they should also meticulously clean machinery such as combines.

To prevent or delay resistant Palmer amaranth in fields, growers can adopt an integrated weed management program that includes both a comprehensive herbicide portfolio and complementary cultural practices such as crop rotation.

“Diversity is the key in trying to maintain the sustainability of the herbicides we have available, so they remain effective for the future,” said Don Porter, Syngenta herbicide technical lead. “We must be good stewards of the chemistries and learn from our experiences – and mistakes – over the past 20-plus years.”

Syngenta offers growers an effective weed control program in soybeans that starts with BroadAxe® XC or Boundary® 6.5 EC herbicides for pre-emergence weed control of Palmer amaranth with long-lasting residual.

“When resistant Palmer amaranth came along, we started using Boundary herbicide as a pre-emergence herbicide and have been doing so for the last three years because of its really good Palmer amaranth and annual grass control,” said Trey Koger, a grower in Belzoni, Mississippi.

“Boundary helps us go into the season clean, and Flexstar® GT 3.5 herbicide helps us control the grass and broadleaf weed species,” Koger added.

In corn, Syngenta has helped manage resistance threats with premix products like Acuron® and Acuron® Flexi herbicides, which contain multiple, effective modes of action.

“We want to stay ahead of Palmer amaranth, knowing that we already have other pigweed species we’re struggling with,” said Paul McGuire, a grower in Urbana, Ohio.

“We decided to try Acuron this year because we wanted a product with longer-lasting residual control. With Acuron, we were able to start clean ahead of planting and then depend on its strong residual to keep even our toughest acres clean.”

Syngenta Selects NRGene Tech to Accelerate Crop Breeding

Syngenta, a leading global agrochemical and seed company, has chosen NRGene's GenoMAGICTM cloud-based software package for more comprehensive evaluations to accelerate trait discovery and breeding across diverse crops. NRGene is the leading genomic big data company.

“We were very pleased with our preliminary evaluations and are taking a more thorough look at the potential of GenoMAGIC in our research and development,” says Joseph Clarke, Principal Research Scientist, Syngenta. “The genetic diversity management strategies behind GenoMAGIC are a step above conventional means and enable clear value gains for downstream analytics, directly impacting cost and timeline models.”

The GenoMAGIC software analyzes unlimited volumes of genomic data, identifying broad sequence polymorphisms and haplotypes. This enables scientists and breeders to easily relate genomic sequences with beneficial traits, making genomic selection and trait mapping much more productive. Data use is accelerated, making breeding both faster and more cost effective. GenoMAGIC is being licensed non-exclusively to organizations involved in genetic research and breeding.

Syngenta continuously evaluates, develops and adopts cutting-edge technologies, like GenoMagic, to ensure the most relevant information is being used the right way to produce better performing seeds more cost effectively.

The Syngenta-NRGene two-year relationship has resulted in denovo assembly of multiple genomes across several crop species and creation of pangenomes that show strong potential to add value in breeding and genetic research. During 2016, Syngenta tested GenoMAGICTM by incorporating its own genetic diversity and field data to evaluate the benefits gained by GenoMAGIC analysis.  Moving forward, the sophisticated genome management and data mining process behind GenoMagic will be evaluated more comprehensively at larger scale for broader value gains across the breeding process.

"The relationship between Syngenta and NRGene has already borne significant fruit,” says Dr. Gil Ronen, NRGene's CEO. "Syngenta’s broad and diverse data cataloged within GenoMAGIC will continue to make breeding much more productive and efficient.”

Wednesday January 4 Ag News

Smith Selected to Serve on Committee on House Administration

Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) announced today he has been named by Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) to the Committee on House Administration for the 115th Congress.  The Committee’s principal functions include oversight of daily operations of the U.S. House of Representatives as well as federal elections.   

“The focus of the Committee on House Administration is to make government work for the people,” Smith said.  “I am grateful for the opportunity to serve on this important panel to ensure efficient and responsible operations in the House and help preserve the integrity of our election system.”

Committee on House Administration Chairman Gregg Harper (R-MS) said, “I am so honored to welcome Rep. Adrian Smith as he begins his service on the Committee on House Administration.  This panel is charged with overseeing the operations of the House, and ensuring each Member has the tools they need to effectively communicate with their constituents.  Adrian’s contributions will be extremely important as our panel conducts needed oversight, acts as a resource for all of the new and returning Members, and provides training and education to Member and Committee offices.  Together, we will help ensure the House runs efficiently throughout the 115th Congress.”

Smith will also continue to serve on the House Ways and Means Committee.

Ricketts Congratulates New Speaker of the Legislature

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts issued a congratulatory statement following the Legislature’s election of Senator Jim Scheer as their next Speaker.

“Congratulations to Senator Jim Scheer on his election as Speaker of the Legislature.  The gravity of the responsibility of what is before us this session is humbling.  We need to get to work balancing our budget, controlling spending, and delivering much-needed tax relief for the citizens of Nebraska.  I look forward to working with Speaker Scheer and our non-partisan Unicameral to grow Nebraska.”

Swedish Academy of Sciences Honors Cassman

The Swedish Academy of Sciences has named University of Nebraska-Lincoln agronomist Kenneth Cassman the recipient of the 2017 Bertebos Prize for promoting education and research in the food chain.

The Bertebos Prize is awarded by the Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry and is sometimes referred to by scientists as Sweden's "Nobel Prize in Agriculture."

The academy cited Cassman, the emeritus Robert B. Daugherty Professor of Agronomy at Nebraska and fellow of the University of Nebraska system's Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute, for his key role in developing the concept of ecological intensification of agriculture production. "His extensive scientific production has great importance for applications in agriculture," the citation stated.

The concept addresses how best to minimize the gap between the current crop yields on farms and the potential yield achievable by using the best-available technologies and knowledge, while minimizing negative environmental impacts. The Global Yield Gap Atlas that Cassman and his colleagues have developed provides robust estimates of untapped crop production potential on existing farmland based on current climate and available soil and water resources. Scientists believe maximizing yield is a key component of producing enough food to feed the world's population by 2050.

Cassman said the award validates the importance of conducting research on the dual goals of raising yields and reducing negative environmental impacts. Research currently tends to focus either on increasing productivity or on protecting the environment.

"Going forward we not only have to maintain or accelerate the rate of gain in yields on existing farmland, but we've got to substantially reduce the negative environmental impacts," Cassman said. "We've really just begun to start focusing on that challenge."

The Green Revolution of the last half century has quite successfully raised yields, Cassman said, but some gains may have come at the expense of water quality and wildlife biodiversity.

"It boils down in a very basic way to massively increasing yields on existing farmland, but doing that in a way that doesn't pollute, doesn't have negative impacts on wildlife, and also maintains affordable food prices," Cassman said. "And quite frankly we've not been very successful at that in the past."

Last month Cassman, who has conducted research on almost every major crop production system in the world, was named to the Clarivate Analytics "Highly Cited Researchers 2016" list. Researchers on the list have generated papers that are in the top 1 percent of most-cited works in their subject area and year of publication.

Cassman's most recent paper was published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. He and his co-authors showed that maximizing cereal crop yields in sub-Saharan Africa would still fail to meet the region's skyrocketing grain demand by 2050.

The Bertebos Prize, established in 1996, is awarded every other year. It consists of a diploma and 300,000 Swedish kronor (about $32,600). The award winner also plans a two-day conference in Falkenberg, Sweden, the following year in collaboration with the academy and opens the conference with a plenary lecture.

Nebraska Farmers Union 103rd Annual State Convention Highlights

Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU) held their 103rd annual state convention in Columbus at the Ramada River's Edge Convention Center December 9-10.  The convention theme was:  “Stewards of the Future”.  Attendance was good, the weather favorable, and participants enjoyed the recently remodeled hotel and convention center, location, program, and fellowship. 

NeFU Election Results:  

Delegates from their respective districts elected two NeFU Board of Directors.  Martin Kleinschmit of Hartington was re-elected to a three year term for NeFU District 7.  David Mohlman of Red Cloud was elected to his first three year term for NeFU District 3 to replace Gale Lush of Wilcox who retired after serving on the NeFU Board for 21 years.  The convention gave Gale a loud and well deserved round of applause for his outstanding service.

David Mohlman of Red Cloud and Lynn Belitz of Fullerton were elected to represent NeFU as delegates to the upcoming National Farmers Union Convention in San Diego, California March 5-8, 2017.  Katie Jantzen of Plymouth and Margo Hamilton of Lincoln were elected first and second alternates.

Margo Hamilton of Lincoln was re-elected from the membership and Paul Poppe of Scribner was re-elected from the Districts to serve on the NeFU Foundation Board of Directors.

President’s Award Winners.

The President’s Award is NeFU’s highest award, and is presented to individuals who provide outstanding service and leadership to family farmers, ranchers, and rural communities at the state or national levels.

“This year’s President’s Award winners are ten retiring public servants that have gone the extra mile on behalf of Nebraska’s family farmers, ranchers, and their rural communities.  It is appropriate that we shine the light on their accomplishments as their public service comes to a close.  Eight of our award winners have taken time away from their farm or ranch to serve the public, and nine are NeFU members.  This year’s award winners represent public service at its very best,” said NeFU President John Hansen.   This year’s President Award Winners are:
·         Ken Haar of Malcolm, State Senator LD21, eight years.
·         Al Davis of Hyannis, State Senator LD43, four years.
·         Dan Steinkruger of Lincoln, Executive Director of USDA NE State Farm Service Agency, eight years.
·         Maxine Moul, State Director of USDA Rural Development, eight years.
·         Susan Frazier, of Fairmont, Chair of USDA Farm Service Agency State Committee, eight years.
·         Fred Christensen of Lyons, Member of USDA Farm Service Agency State Committee, eight years.
·         Leo Hoehn of Scottsbluff, Member of USDA Farm Service Agency State Committee, eight years.
·         Linda Kleinschmit of Hartington, Member of USDA Farm Service Agency State Committee, four years.
·         Roy Stoltenberg of Cairo, Member of USDA Farm Service Agency State Committee, one year.
·         Bill Armbrust, Elkhorn, Past Member of USDA Farm Service Agency State Committee, three years.

Friday Morning Highlights:

·         NeFU President reported on the NeFU and NeFU Foundation’s educational activities for the year.
·         Dwight Lane gave a report of activities from the Nebraska Rural Radio Association.
·         Gale Lush, President of NEBFARMPAC on the PAC activities in the last election cycle.  He reported that 24 of the 32 candidates endorsed had won, including 5 of 8 NeFU members.
·         Maxine Moul, State Director of USDA Rural Development reported on the many accomplishments of her agency that had dramatically improved the life of rural residents.  Her report was well received.
·         Dr. Jerry Hatfield, Laboratory Director of the USDA National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment, and Director of the USDA Midwest Climate Hub was the noon luncheon keynote speaker. His presentation “Soil is the Foundation of Climate Resilient Agriculture” was warmly received by the convention and generated a many questions about soil building particulars.
·         Jeff Downing, General Manager of the Midwest Regional Agency also reported on the Nebraska and Kansas insurance sales at the noon lunch. He reported that the agency now has a total of 58 agents located in 44 communities, with 25 agents in 18 communities in Nebraska.

Friday Afternoon Highlights:

·         Larry Mitchell, Chief Administrator of the USDA GIPSA (Grain Inspection and Packers and Stockyards Administration) reported on the activities of his department and the status of various proposed regulations designed to help make the ag marketplace more fair and level.
·         Dan Steinkruger, Executive Director of the USDA Farm Service Administration reported on the status of farm and conservation programs.  He thanked NeFU for their active partnership. 
·         “The Challenges and Rewards of Public Service” panel discussion included current NE State FSA Committee members and one past member.  Chair Susan Frazier, Members Fred Christensen, Leo Hoehn, Linda Kleinschmit, Roy Stoltenberg, and past member Bill Armbrust all emphasized the importance of the State Committee and its many areas of responsibility, and the need for farmers to step up and serve on FSA County Committees. 
·         Dr. Richard Ferguson, UNS Department of Agronomy presented “Understanding the Potential for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in Ag”.  His presentation generating a great deal of interest.

Tom Giessel, National Farmers Union Historian of Larned, Kansas was the keynote speaker for the Friday evening banquet.  Tom’s presentation noted that in order to organize, it was to first recognize that in order to help yourself, you must also be willing to help the other fellow.

Saturday Morning Highlights:

·         Jeremiah Picard and John Hansen gave the “Big Red Worms, LLC Project Update” on the unique NeFU vermicomposting program as it continues to grow and divert food waste from the landfill.
·         Del Ficke of Milford and Dryland Research Manager for Green Acres Cover Crops presented “Uncovering the Upside Potential and Uses for Cover Crops”.
·         “A Preview of the 2017 Legislative Session” panel discussion included LD22 Senator Paul Schumacher of Columbus, LD43 Senator Al Davis of Hyannis, LD Senator Ken Haar of Malcolm, and LD15 Senator-Elect Lynne Walz of Fremont.
·         Zack Clark, National Farmers Union Government Affairs Representative gave the Saturday noon luncheon speech on the status of the many issues impacting agriculture in Washington, DC.

NeFU delegates set policy.  NeFU delegates adopted the 2016-2017 NeFU policy Saturday afternoon along with six Special Orders of Business.  The new policy and the Special Orders of Business are posted on the NeFU website at:

2017 ISU Soil Health Conference to Focus on Environment, Farm Profitability

After a successful inaugural conference in 2016, the second annual Soil Health Conference will be held in Ames, Iowa, on Feb. 16-17. This year’s event will consist of two full days of presentations on a wide variety of topics concerning soil health with invited guest speakers from around the country.

The theme for the 2017 Soil Health Conference is “Building Soil Health for Healthy Environment and Farm Profitability.” This theme is important given the current challenges farmers face with production and environmental issues, says Mahdi Al-Kaisi, professor and extension soil management specialist at Iowa State University and committee chair.

“The goal of this conference is to focus on management practices that influence soil health, sustain productivity and reduce agriculture’s  footprint on the environment,” said Al-Kaisi. “Experts from across the country will provide needed resources to help farmers and agronomists not only in Iowa, but across the Midwest.”

The 2017 Soil Health Conference plans to build upon the foundation laid by the 2016 conference, expanding to a more extensive two-day program.

Speakers and Topics

More than 33 speakers from academia, USDA, agriculture industry, farmers, students and the private sector will present throughout the two-day conference. Some of the topics included in this year’s event are economics of soil health, linkage between soil health and water quality, field indicators or observations for quick soil health field assessment and soil assessment tools. There also will be a panel of farmers with a history of adopting conservation systems who will share their experiences in making such systems work economically.

CCA Credits and Poster Presentation

Soil and water continuing education credits will once again be offered to Certified Crop Advisers and the research poster presentation and display will continue to be a part of the event.

To register for the 2017 Soil Health Conference, visit By registering online before or on Feb. 1, individuals will receive an early registration fee of $175. After Feb. 1, a late registration fee of $210 will take effect. Student registration is $85. Those who wish to submit posters must submit abstracts by Friday, Feb. 3, at 5 p.m. CST for consideration. More information on registration and poster submission guidelines can be found at

For more details regarding the Soil Health Conference event or for more information about soil health, please contact Mahdi Al-Kaisi at 515-294-8304 or For questions regarding registration, please contact Registration Services at or 515-294-6222.

AFBF Strongly Endorses Pruitt for EPA

The American Farm Bureau Federation has formally endorsed the nomination of Scott Pruitt as administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. AFBF President Zippy Duvall called Pruitt, Oklahoma’s attorney general, “an ideal nominee” who “has profound respect for the laws written by Congress.”

Duvall today conveyed that endorsement in a letter to Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-Del.). In the letter, Duvall cited Pruitt’s contesting of the EPA’s Waters of the U.S. rule when he defended “the bipartisan view of Congress that the agency has illegally overstepped its bounds and ignored the U.S. Supreme Court.”

The letter also referenced Pruitt’s work to defend Congress regarding the Clean Power Plan and cap-and-trade provisions, in which the nominee soundly took the view “that Congress has not authorized the sweeping attempt by EPA to coerce action by the states.”

“In recent years, farmers and ranchers have suffered under burdensome, unnecessary and, too often, unlawful federal regulations promulgated by the EPA,” Duvall said. “We desperately need an administrator who understands the challenges our farmers and ranchers face in producing safe, wholesome and affordable food for our nation and the world.”

Duvall said Farm Bureau’s support for Pruitt is based on the nominee’s “respect for the law” and his understanding of the need for an agency to “live within the statutory programs Congress has authorized.”

“Scott Pruitt will restore respect for the law and enforce it fairly,” Duvall said. “He understands how and when federal power should be exercised. We support him because he has demonstrated a keen understanding of the devastating economic implications of federal overreach. Scott Pruitt will put the EPA back on track and ensure that federal decisions are based on sound science, not politics. He will produce a fair regulatory environment that respects the rule of law.”

Lenders Expect Financial Stress to Worsen for Farmers

According to a recent study of lenders, financial stress on farmers is expected to continue for some time.

"Our research indicates a continued deterioration in agricultural credit conditions," said Allen Featherstone, head of the Kansas State University Department of Agricultural Economics.

The 2016 Fall Agricultural Lender Survey by the Kansas State University Department of Agricultural Economics and the University of Georgia studies the expectations of lenders in regard to interest rates, spread over cost of funds, farm-loan volume, nonperforming loans and land values as indicators of the overall health of the farm finance sector.

According to the twice-a-year study, more than 50 percent of land values are decreasing within the areas covered by participating lenders. These values are set to continue to decrease over the short- and long term and are affecting credit limits for landowners and producers. Non-performing loans are also on the rise for all loan types, and expectations show the number of these loans will continue to increase in this stressed financial market.

The survey indicates the decreased liquidity in production operations has increased demand for farm loans and, in particular, operating loans in attempts to bridge the gap of the current fiscal downturn. Making matters worse, interest rates on those loans are expected to increase and continue to rise over time.

These problems aren't isolated to just one crop. They are spreading into every aspect of farming. "Both the livestock sectors and the crop sectors are struggling meeting cash-flow issues," said Featherstone.

Producers and lenders across the state can gain deeper insight into these issues by attending a program offered by the Kansas State University Department of Agricultural Economics, "Top 10 Considerations to Navigate a Struggling Farm Economy." The seminar will be offered at six locations across the state in January and February.

American Drivers Surpass 500 Million Miles on E15

Growth Energy announced today that the most tested fuel in history, E15, has reached a remarkable milestone. Based on sales and consumption data reported over the past 12 months by major gasoline retailers, drivers across the United States have more than 500 million miles driven on E15, highlighting the fuel’s performance, safety, and value for American consumers.

“Ethanol is already in 97 percent of the gasoline sold in the United States, so drivers are accustomed to the better value and higher performance of fuel blended with ethanol,” said Emily Skor, Growth Energy CEO. “Now drivers are finding out that E15, which contains 15 percent ethanol, is an even better choice for their wallets, their engines, and the environment. That’s why more than 400 stations across 28 states are selling E15, and demand continues to grow.”

E15 works for any vehicle 2001 and newer and is the most tested fuel to date. In fact, the Department of Energy tested 86 vehicles up to 120,000 miles each using E15 without a single problem. Additionally, automakers approve E15 for use in nearly three-quarters of new cars and the Environmental Protection Agency approves its use in 9 out of 10 cars on the road today.

Fertilizers Close Year With a Bang

The collapse in fertilizer prices since 2014 should put an extra jingle in farm budgets next season. According to retail fertilizer prices tracked by DTN for the fourth week of December, all prices closed 2016 with double-digit reductions year-over-year. This marks the second year in a row of retail price declines for all major nutrients monitored by DTN.

At year-end 2016, urea was 12% cheaper than a year earlier, DAP 13% less expensive, MAP 17% lower and potash 19% less expensive. UAN32 was 20% lower while both anhydrous and UAN28 were 21% less expensive and 10-34-0 was 23% lower compared to a year prior.

The two-year price corrections are even more impressive. Compared to the last week of December 2014, fertilizer price adjustments ranged from a discount of 24% on DAP to 37% on urea.

DAP averaged $431/ton at year-end 2016, MAP $443/ton, 10-34-0 $437/ton, UAN28 $217/ton and UAN32 $254/ton. Potash averaged $321/ton, urea $336/ton and anhydrous $466/ton. (In contrast, DTN's national average price for anhydrous at the same time in 2014 was $706/ton.)

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price at year-end 2016 was $0.37/lb.N, anhydrous $0.28/lb.N, UAN28 $0.39/lb.N and UAN32 $0.40/lb.N.

EPA’s Worker Protection Rule Takes Effect, Despite Petition by AFBF, NASDA

EPA has moved ahead with the Jan. 1 start date of its worker protection safety rule, despite a request for a delay from the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture.

According to the joint petition from AFBF and NASDA to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, the WPS rule was issued in violation of federal law. The proposal, Farm Bureau and NASDA told McCarthy on Dec. 21, “fails to advance the purpose of furthering the safety of farmworkers.” The rule’s rapidly approaching implementation also posed “a serious problem for administration of the rule’s requirements” by state departments of agriculture as well as farmers and ranchers who must comply with its terms.

The petition from AFBF and NASDA claimed EPA did not meet the law’s requirements when it failed to provide congressional agriculture committees a final copy of the regulations along with the copy sent to the agriculture secretary. The EPA has acknowledged that omission in responses to questions from Congress.

“EPA’s failure to meet its statutory obligations deprived Congress of its lawful expectation of examining the regulation before its promulgation,” the petition states.

The groups also claimed that the rule’s “designated representative” provision exceeds the scope of the WPS rule by depriving farmers of reasonable expectation of privacy for confidential business information. The groups said that the rule subjects farmers to potential harassment and public criticisms for lawful use of EPA-approved pesticides. In spite of the groups identifying problems related to equity and implementation of the WPS rule, EPA has not addressed the problems.

The petition also asserted that the EPA has failed to finalize and deliver to state lead agencies the enforcement guidance, educational material and training resources needed to effectively implement the rule and assist farmers and ranchers with compliance efforts.

“At this time, even if all of the compliance and enforcement materials were completed and distributed to all the appropriate state enforcement agencies, there is simply not enough time for the (state lead agencies) and the regulated community to successfully implement the provisions scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2017,” the petition stated. “In short, EPA has failed to develop and deliver the necessary resources for states to train the regulated community on the new requirements, and the agency has failed to comply with its own WPS Implementation Timeline.”

Beef Prices Finished the Year With a Bang

David P. Anderson, Extension Economist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

Prices finished 2016 with a bang!  Fed cattle prices increased to $118 per cwt. during the last week of the year.  That was the highest weekly average fed cattle price since early August.  It also represented a 20 percent increase since mid-October when the bottom for the year was set at $98 per cwt.

Beef also got in on the act with the Choice beef cutout trading the last day of the year at $203 per cwt.  The weekly average Choice cutout was the largest since mid-July and was up 12 percent since the lows of the year in mid-October.  Six of the 7 primal cuts finished the year on an uptrend, with only the rib declining.  Live-to-cutout spreads continued to be historically large, up almost $100 per head compared to the last year of 2015.  They have declined since October as fed cattle prices have increased.

The start of a new year always brings some retrospectives on the past year and predictions.  In this vein, I thought it was worth exploring some longer term changes in the feeder market by examining the evolution in feeder cattle demand.  Cattle Buyers Weekly is a very good newsletter published weekly by Steve Kay.  For many years he has done a list of the top 30 feeders in the U.S.  While there have been plenty of changes in feeders over time I was interested in the types of cattle desired.  The list includes the self-identified type of preferred cattle by each feeder.  The 1999 and 2016 top feeder lists contain some very interesting changes over the years in feeder cattle preference.

The one-time feeding capacity of feeders preferring English and English-Cross cattle increased 2.1 million to just over 3 million from 1999 to 2016.  Perhaps related, the number capacity identifying high grading cattle increased from about 369,000 to about 430,000 head.  Feeders preferring Holsteins increased from about 175,000 to about 660,000 over the period.  Some of the descriptors of the cattle have changed over time.  My favorite cattle descriptor was termed "profitable" although "cheap" was a close second.  I suspect there is a universal desire for those types of cattle and likely the search went on for a while in the past couple of years.  In 1999 the terms commercial, yearlings, No. 1, Okie, and Northern Steers were used much more often and for more cattle than in 2016.  I think this list of cattle preferences represents an interesting view of changing cattle markets and demand over the years.

Livestock Industry Lays Out Federal Lands Priorities for Trump Administration

The Public Lands Council and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association issued federal land management priorities for the new administration to bring responsible management and economic viability back to the Western landscape.

“Ranchers and other multiple-use interests in the West have been subjected to an almost wholesale shift in federal land management policy under the Obama administration,” said Dave Eliason, PLC president. “While the Bureau of Land Management has a clear directive to manage BLM lands for multiple use and sustained yield, instead focus has shifted toward ‘conservation’ without responsible management. The priorities laid out by the associations are necessary to restore balance to federal land management and set an agenda that will ensure that ranchers can continue their tradition of stewardship well into the future.”

Within the first 100 days in office, the associations are calling on the administration to bring an immediate halt to the Sage Grouse Resource Management Plans, repeal the sprawling monument designations made through abuse of the Antiquities Act, address the critical habitat designations imposing stifling restrictions on landowners, and immediately withdraw EPA's "waters of the United States" rule and the Bureau of Land Management's planning 2.0 rule.

Long-term, attention must be paid to the National Environmental Policy Act, as reform is necessary to streamline and improve the process. Additionally, the incoming administration must take the steps necessary, in conjunction with Congress, to reauthorize and reform the Endangered Species Act.  It is time to restore some balance to this failing law. Recovery plans must be structured for achievable on-the-ground results - not intangibles like climate change; prioritization must be on recovery, not simply the "listing rate," and resources must be directed toward delisting of those species that have been successfully recovered. Further, work must be done to address the exploding population of wild horses and burros. The unchecked population growth is not only exponential government waste; it is most likely the greatest example of inhumanity toward livestock; standing idly by while populations starve due to expansion well beyond range-carrying capacity.

“Ranchers that operate on federal lands protect water sources used by livestock and wildlife, maintain fence lines, reduce spread of invasive weeds like cheatgrass and medusahead, and decrease the fuel loads that lead to catastrophic wildfire,” said Tracy Brunner, NCBA President. “Despite these contributions, beneficiaries of our work continue to attack responsible grazing, essentially biting the hand that feeds them. It is time these groups – whether they be wildlife advocates, environmental organizations, or recreational interests like hikers and sportsmen – put politics aside and appreciate the hard work required to provide them with the quality outdoor experiences they all cherish.”

PLC, NCBA, the American Sheep Industry, and the Association of National Grasslands as well as the associated western affiliates, urge the incoming administration to reevaluate the flawed policies driven by radical special-interest groups and take advantage of the tremendous benefits and opportunities available through restoration and enhancement of responsible grazing on federal lands.

Only a Few Days Remain! Apply for the NCGA 2018 Corn Board Today

The National Corn Growers Association Nominating Committee reminds members it will be accepting applications for the 2018 Corn Board through this Friday. Through the Corn Board, members can become an integral part of the organization's leadership.  Click here for the application, which provides complete information on requirements, responsibilities and deadlines.

"I have had the privilege of working with so many talented, dedicated volunteers who step forward to lead this organization during my years on the Corn Board," said NCGA Chairman and Nominating Committee Chair Chip Bowling. "Their willingness to step forward as volunteer leaders plays a crucial role in building NCGA's future successes. As a true grassroots organization, we rely upon farmers to volunteer to lead, helping to shape policy and drive efforts. Serving on the Corn Board empowers farmers to play a proactive role in determining the collective future of our industry."

The NCGA Corn Board represents the organization on all matters while directing both policy and supervising day-to-day operations.  Board members serve the organization in a variety of ways.  They represent the federation of state organizations, supervise the affairs and activities of NCGA in partnership with the chief executive officer and implement NCGA policy established by the Corn Congress. Members also act as spokespeople for the NCGA and enhance the organization's public standing on all organizational and policy issues.

Applications are due Friday, January 6. Nominated candidates will be introduced at the March 2017 Corn Congress meeting, held in conjunction with the Commodity Classic in San Antonio, Texas. Corn Board members will be elected at the July 2017 Corn Congress in Washington, D.C., and the new terms begin Oct. 1.

For more information, growers may contact Kathy Baker at NCGA's St. Louis office at (636) 733-9004.

Tuesday January 3 Ag News


For the month of December 2016, temperatures averaged two to six degrees below normal, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Precipitation in the form of snow and rain was recorded during the month. High winds on Christmas day caused damage to numerous pivots in south central counties. At the end of the month, snow cover was limited to northern Panhandle counties. This allowed good use of stalk fields for winter grazing in other areas. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 12 percent very short, 22 short, 64 adequate, and 2 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 11 percent very short, 26 short, 62 adequate, and 1 surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Winter wheat condition rated 2 percent very poor, 8 poor, 44 fair, 41 good, and 5 excellent.

Livestock, Pasture and Range Report:

Cattle and calf conditions rated 0 percent very poor, 1 poor, 17 fair, 71 good, and 11 excellent. Cattle and calf death loss rated 0 percent heavy, 54 average, and 46 light.

Sheep and lamb conditions rated 0 percent very poor, 1 poor, 20 fair, 72 good, and 7 excellent. Sheep and lamb death loss rated 0 percent heavy, 75 average, and 25 light.

Hay and roughage supplies rated 0 percent very short, 3 short, 91 adequate, and 6 surplus.

Stock water supplies rated 0 percent very short, 8 short, 91 adequate, and 1 surplus.

Nebraska Cattlemen Reflect on 2016

Aside from the cattle market and a continued battle with property taxes, Nebraska Cattlemen looks back at 2016 seeing some major accomplishments.

Almost a year ago, in January NC Board of Directors gathered together kicking the year off at the annual legislative meeting. During two days of reviewing and discussing bills and resolutions NC designated 4 bills as priorities for the organization. NC's voice was heard and our hard work paid off having 3 of the 4 priority bills passed during the session. LB 977 which changed provision relating to weight limits for implements of animal husbandry on highways passed unanimously during the session. Two other priority bills LB 958 & 959 also passed after senators worked long and hard with the Governor's office to amend and approve both bills. Great accomplishments came from the last session and we hope the same for the coming year.

The Nebraska Cattlewomen were also hard at work with many programs across the state from beef in the classroom, promoting the school beef lunch program, and hosting the Nebraska Beef Ambassador contest. This program provides an opportunity for youth, ages 14 - 24 years old, to become spokespersons and future leaders for the beef industry. They have two competitive divisions, senior and collegiate, that were judged upon three different areas of the industry consisting of a mock consumer promotional event. This year the judges included Kyla Olson, Mitch Rippe, Sallie Atkins, Ginny Lee and Tricia Grabenstein. The winner of the collegiate division and Nebraska's representative at the National Beef Ambassador Contest in February 2017 is Elisabeth Loseke and the winner of the senior division was Sydni Lieneman.

An exciting addition to the NC Calendar this year was the Cow Calf tour held in September near Ashby. The tour participants were served lunch and had the opportunity to hear from Kelly Bruns, Pate Reece and Chip Ramsey. They also toured JHL Beef, a commercial cow operation that works "on the ranch and on the rail", emphasizing the importance of good females. The Cow Calf council was excited about the great attendance and hope to continue this in the future.

Less than a month later the NC Board of Directors met for their October meeting. The Southeast Community College (SCC) Bond proposal that was to be on the November voting ballot for 15 counties in the southeast part of the state, was brought to attention. After much discussion, the NC Board voted to oppose the $369 million SCC bond issue. The final decision was not taken lightly as NC is very supportive of education and job training at the community college level. With an ongoing effort to find property tax relief for members across the state NC could not support a bond that would increase the tax burden in the 15-county area.

With great success in some arenas came hardship in others for NC members. 2016 continued to bring challenging conditions for the cattle market. In an effort to discuss first hand with members across the state, NC leadership and staff, being very thoughtful and aware of the situation, held multiple marketing forum meetings. Topics of discussion included fundamental market factors, the deterioration of the bid-and-offer price discovery process and negotiated cash volume in the nation's fed cattle trade, CME Live Cattle and Feeder Cattle futures contract specifications and increased levels of volatility in both markets, and the evolving role of USDA's Mandatory Price Reporting platform amid changing market dynamics.

Most recently, the Office of Inspector General released an audit following an extensive and thorough investigation of the animal handling procedures of the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center in Clay Center. The audit results prove the high internal standards of the dedicated and talented scientists and researchers at U.S. MARC have been and continue to be upheld. U.S. MARC is driven to provide food security and sustainability to producers and the growing world population. NC members genuinely appreciate and thank the dedicated staff at U.S. MARC that have endured this unfortunate incident.

As we near 2017 Nebraska Cattlemen leadership and staff look forward to another rewarding year working for the entire membership.

Nebraska Cattlemen Foundation Announces Availability of Youth Scholarships

The Nebraska Cattlemen Foundation (NCF) is accepting applications for scholarships from qualified youth in Nebraska who have an interest in the beef industry. These scholarships will be awarded for the 2017-2018 academic year and are provided through contributions received by the Nebraska Cattlemen Foundation. Applications are available on the Nebraska Cattlemen website ( or can be obtained by calling the NCF office at (402) 475-2333.

Scholarship recipients must be a high school senior or college student, have a "C" or higher grade point average, and be enrolled or intending to enroll full time in a college or university that offers a bachelor degree, an approved vocation or trade school, or a state accredited junior college. Refer to NCF application(s) for complete selection requirements.

The Nebraska Cattlemen Beef State Scholarship awards a $10,000 scholarship to an outstanding college junior, senior or graduate-level student. Eligible students must be residents of Nebraska and be enrolled in a Nebraska college or university pursuing a beef industry-related degree. The scholarship will be awarded based on student need, Nebraska beef industry involvement (past achievements and future plans) and academics. Students will be required to complete the written application (due in the NCF office by February 15, 2017) and finalists will be invited to an interview with the selection committee.

NCF offers numerous other $1,000 scholarships, awarded on the basis of academic achievement, beef industry involvement and goals/quality of application from the following funds. These completed applications are due into the NCF office by March 15, 2017.
    Robert F. Lute II Memorial Scholarship (high school senior or higher)
    Frank and Shirley Sibert Scholarship (high school senior or higher)
    Bell Heller Memorial Scholarship (high school senior or higher)
    Donavan Yoachim Memorial Scholarship (high school senior or higher)
    Cattlemen's Open Scholarship (high school senior or higher)
    Clarence and Lois Jean Hartmann Scholarship (high school senior or higher)
    Retail Value Steer Challenge Scholarship(s) (high school senior or higher)
    Todd Ricenbaw Memorial Scholarship (high school senior or higher, UNL agriculture major)
    Col. Melvin Huss Memorial Scholarship (high school senior or higher, University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) animal science major)
    Ron and Shirley Huss Scholarship (high school senior or higher, UNL animal science major)
    Jim & Helen Gran Scholarship (sophomore or higher, NCTA production agriculture major)
    Bill Briggs Family Memorial Scholarship (college junior or higher, beef industry major in Nebraska)
    Bill Pullen Scholarship (college junior or higher, UNL agriculture major)
    Vance Uden Memorial Scholarship (college junior or higher, member of UNL Senior Livestock Evaluation Team)
    Nebraska Cattlemen Beef Pit Scholarship (college junior or higher, meat/food science major in Nebraska)
    Martin Viersen Range Management/Conservation Memorial Scholarship (college junior or higher, range management/conservation/grazing systems major in Nebraska)


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Much expense and many long hours go into harvesting and storing hay for winter feeding.  So why waste it!  Hay feeding waste can be reduced.

               Cattle can waste as much as 45 percent of their hay when it is fed without restrictions.  How can you reduce these losses to minimize costs and maintain an adequate hay supply?

               Your first step should be to limit how much hay is available.  Research shows that cattle fed hay with free access every four days needed about 25% more hay than cattle fed daily.  Daily feeding reduces the amount of hay refused, trampled, fouled, over-consumed, or used for bedding.

               A second step is to restrict access to the hay by using hay racks, bale rings, electric fences, feed bunks, or anything else that will keep animals off the hay.  It’s especially important to limit the amount of hay accessible to trampling.  So use racks or bale rings with solid barriers at the bottom to prevent livestock from pulling hay loose and then dragging it out to be stepped on.

               If you feed hay on the ground, either as loose hay, unrolled round bales, or as ground hay, it is especially important to follow these guidelines.  Limit the hay fed to an amount animals will clean up in a single meal.  Anything left over will be stepped on, fouled, or used for bedding instead of as feed.  And if you can – use an electric wire or other barrier to restrict access to only one side of the feed on the ground.  But also be sure to distribute that hay enough so all cows have access to it at the same time.

               With a little foresight and careful management, you can stretch your hay further.


Mark Poeschl, chief executive officer of the National FFA Organization and the National FFA Foundation, will deliver the next Heuermann Lecture at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The free talk, "Sustainability and Survivability: The Balancing Act to Feed the World," is 7 p.m. Jan. 10 at the Nebraska Innovation Campus Conference Center, 2021 Transformation Drive. The Heuermann Lecture series is organized by Nebraska's Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Poeschl is responsible for the operations and long-term success of the National FFA organization and foundation. Together with National FFA's board of directors and the board of trustees, he assures FFA's relevance and service to agriculture and agricultural education. He assumed this role in August 2016.

Prior to his role with FFA, Poeschl was vice president and group director, stakeholder engagement, at Cargill Animal Nutrition, where he was involved in developing and executing their global 2020 strategy. Poeschl played a key role in talent selection and career development in the company and was instrumental in collaborating and implementing long-range business strategies. In 2016, he began working on sustainable and responsible animal protein production issues with key stakeholders.

Poeschl earned a Bachelor of Science degree in agriculture from Nebraska in 1983. A former FFA member, he served as Nebraska State FFA president from 1978-79. He and his wife, Nancy, were volunteer judges in recent years at the National FFA Convention and Expo, and established a scholarship endowment for FFA members through the National FFA Foundation. Poeschl also assists in the oversight of a family farming operation in Nebraska.

The Heuermann Lecture series focuses on providing enough food, natural resources and renewable energy for the world's people, along with securing the sustainability of rural communities where the vital work of producing food and renewable energy occurs. The lectures are funded by a gift from B. Keith and Norma Heuermann of Phillips. The Heuermanns are longtime university supporters with a strong commitment to Nebraska's production agriculture, natural resources, rural areas and people.

The lectures are streamed live at and air on campus channel 4. The talks are recorded and air on NET World.

Iowa Cattlemen’s Association to hold educational forums

Continual improvement is an important part of farm management, especially when profitability challenges arise.  That is why the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association (ICA) is holding educational events around the state in January.

Cow/Calf Forums

Two free seminars for cow/calf producers in northeast Iowa will be held on January 19. The speakers at this year’s Cow/Calf Forums will focus on herd health including strategic deworming and vaccinations. The events will also include a question and answer session with area veterinarians.

“Anytime you can improve the health of your cattle, you’re also going to improve your profits,” says Eric Smith, who serves on the ICA board of directors, representing Winneshiek, Allamakee, Fayette and Clayton counties. “We’re excited to host this event for the second year in a row, and hope that it brings a lot of value to our area cattle producers.”

Any cattle producers or dairy producers are welcome to attend the events, which are free of charge and include a meal. Producers need not be members of the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association to attend.

Oelwein Cow/Calf Forum
Thursday, January 19, 11:30 AM - 2:30 PM
Generations (above Leo's Italian Restaurant) 29 South Frederick, Oelwein, IA 50662
RSVP by Friday, January 13 to 515.296.2266 or

Rossville Cow/Calf Forum
Thursday, January 19, 5:30 PM - 8:30 PM
Old Rossville Store, 851 Volney Rd, Rossville, IA 52172
RSVP by Friday, January 13 to 515.296.2266 or

Feedlot Forums

Feedlot Forums, educational events for feedlot operators, will be held in Sioux Center and Carroll the same week.

The Feedlot Forums will both cover topics important to Iowa’s cattlemen and women. “We’ve heard concerns about the markets from feedlot operators over the past several months, so we will be sure to cover risk management strategies at both events,” says Merle Witt, Iowa Cattlemen’s Association Western Iowa Membership Coordinator. “We’ll also talk about rule changes that affect cattle producers, like the Veterinary Feed Directive and changes to manure management rules, and give an update on the Iowa beef checkoff, which will be reinstated in March.”

The first Feedlot Forum, held in partnership with ISU Extension, will take place on January 17 in Sioux Center. Topics covered include the Veterinary Feed Directive, feedlot assessments, market volatility, market prices and industry updates.

Registration for the Sioux Center Feedlot Forum is $25 per person, with a special reduced rate of $10 for students. Registration includes a steak dinner and $10 beef certificate. Register at the ISU Extension and Outreach Sioux County Office by Jan. 12. For more information, call the ISU Extension and Outreach Sioux County Office at 712-737-4230.

On January 18, another Feedlot Forum will be held in Carroll at the Carrollton Inn from 9:00 - 3:00. Topics there will also be timely and important to the future success of Iowa’s feedlot producers. Market volatility, prices, changes to DNR manure rules, and the Iowa beef checkoff will all be discussed.

The Carroll event is free of charge and includes lunch. RSVP by Friday, January 13 to 515.296.2266 or

Later events

ICA will also host three Feedlot Forums in eastern Iowa in March, as well as regional BeefMeets in LeMars, Creston, Ottumwa and Dubuque in June. Pasture walks and grazing seminars are also planned. These events are all part of the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association’s mission to grow Iowa’s beef business through advocacy, leadership and education.

USDA Fats and Oils: Oilseed Crushings, Production, Consumption and Stocks

Soybeans crushed for crude oil was 5.12 million tons (171 million bushels) in November 2016, compared to 5.28 million tons (176 million bushels) in October 2016 and 4.97 million tons (166 million bushels) in November 2015. Crude oil produced was 1.96 billion pounds down 3 percent from October 2016 but up 3 percent from November 2015. Soybean once refined oil production at 1.44 billion pounds during November 2016 decreased 6 percent from October 2016 but increased 1 percent from November 2015.

Canola seeds crushed for crude oil was 209 thousand tons in November 2016, compared to 213 thousand tons in October 2016 and 129 thousand tons in November 2015. Canola crude oil produced was 178 million pounds up 1 percent from October 2016 and up 65 percent from November 2015. Canola once refined oil production at 164 million pounds during November 2016 was down 2 percent from October 2016 but up 67 percent from November 2015. Cottonseed once refined oil production at 47.0 million pounds during November 2016 was down 6 percent from October 2016 and down 5 percent from November 2015.

Edible tallow production was 78.5 million pounds during November 2016, up 17 percent from October 2016 but down 6 percent from November 2015. Inedible tallow production was 304 million pounds during November 2016, up 7 percent from October 2016 but down slightly from November 2015. Technical tallow production was 125 million pounds during November 2016, up 13 percent from October 2016 and up 19 percent from November 2015. Choice white grease production at 129 million pounds during November 2016 increased 11 percent from October 2016 and increased 10 percent from November 2015.

USDA Grain Crushings and Co-Products Production

Total corn consumed for beverage alcohol in November 2016 totaled 3.36 million bushels, up 6 percent from October 2016 and up 13 percent from November 2015. Corn for fuel alcohol, at 452 million bushels, was down 1 percent from October 2016 but up 4 percent from November 2015. Corn consumed in November 2016 for dry milling fuel production and wet milling fuel production was 90.2 percent and 9.78 percent respectively.

Dry mill co-product production of distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) was 1.96 million tons during November 2016, up 2 percent from October 2016 and up 3 percent from November 2015. Distillers wet grains (DWG) 65 percent or more moisture was 1.28 million tons in November 2016, down 1 percent from October 2016 but up 1 percent from November 2015.

Wet mill corn gluten feed production was 309 thousand tons during November 2016, down 10 percent from October 2016 and down 4 percent from November 2015. Wet corn gluten feed 40 to 60 percent moisture was 327 thousand tons in November 2016, up 9 percent from October 2016 and up 13 percent from November 2015.

Ag Producer Confidence Index Reveals Hope

Farmers have put tremendous hope in the new presidential administration to make their lives better, despite expectations of continued low commodity prices, relatively high production costs and the threat of trade wars with key commodity importers, this according to the latest DTN/The Progressive Farmer Ag Confidence Index (ACI).

The overall producer confidence index for December returned to neutral territory, rising to 98 compared to a value of 72 in the August survey. An index value of 100 is neutral. Values above 100 indicate optimism, while values below signify pessimism.

“But the real story in the results from our latest survey is not in the overall index, it's in the numbers behind that index,” said DTN Editor-In-Chief Greg Horstmeier. “Those numbers are unprecedented in the history of the Index.”

The attitudes of farmers surveyed in late November and early December were at historic lows: survey results put farmers' rating of their present situation at a record 44.2. That’s a significant drop from the August present condition score, which was the then-record low of 56. In December 2015, farmers put their present condition at 81.7.

When asked about their confidence for the coming year, farmers’ answers revealed a huge jump in optimism, with a future expectations score of 126.6. That’s the highest future expectations score in the history of the index.

“That swing, from record pessimism, and significantly more pessimistic than any other time in our index history, to a record level of optimism, simply defies logic,” Horstmeier said. “While most farmers have adjusted to lower commodity prices and are working on strategies to see them through tougher times, there is nothing on the horizon, not world grain supplies, not weather, not signs of new commodity demand, that would justify such optimism. To the contrary, from the standpoint of global grains and livestock price expectations, prices look flat at best for 2017.

“The only thing we can put our finger on is the presidential election,” Horstmeier said. “Farmers and rural America played a large role in Donald Trump’s victory, and farmers must feel he’s going to make the world right for them.”

The confidence index, which surveyed 500 crop and livestock producers between Nov. 28 and Dec. 1, measures their sentiments about the overall agriculture sector. Producers also rate current and long-term input prices and net farm income to gauge their attitudes toward the present situation and future expectations. Since 2010, DTN/The Progressive Farmer has conducted the ACI three times a year – before planting, before harvest and just before the end of the calendar year after harvest.

“The timing of the latest survey, right after the election and during the run up of the Dow Industrial Averages and other markets, had to play into the ratings,” Horstmeier said.

The trend of current pessimism and future optimism held true across geographical regions. Midwest farmers pushed the pessimism of those trends, with those farmers creating 40.5 present situation and 118.2 future expectation scores. The Southeast was slightly more in the middle, and the Southwest had the highest level of optimism all around, with a 46.7 current condition and a 132.0 score for future expectations.

“Talking to farm leaders, the consistent point of optimism we heard was the promise by President-elect Trump to roll back a number of regulatory rules, including the Clean Water Act policy known as the waters of the United States rule. When we pushed Trump supporters on issues such as trade with Mexico, China and Japan, on the Refined Fuels Standard and the increasing value of U.S. dollar, which could hurt exports, they cautioned us to take a wait-and-see attitude on the president-elect.

“So you can begin to deduce from those comments that farmers who supported him are more concerned about existing regulatory issues such as WOTUS and the Endangered Species Act than they are about the potential for a trade war with key export markets like China,” Horstmeier said.

The only variance from the trend in producer ratings was across income levels. Farmers in the $100,000-$249,999 and $250,000-$499,999 income levels had future expectation ratings of 112.6 and 129.9, respectively. Farmers with incomes of $1 million or more were a decidedly more pessimistic, giving future expectations a 79.

“Are higher income farmers less concerned about those regulatory issues, and more worried about commodity prices if we get into trade wars?” Horstmeier asked. “Or are those farmers also carrying relatively higher debt loads, so are changes like the Federal Reserve beginning to increase interest rates tempering their enthusiasm? It could be a combination of many things, but there’s a distinct difference in attitudes there.”

Other key ACI findings include:

·         Crop farmers were on the extremes of the December trends, with an overall rating of 97.1, based on a present condition score of 38.1 and a future expectation score of 130.9. Livestock producers’ levels were 97.5 overall, 60.0 for present situation and 115.7 for future expectations.

·         Slightly more than half (51 percent) of respondents expect farm income to be worse in the coming year, with 23.4 percent expecting better incomes, 25.6 expecting incomes to be the same as in 2016.

·         Expectations of all household income were similar: 51.8 expecting worse, 19.8 better and 28.4 the same as the previous year.

·         Input price expectations also were mostly pessimistic, with 51.2 percent expecting worse, 25 percent better and 23.8 percent the same.

Agribusiness Confidence Index

Agribusiness confidence remains more pessimistic, and more in line with higher income farmers.

According to the latest DTN/The Progressive Farmer Agribusiness Confidence Index, which measured the sentiments of 100 agribusinesses Nov. 28 through Dec. 2., the businesses that serve farmers remain pessimistic at 88.4, down slightly from 90.6 in August, and below the 97.6 level in December 2015.

Agribusiness owners gave their current condition a rating of 89.4, down significantly from 105 in August and 108.7 in December 2015.

Future expectations for business success returned toward neutral territory, at 87.5, up from 79.7 August and near the year-end 2015 level of 89.4.

Applications Now Open for 2017-18 Pork Industry Scholarships

The National Pork Board announces the opening of applications for its pork industry scholarships for the 2017-18 academic year. The eight-year-old program is open to juniors and seniors in college who plan to pursue a career in swine production management or a related field, or will be seeking to attend veterinary or graduate school and major in a discipline with an emphasis on swine. This year, the National Pork Board will award up to 21 scholarships totaling $48,000. The top applicant will receive $5,000, the second-ranked applicant will receive $3,500 and all others will receive $2,000.

“We invite any student who meets the scholarship criteria to submit an application,” said Chris Hostetler, animal science director for the Pork Checkoff. “This is an excellent opportunity for the next generation of young people studying in swine-related fields to get some needed recognition among their peers and get some financial assistance.”

The guidelines for the scholarship application and the online form can be found at The deadline for application submission is Feb. 17, 2017. Recipients will be notified in April and the related funds will be available for the Fall 2017 semester.

“The pork industry is committed to continual improvement in producing safe, wholesome protein,” Hostetler said. “Key to achieving this goal is identifying and developing the next generation of leaders and decision-makers, which is the driving force behind this scholarship program.”

Approximately 80 percent of previous pork industry scholarship winners have pursued advanced degrees as they prepared to serve the industry as veterinarians, nutritionists, reproductive biologists and management consultants.

Specific questions about the Pork Industry Scholarship program should be directed to Chris Hostetler at or (515) 223-2606.

Commodity Classic Early Registration Discount Ends January 12

Only a few days remain to take advantage of early registration discounts for the 2017 Commodity Classic to be held March 2-4, 2017, in San Antonio, Texas. Thursday, January 12, 2017, is the last day the discounts will be in effect.

Registration fees vary depending on the number of days attended. Full registration covers all three days of the event, and one-day registrations are also available.  Members of the sponsoring commodity associations receive additional discounts on registration.

All registration and housing reservations should be made online at  Experient is the official registration and housing provider for Commodity Classic.  In order to stay at an official Commodity Classic hotel, reservations must be made only through Experient to ensure favorable rates, reasonable terms and confirmed hotel rooms.

The 2017 Commodity Classic will be held at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center.  The convention center will house all Commodity Classic events, including the Opening Reception, General Session, Evening of Entertainment, Trade Show, Learning Center Sessions and What’s New Sessions.

A detailed schedule of events is also available on the website.

AFBF on the Nomination of Robert Lighthizer for USTR

Zippy Duvall, President, American Farm Bureau Federation

“The American Farm Bureau Federation looks forward to working with United States Trade Representative nominee Robert Lighthizer. Mr. Lighthizer has had a long and distinguished career in trade, working in the White House, Senate and private sector to assure favorable trading conditions for American goods and services.

“America’s farmers and ranchers know unfair regulations, steep tariffs and senseless non-tariff barriers undermine our exports. We must work together to remove these obstacles to prosperity and identify new global opportunities that will benefit American agriculture.

“Economic growth in rural America depends on maintaining and increasing access to markets outside the United States. Since more than 95 percent of the world’s population lives outside our borders, expanding access to international markets is essential for our future success. We trust Mr. Lighthizer will work tirelessly to assure it.”

NMPF, USDEC Statement on Selection of New U.S. Trade Representative

Jim Mulhern, President and CEO of NMPF
Matt McKnight, Senior Vice President of Market Access, Regulatory and Industry Affairs for USDEC

“America’s dairy farmers and processors welcome the opportunity to work closely with Robert Lighthizer as the new U.S. Trade Representative. The role of the U.S. Trade Representative is critical to successful U.S. engagement with growing global markets. Mr. Lighthizer’s previous experiences as Deputy USTR, Chief of Staff for the Senate Finance Committee, and his direct private sector engagement in enforcing trade rules on behalf of his clients will serve him well in forging a path forward on trade policy that will benefit this country.

“The U.S. dairy industry, like most other agricultural sectors across America, has significantly benefited from the agricultural provisions of prior U.S. free trade agreements. At the same time, however, we face a growing wave of nontariff barriers that threaten to impede overseas sales. Our NAFTA partners epitomize both sides of that story: Our dairy agreement with Mexico has created an export market worth well over $1 billion a year, while on the other side of the border Canada has at every opportunity decided to flout its dairy trade commitments to the U.S.

“A focus on preserving and growing what is working well, while cracking down further on what is not, will help to expand global markets for U.S. dairy farmers and the companies that turn their milk into nutritious dairy products shipped all over the world. Given that every $1 billion in U.S. dairy exports translates into over 23,000 jobs in the dairy sector and related industries, expanding dairy sales abroad is a strong job-creation strategy.

“USDEC and NMPF look forward to continuing our dialogue with the incoming Administration on the importance of pursuing well-negotiated trade agreements that bolster our ability to serve consumers in foreign markets.”

USDA Announces Commodity Credit Corporation Lending Rates for January 2017

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) today announced interest rates for January 2017. The CCC borrowing rate-based charge for December is 0.875 percent, up from 0.750 percent in December.

The interest rate for crop year commodity loans less than one year disbursed during January is 1.875 percent, up from 1.750 percent in December.

Interest rates for Farm Storage Facility Loans approved for January are as follows, 1.500 percent with three-year loan terms, up from 1.125 percent in December; 1.875 percent with five-year loan terms, up from 1.375 percent in December; 2.250 percent with seven-year loan terms, up from 1.750 percent in December; 2.375 percent with 10-year loan terms, up from 2.000 percent in December and; 2.500 percent with 12-year loan terms, up from 2.000 percent in December.

Bayer to Acquire BIVI's Bovine Endectocide Product Line

Bayer and Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica Inc. (BIVI) announced have signed an agreement under which Bayer will acquire BIVI's CYDECTIN bovine and ovine endectocide products in the U.S.

Once completed, the deal includes the transfer of CYDECTIN Pour-On, CYDECTIN Injectable and CYDECTIN Oral Drench.

These endectocides, with the active ingredient moxidectin, offer persistent killing of internal parasites at multiple stages, including the economically devastating Ostertagia ostertagi (brown stomach worm) parasite, and control of external parasites such as lice, grubs and psoroptic mange mites on beef and dairy cattle, according to the announcement.

Amasil formic acid approved for US poultry market

BASF and Balchem Corporation (NASDAQ:BCPC) received FDA approval to launch Amasil® formic acid in poultry diets in the United States.

Amasil was recently introduced in the U.S. for swine, and has been successfully used in poultry diets around the world. It is considered the most potent organic acid for feed acidification.

By lowering the feed pH, Amasil creates a less favorable environment for bacteria, which reduces feed-borne pathogen populations and decreases microbial intake. A reduction in pH also lowers the buffering capacity, which can improve the efficacy of many digestive enzymes and lead to improved feed efficiency and growth.

"With the highest molecular density of any organic acid approved in the U.S., Amasil provides a best in class value for feed acidification," said Christian Nitschke, BASF Regional Head, Animal Nutrition North America. "With Balchem, we can now deliver the benefits of Amasil to poultry and pork producers throughout North America."

"We are excited about this new opportunity to impact feed efficiency and growth for our poultry customers," notes Tom Powell, Director of Monogastrics, Balchem Animal Nutrition & Health. "Amasil delivers the feed hygiene benefits we need to meet consumer demands for a safe food supply."

Purple Plow Challenge Makes Learning Fun

The American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture has launched a fun, new online platform for middle-school educators highlighting makerspace education.

The Purple Plow Challenge site encourages students to research scenarios related to food, hunger and sustainability. Students also are encouraged to build their own prototypes to solve problems. The resources – provided for facilitators, students and volunteers – are written by teachers, aligned to national learning standards and reviewed by industry experts.

“The Purple Plow Challenge is a great fit for individuals, groups and classes in grades 6, 7 and 8. It’s perfect for makerspaces, after-school programs, in-school lessons, 4-H clubs, library learning, scout troops and more,” said Angela Mayfield, education director of the Foundation.

The Purple Plow Challenge contest will run seasonally beginning in January 2017. Interested teachers, mentors and students should check out the website ( after Jan. 1 for the announcement of the spring Purple Plow challenge. Resources will be available for free download. Spring submissions are due May 1. See the website for complete details.

“The Purple Plow Challenge was designed to support maker learning everywhere,” Mayfield explained. “The maker movement hinges on the concept that young people learn, and have fun learning, when they can solve a problem and share their solution with others.

“Critical thinking associated with making and solving problems is just as important as the end result,” Mayfield said. “Makerspaces and maker challenges encourage kids to be excited about solving problems while applying the knowledge they gain.”

Purple Plow is a special project of the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture. The resources are made possible through the generous support of the title sponsor, DuPont Pioneer.

Follow along in the journey on Twitter and Instagram @ThePurplePlow.

Friday December 30 Ag News

'Managing Cover Crops,' 'Building Soils' Available Free

Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education's (SARE) most popular publications are now available in eBook format, including Managing Cover Crops Profitably and Building Soils for Better Crops. The two publications are now available in .epub and .mobi formats. Download these publications in .epub format for smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices. Kindle users can access both publications using the .mobi format.

To download free eBook files for your mobile device, visit

SARE Outreach may make additional titles available in eBook format if demand for these titles is high.

North Central SARE Region includes Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

Farm Beginnings Program Starts Jan. 7

Gary Lesoing, Nebraska Extension Educator

The Farm Beginnings Program is an educational training and support program designed to help people who want to evaluate and plan their farm enterprise. Farm Beginnings participants engage in a mentorship experience and network with a variety of successful, innovative farmers; attend practical, high quality seminars, field days and conferences. The program is unique in that several successful farmers participate in the program as presenters, explaining firsthand the nuts and bolts of their farming operation.

While this isn't a program for someone wanting to get into conventional farming, it is a program that has attracted several people interested in farming on a smaller scale, some who have migrated out from urban to rural areas. Participants may be interested in growing alternative crops, producing fruits and vegetables for direct sale to consumers, grocery stores or restaurants. Others may be interested in growing livestock for direct marketing. This is an opportunity for people interested in learning about this type of farming from farmers that are doing it and making a living at it.

The Farm Beginnings Program consists of a series of 11 sessions from January through April that cover a variety of topics including: building networks, goal setting, whole farm planning, building your business plan, marketing, business and farm management and financial management. While the class participants will learn firsthand from the farmers, they will also work on developing their own business plan as they progress through the course.

We also schedule a farm tour early in the course and tour several farms in the summer to see how the farmers are operating. If interested, participants also have the opportunity to have a farmer mentor.

One past participant in the class said, "This program had a huge impact. I have improved my business plan, my overall efficiency and continue to try new ideas I thought to not be possible." Any beginning farmer would benefit from attending these training sessions. Most of the farmers that present come from small to medium sized farming operations that produce and market many different diversified and value-added products. Many of these farmers direct market their products.

As part of the class tuition, participants will also have the opportunity to attend the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society's Healthy Farms Conference at Columbus on Jan. 27 and 28. This is a conference that has been held annually for a number of years and has sessions that focus on topics in sustainable agriculture, such as vegetable production, grass-fed beef, pasture poultry, meat and dairy goat production, composting, cover crops, organic farming, growing crops in high-tunnels, bee keeping, farm transitioning and agri-tourism.

Cost of the total program is $500, but you may qualify for a partial scholarship. For more information about the program, contact me at or at (402) 274-4755, Nebraska Extension in Nemaha County.

Nebraska Extension and the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society are facilitating the Farm Beginnings Program to be held in Nebraska City at the Kimmel Education and Research Center at 5985 G Road.

Ten new seminars being offered at 2017 Iowa Pork Congress

The Iowa Pork Producers Association will offer 10 new seminars of interest to pig farmers and other attendees at the 2017 Iowa Pork Congress in Des Moines.

The 45th annual convention and tradeshow will be held Jan. 25 and 26 at the Iowa Events Center and all of the educational opportunities are offered at no additional cost to attendees.

Seminar topics include explaining how producers can manage margins in a market downturn, the latest swine health trends and the new Veterinary Feed Directive that takes effect on Jan. 1. Seminars will be led by some of the swine industry's leading experts

In addition to the seminars, producers can obtain or renew certification in the pork industry's PQA Plus and TQA program as well as manure application.

The following is a complete schedule of seminars, training sessions and speakers:
Wednesday, Jan. 25


● Iowa Regulations & Nuisance Case Update
Eldon McAfee - Brick Gentry Law Firm
9:15 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.
Hy-Vee Hall, lower level, Rooms 105 & 106

● VFDs Are Here, What Have You Done?
Dr. Chris Rademacher - Iowa State University
Jeff Verzal - Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship
Dr. Paul Thomas - AMVC
10:45 a.m. - Noon
Hy-Vee Hall, lower level, rooms 107 & 108

● Manure Nutrient Utilization & Water Quality
Dr. Dan Andersen - Iowa State University
Rick Juchems - Iowa pork producer
12:30 p.m. - 2 p.m.
Hy-Vee Hall, lower level, rooms 105 & 106

● Keynote Presentation - Best Time Ever to Be in Agriculture
Dr. Lowell B. Catlett, professor emeritus - New Mexico State University
2:15 p.m. - 3:15 p.m.
Hy-Vee Hall, lower level, Rooms 107 & 108
● Prices & Profitability: Economic Outlook
Dr. Steve Meyer - Express Markets, Inc.
3:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Hy-Vee Hall, lower level, rooms 105 & 106
Underwritten by National Hog Farmer
Training Sessions

● Pork Quality Assurance Plus certification
Mark Storlie - Iowa State University Extension & Outreach
10 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Hy-Vee Hall, lower level, room 103

● Transport Quality Assurance certification
Dave Stender -Iowa State University Extension & Outreach
1 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Hy-Vee Hall, lower level, room 103
Thursday, Jan. 26


● Evaluation of Antibiotic Alternatives for Nursery Pigs
Dr. Nick Gabler - Iowa State University
9:15 a.m. - 10:15 a.m.
Hy-Vee Hall, lower level, rooms 107 & 108

● Managing Margins in Market Downturns
Ron Durre - Farm Credit Services of America
Pat Von Tersch - Professional Ag Marketing
Al Wulfekuhle - Iowa pork producer
10:30 a.m. - Noon
Hy-Vee Hall, lower level, rooms 105 & 106

● The Consumer Connection: A Producer Perspective
Cristen Clark - Iowa pork producer & food blogger
Jarrod Bakker - Iowa pork producer
Gary Sovereign - Iowa pork producer
12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Hy-Vee Hall, lower level, rooms 107 & 108

● Swine Health Trends: Iowa State University Veterinary Diagnostic Lab
Dr. Rodger Main - Iowa State University
Dr. Pablo Pineyro - Iowa State University
1:45 p.m. - 2:45 p.m.
Hy-Vee Hall, lower level, rooms 105 & 106

● Opportunities Abound: A Toolbox for Beginning Farmers
Colin Johnson - Iowa State University
Dr. William Edwards - Iowa State University
3 p.m. - 4 p.m.
Hy-Vee Hall, lower level, rooms 107 & 108
Training Session
● Confinement Site Manure Applicator certification
Jeff Prier, Iowa Department of Natural Resources
Dan Andersen- Iowa State University
10 a.m. - Noon
Hy-Vee Hall, lower level, room 103

All seminars and training sessions are held in the lower level of Hy-Vee Hall at the Iowa Events Center. Seminars are funded by the Pork Checkoff!

The Iowa Pork Congress is open to all pork producers, allied business partners and others involved in the pork industry. Show hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Jan. 25 and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Jan. 26.

Admission at the door is $10 for those not preregistered.

For more information, contact the Iowa Pork Producers Association at (515) 225-7675, (800) 372-7675 or visit

Iowa Counties Must Sign Up Jan. 1-31 to Evaluate Animal Confinement Sites

Counties interested in evaluating construction permits for proposed animal feeding facilities must adopt and submit a construction evaluation resolution to the DNR between Jan. 1 and 31.

About 87 counties pass a resolution each year, which allows them to review construction permit applications required for larger totally roofed animal feeding operations (confinements).

The Master Matrix development, submittal and approval process allows applicants and county supervisors to discuss options for site selection, facility type and management.

"County supervisors review the master matrix items selected by the applicant and determine if a passing score for the matrix has been achieved. The county then submits a recommendation to the DNR on the permit application," said Gene Tinker, the DNR's animal feeding operations coordinator.

Producers in counties that file the resolutions must meet higher standards for a construction permit than sites in other counties. They must earn points on a master matrix by choosing a site and using practices that reduce effects on the environment and the community.

Counties that participate in the master matrix process may accompany the DNR on site visits to proposed locations. The county board of supervisors may also appeal the DNR's preliminary approval of a permit to the Environmental Protection Commission.

County boards of supervisors may approve the resolutions at any time, but must submit resolutions between Jan. 1 and 31. Send resolutions to Gene Tinker at DNR, 502 E. Ninth St., Des Moines, IA 50319, email to or fax to 515-725-8202. Sign-ups in January apply to permit applications received in the following February through January of 2018.

For historical information on counties that adopted resolutions, check the DNR website at and search for master matrix.

More information is available from the Iowa State Association of Counties at

Cattle on Feed Report

Brenda Boetel, Professor, Dept of Ag Econ, University of Wisconsin-River Falls

The United States Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service (USDA, NASS) released their monthly Cattle on Feed report on Friday December 23, 2016. The latest numbers released by the USDA were neutral in total numbers of placements and marketings, compared to trade expectations. Total cattle on feed on December 1, 2016 numbered 10.7 million head, down 1.3 percent from December 2015 levels, and at industry expectations.

Placements in feedlots during November totaled 1.84 million head, up 15 percent from 2015.  Placements were up 21% in Kansas, 16% in Nebraska, 16% in Oklahoma, 23% in Minnesota and 26% in Texas. This is the reversal of the year over year decrease in placements seen in September and October but a return to the increase in placements seen throughout most of 2016.  Based on growing cattle supplies the current increase in placements will likely continue into 2017.  Cattle weighing over 800 pounds saw an increase of 5%, while placements for cattle weighing 600-699 saw an increase of 26.6% and cattle 700-700 increased 37%.  The trend of increased heavier weight placements changed to higher year over year increased placements for lower weights in September 2016.  Placing lower weight cattle subsequently means higher numbers of days on feed.

November marketings, at 1.79 million head, were up 16.6 percent but in line with industry expectations. This is the largest November marketings since 2006.  November had one more business day than 2015. 

Burger King, Tim Hortons to Curb Antibiotics Used in Chicken

Restaurant chains Burger King and Tim Hortons plan to switch to chicken raised without antibiotics considered "critically important" to human medicine, their owner said on Wednesday, making it the latest company to ditch the drugs over health concerns. According to Reuters, Restaurant Brands International Inc, which owns both chains, said it aims to make the change in U.S. stores in 2017 and in Canada in 2018.

An estimated 70 percent of antibiotics that are important to fighting human infections and ensuring the safety of invasive procedures such as surgeries are sold for use in meat and dairy production.

Concern has been growing among scientists, public health experts, consumers and shareholders that the overuse of such drugs is contributing to rising numbers of life-threatening human infections from antibiotic-resistant bacteria dubbed "superbugs."

"We believe that it is important to reduce the use of antibiotics important for human medicine in order to preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics in both veterinary and human medicine," Restaurant Brands said.

The company did not immediately respond to requests for further comment.

McDonald's Corp has already removed all antibiotics important to human medicine from its U.S. chicken supply chain, and Wendy's Co said in August it would quit using chickens raised with antibiotics important to human health by 2017, reports Reuters.

Tyson Foods Inc, the biggest U.S. chicken processor, has said it intends to stop using all antibiotics important to human medicine to raise its chickens in 2017.

Thursday December 29 Ag News

Groundwater Management addressed during three public hearings

The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) held three public hearings during their December board meeting to address modifications to their Rules and Regulations for Management of Groundwater, changes to the LENRD Groundwater Management Plan, and to certify irrigated acres.

The first hearing was to accept public comment on changes to the Rules and Regulations for Management of Groundwater which modified the controls in place for any Phase 2 or Phase 3 Area in the LENRD, and establishes a set of controls for a Phase 4 Area, with all changes intended to provide greater protection of groundwater quality in the LENRD.  The proposed changes will add the prohibition of fall and winter application of commercial nitrogen to fields within the Phase 2 Area between the dates of October 15 and March 15 to further reduce the chance of nitrate-nitrogen leaching into the groundwater.  Although there are currently no areas in the LENRD that are designated as Phase 3 Areas, the changes include a requirement to prohibit the application of more than 80 pounds of commercial nitrogen without the use of a district-approved nitrification inhibitor after March 15 of each year.  The producer also has the option of splitting their nitrogen applications into multiple applications to avoid this requirement.  If an inhibitor is used, proof of such use must be submitted to the district annually.  LENRD Water Resources Manager, Brian Bruckner, said, “The changes also establish a set of controls for a Phase 4 Area, which can be implemented by the Board of Directors in areas with acute groundwater contamination conditions.”  The controls for a Phase 4 Area include: annual deep soil testing for nitrate-nitrogen when planting a non-legume crop (such as corn), proof of APH (actual production history) for determination of yield goals and verification of nitrogen budgets, annual sampling of irrigation wells for nitrate-nitrogen and required use of cover crops to sequester residual crop nutrients.

The next hearing was held to certify irrigated acres across the district.  767 tracts of land were certified as irrigated acres.  Approximately 88% of the district’s acres are now certified.  The next irrigated acre certification hearing will be held on March 23rd at the LENRD office in Norfolk.

The third hearing was to allow changes to be made to the Groundwater Management Plan to include the requirement of flow meter installation on high capacity wells classified for use as: public water supply wells, commercial wells, industrial wells, livestock wells, or any wells that are designed to pump more than 50 gallons per minute.  Bruckner added, “This is the first step in a two-step process to implement this requirement.  The next step will be to develop language for the Rules and Regulations for Management of Groundwater to spell out the specifics of this new requirement.”

The 2017 allocation rates were also set at the December meeting.  Each year, the board must determine the annual groundwater allocation amounts for the Wayne and Madison County Quantity Management Subareas for the upcoming crop year.  The staff recommended using the same amounts for the 2017 season.  Bruckner, said, “These allocation amounts are the same as 2016.  We are continuing to develop the framework for further expansion of irrigated acres in defined areas within the district by 2018.”

In other business, the board approved a proposal from the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission to proceed with a Bathymetric Survey of the Willow Creek reservoir.  LENRD Assistant General Manager, Ken Berney, said, “The survey will help to design potential habitat projects, and also focus on the sedimentation rate of the reservoir.  The data will be very useful in planning for the future of the recreation area.”

The next board meeting will be held on Thursday, January 26th at 7:30 p.m.

CVA Welcomes Dale Broekemeier as Director of Specialty Grains

Central Valley Ag (CVA) is pleased to announce the hiring of Dale Broekemeier as Director of Specialty Grains. In this position, Dale will focus on the growth and execution of programs for white corn, non-gmo and organic corn and beans for CVA customers.

“I am excited to welcome Dale to our team” said Matt Ashton, Senior Vice President of Grain for Central Valley Ag. “Dale’s background, experience and talent will be a welcome addition to our team and help us continue to provide the value and service that our customers expect.”

Broekemeier holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Agribusiness from the University of Nebraska at Kearney and comes to CVA from Gavilon where he was the Specialty Grain Manager.

“This is a tremendous opportunity, and I am excited to join such a respected organization like CVA”, commented Broekemeier. “I am eager to join the team and begin working for our customers.”

What Did It Cost You to Produce a Calf in 2016?

Steve Tonn, Nebraska Extension Educator – Beef Systems

Margins are tightening for cow-calf producers and it appears that trend will continue for the next few years.  Do you know what it costs you to produce a calf?  Where are areas that you can increase income or decrease expenses?  With one calf crop weaned and the next one not far off, now is the time to analyze the business and see what it costs you to produce a pound of weaned calf.  

Cow costs and thus the cost to produce a weaned calf have shot up over the last 15 years. From 1987 to 2001, the Livestock Market Information Center reports that annual cow costs increased from $300 to $400 per cow. From 2002 to 2015, cow costs more than doubled from $400 to $875 per cow.

These annual cow costs figures are from National Ag Statistics Surveys. Cow costs in much of Nebraska would be equal to or higher than the national average due to the cost of pasture. Obviously not every cow weans a calf, so the actual cost per calf produced is much higher than $875!

This information prompts the question: What did it cost you to produce a pound of weaned calf this year? What do you project it will cost in 2017?

Unit cost of production (UCOP) is a value based on a relationship in production between costs and units of product made or produced.

Unit Cost of Production = Costs / Units Produced

The relationship between the numerator (Costs) and the denominator (Units Produced) is what drives the UCOP value. The power of the UCOP ratio for cow-calf producers is that everything involved in the production of a pound of calf is represented in the numerator or denominator of the equation. For example, if a producer wants to buy a pickup that will be used in the production of calves, he can estimate how the purchase of that pickup will affect his UCOP in terms of cost per pound of calf produced. The same thing goes for the purchase of a bull. Evaluating the purchase of a bull in light of how many estimated pounds of calf that bull will produce in relation to his cost can give insight into what a producer might be willing to spend.

What did it cost to produce a pound of weaned calf this year? What is it projected to cost next year? The old adage "you can't effectively manage what you don't measure" is true in relation to managing the cow-calf enterprise. The first step in calculating UCOP is to have accurate production and financial records. These records do not have to be complicated, but they need to be accurate and thorough. If current management and information systems don't provide the data to run this type of analysis, consider making changes that will provide the records needed.

Unit Cost of Production takes into account both product produced and input costs. Knowing UCOP allows a manager to look forward utilizing both present and projected input costs with production numbers to make informed decisions. You can’t change last year’s cost of production numbers, but with good information, you can make management changes that will impact the upcoming year. Cow-calf producers who know UCOP numbers and understand the interaction between costs and production can implement strategies to effectively manage resources to meet business and personal goals.

As with most things in life, the first few times you do something, you make mistakes and through the process learn how to get better. The first time someone learns to drive, there is going to be gears grinding, lurching and jerking, and some killed engines. There also is likely going to be some parent or adult with more gray hair (or perhaps less hair) in the process! Passing the driver’s test and being able to drive is well worth the hassle and effort!

Learning how to calculate UCOP is a similar process for cow-calf producers who have never done it before. The first few times through the mental gears will be grinding and there will be frustration along the way. However once someone does it and gets comfortable, the value of knowing this information and being able to confidently make decisions that improve profitability is extremely satisfying!

For many cow-calf producers, pulling together the production and financial information needed to get this year’s cost of production number or to project next year’s number is a daunting task. Check out these resources to help you with your calculations.

A note from the author:  Steve's Final Newsletter

This will be my last monthly cow calf newsletter.  I am retiring from Nebraska Extension.  I hope you have found these newsletters informative and helpful to you in your cow calf enterprise.  Archived newsletters can be found at the Nebraska Extension in Washington County web site, click on Agriculture  click on  ag newsletters.

It has been my privilege and honor to work with you through the Mid Plains Beef Series sessions, this newsletter and other educational events.  I have great respect for the work you do to provide food for the world. My best wishes to you for much success in your cow herd enterprise.

The new Nebraska Extension Beef Educator for Southeast Nebraska will be Kristen Ulmer.  Her office will be at the Saunders County Extension Office in the UNL Ag Research and Extension Center, south of Mead beginning Jan. 17.  Kristen is a graduate of Virginia Tech and received her Master’s Degree Dec. 2016 from UNL.  Her research focused on managing corn residue and double cropped forages in crop and livestock systems.  Contact Kristen by calling 402-624-8030.

New Nebraska Crop Management Conference Jan. 19-20

Nebraska Extension has a new offering in its winter line-up of programs for farmers and agribusiness seeking research updates and recommendations for Nebraska crop production. The Nebraska Crop Management Conference will be held Jan. 19-20 at the Younes Conference Center, 416 W. Talmadge Rd., in Kearney.

With two half-day workshops, 22 program sessions and recertification options, attendees will be able to customize their learning experience by registering for those sessions most pertinent to their farming operation.

"This compact format will allow attendees to access a lot of information in a short time at a single site. Some may want to come just for the pesticide license recertification training the first day while many may want to attend the full conference and a pre-conference workshop," said Chris Proctor, weed management extension educator and conference coordinator.

"With four program tracts there are a lot of opportunities for attendees to focus on what's most important to them. It's also a great way for attendees to hear what researchers at UNL have been up to over the past year." In addition to the Nebraska Extension experts discussing recent research findings for Nebraska, guest speakers will include:
- Chuck Schroeder, founding executive director of the Rural Futures Institute at the University of Nebraska
- Bob Nielsen, professor of agronomy at Purdue University and host expert for two national corn information websites: Chat 'n Chew Cafe and the Corn Growers' Guidebook
- Seth Naeve, associate professor in the University of Minnesota Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics focusing on soybean issues
- Andrew Kniss, associate professor in weed biology and ecology at the University of Wyoming

Workshops include pesticide application technology and soil nutrient management. Individual sessions cover a range of topics from bacterial leaf streak and corn rootworm resistance to precision ag technologies, crop resistance and climate variability, manure management, dicamba drift and resistance gene transfer, and Nebraska cover crops research.

The conference also includes commercial and private pesticide applicator recertification, chemigation recertification and nutrient management recertification for the Central Platte Natural Resource District. Industry representatives will be available at a commercial expo Thursday evening.

The conference has three registration options, each of which has an early registration discounts through Jan. 15. Individuals can register for

- The full conference (Thursday noon through Friday); cost is $150 (early) or $175 (late).

- The full conference (Thursday afternoon through Friday) and one pre-conference workshop (Thursday morning); cost is $200 (early) and $225 (late).

- Pesticide applicator recertification (Thursday); cost is $65 early and $85 (late). (Individuals who had been planning to get their Nebraska Pesticide Applicator Recertification at a Crop Production Clinic in Kearney can register for recertification sessions on the first day of the conference.)

CCA credits are pending approval and updates will be available on the conference website.

For more information, visit, or contact: Chris Proctor, weed management extension educator, at or 402-472-5411.

Headwinds to Ag Outlook Remain Despite Strength in Exports

Cortney Cowley, Economist, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City
Matt Clark, Assistant Economist, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City

Some agricultural commodity prices in the U.S. got a boost from exports over the summer, but elevated exports seemed to only keep prices for some commodities from dropping further. Low commodity prices in late 2016 have put downward pressure on farm income, credit conditions, such as repayment rates for farm loans, and farmland values. USDA forecasts in November for farm income indicated crop revenue is expected to remain unchanged from 2015, supported by high yields and a summer spike in export volumes for most commodity crops, especially soybeans. However, revenues for livestock and animal products have been forecasted to decline sharply in 2016, and despite above-average export volumes in soybeans, corn and cattle, another year of record production could continue to suppress prices for most agricultural commodities.

Financial Outlook

Declining repayment rates and lower farmland values have contributed to a weak financial outlook in the farm sector. In the Tenth District, the overall rate of loan repayment has declined since mid-2013. Furthermore, repayment rates on farm loans have declined in each major industry in the District’s agricultural economy. In 2012, a majority of bankers indicated they expect higher loan repayment rates for each agricultural industry, including corn, soybeans, wheat, cow/calf and feedlot operations. By 2014, as crop prices had receded and livestock prices were near record levels, bankers were expecting lower repayment rates for crop operations but higher repayment rates for cattle operations. However, the outlook for all industries became much more pessimistic in 2015 and 2016, and bankers’ expectations for repayment rates across all categories have weakened.
Alongside lower repayment rates, farmland values have begun to show measurable declines. After increasing at a slower rate for several quarters, values for nonirrigated cropland and irrigated cropland began to decline in 2015, and ranchland values started to fall in 2016. In the third quarter, values for all types of farmland declined more than 6 percent from year-ago levels.

Soybean Outlook

The outlook for crop and livestock commodities likely will influence the financial outlook for U.S. agriculture. For example, soybeans and other oil crops comprise about 12 percent of total cash receipts and 22 percent of crop cash receipts in the U.S. agricultural economy. Prices for soybeans are higher than a year ago and, based on current futures prices, could continue to rise if export markets strengthen further. Soybean exports over the summer are typically much smaller than exports in the fourth quarter. This year, however, exports were very strong through the summer and early fall, exceeding year-ago levels by up to 150 percent in August. According to the USDA, the United States and Brazil account for more than 80 percent of global soybean exports, and despite relative strength in the dollar, the United States was able to take advantage of lingering effects from adverse weather conditions during Brazil’s growing season. Soybean shipments increased 13 percent in October, and the value of soybean exports has increased 18 percent year-to-date. However, U.S. inventories for soybeans, measured as stocks-to-use ratios, are expected to increase sharply in the current crop year, as inventories in the rest of the world are expected to continue to decline slightly.

Increasing soybean inventories in the United States reflect the continued disparity between production and consumption in the U.S. and globally. As of November, the USDA projected record soybean production in the United States for the 2016 - 2017 crop year, which began in September 2016, following two years of near-record production. Farmers in the United States and Brazil produce twice as many soybeans as their respective countries can consume. As production continues to increase, U.S. farmers likely will become increasingly dependent on exports to countries like China that consume 10 times the amount of soybeans they produce. As populations and incomes increase in China and other developing countries, demand for livestock products and livestock feed products, such as soybean meal, are expected to increase. In fact, the USDA projects world trade of soybeans and their derivatives to increase 25 percent by 2025. However, global production is still outpacing consumption, and potential headwinds to soybean markets include increasing U.S. inventories, expanding production in the rest of the world and the strengthening dollar. If U.S. soybean inventories continue to increase, the dollar remains strong and weather conditions remain favorable in South America for the next crop, the outlook for soybean prices in 2017 could become less optimistic.

Corn Outlook

Like soybeans, corn is an important commodity in the United States. Feed crops and food grains, which include corn, are responsible for 36 percent of crop cash receipts and 20 percent of total cash receipts from agricultural commodities. Unlike soybeans, however, corn prices have been below year-ago levels for most of the year. Corn markets have received some support from exports, which were well above historical averages through mid-2016. Although corn exports declined sharply in October, they remained near the high end of the historical range and 17 percent higher than the average export volumes for October from 2008 to 2015. Total exports for the 2016 – 2017 crop year are expected to be more than last year, but U.S. corn inventories are still projected to increase 30 percent, as corn inventories in the rest of the world decline 25 percent.

Growth in U.S. corn inventories is a concern because larger inventories have been linked to lower prices. Larger inventories are supported by higher production expectations for the 2016 – 2017 crop year. In December, the USDA’s projection for domestic corn production in 2016 was 41 million tons more than the 2015 production estimate. Exports and total domestic consumption are also expected to increase but not enough to offset the growth in U.S. production. At the same time, growth in domestic consumption and trade are expected to outpace increasing production in other corn-producing countries.

Wheat Outlook

The outlook for wheat is slightly more pessimistic than for soybeans and corn. In fact, in October, the monthly average price for wheat fell to the lowest level since June 2003. Wheat, unlike other commodity crops, has not received as much of a bump in demand from exports. Wheat exports were below the previous seven-year average in 2016 in every month except June. In the 2016 – 2017 crop year that began in June, U.S. inventories are expected to remain at record highs, while inventories in the rest of the world decline slightly. In addition, the United States is a smaller player in wheat production and trade than in corn and soybeans, and U.S. supplies of wheat continue to grow faster than consumption. Therefore, growing inventories, especially in the United States, suggest low prices for wheat may persist into 2017 and beyond.

Cattle Outlook

Similar to commodity crops, U.S. cattle prices have remained depressed this year due to expanding production and inventories. Although U.S. beef exports have not been above the recent range from 2008 to 2015, they have met or exceeded average levels every month in 2016. However, the U.S. cattle inventory is also continuing to expand. Since 2000, the correlation between cattle inventories and cash prices is -71 percent, suggesting that a 1 percent increase in inventories has been accompanied by a 0.71 percent decline in prices. As the U.S. cattle herd continues to grow, cattle prices may remain suppressed, despite strength in export markets. In recent years, beef consumption in Asia has grown at a faster rate than production, and this trend is expected to continue. However, growth in U.S. beef production is not expected to slow until 2020. Therefore, U.S. producers will need to continue to take greater advantage of export markets to help support domestic prices in the midst of large supplies. If not, it may be closer to 2020 before production slows enough for inventories to decline and prices to rebound.


Despite strong exports for most commodities in 2016, prices remained lower than year-ago levels for all major commodities except soybeans. Respondents to the Tenth District Survey of Agricultural Credit Conditions seemed to indicate there still is a lot of pessimism in the agricultural sector throughout the District. Low commodity prices are weighing on farm income, and bankers are expecting lower farmland values and lower repayment rates across all sectors. Moving forward, if production of crops and livestock continues to expand at the current pace, agricultural producers in the United States likely will become increasingly reliant on international demand and exports to support domestic prices and farm incomes.

EIA: Ethanol Stocks at Lowest in Weeks

Fuel ethanol inventories fell to a near six-week low last week with draw-downs on the East and Gulf coasts where ethanol can be exported, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported Thursday. The EIA said blending demand, however, increased to its highest rate since mid-August.

Fuel ethanol inventories declined by 400,000 barrels per day (bpd), or 2%, to an 18.7 million bbl three-week low. There was a year-over-year supply deficit of 1.5 million bbl or 7.4% below a year ago, according to the EIA's weekly petroleum status report for the week-ended Dec. 23. Stocks were at a 13-month low of 18.4 million bbl during the week-ended Nov. 25.

Plant production decreased for the second straight week, down 8,000 bpd or 0.8% to 1.028 million bpd for the week-ended Dec. 23. That was an increase of 37,000 bpd or 3.7% compared to last year. Ethanol production averaged 1.063 million bpd, up 4,000 bpd or 0.4% for the four weeks ended last week.

Net refiner and blender inputs of ethanol, a gauge for demand, rose 17,000 bpd or 1.85% to 935,000 bpd during the week-ended Dec. 23. It is the highest input rate since the week-ended Aug. 12. Year-over-year, refiner and blender inputs were up 28,000 bpd or 3% from 907,000 bpd. Blending demand was up 26,000 bpd or 3.0% to 905,000 bpd, for the four-week average.

Fertilizer Prices Continue Mixed Moves

Retail fertilizer price moves continued to be mixed the third week of December 2016, according to fertilizer retailers surveyed by DTN.

Five of the eight major fertilizers showed lower prices from the previous week, although none were lower by a significant amount. The five were DAP with an average price of $432 per ton, MAP $437/ton, 10-34-0 $442/ton, UAN28 $217/ton and UAN32 $255/ton.

The remaining three fertilizers were slightly higher. Potash had an average price of $321/ton, urea $336/ton and anhydrous $468/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.37/lb.N, anhydrous $0.29/lb.N, UAN28 $0.39/lb.N and UAN32 $0.40/lb.N.

Retail fertilizers are lower compared to a year earlier. All fertilizers are now double digits lower.  Urea is now down 14%, DAP is 17% less expensive, MAP are 19% lower and potash is 21% less expensive. UAN28 is 22% lower while 10-34-0, anhydrous and UAN 32 are all 23% lower compared to a year prior.

USDA Makes it Easier to Transfer Land to the Next Generation of Farmers and Ranchers

Agriculture Deputy Under Secretary Lanon Baccam today announced that beginning Jan. 9, 2017, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will offer an early termination opportunity for certain Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contracts, making it easier to transfer property to the next generation of farmers and ranchers, including family members. The land that is eligible for the early termination is among the least environmentally sensitive land enrolled in CRP.

This change to the CRP program is just one of many that USDA has implemented based on recommendations from the Land Tenure Advisory Subcommittee formed by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in 2015. The subcommittee was asked to identify ways the department could use or modify its programs, regulations, and practices to address the challenges of beginning farmers and ranchers in their access to land, capital and technical assistance.

“The average age of principal farm operators is 58,” said Baccam.  “So, land tenure, succession and estate planning, and access to land is an increasingly important issue for the future of agriculture and a priority for USDA. Access to land remains the biggest barrier for beginning farmers and ranchers.  This announcement is part of our efforts to address some of the challenges with transitioning land to beginning farmers.”

Baccam made the announcement while touring the Joe Dunn farm in Warren County, located in central Iowa near Carlisle. Dunn is the father-in-law to Iowa native and former Marine Aaron White, who with his wife, are prospective candidates for the early termination program.  Baccam was joined by Farm Service Agency Iowa State Executive Director John Whitaker when meeting with Dunn and White.

“The chance to give young farmers a better opportunity to succeed when starting a farming career makes perfect sense,” said Baccam. “There are Conservation Reserve Program acres that are rested and ready to be productive, an original goal of CRP. The technical teams at USDA will tell us which ones can terminate from the program with little impact on the overall conservation efforts. When they do, we’ll be ready to help beginning farmers like military veteran Aaron White.”

Normally if a landowner terminates a CRP contract early, they are required to repay all previous payments plus interest.  The new policy waives this repayment if the land is transferred to a beginning farmer or rancher through a sale or lease with an option to buy.  With CRP enrollment close to the Congressionally-mandated cap of 24 million acres, the early termination will also allow USDA to enroll other land with higher conservation value elsewhere.

“Starting the next generation of farmers and ranchers out with conservation and stewardship in mind is another important part of this announcement,” Baccam said.  “The land coming out of CRP will have priority enrollment opportunities with USDA’s working lands conservation programs through cooperation between the Farm Service Agency and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.”

Acres terminated early from CRP under these land tenure provisions will be eligible for priority enrollment consideration into the CRP Grasslands, if eligible; or the Conservation Stewardship Program or Environmental Quality Incentives Program, as determined by the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

According to the Tenure, Ownership and Transition of Agricultural Land survey, conducted by USDA in 2014, U.S. farmland owners expect to transfer 93 million acres to new ownership during 2015-2019. This represents 10 percent of all farmland across the nation. Details on the early termination opportunity will be available starting on Jan. 9, 2017, at local USDA service centers. For more information about CRP and to find out if your acreage is eligible for early contract termination, contact your local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office or go online at

High levels of mycotoxins present in 2016 Alltech Canada Harvest Analysis

The Alltech® Mycotoxin Management team analyzed corn, spring wheat, barley and triticale samples from across Canada as part of the 2016 Alltech Canada Harvest Analysis. The results indicated a high risk for the presence of mycotoxins in total mixed rations (TMR), distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) and silage. On average, 3.8 different mycotoxins were present in the TMR and DDGS samples collected.

The 2016 Alltech Canada Harvest Analysis tested 45 TMR samples from across Canada, from June 1 to November 30, at the company’s ISO-accredited Alltech 37+® mycotoxin analytical services laboratory in Nicholasville, Kentucky. The report showed that only 2 percent of the samples contained no mycotoxins. Two percent of the samples contained eight to nine mycotoxins, 20 percent contained six to seven mycotoxins, 29 percent contained four to five mycotoxins, 29 percent contained two to three mycotoxins and 18 percent contained one mycotoxin. Type B trichothecene mycotoxins (including DON) were present in 80 percent of the samples, and fusaric acid was present in more than half.

Deoxynivalenol (DON) is a type B trichothecene mycotoxin and was the most prevalent mycotoxin found in new-crop corn silage as well as spring wheat, barley and triticale samples. High levels of fusaric acid were also present in the samples collected. The combination of DON and fusaric acid can result in a high risk equivalent factor (REQ) that can be toxic to animals. Producers should observe their herd and monitor their animals for poor feed intake as well as reduced milk or meat production.

“Mycotoxin issues aren’t limited to growing regions with contaminated crops,” said Dr. Max Hawkins, nutritionist for the Alltech Mycotoxin Management team. “Mycotoxins move around quickly and spread contamination, so ensure that you sample your TMR and silage regularly and monitor your animals.”

The Alltech 37+ mycotoxin analysis program can detect the presence of more than 37 different mycotoxins in feed, raw materials and forage. It also provides a risk assessment of the threat mycotoxins present to animals as well as tailored recommendations for your operation, all within two weeks of sample submission. For more information on the Alltech Mycotoxin Management program, visit or contact your local Alltech representative.

Wednesday December 28 Ag News

Preparing the Cow Herd for Cold Weather
Larry Howard, NE Extension Educator, Cuming County

Moisture, high winds, and cold temperatures increase the cow's energy requirements. Cows in an optimal body condition score (BCS 5 to 6) are better able to withstand adverse environmental conditions. As a risk management strategy as we go into the winter, reduce the number of BCS 4 cows and increase the number of BCS 5 cows in your herd.

Another management strategy is to provide cattle with an area that provides wind protection. The lower critical temperature of a beef cow is the lowest temperature a cow can be exposed to before she needs to have changes metabolically to cope with cold stress.

Usually what happens metabolically is cows begin to shiver. These processes require extra energy. Lower critical temperature for beef cows is influenced by hair coat condition (dry or wet/muddy), body condition (thin, moderate, fleshy) and hair coat description. 

As hair coat changes from summer to winter, BCS changes from thin to fleshy, and hair coat changes from wet to dry, the lower critical temperature decreases which means cows can withstand harsher conditions without an increase in energy needs. Magnitude of coldness is equal to Lower Critical Temperature - Wind Chill Index. Energy requirement increase about 1% for each degree of cold stress. As an example, cows that have a heavy winter hair coat that is dry and are in condition score of 5 have a lower critical temperature of 19°F.


Let's say, for the next week temperature is going to be 5°F and the wind out of the North at 15 mph, then the wind chill index is -10° F. At those environmental conditions, Extension Beef Specialists say that energy needs of the herd increases by about 30%.

• If the total digestible nutrients (TDN) requirements of the cows are 12 lb of TDN per head per day for this week, you would consider bumping the ration to 15.5 lb/hd/day. This is an increase in 3.5 pounds of TDN per head per day.

• If grass hay is 57% TDN, that's an increase of about 6 lb/hd/day on a dry matter basis.

• If the hay is 88% dry matter, that would mean each cow receives an additional 7 lb/hd/day.

If these cows were being fed 24 lb/hd/day under current conditions, could they eat 31 lb/hd/day during the harsh weather conditions? For a 1200 pound cow, this calculates to about 2.3% of her body weigh on a dry matter basis, - - so yes, the cows could eat the extra feed needed to maintain body condition.

Be very careful if you plan to use grains (corn) to increase the energy density of the diet during severe conditions as you may do more harm than good. Feeding more than 2-3 lb/hd/day of corn to cows on a forage based diet will decrease fiber digestion. When cows are on a forage-based diet and supplemental energy is needed, consider the use of high energy, non-starch feed stuffs such as distillers grains and soy hulls to meet cow energy requirements. It is not advisable to change rations daily, but if is predicted that weather conditions will be severe over a period of time then ration changes may be warranted.

A webinar titled Caring for Cattle in Cold Weather ( highlights the effects of cold weather on cattle and management practices to help mitigate these effects.

Decline in Ag Economy, Reining in Regulation, and Calls for Tax Reform are Top Agriculture Stories of 2016

The ongoing decline in Nebraska’s agriculture economy is among the top agriculture stories of 2016, according to Nebraska Farm Bureau. Also making the list are a series of actions slowing major federal regulatory proposals widely known to be detrimental to agriculture, and a growing call for tax reform and property tax relief, said Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson.

“One out of every four jobs in Nebraska is generated from agriculture and agriculture businesses. It’s impossible for the state’s broader economy not to feel the impact of a third straight year of decline in farm incomes,” said Nelson. “Whether it’s cattle, corn or everything in between, farmers and ranchers are receiving lower prices for virtually every commodity produced in our state and it appears we are going to be in a down cycle for a while. That’s not good news for farm and ranch families or for the state as a whole.”

The downturn in the ag economy has directly contributed to shortfalls in state revenues that will have the state legislature looking to close a $1.2 billion budget shortfall when they return in January. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) projections for profitability on Nebraska farms and ranches in 2016 is expected to drop by nearly half since 2013, declining from $7.5 billion to just over $4 billion.

In addition to falling farm prices, a series of measures to slow excessive and unnecessary regulations on agriculture were noteworthy in 2016.

“The sheer volume of major regulatory initiatives proposed on agriculture has been staggering over the last several years. 2016 was a landmark in that the brakes were put on many major regulations viewed to be unnecessary and damaging to agriculture operations,” said Nelson.

In June, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati validated a previous federal stay on the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) rule. If implemented, the wide reaching regulation could have given the agency more control over activities on private land, including requirements for farmers to obtain federal permits for common farming practices.

In September, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit leveled a major setback against the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) which had attempted to implement new restrictions on the handling and storage of anhydrous ammonia, a common fertilizer used in agriculture. The court action required OSHA to start over using the official rulemaking process for implementing changes which would have translated to higher costs and limited farmer and rancher access to the fertilizer product.

“If implemented, these regulations would be damaging to Nebraska farms and ranches. The legal actions supported by Farm Bureau to stop these measures were major wins and we expect positive regulatory reforms under the new Administration,” said Nelson.

The growing call for state tax reform to address property taxes also topped Nebraska Farm Bureau’s list of key stories in 2016.

“2016 is likely to be remembered as the year when momentum for major tax reform in our state began. We heard more from individuals, both inside and outside of our organization, about the need for tax reform to address the property tax burden than ever before,” said Nelson. “The concerns about property taxes came through loud and clear, particularly on election day when voters in Southeast Nebraska soundly rejected a $369 million community college bond measure that would have raised property taxes for farmers, businesses, and homeowners.”

Looking forward into 2017 Nebraska Farm Bureau predicts tax reform to remain on the list of major news items at both the state and national levels.

“In addition to state tax reform, we’re anticipating movement on federal tax reform, including potential action to eliminate the federal estate tax or ‘death tax’,” said Nelson. “We also fully expect movement on several other key issues for agriculture, including broader regulatory reform and healthcare reform. Development of a Farm Bill and trade issues are likely to be making headlines as well.”

Motor Fuels Tax Rate Set for January Through June

The Nebraska motor fuels tax rate for January 1 through June 30, 2017, will be 27.3 cents per gallon, up from 25.8 cents per gallon. The components of the future and current rates include wholesale, variable and fixed rates.

The wholesale tax rate is set depending on the wholesale price of fuel. The variable rate is adjusted to comply with legislative appropriations for roads. The fixed rate is the rate that will increase annually through 2019 as a result of LB 610.

Questions regarding the calculation of the variable percentage rate may be directed to the Nebraska Department of Roads at 402-479-4635. Statistical information regarding motor fuels tax receipts can be found on the Nebraska Department of Revenue's (Department) website under Motor Fuels, and Statistics.

The Petroleum Release Remedial Action Fee is not included in the state motor fuels tax and remains unchanged at 0.9 cents per gallon on motor vehicle fuels and 0.3 cents per gallon on diesel fuels.

Current and historical motor fuels tax rates per gallon can also be found on the Department's website under Motor Fuels, and Fuel Tax Rates. For questions about the motor fuels tax, please contact Motor Fuels Taxpayer Assistance at 800-554-FUEL (800-554-3835) or 402-471-5730.

Avoid Winter Manure Application to Retain Nutrients, Protect Water

For some Iowa livestock producers, manure application is now limited. But all livestock and poultry producers can benefit by avoiding manure application on snow-covered ground.

Runoff and nutrient loss are more likely when manure can't be injected into the soil or incorporated into a field. Freeze and thaw cycles throughout winter can cause nutrients to runoff when snow melts. Keeping nutrients on the fields also protects streams.

For animal producers with totally roofed (confinements) facilities, limits on applying liquid manure on snow-covered ground began Dec. 21. Confinement facilities with 500 or more animal units cannot apply liquid manure on ground covered with an inch or more of snow or 0.5 inch of ice. Generally, 500 animal units is equal to 1,250 finishing hogs; 5,000 nursery pigs; 500 steers, immature dairy cows or other cattle; or 357 mature dairy cows.

Except in emergencies, state law limits liquid manure application from Dec. 21 to April 1 on snow-covered ground unless manure can be properly injected or incorporated. Producers must call the local DNR field office to report emergency applications before they apply.

Starting Feb. 1, liquid manure application on frozen ground is restricted.

While the law affects confinements with liquid manure, open feedlots and poultry producers can help keep manure in place by using common sense and choosing application areas far from a stream, on flat land with little snow cover.

All producers must follow setbacks from certain buildings and environmentally sensitive areas for surface application.

Find more information on separation distances and manure application at Look for recommendations from the Iowa Manure Management Action Group on applying manure in winter at

New Alfalfa Checkoff to Launch in January

A new national alfalfa checkoff program has been created to invest more research dollars into the industry.

National Alfalfa and Forage Alliance President Beth Nelson says there is a need for more research.

"Alfalfa is the nation's third most valuable field crop behind corn and soybeans," Nelson said. "Our acres have been declining and we attribute some of that to the lack of public research. There isn't the same public commitment to research you seen in corn and beans or wheat."

The checkoff rate is $1 for every bag of alfalfa seed sold. Participation by the seed companies is also voluntary.

The checkoff will officially launch January 1, with the first request for research proposals will be made this spring.

CWT Assists with 1.5 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 Producers Cooperative Association, Inc., Michigan Milk Producers Association, Northwest Dairy Association (Darigold) and United Dairymen of Arizona. These member cooperatives have contracts to sell 436,515 pounds (198 metric tons) of Cheddar, Gouda and Monterey Jack cheeses, and 1.049 million pounds (476 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 December 2016 through March 2017.

So far this year, CWT has assisted member cooperatives who have contracts to sell 50.322 million pounds of American-type cheeses, 12.125 million pounds of butter (82% milkfat) and 21.316 million pounds of whole milk powder to 23 countries on five continents. The sales are the equivalent of 892.911 million pounds of milk on a milkfat basis. Totals and milk equivalent have been 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.

US Farm Equipment Sales, Exports Continue to Decline

Russ Quinn, DTN Staff Reporter

Tough times continue for U.S. farm equipment manufacturers as both domestic and global sales continue to be down compared to a year earlier. In a recent Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) Ag Executive Advisor December newsletter, the group released data from November. The number of farm tractors and combines sales is not very good.

Looking at the U.S. numbers, total two-wheel-drive tractors are actually up 8.4% comparing Nov. 2016 to 2015. What is supporting this market is 40 horsepower (hp) tractors and under. This market saw an increase of 22.6% during this time.

"Farm tractors under 40hp reported a growth of 33% in Nov. 2016, compared to the same period last year," the report said. "Year to date, this category has experienced an 11.7% growth."

Tractors from 40hp to 100hp was down 5% while tractors over 100hp were even worse, coming in 27.1% lower compared to last year. The newsletter said tractors in the 40 to 100hp range continue to underperform compared to the previous year, but they straddled the five-year average.

"The relatively strong incomes in the livestock sub-segment that supported demand is expected to become subdued over the next year," the reported added.

Four-wheel drive tractors were also lower, down 4.2% compared to a year earlier. Combine sales fared even worse than tractor sales during this time with sales data showing a 30% drop looking back to November 2015.

The global market for manufacturers is not much better, according to AEM. U.S. farm equipment exports were down 14% overall for the first three quarters of 2016 compared to the same period in 2015, for a total $5.1 billion shipped to global markets.

The region with the largest drop off was Asia, down 44% from last year with a total of $440 million. Australia/Oceania was down 30% for a total of $395 million, South America was off 28% with a total of $374 million, Africa dropped 21% to $160 million and Canada was off 15% for a total of $1.5 billion.

Two regions that continue to be growth leaders for U.S. farm equipment manufacturers are Central America and Europe. Central America gained 16% for a total of $978 million while Europe gained 4% for a total of $1.2 billion.

"The ag equipment industry continues to suffer from a global ag downturn in large part to low commodity prices," the newsletter said. "While some counties might benefit from their higher commodity production levels, the U.S. manufacturers are watching from the sidelines as a strong dollar is making them less competitive in the global marketplace."

The AEM stated their outlook for the fourth quarter of 2016 remains subdued as the U.S. dollar is experiencing its longest rally in 16 years.

President Claims another 1.5 Million Acres through Antiquities Act

The Obama administration on Tuesday declared two new monument designations - 1.35 million acres at Bears Ears in Utah and 350,000 acres at Gold Butte in Nevada. Both designations were made unilaterally and despite overwhelming local opposition. Public Lands Council President and Utah rancher Dave Eliason criticized the outgoing administration for both their disregard for local input and the manner in which these latest designations were executed. 

“Designating a monument in this manner – under the cloak of darkness and without even the decency of notifying the local communities, the states, or the congressional delegations of Utah or Nevada – speaks volumes about the disregard this administration has for local input,” said Eliason. “If the administration was proud of this action, they would have touted it proudly yesterday when the designation was made. Instead, the administration hid out while no one impacted by this monument was given the courtesy of a simple phone call until a full day after the papers were signed."

The designations of the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah and the Gold Butte National Monument in Nevada make it the 29th time President Obama has used his executive power under the Antiquities Act, more than any other president before him.

MyPlate, MyWins Helps Americans Turn Resolutions into Real Solutions for Healthy Eating in the New Year

Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP) launched a New Year’s campaign to help Americans turn their resolutions into real solutions for healthy eating in 2017. This campaign is supported by new and existing MyPlate, MyWins resources available on, which are designed such that Americans can decide where to start on the journey to healthy eating.

“As Americans begin thinking about setting goals for the New Year, MyPlate, MyWins is the place to start,” said Kevin Concannon, Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services. “With the new resources available on the MyPlate, MyWins webpages, Americans can set small, attainable, healthy eating solutions to incorporate into their lifestyle now and into the future.”

Turning Resolutions into Real Solutions

Every January, Americans are overloaded with information about New Year’s resolutions. While starting with the best intentions, many people set unrealistic resolutions and incorporate goals that are difficult to maintain. Starting with small steps and celebrating milestones along the way are shown to be more beneficial strategies in keeping resolutions. This is where MyPlate, MyWins comes in; MyPlate, MyWins is a resource to help Americans turn resolutions into real solutions to achieve a healthy eating style in alignment with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020.

Real solutions are small, practical changes that add up to a healthy lifestyle over time. These changes can be incorporated into Americans’ lives to maintain a healthy eating style based on the five food groups of MyPlate. MyPlate, MyWins encourages consumers to find and celebrate their wins and their real solutions. Since everyone has different eating habits, MyPlate, MyWins helps individuals create their own, personalized nutrition goals and solutions.

New MyPlate, MyWins Animated Video Series

Over the course of five weeks as part of the New Year campaign, CNPP will release five MyPlate, MyWins animated videos to the new Make Small Changes webpage. These short, animated videos demonstrate simple changes Americans can make to their typical meals to decrease sodium, saturated fat, and added sugars. Each video has a different theme including breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and beverages.

“Making a small change, for example, switching from two slices of pepperoni pizza for lunch to one slice of veggie pizza, a salad, and an apple decreases sodium and saturated fat intake, while adding items from other food groups,” said Angie Tagtow, Executive Directors of USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. “The videos demonstrate to Americans that small, healthy changes, or switches, during meal and snack times can add up over time and improve your eating style.”

To supplement these videos, there are new, meal-specific webpages with nutrition information, more examples of small ways to improve typical meals, and five new MyPlate, MyWins tip sheets. The tip sheets provide suggestions for making healthier choices in typical dining environments: potlucks and parties, coffee shops, buffets, Italian restaurants, and Asian cuisine takeout. All of these resources can help consumers utilize real solutions in their typical day to achieve nutrition goals and maintain a healthy eating style now and into the future.

SuperTracker New Year’s Challenge and More Resources

On January 2, 2017, SuperTracker will kick off a public New Year’s Challenge that encourages participants to start slowly and develop a healthy eating style over time. Over five weeks, participants will be challenged to incorporate the five MyPlate food groups – fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy – into each day. To officially join the challenge and receive encouraging messages along the way, individuals will need to create a free SuperTracker account.

The MyPlate, MyWins landing page has many additional resources to assist Americans in modifying their meals in order to maintain healthier eating habits throughout their lives. The Stories from Families and Individuals page includes videos from relatable families about their healthy eating solutions and testimonials from the MyPlate staff. There also are ways to get involved for partners, professionals, and consumers. Additionally, CNPP encourages consumers to share their real solutions and wins via Twitter and Facebook using #MyPlateMyWins.

Friday December 23 CoF, H&P, Chicken Reports + Ag News


Nebraska feedlots, with capacities of 1,000 or more head, contained 2.37 million cattle on feed on December 1, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. This inventory was down 5 percent from last year.  Placements during November totaled 510,000 head, up 16 percent from 2015. Fed cattle marketings for the month of November totaled 445,000 head, up 16 percent from last year.  Other disappearance during November totaled 15,000 head, unchanged from last year.


Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 600,000 head on December 1, 2016, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Cattle on Feed report. This was unchanged from November 1, 2016, but down 5 percent from December 1, 2015. Iowa feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head had 510,000 head on feed, up 1 percent from last month but down 8 percent from last year. Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in all Iowa feedlots totaled 1,110,000 head, up fractionally from last month but down 6 percent from last year.

Placements of cattle and calves in Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head during November totaled 102,000 head, a decrease of 21 percent from last month but up 1 percent from last year. Feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head placed 68,000 head, down 25 percent from last month and down 42 percent from last year. Placements for all feedlots in Iowa totaled 170,000 head, down 23 percent from last month and down 22 percent from last year.

Marketings of fed cattle from Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head during November totaled 100,000 head, up 4 percent from last month but down 7 percent from last year. Feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head marketed 61,000 head, up 13 percent from last month but down 8 percent from last year. Marketings for all feedlots in Iowa were 161,000 head, up 7 percent from last month but down 7 percent from last year. Other disappearance from all feedlots in Iowa totaled 4,000 head.

United States Cattle on Feed Down 1 Percent

Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 10.7 million head on December 1, 2016. The inventory was 1 percent below December 1, 2015.

Placements in feedlots during November totaled 1.84 million head, 15 percent above 2015. Net placements were 1.77 million head. During November, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 470,000 head, 600-699 pounds were 490,000 head, 700-799 pounds were 425,000 head, and 800 pounds and greater were 458,000 head.

Marketings of fed cattle during November totaled 1.79 million head, 17 percent above 2015.  Other disappearance totaled 69,000 head during November, 13 percent below 2015.


Nebraska inventory of all hogs and pigs on December 1, 2016, was 3.40 million head, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. This was up 3 percent from December 1, 2015, but down 4 percent from September 1, 2016.

Breeding hog inventory, at 415,000 head, was down 1 percent from December 1, 2015, and down 1 percent from last quarter. Market hog inventory, at 2.99 million head, was up 4 percent from last year, but down 5 percent from last quarter.

The September - November 2016 Nebraska pig crop, at 2.09 million head, was up 4 percent from 2015. Sows farrowed during the period totaled 180,000 head, unchanged from last year. The average pigs saved per litter was a record 11.60 for the September - November period, compared to 11.15 last year.

Nebraska hog producers intend to farrow 185,000 sows during the December 2016 – February 2017 quarter, up 6 percent from the actual farrowings during the same period a year ago. Intended farrowings for March – May 2017 are 185,000 sows, unchanged from the actual farrowings during the same period the previous year.


On December 1, 2016, there were a record high 22.4 million hogs and pigs on Iowa farms, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Hogs and Pigs report. The December 1 inventory was up 1 percent from the previous quarter and up 7 percent from the previous year.

The September-November quarterly pig crop was 6.10 million head, up 11 percent from the previous quarter and up 5 percent from last year. A total of 560,000 sows farrowed during this quarter. The average pigs saved per litter was 10.9 for the September-November quarter, just below last quarter’s record high 11.0 pigs saved per litter.

As of December 1, producers planned to farrow 520,000 sows and gilts in the December 2016-February 2017 quarter and 520,000 head during the March-May 2017 quarter.

United States Hog Inventory Up 4 Percent

United States inventory of all hogs and pigs on December 1, 2016 was 71.5 million head. This was up 4 percent from December 1, 2015, and up slightly from September 1, 2016.  Breeding inventory, at 6.09 million head, was up 1 percent from last year, and up 1 percent from the previous quarter. Market hog inventory, at 65.4 million head, was up 4 percent from last year, and up slightly from last quarter.

The September-November 2016 pig crop, at 32.3 million head, was up 5 percent from 2015. Sows farrowing during this period totaled 3.04 million head, up 4 percent from 2015. The sows farrowed during this quarter represented 51 percent of the breeding herd. The average pigs saved per litter was a record high 10.63 for the September-November period, compared to 10.53 last year. Pigs saved per litter by size of operation ranged from 8.20 for operations with 1-99 hogs and pigs to 10.70 for operations with more than 5,000 hogs and pigs.

United States hog producers intend to have 2.97 million sows farrow during the December-February 2017 quarter, up 1 percent from the actual farrowings during the same period in 2016, and up 3 percent from 2015. Intended farrowings for March-May 2017, at 3.00 million sows, are up 1 percent from 2016, and up 5 percent from 2015.

The total number of hogs under contract owned by operations with over 5,000 head, but raised by contractees, accounted for 48 percent of the total United States hog inventory, up from 46 percent last year.


All layers in Nebraska during November 2016 totaled 8.96 million, up from 6.64 million the previous year, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service.   Nebraska egg production during November totaled 223 million eggs, up from 147 million in 2015. November egg production per 100 layers was 2,493 eggs, compared to 2,220 eggs in 2015.


Iowa egg production during November 2016 was 1.30 billion eggs, down slightly from last month, but up 73 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 November 2016 was 54.5 million, up 2 percent from last month, and up 52 percent from last year. Eggs per 100 layers for November were 2,377, down 2 percent from last month, but up 14 percent from last year.

November Egg Production Up 10 Percent

United States egg production totaled 8.53 billion during November 2016, up 10 percent from last year. Production included 7.44 billion table eggs, and 1.09 billion hatching eggs, of which 1.01 billion were broiler-type and  81.0 million were egg-type. The total number of layers during November 2016 averaged 367 million, up 7 percent from last year. November egg production per 100 layers was 2,328 eggs, up 3 percent from November 2015.
All layers in the United States on December 1, 2016 totaled 369 million, up 6 percent from last year. The 369 million layers consisted of 312 million layers producing table or market type eggs, 53.6 million layers producing broiler-type hatching eggs, and 3.49 million layers producing egg-type hatching eggs. Rate of lay per day on December 1, 2016, averaged 77.9 eggs per 100 layers, up 3 percent from December 1, 2015.

Egg-Type Chicks Hatched Down 7 Percent

Egg-type chicks hatched during November 2016 totaled 42.5 million, down 7 percent from November 2015. Eggs in incubators totaled 46.1 million on December 1, 2016, down 4 percent from a year ago.

Domestic placements of egg-type pullet chicks for future hatchery supply flocks by leading breeders totaled 270 thousand during November 2016, up 24 percent from November 2015.

Broiler-Type Chicks Hatched Up 4 Percent

Broiler-type chicks hatched during November 2016 totaled 760 million, up 4 percent from November 2015. Eggs in incubators totaled 659 million on December 1, 2016, up 2 percent from a year ago.

Leading breeders placed 7.71 million broiler-type pullet chicks for future domestic hatchery supply flocks during November 2016, up 7 percent from November 2015.


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               How do you find information about on-going Nebraska research, education opportunities, or management recommendations for rangeland, pastures, or forages?  Try

      is a new website recently developed to help provide guidance towards the effective production, use, and enhancement of the grassland and forage resources of Nebraska.  The site describes the many and diverse research programs undertaken by faculty at the University of Nebraska in subjects such as rangeland ecology and management, grazing, fire ecology, forage crops and pasture, bioenergy, wildlife habitat, and integrated crop-livestock systems.

               The website also describes some of the educational opportunities at the University.  In particular, it focuses on the two majors involved with grass and grazinglands, specifically the Grazing Livestock Systems Major and the Grassland Ecology and Management Major.

               One of the best features of, in my opinion, is the extension and outreach section.  It contains nearly one hundred different Extension Circulars and NebGuides as well as over forty magazine and on-line newsletter articles written by Nebraska extension specialists to specifically answer questions related to your farm and ranch management challenges.  These articles are divided into eighteen separate categories to make it quick and easy for you to find the information most useful to your situation.

               Not only that, there is a link that allows you to listen to every one of these Hay and Forage Minutes for the past year, just in case you missed one or want to hear it again.

       That’s all one word – no spaces.  Check it out today.

Save on Gas This Holiday Season by Filling Up with Super Duper E15

Due to agreements by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), gas prices are expected to rise this holiday season. In some Midwestern states, prices have risen as much as 28 percent from previous weeks. In Iowa, prices for unleaded gas remain around $2.21 compared to $2.08 a month ago. Before you cancel that holiday road trip to see Grandma, consider fueling up with E15, the best value, higher-octane fuel made from 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline.

Iowa corn farmers have launched a new communications campaign to educate consumers on E15, calling the fuel, ’Super Duper Unleaded’ which refers to the fact E15 contains five percentage points more ethanol than E10, also known as Super Unleaded. “Many consumers get to the pump and automatically reach for Super Unleaded because it’s the cheapest fuel, without realizing Super Duper E15 can save them even more money,” said Iowa Corn Promotion Board President Larry Klever, a farmer from Audubon. “Although E15 is the best value, many believe you must own a flex-fuel vehicle to use it, which isn’t the case. The ‘Super Duper Unleaded’ campaign is a fun and lighthearted way to let everyone know E15 is very similar to Super Unleaded — but even better. It’s ‘Super Duper.’”

E15 is the most tested fuel in history, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved the fuel for use in all model year 2001 and newer vehicles, including cars, light-duty trucks, medium-duty passenger vehicles (SUVs), and all flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs). This approved group of vehicles includes more than 80 percent of the cars, trucks and SUVs on the road today.

“E15 is a good thing for consumers, retailers, and the state of Iowa,” explained Klever. “Ethanol is a renewable fuel made from Iowa corn that is cleaner burning. And when you use E15 at the pump, it saves you money, supports Iowa jobs and lessens America’s dependence on foreign oil.”

E15 is currently offered in 23 states, including 70 stations in Iowa. E15 has a higher-octane content, which means more power. It also burns cooler and cleaner, reducing carbon emissions and engine wear. NASCAR has traveled more than six million miles on E15, starting with the 2011 racing season, and NASCAR drivers and mechanics give the fuel high marks for power and durability. The combination of performance and lower price make E15 a great value.

Go to for a chance to win $50 in American Ethanol, to learn more about E15 and the benefits of ethanol and to locate local retailers near you.


 Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today highlighted some of the top ag issues in Iowa in 2016.

“Iowa farmers saw record production for both corn and soybeans again in 2016, however low prices are making profitability a real challenge on both the crop and livestock side.  Despite the economic challenges, farmers are by nature optimistic and we continue to see investments in the future and new and innovative technologies that will allow them to be even more productive while also reducing environmental impact,” Northey said.

Record Production, Economic Challenges

Much of Iowa had a nearly ideal growing season that saw Iowa farmers produce record corn and soybean crops again this year.

Iowa corn production is forecast at 2.69 billion bushels according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service Crop Production report. This surpasses last year’s record of 2.51 billion bushels. The statewide average yield is expected to be a record setting 199.0 bushels per acre, 7.0 bushels per acre higher than the previous record that was set last year.

Soybean production is forecast at 561 million bushels for Iowa. If realized, this will be the largest crop on record, 6.80 million bushels above last year’s record high. The statewide yield forecast is 59.0 bushels per acre, 2.5 bushels more than the previous record set last year.

However, the significant drop in crop prices over the past few years has made it a very challenging time on the farm economically as in many cases current prices are below the cost of production for farmers.  Average statewide corn prices fell from $3.37 to $3.008 from November 2015 to Nov. 2016.  Statewide average soybean prices have recovered somewhat from $8.14 to $9.25 from Nov. 2015 to Nov. 2016, but in many cases are still below the cost of production.

It has also been a challenging year economically for Iowa livestock farmers.  Cattle prices have continued to fall and were at $101 per hundred weight in October, down from $128 per hundred weight last year and $161 two years ago.   Hog prices are also down from $55.50 in Oct. 2015 to $41.70 in Oct. 2016.

Iowa egg production has recovered from the devastating highly pathogenic avian influenza outbreak that resulted in the depopulation of more than 30 million Iowa laying hens last year.  Iowa egg production in October 2016 was 1.30 billion eggs, up 3 percent from last month, and up 71 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 October 2016 was 53.7 million, up 1 percent from last month, and up 55 percent from last year.  However, egg prices have fallen dramatically, from $1.26 per dozen in October of 2015 to just $.21 per dozen in October of this year.

The tighter margins seen on the farm are starting to ripple through the economy.  Land prices are down 5.9 percent over the past year.  There have been several announcements of layoffs and mergers by manufactures, machinery providers, seed companies, and other business that serve the agriculture industry.

Despite the challenges, opportunities remain.  In general, exports remain strong.  Agricultural exports account for 10% of the U.S. exports and supports nearly one million jobs across the country.

To help continue to grow exports, Northey participated in trade missions with the Iowa Economic Development Authority and USDA to the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Ukraine and Romania.

Iowa Water Quality Initiative

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is continuing to expand efforts to work with all Iowans to make water quality improvements.

Earlier this year Northey announced that 1,900 farmers committed $3.8 million in cost share funds to install nutrient reduction practices in 97 counties in Iowa.  Eligible practices include cover crops, no-till or strip till, or using a nitrification inhibitor when applying fall fertilizer. Participants include 900 first-time participants and more than 1,000 past users that are trying cover crops again and receive a reduced cost share rate.

There are also currently 45 existing demonstration projects located across the state to help implement and demonstrate water quality practices through the initiative.  This includes 16 targeted watershed projects, 7 projects focused on expanding the use and innovative delivery of water quality practices and 22 urban water quality demonstration projects.  More than 100 organizations are participating in these projects.  These partners will provide $19.31 million dollars to go with over $12 million in state funding going to these projects.

Nearly $350 million in state and federal funds have been directed to programs with water quality benefits in Iowa last year. This total does not include the cost share amount that farmers pay to match state and federal programs and funds spent to build practices built without government assistance.

More information about the initiative can be found at

Fueling our Future

Through the “Fueling our Future 100” initiative, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and Northey have announced that 217 blender pumps and 18 underground storage tanks will be installed at 70 sites by 17 companies to provide consumers with access to higher blends of ethanol.

The funding for the projects is from a $5 million competitive grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership (BIP) program Iowa received to support the initiative.  All funds must be matched by non-federal funds, including up to $2.5 million from the Iowa Renewable Fuels Infrastructure program.  The fueling sites applying for assistance will also be required to provide a minimum of $2.5 million.

“Thanks to the investments made by the state, the federal government and by these companies, customers will have greater access to higher blends of renewable fuels. This will increase consumer choice at the pump and allow them to increase the amount of clean burning, homegrown renewable fuels they use,” Northey said.  “The ‘Fueling our Future 100’ initiative, along with the EPA’s recent announcement of the RFS levels for next year, is good news for customers, the renewable fuels industry and our energy independence.”

Northey’s 99 county tour turns 10

In November, Northey completed his 10th 99 county tour of Iowa.  Northey has visited each of Iowa’s 99 counties every year since taking office in 2007.

“Visiting each county every year has been enjoyable and invaluable for me to better understand the diversity and scale of Iowa agriculture and also the passion and commitment of our state’s farmers.  Getting out to our rural communities; visiting farms, businesses, schools and community meetings; and listening to a wide variety of Iowans is important for all elected officials as we seek to serve the people of our great state,” Northey said.

November 2016 USDA Cold Storage Highlights

Total red meat supplies on November 30, 2016 in freezers were down 8 percent from the previous month and down 4 percent from last year. Total pounds of beef in freezers were down slightly from the previous month but up 4 percent from last year. Frozen pork supplies were down 13 percent from the previous month and down 7 percent from last year. Stocks of pork bellies were down 8 percent from last month and down 54 percent from last year.

Total frozen poultry supplies on November 30, 2016 were down 13 percent from the previous month and down 4 percent from a year ago. Total stocks of chicken were up 2 percent from the previous month but down 10 percent from last year. Total pounds of turkey in freezers were down 40 percent from last month but up 25 percent from November 30, 2015.

Total natural cheese stocks in refrigerated warehouses on November 30, 2016 were down 3 percent from the previous month but up 3 percent from November 30, 2015.  Butter stocks were down 29 percent from last month but up 21 percent from a year ago.

Total frozen fruit stocks were down 4 percent from last month but up 17 percent from a year ago.  Total frozen vegetable stocks were down 2 percent from last month but up 4 percent from a year ago.

Production Growth, Overseas Competition Demands Transportation Investment

In the aftermath of another historic soybean harvest, U.S. farmers continue to demonstrate their ability to respond to growing demand from domestic and international customers. However, this increased production requires a corresponding increase in transportation capacity to ensure the industry, and the individual farmer, remain profitable.  A recent study funded by the soybean checkoff offers warning that future production increases, along with infrastructure improvements by South American competitors, could suppress the profitability of the U.S. soybean industry.

“Transportation infrastructure gives U.S. farmers a significant competitive advantage over our international competitors, but without investment, we won’t enjoy that advantage for long,” said Mark Seib, a soybean farmer from Poseyville, Indiana, and director on the United Soybean Board. “We need to focus on investing in our infrastructure now to position ourselves for a competitive and profitable future.”

The study, “Farm to Market – A Soybean’s Journey,” is an expansion of the original 2012 report that highlights how soybeans are transported to domestic and international customers.  In addition to documenting the volume of total U.S. soybeans transported across the various modes, the report provides transportation profiles of 26 individual states – an expansion from the 17 states featured in the 2012 study.  The 26 states profiled account for 97 percent of soybeans transported in the country.  The research was funded by the soybean checkoff and performed by Informa Economics.

Some of the key findings of the study include:

-    Rail carloadings of soybeans will increase 20 percent to approximately 240,000 rail cars by the year 2023.  Barge loadings will increase 32 percent to over 21,000.
-    China, the leading international customer for U.S. soybeans, will continue to import larger volumes. China’s annual soybean net imports increased by 24 million metric tons (882 million bushels) from 2006 through 2010.  From 2010 through 2023, Chinese soybean net imports are expected to increase an additional 74 million metric tons (2.7 billion bushels) to 126 million metric tons (4.6 billion bushels).
-    Soybean production in Brazil, the second leading producer worldwide, is expected to exceed 129 million metric tons (4.7 billion bushels) by 2023, up from 87 million metric tons (3.2 billion bushels) in 2013.
-    Exports of soybeans from Brazil will expand to exceed 74 million metric tons (2.7 billion bushels) in 2023 from 45 million metric tons (1.7 billion bushels) in 2013.
-    Infrastructure improvements in Brazil are estimated to reduce freight costs between 20 and 30 percent or $40 per metric ton.  Such an improvement would result in Brazil’s inland transportation costs to be nearly equivalent to those in the U.S.

Lower transportation costs have historically served as one of the key sources of competitive advantage for the U.S. soybean industry.  While many previously planned infrastructure investments in Brazil have not come to fruition, if even a percentage of such investments are realized, the competitiveness of the U.S. soybean industry will be diminished.

“While it is very difficult to establish a precise forecast for our industry in a very uncertain and turbulent marketplace, it is important to scan the horizon to better understand the potential future demands on our transportation system as well as the efforts by our competitors to improve their efficiency,” explains Mike Steenhoek, executive director of the Soy Transportation Coalition.  “The time to plan for infrastructure improvements is before you experience the bottleneck, not after it.  Keeping our finger on the pulse of how soybeans get from the farm to our ultimate customers is essential as we promote a transportation system that helps farmers remain profitable.”

In addition to providing a forecast for future production and transportation demand, the report provides data in the following areas:

-    Status and outlook for the livestock industry – both nationally and in the 26 featured states
-    Rail transportation: Number of carloadings; Average distance moved; Leading origination and destination areas; Capacity
-    Barge transportation: Percentages moved by various rivers; Commodities transported; Average distances moved per commodity; Capacity per barge
-    Overview of current and future state of infrastructure development in Brazil
-    Storage capacity – both nationally and in the 26 featured states

“Great nations, as well as great industries, continue to invest in themselves,” explains Steenhoek.  “Investing in infrastructure should not be an isolated incident.  It needs to be perpetual.  By issuing this report, it is our hope that we will increase attention and focus on the importance of investing in our economy and industry to enable us to remain competitive in the 21st century.”

The STC Farm to Market Analysis provides vital information to shape and support the American Soybean Association’s (ASA) ongoing efforts to educate policymakers on the importance of increasing investment in our nation’s transportation infrastructure. Soybean exports provide a significant and positive contribution to our trade balance and transportation is key. ASA supports increased funding for infrastructure, particularly for the ageing and decaying inland waterways infrastructure. Lower transportation costs have historically served as one of the key sources of competitive advantage for the U.S. soybean industry.

The full results of the study can be accessed at or

Soy Growers Urge Vice President-elect to Nominate Ag Experts to CFTC

The American Soybean Association (ASA) and other ag organizations earlier this week urged Vice President-elect Mike Pence to quickly fill the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) vacancies with individuals well versed in agriculture commodity markets and issues.

In a letter, industry groups pointed to the opportunity of President-elect Donald Trump to make nominations for the vacancies existing since 2014-15.

“As you know, with the passage of the Dodd-Frank Act, the CFTC has taken on much more responsibility for overseeing financial markets than in the past. This has led to a makeup of the Commission that largely reflects backgrounds and experience in the financial sector,” the letter states. “Historically, however, there have always been Commissioners who understood agricultural futures markets, as well as the policy issues that impact the agricultural sector.”

The groups said the industry appreciates the efforts of the sitting commissioners to learn the industry, but representation is vital for the ag futures markets.

“We respectfully request that President-Elect Trump, with the consent of the U.S. Senate, ensures the CFTC has at least one Commissioner with a background in, and familiarity with, issues important to production agriculture and agribusiness. We appreciate your consideration,” the group states in the letter.

Lenders expect financial stress to worsen for farmers, ranchers

According to a recent study of lenders, financial stress on farmers is expected to continue for some time.

“Our research indicates a continued deterioration in agricultural credit conditions,” said Allen Featherstone, head of the Kansas State University Department of Agricultural Economics.

The 2016 Fall Agricultural Lender Survey by the Kansas State University Department of Agricultural Economics and the University of Georgia studies the expectations of lenders in regard to interest rates, spread over cost of funds, farm-loan volume, nonperforming loans and land values as indicators of the overall health of the farm finance sector.

According to the twice-a-year study, more than 50 percent of land values are decreasing within the areas covered by participating lenders. These values are set to continue to decrease over the short- and long term and are affecting credit limits for landowners and producers. Non-performing loans are also on the rise for all loan types, and expectations show the number of these loans will continue to increase in this stressed financial market.

The survey indicates the decreased liquidity in production operations has increased demand for farm loans and, in particular, operating loans in attempts to bridge the gap of the current fiscal downturn. Making matters worse, interest rates on those loans are expected to increase and continue to rise over time.

These problems aren’t isolated to just one crop. They are spreading into every aspect of farming. “Both the livestock sectors and the crop sectors are struggling meeting cash-flow issues,” said Featherstone.

25 Congressional Members Question Plant-Based "Milk" Label

(AP) -- Got milk? Twenty-five bipartisan members of Congress say if it's from soybeans, almond or rice, it should not be labeled as milk.

Democratic Vermont Rep. Peter Welch and Republican Idaho Rep. Mike Simpson, leading the charge against "fake milk," signed a letter along with other Congressional members, asking the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to investigate and take action against manufacturers of "milk" that doesn't come from cows.

They want the FDA to require plant-based products to adopt a more appropriate name, other than milk, which they say is deceptive.

"We strongly believe that the use of the term 'milk' by manufacturers of plant-based products is misleading to consumers, harmful to the dairy industry and a violation of milk's standard of identity," the letter states.

Dairy farmers are struggling with "deep cuts in income" following a 40-percent drop in milk prices since 2014, the members of Congress say. The forecast is for prices to remain low. In recent years, the sale of plant-based products, often labeled as milk, has jumped in recent years, the letter states.

They say milk has a clear standard of identity: "obtained by the complete milking of one or more healthy cows," among other qualities.

"While consumers are entitled to choose imitation products, it is misleading and illegal for manufacturers of these items to profit from the 'milk' name," the letter states. "These products should be allowed on the market only when accurately labeled."

The Soyfoods Association of North America said the term "soymilk" has been used on products for over 100 years. It asked the FDA in 1997 to recognize the one-word name "soymilk" but that the FDA has not made a decision on the petition.

The FDA said Friday that it had received the Dec. 16 letter and planned to respond directly to lawmakers.

Thursday December 22 Ag News

2017 Crop Budgets Released

The 2017 Nebraska Crop Budgets are complete and available online at

Seventy-three crop budgets are included for 2017. These include budgets for most Nebraska crops from corn to peas to wheat.

With the challenging agricultural economy, the budgets are one means to identify and focus on specific areas of crop production costs.

Farmers can compare their costs to those in the budgets to identify major variances. For areas where their costs are much higher than those in the budgets, they will want to examine the reason for the differences and whether changes can be made to get those costs more in-line with the budget costs.

The Nebraska Crop Budgets tend to reflect the average of the one-third low-cost producers for a given crop.

Many input costs for 2017 are about the same; however, be sure to check all prices as some may have major changes. The greatest change is in fertilizer prices; some prices dropped 15% to 35%. Anhydrous ammonia showed a major price decrease.

Comparing These Budgets and Nebraska Farm Business Reports

In examining production costs and returns reported in the 2015 Nebraska Farm Business Inc. report for irrigated soybeans, one showed the total cost per bushel for the one-third low-cost producers at $9.81/bu as compared to the high one-third of $17.56/bu.

There was less than a three-bushel difference in yield between the low one-third and high one-third in cost of production per bushel so almost all the difference in cost/bu is the cost of the inputs.

Among the Nebraska Farm Business producers, three main items made up most of the difference in cost of production from the low one-third to the high one-third:
-    Fertilizer cost per acre varied from $16.47 for the low-cost producer to $67.21 for the high-cost producer.
-    Machinery costs per acre ranged from $59.44 for the low-cost producer to $141.93 for the high-cost producer.
-    Hired labor costs per acre ranged from $10.46 for the low-cost producer to $59.42 for the high-cost producer.

Each budget of the Nebraska Crop Budgets is available online in a PDF format or an editable Excel format that can be customized to reflect your farm costs or to test and compare possible input costs.

January 2017 Farm Finance and Ag Law Clinics

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. They offer an opportunity to seek an experienced outside opinion on issues affecting your farm or ranch.

Clinic Sites and Dates
    Grand Island — Thursday, Janunary 5
    Norfolk — Thursday, January 5
    North Platte — Thursday, January 12
    Lexington — Thursday, January 19
    Fairbury — Friday, January 20
    Valentine — Thursday, January 26
    Norfolk — Friday, January 27

To sign up for a 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.

Red Meat, Beef and Pork Production at Record Highs for November

Commercial red meat production for the United States totaled 4.50 billion pounds in November, up 11 percent from the 4.04 billion pounds produced in November 2015.

Beef production, at 2.24 billion pounds, was 16 percent above the previous year. Cattle slaughter totaled 2.67 million head, up 16 percent from November 2015. The average live weight was down 8 pounds from the previous year, at 1,384 pounds.

Veal production totaled 6.7 million pounds, 5 percent below November a year ago. Calf slaughter totaled 47,300 head, up 22 percent from November 2015. The average live weight was down 67 pounds from last year, at 243 pounds.

Pork production totaled 2.24 billion pounds, up 8 percent from the previous year. Hog slaughter totaled 10.6 million head, up 9 percent from November 2015. The average live weight was down 2 pounds from the previous year, at 283 pounds.

Lamb and mutton production, at 12.1 million pounds, was up 3 percent from November 2015. Sheep slaughter totaled 184,900 head, 2 percent above last year. The average live weight was 131 pounds, up 1 pound from November a year ago.

By State  (million pounds - % of Nov '15)

Nebraska .....:     717.1            110      
Iowa ............:     630.3            109      
Kansas .........:     479.2            123      

January to November 2016 commercial red meat production was 46.0 billion pounds, up 4 percent from 2015. Accumulated beef production was up 6 percent from last year, veal was down 8 percent, pork was up 2 percent from last year, and lamb and mutton production was down slightly.

Iowa Corn Growers Association Releases Top State and Federal Policy Priorities for 2017

The Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA), one of the most effective, longest-standing agricultural associations in the country, which serves as the collective voice for Iowa corn farmers and lobbying on agricultural issues, released today its final list of state and federal policy priorities for the upcoming year.

“Our dedicated members engage in policy development to establish the goals and priorities each year to aid in the success of the corn industry,” said ICGA President Kurt Hora a farmer from Washington. “We create a list of top issues from our nearly 7,500 corn farmer members and lobby for changes and defend policy that impact our farms. I cannot wait to see what we accomplish this coming year.”

2017 ICGA state priorities, listed in alphabetical order:
    Conservation/Water Quality – Long term, increased funding for Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy
    Livestock – Support the livestock industry and existing laws regulating livestock operations
    Renewable Fuels – Obtain funding for Iowa’s biofuels infrastructure cost-share program (RFIP)
    Research – Increased funding for ISU Experiment Station/long term agricultural research
    Taxes – Full state coupling of the federal Section 179 small business expensing provision

2017 ICGA federal priorities, listed in alphabetical order:
    Environment – Defend against burdensome environmental regulations
    Ethanol – Retain the Renewable Fuel Standard
    Farm Bill – Protect crop insurance funding
    Trade – Expand bilateral and multi-lateral trade agreements
    Trade – Protect funding for Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD)

 “ICGA provides several opportunities to members throughout the year to get engaged and voice their opinion on different issues. If you have not been before, then I encourage you to join us at a Day on the Hill or at your local roundtable,” stated Hora. “Finally, if you are not a member of ICGA, I encourage you to join us today and get engaged on issues impacting your farm.”

The complete 2017 policy resolution book is available on the website or in hard copy for free upon request by emailing or calling 515-225-9242.

SowBridge Educational Series Offers Ninth Year of Quality Programming

The SowBridge distance education program begins its ninth year in February 2017 and Iowa State University animal science professor and extension swine specialist Ken Stalder said continuing suggestions from subscribers help maintain the program’s value.

“Each year we ask participants for suggestions on topics and speakers, and follow through as much as possible to provide current content that people are interested in,” Stalder said. “SowBridge provides all participants with the opportunity to hear directly from experts, and to contact those experts following the individual sessions.”

Stalder, who also is the Iowa contact for SowBridge, said the program is intended for people involved in managing or caring for boars, sows and/or their litters, including operation owners, employees, technicians, managers and technical service providers. SowBridge is designed to improve the understanding and application of various tools and techniques involved in daily care of the breeding herd and piglets.

“People from the United States, Canada and Ireland took part in the 2016 program, and they told us they appreciated having the opportunity to participate in these learning opportunities without requiring any travel or other expenses,” he said. “With the live phone presentation and slideshow viewed on computer, participants do not need internet access and can take part from anywhere.”

Before each session, subscribers receive details on accessing the speaker’s presentation online. Those who request it also receive a CD containing that session’s presentation. For the session itself, most participants will call a toll-free conference line to listen to and interact with presenters. Each session begins at 11:30 a.m. Central Time and lasts approximately 45 minutes.

Cost is $250 ($U.S.) for the first registration from an entity, but those with more than one location have the opportunity to add additional locations at a lower rate. That cost is $125 for each subsequent subscription from the same entity. The cost provides access to one phone line per session and all program materials for each registration. Stalder said materials, delivery process and program costs are slightly different for those with non-U.S. mailing addresses, and encouraged potential subscribers from outside the U.S. to contact Sherry Hoyer at Iowa Pork Industry Center by phone at 515-294-4496 or email for more information.

The yearlong program is offered by subscription only with a Jan. 16, 2017, deadline to ensure participants will receive materials for the first session on Feb. 1. A brochure with information and a registration form is available on the IPIC Web site at Iowa residents who want more information can call Stalder at 800-808-7675.

Session dates, speakers, their industry affiliations and topics are as follows.
    Feb. 1 - Chris Rademacher, Iowa State University, “VFD Compliance in Barn”
    March 1 - Lee Johnston, University of Minnesota, “New Management Guides for Sow Gestation Housing”
    April 5 - Corrine Bromfield, University of Missouri, “Identifying Scours”
    May 3 - Tim Safranski, University of Missouri, “Hidden Impact of Heat Stress on Pregnant Sows and Their Piglets”
    May 31 - Leon Sheets, Iowa pork producer, “Responding to On-Farm Disasters” (June session)
    July 5 - Todd Stumpf, DNA Genetics, “Managing Large Litters”
    Aug. 2 - Christina Phillips, Smithfield, “On-Farm Research”
    Sept. 6 - Spencer Wayne, Pipestone Veterinary Services, “Struggling to Get Back to Pre-PEDv Production”
    Oct. 4 - Kara Stewart, Purdue University, “Importance of Colostrum”
    Nov. 1 - Brian Richert, Purdue University, “Decision Making for Fallback Pigs”
    Dec. 6 - Todd Price, North Central Veterinary Services, “Sow Prolapses: How to Handle/Repair”
    Jan. 3, 2018 - Jason Ross, Iowa State University, “Vulva Size as Part of Replacement Gilt Criteria”

SowBridge is sponsored by a group of 11 state universities - including Iowa State - from the major swine producing states.

PorkBridge Educational Series Returns in February 2017

The 11th year of the PorkBridge distance education series begins Feb. 2, 2017. This low-tech program features timely and intriguing topics presented by recognized industry experts. Operating through the collaboration of 11 land-grant universities, PorkBridge reaches producers and industry professionals across the country and around the world in an every other month series of six sessions.Pork Bridge wordmark

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach swine specialist Ken Stalder is the Iowa contact for PorkBridge. He said the distance education series provides relevant and accurate information for those who own, manage or work in swine grow-finish facilities.

“Producers and others in the industry can get the information they need without the hassle of traveling or giving up a whole day to attend a meeting,” Stalder said. “PorkBridge participants can take part where it works best for them whether at home, in an office or in the swine unit. And whether or not they can participate in the live session, all are able to download audio files from each session for later use.”

Stalder, who also is swine specialist with Iowa Pork Industry Center at Iowa State, said PorkBridge combines electronic information viewed on a computer with live presentations by topic experts via phone. About a week before each session, subscribers receive a web link to download that session’s presentation and any additional information provided by the presenter. Those who request it also receive the same materials via mailed CD. Participants call in for the audio portion of each session and follow along with the presentation on their computer.

Sessions generally are scheduled for the first Thursday of the designated month, starting at noon Central Time. New this year is a change in session length to a maximum of 60 minutes. Based on participant suggestions and personal experience, organizers decided to shorten individual sessions because they understand that many are limited to an hour or less over their noon break. It’s hoped that the shorter length will encourage more to listen live.

“The registration amount has not changed since the program began in 2005, and remains a great deal at $125 for the entire year,” Stalder said.

The subscription form and payment must be received by Jan. 16 to assure receipt of program materials in time for the first session on Feb. 2. An informational brochure with subscription information is available on the IPIC website at Iowa residents who want more information can call Stalder at 800-808-7675.

Session dates, speakers, their industry affiliations and topics are as follows.
    Feb. 2 - Chris Rademacher, Iowa State University, “VFD Compliance in Barn”
    April 6 - Laura Bruner, Swine Vet Center, “Seneca Valley Virus – Early Recognition”
    June 1- Leon Sheets, pork producer, “Responding to On-Farm Disasters”
    Aug. 3 - Christina Philips, Smithfield, “On-Farm Research”
    Oct. 5 - Dale Ricker, The Ohio State University, “Sites, Sounds and Smells of Normal Finisher Barn”
    Dec. 7 - Joseph Zulovich, University of Missouri, “Recognizing Maintenance Needs”

Each registration provides access to one phone line per session and all program materials for each registration. Stalder said materials, delivery process, and program costs are slightly different for those with non-U.S. mailing addresses, and encouraged potential subscribers from outside the U.S. to contact Sherry Hoyer at IPIC by phone at 515-294-4496 or email for more information.


Checkoff Study: Beef Maintains Favorable Tenderness Ratings

Favorable tenderness ratings for beef steaks, which have improved significantly since 1990, have remained steady over the past five years, recent research shows. This quality retention has occurred despite environmental and financial challenges that could have derailed its progress. The beef checkoff-funded 2015/2016 National Beef Tenderness Survey was conducted at Texas A&M University, which has surveyed beef tenderness regularly since 1990.

“Despite some challenges over the past ten years, including drought, fluctuating supply and rising input costs, the tenderness of the beef being produced in the United States has remained steady, and often improved,” according to Jeffrey Savell, Ph.D., the lead investigator of the research at Texas A&M. “Beef is delivering a good eating experience to consumers, and this research suggests the industry is keeping its eye on the ball when it comes to protecting the improvements in tenderness it has made.”

Results from the first survey, conducted in 1990, confirmed that significant tenderness issues existed with cuts from the chuck, round and sirloin. Over the next 15 years tremendous improvements in tenderness were realized. Results from the 1999 survey showed a 20 percent increase in tenderness, while a 2005/2006 survey showed an 18 percent improvement over 1999 – and 34 percent improvement over results in 1990, with most steaks evaluated as tender.

Reasons for the improvement included increased aging time, longer and slower chill rates and more branded programs at retail. In 2005/2006, about 47 percent of retail cuts were marketed through branded programs designed to guarantee certain quality traits, including tenderness.

While fewer branded products were surveyed compared to a decade ago, results from the 2015/2016 survey found that, as with the 2010/2011 survey, most steaks were considered tender. Warner-Bratzler shear force values, an objective measure of tenderness, were consistent with values noted five years ago for ribeye, top blade, top loin and sirloin steaks. Similar to previous surveys, the 2015/2016 survey indicated a need for more industry focus on tenderness and increasing the overall consumer "liking" for cuts from the round. Because the survey shows rounds are sometimes not aged sufficiently, and consumer understanding of the different cooking methods necessary for round cuts is limited, enjoyment of cuts from this primal could be improved, the study suggested.

“Our research proves that all cuts aren’t created equal,” said Savell. “While they have a wonderful flavor profile, cuts from the round remain an industry tenderness challenge. Future focus needs to include a collective effort to utilize optimal aging practices as well as more support for extensive consumer cooking education for round cuts.”

Savell said that with tenderness goals generally being achieved across many cuts, additional focus and research could be placed by the industry on other quality traits, such as flavor.

Obama Administration Takes Action to Address European Union’s Unfair Trade Practices against U.S. Beef Industry

The Obama Administration announced today that the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) is taking action against the European Union’s (EU) unfair trade practices that discriminate against U.S. beef imports.  Acting on the request of the U.S. beef industry, USTR has scheduled a public hearing and is seeking public comments in connection with the EU’s ban on most U.S. beef products.  The EU’s ban on U.S. beef is not based on sound science and discriminates against American beef farmers, ranchers, and producers.  If the trade action resumes, the United States would reinstate industry-supported tariffs on a list of EU products imported into the United States.  USTR is particularly interested in comments addressed to the possible effects of reinstatement on U.S. consumers and small- or medium-sized businesses.

"The WTO determined that the European Union's ban on U.S. beef imports violates its international trade obligations," said Ambassador Froman. "The EU has failed to live up to assurances to address this issue, and it's now time to take action. Today's action holds the EU accountable and is an important step in encouraging the Commission to come back to the table to ensure that American ranchers have access to Europe's market and that European consumers have better access to high-quality U.S. beef."

In 1998, the EU lost a case at the WTO for banning American beef. In 2009, the U.S. negotiated an agreement to allow a modest degree of market access for specially-produced beef that meets the EU's standards, but that agreement has not worked as intended. The European Commission had argued that this issue should be resolved through T-TIP. However, given that the EU stated in September that they did not view the completion of T-TIP this year to be possible, it is now time to take action.

The U.S. beef industry exports an average $6 billion per year. These exports produce an estimated $7.6 billion in economic activity and support 50,000 jobs nationwide. The American beef industry is essential to the overall strength of the nation’s economy, and to rural communities seeking ways to access new customers in foreign markets.

"American ranchers raise some of the best beef on the planet, but restrictive European Union policies continue to deny EU consumers access to U.S. beef at affordable prices. For several years we have been asking the EU to fix an agreement that is clearly broken, despite its original promise to provide a favorable market for U.S. beef,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “The U.S. beef sector is vital to our economy. U.S. beef and beef product exports average $6 billion per year, producing an estimated $7.6 billion in annual economic activity and supporting nearly 50,000 jobs nationwide. The industry is essential to the overall strength of the nation’s economy, and to rural communities seeking ways to access new customers in foreign markets.”

An interagency committee of trade experts and economists will participate in the hearing and review public comments on the particular products and EU member States that may be subject to the imposition of additional duties, with the goal of resolving this dispute. Complete information on the submission of comments is set forth in a Federal Register Notice that is published today on the USTR website ( and will be available shortly on the Federal eRulemaking Portal (

"There is no doubt that American beef products are safe. The 20 year EU ban has been in effect far too long. It is not based on fact and should be lifted," said House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson. "The beef industry is an important contributor to our nation's economy, especially rural economy. This announcement is welcome news for America's beef producers."

"The EU, our largest trading partner, unfortunately maintains numerous unscientific policies focused on protecting European agriculture producers from competition with American producers rather than promoting food safety,” said Representative Adrian Smith, member of the House Ways and Means Committee and Chair of the Modern Agriculture Caucus. “It also closes off many more markets to U.S. producers in countries around the world which defer to the EU on these regulatory issues. I commend USTR for moving forward on this enforcement action, and I will continue to push the EU to adopt scientific regulations which will enhance trade and food security across the globe."

Additional Background Information

The beef industry’s request is based on a 1998 WTO ruling in the EU beef dispute that the European ban on the import of meat and meat products from animals treated with certain hormones was not supported by scientific evidence and thus violated WTO obligations.  In 1999, the WTO authorized the United States to impose additional tariffs on EU products with a total annual trade value of $116.8 million. Consistent with this authorization, the United States imposed additional duties on products from certain EU member States.

In 2008, the WTO confirmed that the United States has a continuing right to impose trade measures until the EU beef dispute is resolved. In January 2009, USTR announced a decision to change the products subject to additional duties, consistent with the list of products approved by the WTO in 1999.  USTR delayed the decision, however, to permit further negotiations with the EU to resolve the dispute.

In May 2009, the United States and the EU signed an MOU under which the EU agreed to create a new duty-free quota for imports of specially-produced beef.  Since 2009, in exchange for the elimination of increased U.S. tariffs on EU imports, the MOU has provided an opportunity for U.S. producers to export additional beef to the EU market, as intended by the parties.  However, in recent years the U.S. beef industry has been prevented from gaining the intended benefits from the MOU because of increased imports under the duty-free quota from non-U.S. suppliers.

NCBA Applauds USTR for Defending U.S. Beef from European Mistreatment

Today, the Office of the United States Trade Representative announced it will start the process of reinstating retaliatory tariffs on goods and products from the European Union due to the E.U.’s unfair treatment of U.S. beef. National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Tracy Brunner applauds USTR Ambassador Michael Froman for standing up for the U.S. beef industry and taking action in defense of U.S. beef producers. 

“The European Union has left us no choice but to seek compensation for the long-standing mistreatment of U.S. beef exports,” said Brunner. “Our temporary agreement with the E.U. was meant to be an opportunity to build a bridge of trust between U.S. beef producers and E.U. consumers, and to compensate the United States for the losses we have suffered as a result of the E.U.’s hormone ban. The E.U. has violated the spirit of that agreement and caused U.S. beef exports to become a minority interest in a quota meant to compensate U.S. beef producers.”

In 2009 the U.S. and the E.U. signed a Memorandum of Understanding under which the E.U. agreed to create a new duty-free quota for imports of specially-produced beef to compensate the United States for losses arising from the E.U.’s ban on the use of hormones in beef production. Imports under the quota have grown steadily since then, and for the past two years, the entire 45,000 metric ton quota has been filled, though from countries other than the U.S.

Over the past two years the U.S. government has attempted, without success, to engage the European Commission in discussions about ways to rectify this situation.

“While this is not our preferred choice, retaliation is the only way cattle producers are going to secure our rights for the losses we have incurred over the years due to the E.U.’s hormone ban,” said Brunner. “If the E.U. is unwilling to honor the terms of the agreement then we have no alternative but to seek restitution. We will not continue to be subjected to such trade agreement abuse.”

While initially imports from the United States accounted for the majority of the business done under the quota, over time imports from Australia, Uruguay and Argentina increased rapidly, taking a greater share of the quota. Neither Australia, Uruguay, nor Argentina was a party to the hormone dispute or the 2009 MOU that created the quota intended for the United States. The United States now has a minority and declining share of the quota, and imports so far this year point to a continuation of this trend.

USMEF Statement in Support of USTR’s Action on Beef Trade with EU

Today the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) announced that it is initiating the process of reinstating industry-supported tariffs on $116.8 million of exports from the European Union (EU) to the United States. This action was taken in response to a request from the U.S. beef industry and is the latest installment in a long-running dispute between the U.S. and the EU over beef production practices. Even though the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled against the EU in two separate decisions, it has not been possible to find a lasting settlement to this dispute. In 2009, the EU agreed to compensate the United States by creating a duty-free quota for specially-produced beef. The United States once supplied most of the beef imported under the quota, but over the past three years U.S. beef has accounted for a minority and declining share of these imports.

U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) President and CEO Philip Seng issued the following statement:

“We fully support USTR’s decision to use the means available to it under U.S. law to defend the interests of the U.S. beef industry. Over the past seven years, U.S. cattlemen and meat packers have made significant investments to meet the requirements of the EU market, only to see the U.S. share of the market undermined by producers in Australia, Uruguay and Argentina. This situation is unsustainable and demands a firm and decisive response.

“The U.S. beef industry has supported our government’s efforts to find a commercially feasible way for us to participate in the EU market. The 2009 agreement initially appeared to represent a step in that direction, but unfortunately it has not lived up to the industry’s expectations. Under the circumstances, we cannot agree to stand by as our competitors take an ever-expanding share of a quota that was specifically created to compensate the United States.”

Statement by American Farm Bureau Federation, Regarding USTR Victory in WTO Dispute
Zippy Duvall, President

“The American Farm Bureau Federation applauds U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and the Obama administration on their victory at the World Trade Organization in defending farmers and ranchers from unfair trade restrictions in Indonesia.

“America’s farmers and ranchers depend on our nation’s leaders to hold our trading partners accountable, and Farm Bureau is grateful for the administration’s work to defend U.S. agriculture’s interests abroad. Enforcement of trade agreements is crucial to maintaining market access. Thanks to this victory, American farmers and ranchers will have the freedom to reach customers in one of the world’s most populous countries.”

US Wins WTO Trade Enforcement Dispute for American Farmers and Ranchers

The Obama Administration has secured another trade enforcement victory for American farmers, ranchers, and businesses. United States Trade Representative Michael Froman announced today that a World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement panel has found in favor of the United States’ challenge to Indonesia’s wide-ranging restrictions and prohibitions on horticultural products, animals, and animal products. The United States, working closely with New Zealand as co-complainant, filed this dispute to address trade barriers in Indonesia that restrict the importation of American fruits and vegetables (such as apples, grapes, and potatoes), animal products (such as beef and poultry), and other agricultural products.

The WTO Panel agreed with the United States on 18 out of 18 claims that Indonesia is applying import restrictions and prohibitions that are inconsistent with WTO rules.

“The Obama Administration has again prevailed on behalf of U.S. farmers, ranchers, and businesses,” said Ambassador Froman. “Today’s panel report will help eliminate unjustified trade restrictions on American agricultural products, allowing U.S. farmers and ranchers to sell their high-quality products to customers in Indonesia – the fourth-most populous country in the world. This major victory is the fourth WTO win announced by USTR this year. It again affirms the Administration’s commitment to enforcing U.S. rights to ensure Americans benefit from all the opportunities the United States has negotiated under our trade agreements.”

“This is a slam dunk for American agriculture,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Since 2012, Indonesia has maintained an untenable import licensing program, harming the ability of U.S. producers to sell a wide range of American-grown products in the Indonesian market – from potatoes to beef to grapes to oranges to poultry. Importantly, the WTO Panel findings will discourage Indonesia from simply substituting new trade-distorting approaches for the measures repealed, restoring American farmers' and ranchers' ability to compete.”

“American jobs – including thousands in my District – are jeopardized when other countries attempt to skirt trade rules,” said U.S. Congressman Rick Larsen. “Today’s report adds to a growing list of victories for the current administration’s record of enforcing trade rules and protecting US jobs that count on a level playing field to compete against foreign competitors.”

"Today’s announcement is a win for Washington’s apple industry and agriculture community. The Indonesian government’s trade restrictions have limited access for our exporters to this important market and harmed growers in my state,” said U.S. Congressman Dave Reichert. “We must always fight against these types of actions that hurt consumers and limit opportunity for our communities. I thank Ambassador Froman and his team for their commitment to eliminating barriers and supporting U.S. agriculture.”
Background on Dispute

Since 2012, Indonesia has maintained unjustified and trade-restrictive licensing regimes for the importation of horticultural products and animals and animal products. Indonesia has amended its regimes several times, adding additional trade-restrictive requirements. The United States launched a dispute with Indonesia in January 2013 and, working together with New Zealand, filed additional complaints in August 2013 and in May 2014 to address the modifications to Indonesia’s import licensing restrictions.  The WTO Dispute Settlement Body established the panel for this dispute in May 2015.

The Panel found that all of Indonesia's import restricting measures for horticultural products and animal products are inconsistent with Article XI:1 of the GATT 1994.  The United States challenged Indonesia’s agricultural import regime as a whole as well as the following measures:

·       Requirement to import at least 80 percent of the quantity for each product specified on each importer’s license, or face steep penalties.

·       Restriction on the importation of horticultural products during Indonesian harvest periods to avoid competition with domestic products.  For example, Indonesia would restrict the importation of oranges during the harvest season of its domestic oranges.

·       Restrictions on the use, sale, and distribution of imported products.  For example, imported beef could only be sold in restaurants and hotels, but not in traditional markets and supermarkets.

·       Restriction on the importation of certain products when their market prices fall below the government-determined “reference prices.”

·       Restriction on the importation of horticultural products based on an importer’s ownership of storage facilities.  For example, an importer could only import 100 bushels of apples if it owns the storage space for 100 bushels of apples.  The importer cannot lease or rent storage spaces to satisfy this requirement.   

·       Requirement to purchase certain amounts of domestic beef before importation of beef from other countries is permitted.

·       Limited time period in which to apply for an import license and short validity periods of these licenses.

·       Restriction on imports that can be entered under a license based on fixed type, quantity, country of origin and port of entry requirements.

·       Prohibition on the importation of horticultural products that were harvested more than six months previously.

·       Prohibition on the importation of animals and animal products if they are not specifically listed in Indonesia’s regulations.

·       Prohibition on the importation of horticultural products, animals and animal products when Indonesia determines that its domestic supplies are sufficient to satisfy domestic demand.

The Panel found that all of these break WTO rules because they either restrict or prohibit importation of these products.  The Panel also found that Indonesia has failed to demonstrate that the challenged measures are justified under any general exception available under the GATT 1994, including Articles XX(a) (public morals), XX(b) (human health), or XX(d) (compliance measures) of the GATT 1994.
The Panel sided with the United States and New Zealand on 18 out of 18 claims that it reached.  The Panel report not only provides a win in this complaint, but it also would resolve the two U.S. complaints filed on previous versions of Indonesia’s import regime for agricultural products.

Indonesia is the fourth most populous country in the world and an increasingly important export market for many U.S. agricultural products, with exports of agricultural products affected by Indonesia’s import licensing regimes totaling nearly $115 million in 2015.

U.S. agricultural products affected by Indonesia’s import licensing regimes and related prohibitions and restrictions include fruits, such as apples, grapes and oranges; vegetables, such as potatoes, onions and shallots; dried fruits and vegetables; flowers; juices; cattle; beef, including a ban on secondary cuts; poultry, including a ban on chicken parts; and other animal products.

In 2015, U.S. exports of affected horticultural products to Indonesia exceeded $87 million – including $28 million of apples and over $29 million of grapes. In the absence of Indonesia’s trade-restrictive import licensing regime, however, we would expect U.S. farmers to be able to compete more effectively for sales to Indonesian consumers. In 2015, exports of affected horticultural products to Malaysia, a similar market, totaled $106 million, $19 million more than exports to Indonesia, despite the fact that Indonesia’s population is over eight times larger than Malaysia’s.

U.S. exports of affected animals and animal products totaled $26 million in 2015. As with exports of horticultural products, however, we would expect U.S. producers to compete more effectively in the Indonesian market in the absence of Indonesia’s trade restrictions. For example, U.S. exports of affected animals and animal products to the Philippines, another similar market, totaled $205 million in 2015, notwithstanding the fact that the population of the Indonesia is 2.5 times larger than that of the Philippines.

Under WTO rules, either party may request adoption of the panel report by the WTO within 60 days of the release of the report, and the report would be adopted unless an appeal is filed.  If the report is appealed, WTO rules provide that the WTO Appellate Body must issue its report within 90 days of the filing of the appeal.

'Death by China' Author to Head U.S. Trade Council

President-elect Donald Trump announced the appointment of University of California, Irvine economics professor Peter Navarro, an outspoken critic of China, to head the new White House National Trade Council and serve as director of trade and industrial policy. The academic was an adviser to Trump during the election campaign.

Navarro's books include "The Coming China Wars" and "Death by China," in which he is deeply critical of Chinese policy. "Death by China" was adapted into a documentary film narrated by Martin Sheen, on which Navarro is credited as both writer and director. It is available to watch for free on YouTube. In its preamble, he urges viewers "help defend America and protect your family - don't buy 'Made in China'."

The film highlights the sustained loss of American manufacturing jobs at a time of Chinese economic growth, as a well as the environmental impact of Chinese industry.

During the election, the president-elect made trade issues a core campaign issue, criticizing some deals made with countries like China and Mexico.

Trump has already angered China by speaking with the Taiwanese president by phone, in violation of the U.S.'s decades-long "one China" policy. He has also openly criticized China in outbursts on Twitter, recently accusing them of devaluing their currency to impede US competition, among other claims.

Many other economists, however, fear that aggressive moves against Chinese trade could prompt a "trade war," with repercussions on both sides.

Farm Bureau, NASDA Seek Delay of Unlawful EPA Rule

The American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture have petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency to delay the January 2017 start date of its worker protection safety rule. AFBF and NASDA cited EPA violations of federal law as well as incomplete and undelivered compliance and enforcement tools to support their petition.

According to the joint petition to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, the WPS rule was issued in violation of federal law. The proposal, Farm Bureau and NASDA told McCarthy, “fails to advance the purpose of furthering the safety of farmworkers.” The rule’s rapidly approaching implementation also poses “a serious problem for administration of the rule’s requirements” by state departments of agriculture as well as farmers and ranchers who must comply with its terms.
“We ask EPA to delay the effective date to give NASDA members adequate time to prepare for compliance with the rule and to avoid the unfair and unredressable harm to farmers and ranchers,” the groups said.

The petition from AFBF and NASDA claims EPA did not meet the law’s requirements when it failed to provide congressional agriculture committees a final copy of the regulations along with the copy sent to the agriculture secretary. The EPA has acknowledged that omission in responses to questions from Congress.

“EPA’s failure to meet its statutory obligations deprived Congress of its lawful expectation of examining the regulation before its promulgation,” the petition states.

The groups also claimed that the rule’s “designated representative” provision exceeds the scope of the WPS rule by depriving farmers of reasonable expectation of privacy for confidential business information. The groups say that the rule subjects farmers to potential harassment and public criticisms for lawful use of EPA-approved pesticides. In spite of the groups identifying problems related to equity and implementation of the WPS rule, EPA has not addressed the problems.

The petition also asserts that the EPA has failed to finalize and deliver to state lead agencies the enforcement guidance, educational material and training resources needed to effectively implement the rule and assist farmers and ranchers with compliance efforts.

“At this time, even if all of the compliance and enforcement materials were completed and distributed to all the appropriate state enforcement agencies, there is simply not enough time for the (state lead agencies) and the regulated community to successfully implement the provisions scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2017,” the petition states. “In short, EPA has failed to develop and deliver the necessary resources for states to train the regulated community on the new requirements, and the agency has failed to comply with its own WPS Implementation Timeline.”

USDA to Measure Financial Well-Being of the Dairy Sector

Beginning in January, representatives of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) will visit dairy farms across the nation, as the agency begins collecting data for the final phase of the 2016 Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS).

ARMS is a joint effort between NASS and USDA's Economic Research Service (ERS). The survey is an annual program that gathers in-depth information on production practices, costs, and financial well-being of American farm families. ARMS targets select commodities on a rotational basis. This year, the survey places additional focus on corn, and conventional and organic dairy sectors. The last time ARMS focused on the dairy sector was in 2010 and focused only on the conventional dairy sector. This will be the first time ARMS will include additional focus on the organic dairy production.

"The structure of dairy farming in the United States has changed dramatically over the last two decades, making these economic data more crucial than ever before," said NASS Census and Survey Division Director Barbara Rater. "The 2016 ARMS will help determine how recent policy changes have affected American dairy farms."

The results of the 2016 ARMS will help USDA and other policymakers analyze the impacts of the new Dairy Margin Protection Program, introduced in the Agricultural Act of 2014. With operational costs driving structural changes within the dairy industry, this new program aims to help dairy producers when milk prices drop and feed prices remain high. USDA launched the program in 2015, making the current survey crucial to measuring its initial effects.

All dairy farmers selected to participate in the 2016 ARMS will be notified by a mailed postcard. After that, trained enumerators will make appointments and visit the participating farms to gather the information through personal interviews. These visits will begin in late January and will continue through early April.

Once all the data are in, NASS and ERS will review and analyze the data. NASS plans on publishing its summarized data in the Farm Production Expenditures report on Aug. 3. ERS plans on putting out a report focusing on the ARMS dairy data in late 2017.

Wednesday December 21 Ag News

CVA Coop Delivers Value - Distributes Patronage

Central Valley Ag (CVA) continues to give back to patrons, demonstrating the spirit of the cooperative system. Recently, CVA’s Board of Directors approved the distribution of patronage to its member-owners. A total payout of $8.0 Million was approved based on Central Valley Ag’s continuing success. The amount paid out in cash to CVA member-owners now stands at $62.6 Million over the past five years.

“I am proud of CVA’s performance, and our ability to deliver these payments to our patrons,” said Carl Dickinson, CEO of Central Valley Ag. “We truly appreciate the business of our member-owners, and are excited to share in the success of the cooperative.”

Dickinson says the success of Central Valley Ag is a result of its member-owners support, Board of Directors vision, and the employee’s dedication to great customer service.

Nebraska Cattlemen Support OIG Audit Report of U.S. MARC

The Office of Inspector General last week released its audit following an extensive and thorough investigation of the animal handling procedures of the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center in Clay Center. The audit results prove the high internal standards of the dedicated and talented scientists and researchers at U.S. MARC have been and continue to be upheld.

"The accusations have been painful and unfairly played out in the media. Justly, the impartial OIG audit report has proven the men and women at U.S. MARC have always cared for the animals to the highest standards," said Nebraska Cattlemen Executive Vice President Pete McClymont. "Animal rights activists have proven once again their calculated actions were meant to damage animal agriculture by maligning the reputation of the world's preeminent authority on livestock and meat protein research."

U.S. MARC is driven to provide food security and sustainability to producers and the growing world population. Nebraska Cattlemen members genuinely appreciate and thank the dedicated staff at U.S. MARC that have endured this unfortunate incident.

"One would hope the prejudiced attacks by animal rights activists against U.S. MARC and meat protein producers would now end but that would be a naïve belief. Producers must remain vigilant to animal rights activists," stated McClymont.

NCTA, SDSU partner for Aggie dairy program

Nebraska residents can start college classes in dairy production beginning in August at the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis through a partnership with South Dakota State University.

Leaders at NCTA and SDSU announced the new program which can lead to NCTA’s Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree with a concentration in Dairy Production.

“We are pleased with this creative partnership that combines first rate, hands-on teaching facilities at both institutions to allow our students to get the practical experience they need to successfully enter into the dairy industry,” said NCTA Dean Ron Rosati.

Students will take animal science, agronomy, ag business and ag mechanics courses for three semesters at NCTA, and intensive dairy production courses for one semester at SDSU.

“We appreciate the opportunity from SDSU to allow Nebraska students access to their excellent free stall barns, milking parlors, milk processing labs and other dairy infrastructure,” Rosati said.

The SDSU College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences partnership with NCTA’s Division of Animal Sciences and Agricultural Education will help meet production needs faced by the region, said Interim Dean Daniel Scholl.

“We are so pleased that this strategic partnership with NCTA will help provide production agriculture with highly trained graduates heading into exciting careers,” Scholl said.

The new venture came about after the Nebraska Department of Agriculture and State Senator Jerry Johnson, then chairman of the Legislature’s Agriculture Committee, asked Rosati if NCTA would help the state prepare for an expanded dairy industry and growth initiative in Nebraska.

Industry and student requests for a dairy program then prompted discussions at SDSU, which maintains a production dairy herd with dairy manufacturing and food science research programs.

Neither NCTA nor the University of Nebraska-Lincoln had maintained commercial dairy herds.

“We are very pleased to integrate NCTA students into our Dairy Science program at SDSU,” says Vikram Mistry, Professor and Head of the SDSU Dairy and Food Science Department. “The dairy industry in this region is very dynamic and growing rapidly.  With this new partnership we will be training the future leaders of the dairy industry. We look forward to welcoming NCTA students to SDSU.”

While NCTA operates a 600-acre farm and student beef cattle herd along with horses, swine and other livestock, the Aggie campus has not had an operating dairy herd or facilities since the campus served as a high school more than 50 years ago.

“We will readily modify our existing livestock management, animal science, nutrition and reproduction courses that NCTA is known for in the beef cattle industry and apply those courses to dairy science students,” said Doug Smith, chairman of the NCTA Animal Science and Agricultural Education Division. “Our recruiting starts today for students interested in studying dairy science.”

The curriculum at NCTA includes courses such as animal management, introduction to animal science, ag economics and marketing, nutrition, large animal diseases, farm records, artificial insemination, ration formulation, farm and ranch management.  The SDSU semester will feature introduction to dairy science, introduction to dairy cattle breeding and evaluation, dairy cattle operations, two labs, and possibly an internship. NCTA tuition and fees will apply at Curtis, and SDSU tuition and fees applied when at Brookings. The AAS degree will be conferred by NCTA.  

“SDSU has the unique combination of providing dairy production (farm) and dairy manufacturing (processing plant) programs,” added Dr. Mistry. “Thus, NCTA students will have the opportunity to be engaged in the complete spectrum of the dairy industry, from farm to product.”

Nebraska agriculture and economic development leaders have been aggressively recruiting both dairies and processing facilities to the state.

Prairie Farms Dairy, Swiss Valley Farms to Merge

Two farmer-owned dairy cooperatives have announced plans to join forces. On Tuesday, the Illinois-based Prairie Farms Dairy and Swiss Valley Farms, headquartered in Iowa, have announced a merger agreement in which the assets of Swiss Valley Farms will be brought into Prairie Farms Dairy portfolio.

Swiss Valley's assets include five manufacturing plants that produce cheese and whey powder located in Shullsburg and Mindoro, Wisconsin; Luana, Iowa; and Rochester and Faribault, Minnesota. Swiss Valley Farms CEO Chris Hoeger will continue to oversee the plants, which will operate under the name Prairie Farms Dairy, Inc.

Prairie Farms Dairy is one of the largest dairy cooperatives in the region with over 600 farm families, 5,700 employees and 35 manufacturing plants. The company also has over 100 distribution facilities and annual sales of $3 billion. Swiss Valley Farms has 400 dairy producer members in Iowa, Wisconsin, Northern Illinois and Southern Minnesota

The terms of the agreement must be approved by cooperative members from both companies. Once the vote is passed, the deal is expected to close mid-2017.

Ethanol Stocks Steady, Blending Up

The U.S. Energy Information Administration Wednesday reported total ethanol stockpiles were unchanged while plant production eased slightly and blending demand again increased during the week ended Dec. 16.

The EIA’s weekly petroleum status report showed domestic fuel ethanol inventories at 19.1 million barrels (bbl), unchanged from a week ago. Year-over-year supply deficit was at 1.3 million bbl or 6.5% below levels one year ago. Stocks were at a 13-month low of 18.4 million bbl during the week ended Nov. 25.

Plant production decreased 4,000 barrels per day (bpd) or 0.4% to 1.036 million bpd for the week ended Dec. 16, up 63,000 bpd or 6.5% versus a year ago. For the four weeks ended last week, ethanol production averaged 1.028 million bpd, up 48,000 bpd or 4.9%.

Net refiner and blender inputs of ethanol, a gauge for demand, rose 24,000 bpd or 2.7% to 918,000 bpd during the week ended Dec. 16. Year-over-year, refiner and blender inputs were up 38,000 bpd or 4.3% from 880,000 bpd. For the four-week average, blending demand was up 26,000 bpd or 3% to 897,000 bpd.

Implied motor gasoline demand was up 395,000 bpd last week to 9.269 million bpd, 0.9% above the same week in 2015, the report said.

Fertilizer Prices Stuck in Neutral

Retail fertilizer prices tracked by DTN for the second week of December 2016 continue to show fertilizer prices in no strong pattern. While prices have moved both higher and lower for some nutrients compared to a month ago, the movement is slight.

Half of the eight major fertilizers nudged higher in the past month although again none by any substantial amount. The four higher were potash with an average price of $320/ton, urea $333/ton, UAN28 $219/ton and UAN32 $257/ton.

The remaining half of fertilizers were lower, although all moves were within our margin of error. DAP averaged $433/ton, MAP $443/ton, 10-34-0 $444/ton and anhydrous $463/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.36/lb.N, anhydrous $0.28/lb.N, UAN28 $0.39/lb.N and UAN32 $0.40/lb.N.

Retail fertilizers are lower compared to a year earlier. All fertilizers are now double-digits lower.

Urea is now down 15%, both DAP and MAP are 19% less expensive and UAN28 is 21% less expensive. Potash, 10-34-0 and UAN32 are all three 22% lower while anhydrous is 24% lower compared to a year prior.

K-State Researchers Recommend New Feed-Particle Size Analysis Method

There’s a big difference between coarse grind and fine grind, and it’s not just in our morning coffee. When it comes to grinding grain for livestock feed, especially swine, digestibility and efficiency are influenced by how large the grain particles are. Typically, the finer the grind the better —up to a point.

New research by Kansas State University shows commercial laboratories and livestock producers who run their own analyses on grain-particle size can reduce the time it takes to check a sample from 15 minutes down to 10 minutes and get the same result by making a couple of changes to the process.

“Grain accounts for a major component and cost in livestock diets,” said Charles Stark, associate professor in K-State’s Department of Grain Science and Industry.  The particle size of ground grain influences feed digestibility, feed efficiency, how well it mixes and how well it can be pelleted, so periodic particle-size evaluation is a necessary part of quality feed manufacturing.

For that reason, Stark and other K-State researchers and specialists recommend routine evaluation of the grinding process, whether through a hammermill or roller mill to determine grain-particle size.

The cost of the equipment needed to run such analyses, however, typically runs $5,000 or more, he said, so most producers in Kansas send grain samples to commercial laboratories or the K-State Swine Lab for analysis.

During the analysis process, grain samples go through a stack of sieves with coarse sieves at the top. As a machine shakes and taps, the grain works its way down through increasingly fine sieves, and ultimately to where the sieve opening is smaller than the smallest particle. The small sieves get down to particles of about 53 microns.

Stark outlined new recommendations based on the research at the recent K-State Swine Day 2016 in Manhattan and in a new publication, Evaluating Particle Size of Feedstuffs.

The new recommendations for running feed through a sieve to determine particle size are to use sieve shakers; sieve agitators, such as rubber balls or brushes; a dispersing or flow agent such as silicon dioxide; and to use 10 minutes of sieving time.

This is different than what many labs are doing, Stark said, and it’s been adopted by the K-State Swine Lab. Until now, the analysis process typically included a 10- or 15-minute sieving time and often hasn’t incorporated sieve agitators or flow agents, but K-State’s work indicates that a 10-minute sieving time is sufficient if labs incorporate sieve agitators and a dispersing agent.

Without sieve agitators or a dispersing agent, buildup occurs on the sieves, which keeps grain particles from moving through, making the results less accurate than they should be.

The research results showed that 10-minute cycles and 15-minute cycles with the sieve agitators are basically identical, so Stark and other K-State specialists believe 10 minutes with the agitators and flow agent will give the result needed, he said.

“With all of the different methods used in the industry and commercial labs, it’s important to know how your lab is conducting the analysis and that adding the agitators and flow agent will significantly reduce the particle result,” Stark said.

5 Tips for Selecting the Right Soybean Variety

High soybean yields take more than just picking a variety that wins a yield contest. Bayer U.S. Soybean Technology Manager William Johnson, Ph.D., offered five tips to identify the right Credenz® soybean seed varieties for your operation.

1.    Know your maturity group

Have a plan for when you want to plant and harvest your soybeans, Johnson said, because that will dictate the maturity group to choose. He also advises growers to diversify their soybean portfolio with different maturities. This will help you operate more efficiently by spreading out field activities.

“If you want to maximize yield,” Johnson said, “you need to plant the right maturity group. Remember, the highest yields typically occur if the soybean is blooming on the longest day of the year, June 21. The maximum solar energy possible funnels into the seed.”

2.    Know your production system

Factor in crop rotation, soil types and profiles, row widths, planting populations and tillage practices when choosing a variety. “Very few varieties can fit every system. Some fit a number, while some only fit one,” said Johnson. “Credenz soybean seed comes from a state-of-the-art breeding program that advances germplasm for an array of field conditions.”

Crop rotation can help with weed and disease resistance issues, even improve yield depending on the crop soybeans follow. Johnson cautioned against using a soy-on-soy rotation several years in a row since “soy-on-soy eventually gives up yield due to increased soil-borne pathogen presence.”

He said soil testing will help identify any nutrient that could limit yield, and it can measure pH levels. The optimum soil pH ranges from 6.0 to 7.5.

3.    Account for diseases

Disease issues vary from field to field. Certain host crops and soil types are more susceptible to disease issues. Growers need to take this into account when selecting their variety.

“Credenz varieties are tailored to combat diseases like SCN, sudden death syndrome, stem canker and phytopthora,” said Johnson. “Investments by Bayer in breeding innovations such as these help identify new varieties to enhance yields now and into the future.”

Johnson said growers should track disease issues to reveal patterns and select specific disease-tolerant varieties on a field-by-field basis.

4.    Consider your weed control options

“You can start with the highest-yielding variety, but if you can’t control weeds then you will have the lowest-yielding variety,” said Johnson.

The best way to minimize weed resistance risks, he said, is to rotate seed trait packages and herbicide modes of action. “Otherwise we might end up with areas where we won’t be able to grow soybeans because of herbicide-resistant weeds.”

Credenz offers growers varieties with different herbicide-tolerant traits to tackle tough weeds and protect yield potential, Johnson added.

5.    Use available resources

Do your homework on what varieties perform better for your field conditions. Universities are great resources for variety information and conduct tests across a number of growing conditions. Look for variety performance information that matches up with your fields. When possible, participate in plot tours to see varieties firsthand.

Johnson also encouraged growers to test varieties on their farm before they decide to plant a variety on a wider scale.

Johnson said growers should factor in the impact harvest aids can have on harvest dates when choosing their seed. He added growers need a contingency plan to switch to an earlier-maturing variety if Mother Nature delays planting time. They also need a back-up variety just in case their first choice is not available.

USDA Provides New Cost Share Opportunities for Organic Producers and Handlers

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced that starting March 20, 2017, organic producers and handlers will be able to visit over 2,100 USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices around the country to apply for federal reimbursement to assist with the cost of receiving and maintaining organic or transitional certification.

"USDA is committed to helping the organic sector grow and thrive through a wide variety of programs, and part of that commitment is making it easy for stakeholders to access our services. That's why, starting March 20, producers will be able to visit their local FSA offices to access organic certification cost-share reimbursements for up to 75 percent of the cost of organic certification," said FSA Administrator Val Dolcini. "This will provide a more uniform, streamlined process nationwide; and it will give organic producers a chance to learn about other valuable USDA resources, like farm loans and conservation assistance that can help them succeed."

USDA is making these changes to encourage increased participation in the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program (NOCCSP) and the Agricultural Management Assistance Organic Certification Cost Share Program, and at the same time provide more opportunities for organic producers to access a full range of USDA programs, such as disaster protection and loans for farms, facilities and marketing. Producers can also access information on nonfederal agricultural resources, and get referrals to local experts, including organic agriculture, through USDA's Bridges to Opportunity service at the local FSA office.

In the past, state departments of agriculture administered the cost share programs. States that still want to administer the program will have the opportunity to do so by applying for funding by Feb. 17, 2017.

"The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and the National Organic Program look forward to this exciting opportunity to leverage the Farm Service Agency's rural footprint to reach more organic producers and handlers," said AMS Administrator Elanor Starmer. "At the same time it is important to recognize and continue the valuable partnerships with states that remain at the core of the program."

Eligible producers include any certified producers or handlers who have paid organic or transitional certification fees to a USDA-accredited certifying agent. Application fees, inspection costs, fees related to equivalency agreement/ arrangement requirements, travel/per diem for inspectors, user fees, sales assessments and postage are all eligible for a cost share reimbursement from USDA.

Once certified, producers and handlers are eligible to receive reimbursement for up to 75 percent of certification costs each year up to a maximum of $750 per certification scope—crops, livestock, wild crops and handling. Today's announcement also adds transitional certification and state organic program fees as additional scopes.

To learn more about organic certification cost share, please visit

Tuesday December 20 Ag News

USDA OIG Releases Review of US-MARC
USDA Office of Inspector General

The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is the Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) chief scientific in-house research agency.  The U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (USMARC), located in Clay Center, Nebraska, is an ARS research facility operated in collaboration with the University of Nebraska Lincoln.  On January 19, 2015, The New York Times published an article titled “U.S. Research Lab Lets Livestock Suffer in Quest for Profit.”  The article contained a number of statements regarding animal care and mortality levels at USMARC.

From The New York Times article, we selected 33 specific statements to evaluate in an attempt to determine the accuracy of the statements.  Of these 33 statements, we determined that only 7 were materially accurate—26 were inaccurate, lacked sufficient context, or were uncorroborated.  Overall, we did not note evidence indicating a systemic problem with animal welfare at USMARC.

Although we found the article did not always accurately present animal welfare at USMARC, we did find that ARS could improve its oversight of animal welfare at the facility and take steps to make its research more transparent to the public.  In general, the controls for overseeing animal welfare at USMARC lacked specificity, and the steps ARS took to perform inspections or handle complaints were not carefully documented.  ARS also did not make it a priority to establish, maintain, and monitor compliance with animal welfare-related policies and procedures.  As a result, ARS had reduced assurance that proper safeguards over animal welfare were in place at the facility.

USDA-OIG made four recommendations that were generally accepted by ARS.... They include...
  - Establish an ARS National Office oversight process through which a responsible official oversees the monitoring of Area Offices’ and research facilities’, including USMARC’s, compliance with ARS policies, procedures, and other applicable requirements.
  - Revise ARS policies and procedures related to animal welfare to more explicitly state the manner in which Area Offices and research facilities are to carry out their responsibilities, as prescribed within the directives, including the manner in which they are to document the performance of their responsibilities.
  - Establish a process through which ARS animal welfare-related policies and procedures are periodically reviewed and updated to ensure they reference and reflect the most current versions of applicable research practices and guidance regarding animal research and animal welfare.
  - Establish a detailed, formal animal welfare complaint process through which any individual at a research facility, including cooperator employees, may report animal welfare issues.  This process should include the thorough documentation of the details of the complaint, the steps taken to investigate it, and the ultimate resolution of the issue.  This process should provide anonymity to the complainant, if desired, and be monitored by an official at ARS’ National Office.

However there was one recommendation where the ARS did not completely agree with the OIG.  OIG recommended that ARS "Increase the transparency of USMARC by making USMARC’s approved research proposals, IACUC meeting minutes, and other relevant information publicly available on ARS’ website."  However, ARS responded by saying...

The safety of ARS personnel at USMARC and other facilities that employ animal research is paramount.  Since publication of the New York Times article in January 2015, USMARC employees have received multiple threats of physical harm from multiple sources.  ARS has decided that the benefits gained from the release of details, other than those already released (discussed in next paragraph), which meet industry standards, do not outweigh the associated risks from domestic terrorism.

Secondly, the objectives and approaches of all approved ARS research projects, both appropriated and cooperatively funded with extramural partners, are readily available on the ARS Web site.  Other relevant information is also available for each project through the ARS Web site, including, but not limited to, project objectives and other elements of project design, annual progress reports for the
current and previous year’s research, and journal publications resulting from the research.  This information provides much transparency already.  More information on specific experimental design is not included on the ARS Web site for any of our projects because of the competitive nature of agricultural research and the financial implications of premature release of information.  Inadvertent release of research protocols prior to filing a patent at the United States Patent and Trademark Office could jeopardize the ability of ARS and its university cooperators to obtain patent rights, and thus compromise licensing and commercialization of their work.  The cost of developing these technologies into products (cost of commercialization) is substantial and protection of intellectual property is key to encouraging industry cooperation in the commercialization process.  The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) process is also available to members of the public.

As for the release of the IACUC reports, ARS intends to follow all relevant guidelines and requirements of the AWA, which does not specifically require public release of the minutes.  In not posting the IACUC reports on its Web site, ARS is also following the practices set by other major Federal science agencies including the Department of Defense, the National Institutes of Health, the Veterans Administration, and the Food and Drug Administration, who also do not make their IACUC reports publicly available.

For these three reasons, ARS respectfully declines to accept the recommendation.  

To read the entire document, including the background of the investigation and the methodology behind the recommendations, click this link....

Statement by Steve Nelson, President, Regarding OIG Audit of U.S. Meat Animal Research Center in Clay Center

"Following the release of an audit done by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) on protocols surrounding animal care at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (USMARC) in Clay Center, it is clear the protocols at USMARC are not as portrayed by The New York Times article which led to the USDA investigation of animal care at the USMARC facilities.”

“Far too often, animal rights extremists and their agents use unsubstantiated claims of abuse and neglect as a way to portray those involved with animal agriculture in a negative light. These tactics are meant to harm the reputation and perception of animal agriculture in hopes of dissuading individuals from consuming meat protein. It is critical that the record be set straight when such claims are falsely made, which is clearly the case at USMARC as evidenced by the findings of the OIG report.”

Rural Mainstreet Index Highest in Six Months

The Creighton University Rural Mainstreet Index remained weak with a reading below growth neutral for the 16th straight month, according to the monthly survey of bank CEOs in rural areas of a 10-state region dependent on agriculture and/or energy.  

Overall: The index, which ranges between 0 and 100 rose to 42.9, its highest level since June of this year, and up from November’s 36.6.

“Weak farm commodity prices continue to slam Rural Mainstreet economies. Over the past 12 months, livestock commodity prices have tumbled by 19.0 percent and grain commodity prices have slumped by 11.5 percent. The economic fallout from this price weakness continues to push growth into negative territory for seven of  the 10 states in the region,” said Ernie Goss, Jack A. MacAllister Chair in Regional Economics at Creighton University's Heider College of Business.

States trending higher: Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota; States trending lower:  Colorado, Kansas, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota and Wyoming.

Nebraska: The Nebraska RMI for December advanced to 51.4 from November’s 37.9. The state’s farmland-price index tumbled to 29.6 from November’s 45.5. Nebraska’s new-hiring index declined to a healthy 56.7 from 59.5 in November. Nebraska job growth over the last 12 months; Nebraska Rural Mainstreet, no change; Urban Nebraska, +0.4 percent.

Iowa: The December RMI for Iowa fell to 63.5, a regional high, from 72.1 in November, also a regional high. Iowa’s farmland-price index for December slumped to 49.3 from 56.6 in November.  Iowa’s new-hiring index for December slipped to a still strong 63.9 from November’s 66.2. Iowa job growth over the last 12 months; Iowa Rural Mainstreet, +1.4 percent; Urban Iowa, +0.9 percent.

Farming and ranching: The farmland and ranchland-price index for December fell to a frail 26.8 from November’s 30.8. This is the 37th straight month the index has languished below growth neutral 50.0.

The December farm equipment-sales index increased to 16.3 from 15.4 in November.

“Since July 2013, weakness in farm income and low agricultural commodity prices continue to restrain the sale of agricultural equipment across the region. This is having a significant and negative impact on both farm equipment dealers and agricultural equipment manufacturers across the region,” said Goss.

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

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

Producers Invited to Talk Strategy at IA Winter Meeting Series

Cow-calf producers who want to learn more about improving returns from their enterprise are invited to attend any in a series of strategy-focused workshops in early 2017 hosted by the Iowa Beef Center and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. Iowa State cow-calf specialist Patrick Gunn is organizing the workshops and will share information about feeding, including grazing harvest residue, cover crops and alternative feeds.

"I'll also talk about controlling feed waste, formulating balanced rations and winter supplementation," Gunn said. "In addition, extension beef program specialists will present other cost-controlling management schemes specific to their areas."

Some of the information to be shared involves research that investigated factors affecting feeder calf price and how changes in marketing timing may affect revenue. He and extension beef program specialists from each area also will talk about other long-term strategies that improve revenue such as changes in the breeding program and how to shorten the calving season, Gunn said.

"Annual cow costs are projected to be more than $800, and up to 45 percent higher than in 2010 before drought conditions impacted the U.S.," he said. "Because winter feed costs are one of the largest expenses, reducing feed cost while maintaining cow productivity is key for producers to achieve good returns."

Workshops will be held:

- Jan. 3. Fairfield, Jefferson Co Fairgrounds. 6-9p.m. Preregister by Dec. 27. Patrick Wall, 515-450-7665
- Jan. 5. Winterset, Jackson Bldg, Madison Co Fairgrounds. 12-3p.m. Preregister by Dec. 29. Joe Sellers, 641-203-1270
- Jan. 5. Atlantic, Cass Co Comm Center. 6-9p.m. Preregister by Dec. 29. Chris Clark, 712-250-0070
- Jan. 18. Hampton, Hampton Country Club. 12-3p.m. Preregister by Jan. 11. Russ Euken, 641-923-2856
- Jan. 30. Independence, Heartland Acres. 6-9p.m. Preregister by Jan. 23. Denise Schwab, 319-472-4739
- Feb. 22. Ames, Hansen Ag Student Learning Center, ISU campus. 6-9p.m. Preregister by Feb. 15.

Preregister by the date listed and pay $20 per person at the door. Walk-in registration is $25 with no meal guarantee. Preregister either by calling IBC at 515-294-2333 or emailing Or contact the beef program specialist listed by that individual session.


Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today announced that eight watershed-based demonstration projects funded in 2013, and set to end this year, will receive a 2nd round of funding. The locally-led projects will build upon previous demonstration objectives and continue working towards accelerated implementation of practices that improve water quality.

“Extending to these initial projects will allow us to continue to expand the reach of the Iowa Water Quality Initiative and continue to learn more about the best ways to get water-quality-focused practices on the land.  These projects create a great opportunity for farmers to see practices up close and better understand how they might work on their own farm,” Northey said.

These projects will receive a total of $4.09 million in additional funding through the Iowa Water Quality Initiative over the next three years.

These funds will allow the projects to focus on scaling up implementation of conservation practices identified in the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy and continue to build additional assessment, monitoring and evaluation methods.  Also, $250,000 of the funds have been targeted for implementation of select priority nutrient reduction conservation practices including wetlands, saturated buffers and bioreactors.

“We know that it will take time to accomplish all that is needed for significant improvements within a watershed. These projects are hitting their stride in terms of engaging farmers, getting practices on the ground and coordinating with partners and stakeholders.  I’m excited to continue to learn from these projects as we work to scale-up and expand water quality efforts across the state,” Northey said.

In addition to the state funds, these eight projects will access approximately $6 million in matching funds to support water quality improvement efforts as well as other in-kind contributions.

These eight projects will continue to build upon existing partnerships as well as expand efforts to include new partnerships developed during the first three years. So far, 53 partners from agriculture organizations, institutions of higher education, private industry, the local, state and federal government, and others, are working together on these projects.

“Thanks to the involvement and investment that have been made by farmers, landowners and partners these projects have been successful to this point and are very well positioned to significantly expand the number of water quality focused practices on the ground in these areas,” Northey said

The projects receiving extensions are the Benton/Tama Nutrient Reduction Demonstration Project, Boone River Watershed Nutrient Management Initiative, Central Turkey River Nutrient Reduction Demonstration Project, Demonstration of Targeted Nutrient Reduction Systems for Clayton County, Miller Creek Water Quality Improvement Project, Van Zante Creek Water Quality Improvement Project, West Branch of the Floyd River Water Quality Initiative, and West Fork Crooked Creek Water Quality and Soil Health Initiative.  More details about each of the projects can be found at

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship has been successful in securing additional federal resources for these projects through the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Regional Conservation Partnership Project (RCPP).  These funds pair well with Iowa Water Quality Initiative and partner investments to do more than what they can accomplish alone.

IPIC Offers PQA Plus 3.0 Advisor Certification Session in February 2017

Iowa Pork Industry Center at Iowa State University continues to work with industry professionals in offering Pork Quality Assurance Plus 3.0 advisor certification opportunities, including a newly scheduled session for Tuesday, Feb. 7. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach swine veterinarian Chris Rademacher reminded potential applicants that attendance at an all-day session and passage of an exam at the end of the session is required.

“Everyone who wants to attend needs to complete the two-page application form and be approved in order to attend this session,” he said. “Although the application deadline is several weeks from now, I encourage people to submit their application soon to ensure receipt in time for approval and payment.”

Rademacher is coordinating the session, which will be held at the Hansen Ag Student Learning Center on the Iowa State campus in Ames. There is a 15-person minimum with the application deadline of Jan. 23 or whenever the 30-person maximum is reached. No walk-ins are allowed and no individual spot is guaranteed until the application is approved and specific payment is accepted by IPIC. The cost is $75 per person and includes refreshments and the noon meal. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. with the session starting at 9 a.m.

Also, the Iowa Board of Veterinary Medicine has approved seven hours of CE credit for the session.

The form is available as a fillable pdf document and as a word document through a link on the IPIC website. People can choose the format that best suits their needs.

Those who qualify and are interested in the program should download the application form from the IPIC website, then complete and submit it soon.

November Milk Production in the United States up 2.4 Percent

Milk production in the United States during November totaled 17.1 billion pounds, up 2.4 percent from November 2015.  Production per cow in the United States averaged 1,829 pounds for November, 39 pounds above November 2015.  The number of milk cows on farms in the United States was 9.34 million head, 17,000 head more than November 2015, and 4,000 head more than October 2016.

Milk production in Iowa during November 2016 totaled 404 million pounds, up 4 percent from the previous November according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Milk Production report. The average number of milk cows during November, at 212,000 head, was the same as last month, but 2,000 more than last year. Monthly production per cow averaged 1,905 pounds, up 55 pounds from last November.

CWT Assists with 1.6 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 Producers Cooperative Association, Inc., Northwest Dairy Association (Darigold), Tillamook County Creamery Association and United Dairymen of Arizona. These member cooperatives have contracts to sell 228,178 pounds (104 metric tons) of Cheddar cheese, and 1.323 million pounds (600 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 December 2016 through March 2017.

So far this year, CWT has assisted member cooperatives who have contracts to sell 51.628 million pounds of American-type cheeses, 11.076 million pounds of butter (82% milkfat) and 21.316 million pounds of whole milk powder to 23 countries on five continents. The sales are the equivalent of 881.346 million pounds of milk on a milkfat basis. Totals and milk equivalent have been 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 impacts all U.S. dairy farmers by strengthening and maintaining the value of dairy products that directly impact their milk price.

Deadline Approaching to Register for Annual No-Till Event

The registration window remains open for the nation’s premier soil health event, but not for long. The 21st annual No-till on the Plains Winter Conference is set for Tuesday, January 24, through Wednesday, January 25, 2017 at the Bicentennial Center in Salina, Kan. The deadline to register for this global event has been extended to January 2, 2017.

The event, themed “Securing Our Future with Soil Health,” features 37 nationally and internationally recognized soil health experts. The schedule includes 55 breakout sessions, a special question and answer session with speakers, networking reception and the popular trade show featuring no-till services and equipment.

Registration is available now at The Winter Conference registration price is $275 before January 2, 2017 then goes up to $300 per person. Conference walk-ins are welcome but discounts are phased out closer to the event date. Registration rates are also available in packages for those who want to attend two or more events. Only a few of the first- time attendees from Oklahoma $50 discounts remain. Nebraska attendees will also receive a discount, thanks to a SARE grant. Producers can receive a $50 discount and free transportation on a van. More information is available from the Saline county extension office, 401-821-2151. All growers should register now while the spots are still available.

“The Winter Conference has become the most popular event in the country addressing soil health,” Ryan Speer, president, No-till on the Plains, says. “When a grower considers the future of their operation and how to remain in business during a challenging ag economy, they should consider that attendees to our Winter Conference tell us they derive an extra $1 to 5 more per acre with the knowledge they gain at the conference. This more than pays for the registration fee to attend No-till on the Plains Winter Conference.’

The speaker lineup features Ray Weil, professor, University of Maryland; Ademir Calegari, researcher, Agronomic Institute of Parana, Brazil; Allen Williams, president, LMC and founder, Grass Fed Beef, LLC; Odette Menard, regional advisor, Soil Conservation, Canada; Steve Tucker, no-till producer, Venango, Neb.; Jimmy Emmons, no-till producer, Leedey, Okla.; Greg Judy, grazing specialist, Rucker, Mo.; Michael Thompson, no-till producer, Almena, Kan.; Rick Bieber, no-till producer, Trail City, S.D. and Blake Vince, no-till producer, Ontario, Canada. A complete list of speakers is posted at

New this year is a one-day Beginning No-till Producers Workshop preceding the Winter Conference on Monday, Jan. 23. The advanced Agriculture’s Innovative Minds (AIM) Symposium returns this year on Thursday, Jan. 26, with the theme of “Building Resistance, Resiliency and Recovery into Your Agriculture Operation.” Certified Crop Advisor Credits will also be available for conference attendees.

The Winter Conference is presented by Farmers Edge, Diamond Sponsor. Conference Sponsors are Green Cover Seed and Arrow Seed/SoilBuilder. Gold Sponsors include Eco Ag Solutions, Agro-Liquid Fertilizers Paicines Ranch and Needham Ag Technologies. The Beginner’s Workshop is presented by Arrow Seed/SoilBuilder. The AIM Symposium is presented by Green Cover Seed.

Visit or call 785-307-0433 for registration information. Pre-registration online at is encouraged.

Syngenta and DuPont Publish Joint Herbicide Patent

Syngenta and DuPont Crop Protection announced Monday the publication of a joint patent, focused on the development of a new herbicide chemistry class. Collaboration on the project started in 2015 and has resulted in the joint patent entitled "Substituted cyclic amides and their use as herbicides." The new herbicide has entered into the pre-development stage and is expected to be launched in 2023.

"We are very pleased that our collaboration with Syngenta has extended into a joint research project for a new herbicide chemistry class," said Timothy P. Glenn, president, DuPont Crop Protection. "Partnerships for the advancement of crop science and development of crop protection solutions help growers realize the potential in their fields."

Jon Parr, president for Crop Protection at Syngenta, said "We are excited to be working again with DuPont on this herbicide research and development project. Success in this field will bring much needed new technology to farmers in the increasingly challenging area of weed management, including resistance."

Engenia herbicide from BASF now registered by EPA

BASF today announced the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registration of Engenia™ herbicide. Engenia herbicide controls more than 200 broadleaf weeds, including glyphosate-resistant weeds, in dicamba-tolerant soybeans and cotton. The product provides an additional, effective site of action and will be available for use in the 2017 growing season.

Growers across the Midwest and southern U.S. have been eagerly awaiting approval of this new dicamba-tolerant chemistry as seen by the support of the vast majority who provided feedback during the EPA commentary period. Before reaching its decision, the EPA considered nearly 22,000 comments submitted by growers, researchers, academic experts and other key stakeholders.

Engenia herbicide provides an additional, effective site of action and has several benefits when compared to other dicamba formulations, including:
-    An advanced formulation, with a 70 percent reduction in volatility when compared to DGA dicamba.
-    The lowest use rate of all dicamba products on the market.
-    Added flexibility with the option for direct injection, which reduces the number of tank cleanouts and refills.

“Soybean and cotton growers now have a new tool at their disposal to manage glyphosate-resistant weeds,” said Neil Bentley, Director of Marketing, U.S. Crop, BASF. “Engenia herbicide is our most flexible and advanced dicamba for dicamba-tolerant crops. It's a product that will help growers better manage weeds to get the most out of every acre.”

To date, glyphosate-resistant weeds have been identified on more than two-thirds of U.S. farm acres, totaling more than 61 million affected acres. According to the International Survey of Herbicide Resistant Weeds, there are currently 16 species of glyphosate-resistant weeds spread across 38 states, and research shows additional weed species are developing resistance to multiple sites of action.

“Glyphosate-resistant weeds are a serious and growing issue across the country,” said Chad Asmus, Technical Marketing Manager, BASF. “Engenia herbicide is part of a complete weed management program that starts with a residual herbicide and utilizes multiple, effective sites of action to control even the toughest weeds.”

BASF studies of Engenia herbicide indicate superior weed control and crop tolerance, and show that the product will:
-    Be more effective than 2,4-D for residual control of key broadleaf weeds, including waterhemp, common lambsquarters and Palmer amaranth.
-    Provide effective post-emergence control of many broadleaf weeds, including smartweed, kochia and cocklebur, as well as superior control of perennial weed Canada thistle compared to 2,4-D.
-    Deliver more than 95 percent control of both grasses and problematic broadleaf weeds when combined with a BASF residual herbicide.

“The benefits of Engenia herbicide continue beyond weed control,” said Nathan Borgmeyer, Senior Marketing Manager, BASF. “Engenia herbicide is compatible with direct injection technology, adding flexibility to applications and simplifying sprayer cleanout.”

Engenia herbicide is the newest innovation in the BASF herbicide portfolio. The technology behind Engenia herbicide contributes to the continued development of dicamba for effective, on-target applications and is the result of more than 50 years of BASF dicamba technical expertise.

Monday December 19 Ag News

WPPS awarded Community Forestry Grant through the Lower Elkhorn NRD

The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) recently awarded tree planting grants to 14 communities within the LENRD.  West Point Public Schools is one of the communities that received tree planting funds through the LENRD’s Community Forestry Grant.  The multi-year Windbreak and Tree Replacement Project received $4, 928.43 that will go towards removing two dead or diseased trees and purchasing and planting 43 trees.  Sandy Rasmus and Ray Maxwell applied for this grant and will be in charge of coordinating this project from start to finish.  A total of $33,199.50 was awarded to 14 communities within the LENRD for tree plantings that will take place in 2017.

The LENRD Community Forestry Grant is open to all communities within the LENRD and can be applied only to land that is owned by local government, county government, or public schools as long as the land is within the boundaries of the LENRD.  This grant became available because trees in several communities were being removed because of disease, environment, and old age.  With the threat of new insects and diseases coming into the Midwest, the LENRD put together a program to help all communities and lands owned by local or county government with this project.  In the past, this grant has been awarded to communities to use in their parks, at their schools, and even to help establish a new arboretum.  To find out more about community forestry or to update the contact person for your community tree board, contact LENRD at 402.371.7313.

“Nebraska is the ‘Tree Planter State’ after all,” states Pam Bergstrom, Forester for the LENRD.  “Planting trees, especially when you plant a diverse selection of trees, improves the towns aesthetic features and it has been proven that towns with a good ‘community forest’ are shown to have a positive appeal to guests, and the folks who call that community home will find they are not as stressed as their counterparts who occupy communities that lack a healthy community forest.  We are a state that really does like to see trees thriving in our community landscapes.”

The West Point Public Schools project has two objectives.  The first is planting new trees to serve as a windbreak, and the second objective is the replacement of dead or diseased trees.  Twelve 5-foot Blue Spruce, eleven 6-foot Douglas Fir and eleven 6-foot Norway Spruce will be added to the area east of the football/track complex which is used for baseball, softball, track field events, physical education classes and the community soccer programs.  Adding three additional species of trees to the windbreaks will add the diversity that is needed to maintain overall health of our community forest.  According to Information Coordinator Sandy Rasmus, “West Point Public Schools has been fortunate to participate in the LENRD Community Forestry Grant since October 2008.  We have purchased and planted 221 trees through this grant and another 43 trees will be planted in the spring as part of our Multi-year Windbreak Project.”


In January, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) will survey more than 40,000 cattle operations nationwide to provide an up-to-date measure of U.S. cattle inventories. All cattle and calves in the United States as of January 1, 2016 totaled 92 million head, 3 percent above the total in 2015. With declining cattle prices and the lower feed costs, an updated look at cattle numbers across the nation will show how these events have affected rebuilding the herd.

“In January 2016, Iowa’s cattle inventory of 3.95 million head ranked 7th in the U.S. Of the total cattle inventory, 1.23 million were cattle and calves on feed which ranked Iowa 4th in the nation,” said Greg Thessen, Director of the NASS Upper Midwest Regional Office. “Obtaining the current count of cattle will serve as a critical decision-making tool for producers and the entire agriculture industry.”

During the first two weeks of January, Iowa producers will have the opportunity to report their beef and dairy cattle inventories, calf crop, death loss and the number of cattle on feed.

“This information helps producers make timely, informed marketing decisions and plan for herd expansion or reduction,” Thessen explained. “Additionally, the information producers provide helps promote exports, inform the public about the industry, and determine expected future slaughter volume.”

As is the case with all NASS surveys, information provided by respondents is confidential by law. NASS safeguards the privacy of all responses and publishes only state- and national-level data, ensuring that no individual producer or operation can be identified.

The January Cattle report will be released on January 31, 2017.


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Think back over the past couple of years.  Did you have ample pasture all season long, or were there times when more forage growth would have helped?

               If you have cows, horses, ewes, or other livestock that can graze year-around, one of your goals should be to graze for as many days during the year as possible.  But no matter where you are, no single pasture can meet that objective.

               Warm-season range grasses provide good summer grazing in some areas, but more green grass would be nice in early spring and for late fall grazing.  For livestock producers in many other places, though, smooth bromegrass, wheatgrass, needlegrass, orchardgrass, fescue, and other cool-season grasses grow well in spring and fall but mid-summer pasture often is limiting.

               To overcome these seasonal pasture shortages, you need to have several different types of pasture available.  For example, warm-season grasses like the bluestems, indiangrass, blue grama, and switchgrass provide excellent summer pasture.  Match them up with other, but separate, pastures or meadows that contain cool-season grasses for spring and fall grazing and you will have a good, long grazing season.

               To extend grazing even further, plant winter wheat, rye, or triticale next fall to get pasture as early as late March.  And oats planted in late July or August can be grazed through November, while turnips often provide pasture into December or even January.  Don’t forget that alfalfa and corn also can be grazed effectively throughout much of the year, giving you even more options for timely pasture.

               Start looking at your pasture gaps.  Maybe next year you can extend your grazing season with new and varied pastures.

Local Precision Planting Dealership wins Sales Growth Award

Crossroads GPS was recognized recently at a Precision Planting National Sales Meeting for Top Sales Growth performance during 2016.  “Winning this award means that Crossroads GPS is not just a Premier Dealer, but is among the top 10% of our 400 dealers in the United States,” says Justin Kauffman, North American Sales Lead for Precision Planting.

“Growing a technology-enabled equipment business in this Ag economy is not easy,” says Kauffman, but “dealers like Crossroads GPS are the reason why Precision Planting leads the industry and is growing in a down market.”

Precision Planting is the industry leader in precision agriculture technology solutions and develops products that improve the planting process. Precision Planting is known for its unique and innovative approach to addressing agronomic issues facing growers and for providing practical solutions for improving yields. The company is represented in the continental United States by a network of over 400 dealerships, and provides technologies to agricultural equipment manufacturers around the world.

WinField United Reveals Which Nebraska Crops Are Going Hungry

Farmers in Nebraska found NutriSolutions® 360 tissue sampling from WinField® United a valuable tool for evaluating plant health on their farms this year. Timely sampling and analysis allows adjustments to fertility programs in-season, which helps lead to healthier crops and higher yield potential. Tissue sampling is just one component of the NutriSolutions 360® management program from WinField United, which also includes soil testing, predictive analysis, and product recommendations and expertise.

Nebraska Farmers Saw Nutrient Deficiency Trends in 2016

Nearly 2,000 corn samples from across Nebraska were collected for analysis in 2016, with common nutrient deficiency trends showing up across the state. More than 73 percent of analyzed samples showed nitrogen deficiency, while approximately 69 percent of samples were deficient in sulfur and/or zinc. A majority of the samples were also low in magnesium, potassium and/or manganese.

Plant nutrient deficiencies can change throughout the season, depending on growth stage and environmental conditions. Analysis of five years of tissue sampling results suggest that corn farmers should be aware of the following common deficiencies in Nebraska by growth stage:
 ·    V5–V8: Zinc and boron
 ·    V9–V13: Nitrogen, potassium, sulfur and zinc
 ·    V14–VT: Nitrogen, potassium, sulfur and magnesium

Tissue Sampling Can Help Optimize Yield Potential

While these numbers show trends across the state, it’s important to note that plant health is dynamic and a result of changing environmental conditions and management practices. Soil type, soil pH, crop rotations and planting populations are several factors that can impact nutrient availability to plants. It’s important to match fertility to yield goals; as planting populations are increased, fertility should be matched.

NutriSolutions® 360 tissue sampling can provide valuable specific and timely insights so farmers can meet individual field yield goals. Work with your local WinField United agronomist to evaluate crop health and develop fertility programs specific for your acres.

K- State faculty reach out to cattle vets and producers on implementation of new VFD

While shoppers may be counting down the days till Christmas, veterinarians and cattle producers are preparing for the first day of January when new federal rules go into effect on the use of antibiotics in feed.

A group of faculty members from the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine has been spending the past year reaching out to provide information about the Veterinary Feed Directive being issued by the Food and Drug Administration.

"We have had the opportunity to be present at state veterinary continuing education meetings as well as meetings with producers and feed manufacturers and distributors," said Michael Apley, professor of production medicine and clinical pharmacology. "These sessions have helped us all get to the same page on the rules and how we can work together to make the transition as smooth as possible. It isn't very often that I don't come home with another question to submit to the FDA for clarification."

Other faculty members in the college and at the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory have also accumulated considerable mileage by reaching out: Dan Thomson, Jones professor of production medicine and epidemiology; Brian Lubbers, director of clinical microbiology; and Gregg Hanzlicek, director of production animal field investigations. Each has made presentations and spoke at regional meetings in Kansas, New York, Georgia, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Oklahoma.

Lubbers said veterinarians have a key role in the regulation change.

"The revisions to the Veterinary Feed Directive that go into effect January 2017 are the most significant changes to drug use regulations the veterinary profession has experienced for more than 20 years," he said. "Veterinarians will now have to authorize all use of in-feed antibiotics in food animals."

Veterinary practitioners have also sought out these faculty members and invited them to speak in their local communities. Recently, Hanzlicek spoke in Stockton, along with the local veterinarian and K-State alumnus Craig Iwanski, who owns Central Veterinary Services with his wife, Jessica Iwanski. Both graduated from the College of Veterinary Medicine in 1996.

"Our meeting was well attended, and the information Dr. Hanzlicek provided will only enhance the understanding of the Veterinary Feed Directive rules," Craig Iwanski said. "We appreciate his willingness to present at our meetings as an authority on this subject."

Thomson said that once the new rules are implemented, the roles of faculty and practicing veterinarians may be reversed.

"The practitioners who will actually be doing it will be teaching us in academia on how it works in the real world," he said.

Apley agrees.

"The upside of these meetings is the contact we have with the veterinarians and producers," Apley said. "These interactions ground us and help us better understand what we need to do to serve producers and veterinarians in Kansas and in the United States. Around July, I had a naïve view that by Jan. 1, we would all be ready to go. It's clear now that there are so many nuances about putting the Veterinary Feed Directive in place and how we apply it, that it will take a couple of years to work through the details of the multiple situations in which medically important antibiotics are used in the feed."

In addition the personal visits and meetings, the Beef Cattle Institute at Kansas State University has recently collaborated with the Kansas Department of Agriculture and K-State Research and Extension to develop a new website,, which houses educational modules specific to producers, feed mill operators, veterinarians and distributors.

K-State Vet Lab Awarded Quintet of Swine Research Grants

It's said that "good things come in threes," but for veterinary diagnostic researchers at Kansas State University, that number is five.

The "good things" in this case are a set of five research grants obtained through the Swine Health Information Center, Ames, Iowa, for developing tests to reliably diagnose a very specific set of swine-related pathogens.

"We in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory have unique expertise leading in these areas," said Jianfa Bai, clinical associate professor and director of molecular research and development for the diagnostic laboratory. "We have already done background research in these areas: Seneca Valley virus, porcine circovirus type three, parainfluenza, pestivirus and swine influenza viruses. The Swine Health Information Center has a mission to try to protect livestock that takes place through emerging pathogen surveillance and diagnostics, and we are able to support that mission with the work we do on a regular basis."

Ying Fang, a professor of molecular virology, said that Kansas State University's location and its connections and partnerships with the incoming National Bio and Agro-defense Facility, the university's Biosecurity Research Institute, U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Services and Arthropod-Borne Animal Disease Research Unit, Kansas Department of Agriculture and the Kansas City Animal Health Corridor were important factors in leveraging the grants, which total $292,667.

"The Swine Health Information Center needs us as diagnosticians and researchers to interconnect and communicate in real time -- to understand and track emerging diseases," Fang said. "This is a perfect example of translational research applied for benefit of clients and livestock industries."

Gary Anderson, director of the Diagnostic Laboratory, added, "We, as a diagnostic lab, value research. We are able to blend research with service, such as when field veterinarians provide livestock tissue and clinical samples for analysis. It's also important that we are able to be leaders in sharing technology -- validated tests -- among other diagnostic laboratories, so that we are all better able to respond to emerging diseases if and when they occur."

Bai said that the Swine Health Information Center has an association with the National Pork Board, but that the center's own emphasis is on finding ways to quickly to respond to emerging threats to swine health. The five pathogens named in the research grants are part of the center's top 25 pathogens of concern.


A University of Nebraska-Lincoln research team has earned a three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to develop higher-yielding lines of hybrid wheat that can meet rising demand for the staple food crop.

Nebraska's Stephen Baenziger, professor of agronomy and horticulture and Nebraska Wheat Growers presidential chair, will lead the project in conjunction with colleagues from Texas A&M University, Kansas State University and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center. Awarded by the USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture, the grant represents part of a U.S. contribution to the International Wheat Yield Partnership.

"With the expected increasing demand for agricultural products – especially staple grains like wheat – and knowing the current wheat yield trajectory will not meet the future demand, we feel it is critical to try new approaches," Baenziger said.

Though wheat yields are currently rising at a rate of 0.9 percent per year, projections show that feeding the growing global population will require annual yield increases of 1.7 percent. The International Wheat Yield Partnership is a voluntary consortium of international public funders, research organizations and private-industry partners aiming to increase the genetic yield potential of wheat by up to 50 percent in the next 20 years.

Researchers believe that hybrid wheat, which is more climate-resilient than inbred wheat, can contribute to this goal. Because wheat is self-pollinated, one of the project's major objectives is to transform wheat into a cross-pollinated crop. Wheat breeding programs at Nebraska and Texas A&M will be screened for floral and plant traits that more efficiently produce hybrid seed. Researchers will also create and test hybrids to establish, confirm and characterize genetic lines that boast greater yields or climate resilience than the parent lines bred to create them. The project will further explore methods of creating hybrid seed on a commercial scale.

In the long term, the project will attempt to develop a transparent, accessible public foundation for hybrid wheat research. It is expected that the private sector will be the main provider of hybrid seed to growers in the United States.

Baenziger said geography represents one of the primary reasons Nebraska has a particular interest in hybrid wheat.

"The High Plains is an ideal place to produce hybrid wheat seed because of its irrigation and its early morning wind, which supports cross-pollination," he said.

Nebraska's wheat breeding program has been internationally known for decades. In 1963, a team at Nebraska made a major discovery of a restorer gene that enabled the development of hybrid wheat. At that time, it was considered the missing link in efforts to produce such wheat. Public and private research efforts continued through the 1970s and 1980s before declining. Baenziger said he believes current circumstances have created a great opportunity to revisit the development of hybrid wheat.

"With new genetic and chemical tools available today, and funding from NIFA-USDA, we think the time is right to try to attempt to create a viable hybrid wheat market again," he said.

Others Nebraska researchers involved with the project are Vikas Belamkar, research assistant professor, and graduate students Nicholas Garst and Amanda Easterly. The team also includes plant breeders and researchers Amir Ibrahim and Jackie Rudd from Texas A&M; Jesse Poland from Kansas State; and Bhoja Basnet from the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center.

Baenziger said the project has links to hybrid wheat efforts at Saaten-Union Recherche in France; the Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research in Germany, led by Jochen Reif; and the University of Hohenheim in Germany, led by Friedrich Longin.

Iowa State Dairy Association Schedules Jan. 4 Annual Meeting

The Iowa State Dairy Association (ISDA) will hold its 2017 Annual Meeting Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn, 7213 Nordic Avenue, Cedar Falls, Iowa. Registration begins at 9:30 a.m.

All ISDA members are invited to attend, along with anyone interested in dairy who wishes to explore opportunities for becoming a member.
The keynote speaker is Sam Miller, BMO Harris Bank, addressing how the dairy industry made a turnaround in Wisconsin and how the lessons learned there could apply to Iowa. Legislators will be on hand to discuss the upcoming session and take questions from the audience.

The day includes ISDA’s business session, including officer reports and activity updates. Changes to ISDA policy will be discussed and voted on by the 2017 ISDA voting delegates. Current ISDA policy can be viewed on the ISDA website at

Lunch is included, and there is no cost to attend. However, those planning to participate should RSVP to Sue Ann Claudon by Dec. 29, 2016, by calling (515) 330-7906 or emailing

In the event of winter weather, please log on to the ISDA website to check on the status of the meeting.

NCGA Announces 2016 Yield Contest Winners

Improved seed varieties, advanced production techniques and innovative growing practices helped corn growers achieve ever-higher yields in the National Corn Growers Association 2016 National Corn Yield Contest. Additionally, a record five national entries surpassed the 400-plus bushel per acre mark.

The National Corn Yield Contest is now in its 52nd year and remains NCGA’s most popular program for members. Participation in the contest remained strong in 2016, with 7,972 entries received.

“The contest provides farmers more than just an opportunity for friendly competition; it generates data that impacts future production practices across the industry,” said Brent Hostetler, chair of NCGA’s Stewardship Action Team. “The techniques first developed by contest winners grow into far-reaching advances, helping farmers across the country excel in a variety of situations.  Our contest emphasizes innovation both from growers and technology providers, thus enabling us to meet the growing demand for food, feed, fuel and fiber.”

The 18 winners in six production categories had verified yields averaging more than 375 bushels per acre, compared to the projected national average of 175.3 bushels per acre in 2016. While there is no overall contest winner, yields from first, second and third place farmers over all production categories topped out at 521.3968.

 “So many corn farmers initially join the National Corn Growers Association for the chance to participate in the National Corn Yield Contest,” said Paul Taylor, chair of NCGA’s Engaging Members Committee. “Yet, as they become more familiar with the breadth of activities NCGA carries out on the behalf of farmers, these members become increasingly involved and supportive. Just as the contest promotes the on-farm techniques developed by many single growers to benefit all corn farmers, NCGA’s grassroots efforts join the single voices of members together to create positive change and real opportunities for our industry.”

For more than half of a century, NCGA’s National Corn Yield Contest has provided corn growers the opportunity to compete with their colleagues to grow the most corn per acre, helping feed and fuel the world. This has given participants not only the recognition they deserved, but the opportunity to learn from their peers.

Winners receive national recognition in publications such as the NCYC Corn Yield Guide, as well as cash trips or other awards from participating sponsoring seed, chemical and crop protection companies. In New Orleans, during the 2017 Commodity Classic, winners will be honored during the NCGA Awards Banquet and the NCYC State Winners Breakfast.

Please visit National Corn Growers Association website for the complete list of National and State winners.

ASA Welcomes Renee Munasifi as New Regulatory Affairs Manager

American Soybean Association (ASA) CEO Steve Censky announced today that Renee Munasifi has joined ASA as Regulatory Affairs Manager, based in the ASA’s Washington, D.C. office.

“We are excited to welcome Renee to the ASA team,” said Censky. “Her previous experience working with Congress and at the USDA will play a major role in furthering soybean regulatory efforts.”

Prior to joining ASA, Renee spent 6 years serving as Senior Policy Advisor for Congresswoman Noem of South Dakota, a Member of the House Ways & Means Committee and Senior Deputy Whip, where she worked on agriculture, biotech, trade, energy, and other issues.

“Renee will fill a much needed position on our staff,” said John Gordley, director of ASA’s Washington office. “She brings with her a wealth of experience that will allow us to effectively communicate and achieve regulatory priorities as we head into the new administration and 115th Congress.”

ASA President and Illinois farmer Ron Moore added that Renee’s experience in the House, Senate and at USDA “shows her dedication to agriculture and America’s farmers.”

Renee graduated from North Dakota State University with degrees in International Relations and Spanish. She is from Aberdeen, South Dakota and currently resides in Falls Church, Virginia with her husband and daughter.

The Andersons Increases Cash Dividend

The Andersons, Inc. announced a first quarter 2017 cash dividend of 16 cents ($0.16) per share payable January 24, 2017, to shareholders of record on January 3, 2017. The cash dividend is increasing from 15.5 cents to 16 cents.

"The increase in the dividend reflects our long term confidence in the Company's ability to perform," says Jim Burmeister, VP Finance and Treasurer.

This is The Andersons' 81st consecutive quarterly cash dividend since listing on the Nasdaq on February 20, 1996 and represents the 15th consecutive year that the dividend has been increased. There are approximately 28.2 million common outstanding shares.

Mosaic Announces Quarterly Dividend

The Mosaic Company announced that its Board of Directors declared a quarterly dividend of $0.275 per share on the Company's common stock. The dividend will be paid on March 16, 2017, to stockholders of record as of the close of business on March 2, 2017.

The declaration and payment of any future dividends is subject to approval by Mosaic's Board of Directors. There can be no assurance that the Company's Board of Directors will declare future dividends.

Friday December 16 Ag News

Fremont Corn Expo on Jan. 5 Scouts Ag Horizon and Offers Answers

Positioning your farm to be resilient and successful despite the current downturn will be among the timely topics to be presented at the Fremont Corn Expo Jan. 5.

“Choosing Your Row Ahead” is the theme of this year’s program. The theme keys off of the common phrase, “the road ahead.” Nebraska corn producers have a whole series of decisions they make during a growing season. Choosing the “row” ahead or best series of decisions is what the Fremont Crop Expo is about. To accomplish this speakers will address:
·    applying ag technology;
·    improving economic viability;
·    increasing resilience to extreme weather, and
·    enhancing soil and water resources.

Speakers will include University and Ag agency experts as well as business and industry leaders from the Nebraska Corn Growers Association, Nebraska Corn Board, and Colfax-Dodge County Corn Growers.

The event, sponsored by Nebraska Extension, Fremont Chamber, Nebraska Farm Bureau, the Nebraska Corn Board, the Nebraska Corn Growers Association, and many local Ag business, will be from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Christensen Field Main Arena, 1730 W. 16th St. Forty-eight agribusinesses will be exhibiting at the expo throughout the day.

“The Expo is a one-stop shop for local corn growers to get the critical information they need to effectively manage locally-relevant corn production issues.” said Nathan Mueller, Nebraska Extension Cropping Systems Educator, planning coordinator, and host for the Fremont Corn Expo. “The topics at this year’s expo were driven by over 100 attendee responses in a survey mailed out after last year’s expo. This is a local corn grower guided event.”
Presentations will include:

·    Multi-Hybrid Planting Preparation with Joe Luck, Nebraska Extension precision agriculture engineer. If you’ve been seeing in-field variation of your corn crop, multi-hybrid planting may be one way to mitigate yield risk. Learn what researchers found when conducting multi-hybrid planting research on five fields in eastern Nebraska in 2016. Yield impacts, observations, and profit analysis by zone will be presented for discussion of hybrid and zone delineation accuracy.
·    Economic Outlook for US Agriculture with Brent Gloy, agricultural economist at Purdue University. While there’s no glass ball to perfectly forecast economic trends in agriculture, a closer look at several key factors can help you better position your operation. Learn what factors are driving the profit squeeze and what you can expect in 2017 and upcoming years.
·    With Phosphorus, You Have Choices! with Charles Shapiro, Nebraska Extension soil science and crop nutrient specialist. Decisions on when and where to apply phosphorus often are based on longer term economics as well as agronomic need. Is it best to apply a large load at once or spread the application across several years? Learn how to assess the factors pertinent to your farm when determining when to apply P.
·    Tools to Help Weather the Storms Ahead with Brian Smith, National Weather Service Meteorologist at Omaha/Valley. Severe weather, including hail, tornadoes, high winds and flooding, cause billions of dollars of damage annually to agriculture. Learn how to better weather these challenges. Learn about cloud features that accompany severe storms and how to interpret them as well as options for getting warnings.

In addition, a panel will look at what lies ahead for farm finances. Panelists will include:
·    Tina Barrett, executive director, Nebraska Farm Business Inc.,
·    Marty Krohn, ag lender, First National Bank, Fremont,
·    Al Vyhnalek, Nebraska Extension educator on cash rent and leases,
·    Charles Shapiro, Nebraska Extension soil science and crop nutrient specialist, and
·    Brent Gloy, economist, Purdue University.

The event is free and includes breakfast and lunch. For more information and a full list of sponsors and exhibitors visit, a blog by Extension Educators in east central and northeast Nebraska. A total of 2.5 CEUs will be available for the event.

NE Extension Hosts Land Application Trainings in Jan/Feb

Eight Nebraska Extension offices across the state will offer workshops in January and February providing livestock and crop farmers with information on how to turn manure nutrients into better crop yields while protecting the environment.

Livestock producers with livestock waste control facility permits received or renewed since April 1998 must be certified. A farm must complete an approved training every five years, and farm personnel responsible for land application of manure are also encouraged to attend. Re-certification will be held during the first two hours of the day-long land application training.

"The workshops will help livestock producers put to use the nutrient management planning requirements of Nebraska's Department of Environmental Quality regulations and increase the economic value of manure," said Leslie Johnson, UNL Animal Manure Management coordinator. Participants who attend the day-long event will receive NDEQ Land Application Training Certification.

The morning portion of the workshops will consist of a two-hour program including updates on changing regulations and other manure management topics, such as protecting herd health with biosecurity. Any farm staff responsible for implementing the farm's nutrient plan are encouraged to attend.

Pre-registration is required for all workshops. A $60 fee per operation (includes one representative) will be charged for the workshops plus a $15 fee for each additional participant to cover local costs including lunch. Register online.  The re-certification portion of the workshop is $30 for each participant.

Dates, times and locations include:

BEATRICE: Jan. 26, 9 a.m., Extension office, 1115 West Scott
LEXINGTON: Jan. 31, 9 a.m., Extension office, 1002 Plum Creek Parkway
SCOTTSBLUFF: Jan. 31, 9 a.m., Extension center, 4502 Ave. I
O'NEILL: Feb. 1, 9 a.m., Extension office, 128 N. 6th St., Suite 100
WEST POINT: Feb. 1, 9 a.m., Nielsen Center, 200 Anna Stalp Ave.
YORK: Feb. 2, 9 a.m., 2345 Extension office, Nebraska Ave.
COLUMBUS: Feb. 3, 9 a.m., Pinnacle Bank, 210 East 23rd St.
CONCORD: Feb. 7, 9 a.m., Haskell Ag Lab, 57905 866 Rd

These workshops are sponsored by the Nebraska Extension Animal Manure Management Team which is dedicated to helping livestock and crop producers better utilize our states manure resources for agronomic and environmental benefits.

For additional information on these workshops and other resources for managing manure nutrients, visit or contact Johnson at 402-584-3818, email

USDA Announces Conservation Reserve Program Investments in Nebraska

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) State Executive Director Dan Steinkruger today announced that up to 48,000 acres can be enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) in Nebraska for critical wildlife and water quality efforts. This amount is in addition to the 122,000 acres of CRP Grasslands announced earlier in the month.

This announcement also includes approval of a new CRP State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE) program designed to create habitat beneficial to migratory birds.

“Over the past 30 years, CRP has helped farmers to offset the costs of restoring, enhancing and protecting certain grasses, shrubs and trees that improve water quality, prevent soil erosion and strengthen wildlife habitat,” said Steinkruger. “Given the national cap of 24 million acres, it is more important than ever to pursue multiple benefits on each acre of CRP so that many acres are providing erosion prevention, water conservation, recreation for sportsman, habitat for pollinators, and protection of grazing land.”

Nationwide, farmers and ranchers now can enroll up to 1.1 million acres to restore high-priority wildlife habitat through the CRP State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE) program, wetlands restoration, or pollinator habitat improvements. In Nebraska, up to 14,000 acres are now available to enroll in the Tallgrass Prairie SAFE, a CRP practice designed to enhance habitat for greater prairie chicken, and up to 24,000 acres are now available to enroll in the statewide Upland Bird SAFE, a CRP initiative designed to develop habitat for pheasants and quail.

Nebraska also has been approved for up to 10,000 acres in a new SAFE proposal called Migratory Birds, Butterflies and Pollinators for Kansas and Nebraska. The project priority area in Nebraska is playa wetlands in the southern half of the state. More information will be coming soon on this new program.

USDA recently accepted more than 504,000 acres into the CRP Grasslands program, bringing the total to more than 600,000 acres. In Nebraska, FSA accepted 122,000 acres in the program, providing participants with financial assistance for establishing pollinators or grazing enhancements on pasture and rangeland that can continue to be grazed.

USDA’s VAPG Program Assists Food Entrepreneurs and Agricultural Producers

USDA Rural Development State Director Maxine Moul has announced that Nebraska is reaching out to interested Value-Added Producers, Ranchers, and Businesses to discuss funding opportunities through the 2017 Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program.  The Value-Added Producer Grant program awards competitive grants that facilitate the creation and development of value-added, famer-owned businesses.

“The VAPG program is USDA’s premier rural development tool for producers and has seen a significant increase in funding due to the 2014 Farm Bill,” said Moul.  “USDA Rural Development Nebraska looks to build on its track record of helping agricultural producers across the state by enabling farmers, ranchers, and cooperatives to grow their businesses through the development and marketing of new and existing products.”

The VAPG program contributes to business creation in rural areas, while also enhancing food choices for consumers.  Independent agricultural producers, farmer or rancher cooperatives, and producer controlled entities are eligible.  VAPG grants may be used for planning activities or working capital expenses related to producing or marketing a value-added product.

Robinette Farms was awarded two VAPG working capital grants, one in 2011 and another in 2016.  “USDA's Value Added Producer Grant has been a very valuable tool for our farm,” said Alex McKiernan, co-owner of Robinette Farms.  McKiernan went on to say that, “Creating and marketing value added products has the potential to significantly enhance our farm's profitability, but this is no easy task.  Our VAPG funds will help pay for processing, marketing, distribution and sales of our pasture-raised chickens and eggs, as well as microgreens that we grow near Lincoln, NE.”  Without the assistance of the VAPG program it would be very difficult for small farming operations like Robinette Farms to develop new products and access higher-value markets.

Since the inception of the program Nebraska’s USDA Rural Development has awarded 121 Value-Added Producer Grants totaling $13.2 million.

To discuss applicant and project eligibility or for more information on the VAPG program, please contact the following Business Program Specialist Brant Richardson, or (402) 437-5568.

Soybean farmers act on conservation, taxes during annual ISA policy meeting

Farmers serving as Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) delegates largely reaffirmed existing policy while tweaking language pertaining to cover crops, pollinator habitat and taxation during the association’s annual meeting and policy conference held Dec. 15.

 Delegates from all regions of the state called on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources and Conservation Service to establish and enforce a seed inspection and certification policy. It’s needed, they agreed, to ensure that seed used for cost share habitat and cover crop programs is free from noxious weeds.

“The policy reinforces the importance of applying conservation practices that first do no harm,” said Roger Wolf, director of ISA’s Environmental Programs and Services. “Conversation needs to work in our production system.”

Delegates also agreed that as Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contracts expire, future CRP and pollinator agreements should focus only on sensitive lands. They voiced support for current federal policy allowing haying and grazing of CRP ground in exchange for a reduced rental payment.

Overall, the delegate session was void of contention or lengthy deliberations. That wasn’t surprising to ISA President Rolland Schnell of Newton.

“Soybean farmers are diligent and do considerable work in advance of the meeting,” he said. “The process starts with farmers gathering in small groups around the state and having discussions. They make sure existing policy is updated and add language that keeps our resolutions current.”

Carol Balvanz, ISA policy director, was pleased with the meeting’s outcome.

“The participation and input of farmers is what makes the policy process successful and we are very grateful to all of our delegates,” said Balvanz. “Priorities for 2017 will be finalized in January as we look forward to kicking off the new legislative session.”

In other action, delegates approved:
-    The Commodity Futures Trading Commission releasing daily trading reports to provide transparency so producers are able to better see changes in market trends.
-    Palmer amaranth be added to Iowa’s noxious weed list as a primary noxious weed.
-    National Renewable Fuels Standard includes 4.75 billion gallons for advanced biofuels in 2017 and 2.5 billion gallons of biomass-based biodiesel in the renewable volume obligation of the RFS for 2018.

Outstanding farmer leaders recognized by Iowa Soybean Association

An up and coming high school student, innovators in research and environmental conservation, a dedicated farm family that’s hosted the Chinese president and the state’s top executive were recognized by the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) during its annual awards banquet held Dec. 15 in Ankeny.

Those credited for outstanding service to the soybean industry and Iowa agriculture were:
    Rising Star — Kaleb Miller, Lacona
    New Leader — Andrew Lauver, Lake City
    Friend of the Iowa Soybean Farmer — Gov. Terry Branstad
    Environmental Leader — Rob Stout, Washington
    Innovator in Production Research — Steve Killpack, Beebeetown
    Legacy of Leadership — Rick and Martha Kimberley, Maxwell

The Rising Star Award, presented to Miller by Farm Credit Services of America, recognizes an ISA member’s son of daughter who’s active at the local, state and national level and preparing to continue ag studies in college. Miller, the son of Randy and Shelia Miller, is a senior at Southwest Warren High School and is involved in multiple sports, speech, the National Honor Society, FFA and 4-H. Miller plans to attend Iowa State University (ISU) to major in ag studies and minor in agronomy, ag business and animal science. The award includes a $1,000 stipend provided by Farm Credit to assist Miller with educational expenses.

Lauver was presented the New Leader Award with the help of DuPont Pioneer. It recognizes an ISA member’s outstanding involvement and commitment to promoting the soybean industry and agriculture. Lauver was raised on a fifth-generation family farm near Lake City. An ISU graduate, Lauver is active in ISA, 4-H, Farm Bureau, the Agriculture Future of America Alliance and Iowa Corn Growers Association. Lauver is pursuing his Master of Agribusiness from Kansas State University, farms and is a sales representative for DuPont Pioneer.

The Friend of the Iowa Soybean Farmer Award was presented to Branstad, with the support of Cargill, for championing farming’s importance to Iowa’s economy and quality of life. ISA priorities — including market development, improving soil and water quality and spurring additional opportunities in the bio- and life-sciences arena — are also priorities for Branstad. His focus on building and maintaining strong relationships with important global ag trade partners — chief among them, China — has had a direct and immediate impact on the competitiveness of Iowa’s farm families.

The Environmental Leader Award, presented by Monsanto, was awarded to Stout for his commitment to conservation and championing water quality practices. He has been heavily involved in conservation since he returned to his family soybean, corn and livestock operation in 1978. Stout is also highly involved with ISU and ISA research. He’s involved in a 10-year research project on cover crops, participates in numerous On-Farm Network® trials and late spring nitrogen tests and helped start the West Fork Crooked Creek Watershed Group. Stout has installed a robust set of conservation practices on his farm near Washington including no-till and cover crops, water ways, terraces and buffer strips. In 2015, Stout installed a bioreactor — the first in southeast Iowa.

The new Innovator of Production Research award was presented to Killpack of Beebeetown. Sponsored by John Deere, the award recognizes leadership in the use of production technology to discover, validate and effectively manage practices to improve efficiency, profitability and competitiveness of Iowa soybean farmers. On their 100 percent no-till farm, Killpack and his father implement new concepts and research on an annual basis, including seeding trials, soil fertility studies and crop rotations. The duo is responsible for numerous innovations within the agriculture industry and hold a patent on agriculture system management.

The Legacy of Leadership Award, presented by Stine Seed Company, was awarded to the Kimberleys of Maxwell. Fifth-generation farmers, their contributions to ISA are immeasurable. They have hosted more than 25 Chinese delegations, helping cultivate personal relationships with those involved in international marketing. The Kimberleys also serve as positive spokespeople for the ISA and agriculture — locally and internationally — even welcoming now President Xi Jinping of China to their home in February 2012.


In a big victory for agriculture, a federal court Thursday dismissed a lawsuit by environmental activists that would have forced the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to impose stringent nutrient standards on farmers in the Mississippi River Basin, the world’s second largest, draining nearly 2 million square miles in 31 states. Environmental groups wanted the agency to impose regulations on the amount of nitrogen and phosphorous that could be in waters in the basin. (The Clean Water Act assigns responsibility for such pollution control to the states.

EPA did set so-called Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL) for the Chesapeake Bay and its 64,000-square-mile watershed, regulating mostly farm and agricultural storm water runoff. The National Pork Producers Council, the American Farm Bureau Federation and other agricultural groups and business organizations challenged the regulation in federal court, but it was upheld.)

EPA declined the environmentalists’ petition for a regulation for the Mississippi River Basin, explaining that the most effective way to address water pollution in the basin would be to build on its earlier efforts and to work cooperatively with states.

The environmental groups claimed the agency’s denial was arbitrary, capricious and not grounded in the [clean water] statute, arguing that EPA was required to make a determination on whether to promulgate a regulation based on scientific data. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana disagreed and granted EPA’s motion to dismiss the case.

NPPC organized and lead a coalition of 44 state and national agricultural groups that intervened as parties in the litigation to defend EPA’s initial denial of the rulemaking petition and prevent a backroom, sweetheart “sue-and-settle” agreement between the Obama administration and environmentalists such as the kind that lead to the Chesapeake Bay TMDL regulation.

In addition to NPPC, the coalition of intervenors included the Illinois Pork Producers Association, Indiana Pork, the Iowa Pork Producers Association, the Minnesota Pork Producers Association, the Missouri Pork Association, the Tennessee Pork Producers Association and the Wisconsin Pork Producers Association.


Included in the Continuing Resolution (CR) legislation approved last week by Congress to fund the government through April 28, 2017, was a provision that eliminates a troublesome trucking rule. NPPC and other agricultural organizations and businesses supported the language in the CR.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s 2003 “34-hour restart” provision let drivers, who are allowed to drive 70 hours in a week, “restart” the week by taking a 34-hour break, including two, back-to-back periods of rest between 1 and 5 a.m. But a 2013 regulation limited restarts to once a week and required drivers to be off duty at least two nights from 1 to 5 a.m. In December 2014, Congress suspended that rule until Sept. 30, 2015, and required the DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to conduct a study to determine if the regulation actually decreased driver fatigue.

NPPC and other groups got language included in the Senate’s fiscal 2017 transportation funding bill that would have retained the 2003 restart provision regardless of the outcome of the FMCSA study, which is being conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. The language in the CR permanently repeals the 2013 regulation.

DYK Beef Checkoff Shorts - Consumer Information

Did you know ... the beef checkoff provided beef web content to the world’s largest online retailer, Amazon? The content will be used to refresh Amazon’s beef category page as part of the enhanced Amazon Fresh Prime program for Prime members. This is the second campaign where Amazon used the checkoff’s consumer videos, recipes and photography to motivate more online steak, roast and rib sales throughout the holiday season. Checkoff content will rotate on the Amazon Fresh homepage to help keep beef top of mind with Amazon customers.

Did you know ... more than 300 applications have been received for the three beef immersive experiences that the checkoff is offering for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) educators in 2017? Beyond these STEM programs, the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture, a checkoff contractor, will host a one-hour gathering of beef-industry representatives during the 2017 Cattle Industry Convention in Nashville for anyone interested in educating youth about the beef industry. The purpose of the event will be to create a dialogue with key influencers, identify collective needs, share resources, address key messaging, and effectively leverage current checkoff resources.

Did you know ... the national checkoff partnered with the New York beef council to oversee the Bold Taste of Nutrition Contest? The contest encouraged registered dietitians in the Northeast to enter their best lean beef recipes for a chance to win prizes. The contest garnered nearly 315,400 impressions and 2,000 engagements through blog postings and social media outreach.

Did you know ... checkoff staff recently met with editors at TIME, Inc. publications to share ideas and inspiration for heart-smart cooking with lean beef? Dr. Shalene McNeill, a registered dietitian and head of the checkoff’s nutrition research program, shared information about beef’s nutrient package, while Chef Richard Chamberlain, author of The Healthy Beef Cookbook, prepared several heart-smart holiday meals to show editors how easy it is to prepare delicious and nutritious meals with beef. Dr. Kevin Campbell, a cardiologist from the University of North Carolina, also addressed the important role that beef can play in a heart-healthy diet, as many of the editors participating were contemplating content for their February “Heart Health Month” issues.

For more information about your beef checkoff investment, visit

New USDA ARS System Affords Greater Flexibility on Using Phosphorus from Manure 

U.S. Department of Agriculture scientists and their collaborators have developed a mobile system for removing phosphorus from cow manure that may offer dairy farmers greater flexibility in where, when, and how they use the nutrient to fertilize crops.

Manure can be spread onto crop fields as a source of phosphorus, nitrogen, and other nutrients important to plant growth. But applying too much manure can lead to excess phosphorus that ends up in lakes, rivers, ponds, and other water sources, degrading their quality.

The idea behind the Manure Phosphorus Extraction System (MAPHEX) is to remove the phosphorus and concentrate it in a form that's easier to manage, according to Clinton Church, an environmental chemist with USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) at University Park, Pennsylvania.

Hauling manure off the farm to new locations where it can be spread isn't always practical or economical. However, transporting concentrated phosphorus from the new treatment method could offer a less costly alternative, adds Church. He is with ARS's Pasture Systems and Watershed Management Research Unit.

Church, together with his ARS and Pennsylvania State University colleagues, developed and tested MAPHEX as a way for farmers to not only "mine" phosphorus from their manure stores, but also market the nutrient as a value-added product.

To do this, the team mounted an auger press, centrifuge, vacuum-filter unit, and other components atop two trailer beds so that the entire system could be driven to a farm and operated onsite, either on a daily or rotational basis depending on the size of the dairy operation.

According to Church, the system can service 10 small farms on a 10-day rotational basis. On a larger farm, such as one with 2,000 cows, the system could operate over 24 hours. MAPHEX works quickly. In about 10 minutes, for example, it can extract 99% of the phosphorus from 250 gallons of manure. It also removes the odor from the manure.

The MAPHEX team began demonstrating its patent-pending system on a working dairy farm this September and welcomes inquiries on its commercial potential.

ARS is USDA's principal intramural scientific research agency. Read more about the research in the December 2016 issue of AgResearch.

ASA Tells EPA that Glyphosate is Instrumental on Farms

This week, former ASA Governing Committee member and Wisconsin farmer Kevin Hoyer provided public comments on behalf of the American Soybean Association in front of an Environmental Protection Agency Scientific Advisory Panel regarding EPA's evaluation of the carcinogenic potential of glyphosate.

In his testimony Hoyer said, “Scientific studies conducted over decades have overwhelmingly shown that when used according to the label, glyphosate does not present an unreasonable risk of adverse effects to humans, wildlife or the environment.”

"I want to impress upon the panel how important glyphosate is to the pursuit of what I believe is our common goal: continually improving the environmental sustainability of crop protection, while growing a safe and abundant food supply."

Hoyer conclude his remarks by noting how glyphosate has been instrumental in conservation practices and urged the Agency to conduct a timely and science-based review of glyphosate that takes into account the decades of research demonstrating the safety of the herbicide and its important benefits to agriculture sustainability.

Favorable Rain Boosts Brazil Crops

Private Brazil crop analytical firm Safras and Mercado put a new benchmark on Brazil soybean production at the end of the week. The projection from this firm is 106 million metric tons -- a new record and well-above the 96.50 mmt crop estimate for the 2016 harvest. The Safras projection is 4 mmt above the latest USDA figure in its World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report.

The big reason for this hefty number is definitely more favorable crop weather than a year ago. The 2015-16 crop year in Brazil was one marked by very dry conditions in the central and northeastern areas of the country. This year, the situation is much different. Portions of the far northeast are still dry -- the result of a multi-year drought -- but, otherwise, precipitation graphics feature a lot of blue and green, indicating generous rainfall. That certainly holds true in the largest soybean-producing state of Mato Grosso. Much of Mato Grosso has had rainfall totals of well in excess of 40 inches (500 millimeters) since September. It's a much more favorable soil moisture situation this season than last.

Brazil corn production in 2016 was more than 20% below the previous year because of drought.

Dairy Organizations Applaud Congressional Letter to FDA Asking for Stricter Enforcement of Milk Labeling Standards

A new congressional effort to prod federal regulators to crack down on the inappropriate labeling of products designed to imitate milk drew support today from the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), which thanked lawmakers for speaking out on the issue.

In a letter written by Reps. Mike Simpson (R-ID) and Peter Welch (D-VT), and cosigned by a bipartisan coalition of 32 other members of the House, lawmakers urge U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Robert Califf to more aggressively police the improper use of dairy terms, which are used on the labels of many products that have no real dairy ingredients.

Federal standards of identity stipulate that milk and related foods have to be made from animal sources to use these established dairy terms. Thus, plant-based foods and beverages made of nuts and grains are “misleading to consumers, harmful to the dairy industry, and a violation of milk’s standard of identity,” the letter said.

“We request that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) exercise its legal authority to investigate and take appropriate action against the manufacturers of these misbranded products.”

Dairy organizations have voiced similar concerns in the past, urging FDA to restrict the use of dairy terms on labels of plant-based imitation products such as milk, cheese and yogurt.

“You haven’t ‘got milk’ if it comes from a seed, nut or bean,” said Jim Mulhern, President and CEO of NMPF. “In the many years since we first raised concerns about the misbranding of these products, we’ve seen an explosion of imitators attaching the word ‘milk’ to everything from hemp to peas to algae. We don’t need new regulations on this issue, we just need FDA to enforce those that have been on the books for years.”

Michael Dykes, president and CEO of IDFA, said that while “imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, dairy imitators do not naturally provide the same level of nutrition to the people buying them as milk does.” He noted that non-dairy beverages “can mislead people into thinking these products are comparable replacements for milk, when in fact most are nutritionally inferior.”

The congressional letter points out that while consumers are entitled to choose imitation products, “it is misleading for manufacturers of these items to profit from the ‘milk’ name.  These products should be allowed on the market only when accurately labeled.”

Welch and Simpson noted that the European Union offers an example of how product terminology can be altered to make it less misleading. Regulators in the EU allow the use of the term “soy drink,” but prohibit “soy milk.”

Addressing this issue, the letter concluded, “will provide consumers with the accurate information they expect.”

 NFU Board Calls on Congress to Assist Struggling Dairy Producers

As U.S. dairy producers continue to struggle with multi-year price lows and an inadequate safety net, National Farmers Union (NFU) is calling on Congress to provide meaningful support for the nation’s dairy sector.

NFU’s Board of Directors released a resolution calling on legislators to provide the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) the authority to provide direct assistance to struggling producers, and to refund dairy Margin Protection Program premiums.

“U.S. dairy farmers are experiencing an extended period of very low milk prices which, unless corrected, will force thousands of farmers out of business,” the resolution states. “NFU calls on Congress to advance spending legislation that includes relief for dairy farmers through additional authority for the USDA to provide direct assistance as an alternative to dairy product purchases and a refund of 2015 Margin Protection Program premiums.”

The resolution notes that dairy prices have fallen by more than 40 percent in just the past two years, and that the Dairy Margin Protection Program has not performed as expected. The USDA provided initial relief to the dairy sector in recent months through purchases of surplus cheese, but the modest price rebounds have not been enough to stem the amount of producers draining their capital reserves or going out of business.

“NFU has been appreciative of USDA’s willingness to provide support to struggling dairy producers, but the agency has run out of options for providing additional relief,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “Congress needs to act quickly to allow USDA to directly support our nation’s dairy farmers who are struggling to stay in business.”

NFU Board of Director’s resolution follows repeated requests from both NFU and members of Congress, who have all called on the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives appropriations committees to provide critical, short-term support to U.S. dairy producers.

“NFU, as well as a number of other farm groups and legislators, have been sounding the alarm for months, and we have yet to see any meaningful action from the appropriations committees that would deliver support to family dairy producers,” said Johnson.

“While the ultimate aim of Congress should be to improve the long-term safety net contained in the farm bill, failing to provide short-term relief risks doing even more harm to a sector already reeling from low prices and business closures,” the resolution concludes.

Five Tips to Ensure Immunization

Vaccinating calves against disease is one management practice that can improve calf health and help avoid financial losses in the future. However, simply vaccinating your calves is not enough to ensure immunization. Follow correct storage, handling and administration practices in order to provide an opportunity for the animal to respond with an adequate immune response.

Dr. Doug Ensley, professional services veterinarian for Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. (BIVI), recommends following these five tips to receive the full benefit from your vaccinations:
-    Store vaccines according to the label, generally 35°F to 45°F. Follow label directions.
-    Protect vaccines and filled syringes from sunlight and heat.
-    Use modified-live virus (MLV) vaccines within an hour of mixing.
-    Change needles often (about every 10 animals).
-    Discard bent, burred or broken needles.
-    Clean syringes with hot, distilled water (at least 212°F). Use care not to burn your skin with hot water. Do not use soap or disinfectant because they can kill the MLV.

In addition to correct handling and administration of the vaccine, Ensley also recommends ensuring the calves are properly prepared to respond. “We know that many animals today are transported over long distances,” he said. “Once the animal is on your operation, it’s important to do everything you can to help them adjust. Let them get a good night’s rest in a dry area, and provide plenty of high quality water and feed.”

He explained the importance water intake and proper nutrition have on achieving an immune response.

“It is imperative that we handle vaccines properly, we administer them with the best techniques possible and prepare our animals so that we can achieve the kind of response from those vaccines to reduce disease. Don’t just vaccinate, immunize,” Ensley stressed.

Thursday December 15 Ag News

Farm Credit Services of America to Distribute $160 Million Cash-Back Dividend for 2016

Farm Credit Services of America (FCSAmerica) approved a 2016 cash-back dividend of $160 million for eligible customer-owners of the financial cooperative. This brings the amount of FCSAmerica profits returned to farmers, ranchers and agri-businesses since to 2004 to $1.3 billion.

“In a challenging agricultural economy like today, it is more important than ever that farmers and ranchers have a lender they can depend on,” said Doug Stark, CEO and president of FCSAmerica. “The 2016 cash-back dividend is a testament to our cooperative’s financial strength and commitment to sharing a portion of our annual profits with our customer-owners.”

The 2016 Patronage Program marks the third consecutive year that the FCSAmerica Board of Directors has approved a cash-back dividend of $160 million.

The Board of Directors considers a number of business and economic factors in determining the amount of each year’s cash-back dividends, including the cooperative’s financial strength. The portion of earnings retained by FCSAmerica are used to build the cooperative’s financial capacity to continue serving agriculture.

The 2016 dividend checks will be mailed to eligible customer-owners in March 2017. Farmers and ranchers use their cash-back dividends from FCSAmerica to invest in their operations and families and to support their rural communities.

Precision Planting’s Winter Conference 2017: More Innovation, More Locations

Precision Planting is known for its annual Winter Conference in Tremont, a large event attracting thousands of progressive farmers from around the world. This year, the agriculture technology company is sharing ideas and farming practices in not only their central Illinois headquarters, but will also have 3 additional simulcast locations. The simulcast locations will include on-location sessions, and will be able to watch the keynote and other presentations live from Tremont.

Farmers can choose which day and which location to attend, with Winter Conference occurring in:
  - Tremont, IL (January 17, 18, 19, or 20)
  - Fargo, ND (January 18 or 19)
  - Lincoln, NE (January 18 or 19)
  - London, ON, Canada (January 18 only)

“We don’t want anyone to miss out. Because we have such a wide base of farmers who follow these events, we thought we should make the effort to come to them,” says Brad Arnold, Precision Planting General Manager.

Winter Conference is known for its valuable agronomic education, promoting an effort to fully understand the reasoning behind each practice and product the company recommends.

The 2017 conference will include topics such as: Smart Decisions with Tomorrow’s Planter, Nutrient Application Technology for Maximum Profitability, The Foundation for Higher Ear Count, and more. Attendees will also be able to hear a new speaker, Commercial Agronomist Jason Webster, as well as resident Research Agronomist Cory Muhlbauer.

Farmers who are interested in attending can register online at

National FFA CEO Coming to Innovation Campus January 10th

Everyone is welcome to attend Mark Poeschl’s presentation for the UNL Heuermann Lecture series titled Leadership and Sustainability | Sustainability and Survivability: The Balancing Act to Feed the World. The presentation will take place on January 10th at 7:00 p.m. at Nebraska Innovation Campus Conference Center.

Poeschl was a FFA state president here in Nebraska in 1978-79. He graduated from the University of Nebraska- Lincoln and then moved to St. Louis to begin his career at Purina. Later he moved to Lewisburg, Ohio to work for an animal nutrition firm named Carl S. Akley, Inc. In 2007, he then became the CEO of North American Nutrition, and then in 2011 began working for Cargill Animal Nutrition. Poeschl is now the Chief Executive Officer of the National FFA Organization and the National FFA Foundation. He is in charge of the long-term success of both the FFA organizations. He also assists in overseeing the family farm operation in Nebraska.

As you can tell he has had a big impact on FFA and Nebraska. You can  click here to find out more information about his presentation...   Hope you can make it to Poeschl’s presentation on January 10th, but if not you can watch the presentation live if you  click here...

Livestock Prices Stabilizing after Rollercoaster Rise and Fall

The market for livestock has been a bit of a rollercoaster over the last few years. Strong prices during 2014 and early 2015 have given way to lower prices that are more in line with what producers saw from 2010-13.

beef cattle outdoors“Producers certainly have reinvested some of the profits of the last several years into their operations,” said Lee Schulz, livestock economist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. “The major downturn in prices has likely changed the payback period, but if these investments improved productivity and efficiency, thereby lowering costs, they will pay dividends. This is part of the reason that even in the ‘bad years’ some producers are making money.

“Even with the lower commodity prices there are some opportunities available. Placements of feeder cattle this fall are showing the opportunity to hedge profits and the same is true for summer hog marketing.”

While a major rebound in prices is not likely, the economic forecast does offer a bit more stability.

“The periods of big adjustments in prices are likely behind us,” Schulz said. “If this is the case, decision making should be better informed as confidence in making projections improved and the ability to decipher opportunity and risk has been enhanced. Perhaps the most obvious sign of stability is the fact that markets are exhibiting somewhat seasonal behavior. Markets returning to more typical behavior allows producers and analysts to better understand and anticipate market movements.”

In these times of small margins, knowing and understanding all the aspects of a farm business is critical to having success.

“This is the time to be looking very critically for any opportunity to find profitable margins; having a marketing strategy and price risk management plan in place is key,” Schulz said. “Profitability for any producer is contingent on favorable production, proper marketing and price risk management skills. Tightening margins are putting these necessary skills to the test.”

Understanding costs and break-even prices is absolutely critical.

“Go back to your records and budgets from previous years to understand what your costs are,” Schulz said. “Records give the information needed to make sound business decisions. One way to establish price risk management objectives is to start with the cost of production and the amount of risk the operation can withstand.”

ISU Extension and Outreach has resources available to better understand current financial conditions and what producers can do to manage their risks during periods of lower farm prices.
-    Farm Financial Associates are available to provide a no-cost look at a farm’s complete financial situation.
-    Ag Decision Maker is a decision-oriented agricultural business website with articles and other information written by ISU Extension and Outreach economists and farm management specialists.
-    The Beginning Farmer Center helps inform and support those who are getting started in farming. It also works with established farmers on succession planning for when they leave the industry.
-    The Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation provides information about the application of developments in agricultural law and taxation.

AFBF Appoints New National Committee Members

The American Farm Bureau Federation has appointed farmer and rancher members to the organization’s Promotion & Education and Young Farmers & Ranchers Committees.

“Farm Bureau volunteer leaders, such as those selected to serve on national committees, are the backbone of our organization,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “As advocates for today’s agriculture, they play an important role in building a greater understanding between farmers and consumers.”

Duvall announced the appointment of the following members to the P&E Committee for two-year terms starting in 2017: Jennifer Bergin, Melstone, Montana (crops and beef cattle); Rosalie Geiger, Reedsville, Wisconsin (dairy cattle, beef cattle and crops); and Jamison McPherson, Nephi, Utah (crops and wildlife management). Renee McCauley, Lowell, Michigan (dairy cattle and crops); Hilary Maricle, Albion, Nebraska (beef cattle, hogs and crops); Val Wagner, Monango, North Dakota (crops and beef cattle); and Chris Hoffman, McAlisterville, Pennsylvania (hogs and poultry) were reappointed to two-year terms starting in 2017.

The P&E Committee is comprised of 10 individuals representing qualifying Farm Bureau Promotion & Education states. It was launched in 2014 to develop and centralize resources that inspire and equip Farm Bureau members to convey the significance of agriculture. Committee members support and encourage state Farm Bureau volunteers to participate in projects and activities by providing resources for programs, communicating with state leaders and contributing collaborative ideas.

Duvall announced the appointment of the following members to the YF&R Committee for the 2017-2019 term beginning in March: Matthew and Kimberly London, Cleveland, Georgia (dairy cattle, corn and hay); Mark and Sarah Mathe, Ida, Michigan (beef cattle and poultry); Craig and Kelly Vaughn, Cavalier, North Dakota (beef cattle and crops); Bradley Heimerl, Johnstown, Ohio (crops, swine and beef cattle); Jimmy and Lydia McAlister, Greeneville, Tennessee (beef cattle and crops); Grant Coffee, Kenbridge, Virginia (corn, wheat, soybeans and grain transport); Derek and Charisse Orth, Stitzer, Wisconsin (dairy cattle); Russell and Heather Kohler, Midway, Utah (dairy cattle and crops).

The YF&R Committee is comprised of 16 positions representing all regions of the U.S. An individual or couple may hold each committee appointment. Committee members are responsible for program planning, which includes the coordination of YF&R competitive events during AFBF’s Annual Convention each January and the Harvest for All program.

USSEC Holds Inaugural International Marketing Dialogue

USSEC held its first International Marketing Dialogue in St. Louis on December 5 and 6. Stakeholders of U.S. Soy, including USSEC members and grower leaders, attended the two-day event.

USSEC Chairman Jim Miller, farmer from Belden, NE, welcomed attendees, by saying, "When we first started talking about putting this event together, we all agreed that our goal was to create a forum where our members can provide input and feedback on strategy and focus."

The event aimed to do just that, as members heard from USSEC’s regional directors and various experts on the first day and attended a networking reception and dinner that evening. The second day was set up as an industry feedback forum with participants breaking into smaller teams focused on different utilization areas:market access; oil and human utilization; and animal and aquaculture feed utilization. The groups discussed what USSEC’s current activities, and industry and members provided USSEC with feedback and thoughts on the organization’s direction.

USSEC CEO Jim Sutter told the audience that U.S. soybeans are the country’s top agricultural export and stressed the importance of USSEC’s role of differentiating U.S. Soy and building market access.

United Soybean Board (USB) Chairman Jared Hagert spoke about the organization’s long range strategic plan (LRSP) and explained USB’s three target areas, meal, oil and sustainability, before moving into its action teams of supply, marketplace, and demand.

Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) International Marketing Specialist Jarrod Jones gave details of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) strategic plan. USSEC receives funds from FAS through the American Soybean Association (ASA). USSEC’s Unified Export Strategy is USSEC’s application to FAS for FY18.

USSEC Chief Program Officer Ed Beaman spoke further on the topic of UES, explaining that UES is USSEC’s application for federal funds and described the organization’s strategic plans, which serve as a marketing plan for each target market/region.

Pro Exporter principal Marty Ruikka spoke on the topic of soy production and supply and demand and Tanner Ehmke, senior economist at CoBank talked about the macro and agricultural economic outlook.

That afternoon, participants heard an overview from each of the USSEC worldwide regions:North Asia, European Union (EU) / Middle East North Africa (MENA), Asia Subcontinent, Southeast Asia, and the Americas.

Stakeholders attended a reception and dinner that evening. Jim Wiesemeyer, senior vice president at Informa Economics, gave a presentation, “The New Administration and What This Means for U.S. Agriculture Trade.”

The conference reconvened the following morning with participants breaking into industry utilization groups.

In the market access group, key discussion items included biotech (regulatory and messaging); new breeding techniques; other regulatory challenges creating non-tariff barriers; and that tariff barriers are more limited.

Syngenta’s Ryan Findlay was elected chairman of the market utilization team. Lucas Blaustein of the Lansing Trade Group was elected vice chairman.

Mr. Findlay pointed out that biotech came up in every region for the market access group. The takeaway, he said, is “how can USSEC fill the gap and engage in different areas around the world?”

Bob Sinner of SB&B Foods was elected chairman of the oil and human utilization team with CHS’s Linda Barclay as vice chairman.

This group’s general discussion points included if biotech discussions should be a high priority in many countries; NGO pressure on Asian governments; developing qualified health claim for U.S. Soy in the Americas and Japan; further developing the sustainability message; taking a targeted regional approach to nutritional and scientific Communications; working on further compliance issues; the need for USSEC to focus on the whole U.S. Soy product portfolio; assisting exporters with vetting potential buyers; positioning U.S. Soy as a premier quality product and as a reliable supplier; the possible need to take a different marketing approach utilizing a high profile spokesperson; and reassuring trading partners that the west coast shipping slowdown was an anomaly.

The animal and aquaculture feed utilizations group elected Mark Luecke of South Dakota Innovation Partners, LLC as chairman and Bridget Owen from the Soy Aquaculture Alliance as vice chairman.

This team discussed how USSEC and its members have a greater partnership/alliance; the Cuba – aquaculture information exchange project and poultry/shell eggs; the need to continue to grow poultry and aquaculture production and soy inclusion rates and aquaculture species diversification in Asia Subcontinent; promoting higher trophic species in target countries; advanced soy proteins for feed usage – encourage production w U.S. Soy; telling stories to reach consumers; the possibility of working with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in Southeast Asia; differentiation and building preference; focusing on top importers of U.S. Soy by value and volume in North Asia; continuing to focus on value proposition – amino acids, digestibility, metabolizable energy, and processing technologies; providing assistance with registrations of products globally; and demonstrating sustainability and reliability through U.S. Soy’s extrinsic and intrinsic values.

United States Challenges Chinese Grain Tariff Rate Quotas for Rice, Wheat, and Corn

Today, the Obama Administration launched a new trade enforcement action against the People’s Republic of China at the World Trade Organization (WTO) concerning China’s administration of tariff-rate quotas (TRQs) for rice, wheat, and corn.  The complaint filed by the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) charges that China’s administration of its TRQs for these commodities breaches China’s WTO commitments and undermines American farm exports.  The United States is launching this trade enforcement challenge to hold China to its trade commitments and help level the playing field for American rice, wheat, and corn farmers.  Today’s announcement marks the 15th trade enforcement challenge the Obama Administration has launched against China at the WTO.

“Today’s new challenge – as well as the steps we are taking to advance our case against China’s excessive government support for rice, wheat, and corn – demonstrates again the Obama Administration’s strong and continued commitment to enforcing the rules of global trade, and protecting the interests and livelihoods of American farmers,” said United States Trade Representative Michael Froman. “China’s TRQ policies breach their WTO commitments and limit opportunities for U.S. farmers to export competitively priced, high-quality grains to customers in China. The United States will aggressively pursue this challenge on behalf of American rice, wheat, and corn farmers.”

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that China’s TRQs for these commodities were worth over $7 billion in 2015. If the TRQs had been fully used, China would have imported as much as $3.5 billion worth of additional crops last year alone.

“Real access under tariff-rate quotas is vital to global trade and to providing our farmers and ranchers the opportunity to export high-quality, American-grown products to the world,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Although China has become a significant market for our grain exports, we could be doing much better than we are today. When China joined the WTO, it committed to implementing an agriculture regime that would facilitate market access consistent with international obligations. However, China has frustrated exporters through generous price support and unjustified market restrictions. Taking action against grain price supports was one piece of the puzzle, and now we must confront China’s improper administration of its TRQs to ensure that our grains have the meaningful market access that China bound itself to as a member of the WTO. Today’s announcement is another step towards advocating for fairness in the global trading system on behalf of American farmers.”

In a separate matter, USTR also announced today that it has requested that the WTO establish a dispute settlement panel to examine China’s level of domestic support for Chinese producers of rice, wheat, and corn. USTR launched a WTO challenge on this matter in September 2016, noting that China’s market price support for these commodities was estimated to be nearly $100 billion in excess of its WTO commitments. According to USTR’s analysis, China's domestic support measures and non-transparent TRQ regime work together to distort global markets for wheat, rice and corn. Compliance with WTO rules would lead to a reduction in the excessive domestic support provided to China’s grains producers to bring Chinese production in line with market forces, and improvements to China’s TRQ administration would facilitate market access for U.S. and other exporters of these commodities.

"In September, I joined in the bipartisan call for China to be held accountable to their World Trade Organization commitments. Today's enforcement action on China's administration of tariff-rate quotas for wheat, corn, and rice appears to be yet another example of China's refusal to play by the rules,” said Senator Pat Roberts, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry. “I am committed to working with our producers and alongside USDA and USTR as we continue to fight for U.S. farmers' ability to compete in the global market on a level playing field."

“China continues to ignore the commitments it made in joining the WTO,” said Representative K. Michael Conaway, Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee. “Not only is China unfairly subsidizing its producers to the detriment of American farmers, they are also refusing to provide the market access they promised.  We have been sounding the alarm, and I am pleased to see USTR taking action to hold China accountable.”

"We need to hold China accountable for unfair trade practices that hurt American farmers,” said Senator Debbie Stabenow, Raking Member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry. “I applaud the USTR for taking steps today to level the playing field so that our businesses can create jobs and compete in the global economy."

"China's strategy of gaming the system makes it virtually impossible for Oregon wheat growers and other American farmers to get the market access China promised when it joined the WTO,” said Senator Ron Wyden, Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee. “That access is essential to the livelihoods of farms and rural communities across the nation. Together with the action the Administration took in September challenging Chinese agriculture subsidies, launching this case demonstrates that the United States will fight for fair trade for farmers and rural communities."

"An equal playing field is vital for America's farmers to compete in a global marketplace," said House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson. "It is imperative that the United States take this action to hold China accountable for failing to meet WTO commitments."

"Today we're again standing up and working to hold China accountable for cheating North Dakota farmers," said Senator Heidi Heitkamp, member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry. "When China or any other country cheats on a trade agreement, they make it harder for North Dakota wheat and corn farmers to access markets and get fair value for our state's top-notch crops. This is the second time the U.S. Trade Representative has brought an agricultural compliance case against China this year, and that's good news for North Dakota farmers and rural communities – especially when commodities prices are already challenging."

“I welcome this USTR action against China’s misadministration of tariff-rate quotas for rice, wheat, and corn. It is not the first, nor will it be the last, enforcement action brought against China, which routinely adopts protectionist policies ranging from unscientific regulations on biotech products to excessive market price supports for agriculture commodities,” said Representative Adrian Smith, member of the House Ways and Means Committee and Chair of the Modern Agriculture Caucus. “China represents a large and growing market for American producers, and our involvement in trade negotiations and institutions such as the WTO is what enables us to hold our trading partners accountable. We must continue to remain a vigilant and engaged actor in the international economy to ensure a level playing field for our farmers and ranchers.”

Overall, the Obama Administration has launched 24 trade enforcement challenges at the WTO since 2009 – more than any other country in the world over that period. USTR has won every trade enforcement challenge decided so far at the WTO, worth billions of dollars in trade opportunities for U.S. exporters. READ MORE about the Obama Administration’s trade enforcement record.

Challenging Chinese Grain Tariff Rate Quotas for Rice, Wheat, and Corn
In an effort to level the playing field for American farmers and hold the Chinese government to its trade commitments, USTR this week launched a new trade enforcement challenge at the WTO. This new challenge contends that China’s opaque and unpredictable management of TRQs for rice, wheat, and corn is inconsistent with WTO rules.

According to USTR’s analysis, China appears to administer its TRQs – which are necessary to import medium- or short-grain rice, long-grain rice, wheat, and corn at lower duty rates – in a manner inconsistent with the commitments in China’s Accession Protocol and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994 (GATT 1994). China announces on an annual basis the opening of tariff-rate quotas. However, China’s application criteria and procedures are unclear, and China does not provide meaningful information on how it actually administers the tariff-rate quotas.  China’s administration of short- and medium-grain rice, long-grain rice, wheat, and corn TRQs is not transparent, predictable or fair.

China also appears to have breached its GATT 1994 obligations by administering TRQs in an unreasonable manner, by maintaining impermissible restrictions on importation, and failing to provide notice of the total quantities permitted to be imported and changes to the total quantity permitted to be imported.  China’s failure to comply with WTO rules means that traders are not able to enjoy full access to China’s tariff-rate quotas.

Despite lower global prices that favor the importation of grains into China, the TRQs for each commodity persistently do not fill.

During China’s accession to the WTO, it agreed to permit 2,660,000 metric tons (MT) of short- and medium-grain rice, 2,660,000 MT of long grain rice, 9,636,000 MT of wheat, and 7,20,000 MT of corn to enter China at lower “in quota” duty rates through its TRQs. Based on 2015 Chinese import prices, the total annual value of these TRQs was $2.99 billion for wheat, $ 1.13 billion for short- and medium-grain rice, $1.01 billion for long grain rice, and $1.90 billion for corn. The new U.S challenge launched today addresses whether China’s administration of the TRQs provides farmers around the world market- oriented access to the Chinese market.

Challenging Excessive Domestic Support for Rice, Wheat, and Corn

In a separate matter, USTR this week requested that the WTO establish a dispute settlement panel to consider whether China provides “market price support” for Indica (long-grain) rice, Japonica (short- and medium-grain) rice, wheat, and corn in excess of China’s domestic support commitments. China’s excessive market price support for these products inflates Chinese prices above market levels, creating artificial government incentives for Chinese farmers to increase production. In 2015 alone, China’s “market price support” for these products was nearly $100 billion in excess of the levels to which China committed during its accession to the WTO.

The United States requested consultations with China on September 13, 2016, regarding China’s provision of domestic support in excess of its WTO commitments. The parties held consultations on October 20, 2016, in Geneva, Switzerland.  The dispute was not resolved in consultations, and requesting a panel is the next step in the WTO dispute settlement process. The WTO Dispute Settlement Body will consider the U.S. panel request at a meeting scheduled for December 16, 2016.

Wheat Grower Organizations Welcome New Trade Enforcement Actions Challenging China Policies

 U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) and the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) welcome two trade dispute actions by the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) challenging Chinese government policies that distort the wheat market and harm wheat growers throughout the rest of the world. USW and NAWG are encouraged to see the U.S. government take such a strong position on trade enforcement, which is crucial for building confidence in existing and new trade agreements.

The USTR filed a request on Dec. 15, 2016, for consultations with the World Trade Organization (WTO), alleging that China is not fairly administering its annual tariff rate quotas (TRQ) for corn, rice and 9.64 million metric tons (MMT) of imported wheat. This request states that China’s TRQ administration unfairly impedes wheat export opportunities. The USTR announced the TRQ action simultaneously with a request that the WTO form a dispute panel in the case it filed in September against China’s excessive market price support for domestic wheat, corn and rice production.

“As with its price support case, the USTR is shining a light on other policies that pre-empt market driven wheat trade, stifle our export opportunities and force private sector buyers and Chinese consumers to pay far more for milling wheat and wheat-based foods,” said USW President Alan Tracy.

“The facts in these two cases go hand-in-hand, demonstrating how Chinese government policies create an unfair advantage for domestic wheat production,” said Gordon Stoner, president of NAWG and a wheat farmer from Outlook, Montana. “Both actions call attention to the fact that when all countries follow the rules, a pro-trade agenda and trade agreements work for U.S. wheat farmers and their customers.”

China’s wheat TRQ was established in its WTO membership agreement in 2001. Under that agreement, China is allowed to initially allocate 90 percent of the TRQ to be imported through government buyers, or state trading enterprises (STEs), with only 10 percent reserved for private sector importers. The private sector portion of the TRQ is functioning well enough to be filled in recent years, in part because Chinese millers are trying to meet growing demand for products that require flour from different wheat classes with better milling and baking characteristics than domestically produced wheat provides. However, China's notifications to the WTO on TRQ usage show an average fill rate of only 23 percent.

The WTO does not require that TRQs fill every year, but it has established rules regarding transparency and administration that are intended to facilitate the use of TRQs.

“When you consider that China’s domestic wheat prices are more than 40 percent higher than the landed cost of U.S. wheat imported from the Pacific Northwest, it would be logical to assume the TRQ would be fully used if the system were operating fairly, transparently and predictably as the rules intend. It is clearly not operating that way,” said Tracy. “This troublesome administration of China’s wheat TRQ is restraining export opportunities for U.S. wheat farmers and farmers from Canada, Australia and other wheat exporting countries to the detriment of Chinese consumers.”

The facts also argue against potential claims that enforcing the TRQ agreement would threaten China’s food security. China produces more wheat each year than any other single country and currently holds an estimated 45 percent of the world’s abundant wheat supplies. If China met its 9.64 MMT wheat TRQ, it would move up from number 14 to number 2 on the list of the world’s largest wheat importers, and its farmers would still produce 90 percent of domestically consumed wheat. Opening the wheat TRQ would also allow private sector millers and food producers to import the types of wheat they say they need, but cannot now obtain, and the benefits would be passed on to China’s consumers.

USW and NAWG also applaud the USTR’s request for a dispute panel in its WTO challenge to China’s trade-distorting market price support programs for wheat, corn and rice. It is a crucial step toward reining in a policy that costs U.S. wheat farmers between $650 and $700 million annually in lost income by pre-empting export opportunities and suppressing global prices, according to a 2016 Iowa State University study sponsored by USW.

USGC Statement on USTR and USDA Announcement on WTO China Action on TRQs

A statement from U.S. Grains Council (USGC) President and CEO Tom Sleight:

"The U.S. Grains Council believes in free and open trade and the importance of both strong trade policy and market development. These are the guiding principles of our relationship with China, a complex and important trading partner for U.S. agriculture.

"We also believe the WTO provides structure and accountability for global trade. Consultations and negotiations are integral parts of the WTO process, and similar to USTR's and USDA's Sept. 13 announcement regarding China's domestic support policies, we welcome the respective agencies' actions on this critical issue.

"We remain hopeful that this step and our ongoing work in China can continue to support a long-term, stable and mutually-beneficial trading relationship."

2016 Harvest Quality Report Rollouts Begin With North Africa Conferences

The U.S. Grains Council’s annual corn harvest quality report is now available to global customers, who will receive in-depth reviews of its results over the next two months at a series of conferences and consultations in major corn importing markets.

The first of these events took place in early December with two regional seminars in Cairo, Egypt, and Casablanca, Morocco, involving more than 130 participants from nine corn importing countries in the region. The countries included in the rollout events included Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Turkey, Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco.

"Currently U.S. corn is very competitive in this region,” said Alvaro Cordero, USGC manager of global trade based in Washington, D.C. “In the first three months of this marketing year, the U.S. has exported 1.0 million metric tons (39.36 million bushels) of corn versus only 69,000 metric tons (2.7 million bushels) at the same time last marketing year. We want that surge to continue.”

While Black Sea corn harvest is trickling into the Middle East and North Africa, the quality of U.S. corn is superior, and buyers are both claiming and showing in their purchases a strong preference for U.S. corn.

The harvest quality report confirmed that U.S. farmers have again produced another record corn crop and that the quality of that crop is once again excellent relative to the previous five years.

While in the region, Cordero; Kurt Shultz, the director for global strategies for the Council; and Curt Mether, director for the Iowa Corn Growers Association; David Peschong, export merchandizer for Poet Nutrition; and Dr. Carl Reed, a retired professor from Kansas State University, met with key customers in aquaculture and beef feedlot operations to explore the use of U.S. DDGS.

The region imported more than 1.1 million metric tons of DDGS in 2016, with Turkey aggressively taking advantage of U.S. DDGS prices and importing nearly 786,000 metric tons in the first 10 months of 2016. Turkey alone should exceed 1 million metric tons of DDGS imports by the end of 2016.

"This region is very diverse and there is tremendous growth occurring, so the Council and its members need to be engaged and meeting with the grain trade," Shultz said. "They are hungry for more contact and trade with U.S. exporters, and we will be accelerating efforts in the region in 2017."

Similar roll-out events for the quality report have been scheduled by all of the Council's international offices over the next two months targeting established and potential importers. They will be complemented by one-on-one consultations with key customers as well as further outreach surrounding the release of the accompanying Export Cargo Quality Report, due out in the spring.

Growth Energy Endorses Coalition Letter to President-Elect Trump Supporting RFS and American Grown Energy

Today, Growth Energy, along with other members of Fuels America, sent a letter to President-elect Trump congratulating him on his successful election, and expressing a desire to work with the new administration to ensure that the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) remains a driving force of domestically produced renewable energy. The letter also urges his administration to continue to advance the development of homegrown renewable biofuels like ethanol that enhance our energy security, economic growth, and consumer choice.

Growth Energy CEO, Emily Skor, issued the following statement in support of the Fuels America letter:

“The members of Growth Energy are encouraged by President-elect Trump’s vocal support of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). As he prepares to take office next month, we look forward to being an important part of the President-elect’s effort to improve manufacturing and employment in our country. America’s ethanol industry provides more than 10 percent of the nation’s vehicle fuel and ethanol is already blended in 97 percent of the gasoline currently sold. Clean burning ethanol also helps to significantly decrease our dependency on foreign oil, while simultaneously replacing toxic additives and reducing harmful emissions. This homegrown source of energy supports hundreds of thousands of American jobs, reduces fuel costs, and provides consumers with more choices at the pump.”

Syngenta helps growers share their sustainability stories

As consumers demand more transparency and sustainability from the U.S. agriculture industry, Syngenta is working with growers across the country to develop measurable sustainability initiatives. The primary goals of these Sustainable Solutions initiatives are to provide workable solutions for producing more food from fewer resources and to increase awareness of the sustainability practices that already exist in agriculture.

“One thing consumers may not know about farming is that we’re the most environmentally conscious people you’ll ever meet,” said Chad Rubbelke, a grower from Minot, North Dakota. “We live on the land where we farm. It’s our home and our career, so we take all steps possible to treat it properly.”

Rubbelke and other growers who have chosen to partner with Syngenta on these initiatives collect more than 200 farm data points per acre to analyze within Land.db®, the cloud-based software that is part of the AgriEdge Excelsior® program, a whole-farm management program from Syngenta. Analysis of this grower-owned data not only helps them measure their current sustainability efforts, but it also can indicate possible ways to make improvements.

Some of the most recent findings include the following:
·       One third of participating growers in the Red River Valley used cover crops on their fields, which helps to improve soil health and water quality.
·       In North Dakota, over 90 percent of wheat fields used no-till practices on their farms to help protect fields from soil erosion and reduce cultivation costs.
·       Growers in Idaho who practiced soil sampling reduced nitrogen use while enjoying a yield increase on barley acres, compared to growers who didn’t soil sample.

From a grower perspective, this precise data and analysis provide insight into the impact of their farm-management choices when it comes to crop protection products, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, cover crops, tillage, water usage and more. Stewart Opland, a participating grower from Des Lacs, North Dakota, said one of the pivotal moments for him after using Land.db was when he understood how fertilizer impacts GHG emissions.

“We obviously need fertilizer to grow our crops and sustain our business,” he said. “But by understanding how applying it can impact the environment, we’ve been able to make sure we’re using it as efficiently as possible.”

Consumer-packaged-goods companies are joining Syngenta and growers like Opland to provide the transparency consumers are demanding about how their food is produced. Liz Hunt, Sustainable Solutions lead at Syngenta, helps connect these downstream companies to growers.

“These collaborations not only enable the food and beverage companies to satisfy the consumer requests for transparency,” Hunt said, “but they are also helping growers make their crops more marketable and sustain their farming businesses for generations to come.”