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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
Friday February 17 Ag News


Nebraska's number of farms and ranches declined during 2016, according to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. The number of farms and ranches in the State, at 48,400, was down 300 farms from 2015. Numbers of farms and ranches in Nebraska with less than $100,000 in agricultural sales declined 900 farms from the year earlier, while operations with more than $100,000 increased 600 farms from 2015.

Land in farms and ranches in Nebraska totaled 45.2 million acres, unchanged from 2015. The average size of operation, at 934 acres, was up 6 acres from the year earlier.


The total number of farms in Iowa in 2016 was 87,000, down 500 farms compared to a year ago, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. The largest decrease in number of farms came in the $1,000-$9,999 range with a decrease of 600 farms from 26,600 in 2015 to 26,000 in 2016.

Total land in farms in Iowa in 2016 was 30.5 million acres, unchanged since 2014, however, total land in farms in the $1,000-$9,999 range fell to 0.9 million acres, while total land in farms in the $1,000,000 and over range rose to 9.6 million acres.

The average farm size in Iowa in 2016 was 351 acres, up two acres since last year. The average farm size in the $1,000,000 and over sales class increased 32 acres from 1,301 in 2015 to 1,333 in 2016.

2016 Farms and Land in Farms Highlights

The number of farms in the United States for 2016 is estimated at 2.06 million, down 8 thousand farms from 2015. Total land in farms, at 911 million acres, decreased 1 million acres from 2015. The average farm size for 2016 is 442 acres, up 1 acre from the previous year.

Farm numbers and land in farms are differentiated by six economic sales classes. Farms and ranches are classified into these six sales classes by summing the sales of agricultural products and government program payments. Sales class breaks occur at $10,000, $100,000, $250,000, $500,000, and $1,000,000. Producers were asked during the 2016 mid-year surveys to report the value of sales based on production during the 2015 calendar year.

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

Number of farms declined by 8 thousand from 2015. The number of farms in Sales Class $250,000 - $499,999 increased while all other sales classes declined slightly. Fifty percent of all farms had less than $10,000 in sales. Eighty percent of all farms had less than $100,000 in sales. Eight percent of all farms had sales of $500,000 or more. 

Changes in the number of farms by sales class are:

*    Sales Class $1,000 - $9,999 at 1.03 million farms, declined by 5 thousand farms.
*    Sales Class $10,000 - $99,999 at 621 thousand farms, declined by 2 thousand farms.
*    Sales Class $100,000 - $249,999 at 145 thousand farms, declined by 4 hundred farms.
*    Sales Class $250,000 - $499,999 at 98 thousand farms, increased by 4 hundred farms.
*    Sales Class $500,000 - $999,999 at 82 thousand farms, declined by 5 hundred farms.
*    Sales Class $1,000,000 or more at 82 thousand farms, declined by 2 hundred farms.

The percent of all farms by sales class are:

*    Sales Class $1,000 - $9,999: 50.1%
*    Sales Class $10,000 - $99,999: 30.1%
*    Sales Class $100,000 - $249,999: 7.0%
*    Sales Class $250,000 - $499,999: 4.8%
*    Sales Class $500,000 - $999,999: 4.0%
*    Sales Class $1,000,000 or more: 4.0%

Land in farms, at 911 million acres, was down 1 million acres from 2015. The biggest changes for 2016 are that producers in Sales Class $250,000-$499,999 operated 1.29 million more acres and those in Sales Class $1,000,000 or more operated 1.01 million fewer acres. Similar to the previous year, in 2016 nearly 31 percent of all farmland was operated by farms with less than $100,000 in sales. Forty-one percent of all farmland was operated by farms with sales of $500,000 or more.

Farmland changes by sales class are:

*    Sales Class $1,000 - $9,999 at 86.9 million acres, declined by 850 thousand acres.
*    Sales Class $10,000 - $99,999 at 192.0 million acres, increased by 410 thousand acres.
*    Sales Class $100,000 - $249,999 at 129.9 million acres, declined by 940 thousand acres.
*    Sales Class $250,000 - $499,999 at 127.1 million acres, increased by 1.29 million acres.
*    Sales Class $500,000 - $999,999 at 156.5 million acres, increased by 100 thousand acres.
*    Sales Class $1,000,000 or more at 218.6 million acres, declined by 1.01 million acres.
Percent of all farmland by sales class are:

*    Sales Class $1,000 - $9,999: 9.5%
*    Sales Class $10,000 - $99,999: 21.1%
*    Sales Class $100,000 - $249,999: 14.3%
*    Sales Class $250,000 - $499,999: 14.0%
*    Sales Class $500,000 - $999,999: 17.2%
*    Sales Class $1,000,000 or more: 24.0%

The average farm size continued to increase in 2016 as the number of farms declined more than land in farms. The overall average size increased by 1 acre to 442 acres per farm. Average farm sizes increased in the $10,000 - $99,999, $250,000 - $499,999, and $500,000 - $999,999 sales classes and decreased in the others.

Average farm size by sales class are:

*    Sales Class $1,000 - $9,999: 84 acres
*    Sales Class $10,000 - $99,999: 309 acres
*    Sales Class $100,000 - $249,999: 896 acres
*    Sales Class $250,000 - $499,999: 1,296 acres
*    Sales Class $500,000 - $999,999: 1,897 acres
*    Sales Class $1,000,000 or more: 2,656 acres


      Faculty, staff, students and the public are invited to join in the official installation of Ronnie D. Green as the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s 20th chancellor at a special April 6 ceremony at the Lied Center for Performing Arts.

      The event will begin at 11 a.m. and will celebrate the university’s historical achievements as a global higher education leader, as well as highlight Nebraska’s charge to lead with distinction as an engaged 21st-century flagship, land-grant institution in the coming era.

      April 6 is the one-year anniversary of Green’s selection as the university’s top leader.
      The chancellor's installation is a celebratory tradition that officially marks the start of a new chancellorship at Nebraska. Typically held during the chancellor’s first year in office, the event provides an opportunity to welcome a new chapter in the institution’s history and to celebrate as a community.

      The installation will involve a processional, faculty garbed in academic regalia and the investiture of the official powers and responsibilities of the office to Green by University of Nebraska system President Hank Bounds and Board of Regents Chairman Bob Whitehouse. Dignitaries attending will include those from across the university, higher education and around the United States, as well as international partners, private industry and business leaders, and leaders in state and federal government.

      For more information on the event, go to

      Green said the April 6 event will also take on an interactive and entertaining format to encourage audience engagement. Invitations were being sent this week to the university community; to RSVP go to

      The installation will be live-streamed at A reception at the Sheldon Museum of Art will follow the ceremony.

      Prior to being named chancellor, Green was for six years the Harlan Vice Chancellor of the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at Nebraska. In that role, he was also the vice president for agriculture and natural resources of the university system. In 2015, Green also was Nebraska's senior vice chancellor for academic affairs, the institution’s chief academic officer.

      He was raised on a mixed beef, dairy, and cropping farm in southwestern Virginia. He earned bachelor and master’s degrees in animal science from Virginia Tech and Colorado State University, respectively. His doctoral program was completed jointly at Nebraska and the USDA-ARS U.S. Meat Animal Research Center.

      Green has been a member of animal-science faculties of Texas Tech University and Colorado State University, and as the national program leader for animal production research for the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service and executive secretary of the White House’s interagency working group on animal genomics within the National Science and Technology Council. In that role he was one of the principal leaders in the international bovine, porcine and ovine genome sequencing projects. Prior to returning to Nebraska, Green was senior global director of technical services for Pfizer Animal Health’s animal genomics business. He is widely published in the field of animal breeding and genetics and is considered an international leader in the application of genetics to beef production systems.

    He was named a fellow of American Society of Animal Science in 2014 and, in 2015, was tapped as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest general scientific society. He serves on a number of university, corporate and professional boards, including recent appointment to the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities board of directors as the chair of APLU’s Commission on Food, Environment, and Renewable Resources.


Nebraska's retail activity is shifting toward urban centers, according to a new study conducted by the Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The study found that population is the largest factor affecting retail activity.

"Retailing is an important sector of the state's economy and is watched as an indicator of overall economic performance," said Bruce Johnson, professor emeritus of agricultural economics and a co-author of the study.

Total taxable sales for the state were over $23 billion in 2015.

Using data from the Nebraska Department of Revenue, the study investigates retailing activity and trends at different spatial scales from 1990 to 2015. The report contains data on taxable sales volume for every Nebraska municipality in the last quarter century.

"Rising unemployment and income stagnation, which reduced buying power and uncertainty among consumers, during the most recent recession years slowed the growth of the retail sector significantly," said Anil Giri, assistant professor of biology and agriculture at the University of Central Missouri and co-author of the study.

Despite the recession, metropolitan areas saw a slight increase in retail dollar volume between 2005 and 2010. The study also found that the higher performing retail centers across the state almost always use the local options sales tax as a means of revenue generation for the municipality.

Recession impacts did not appear to be uniform across the city size classes of Nebraska communities. The smallest class of towns of less than 500 people saw an increase in retail. This could be attributed to basic inelastic goods and services that people need regardless of the economic situation.

To view the full report, visit


Nebraska’s economic growth will improve during the second half of 2017, according to the latest leading economic indicator report from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The indicator, a composite of economic factors that predict economic growth six months into the future, rose by 1.97 percent in January.

“The rapid increase in the indicator during January is a positive sign for Nebraska economic growth,” said economist Eric Thompson, director of the Bureau of Business Research at the university. “Economic growth should improve in Nebraska by mid-2017.”

Businesses maintained a positive outlook during January, with respondents to the January Survey of Nebraska Business anticipating an increase in both sales and employment over the next six months.
“Business expectations have strengthened in recent months,” Thompson said.

Initial claims for unemployment insurance also fell sharply during January. The drop in initial claims, however, simply reversed a sharp increase during December.

The value of the dollar was little changed during January.

“A stable U.S. dollar is good news for Nebraska exporters, especially after rapid increases in the dollar during the second half of 2016,” Thompson said.

The leading economic indicator report is produced monthly by faculty and students in the Bureau of Business Research in Nebraska’s College of Business Administration. The full report and a technical report describing the indicators are available at the Bureau of Business Research,

Sasse Warns President's Trade Council of Threat to Nebraska Corn

U.S. Senator Ben Sasse, the chairman of the Senate Banking Subcommittee on National Security and International Trade and Finance, wrote to President Trump's new National Trade Council, warning about “troubling developments that threaten U.S. corn exports to Mexico.” The full text of Senator Sasse’s letter is found below...

As the Trump Administration negotiates trade deals on behalf of the United States, it is critical that Nebraska producers are able to continue competing in world markets. I would like to call your attention to troubling developments that threaten U.S. corn exports to Mexico.

Over the last few days, Mexican officials have taken several steps to suggest Mexico may begin to import less corn from the U.S. and more from other nations. In explaining these steps, officials cite the possible re-negotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the perception that Mexican citizens are not being respected.

Earlier this week, Mexican Senator Armando Rios Piter announced his plans to introduce legislation cutting off all U.S. corn purchases and instead purchase the commodity from Brazil and Argentina. He said, “I’m going to send a bill for the corn that we are buying in the Midwest and...change to Brazil or Argentina,” adding it would be a “good way to tell them that this hostile relationship has consequences, hope that it changes.”

Then yesterday, Mexico’s Agriculture Secretary Jose Calzada said that, in light of possible changes to NAFTA, he will lead a trip to Brazil and Argentina to purchase corn. “It's not a trip to open relationships or of goodwill, it's a trip to do deals,” noted Secretary Calzada.

In short, these steps appear to be clear pre-emptive efforts by Mexico to retaliate against the U.S. by hurting our corn exporters. I would strongly urge the administration to act immediately to prevent any lasting damage to Nebraska agriculture exports by demonstrating that Mexico will continue to be a valued trading partner and that future negotiations will be conducted in good faith. It is the job of the federal government to help open markets around the world without losing the gains we have already made.

Nebraska farmers cannot become collateral damage in a trade war. Mexico is currently one of the biggest importers of Nebraska corn. In 2014, 17 percent of Nebraska’s corn was exported to Mexico, which under NAFTA can be shipped there without any tariff or quota. It is a special point of pride for Nebraskans that our corn is in such high demand for its quality, which is all facilitated by a strong free trade agreement.

This administration should take careful steps not to threaten the gains achieved by Nebraska corn growers. This includes helping our trade partners understand the benefits of a strong relationship with the United States.

I look forward to working with you to protect and create overseas markets for U.S. agriculture.

Nebraska Cattlemen Representing at the 2017 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Tradeshow

Nebraska was well represented during the Cattle Industry Convention and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) Trade Show held in Nashville, Tennessee. Low and behold it was a young Nebraska couple that pushed this year's attendance past the previous record. A marvelous 9,331 cattlemen and women from across the nation visited Music City last week.

"During NCBA convention various policies come out of numerous committees that Nebraska Cattlemen will be mindful of moving forward" Troy Stowater, Nebraska Cattlemen President. "Everyone has a role, from cash trade transparency to being a leader in advocacy. We all must play our part to keep the industry moving forward."

At the convention, several key beef industry leadership roles were filled by Nebraska Cattlemen members:
-    Craig Uden, Elwood, was elected to become President of NCBA
-    Mark Spurgin of Ogallala, was appointed to be the new Chairman of NCBA PAC.
-    Dawn Caldwell, Edgar, was elected to the Federation Division Vice Chair
-    Steve Hanson, Elsie, was appointed to be Federation Division Representative Operating Committee
-    Buck Wehrbein, Waterloo, was appointed to be Federation Division Representative Operating Committee

Nebraska Cattlemen members beginning their NCBA service were Dr. Dale Grotelueschen as Cattle Health & Well Being Committee Vice Chairman, Stephen Sunderman as Live Cattle Marketing Committee Vice Chairman and Scott Peterson as Tax and Credit Committee Vice Chairman.

Also, congratulations to the Nebraska cattlemen and women that received awards for their hard work and dedication to the cattle industry:
-    BQA Cow-Calf Award - Wulf Cattle, Nebraska & Minnesota
-    2016 Top Hand Club Res. Champion with 40 Members - Melody Benjamin, Nebraska Cattlemen, Lakeside
-    National Beef Ambassador - Elizabeth Loseke, Columbus

Nebraska Cattlemen is thankful for the great representation at this year's NCBA Convention. Our members are a true testament to our successful organization.  

ISU Professor Debunks Misconceptions on High Fructose Corn Syrup

The Iowa Corn Promotion Board (ICPB) has teamed up with Dr. Ruth MacDonald, Chair and Professor of the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at Iowa State University in creating a video explaining the makeup of fructose and debunking the common misconceptions regarding High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). The video, located on Iowa Corn’s YouTube channel and Facebook account, uses animation to break down a complex topic for Iowans allowing them to make informed food purchasing decisions.

“Walk down any grocery store aisle and just about everything on the shelves contains corn ingredients grown right here in Iowa and as farmers, we are proud of that,” said Iowa Corn Promotion Board President, Larry Klever, a farmer from Audubon. “However, we think that there are a few things consumers should know about the corn we grow and how it is used. We want Iowans and all consumers to understand that there is little difference between High Fructose Corn Syrup and table sugar or any other sweetener. HFCS is made from corn, a natural grain product with no additives. By partnering with Dr. MacDonald, we are able to provide the public with accurate information in a way that resonates.”

99 percent of the corn grown in Iowa is field corn. The kernel is made up of four major components – starch, fiber, protein and oil – that can be processed in different ways to be used in all kinds of products. In fact, a typical grocery store contains 4,000 items that list corn ingredients on the label.

Corn syrup is used as a sweetener, thickening agent and as a humectant, a water-absorbing ingredient. One bushel of corn can provide 33 lbs. of sweetener. In 2015, 300 million bushels or 2.2. percent of U.S. Corn Production went to the processing of corn syrup. The rest went to feeding livestock, fueling our vehicles, for export, and for other corn processing and industrial uses.

HFCS got a bad rap in the 1980’s when two professors published an unsound study linking it to obesity. The scientists later admitted in 2004 they reached an erroneous hypothesis using flawed science. The American Medical Association has since stated there is no correlation, but the damage had been done and the myth of it being bad for you had already been spread. In 1983, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) formally listed high fructose corn syrup as safe for use in food and reaffirmed that decision in 1996.

 “The science is clear, you can enjoy sugar made from corn or sugar cane in moderation,” said Klever.

The versatility of corn often creates questions and at times concerns for the unknown, that is why one of the Iowa Corn Promotion Board’s top priorities is to promote corn in all forms while answering consumers’ questions and addressing their concerns. With campaigns such as Corn:It’s Everything (which discusses the importance and the many uses of corn) and Super Duper (a push to use E15 at the gas pump), we work to familiarize consumers about corn and the farmers that grow it.

Midwest Dairy Offers Scholarships, Internship in Iowa

Applications for Midwest Dairy Association Iowa Division scholarships and a summer internship with the organization are due March 17.

The organization offers 20 $1,000 scholarships to family members of dairy farmers in Iowa who fund Midwest Dairy Association, which delivers dairy promotion programs across 10 states including Iowa. The family must have an active dairy as of Jan. 1 of 2017 and reside in Iowa. The dairy farmer, his or her spouse, children or grandchildren are eligible. A winner may apply in subsequent years.

The scholarships apply to any college major or degree and the student must be full time at an accredited institution.

Midwest Dairy’s Iowa internship is awarded to a college student interested in communications, public relations, marketing, food science or agribusiness. During the summer, the student must locate near Ankeny and be available to assist with duties including Midwest Dairy’s operations at the Iowa State Fair. The intern must be a student or permanent resident in Midwest Dairy’s 10-state area.

The Iowa scholarship application can be downloaded at and the internship details can be downloaded at

Applications are to be emailed to Sue Ann Claudon at or mailed to 101 NE Trilein, Ankeny, Iowa, 50021 .

Costco Expansion Provides Even Greater Momentum for U.S. Beef in Korea

U.S. beef has been rapidly building momentum in South Korea, and received a further boost this week as Costco officially began converting its imported chilled beef selection from Australian beef to 100 percent U.S. product. The move follows a multi-year effort by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) to persuade store managers that sales of U.S. beef – a popular item at Costco – would match or exceed Australian beef sales due to revived consumer confidence in the safety of U.S. beef.

Costco currently has 13 warehouses in Korea, with two new locations scheduled to open this year. On Feb. 13, Costco began transitioning two of those warehouses to 100 percent U.S. chilled beef. The others will be converted in May.

In total, Costco’s move represents an opportunity for about 15,000 metric tons (mt) of incremental new beef business in 2017, said Jihae Yang, USMEF director in Korea. Yang noted that the theme of U.S. beef promotions in Korea has gradually moved from food safety to consumer enjoyment and product quality.

“While USMEF still reassures Korean consumers that U.S. beef is a safe product, we are now able to focus more on the outstanding flavor of U.S. beef,” Yang said. “Tasting demonstrations at Costco and other popular stores have been very successful in getting consumers to taste U.S. beef and increase awareness of our product.”

USMEF is also providing support to Costco to ensure a smooth transition to U.S. chilled beef, helping re-acquaint customers with the full range of U.S. beef cuts.

“Korean consumers love the high quality of U.S. beef and really enjoy the flavor of our product,” added Dan Halstrom, USMEF senior vice president for marketing. “In Korea, Costco is the gold standard when it comes to imaging food products, especially beef. USMEF, along with our partners in the U.S. beef industry, have been working hard to recapture market share in Korea. We’ve been able to do that, but mostly on the frozen side. The marquee items at Costco are the chilled beef cuts and we finally have that chilled section of the meat case back.”

U.S. beef exports to Korea totaled 179,280 mt in 2016, up 42 percent year-over-year. Export value reached $1.06 billion, up 31 percent from a year ago and breaking the previous value record (from 2014) by 25 percent. Chilled beef exports to Korea totaled 24,572 mt in 2016, up 47 percent year-over-year, valued at $216.4 million (up 43 percent).

U.S. beef captured 42 percent of Korea’s imported beef market in 2016, up from 35 percent the previous year, while Australia’s market share fell from 57 percent to 49 percent. But Yang notes there is still room for further growth, citing pre-BSE data from 2003.

“Prior to the December 2003 market closure, U.S. beef accounted for the majority of imported beef sales in Korea and 49 percent of total sales – including domestic beef,” she explained. “So while U.S. beef has made excellent progress in Korea, the market still holds strong growth opportunities.”

Korea’s per capita beef consumption set a new record in 2016 at more than 25 pounds (product weight), up about 5 percent year-over-year and increasing by one-third since 2009 – so U.S. beef is not only gaining market share, but also contributing to growth in overall consumption. Korea’s demand for imported beef remains strong, and based on customs clearance data U.S. beef topped Australian beef in Korea’s January imports, continuing a trend that began late last year.

“Regaining Costco’s chilled beef business is a milestone on several fronts,” says Joel Haggard, USMEF senior vice president for the Asia Pacific region. “Not only will U.S. sales soar at this iconic beef retailer, but Costco’s beef merchandising decisions are a bellwether for overall Korean consumer sentiment toward U.S. beef.”

Fischer Statement on Confirmation of Scott Pruitt for EPA Administrator

U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, made the following statement after the Senate confirmed Scott Pruitt to serve as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):

“Mr. Pruitt can now begin the process of running an EPA focused on enforcing our laws rather than unilaterally making new ones. I’m hopeful that, under Mr. Pruitt’s leadership, the EPA will leave behind the unprecedented regulatory overreach of the past eight years. I look forward to working with Administrator Pruitt to protect our environment and unravel the reams of federal red tape that have made life harder for Nebraska families.”

 Statement by Steve Nelson, President, Supports Scott Pruitt Confirmation to Lead the EPA

“We were very pleased to see the Senate finally confirm Scott Pruitt as the new administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Our thanks go out to Nebraska Senators Deb Fischer and Ben Sasse for supporting Mr. Pruitt's nomination, as well.”

“Now, the hard work begins. Mr. Pruitt will now take on the enormous task of truly reforming a federal agency which has spent the past eight years waging war on our nation's farm and ranch families. From the obviously harmful Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) and greenhouse gas regulations to the lesser known changes made to oil spill and irrigation motor regulations, it is our hope that Mr. Pruitt will not only repeal many of these economically harmful regulations, but also work to ensure the EPA's culture of regulatory expansion is permanently changed.”

Pruitt Will Restore Common Sense, Regulatory Sanity To EPA

Craig Uden, president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) today released the following statement in response to the U.S. Senate’s confirmation of Scott Pruitt to be the next administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) –

“For far too long, the EPA has been a runaway bureaucracy largely out of touch with how its policies directly affect folks like cattle ranchers, who use – and responsibly care for – the environment while providing the safest and most abundant food supply in the world. Scott Pruitt will restore some common sense to environmental policy and we look forward to working with him on restoring regulatory sanity to Washington, such as by killing the onerous ‘waters of the United States’ rule.”

Statement of NPPC President John Weber on Confirmation of Scott Pruitt as EPA Administrator

“NPPC congratulates Scott Pruitt on his confirmation as EPA administrator. He’s a champion for American agriculture who relies on science and supports the rule of law in advancing common sense regulations that will protect our environment without overburdening farmers.

“As Oklahoma attorney general, he struck a balance between protecting the environment and protecting the livelihoods of farmers and business owners. Everyone, particularly farmers, wants to have clean air and water and to preserve and protect our natural resources. But you don’t achieve those goals by piling regulations on the very people who are the stewards of the land, air and water. Scott Pruitt understands that, and that will serve him well as EPA administrator.”

Farm Bureau Hails Pruitt Confirmation

Zippy Duvall, president, American Farm Bureau Federation

“Scott Pruitt’s confirmation to lead the Environmental Protection Agency will bring a breath of fresh air to the post. America’s farmers and ranchers look forward to working with Administrator Pruitt as he leads the EPA with a welcome level of common sense in the important job of protecting the environment.

“For too long, farmers and ranchers have been victims of EPA’s harsh regulatory overreach. Farmers are conservationists to the core and we want to play a positive, cooperative role in protecting the environment we rely on to produce food for this nation.

“In his position as attorney general in Oklahoma, Pruitt stood up for common-sense, effective regulation that protects the environment and the rights of the regulated community. We’re optimistic that he will retain those same values as administrator and we look forward to working with him. But what we truly look forward to is working with someone at EPA who understands how farmers and ranchers care for our nation’s natural resources each and every day.”

ACE congratulates Scott Pruitt on confirmation as EPA chief

Brian Jennings, the Executive Vice President of the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE), issued the following statement after the U.S. Senate voted to confirm Scott Pruitt as Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 
“We congratulate Mr. Pruitt on his confirmation and are eager to work with him to help EPA keep the promises that President Trump made about ethanol during the campaign.   EPA and oil company restrictions on the use of higher ethanol blends the last few years have created surplus stocks of corn and put pressure on prices and rural economies. According to USDA, net farm income has dropped from $123.7 billion in 2013 to $66.9 billion in 2016 — a decrease of 46 percent.   From 2015 to 2016 alone, net farm income dropped 17.2 percent.   It is imperative that Administrator Pruitt work to help ensure the successful implementation of the Renewable Fuel Standard to drive the use of higher ethanol blends, to maintain the RFS point-of-obligation with refiners and importers, and to lift unnecessary restrictions on ethanol use such as the Reid vapor pressure limit.   Taking these steps will prevent further harm to rural economies in key states that supported President Trump because of his promises to create jobs and strengthen the U.S. economy.”

Growth Energy Congratulates Scott Pruitt on Confirmation as EPA Administrator

Today, former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt was confirmed as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In response to Mr. Pruitt’s confirmation, Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor, issued the following statement:

“We congratulate Mr. Pruitt on his confirmation as Administrator of the EPA. We look forward to working with him to carry out President Trump’s strong commitment to the Renewable Fuel Standard and the issues crucial to the success of the American ethanol industry.

“America’s ethanol producers and supporters were instrumental in helping bring President Trump into the White House and are counting on his leadership to protect home-grown domestic energy security. We are confident that Administrator Pruitt and his team recognize the important role the ethanol industry plays in supporting American jobs, fostering a vibrant rural economy, and giving American consumers access to 21st century fuels for their 21st century vehicles.”

NSP Welcomes New EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt

National Sorghum Producers is excited to work with Scott Pruitt who was confirmed today as the new administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency.

“National Sorghum Producers congratulates Scott Pruitt on his new position with the EPA,” said Tim Lust, National Sorghum Producers CEO. “We look forward to working with Pruitt on current and future regulations that affect sorghum farmers and our industry nationwide.”

Pruitt has been the Attorney General of Oklahoma since November 2010. As administrator for the EPA, Pruitt will oversee all environmental regulations and programs that protect the environment and human health. NSP will work closely with Pruitt and the EPA on regulations such as fuel pathways, pesticide regulations and registrations, and the Waters of the U.S. rule.

Grain Barge Movements Stable Despite Severe Weather

Despite multiple tornados hitting southern Louisiana last week, two of the grain barge movement indicators indicate the grain barge shipments in the lower Mississippi and the Gulf were stable.

The number of barges moving down the Mississippi River generally increase in summer and peak in early December, then decline in the winter and early spring.

For the week ending February 11, the number of down-bound barges (416) followed a declining trend, but were still 25 percent higher than the 3-year average for February.

The number of barges unloaded in the New Orleans port region usually increases in July and peaks in November/December, then declines afterwards until April/May.

Last week, there were 941 grain barges unloaded, which was slightly lower than the week before, but still 36 percent higher than the 3-year average.

Thursday February 16 Ag News

Adding Value to the Beef Carcass

Approximately 50 percent of the meat from a beef carcass comes from the chuck and the round and is traditionally sold at the meat counter at a lower price compared to cuts from the rib or loin.

Thanks to research efforts, a percentage of the chuck (or shoulder portion) of a beef animal is now being sold for nearly double the price per pound.

"One reason the chuck traditionally sells for less is related to challenges with palatability and convenience of large roasts. Researchers set out to profile once overlooked muscles, and discovered tender cuts within the chuck, like the flat-iron steak, which consumers embraced," said Amanda Blair, Associate Professor & SDSU Extension Meat Science Specialist.

The result?

According to CattleFax, an ag industry information and analysis service, within four years of its debut in 1999, the flat iron steak increased the value of the chuck by 60 percent. In 2009, CattleFax, estimated a $50-70 per head increase in beef carcass value due to alternative fabrication of the chuck. CattleFax also predicts new cuts from the chuck, such as the Denver Cut and Delmonico Steak will add an additional $40 to $50 per head.

"Providing consumers with more beef options that fill the price void between premium steaks and ground beef helps improve carcass utilization and increase demand. The long-term goal of these efforts is to help all segments of the beef supply chain improve profitability." Blair said.

Pasture Management Session to be Held in Corning

Recent warmer temperatures, muddy field and feedlot conditions, and moderate weather conditions offer reminders that spring is on the way. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach beef specialist Joe Sellers encourages beef producers to begin thinking about their grazing plans.

“It’s time to start planning improvements to your pasture systems," Sellers said. "The Iowa cow herd is growing, and managing feed and forage resources is a key to profitability."

One early opportunity for planning is a pasture management session, "Spring Grazing – Opportunities and Management Needs," Feb. 27, 6:30 to 9 p.m. at the Corning Public Library.

Topics to be covered and presenters
-    Grazing cover crops - Erika Lundy, Iowa Beef Center program specialist
-    Double cropping corn silage and rye silage, cover crops for cattle feed - Tony Mullen, producer
-    Preventing grass tetany, spring parasite control - Chris Clark, Iowa State Uiversity Extension and Outreach beef specialist
-    Renovating, improving pastures - Sellers, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach beef specialist

The library is located at 603 9th Street. Go three blocks west of Casey’s to Benton Avenue, then turn right (north) for three blocks.

Pizza and soft drinks will be sponsored by the Southern Iowa Forage and Livestock Committee. There is no fee to attend and no prepregistration needed. For more information contact Sellers, 641-203-1270 or; Brian Peterson, 641-344-1026 or, or the Adams County Extension office, 641- 322-3184.

Soy Catches More Value Through Aquaculture

Casting a wider net to increase soybean meal demand is paying off. The soy checkoff, along with the Soy Aquaculture Alliance and many others, is opening doors to increase soybean use in U.S. aqua feeds.

Following years of checkoff-funded research, the Association of American Feed Control Officials recently authorized a new definition for the use of synthetic taurine in fish feeds. Approving taurine from additional sources reduces the need for fishmeal in feeds and allows for more soy protein; a change that could directly impact farmers’ bottom lines.

“Years ago, we recognized that taurine was a limiting factor to maximizing our share of a fast-growing market,” says Mike Beard, soybean farmer from Frankfort, Indiana, and director on the United Soybean Board. “This new approval opens up a significant part of the aquaculture diet for soy.”

Following this approval, farmers could start seeing added demand and the benefits it brings.

Soybean meal offers a high-quality, renewable protein source for many species of fish. This makes it an economical choice for fish feed manufacturers. The potential for increased soy-demand in this market will have a direct impact on the return farmers receive for their soybeans at the elevator.

Demand for seafood is growing at a staggering rate. Identifying this opportunity years ago ensured that farmers would be able to begin capturing their share of value right along with it.

“This is a great example of the checkoff’s commitment to maximizing soybean farmers’ profitability,” comments Beard. “We will see our efforts from this innovative investment in aquaculture pay off for years to come.”

FFA Members Across the Country to Celebrate FFA Week

Agriculture is part of our daily lives—from the food we eat to the clothes we wear. Next week, more than 649,000 FFA members will celebrate the role agriculture plays in our lives while sharing the message of agricultural education as part of National FFA Week.

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

National FFA Week always runs Saturday to Saturday and encompasses Feb. 22, George Washington's birthday. This year, the week kicks off on Feb. 18 and culminates on Feb. 25.

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

Today, FFA continues to help the next generation rise up to meet new agricultural challenges by helping members develop their own unique talents and explore their interests in a broad range of career pathways. Members progress to enjoy careers as biologists, chemists, veterinarians, engineers and entrepreneurs.

FFA chapters use National FFA Week to share agriculture with their fellow students as well as their communities. Chapters also give back to their communities through service projects and recruit students to become FFA members.

During this week, the six national officers will visit chapters across the country. Western Region Vice President Trey Elizondo will visit Tennessee; Ashley Willits, eastern region vice president, will visit New Mexico; Valerie Earley, central region vice president, will visit New Hampshire; DeShawn Blanding, southern region vice president, will visit North Dakota; Victoria Harris, national secretary, will visit Idaho; and National FFA President David Townsend will visit Alaska.

National FFA Week is also a time for alumni and sponsors to advocate for agricultural education and FFA. On Tuesday, Feb. 21, the National FFA Foundation will celebrate Give FFA Day, a daylong campaign that will encourage the public to support the various needs impacting FFA members. Every gift will count toward achieving the FFA mission of premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. If interested in giving, one can visit or text “Grow” to 27722 to make a $10 gift to National FFA.

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

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.

AMS Extends Comment Period for Proposed Rule and Draft Guidance

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is extending the comment period for the Sunset 2017 Amendments to the National List proposed rule by 30 days to April 19, 2017 and the comment period for the draft guidance on Calculating the Percentage of Organic Ingredients in Multi-Ingredient Products by 60 days to April 7, 2017.   More information at

Cuba: An Untapped Opportunity for U.S. Soy

American Soybean Association

Trade is the lifeblood of the American soybean industry, and as we move into 2017, Cuba is an exciting, untapped opportunity.

While the major foreign markets for U.S. soy—China, Mexico, Japan, Germany—remain unchanged, Cuba, with its close proximity to major U.S. ports, importation of more than 80 percent of its food and emerging economic potential, represents a growth market for American soybeans… if we can get the policy right.

That process begins with continuing efforts to remove the economic embargo that stands in the way of trade between our two countries.

American companies have been able to sell in Cuba for several decades now, and as recently as 2008, U.S. farm exports to Cuba totaled almost $700 million, however those sales totaled less than $200 million just two years ago and has since slipped to less than 10 percent of the nearly $2 billion market that Cuba represents. This loss is due almost entirely to the continued trade embargo, which would require Congressional actions to overcome.

Chief among the embargo roadblocks is the Cuban buyers’ access to credit. Currently, as the U.S. maintains its provision requiring Cuban purchasers to pay cash in advance or use a third-party institution, our farmers are placed at a serious disadvantage behind foreign competitors that can extend credit.

Looking to remedy this roadblock, ASA supports a bill from Rep. Rick Crawford and Sens. John Boozman and Heidi Heitkamp to remove the cash-in-advance provision. At the executive level, the Obama Administration took significant strides to normalize relations between our two nations, which included the reopening of the U.S. Embassy in Havana and the removal of restrictions on the use of checkoff funds to market American products in Cuba.

In a time of distressed markets and lower prices, we need to explore more trade, not less, and while Cuba will never be the largest foreign market for U.S. soy, we support the expansion of trade with the island nation as it nonetheless represents a valuable market for our products.

Surfacing New Uses for Corn Critical to Long-Term Viability of Farmers

Increasing demand for corn and corn farmer profitability is key to the National Corn Growers Association's mission, and this was clearly evident at the recent meeting of NCGA's Corn Productivity & Quality Action Team (CPQAT).

Farmer team members from across the U.S. discussed several potential avenues for finding new uses for corn to drive demand.  Potential areas of focus are new food uses for corn, new plant-based chemicals from corn and more specifically using corn as a feedstock to replace chemicals currently manufactured from petroleum.

"Developing new uses for corn is nothing novel. It has always been important. Within the last 20 years, fuel ethanol went from being a new use for corn to our second largest market.  And look at the impact that has had on farmer profitability," said, Larry Hoffmann, chairman of the CPQAT and a farmer from Wheatland, North Dakota. "But trying to keep corn use ahead of our growing productive capacity is a never-ending challenge. We are currently exploring the concept of an open innovation contest as a way to engage researchers to drive corn use."

Open Innovation focuses on uncovering new ideas or new applications of corn.  This process allows us to look beyond our normal research networks and find new applications.  Projects uncovered through the open innovation process may be eligible for financial support or other in-kind activities to accelerate them through the research phase and into commercial production.

Tyson Plants Continue Operation on “Day Without Immigrants”

(AP) - Tyson plants were operating as normal on Thursday despite a national call for a “Day Without Immigrants”.  Gary Mickelson, Senior Director of Public Relations at Tyson Foods said, “Absenteeism was higher than normal, but operations were continuing” at their packing plants.

Immigrant labor is an important part of agriculture in the Midwest and Plains states where they help make up the workforce of meat packing plants, feedlots, and elsewhere.

Immigrants around the country had been staying home from work and school Thursday, hoping to demonstrate their importance to America’s economy and its way of life. The boycott was aimed squarely at President Donald Trump’s efforts to crack down on immigration.

The Andersons Report Higher Net Income

The Andersons, Inc. reported fourth quarter 2016 net income attributable to $10.1 million, or $0.36 per diluted share. This represents a $5.1 million improvement over the adjusted net income of $5.0 million, or $0.18 per diluted share, in the same period of the prior year.

Fourth Quarter Highlights

-    The Rail Group delivered another solid performance even as utilization rates dropped throughout the period.
-    Ethanol margins were strong during the quarter, though they have fallen off sharply in recent weeks. The Group had a strong finish to a good year. DDG prices were negatively impacted by Chinese tariffs and quality discounts due to vomitoxin in the Eastern Corn Belt.
-    The Grain Group increased pretax income by $3.1 million or 32 percent over adjusted fourth quarter 2015 results as crop production improved in the Eastern Corn Belt. Overall group performance improved, even as Grain Group affiliates underperformed.
-    Growers remained hesitant to buy ahead of the 2017 spring planting season as the market searched for a stable floor on nutrient prices, causing a reduction in sales volumes in the fourth quarter.
-    The Retail Group recorded a $6.5 million pretax asset impairment charge when the Company announced in January that it will be exiting the business in mid-2017.

For the full year, the company reported net income attributable to The Andersons of $11.6 million or $0.41 per diluted share compared to a net of $13.1 million or $0.46 per diluted share in 2015.

Year 2016 Highlights

-    Rail Group leads the way with $32.4 million of pretax income for the year
-    Ethanol Group delivers $24.7 million of pretax income
-    Grain Group continued its rebound with pretax income of $12.9 million in the quarter after a good harvest in the Eastern Corn Belt, but loses $15.7 million for the year
-    Plant Nutrient Group ends the year higher, with pretax income of $14.2 million including charges related to shutting down a cob facility
-    Retail Group records a pretax $6.5 million asset impairment charge after Company announces its intent to exit the business, driving a full-year pretax loss of $8.8 million

"While we are disappointed with 2016's overall results, we took several steps throughout the year, and especially during the fourth quarter, to improve future earnings opportunities," said CEO Pat Bowe. "We addressed underperforming assets in our portfolio by selling underperforming Grain Group locations, closing a cob processing facility to optimize our supply chain and manufacturing footprint, and recently announcing the closure of our Retail Group."

Bowe adds that the company has already exceeded its initial cost reduction target and identified more than $10 million in run-rate cost savings and other performance improvement opportunities earlier than previously announced.

DuPont™ FeXapan™ Herbicide Plus VaporGrip™ Technology Receives EPA Registration

DuPont Crop Protection announced today it has received federal approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for use of DuPont™ FeXapan™ herbicide plus VaporGrip™ Technology on Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® soybeans and cotton. The new herbicide is part of a complete weed-control solution that may be applied in-crop over soybean and cotton varieties carrying traits that provide tolerance to dicamba and glyphosate herbicides.

Growers will be able to use FeXapan™ in 2017 to control herbicide-resistant weeds, including kochia, marestail and amaranth species, as part of a complete weed-control program that includes preemergence and postemergence herbicide applications with multiple herbicide modes of action, as well as crop rotation and cultural practices that manage weed growth and weed seed production.

“There is a critical need among growers to find effective solutions for controlling herbicide-resistant weeds and protecting soybean yield,” said James Hay, business director, North America, DuPont Crop Protection. “We’re pleased to introduce a complete solution for success that includes FeXapan™ herbicide plus VaporGrip™ Technology and high-yielding genetics with the Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® trait to address those concerns while making best long-term use of crop production technologies. FeXapan™ is a strong addition to the innovative DuPont portfolio of weed-, disease- and insect-control solutions.”

When used with Pioneer® brand soybeans with the Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® trait, FeXapan™ will provide a cost-effective option for managing weeds. The integrated seed and herbicide program is designed to work together to increase efficiency and protect yield.

FeXapan™ employs a new formulation of dicamba that offers a significant reduction in volatility potential compared with conventional dicamba herbicides, which helps minimize off-target movement when used according to label guidelines.

For a list of approved tank-mix partners for FeXapan™ and state registrations, visit

As with any crop protection product, growers and applicators should follow best practices to avoid off-target contact when using FeXapan™. DuPont has developed stewardship training to promote best management practices for FeXapan™ use and extended product life. For details, see

“Growers know their success depends on technology that improves productivity. Our goal is to collaborate with growers to understand their challenges and to respond with solutions that will help feed the growing world population,” added Hay.

FeXapan™ is included in the TruChoice® rewards program, offering local agronomy expertise and individualized crop protection solutions to maximize economic return on every acre.

 Massey Ferguson Advances Technology in 8700 Series High Horsepower Tractors

Massey Ferguson®, a global brand of AGCO Corporation (NYSE:AGCO), introduces a new control terminal and more advanced technology to 8700 Series high horsepower tractors. The advancements in technology include Massey Ferguson’s new Datatronic™ 5 terminal, AGCO’s common electronic architecture and full integration of on-board precision technologies. This combination provides producers with the tools and flexibility they need to improve the accuracy and efficiency of their crop production practices. 

“As our customers seek ways to cover more ground in less time and to manage inputs more precisely, we are equipping our tractors with the tools and technology they need to make their work as easy and efficient as possible,” says Eric Zimmerman, marketing manager, High Horsepower Tractors at AGCO. “The advancements now available in Massey Ferguson 8700 Series high horsepower tractors are a comprehensive offering, designed to fit the needs of any operation.”

The all new Datatronic 5 Control Center Display (CCD) terminal is fast, straightforward and easy to use with a more convenient approach to machine and implement control. It features a powerful, easy-to-read, 9-inch, touch-screen terminal with a simplified menu and enhanced, flexible navigation solutions. Easy-to-recognize icons bring the user a consistent experience across all menu functions used to control the tractor, implement and on-board technology.

The Datatronic 5 is equipped with 4GB of memory and 1GB of RAM. It also provides video input for one camera; four CAN inputs; one USB input; an Ethernet port and is Bluetooth capable. The 8700 Series tractors also feature AGCO’s common electronic architecture, to help ensure the tractors and on-board technology are compatible with a wide range of implements across multiple brands, so producers may use their choice of implements best suited to their farm. In addition, these tractors now provide full integration of on-board precision technologies, including AgControl® section and variable rate control, as well as TaskDoc® Pro wireless data transfer. As part of AGCO’s open approach to precision agriculture, Fuse®, customers will be able to choose either the NovAtel SMART6-L™ or Trimble® AG-382 receiver to best match their existing base station and coverage needs.

This comprehensive technology offering helps producers take full advantage of today’s latest production technologies, improving productivity and efficiency while reducing operator fatigue, implement overlap and over-application of inputs.

Other enhancements operators will appreciate are LED work lights; additional direct rear linkage controls; an in-cab toolbox; a cup holder in the console; reduced noise from the front wiper; rear window wash; lighting for the entry steps and a lockable cap on the DEF tank.

Massey Ferguson 8700 Series tractors with these new features made their debut in Louisville at the 2017 National Farm Machinery Show. The Series includes five models rated from 240 to 340 horsepower, all engineered to provide responsive power with lower fuel consumption.

Wednesday February 15 Ag News

Nebraska Corn Growers Association Returns from Washington DC Leadership Mission

This past week young leaders from across the state took part in the Nebraska Corn Growers Association 29th annual Washington D.C. Leadership Mission. From February 6th to February 10th, 16 producers, along with four grower leaders, got a firsthand experience of Washington D.C. and the legislative process.

The leadership mission trip to Washington D.C. is a great way for Nebraska corn farmers to engage with key contacts and help put a face on Nebraska agriculture. The participants had a full slate of meetings over three days. This included meeting with the Nebraska congressional delegation as well as important industry partners. The participants were able to talk with a wide variety of people and organizations who have a great deal of influence over their operations back in Nebraska.

“The DC Leadership Mission is a chance for new leaders to gain a better understanding of the legislative process and the current issues that face Nebraska’s corn farmers. It is our hope that they will take this knowledge and enthusiasm back with them to their local organizations. This trip is the place where many of our current leaders got their start.” Said Dan Wesely, current president of NeCGA.

The groups met with the following organizations:
Renewable Fuels Association
Corn Refiners Association
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association
National Pork Producers Council
U.S. Grains Council
National Corn Growers Association
Animal Agriculture Alliance
CropLife America
Waterways Council, Inc.
Union Pacific
American Farm Bureau

This leadership mission trip would not be possible without support from our sponsors, the Nebraska Corn Board and Farm Credit Services.

UAN, Urea Prices Push Higher

Retail fertilizer prices tracked by DTN for second week of February 2017 continue to show higher retail prices. This marks the third week in a row some nutrients have made significant jumps as demand builds with southern regions beginning to make applications and plant first seeds of 2017.

All fertilizers tracked by DTN, except DAP, moved higher, with three products higher by a considerable amount.  UAN28 was 7% higher compared to a month earlier, while UAN32 was 6% more expensive and urea was 5% higher. UAN28 had an average price of $238/ton, UAN32 $273/ton and urea $354/ton.  Four fertilizers were slightly higher than the month previous. MAP had an average price of $448/ton, potash $330/ton, 10-34-0 $440/ton and anhydrous $485/ton.  DAP had an average price of $431/ton, slightly lower than the second week of January.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.39/lb.N, anhydrous $0.30/lb.N, UAN28 $0.42/lb.N and UAN32 $0.43/lb.N.

Retail fertilizers are lower compared to a year earlier. Six of the eight major fertilizer are double digits lower. 10-34-0 is 23% lower from a year ago while potash is 13% less expensive, anhydrous is 12% lower. DAP, MAP and UAN32 are all 10% compared to year earlier.  UAN28 is now 9% lower while urea is 4% less expensive compared to last year.

Conference to address advances in water and food security from local to global scales

Registration is open for the 2017 Water for Food Global Conference organized by the Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute at the University of Nebraska. The conference, held April 10-12 at Nebraska Innovation Campus in Lincoln, Nebraska, USA, will examine the work being done to ensure water for food security from local to global scales. A discount of $100 is available to those who register on or before March 10. Conference details, including how to register, are available at

The three-day event will bring together experts from around the world to explore “Water for Food Security: From Local Lessons to Global Impacts,” a theme inspired by the notion that global breakthroughs come from local action.

Speakers from academia, nonprofit organizations, government agencies and private industry we will share best practices and advances in science, technology and policy that are helping to achieve greater food security with less pressure on scarce water resources. The conference includes collaborative sessions developed with key partners of the Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute, including the International Water Management Institute, the United States Department of Agriculture, International Food Policy Institute and The World Bank, among others.

In addition to the rich variety of plenary sessions, concurrent sessions and technical seminars and workshops, there will be special events to facilitate networking among participants, including two receptions featuring international fare and live entertainment; student poster competition; photography competition and exhibit and a Nebraska bar-be-que banquet in the 100-year-old Creekside Barn at Roca Berry Farm.

Topics include:
-    Expanding access to irrigation for smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa
-    Developing market-based approaches to drought management
-    Enhancing high productivity irrigated agriculture, highlighting challenges and opportunities from the Great Plains to sub-Saharan Africa
-    Improving water management and governance for food security in great river basins of the world
-    Transforming water policy to develop sustainable and equitable water management practices in local regions around the world
-    A View from the Field – how farmers from different parts of the world are using technology and best practices to increase yields
-    Engaging students, stakeholders and future leaders through science literacy and citizen science to examine the relationships between water, food and energy, as well as agriculture and public health.

Featured speakers:
-    Closing Keynote/Heuermann Lecture by A.G. Kawamura, former California Secretary of Agriculture, third generation fruit and vegetable grower from Orange County and co-chair of Solutions from the Land, an organization developing a roadmap for 21st century agricultural systems
-    Ann Bartuska, Deputy Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics with the U.S. Department of Agriculture
-    Marlos De Souza, Secretary, Water Platform Land & Water Division, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
-    Chandra Madramootoo, James McGill Professor, Bioresource Engineering Department, Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, McGill University; Past President of the International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage
-    Sithembile Ndema Mwamakamba, Climate Smart Agriculture Programmes Manager, Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN)
-    Steven Schonberger, Practice Manager for Middle East and North Africa Region and Global Lead for Water in Agriculture, Water Global Practice, The World Bank

-    Early registration runs through March 10: $450
-    Regular registration runs March 11 to April 1: $550

Special registration discounts are available to academic faculty, staff and students. The 2017 Water for Food Global Conference is a North American Regional Event for the 8th World Water Forum, the world’s largest water-related forum organized by the World Water Council.

Stay up-to-date with the latest information on the conference by visiting  

Lower Costs Bring Cautious Optimism in 2017

The cost of corn and soybean production in Iowa is expected to fall this year, according to a new study done by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. The cost of corn production is expected to drop by 12 percent and soybean production will dip by 9 percent.

While dips in production costs are encouraging, the large drop is attributed more to math than it is to lower input prices.

“The study shows the driver behind these falling costs is the decline in both rent and machinery costs,” said Alejandro Plastina, assistant professor and extension economist with Iowa State University. “Both of those variables are affected by a one-time change in methodology.”

In May 2016, Ag Decision Maker published an article on farm machinery efficiency. The new information on increasingly efficient machinery was incorporated into the formula used to calculate input costs.

“Despite the projected increase in fuel prices, the total machinery costs ended up being lower than what we reported last year because of an improvement in the efficiency of those machines,” said Plastina. “There has also been a $30-35 gap between the cash rent projected for the estimated costs of production and the cash rents reported in our annual cash rent survey since January 2014. The 2017 production cost estimates now use cash rent totals that are expected to be within $8 of the reported averages in the 2017 cash rent survey.”

As for the results, the cost per bushel for mid-range yield corn is projected at $4.08 for corn following corn and $3.51 for corn following soybeans. Costs per bushel of soybeans are $9.66 for the herbicide tolerant variety and $9.60 for non-herbicide tolerant beans.

“A decline in the price of fertilizer and lime prices, machinery costs and land rents are expected to more than offset increases in herbicide costs,” said Plastina.

These lower costs of production, when combined with a well-executed marketing plan, will likely result in small but positive profit margins in certain rented acres of both corn and soybeans with cash rents similar to the ones used in the report, as well as owned land with reasonable fixed costs associated with ownership factors. Budgets are available for corn following soybeans, corn following corn, and soybeans following corn. They are also available for low-till, strip till, hay, oats and pasture acres.

“If current price projections are realized with the cost structure we are using, then there should be some positive margins this year,” Plastina said.

Input costs and yields vary between operations across the state. Decision Tool spreadsheets are available to aid in individual analysis of an operation’s own cost of production.

Further details about the report is available in the February issue of Ag Decision Maker. The full report, titled “Estimated Costs of Crop Production in Iowa – 2017” (FM 1712), can be accessed through the Extension Store.

Bipartisan Bill to Relieve Farmers of Redundant Regulation

U.S. Senator Pat Roberts, chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, with a bipartisan group of senators, introduced S.340, the Sensible Environmental Protection Act, to eliminate redundant federal permitting requirements for pesticide applications.

Introduced by Sens. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., S.340 amends the Clean Water Act and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) to clarify Congressional intent regarding the regulation of the use of pesticides in or near navigable waters. The legislation requires U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to report to Congress on streamlining data collection and use regarding water quality due to the registration and use of pesticides. EPA will also provide recommendations on how FIFRA can better protect water quality and human health.

"This is the fifth consecutive session of Congress that I have joined in the effort to stop this duplicative and burdensome requirement on our farmers and ranchers. I'm hopeful that this is the last time," said Chairman Roberts. "Our farmers and ranchers work too hard to be forced to comply with regulations that are redundant and provide absolutely zero environmental protection or benefits."

Other cosponsors of the legislation include: Sens. John Barrasso, R-Wyo.; Roy Blunt, R-Mo.; John Boozman, R-Ark.; Joe Donnelly, D-Ind.; Mike Enzi, R-Wyo.; Joni Ernst, R-Iowa; Deb Fischer, R-Neb.; Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.; Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.; Jim Inhofe, R-Okla.; Jerry Moran, R-Kan.; Jim Risch, R-Idaho; and John Thune, R-S.D.

House Committee Approves Regulatory Transparency Bill

The House Government Reform and Oversight Committee on Tuesday passed Farm Bureau-supported legislation that would ensure both the public and Congress have increased access to federal agency communications beyond those published in the Federal Register.

The Regulatory Integrity Act of 2017 would require federal regulatory agencies to maintain written, electronic and social media information on pending regulatory actions. The bill would require federal agencies to maintain all public communications associated with guidance, policy statements, directives, rule making and adjudications for a period of no less than 5 years.

The measure also incorporates language that would prohibit agencies from advocating on behalf of their own proposed rules. The language comes from an amendment offered by Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) that was included in the Regulatory Accountability Act of 2017 (H.R. 5), which was passed by the House earlier this year.

Sorghum Checkoff Releases 2016 Annual Report

Today the United Sorghum Checkoff Program released its 2016 annual report that highlights major achievements in crop improvement, market development and renewables for the year. The annual report showcases the dedication of the Sorghum Checkoff to meet the needs and interests of sorghum producers through investments to increase producer profitability and enhance the sorghum industry.

"This past year was one full of continued growth and development for sorghum growers," said Florentino Lopez, Sorghum Checkoff executive director. "The 2016 annual report highlights new and developing programs, market opportunities and research that will have direct impact on sorghum producers and the industry for years to come."

The report features summaries on the Department of Energy (DOE) investments leveraged in 2016 totaling $6.9 million, the Collaborative Sorghum Investment Program to increase grain sorghum productivity and expand markets for U.S. sorghum farmers by 2025, the growth of sorghum use in the consumer food market with the launch of the consumer-facing brand, Sorghum. Nature's Super GrainTM, and developments in sugarcane aphid research and management funded through an investment of $300,000 from the Sorghum Checkoff.

The 2016 annual report showcases the checkoff's focus on developing programs that will help create opportunity for a return on investment to farmers, in addition to the development of relationships and collaborations that continue to increase producer profitability. The Sorghum Checkoff remains committed to meeting the needs of U.S. sorghum producers. A full copy of the report can be found on the Sorghum Checkoff website (

USGC Advisory Teams Contribute To Global Trade Strategy At Panama Conference

Members of the U.S. Grains Council's Advisory Teams met this week at the organization's 14th International Marketing Conference and 57th Annual Membership Meeting in Panama City, Panama, to set direction and priorities for the Council’s global activities.

“As market opportunities constantly ebb and flow, so must USGC continuously adjust our activities to maintain our long-term global trading partners and meet increasing demand in developing markets,” said Chip Councell, USGC chairman and a grain farmer in Maryland. “The input of our Advisory Teams is essential to both developing the Council’s overarching strategy and planning the Council’s annual activities.”

The committees, often referred to as A-Teams, met to discuss issues of importance in each region and on major topics including ethanol, innovation and sustainability, trade policy and value-added products. The Council delegates also met Tuesday in sector-specific groups, for corn, barley and sorghum producers as well as agribusinesses and general farm organizations.

The input from the A-Teams and Council’s international staff will form the backbone of the Council’s Unified Export Strategy (UES), the operational blueprint and long-term planning document used to apply for USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) market development and export promotion programs, including the Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) program.

On Monday, board directors, delegates, members and spouses toured the Panama Canal expansion in Colon, Panama, and representatives of the Council and the Panama Canal Authority signed a memorandum of understanding pledging mutual cooperation.

“Roughly one third of U.S. grain exports travel through the Panama Canal,” said Tom Sleight, USGC president and CEO. “We appreciate the working relationship between the Panama Canal Authority and U.S. grain exporters that make it possible for our producers to reliably meet the world’s increasing demand for food, feed and fuel.”

The sessions in Panama concluded Wednesday with business meetings of the full USGC Board of Delegates and the Board of Directors.

U.S. Tractor, Combine Sales Fell in January

The Association of Equipment Manufacturer's monthly "Flash Report" shows that the sale of all tractors in the U.S. in January 2017 were down 2% compared to the same month last year.

For the month, two-wheel drive smaller tractors (under 40 HP) were up 14% from last year, while 40 & under 100 HP were down 10%. Sales of 2-wheel drive 100+ HP were down 29%, while 4-wheel drive tractors were down 38%.

Combine sales were down 51% for the month.

A total of 10,851 tractors were sold which compares to 11,056 sold thru January 2016 representing a 2% decrease for the year.

For the twelve months, two-wheel drive smaller tractors (under 40 HP) were up 14% over last year, while 40 & under 100 HP are down 10%. Sales of 2-wheel drive 100+ HP are down 1%, while 4-wheel drive tractors were down 38%.

Sales of combines for the year totaled 205 a decrease of 51% in 2016.

AGCO and Hesston by Massey Ferguson Introduce Square Baler Classifications

AGCO Corporation (NYSE:AGCO) and Hesston by Massey Ferguson®, the industry-leading hay equipment brand from AGCO, introduced a standardized classification system for small and large square balers during the 2017 World Ag Expo in Tulare, Calif.  The square baler classification system places balers in Class 1 through Class 8. This new system clearly defines the capabilities of balers in each class and their most appropriate uses so producers will be better able to choose the right baler for their needs.

“Hesston alone offers four models of large square balers ranging from 3’ x 3’ to 4’ x 4’ and six small square balers to produce four sizes from 14” x 18” to 16” x 22”,” explains Shaun Allred, marketing manager for hay and forage at AGCO. “Dairy, beef and equine customers, as well as commercial hay and biomass harvesting operations that harvest, store and ship large quantities of material all have different needs in a baler.

“These classes clearly define the capabilities of the various models from Hesston by Massey Ferguson and Challenger®. The baler classification system will give customers a better understanding of the entire lineup of balers so they can make better purchase decisions,” Allred continues. “This system is similar to the classification system for combines that uses horsepower ranges to rank the size and productivity of combine harvesters.”

Bale density is focus when choosing a baler

The square baler classification system uses rated plunger load to define each of the eight baler classes. Plunger load was chosen because it is the most measurable factor impacting the density of the finished bale.

“Bale density is a key consideration when customers purchase a square baler, because it affects the amount of material in the finished bale; bale weight; stacking, storage and transportation, as well as the productivity and efficiency of the baling process,” Allred points out. “Producers will be able to use this system to choose the baler that fits the crops they harvest, their end-use needs and the baler that optimizes their hay harvesting productivity and efficiency for the best return on investment.”

Rated plunger load is determined by measuring the kilonewtons (kN) of force on the face of the plunger. One kilonewton equals 224.8 pounds of force. Load sensors on the plunger arms measure compression of the plunger arms to provide the plunger load rating. Current AGCO customers are familiar with this number because it is displayed on the in-cab monitor as the Load Setting.

Using experience gained from more than 70 years as an industry-leading manufacturer of equipment for producing and harvesting quality forage, the hay experts at Hesston developed clear descriptions of the most appropriate uses for balers within each class.

“Balers in Class 5 and Class 6 offer our customers the greatest harvesting productivity and efficiency – more material baled per hour,” says Allred. The system also includes plunger load for Class 7 and Class 8.

“We know the hay and forage baling needs of our customers will continue to evolve, just as they have throughout history,” explains Allred. “With a full range of classes in place, customers will be knowledgeable and better prepared as advancements in baler manufacturing technology allow new products to come to market.”

For full details about the square baler classification system and more information about Hesston or Challenger hay equipment, visit your local Hesston by Massey Ferguson or Challenger hay equipment dealer or visit

Tuesday February 14 Ag News

NE Pork Producers Hold Annual Meeting in Lincoln

The Nebraska Pork Producers Assoc held their annual meeting at Innovation Campus in Lincoln Tuesday.  First of all, here are the results of elections.  The officer team of Nebraska Pork Producers will remain the same in the coming year, with Russ Vering of Howells as President, and Darin Uhler - Tim Chancellor - and Keven Peterson as vice presidents.  Newly elected to the board was Paul Segner of Friend... with alternates Al Stephens and Alesha Meyer.  Segner operates a fourth generation diversified farm with his sons where they have 7500 head space to contract finish hogs. Six producers were re-elected to the board... they are John Csukker, Michael Luckey, Stuart Spader, Darin Uhler, Aaron Reichmuth, and Duane Miller. 

Many awards were presented to those who have supported the pork industry.  Among the awards presented were the Hall of Fame inductions... Two advocates of the pork industry were welcomed into the hall, including Bruce Livingston of Fairbury, and Terry O'Neel of Friend who is currently serving as National Pork Board Vice-Chair.  Also, the Outstanding Pork Service Awards were given to Willow Holoubek recognizing her support for the livestock industry during her time at A-FAN, and Dave Harrington for his efforts in giving over 50 speeches through Operation: Main Street.

Harms joins the Nebraska Corn Board

The Nebraska Corn Board is pleased to announce the hiring of Kurtis Harms. Harms joined the Corn Board staff on February 6, 2017 and serves as the Director of Communications for the organization.
In his role, Harms will develop and implement a clear communications strategy to publicize the Nebraska Corn Board’s research, educational, market development and promotional investments. Throughout the year, Harms will coordinate promotional and educational events for various audiences to highlight the work of Nebraska’s corn industry. Harms will also work closely with media partners and will manage the Nebraska Corn Board’s online presence.

“We’re pleased to welcome Kurtis to the Nebraska Corn Board,” said Kelly Brunkhorst, executive director of the Nebraska Corn Board. “Kurtis brings with him a wealth of experience communicating complex agricultural issues to a variety of audiences. His passion for communications and technology also means he’s able to effectively reach people through traditional and emerging media channels.”

Harms is a native of Dodge, Nebraska. He graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a degree in agricultural journalism and an emphasis in broadcasting and public relations. He then earned a master’s degree in journalism and mass communications. Prior to joining the Nebraska Corn Board, Harms worked for UNL as the executive producer of the Market Journal television program where he was responsible for most aspects of the program’s production. Under his leadership, Market Journal went from a weekly state-wide program to a national and international show.

“I’m thrilled to be joining the Nebraska Corn Board staff,” said Harms. “I’ve long admired the work the Board does to promote and enhance the state’s corn industry and its farmers, and I’m looking forward to taking an active role in telling the story of Nebraska corn.”

Cooperatives Provide Necessary Market for Iowa Producers

The oldest active cooperative elevator in the United States sits in Marcus, a small town with just over 1,000 residents in northwest Iowa. Formed in 1887, the cooperative’s goal was to provide farmers a place to competively sell their grain. At the time, elevators were mostly privately owned, with operators able to pay low prices to producers for harvested grain while making fantastic profits when the grain reached market.

Farmers from that part of the state gathered to collectively start their own elevator, providing an alternative for the sale of grain. And thus began an era of cooperative agriculture that exists to this day.

“Co-ops have been important to the development of agriculture in the United States, and in Iowa maybe even more so,” said Keri Jacobs, assistant professor and extension economist with Iowa State University. “I don’t think you can understate the importance of their role in the growth of agriculture in Iowa.”

This history and function of co-ops is the focus of a five-part video series featuring Jacobs that are now available through a partnership with the Iowa Institute for Cooperatives. The videos were sponsored by ISU College of Agriculture and Life Sciences through a gift from CoBank and are designed to educate both members and employees about the history, function and methods of cooperatives.

All five videos in the Co-op 101 series can be found on the ISU Extension and Outreach Agriculture and Natural Resources YouTube page: Co-op 101: Historic Foundations, Co-op 101: Ownership and Governance, Co-op 101: How Cooperatives Differ, Co-op 101: Economic Benefits and Co-op 101: Benefits to Employees.

Co-ops are businesses that put the needs of a particular class of stakeholders above the needs of all others. And with cooperatives, those stakeholders are their member-owners.

“There are three principles that govern a co-op: that they are user owned, user controlled and the user receives the benefits the co-op offers,” Jacobs said. “Profits earned by the co-op are then returned to their members. In this way it is a business that seeks to provide benefits to those for whom it exists.”

The benefits earned from a co-op are different depending on your relationship to the organization. Members share in the the company’s profitability through patronage, have access to services and have a vote in how the company is run. Non-members are still able to use the co-op and receive the benefit of a competive marketplace through competition the co-op fosters.

Cooperatives benefit rural communities

Perhaps the largest group to benfit from cooperatives are rural communities.

“Cooperatives generate a tremendous amount of tax revenue while also providing a place of employment,” Jacobs said. “Those employees then spend their income in rural communities. The co-op also supports the community in other ways, budgeting money for local school activities or, for example, the FFA. They have a connection and really do integrate themselves in the community.”

Currently, there are 618 grain and farm supply and petroleum co-op locations in Iowa, employing 6,490 people and serving 129,000 members, according to the Iowa Institue for Cooperatives. Those grain and farm supply co-ops paid nearly $26.7 million in property taxes while having an annual sales volume of $11.5 billion. Additional revenue, employment and taxes are generated through rural electric co-ops, telephone co-ops and credit unions throughout the state.

“Co-ops operate differently than just strict profit maximization, they service the rural areas where investor-owned firms might not decide to have assets when no competition exists,” Jacobs said. “These co-ops grew up in the state to fill a need for producers to gain access to missing goods and services. Cooperatives maintain assets in rural areas that investor owned firms wouldn’t. In many cases they are the reason we still have local services like banks in these rural areas. The co-ops also help insure rural services are maintained in the areas their members live.”

Which brings us back to Marcus. The elevator in town was originally built along the railroad, providing easy access to grain transportation. If the co-op were to cease operation, farmers in the area could be forced to transport their grain longer distances as privately owned companies may not want to devote resources to rural parts of the state. The closest town to Marcus with over 10,000 residents is Storm Lake, 37 miles away. Le Mars, a town of just over 9,000, is still 20 miles away.

“A co-op board president told me, ‘my grandfather built the co-op, my dad and I used it and my son will destroy it,’” Jacobs said. “His son has never lived in a world without a co-op nearby and has no idea what the marketplace would look like without one. Cooperatives are still incredibly relevant but unfortunately many members don’t remember why they were started and the value in having a countervailing force in the marketplace.”

U.S. Soy-Based Products Come Full Circle

U.S. soybean farmers are seeing tangible returns on their investments. Transferring from the soybean field to the equipment used to plant and harvest, soy-based products are returning to the farm.

New products such as Bridgestone® tires, RAPTOR® tractor belts and John Deere® tractors all have components made with U.S. soybeans. The United Soybean Board’s (USB) commitment to maximizing farmer profitability shows by bringing these and several other soy-based products to market.
“The inclusion of U.S. soy in more products is a success all farmers can be proud of,” says Craig Gigstad, Kansas soybean farmer and USB farmer-leader. “I take pride in growing a sustainable crop that increases my profitability and adds value for commercial goods.”

In 2016, a number of products were commercialized based on USB-funded research. These soy-based products span from on-farm usage to household items, like adhesives for kitchen cabinetry, soaps and shampoos. USB’s 2017 Soy Products Guide features hundreds of soy-based products currently available.

“New products for U.S. soy open up markets for soybean farmers and create sustainable solutions for end users,” Gigstad says. “For many companies, soy is a renewable and American-grown alternative for current technology. This sustainability factor is what customers demand.”

Soy-based products expand the already diversified soybean market. Creating more end uses for soybeans will continue to build demand for U.S. soy and maximize profit opportunities for farmers.

U.S. Grains Council, Panama Canal Authority Sign MOU Before Canal Tour

More than 350 attendees had a firsthand look at the new Panama Canal expansion on Monday to kick off events at the U.S. Grains Council 14th International Marketing Conference & 57th Annual Membership Meeting in Panama City, Panama.

The tour of the Agua Clara locks in Colon, Panama, was a unique opportunity to see trade in action, and an important reminder of the dynamic global trade environment for those who last visited the Canal shortly after construction on the new locks began.

“When USGC last met in Panama, the canal expansion was only a construction site,” said Chip Councell, USGC chairman and a grain farmer in Maryland. “Visiting the new locks reflects the long-term commitment of the Council and its members to enabling more and expanded trade opportunities for American agriculture.”

Before the tour, meeting attendees in a general session were welcomed to the region by USGC Western Hemisphere Regional Director Marri Carrow and Erik Hansen, agricultural counselor at the U.S. Embassy in San Jose, Costa Rica.

They also witnessed Councell and Manuel Benitez, Panama Canal deputy administrator, sign a formal memorandum of understanding between the two organizations on the importance of the Panama Canal to U.S. grain trade.

Benitez offered the farmers, agribusiness representatives and others in the audience an extensive briefing on the Panama Canal expansion, which opened on June 30, 2016.

Sixty-nine percent of all cargo traveling through the Panama Canal originates from or is destined for the United States, including roughly one-third of total U.S. grain exports, Benitez told the crowd. The new set of locks will open opportunities for larger and more efficient shipments of all products.

Delegates and members continued meetings Tuesday to trade perspectives on the grain market and set strategy for the organization's work. USGC committees, known as Advisory Teams, had full-day meetings on Tuesday, and the organization's Board of Delegates will hold a business meeting on Wednesday.

Delegates will also have the opportunity to visit the Miraflores locks, where ships cross below the Bridge of the Americas that connects North and South America.

Senators Urge USDA to Restore Animal Cruelty Data to Website

A group of Democratic U.S. senators called on the Trump administration on Monday to restore animal cruelty information that recently was removed from government’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s website.

The 18 senators made the request in a letter to the acting deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the agency. It considers inspection reports for all regulated entities and annual reports submitted by research laboratories to be public.

“The public has a right to know if regulated entities have subjected animals in their care to abuse or otherwise failed to meet basic welfare standards,” the lawmakers wrote. “Public access to information can guide consumer decision making and plays an important role in deterring regulated entities from violating the law.”

Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey is spearheading the effort. He discussed the letter during a news conference at the Bergen County Animal Shelter in Teterboro, New Jersey, where he was joined by several animal welfare advocates. The senator said he wants to know why the information was removed from the site and “who was involved in making such a poor and misguided decision to give animal abusers a free pass.”

The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is responsible for “protecting and promoting U.S. agricultural health, regulating genetically engineered organisms, administering the Animal Welfare Act and carrying out wildlife damage management activities,” according to its website.

A call seeking USDA comment was not returned Monday.

But a message posted on the department’s website noted the site review is ongoing and that the agency is striving to balance the need for transparency with rules protecting individual privacy.

“In 2016, well before the change of Administration, APHIS decided to make adjustments to the posting of regulatory records,” the statement said. “In addition, APHIS is currently involved in litigation concerning, among other issues, information posted on the agency’s website.

“While the agency is vigorously defending against this litigation, in an abundance of caution, the agency is taking additional measures to protect individual privacy. These decisions are not final. Adjustments may be made regarding information appropriate for release and posting.”

New FARM Program Environmental Stewardship Module Helps Measure Improvements in Dairy Sustainability

In its continued effort to share the compelling story of continuous improvement on America’s dairy farms, the National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) Program has opened participation in its third component, FARM Environmental Stewardship (ES).

The Environmental Stewardship module joins the FARM Program’s two other pillars, FARM Animal Care and FARM Antibiotic Stewardship. The voluntary FARM Environmental Stewardship program helps dairy producers augment their environmental management efforts by identifying ways to improve their on-farm sustainability.

“America’s dairy farmers have long been active stewards of the environment,” said Jim Mulhern, President and CEO of NMPF. “Farmers should be proud that, today, producing a gallon of milk uses 65 percent less water, requires 90 percent less land and has a 63 percent smaller carbon footprint than it did 70 years ago. The FARM Environmental Stewardship program captures more detailed data on these great advances, while at the same time presenting farmers with useful information that can help them improve their farms efficiency and use fewer natural resources, all while saving money.”

FARM ES provides a comprehensive estimate of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and energy use per pound of milk produced on dairy farms by asking producers a limited set of questions. The tool is based on a life-cycle assessment (LCA) of fluid milk conducted by the Applied Sustainability Center at the University of Arkansas, incorporating existing data from more than 500 dairy farms across the United States.

By tracking advances in dairy production efficiency, farmers can use FARM ES to assure dairy customers and consumers of their commitment to ongoing environmental progress. Producers can also use the results to identify opportunities for changes that could increase their farm’s sustainability and reduce their cost of production.

Dairy cooperatives and farmers wishing to use the ES module can opt in through the existing FARM Program database, which allows FARM evaluators to see the assessment in the existing web and mobile applications. FARM has created a random sampling protocol for the organizations that choose to use the ES module. This voluntary protocol allows FARM Program milk handlers to randomly select farms for an assessment, and provides instructions for how to document and promote the resulting improvements in their dairy supply chain.

The FARM Program has released several documents, videos and trainings to educate those interested in participating in the FARM Environmental Stewardship program. They can be found on the Environment page of the FARM website.

NMPF, along with dairy community partners Dairy Management, Inc. and the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, support the use of safe and efficient environmental practices to help dairy operations remain stewards of a healthy ecosystem.

CWT Assists with 2 Million Pounds of Cheese Export Sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 13 requests for export assistance on contracts to sell 2.048 million pounds (929 metric tons) of Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses to customers in Asia and Oceania. The product has been contracted for delivery in the period from February through May 2017.

So far this year, CWT has assisted member cooperatives who have contracts to sell 7.027 million pounds of American-type cheeses, and 1.323 million pounds of butter (82% milkfat) to 10 countries on three continents. The sales are the equivalent of 94.624 million pounds of milk on a milkfat basis.

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

 Massey Ferguson Introduces High-clearance Utility Tractor during World Ag Expo

Massey Ferguson®, a worldwide brand of AGCO Corporation (NYSE:AGCO), is introducing a high-clearance (HC) utility tractor to meet the needs of specialty crop growers throughout Central California and other specialty crop regions of North America. The Massey Ferguson 4610M High-clearance Utility Tractor delivers the crop clearance growers need to care for high-value crops such as berries, broccoli, potatoes, tobacco and many other types of produce without damaging the crop. The tractor is available through Massey Ferguson dealers and will be configured to fit the needs of each individual operation.

“For more than 150 years, Massey Ferguson has been manufacturing equipment to meet the varied needs of producers around the world,” says Warren Morris, tactical marketing manager for Massey Ferguson. “We’ve used this worldwide experience to expand the Massey Ferguson utility tractor portfolio with products that fit the needs of specialty crop producers. The MF4610M HC models are rugged, efficient, dependable tractors that bring professional produce operations cost-effective new choices to meet their production and business needs.”

A tractor with versatility

The MF4610M HC tractors are designed with versatility to fit many needs. Weighing more than four tons, the tractors boast 100 engine HP, a long wheelbase and excellent power-to-weight ratio for stability in the field. Two different tire sizes provide the tractor with drawbar ground clearance of either 27.7 or 31 inches. In addition, the MF4610M HC tractors may be configured for either 60-inch or 80-inch track widths and as many as seven track settings with the use of axle extensions.

To provide the ultimate in speed control for slow-paced field operations, an 18x18 power shuttle transmission with six creeper gears is standard on the MF4610M HC.

To handle a wide variety of implements, the MF4610M HC is equipped with a category II hitch, 540/540E PTO and up to three rear hydraulic remotes. With 4,400 pounds in lift capacity at 24 inches behind the ball ends, this tractor can complete even the most demanding tasks. Telescopic lower links make implement changes easier and faster. Finally, easy-access service points combined with intuitive electronic controls make daily maintenance checks fast and easy to provide maximum uptime and performance.

Updated technology improves power management and lowers emissions

The tractors are powered by a Tier 4, three-cylinder engine from AGCO Power™. The engine features four valves per cylinder to improve airflow and enhance the fuel/air mixture.

“Following the same philosophy as AGCO’s high-horsepower tractor engines, the MF4610M HC tractors use selective catalytic reduction (SCR) with diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) to treat the exhaust after combustion,” explains Morris. “This keeps all components doing what they do best, and doesn’t rob the engine of power and torque when it’s needed the most. This approach also does not require the expense and downtime of tractors using diesel particulate filters.”

Electronic engine management is incorporated into the power system with a high-pressure common-rail (HPCR) fuel injection system. The engine management system monitors every aspect of the engine’s operation, resulting in optimum performance and lower fuel consumption.

Operator’s station improves ease of use, comfort and visibility

The open, streamlined operator station has a highly illuminated digital instrument panel which makes it easy for the operator to monitor engine RPMs as well as the engagement of other key machine functions. In addition, an ergonomically designed right-hand console puts the PTO, 3-point hitch and hydraulic control levers within easy reach.

Monday February 13 Ag News


What is on the horizon for U.S. farmers in 2017 as they finalize plans for planting this spring? The March Agricultural Survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) will survey approximately 84,000 of the nation’s farmers to determine their plans for the upcoming growing season.

“Each year, the agriculture industry eagerly awaits USDA’s Prospective Plantings report, which provides the first survey-based estimates of U.S. farmers’ planting intentions for the year,” said NASS’ Northern Plains Director Dean Groskurth. “The March Agricultural Survey provides the factual data that underpins these projections, making it one of the most important surveys we conduct each year.”

NASS will mail the survey questionnaire in February, asking producers to provide information about the types of crops they intend to plant in 2017, how many acres they intend to plant, and the amounts of grain and oilseed stored on their farms. NASS encourages producers to respond online or by mail. Those producers who do not respond by the deadline may be contacted for a telephone or personal interview.

NASS will compile and analyze the survey information and publish the results in the annual Prospective Plantings report and quarterly Grain Stocks report, both to be released on March 31, 2017.

As with all NASS surveys, the results of this survey will be available in aggregate form only, ensuring that no individual operation or producer can be identified. These and all NASS reports are available online at For more information call the NASS Nebraska Field Office at 800-582-6443.

Farm Credit Services of America and Frontier Farm Credit CEO Announces Retirement

Farm Credit Services of America (FCSAmerica) and Frontier Farm Credit today announced that Doug Stark has informed the Boards of Directors of his plan to retire as president and chief executive officer.  Stark will continue to serve until his successor is named but no later than March 1, 2018.

The Boards are forming a search committee to identify a new CEO.

Stark has served as president and CEO at FCSAmerica since 2005.  Under his leadership, the financial cooperative’s assets have grown from $9.7 billion to $25.8 billion as of September 30, 2016.  Annual net income from 2005 to 2015 grew from $144 million to $514 million.

Under a strategic alliance formed with FCSAmerica in 2015, Stark also serves as president and CEO of Frontier Farm Credit.  The association had assets of $1.9 billion on September 30, 2016, and net income of $31.2 million in 2015.

“It has been an honor to lead our teams and work with our Directors in fulfilling our mission,” Stark said.  “Our associations are as strong as they’ve ever been, and I’m confident our Boards will select a leader who not only continues our record of success but also takes our organizations to new levels of effectiveness and performance.”

Nick Hunt, chair of the FCSAmerica Board, said, “Doug has done a superb job as CEO.  He’s built an unrivaled organization in terms of financial stability, internal culture, and excellence in business processes and technology.  We’re especially well-positioned to continue serving customers as we transition to a new leader.”

Bill Miller, chair of the Frontier Farm Credit Board, added, “Doug’s vision and his passion for serving others are exceptional.  We are grateful for his leadership, his integrity and the legacy he’s created at our associations.”

Stark joined FCSAmerica in 1980 as an assistant loan officer.  Prior to being named CEO, he served for eight years as the organization’s chief credit officer.  He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Wyoming.

Slump in Farmland Values Continues

Cortney Cowley, Economist, Kansas City Federal Reserve - Omaha Branch
Matt Clark, Assistant Economist, Kansas City Federal Reserve - Omaha Branch

Farmland values and cash rents declined moderately in the fourth quarter of 2016. Bankers across the Tenth District noted that persistent weakness in farm income continued to weigh on farmland values. Although most farmland purchases in the quarter were financed with new debt, the portion of new loans with a cash down payment decreased. The persistent and widespread deterioration in farm income has occurred alongside increasing loan demand and lower repayment rates. These trends are expected to continue in the first quarter of 2017.

Farmland Values and Cash Rents

Farmland values continued to wane in the fourth quarter, according to the Tenth District Survey of Agricultural Credit Conditions. On average, nonirrigated and irrigated farmland values dropped 6 percent, and ranchland values fell 7 percent from the same period last year. These downgrades were the largest since the Great Recession of 2007-09 but were relatively small compared to declines in the 1980s. The largest changes in District states occurred in Kansas and Nebraska. The value of nonirrigated farmland fell 13 percent in Kansas, and irrigated farmland in Nebraska was 8 percent lower. Decreases in ranchland values in Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri were the largest since 2002.

Farmland values fell alongside moderate declines in the volume of farmland sales. A majority of bankers reported that fourth-quarter farmland sales were lower than a year ago, following a similar trend that has occurred since 2013.

Moreover, bankers expected the downward trend in farmland values to continue. Seventy-five percent of bankers responding to the survey indicated they expect the value of nonirrigated farmland to decrease further in 2017, while only 5 percent expected an increase in nonirrigated farmland values (Chart 3). More specifically, a majority of bankers expected a decline of 6 percent to 10 percent in nonirrigated farmland values by year-end 2017.

Amid the slump in farmland values, cash rents also edged down. Cash rents for nonirrigated and irrigated cropland each fell 8 percent while ranchland cash rents fell 12 percent from the fourth quarter of 2015. In fact, cash rents for each type of farmland were down from 2015 in each quarter of 2016. All District bankers surveyed in the fourth quarter expected cash rents to remain unchanged or decline in the first quarter of 2017.

After falling steadily for several quarters, cash rents in the fourth quarter were down sharply from their peak values. In the Mountain States, for example, cash rents on nonirrigated cropland have fallen 40 percent from their peak in the fourth quarter of 2012 to the fourth quarter of 2016.  In Oklahoma, cash rents on nonirrigated cropland have decreased 2 percent from peak values. Although total declines from peak values vary by state, annualized changes are more similar. For producers, a reduction in cash rents could help alleviate some pressure on profit margins because cash rents account for a large share of production expenses. 

Farm Income

Farm income also weakened in the fourth quarter. In fact, farm income fell for the fifteenth consecutive quarter, the longest such streak in survey history. Moreover, 70 percent of bankers expected the downward trend to continue in the first quarter of 2017. Capital and household spending extended declines to 15 and 10 consecutive quarters, respectively. Although the pace of decline lessened somewhat for all three measures, the persistent nature of the downturn continued.

Persistently lower farm income has been felt across the Tenth District. Bankers in each District state have, on average, logged at least six consecutive quarters of declining farm income. Furthermore, at least 50 percent of bankers in each state indicated they expect farm income to decline in the first quarter of 2017.

Evidence of tightening farm income is seen in the declining use of cash down payments on farmland loans. Since 2012, the share of farmland purchases that required new debt financing has remained little changed. However, the portion of farmland purchases made with cash down payments has dropped steadily from 23 percent in 2012 to 14 percent in 2016. Additionally, the portion of farmland purchases with pledged existing equity has increased about 9 percent since 2012, suggesting that persistent declines in farm income have led to reduced liquidity in the farm sector.

Credit Conditions

Credit conditions also weakened alongside lower farm income. Bankers again reported the growing divergence of increasing loan demand and declining repayment rates. In the fourth quarter, half of respondents recorded lower repayment rates and elevated demand for renewals and extensions. Additionally, more than half of respondents expected repayment rates to fall further in the first quarter of 2017, the largest share of bankers reporting a decline since 1991.

The steady declines in repayment rates, however, have not yet led to a significant increase in nonperforming loans at agricultural banks. In aggregate, producers appeared to be selling commodities only when necessary to make loan payments but otherwise storing commodities in the hope of better prices in the future. For example, the volume of corn in storage and the percent of bankers reporting lower repayment rates have been highly correlated in the Tenth District in recent years. The significant amount of commodities being stored may explain why farm loan delinquencies have not risen substantially, even as loan repayment rates have fallen sharply.

Agricultural Lending

Bankers have adopted some risk prevention measures in response to downbeat credit conditions. For example, variable and fixed interest rates increased for all types of farm loans. Notably, the variable interest rate for operating loans increased 0.20 percentage point, reaching the highest level since the third quarter of 2012. Minor movements in the interest rate market may explain a portion of the increase, but it also is likely that bankers have sought higher returns to compensate for increased risk.

In addition to raising interest rates, bankers also reduced the amount of funds available for financing. The fourth quarter was the sixth consecutive quarter in which the availability of funds either declined or remained unchanged. More than 30 percent of bankers also reported an increase in collateral requirements, the largest share in survey history. Though a credit shortage currently appears unlikely, marginal producers may find it harder to obtain financing at the same pace as when farm credit conditions were stronger.

Looking Ahead

In the fourth quarter, most measures of financial stress in the farm sector ticked up. Bankers reported reduced farmland values, lower farm income and weaker credit conditions. To mitigate risk, Tenth District banks increased interest rates and collateral requirements. Although some bankers reported that record yields supported farm income in 2016, another round of above-average yields could contribute to higher stocks, which are correlated with lower commodity prices and depressed repayment rates. Looking to 2017, bankers indicated that a decline in cash rents may provide some relief, but they still expect farm income to remain subdued.

Between Now and Summer Is Mud for Cattle Producers

Even with little winter snow cover to melt the forecast still looks muddy for cattle producers this spring. Most areas in Iowa had significant rain in the late fall and early winter before the ground froze. With the temperature warming up early this year mud is going to persist in cattle lots and pastures throughout the spring. For spring calving operations, mud can be deadly.

Even though the temperature may be warm, calves can still get chilled easily if they can’t dry off. The ground may be thawing and warming up in the day but nighttime temperatures will still drop below freezing, so calves will need a dry place to lie down.

The main problem with mud is that pathogens that can cause calf diarrhea persist in the environment longer and mud facilitates continual exposure to the calf. If the cow has to either lay down in a wet muddy environment or walk through deep mud to get to feed or water she will contaminate her udder with mud and pathogens. The calf is then re-exposed every time they nurse. Prepare now to deal with calf diarrhea this spring. Download the free Iowa State publication "Control of Calf Diarrhea (Scours) in Midwest Beef Cattle Farms"

Mud control

The two main options available at this time for controlling mud would be to haul in rock/gravel to establish a firm base with better drainage or apply lime. Quicklime or hydrated lime will dry up the soil so that it can be compacted. After the lime is applied and allowed to dry for a few hours it should be worked into the ground and then compacted.


With or without combating the mud in the lot, bedding is still important but needs to managed properly. Unmanaged bedding can be worse than no bedding as pathogen loads will increase and persist in bedded areas. Cornstalks are one of the most available sources and generally superior than straw or sawdust. The bulky nature of the corn stalk helps water and manure settle while the surface stays drier. If the goal is to maintain a bedded pack, apply new bedding often to keep surface dry. Calves need a drier surface than typically seen in finishing barns. If not establishing a pack, then the bedding should be completely removed and new bedding applied as soon as it becomes damp or soiled.

Move cows often

Congregating cows leads to manure, mud and more pathogens. Keep bedding areas separate from feeding area to encourage cattle to not congregate in one spot. If you have the ability move cows to new areas it will help minimize the impact of mud. A modified Sandhills calving system where you move your pregnant cows and leave pairs behind can help to decrease disease outbreaks as we move through the calving season.

Contact your veterinarian and extension beef specialist to make sure your health and nutrition program are sufficient to provide your cows the best footing to get through the next few months.

Search Begins for Iowa’s Best Burger

Iowa’s cattle producers are asking their fellow Iowans to help find Iowa’s Best Burger in 2017. In this year’s quest, the Iowa Beef Industry Council (IBIC) and the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association (ICA) are encouraging you to nominate your favorite burger, whether it’s gourmet or down-home style.

This is the eighth year the two groups are holding the annual Iowa’s Best Burger contest, which officially kicks off February 13. All nominations must be in the IBIC office by 5 p.m. on March 13, 2017.

“We are in search of Iowa’s Best Burger,” says Brooke German, Director of Marketing for the IBIC. “To qualify to be named Iowa’s Best Burger, the burger must be a 100% beef burger and served on a bun or bread product.  Although burgers are often standard fare, we know from experience that the winners of this contest serve outstanding burgers.”

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

“There are three ways to nominate your favorite burger,” explains Katie Olthoff, Director of Communications for the ICA. “We are accepting nominations online at; by texting BEEF to 313131, which will provide a link to the online voting page, or a paper nomination can be mailed to the IBIC office.”

The nomination period ends March 13, 2017. German noted that the top 10 restaurants with the most votes are eligible for the title of Iowa’s Best Burger. The top ten finalists will be announced on March 20. Finalists will receive a certificate and will be eligible for the secret taste-test of contest judges. The 2017 Best Burger in Iowa will be announced on May 1 and will kick-off May Beef Month.

"The Best Burger contest uses checkoff dollars to showcase some of Iowa's best restaurants, and obviously, best burgers! Every year, we have some loyal followers who make it a point to visit the top 10 restaurants and taste the best beef patties Iowa has to offer," says Steve Rehder, chairman of the Iowa Beef Industry Council.

In 2016, more than 6,200 nominations for 311 restaurants were received in the contest. The final winners in previous years are: 2016 – The Chuckwagon Restaurant, Adair; 2015 – The Cider House, Fairfield; 2014 – Brick City Grill, Ames; 2013 – 61 Chop House Grille, Mediapolis; 2012 – Coon Bowl III, Coon Rapids; 2011 – Rusty Duck, Dexter; 2010 – Sac County Cattle Company, Sac City.

Registration Now Open for April 2017 Pork Management Conference

The National Pork Board will host its annual Pork Management Conference, April 19-21, in Nashville, Tennessee.

The annual conference, moved to April this year, will accommodate a diverse set of experts from across the U.S. The 2017 conference will address current business trends and challenges facing the U.S. pork industry. Through presentations, breakout sessions and networking, attendees will gain important insight on the pork industry, its challenges and financial management practices that improve the performance and efficiency of pig farming.

“The Pork Management Conference is more than an industry meeting but an interactive experience,” said Andrew Reinecker, chair of the Checkoff’s Producer and State Services Committee and a pig farmer from York Springs, Pennsylvania. “The engagement between the guest presenters and experts and those working in the industry offers producers an opportunity to gain knowledge from different areas, ask questions and implement this information on their farms.”

In addition to the general sessions open to all attendees on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday mornings, two concurrent afternoon sessions are planned on Thursday, April 20. Topics include benchmarking, safety programs, emerging social media, accounting, tax updates and price discovery, and results from the recent industry employee compensation survey.

The registration fee is $425 per person through March 31 and increases to $475 beginning April 1.  A registration form and a detailed list of events are available at

Checkoff Debuts Revamp of Beef U Online Training Program for Supply Chain

The beef checkoff is launching a newly revamped Beef University – or Beef U – a free, online training program focused on the latest information, insights and research on marketing and selling beef. Beef remains one of America’s favorite proteins, and with supplies on the rise for 2017, this tool serves as a complement to supply chain staff training aimed at helping capitalize on beef’s profit potential.

The revamped Beef U addresses the latest data and industry insights on hot topics in a new condensed, more user-friendly format. Each module can be completed in 15 to 20 minutes and includes a brief quiz at its conclusion. Once a user completes a module, they can access resources related to the topic.

“The new format encourages learner engagement while getting right to the meat of the topics presented,” said Buck Wehrbein, a cattle feeder for Mead Cattle Company, LLC and co-chair of the checkoff’s innovation subcommittee. “The information presented in this updated site represents the latest industry knowledge, so we encourage everyone, even those who have completed Beef U in the past, to check out these new courses.”

Developed for supply chain partners, such as packers, processors, grocery retailers and foodservice operators, but open to anyone interested in learning more about beef, the program provides staff training and professional development resources on current topics including:
-    Raising Beef:  Learn how beef is raised, information on the beef production cycle from farm-to-fork, the beef community’s commitment to animal welfare, and strategies to help answer customer questions about beef production
-    Nutrition and Health: Learn how beef deliciously delivers important nutrients, such as protein, iron, zinc and B-vitamins, as well as the latest findings on beef labeling and how to market beef’s nutritional story within grocery retail stores and restaurants
-    Beef Basics and Cuts: Learn the fundamentals of beef inspection and grading,  flavor, tenderness and composition, as well as how the beef community is answering consumer demand for beef that fits their changing lifestyles and details on various beef cuts and cooking methods that enhance the beef eating experience
-    The Modern Consumer: Learn the latest research on how today’s consumer approaches shopping, meal preparation and dining out, as well as what drives and impacts beef purchasing behavior, information that can help boost operators’ bottom lines

Beef U is designed to assist management teams in educating and training their employees on how best to market and sell beef. An informed and knowledgeable staff – particularly those who interact directly with consumers – leads to improved customer service and can translate to an improved bottom line.

The Beef University training program is free, but users will be prompted to register before they can view the content and become a member of the Beef U online community. Private groups can be created for companies seeking to track staff progress. For more information, visit

House Ag Committee to Review State of the Farm Economy

The federal crop insurance program has functioned as the most important risk management tool available to producers where farmers pay a premium for their policies, just like any other type of insurance. The last Farm Bill was written when the economic conditions were not as harsh as what farmers are currently facing where wheat prices have dropped far below loan rates in some areas.

With these harsh economic conditions for wheat producers, the National Association of Wheat Growers looks forward to the upcoming House and Senate hearings in preparation for the 2018 Farm Bill.

The House Ag Committee will host two public hearings 'Rural Economic Outlook: Setting the Stage for the Next Farm Bill' as well as the 'Pros and Cons of Restricting SNAP Purchases' on February 15th and 16th at 1300 Longworth House Office Building.

Both of these hearings will have implications for the Farm Bill reauthorization process, particularly with the economic hearing laying some context for the need for a farm safety net.

Additionally, the Senate Agriculture Committee will host its first Farm Bill field hearing, 'Hearing from the Heartland,' in Manhattan, Kansas on Thursday, February 23rd which will be webcast live at

5 Signs Consumers Just Might be Falling for the Food Industry - CFI Consumer Trust Research 

February has long been celebrated as a month of romance, but the relationship between consumers and the U.S. food industry isn’t always smooth sailing. A growing curiosity and skepticism about how food is produced and who’s producing it leaves some consumers with cold feet, wondering if they can trust that the people producing their food are doing what’s in their best interest.

But the latest consumer trust research from The Center for Food Integrity (CFI), “Inside the Minds of Influencers: The Truth About Trust,” shows five positive trends that point to a blossoming relationship.

1. "Is the food system headed in the right direction or down the wrong track?" Fifty-five percent said right track. That’s up 15 percent from the previous year – a significant upward trend. It was just 34 percent in 2013.

“While we didn’t ask why they believe it’s headed in the right direction, we assume that today’s consumer is pleased with the food industry and its willingness to provide the foods they’re looking for – from high-protein and gluten-free products to organic foods and “clean” ingredients,” said JJ Jones, director of development for CFI.

Each year, CFI surveys consumers on more than 30 trends in food and agriculture, asking them to rate statements on a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 to 3 is low agreement, 4 to 7 is moderate agreement and 8 to 10 is strong agreement.

2. “I have access to all of the information I want about where my food comes from, how it’s produced and its safety.” Forty percent strongly agree. That’s a significant jump from just 17 percent when the survey began in 2008. It shows the food industry has stepped up to engage and provide consumers access to the information that’s feeding their curiosity.

3. “I am confident in the safety of the food I eat.” Nearly half strongly agree, a big jump from the 35 percent seen the year before.

4. “I trust food produced in the U.S. more than I trust food produced outside the U.S.” A significant majority, 59 percent, strongly agree. That’s up from 51 percent from the previous survey.

5. "U.S food is among the most affordable in the world today.” Forty-four percent strongly agree. This is the strongest level of agreement with this statement since it was first posed in 2007. Strong agreement rose 14 percent from the previous survey.

The numbers are promising, but it’s certainly not a green light for the food industry to take its relationship with consumers for granted. There’s always room for improvement.

CFI research shows – and Dr. Phil would likely agree – they expect and deserve transparency, and they want the good, the bad and the ugly.

“They also want the ability to engage, to be heard and acknowledged, and get straight answers to their questions,” said Jones. “And consumers want to know they can trust the food industry, and earning trust starts with consumers knowing that you share their values when it comes to important issues like food safety, health, animal well-being and the environment.”

The CFI trust model demonstrates that communicating with shared values is three-to-five times more important to building trust than simply sharing facts and science.

Earning trust is a long-term commitment, but well worth the effort, said Jones. “You simply can’t have a meaningful relationship without it.”  

A summary of the research, “Inside the Minds of Influencers: The Truth About Trust,” is available for download at The research 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.

What about Trade?

Brenda Boetel, Professor, Dept of Ag Econ, University of Wisconsin-River Falls

On Friday, February 10, 2017, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met with President Trump on several issues including potentially laying the groundwork for a bilateral trade agreement. With the withdrawal from the Trans Pacific Partnership, a bilateral agreement with Japan is important to the US cattle industry.

US beef exports are expected to grow 5.6 percent in 2017 and the US is expected to retain the position of 4th largest exporter in the world, behind Brazil, India and Australia.  In 2016, almost 26 percent of total US exports went to Japan, 18 percent to South Korea, 15 percent to Mexico and 12 percent to Canada.  Uncertainty regarding trade policy exposes the beef and cattle industry to less favorable trade policies and potentially a loss of market share in some of these most profitable markets.

The US gained market share in Japan, South Korea and Mexico in 2016 partially due to the lower exports from Australia.  US exports to Japan were valued at almost $1.5 billion, while exports to South Korea and Mexico were valued at $1 billion and $790 million, respectively.  Total beef and hide exports added almost $240 of value to the finished animal in 2016; while almost $96 of that value came from beef exports to only Japan, Mexico and Canada.  I mention these three countries not only because they are where a large percentage of US beef exports go, but also because these three countries will be impacted directly by changes in trade policy.

The US faces a 38.5% tariff on fresh and frozen beef going into Japan, as compared to the 9% tariff that Australia faces.  The cattle industry needs to be concerned about whether that market share can be maintained once Australia's beef herd has increased. With the withdrawal of the US from the Trans Pacific Partnership, a bilateral agreement with Japan would help to secure a critical market for US beef and increase overall beef demand.  Any agreement to lower the tariff the US faces on beef going into Japan will benefit cattle producers in the long-run.

Renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) will expose the US cattle industry to uncertainty in two of our major beef export markets, Mexico and Canada.  And let's face it, recent conversations with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto have not necessarily built good will. Pena Nieto has sworn to walk away from NAFTA than accept a new deal that is worse than the current one.  That situation that would not benefit US cattle producers.

Dairy, Ag Groups Urge President Trump to Raise New Canadian Milk Pricing Scheme Issue in Meeting with Prime Minister Trudeau

The U.S. dairy sector is urging President Donald Trump to discuss Canada’s protectionist milk pricing policy during Monday’s meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC), the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) are calling the issue “one of the most sensitive and urgent topics complicating the relationship between the two countries.” The White House will host Trudeau in Washington today to discuss matters related to trade policy and the renegotiation of NAFTA, among other issues. According to the four groups, the two leaders need to devote time to addressing an imminent change in Canada’s milk pricing policy that would further antagonize industry relations between the United States and Canada.

The pricing scheme, already implemented in Ontario last year and slated to be used by Canada’s other provinces this year, is expressly intended to slash milk imports from the United States. The policy will also enable Canada to sell dairy ingredients below cost in international markets, in effect dumping the product at below cost in competition with U.S. dairy exports. The Ontario program has already cost U.S. companies $150 million in exports, thereby harming the American dairy farmers, dairy plant employees and rural communities that depend on the benefits of those foreign sales.

Implementation of this pricing measure “comes at a time when compliance with the letter and spirit of trade agreements is of paramount importance, both here in Washington and around the world,” said NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern. “Despite this, Canada still wants to move ahead with a policy that clearly violates its trade agreements with our country. We hope President Trump will remind Prime Minister Trudeau how important it is that Canada honor its commitments.”

The importance of U.S.-Canada trade issues was also raised last week in a meeting between House Speaker Paul Ryan and Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland.  Ryan said after their meeting Tuesday that dairy market access is a key issue the two nations must improve upon.

Tom Vilsack, president and CEO of USDEC, said “American dairy producers and processors want a fair and level trade relationship, and have deep concerns about proposed changes to the Canadian supply-side management system, which are designed, in part, to discourage U.S. exports.”

Michael Dykes, D.V.M., president and CEO of IDFA noted: “Canada’s intentional and continued flouting of its trade obligations effectively blocks imports of U.S. ultra-filtered milk. What’s more, existing Canadian tariffs that range from 200 percent to more than 300 percent on other U.S. dairy products are unacceptable. Exports are vitally important to the health of the U.S. economy, especially in the rural heartland of our country, and we urge President Trump to stress the importance of market access for U.S. dairy products during his meeting with Prime Minister Trudeau.”

The organizations believe that this meeting between President Trump and Prime Minister Trudeau offers an ideal opportunity for the dairy pricing policy to be on the table during their discussion.

“The states are deeply troubled by recent actions taken in Canada, at the provincial and national level, which raise serious concerns about Canada’s compliance with international trade obligations,” said NASDA CEO Dr. Barbara P. Glenn. “We encourage President Trump to make this a top priority for his administration and we urge Prime Minister Trudeau to ensure Canada meets its obligations.”

Holding Canada to its dairy trade agreements has remained a strong focus for NMPF, USDEC and IDFA over the last year. Last week, a group of 17 dairy companies representing dairy farmers and processors from all over the United States asked governors in 25 states to urge Canadian policymakers to halt the national implementation of the milk pricing system. NMPF, USDEC, IDFA and NASDA also raised the matter with Trump last month before he assumed office.

Rising Demand for Organic and Non-GMO Grains Outpaces U.S. Production

Increasing consumer demand for organic and non-GMO foods led to a sharp rise in organic grain imports in 2016—prompting food manufacturers to explore new incentives for U.S. growers transitioning to organic production, according to a new report from CoBank. While U.S. production of non-GMO crops has risen, domestic production of organic corn and soybeans remains well short of demand.

“Domestic supplies of non-GMO corn and soybeans increased steadily in 2016, as growers converted acreage and captured moderate market premiums,” says Dan Kowalski, director of the Knowledge Exchange Division at CoBank. “Transitioning to organic production, however, is a multiyear, risk/reward calculation that’s likely holding some U.S. growers back from taking advantage of the market opportunity.”

Imports of organic grains, particularly corn, from countries such as India, Ukraine, Romania and Turkey surged in 2016 to meet the burgeoning U.S. demand for organic food products. Organic corn imports more than doubled from 2015 to 2016 and accounted for nearly one-half of the U.S. organic corn supply. The domestic shortfall for organic soybeans was even greater, with roughly 80 percent of soybeans supplying the U.S. organic market imported in 2016.

Animal feed for organically raised dairy, beef, pork and poultry products and ingredients used in organic consumer packaged goods are the two principal markets for organically produced grains. For U.S. farmers to satisfy this growing appetite for organic foods, analysts estimate between one and five million U.S. acres would have to be transitioned to organic production.

“Apprehension among growers is likely fueled by the three-year transition period before their crops can be certified as organic,” says Kowalski. “Remaining profitable during that period is often a struggle and, coupled with the volatility of organic price premiums in 2016, grower uncertainty about the sustainability of financial rewards for transitioning to organic is warranted.”

The report notes that some leading food manufacturers are finding new and innovative ways to incentivize growers for transitioning to organic production to help bolster domestic supply and reduce reliance on imports. Those include free agronomic services to contract growers and premiums for goods grown on transitional acres. A new transitional certification is also available that growers and food companies can use to market their products for a price somewhere between that of organic and nonorganic crops.

“Proximity to local markets is another critical consideration for prospective organic and non-GMO growers,” adds Kowalski. “If local buyers don’t exist, the cost of logistics involved with transportation can quickly erode pricing premiums, leaving little incentive to grow specialty crops.”

According to Kowalski, demand for both non-GMO and organic crops will continue to grow and, ultimately, monetary incentives will determine whether U.S. growers choose to step in and close the supply deficit. For growers in close proximity to a market and with options for multiyear contracts, non-GMO and organic production might be worth considering, Kowalski said.

A synopsis of the report, “Organic and Non-GMO Specialty Grains: Assessing the Impact and Opportunity for Growers” is available at

Friday February 10 Ag News

Progress and Promise in the Pork Industry - Nebraska Pork Producers to Hold Annual Meeting

The Nebraska Pork Producers Association’s (NPPA) will hold their Annual Meeting at the Nebraska Innovation Campus Conference Center on Tuesday, February 14, 2017. Local Government Officials, County Commissioners, and other interested individuals are invited to breakfast to learn about the progress and promise in the pork industry. Panel members representing the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, UNL, The Maschhoffs, and Thomas Livestock will discuss the benefits of pork production and the added value to farms, local communities, as well as the state economy.

Mike Brumm, owner of Brumm Swine Consultancy, Inc. of North Mankato, Minnesota will share his “Pearls of Wisdom” with attendees. Bringing an update from the Nation’s Capital will be Bill Davis, Senior Director of Governmental Relations for the National Pork Producers Council in Washington, D.C.

Hiring good employees is always a challenge. When and where to look for the skilled employees your operation needs, wages, worker training, employee safety, benefits and chance of advancement will all be discussed during the “Employee Hiring 911” panel. Panel members will present varying options and then open up the discussion to answer questions from the audience.

Election of new officers and board members will take place during the meeting of the Board of Directors of the Nebraska Pork Producers beginning at 10:30 a.m. Also on the agenda is recognition of the 2016 NPPA Mentors, Allied Partners, Pork Leadership Participants, and announcement of the 2016 Outstanding Pork Service Award recipients. The 2017 NPPA Mentors and Pork Leadership Participants will also be announced.

There are no registration fees. Register at: Email: or Call (888) 627-7675


Farm operators and agronomists from across the state are invited to attend the Nebraska On-Farm Research Network research update program at five locations across the state. Producers will obtain valuable crop production-related information from over 70 on-farm research projects conducted on Nebraska farms by Nebraska farmers in partnership with University of Nebraska–Lincoln faculty.

These programs will provide an opportunity to hear growers who conducted on-farm research share their results from the 2016 growing season. Field length replicated treatment comparisons were completed in growers’ fields, using their equipment.

Locations and times include:
·       Feb. 20 at the Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center located at the ARDC near Mead
·       Feb. 21 at the Lifelong Learning Cntr, NE Comm. College, 701 E. Benjamin Ave., Norfolk
·       Feb. 23 at the West Central Research and Extension Center, 402 W. State Farm Rd., North Platte
·       Feb. 24 at the Knight Museum Sandhills Center, 908 Yellowstone Ave., Alliance
·       Feb. 27 at the Hall County Ext. Office, College Park Campus, 3180 W. Hwy 34, Grand Island

Research projects to be discussed will include:  cover crops, variable rate seeding, planting populations, multi-hybrid planting, starter fertilizer, fungicide applications, alternate crop rotations, multi-hybrid planting uses, seed treatments (including treatment for Sudden Death Syndrome), and sidedress nitrogen management technologies including commercially available models and Project SENSE which uses crop canopy sensors for in-season, variable-rate nitrogen management.  Certified Crop Advisor Credits are applied for and pending upon approval.

The Nebraska On-Farm Research Network is a statewide, on-farm research program that addresses critical farmer production, profitability and natural resources questions. Growers take an active role in the on-farm research project sponsored by Nebraska Extension in partnership with the Nebraska Corn Growers Association, the Nebraska Corn Board, the Nebraska Soybean Board, and the Nebraska Dry Bean Commission.

Registration is at 8:30 a.m. and the program is from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. CDT at Mead, Norfolk, and Grand Island. North Platte is noon – 4:30 p.m. with 11:30 registration.  Alliance is 9 a.m.-2 p.m. MDT with 8:30 registration.  Lunch will be served at all locations.

There is no fee to attend.  Preregistration is requested for meal planning purposes. Call (402)624-8030 or e-mail to register for any of the five sites. To learn more about the Nebraska On-Farm Research Network and how to participate, visit

Brett Morris, Joan Ruskamp and Chuck Coffey Are New CBB Officers

Cattle producers Brett Morris of Ninnekah, Oklahoma, Joan Ruskamp of Dodge, Nebraska, and Chuck Coffey of Springer, Oklahoma are the new leadership team for the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion & Research Board (CBB), elected unanimously by fellow Beef Board members during the 2017 Cattle Industry Convention in Nashville on Feb. 3, 2017. Morris will serve as chairman, Ruskamp as vice chairman and Coffey as secretary/treasurer of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board to lead the national Beef Checkoff Program for the coming year.  The Beef Board also elected members to serve on the Executive Committee and others to fill CBB seats on the Beef Promotion Operating Committee.


Newly elected CBB Chairman Brett Morris is a third-generation dairy farmer and runs a dairy, cow/calf and stocker operation and the Washita Fertilizer Company in partnership with his father. Theirs is a diversified farm operation, including about 1,000 acres of alfalfa, wheat and grassland, 65 registered Holstein cows, 100-125 beef cows and 200 stocker calves. Morris served as chairman of the Oklahoma Dairy Commission, vice chairman of the Oklahoma Johne's Advisory Committee, as a district voting delegate to Dairy Farmers of America, a director of the Federation of State Beef Councils, and as chairman and vice chairman of the Oklahoma Beef Council.

2017 CBB Vice Chairman Joan Ruskamp and her husband, Steve, operate a feedlot and row-crop farm west of Dodge, Nebraska. She is a graduate of the University of Nebraska at Curtis, where she earned an associate degree in veterinary medicine in 1980. Joan has been very active in the beef industry, with service to numerous producer organizations. In addition, she has been a 4-H leader for about 20 years, an EMT for more than a decade, and a religious education teacher for nearly 30 years.

2017 CBB Secretary/Treasurer Chuck Coffey is a fifth-generation rancher who grew up on a ranch in the hill country of Harper, Texas. He earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in range science from Texas A&M. Chuck taught agriculture at Murray State College in Tishomingo, Oklahoma, after completing his master's in 1985, eventually chairing the department there, until he joined the Noble Foundation as a pasture and range consultant in 1993. He is extremely passionate about ranching and feels blessed to be able to work on the ranch every day.


The 12-member CBB Executive Committee includes the Board’s three officers and eight members elected at-large. The CBB elected the following members to its 2017 Executive committee: Jared Brackett of Idaho, Amelia Kent of Louisiana, Bill King of New Mexico, Gary Sharp of South Dakota, Paul Moss of Tennessee, Don Smith of Texas, Richard Winter of Texas and Barbara Jacques of Oklahoma. CBB Vice Chairman Joan Ruskamp will serve as chairman of the Executive Committee, and CBB officers Brett Morris and Chuck Coffey will also be on the committee, As immediate past CBB Chairman, Anne Anderson of Texas will serve as an advisor to the committee.

The Executive Committee operates under the direction of, and within the policies established by, the full Board and is responsible for carrying out Beef Board policies and conducting business and making decisions necessary to administer the terms and provisions of the Act and Order between meetings of the full Board.


The Beef Promotion Operating Committee was created by the Beef Promotion Research Act to help coordinate state and national beef checkoff programs. The 20-person committee includes 10 members of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, among them the Board’s three officers and seven others elected directly by Beef Board members. The other 10 members are appointed from the Federation of State Beef Councils.

CBB members elected to the 2017 Beef Promotion Operating Committee during the annual meeting in Nashville include: Chairman Brett Morris; Vice Chairman Joan Ruskamp; Secretary/Treasurer Chuck Coffey; Michael Smith of California, Robert Mitchell of Wisconsin, Hugh Sanburg of Colorado, Stacy McClintock of Kansas, Sarah Childs of Florida, Tammy Basel of South Dakota and Janna Stubbs of Texas.

Corn Farmers Travel to Learn About Competitor Brazil’s Role in the Global Ag Economy

Understanding the complexities of a global market has become an ever-challenging endeavor, but one four state corn checkoffs have set out to tackle with a three-year competitive study of the top corn exporting countries.

As part of this work, a delegation including representatives from the Illinois Corn Marketing Board, Iowa Corn, the Nebraska Corn Board, Ohio Corn & Wheat traveled to Brazil last month to better understand the country’s role in the global agricultural economy.

“During this mission, we had an amazing opportunity to see a good portion of the country, giving us a nice perspective of Brazil’s farming capabilities,” said Mark Wilson, Illinois Corn Marketing Board Export Committee Chairman. “I felt fortunate and grateful to have learned more about this key competitor.”

The mission included visiting Brazilian farms to learn about cropping and production practices; meeting with local transportation officials and touring infrastructure like ports; and learning more about local ethanol production.

“We traveled to a large farm where we learned how Brazilian farmers triple crop in some areas,” Wilson said. “Soybeans are planted first, followed by planting of corn and grass. The grass comes up first and gets a good start then the corn takes over. After corn harvest, the grass begins to regrow at which time cattle are turned out for three months and the cycle starts over. Corn production in Brazil has nearly doubled in the past ten years due to this cropping system.”

The team visited the Harbor Secretary of the Docks Company of Para state to the north of Belem and toured the new Porto de Vila do Conde which is located on the Amazon River. This port has been strategically located so that Brazil can export to the world. There, the group met with the administrator and the operational supervisor and learned about future infrastructure projects.

“They have several improvements underway they hope to be done with in the next five years,” Wilson said. “These include finishing the north south railroad, building a final lock on one the Amazon rivers and building a 25-mile canal to carry barges to the dock. When these projects are completed, government officials estimate it will decrease transportation costs to the port by 30 percent and will allow them to export three times as much product from this port.”  

In the United States, ethanol plants can produce ethanol all year due to corn’s storability. Sugarcane cannot be stored, so Brazilian plants only produce ethanol for the short time around the sugarcane harvest. When the plant is operating, the waste from the ethanol process is called bagasse. The bagasse is burnt at the plant to produce the energy needed to run it.  So, when the plant is not producing ethanol, it is selling electricity to the grid.

“Ethanol plants there are currently doing research on utilizing corn during the off season so that the plants could run year-round,” Wilson stated.

The Brazil mission was one of the first of such learning journeys planned in the next two years to help farmer organizations better understand the competitive pressures facing American agriculture. Additional investigations are tentatively planned for Argentina, Ukraine, South Africa, China, Australia and Central Africa.

“These missions allow participants to better understand the internal advantages and disadvantages of each area of the world. By asking questions around broad issues such as biofuels, transportation infrastructure, policy and livestock we will get a grasp of their internal supply and export demand potential –  essentially better understanding the competition,” explained Wilson.

Humid Fall Will Cause Moldy Corn Sightings this Spring

Ethanol plants need to be especially cautious of moldy corn this spring due to a humid fall and excessive amounts of corn stored in outdoor piles. According to Charles Hurburgh, grain quality and handling specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, mid-February will bring reports of moldy corn, hot spots and blue eye mold – a fungus turning the germ a bluish color, especially if temperatures do not decrease.

“Ethanol plants are going to have to be careful,” said Hurburgh, who also serves as director of the Iowa Grain Quality Initiative. “Contrary to popular belief, moldy corn is the worst thing that can be put in an ethanol plant. The fungi that grow on the corn produce lactic acids. These acids react with the enzymes, the yeast is not happy and the fix is to add antibiotics to the fermenter.”

Ethanol coproducts, known as distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGs), are typically used in livestock feed. The presence of antibiotic residues in ethanol coproducts has been difficult to detect, but the issue is important as society becomes more interested in the production of food.

“Ethanol plants don’t like antibiotics or having to alter the fermentation process,” said Hurburgh. “At the same time, processors don’t want to dump a fermenter after only getting two gallons of ethanol per bushel when they’re used to yielding almost three. The best fix for those kinds of problems is better quality corn. Then ethanol producers are not in that situation in the first place.”

September and October 2016 brought only three days of dew points below 45 degrees Fahrenheit. As a result, grain supplies did not reach suitable temperature levels before being placed into storage, which can negatively impact grain quality.

“The issue going forward, will be to get all corn properly cooled and aerated before spoilage worsens,” said Hurburgh.

The Iowa Grain Quality Initiative has developed a set of online learning modules to help producers learn proper grain storage practices. The Iowa Grain Quality Aeration Module (CROP 3083B), produced in cooperation with the Iowa Grain Quality Initiative and Crop Advisor Institute explains how moisture, temperature and time interact to cause grain spoilage. Learn to establish a grain quality monitoring system with frequent temperature checks to prevent spoilage.

Other available modules address grain storage economics, food safety and animal nutrition, supply chain analysis and processing. The modules are free and can be accessed on the Extension Store.

Excellence in Ag Education Nominations Open

The Iowa Council on Agricultural Education is seeking nominees to recognize for excellence in agriculture education.

The Iowa Council on Agricultural Education is a bipartisan effort that is charged to review, develop, and recommend standards for secondary and postsecondary agriculture education in Iowa. One of the projects of the group is to recognize those agriculture education school programs that are doing exemplary work in the areas of program promotion and marketing, agriculture career awareness, integration of science, adult education, and curriculum review and revision.

The award nomination form can be completed by students, alumni, parents, administrators, or other supporters of the local agriculture education program. The nominations will be reviewed and selected by the Council on Agricultural Education. One winner will be selected in each of the award areas and an overall winner will also be recognized. Award winners will be recognized at the Iowa FFA Leadership Conference to be held at Iowa State University in Ames April 10-12.

"The purpose of the award is to identify what makes a highly successful agriculture education program in schools and recognize those who model that success," said Will Fett, chair of the council. "We hope that other schools will be inspired to implement some of the best practices that are highlighted."

Agriculture education is offered in 232 high schools across Iowa. Agriculture education employs a three component model to deliver teaching through classroom instruction, supervised agricultural experience programs, and leadership development through FFA. Students who take an agriculture education class are eligible to join FFA. There are more than 14,000 FFA members in Iowa.

The award nomination form can be completed online at Applications are due March 1.

The Council will review, develop, and recommend standards for secondary and postsecondary agricultural education. Established in 1988 by legislative act of the 72nd Iowa General Assembly, the Council is appointed by the Governor annually and made up of nine voting member. The Council members represent all areas of agriculture and diverse geographical areas. The Council includes representation from secondary schools, postsecondary schools, and a teacher educator. Ex officio members include representatives from Iowa FFA, Iowa FFA Alumni, the Postsecondary Agriculture Student Organization of Iowa, the Iowa Department of Education, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, and members of the Iowa general assembly.


The Philippines this week expressed interest in pursuing a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) with the United States. The country’s trade and industry secretary, Ramon Lopez, said the government is open to negotiating an FTA with its third largest trading partner.

The National Pork Producers Council commented on the concept, saying they would strongly support a trade deal with the Pacific island nation, which is a top 10 market for U.S. pork. (The U.S. pork industry last year shipped nearly $79 million of pork to the Philippines.)

The Philippines already enjoys preferential treatment for most of its exports to the United States under the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), a trade program for developing countries. In a related matter, the Philippines will maintain its existing low tariffs on pork offal and mechanically deboned meat even after the expiration of a World Trade Organization-sanctioned restriction on rice imports. The government’s Committee on Tariff and Related Matters abandoned plans to extend the rice import quota, which is set to expire June. 30. In exchange for the quotas, the WTO required the Philippines to lower tariffs on mechanically deboned meat to 5 percent from 40 percent and on offal to a range of 5 to 10 percent from 40 percent.

While the decision to keep tariffs low is welcomed news for U.S. pork producers, the Philippines has a number of non-tariff barriers that restrict U.S. pork exports. NPPC Vice President and Counsel Nick Giordano recently was in Manila discussing trade issues with industry and government officials. Food prices in the Philippines are high relative to many other southeast Asian nations. NPPC believes the new administration in the Philippines is serious about lowering consumer food prices, which bodes well for removing unnecessary impediments to trade.

Another Strain of FMD Confirmed in South Korea

South Korea raised the country's foot-and-mouth disease alert status to the highest level as a second strain of the disease was confirmed three days after a first outbreak was reported, Seoul's agriculture ministry said on Thursday.

According to Reuters, the A-type strain of the disease was discovered at a dairy farm in Yeoncheon, less than 50 miles north of the capital, said Kim Kyeong-kyu, deputy minister for food industry policy. Reacting shortly after an outbreak of the O-type strain was confirmed in southeast Korea, the ministry raised the alert status one notch to the maximum.

South Korea last raised the country's foot-and-mouth disease alert status to the highest level in 2010, when the country grappled with its worst-ever outbreak.

Since the first outbreak was discovered on Monday, Korea has taken emergency measures including a nationwide vaccination and a movement control order designed to contain the spread of the virus.

The ministry had re-vaccinated all cattle in the country against the O-type virus, and the country's livestock would need to be inoculated again against the A-type strain, Kim said.

Researchers Create TB-Resistant Cattle

Researchers in China have reported creating tuberculosis-resistant cattle using CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing.

Led by senior author Yong Zhang of Northwest Agricultural & Forestry University, the team used a single Cas9 nickase - a single-strand cutting Cas9 variant - to induce genome editing using the homology-directed repair pathway, inserting a gene for natural resistance-associated macrophage protein-1 (NRAMP1) into bovine fetal fibroblasts. As the researchers reported today in Genome Biology, they used somatic nuclear transfer to get the edit into an egg cell, creating 11 cows in vitro with NRAMP1 (nine using Cas9 nickase) and demonstrating that the gene provided increased resistance to tuberculosis.

Moreover, they said that while the Cas9 nickase did not completely eliminate off-target edits, it did reduce them, especially when compared to standard Cas9 which creates double-strand breaks and is much more likely to create indel mutations via the non-homologous end-joining DNA repair pathway.

While the team said that this was the first instance of gene insertion into cattle using a single nicking Cas9, it was far from the first application of genome editing to livestock, or even cows. In May 2016, researchers led by Minnesota-based gene editing firm Recombinetics reported substituting an allele in dairy cattle to eliminate horns, using transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALENs) to induce HDR. And last fall, another team of scientists from Northwest A&F University reported editing cashmere goats using CRISPR to produce more of the fine hairs used in wool production.

Growth Energy Awards Sec. Tom Vilsack with America’s Fuel Award at 8th Annual Executive Leadership Conference

Today, Growth Energy awarded former Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack with its highest honor, the America’s Fuel Award, at its eighth annual Executive Leadership Conference. The America’s Fuel Award is presented to an individual who has gone above and beyond the call of duty to act as a champion for the renewable fuels industry. Past winners include Growth Energy Co-chairman Tom Buis, Gov. Terry Branstad, retired Four Star General, Wesley Clark, and Richard Childress of Richard Childress Racing.

“We are thrilled to recognize Secretary Vilsack with the America’s Fuel Award for his remarkable commitment to the nation’s most successful energy policy, the Renewable Fuel Standard. We thank Secretary Vilsack for his unwavering dedication to the growth and success of the American ethanol industry throughout his time as Secretary of Agriculture and Governor of Iowa,” said Emily Skor, Growth Energy CEO, “We are forever grateful for his leadership and present this award as a token of our appreciation.”

Growth Energy also presented the following individuals with “TOBI” awards, given each year to Growth Energy members who go above and beyond exhibiting innovation, fortitude, perseverance, and leadership within the ethanol industry:
  - Mick Miller, DENCO II
  - Amanda Huber, Front Range Energy
  - Amy Davis, Novozymes
  - Matt Merritt, POET
  - Jeff Gallick, Thorntons
  - Doug Berven, POET

The ethanol industry is an American success story contributing to our energy security and growing American jobs. Growth Energy’s Executive Leadership Conference brings together leaders of the biofuels industry and provides them with the most current insights affecting the ethanol industry and celebrates the achievements of the industry in moving America forward.

Agrium's Profit Drops Amid Slump in Fertilizer Market

Fertilizer firm Agrium Inc.'s quarterly profit dropped sharply on lower nutrient prices.

Calgary, Alberta-based Agrium, which agreed to merge with Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc., has been hit hard by a market slump.

This year Agrium expects to make $4.50 to $6 a share, compared with the $4.29 a share it made in 2016. Analysts were projecting $5.83 in per-share earnings for 2017, according to Thomson Reuters.

Over all, fourth-quarter profit dropped two-thirds to $67 million, or 49 cents a share. Excluding stock-based compensation and other items, profit fell to 60 cents a share from $1.52 a share a year earlier.

Sales rose 5.3% to $2.28 billion.

In the latest period, crop nutrient sales fell 8% from a year earlier, while crop-protection product sales rose 15%.

Agrium noted that realized selling prices for potash, a key fertilizer ingredient, fell 33% internationally and 25% in North America.

Thursday February 9 Ag News


     Low commodity prices paired with high costs of doing business have crop and livestock producers operating in a low profit-environment. To help manage operations during this challenging time, Nebraska Extension has launched a new initiative called Strengthening Nebraska’s Agricultural Economy.

     The state department of agriculture estimates one in four jobs in the state is related to agriculture. In addition, Nebraska’s farms and ranches utilize over 90 percent of the state’s total land area.

     “We understand the importance of the agricultural economy to Nebraska, so we’ve created this initiative to help navigate this challenging time,” said Rick Rasby, associate dean of Nebraska Extension. “It’s about putting tools into the hands of producers to help them make critical decisions when faced with low commodity prices and high-input costs.” 

     Through the initiative, Nebraska Extension specialists and educators from multiple disciplines are sharing research-based information to help producers reduce input costs, increase efficiencies and improve profitability of farm and livestock operations.

     To finance day-to-day operating needs such as feed, fuel, labor, seed, fertilizer and other essential ag inputs, many producers rely on annual operating notes, which can be challenging to obtain in this economy. As part of the initiative, Nebraska Extension’s CropWatch website,, features information for producers preparing for their renewal appointment with their lender. Costs for the coming year, a reasonable cash flow and spending for family living are all estimates that producers should be prepared to cover during their renewal appointment.

     Other CropWatch articles, which will be shared in coming months, feature options for changing crop production or farm management practices to find hidden cost savings or income potential.

     Analyzing inputs against the value of production can improve profit potential. Through the Strengthening Nebraska’s Agricultural Economy initiative, beef experts from Nebraska Extension have compiled a series of beef profit tips that outline management strategies for producers to consider that influence input costs. One of those tips is to purchase protein supplements after comparing options on a cost per pound of protein basis.

     “The objective of a good supplementation program should be to supply the required amount of protein rather than a specific amount of supplement. Therefore, when choosing among various supplements, a good strategy is to calculate the cost of each supplement on a cost per pound of crude protein, then purchase in the most economical way,”  Nebraska Extension Educator Aaron Berger said.

     Many of the topics within the initiative have been featured in the Farm Financial Management webinar series by Nebraska Extension, the Department of Agricultural Economics at Nebraska and the state's department of agriculture. The webinars focused on economic outlook, cost control, negotiating a lease, communicating with ag bankers and decision-making in an uncertain world. Those webinars are available at

     There are a variety of places producers can find resources provided through this initiative. Educational materials will be featured on the Nebraska Extension CropWatch at, and the beef site at Additional interviews will be provided through Ag Almanac radio and Market Journal. Producers can find information related to the initiative on Twitter at #StrongNebAg.  

     Despite today’s economic challenges, those at Nebraska Extension don't want producers to feel discouraged.

     “Cattle and crop cycles aren’t new to the industry," Rasby said. "We just came off higher-than-ever commodity prices and now that they’re lower, producers should know that Nebraska Extension is here to support them."

Ethanol Videos Fuel Student Creativity

Nebraska high school students from Cambridge, Gibbon and Wayne pocketed $2,000 in awards from Nebraska Ethanol Board’s Field to Fuel video contest.

The Field to Fuel video contest encouraged Nebraska high school students to explore the importance and value of American Ethanol. With a focus on informing the public about renewable fuels, students were asked to research, film and edit a two-minute video.

Cambridge High School students – Seth Andrews, Wyatt Fiene, Dawson Horwart, Avery Johnson, Matt Pearson, Caleb tenBensel and Tyler Witte – took first place honors with a $1,000 prize. Their video included a tour of the Nebraska Corn Processing ethanol plant and aerial footage of farming, the ethanol plant and Anew Travel Center.

“These students not only wrote an articulate script that is informative, but they took the time to film in various parts of Cambridge,” said Megan Grimes, Nebraska Ethanol Board public relations coordinator. “The sound and video quality shows they took this project seriously.”

Seniors Amanda Hendrickson and Madison Roblyer of Gibbon High School took home a second place prize of $600. Their video focused on the depleted ozone layer and how they could save the world using renewable fuel.

Senior Adam Bentjen of Wayne High School was awarded third place and $400 for his creative work. His high-energy video included ethanol facts racing down a blacktop road.

"We appreciate all the creative submissions we received for our third annual video contest,” Grimes said. “Our goal is to get youth interested in renewable fuels while having fun, too.”

To see all the videos that were submitted this year visit the Nebraska Ethanol Board YouTube Channel. The winning video from Cambridge High School will be debuted at the Ethanol 2017: Emerging Issues Forum in Omaha April 13-14.

CVA Directors Complete “Director Certification Program”

Alex Brookhouser, Ryan Crumly, and Pat Wemhoff, directors of the Central Valley Ag Co-op of York, recently completed a four-phase educational program co-sponsored by the Nebraska Cooperative Council and CoBank. Each will receive a Certificate of Recognition acknowledging completion of the program.

The Director Certification Program is a unique educational program specifically designed to assist cooperative directors to more fully understand their ever-changing responsibilities. The program has been presented annually at various locations throughout Nebraska since its inception in 1978. More than 8,175 phases have been completed. The program consists of four one-day courses designed to help participants become more effective cooperative directors. Some of the workshop topics include legal obligations of directors; cooperative principles and practices; using financial statements in making decisions; the benefits of long-range planning; capitalization of cooperatives; and a director’s role in establishing proper controls. Workshop segments are patterned to closely follow the growing responsibilities of cooperative directors.

Rocky Weber, President & General Counsel of the Nebraska Cooperative Council of Lincoln, said, “Farm supply and marketing cooperatives are essential segments of the agribusiness industry in Nebraska. These local cooperatives contribute to the success of today’s farmers and ranchers, and the complexities of cooperatives only grows. This requires local directors to continually seek out training programs to enhance their skill set. The Council continues to place a high priority on director education programs because education will be a key factor in determining the future success of Nebraska’s cooperatives.”

The Nebraska Cooperative Council is the trade association for agricultural cooperatives. Over 96% of the agricultural cooperatives throughout Nebraska are members of the Council.


AKSARBEN Foundation has announced a new partnership with the Grand Island Livestock Complex Authority and the relocation of the AKSARBEN Stock Show and Purple Ribbon Auction to Grand Island, NE beginning in 2017.

The $42 million livestock facilities located at Fonner Park will host the event. Completed in 2012, the facilities include nearly 500,000 sq.ft. of state-of-the-art exhibition, livestock and equine facilities constructed initially for the Nebraska State Fair and utilized throughout the year. Buildings include the Five Points Bank Arena and dedicated barns for cattle, swine, sheep and goats, as well as the Pinnacle Bank Expo Center.

“With the continued growth of the AKSARBEN Stock Show, we believe this is the right fit for us,” said Kevin Kock, executive director of AKSARBEN Agriculture Initiatives. “It will provide everyone from exhibitors to spectators with cutting-edge facilities and proper space to improve on what is already the premier livestock show in our region.”

For 89 years, the AKSARBEN Stock Show has called Omaha home. As the nation’s largest 4-H Stock Show, the event draws thousands of 4-H youth, family members and attendees from across the country, creating millions in direct economic impact for the Heartland. Proceeds from the event benefit scholarships, premiums, and awards for 4-H youth.

AKSARBEN Foundation officials believe the move to Grand Island provides the Foundation with opportunities to expand its impact statewide and increase the number of business and community leaders carrying out its mission to leverage collective business leadership to build a more prosperous Heartland.

“AKSARBEN Foundation has a long tradition of making meaningful and sustainable impacts beyond Omaha,” said Kirk Kellner, chairman of the Knights of AKSARBEN and regional president of Wells Fargo Bank. “Moving the AKSARBEN Stock Show to Grand Island demonstrates a commitment by AKSARBEN Foundation to maximize its impact in Greater Nebraska and grow the Knights of AKSARBEN leadership network.”

As part of the transition, day-to-day operation of the AKSARBEN Stock Show will shift to the Grand Island Livestock Complex Authority (GILCA) by 2019. GILCA is a collaborative which includes the Nebraska State Fair, Fonner Park, the Grand Island Chamber of Commerce, and Grand Island Hall County Convention and Visitors Bureau. AKSARBEN Foundation will remain the perpetual title sponsor, and members of the Knights of AKSARBEN will sit on the event’s oversight committee.
The Purple Ribbon Auction, which supports AKSARBEN Foundation’s annual contribution of $150,000 to 4-H youth in the form of scholarships, premiums and awards, will be driven by a committee of Grand Island and Tri-Cities business and community leaders.

Cindy Johnson, President of the Grand Island Area Chamber of Commerce, said Grand Island and communities across central Nebraska will enthusiastically embrace the AKSARBEN Stock Show at its new location.

“Our region has made significant investments to attract leaders in the livestock show industry and drive economic impact,” Johnson said. “The AKSARBEN Stock Show is the premier 4-H stock show in the nation, and we anticipate tremendous interest among 4-H families and the Tri-Cities community. It’s a win-win for central Nebraska and for the AKSARBEN Stock Show.”

“In the four short years since the creation of the Grand Island Livestock Complex Authority, we have worked diligently to bring national shows to Grand Island, with considerable success,” said Joseph McDermott, Executive Director of the Nebraska State Fair. “Never in my mind did I think that we would land one of the most prestigious shows in the country. This move of the AKSARBEN Stock Show to Grand Island exemplifies the hard work and hospitality of our community.

“The impacts of the cattle shows in Grand Island have been enormous and now the ability to have AKSARBEN, one of the most prestigious names in the livestock industry to come here, is a real identifier for our community,” said Brad Mellema, Executive Director of the Grand Island Convention and Visitors Bureau.

At its new venue in Grand Island, the AKSARBEN Stock Show is expected to draw more than 1,200 4-H Exhibitors from states throughout the Midwest, including Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. National Livestock Judging and Quiz Bowl competitions will draw an additional 700 competitors from across the nation.

The expanded facilities at Fonner Park house various exhibits including the Raising Nebraska interactive agriculture science experience, birthing pavilion and milking parlor, offering youth and visitors opportunities to learn more about the agriculture landscape of food, fiber and fuel production.

“Agriculture and education are central to the prosperity of our Heartland and are core initiatives of AKSARBEN Foundation,” Kock said. “With our partnership with Grand Island, AKSARBEN Stock Show’s vision is to grow as a premier destination for 4-H youth and as a leader in our support of youth agriculture education.”

East Coasters Avoid Winter Chills Thanks to Bioheat®

While the Northeast gets rocked by Winter Storm Niko, residents can stay warm with Bioheat®, a clean burning heating oil courtesy of U.S. soybean farmers.

Homes, offices and municipalities in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic rely on heating oil to stay warm during the winter. Many areas use Bioheat, a blend of biodiesel and ultra low sulfur heating oil, and that means more demand for soybean farmers. Bioheat replaces petroleum-based heating oil with biodiesel, which is often soy-based, delivering a quality product that is nontoxic and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. As temps stay cool thanks to Winter Storm Niko, more Bioheat means more profit opportunities for U.S. soybean farmers.

“The U.S. has been using biodiesel in trucks and tractors for more than 20 years,” says Ralph Lott, a soybean farmer from Seneca Falls, New York, and farmer-leader on the United Soybean Board (USB). “Bioheat represents an exciting growth market and an opportunity to have an economic impact; the checkoff is working to make that market an even bigger reality.”

Used in 23 states, residential heating oil represents at least a 4 billion gallon market annually. Many municipalities have adopted policies to impact the use of Bioheat in their districts. New York City, for example, requires Bioheat be used at a two percent level, with an increase to five percent coming later in 2017. With NYC using 40 million gallons of pure biodiesel annually and growing, soybean farmers have an opportunity to increase demand for soybean oil and, in return, increase their profitability.

Aside from the sustainable benefits of Bioheat, it also is what the industry calls a drop-in solution. Bioheat can be used in existing infrastructure, so building owners don’t have to invest in costly upgrades to use the fuel.

“These cities in the Northeast use a lot of heating oil, so the potential to convert to a biodiesel blend holds significant benefits for building owners and residents,” says Lott. “We’re providing a solution for them while ultimately looking at what can provide more value for U.S. soybean farmers.”

Soy Aquaculture Alliance Applauds Approval of Taurine

The Soy Aquaculture Alliance (SAA) welcomed approval last week of a new definition for taurine that now includes fish. Taurine is an important amino acid for fish, but it was not approved for use in aquafeeds produced in the United States. This left feed formulators in the U.S. with only the option of using fishmeal in the diets to meet the taurine needs of our animals, reducing the amount of U.S. soy that could be utilized. This approval caps a multi-year research effort supported by SAA, the United Soybean Board (USB), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Ethanol Production Forecast to Increase

The U.S. Energy Information Administration has released the February edition of its Short-Term Energy Outlook, predicting U.S. fuel ethanol production will average 1.01 million barrels per day in 2017 and 2018, up from 1 million barrels per day in 2016. In January, the EIA predicted ethanol production would average 1 million barrels per day this year, increasing to 1.02 million barrels per day next year.

On a quarterly basis, fuel ethanol production is expected to average 1.02 million barrels per day during the first three months of this year, falling to 1 million barrels per day in the second quarter, increasing to 1.02 million barrels per day in the fourth quarter and finishing out the final quarter of the year at 1 million barrels per day. In 2018, the EIA currently expects fuel ethanol production to reach 1.03 million barrels per day during the first quarter, falling to 1.02 million barrels per day during the second and third quarters, and falling to 980,000 barrels per day during the fourth quarter.

According to the February STEO, the EIA currently expects U.S. fuel ethanol consumption to average 940,000 barrels per day in 2017 and 2018, maintaining the 2016 consumption level.

U.S. regular gasoline retail prices are expected to fall from an average of $2.35 per gallon in January to an average of $2.27 per gallon in February, before increasing to an average of $2.33 per gallon in March. For the full year 2017, gasoline prices are expected to average $2.39 per gallon, increasing to $2.44 per gallon in 2018.

Ethanol Industry Leaders Gather for Growth Energy’s 8th Annual Executive Leadership Conference

Today, Growth Energy is hosting leaders and allies of the ethanol industry for its eighth annual Executive Leadership Conference (“The Driving Force of Change”) in Miami. The gathering will provide an opportunity to set the stage for Growth Energy’s 2017 priorities and the path forward for the ethanol industry. The conference begins today and concludes on Friday, February 10. It will feature presentations by leading fuel retailers on the energy behind E15 adoption, panels including automotive experts to discuss the performance benefits of higher ethanol blends, engagement workshops, presentations on the regulatory and policy landscape for ethanol as well as the future of advanced biofuels, and Growth Energy’s annual award dinner to recognize outstanding leaders in the industry.

“Growth Energy is looking forward to showcasing how we will carry our industry to new heights in partnership with the leaders and supporters mobilized at our conference,” said Emily Skor, Growth Energy CEO, “We are excited to offer the latest insights from distinguished experts on all aspects of the ethanol industry, to celebrate our many accomplishments over the past year, and discuss the new direction we are taking to tackle the challenges and opportunities ahead of us in 2017.”

The Executive Leadership Conference will feature a variety of panels and workshops tailored to our membership and the most relevant topics to the ethanol industry. Our members will have the opportunity to attend any of the following:

Thursday, Feb. 9
·       The Energy Behind E15 Adoption, Featuring RaceTrac
·       Mycogen Seeds – Cross Industry Partnership
·       The Future of Advanced Biofuels
·       American Ethanol: A 21st Century Fuel for 21st Century Performance
·       Reshaping the Ethanol Narrative for Consumers
·       E15 Branding, Driving Even More Sales
·       Changing Lanes: Ethanol’s New Narrative Workshop
·       How to Hustle… For Friends and Followers Online Workshop
·       Join the Speakeasy Club: Talking about Ethanol in your Community Workshop

Friday, Feb. 10
·       Going Global: A Strategy to Grow the U.S. Ethanol Industry
·       Protecting and Preserving the Market through Regulatory and Technical Advocacy
·       Crystal Ball into Ethanol Policies: 2017 & Beyond
·       Securing E15 Success Depends on Preserving the RFS Point of Obligation
·       Get to Know Growth Energy’s CEO, Emily Skor

The ethanol industry is an American success story contributing to our energy security and growing American jobs. Growth Energy’s Executive Leadership Conference brings together leaders of the biofuels industry and provides them with the most current insights affecting the ethanol industry and celebrates the achievements of the industry in moving America forward.

Growth Energy Panel Discusses Engine Performance with Ethanol at 8th Annual Executive Leadership Conference

Today, Growth Energy hosted an expert panel at its eighth annual Executive Leadership Conference to discuss the engine performance benefits of biofuels, like ethanol. The panel, “American Ethanol: A 21st Century Fuel for 21st Century Performance” featured Dr. Andy Randolph, Technical Director of ECR/RCR Engines, Keith Holmes of CK Motorsports, Kyle Mohan of Kyle Mohan Racing, and was moderated by Steve Anderson of Minnoco.

“We are excited to have been able to assemble such a phenomenal range of experts touching on every facet of engine performance for our members,” said Emily Skor, Growth Energy CEO, “Each one of these experts sees firsthand the tremendous benefits of ethanol for engines—whether those be race engines, marine engines, or everyday vehicles. We’re thrilled to showcase how these benefits extend to American drivers who are embracing higher ethanol blends, like E15 for its performance, environmental, and cost considerations.”

The panel discussed how ethanol stands up to the most rigorous tests across multiple racing disciplines, and how that same performance translates for American drivers across the United States. The panel dispelled myths about biofuels and illustrated the advantage of higher ethanol blends for consumers.

Dr. Randolph discussed the octane boosting properties of ethanol and concluded that it adds up to better engine performance for not only racecar drivers, but all drivers. “Let your wallet talk to you,” he said and added cost savings to the long list of benefits of choosing E15 at the pump. Holmes chooses ethanol to fuel his Cat Can Do Racing boats because it gives him a competitive advantage, burning cleaner and cooler. Mohan concluded that drivers should fuel up with E15 because it’s better for the environment and gives consumers more miles per dollar.

The ethanol industry is an American success story contributing to our energy security and growing American jobs. Growth Energy’s Executive Leadership Conference brings together leaders of the biofuels industry and provides them with the most current insights affecting the ethanol industry and celebrates the achievements of the industry in moving America forward.

U.S. and Canadian Wheat Farmer Leaders Call for Open Wheat Trade in Op-Ed

In an op-ed published in Canada’s “News Hub Nation,” U.S. Wheat Associates Chairman and wheat farmer Jason Scott and Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association President and wheat farmer Levi Wood called on the Canadian government to take the steps needed to allow “a free flow of grain in both directions across the border to improve the efficiency of the grain handling systems in both countries and eliminate artificial price distortions that frustrate farmers.”

In the op-ed, Scott and Wood said: “Since the end of the Canadian Wheat Board’s government monopoly control over the marketing of western Canadian wheat … one of the most significant changes to come from marketing freedom for wheat farmers has been the growth in sales of Canadian wheat into the U.S. market.”

“Currently, Canadian farmers delivering wheat into the U.S. receive equitable treatment with grain grown south of the border; however, because of legislation and regulation that existed for years before the marketing freedom changes came to western Canada, U.S. producers who currently deliver wheat into Canada automatically receive the lowest grade, regardless of the quality or variety of grain, even if the variety is registered in Canada … This inequity has created significant concerns in the Canadian and U.S. wheat industries, especially given the potential of re-opening the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).”

Crop Insurers Reflect on Past, Plan for Future at Annual Conference

An industrywide crop insurance convention just adjourned, ending three days of sessions where participants discussed the importance of partnering with the new Administration to help farmers manage their growing risks.

The event, organized by National Crop Insurance Services (NCIS) and American Association of Crop Insurers, brought together industry members, agricultural producers and key lawmakers.

"We're grateful to our friends on Capitol Hill who established crop insurance as the centerpiece of America's farm policy," said NCIS President Tom Zacharias, "And, we appreciate the outgoing Administration, which partnered with crop insurers over the last eight years to make coverage more affordable and available."

He highlighted several recent successes:
-    Farmers helped fund their own safety net, collectively spending more than $30 billion from their own pockets on insurance coverage since 2009.
-    Because of crop insurance, Congress didn't have to pass costly ad hoc disaster bills after severe flooding in the Midwest in 2011 or the widespread drought of 2012.
-    25 million more acres are covered today than in 2009, thanks to steps taken to add new products and make premiums more affordable for farmers.
-    Instances of improper crop insurance payments in 2016 — a common measure of government program efficiency — were just 2.02 percent, compared to a 4.67 percent average for other government programs.
-    Since passage of the 2014 Farm Bill, crop insurance costs have come in under budget estimates by approximately $3 billion.
-    In 2012 alone, crop insurance saved 20,900 jobs across Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming with an annual labor income of $721.2 million, according to a new study by Farm Credit Services.

Zacharias believes this solid foundation can be built upon for years to come.  "The new Administration's promise to protect and grow American jobs, and its pro-business attitude give us reason to be optimistic," he explained. "We are eager to partner with the incoming USDA to strengthen rural America and help our farmers."

He concluded: "The cost-sharing attributes of crop insurance help shield taxpayers from risk. Private-sector efficiencies speed aid when its needed the most. Farmers can tailor coverage to their own unique operations. And crop insurance is popular throughout rural America. All of which should bode well in the upcoming Farm Bill debate."

Syngenta Reports $12.8 Billion in Sales for 2016

Syngenta, a leading agriculture company helping to improve global food security by enabling millions of farmers to make better use of available resources, reported a strong full year free cash flow generation and fourth quarter sales. The company said it had sales of $12.8 billion, 2 percent lower at constant exchange rates, but up 1 percent excluding Brazil sales terms change and 2015 corn trait royalty. It also reported sales were 5 percent lower during its fourth quarter but that regional sales were up 7 percent excluding corn trait royalty.

Erik Fyrwald, Syngenta CEO, said, "In 2016, Syngenta showed a resilient performance in the face of another difficult year for the agriculture industry, with crop prices remaining low and grower profitability under pressure in many areas. The announcement of the transaction with ChemChina promises continuity for the future and has allowed our people to remain focused on delivering their business goals.

"We saw an encouraging sales performance in the fourth quarter, with regional sales up 7 percent excluding the non-recurring corn trait royalty received in 2015. Europe showed excellent growth, resulting in a solid performance for the full year despite very adverse weather in the second quarter. Asia Pacific continued its recovery as the effects of El Nino receded. North and Latin America both showed moderate growth excluding the corn trait royalty.

Innovation also played an important role in Syngenta during 2016 with a number of new product launches. In the USA, its new corn herbicide ACURON achieved sales of over $200 million. Syngenta saw the further geographic expansion of SOLATENOL-based fungicides and the registration of ADEPIDYN in Argentina. In seeds, the unparalleled performance of Syngenta's VIPTERA trait drove an increase in corn market share in Brazil.

Wednesday February 8 Ag News

PVC Planning Two Events in February
Marcus Urban, President, Platte Valley Cattlemen

Be sure to bring your Valentine for a belated night out Monday, February 19, at Wunderlich’s Catering. The night’s meeting will include Ruth Ready a Commonground member, whom will talk to us about breaking the myths of agriculture. The social hour will begin at 6:00 p.m. with dinner to follow at 7:00 p.m. Thank you to our social hour sponsors Lindsay Farmers Coop and First National Bank for sponsoring our meal.

Additionally, the 2017 Banquet is set for Saturday, February 11, at 5:30 p.m. at River’s Edge Convention Center Ramada Inn. The night’s entertainment is Comedian Michael Joiner. Tickets are on sale now for $35.00 each and are available from any Platte Valley Cattlemen Director.

We hope you and your spouse can join us for both events. Once again the banquet is Saturday, February 11, at River’s Edge Convention Center in Columbus.

Green Plains Reports Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2016 Financial Results

Company Reports 8th Consecutive Year of Profitability

Omaha-based Green Plains Inc. (NASDAQ:GPRE) today announced financial results for the fourth quarter of 2016. Net income attributable to the company was $18.7 million, or $0.47 per diluted share, for the fourth quarter of 2016 compared with net loss of $(3.6) million, or $(0.09) per diluted share, for the same period in 2015. Revenues were $932.1 million for the fourth quarter of 2016 compared with $739.9 million for the same period last year.

"Green Plains finished 2016 on a strong note, generating $74.3 million of segment operating income in the fourth quarter as we successfully integrated the acquisitions of three ethanol plants and Fleischmann's Vinegar Company into our platform," said Todd Becker, president and chief executive officer. "Each of our business units performed well during the quarter and the year, delivering strong results by continuing to focus on executing our long term strategy of diversification and achieving scale in all of our businesses."

With the addition of Fleischmann's Vinegar Company in the fourth quarter of 2016, Green Plains restructured its operating segments. The four segments include: ethanol production, agribusiness and energy services, food and food ingredients and partnership. Please see segment information below for more detail.

During the fourth quarter, Green Plains produced 334.2 million gallons of ethanol compared with 260.8 million gallons for the same period in 2015. The consolidated ethanol crush margin was $81.6 million, or $0.24 per gallon, for the fourth quarter of 2016 compared with $28.9 million, or $0.11 per gallon, for the same period in 2015. The consolidated ethanol crush margin is the ethanol production segment's operating income before depreciation and amortization, which includes corn oil production, plus intercompany storage, transportation and other fees, net of related expenses.

Revenues were $3.4 billion for the year ended Dec. 31, 2016, compared with $3.0 billion for the same period in 2015. Net income attributable to the company for the year ended Dec. 31, 2016, was $10.7 million, or $0.28 per diluted share, compared with net income of $7.1 million, or $0.18 per diluted share, for the same period in 2015.

"U.S. ethanol demand was strong in 2016 and we expect that to continue in 2017. In addition, exports were the strongest we have seen in 5 years. U.S. ethanol remains competitively priced and export demand could be even stronger this year," Becker added. "We expect to see solid infrastructure growth in support of E15 with new locations and more retailers expanding demand for the product. In all, we believe gasoline demand will continue to grow, leading to an improved ethanol margin environment as we approach the beginning of summer driving season in April.

"We invested over $550 million of growth capital in 2016, which we believe positions us to deliver stronger results in the future. We continue to evaluate additional growth opportunities across all of our segments and we look forward to the completion of the Jefferson Energy Terminal joint venture in the second half of this year," stated Becker.

Full Year Highlights

-    On Jan. 1, 2016, Green Plains sold the storage and transportation assets of the Hopewell and Hereford ethanol production facilities to Green Plains Partners for $62.3 million.
-    On June 14, 2016, Green Plains Inc. and Jefferson Gulf Coast Energy Partners, a subsidiary of Fortress Transportation and Infrastructure Investors LLC, announced the formation of a 50/50 joint venture to construct and operate an intermodal export and import fuels terminal at Jefferson's existing Beaumont, Texas terminal. Green Plains will offer its interest in the joint venture to the partnership once commercial development is complete, which is expected during the second half of 2017.
-    In Aug. 2016, Green Plains completed a private offering of $170 million aggregate principal amount of 4.125% convertible senior notes that will mature on Sept. 1, 2022. The net proceeds from the offering were used to finance the recent acquisitions.
-    On Sept. 23, 2016, Green Plains acquired three ethanol plants located in Madison, Ill., Mount Vernon, Ind. and York. Neb. for approximately $235 million in cash plus certain working capital adjustments. Concurrently, the ethanol storage assets were sold to Green Plains Partners LP for $90 million. The plants added 230 million gallons per year of ethanol production capacity.
-    On Oct. 3, 2016, Green Plains acquired SCI Ingredients Holdings, Inc. and its wholly owned subsidiary, Fleischmann's Vinegar Company, Inc., for approximately $258 million, financing the transaction with $135 million of debt and the balance with cash on hand. Fleischmann's Vinegar Company operates as a standalone business.

Results of Operations

Consolidated revenues increased $192.2 million for the three months ended Dec. 31, 2016, compared with the same period in 2015. Revenues were impacted by an increase in ethanol volumes sold and a higher average price realized for ethanol along with an increase in volumes of cattle sold, plus the addition of Fleischmann's Vinegar in the quarter. The increase in revenues were partially offset by lower volumes and average realized prices for grain sold.

Operating income increased $43.3 million for the three months ended Dec. 31, 2016, compared with the same period last year primarily due to increased margins on ethanol production.  Interest expense increased $8.3 million for the three months ended Dec. 31, 2016, compared with the same period last year primarily due to higher average debt outstanding. Income tax expense was $12.2 million for the three months ended Dec. 31, 2016, compared with $4.1 million for the same period in 2015.

Earnings before interest, income taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) for the fourth quarter of 2016 was $83.5 million compared with $32.5 million for the same period last year.

Net Farm Income Expected to Dip further in 2017; Cash Profit Measure Steadies

USDA Economic Research Service

Farm sector profitability measures are mixed for 2017. A narrow cash-based measure, net cash farm income, is forecast to rise by $1.6 billion to $93.5 billion from the 2016 value, an increase of 1.8 percent. In contrast, net farm income is forecast to decline by 8.7 percent to $62.3 billion, the fourth consecutive year of declines after reaching a record high in 2013. The difference between the two profitability measures is expected to increase in 2017 largely due to an additional $8.2 billion in cash receipts from the sale of crop inventories. The net cash farm income measure counts those sales as part of current-year income while the net farm income measure counted the value of those inventories as part of prior year income. If realized, net farm income in 2017 will be the lowest since 2002, in inflation-adjusted terms.

Overall, cash receipts are forecast to remain largely unchanged, with large offsetting changes in dairy receipts—up by $4.7 billion, or 13.7 percent, based on forecast higher prices—and cattle/calf receipts, which are forecast down by $4.5 billion (6.7 percent) based on anticipated lower prices. The forecast for crops is mostly unchanged, with wheat receipts changing most in absolute and percentage terms, falling $1.4 billion (16.6 percent) relative to 2016. Direct government payments are down by $0.5 billion (4.0 percent) to $12.5 billion.

The 2017 forecast for average net cash income for farm businesses is up by 2.2 percent, with the largest increases for farms specializing in cotton (up 34 percent) and dairy (up 47 percent). These strong gains are offset by a forecast drop in net cash farm income for cattle/calf operations (down 12.9 percent).

After declining for 2 consecutive years, the forecast for 2017 total production expenses is flat, with farm-origin expenses (including feed, livestock, and seed) down 2.6 percent as a group. Manufactured input expenses were more mixed, with fertilizer group expenditures forecast down by 9.1 percent and fuel/oil expenses up by 13.1 percent. Labor costs are also forecast to rise 5.4 percent in 2017.

Farm asset values are forecast to decline by 1.1 percent in 2017, and farm debt is forecast to increase by 5.2 percent. Farm sector equity, the net measure of assets and debt, is forecast down by $51.2 billion (2.1 percent) in 2017. The decline in assets reflects a 0.3-percent drop in the value of farm real estate, as well as declines in the remaining categories. The rise in farm debt is driven by higher real estate debt (up 7.3 percent). Financial liquidity measures, including working capital, are forecast to weaken in 2017, as are solvency measures such as the debt-to-asset ratio. The debt-to-asset measure is now above its average over the previous ten years.

Median Income of Farm Operator Households Expected to Rise 3 Percent in 2017

The median income of U.S. farm households increased steadily over 2010-14, reaching an estimated $81,637 in 2014. After dipping in 2015 to $76,735, median household income is forecast to rise over the next 2 years, reaching an expected $79,733 in 2017. Median farm income earned by farm households is estimated to be -$765 in 2015 and forecast to drop to -$1,328 in 2016 and -1,437 in 2017. In recent years, slightly more than half of farm households have lost money on their farming operations each year; most of these households earn positive off-farm income—median off-farm income is forecast to increase 6.7 percent over the next 2 years, from $67,500 in 2015 to $72,022 in 2017. (Because farm and off-farm income are not distributed identically for every farm, median total income will generally not equal the sum of median off-farm and median farm income.)

Farmer Volunteers Focus on Engaging with Consumers at Winter Meeting

Members of the National Corn Growers Association's Consumer Engagement Action Team met in Savannah, Georgia last week to review programs focused on the organization's strategic goals associated with strengthening consumer trust. The team, which was formed in October of 2016 to better align and focus with the goals of the new strategic plan, delved deeply into ongoing consumer engagement efforts while exploring future opportunities.

At the meeting, the team took a thoughtful look at pertinent sections of NCGA's Policy Book, examining the relevance of current language to the association's public policy work. They also took a deep dive into the ongoing activities of and budget for consumer engagement programs, such as the Corn Reputation project, CommonGround and the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance.

"With our new strategic focus, the importance of proactively engaging with consumers to foster understanding and mutual trust has come to the forefront as a key to ensuring future demand," said Patty Mann, who serves as chairwoman of the team. "Our farm families have so many challenges right now, whether its farm economics or regulatory intrusion, so we want to do all we can to help them by engaging as trusted advocates for agriculture with the ability to build a brighter future."

The team also spoke with several outside groups, such as Farm Journal Foundation and Bason Research, to explore the broad spectrum of ongoing activities and research relevant to consumer communications about agriculture. Through these presentation, members had the opportunity to view a wide range of activities, including those focused on efforts to explore ag on coastal college campuses.

During the team's visit, the Georgia Corn Growers Association graciously hosted them to a low country boil at the Georgia Coastal Botanical Gardens. Additionally, GCGA Executive Director Dr. Dewey Lee arranged for a series of tours for the group to help them explore consumer outreach activities in that state focused on highlighting the safety around oyster farming and expanding knowledge of local marine ecology.

In addition to Mann, the Grower Services Action Team includes Vice Chairman Ted Mottaz, Corn Board Liaison Tom Haag, and members, Debbie Borg, Dan Cole, Ralph Kauffman, David Merrell, Gerald Mulder, Leah Pottinger, Allen Rowland and state affiliate staff representative Shannon Textor of Iowa. The next meeting will take place in Washington in July.


Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey, Iowa DNR Director Chuck Gipp and Iowa State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Associate Dean Dr. John Lawrence today highlighted coordination and scaling-up of water quality efforts in presentations before House and Senate Committees in the Iowa Legislature.

Northey also provided legislators an Iowa Water Quality Initiative scale-up plan that outlines the water quality efforts that will be prioritized as additional funding is available to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.  The scale-up plan can be found at under “Hot Topics” or at

“The Governor and legislators have been very supportive of the Water Quality Initiative to this point and remain committed of identifying a growing, ongoing source of funding to expand efforts.  This scale-up plan identifies how our Department will prioritize additional funding on scientifically proven practices around land use, edge-of-field practices, cover crops and nutrient management to achieve our water quality goals,” Northey said.

Lawrence outlined research accomplishments of the legislatively funded Iowa Nutrient Research Center at Iowa State University. “Over the past four years, we've had more than 40 research collaborations involving nearly 80 scientists across the three Regents universities and including IDALS, DNR and USDA,” he said.  “The work is helping us better understand nutrient movement across the landscape, be more precise with conservation practices and address barriers to the use of cover crops.”

Lawrence also shared ideas developed by Iowa State water quality researchers on how the state of Iowa might consider increasing the implementation of water quality and soil conservation practices.

The Iowa Water Quality Initiative was established in 2013 to help implement the Nutrient Reduction Strategy, which is a science and technology based approach to achieving a 45 percent reduction in nitrogen and phosphorus losses to our waters.  The strategy brings together both point sources, such as municipal wastewater treatment plants and industrial facilities, and nonpoint sources, including farm fields and urban stormwater runoff, to address these issues.

The Initiative seeks to harness the collective ability of both private and public resources and organizations to deliver a clear and consistent message to stakeholders to reduce nutrient loss and improve water quality.

The initiative is seeing some exciting results. Last fall Northey announced that 1,800 farmers committed $3.8 million in cost share funds to install nutrient reduction practices.  The practices that were eligible for this funding are cover crops, no-till or strip till, or using a nitrification inhibitor when applying fall fertilizer. Participants include 980 farmers using a practice for the first time and more than 830 past users that are trying cover crops again and are receiving a reduced-rate of cost share.  Farmers using cost-share funding are providing an estimated $6 million in their own funding to adopt these water quality practices.

A total of 45 demonstration projects are currently located across the state to help implement and demonstrate water quality practices.  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 150 organizations are participating in these projects.  These partners will provide $25.28 million dollars to go with the $16.09 million in state funding going to these projects.

More than $325 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

Strong Finish for 2016 Red Meat Exports; New Volume Record for Pork

U.S. pork and beef exports wrapped up an excellent 2016 performance with very strong December results, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

Pork export volume reached a record 2.31 million metric tons (mt) in 2016, up 8 percent year-over-year and 2 percent above the previous high in 2012. Export value increased 7 percent from a year ago to $5.94 billion. December pork exports totaled 222,635 mt, up 18 percent year-over-year, valued at $564.2 million, up 20 percent.

Exports accounted for 25.8 percent of total 2016 pork production and 21.5 percent for muscle cuts – up from 24.2 percent and 20.8 percent, respectively, in 2015. December ratios were 28 percent for total production and 23 percent for muscle cuts only – up significantly from December 2015. Export value per head slaughtered averaged $50.20 in 2016, up 4 percent from the previous year. The December average was $56.06, up 24 percent.

Beef exports increased 11 percent in volume (1.19 million mt) and 1 percent in value ($6.34 billion) from 2015. December exports totaled 116,847 mt, up 24 percent year-over-year. This was the largest monthly volume since July 2013 and the largest ever for December. Export value was $619.1 million in December, up 22 percent.

Exports accounted for 13.7 percent of total beef production in 2016 and 10.5 percent for muscle cuts – up from 13.1 percent and 10 percent, respectively, in 2015. December exports accounted for 15.6 percent of total December beef production and 12.1 percent for muscle cuts only – each up more than 2 percentage points from a year ago and the highest since 2011. Export value per head of fed slaughter averaged $262.17, down 6 percent from 2015, but the December average was $301.97 – up 14 percent and the highest in nearly two years.

Pork to Mexico sets fifth straight volume record; China/Hong Kong also record-large

A remarkable second half pushed 2016 pork export volume to Mexico to its fifth consecutive record at 730,316 mt – breaking the previous record by 2 percent. Export value to Mexico totaled $1.36 billion, up 7 percent year-over-year and the second-highest on record, trailing only the $1.56 billion mark reached in 2014.

“At this time of record-large pork production, it would be hard to overstate the importance of Mexican demand to the U.S. industry,” said Philip Seng, USMEF President and CEO. “This is especially true for hams, as we are locked out of Russia – once a large destination for U.S. hams – and China’s demand for imported hams has moderated in recent months. So now more than ever, we need strong demand from our key customers in Mexico, and they have responded with extraordinary results. December exports to Mexico accounted for nearly $16 per head, and that’s absolutely critical to the entire U.S. pork supply chain.”

Though down from the high levels seen earlier in the year, December pork exports to China/Hong Kong were still up 40 percent year-over-year in volume (47,242 mt) and 42 percent higher in value ($96 million). For the full year, exports to China/Hong set a new volume record of 544,943 mt (up 61 percent) and broke the $1 billion mark for the first time ($1.07 billion, up 53 percent).

Other 2016 highlights for U.S. pork exports include:

-    Japan remained the leading value destination for U.S. pork, though exports fell 5 percent in volume (387,712 mt) and 2 percent in value ($1.56 billion) compared to 2015. However, chilled exports to Japan set a new record of 218,211 mt, up 8 percent.
-    Led by a record performance in Central America and a fourth-quarter surge in Colombia and Chile, exports to the Central/South America region increased 11 percent in volume (135,954 mt) and 9 percent in value ($334.5 million).
-    Pork shipments increased to both Australia and New Zealand, as export volume to Oceania reached 69,963 mt (up 10 percent) valued at $197.3 million (up 3 percent).
-    Exports to the Dominican Republic set another record in 2016, topping the previous year’s totals by 10 percent in volume (25,591 mt) and 6 percent in value ($56.4 million).
-    Fueled by increases in China/Hong Kong and Canada and steady exports to Mexico, pork variety meat exports jumped 20 percent in volume to 523,199 mt and 24 percent in value to $999 million – just short of the record levels reached in 2014.

Asian markets drive strong beef export growth

Driven by strong demand for higher-value chilled cuts, beef exports achieved new value records in South Korea and Taiwan in 2016, and rebounded strongly in Japan.

In Korea, December beef exports soared by 81 percent in volume (20,333 mt) and 88 percent in value ($130 million) from a year ago, capping a remarkable year in which exports totaled 179,280 mt (up 42 percent) valued at $1.06 billion – up 31 percent from a year ago and breaking the previous value record by more than 20 percent. Korea’s per capita beef consumption set a new record in 2016 of 34 pounds (carcass weight) – so the U.S. not only gained market share, but also capitalized on the market’s overall growth.

Beef exports to Taiwan were also strong in December, with export value ($43.3 million) hitting its highest level ever. Full-year exports to Taiwan were up 25 percent in volume to 44,053 mt and 14 percent in value to $362.8 million.

2016 exports to Japan were the largest of the post-BSE era at 258,653 mt, up 26 percent year-over-year. Export value totaled $1.51 billion, up 18 percent. Chilled beef exports to Japan totaled 112,334 mt, up 44 percent from 2015.

“In addition to the strength of the U.S. dollar, U.S. beef overcame other severe challenges in these north Asian markets and achieved remarkable results,” Seng said. “Despite facing higher tariff rates in Japan compared to Australian beef, U.S. beef displaced its competition and won back significant market share. And the investment the U.S. industry made to rebuild consumer confidence in Korea is paying tremendous dividends, especially in the retail sector. We’re seeing U.S. beef featured regularly by retailers who were once reluctant to carry the product.”

Other 2016 highlights for U.S. beef included:

-    Beef exports to Mexico increased 7 percent year-over-year in volume to 242,373 mt, though value fell 11 percent to $974.9 million. While challenged by a weak peso, Mexico remains a key destination for muscle cuts such as shoulder clods and rounds, as well as for beef variety meat.
-    Led by strong growth in Chile and a doubling of exports to Colombia, beef exports to South America increased 6 percent in volume to 22,810 mt, valued at $92.7 million (down 2 percent). The region should see further growth in 2017 with the reopening of Brazil.
-    Exports to Central America were up 7 percent in volume (12,745 mt) with top market Guatemala up 1 percent and exports to Honduras nearly doubling. Export value was $71.8 million, up 1 percent.
-    Fueled by a resurgence in Indonesia and solid growth in Vietnam, beef exports to the ASEAN region were up 41 percent in volume (29,920 mt) and 15 percent in value ($156.9 million). Indonesia expanded access for U.S. beef in early August. Despite being closed to many products through the first seven months of the year, U.S. exports to Indonesia set a new value record of $39.4 million.
-    Beef variety meat exports increased 10 percent in volume (341,433 mt) and 4 percent in value ($902.2 million) in 2016. Liver exports increased 12 percent to 81,727 and reached a broader range of markets. While liver exports to Egypt – the largest destination for U.S. livers – increased 4 percent, further growth was achieved in Central and South America and with the reopening of South Africa to U.S. beef.

Lamb muscle cut exports continue upward trend

Although U.S. lamb exports were down in 2016, this was largely due to a sharp decline in variety meat exports. While total exports fell 11 percent in volume (8,248 mt) and 4 percent in value ($18.4 million), muscle cut exports increased 26 percent (2,239 mt) and 16 percent ($12.3 million) respectively. Leading market Mexico followed a similar pattern, as variety meat exports declined significantly, but muscle cut exports increased 9 percent in volume (965 mt) and 1 percent in value ($2.8 million). Emerging markets showing promise in 2016 included Bermuda, the Philippines, Vietnam and the United Arab Emirates.

UAN Fertilizers Higher Once Again

A majority of retail fertilizer prices continue to push higher, according to fertilizer prices tracked by DTN for the last week of January 2017. This marks the second consecutive week prices have been significantly higher, although prices have been trending higher much longer.

All but one of the eight major fertilizers were higher although only two were higher by any considerable amount. UAN28 was 8% higher compared to a month earlier while UAN32 was 6% more expensive. UAN28 had an average price of $236/ton while UAN32 was at $270/ton.

The remaining five fertilizers were slightly higher but not by a significant amount. MAP had an average price of $448/ton, potash $329/ton, urea $353/ton, 10-34-0 $439/ton and anhydrous $482/ton.

One lone fertilizer is slightly lower, but this move to the low side was not that notable. DAP had an average price of $430/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.39/lb.N, anhydrous $0.29/lb.N, UAN28 $0.42/lb.N and UAN32 $0.42/lb.N.

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

The one fertilizer no longer down double-digits is urea, which is now down 5%. UAN28 is now 10% less expensive while MAP is 11% lower. Both DAP and UAN32 are 12% lower, anhydrous is 13% less expensive, potash is 14% less expensive and 10-34-0 is 20% lower compared to a year prior.

EIA: Ethanol Stockpiles Build

The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported Wednesday total ethanol stockpiles rose last week for the fifth-consecutive week to a nine-month high even as blending demand surged to a six-week high. Ethanol plant production edged off a record high.

EIA's weekly petroleum status report showed domestic fuel ethanol inventories increased last week by 200,000 barrels to 22.1 million bbl. It is the highest level since the week-ended April 29, 2016, although supply is down 900,000 bbl or 3.8% against the comparable week a year ago.

The inventory building coincides with strong domestic plant production, which edged down 6,000 barrels per day to 1.055 million bpd from a record high during the week-ended Feb. 3. For the four weeks ended Feb. 3, ethanol production averaged 1.055 bpd, 87,000 bpd or 9% above the output rate during the corresponding period in 2016.

Net refiner and blender inputs of ethanol- a measure for demand- surged 38,000 bpd or 4.5% to 875,000 bpd during the week-ended Feb. 3. It is the highest blend rate since the week-ended Dec. 23. On a year-over-year basis, refiner and blender inputs are up 17,000 bpd or 2%, although the four-week average at 846,000 bpd is flat, down 2,000 bpd, against the prior year.

USGC, RFA, Growth Energy Urge Administration To Address China Trade Tariffs On Ethanol, DDGS

In a letter to President Donald Trump this week, the U.S. Grains Council (USGC), Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and Growth Energy are asking for help "in urgently addressing China’s recent implementation of protectionist trade barriers that are shutting out U.S. exports of ethanol and distillers dried grains (DDGS)." Specifically, the three groups are asking the incoming U.S. Trade Representative to put China’s recent actions near the top of the administration’s China trade agenda.

In September 2016, after a nine-month investigation, China imposed a preliminary anti-dumping duty of 33.8 percent against U.S. DDGS and a countervailing duty of 10-10.7 percent. In a final ruling last month, China increased its DDGS anti-dumping duty to 42.2-53.7 percent and its DDGS countervailing duty to 11.2-12 percent. Additionally, the tariffs on U.S. ethanol have increased from 5 percent to 30-40 percent.

"It is widely believed that raising these tariffs will put an immediate end to ethanol exports to China, erasing the significant progress our industry made in developing that market over the past several years," wrote the groups to Trump. "[W]e respectfully ask that reform of these punitive ethanol tariff rates be included in any potential upcoming trade negotiations with China."

China has grown to be a top export market for U.S. DDGS. In 2015, the country imported 6.5 million metric tons of the ethanol co-product, worth $1.6 billion and accounting for 51 percent of total U.S. DDGS exports. By the end of 2016, China had become the U.S. ethanol industry’s third-largest export market, receiving nearly 20 percent of total exports. Nearly 200 million gallons of ethanol worth more than $300 million were shipped to China last year.

As the letter explained, China’s recent actions have contributed to lower prices for ethanol and DDGS. Ethanol prices have fallen 15 percent since mid-December 2016 while DDGS prices have fallen steadily since the summer of 2016. DDGS prices are currently approximately 40 percent lower than in June 2016.

“President Trump’s message of ‘America First’ with regard to trade policy resonated with the U.S. ethanol industry and farmers across the country,” said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “China’s growing demand for protein and renewable fuel has triggered significant investment to meet their needs. The sudden and unnecessary reversal in China’s trade policy, and the barriers to U.S. imports they have imposed, have jeopardized our industry and penalized Chinese consumers. They need to end. We look forward to working with the President and his Administration to restore free and fair trade to the betterment of both.”

“The U.S. Grains Council has worked for 35 years in China to help promote export of U.S. grains and their products and, as importantly, the development of the Chinese agriculture sector. We value these partnerships, however several recent moves in China policy are concerning,” said Tom Sleight, USGC president and CEO. “We are working with our industry and will work with the Trump Administration to get our relationship back on an even and fair footing.”

“Growth Energy is extremely disappointed with the decision by China to subject U.S. DDGS to anti-dumping and countervailing duties,” said Growth Energy CEO, Emily Skor. “While DDGS sales into other markets have partially offset the reduction in U.S. shipments to China, the economic loss to the industry and U.S. farmers is significant and underscores the uncertainty of China’s reliability as a trade partner. We will continue working with all parties on this important relationship and look forward to the opportunity of revisiting this decision in the future.”

FARM Environmental Stewardship Releases New Materials in Preparation for Launch

The Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) Environmental Stewardship Program is releasing educational materials for those interested in utilizing the new FARM Environmental Stewardship (ES) module, launching Feb. 13. FARM Environmental Stewardship is a voluntary tool that provides a comprehensive estimate of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and energy use associated with dairy farming.

The tool is based on a life-cycle assessment (LCA) of fluid milk conducted by the Applied Sustainability Center at the University of Arkansas, incorporating data from more than 500 dairy farms across the United States. The FARM ES module asks a limited set of questions to assess a farm’s carbon and energy footprint – reducing the burden on farmers while still providing reliable, statistically robust estimates.

U.S. dairy farmers have a long-standing history of environmental stewardship. As dairy production has become more efficient, it requires fewer resources to produce the same amount of milk. Compared to 70 years ago, producing a gallon of milk uses 65 percent less water, requires 90 percent less land and has a 63 percent smaller carbon footprint. According to a study by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, dairy farming in North America has the lowest greenhouse gas emissions intensity of any region in the world.

The FARM Environmental Stewardship (ES) module helps dairy companies capture and explain those improvements, and helps dairy farmers identify opportunities for continued improvements that benefit their farm’s bottom line. Cooperatives wishing to participate in the program can opt-in through the existing FARM database, which will allow FARM evaluators to see the assessment in the existing web and mobile data entry applications. FARM will also launch a random sampling protocol for those cooperatives wishing to participate in the program without having to do an assessment on each farm, while still receiving a statistically robust randomized result for their milk supply chain.

NMPF Opposes Proposal to Reduce Dairy Offerings in WIC Program

The National Milk Producers Federation pushed back against a proposal last month from the National Academies of Science (NAS) to reduce the amount of dairy foods offered through the federal assistance WIC program. In criticizing the recommendation, NMPF noted that dairy – an irreplaceable source of nutrition for Americans – is already widely under-consumed among WIC recipients.

Congress requested that the NAS review the WIC food offerings to provide support for aligning the WIC basket with those foods recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.  NMPF noted that milk, cheese and yogurt are “the No. 1 source of nine essential nutrients in children’s diets: protein, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, vitamins A, B12, D and riboflavin.

The reason dairy foods are included in the WIC package is that no other food source can deliver such a wide range of vital nutrients to mothers and young children. Cutting back on dairy is a step in the wrong direction,” said Jim Mulhern, President and CEO of NMPF, who noted that milk has always been central to the WIC program’s goal of providing low-income participants with foods and nutrients they typically under-consume.

The NAS report did contain some pro-dairy provisions, such as that yogurt should be easier for women obtain through the WIC program. The NAS recommendations will now be reviewed by USDA.  NMPF will work with the International Dairy Foods Association to highlight the value to all Americans of dairy foods.

Implanting Calves, Increasing Gain

With nearly 70 years in the business, Graham Angus Farm in Georgia is known for its quality Angus genetics. The farm runs a commercial cattle operation and uses every edge to improve production and wean more pounds. Kip McMillan, cattle manager, implemented an implant program several years ago and continues to see value and return on his investment.

“The extra gain from using implants translates to extra dollars,” McMillan said. “With an average $2 investment per implant, we can see an added 25 pounds in weight on cattle, which easily brings an extra $50 per head. I feel comfortable that implants are a very solid investment.”

Calving at Graham Angus Farm runs from January through early March. At 45 days old, calves are tagged, tattooed and banded and receive their first round of vaccinations. At this time, calves are implanted with SYNOVEX® C. At weaning when calves are 8 months old, steers are implanted with SYNOVEX S to boost gain.

“Our steers are just as heavy as the bull calves, and I think the implants are making up for that,” McMillan said.

Implants change the rate at which animals deposit muscle, and it makes them more efficient in dietary protein utilization, transferring protein to muscle, explains Daniel Scruggs, DVM, managing veterinarian with Zoetis.

“When calves are on the cow and nursing, gaining 1.5 to 2 pounds a day, you can anticipate you’ll have between 15 and 22 pounds additional weaning weights on the calves, if they’ve been implanted,” Dr. Scruggs said. “Calves receive a lower dose implant because of their size, but like any implant, the magnitude of increased gain is improved with better nutrition.”

Calves are mostly nursing, so implant performance is improved with better milking cows. Creep feed or other supplemental nutrition can improve calf implant performance in less optimally milking cows. If calves aren’t receiving proper nutrition, the benefit of the implant will be reduced.

There is a commonly held misconception of lower prices for implanted cattle.

“Our cattle are always implanted and top every sale we go to,” McMillan said. “The gain you see is going to offset any premium you might receive by not being implanted and selling ‘natural’ calves. Implants are an inexpensive investment and offer a great return. I wouldn’t recommend implanting to other cattlemen if I wasn’t already doing it myself."

AGCO Introduces High Speed White Planters 9800VE Series Planters

AGCO Corporation (NYSE:AGCO), a worldwide manufacturer and distributor of agricultural equipment, is bringing to market White Planters™ 9800VE Series planters equipped with SpeedTube® seed tubes from Precision Planting®. The planter will be introduced and on display at the AGCO Exhibit, Lots 7801 and 7823 during the 2017 National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville, Ky.

“To achieve the best yields in corn, producers focus on getting as many acres as possible planted during that very narrow, five-to-10-day ‘optimum planting window’,” says Larry Kuster, senior product specialist for Seeding and Tillage at AGCO. “With SpeedTube on White Planters 9800VE Series planters, they can now achieve precise seed placement of corn at speeds nearly double traditional operating speeds.”

With SpeedTube on White Planters 9800VE Series planters, producers can now achieve precise seed placement of corn at speeds nearly double traditional operating speeds.

In field tests, the 9800VE Series planter with SpeedTube produced the same consistent seed spacing at ground speeds less than four miles per hour, as it did when planting at more than 9.8 miles per hour. That means more acres planted per day and a better chance of hitting the narrow five-to-10-day ‘optimum planting window’ important for top yields.

With traditionally designed seed tubes on planters, high speeds create a ricochet effect as seed travels down the tube, causing poor seed spacing in the furrow. SpeedTube controls the seed all the way from the meter to the furrow. Feeder wheels at the top take control of the seed from the seed meter disk and pull it into a flighted belt that places it in the bottom of the seed trench. The belt speed increases or decreases with planter speed and seeding rates, to ensure the desired seed placement.

The 9800VE Series planters with SpeedTube are the latest outcome from AGCO’s application of planting technology from Precision Planting.

“As more and more producers strive to cover more acres in less time and manage inputs on a prescription basis, AGCO is delivering the equipment, technology and crop production expertise our customers need,” Kuster adds. “White Planters 9800VE Series planters with SpeedTube components are just one example among many recent additions to AGCO’s full-line offering.”

White Planters 9800VE Series planters were introduced in early 2016 and take the renowned seed placement accuracy of White Planters to an even higher level, exemplifying AGCO’s commitment to helping producers improve yields.

The VE Series planters feature the vSet® seed meter, vDrive® electronic drive system, optional automated DeltaForce® hydraulic downforce plus fully integrated 20/20 SeedSense® monitoring so the operator can make needed adjustments to seed precisely, maintain depth, avoid compaction and troubleshoot mechanical problems. FieldView® data collection is available as a factory-installed option and offers real-time, high definition mapping and data collection.

As with other planters in the series, the White Planters 9800VE Series planters may be equipped to fit the needs of nearly any production system.

Tuesday February 7 Ag News

No-till, cover crops, and planned grazing workshop to be held on Feb 15th

The annual no-till, cover crops, and planned grazing workshop will be held Wednesday, February 15th in the Lifelong Learning Center on the campus of Northeast Community College in Norfolk.

Registration begins at 9:00 a.m. with coffee and rolls provided by the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD).

In the morning session, Dan Leininger will be talking about soil moisture monitoring and telemetry.  Leininger has worked at the Upper Big Blue NRD for 13 years as a Water Conservationist and was instrumental in developing the Nebraska Agricultural Water Use Network which measures soil moisture and crop evapo-transpiration to schedule irrigation on crops. Leininger also manages the Upper Big Blue NRD’s demonstration farm that uses crop rotation and cover crops to improve soil health which will reduce input costs and increase profit per acre.

Keith Berns will present:  Carbonomics – The “Currency” of Biological Systems.  Berns combines 20 years of no-till farming with 10 years of teaching Agriculture and Computers.  He is no-tilling 2,500 acres of irrigated and dryland corn, soybeans, rye, triticale, peas, sunflowers, and buckwheat.  Berns speaks on cover crops and soil health more than 20 times per year to various groups and audiences.

Mary Drewnoski will talk about the impacts of cattle grazing on croplands.  Drewnoski is a Beef Systems Specialist with UNL and is researching utilization of corn residue and cover crop forages for backgrounding calves and feeding beef cows. She will talk about how corn residue and cover crop grazing impacts soil health and how grazing cover crops positively impact crop yields.

Lunch will be provided by the LENRD at noon.

The afternoon program will include:  Ray Ward - Managing Fertility with Cover Crops in No-till Soils.  Ward, founder and president of Ward Laboratories says “Soil Health” is simply a measure of the interaction of plant growth to microbial activity”.  Ward will talk about the soil fertility concepts of this “new paradigm” in nutrient management where cover crops are added to continuous no-till cash cropping systems.

Lance Gunderson will present:  Integrating Soil Health Tests with Traditional Soil Tests.  Gunderson joined Ward Laboratories in the fall of 2002 and is currently the Director of Soil Health and New Test Development.  Gunderson will talk about correlating PLFA, Solvita, and Haney tests with standard soil tests in making a “modern day” recommendation for nutrient management plans.

Dan Gillespie, State No-Till Specialist, will discuss Cover Crop Management in corn/soybean rotations, and will highlight management options:  seeding, termination, and planting cash crops.

The workshop will end at 3:00 p.m. and is sponsored by:  the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and the LENRD.

Reserve your seat by Friday, February 10th for the meal count by calling your local NRCS office or the LENRD at 402.371.7313.


The Nebraska Farm Bureau’s (NEFB) Ag Edge Conference will be held at the Embassy Suites in downtown Lincoln, Neb. Feb. 9 and 10.

The conference brings both local and national experts to Lincoln to give farmers and ranchers a competitive edge today for success tomorrow. The weather, global markets, new technologies, and politics all impact agriculture and volatility in the marketplace. The focus of this conference is to give attendees information and tools to help manage these issues.

Thursday, February 9 - 9:00 a.m. - Welcome at Innovation Campus Conference Center
·         Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau president
·         Dan Duncan, executive director of Innovation Campus

9:30 a.m. - Innovation Campus Tours
·         Greenhouse Innovation
·         Innovation Commons
·         Food Innovation

12:00 p.m. - Speaker – Dr. Chuck Hibberd, dean and director of Nebraska Extension
·         Dr. Chuck Hibberd, a Lexington, Neb. native and UNL graduate assumed the position of Dean of Cooperative Extension Division Oct. 1, 2012. UNL Extension, with a network of 83 offices serving Nebraska's 93 counties, is part of the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

1:30 p.m. - Livestock Matrix Panel
·         Steve Martin, Department of Agriculture
·         Mark McHargue, Matrix Committee Member
·         Jen Myers, Merrick County zoning administrator

2:15 p.m. - Washington D.C. Update: Elections and Farm Bill
·         Jordan Dux, director of national affairs, NEFB

3:30 p.m. - Latest News from the Legislature
·         Bruce Rieker, vice president of governmental relations, NEFB
·         Ansley Mick, director of NFBF-PAC and state affairs, NEFB

Friday, February 10 - 8:30 a.m.  -  2017 Legislature Outlook
·         Sen. Jim Scheer, Speaker of the Legislature

10:00 a.m. - The Fight for Water: Who Regulates Water Quality?
·         Don Parrish, senior sirector, American Farm Bureau Federation
·         Jim Macy, director, Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality
·         Mike Sousek, general manager of Lower Elkhorn NRD

11:15 a.m. - 2017 Weather Outlook – Al Dutcher, state climatologist
·         Al Dutcher from the University of Nebraska, will talk about weather patterns during the 2017 growing season.

12:00 p.m. - Speaker – Dr. Ronnie Green, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor
·         Dr. Ronnie Green assumed full authority as the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s 20th chancellor on May 8, 2016. Prior to being named chancellor, Green served for six years as the Harlan Vice Chancellor of the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

NCTA presents college dairy program Feb. 21  

A new college program aimed at dairy production in Nebraska will be outlined Feb. 21 at the Nebraska State Dairy Association convention in Columbus.

The dairy production curriculum which is slated to be offered starting this fall at the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis will be summarized for dairy producers and industry leaders during the NSDA conference.

“We are pleased to help prepare NCTA graduates for a career with the Nebraska dairy industry,” said NCTA Dean Ron Rosati. “This project began as a result of a statewide initiative to support the growth of Nebraska’s dairy industry. NCTA is delighted to be able to work with the Nebraska Department of Agriculture and the Nebraska State Dairy Association to support this industry.”

Rosati and Doug Smith, chairman of the NCTA Animal Science and Agricultural Education Division, were invited to outline the new statewide academic program at the dairy meeting which draws dairy producers and allied industries, said Rod Johnson, NSDA executive director.

“There is a real need for people who understand the dairy industry,” Johnson said. “Our dairy farmers are constantly looking for employees who have specialized training and the ability to care for dairy animals at any stage of the production cycle.”

The college’s presentations will be at 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. at the Ramada Hotel and Conference Center in Columbus. NCTA also will have an information table at the trade show throughout the day.

NCTA is actively recruiting college students now to major in dairy production, Smith said. A partnership between NCTA and South Dakota State University was developed late last year.

Classes will begin Fall, 2017, with three semesters of coursework at NCTA in Curtis, and one semester at Brookings, S.D., where the SDSU Dairy Science department includes dairy production with a commercial scale dairy herd, along with dairy science and processing programs.

New students would be joining the program annually, with semesters staggered between NCTA and SDSU.

“The program involves 76 credit hours of courses, labs, and practical hands-on experience in dairy production and herd management,” said Smith.  “Our University courses in Lincoln and Curtis do not include on-site dairy herds so the partnership with SDSU is a win-win industrywide, here for Nebraska residents as well as out-of-state students.”

The University’s Board of Regents recently approved a single tuition rate per credit hour for all NCTA students, which also begins Fall, 2017. The low NCTA tuition rate, currently $121 per credit hour, will apply to Nebraskans and non-Nebraskans, alike.

Conservation practice adoption spikes among soybean farmers

Adoption of conservation practices by Iowa soybean farmers, including the planting of cover crops, spiked in 2016. This is further proof, says the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA), that momentum is building behind the state’s innovative nutrient reduction strategy.

The annual survey of 321 soybean farmers, conducted by West Des Moines-based Blue Compass on behalf of the ISA, also affirms the willingness of producers to participate in multiple conservation practices and monitor their effectiveness.

The findings were released in conjunction with ISA’s annual research conference being held today and tomorrow (Feb. 7-8) in Des Moines.

Nearly 50 percent of soybean farmers completing the online survey said they planted cover crops in 2016, a 20 percent increase from the previous year and more than triple the adoption in 2013.

Another 71 percent practice no-tillage farming, up from 61 percent the previous year and 49 percent just four years ago.

In-field studies by ISA find that tillage reduction results in less surface erosion and improved water quality, specifically related to suspended sediment and phosphorus. Research of the Raccoon River Watershed shows sediment loads peaked in the early 1970's and have decreased ever since.

Also, tile monitoring conducted last year by the ISA documented a 29 percent reduction in nitrate concentrations in fields planted to cover crops.

“Leadership is defined by positive action that truly addresses a need or challenge,” said ISA President Rolland Schnell of Newton. “On the issue of improving water quality, Iowa soybean farmers are demonstrating their commitment by greater adoption of conservation practices.”

All 321 soybean farmers surveyed say they use at least one method of conservation on their farm, with a whopping 77 percent using four or more practices. They include terraces, buffer strips, grassed waterways, strip tillage, bioreactors and saturated buffers.

When asked which conservation practices provide the greatest economic return for their operation, respondents cited rotating crops, using nutrients efficiently and effectively, no or reduced tillage, grassed waterways and terraces.

Farmers were equally split when asked if cover crops have a positive economic net return on their farming operation. Saturated buffers, wetlands and bioreactors were cited as providing the least economic return.

Schnell said this finding recognizes the fact that edge-of-field practices often come with a high price tag and no direct financial return to the farmer or landowner.

“This dilemma underscores the need for making cost-share dollars available for conservation work, particularly for practices providing the most significant benefits downstream,” Schnell said. “We’ll also continue to make the case for dedicated, long-term funding to increase the pace and number of water quality projects being implemented statewide.

 He says the survey also reaffirms ISA’s long-held belief that action rather than rhetoric, lawsuits or regulatory schemes is the most effective approach to better water.

“For more than a decade, the ISA has advocated the best approach for sustaining water quality improvements is by demonstrating how conservation practices work on the land and measuring their impact,” Schnell said. “Our survey of farmers shows this approach, funded by individual producers and cost-share programs and backed by the soybean checkoff, is effective and constructive.”

The survey also found:
-    Sixty percent of survey respondents said landowners should be directly involved in implementing basic conservation practices.
-    By a margin of nearly 2-1, farmers plan to grow more soybeans this year than last. Eighteen percent said they will increase soybean acres while 10 percent said they’ll plant fewer acres. Nearly 70 percent say the number of acres they plant to soybeans will remain unchanged while 2 percent were unsure.
-    When asked to predict the long-term profitability of their soybean farm, 45 percent of farmers foresee it remaining status quo. Twenty-five percent believe it will steadily improve while 22 percent predict it will worsen. Eight percent were unsure.
-    In terms of survey demographics, 21 percent of respondents grow fewer than 180 acres of soybeans; 46 percent 180-500 acres; 22 percent 500-1,000; 11 percent more than 1,000 acres.

The survey was completed two weeks prior to the Jan. 27 decision by the Iowa Supreme Court prohibiting Des Moines Water Works from seeking damages from drainage districts in three northwest Iowa counties.

 Sioux County Extension to Host First in Nation Farm Bill Hearing

Two program specialists with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach in northwest Iowa will host a live webinar of the first hearing on the 2018 Farm Bill reauthorization later this month. Extension beef specialist Beth Doran and extension dairy Fred Hall will host the Feb. 23 webinar in the basement meeting room of the Sioux County Extension Office, located at 400 Central Ave. NW, Suite 700 in Orange City.

There’s no preregistration and seating will be on a first-come, first-seated basis. The time of the hearing will be announced as soon as it is released.

Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas announced that the hearing will be held on the Kansas State University campus in Manhattan. Roberts, who also is chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, said the hearing will feature testimony from a variety of specifically invited agricultural producers. He said lawmakers need clear direction from producers on what is working and what is not working in farm country.

For more information on the hearing webinar, contact the Sioux County Extension and Outreach office at 712-737-4230.

GIPSA Rule Comment Period Extended

The Trump administration today extended the deadline for submitting comments on a regulation related to the buying and selling of livestock, a move hailed by the National Pork Producers Council, which opposes the Obama-era rule.

The so-called Farmer Fair Practices Rules, written by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA), include two proposed regulations and an interim final rule, comments on which now are due by March 24.

NPPC is most concerned with the latter, which would broaden the scope of the Packers and Stockyards Act (PSA) of 1921 on the use of “unfair, unjustly discriminatory or deceptive practices” and “undue or unreasonable preferences or advantages.” Specifically, the regulation would deem such actions per se violations of federal law even if they didn’t harm competition or cause competitive injury, prerequisites for winning PSA cases.

“We’re very pleased that the Trump administration has extended the time we have to educate regulators about the devastating effects this rule would have on America’s pork producers,” said NPPC President John Weber, a pork producer from Dysart, Iowa. “The regulation likely would restrict the buying and selling of livestock, lead to consolidation of the livestock industry – putting farmers out of business – and increase consumer prices for meat.”

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

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

“That would reduce competition, stifle innovation and provide no benefits to anyone other than trial lawyers and activist groups that will use the rule to attack the livestock industry. And for those reasons, we’ll be asking the administration to withdraw the rule.”

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

The deadline for submitting public comments on the Farmer Fair Practices Rules was extended to March 24 from Feb. 21; the effective date of the interim final rule was pushed back to April 22 from Feb. 21.

Trump Urged To Start Trade Talks With Japan

Ahead of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s state visit here, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the National Pork Producers Council urged President Trump to begin negotiations on a free trade agreement with Japan.

In a joint letter transmitted today to the White House, NCBA and NPPC asked the president “to initiate free trade agreement negotiations with nations in the Asia-Pacific region beginning with Japan. … As you continue to lead America forward, we want to be a resource for your administration for possible strategies in improving existing and future trade agreements for the benefit of our producers.”

Abe will be in Washington Friday to meet with Trump on a number of matters, including security challenges and bilateral trade.

“A successful, comprehensive agreement with Japan would result in one of the greatest trade agreements for the U.S. pork and beef industries and for many other sectors,” said NCBA President Craig Uden, a cattle rancher from Elwood, Neb.

Said NPPC President John Weber, a pork producer from Dysart, Iowa, “Securing strong market access to Japan and other Asian markets is a priority for the U.S. beef and pork industries, and we appreciate the president’s leadership and dedication to making our products the most competitive around the world.”

For U.S. beef and pork exports, Japan is the highest value international market. In fiscal 2016, Japanese consumers purchased $1.4 billion of U.S. beef products and $1.5 billion of U.S. pork products. Demand in the Asian nation for U.S. beef and pork is very strong despite Japanese tariffs and other import measures that limit market access for both products.

Under terms of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, Japan’s 38.5 percent tariff on fresh and frozen beef would have been cut to 9 percent over the agreement’s phase-in period and would have given the U.S. beef industry parity with Australia in the Japanese market. Japan’s tariffs on pork, which are determined through a so-called gate price system, would have been substantially reduced as part of the TPP agreement.

An analysis by the U.S. International Trade Commission found that beef exports to TPP countries, which included the United States, Japan and 10 other Asia-Pacific nations, would grow by $876 million a year by the end of the phase-in period and that most of the growth would be in trade to Japan. Likewise, it found that pork exports to TPP countries would grow by $387 million, with most of the exports going to Japan. Nearly 9,000 U.S. jobs would be generated by increased exports of livestock products, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s export multiplier.

Iowa Farm Groups to Trump: Maintain, Expand NAFTA

Iowa Farm Groups sent a letter to President Trump and his adminstration Monday asking them to maintain and expand upon agriculture sector gains achieved in the North American market, specifically with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Over the past two decades since NAFTA, U.S. agricultural exports to Canada and Mexico tripled and quintupled, respectively, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Iowa farmers want to continue to serve this important international customer base and further expand their export opportunities.

In a statement issued by Iowa Corn Growers Association President Kurt Hora, the Iowa groups urged Trump to expand North American trade partnerships because trade policy has a significant impact on Iowa's farmers.

"The success of our rural economies depends on expanding markets for U.S. agricultural products. We look forward to working with President Trump and his Administration in the coming years to ensure that Iowa farmers are both economically viable and globally competitive," Hora said.

For Iowa agriculture to thrive, we need trade agreements that recognize how important it is that the U.S. meat and grain industries including beef, pork, corn, soybeans, and biofuels, have market access at a competitive level in North America and across the globe. As an organization, we are committed to banding with other farm organizations in working with President Trump's administration on ways to both preserve and expand upon agriculture sector gains achieved in the North American market, Hora pledged.

Since its passage more than two decades ago, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has profoundly changed North American agriculture. NAFTA eliminated nearly all tariff and quota restrictions in agriculture resulting in an integrated system between Canada, Mexico and the United States. This has propelled these countries to the top of the U.S. list in importance for agricultural trade. For the past 20 years, U.S. agricultural exports to Canada and Mexico tripled and quintupled, respectively. One in every 10 acres on American farms is planted to feed our neighbors to the north and south, he pointed out.

"Mexico is the number one market for U.S. corn and the number two market for U.S. distiller's dried grains with solubles (DDGS). Canada ranks as our ninth largest customer for U.S. corn, DDGS, and ethanol. To give an example of how NAFTA has benefitted the corn sector, prior to the agreement, Mexico maintained strict controls on grains via licensing requirements and provided guaranteed prices to their domestic producers of many field crops, including corn. Under NAFTA, Mexico transitioned to a system featuring duty-free trade with the U.S. and Canada and rising demand for feed and food has created new opportunities for intraregional trade in grains," Hora said.

The U.S. meat industry has also benefited from duty-free access to Mexico and Canada, he noted. In 2016, the value red meat exports from corn production in Iowa is valued at $315 million (USDA). These are both top five markets for beef and pork, with Mexico being the leading volume market for pork and second largest market for beef.

"Iowa farmers want to continue to serve this important international customer base and further expand our export opportunities. We look forward to working the Trump Administration to preserve and expand our competitive edge in agriculture as he improves this vital agreement," Hora added.

Food And Agriculture Groups Join Together On Letter To President Trump In Support Of Asia Trade

A total of 87 organizations and companies from the food and agriculture sector, which supports more than 15 million jobs nationally, sent President Donald J. Trump a letter this week highlighting the importance of trade with countries in the Asia-Pacific region and the industry’s interest in working with the administration to build strong trade relationships with the world’s largest market for food and agriculture.

“Reducing and eliminating tariffs and other restrictive agricultural policies in this region will help American workers in our sector compete, creating an opportunity to supply Asian markets with high-quality food and agricultural goods,” the letter says.

“We hope your Administration will create such opportunities for our sector by deepening U.S. economic engagement in this critical region while responding to the Asia-only regional trade agreements being negotiated by our foreign competitors. While many in our sector strongly supported the Trans-Pacific Partnership, we hope future agreements build upon the valuable aspects of that agreement to increase our market access in the Asia-Pacific.

“We welcome an opportunity to work with your Administration to ensure that America’s farmers, ranchers, processors and food companies do not fall behind our foreign peers in this vitally important economic region,” the letter adds.

ASA, Farm Groups Stress Importance of Trade in Asia-Pacific Region

In a letter to President Donald Trump Tuesday, the American Soybean Association (ASA), along with 87 other agriculture groups, called on the administration to reduce and eliminate tariffs and other restrictive agricultural policies in the Asia-Pacific region, allowing American workers to supply Asian markets with high-quality food and agricultural goods.

“We hope your Administration will create such opportunities for our sector by deepening U.S. economic engagement in this critical region while responding to the Asia-only regional trade agreements being negotiated by our foreign competitors,” wrote the groups.

The letter stressed job creation in the U.S. farm sector as a result of international trade, noting that the food and agricultural industry from farm to fork employs more than 15 million Americans, and the food and beverage industry alone represents 12 percent of all U.S. manufacturing jobs.

“America’s food and agriculture sector is poised to grow internationally, building upon its well-deserved reputation for high quality products, trusted brands and constant innovation. Our ability to continue to create jobs and support economic growth in rural America depends on maintaining and increasing access to markets outside the United States through existing and future trade agreements,” the letter continued.

ASA remains committed to engage with President Trump and his administration on the importance of international trade as it affect soy growers across the country.

NGFA, food and agriculture groups, ready to work with President Trump on expanding Asia-Pacific trade

The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA), with a total of 87 organizations and companies from the food and agriculture sector, sent President Donald Trump a letter this week expressing eagerness to work with his administration to expand access to markets in the Asia-Pacific region.

"Reducing and eliminating tariffs and other restrictive agricultural policies in this region will help American workers in our sector compete, creating an opportunity to supply Asian markets with high-quality food and agricultural goods," the letter states, adding that the food and agriculture sector supports more than 15 million U.S. jobs.  The letter also noted that the U.S. food and beverage industry alone constitutes 12 percent of all U.S. manufacturing jobs, making it the largest employer in the U.S. manufacturing sector.

The letter notes that more than 95 percent of the agricultural industry's current and potential customers live outside the United States, making increased access to international markets essential for future success. While many agricultural companies and organizations strongly supported the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, the letter was forward-looking and emphasized that future agreements can build upon the valuable aspects of the TPP agreement.

"America's food and agricultural sector is poised to grow internationally, building upon its well-deserved reputation for high-quality products, trusted brands and constant innovation," the letter states. "Our ability to continue to create jobs and support economic growth in rural America depends on maintaining and increasing access to markets outside the United States through existing and future trade agreements.

"We hope your Administration will create such opportunities for our sector by deepening U.S. economic engagement in this critical region while responding to the Asia-only regional trade agreements being negotiated by our foreign competitors," the letter stated. "We welcome an opportunity to work with your administration to ensure that America's farmers, ranchers, processors and food companies do not fall behind our foreign peers in this vitally important economic region."

Commodity Classic Trade Show Features 400+ Exhibitors; Wide Array of Equipment, Technology & Innovation

With a trade show featuring more than 400 exhibitors commanding more than 2,200 booth spaces, Commodity Classic attendees are strongly encouraged to wear comfortable shoes!

The 2017 Commodity Classic, the nation’s largest farmer-led, farmer-focused convention and trade show, will be held March 2-4, 2017, in San Antonio, Tex.

“Agribusiness companies know that Commodity Classic attracts the nation’s best farmers, so they bring their best equipment, technology, innovations and people,” said Kevin Ross, an Iowa farmer and co-chair of the 2017 Commodity Classic.   “That means you can engage in deep conversations with representatives of the companies you do business with, get answers to your questions and provide input to them on their products and services.”

While many of the world’s leading agribusiness companies are on site, so are scores of other smaller exhibitors offering a wide range of technology, equipment and innovation.   “We really encourage farmers to visit the smaller booths on the trade show floor,” Ross said.  “Many times that’s where you’ll discover the emerging technologies and out-of-the-box ideas that could be just what you’re looking for to help you address challenges in your operation.”

Admission to the trade show is included with the registration fee.

The trade show is just one of the many reasons to attend Commodity Classic.  In addition to the General Session, Commodity Classic offers a wide range of educational sessions including Learning Centers, What’s New Sessions, Mini What’s New Sessions, Early Riser Sessions and the AG CONNECT Main Stage on the trade show floor.  Commodity Classic also includes entertainment and the opportunity to network with thousands of America’s best farmers.

Detailed information on all educational sessions and the entire Commodity Classic schedule are available at  Online registration and housing are also available on the website.

Whitehead Named as National Biodiesel Board Chief Operating Officer

The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) today named Doug Whitehead as its Chief Operating Officer. Whitehead joins the executive team after 10 years in various roles with the organization, most recently as the Director of Operations and Membership.

“Doug has admirably served the biodiesel industry in his various roles at NBB over the years and his experience and expertise in operations, membership, strategic thinking, and management uniquely position us to continue our growth as an organization and as an industry,” said NBB CEO Donnell Rehagen. “His deep understanding of the day-to-day operations of the organization allow us to continue serving our members in a highly effective, efficient way as a member association.”

As Director of Operations and Membership, Whitehead managed the planning, implementation, administration, and reporting of all contracts for funding and subcontracting. He was also responsible for recruiting new members to the organization and served as the main point of contact for current members.

“I’m extremely excited to serve the biodiesel industry in my new executive role with NBB,” said Whitehead. “We have a tremendous team that is committed to growing the market for America’s advanced biofuel. It will be critical to continue to face our challenges head on to maintain our more than 2-billion-gallon market share.”

The announcement comes as US consumers saw record volumes of advanced biofuels in the US marketplace – almost 2.9 billion gallons of biodiesel and renewable diesel in 2016. The industry supports 64,000 US jobs and $11.42 billion in total economic impact according to independent economic analysis conducted by LMC International. Based in Jefferson City, Mo., the National Biodiesel Board is the U.S. trade association representing the entire biodiesel value chain, including producers, feedstock suppliers, and fuel distributors, as well as the U.S. renewable diesel industry. It counts more than 150 companies and organizations among its membership.

Whitehead is a graduate of the Professional School of Architecture at Kansas State University. Prior to his time with NBB, he was a business development and management consultant where he worked with a wide range of non-profit and for-profit organizations including “bricks and mortar” projects, technology, strategic planning, budgeting, issues management, and government affairs.

Jefferson City is Doug’s hometown, where he and his wife Alana have raised their two children and been active members of the community. He served for 15 years on the Jefferson City Public Schools board of education, served as president of the Missouri School Board’s Association in 2014/2015, and has participated in a number of charitable foundations, boards, and executive committees including the YMCA as past Chair and currently a member of the Jefferson City YMCA Board of Trustees.

Holstein Association Identifies Record Number of Cattle in '16

Holstein Association USA, Inc. officially identified an all-time record number of Holstein cattle in 2016 through their registration and Basic ID programs. In total, 690,553 Holsteins were identified in 2016, which is 108,867 more or 18 percent higher than 2015. Registrations totaled 377,305 and 313,248 head were enrolled in the Basic ID program.

The Basic ID program is a stepping stone to full registry status. Participation in Holstein Association USA identification programs has never been higher.

"These statistics speak to the value dairy producers realize from Holstein Association identification programs," said Holstein Association CEO John M. Meyer. "As we all know, the dairy economy was tough in 2016. Even so, dairymen across the country continued to increase their participation in our programs."

He adds that one of the great things about being in the Holstein business is that it has a bountiful array of diversified genetics to choose from that allows dairies to be the best in class in any dairy market they want to be in.

Tyson Foods Quarterly Profit Jumps Nearly 30-Percent

Tyson Foods Inc. reported a 28.6 percent rise in quarterly profit, helped by higher exports of beef and pork and lower livestock costs.

Net income attributable to Tyson rose to $593 million, or $1.59 per share, in the first quarter ended Dec. 31, from $461 million, or $1.15 per share, a year earlier.

Sales rose marginally to $9.18 billion from $9.15 billion.

AGCO Reports Fourth Quarter Results

AGCO, Your Agriculture Company (NYSE:AGCO), a worldwide manufacturer and distributor of agricultural equipment, reported net sales of approximately $2.1 billion for the fourth quarter of 2016, an increase of approximately 6.9% compared to net sales of approximately $2.0 billion for the fourth quarter of 2015. Reported net income was $0.77 per share and adjusted net income, which excludes restructuring expenses, was $0.84 per share for the fourth quarter of 2016. These results compare to reported net income of $0.73 per share and adjusted net income, which excludes restructuring expenses, of $0.80 per share for the fourth quarter of 2015. Excluding unfavorable currency translation impacts of approximately 1.8%, net sales in the fourth quarter of 2016 increased approximately 8.7% compared to the fourth quarter of 2015.

Net sales for the full year of 2016 were approximately $7.4 billion, a decrease of approximately 0.8% compared to 2015. Excluding the unfavorable impact of currency translation of approximately 2.6%, net sales for the full year of 2016 increased approximately 1.9% compared to 2015. For the full year of 2016, reported net income was $1.96 per share and adjusted net income, which excludes restructuring expenses and a non-cash deferred income tax adjustment, was $2.47 per share. These results compare to reported net income of $3.06 per share and adjusted net income, which excludes restructuring expenses, of $3.24 per share for the full year of 2015.


-    Reported fourth quarter regional sales results(1): Europe/Africa/Middle East (“EAME”) (2.0)%, North America +3.0%, South America +63.6%, Asia/Pacific (“APAC”) +21.8%
-    Constant currency fourth quarter regional sales results(1)(2): EAME +1.8%, North America +4.4%, South America +53.9%, APAC +22.7%
-    Generated $370 million in cash flow from operations and $168 million in free cash flow in 2016
-    Share repurchase program resulted in reduction of 4.4 million shares during 2016
-    New $300 million share repurchase program authorized through December 2019
-    Quarterly dividend increased to $0.14 per share effective first quarter 2017
-    Full-year earnings per share forecast for 2017 remains at approximately $2.50

(1) As compared to fourth quarter 2015
(2) Excludes currency translation impact. See reconciliation of Non-GAAP measures in appendix.

“The past year was a challenging year due to continued weakening global market demand for agricultural equipment,” stated Martin Richenhagen, AGCO’s Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer. “Despite these difficult conditions, our solid operational execution during 2016 allowed us to exceed our financial targets and be well-positioned to seek new opportunities for growth. Looking forward to 2017, industry conditions are expected to remain near the bottom of the agricultural equipment cycle in key markets. In response to the industry challenges, our focus continues to be on cost and expense reduction through globalizing processes, reducing complexity and better leveraging scale. In addition to diligent cost management, we will continue to make long-term investments to raise the efficiency of our factories, improve our service levels and strengthen our product offering.”

Friday February 3 Ag News

Nebraska Farm Bureau Says Ag Land Valuation Bill Could Be Helpful, But Doesn’t Deliver Property Tax Reform

Nebraska Farm Bureau says a legislative proposal to change the way agricultural land is valued in Nebraska could be helpful, but the measure won’t deliver the property tax reform being sought by rural and urban Nebraskans who’ve seen their property taxes skyrocket over the last decade.

“LB 338 introduced by Sen. Lydia Brasch on behalf of Governor Ricketts is a step in the right direction to fixing a long-term issue we’ve had with the state using a market approach to valuing agricultural land for tax purposes, but the impact of the bill on property taxes will be minimal and it doesn’t provide tax reform that benefits all property taxpayers in Nebraska; a principle we believe must be considered as we work to correct an imbalance in our tax system,” said Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau president.

LB 338 would change the way agricultural land is valued for tax purposes by moving away from the current market based approach to an approach where land is more closely tied to its ability to generate income. Farm Bureau supports the concept as a way to bring agricultural land values closer to true production capability while minimizing outside influences that can drive market values beyond production capability.

Nebraska Farm Bureau Senior Economist Jay Rempe conducted an analysis of LB 338 to evaluate the potential impacts of the bill.

“The bill does achieve part of the goal of trying to link agricultural land values closer to income conditions and it would bring Nebraska in line with other states in terms of how they value agricultural land. It might also provide some stability year to year in changes in agricultural land values, so there’s some good there in terms of trying to better value ag land, but in terms of trying to achieve overall property tax reductions, I don’t see much coming out of it in that regard,” said Rempe.

The Governor’s office estimates that had the income approach included in LB 338 been in place in 2017, taxable values for agricultural land would have been $2.2 billion lower statewide. According to Rempe, a $2.2 billion reduction in statewide agricultural land values using 2016 data equates to roughly a two percent reduction in agriculture land values.

“A two percent reduction in land values for most farmers and ranchers isn’t likely to translate into much property tax savings when you consider agricultural land values statewide increased more than six percent alone from 2015 to 2016 and more than 263 percent over the last ten years. When we talk about LB 338 and property tax reductions, we’re looking at a statewide reduction of $20 million out of $3.8 billion in property taxes levied statewide. The bill could be helpful in how we value agriculture land, but it’s not a big property tax savings bill,” said Rempe.

Rempe noted that if LB 338 passed, farmers and ranchers would see their valuations change in 2019, but wouldn’t see any potential property tax savings until 2020.

“Several bills have been introduced this legislative session that chart a path forward in providing meaningful property tax reform for all Nebraska property taxpayers and move us toward our goal of $600 million in property tax reductions statewide,” said Nelson.

Bills identified by Nebraska Farm Bureau as key measures to achieve property tax reform to this point include:

LB 545, Sen. Watermeier
Directs an additional $200 million per year over the next three years, to the state’s Property Tax Credit Fund to bring the annual appropriation to the fund to $824 million.

LB 569, Sen. Friesen
The bill creates a Community College Task Force related to evaluating duplication and funding sources for the Nebraska Community College System, and sunsets community college property tax levying authority on January 1, 2019.

LB 44, Sen. Watermeier
This bill would tax sales by online retailers without a physical presence in Nebraska. The measure could generate as much as $100 million in new revenue that could be used to reduce property taxes.

LB 312, Sen. Briese
Expands the sales tax base by eliminating certain sales tax exemptions, including those on many services. The bill could generate around $225-250 million that would be directed to reduce property taxes.

LB 313, Sen. Briese
Raises the state sales tax rate 1 percent, to 6.5 percent. The bill could generate an estimated $275 million to be used to reduce property taxes.

LB 570, Sen. Friesen
Provides a property tax exemption for all tangible personal property, including vehicles, trailers, business and agricultural inventory, and tangible personal property which is not depreciable.

LB 576, Sen. Brewer
Provides a landowner’s property tax bills in 2017 and 2018 shall not exceed their property tax bill in 2016. Places a ceiling on property taxes but allows them to go down if valuations decline.

LB 601, Sen. Erdman
Directs revenue generated from the internet sales tax to the Property Tax Credit Fund.

According to Nelson, property taxes account for roughly 48 percent of the total combined collections of property, state sales, and state income taxes in Nebraska.

“We’re looking for revenue neutral solutions that balance the tax burden and reduce the overreliance on property taxes to fund government services, including education,” said Nelson.

National Beef Ambassador Contest

Congratulations to Liz Loseke of Columbus, NE for making the National Beef Ambassador team!

Omaha to host ANCW Joint Regional Meeting

The joint meeting of American National CattleWomen regions III and VII will be held May 18-20th in historic downtown Omaha near The Old Market, world famous zoo, Iowa Casinos, Orpheum Theatre, etc. The accommodations will also be historic at the Magnolia Hotel.

Thursday begins with shopping in the Old Market, registration, and supper at Spaghetti Works. Friday and Saturday will consist of a range of speakers from an award winning poet/quilter, a nutrition update, presidents' updates, sponsor product research, and some more surprises! A very special supper will be held at the original, family-owned, famous Johnny's Cafe (featured in magazines and even a movie) near the Omaha Stockyard!

Please, look forward to more information coming your way as they make final preparations!  More information will be posted to as well. 

Vote Now for the 2017 Cattle Feeders HoF Industry Leadership Award

The 2017 nominees for the Industry Leadership Award have contributed to the cattle-feeding industry through outstanding advocacy and leadership. Their efforts embody our core beliefs and help us communicate our message within the industry and to American families.

Industry Leadership Award nominees include....

Dee Griffin 
Dee Griffin, D.V.M., is the feedlot production management professor at the University of Nebraska’s Great Plains Veterinary Educational Center. Dr. Griffin has developed and taught techniques for BQA and production monitoring in the packing plant.

Dr. Kenneth Eng 
Dr. Kenneth Eng hasled a successful career as a pioneering consulting nutritionist and rancher. He became one of the early consulting nutritionists who helped boost the efficiencies of a surging commercial cattle-feeding industry in the Southern Plains and western United States.  In 2013, Dr. Eng started the Kenneth S. and Caroline McDonald Eng Foundation, which provides an endowment of two million dollars to fund research in cow efficiency.

Willard Wall 
Willard Wall helped bring together Livestock Supply – a company he started in 1954 – with nine other companies to form Walco International Inc., which later became Animal Health International Inc. Many cattlemen recognize Willard as a mentor and credit him for their success.

Vote here....

Ricketts Announces Schedule for this Year’s Governor’s Ag Conference

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts announced the agenda for the 29th Annual Governor’s Ag Conference, an important event for farmers, ranchers, ag leaders and key agri-business managers in Nebraska. The conference is scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, March 14-15, 2017, at the Holiday Inn and Convention Center in Kearney.

“As we celebrate Nebraska’s 150th birthday this year, we praise the pioneers who worked the land and gave the state such a solid foundation.  It took Nebraska grit for our ancestors to come to what was then considered as the Great American Desert and turn it into some of the most valuable agricultural land in the world,” said Governor Ricketts. “This conference is a way to support Nebraska’s producers by identifying new opportunities and promoting the Nebraska brand of ag products to keep the state’s number one industry growing for the next 150 years and beyond.”

The Governor’s Ag conference speakers understand the importance of Nebraska agriculture and the role it plays in the economic well-being of the state. The theme, “Riding the Nebraska Brand” through domestic and international trade, will be a prevailing topic throughout the conference. Speakers will also address economic development in rural Nebraska; the importance of effective partnerships.

“Agriculture is the backbone of this state,” said Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) Director Greg Ibach. “The Governor’s Ag Conference is an opportunity to keep current in our industry and to network with colleagues, share ideas and concerns, and prepare for the future. I strongly encourage anyone with an interest in agriculture to attend.”

The conference starts Tuesday, March 14, 2017, at 3:30 p.m. with welcomes and remarks from Governor Ricketts and Director Ibach.

Also on Tuesday’s agenda is a panel discussion on economic development in rural Nebraska. The panel features Broken Bow’s community leaders from city government, the Chamber of Commerce, and agriculture, including specialists in purchasing, production and finance.

The annual “Celebrate Nebraska Agriculture” reception begins at 6:00 p.m. on March 14 and features a mix of Nebraska food products and entertainment by leadership expert and author Rhett Laubach.

The conference resumes on Wednesday, March 15, 2017, featuring the following speakers and topics:
·      Doug Carr, senior account executive at Firespring, who will discuss domestic trade and the value of a brand;
·      Bobby Richey, Jr., deputy administrator of USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service,

Discussing working with USDA/Foreign Ag Service and Nebraska’s international branding efforts;
·      Dr. Michael Boehm, vice chancellor for the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at UN-L and vice president for NU’s Agriculture and Natural Resources who will discuss people, places, partnerships and possibilities. 

Anyone interested in agriculture issues is invited to attend. A $100 registration fee covers participation at activities on both Tuesday and Wednesday. Registration and additional information is available online at, or by calling NDA toll-free at (800) 831-0550.

Nebraska Pioneer and Heritage Farm Award Applications Now Available

The AKSARBEN Foundation is currently accepting applications for the annual Nebraska Pioneer and Heritage Farm Awards. Sponsored by AKSARBEN Foundation and Nebraska Farm Bureau, the program honors farm families in Nebraska whose land has been owned by members of the same family for 100 years (Pioneer) and 150 years (Heritage). To date, more than 9,000 families in all 93 Nebraska counties have been honored at their respective county fairs. Each farm honoree receives one engraved plaque and one gatepost marker as permanent recognition of their milestone.

Application details must be verified by the county fair board in which the land is located prior to submission to AKSARBEN Foundation. The 2017 Nebraska Farm Award applications are due to county fair boards no later than April 21, 2017. Application forms can be obtained:
    Email: Jody Siedelmann at
    Phone: 402-554-9600, ext. 107
    Mail: 6910 Pacific St, Ste 102, Omaha, NE 68106

Iowa Century and Heritage Farm Owners Encouraged to Apply

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey encouraged eligible farm owners to apply for the 2017 Century and Heritage Farm Program. The program is sponsored by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation and recognizes families that have owned their farm for 100 years in the case of Century Farms and 150 years for Heritage Farms.

"These awards are an opportunity to recognize the hard work and commitment by these families that is necessary to keep a farm in the same family for 100 or 150 years," Northey said. "If you consider all the challenges and unexpected obstacles each of them would have had to overcome during their life on the farm, it gives you a greater appreciation of the dedication and perseverance of each of the families being recognized."

Applications are available on the Department's website at by clicking on the Century Farm or Heritage Farm link under "Hot Topics."

Applications may also be requested from Becky Lorenz, Coordinator of the Century and Heritage Farm Program via phone at 515-281-3645, email at or by writing to Century or Heritage Farms Program, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Henry A. Wallace Building, 502 E. 9th St., Des Moines, IA 50319.

Farm families seeking to qualify for the Century or Heritage Farms Program must submit an application to the Department no later than June 1.

The Century Farm program was started in 1976 as part of the Nation's Bicentennial Celebration. To date more than 19,000 farms from across the state have received this recognition. The Heritage Farm program was started in 2006, on the 30th anniversary of the Century Farm program, and more than 900 farms have been recognized. Last year 320 Century Farms and 103 Heritage Farms were recognized.

The ceremony to recognize the 2017 Century and Heritage Farms is scheduled to be held at the Iowa State Fair on Aug. 17 in the Pioneer Livestock Pavilion.

"Century and Heritage Farm recognitions at the Iowa State Fair are a great celebration of Iowa agriculture and the families that care for the land and produce our food," Northey said. "I hope eligible families will take the time to apply and then come to the State Fair to be recognized."

Livestock Master Matrix Adopted in 88 Counties

Once again, 88 of 99 Iowa counties notified DNR in January that they plan to evaluate construction permit applications and proposed locations for animal confinements by using the master matrix.

With 11 exceptions, all counties will use the matrix during the next 12 months. The following counties will not use the matrix in 2017: Davis, Decatur, Des Moines, Keokuk, Lee, Mahaska, Osceola, Plymouth, Wapello, Warren and Washington.

Animal producers in these counties must meet higher standards than other confinement producers who also need a construction permit. They qualify by choosing a site and using practices that reduce impacts on air, water and the community.

Counties that adopt the master matrix can provide more input to producers on site selection, and proposed structures and facility management. Participating counties score each master matrix submitted in their county and can recommend to approve or deny the construction permit. They can also join in DNR visits to a proposed confinement site.

While all counties may submit comments to DNR during the permitting process, counties that adopt the master matrix can also appeal a preliminary permit to the state Environmental Protection Commission. The deadline for enrolling in the program is Jan. 31 of each year.

Find more information, including a map of participating counties by searching for Master Matrix at

The master matrix applies to producers who must get a construction permit to build, expand or modify a totally roofed facility. Generally, these are confinement feeding operations with more than 2,500 finishing hogs, 1,000 beef cattle or 715 mature dairy cows.

IA Producers:  Verify Calibration and Distribution When Applying Manure

Liquid manure application in Iowa typically happens in spring and fall each year. The majority of liquid manure application takes place using a tank or a dragline applicator, providing additional nutrients to crops.

Tank applicators transport manure from the livestock facility to agricultural fields and apply manure using a tank-mounted tool-bar. For fields that are close-by, manure can be pumped directly to the dragline-mounted tool-bar. In either case, a pre-determined application rate is used to pump manure through a manifold, which distributes manure to the application points across the tool-bar.     

“Environmental regulations require producers to make sure manure is being applied to agricultural fields in accordance with their manure management plans,” said Dan Anderson, assistant professor and extension agricultural engineering specialist with Iowa State University. “It is important to ensure that the nutrients for use by the crops are being applied in appropriate proportions.”

Variations in tank capacities, manure densities and the presence of foam can cause the application rate to be different from the target number, as can variations in drive speed. Application rate should be verified, and both tank and dragline applicators need to be calibrated to ensure accurate application.

Both distribution of manure and calibrating the applicators are covered in a pair of new ISU Extension and Outreach publications. “Distribution of Liquid Manure Application” (AE 3600) and “Calibrating Liquid Tank Manure Applicators” (AE 3601A) are both available through the Extension Store. A “Calibration Worksheet for Liquid Manure Tank Applicators” (AE 3601B) also is available.

NCBA Recognizes 2016 Top Hand Club Winners at Cattle Industry Convention and Trade Show

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s 2016 Top Hand Club celebrated today the recruitment of 499 new NCBA members, all recruited by NCBA members over the past year.

The Top Hand Club was initiated in 1982 as NCBA’s member-recruit-a-member program that recognizes volunteer leaders for their commitment in growing a strong national association. To become a Top Hand Club member, individuals must recruit at least three new NCBA members. To remain in the club, members must recruit two new members each subsequent year. The Top Hand Club recruitment year runs Oct. 1 through Sept. 30. The program is sponsored by Case IH and Roper, Stetson, Tin Haul.

Each year, three high achieving Top Hands are recognized for their recruitment efforts, as those members who signed on the most new NCBA members. Again this year, the Top Hand Club sponsored an additional award which recognizes the Top Hand who recruited the most in dues revenue. Congratulations to the 2016 Top Hand Club top three recruiters and the top recruiter for revenue.

2016 Top Hand Club Champion and Top Recruiter for Revenue – Billy Flournoy, California Cattlemen’s Association
Billy Flournoy of Likely, California is the 2016 Champion Recruiter for Membership and the Champion Recruiter for Revenue, bringing in 63 recruits adding up to $12,800.00 in revenue during the 2016 Top Hand Club year.  Flournoy has earned airline tickets, housing and registration for the 2016 Cattle Industry Annual Convention and NCBA Trade show, boots and apparel from Roper, Stetson, Tin Haul, and an exclusive personalized Top Hand Red Bluff Buckle. 

2016 Top Hand Club Res. Champion– Melody Benjamin, Nebraska Cattlemen’s Association
With 40 recruits, Melody Benjamin of Lakeside, Nebraska is the 2nd Top Recruiter for the 2016 Top Hand Club year. This is Melody’s thirteenth year as a Top Hand Club recruiter. Melody has also received prizes for her recruiting efforts including $500 in Cabela’s gift cards and registration to annual convention.

2016 Top Hand Club 3rd Place Recruiter – Ryan Higbie, Kansas Livestock Association
Third Top Recruiter goes to Ryan Higbie with 32 recruits. This is Ryan’s eleventh year in the Top Hand Club. His recruiting efforts have earned him a variety of prizes including boots from Roper, Stetson and Tin Haul as well as Cabela’s gift cards.

In addition to being the 2016 Top Hand Club sponsor, Case IH added an additional incentive for recruiter’s ­– $15,000 toward a Case IH purchase. Those who recruited five or more members were entered into a drawing for this grand prize, and for every five additional recruits, they received an extra entry into the contest. This year’s winner, drawn on stage at the annual Best of Beef awards breakfast, is Charlie Swanson of Oklahoma. Case IH announced today that they are proud to sponsor this same promotion for the 2017 recruitment year.

Five Beef Quality Assurance Awards Presented

On February 2, three producers were honored with the checkoff’s annual national Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) award and Dairy Beef Quality Assurance (DBQA) award, which were created to recognize outstanding beef and dairy producers from across the country who incorporate BQA principles as part of the day-to-day activities on their operations. In addition, key cattle industry influencers who promote BQA principles on a daily basis were honored. One individual was recognized with the BQA Marketer Award, and one individual received the BQA Educator of the Year Award.

2017 winners were:
-    Robyn Metzger, Wulf Cattle Company from Morris, Minn. (BQA Cow-Calf Award)
-    Steve Gabel, Magnum Feedyards from Wiggins, Colo. (BQA Feedyard Award)
-    Tricia Adams, Hoffman Farms from Shinglehouse, Penn. (BQA Dairy Award)
-    John & Leann Saunders, IMI Global from Castle Rock, Colo. (BQA Marketer Award)
-    Bob Smith, Veterinary Research and Consulting, Oklahoma (BQA Educator of the Year Award)

“Our 2017 award winners are exemplary models for promoting beef as a quality product from the local to the national level,” says Chase Decoite, associate director of BQA. “They are working diligently to implement the newest, safest, most efficient animal health, handling, daily management and record-keeping practices. They are truly examples of sharing the BQA story!”

Insider Shares Political Realities at Record-Breaking Cattle Industry Convention

Actions of the new administration are like “a dog on ice chasing a marble,” Dana Perino told an audience at the 2017 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show in Nashville, Tenn., Feb. 3. “You have to expect the unexpected.”

Perino spoke to many of the more than 9,000 cattlemen and women at the event – a record number of attendees for any cattle industry convention – at Friday’s general session. The previous convention record was in Nashville in 2014, at just under 8,300.

Renowned ag broadcast journalist Max Armstrong emceed the event, and introduced National Cattlemen’s Beef Association incoming president Craig Uden of Nebraska. Uden briefly visited with Armstrong about his vision for the organization and the industry. High Fidelity, a Nashville a capella singing quartet sang patriotic songs to open and close the event.

Perino was the press secretary for President George W. Bush for seven years and is now a panelist on The Five, which airs daily on the Fox News Channel. Her exposure to the Washington scene brought an insider’s knowledge as keynote speaker at the general session, which was sponsored by Laird Manufacturing. Having grown up in Colorado and Wyoming, she said she felt “right at home” in front of the audience of thousands of cattlemen and women.

Perino said the recent presidential election was unique. The odds of getting an inside straight are 254 to 1, she told the audience, and those are the kind of odds Trump beat to win the presidency. “It was a hard hand to play, and he played it perfectly,” she said. While Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, she didn’t win states she needed, including Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. For two years she didn’t visit Wisconsin, Perino said, and she should have listened to her volunteers in the state, instead of her statisticians, who said the state was safe.

According to Perino, cattle producers should work to make sure they “get in front of the administration as much as possible” on things like trade. She suggested giving away the upper hand in trade to China through destruction of the TPP was not a good idea, but “he (Trump) can change his mind.”

“Government doesn’t work just like a business,” she said, adding that she hoped “things would settle down for them.”  Donald Trump “thrives on chaos,” according to Perino.  At some point, however, things will get calmer “or the chaos will take over.”

Perino was also confident that the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the country’s highest court would be successful. “Mark my words,” she said, “he will get confirmed to the Supreme Court.”


Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., this week introduced legislation to clarify congressional intent on applying the Resources Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976 to agricultural activities. RCRA deals with the proper management of hazardous and non-hazardous solid waste; it does not cover agriculture, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency RCRA regulations state that the statute doesn’t apply to agricultural waste, “including manure and crop residue, returned to the soil as fertilizers or soil conditioners.” But some courts have allowed citizen lawsuits against farmers over application to cropland of manure.

The “Farm Regulatory Certainty Act” would:
·         Reaffirm and clarify congressional intent that RCRA should not cover agricultural byproducts.
·         Codify EPA regulations on the treatment of agricultural byproducts under RCRA.
·         Prevent farmers who are engaged in legal action or making an attempt to work with the state or federal government to address nutrient management issues from being targeted by citizen suits.

Newhouse sponsored similar legislation in the last Congress.

AgriPro® brand wheat varieties break records for 2016 yields and top lists of acres planted

A dedication to continued research and development from the largest private wheat breeding program in North America is reaping results for wheat growers across the country. In 2016, growers proved that they are recognizing the benefits of AgriPro® brand wheat varieties from Syngenta through increases in acreage planted and with record-breaking yields.

In Kansas, SY Wolf winter wheat achieved the highest wheat yield (109.38 bushels per acre) in the 2016 Kansas Wheat Yield Contest for the Central region. In Michigan, new SY 100 winter wheat topped the 2016 Michigan State University Wheat Performance Trial with a yield of 124.8 bu/A.

“We’re proud of the record-breaking performance of AgriPro wheat in 2016 and expect to see this trend continue,” said Darcy Pawlik, product marketing manager for Syngenta Cereals. “Our investment and expertise in wheat breeding is paying off, allowing Syngenta to bring to market new and better varieties with strong agronomic characteristics and higher top-end yield potential. We are pleased to see growers benefiting from our investment by choosing to plant more acres of AgriPro varieties than ever before.”

In 2016, AgriPro varieties were the top planted in five key wheat growing states. SY Wolf was the number one planted winter wheat variety in both Nebraska and South Dakota. In South Dakota, SY Wolf comprised 32 percent of all winter wheat planted. In Nebraska, SY Wolf comprised 7.4 percent of winter wheat planted with 94,000 acres.

In North Dakota, SY Soren and SY Ingmar were the top two spring wheat varieties planted with 15.4 percent and 11.5 percent, respectively, of the 6.30 million acres of the state’s spring wheat. In Washington, SY Ovation has become the number one planted winter wheat variety with 248,368 acres, 13 percent of the total winter wheat acres planted. SY Ovation was also the number one planted winter wheat variety in Idaho.

Syngenta is an industry leader in the development of superior wheat varieties, offering growers consistent performance in the field. AgriPro brand wheat varieties target high yield potential, good test weights, quality grain and superior disease protection. From seed to harvest, Syngenta supports the cereals market with a robust portfolio of seed and crop protection solutions. The unique portfolio breadth enables us to innovate and deliver integrated solutions to help farmers start strong and ultimately grow more wheat.

Thursday February 2 Ag News


The overall trend of weakening cropland prices continued through 2016 in the grain belt states served by Farm Credit Services of America (FCSAmerica) and Frontier Farm Credit.  However, the pace of decline remains slower than expected.

The large 2016 corn and soybean crops through much of the region helped profitably levels and contributed to continued demand for quality tracts, said Mark Jensen, chief risk officer for FCSAmerica and Frontier Farm Credit.

“That being said, overall margins remain tight and input costs still are adjusting downward,” Jensen said.  “As a result, we anticipate continued pressure on real estate values.”

FCSAmerica and Frontier Farm Credit track all farmland sales in Iowa, eastern Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming.  Appraisal teams also update values on 71 benchmark farms every January 1 and July 1.  The resulting data is the largest and most comprehensive snapshot of farmland values in the region.

Below are state-by-state trends based on land sales completed through Dec. 31, 2016:

While values on Iowa farmland had been dropping at a faster rate than in other states served by FCSAmerica and Frontier Farm Credit, the market stabilized somewhat in 2016, particularly in the last half of the year. The average 2016 price for an acre of Iowa farmland  $8,123 – was 2.8 percent lower than in 2015 – $8,370. Since the market’s peak in 2013, the average sale price is down 17.3 percent.

Public auctions dropped 3 percent in 2016 and completed sales were down 7 percent compared to 2015.

Nebraska’s average 2016 sale price for dryland – $4,432 per acre – was down nearly 4.8 percent from the previous year and 13 percent since 2013.  The average 2016 price for irrigated Nebraska farmland – $6,805 per acre – was 6.6 percent lower than in the previous year and 9 percent lower than in 2013.

Public auctions were down 14 percent from 2015 and sales declined 18 percent.

In South Dakota, farmland prices gained ground in 2015 only to drop 8.6 percent in 2016 to $4,813 per acre.  Since 2013, the average price of South Dakota farmland is off 14.8 percent.

The number of public auctions was similar to 2015.  Total sales declined 8 percent.

In eastern Kansas, farmland sold for 3.7 percent less in 2016 than in 2015 – $4,097 vs. $4,256 per acre.  Prices are down 12.5 percent since 2014, when the associations began tracking farmland sales in the state.

Completed sales were down 12 percent compared to 2015.

Wyoming had too few sales – 45 percent fewer than in 2015 – to identify trends.

Commodity Price Stabilization Expected in 2017

After a volatile year, stability is returning to global commodity markets, at least for the time being, said CattleFax CEO Randy Blach this morning during the popular CattleFax Outlook Session at the 2017 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show.

“After the ag market shocks of the past year and an approximate correction of 50 percent in all commodity markets, prices are beginning to stabilize,” said Blach. “That doesn’t mean that we’re past this, or that prices have bottomed, but on a global basis, we’re not likely to see as much volatility during the year ahead.”

He said the industry is continuing to become more current in its marketings and cattle feeders are seeing a return to profitability, the first step in helping to stabilize prices for cow-calf and stocker operations.

Blach said that in the near-term, capacity is going to continue to be a significant issue for packing companies in both the beef and pork sectors. A shortage of available labor and an increase in protein production in beef, pork and poultry will continue to keep the packing sector in the driver’s seat during the year ahead.

“With limited processing capacity, the leverage shift in the marketplace will continue toward the packing, retail and foodservice segments for the time being,” said Blach.

During 2017 and beyond, margins are likely to tighten for cow-calf producers with more stability but also an expectation for lower highs and lower lows. CattleFax analysts noted that the cow-calf sector will shift focus to finding efficiencies, reducing cow costs and improving productivity to remain profitable. Analysts estimated 2017 price expectations for 550 pound steers at $150 per hundredweight (cwt.) with a range of $130-170/cwt. while 750 pound steers will average $130/cwt. with a range from $120-140 during the year ahead.

Blach reported that the historical cattle cycle remains intact, although the price break experienced in 2016 was the fastest and deepest of any in recent history.

“Even with the rapid growth in the U.S. cow herd, numbers are expected to continue higher for the next two-to-three years,” said CattleFax Senior Analyst Kevin Good. “Absolute price lows likely will not be realized until that period of increasing cow herd numbers is behind us.”

Good echoed the expectation for prices to stabilize during 2017, making price and production risk management an easier task for producers. He said fed steer prices will average $110/cwt. with a range of $98-$124/cwt. and the composite Choice cutout will trade from $168 to $204/cwt. with a 2017 average price of $185/cwt. for the year. Grain prices have also stabilized and corn is projected to trade from $2.90-$3.95 per bushel with an average of $3.45 per bushel.

Meteorologist Art Douglas, professor emeritus at Creighton University, said the signs of a return to El Nino conditions are already becoming apparent in the Pacific Ocean, which bodes well for portions of the country.

“The upcoming spring forecast calls for improved moisture from Texas to Minnesota and this will be an ideal setup for spring wheat. The drought in the Southeast will be retracting in the spring while a drier spring weather pattern is forecast for the northern Rockies. Persistent high pressure ridging will keep the western third of the country warmer than normal in the spring and the dry areas of the far Southeast will also be warmer than normal,” said Douglas. “Temperatures will be cooler than normal through the Corn Belt in the spring and with wet weather forecast for the western Corn Belt, there could be problems with field work and spring planting.”

He said the upcoming summer is expected to follow the typical pattern observed with developing El Nino events.

“Midwest summer temperatures will be near to slightly below normal. A persistent trough of low pressure is forecast to persist through the Mississippi Valley through the summer and this will favor cooler than normal temperatures in the plains and above normal precipitation from the Gulf Coast to the mid-Mississippi Valley and Ohio Valley as well as the Southeast,” said Douglas. “The summer monsoon in the Southwest is likely to be weak as the monsoon high pressure struggles to become established in the plains. The Northwest is expected to have a warmer- and drier-than-normal summer due to persistent high pressure ridging.”

Producer Support Of Checkoff Softens, But Remains Strong

An independent survey of producers found 69 percent continue to approve of the Beef Checkoff Program. Importantly, the more producers know about the program, the more supportive they are. The survey also found that producers are generally more optimistic about the cattle industry than they were a year ago.

“We’ve all experienced a very challenging year, both within the industry and in other aspects of our lives,” says Jo Stanko, Investor Relations Working Group (IRWG) co-chair.  “That’s why we’re not surprised by a decline in support for the checkoff,” said the Steamboat Springs, Colo., producer. “But it is heartening to see producers becoming more optimistic about the future.”

The random survey of 1,252 beef and dairy producers nationwide was conducted by the independent firm Aspen Media & Market Research in late December 2016. The survey found that while support of the checkoff is down from a year ago, a substantial majority of beef and dairy producers continue to say their beef checkoff is a good value:
-    76 percent of producers say the beef checkoff has contributed to a positive trend in beef demand,
-    73 percent of producers say the beef checkoff has value even when the economy is weak,
-    66 percent of producers say the beef checkoff contributes to the profitability of their operations,
-    67 percent say the checkoff represents their interests,
-    58 percent believe the checkoff is well-managed.

“Although most indicators have declined in the past year, 76 percent say ‘if producers don't promote beef through the checkoff, nobody else is going to pay to promote it’,” says Stanko. “This tells me producers believe in what our checkoff is accomplishing, believe in the programs their investments support, and believe that they have control over their own future through the Beef Checkoff Program. That’s even more reason to be actively engaged and learn, then share, what your checkoff is doing.”

The key priority of the working group is to develop strategies that communicate checkoff-funded program results, educate, and build relationships with checkoff investors to gain a better understanding of the Beef Checkoff Program, says IRWG co-chair Kristin Larson, a producer from Sidney, Mont. “One way to start becoming more engaged with your checkoff is to read the 2016 Beef Board Annual Report”...

Beef Exports Increase U.S. Carcass Values

Mouthwatering steaks, juicy burgers and delectable roasts. That’s what consumers here in the U.S. love. But what about the underutilized parts of the beef animal? If we don’t consume them here in the U.S., where do they go, and who uses them?     

“I think about the world of possibility and potential that’s floating out there, especially if we are able to gain access to China,” says Louisiana beef producer Amelia Kent. “This past year, our checkoff has invested $7.2 million in export growth programs, primarily conducted through the U.S. Meat Export Federation. That’s investing in work in international communities on how to utilize American beef and why it is safe. We just need to think not only about our marketing environments today but also think about the beef industry for the future.”

The leading beef export  markets (by value) in 2016 were Japan, Mexico, South Korea, Canada, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Additional promising markets are located in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Central and South America and Africa.

What Beef Cuts are Exported Internationally?

Japan:  Short plates, chuck eye rolls, briskets, short ribs, tongues, hanging tenders and outside skirts
Mexico:  Rounds, shoulder clods, inside skirts and variety meats
South Korea:  Short ribs, chuck rolls, chuck short ribs, briskets and hanging tenders
Hong Kong: Short plates, short ribs and chuck rolls
Taiwan:  Short plates, shanks and rib fingers 
Egypt, Southeast Asia, South Africa and South America: Variety meats

Overseas Sales Add Value

International Beef Cuts Through aggressive promotion of the unique attributes (quality, safety, sustainability and nutritional value) of U.S. beef in more than 80 countries worldwide, an average of $258.48 per head for fed slaughter is added in value back to U.S. beef producers.

Strong international demand raises the value of beef cuts from every carcass. For example, the following cuts, of which a large percentage are exported, achieved an increase in 2016 Choice wholesale prices compared to the 2011-2015 five-year average:
-    Chuck roll wholesale prices averaged $2.70 per pound in 2016, up 3 percent from the previous five-year average
-    Chuck short ribs averaged $2.90 per pound, up 6 percent
-    Short ribs averaged $4.34 per pound, up 7 percent
-    Ribeyes averaged $7.52 per pound, up 13 percent
      + (NOTE: prices are freight-on-board, plant wholesale)

By comparison, the 2016 Choice beef cutout was down 1 percent from the 2011-2015 average.

In addition to the value added by these muscle cuts, beef variety meat exports contributed $36.18 per head of fed slaughter in 2016. For Japan alone, per-head value of variety meat exports has increased from $11.90 in 2011 to $15.46 in 2016, reflecting excellent returns for beef tongues shipped to Japan.

BQA Certification Now Free, Online, 24/7

You read the headline right. The checkoff’s Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) certification is now always FREE online! It’s a new interactive online experience that beef and dairy producers can sign up for and complete at their convenience.

Why BQA? Because it tells consumers that you have a commitment to delivering a product that is backed by science-based standards. Certification also addresses many questions that consumers have about beef production. BQA ensures consumers that cattle producers are committed to responsibly raising, safe, wholesome, high quality beef.

“It only takes a few hours of watching modules and answering questions, but serves as a checklist for producers to make sure they are using the latest management practices,” says Josh White, Executive Director of Producer Education for the beef checkoff. “We have seen time and time again how consumer confidence is positively affected when BQA standards are followed, and producers have shown their commitment to producing quality beef by being BQA-certified.”

So whether you need to get certified for the first time, or recertified, do it today! It’s always free!

Pork Checkoff Offers Webinar on New FDA Antibiotic Rules

The Pork Checkoff will present “How to Succeed with the New Antibiotic Regulations,” a free online webinar on Feb. 21 at 1 p.m. CST for producers and allied-industry participants.

The 60-minute presentation will feature three veterinarians and will offer the opportunity for both live and pre-event questions. Speakers include Dave Pyburn, vice president of science and technology at the National Pork Board; Liz Wagstrom, chief veterinarian at the National Pork Producers Council; and Harry Snelson, communications director at the American Association of Swine Veterinarians.

The veterinarians will focus primarily on the major keys to successfully navigating and complying with the new antibiotic rules. They will give special attention to record-keeping protocols, how to maintain a valid veterinary-client-patient relationship and what to expect if you have an on-farm inspection.

“With the new FDA antibiotic regulations in effect for over a month, we felt it was a good time to get additional insights into what producers and veterinarians are experiencing at the farm level,” said Jan Archer, a North Carolina pork producer and president of the National Pork Board. “The webinar also offers producers a convenient way to ask the experts what they should do to fine-tune their antibiotic compliance as part of their overall stewardship efforts.”

Registration for the free webinar is now open at and clicking the webinar link.

ACE reaction to Senate committee approval of Scott Pruitt

Brian Jennings, the Executive Vice President of the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE), issued the following statement after the nomination of Scott Pruitt to head up the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, (EPA) passed a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee vote this morning. 

“We congratulate Mr. Pruitt on the approval of his nomination in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.  If confirmed by the full Senate, we look forward to working with him to help keep the promises that President Trump made about ethanol, namely to ensure the successful implementation of the Renewable Fuel Standard to drive the use of higher ethanol blends, to maintain the RFS point-of-obligation with refiners and importers, and to lift unnecessary restrictions on ethanol use such as the Reid vapor pressure limit.   Further, we anticipate working with EPA to address other important issues and to lay the groundwork for additional ethanol demand based on performance metrics such as octane.”

NMPF Urges Senate Agriculture Committee to Confirm Sonny Perdue as Agriculture Secretary

The National Milk Producers Federation today urged the Senate Agriculture Committee to swiftly confirm former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue as the next U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, as NMPF, its 29 member cooperatives and numerous state dairy associations joined more than 600 other farm and agriculture groups in a letter endorsing Perdue for the position.

In backing Perdue’s nomination, NMPF told Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) that the former Georgia governor’s extensive experience in public policy, business and agriculture provides him with the proper skills to be the next Agriculture Secretary. In addition to serving as governor for eight years, Perdue is the founder of three agribusiness firms and was trained as a veterinarian.

“Gov. Perdue is a small businessman from an agricultural state, who appreciates the challenges our industry is facing, both today and in the future,” said NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern. “The new secretary will have many issues on his plate of great concern to dairy farmers, such as fixing the dairy safety net program, developing export markets, updating child nutrition policies, helping ensure that we have agricultural workers, and implementing new food labeling laws. We will be working closely with him on these and other issues in the coming months.”

The letter noted that, as the former governor of a state that produces billions of dollars in food, fiber, specialty crops, nursery crops, dairy products, poultry and livestock each year, “Gov. Perdue understands the critical role of feeding our country and the world. He is also keenly aware of the importance of agriculture in powering our nation’s economy, providing jobs from farm to table.”

New Bill Would Help Rein in Health Insurance Costs

A recently introduced bill to help lower health insurance costs for small business owners has the backing of farmers and ranchers. Offered by Reps. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) and Krysten Sinema (D-Ariz.), the legislation (H.R. 246) would repeal the annual fee on health insurance providers enacted as part of Affordable Care Act.

“The bill addresses one of the major concerns that farmers and ranchers have related to health insurance – cost. The health insurance tax (HIT) has increased health insurance costs for farmers, ranchers and other small businesses by imposing a levy on the net premiums of health insurance companies, which is passed on to consumers. During 2014, $8 billion of excise taxes were levied, and $11 billion were collected in 2015 and 2016 each,” American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said in a letter to House members urging them to support the bill.

While a one-year moratorium on the tax is in effect for 2017, the HIT, which increases year-over-year, will be back in 2018. “Providing one year of relief from the HIT was a welcome and critical first step, but Americans need the certainty of a full repeal,” Duvall said.

AFBF is encouraging farmers and ranchers to ask their representatives to support H.R. 246.

USDA Dairy Products December 2016 Production Highlights

Total cheese output (excluding cottage cheese) was 1.05 billion pounds, 1.3 percent above December 2015 and 3.0 percent above November 2016.  Italian type cheese production totaled 461 million pounds, 1.1 percent below December 2015 but 5.5 percent above November 2016.  American type cheese production totaled 416 million pounds, 3.9 percent above December 2015 and 5.1 percent above November 2016.  Butter production was 164 million pounds, 6.7 percent below December 2015 but  13.3 percent above November 2016.

Dry milk powders (comparisons with December 2015)
Nonfat dry milk, human - 156 million pounds, up 3.2 percent.
Skim milk powders - 51.6 million pounds, up 18.7 percent.

Whey products (comparisons with December 2015)
Dry whey, total - 79.6 million pounds, down 13.3 percent.
Lactose, human and animal - 93.4 million pounds, up 2.5 percent.
Whey protein concentrate, total - 36.9 million pounds, down 12.8 percent.

Frozen products (comparisons with December 2015)
Ice cream, regular (hard) - 50.3 million gallons, down 11.0 percent.
Ice cream, lowfat (total) - 25.6 million gallons, up 0.7 percent.
Sherbet (hard) - 2.14 million gallons, down 1.6 percent.
Frozen yogurt (total) - 4.35 million gallons, up 8.6 percent.

Eli Lilly Reports Higher Revenues, Net Profit in 2016

For the full year 2016, Eli Lilly reports worldwide revenue up 6 percent compared with 2015 to $21 billion. Higher revenue was due to increased volume, as realized prices and the impact of foreign exchange rates were relatively flat. The worldwide volume increase was primarily driven by Trulicity and other new pharmaceutical products, including Cyramza, Jardiance and Taltz, as well as Humalog and Erbitux.

Revenue in the U.S. increased 14 percent to $11.5 billion, driven by increased volume for several pharmaceutical products, including Trulicity, Humalog, Erbitux (due to the transfer of commercialization rights in North America to Lilly), Taltz and Jardiance, partially offset by lower volumes for Zyprexa. U.S. revenue also benefited from reductions to the Cymbalta reserve for expected product returns of approximately $175 million in 2016, favorably affecting both volume and price.

In the fourth quarter of 2016, worldwide animal health revenue totaled $837.6 million, an increase of 3 percent compared with the fourth quarter of 2015. U.S. animal health revenue increased 2 percent to $389.0 million, due to increased revenue for companion animal products reflecting new launches and expanding relationships with distributors, largely offset by decreased revenue for food animal products due to market access pressures. Animal health revenue outside the U.S. increased 4 percent to $448.6 million, primarily due to increased revenue for food animal products. Excluding the impact of foreign exchange rates, worldwide animal health revenue increased 4 percent.

Wednesday February 1 Ag News

Sasse, Nebraska Agriculture Leaders Meet with Secretary of Agriculture Nominee

U.S. Senator Ben Sasse released the following statement after meeting with President Trump’s Secretary of Agriculture nominee, former Governor Sonny Perdue. Senator Sasse and USDA Secretary nominee Perdue were joined by Nebraska agriculture leaders, including Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson, Nebraska Cattlemen President Troy Stowater, and Nebraska Sugarbeet Growers President Kendall Busch.

“It’s good to introduce the next Secretary of Agriculture to some of the Nebraskans whose sweat and long hours make us the world’s breadbasket,” said Sasse. “This was a productive conversation with USDA Secretary nominee Perdue. We talked about the unique interests of Midwest agriculture, the importance of trade and export markets, and Nebraska’s role in feeding a growing world.” 

“I want to thank Senator Sasse for his leadership and work to bring Nebraskans to the table with Governor Perdue,” said Nelson. “We care about trade because we have to expand new markets and opportunities for Nebraska agricultural products. I’m glad we were able to share Nebraska’s unique challenges and opportunities with the President’s nominee for secretary of agriculture."

“A huge thank you to Senator Sasse for the work he does for agriculture in our state," said Stowater. "Nebraska Cattlemen strongly supports the nomination of Sonny Perdue to be the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. Governor Perdue understands that trade is vital to the future of the U.S. beef industry. We look forward to helping him expand opportunities for Nebraska’s beef exports with our global trading partners, and we appreciate his steadfast support for our nation’s livestock producers.”

“I would like to thank Senator Sasse for his support and leadership,” said Busch. “The sugarbeet growers in western Nebraska are facing trying times.  It is important that Senator Sasse and USDA Secretary nominee Sonny Perdue understand the importance of trade and the need to fix the suspension agreements between the U.S. and Mexico.  Our growers support a strong farm policy as negotiations being on a new farm bill and look forward to work together with the Secretary.”


      Thirty Nebraska LEAD fellows recently returned from an international study and travel seminar to China, Laos and Thailand.

      During the two-week January seminar, the 35th group of fellows participated in briefings with U.S. Embassy officials in Beijing, China, and Bangkok, Thailand. Sessions included presentations by Mark Ford, director of the U.S. Agricultural Trade Office in Beijing; and Christine Sloop, counselor, and Paul Welcher, agricultural attaché with the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service in Bangkok.

      “Our international study is designed to provide first-hand appreciation and understanding of our international community and the potential for people of all nations to work together,” said Terry Hejny, Nebraska LEAD Program director and group leader.

      The LEAD 35 fellows visited international businesses, farm operations and entrepreneurs. Additionally, they were able to meet with officials at the Shanghai SUS Environment Co., which focuses on environmental protection, garbage/sewage disposal and bioenergy production; the COPE Center in Vientiane, Laos, which provides support to survivors of unexploded ordnance from the Vietnam War; and the Agriculture and Forestry Office and the Northern Agriculture and Forestry College near Luang Prabang, Laos.

      “The people-to-people encounters provided the members of Nebraska LEAD Group 35 an opportunity to view characteristics, conditions and trends in China, Laos, and Thailand, and determine relationships to issues and situations in our country,” Hejny said. “Through this experience, participants develop techniques in identifying comparisons and contrasts of the countries we recently studied in areas such as agriculture, politics, economics, energy, religion, culture and history as well as technology, trade, food, art and philosophy.”

      Fellows are Chris Armstrong, North Bend; Blake Bierman, Arnold; Jon Brabec, Wahoo; Drew Cramer, Cambridge; Seth Davison, Lincoln; Brenda Dutcher, Humboldt; Kim Eberly, Aurora; Linda Emanuel, North Bend; Josh Frizzell, Kearney; Cale Giese, Wayne; Nick Hatz, Omaha; Tim Higgins, Crete; Leander Hopkins, Bayard; Andy Jobman, Gothenburg; Jana Jobman, Gothenburg; Lloyd Johnson, Broken Bow; Jason Kloepping, Bartley; Sam Krueger, Blue Hill; Nate Lehmann, Gibbon; Raymond Morse, Norfolk; Steve Niewohner, Snyder; Jordan Nun, Lincoln; Logan Pribbeno, Imperial; Gerry Sheets, Sargent; Clint Shipman, Red Cloud; Curtis Stallbaumer, Oconto; Sye Tecker, Parks; Melissa Wheeler, Alvo; Matt Wiegand, Lincoln; and Tracy Zink, Indianola.

      The Nebraska LEAD Program is for individuals active in production agriculture and agribusiness. It is a two-year leadership development program under the direction of the Nebraska Agricultural Leadership Council, in cooperation with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

      For more information, or to request an application for Nebraska LEAD 37, contact the Nebraska LEAD Program, 104 Agricultural Communications Building, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 68583-0763, call 402-472-6810 or email the Nebraska LEAD Program at The application deadline is June 15.


      Nebraska women will learn how to plan and make better business decisions for farms, ranches, communities, families and themselves at the 32nd Women in Agriculture Conference, Feb. 23-24 at the Kearney Holiday Inn Conference Center, 110 S. Second Ave. in Kearney.

      The Women in Agriculture Conference is one of the longest-running women’s conferences of its kind in the country. The theme of the 2017 conference is "Women in Agriculture: The Heart of the Farm," and features a variety of workshops and speakers.

      Conference keynote speaker Ron Hanson, emeritus professor of agricultural economics at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, will discuss "Continuing the Nebraska Legacy of Family Farming and Ranching" on Feb. 23. The talk will explore the importance and urgency of developing and implementing a succession plan for family farm and ranch operations. The talk is sponsored by Farm Credit Services of America.

      Amanda Freund of East Canann, CT, is the capstone speaker on Feb. 24. Her talk, "Connected Across the Generations -- Women in Agriculture," will focus on how to encourage women to be part of the agriculture industry. Also, Valerie Bayes of Monsanto will discuss the reasons to be an "Ag Advocate."

      Five concurrent sessions will be held, offering participants more than 30 workshops to choose from. Session topics include: crop insurance, commodity and global marketing, Quicken bookkeeping, cash flow and cost control, farmland values, lease provisions herbicide resistance, and beef genetics.

      Sessions on the evening of Feb. 23 will include time for networking, exercise and home redesign.

      Booth exhibitors will offer information that may also be useful in farm/ranch operation.

      Registration is available online at or by sending a completed form with a check to UNL Agricultural Economics, 303 Filley Hall, Lincoln, NE, 68583-0922. For more information about the Women in Agriculture conference, including a registration book, go to

      Early registration, due by Feb. 13, is $125. Registration after Feb. 13 is $150. Fees include all workshop materials, registration, meals and breaks.

      Lodging is available by calling the Kearney Holiday Inn at 308-237-5971.

      Conference sponsors include the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Nebraska Extension and the Department of Agricultural Economics as well as Farm Credit Services of America, Monsanto, Reinke Irrigation, and Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation and Foundation.


The Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) is currently accepting grant proposals for its 2017 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP). Specialty crops include fruits and nuts, vegetables, and horticulture and nursery crops. The state’s program supports research, development and marketing of specialty crops. The deadline for submitting proposals to NDA is March 1 at 5 p.m.

“Specialty crops add diversity and value to the state’s agriculture industry,” said NDA Director Greg Ibach. “We’re always looking for innovative projects and ideas to help specialty crop producers stay competitive and grow their businesses.”

NDA administers the state’s SCBGP, which is funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). For the 2017 SCBGP, NDA anticipates approximately $600,000 will be available to fund new projects. Producers, organizations and associations, as well as state and local agencies, educational groups and other specialty crops stakeholders are eligible to apply.

Sixteen specialty crop projects were funded in Nebraska last fall through the program for a total of $620,000.

This year’s proposals will be reviewed and scored using select criteria. Applicants who make it through the first round will be asked to submit additional information. NDA and USDA will announce the projects receiving funding in the fall.

Instructions for submitting a proposal, proposal applications, performance measures and program guidelines are available on NDA’s website at All proposals should be saved as a Microsoft Word .docx file and sent electronically to by the March 1 deadline. For more information contact: Casey Foster at (402) 471-4876, or by the email listed above.

To view a comprehensive list of eligible specialty crops and examples of projects funded under the SCBGP, visit USDA’s website at

 Smith Receives Awards from Nebraska Wheat Growers for Support of Agriculture

Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) received the Nebraska Wheat Growers Association’s Person of the Year Award and the National Association of Wheat Growers’ Wheat Advocate Award today in recognition of his support of the wheat industry and U.S. agriculture.

“Nebraska producers deserve our gratitude for their tireless work, which has made the Third District the top-producing agriculture district in the country,” Congressman Smith said.  “I thank the Nebraska Wheat Growers Association for these awards and look forward to many more opportunities to work together on issues vital to Nebraska agriculture.  As chairman of the Modern Agriculture Caucus and a member of the Ways and Means Committee, I will continue to lead efforts to roll back onerous regulations, open more markets to producers, and promote innovation and science-based policies.”

“It is an honor to present Congressman Smith with our NWGA Person of the Year Award as well as the National Association of Wheat Growers’ Wheat Advocate Award,” said Nebraska Wheat Growers Association President Randon Peters.  “We want to thank the Congressman for his continued efforts to support our state’s wheat farmers and agriculture.  His advocacy on trade issues and regulatory challenges assures our farmers that he understands our industry and gives agriculture an ally in Washington, D.C.”

National Pork Board Launches The Taste of Now Campaign

The National Pork Board has launched its Taste of Now marketing campaign. The integrated marketing campaign, which also includes significant Spanish-language outreach (El Sabor de Hoy), creates consumer awareness of pork’s unmatched flavor and value making it the ideal protein on any occasion.

“Pork is trending and there has never been a better time to enjoy pork and make delicious dishes for family and friends,” said Jan Archer, National Pork Board president and a pig farmer from North Carolina. “That is the focus of this first national campaign of 2017. And we are teaming up with celebrity chefs and pork advocates with a simple message – When it comes to pork, there has never been a better time than now to make something delicious.”

Hispanic actor and TV personality Carlos Ponce will share the virtues of pork and bring the campaign to life. Additionally, five-time James Beard Award nominee Jose Mendin – who stars in a multimedia series featuring the loin, ham, ribs and tenderloin – has created 10 delicious, easy-to-prepare and budget-friendly recipes to inspire Latino consumers to indulge with pork.

“My many passions in life call for a fast-paced lifestyle. I always fall short with time but never to enjoy a great meal, and that is why I always choose pork daily as the main protagonist of my meals,” said Carlos Ponce. “Pork is quick and easy to stir up and keeps me in shape and feeling good for those everyday moments.”

The recipes, which include 30-second “how-to” videos, are on and other social media platforms. El Sabor de Hoy includes an 11-week radio and digital media buy in the top 10 Hispanic markets in the U.S. while The Taste of Now English-language campaign includes the top 10 African-American markets. Celebrity chef Richard Ingraham is sharing loin and rib recipes to the African American community through interviews and social media efforts.

The Hispanic marketing project includes a national sweepstakes that gives fans a chance to win a trip to Miami to attend the Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival, Feb. 22-26.

The Taste of Now Pork Sweepstakes

In addition, from now through April 15, all U.S. consumers can be rewarded for something they are doing now more than ever before: enjoying pork. The #PorkNowSweeps offers consumers a chance to win daily prizes by sharing a photo of their pork dish on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #PorkNowSweeps.

To take part in the contest, pork lovers simply need to share a photo of the pork on their fork – or spoon, kebab, grill, plate or bowl – through social media. Everyone who enters will have the chance to win a $10 coupon good for a purchase of fresh pork, as well as other daily prizes totaling more than $10,000.

#PorkNowSweeps celebrates and highlights the many ways to enjoy pork. The Pork Checkoff wants to see how America is enjoying pork now, in the moment – whether it is a favorite pork chop recipe, a creative take on ham or the latest savory pork dish at a restaurant.

“While mealtime has always been about sharing and community, social media has changed the dynamic of that community and even the way we eat,” Archer said. “Now we can share our food experiences, photos and inspiration with others across America and even around the world.”

For sweepstake details or to enter, go to the Pork Be inspired Facebook page. Contest prizes range from pork-themed cookbooks to a catered, Houston-inspired spread for the big game, to new cooking tools. The sweepstakes continues through Easter and will be shared via celebrity pork fans and featured on

Grain Crushings and Co-Products Production

Total corn consumed for alcohol and other uses was 529 million bushels in December 2016, up 5 percent from December 2015. December 2016 usage included 91.8 percent for alcohol and 8.2 percent for other purposes. Corn total corn consumed for beverage alcohol totaled 2.60 million bushels, down 23 percent from November 2016 and down 8 percent from December 2015. Corn for fuel alcohol, at 477 million bushels, was up 6 percent from November 2016 and up 6 percent from December 2015. Corn consumed in December 2016 for dry milling fuel production and wet milling fuel production was 89.7 percent and 10.3 percent respectively.

Dry mill co-product production of distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) was 2.10 million tons during December 2016, up 5 percent from November 2016 and up 8 percent from December 2015. Distillers wet grains (DWG) 65 percent or more moisture was 1.43 million tons in December 2016, up 12 percent from November 2016 and up 2 percent from December 2015.

Wet mill corn gluten feed production was 349 thousand tons during December 2016, up 13 percent from November 2016 and up 3 percent from December 2015. Wet corn gluten feed 40 to 60 percent moisture was 279 thousand tons in December 2016, down 15 percent from November 2016 and down 9 percent from December 2015.

Oilseed Crushings, Production, Consumption and Stocks

Soybeans crushed for crude oil was 5.08 million tons (169 million bushels) in December 2016, compared to 5.12 million tons (171 million bushels) in November 2016 and 5.01 million tons (167 million bushels) in December 2015. Crude oil produced was 1.95 billion pounds down slightly from November 2016 but up 1 percent from December 2015. Soybean once refined oil production at 1.41 billion pounds during December 2016 decreased 2 percent from November 2016 but increased slightly from December 2015.

Canola seeds crushed for crude oil was 179 thousand tons in December 2016, compared to 209 thousand tons in November 2016 and 166 thousand tons in December 2015. Canola crude oil produced was 150 million pounds down 16 percent from November 2016 but up 10 percent from December 2015. Canola once refined oil production at 117 million pounds during December 2016 was down 28 percent from November 2016 but up 22 percent from December 2015. Cottonseed once refined oil production at 51.5 million pounds during December 2016 was up 6 percent from November 2016 but down 5 percent from December 2015.

Edible tallow production was 75.6 million pounds during December 2016, down 8 percent from November 2016 and down 4 percent from December 2015. Inedible tallow production was 313 million pounds during December 2016, down 1 percent from November 2016 but up 9 percent from December 2015. Technical tallow production was 100 million pounds during December 2016, down 21 percent from November 2016 but up 6 percent from December 2015. Choice white grease production at 122 million pounds during December 2016 decreased 5 percent from November 2016 but increased 3 percent from December 2015.

Flour Milling Products

All wheat ground for flour during the fourth quarter 2016 was 236 million bushels, up 1 percent from the third quarter 2016 grind of 233 million bushels and up slightly from the fourth quarter 2015 grind of 236 million bushels. Fourth quarter 2016 total flour production was 110 million hundredweight, up 1 percent from the third quarter 2016 and up 1 percent from the fourth quarter 2015. Whole wheat flour production at 5.68 million hundredweight during the fourth quarter 2016 accounted for 5 percent of the total flour production. Millfeed production from wheat in the fourth quarter 2016 was 1.68 million tons. The daily 24-hour milling capacity of wheat flour during the fourth quarter 2016 was 1.62 thousand hundredweight.

Durum wheat ground for flour and semolina production during the fourth quarter of 2016 totaled 18.5 million bushels, up 14 percent from the third quarter 2016 and up 6 percent from the fourth quarter 2015. Fourth quarter 2016 durum flour and semolina production was 8.72 million hundredweight, up 13 percent from the third quarter 2016 and up 7 percent from the fourth quarter 2015. Whole wheat durum flour and semolina production was 184 thousand hundredweight, up 2 percent from 181 thousand hundredweight in the third quarter 2016 but down 3 percent from 189 thousand hundredweight from the fourth quarter 2015. Fourth quarter durum wheat millfeed production was 125 thousand tons and the daily 24-hour milling capacity for durum and semolina production was 127 thousand hundredweight.

Rye ground for flour during the fourth quarter of 2016 was 445 thousand bushels, down 6 percent from the third quarter 2016 and down 19 percent from the fourth quarter 2015. Rye flour production during the fourth quarter of 2016 was 217 thousand hundredweight, compared to 233 thousand hundredweight in the previous quarter and 261 thousand hundredweight in the same quarter for the previous year. The daily 24-hour milling capacity for rye milling was 9.39 thousand hundredweight for the fourth quarter 2016.

EIA: Ethanol Stocks at 9-Month High

Total ethanol stockpiles rose for the third straight week to a fresh nine-month high, while domestic plant production surged to a fresh record high during the week-ended Jan. 27, the Energy Information Administration reported on Wednesday. EIA also showed greater ethanol demand for blending.

The EIA's Weekly Petroleum Status Report showed domestic fuel ethanol inventories increased last week by another 100,000 barrels (bbl) to 21.9 million bbl, the highest level since the week-ended April 29, 2016 when stocks were at 22.201 million bbl. Supplies are down 500,000 bbl, or 2.2%, year-on-year.

Domestic plant production ramped up 10,000 barrels per day (bpd), or 1.0%, to 1.061 million bpd for the week-ended Jan. 27 while 101,000 bpd, or 10.5%, higher versus a year earlier. For the four weeks ended last week, ethanol production averaged 1.054 bpd, up 78,000 bpd, or 7.9%, from year prior.

Net refiner and blender inputs of ethanol, a measure of demand, rose 4,000 bpd to 837,000 bpd during the week-ended Jan. 27. Year over year, refiner and blender inputs are up 22,000 bpd, or 2.7%. The four-week average blending demand rate is down 7,000 bpd from year prior at 829,000 bpd.

Cattlemen’s College Opens Cattle Industry Annual Convention

Education is the focus for the first days of the 2017 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show, with more than 1,250 cattlemen and women on-hand for the 24th edition of Cattlemen’s College, sponsored by Zoetis Animal Health. The event has become the gold standard for educational seminars with more than 15 educational sessions focused on providing opportunities for participants to improve the profitability, productivity and ultimately the sustainability of their farms and ranches.

“The focus of Cattlemen’s College is to provide real-world solutions and ideas that participants can take home and apply to their operations. The information that panelists are providing at this year’s event will provide ideas that can be applied right away,” said Josh White, NCBA executive director of producer education. “We have an impressive array of speakers representing every segment of the beef community. With five different educational tracks, participants can focus on their specific areas of interest. From changing consumer attitudes to topics focused on succession planning and specific animal management information, each session was developed to help move our industry ahead.”

The Cattlemen’s College event began Tuesday afternoon with two sessions, “Turning Loss into Gain: Managing Risk to Improve Fertility,” featuring Alison Van Eenennaam, Ph.D., and Megan Rolf, Ph.D., who presented new research on cowherd fertility and its impact on profitability. A concurrent session featured Kent Andersen, Ph.D., who examined the use of genetic tools for building more productive cowherds and adding value to feeder and fed cattle.

This morning, Cameron Bruett, head of corporate affairs for JBS USA, spoke to a packed room about the changing consumer expectations for beef. He emphasized the need for every segment of the beef supply chain to better understand their customers to meet the needs of a changing industry. He also emphasized the significant challenges posed by competing proteins, an uncertain political environment and its impact on labor in the United States.

“Today, it’s very difficult to find someone to work in a packing plant,” said Bruett. “Much of our labor force is comprised of first-generation immigrants and they’re great people, but we still face significant turnover and unplanned absenteeism among our work force, and that makes it difficult to run a business. Ultimately, it makes it difficult to get our product out the door. That impacts the cattlemen and women who depend on the packers to supply beef to the consumers. The bottleneck in our industry isn’t in the number of animals any more. The bottleneck is a labor shortage in the plant, and it’s a major problem.”

Bruett, who has played key roles in the beef sustainability movement, also spent time defining beef sustainability and illustrating the importance and benefits of the industry’s path of continuous improvement.

“There are a lot of labels out there, but those labels aren’t about sustainability,” said Bruett. “Those labels are about a production practice, but sustainability is much more than any single production practice. In order to evaluate the sustainability of the product, the profitability, social and environmental aspects must be considered equally. Something may be good for the environment, but if it’s not also profitable, then it’s not sustainable.

“There’s a great deal of concern that there’s going to be a mandate about practices, but that’s not what sustainability is about; it’s about the end product. If that product is profitable, contributes to the social landscape and has positive environmental benefits, then it becomes sustainable,” Bruett said.

That message resonated with the 200-plus collegiate Cattlemen’s College participants in attendance at this year’s event.

“It’s encouraging to see so many college students in attendance,” said White. “These students represent the future of the beef industry and I’m proud that we’ve been able to put together an event that is providing them with information that they will be able to take forward and apply to their future careers. Ultimately, Cattlemen’s College is designed to benefit and improve our industry and I’m confident that these collegiate participants will help to create a bright future for our industry.”

Presentations from the 2017 Cattlemen’s College will be available online after Feb. 17. Cattlemen and women who were unable to attend the event in Nashville can take advantage of this online option at:

120th Annual Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show Kicks Off in Nashville

The 120th annual Cattle Industry Convention and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Trade Show got underway today, with more than 8,000 participants from across America and around the world gathering at Nashville’s iconic Gaylord Opryland Hotel through Saturday.

“The Convention and NCBA Trade Show is the beef industry’s largest gathering of the year, and it’s a great opportunity for everybody in the industry to network, set public policy for 2017, and learn about all the new technology and science that’s improving the quality and safety of American-produced beef every day,” said NCBA President Tracy Brunner. “Of course, we’ll manage to have a little fun in Music City, as well, so if you’re connected to the cattle industry in any way, it’s not too late to mosey on down and join us in Nashville this week.”

Cattlemen’s College, which is considered the premier educational resource for cattle producers, kicked off on Tuesday afternoon with educational sessions focused on genetics, health, and best business practices. The doors to the NCBA Trade Show opened on Wednesday afternoon, with 353 exhibitors showcasing the industry’s latest products and technology.

The Convention’s opening general session on Wednesday afternoon was emceed by country music superstar Josh Turner and keynoted by Dr. Beck Weathers. Dr. Weathers in 1996 barely survived one of the most violent and deadly storms ever to strike Mt. Everest, and he served as the inspiration for the major motion picture Everest.

"You learn a variety of things from an experience like this," said of his brush with death. "I am an entirely ordinary individual, and we are all cut from the same clay. If I can survive that which is unsurvivable, so can you."

Other highlights this week include the “Stars and Guitars” reception at the Country Music Hall of Fame, a keynote speech from former White House press secretary Dana Perino on Friday morning, and the “Cowboy’s Night at the Grand Ole Opry,” featuring host Josh Turner and country music stars Trace Atkins, Chris Janson, and the Gatlin Brothers.

The Convention will wrap up on Saturday morning with a meeting of NCBA’s Board of Directors, where official public policy positions will be set for the coming year.

“NCBA is first and foremost a grassroots organization, and we appreciate the thousands of our members who are taking the time to meet in Nashville and set our industry’s direction for another year,” Brunner said.

NCBA’s Stockmanship and Stewardship Partners with Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc.

Thanks to one of the country’s leading animal health companies, a successful program that helps cattlemen become better animal handlers will reach new heights in 2017. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) is growing and enhancing the already successful Stockmanship and Stewardship program with support from Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc.  Beginning this year, Stockmanship and Stewardship will be increasing the number and scope of events that are held across the country to reach cattlemen in all corners of the United States.

Cattle producers will notice a renewed focus and increased effort around the hands-on cattle handling demonstrations. Attendees will have the opportunity to learn through new opportunities and redesigned educational events that can improve their bottom line.

“We are proud to support NCBA on this important educational program,” said Steve Boren, executive director of the U.S. cattle business for Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. “We’re passionate about animal well-being and helping protect the future of the cattle industry. Using animal health products correctly and judiciously is part of that solution, and we believe the education producers receive at these events will be very valuable.”

The Stockmanship and Stewardship program will be led by clinicians Curt Pate and Ron Gill, who have hosted educational events at past NCBA Trade Shows in the Trade Show Demonstration Arena. Pate has been conducting demonstrations and clinics for more than a decade and will continue to entertain and educate audiences with his personal stories and innovative mindset. Gill is a renowned stockman and animal scientist for Texas Agrilife Extension who captivates the attention of cattlemen with his credibility as a rancher and ability to relate to his audience.

While local events will still be offered, the enhanced Stockmanship and Stewardship program will be featuring new multi-day events that are sure to attract cattlemen and women from a larger region at a central location. These new events will include a suite of educational opportunities for cattle producers, including sessions with local extension representatives, industry leaders, and government agencies.

“With a variety of new opportunities for cattlemen and women,” said Chase DeCoite, associate director of Beef Quality Assurance for NCBA, “the Stockmanship and Stewardship program is making its way as a ‘must attend’ venue. It will serve as a location to learn from the best in the cattle industry, as well as providing networking opportunities for attendees with fellow producers that are applying these innovative strategies on their own operations.”

For more information and to find an event near you visit,

UAN Fertilizer Prices Spike Higher

Retail fertilizer prices showed mixed moves again the fourth week of January 2017, according to retailers surveyed by DTN. However, some fertilizers are showing significant price increases for the first time this winter.

Six of the eight major fertilizers were higher, though only two were higher by any substantial amount. UAN28 was 8% higher compared to a month earlier while UAN32 was 5% more expensive. UAN28 had an average price of $235 per ton while UAN32 was at $268/ton.

Four fertilizers were slightly higher priced, but not by a significant amount. MAP had an average price of $443/ton, potash $322/ton, urea $347/ton and anhydrous $480/ton.

Two fertilizers were slightly lower, but again, these moves to the low side were not that noteworthy. DAP had an average price of $429/ton and 10-34-0 $436/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.38/lb.N, anhydrous $0.29/lb.N, UAN28 $0.42/lb.N and UAN32 $0.42/lb.N.

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

The one fertilizer no longer down double digits is urea, which is now down 9%. Both DAP and UAN28 are now 13% less expensive while MAP is 14% lower. Both anhydrous and UAN32 are 16% lower, potash is 18% less expensive and 10-34-0 is 24% lower compared to a year prior.

USDA Announces Commodity Credit Corporation Lending Rates for February 2017

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) today announced interest rates for February 2017. The CCC borrowing rate-based charge for February is 0.875 percent, unchanged from 0.875 percent in January.

The interest rate for crop year commodity loans less than one year disbursed during February is 1.875 percent, unchanged from 1.875 percent in January. 

Interest rates for Farm Storage Facility Loans approved for February are as follows, 1.500 percent with three-year loan terms, unchanged from 1.500 percent in January; 2.000 percent with five-year loan terms, up from 1.875 percent in January; 2.250 percent with seven-year loan terms, unchanged from 2.250 percent in January; 2.500 percent with 10-year loan terms, up from 2.375 percent in January and; 2.500 percent with 12-year loan terms, unchanged from 2.500 percent in January.

Animal Agriculture Alliance celebrates 30th anniversary

The Animal Agriculture Alliance, an industry-united nonprofit organization working to bridge the communication gap between farm and fork, is proud to be celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2017. The Alliance released a short video highlighting its accomplishments:

The Alliance was launched in 1987 to serve as a unified voice on behalf of animal agriculture. Over the past three decades, the Alliance has helped the industry to anticipate and respond to campaigns from anti-animal agriculture groups across the U.S. and engage with a public that is increasingly disconnected from production agriculture. Many things have changed since the Alliance was founded – household adoption of the Internet and the emergence of social media for example – but the organization’s passion and commitment to securing the future of animal agriculture remains steadfast.

Since the Alliance was founded…
-    Its membership has grown from fewer than ten founding organizations to nearly 300 current members, sponsors and donors. Two members – the American Feed Industry Association and American Farm Bureau Federation – have been part of the Alliance for all 30 years!
-    It went from not having a website to maintaining a presence on six social media platforms reaching over half a million people weekly.
-    The annual Stakeholders Summit developed from a gathering of 100 industry professionals in 2002 to a can’t-miss event in animal agriculture, attracting a record 250 attendees in 2016.

“The Alliance has grown not only in numbers of members and staff but also in its understanding of strategies used by activists and its own tactics to ensure agriculture’s voice is a key part of the conversations,” said Kay Johnson Smith, Alliance president and CEO. “We have become more adept at identifying threats, developing proactive responses and coordinating diverse interests to provide a strong, unified voice for agriculture.”

The Alliance will be celebrating its diamond anniversary throughout the year. You can help commemorate the achievement by taking part in the following activities:
-    Social media: On Instagram and Twitter, follow the hashtag #AllianceTurns30 for weekly looks at Alliance history – you are invited to share your own memories using the tag. Alliance members will also be taking over the organization’s Snapchat account (username: animalag) and longtime members will be highlighted on social media throughout the year.
-    Editorial content: The Alliance recently published a blog post chronicling its first three decades. Companies, organizations and media outlets are invited to use all or portions of the blog in any publications:
-    Membership Drive: The Alliance is holding a membership drive during the month of March to bring on 30 new members in celebration of its 30th anniversary. Members who join as part of the 30 for 30th drive will receive recognition at the 2017 Stakeholders Summit, in addition to the benefits of Alliance membership. Membership begins at $500. Interested individuals and companies can learn more at
-    2017 Summit: The milestone will be celebrated at the 2017 Stakeholders Summit, set for May 3-4, 2017 in Kansas City, Mo. The Alliance hopes to mark its 30th year by hosting the biggest and best Summit yet. Register today to be a part of the occasion:

The Alliance hopes you will join in its 30th anniversary festivities and looks forward to the next three decades and beyond of serving animal agriculture.

Tuesday January 31 Ag News

All cattle and calves in Nebraska as of January 1, 2017 totaled 6.45 million head, unchanged from January 1, 2016, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

All cows and heifers that had calved totaled 1.98 million head, up 4 percent from last year.

Beef cows totaled 1.92 million head, up 4 percent from last year.

Milk cows totaled 60,000 head, up 3 percent from January 1, 2016.

All heifers 500 pounds and over totaled 1.78 million head, down 1 percent from last year.

Steers weighing 500 pounds and over totaled 2.29 million head, down 2 percent from last year.

Bulls weighing 500 pounds and over totaled 110,000 head, up 16 percent from last year.

Calves under 500 pounds totaled 290,000 head, down 8 percent from January 1, 2016.

All cattle on feed fed for slaughter in Nebraska feedlots totaled 2.47 million head, down 2 percent from the previous year.

The 2016 calf crop totaled 1.70 million head, up 3 percent from 2015.

Iowa Cattle and Calves Report

All cattle and calves in Iowa as of January 1, 2017, totaled 3.85 million head, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Cattle report. This was down 100,000 head from January 1, 2016. Beef cows, at 965,000 head, were 3 percent above last year. Milk cow inventory was up 5,000 head to 215,000 head.

All heifers 500 pounds and over were down 10 percent to 830,000 head. Heifers for beef cow replacement were down 3 percent from 2016 to 185,000 head; heifers for milk cow replacement, at 135,000 head, were up 13 percent from the previous year; and all other heifers were down 16 percent to 510,000 head.

Steers weighing 500 pounds and over were down 2 percent from last year at 1.30 million head. Bulls weighing 500 pounds and over were unchanged from a year ago at 60,000 head. Calves under 500 pounds on January 1, 2017, totaled 480,000 head, down 4 percent from last year.

The 2016 calf crop was estimated at 1.09 million head, up 3 percent from the 2015 calf crop. Cattle and calves on feed for slaughter in all feedlots on January 1, 2016, totaled 1.16 million head, down 6 percent from one year ago.

January 1 Cattle Inventory Up 2 Percent

All cattle and calves in the United States, as of January 1, 2017, totaled 93.6 million head. This is 2 percent above the 91.9 million head on January 1, 2016.

All cows and heifers that have calved, at 40.6 million head, are 3 percent above the 39.5 million head on January 1, 2016. Beef cows, at 31.2 million head, are up 3 percent from a year ago. Milk cows, at 9.35 million head, are up slightly from the previous year.

All heifers 500 pounds and over, as of January 1, 2017, totaled 20.1 million head. This is 1 percent above the 19.9 million head on January 1, 2016. Beef replacement heifers, at 6.42 million head, are up 1 percent from a year ago. Milk replacement heifers, at 4.75 million head, are down 1 percent from the previous year. Other heifers, at 8.88 million head, are 1 percent above a year earlier.

Calves under 500 pounds in the United States, as of January 1, 2017, totaled 14.4 million head. This is 2 percent above the 14.1 million head on January 1, 2016. Steers weighing 500 pounds and over totaled 16.4 million head, up slightly from one year ago. Bulls weighing 500 pounds and over totaled 2.23 million head, up 4 percent from the previous year.

Calf Crop Up 3 Percent

The 2016 calf crop in the United States was estimated at 35.1 million head, up 3 percent from last year's calf crop. Calves born during the first half of 2016 were estimated at 25.6 million head. This is up 4 percent from the first half of 2015. Calves born during the second half of 2016 were estimated at 9.53 million head, 27 percent of the total 2016 calf crop.

Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in the United States for all feedlots totaled 13.1 million head on January 1, 2017. The inventory is down 1 percent from the January 1, 2016 total of 13.2 million head. Cattle on feed, in feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head, accounted for 81.2 percent of the total cattle on feed on January 1, 2017. This is up 1 percent from the previous year. The combined total of calves under 500 pounds and other heifers and steers over 500 pounds (outside of feedlots) is 26.6 million head. This is 2 percent above one year ago. 


All sheep and lamb inventory in Nebraska on January 1, 2017 totaled 83 thousand head, up 3,000 head from last year, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Breeding sheep inventory totaled 71 thousand head, up 4,000 from last year. Ewes one year and older totaled 58 thousand head, up 3,000 from the previous year. Rams one year and older remained unchanged from last year’s 3,000 head. Total replacement lambs was 10 thousand head, up 1,000 from last year.

Market sheep and lambs totaled 12 thousand head, down 1,000 head from last year. A total of 1,000 head were mature sheep (one year and older) while the remaining 11 thousand were under one year. Market lamb weight groups were estimated as follows: 2,300 lambs were under 65 pounds; 2,000 were 65-84 pounds; 2,700 were 85-105 pounds; 4,000 were over 105 pounds.

The 2016 lamb crop totaled 65 thousand head, unchanged from 2015. The 2016 lambing rate was 118 per 100 ewes one year and older, equal to the lambing rate in 2015.

Shorn wool production during 2016 was 450 thousand pounds, down 10 thousand pounds from last year. Sheep and lambs shorn totaled 64 thousand head, up 1,000 head from 2015. The average price paid for wool sold in 2016 was $0.94 per pound, compared with $0.90 in 2015. The total value of wool produced in Nebraska was 423 thousand dollars in 2016.

Milk goat inventory in Nebraska totaled 3,700 head on January 1, 2017, up 500 head from last year.


All sheep and lambs inventory in Iowa as of January 1, 2017, totaled 175,000 head according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Sheep and Goats report. The sheep and lambs inventory remained unchanged from last year. Total breeding stock, at 120,000 head, was 4 percent below one year ago. Market sheep and lambs increased 10 percent from a year ago and totaled 55,000 head. The lamb crop for 2016 increased 1 percent to 125,000 head. Wool production for the State was 900,000 pounds, with fleece weights averaging 5.5 pounds.

Milk goat inventory in Iowa as of January 1, 2017 was 30,500 head, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Sheep and Goats report. Iowa ranked third in total milk goats. The inventory was down 8 percent from January 2016. Total meat and other goat inventory was 32,000 head, an increase of 14 percent from the previous year.

January 1 Sheep and Lamb Inventory Down 2 Percent

All sheep and lamb inventory in the United States on January 1, 2017 totaled 5.20 million head, down 2 percent from 2016. Breeding sheep inventory at 3.86 million head on January 1, 2017, decreased 2 percent from 3.95 million head on January 1, 2016. Ewes one year old and older, at 3.04 million head, were 2 below last year. Market sheep and lambs on January 1, 2017 totaled 1.35 million head, down 1 percent from January 1, 2016. Market lambs comprised 94 percent of the total market inventory. Market sheep comprised the remaining 6 percent of total market inventory.

The 2016 lamb crop of 3.25 million head was down 1 percent from 2015. The 2016 lambing rate was 105 lambs per 100 ewes one year old and older on January 1, 2016, unchanged from 2015.

Shorn wool production in the United States during 2016 was 25.7 million pounds, down 5 percent from 2015. Sheep and lambs shorn totaled 3.56 million head, down 3 percent from 2015. The average price paid for wool sold in 2016 was $1.45 per pound for a total value of 37.2 million dollars, down 5 percent from 39.2 million dollars in 2015.

Sheep death loss during 2016 totaled 217 thousand head, down 5 percent from 2015. Lamb death loss decreased 1 percent from 374 thousand head to 372 thousand head in 2016.

January 1 Goat and Kid Inventory Up 1 Percent

All goat inventory in the United States on January 1, 2017 totaled 2.64 million head, up 1 percent from 2016. Breeding goat inventory totaled 2.17 million head, up slightly from 2016. Does one year old and older, at 1.61 million head, were slightly above last year's number. Market goats and kids totaled 469 thousand head, up 2 percent from a year ago.

Kid crop for 2016 totaled 1.64 million head for all goats, up 1 percent from 2015.

Meat and all other goats totaled 2.12 million head on January 1, 2017, up 1 percent from 2016. Milk goat inventory was 373 thousand head, unchanged from January 1, 2016, while Angora goats were up 1 percent, totaling 152 thousand head.

Mohair production in the United States during 2016 was 800 thousand pounds. Goats and kids clipped totaled 141 thousand head. Average weight per clip was 5.7 pounds. Mohair price was $4.56 per pound with a value of 3.65 million dollars.

Fischer Meets with Ag Secretary Nominee

U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), today met with Governor Sonny Perdue, President Trump’s nominee to lead the Department of Agriculture.

Senator Fischer says, “Governor Perdue and I had a good conversation today about the Nebraska families who work hard to keep our state’s economic engine running and feed a hungry world. We also discussed regional differences in agriculture and the importance of sound policies that will enable Nebraska producers to grow their businesses and access new markets. I am confident that Governor Perdue’s experience and unique perspective will prepare him well to take on the critical role of leading the USDA.”

Save Hay by Reducing Feeding Waste

Larry Howard, NE Extension Educator, Cuming County

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.

A Forage for Every Season

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 this year you can extend your grazing season with new and varied pastures.

Ag economist will keynote Feb. 15 forum in Curtis

An agricultural economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City will deliver the keynote address at an Ag Business Economic Symposium in Curtis on February 15.

Cortney Cowley, who is based at the Federal Reserve’s offices in Omaha, Neb., is the luncheon speaker at the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture’s forum. Four regional businesses are also program presenters.

Mary Rittenhouse, assistant professor and division chair of the NCTA Ag Business Management Systems Division, said student interest and is keen in the current agricultural economy as graduates prepare for their future employment and individual agricultural enterprises. The forum is open to the public.

Ag Business Club students from NCTA will greet participants with 9:30 a.m. registration at the Nebraska Agriculture Industry Education Center.

However, due to luncheon reservations, Rittenhouse requests pre-registration and online payment of all attendees by Feb. 10 at:

The symposium will feature agricultural ownership and management transition, legal and estate planning, real estate and insurance, and commodity marketing and risk management.

Cowley is an agricultural economist in the Regional Affairs Department at the Omaha Branch. She supports the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and the Federal Reserve System efforts surrounding agricultural economics research, analysis and outreach.

She conducts research on issues related to the farm economy, agricultural finance and natural resources.  Cowley is a contributor to the Bank’s Economic Review research journal, the Tenth District Survey of Agricultural Credit Conditions and the Federal Reserve System’s Agricultural Finance Databook. She also provides regular updates on the agricultural economy for the public, and for the Kansas City Fed’s president – who is a voting member of the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee.

Cortney joined the Bank in 2015 after completing her Ph.D. in agricultural economics at Oklahoma State University. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in biosystems engineering from Oklahoma State and a master’s in civil engineering from Colorado State University.

Other program presenters are Steve Herman, Esq., of Norman, Paloucek & Herman, in Curtis; Phil Hinrichs and Andrew Fischer of Farm Bureau Financial Services;  and Steve Knuth of AgWest Commodities.

New USMEF Regional Director Sees Strong Potential for Further Export Growth to Mexico, Central America and Dominican Republic

Oscar Ferrara, Ph.D., joined the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) earlier this month as the organization’s new regional director for Mexico, Central America and the Dominican Republic. A native of Paraguay, Ferrara brings an extensive educational and professional background to the position. He moved to the United States in 2000, earning his master’s degree and doctorate in Food and Resource Economics from the University of Florida. He also holds Bachelor of Science degrees in both Applied Economics and Agricultural Engineering.

Ferrara was previously with USDA, working first in the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) before joining the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) Office of Agreements and Scientific Affairs.

“In my position with FAS, one of the main priorities was to open markets and expand market access for U.S. pork, beef and lamb in the Western Hemisphere,” Ferrara said. “So I feel this experience will serve me well at USMEF, as we look to further expand demand for these products.”

Capitalizing on duty-free access achieved through NAFTA and the lower duties negotiated in the U.S.-Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR), U.S. red meat exports to this region have grown substantially in recent years, with the United States being the dominant foreign supplier. But Ferrara notes that there is still significant room to expand demand for U.S. products among the region’s growing middle class, and he intends to build on USMEF’s success by educating customers about the full range of pork, beef and lamb products available from U.S. suppliers.

“There are a lot of areas in which we can expand our offerings in the region, and what I hope to do in this capacity is to expand customers’ knowledge of the products we are exporting to these countries,” Ferrara explained. “Many people know that the U.S. offers safe, high-quality meat products, but we can further educate them on the options and choices available, as well as the unique attributes of U.S. meat and the different methods of preparation and cooking. This will reinforce the great value these products deliver and build even greater customer loyalty.”

In addition to customer education, Ferrara says it is vitally important to maintain strong relationships with importers, processors and distributors in the region.

“Trade servicing is absolutely critical, even in a region in which USMEF has a longtime presence,” he noted. “Buyers want reliability and consistency from their suppliers, and USMEF serves as an important resource for them, helping ensure they can access the products that meet their needs. This is true whether we are working in established markets like Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala, or in emerging destinations such as Nicaragua and El Salvador – there are many exciting opportunities for the U.S. meat industry.”

USMEF must also work closely with government officials in the region – an area in which Ferrara gained valuable experience while at USDA-FAS.

“I had the pleasure of working with USMEF on many issues during my time at FAS, and the level of cooperation was outstanding,” he explained. “When we were seeking to gain full access to Mexico for U.S. beef, for example, we accompanied Mexican regulators to U.S. plants and other production facilities in the United States. USDA and USMEF worked extremely well together in organizing these visits and ensuring that we communicated effectively and constructively with these officials. These efforts are very important for eliminating trade barriers and expanding markets for U.S. meat.”

Former Ag Secretaries Pen Op-Ed on Dow-DuPond Merger

Mike Johanns and Dan Glickman

As former U.S. secretaries of agriculture from both sides of the aisle, we know firsthand that the contributions made by farmers and agribusinesses of all sizes are rarely given the credit they are due. American farmers help to drive the U.S. economy and create new opportunity in rural communities. They contribute almost $1 trillion to U.S. gross domestic product each year and exported $129.7 billion worth of American-grown and -made products in fiscal year 2016 alone. By 2050, a growing global population will need twice as much food as the world can produce today, which presents even more new opportunities for American farmers.

With new opportunities come new challenges. Looking forward, we see headwinds acting against the livelihoods and future global competitiveness of American farmers and the security of our national food supply: the unmanageable cost of innovation and the need for a strong, focused American-owned agriculture company.

There is no greater imperative for global agriculture than science and technology. Mother Nature throws farmers an endless stream of curve balls, from new weather patterns to spreading pests. As the challenges evolve, the needs of farmers for new products and services evolve, too. Those who grow and consume food depend on tools focused on reducing water usage and raising drought resistant crops; nutritional advancements that assure the hungry are fed and improve overall health and well-being; better planting techniques and conservation and tillage practices that improve and preserve soil health; practices that reduce post-harvest loss and food waste; and new seed varieties that can stand up and thrive under the most difficult conditions, among others.

But as costs of discovery and commercialization rise, and agriculture has become both more global and more competitive, fewer and fewer companies have the scale to afford the costly, end-to-end process from discovery through development and regulatory approval that is required to bring new products to farmers. With fewer and fewer companies having the capability to do so, farmers everywhere face the prospect of limited choices and fewer new products.

Innovation in food and agriculture comes from companies of all sizes - from the army of experts our industry employs and from scientific discoveries by numerous creative farmers, university labs and startups that are then developed by mid-sized firms and multinationals. These different groups depend upon one another, just like an ecosystem, to move new ideas through the long, expensive processes of development and regulatory approval before they can be delivered to farmers. Larger companies depend on smaller ones and vice versa.

To do enough to meet farmers' requirements for more innovation and greater choice, and overcome the emerging innovation bottleneck that is holding them back, large companies with scale and focused resources are a necessary part of that creative system. That is what is causing some of the shifts in the inputs marketplace we are seeing today, including the number of companies seeking to merge with one another. Some of these companies are foreign-owned and seeking to take control of American companies.

Dow and DuPont are each huge conglomerates within which their relatively small agriculture businesses must compete for resources against other businesses. By coming together, they intend to then create a single, independent, U.S.-based and -owned pure agriculture company capable of competing effectively against their still larger global peers.

Given the current landscape, now more than ever America's farmers need what Dow and DuPont are proposing - a strong, focused American agriculture company that is American-owned, championing the interests of the American farmer in a marketplace that may soon be dominated by foreign-owned behemoths. Without such an enterprise, totally and completely focused on agriculture, with every minute of every day devoted to working in partnership with farmers and the full range of entities working to feed an ever-expanding need for sustainable food sources, the American farmers who grow our food lose out - and the people who eat it do, too.

For farmers across this great nation - and around the world - the stakes are real. They all want a faster, bigger and better stream of new products, techniques and tools because they need them. They want to seize business opportunities by putting food on tables, at home and abroad. This will mean hard work for America's farmers, which they will do with humility and excellence, as they always have. They need a strong, American-owned agriculture company by their side.

Johanns is a former governor and U.S senator from Nebraska, and served as agriculture secretary under former President George W. Bush. Glickman represented Kansas for 18 years in the U.S. House of Representatives and served as agriculture secretary under former President Bill Clinton.

NMPF Lauds New House Bill Calling for Enforcement of Dairy Labeling Standards

The National Milk Producers Federation today endorsed new legislation introduced in the House of Representatives that would prompt the enforcement of dairy labeling terms, which are increasingly being used to market imitation products containing no real dairy ingredients.

Introduced by Reps. Peter Welch (D-VT), Sean Duffy (R-WI), Mike Simpson (R-ID), Joe Courtney (D-CT), David Valadao (R-CA) and Suzan DelBene (D-WA), the House bill would compel the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to take action against misbranded, plant-based beverages that are inappropriately using dairy terms, especially “milk.” The measure requires the FDA to issue guidance for nationwide enforcement of these definitions within 90 days. It would also require FDA to report to Congress two years after the bill’s enactment to hold the agency to its obligations.

The House bill mirrors Sen. Tammy Baldwin’s (D-WI) DAIRY PRIDE Act, introduced two weeks ago in the Senate.

“Real milk has been recognized for decades for its important nutritional benefits,” said NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern. “These imposter products almost always use dairy imagery, similar packaging and names – but they never match the nutritional benefits found in milk. This House legislation sends a clear message that plant-based foods should not be able to create and use nomenclature that is in conflict with existing federal standards of identity requiring the presence of real milk.”

FDA regulations (CFR 131.110) define “milk” as a product of a cow, with similar definitions for yogurt and cheese products. Though existing federal policy is clear on this subject, FDA has not challenged the labeling practices of imitators made out of nuts, beans, seeds and grains, which have been branding themselves using dairy-specific terms for the past two decades, according to NMPF.

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

In December, Reps. Mike Simpson (R-ID), Peter Welch (D-VT) and a bipartisan coalition of 32 House members sent a letter to FDA urging the agency to more aggressively police the improper use of dairy terminology. NMPF also supported that effort.

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

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 13 requests for export assistance from Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association, Inc., Michigan Milk Producers Association and Northwest Dairy Association (Darigold). These member cooperatives have contracts to sell 989,876 pounds (449 metric tons) of Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses and 1.102 million pounds (500 metric tons) of butter to customers in Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. The product has been contracted for delivery in the period from January through April 2017.

So far this year, CWT has assisted member cooperatives who have contracts to sell 4.421 million pounds of American-type cheeses, and 1.323 million pounds of butter (82% milkfat) to 10 countries on three continents. The sales are the equivalent of 70.572 million pounds of milk on a milkfat basis.

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

NCBA’s Cattlemen to Cattlemen Celebrates Tenth Anniversary in Nashville

Milestones were met in 2016 for NCBA’s Cattlemen to Cattlemen television show; the 500th episode was taped in Washington, D.C., last fall and the airing of the 2017 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show episode in early February will mark the tenth anniversary of the show’s first airing. Spring episodes will include full coverage of the event in Nashville and special panel shows on important industry topics including full episode dedicated to market conditions.

“Cattlemen to Cattlemen is one of the best ways NCBA can connect with farmers and ranchers today,” said John Robinson, Executive Director of Organizational Communications, NCBA. “We are very proud of the work we do on behalf of NCBA members and the beef industry and we remain committed to telling the story of America’s farmers and ranchers.”

Over the past ten years, NCBA’s Cattlemen to Cattlemen has been used to deliver industry news, producer education and policy updates from Washington, D.C., NCBA started the show in 2007 on RFD-TV as a 30 minute, weekly show. Since then the show has successfully evolved into three, 60 minute airings each week, with debut episodes on Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m. with re-airs on Wednesdays at 12:30 a.m. and Saturdays at 9:00 a.m. (All times Eastern).

Production of NCBA’s Cattlemen to Cattlemen is possible because of the ongoing support of oustanding sponsors including: Bayer, Dow AgroSciences, John Deere, Merial, NRCS, New Holland, Purina, RAM, Ritchie Waters, Roper and Stetson. To view past episodes of NCBA’s Cattlemen to Cattlemen, visit: www.

Livestock Industry Supports Legislation to Address BLM Planning Rule

The Public Lands Council and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association applaud the introduction of concurrent resolutions in both the Senate and House disapproving the Bureau of Land Management’s Planning 2.0 rule finalized last December. The resolutions, introduced by Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Rep. Liz Cheney’s (R-Wyo.) respectively, would reverse damage done in the final hours of the Obama administration. Ethan Lane, Executive Director of PLC and NCBA Federal Lands said the rule represents a wholesale shift in management focus at BLM; prioritizing “social and environmental change” over multiple use, and eliminating stakeholder and local input into the planning process.

“It’s critical that Congress step in to halt implementation of this midnight regulation before it does irreparable harm to our ability to manage federal lands,” said Lane. “Despite paying lip-service to our input in the final rule, the fundamental problems with Planning 2.0 remain, and the rule must be withdrawn. We applaud Senator Murkowski and Rep Cheney’s leadership on this critical issue and look forward to working with Congress and the new Administration to undo this kind of regulatory overreach.”

PLC and NCBA urge Congress to pass these resolutions without delay.

Zinpro Corporation Surpasses Significant Research Milestone

Zinpro Corporation announces a major research milestone in the company’s history: its 200th peer-reviewed research publication across multiple species. The 200th publication was released in the Journal of Animal Science. In this study, researchers investigated beef-cow supplementation with a combination of trace minerals (zinc, manganese, copper and cobalt) during the third trimester of gestation and how feeding different forms of those trace minerals impacted offspring development, immunity and subsequent performance. The study results affirm a concept that offspring can benefit greatly from maternal trace mineral nutrition long after birth. Referred to as Generational Nutrition®, this concept has applications across multiple species, ranging from beef and dairy to poultry, swine and equine.

Reaching this milestone highlights the significant investment in research that has been a cornerstone of Zinpro Corporation since Dean Anderson founded the company 45 years ago. “The 200th publication demonstrates not only the depth of science but also the quality of research that Zinpro is supporting, and has supported over the years,” says Terry Ward, Ph.D., global director of Research and Nutritional Services (RNS), Zinpro Corporation. “This milestone represents a tremendous body of research that covers more than 10 animal species.”

Peer-reviewed research indicates that the science is sound and the study is designed rigorously enough that it passes a review of peer scientists in the field. “It means that the research has been submitted to a scientific journal and subsequently published by the journal,” Dr. Ward explains. “During this process, multiple third-party scientists in the field of interest review and critique the data and the methods by which the data was obtained. They must concur that the experimental methods used to collect and analyze the data are scientifically sound before the data is published.”

This is the first time any trace mineral company in the animal feed industry has achieved this landmark. “We do more animal performance mineral research than all other trace mineral companes combined,” says Joe Carrica, executive vice president, global sales and marketing, Zinpro Corporation. “Zinpro is synonymous with sound research. We have a commitment to our customers to provide relevant, current research to show our products are efficacious and provide benefits to them on a daily basis.”

Key Findings from the 200th Publication

Conducted at Oregon State University, the 200th peer-reviewed publication is titled “Effects of organic or inorganic cobalt, copper, manganese and zinc supplementation to late-gestating beef cows on productive and physiological responses of the offspring” (Marques et. al., 2016. J. Anim. Sci. 94:1215-1226). This study is unique in that it applies to the western range cow-calf producer. These cows often lack access to mineral supplementation in the early stages of gestation, and this study capitalized on the short period producers have when supplementation is feasible in their operations.

“Results from this study showed that by simply supplementing the gestating cow with 7 grams per head per day of trace minerals in the form of Availa®4 during the last trimester, producers can impact overall calf growth and health while also realizing improvements in calf performance all the way through finishing,” says Jason Russell, Ph.D., research nutritionist – beef, Zinpro Corporation.

Research results showed an improved mineral status in the cows fed Availa-4, as well as a lasting impact on their calves in the form of improved immunity and greater weaning weight and carcass weight. “It should be noted that the cows in this study started with good trace mineral status to begin with,” says Connie Larson, Ph.D., RNS ruminant manager – North America, Zinpro Corporation. “When we fed these mineral programs during the last trimester, the result was increased weight at weaning.”

Results from the study also showed a significant reduction in bovine respiratory disease (BRD) treatment rates during the feedlot growing phase of the study in calves born to cows supplemented with Availa-4. The reduction in BRD benefited calf health as well as the producer’s bottom line – through decreased treatment costs and labor as well as decreased stress on the animal.

“Simply by supplementing that cow for the last trimester, we were able to impact calf health and growth,” Dr. Larson says. “To me, that really speaks to how important that mineral program is for the pregnant cow.”

Research has shown that trace minerals play a critical role in the gestating beef-cow diet. Availa-4 features Zinpro Performance Minerals® (complexed zinc, manganese, copper and cobalt) in a unique combination that is research-proven to deliver strong performance benefits to the beef-cow herd and a strong economic return to the cow/calf producer.

“It’s hard to overcome a bad start when it comes to newborn animals,” Dr. Russell says. “Results from this research highlight the opportunity that exists with Generational Nutrition in multiple species to provide a great start to newborn animals – and that great start carries on throughout their life.”

Monday January 30 Ag News

Central Valley Ag and Farmway to Engage in Formal Study for Merger

The Board of Directors for both Central Valley Ag (CVA) and Farmway Co-op, Inc. (Farmway) have each voted unanimously to begin a formal study regarding the possibility of merging the two cooperatives. This study will be considered and reviewed by both cooperatives to determine if consolidation and merger would be beneficial to the members of both cooperatives.

“Increasing and improving the value to the members of Farmway and CVA is our primary focus,” said Dave Beckman, Chairman of the Board for Central Valley Ag. “This study is the first step in allowing us to determine if a merger will indeed improve such value through improved efficiencies and collaborative efforts.”

Tim Porter, Chairman of the Board for Farmway added, “The agricultural marketplace is changing rapidly and we are committed to be a partner in growth with our customers. Both CVA and Farmway have many strong common values and we feel it is wise to explore a merger to ensure we are keeping our commitment of growth with our customers.”

Completion of the study is expected within 60-90 days. Further action related to a merger will be done once the study has been completed and diligently reviewed and discussed by each organization’s Board of Directors.

More information about the study can be found at this link....


Central Valley Ag is a farmer-owned cooperative headquartered in York, NE. CVA has locations in Iowa, Kansas, and Nebraska. CVA is an innovative leader providing products and services in grain, agronomy, feed, and energy. You can find more information about Central Valley Ag by visiting


Farmway is focused on helping their producer-owners succeed. Headquartered in Beloit, KS, Farmway has 37 locations across nine counties in North Central Kansas, offering energy, agronomy, feed and grain solutions. Find out more about Farmway by visiting

Lower Elkhorn NRD Hosts Three Cover Crop Management Educational Workshop

Cuming Co. Courthouse – 200 S Lincoln St - West Point, Nebraska
Monday, February 6, 2017 - 9:00 a.m.  – 12:00 p.m.

Pierce Library – 207 W Court St. - Pierce, Nebraska
Tuesday, February 7, 2017 - 9:00 a.m.  – 12:00 p.m.

Lifelong Learning Center – 601 E. Benjamin - Norfolk, Nebraska
Wednesday, February 8, 2017 - 9:00 a.m.  – 12:00 p.m.

9:00 – 9:30 a.m. - (coffee and rolls provided by LENRD)

Soil Health – Why It Is So Important
Aaron Hird, NRCS State Soil Health Specialist
Marty Marx, Soil Conservation Technician, Wayne Co. NRCS

Cover Crop Management in Corn/Soybean Rotations
Dan Gillespie, No-till Specialist, Madison Co. NRCS
Dan has applied continuous no-till systems in a corn/soybean rotation since 1991, adding cover crops in 2006.  Dan will talk about cover crop management: What cover crops do I seed? When do I terminate cover crops?  What herbicides do I use? When do I plant cash crops? What benefits do I look for?

Client Gateway, Access Your NRCS Documents On-line - Pam Polenske, Stanton Co. NRCS

Workshops are sponsored by: Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District.  Please RSVP To your local NRCS Office or Call LENRD, 402 371 7313


For the month of January 2017, temperatures averaged near normal across eastern Nebraska but two to six degrees below normal in the west, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Heavy snow across northern counties the last full week of the month covered stubble fields, requiring supplemental feedings of livestock. At the end of the month, snow cover was limited to northern areas.

Topsoil moisture supplies rated 7 percent very short, 16 short, 73 adequate, and 4 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 7 percent very short, 24 short, 68 adequate, and 1 surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Winter wheat condition rated 1 percent very poor, 8 poor, 44 fair, 43 good, and 4 excellent.

Livestock, Pasture and Range Report:

Cattle and calf conditions rated 0 percent very poor, 1 poor, 12 fair, 76 good, and 11 excellent. Calving progress was 4 percent complete. Cattle and calf death loss rated 0 percent heavy, 64 average, and 36 light.

Sheep and lamb conditions rated 0 percent very poor, 1 poor, 22 fair, 72 good, and 5 excellent. Sheep and lamb death loss rated 1 percent heavy, 62 average, and 37 light.

Hay and roughage supplies rated 0 percent very short, 2 short, 92 adequate, and 6 surplus.
Stock water supplies rated 0 percent very short, 4 short, 95 adequate, and 1 surplus.


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               What comes to mind if I say forage rye?  What about ryegrass?  These words can mean half a dozen types of forage and they all are very different.  Let me try to reduce the confusion.

               The words rye and ryegrass cause much confusion.  Rye typically refers to the cereal or small grain plant.  As a forage, it can produce high tonnage but is coarser and less palatable than some other forages.  Like wheat, rye varieties can be either winter ryes or spring ryes.  Planted in spring, spring types grow tall and form seed but winter types stay short with only leaves.  Planted in the fall, spring types grow tall but die over winter.  Winter varieties stay short and leafy during fall, but survive winter and grow tall and form seed the next spring.

               Ryegrass, though, is a very palatable, high quality forage grass.  There are several types of ryegrass with variety differences within each type.  For example, perennial ryegrass produces very high quality pasture but only lasts for a few years under most Nebraska conditions.

               A bigger confusion comes from annual ryegrass and Italian ryegrass.  Technically, they refer to the same plants but in the forage world they have acquired different meanings.  Annual ryegrass refers to varieties that are used for turf and to varieties used as winter and spring forage in the Gulf-state region.  Spring plantings in Nebraska head out and regrow very slowly during the heat of early summer, usually dying over winter.  Italian ryegrass, however, is more like a biennial and produces mostly leaves while growing throughout summer and fall if moisture is available.  Many varieties survive winter and then produce seedheads the following spring.

               Still confused?  Then be sure to carefully describe to your seedsman when you want to plant and how you want to use your grass.  Then they can help you get the right kind of rye or ryegrass.

NDA Funding Available for Buffer Strips

Would you like to keep more of your topsoil on your farm while reducing contamination of water resources? Funding is available from the Nebraska Department of Agriculture to aid in the use of buffer strips to stabilize the environment and filter out sediments and agrichemicals that might otherwise enter field runoff.

The Nebraska Buffer Strip Program will pay landowners for using filter strips (narrow strips of grass) or riparian forest buffer strips (strips containing trees and grass) next to seasonal or permanent streams, wetlands, and ponds. The minimum widths are 20 feet for filter strips and 55 feet for riparian forest buffer strips; the maximum widths are 120 and 180 feet, respectively.

Buffer strips, used along with other best management practices, are a common sense approach to reducing sediment and agrichemicals in field runoff, notes Craig Romary, NDA environmental program specialist in the animal and plant health division. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service reports that filter strips have been shown to remove 30-60% of pesticides in field runoff, depending on site conditions, including width of filter strip, pesticides used, field conservation practices, and runoff volume. Buffer strips have also been shown to remove 75% of sediment from runoff.

Buffer strip contracts run from 5 to 10 years. State program payments vary from $20 to $250 per acre, depending on soil type, whether the acres are irrigated, and whether payments are received from other programs. This program is designed to be used in conjunction with the USDA Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), or other programs, but can also be used by itself.

For more information on adding buffer strips to your conservation plan, visit NDA’s website at or call NDA at 402-471-2351. To begin the application process, interested landowners should contact their local Natural Resources District or USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service office in Nebraska.

Register Now for Farm Finance and Ag Law Clinics in February 

Openings are available for one-on-one, confidential farm finance and ag law consultations being conducted across the state each month. An experienced ag law attorney and ag financial counselor will be available to address farm and ranch issues related to financial planning, estate and transition planning, farm loan programs, debtor/creditor law, water rights, and other relevant matters. The clinics offer an opportunity to seek an experienced outside opinion on issues affecting your farm or ranch.

Clinic Sites and Dates

    Norfolk — Wednesday, February 1
    Grand Island — Thursday, February 2
    North Platte — Thursday, February 9
    Lexington — Thursday, February 16
    Fairbury — Tuesday, February 21
    Ainsworth — Friday, February 24
    Norfolk — Tuesday, February 28

To sign up for a free clinic or to get more information, call Michelle at the Nebraska Farm Hotline at 1-800-464-0258.  The Nebraska Department of Agriculture and Legal Aid of Nebraska sponsor these clinics.


Produce growers can learn how to extend their growing and harvest seasons at a Season Extension Seminar hosted by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) on Feb. 23 in Kearney.

“Consumers want the opportunity to purchase fresh, locally-grown produce throughout the year,” said Casey Foster, NDA program specialist. “This Season Extension Seminar will educate growers on opportunities available to extend their growing season while connecting them with a retailer interested in sourcing local produce.”

The seminar will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the University of Nebraska – Kearney, Ockinga Conference Room, 19th and University Drive. There is no cost to attend, but individuals need to RSVP by Feb. 13 to or 800-422-6692. A complimentary lunch will be provided.

Seminar participants will:
·         Learn growing practices related to season extension methods;
·         Connect with a retailer interested in sourcing local produce;
·         Watch a chef perform a cooking demo using locally-grown produce;
·         Learn about affordable financing options;
·         Meet a season extension outfitter who will showcase a line of season extension products;
·         Learn marketing and selling strategies of specialty crops; and
·         Receive an educational book related to specialty crop production.

This seminar is being funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. For more information, contact Casey Foster at the email address and/or phone number above.


 Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey, Iowa State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Associate Dean Dr. John Lawrence and Iowa farmer Larry Buss of Logan today announced the release of the Iowa Pest Resistance Management Plan.  The full plan and additional information about pest resistance management efforts can be found at

The Iowa-specific plan seeks to engage farmers on the issue of pest resistance management with the goal of keeping technology and tools such as pesticides, seed treatments, and biotechnology products and native traits available and effective.

“This plan brought together a broad cross-section of Iowa agriculture partners to proactively address the issue of pest resistance.  Pests do not recognize field borders, so it is important we work collaboratively on this issue.  Iowa is again ahead of the curve in developing a state pest resistance management plan and I hope farmers take the time to learn more about the effort and consider if there are opportunities to be involved in their area,” Northey said.

“The time is right for Iowa agriculture to take steps to effectively manage pest resistance and to put the best science available to use to ensure the state’s leadership in crop productivity is sustained far into the future,” said Wendy Wintersteen, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State University. “The plan that’s been developed is the result of more than two years of discussions with many public and private partners, and they should be commended for their efforts.”

The Iowa Pest Resistance Management Plan’s goal is to document and promote holistic and integrated management solutions that will effectively and sustainably control pests, including insects, weeds and plant disease.  This includes postponing or delaying resistance development, foster methods of early detection, and then mitigating, to the extent possible, the spread of pest resistance.

The plan includes chapters that address governance, the state of the science, pilot projects, and communication and outreach.

As the plan is implemented, pilot projects of active pest resistance management will be established to encourage adoption of science-based resistance management efforts and to develop adaptive management approaches.  These pilots will also seek to examine approaches to encourage successful, voluntary pest resistance management adoption.

The pilot projects will identify key stakeholders within a defined community and will be inclusive, bringing all potential players to the table. The pilot projects will work to establish incentives and novel approaches to encourage the community to work together to address the identified pest-resistant problems. These projects are intended to deal with resistance issues that are imminent or already present with the objective of minimizing the potential of further resistance development.

It is expected that the first round of pilot projects will be selected this April and get underway in May so they can be operating during the growing season this year.

A broad cross-section of the Iowa agriculture industry was involved in putting the plan together, including the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Agribusiness Association of Iowa, Agricultural Biotechnology Stewardship Technical Committee, Iowa Corn Growers Association, the Iowa Chapter of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, Iowa Independent Crop Consultants Association, Iowa Institute for Cooperatives, Iowa Soybean Association, Pesticide Resistance Action Committees, Practical Farmers of Iowa, and the Soil and Water Conservation Society.

Clarinda farmer becomes Iowa Pork Producers president for second time

A long-time Page County pork, beef and grain farmer has embarked on his second one-year term as president of the Iowa Pork Producers Association.

Curtis Meier of Clarinda received the president's gavel from 2016 President Al Wulfekuhle of Quasqueton at the conclusion of IPPA's annual meeting in Des Moines on Jan. 24. Meier is believed to be the first, two-time president in the association's 82-year history. He first served in the role in 2003.

"It's a great opportunity, not one I really asked for, but things just fell in place," Meier said. "I never dreamed I'd have another chance at it. We have a strong and knowledgeable board of directors and I look forward to working with the board in the coming year to address the issues, achieve our goals and improve the success of the state's producers."

Meier and the IPPA Board of Directors will be focused on trade, the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at Iowa State University and conservation.

Pork exports closed 2016 with increased strength after a slow start and trade missions and market development will continue to be key in 2017, said Meier. IPPA will continue to do its job of promoting pork and creating markets with the help of the Iowa Economic Development Authority, the National Pork Board and the National Pork Producers Council.

"I went to Viet Nam in 2003 and wondered what we're doing here because these people are so poor, I don't think there's a market here," Meier recalled. "Today, it's an up and coming market. When people get a little bit of money in their pocket, the first thing they look for is a protein source in the diet and that's where we come in. We have a great protein source in pork. Every Asian market we can develop is big for [pork producers]."

Iowa State University is seeking a $100 million appropriation from the state of Iowa to fund an 83,000 square-foot addition and renovation of 27,500 square feet of the existing College of Veterinarian Medicine's Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. ISU will supply $4 million of the necessary funding and seek another $20 million in private gifts. IPPA has already promised $1 million for the facility and Meier says the association will continue pushing for the state funding.

"The organization needs to support the vet lab. The pork industry relies heavily on the lab's services and we will emphasize the importance [of the funding] in the coming year. We need to talk to our state legislators to let them know how critical it is to our industry," he said.

As a Page County soil and water commissioner, Meier knows the importance of caring for our natural resources and he will continue encouraging producers to install new nutrient loss reduction technologies wherever possible.

"Even with times as tough as they are, people are still concerned about conservation and are willing to spend money on cover crops, terraces, waterways, CRP, etc., Meier said. "We want to continue strong support for conservation as an organization."

Meier and his wife, Brenda, along with their son and son-in-law, have a diversified farming enterprise. The family has a 160-sow farrow-to-finish swine business, 1,100-head of beef cattle and 3,000 acres of corn and soybeans.

NPPC Hails Trump U.K. Trade Announcement

The Trump administration over the weekend announced it would pursue closer trade relations with the United Kingdom, news welcomed by the National Pork Producers Council, which urged the administration to begin talks as soon as possible.

Meeting last week at the White House, President Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May agreed to hold preliminary talks on a trade deal, which can’t be finalized until the U.K. leaves the European Union. (The U.K. in June 2016 voted to get out of the economic bloc, which was formed after World War II to promote economic growth and to avoid conflict among the 28 member countries.)

“We applaud the Trump administration for recognizing the importance of free trade agreements to American agriculture and the entire U.S. economy,” said NPPC President John Weber, a pork producer from Dysart, Iowa. “We’re pleased that it will work for a stronger trade relationship with the United Kingdom through a mutually beneficial trade agreement.”

Trump and May agreed to set up a working groups to consider ways to improve trade between the countries before the United Kingdom, which consists of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, exits the EU. The so-called Brexit process may take up to two years.

At a Friday press conference with the president, May said the countries will work to “lay the groundwork for a U.K.-U.S. trade agreement and identify the practical steps we can take now in order to enable companies in both countries to trade and do business with one another more easily.”

Given its desire to negotiate a free trade agreement with the U.K., it is unclear if the Trump administration will continue trade talks with the EU through the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Those negotiations have been limping along nearly since the TTIP was initiated in 2013.

Although NPPC had been supportive of the TTIP, it was skeptical that U.S. hog farmers – or any other farmers – would get a good deal out of the agreement given the EU’s intransigence on eliminating tariff and non-tariff barriers on agricultural products, including pork.

“In pursuing better trade with the U.K. and working toward a free trade agreement with it, I think the administration recognized that TTIP isn’t going anywhere,” Weber said. “We’re pleased President Trump is instead focusing on bolstering our historic ties with the U.K.”

CHS Foundation Now Accepting High School Scholarship Applications

The CHS Foundation, funded by charitable gifts from CHS Inc., the nation's leading farmer-owned cooperative, is now accepting scholarship applications. 

"The CHS Foundation is committed to supporting the next generation of agricultural leaders," says Mark Biedenfeld, president, CHS Foundation. "These students are the future of our industry and we are proud to support them as they begin their education and career exploration in agriculture."

In 2017, the CHS Foundation will award nearly 300 scholarships to students studying agriculture or STEM (science, technology, engineering or math) fields of study with an interest in agriculture or energy industry careers. One hundred high school students will be awarded $1,000 scholarships as they enter their freshman year of college in Fall 2017.

High school scholarship applications must be submitted by March 31, 2017. An independent external review committee will select recipients based on essays, transcripts and reference letters. For additional information and to apply, visit

The CHS Foundation supports nearly 200 additional scholarships that are available to existing college students pursuing agricultural-related degrees. These scholarships are directly administered by more than 30 partnering universities throughout the U.S. and application deadlines vary by school. For more information and a list of partnering universities, visit

The CHS Foundation is funded by charitable gifts from CHS Inc., the nation's leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grains and foods company. As a part of the CHS stewardship focus, the CHS Foundation supports organizations that develop future leaders for agriculture through education and leadership programs, improve agricultural safety and enhance community vitality in rural America.

FFA Makes Changes to Official Dress, Opening Ceremonies

The National FFA Board of Directors has approved two recommendations from the National FFA Delegates regarding Official Dress guidelines and the National FFA Opening Ceremony. Effective immediately, the board approved the changes during its January meeting in Indianapolis last week.

For the Opening Ceremonies, the reporter's part will now say 'the FFA is a national organization that reaches from the state of Alaska to the Virgin Islands and from the state of Maine to Hawaii.' Previously, Puerto Rico was cited as the most southeastern area to be impacted by the organization.

The Official Dress Guidelines have also been amended to allow recognized religions to wear Official garb with Official Dress. Other language on the exact use of certain clothing for Official Dress was also clarified.

Both of these changes were approved by the student member delegates to the 89th National FFA Convention in October 2016.

U.S. Dairy Companies Push Back Against Canada’s Protectionist Policies

The U.S. dairy industry this week continued to push back against Canada’s protectionist policies that are effectively blocking American dairy imports into the country in violation of international agreements. A group of 17 dairy companies representing dairy farmers and processors from coast to coast asked governors in 25 states to urge Canadian policymakers to uphold existing trade commitments with the United States and halt the imminent implementation of a national strategy that would unfairly subsidize Canadian dairy products in its domestic and global markets.

“[U.S.-Canada] trade cannot be a one-way street with Canada expecting to enjoy the benefits of exporting its products of interest to our market while denying a sector accounting for hundreds of thousands of jobs in rural America reliable access to the Canadian market,” the group said in its letter to the governors. “[An existing provincial] program has already cost U.S. companies tens of millions of dollars in exports, thereby harming the dairy farmers, dairy plant employees and rural communities that depend on the benefits those foreign sales bring.”

Beginning Feb. 1, Canada is poised to expand the product scope of that provincial program while instituting it nationally. It also intends to disrupt skim milk powder markets around the world by using the new program to dump excess milk powder on global markets.

The 17 dairy companies sent the letter to governors in states with significant numbers of dairy farms and dairy processing companies because of the damage Canada’s policies have had already or are poised to have on these farms and companies, as well as their employees and many communities. The letter urges state officials to “consider all tools at their disposal to ensure Canada understands the seriousness of this issue.” The states are Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin. Read the letter here.

Earlier this month, U.S. dairy organizations and state departments of agriculture across the country sent a similar letter to President Donald Trump that said Canada’s protectionist policies are in direct violation of its trade commitments under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the World Trade Organization (WTO). The organizations urged the president and his key cabinet members to take immediate action. The letter 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).

“In the current trade climate across North America, it is foolhardy for Canada to continue provoking the United States with a course of action that so blatantly violates our trade agreements,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “We need our nation’s governors to join in our call for Canada to step back from the brink of what it is about to do and take steps to remind Canada how critical trade is to its own interests, as well.”

“Despite Canada’s efforts to distance itself from the administration’s focus on enforcement and improving how NAFTA functions, it is Canada – not Mexico – that has time and again chosen to disregard its dairy trade commitments to the United States and intentionally dismiss serious concerns from the United States about the impact its dairy policies are having on trade,” said Matt McKnight, acting Chief Operating Officer of USDEC. “Canada should take a page out of Mexico’s book and hold up its end of the bargain to us on dairy trade.”

“The U.S. dairy industry is united on this issue because these policies and incentives severely hinder U.S. exports to Canada and threaten our ability to remain competitive in markets around the world,” said Michael Dykes, D.V.M., president and CEO of IDFA. “IDFA will continue to speak out against Canada’s protectionist policies on Capitol Hill, with members of the Trump Administration and among state governors and legislators, while asking for changes that will force Canada to honor its trade commitments and allow more access for U.S. dairy products.”

Corn and Animal Agriculture - Poised for Success

Chris Novak, Chief Executive Officer, National Corn Growers Association

In less than a week's time, colleagues in the cattle industry will head off to Nashville, Tennessee to participate in the 120th Cattle Industry Convention and Trade Show.  Further south, our friends in the poultry industry will head to Atlanta, Georgia for the largest annual trade show for the poultry, meat and feed industries in the country.  With these two industries coming together, it makes it a good time to reflect on our relationships with those in animal agriculture. Collectively, beef, poultry, pork and dairy producers represent corn farmers' number-one customer.  It's a fact of which we're both proud and grateful.  Over 39 percent of U.S. grown corn goes toward animal agriculture. Adding in distillers dried grains (DDGs), a co-product of corn ethanol production, brings total consumption figures to 47 percent1.  Clearly, what is good for animal agriculture is good for corn growers.

The reverse is also true.  Consumer skepticism in the nation's food supply, negative media attention, and challenges to free trade threaten the health of all our industries.  Knowing this, the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) is constantly looking for ways to contribute to the economic health of its largest customer in ways that are mutually beneficial.  That is why we incorporated livestock-related objectives into our Strategic Plan2.  Corn farmers recognize that livestock and poultry's successes are vital if we are to achieve our stated goals of building competitive market demand for corn, and corn products, and enhancing customer and consumer trust in our nation's food supply.

To accomplish the goals set forth in our plan, NCGA and its state affiliates engage in a variety of activities to help support animal agriculture.  For example, we continue to invest in educational efforts - such as the Soil Health Partnership - that helps create new efficiencies in corn production and help farmers better utilize crop nutrients.  Healthy soil results in a quality product, which in turn, is beneficial to livestock operations. We also work alongside our livestock and poultry producing colleagues in broad-based agricultural organizations - such as U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance - to help reduce consumer misperceptions.  And we are collaborating with industry professionals, animal experts, and plant scientists to help deliver improvements in the nutrient composition of corn and expand the cost-effective use of DDGs in livestock rations.

Looking ahead, we want - and need - to do even more with our livestock and poultry colleagues. Farm and ranch families comprise just two percent of the U.S. population3.  However, thanks to advancements in technology and agronomic practices, we collectively produce enough food to feed both American citizens and a growing world population. Developing economies have an appetite for quality protein from meat, and this trend shows no signs of slowing.  NCGA's vision is to feed and fuel a growing world.  To achieve this vision, we must work together to continue to push for farming programs and trade policies that support all of agriculture.

Livestock producers and corn farmers have more in common than they do differences, and a whole lot to gain by working together.  As our friends in the cattle and poultry industries head off to Music City and the Big Peach, we want them to know that corn growers sincerely wish you all continued success and prosperity - and we're working hard to help you achieve it.

Kansas State University is the 'Silicon Valley for biodefense,' according to Blue Ribbon Study Panel

What Silicon Valley is to technology, Kansas State University is to biodefense.

When former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and the bipartisan Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense visited the Manhattan campus on Thursday, Jan. 26, for a series of agrodefense discussions, the university cemented its status as a national leader in animal health, biosciences and food safety research.

"K-State has really become the Silicon Valley for biodefense," Daschle said. "Its Biosecurity Research Institute, links to the Kansas Intelligence Fusion Center and the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility are all illustrative of the extraordinary effort that is now underway in Manhattan. It's an amazing demonstration of innovation, of collaboration and of engagement."

Daschle and legislators, scientists, academic leaders and industry representatives visited the university for a series of discussions, titled "Agrodefense: Challenges and Solutions." Daschle and other panel members and staff attended to learn about better ways to protect the country's food supply and fight bioterrorism.

The Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense — chaired by former Sen. Joe Lieberman and former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, a former governor of Pennsylvania — recommends changes to U.S. national policy and law to strengthen biodefense. The panel intends to produce a report to share with the country's new administration, Congress and the public by the end of the year.

"One of the centerpieces of our report is the recommendation to try and coordinate information-sharing efforts among the different and often disparate parts of state and local governments that address biothreats," said the Honorable Kenneth Wainstein, panel member and former Homeland Security adviser to President George W. Bush. "Nowhere is that as important, and the need as marked, as in the agriculture area."

During the panel, Kansas State University researchers discussed their work on emerging diseases — Zika virus, West Nile virus, avian influenza and porcine epidemic diarrhea virus, known as PEDv — as well as efforts to fight biological terrorism, such as the anthrax events of 2001, which affected Daschle. They also discussed pursuing biodefense through partnerships with government, industry and other universities.

"We want to be a good partner in the effort to protect our nation's food supply, both plant and animal," said Kansas State University President Richard Myers, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks. "We have expertise and facilities here that enable us to do this."

Below are additional remarks from some of the meeting participants.

• Thomas Daschle, former Senate majority leader and panel member:
"Collaboration requires a convener. Collaboration requires leadership. I believe that K-State is in a very good position to be that convener, to be that leader and to create opportunities for better dialogue and engagement with others as we consider the national challenges we face. That's going to take a real effort and I think K-State is well-positioned to do just that."

"As agriculture is elevated in terms of recognition and importance, it will be important for K-State to play a key role in giving us the kind of direction and public policy approach that is necessary to get the job done right."

• Roger Marshall, congressman and physician:
"Kansas is agriculture; agriculture is Kansas. Kansans have proven themselves in leading and preventing potential outbreaks."

"Zoonotic diseases are going to require physicians, veterinarians and researchers to work together. I see that my role is to push these people together. I see incredible opportunity with NBAF to work with those people and further the collaboration."

• Stephen Higgs, Kansas State University associate vice president for research and director of the Biosecurity Research Institute:
"Preventing an attack is going to be knowledge-based. We need to know everything possible about the pathogens and the potential perpetrators. Know the agent. Know the agencies that are involved. The type of research, education and training conducted at the Biosecurity Research Institute is critical to gain that sort of knowledge."

• Tammy Beckham, dean of Kansas State University's College of Veterinary Medicine:
"We cannot simply discuss One Health anymore, but we must embrace it. We need surveillance systems that can share information from the animal sector to the human health sector. We need surveillance systems that are not agent or disease based, but are more broadly syndromic based so that we have early detection for these emerging diseases."

Friday January 27 Cattle on Feed + Ag News


Nebraska feedlots, with capacities of 1,000 or more head, contained 2.37 million cattle on feed on January 1, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. This inventory was down 2 percent from last year.   Placements during December totaled 450,000 head, up 15 percent from 2015.   Fed cattle marketings for the month of December totaled 440,000 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 January 1, 2017, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Cattle on Feed report. This was unchanged from December 1, 2016, but down 3 percent from January 1, 2016. Iowa feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head had 500,000 head on feed, down 2 percent from last month and down 18 percent from last year. Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in all Iowa feedlots totaled 1,100,000 head, down 1 percent from last month and down 11 percent from last year.

Placements of cattle and calves in Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head during December totaled 104,000 head, an increase of 2 percent from last month and up 16 percent from last year. Feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head placed 39,000 head, down 43 percent from last month and down 61 percent from last year. Placements for all feedlots in Iowa totaled 143,000 head, down 16 percent from last month and down 25 percent from last year.

Marketings of fed cattle from Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head during December totaled 102,000 head, up 2 percent from last month and up 5 percent from last year. Feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head marketed 47,000 head, down 23 percent from last month but up 18 percent from last year. Marketings for all feedlots in Iowa were 149,000 head, down 7 percent from last month but up 9 percent from last year. Other disappearance from all feedlots in Iowa totaled 4,000 head.

United States Cattle on Feed Up Slightly

Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 10.6 million head on January 1, 2017. The inventory was slightly above January 1, 2016. The inventory included 7.02 million steers and steer calves, down 2 percent from the previous year. This group accounted for 66 percent of the total inventory. Heifers and heifer calves accounted for 3.58 million head, up 5 percent from 2016.

On Feed:  By State  (1,000 hd - % of Jan 1, '17)

Colorado .......:                   900          103             
Iowa .............:                    600           97            
Kansas ..........:                 2,170          104            
Nebraska ......:                 2,370           98            
Texas ............:                 2,420          100           

Placements in feedlots during December totaled 1.80 million head, 18 percent above 2015. Net placements were 1.74 million head. During December, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 435,000 head, 600-699 pounds were 450,000 head, 700-799 pounds were 450,000 head, and 800 pounds and greater were 460,000 head.

Placements by State:  (1,000 hd - % of Dec '16)

Colorado .........:                  130           113   
Iowa ................:                 104           116    
Kansas .............:                 395           118      
Nebraska .........:                 450           115      
Texas ...............:                 375           123       

Marketings of fed cattle during December totaled 1.79 million head, 7 percent above 2015. Other disappearance totaled 55,000 head during December, 29 percent below 2015.

Marketings by State:  (1,000 hd - % of Dec '16)

Colorado .........:                  135           104      
Iowa ................:                  102           105     
Kansas .............:                  430           116      
Nebraska .........:                  440           100      
Texas ...............:                  375           101     

Nebraska Cattlemen Legislative Meeting Held this Week

Nebraska Cattlemen (NC) Board of Directors met in Lincoln for their annual legislative meeting this week. Six NC committee's brought numerous new Nebraska Legislative bills and resolutions to the board's attention.

Under close review, in accordance to NC Policy, the Board of Directors decided positions on each individual bill. Once again tax relief heads up the priorities for the organization.

Nebraska Cattlemen recognizes agricultural property owners pay a disproportionate share of Nebraska's total property tax liability. The Board voted to support and monitor a variety of bills related to tax reform and encourages the Legislature to consider a comprehensive plan that would reform and reduce that burden.

NC recommends a broad legislative package that would include lowering and/or capping agricultural land valuations of real property, increasing and protecting the Property Tax Credit Fund, shifting the current tax burden or modifying existing revenues to bring dollar for dollar property tax reductions, spending restraints and prudent management at all levels of government, and modifications to school funding that reduce the reliance on property tax dollars while still ensuring a high quality education for all Nebraska students.

"Our organization diligently reviewed bills in accordance to NC policy and took a stance on proposed legislation this week on behalf of members throughout the state. I am confident the decisions of Nebraska Cattlemen's Board of Directors will encourage our Legislature to pursue this comprehensive approach to provide meaningful, long term property tax relief for all Nebraskans," said Galen Frenzen, chairman of NC Legislative Committee.

For more information about a specific priority for Nebraska Cattlemen, please call the Nebraska Cattlemen office at 402.475.2333.

Bank stabilization project will provide protection along Elkhorn River

Since the flood of 2010, a unique local partnership has been building to protect northeast Nebraska from future flood events.

At their January meeting, the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) board voted 12 to 1 to approve the Interlocal Agreement to move forward with the bank stabilization project that will protect the railroad and Highway 81 from future flood events on the Elkhorn River.  The flooding in 2010 caused significant damage, including the collapse of a railroad bridge, which negatively impacted area businesses and industry.  A railroad employee was killed when the bridge collapsed into the river.

The bank stabilization project brings together public and private partners, including:  the Madison County Railroad Transportation Safety District, Nebraska Central Railroad, Nucor, Vulcraft, Elkhorn Valley Ethanol, Norfolk Iron & Metal, and the LENRD.

Norfolk City Administrator, Shane Weidner, said, “I’m thankful to the LENRD board and all the partners.  This has truly been a team effort from our industrial partners, our major industries, the Railroad Transportation Safety District and the LENRD.”

LENRD General Manager, Mike Sousek, said, “This has been a great collaborative effort between Madison County, the City of Norfolk, the industries, and the LENRD.  I’m happy the board moved forward with this. It’s going to provide great protection for all of us in Northeast Nebraska. I’m looking forward to getting the contract in place and getting the project built.”

The project has seen a decrease in cost from $2.4 million to the current estimate of $750,000.  The LENRD will share $250,000 of the cost as a partner in this project.

In other action, the board elected new officers for 2017.

The board elected Dennis Schultz of Wisner as their new chairman.  Mike Krueger of Pierce was voted in as vice-chairman, Mark Hall of Norfolk as secretary, and Bob Huntley of Norfolk as treasurer.  Other positions filled were Kurt Janke of Wayne as the voting delegate of the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts, and Gary Loftis of Craig as the alternate NARD delegate.

Sousek, said, “I’m looking forward to working with the new officers.  This gives them a chance to demonstrate their leadership skills as we work through various issues and challenges together.”

The next board meeting will be held on Thursday, February 23rd at 7:30 p.m.

Regarding President Trump Considering 20 percent Tariff on Imports from Mexico

Steve Nelson, President, NE Farm Bureau

“While a 20 percent tariff on imports from Mexico into the U.S. would have limited impact on prices for Nebraska agriculture commodities, the possibility of retaliatory tariffs enacted by Mexico could be devastating to Nebraska farmers, ranchers, and Nebraska’s overall economy.”

“In 2014, Nebraska shipped more than $1 billion in agriculture products to Mexico. Mexico is the 3rd largest consumer of all U.S. agriculture goods, where Mexico is the 2nd largest consumer of U.S. corn, 3rd largest purchaser of U.S. soybeans, and the 4th largest consumer of U.S. beef; all commodities produced in Nebraska.”

“Any disruption of export markets would result in continued downward pressure on farm incomes and farm financial health. Those negative impacts won’t just affect farmers and ranchers but the state as a whole as has been clearly demonstrated by the shortfalls in state revenues resulting from the existing and ongoing downturn in the agriculture economy.”

“Today, the value of agriculture exports account for roughly one-third of farm income, making trade critical to agriculture. Any actions jeopardizing Nebraska’s ability to access international markets is of great concern to our members.” 


The annual Nebraska Agricultural Technologies Association (NeATA) conference will be held Feb. 1-2 at the Nebraska Innovation Campus Conference Center, 2021 Transformation Dr., Lincoln.

The first day of the conference will be a full-day symposium on aerial imagery in agriculture. Six speakers, from both private industry and governmental agencies, will discuss satellite, plane and UAV platforms for capturing imagery, before participating in a panel discussion. Tours of the Food Processing Center and Greenhouse Innovation Center will be offered at the end of the day.

Day two speakers include Nebraska Extension Associate Dean Dave Varner and Jeremy Wilson, technology specialist for Crop IMS. Attendees will also be able to choose from 16 break-out offerings, covering topics including soil management, water management, data management, and machinery and hardware. The closing keynote speaker will be Agrifood innovation expert and data strategy consultant Lisa Prassack. Prassack will discuss assembling the precision agriculture puzzle for farm profit.

The conference begins at 10 a.m. on Feb. 1 and ends at 4 p.m. on Feb. 2.

The registration fee is $200 per person for both days or $125 for one day only. Students may register for $75 per person. There is no registration deadline.

The Nebraska Agricultural Technologies Association is a membership network that provides a venue for members to share agricultural research experiences and knowledge related to current and emerging technologies in agriculture. Membership is not required to attend the conference.

For more information about the conference or to register, visit or contact Nathan Mueller with Nebraska Extension at 402-727-2775 or

Rep. Bacon Named to Subcommittees for Ag and Small Business  

Earlier this week, Congressman Don Bacon (NE-2) was appointed to the General Farm Commodities & Risk Management and Biotechnology, Horticulture & Research Subcommittees for the Agriculture Committee, and will serve on the Agriculture, Energy & Trade Subcommittee and Investigations, Oversight & Regulations Subcommittee for the Small Business Committee for the 115th Congress.

The General Farm Commodities & Risk Management Subcommittee governs policies, statutes, and markets relating to commodities including corn, grain sorghum, soybeans, and wheat, which all are Nebraska products; the Commodity Credit Corporation; risk management policies and statutes, including Federal Crop Insurance; as well as producer data and privacy issues. The Biotechnology, Horticulture & Research Subcommittee has jurisdiction over policies, statutes, and markets relating to horticulture, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, and ornamentals; bees; and organic agriculture; policies and statutes relating to marketing and promotion orders; pest and disease management; bioterrorism; adulteration and quarantine matters; research, education, and extension; and biotechnology.

“The state’s largest industry is agriculture, including the large agriculture processing and commodity industry in Omaha, which is why the Farm Bill is a critical piece of legislation,” said Congressman Bacon. “I will also work to ensure affordable crop insurance so our ag producers can be assured they will be able to stay competitive and have the financial security to stay in business. Our state is also a leader in biotechnology and agriculture research and I look forward to working on these issues on the subcommittee.”

The Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy, and Trade addresses policies that enhance rural economic growth, increasing America’s energy independence and ensuring that America’s small businesses can compete effectively in a global marketplace.   The Subcommittee on Investigations, Oversight, and Regulations will examine the efficient operation of government programs that affect small businesses, including the SBA, and develop proposals to make them operate in a more cost-effective manner.  This Subcommittee also reviews the regulatory burdens imposed on small businesses and how those burdens may be alleviated.

“Serving on these two sub-committees will enable me to address excessive red-tape that stifles economic development and growth for small businesses. Once we get the bureaucrats out the way, our small business community can grow,” added Congressman Bacon. “Further, I look forward to meeting with our Nebraska businesses, farmers, ranchers, and producers to find ways to empower them through my representation on these committees.”

NCTA tuition to be same for all students

Starting this fall, tuition rates at the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture will be alike for resident and non-resident students.

The University of Nebraska Board of Regents approved the same-rate tuition plan on Friday at a meeting in Lincoln.

“This is excellent news for NCTA in providing a low-cost affordable education for all students, particularly those who are residents of nearby states to Nebraska, and who are seeking a customized agriculture in a two-year degree program,” said Ron Rosati, NCTA dean.

NCTA had proposed the equal rate of $121 per credit hour to assist in recruiting students to the Curtis campus for all of its technical programs, but particularly for academic degrees and certificates in specialized workforce development.

The all-agriculture college is targeting many agricultural professions and notes some newer areas where industry demand was a driving force in creating degrees, certificates or transfer programs for irrigation technology, welding, agricultural education and next fall dairy production.

“While there is strong competition for our graduates of agriculture and veterinary technology experiential learning, NCTA strives to be responsive to all of industry through the many unique courses and programs we can offer here at Curtis, along with partnerships we share with other educational institutions,” Rosati said.  “Nonresident students will increase the number of graduates available to Nebraska industries.”

Academic agreements with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln include an A to B transfer program for associate to bachelor’s degrees.  A partnership has recently been announced with South Dakota State University in dairy production.

The college is fully accredited, and has received national rankings such as a Top 2% College by WalletHub, Top 15% by the Aspen Institute, and Top 50 of colleges offering Applied Associate of Science degrees by Community College Week.

“NCTA is an outstanding institution not just because of its nationally ranked academic programs but because it is also a cost-effective college option for Nebraska residents,” Rosati said. “An analysis of three years of financial aid record shows that more than 90 percent of Nebraska residents attending NCTA received financial aid and the average grant and scholarship component of the financial aid award exceeded the cost of tuition and fees by $700 per year.”

The tuition rate of $121 per credit hour is subject to change by Board of Regents action. 


In a case with potential implications for other farm states, the Iowa Supreme Court Friday ruled that state law immunizes county drainage districts from legal claims sought by the Des Moines Water Works (DMWW), another government entity. The drainage districts were instituted in Iowa to allow wetlands to be turned into productive farmland by moving water off of fields.

DMWW, which provides drinking water to about half a million people, sued the drainage districts of Buena Vista, Calhoun and Sac counties, claiming they allowed nitrates from agricultural lands to get into the Raccoon and Des Moines rivers. DMWW is required to meet certain federal water-quality standards, including a maximum level of nitrates.

Relying on 100 years of Iowa law, the state high court ruled that the drainage districts have “a limited, targeted role – to facilitate the drainage of farmland in order to make it more productive” – and are, therefore, immune from damages claims and from injunctive relief claims other than ones to compel it to perform a statutory duty.

The court’s decision, however, did not deal with claims DMWW has brought under the federal Clean Water Act or the state’s water pollution control law. Those are being considered by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa.

Iowa Supreme Court ruling on Des Moines Water Works Lawsuit

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey issued the following statement regarding the Iowa Supreme Court ruling on four certified questions of law that the Court received from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa that is hearing the full case.  The full Supreme Court decision can be found at

“This decision is a significant loss for Des Moines Water Works.  Their failed strategy seeks to circumvent well-established Iowa law with more than 100 years of precedent.  Unfortunately, it has already cost Des Moines Water Works ratepayers more than $1 million dollars on lawyer fees that could be better spent improving their infrastructure and serving their customers.  While Iowans have continued to take on the challenge of improving water quality and investing in additional conservation practices, the lawsuit has been a needless distraction from our collaborative, research-based approach that is working with Iowans in rural and urban areas across the state to improve water quality.”

Iowa Supreme Court decision puts momentum behind making real progress in improving water quality

Iowa Soybean Association President Rolland Schnell issued the following statement regarding today’s decision rendered by the Iowa Supreme Court prohibiting Des Moines Water Works from seeking damages from drainage districts in three northwest Iowa counties.

“Today’s Iowa Supreme Court decision rejecting key claims in the Des Moines Water Works’ lawsuit bodes well for those serious about improving water quality in Iowa.

“As predicted, the litigation advanced by Des Moines Water Works has diverted critical time and money from strategies and practices proven to have a positive impact on water quality. It has divided Iowans, reflected poorly on our state and done nothing to make Iowa’s water cleaner.

“Water quality improvement in Iowa is warranted. Today’s decision by the court provides momentum in the appropriate direction. It renews hope that the Federal District judge will dismiss the case and Des Moines Water Works will abandon its expensive and divisive litigation. It also renews optimism that the utility will re-engage in a cooperative approach with rural Iowa to make real and long-lasting improvements in water quality.

“Iowa soybean farmers remain focused on advancing real solutions to better water. They include watershed planning, reducing tillage, increasing cover crop plantings and targeting installation of conservation practices where they have the most impact on the quality of our rivers, lakes and streams.

“These efforts, advanced by the Iowa Soybean Association, farmers and landowners, and are generating results:
-    Cover crop use will likely grow to 750,000 acres this year, an increase from about 500,000 acres in 2015 and approximately 10,000 acres in 2010;
-    Iowa Soybean Association tile water monitoring conducted last year documented a 29 percent nitrate concentration reduction in fields with cover crops;
-    Iowa Soybean Association monitoring of bioreactors has shown a 20-50 percent reduction in nitrate concentration; we are increasing the number of bioreactors deployed statewide as well as the installation of saturated buffers.

“Data-driven, science-based solutions are key to achieving water quality improvements. We’ve just begun this important, collaborative work, are energized about the results achieved and the role Iowa soybean farmers will play in deploying more conservation practices on more acres.”

IFBF pleased with Iowa Supreme Court ruling on the Des Moines Water Works lawsuit

Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) members are pleased that the Iowa Supreme Court is upholding a century of precedent and established Iowa law by rejecting those aspects of the Des Moines Water Works’ lawsuit against drainage districts in Sac, Calhoun and Buena Vista counties, which were referred to the court.

“The lawsuit has done nothing to improve water quality and has impeded that conservation progress. Iowa farmers are taking on the challenge of improving water quality, but the challenge is bigger than farmers. That’s why farmers partnered, prior to the lawsuit, in key areas of the state to improve water quality. That work will and must continue. The best solution moving forward is to embrace collaborative efforts and practices designed and measured by ISU researchers which will sustain the land and water for all Iowans," says IFBF President Craig Hill.

The ruling today means northwest Iowa drainage districts, farmers and rural citizens will not be held liable for damages from rainfall and a number of other factors, which can impact their naturally fertile land.  “With one in five jobs directly tied to agriculture, rural Iowa has much at stake with this lawsuit, which from the beginning, had the potential to impact not just every farmer in Iowa, but agriculture throughout the United States,” says Hill. 

Progress in water quality is measurable; over the past 20 years, Iowa farmers have nearly doubled the acres of conservation tillage and Iowa leads the nation in areas devoted to grass filters and buffer strips, which help catch nutrients and protect rivers and streams from runoff. Last fall Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey announced that 1,800 Iowa farmers committed $3.8 million in cost share funds to install nutrient reduction practices and Iowa continues to see increases in the adoption of practices, such as cover crops and bioreactors.

 IFBF hopes the Federal District Court will dismiss the remaining aspects of the case, and collaborative work to improve water quality and fund those continued efforts can be the unified focus of all Iowans, moving forward.


Kurt Hora, Iowa Corn Growers Assoc

The Iowa Supreme Court answered four legal questions posed by the Federal District Court in the Des Moines Waterworks Lawsuit today. The opinion stated that Iowa law has provided immunity to drainage districts for over a century, especially as it relates to another public entity, the Des Moines Water Works.

The lawsuit was brought against the drainage districts in Sac, Calhoun and Buena Vista counties in Northwest Iowa accusing them of contributing nitrates into the Raccoon River.

Iowa’s rural communities and farm families are used to rallying together to face tough challenges. Lawsuits and finger pointing are not the way we as Iowans come together. We as farmers, want the safest, best quality water for Iowa. The Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA) and our farmer-members will continue to use cooperation and collaboration in proactively solving our water quality issues.

The lawsuit is not yet over. While this is an important step in the lawsuit, it means good news for farmers. The legal issues in this lawsuit could restrict our ability to farm, both practically and economically.  A favorable outcome in the lawsuit will allow us to continue to try new ways of improving soil and water conservation.

In answering the questions posed by the Federal Court, the Iowa Supreme Court said that “drainage districts have a limited targeted role – to facilitate the drainage of farmland in order to make it more productive. Accordingly, Iowa law has immunized drainage districts from damage claims for over a century. The immunity was reaffirmed unanimously by the Iowa Supreme Court four years ago.” (Page 3)

This opinion will then go back to the Federal Court to make a ruling on the remaining ten counts brought on by the Des Moines Water Works. Iowa Corn Growers Association will continue to invest and support both public and private partnerships to accelerate the adoption of water quality practices outlined in the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy as developed by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Iowa State University.

Landowner Wins Case against Army Corps

Earlier this week, landowners scored a victory when a federal district court ruled against the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) for incorrectly claiming jurisdiction over private property. The Corps had claimed a piece of property owned by Hawkes Company, and used by Hawkes to harvest peat, was a “waters of the United States” which requires a federal dredge and fill (404) permit under the Clean Water Act.

In March 2016, NCBA filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court to support Hawkes’ private property rights and argue that jurisdictional determinations should be reviewable by courts. In a resounding victory, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of Hawkes, setting a precedent that landowners may challenge the Corps’ jurisdictional determinations. The case was then remanded back to the district court for a final decision on the facts, which found the Corps failed to prove that a WOTUS was present on Hawkes’ land.

“This week’s district court decision is the cherry on top of a significant legal victory for landowners,” said Scott Yager, NCBA environmental counsel. “This case highlights the subjectivity of how the agencies determine the presence of a WOTUS. It also gives landowners the option to use the courts for impartial review when confronted with questionable WOTUS determinations. Before Hawkes, the Corps had a rubber stamp on WOTUS determinations.”

The Hawkes case involved three companies engaged in mining peat in Minnesota. Due to the difficulty inherent in determining the need for a 404 permit, the Corps allows property owners to obtain a jurisdictional determination if a particular piece of property contains a WOTUS and therefore requires a 404 permit before using the land. Upon receiving an approved jurisdictional determination that their land did contain a WOTUS, the companies exhausted the administrative remedies available and then filed suit in Federal District Court challenging the Corps’ jurisdictional determination.

“Not only is the Hawkes decision a significant victory itself, it adds to the momentum of getting the flawed WOTUS rule fixed” said Yager. “NCBA is litigating the WOTUS rule, lobbying Congress, and working closely with the new administration to roll back this flawed rule.”

Major Research Development to Help Honey Bees

A new honey bee testing service announced this week will allow beekeepers to more effectively identify and address diseases plaguing bee colonies, according to the National Agricultural Genotyping Center (NAGC).

NAGC conducted the research and developed the testing panel with the support of the National Corn Growers Association and the North Dakota Department of Agriculture. The testing service called “Bee Care” will launch in February 2017.

“It’s the first time we have a panel of the most common honey bee diseases in North America all in one test,” said Pete Snyder, president and CEO of the NAGC. “So we can diagnose problems, get results in 30 days and allow beekeepers to pursue the right treatment.”

NAGC has begun contacting beekeeper groups nationwide with information on the BeeCare testing service and how to submit samples for testing.

“Supporting this research work at the NAGC is just part of Corn Growers overall effort to assure healthy bee populations. BeeCare is an important tool that will allow beekeepers to evaluate and address health issues in a timely manner,” said Carson Klosterman, a farmer from Wyndmere, North Dakota and member of NCGA’s Stewardship Action Team. “We are also actively engaged in the Honey Bee Health Coalition (HBHC) which has the goal of reversing recent declines in honey bee health and ensuring the long-term health of honey bees and other pollinators.”

HBHC, comprised of beekeepers, researchers, government agencies, agribusinesses, growers, conservation groups, manufacturers and consumer brands, seeks to improve and sustain honey bee health at all levels of beekeeping, identifying and implementing novel and proven solutions to major honey bee health challenges, enhancing effective communications, and collaboration among diverse private and public sector stakeholders with interests related to beekeeping, pollination, and agriculture production.

The BeeCare disease panel has been validated through test samples from Central North Dakota and Eastern Missouri. It includes testing for:
-    Acute Bee Paralysis Virus
-    Black Queen Cell Virus
-    Chronic Bee Paralysis Virus
-    Deformed Wing Virus
-    Israeli Acute Bee Paralysis Virus
-    Kashmir Bee Virus
-    Lake Sinai Virus #1
-    Lake Sinai Virus #2
-    Slow Bee Paralysis Virus
-    American Foulbrood Bacteria
-    European Foulbrood Bacteria

“American agriculture relies upon healthy pollinators.  Recent problems like Colony Collapse Disorder are very complex and have a multitude of possible causes.  Unfortunately, some groups are quick to blame row crop farmers and immediately attack crop protection products,” Snyder said


Shortly after he was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States, Donald Trump issued an order freezing federal regulations still in the rulemaking process and delaying for 60 days beyond their effective date those that recently took effect. Among the regulations put on hold are two of particular concern to the National Pork Producers Council: the Farm Fair Practices Rules and the organic livestock and poultry rule. NPPC wants the rules, issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to be rescinded.

One of the regulations in the Farm Fair Practices Rules – also known as the GIPSA Rule (after USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration) – would broaden the scope of the Packers and Stockyards Act (PSA) of 1921 related to the use of “unfair, unjustly discriminatory or deceptive practices” and “undue or unreasonable preferences or advantages.” Specifically, it would deem such actions inherent violations of federal law even if they didn’t harm competition or cause competitive injury, prerequisites for winning PSA cases. NPPC and other livestock groups are concerned that the regulation would restrict the buying and selling of livestock, lead to consolidation of the livestock industry and increase consumer prices for meat. It was set to take effect Feb. 21.

The organic rule adds animal welfare standards to the nation’s organic food production law. It 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. 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. 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 regulation was set to take effect March 20.


The U.S. Court of Appeal for the 6th Circuit in Cincinnati this week granted a motion from the National Pork Producers Council and dozens of other agricultural organizations, businesses and municipalities to hold in abeyance its decision on a lawsuit against a Clean Water Act regulation until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on a jurisdictional issue related to the case. The high court last week agreed to consider whether jurisdiction rests with the federal district or appellate courts to hear the lawsuit over the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule.

The regulation, 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 Supreme Court decisions – had included “navigable” waters and waters with a significant hydrologic connection to navigable waters. But the WOTUS rule 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 6th Circuit 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, the appeals court consolidated the suits under its jurisdiction. NPPC and other groups in November submitted briefs to the 6th Circuit, 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 filed its brief in defense of the rule with the 6th Circuit.)

The groups also argued that 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 regulation and to rebuke its critics and illegally lobbied against congressional efforts to stop implementation of the rule.

Thursday January 26 Ag News

DuPont Pioneer, Ag Processing, Nebraska Soybean Board Provide Additional Opportunities to Area Farmers

DuPont Pioneer, Ag Processing Inc. (AGP) and the Nebraska Soybean Board announced today that AGP is offering production contracts for Pioneer® brand Plenish® high oleic soybeans for 2017 in Nebraska. This is the second year AGP is contracting Plenish high oleic soybeans in the area, which supports expanded marketing opportunities for Nebraska soybean producers.
“Plenish high oleic soybeans bring the right combination of high soybean yield per acre for growers and a more healthful, functionally superior oil for our downstream customers,” said Mark Sandeen, AGP vice president of processing and marketing.

AGP is contracting with soybean growers around Hastings, Neb., to produce Pioneer brand Plenish high oleic soybeans for the 2017 growing season. Farmers have the opportunity to participate in a harvest delivery contract and receive a contract premium.

“Nebraska soybean farmers are pleased to be on the cutting edge of bringing this exciting innovation to the market,” said Victor Bohuslavsky, executive director, Nebraska Soybean Board. “Considering the market price challenges in the soybean industry, we are always searching for ways to partner with companies like AGP and DuPont Pioneer to add value for soybean producers.  Plenish high oleic soybeans are a great example of the right technology at the right time.”

The Nebraska market represents the most western production geography for Plenish high oleic soybeans and helps assure a reliable supply chain for food and industrial products customers in the United States and western population centers.

“Pioneer brand Plenish high oleic soybeans had outstanding yield and agronomic performance in the field in 2016, which is why we’re pleased to again work with AGP in bringing this value-added opportunity to Nebraska growers,” said Mark Deterding, DuPont Pioneer commercial unit lead. “For our customers, this contract program is an important step in expanding soybean market demand and increasing the return per acre they receive today and longer term.  We know that value-added opportunities start with downstream food companies and the consumer, and we appreciate all that AGP is doing to build demand with their oil customers.”

The development and commercialization of Plenish high oleic soybean oil is an example of how biotechnology can provide direct benefits to the food industry and consumers. The oil’s improved fatty acid profile provides a sustainable U.S.-grown, soy-based, trans-fat alternative for food companies and foodservice operators with the highest oxidative stability of any soybean oil being commercially produced.  The enhanced stability means longer fry life in restaurant applications in addition to less polymerized oil buildup on equipment and longer shelf life for packaged food products with a flavor profile that American consumers prefer.

Plenish high oleic soybean oil has 0g trans-fat per serving and 20 percent less saturated fat than commodity soybean oil, making it a more attractive ingredient for health-conscious consumers of food products.

Plenish high oleic soybean varieties are developed by DuPont Pioneer using its elite genetics.  Field testing has confirmed yields are on par with elite commercial products.

Pioneer has obtained regulatory approvals for Plenish high oleic soybeans in nearly all key U.S. soybean export markets and approvals are pending in remaining export markets. For more information on Plenish high oleic soybeans, visit

Anderson Recognized for Excellence in Teaching About Ag

Dr. DeEtta Anderson, a high school science teacher from Center Point, Iowa, is the recipient of the Iowa Excellence in Teaching about Agriculture award. Anderson competed against other elementary, middle and high school teachers to earn the honor. She was recognized at a ceremony at the Iowa Pork Congress held in Des Moines.

Anderson incorporates agriculture technology into her biology and physical science classes by engaging students in learning about land use, conservation, crop production, genetics, and the need for alternative fuels. She teaches about maintaining healthy livestock and her curriculum grows out of local issues. The awards program is a project of the Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation and is supported through a grant from the CHS Foundation.

"In a solutions-oriented project, students made starch based plastics to examine alternatives to oil-based materials," said Anderson. "Not only did they have fun, they learned about the importance of corn for our future and its economic importance for Iowans."

Anderson will receive a $500 stipend to support her continued efforts of integrating agriculture into her classroom curriculum. She will also attend the National Agriculture in the Classroom conference to be held in Kansas City, Mo., in June.

Anderson is in her 9th year of teaching at Center Point Urbana High School where she also serves as the drama director. She earned her doctorate in education from Walden University in Minnesota. As an Iowa State University alumni she has strong ties to agricultural careers helping her students find a pathway toward future careers in agriculture science and technology.

By positioning her classroom as a community, Anderson channels the passion of her students into conversations and learning about agriculture issues. For nearly a semester her class focused on genetically modified organisms or GMOs by testing corn plant resistance to corn borer larva. They learned about the insect life cycle and how the genetically modified organism guards against the destructive insect. Anderson was also a recipient of a 2016 Agriculture in the Classroom Teacher Supplement Grant and plans to continue to incorporate agriculture into her classroom activities.

"In my class, students to grow in an active, relevant, and enriching environment that is deeply rooted in the soil of Iowa," said Anderson. "We are out in the field testing and exploring. We learn from experts. We listen to local issues, learn, and design solutions. We debate and take stands."

Jane Dufoe, parent of one of Anderson's students, said, "DeEtta has an understanding of what it takes to capture the minds of the 'non-ag' kids as well as the knowledge to provide a depth of understanding for the students in her classroom that show a propensity for agriculture related topics. DeEtta's own natural curiosity, and intellect, allow her to teach her students in the way that each of them learns best."


Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey, Iowa State University Associate Dean Dr. John Lawrence and Iowa farmer Larry Buss will announce the Iowa Pest Resistance Management Plan.

The announcement will take place on Monday, Jan. 30 at 1:30 p.m. in the Iowa Power Farming Show media room on the Ballroom level of Community Choice Convention Center (formerly Vets auditorium).

The Iowa Pest Resistance Management Plan is an Iowa-specific plan to address pests — including weeds, insects and plant diseases — that can adapt and become resistant to chemical, genetic, and agronomic control practices. The Iowa Pest Resistance Management Plan (IPRMP) outlines approaches for effective, integrated management solutions.

Officers Mission To South Korea, Japan Focuses On Corn Quality

Farmer leaders and key staff from the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) traveled to South Korea and Japan last week to participate in the rollout of the Council’s 2016/2017 corn harvest quality report.

Participating in the mission included:
    Jim Stitzlein, Consolidated Grain and Barge Co., and the Council’s secretary/treasurer;
    Alan Tiemann, Nebraska Corn Board and the Council’s past chairman;
    Mark Seastrand, North Dakota Barley Council and the Council’s Barley Sector director;
    Dick Gallagher, director for the Iowa Corn Promotion Board and the Council's Corn Sector director;
    Kimberly Atkins, vice president and COO; and
    Floyd Gaibler, director of trade policy and biotechnology.

In South Korea, the group met with the chief executives of feed industry buyers; participated in the Korea office’s annual corn quality conference; and had discussions with local USDA/Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) officials.

Team members also visited the Cargill Agri Purina Feed Mill, the world’s largest animal feed mill with a capacity of 870,000 tons per year, and Pyeongtaek Taeyoung Grain Terminal.

For decades, the Council’s programs have contributed to growth in the livestock and corn processing industries in South Korea, where the coarse grains import market has expanded to more than 12 MMT annually from less than half a million tons in the early 1970s.

"During these visits, it was clear that our customers very much appreciate the information we are able to provide and especially hearing directly from U.S. producers," Atkins said. "In turn, we appreciate the opportunity to continue to demonstrate that the United States is a reliable, transparent supplier of high-quality feed grains and how much we value these loyal and consistent buyers of U.S. corn and co-products."

Later, in Japan, the group participated in another conference rolling out the quality reports, with more than 140 local buyers and industry representatives in attendance. They offered details about the report’s findings and a full review of global corn supply and demand.

The delegation also met with officials at the local FAS office, JA Zennoh, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) to exchange opinions and views on grain and ethanol trade.

Japan is a mature and stable market for U.S. feed grains that is driven in part by a high level of Council engagement with the local industry and government on issues including supply, quality, biotechnology and sustainability.

“Membership involvement in missions like this one is critical to the USGC’s efforts to bolster confidence in the United States as a reliable supplier and to encourage purchases from the U.S. versus other available origins,” Atkins said. “We benefit greatly from engaged members and leadership willing to visit these markets and forge meaningful relationships with our customers.”

Perdue Confirmation Hearing Expected in February

The confirmation hearing for President Donald Trump’s Agriculture Secretary nominee, Sonny Perdue, is expected toward the end of February. According to transition officials, it will take several weeks to thoroughly analyze Perdue’s paperwork, including financial disclosures, business holdings, debt and income, for any conflicts of interest. Meanwhile, Michael Young, the director of the USDA Office of Budget and Program Analysis, is serving as Acting Secretary.

Senate Agriculture Committee Announces First Farm Bill Hearing

Chairman Pat Roberts (KS) announced the first Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee farm bill hearing in preparation for the 2018 farm bill. The hearing will take place on February 23, 2017, at Kansas State University’s main campus in Manhattan. The announcement of a second hearing in Sen. Stabenow’s home state of Michigan is expected soon.

DYK Beef Shorts - Consumer Information

Did you know ... on Jan. 24, the beef checkoff hosted a free webinar for more than 800 health professionals? Participants earned continuing educational credits by learning more about beef nutrition. They also heard the latest scientific evidence about beef’s role in a heart-healthy diet. The webinar was led by Michael Davidson, M.D., clinical professor and director of preventive cardiology at the University of Chicago; and Jan Tilley, RD, a national leader in nutrition counseling. The presenters showed the dietitians, doctors and nurses how to translate the latest research into practical dietary approaches for treating elevated cholesterol levels. Pre- and post-survey data will be compared to measure attitude shifts resulting from the webinar. 

Did you know ... as a result of the beef checkoff’s sponsorship of the 2016 Progressive Grocer Grocerant Summit, more than 100 supermarket foodservice executives will receive beef-checkoff news and insights? New “Beef News Now” subscribers include supermarket retailers, suppliers and food manufacturers. The focus will be on growth of foodservice in retail. This further supports checkoff efforts for direct conversations with decision makers who influence new beef products and menu items, showcasing checkoff research and program initiatives to grow sales with premium, fresh beef products. 

Did you know ... the Annual Meat Conference, sponsored in part by the beef checkoff, targets retailers and retail influencers nationwide? The conference runs February 19 to 21 in Dallas. One panel session will feature beef producers talking about what ranchers and feedyard operators do every day. Beef industry experts will engage directly with retailers on topics like antibiotics and sustainability, for example. This outreach ensures that key influencers will get answers to beef questions directly from the producers who raise beef.

For more information about your beef checkoff investment, visit

International Grains Council Sees a Smaller 2017/18 Wheat Harvest

Stephanie Bryant-Erdmann, USWheat Assoc. Market Analyst

USDA will issue its first 2017/18 world wheat supply and demand estimates in May, but on Jan. 19 the International Grains Council (IGC) provided an early look ahead at the next marketing year. IGC pegged 2017/18 world wheat production at 735 million metric tons (MMT), down 2 percent from the estimated 752 MMT produced in 2016/17. If realized, it would still be the third largest wheat crop ever, but would be the first year over year decline in 5 years. For comparison, USDA estimates 2016/17 global wheat production at 753 MMT.

IGC expects just two of the major exporting countries, Russia and Ukraine, to harvest more wheat in 2017/18, even though their estimates are up only 1 percent and 2 percent, respectively. IGC predicts European Union harvested area will remain stable in 2017/18. Harvested area is forecasted to fall 3 percent in Argentina, Australia and Canada, while IGC expects farmers in the United States and Kazakhstan to harvest 8 percent and 10 percent less wheat, respectively.

Harvested area in Morocco is expected to rebound to a more normal level after widespread rain eased drought conditions that cut its 2016/17 harvested area by 26 percent in 2016/17 to just 5.19 million acres (2.1 million hectares). Projected increases in India, North Africa, Turkey, Iran and Egypt will offset the expected decreases in harvested area among the major exporters according to IGC data.

2017/18 carry-in stocks are estimated at a record large 235 MMT, up 6 percent year over year, if realized. However, the larger carry-in stocks are not anticipated to offset the forecasted decrease in production, and total world supply would decline 3 MMT to a projected 970 MMT. 

For the first time since 2012/13, IGC expects total consumption to be greater than total production. Total consumption is forecast at 737 MMT, down an estimated 1 MMT from 2016/17. Food use will climb over 500 MMT for the first time ever, partially offsetting an expected decrease in feed and residual use due to smaller production in Canada and the United States. 

IGC believes 2016/17 world wheat trade will shrink to 164 MMT, down 4 percent from the prior year, if realized. With consumption outpacing production, IGC expects carryout stocks to decrease marginally year over year to 234 MMT.

Wednesday January 25 Ag News

Nebraska Ethanol Board Elects Executive Committee

During the Nebraska Ethanol Board meeting Jan. 24, board members elected new executive committee officers for 2017.

Mike Thede, who farms near Palmer, Nebraska, and represents general farming, was elected chairman of the board. Jan tenBensel, who farms south of Cambridge, Nebraska, and represents wheat, was appointed vice chairman. Mark Ondracek, business manager for Steamfitters & Plumbers Local Union #464 and represents labor, maintains his seat as secretary.

Outgoing Chairman Paul Kenney, who farms near Kearney, Nebraska, and represents business, was recognized for his eight years of board service. He was recently elected to the University of Nebraska Board Of Regents. Kenney’s vacancy for the business seat will be filled with an appointment by Gov. Ricketts in the next month.

Members of the Nebraska Ethanol Board are appointed by the Governor to serve four year terms. The seven-member board includes four members actively engaged in farming (general farming, corn, wheat and sorghum), one member representing labor interests, one member representing petroleum marketers and one member representing business. The Board’s technical advisor serves as a non-voting member.

Nebraska Ethanol Board members include: Thede, chairman (Palmer, Neb.); tenBensel, vice chairman (Cambridge, Neb.); Ondracek, secretary (Omaha, Neb.); Galen Frenzen (Fullerton, Neb.); Randy Gard (Grand Island, Neb.); Tim Else (Belvidere, Neb.); and University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chemical Engineering Professor Hunter Flodman, who serves as the board’s technical advisor.


The Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) wants the state’s livestock producers to know of cost-share funds available from the U.S. Livestock Genetics Export (USLGE) to promote livestock sales in foreign markets. USLGE sponsors and administers this funding program with the goal of helping the U.S. livestock industry increase the international demand for U.S. livestock genetics.

The funds are available to private livestock breeders, companies or cooperatives interested in promoting livestock, semen or embryo sales in international markets through Dec. 31, 2017, as long as funds are available. USLGE received the funds through the Market Access Program (MAP) of the Foreign Agricultural Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“Exports are an important way to boost the ag economy,” said NDA Agricultural Trade Representative Stan Garbacz. “These cost-share dollars are available to increase livestock exports to foreign markets, and I encourage Nebraska’s livestock producers and companies to apply for these funds to enhance their international marketing and promotion efforts.”

The MAP program provides for partial reimbursement (up to 50 percent) of the cost of approved activities, such as international advertising, the development, translation and distribution of promotional materials and participation in foreign trade shows and exhibitions. Funds cannot be used for travel or personnel reimbursement. Program participates will be charged an administrative fee.

For more information about the program, contact the U.S. Livestock Genetics Export at (618) 548-9154, or NDA’s Agricultural Trade Office at (402) 471-2341.

Four Finalists Named in Nebraska Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers Discussion Meet

Katie Hothem of Sumner, Kyle Lechtenberg of Spencer, Chris Niemann of Dwight, and Lindsey Stern of Anselmo advanced to the final round of the Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation (NFBF) Young Farmers and Ranchers (YF&R) Discussion Meet to be held at the next NFBF Annual Convention, Dec. 3-5, 2017.

Eleanor Aufdenkamp of North Platte was named first alternate and Robert Stuart of Lexington is the second alternate.

Rather than debating, contestants work to develop a solution to a problem being discussed, building on each other’s contributions. Competitors in the annual contest must be prepared to speak on any number of agriculture-related topics; the selected question is announced a short time prior to the contest round. Finalists received the top scores of contestants after competing in three rounds of the discussion meet at the YF&R Conference, Jan. 20-21.

Hothem is a Dawson County Farm Bureau member and an agriculture teacher and FFA advisor at Amherst Public School. She also works on the family ranch with her husband, Matt, and his parents.

Lechtenberg is a Boyd County Farm Bureau board member who raises beef cattle and alfalfa while serving on the YF&R Committee. He and his wife, Tiffany, have four children: 6-year-old Joycin, 4-year-olds Addison and Austin, and 11-month-old Jackson.

Niemann is a fourth generation farmer who grows corn, soybeans, and raises beef cattle on his family farm in Butler County where he serves on his county Farm Bureau board. He and his wife, Ashely, have a son, 2-year-old Colton, who they hope will become the fifth generation to farm in their family.

Stern, along with her husband Jacob, co-own and operate Broken Bow Dairy in Custer County where they are Farm Bureau members. They also own two small businesses, Stern Housing and Open Gates Trucking, to aid with their growing dairy operation.

Aufdenkamp is a second year student at the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis, majoring in Agriculture Education. Her goals include becoming a high school ag teacher and FFA advisor. Aufdenkamp is heavily involved in her Collegiate Farm Bureau, livestock judging team, Collegiate Cattlemen, and NCTA Women in Ag.

Stuart is a Dawson County Farm Bureau member who farms with his parents and wife, Megan. They grow corn, soybeans, sorghum, alfalfa, and beef cattle. His farm has been in his family since 1888. Before returning to the farm, Stuart taught business information systems.

Finalists received a $50 prize and a chance to compete for $500 and an all-expenses paid trip to compete in the American Farm Bureau Discussion Meet in Nashville, Tenn. in January 2018. Farm Bureau members between the ages of 18 and 35 are eligible to compete in the Young Farmers and Ranchers Discussion Meet. For more information, visit

Search Begins for the 2017 America’s Pig Farmer of the Year

The National Pork Board is searching for the next America’s Pig Farmer of The Year, with applications now open for the annual industry award through March 13 at The award, now in its third year, recognizes a U.S. pork producer who demonstrates excellence in raising pigs using the We CareSM ethical principles and in sharing his or her story with the public.

Last fall, a panel of national judges named Brad Greenway, a pig farmer from Mitchell, South Dakota, as the 2016 America’s Pig Farmer of the Year. He has participated in numerous live and social media-based events since earning this distinction, including speaking engagements and media interviews in Chicago, San Francisco and other cities. All told, he has taken the pork industry’s message to more than 88 million people and counting.

“I encourage every pig farmer to apply to be America’s Pig Farmer of the Year,” Greenway said. “This program allows us to open the barn doors and show consumers what is really happening on pig farms across the country as we strive to raise food in a responsible and sustainable way.”

Anyone can nominate a U.S. pork producer who is at least 30 years old as of Jan. 1, 2017, at Producers can request an application directly by going to Complete rules of the award program are on the site as well, along with answers to frequently asked questions.

Greenway urges producers to consider applying for the award for themselves or to nominate someone they know. He added, “This is an experience you will never forget nor regret because it meets the critical need of telling our story to others. I know we’re making a difference with high-level consumer audiences who are getting the real facts about pig farming for the first time.”

Cherokee Co. girl named 2017 Iowa Pork Queen

A high school senior from Cherokee has been named the 2017 Iowa Pork Queen by the Iowa Pork Producers Association.

Clare Conley won the crown tonight at the 45th annual Iowa Pork Congress banquet in Des Moines. She is a senior at Cherokee Washington High School and plans to attend Iowa State University in the fall to pursue a degree in agricultural studies. Clare is the daughter of Bonni Conley of Cherokee.

Joining Conley on the 2017 Iowa Pork Youth Leadership Team are Dylan Riedemann of O'Brien County and McKenna Brinning of Washington County. Riedemann and Brinning will serve as youth pork ambassadors this year.

Dylan is the son of Craig Riedemann of Calumet. He is a sophomore at Iowa State University where he is studying agricultural engineering. After graduation, Dylan would like to use his degree by working on hog building ventilation systems.

Brinning is the daughter of Shane and Kathleen Brinning of Keota. McKenna is a freshman at Iowa State University pursuing a degree in animal science. She hopes to one day own a veterinary clinic in a rural area and work with both large and small animals.

Nine young women and men entered this year's competition. All of the contestants participated in interviewing and communications exercises at the Iowa Pork Congress and were judged on their skills, poise, presentation and overall knowledge of the pork industry and Iowa agriculture.

The top female contestant is crowned pork queen and the top remaining contestants, male or female, are named youth ambassadors. Each receives a $4,000 scholarship from IPPA.

The new youth leadership team members will represent IPPA at various pork promotional and educational events throughout the year.

The 2016 Iowa Pork Youth Leadership Team of Queen Holly Cook of Winthrop in Buchanan County and ambassadors Olivia Bisbee of Stacyville in Mitchell County and Ashley Smeby of Klemme in Hancock County concluded their terms with farewell speeches at tonight's banquet.

Dubuque chef named winner of 2017 Iowa Pork Taste of Elegance

A Dubuque chef was named Chef Par Excellence at the Iowa Pork Producers Association's 31st annual Iowa Pork Taste of Elegance contest on Jan. 23 in Des Moines.

Ben Jones with Brazen Open Kitchen & Bar in Dubuque captured top honors in the culinary contest at the Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center. Jones earned a plaque and $1,000 for his "Pork Tenderloin, Textures of Carrot, Hazelnut Dukka, Pigtail Briouat entrée." Jones also receives a trip to the National Pork Summit in St. Helena, Calif., this spring.

In addition to being named Chef Par Excellence, the Dubuque chef also captured the Media's Choice Award and another $250.

Dubuque chefs have dominated the contest in recent years. Chef Jon Nelson of the Diamond Jo Casino's Wood Fire Grille in Dubuque earned the top honors last year and in 2012.

Chef Justin Scardina with the Norse Culinary Team at Luther College in Decorah won second place, or Superior Chef honors. He received $500, plus a plaque, for his entrée titled "Apple Brandy Poached Pork Tenderloin with Sweet Potato Thyme Tart, Fennel Jam, Cherry Mostrada, Apple Brandy Honey Reduction and Crisp Smoke Pork "Chip."

Third place went to Chef Jordan Walton with Harvey's Diner & Pub in Redfield. He prepared "Pan Seared Pork Tenderloin, Basil and Sweet Potato Bread Pudding, Hoisin Braised Mustard Greens, Caramelized Mandarin, Red Pear Ponzu Sauce" and earned the Premier Chef plaque and $250.

A dozen chefs from around the state competed for the awards in the afternoon and all were required to prepare an original pork tenderloin entrée. A team of judges selected the winners on the basis of taste, appearance and originality.

"The event gets better every year and the competition in the kitchen was at an all-time high," said Chef Phil Carey of the IPPA Restaurant and Foodservice Committee.

A crowd of 340 invited and paid guests attended the evening reception, which featured samples from all 12 entrees, appetizers and samples of wine and beer from several Iowa wineries and breweries. The guests also were able to select their favorite pork entrée for the People's Choice Award. That went to Chef Kurt Nyguard of the 1910 Grille in Mason City. He prepared "Seared Pork Tenderloin Medallions with Sauteed Mushrooms and Apples, Cherry Molasses, Butternut Squash Puree, Honeyed Broccolini." Nyguard won $250 and a plaque.

Judging this year's competition were Chef Tim Oathout of Zeppelins Bar & Grill in Cedar Rapids, Chef Monkut Sayasit of Batas Restaurant in Cedar Rapids, and Wini Moranville, restaurant reporter for DSM Magazine and on Facebook at All Things Food DSM-Wini Moranville. The evening reception was emceed by KCCI-TV anchor Eric Hanson.

"Opening our doors to the public for the first time was a great success. Our pork-loving consumers loved sampling the chefs' entrees, and pairing those samples with great Iowa wine and beer was the cherry on top," said IPPA Marketing/Programs Director Kelsey Sutter.

The Taste of Elegance is a Pork Checkoff-funded culinary competition designed to inspire innovative and exciting ways to menu pork. This event brings together talented chefs from across Iowa for an elegant occasion that highlights pork and its popularity as a menu favorite.

The IPPA Taste of Elegance competition and reception helped kick off the 45th annual Iowa Pork Congress.


Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today announced that he will be making stops in Union and Pottawattamie Counties on Friday, January 27.  Northey will speak at Security National Bank Ag Seminars in Creston and Council Bluffs.  The details of the visits follow here:

Friday, January 27, 2017
Union County – 8:30 a.m., speak at Security National Bank Ag Seminar, Windrow Restaurant, 102 W. Taylor St., Creston
Pottawattamie County – 12:00 p.m., speak at Security National Bank Ag Seminar, Hy-Vee Conference Room, 1745 Madison Ave., Council Bluffs

Northey, a corn and soybean farmer from Spirit Lake, is serving his third term as Secretary of Agriculture. His priorities as Secretary of Agriculture are promoting the use of science and new technologies to better care for our air, soil and water, and reaching out to tell the story of Iowa agriculture.

Northey has committed to traveling to each of Iowa’s 99 counties every year to hear from farmers and rural residents with a stake in the future of agriculture.  These meetings allow him to listen to their needs and better lead the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship as it seeks to serve the people of the state.  Follow along with the Secretary’s travels on Twitter by using the hashtag #northey99.  Also, a map highlighting the counties he has visited so far this year can be found at

Cattlemen Hail Introduction of Legislation to Repeal Death Tax

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association today applauded the introduction of bipartisan legislation that would permanently kill the onerous death tax.

The Death Tax Repeal Act of 2017 was introduced this week by U.S. Sen. John Thune of South Dakota and by U.S. Reps. Kristi Noem (R-SD) and Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.)

“As a fourth-generation cattle producer, I can attest that the death tax can wreak havoc with agricultural families, and it’s long past time that we kill it off once and for all,” said NCBA President Tracy Brunner. “We thank Senator Thune and Representatives Noem and Bishop for introducing this common-sense bill and we hope Congress passes it as soon as possible.”

NCBA has long advocated for a full and permanent repeal of the death tax. In fact, 96 percent of American farms & ranches are owned and operated by families. Many farm and ranch families are asset-rich and cash-poor, with most of the value of their estate attributed to the value of the land, livestock, and equipment they use to grow food and fiber for consumers around the world. Yet the death tax forces them to pay based on the often non-liquid value of those assets.

The death tax also costs agricultural families a lot in unnecessary and unproductive compliance costs. According to the Joint Economic Committee, for every dollar of tax revenue raised from the death tax, a dollar is wasted in compliance costs. For example, in 2006, it was estimated that family businesses spent $27.8 billion just to comply with the law.

Retail Fertilizer Prices Trade in Narrow Range

Retail fertilizer prices continue to be relatively stable the third week of January 2017, according to retailers tracked by DTN. But, as was the case last week, more fertilizers are now trending higher than lower.

Six of the eight major fertilizers edged higher, although none moved by any considerable amount. MAP averaged $443 per ton, potash $324/ton, urea $346/ton, anhydrous $478/ton, UAN28 $235/ton and UAN32 $267/ton.

The remaining two fertilizers were slightly lower, but none of these moves to the low side were noteworthy. DAP averaged $430/ton and 10-34-0 was $437/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.38/lb.N, anhydrous $0.29/lb.N, UAN28 $0.42/lb.N and UAN32 $0.42/lb.N.

Retail fertilizers are lower compared to a year earlier.  Urea is now down 9%, DAP is 13% less expensive, MAP is 15% lower and potash is 17% less expensive, UAN28 is down 14% and UAN32 is 16% lower. Anhydrous is 20% less expensive and 10-34-0 is 24% lower compared to a year prior.

EIA: Ethanol Stocks at 9-Month High

U.S. ethanol stockpiles rose again during the week-ended Jan. 20, climbing to the highest level in nine months, while domestic plant production eased from a record high and blending demand fell, according to a report released Wednesday by the Energy Information Administration.

The EIA's Weekly Petroleum Status Report showed domestic fuel ethanol inventories increased last week by 600,000 barrels (bbl), or 2.9%, to 21.7 million bbl, the highest amount of supply since the late April 2016, with supplies having risen during the week-ended Jan. 13 by 1.1 million bbl, or 5.5%.

The latest stock increase has turned what was a supply deficit to a year-on-year surplus of 300,000 bbl versus the corresponding week a year ago.

Plant production decreased 3,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 1.051 million bpd for the week-ended Jan. 20, although is up 90,000 bpd, or 9.4%, versus a year earlier. For the four weeks ended last week, domestic ethanol production averaged 1.049 bpd, up 63,000 bpd or 6.5%.

Net refiner and blender inputs of ethanol, a gauge for demand, fell by 7,000 bpd to 833,000 bpd during the week-ended Jan. 20. Year-over-year, refiner and blender inputs are down 32,000 bpd, or 3.7%. For the four-week average, blending demand is up 2,000 bpd at 831,000 bpd.

World feed production exceeds 1 billion metric tons according to 2017 Alltech Global Feed Survey

The 2017 Alltech Global Feed Survey, released today, estimates that international feed tonnage has exceeded 1 billion metric tons for the first time. That’s a 3.7 percent increase over last year and represents 19 percent growth since the inaugural survey in 2012, despite a 7 percent decrease in the number of feed mills.

The sixth annual survey is the most comprehensive ever, now covering 141 countries and more than 30,000 feed mills. The results show that the U.S. and China are the top two countries, producing one-third of all animal feed, and that predominant growth came from the beef, pig and aquaculture feed sectors as well as several African, Asian and Middle Eastern countries.

“This year clearly demonstrates the growing efficiency and consolidation of the feed industry,” said Aidan Connolly, chief innovation officer and vice president of corporate accounts for Alltech. “Not only has total feed production exceeded 1 billion tons for the first time, but it has done so with fewer facilities, which means greater efficiencies and a decreased environmental footprint.”

The Alltech Global Feed Survey assesses compound feed production and prices through information collected by Alltech’s global sales team and in partnership with local feed associations. It is intended to serve as an information resource for policymakers, decision makers and industry stakeholders.

This year’s survey showed that the top 30 countries, ranked by production output, are home to 82 percent of the world’s feed mills and produce 86 percent of the world’s total feed. The top 10 feed-producing countries in 2016, in order of production output importance, were China, the United States, Brazil, Mexico, Spain, India, Russia, Germany, Japan and France. These countries contain 56 percent of the world’s feed mills and account for 60 percent of total production.

Regional results from the 2017 Alltech Global Feed Survey

·        North America: North America feed production remains relatively flat. However, the region continues to lead other regions in feed production for beef, turkey, pet and equine.

·        Latin America: Brazil remained the leader in feed production, while Mexico saw the highest growth in tonnage, now accounting for more than 20 percent of Latin America’s total feed production but still only almost half of Brazil’s total production. Overall, Latin America has moderate feed prices, but Brazil’s have increased this year. When compared to the U.S., Brazil’s feed prices are 20 percent higher for pigs and 40 percent higher for layers and breeders.

·        Europe: For the first time in several years, the European Union saw feed tonnage growth. The region was led by Spain with 31.9 million tons produced in 2016, up 8 percent. Decreases came from Germany, France, Turkey and the Netherlands.

·        Asia: China remained the top feed-producing country with 187.20 million metric tons, while increased production for the Asian region also came from Vietnam, Pakistan, India and Japan. Vietnam in particular grew 21 percent over the past year and moved into the top 15 countries list for the first time, specifically led by increased production of pig and broiler feed. Asia continues to be one of the most expensive locations in the world to raise animals, as Japan’s feed prices are some of the highest in the world and China’s prices are double that of most of the top 10 producing countries. 

·        Africa: Africa had the fastest regional growth for the fifth year in a row, with more than half of the countries achieving growth. Nigeria, Algeria, Tunisia, Kenya and Zambia each showed significant growth that was greater than 30 percent. The region still lags in terms of feed per capita but shows continued opportunity for growth. Africa also has some of the highest finishing prices of any region, as Nigeria and Cameroon both rank in the top five countries.

“Overall feed prices are down, and therefore food production costs are down,” said Connolly. “From a global perspective, we estimate the value of the feed industry at $460 billion.”

Notable species results from the 2017 Alltech Global Feed Survey

·        The poultry industry represented 44 percent of the total global feed production, a slight decrease from last year. This could be a result of avian influenza, industry consolidation and more efficient feed conversion.

·        Positive growth was observed in pig feed production, particularly in Asia as Vietnam and Thailand are now top 10 pig-producing countries. China represents over a quarter of the world’s pig feed production, but sow numbers have decreased by almost 40 percent over the past three years.

·        Global dairy feed production remained flat, while the U.S. and India reinforced their position as the top two producers with increases of 12 and 14 percent, respectively, whereas Europe saw a downturn. Turkey decreased by 1.5 million tons and Germany declined by 3.4 million tons.

·        The U.S. maintained the top position in the beef industry, and estimated feed production was 10 percent higher than last year. China, Spain, Turkey and Mexico all showed increased beef feed production.

·        Aquaculture continued its year-over-year growth with a gain of 12 percent in feed production in 2016. Increased production from Turkey, Germany, the U.K. and France contributed to a strong performance from the European region. Africa increased production by almost 1 million tons, while Asia maintained its volume. The increase in aquaculture feed correlates to the consumption of farmed fish.  

·        The 2016 survey was able to gather more pet sector data than previous years, allowing for more information to be captured on the size and scale of the market. The U.S. remained number one, while Europe and Asia also showed growth. France’s estimates were increased by 1 million tons, although this reflects more accurate data collection rather than a production increase over 2016. The U.K., Spain, Germany, Hungary, Indonesia and China also experienced growth.

“The Alltech Global Feed Survey provides valuable information and an annual pulse check on the feed industry as we look toward sustainably feeding a growing population,” said Connolly. “The survey continues to improve and provide more robust and reliable data.”

Steps to Prevent Bovine Respiratory Disease in Adult Dairy Cows

Bovine respiratory disease (BRD) is an economic challenge to dairy producers. It continues to be the major cause of death in weaned calves and can lead to poor performance later in a cow’s life.

Dr. Mark van der List, Professional Services Veterinarian with Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. (BIVI), suggests implementing the following management practices on your operation to help reduce the impact of BRD in your herd:

Reduce cow stress

BRD often presents itself in times of stress: weaning, feed variations, high humidity, calving and season changes. During these periods, it’s important to reduce stress factors and keep a close watch on your herd. Stress can also lead to immunosuppression — especially around calving. A focus on cow comfort and other management practices, including avoiding overcrowding, using low-stress handling techniques, and good calving management can help reduce stress and improve transition cow health.

Ensure proper housing

One of the biggest risk factors for BRD is poor ventilation. Make sure cows are in an area where there is fresh air flow, with clean, dry bedding to improve cow comfort.

Monitor herd closely

Recognize the signs of sickness, especially after calving. Fever, increased respiratory rate, discolored nasal discharge and coughing are all symptoms of BRD. Work with your veterinarian to properly treat a cow with pneumonia.

Implement a sound vaccination program

Vaccination against BRD is crucial to prevention. Take the time to vaccinate cows in the dry period to help boost not only the cow’s immunity, but also to boost immunoglobulins in colostrum and start the calf off on the right foot. Dr. van der List recommends working with your local veterinarian to develop a vaccination program to prevent BRD in your herd.

Nufarm Announces New Herbicide Registration

Nufarm Americas, Inc. is pleased to announce the registration of Panther® Pro herbicide for broad spectrum weed control in burndown, pre-plant and pre-emergent applications to soybeans. Panther Pro also provides excellent residual control of weeds in crop-fallow and non-crop bare ground uses.

Panther Pro provides residual control of more than 60 weeds, including glyphosate-resistant populations of common waterhemp, horseweed and common ragweed. It also controls susceptible winter annuals and other listed weeds in fallow land and soybeans. In accordance with label restrictions, this product may be mixed with glufosinate or glyphosate formulations labeled for burndown programs, such as those in the Nufarm C.A.T.S portfolio. Panther Pro can be used in a:
• Fall burndown
• Fallow seedbed program
• Spring burndown program for emerged weeds

“Panther Pro has been thoroughly tested over the past three years and it is the first liquid flumioxazin combination product labeled for pre-plant and pre-emergent use on soybeans. It provides broad spectrum control of grasses and broadleaves, 3 modes of action and is great for many glyphosate-resistant weeds,” said Bob Bruss, Ph.D., director of ag technical services for Nufarm.

The newest addition to the Nufarm crop protection portfolio, Panther Pro meets the value, efficacy and innovation demanded by today’s growers.

Student-Run DuPont Plant Sciences Symposium Series Kicks Off at University of Missouri

The first of the 2017 student-run DuPont Plant Sciences Symposia series will kick off Feb. 2 at the Bond Life Sciences Center on the University of Missouri (MU) campus.

With the theme of “Building the Bridge from Fundamental Research to Improving Tomorrow’s Crops,” the event will be the first of 30 DuPont Plant Sciences Symposia events in 2017. To date, more than 25 institutions across five continents have produced more than 65 events through the series. The symposiums’ fundamental objective is to serve as a means of networking for the students who will one day become leaders of the plant science fields.

David Jackson, a plant geneticist from the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York, will present a keynote address from 1-2 p.m. CT. Among the long list of accomplishments of Jackson’s lab is the creation of a collection of transgenic lines of corn that have led to unprecedented ease of experimenting on corn plants.

The symposium, which is free and open to the public, has been entirely produced by a team of six graduate students at MU: four from the Division of Plant Sciences at the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources and two from the Division of Biological Sciences in the College of Arts and Science.

They have been advised by Tim Beissinger, an adjunct assistant professor of plant sciences at MU, who helped produce a symposium event at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2011 as a graduate student.

“It gave me, as a student – and it will give these students, a lot of exposure to the plant breeding industry,” said Beissinger, who also serves as a research geneticist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. “They’ve done everything. It’s impressive. I left it up to them intentionally and they’ve really run with it.”

The symposium, which also is being funded in part by the Division of Plant Sciences, Division of Biological Sciences and the Interdisciplinary Plant Group, allows for travel awards for students from counterpart universities to attend the event. The planning committee expects student attendees from as many as six U.S. universities and Mexican universities, as well as the International Maize and Improvement Center (CIMMYT), Mexico.

“We empower students to drive their own agendas,” said Tabaré Abadie, senior research manager, DuPont Pioneer, who has been in charge of overseeing the events since the first one began at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in 2008. “In the process, they learn new things along the way and network with scientists and academics around the world and with other students who will eventually be their colleagues.”

The symposium will feature speakers from DuPont Pioneer, the Division of Plant Sciences and other experts in the field such as Jackson.

Speakers include:
    Gary Stacey, Joint Curators Distinguished Professor of Plant Sciences and Biochemistry, University of Missouri
    Blake Meyers, joint professor of plant sciences, University of Missouri and Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis
    Amit Sethi, insect resistance researcher, DuPont Pioneer
    Diane Janick-Buckner, professor of biological sciences, Truman State University

Those who cannot attend in-person will be able to listen in as a webinar. Registration begins at 8 a.m. CT. The closing remarks are set to take place at 3:30 p.m. CT.  For more information and a complete event agenda, visit For additional information on the DuPont Plant Sciences Symposia series:

Tuesday January 24 Ag News

Candidates Sought for Nebraska Dairy Princess Title

The Nebraska dairy community is recruiting candidates to become the 2017-18 Nebraska Dairy Princess. The young woman who holds the title represents dairy farm families and the dairy industry by helping consumers learn more about dairy products and how farm families care for their cows and land.

The contest judging is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 18, in Norfolk. The deadline for applications is Tuesday, Feb. 14, and applications are found at or can be obtained by calling the contest director, Julie Meier, at 308-390-9338 or emailing

The coronation of the new princess will be held during the banquet at the Nebraska State Dairy Convention Tuesday, Feb. 21, at 6:30 p.m. at the Ramada Inn in Columbus.

The Nebraska Dairy Princess is chosen on the basis of her knowledge and enthusiasm about dairy, personality and communication ability. Both the princess and the runner-up receive scholarships from Midwest Dairy Association, which sponsors the contest and princess program on behalf of Nebraska’s dairy farmers.

Dawn Klabenes, 18, of Chambers is the reigning Nebraska Dairy Princess.

Registration now open for 2017 Agri/Eco-Tourism Workshop

Get registered now for the 2017 Nebraska Agri/Eco-Tourism Workshop, presented by the Nebraska Tourism Commission. The Workshop will be held in Broken Bow, February 21-23, 2017. Join us to learn creative ways to get the right tools to grow your business.

“This Workshop gives landowners and businesses a chance to learn how to use their land, gifts and ideas to develop or advance an attraction, increase their operating income or just bring excitement to their area. We hope people walk away with new skills to successfully connect the land to the visitor and provide tourists a rustic experience in our agriculture based state,” said Karen Kollars, Agri/Eco-Tourism Workshop planner.

This year’s Workshop theme is “Brewing up Business.” The event will officially kick-off Tuesday at Kinkaider Brewing Company where a panel discussion will take place along with an evening event. Opening in 2015, Kinkaider is one of the newest hot spots in Broken Bow and where small-batch, hand crafted beer is created using ingredients from right off their farm.

Wednesday and Thursday’s events will be held at the One Box Convention Center, where all types of breakout sessions will take place, giving folks a chance to learn from a variety of industry professionals. Nebraska native and world-traveler, Dean Jacobs, will be the keynote on Wednesday. Jacobs’ presentation, 7 Wonders 7 Lessons, will give attendees insight from his lessons learned after leaving a successful corporate career and following his dream to travel the world. Dean’s presentation will leave you energized and empowered to take action, challenge the norm and provide a roadmap to effect change.

Wednesday night, the Taste and Feel of Nebraska event will give attendees the opportunity to network while sampling local products. The workshop will wrap-up Thursday, with a tour of attractions in the city of Broken Bow, a NETA meeting and the February Nebraska Tourism Commission meeting.

To get more information and a full schedule go to

A block of rooms is reserved at the Cobblestone Hotel & Suites (this hotel is connected to the One Box Convention Center), for hotel reservations call 308-767-2060. The room rate is $ 83 + tax until January 31, 2017. Another block is reserved at The Arrow Hotel, located in downtown Broken Bow. For reservations call 308-872-6662 before January 21, 2017. When calling to book the rooms, make sure to clarify that you’re with the Nebraska Agri/Eco-Tourism Workshop. 


Milk production in Nebraska during October-December 2016 quarter totaled 352 million pounds, up 3.2 percent from the October-December quarter last year, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. The average number of milk cows was 60,000 head.

October-December Milk Production up 2.4 Percent

Milk production in the United States during the October  - December quarter totaled 52.5 billion pounds, up 2.4 percent from the October - December quarter last year.

The average number of milk cows in the United States during the quarter was 9.35 million head, 10,000 head more than the July - September quarter, and 26,000 head more than the same period last year.

U.S. December Milk Production up 2.4 Percent

Milk production in the 23 major States during December totaled 16.8 billion pounds, up 2.4 percent from December 2015. November revised production at 16.1 billion pounds, was up 2.8 percent from November 2015. The November revision represented an increase of 27 million pounds or 0.2 percent from last month's preliminary production estimate.

Production per cow in the 23 major States averaged 1,931 pounds for December, 35 pounds above December 2015. This is the highest production per cow for the month of December since the 23 State series began in 2003.

The number of milk cows on farms in the 23 major States was 8.69 million head, 53,000 head more than December 2015, and 10,000 head more than November 2016.

IOWA - Milk production in Iowa during December 2016 totaled 424 million pounds, up 3 percent from the previous December according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Milk Production report. The average number of milk cows during December, at 214,000 head, was 1,000 more than last month and 4,000 more than last year. Monthly production per cow averaged 1,980 pounds, up 25 pounds from last December.


All layers in Nebraska during December 2016 totaled 8.96 million, up from 7.54 million the previous year, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Nebraska egg production during December totaled 231 million eggs, up from 164 million in 2015. December egg production per 100 layers was 2,582 eggs, compared to 2,179 eggs in 2015.

IOWA - Iowa egg production during December 2016 was 1.38 billion eggs, up 6 percent from last month, and up 69 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 December 2016 was 55.2 million, up 1 percent from last month, and up 45 percent from last year. Eggs per 100 layers for December were 2,500, up 5 percent from last month, up 17 percent from last year, and the highest rate of lay since records began in 1988.

USDA:  December Egg Production Up 11 Percent

United States egg production totaled 8.97 billion during December 2016, up 11 percent from last year. Production included 7.84 billion table eggs, and 1.13 billion hatching eggs, of which 1.04 billion were broiler-type and 87.0 million million were egg-type. The total number of layers during December 2016 averaged 372 million, up 7 percent from last year. December egg production per 100 layers was 2,415 eggs, up 4 percent from December 2015.
All layers in the United States on January 1, 2017 totaled 372 million, up 6 percent from last year. The 372 million layers consisted of 314 million layers producing table or market type eggs, 53.9 million layers producing broiler-type hatching eggs, and 3.64 million layers producing egg-type hatching eggs. Rate of lay per day on January 1, 2017, averaged 77.9 eggs per 100 layers, up 4 percent from January 1, 2016.

Egg-Type Chicks Hatched Down 1 Percent

Egg-type chicks hatched during December 2016 totaled 46.2 million, down 1 percent from December 2015. Eggs in incubators totaled 40.2 million on January 1, 2017, down 16 percent from a year ago.

Domestic placements of egg-type pullet chicks for future hatchery supply flocks by leading breeders totaled 194 thousand during December 2016, down 10 percent from December 2015.

Broiler-Type Chicks Hatched Up 2 Percent

Broiler-type chicks hatched during December 2016 totaled 811 million, up 2 percent from December 2015. Eggs in incubators totaled 661 million on January 1, 2017, up 2 percent from a year ago.

Leading breeders placed 7.54 million broiler-type pullet chicks for future domestic hatchery supply flocks during December 2016, down slightly from December 2015.

USDA Cold Storage December 2016 Highlights

Total red meat supplies in freezers on December 31, 2016 were up 1 percent from the previous month but down 2 percent from last year. Total pounds of beef in freezers were up 7 percent from the previous month and up 11 percent from last year. Frozen pork supplies were down 8 percent from the previous month and down 13 percent from last year. Stocks of pork bellies were down 4 percent from last month and down 67 percent from last year.

Total frozen poultry supplies on December 31, 2016 were up 6 percent from the previous month and up 2 percent from a year ago. Total stocks of chicken were up 2 percent from the previous month but down 6 percent from last year. Total pounds of turkey in freezers were up 18 percent from last month and up 39 percent from December 31, 2015.

Total natural cheese stocks in refrigerated warehouses on December 31, 2016 were up 2 percent from the previous month and up 5 percent from December 31, 2015.  Butter stocks were up 9 percent from last month and up 13 percent from a year ago. 

Total frozen fruit stocks were down 7 percent from last month but up 20 percent from a year ago.  Total frozen vegetable stocks were down 3 percent from last month but up 7 percent from a year ago.

Iowa Beef Center Offers Revised BRaNDS Software

The Iowa Beef Center recently updated the Beef Ration and Nutrition Decision Software (BRaNDS), software for beef producers interested in having help balancing rations. Garland Dahlke, Iowa Beef Center assistant scientist, recently completed the update and said the new version is more user friendly and reflects guidelines updated in the recently released "Nutrient Requirements of Beef Cattle."

"This software will continue to be provided in both Standard and Professional versions," Dahlke said. "For those who already have the existing professional edition, the update will be $50; otherwise, the cost is $525 for new users. For those who have the standard edition, the update is $10 per module, and the complete standard edition will be sold to new customers for $260."

Dahlke said users should note that the professional version now requires Microsoft Excel 2007 or newer installed on a Windows-based computer to operate. The Standard Edition will operate on both Windows and Mac systems running MS Excel.

"Whether you are a new user or are upgrading your old version, remember that program support is just a phone call or email message away," Dahlke said. "You can call the Iowa Beef Center at 515-294-2333 or email us at"

To order, pay for and download your desired version, go to the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach online store at

Customers updating from a previous version should indicate update in the customer request space on the order shipping page to receive the much lower update price. This will be validated with your name and email. Those who prefer to order a program CD rather than electronically download the program should call the Extension Distribution Store at 515-294-5247.

Informa: Soybean Acres Projected Higher as Corn Acres Draw Down

U.S. farmers will boost soybean acres by 5.2 million acres this spring, while dialing back on corn planting by 3.5 million acres, according to a survey released Tuesday by Informa Economics EIG of prospective crop planting projects.

Corn planted acres are pegged by Informa at just under 90.5 million acres, down from 94 million acres in 2016. That would be a 3.7% decline in corn acres. With a yield assumption of 170.4 bushels per acre, Informa pegs corn production for the 2017-18 marketing year at 14.2 billion bushels. If realized, that would be 978 million bushels below 2016's record harvest.

Soybean planted acres under the survey are projected at 88.6 million acres, up from 83.4 million acres in 2016. That would be a 6.2% bump in soybean acreage.  Despite the bump in acres, Informa uses a soybean yield assumption of 47.2 bpa, which is 4.9 bushels below the 2016 record yield of 52.1 bpa. If that plays out, then 2017 soybean production would be 4.2 bb, which is 153 mb lower than 2016's record production.

Spring wheat acres are projected at 11.2 million acres, down 391,000 acres from 2016. Durum wheat acres would be 2.165 million acres, down 355,000 from a year ago.

Grain sorghum planting is pegged at 6.35 million acres, down from 6.69 million acres from 2016.

2016 Biodiesel Market Skunks Previous Records

 US consumers saw a record of almost 2.9 billion gallons of biodiesel and
renewable diesel in 2016, outpacing the previous record by almost 40 percent. Also for the first time ever, the monthly market topped 300 million gallons, with December’s numbers coming in at 362 million gallons.

“We are proud to be delivering record gallons of American made biodiesel, but that success is undermined by the fact our members are losing more than a third of the market to foreign imports,” said National Biodiesel Board CEO, Donnell Rehagen.

According to numbers released by the EPA Thursday, the 2.9 billion gallons was an increase of 800 million gallons from 2.1 billion gallons of biodiesel and renewable diesel in 2015.  At the same time domestic production rose from about 1.4 billion gallons in 2015 to more than 1.8 billion gallons in 2016, well below available capacity.  Imports increased by more than 50 percent from an estimated 670 million gallons in 2015 to over 1 billion gallons in 2016, shortchanging potential economic benefits to U.S. producers.

“The market realities spotlight two important points. First the RFS is working to deliver energy choices to consumers and promote local economic activity. Second that reforming the biodiesel tax incentive as a domestic production credit remains critical to grow these programs in America’s best interest,” Rehagen said.

According to a study conducted by LMC International, a 2.9 billion gallon biodiesel and renewable diesel market divided between domestic and foreign supply supports about 64,000 U.S. jobs and $11.42 billion in total impact.  Economic benefits increase substantially with growing domestic production, rather than imports.  For example, just 2.5 billion gallons domestic production would support at least 81,600 U.S. jobs and $14.7 billion in total economic benefit. 

“It’s just common sense that our tax dollars should benefit American jobs and local companies instead of incentivizing imports,” Rehagen said.

The biomass-based diesel category under the RFS alone saw a record 2.6 billion gallon market, allowing the advanced biofuel program to reach over 4 billion ethanol-equivalent gallons. These numbers exceeded EPA’s estimates for 2016, and track NBB’s projections, showing the industry can deliver on the goals set by Congress.

EPA’s announcement comes on the heels of the biodiesel industry’s premier event, the National Biodiesel Conference & Expo, held last week in San Diego. During the event biodiesel experts from around the nation discussed future opportunities to grow America’s Advanced Biofuel.

AFBF Endorses Bills to Repeal Death Tax

The American Farm Bureau Federation has endorsed bipartisan legislation in the House and Senate to repeal the federal estate tax. AFBF President Zippy Duvall said the bills are needed because farm and ranch families continue to face challenges to passing their family businesses to the next generation.

The AFBF-endorsed Death Tax Repeal Act of 2017 was introduced today in the House by Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) and Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.). Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) introduced a companion bill in the Senate.

“Farmers and ranchers face a number of factors that are unpredictable and beyond their control, from changing weather to fluctuating markets,” Duvall said. “These family-run businesses need a tax code that encourages investment, rather than one that punishes their success. We believe that repeal of the estate tax offers the best solution to protect farms, ranches and all family-owned businesses from the estate tax.”

Maintaining Pork Exports to Canada, Mexico Critical

The National Pork Producers Council today committed to work with the Trump administration to preserve tariff-free market access for U.S. pork exports to Canada and Mexico. The administration is planning to pursue trade discussions with the two countries.

“As far a pork is concerned, the trade deals with Canada and Mexico have been tremendous for U.S. pork producers,” said NPPC President John Weber, a pork producer from Dysart, Iowa. “Our exports to those nations exploded because of the trade pact we have with them. But we know that some concerns have been raised by others, so we are committed to working with the Trump administration in looking for ways to improve our trade relationships with Canada and Mexico.”

Through November, U.S. pork exports to Mexico in 2016 were nearly $1.2 billion, up 21 percent from the same time last year, and to Canada they totaled $731 million, making those countries the No. 2 and No. 4 export markets, respectively, for U.S. pork.

Since the U.S.-Canada-Mexico free trade agreement went into effect Jan. 1, 1994, U.S. trade north and south of the borders has more than tripled, growing more rapidly than U.S. trade with the rest of the world. Canada and Mexico are the two largest destinations for U.S. goods and services, accounting for more than one-third of total U.S. exports, adding $80 billion to the U.S. economy and supporting more than 3 million American jobs, according to data from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. In fact, U.S. manufacturing exports to Canada and Mexico have increased nearly 260 percent over the past 23 years, and U.S. farm exports to the countries have grown by more than 150 percent.

“Trade in pork with Canada and Mexico has been so successful that any disruption in exports with either partner could hurt our producers’ ability to compete,” Weber said. “We need to make sure we maintain and even improve our pork exports to our neighbors while working to ensure that others benefit as much as we do.”

Soy Growers Urge Prudence on NAFTA Renegotiation

The American Soybean Association (ASA) has communicated to the White House that the significant trade benefits U.S. farmers have achieved under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) must be protected as President Donald Trump moves forward with plans to renegotiate the agreement. ASA President Ron Moore, a farmer from Roseville, Ill., noted the significant stakes for soybean farmers in a statement:

“Given the size and impact of the Mexican and Canadian markets for American soybean producers, we're watching the Administration’s decisions very, very closely, and it's fair to say that we're nervous. For the last 20 years, NAFTA has been a core component in the growth of soybeans as a positive contributor to the U.S. balance of trade. Overall, U.S. ag exports to Mexico and Canada have more than quadrupled since NAFTA enactment, growing from $8.9 billion in 1993 to $38.6 billion in 2015. Mexico’s imports alone are a particularly notable success story for U.S. soy, growing more than five-fold over that same time period to $2.44 billion in 2015. Needless to say, there's a great deal at stake.

All of this isn't to suggest that there isn't room for improvement in NAFTA, and we look forward to being part of that discussion. In particular, we are interested in discussing how to reduce non-tariff barriers as well as the few remaining tariffs on U.S. ag products sold to Canada and Mexico. Throughout his campaign, President Trump spoke of the need to give farmers an active role in helping to make policy decisions that impact us. This is clearly the first of those instances, and we look forward to our part in that process.”

Food and ag organizations ready to work with President Trump to modernize NAFTA

A total of 133 organizations and companies from the food and agriculture sector, which supports more than 15 million jobs nationally, sent President Donald J. Trump a letter this week expressing their eagerness to work with his Administration to modernize the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), while preserving and expanding the gains achieved to date.

"U.S. food and agricultural exports have produced a trade surplus for nearly 50 years," the letter notes. "Consistent growth over this period resulted in over $130 billion worth of exports, which created $423 billion in U.S. economic activity in 2015." The letter also noted that in the 20 years since NAFTA was implemented, the market integration it fostered helped quadruple the value of U.S. food and agricultural exports to Canada and Mexico.

"With a few key sector exceptions that still require attention, North America intraregional food and agriculture trade is now free of tariff and quota restrictions....," the letter continues. "Because of these market access gains, the food and agricultural sectors of the North American region have become far more integrated, as is evidenced by rising trade in agricultural products and substantial levels of cross-border investment in the agriculture and food sectors....[W]e look forward to working with your Administration on reducing the non-tariff trade barriers that continue to inhibit our exports to the North American marketplace, as well as to addressing the remaining tariffs impeding access for some U.S. export sectors."

Commodity Classic Discounted Registration Fees End January 26

Only a few days remain to take advantage of registration discounts for the 2017 Commodity Classic to be held March 2-4, 2017, in San Antonio, Tex. Thursday, January 26, 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 National Corn Growers Association, American Soybean Association, National Sorghum Producers and National Association of Wheat Growers 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.

Established in 1996, Commodity Classic is America's largest farmer-led, farmer-focused convention and trade show, produced by the National Corn Growers Association, American Soybean Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Sorghum Producers, and Association of Equipment Manufacturers.

Early Signs Show Promising ‘Triple Win’ Possible for Farmers at Soil Health Summit

Building long-term data by its very nature takes time, but early indicators are promising on the relationship between soil health and economic, productivity and environmental gains in agriculture.

That was the message delivered from the Soil Health Partnership, a project to make agriculture more productive and sustainable through healthy soil, at its annual meeting last week. About 185 Ag scientists, industry leaders, environmentalists, water quality experts and enrolled farmers discussed their efforts at SHP’s third annual Soil Health Summit in Des Moines, Iowa Jan. 19-20.

“Through this program, we have powerful analytics underway providing early indicators of tangible links between soil health and enhanced farm performance,” said Nick Goeser, SHP director.

Working with their agronomists and trained field managers, SHP farmers have enrolled about 32,000 acres to provide data for the analytics. The three main areas of study are cover crops, reduced tillage and advanced nutrient management.

Doug Karlen, a USDA distinguished senior research scientist based in Iowa, provided a first look into the soil sample data collected across SHP farms. His team analyzed data from approximately 700 soil health assessment samples. These data provide a basis to guide soil health assessment interpretations.

For example, results indicate soil texture is extremely important for organic matter content, Goeser said.

“While dry lab studies and analyses have documented the patterns shown, this is the first time the relationship has been supported across an on-farm trial network as expansive as the Soil Health Partnership,” he said. “These early looks will help us better understand opportunities and limitations to interpreting soil health assessments based on different regions and soil types. SHP is revolutionary in this effort.”

One of the farmers enrolled is Roger Zylstra, a corn and soybean grower in Lynnville, Iowa. He practices no-till and grows cover crops like cereal rye.

“On our farm, early results show we’re making some progress. This year we noticed a definite suppression of weeds in our soybeans,” Zylstra said. “It’s too soon to say much about yield improvement, but that marked improvement in late season pigweed emergence made a difference and was obviously connected to cover crops.”

Zylstra presented at the summit alongside David Muth, one of the founders of the Ames-based company AgSolver. Farmers enrolled in SHP have access to the company’s software tools to analyze a field’s agronomic and economic performances side-by-side, and compare potential management scenarios.

Three years into the program, the SHP teams, with support from AgSolver, are developing a preliminary research summary to be released soon.

Other speakers included Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey, The Nature Conservancy’s Director of Working Lands Michael Doane and Purdue Agricultural Economics Professor Wallace Tyner.

Tyner compared mining the data through SHP to Michelangelo “bringing David out of the marble.”

As for his farm, Zylstra said he expects to see more concrete data coming in the next year, and has some advice for other farmers.

“Anybody thinking about doing cover crops – don’t let the potential challenges at start-up stop you from trying them on the farm,” he said. “There’s going to be a lot of value to cover crops. Don’t give up. Try, try again. We need to figure it out to improve our soil.”

An initiative of the National Corn Growers Association, the SHP works closely with diverse organizations including commodity groups, industry groups, federal agencies and well-known environmental groups, including TNC, toward common goals. The Partnership is completing its third year with more than 65 partner farms across nine Midwestern states.

Monday January 23 Ag News

2017 Beef Feedlot Roundtables Feb. 7-9 at Scottsbluff, Lexington, West Point

Beef feedlot managers, owners, employees and supporting industry personnel will learn the latest in feedlot nutrition, health, and marketing at the 2017 Beef Feedlot Roundtables Feb. 7-9 in Scottsbluff, Lexington, and West Point with remote connections to locations in Iowa. Registration begins at 12:30 p.m. At each location with welcome and introduction at 1 p.m. Exact dates and locations are as follows:
·         SCOTTSBLUFF: Feb. 7, Panhandle Research and Extension Center
·         LEXINGTON: Feb. 8, Dawson County Extension Office
·         WEST POINT: Feb. 9, Nielsen Community Center

      University and industry representatives will speak about nutrition and management, marketing options, environmental topics, industry updates and other timely topics for feedlot operators. Topics and presenters include:
·         Effects of Environment on Bovine Respiratory Disease (Brian Vander Ley, Great Plains Veterinary Educational Center)
·         Marketing fat cattle options and what the fed cattle exchange entails (Steve Sunderman, producer and Nebraska Cattlemen Marketing Committee Co-chair)
·         Livestock and Climate Change- Facts and Fiction. (Frank Mitloehner, University of California-Davis)
·         UNL Feedlot Research Update (Galen Erickson and Matt Luebbe, Nebraska Extension)
·         Beef Quality Assurance- Feedlot Assessments (Rob Eirich, Nebraska Extension BQA Director)
·         Beef Industry Update (Doug Straight, Nebraska Beef Council)
·         Optional BQA Training, 5:00 p.m. (Rob Eirich, UNL Extension, Nebraska BQA Director)

      The Nebraska Beef Council will give an update on new beef products and sponsor refreshments at Nebraska locations.

      Preregistration is available by phone, fax, e-mail or mail, and requested by Feb. 1. Cost is $20 for those who preregister, and will be accepted at the door. Cost for those who have not preregistered will be $30.

      For more information or a registration form contact Matt Luebbe at the Panhandle Research and Extension Center, 4502 Ave. I, Scottsbluff, NE 69361, phone 308-632-1260, fax 308-632-1365 or e-mail

      The Beef Feedlot Roundtable is sponsored by Nebraska Extension and the Nebraska Beef Council and ISU Extension.

Free Grain Marketing Workshop at Eastern Nebraska Research & Extension Center at the ARDC

A free grain marketing workshop will be held near Mead on Tuesday, February 7, 2017. 

Location: Eastern Nebraska Research & Extension Center located at the Agricultural Research & Development Center near Mead - 1071 County Road G, Ithaca, NE 68033.

Time: 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

This workshop will assist grain producers minimize losses during this time of low prices. Nebraska Extension Educators will present location and commodity specific marketing information. Topics include developing a written marketing plan, and understanding basis and carrying charges. The workshops feature the Marketing in a New Era simulator and the Grain Marketing Plan smartphone application.

The workshop is limited to 40 participants with a complimentary lunch.

Register by visiting, calling Cheryl Dunbar  at 402-624-8030 or 

NE Cover Crop Conference

Keith Glewen, NE Extension Educator

The Nebraska Cover Crop Conference is Tuesday, February 14 at the Eastern Nebraska Research & Extension Center at the ARDC. The flyer with details and registration information is located at this website link:  Registration is requested for meal and reference material planning purposes.

What you can expect by attending:

1.    No registration fee thanks to the sponsors listed on the flyer.
2.   Great information from people with experience.
3.   Great food and time to visit with speakers and other growers with cover crop experience.
4.   CCA Credits
5.   Free parking!

Now if you ask me this is a sweetheart of a deal. Did I say sweetheart? No wait, if you register by Feb. 10 you will receive not one but two Cover Crop hand pocket guides absolutely free! Don’t wait register now.

Trends, Issues and Production Topics Headline Nebraska Dairy Convention

Longtime dairy journalist Jim Dickrell, editor of Dairy Herd Management, is among the featured speakers at the 2017 Nebraska Dairy Convention February 21 at the Ramada Inn, Columbus, Nebraska. Dickrell will discuss dairy industry trends and issues at the convention’s evening banquet at 6:30 p.m. The convention, sponsored by the Nebraska State Dairy Association, includes sessions surrounding dairy production, a trade show and the association’s annual business meeting.

The day will begin at 8:30 a.m. with a presentation from Grow Nebraska on helping the state develop the dairy community from both farm and processing perspectives. Veterinarian Jan Schearer, of Iowa State University, will discuss treatment and control of lameness in dairy cattle, and Thomas Oelberg of Diamond V will present on total mixed ration quality. Their presentations are scheduled for 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., respectively.

Lucas Lentsch, the recently named CEO of the Midwest Dairy Association, will be featured at the noon luncheon, providing an update on the organization’s work on dairy farmers’ behalf. Midwest Dairy will also present a workshop on social media from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m., featuring Missouri dairy farmer Lisa Leach, who drew the attention of a Chipotle executive through a Facebook post that went viral last summer.

Award presentations and the coronation of the 2017-2018 Nebraska Dairy Princess and Ambassadors will also take place during the evening banquet.

Dairy production awards will be presented at 3 p.m., followed by the Nebraska State Dairy Association’s annual business session at 4 p.m. The trade show hours are from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The Nebraska Dairy Convention is free to all Nebraska dairy farmers, families and guests. Pre-registrations are due February 14, in order to be included in meals. Attendee and sponsorship registration forms are available at Questions about the convention can be directed to Rod Johnson, Nebraska State Dairy Association, at 402-261-5482 or

Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation 2017 Teachers of the Year Announced

The Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation has selected two teachers as their Nebraska Agriculture in the Classroom 2017 Teachers of the Year. The Teacher of the Year is awarded to two outstanding teachers that incorporate agriculture into their classroom through innovative ideas.

Jane Gundvaldson, a fourth grade teacher at Thomas Elementary School in Gretna and Matthew Koth, a third grade teacher at Highland Elementary School in Omaha were honored.

“Both of these educators demonstrate how teachers can incorporate agriculture examples and hands on teaching methods into standards-based curriculum to engage the next generation in critical thinking about where their food, fiber and fuel comes from,” said Megahn Schafer, executive director of the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation.

Gundvaldson, brings agriculture into her classroom by paralleling what foods her students eat on a regular basis to the farms where the food is grown and raised.

“I believe these lessons linking Nebraskans to where their food comes from are the most fulfilling part of my teaching career,” Gundvaldson said. “I find it more important than ever to help my students understand that the hamburgers or pork chops that they are eating come from Nebraska.”

In addition, Mrs. Gundvaldson’s fourth graders participate in the Foundation’s Ag Pen Pal Program, where their classroom is matched with a farmer in Nebraska. Chuck Homolka, a Merrick County Farm Bureau member, sends videos and pictures of planting and harvest to the students so they can understand what it really takes to grow their food. For the past two years the students have visited Homolka’s farm in Central City to see first-hand the equipment necessary to grow popcorn and corn for ethanol plants and raise cattle.

Koth’s classroom is also involved in the Ag Pen Pal Program and is matched with Arlan and Sarah Paxton in Stapleton.

“The Paxton’s have shared with us by sending video of how they care for the cattle and prepare for the winter by bailing hay,” Koth said. “The students learn first-hand how important agriculture is to the entire state of Nebraska through this program.”

Koth also incorporates agriculture into the classroom by reading the story Stone Soup by Jon Muth to his third graders. The students discuss and write the ingredients on the board then are tasked at finding where each ingredient in the soup is from. From there, they talk about how the food gets from the farm to the grocery store and if we are able to grow those foods in Nebraska.

“This activity brings up discussion about why some crops are grown in different areas of the country and world,” Koth said. “We then compare which ingredients have traveled the furthest and which are the closest to us in Nebraska.”

Each teacher is being awarded an all-expense paid trip to the National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference in Kansas City, Missouri June 20-23. The conference brings educators together from all over the United States to collaborate on how to incorporate agriculture into their curriculum and engage students. Teachers will have the opportunity to attend tours of local ag businesses and farms in the area.

Conservation Efforts Recognized at Annual Lower Elkhorn NRD Awards Banquet 

The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) board honored outstanding conservationists at their annual awards banquet on Friday, January 13th.  The event was held at the Divots Conference Center in Norfolk and attracted over 60 people.

Outstanding Tree Planter Award

The Outstanding Tree Planter Award is presented to individuals within the district who have shown a strong commitment to the planting and care of trees.  The Bill Osborn family of Tilden were honored as the recipients of the 2016 Outstanding Tree Planter Award.

The Osborns live north of Tilden in Pierce County where Bill is a carpenter.  The rustic log cabin that the family resides in was built by Bill, with the assistance of friends and family.  Bill, and his wife, Kathy, have three children, Tyler, Audrey, and Elizabeth.

The Osborns were nominated by LENRD Forester, Pam Bergstrom.  Bergstrom said, “If you were to visit Bill’s place, you would think you were out in a native forest, when you are in fact in a man-made windbreak/forest that encircles the property and has been planted one tree at a time by Bill and his family.”

The main windbreak that protects the log cabin was planted by the Lower Elkhorn NRD in the late 1990s and early 2000s.  With planting around 300 new trees each year along with the trees that the NRD has planted, it is estimated that there are over 5,000 trees on his property that have been purchased through the Lower Elkhorn NRD’s Conservation Tree Program, a grand total of 9,200 trees from both the NRD and other nurseries.

Bergstrom added, “This would be roughly 10-15 acres of trees.  Maintenance and management on his trees is Bill’s main priority and every year he replants the ones that have died.   He is very diligent about making sure that there is no space left vacant.  He has started a new project of growing his own trees from seed that he has collected from his own trees and unique trees from around the area.  Bill and his family are very deserving of this award.”
Educators of the Year Award

The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District partners with schools across the district and encourages students to become good stewards of our natural resources.  At their recent awards banquet, the district recognized two teachers who have demonstrated excellence throughout their career.

Suzy Goedeken and Patrick Kratochvil are instructors at Madison Public School.  Madison Public Schools implemented a Watershed Dynamics program into their summer curriculum in 2011.  Suzy and Patrick are the co-instructors of the program which brings students together to learn more about our water through a diverse sampling program in the Taylor and Union Creek Watershed.  Madison High School has received grants from the Lower Elkhorn NRD to continue the program thanks to the efforts of both Suzy and Patrick.

The program brings approximately 20 students together to complete water sampling and analysis of the data throughout the summer months.  Each year, Suzy and Patrick, bring the students to an NRD board meeting so they can give a report on what they discovered and show the directors what they have learned.

Suzy is currently in her 16th year of teaching.  She has been working with the Taylor-Union Creek Watershed Program since the beginning.  Before that, Suzy worked with the Shell Creek Watershed Program in Newman Grove for 5 years. Suzy and her husband, Mick, have two children, Michayla and Micah.

Patrick is in his 19th year of teaching and has been teaching High School Physical Sciences for 14 years at Madison High School.  He has been co-sponsoring the Taylor-Union Watershed Class for 6 years.  Patrick and his wife, Beth, have four children, Courtney, Shawn, Michael, and Curtis.

Vice-Chairman of the LENRD Board, Dennis Schultz, presented the awards.  Schultz stated, “The educator of the year award recognizes Suzy and Patrick for their excellence in teaching future generations the value of our natural resources.”

Outstanding Partnership

The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District works with various agencies and partners each year as we work to improve the quality of life for the citizens across Northeast Nebraska.  At the banquet, the district recognized Susan Risinger Green for the outstanding partnership they have shared with her throughout the years.

Susan Risinger Green is a native of Brunswick and a graduate of Plainview High School. She attended Wayne State College and Northeast Community College.

She began her journalistic career in 1981 at the Neligh News and Leader, and was named assistant news director at WJAG radio in Norfolk in September of 1989. She was with WJAG, Lite Rock 97.5 and 106KIX Radio in Norfolk for more than 26 years, where she served as assistant news director and farm director.

She has received numerous awards over the years for her agricultural reporting and programming, including the 2007 Oscar in Agriculture.  Most recently, she received the award of merit for significant achievement in the advancement of agriculture at the AgCeptional Women’s Conference, which the Lower Elkhorn NRD helps sponsor each year.

Schultz said, “Susan has been an outstanding partner with the Lower Elkhorn NRD for the past 26+ years.  She has been extensively involved with stories from water to wildlife.  This award recognizes Susan for her past support & excellence in reporting on the wise use and conservation of Nebraska's natural resources.  Susan, thank you for the partnership we have shared with you.”

Susan joined Northeast Community College in May of 2016 to serve as the campaign director for the proposed Ag and Water Center of Excellence.

She and her husband, Ron, live in Norfolk and have four children.

Service Awards:

Service awards were also presented by LENRD General Manager Mike Sousek.

Laurie Schold of Oakland, Logan East Rural Water System Financial Secretary, was awarded for 10 years of service.

Director awards were also presented to the following:  Jarvis Otten of Norfolk for his service on the board since 2015; Dave Shelton of Wayne for his service on the board since 2014; Danny Kluthe of Dodge for his service on the board since 2010; and Tim Tighe for his 25 years of service to the district from 1991-2016.

Vice-Chairman Schultz added, “Congratulations to all of our winners tonight.  We thank you for your hard work and continued efforts in protecting our natural resources.”

Ag partnerships continue to demonstrate water quality momentum

The Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA) is partnering with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) to offer additional cost share dollars to pig farmers installing new nutrient loss reduction technologies.

Through this program, IPPA will provide up to $25,000, throughout the next year, to offset up to 50 percent of costs for pig farmers to install saturated buffers or bioreactors on their farm land. Sites will be selected based on greatest opportunity for nitrate reduction and be geographically dispersed throughout the state to aid in education and demonstration opportunities.

"Bioreactors and saturated buffers are new practices that have been developed to address water quality, so this $25,000 investment will help us install them at sites across the state so we can continue to demonstrate to farmers how they may be able fit on their farm," Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey said. "I greatly appreciate the Iowa Pork Producers Association for making this significant investment. This is another great example of ag groups in Iowa stepping up to help improve water quality."

Participating producers will be asked to share information and experiences with other farmers through IPPA and IDALS programs. 

Pig farmers interested in the program can submit basic farm information for project consideration at For more information, contact Tyler Bettin at IPPA at (800) 372-7675 or tbettin or Matt Lechtenberg at IDALS at (515) 281-3857 or

"We are happy to partner with IDALS to offer this program and technical assistance," said 2017 IPPA President Curtis Meier, a pig farmer from Clarinda. "While these practices are not specific to pork production, our leaders have recognized the importance of enhancing assistance to install and build awareness of these exciting new edge-of-field technologies."

This new offering from IPPA builds on its additional efforts supportive of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy, including cover crop research, field day support and educational outreach.

"Iowa Pork Producers Association members have established policy supporting the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy and have committed their own Pork Checkoff investments to efforts that can aid in neighbor relations and improve the quality of our natural resources," said Meier. "By supporting the Nutrient Reduction Strategy, enhancing Water Quality Initiative efforts and building efforts with the Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance, there is a strong momentum and opportunity within our commodity organizations and others to drive progress for continuous improvement and practice adoption."

The Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy science assessment cites an average 4 percent reduction in Nitrate loss and up to 46 percent reduction in Phosphorous loss when using swine manure as a nutrient source compared to commercial fertilizer, while also having positive impacts on soil organic carbon, soil structure and runoff. Research from the University of Arkansas shows that efficiencies of modern pork production enabled pig farmers to reduce water use 41 percent land use 78 percent and carbon footprint 35 percent from 1959-2009.

"Manure management is regulated in Iowa. Pig farmers meet requirements for certification to apply manure and do so based on Manure Management Plans and crop needs. It is already against the law for manure from any confinement to reach a body of water," said IPPA Environmental Committee chair and Webster County pig farmer Gregg Hora. "Even with this regulation, pig farmers have a long-standing commitment to continuous improvement and collaborative efforts to build on Iowa's sustainable production model and optimization of manure as a fertilizer resource."

Study Shows Iowa Farm Incomes Strong Despite Economic Downturn

It’s no secret that the farm economy has faced a downturn since its peak in 2012. But how has the downturn affected farmers, specifically related to their farm income and levels of farm debt?

A new study by David Peters, associate professor and extension rural sociologist with Iowa State University, aims to directly answer those questions. "Income Trends for Iowa Farms and Farm Families 2003-2015" (SOC 3076) is now available through the Extension Store.

“Family farm income has remained relatively high, even though there were strong declines in income across the board over the last three years,” Peters said. “That indicates the incomes in 2011 and 2012 must have been phenomenally high to keep income averages this high after a drop off, in many cases, of 30 to even 50 percent over the last two years.”

Commercial farm net income averaged $187,000 in 2015, down from a high of $381,344 in 2012. Intermediate farms, farms where the operator’s primary occupation is farming, averaged an income of $34,000. Residence farms, where the operator’s primary occupation is not farming, had an income of $17,000.

“The concern should be for the 800 to 1,000 acre commercial farm,” Peters said. “We talk in general about the falling farm economy, but the area of most concern is the midsized commercial farm. They are the leaders in rural communities and are the slice of the farm sector that policy makers should be most concerned about.”

The uniqueness of these farms – large enough to sustain a family but not so large as to be able to survive downturns in the economy – place them in a vulnerable position.

“Very large farms bring in a lot of income, there is more room for them to move as the economy goes up or down. And smaller farms survive on off-farm work,” Peters said. “With the midsized commercial class, policy should be aimed at supporting them, the ones with viable farm operations who are the most vulnerable to changes in the farm economy. They are the leaders in rural communities and we don’t want to lose them.”

Growing debt has become a problem for farms of this size. The debt utilization rate (a measure of total debt relative to maximum feasible debt) rose from 35 percent in 2012 to 73 percent in these farms three years later.

“Midsized farms have taken out as much debt as they feasibly can,” Peters said. “When we lump them together with larger farms the outlook is very rosy, but these midsized farms are the ones that are really struggling. Bringing home only around $100,000 a year with high debt levels makes them the most susceptible to any additional downturns in the economy.”

To Peters, the study clarifies the need for financially supporting farmers.

“It is so important to have farm bill income support for farmers,” Peters said. “This is exactly what those farm bill programs are designed to do; when there are short-term fluctuations in the economy they won’t drive people out of farming because they can’t afford it.”

 Iowa Learning Farms Releases New 'Talking With Your Tenant' Publication Series

Caring for Iowa’s farmland requires many decisions that impact today and future generation’s ability to best utilize the land for agricultural production. Land rental relationships can vary, but many face similar challenges when discussing new conservation practices with a tenant or landlord.  To help begin the conversation, Iowa Learning Farms created a publication series with talking points and relevant research findings about a variety of conservation practices.

“A large number of Iowa cropland acres are rented every year; nearly 50 percent according to recent surveys. These rented acres are greatly influenced by the tenant who farms them,” said Mark Licht, Iowa State University assistant professor of agronomy and Iowa Learning Farms advisor, who conceptualized the series.

“Landowners are integral in the decision-making process: from leasing structure and understanding farming practices, to being considerate of practice costs and profitability. With emphasis being placed on nutrient loss reduction and practices ranging from in-field to land use changes, it’s imperative for landowners and tenants to have conversations about reaching production, profitability and environmental goals,” said Licht. “These conversations can lead to improvements of soil health and water quality, along with meeting productivity and profitability goals.”

As land is passed from one generation to another, or is sold, it can lead to uncertainty for tenants and landowners alike.

“We developed this series in response to questions we heard from landowners. They wanted to understand how conservation practices such as strip-tillage and cover crops would affect both their land and the tenant’s bottom line before asking them to add these practices to their management plans,” said Jacqueline Comito, Iowa Learning Farms director. “While the name of the series is ‘Talking to Your Tenant,’ the reverse is also true. We think tenants will also find the series helpful as they educate their landowners on implementing these important practices.”

The series addresses in-field practices like cover crops, no-tillage and strip-tillage, and edge-of-field practices such as denitrifying bioreactors and wetlands. If landowners or renters with ideas for future topics for this series should contact Liz Juchems at or call 515-294-5429.  The four-part series, along with other print and video resources, is available online at Copies will also be available at Iowa Learning Farms field days and workshops, or mailed upon request.

National Pork Industry Forum to Be Held March 1-3

Producer delegates from across the United States will gather in Atlanta, March 1-3, for the annual National Pork Industry Forum.

The 15 producers who serve as members of the National Pork Board and Pork Checkoff staff leadership will hear directly from Pork Act Delegates appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. Each year the delegates confer, vote on resolutions and advisements and provide valuable direction on the important issues facing pork producers and the industry.

The theme for this year’s Pork Forum, Power of Pork: Moving Mountains, references the current record-breaking U.S. pork production and pork producers’ continued work together to meet the challenges and opportunities of a growing industry. Delegates will learn about the aggressive promotions to grow consumer demand and plans to build consumer trust and drive sustainable production.

“While our industry is growing, so is demand for our product – both domestically and internationally,” said Jan Archer, president of the National Pork Board and a pig farmer from Goldsboro, North Carolina. “With faith and focus, resolve and connectedness to each other, we can achieve our goals and move mountains.”

At the meeting, Pork Act Delegates will rank eight candidates for the National Pork Board and submit the list to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, for approval. The candidates, in alphabetical order, are:
    Todd Erickson – Northwood, North Dakota
    M. James Faison – Hopewell, Virginia
    Heather Hill – Greenfield, Indiana
    Brett Kaysen – Nunn, Colorado
    Scott Phillips – Drexel, Missouri
    Steve Rommereim – Alcester, South Dakota
    Kristine Scheller-Stewart – Goldsboro, North Carolina
    Charles Wildman – South Charleston, Ohio

Prior to the annual meeting, members of the National Pork Board also will convene their March meeting. The agenda will include updates on 2017 plans to enhance pork demand, increase market opportunities, improve pork production practices and invest in research priorities.

Included on the 2017 Pork Forum agenda will be opportunities for pork producers to become certified in the pork industry’s Pork Quality Assurance® Plus (PQA Plus®) program, as well as learn more about pork industry programs. The full agenda is available at

Sasse Statement on TPP

U.S. Senator Ben Sasse issued the following statement this morning regarding news reports that President Trump will withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership today.

"It's clear that those of us who believe trade is good for American families have done a terrible job defending trade's historic successes and celebrating its future potential. We have to make the arguments and we have to start now."

Statement by Steve Nelson, President, Regarding the U.S. Withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership

 “We are certainly disappointed with President Trump’s decision to sign an executive order withdrawing the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Economic analysis conducted by the Nebraska Farm Bureau showed that virtually every county in Nebraska would have been positively impacted by the agreement with the state as a whole projected to see increased agricultural cash receipts by more than $378 million annually.“

“The TPP reflected a major opportunity for the farmers and ranchers who grow and raise Nebraska’s top commodities including beef, pork, corn, and soybeans. Over $150 million or nearly 40 percent of Nebraska’s projected increase in sales of agriculture products under TPP would have come from the sale of Nebraska beef into TPP countries. Nebraska pork producers would have also seen growth opportunities with Nebraska pork sales statewide expanding by more than $39 million annually. Finally, our corn and soybean farmers would have seen annual growth of over $76 million and $34 million respectively.”

“It is imperative that the Trump Administration now work on other ways to expand agricultural trade. While we continue to support all of our previous free trade agreements, including the North American Free Trade Agreement, which has quadrupled U.S. agricultural exports to Canada and Mexico, we stand ready to work with the new administration to help expand and develop new markets for Nebraska agricultural products.”

Smith Statement on U.S. Withdrawing from TPP

Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) released the following statement today after President Trump signed an executive order withdrawing the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).   

“TPP was not a perfect agreement, but it established a framework for U.S. exporters to pursue greater economic opportunity in the Asia-Pacific region,” Smith said.  “Our country should be a leader in writing the rules of the global economy, rather than allowing other world powers to take our place.  Moving forward, I hope we can pursue bilateral agreements with these TPP countries to open more markets to U.S. agriculture producers and manufacturers.”

USMEF Statement on TPP Executive Order

In response to the executive order withdrawing the United States as a signatory to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) President and CEO Philip M. Seng issued the following statement:

USMEF remains fully committed to our valued trading partners in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). These countries account for more than 60 percent of U.S. red meat exports.

In some of these key markets, the U.S. red meat industry will remain at a serious competitive disadvantage unless meaningful market access gains are realized. We urge the new administration to utilize all means available to return the United States to a competitive position, so that our industry can continue to serve this important international customer base and further expand our export opportunities.

Wheat Grower Organizations Disappointed in TPP Withdrawal; Call for New Agreements in Crucial Asian, Latin American Markets

U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) and the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) recognize that President Trump’s executive order to withdraw the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was inevitable. It is disappointing, however, that until an alternative trade policy is established, export opportunities in the promising Pacific Rim markets that could help U.S. wheat farmers at a time when they need it most are very much at risk.

“U.S. wheat farmers depend heavily on export demand to determine their per-bushel income,” said Jason Scott, USW Chairman and a wheat farmer from Easton, Md. “We can compete very effectively in Asian and Latin American markets where the demand for high quality wheat is rapidly increasing and our organizations took a long-view of the benefits TPP held out — a trade agreement that promoted economic growth abroad as a way to grow export sales and prosperity for farmers at home.”

Without TPP or alternative agreements, U.S. farmers will be forced to the sidelines of trade while losing market share in the region to our competitors including Australia, Canada, Russia and the European Union, which have current agreements or are negotiating new ones with countries outside the network of existing U.S. trade agreements,” said Gordon Stoner, NAWG President and a wheat farmer from Outlook, Mont.

USW and NAWG agree that trade agreements must provide the most benefit possible to our own farmers and industries. We continue to support new agreements that expand free, rules-based trade, as TPP would have done, and encourage that agricultural interests be able to continue to provide input into those negotiations.

NFU Statement on U.S. Withdrawal from Trans-Pacific Partnership

A staunch opponent of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, National Farmers Union (NFU) applauded the Trump Administration’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the deeply flawed TPP trade agreement. NFU President Roger Johnson released the following statement in response:

“The Trans-Pacific Partnership was a continuance of our nation’s deeply flawed trade agenda, and we’re pleased that the Trump Administration has decided to formally withdraw the U.S. from the pact to prioritize a fair trade agenda.

“For too long, our nation’s trade negotiators have prioritized a free trade over a fair trade agenda, leading to a massive $531 billion trade deficit, lost jobs and lowered wages in rural communities across America. It’s time our country refocuses the trade agenda to prioritize balanced trade, U.S. sovereignty, and U.S. family farmers, ranchers and rural communities. The Trump Administration should look to do so with a level of tact that does not motivate our trade partners to take retaliatory actions or threaten the integrity of positive trade markets that American agriculture relies upon.

“NFU looks forward to working with the new administration and Congress to promote fair trade solutions that work for family farmers and ranchers and the U.S. economy.”

Cattlemen Express Concerns With Trump Administration's Trade Action

Tracy Brunner, President of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, today released the following statement in response to President Trump’s announcement that he is withdrawing the United States from the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal and may seek to take action on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA):

“TPP and NAFTA have long been convenient political punching bags, but the reality is that foreign trade has been one of the greatest success stories in the long history of the U.S. beef industry.

“Fact is American cattle producers are already losing out on $400,000 in sales every day because we don’t have TPP, and since NAFTA was implemented, exports of American-produced beef to Mexico have grown by more than 750 percent. We’re especially concerned that the Administration is taking these actions without any meaningful alternatives in place that would compensate for the tremendous loss that cattle producers will face without TPP or NAFTA.

“Sparking a trade war with Canada, Mexico, and Asia will only lead to higher prices for American-produced beef in those markets and put our American producers at a much steeper competitive disadvantage. The fact remains that 96 percent of the world’s consumers live outside the United States, and expanding access to those consumers is the single best thing we can do to help American cattle-producing families be more successful.”

ASA Registers Significant Concern Following Withdrawal from TPP

The nation's soybean farmers expressed significant concern Monday, following an executive order from President Donald Trump that withdraws the United States from the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). American Soybean Association (ASA) President Ron Moore pointed out the high stakes for soybean farmers, and urged the Trump Administration to immediately announce how it intends to engage and expand market access in the Asia-Pacific region.

"Trade is something soybean farmers take very seriously. We export more than half the soy we grow here in the United States, and still more in the form of meat and other products that are produced with our meal and oil," said Moore, who farms in Roseville, Ill. "The TPP held great promise for us, and has been a key priority for several years now. We're very disappointed to see the withdrawal today."

Soybeans are the nation's largest agricultural export, and markets in Southeast Asia and Latin America continue to grow in their potential as buyers of U.S. soy. The biggest beneficiary from TPP, however, was the American livestock industry--in the form of increased meat and dairy exports--which represents the largest domestic market for soybean meal.

The TPP represents 40 percent of the world's gross domestic product (GDP), and according to the Peterson Institute, would have increased overall U.S. exports by $357 billion by 2030. Specifically for U.S. farmers, TPP would have increased annual net farm income by $4.4 billion according to the American Farm Bureau Federation. Additionally, TPP was the first regional trade agreement to address the need to coordinate international policy on trade in the products of agricultural biotechnology, a benefit that ASA will push to see in any future agreements with TPP partner nations.

"Moving forward, we expect to see a plan in place as soon as possible to engage the TPP partner nations and capture the value that we lose with the withdrawal today. With net farm income down by over 40 percent from levels just a few years ago, we need trade deals with the Asia-Pacific countries to make up for the $4.4 billion in annual net farm income being lost by farmers from not moving forward with the TPP. Also, we expect a seat at the table to help ensure these agreements in whatever form they take are crafted to capture their full value for soybean farmers," added Moore. "Trade is too important for us to support anything less."

NMPF, USDEC Urge Trump Administration Not to Cede Export Opportunities as United States Withdraws from TPP, Reconsiders NAFTA Role

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) today urged the Trump Administration not to retreat from pursuing new trade opportunities in the Pacific Rim, and to protect the agricultural trade relationship between the United States and Mexico.

The dairy groups spoke out Monday as President Trump formally withdrew the United States from the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, which NMPF and USDEC had supported because it contained benefits for America’s dairy farmers. A retreat from TPP “must not lead to a retreat from economic engagement with growing Asian markets for American dairy products,” said NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern.

“While we recognize that TPP as it now stands has no path forward, we urge the Trump Administration to look for future opportunities to increase our dairy exports in Asia and around the world. Our competitors have been successfully negotiating trade agreements over the past several years. This puts the U.S. agriculture sector at a competitive disadvantage if we don’t pursue our own initiatives,” he said.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership “was far from perfect, but was beneficial to the U.S. dairy sector because in addition to new market access, it also made significant progress in focusing on other barriers, including sanitary/phytosanitary standards, as well as the abuse of geographical indications to block competition in common food categories,” said Matt McKnight, Acting Chief of Staff for USDEC.

He said one approach the new administration could take is to replace TPP with bilateral agreements with countries such as Japan, Vietnam and others in Southeast Asia.

NMPF and USDEC on Monday joined 130 other farm and food organizations in calling on President Trump to preserve hard-fought agriculture market access in Mexico, which is the No. 1 market for U.S. dairy exports, totaling $1.2 billion in 2016.

“The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has opened a major door to Mexico that we don’t want slammed shut,” Mulhern said.

“In contrast, Canada, the other NAFTA party, has habitually and deliberately worked to undermine dairy trade. We have been very vocal in the past year that Canada is not living up to its dairy market access opportunities for the United States. This issue must be on the table in any discussion about the future of NAFTA.”

McKnight noted that “the U.S. dairy sector exports 15 percent of its milk production, or one day’s worth of milk production out of each week. In 2015, those exports were worth over $5 billion, and helped generate more than 120,000 jobs in dairy farming, manufacturing and related sectors.”

He said the groups will continue to press lawmakers on the important link between export sales and dairy job growth in the United States.

Statement by AFBF President Zippy Duvall Regarding the Importance of Trade to U.S. Agriculture

“U.S. agriculture creates jobs and supports economic growth in rural America, and American agriculture depends on maintaining and increasing access to markets outside the United States. Trade is vital to the success of our nation’s farmers and ranchers. More than 25 percent of all U.S. ag production ultimately goes to markets outside our borders.

“While President Trump signed an executive order today withdrawing our nation from the Trans- Pacific Partnership, we viewed TPP as a positive agreement for agriculture – one that would have added $4.4 billion annually to our struggling agriculture economy. With this decision, it is critical that the new administration begin work immediately to do all it can to develop new markets for U.S. agricultural goods and to protect and advance U.S. agricultural interests in the critical Asia-Pacific region.

“American agriculture is virtually always a winner when trade agreements remove barriers to U.S. crop and livestock exports because we impose very few compared to other nations. We have much to gain through strong trade agreements. AFBF pledges to work with the administration to help ensure that American agriculture can compete on a level playing field in markets around the world.  But we need the administration’s commitment to ensuring we do not lose the ground gained -- whether in the Asia-Pacific, North America, Europe or other parts of the world.

“This is why we believe it is also important to re-emphasize the provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico that have been beneficial for American agriculture. U.S. agricultural exports to Canada and Mexico have quadrupled from $8.9 billion in 1993 to over $38 billion today, due in large part to NAFTA.  Any renegotiation of NAFTA must recognize the gains achieved by American agriculture and assure that U.S. ag trade with Canada and Mexico remains strong. AFBF will work with the administration to remove remaining barriers that hamstring the ability of America’s farmers and ranchers to benefit from trading relationships with our important North American trading partners.”

CWT Assists with 3.4 Million Pounds of Cheese Export Sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 24 requests for export assistance from Dairy Farmers of America, Foremost Farms USA, Northwest Dairy Association (Darigold) and Tillamook County Creamery Association. These member cooperatives have contracts to sell 3.380 million pounds (1,533 metric tons) of Cheddar, Gouda and Monterey Jack cheeses to customers in Asia, Central America, the Middle East and Oceania. The product has been contracted for delivery in the period from January through April 2017.

So far this year, CWT has assisted member cooperatives who have contracts to sell 3.431 million pounds of American-type cheeses and 220,462 pounds of butter (82% milkfat) to eight countries on three continents. The sales are the equivalent of 36.633 million pounds of milk on a milkfat basis.

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

Friday January 20 Ag News

Expanding the Cowherd - The Confinement Option

Are you considering an expansion of the cow herd to help meet the demand for Beef?  Are you looking for a revenue source within the Beef Industry that will allow the next generation a chance to come back to the farm? With less grazing land available, increased cost of land ownership and surplus feedstuffs in the cornbelt; now may be the time to consider Cow-Calf confinement or semi-confinement.  This Symposium is designed to allow you the chance to gain the insight needed to consider cow-calf confinement as a viable beef production model for the future.

Symposium Agenda:
Tuesday, March 21
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm     Hotel/Tradeshow Check-In
2:00 pm - 2:15 pm     Welcome to the Midwest Cow-Calf Symposium
2:15 pm - 3:00 pm     Getting Started in Cow-Calf Confinement Production - Morgan Hayes, Ph.D., P.E.  - University of Kentucky
3:00 pm - 3:45 pm     An Economic Analysis: Investing in the Next Generation - Moe Russell - Russell Consulting Group
3:45 pm - 4:30 pm     Tradeshow/Break
4:30 pm - 5:15 pm     Health Management in a Confined Scenario - Sarah Barber, D.V.M. - Veterinary Medical Center
5:15 pm - 6:00 pm     Cattlemen's Social Hour
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm     Cattlemen's Supper (provided)
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm     Cow-Calf Confinement Producer Panel - Session 1

Wednesday, March 22nd
7:30 am - 8:15 am     Breakfast (provided)
8:15 am - 9:00 am     Financing a Cow-Calf Facility: What You Need To Know - Bruce Eberle - Rabo AgriFinance
9:00am - 9:30 am     Tradeshow/Break
9:30 am - 10:15 am     Managing Cows in Confinement: Theory in Practice - Kelly Jones - Cactus Feeders, Inc.
10:15 am - 11:00 am     Nutritional Management of Confined Production Cows - Karla Jenkins - UNL Panhandle Research & Extension Center
11:00 am - 11:45 am     Tradeshow/Break
11:45 am - 12:15 pm     Cattlemen's Supper (provided)
12:15 pm - 2:00 pm     Virtual Barn Tour & Producer Panel - Session 2

 Hotel Accomodations:

Coco Keys Resort Hotel/Hotel RL (formerly Ramada Inn) | Special room rate of $79.00 under the "Midwest Cow-Calf" room block. Deadline for special rate is March 1st, 2017.

The Midwest Cow-Calf Symposium is hosted by The Alliance for the Future of Agricululture in Nebraska, Nebraska Cattlemen, Iowa Cattlemens Association, and the Coalition to Support Iowa's Farmers.  More inforamtion at


More than 77 percent of Nebraska producers are concerned that they may not be able to obtain operating capital in 2017, according to the 2016 Farm Financial Health Survey conducted by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Department of Agricultural Economics.

Nebraska Extension is increasing its efforts to help producers, who rely on annual operating notes to finance day-to-day needs such as seed, chemicals, fertilizer, feed and utilities.

"Demand is on the rise for operating loans, which is leading to some difficult conversations between producers and their bankers," said Jessica Groskopf, assistant extension educator with Nebraska Extension.

Low commodity prices have resulted in the fourth consecutive year of declining net farm income, or the return that farmers and ranchers get for their input of labor, management and capital. The decline has forced producers to use cash reserves to service debt and to pay for non-farm expenses such as family living that now exceed earnings. This reduces the operation's ability to make debt payments, which makes it more difficult for banks to approve operating loans.

So what can farmers and ranchers do to ensure a smooth farm loan renewal season? Starting the process as soon as possible is critical, Groskopf said.

"Producers need to talk to their loan officer early," she said. "Some banks will work through your options with you if you are low on capital, which is why you need to start the conversation early."

If a producer's operating loan is turned down, their next steps will likely involve trying to find another lender, restructuring debt and making changes to their operations. 

Nebraska Extension is ramping up efforts to support the state's producers through this process. In addition to its normal support team, more than 20 extension professionals across the state have been trained on financial literacy. These professionals are available to help producers on an on-demand basis or through workshops.

The Quicken record-keeping workshop is designed to help producers use the commercial software for farms and ranches. The tool can be flexible for ag and non-ag business enterprises and separates family living expenses.

Additionally, financial health check workshops focus on financial documents. Extension educators will go through a balance sheet, cash flow and income statement and show producers what ratios a banker will be looking at on those documents.

"The financial health check workshops can help producers identify potential weaknesses on their statements, which allows them to create a proactive plan and control the conversation with their banker," Groskopf said. 

For producers in need of immediate assistance, the State of Nebraska has a dedicated farm/ranch hotline. Producers can call 1-800-464-0258 to find financial, legal and counseling services and referrals. 

Producers across the nation are facing this issue, but the impact will be greater in Nebraska, according to Groskopf.

"With Nebraska's economy highly dependent on agriculture, we're going to see this reflect on our state budget and on main street in our hometowns," she said.

For more information on how Nebraska Extension can help producers through farm loan renewal season, contact Groskopf at or 308-632-1247. Resources can also be found at and

Volume of New Ag Loans Drops

Nathan Kauffman, KC Fed Assistant Vice President and Omaha Branch Executive
Matt Clark, Assistant Economist

Fourth Quarter National Farm Loan Data

The volume of new farm loans dropped sharply in the fourth quarter of 2016, according to respondents to the Survey of Terms of Bank Lending to Farmers. The survey, which asks bankers about new loans to farmers, indicated the volume of non-real estate loans in the farm sector dropped 40 percent from a year ago. The 40-percent drop was the largest year-over-year decline in nearly 20 years. 

The sharp reduction in the volume of new farm loans at commercial banks occurred during a prolonged decline in farm revenue. In 2016, prices for most agricultural commodities continued to fall, building on the declines of previous years, with soybeans being a notable exception. A 30-percent year-over-year drop in the price of feeder cattle helped reduce the cost of purchasing the animals and likely contributed to the sharp reduction in loan volumes in the livestock sector. More generally, lower prices appeared to temper demand for new agricultural financing as producers tried to curtail expenditures. Some banks, recognizing greater risk in the farm sector, may have been more selective in financing new loan requests, and some financing decisions may have been delayed in the environment of heightened risk.

In addition to lower commodity prices, lower prices for agricultural inputs may have contributed to the drop in loan volume for items other than real estate. The cost of seeds, fertilizer and cash rents all were down from a year ago. The decline in input costs likely was a significant factor in reducing the volume of loans used, specifically, to finance operating expenses. For example, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that the cost of cash rent, fertilizer and seed accounted for more than 60 percent of the total cost of corn production in 2016. Because loans used for operating expenses comprise about 60 percent of non-real estate loan volume, the decline in input expenses likely curbed the volume of new farm loans originated in the fourth quarter as farmers prepared for the 2017 planting season.

 Although expenses declined, profit margins remained tight and bankers responded with further adjustments to loan terms. Bankers extended the maturities for feeder livestock, other livestock and farm machinery loans by 16, 42 and 13 percent, respectively. Longer maturities on intermediate assets may help some producers facing short-term cash flow shortages and also may help banks avoid past-due payments.

Bankers also raised interest rates in the fourth quarter on all types of non-real estate farm loans. Most notably, interest rates for other livestock and farm machinery increased 0.89 and 0.45 percentage point, respectively. Farm machinery and other livestock carry longer maturity periods and a rate increase may represent a risk-compensation measure when profit margins are tight. Because more than 85 percent of non-real estate loans carried a floating interest rate in the fourth quarter, slight increases in market interest rates may have led to slightly higher interest rates for short-term operating loans in the farm sector. Conversely, interest rates for farm real estate loans edged lower to 4.0 percent in the fourth quarter.

Third Quarter Call Report Data

Despite the sharp reduction in new loan originations, outstanding farm-sector debt at commercial banks continued to rise, but at a slower pace. Call Report data indicated outstanding debt increased 5 percent from a year ago. Although the volume of new loans has dropped recently, a slower rate of loan repayments likely has contributed to further increases in the amount of total farm debt outstanding at commercial banks. Nevertheless, the 5-percent increase in outstanding debt was the smallest in more than three years.

Slower growth in the level of non-real estate farm debt has reduced the overall pace of debt accumulation in the sector. For example, from the third quarter of 2012 to the third quarter of 2015, outstanding debt used to finance non-real estate farm loans grew at an average annual rate of 6 percent following 12 years of growth that averaged less than 0.5 percent. In the third quarter of 2016, however, non-real estate debt grew less than 2 percent from the previous year. Growth in farm real estate debt also slowed slightly in 2016, but has remained relatively steady since 2000.

An increase in nonperforming loans may also explain a portion of the slowdown in debt accumulation. In the third quarter, the share of nonperforming loans increased to 1.7 percent from 1.1 percent a year earlier. Although still modest historically, the share of total nonperforming loans in the third quarter was the highest since 2012, and may have caused some lenders and borrowers to moderate their use of debt to prevent further financial stress.  

Despite slight increases in nonperforming loans, performance of agricultural banks remained strong. Returns on assets, a typical measure of bank performance, increased to 0.91 percent, the highest third quarter rate of return since 1998. The loan-to-deposit ratio at agricultural banks also increased to 0.81 percent, the highest since the third quarter of 2009.

Third Quarter Regional Agricultural Data

Regional Federal Reserve surveys also showed that demand for non-real estate financing in the farm sector increased, but not as strongly as in recent years. According to the surveys, demand for non-real estate loans increased in the Chicago, Kansas City and Minneapolis districts in the third quarter. However, growth was slower in Kansas City and Minneapolis than in 2015. Additionally, demand for non-real estate financing in the third quarter declined in the Dallas district for the first time since 2013 and was unchanged in the St. Louis district for the second consecutive year.

In addition to loan demand, demand for loan renewals and extensions also has continued to rise. The share of bankers that reported an increase in loan renewals and extensions was the highest in survey history for the Chicago, Kansas City, Minneapolis and St. Louis districts and the highest since 2001 in the Dallas district. Conversely, the share of bankers that reported higher repayment rates was at, or near, historical lows for the Chicago, Dallas, Minneapolis and St. Louis districts and the lowest since 1999 in the Kansas City District. Elevated demand for loan renewals and extensions and weaker repayment rates underscored a growing sense of financial stress in the farm sector.

Prolonged financial stress in the farm sector also has continued to curb farm real estate values. In fact, farmland values in all states in the Chicago, Kansas City and Minneapolis districts have declined from their recent peaks. Most notably, nonirrigated cropland values have dropped by 20 percent, on average, in Kansas and 19 percent in Iowa since 2013. Although, this represents an annualized rate of only 5-8 percent, persistent and gradual declines could lead to further financial stress in the farm sector in the coming years.


A gradual increase in the level of financial stress in the farm sector has caused agricultural lenders and borrowers to become increasingly cautious. Although declines in the cost of some key inputs have provided modest relief, profit margins have remained low and new farm loan originations dropped sharply in the fourth quarter. If profit margins remain low through 2017, the pace of new debt will be a key indicator to monitor in assessing the severity of financial stress through the year.


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Do you rent pasture?  What happens if drought lowers pasture production below expectations?  Specifically, what does your pasture lease say about drought?

               It’s hard to think about drought in mid-winter but drought can play havoc on pasture leases.  All too often, pasture leases fail to include an appropriate plan to adjust to this problem.

               Without a plan, both the landowner and the tenant are at risk.  Landowners risk having the pasture become overgrazed, resulting in future weed problems, reduced long-term production, and lowered value.  The tenant risks poor performance or health of the livestock due to less forage and lower quality feed.  This can lead to higher supplemental feed costs or being forced to sell the cattle.

               So, who decides when drought has lowered pasture production low enough to remove the cattle?  And, what should be the adjustment in the rent payment?  And who gets insurance or government payments?

               Unfortunately, I can’t give you a specific answer.  Instead, now is the time to discuss these issues as landlord and tenant.  Be sure to list the length of the grazing period in the lease along with beginning and ending dates.  Also make sure that stocking rates are specified in the lease, adjusting these stocking levels for increased cow size if necessary.  Usually, it is best to design the lease so both landowner and tenant share in the opportunity and risk associated with drought by adding an appropriate escape clause due to drought.  Indicate how a drought adjustment will be made and how that will affect rent payments.   And get it all in writing to avoid any misunderstandings later.

               Drought can cause a lot of headaches.  But if you’ve planned ahead, making sudden adjustments to your pasture leases won’t be one of them.

NeCGA Farm Bill Survey 2017

The Nebraska Corn Growers Association is asking for your input! It’s that time again, time to put together another Farm Bill and we need your opinion. Below is a link that will take you to an anonymous survey with 9 questions regarding the upcoming Farm Bill. If you have already taken the paper copy survey at a farm show or other event, the questions are the same. No need to take it twice! If you have any questions about this survey, please call the office. Remember, NeCGA is YOUR voice in Lincoln and in Washington D.C.!

Click here to take the survey...

NE NRDs Talk National Security, Emerald Ash Borer Beetle, Historical Groundwater Plan and More

The NRDs are proud to announce Governor Pete Ricketts will be kicking off the Natural Resources Districts 2017 Legislative Conference at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Lincoln, Nebraska on Tuesday, January 24th at 8:45 am. The NRDs protect people’s lives, property and future by helping conserve the state’s natural resources, fight potential flooding and much more. 

Speakers will present information Tuesday, January 24th starting at 9:00 am and also Wednesday, January 25th from 8:30 am – Noon (Wednesday is when most presentations are scheduled). 

Dozens of Nebraska senators are confirmed they’ll be attending the conference. It’s being held at Embassy Suites-Lincoln at 1040 P St, Lincoln, NE. You can find parking in the parking garage at the corner of Q St. and 11th St in downtown Lincoln.

A few important topics that affect all Nebraskans include:
-          An opportunity to learn how water is not only the number one priority in Nebraska but is also the top priority of our National and International Security. Discussion on worldwide natural resource challenges and how it impacts immigration, migration and food security. (Wed. 9:20 am, Room: Regents C)

-          An update on the latest status of the Emerald Ash Borer in Nebraska, and activities underway at Nebraska Forest Service to help battle the beetle.  The presentation will also outline the details of legislation introduced for the Tree Recovery Act. (Wed. 9:20 am, Room: Regents F)

-          Nebraska’s Bazile Groundwater Management Area (BGMA) Project is the first federally recognized groundwater-focused plan to address pollution in the nation. Learn what the project has accomplished in just the last few months and the big plans for making a positive difference in our conservation efforts in the future. (Tues. 9:00 am, Room: Regents AB)

Upper Big Blue NRD Board of Directors Elect Officer Positions for 2017-18

The Upper Big Blue NRD Board of Directors met Thursday, January 19, 2017, at the Upper Big Blue Natural Resources District office to discuss and vote on January’s committee actions and reports.  During the meeting, Upper Big Blue NRD board members were nominated and votes were cast to fill board officer positions for a two-year term as follows: 
  - Lynn W. Yates of Geneva—CHAIRMAN;
  - Michael D. Nuss of Sutton—VICE CHAIRMAN;
  - William “Bill” Stahly of Milford—SECRETARY; 
  - Doug C. Bruns of Waco—TREASURER;
  - Larry K. Moore of Ulysses—NARD (Nebraska Association of Resources Districts) REPRESENTATIVE;
  - Gary E. Eberle of Bradshaw—NARD (Nebraska Association of Resources Districts) REPRESENTATIVE ALTERNATE.  

Upper Big Blue NRD Announces Variable Rate Irrigation Pilot Program

The Upper Big Blue Natural Resources District (UBBNRD) is offering financial incentives to landowners interested in installing Variable Rate Irrigation systems.  The UBBNRD’s Variable Rate Irrigation (VRI) Pilot Program is intended to provide financial assistance for the design, installation, and technical support of Variable Rate Irrigation systems.  Properly managed VRI systems can provide a variety of benefits such as: precision application of irrigation water, decreased nitrate leaching due to over irrigation, increased chemigation application efficiency, decreased pumping energy expenses, lowered frequency/severity of yield loss and/or stuck pivots due to over irrigation, reduced irrigation application on hillslopes where runoff potential is high, and elimination of irrigation application on uncropped areas and/or wetlands.

Approved applicants can receive 50% cost-share up to $7,500.00 for installation of a VRI system.  The amount of funding available during this initial phase of the UBBNRD VRI Pilot Program is limited to $30,000.00 per year.  Applications are available at the local Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) office. The first application deadline is March 1, 2017.  Applications will be accepted/awarded on a bi-monthly basis (applications deadlines are March 1, May 1, September 1, November 1, and January 2) until available funds are expended. Certain terms and conditions do apply.

For questions please contact your local NRCS office, or the Jack Wergin, UBBNRD Projects Department Manager at 402-362-6601.

$199.6 Million Invested in Rural Nebraska in 2016 by USDA Rural Development

Nebraska’s rural communities received $199.6 million in USDA Rural Development funding in federal fiscal year 2016. USDA Rural Development’s investment in rural Nebraska now totals more than $3 billion, according to Rural Development Nebraska State Director Maxine Moul.

“Nebraska communities, businesses and citizens invested millions of dollars in fiscal year 2016, with the support and resources of USDA Rural Development,” said Moul. “Our Nebraska staff strives each year to utilize the financial resources available through USDA Rural Development to help build stronger rural communities throughout the state.”

Rural Development programs assist in funding for rural housing, business and community development, water and waste water, energy, distance learning and telemedicine, electric companies and telecommunications.

Private and community foundations and counties, municipalities and other local governments contributed strongly to the projects funded.

Highlights of Fiscal Year 2016 Nebraska Rural Development Funding include:

·         $100.2 million provided to 995 rural Nebraska families to finance homes and provided necessary repairs and removed health and safety hazards for owner-occupied homes.
·         $8.3 million provided 2,422 tenants residing in Rural Development’s nearly 200 multi-family rural rental housing complexes with affordable rents.

·         $52.9 million impacted 43 rural communities through community facilities and water and wastewater loans and grants. Funding provided for ambulances, libraries and other community facility needs along with water and wastewater projects.

·         $36.8 million was invested in Nebraska’s rural businesses and ag producers, supporting 98 projects.

·          Two Distance Learning and Telemedicine projects in Nebraska totaling $309,807 will bring the benefits of advanced telecommunications services to rural Nebraskans.

Visit for the full Nebraska 2016 Progress Report.

“Who’s Watching Nebraska’s Water?” Panel Discussion Set

In light of the proposed construction of a Costco-owned chicken processing plant to be located south of Fremont, NE, alongside the Platte River, three experts on will be on hand January 25th and 26th to speak about water quality and public health.

-        Bill Stowe, CEO and General Manager of Des Moines Water Works (DMWW), has an engineering background, and has been the key spokesperson for the Des Moines Water Works lawsuit against three Iowa counties that are believed to have caused an increase in nitrates in Des Moines drinking water.  DMWW is now exploring building a new de-nitrification facility that is estimated to cost $80 million, which would cause further rising utility costs.

-        Dr. Alan Kolok, Director of the Nebraska Watershed Network and Director of the Center for Environmental Health and Toxicology at UNMC, specializes in land use and its impact on water quality and environmental health.  Kolok is the author of “Modern Poisons:  A Brief Introduction to Contemporary Toxicology”, and several other academic publications, and;

-        A Representative from the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ), will serve as an expert for the water permitting process for industrialized agricultural operations.

The first discussion will be on Wednesday, January 25th from 7:00-9:00 pm at the University of Nebraska – Omaha’s Community Engagement Center (6400 University Drive South, Room 230, Omaha, NE).  Free parking is available for this event, on UNO’s campus north of the CEC building between the clock tower and Library. 

The second discussion will be Thursday, January 26th from 7:00 – 9:00 pm at the Unitarian Church (6300 A Street, Lincoln, NE).

The meetings are being held by the Nebraska League of Women Voters, Omaha Together One Community, Guardians of the Aquifer, and Nebraska Communities United.  Additional event co-sponsors include Farm Aid, Socially Responsible Ag Project, Sierra Club, Bold Nebraska, Center for Rural Affairs, Nebraska Wildlife Federation, Douglas/Lancaster County Farmers Unions, Nebraskans for Peace, the Unitarian Church of Lincoln Green Sanctuary Committee and GC Resolve.  The League of Women Voters will be moderating the panel discussion.

“Clean water is everybody’s most important issue; however many communities don't realize it until a serious problem occurs. The League of Women Voters of Nebraska believes now is a good time for the public to learn more from those whose careers are devoted to keeping our water safe,” said Nebraska League of Women Voters President Sherry Miller.

“OTOC’s Environmental Sustainability Action Team (ESAT) is pleased to co-host this important panel discussion.  The goal is to communicate with the public so everyone is aware of major water quality concerns posed by the Costco/Lincoln Premium Poultry plant planned south of Fremont,” said MaryRuth Stegman, Chairperson of OTOC’s Environmental Sustainability Action Team. “This operation will also place over 400 industrial chicken barns around the area. The ESAT members urge action by citizens to stop contamination of our waters and lands which could lead to costly treatment for safe drinking water."

“We must, at this critical time, ask ourselves what is the legacy we are handing our children, and for the young people in the state, now is time to ensure you have a healthy environment for generations to come,” said Randy Ruppert, President of Nebraska Communities United.

"When the people of Omaha and Lincoln understand the issues for our water and health that will come from this Costco chicken processing plant and the litter from the barns, they will insist on government action to protect us. We do not want to be the next Flint, Michigan," stated Mary Pipher with Guardians of the Aquifer.

Iowa Pork to distribute discount pork coupons on Jan. 25

Iowa pig farmers and 2017 Iowa Pork Producers Association Youth Leadership Team contestants will be out in force on Jan. 25 during the Iowa Pork Congress distributing discount "Dine on Us" coupons in downtown Des Moines.

Consumers will receive $5 "Dine on Us!" discount coupons to reduce the cost of a pork meal at any Des Moines-area restaurant participating in the promotion. The coupons will be honored from Jan. 25 through Feb. 15.

"Dine on Us is a promotion that not only allows us to showcase our great pork products, but also many of the Metro's fine restaurants," said IPPA Consumer Information Director Joyce Hoppes. "We thank the 16 restaurants that are participating and giving consumers an opportunity to enjoy a discounted pork entrée at their establishment."

The coupon giveaway will be held on the skywalk over 6th Street between Grand and Locust and over Walnut between 6th and 7th streets and 8th and 9th streets. The pork groups will have displays and hand out coupons from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the 25th.

The participating restaurants are Court Avenue Restaurant and Brewing Co., Smokey D's (3 locations), Jethro's (6 locations), Buzzard Billy's, The Cub Club, Big City Burgers and Greens, Splash Seafood Bar and Grill, RoCA, Goldfinch, Bubba, Guru BBQ, Vivian's, American Restaurant and Lounge, Malo, Django and Centro.

Several of the restaurants routinely menu pork, but others are putting pork on their menu just for the promotion.

Iowa pig farmers proudly raise the most hogs of any state in the nation and adhere to the Ethical Principles of pork production: Producing safe food, protecting and promoting animal well-being, protecting public health, safeguarding natural resources, and supporting their local community.

ISU Extension and Outreach Offers Soil Fertility and Nutrient Management Short Course

Making sound soil fertility management decisions is an important part of successful crop production, on both an economic and environmental level. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach will be offering a two-day short course focusing on principles of soils, soil fertility and nutrient management to help crop production professionals make more informed decisions.

Highlights include soil sampling and testing, pH and liming, essential, secondary and micronutrients, nitrogen dynamics and manure management. The small class size allows for increased discussion and interaction with extension specialists.

The Soil Fertility and Nutrient Management Short Course will be held Feb. 8-9 in room 004 of the Scheman Building on the Iowa State campus in Ames. Registration opens at 8:30 a.m. with classwork beginning at 9 a.m. and ending at 5:00 p.m. Feb 9. Registration is limited to 40 participants and pre-registration is required. The cost is $275 and includes course reference notebook, lunches and breaks. Registration and fees must be received by midnight, Jan. 31, 2017.

Additional course information and online registration with a credit card is available at For more information, please call ANR Program Services at 515- 294-6429 or email

Swine health will be key topic at 2017 Iowa Pork Regional Conferences

Swine health, a swine market outlook and barn safety will be three of the subjects discussed at the 2017 Iowa Pork Regional Conferences.

The Iowa Pork Producers Association, the Iowa Pork Industry Center and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach swine specialists will host the meetings at four Iowa locations Feb. 20-22 and Feb. 24.

All sessions are hosted from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Conference dates and locations are as follows:
 ● Monday, Feb. 20 - Orange City, Sioux County Extension Office
● Tuesday, Feb. 21 - Carroll, Carroll County Extension Office
● Wednesday, Feb. 22 - Washington, Washington County Extension Office
● Friday, Feb. 24 - Nashua, Borlaug Learning Center

"It's imperative that our producers are equipped with valuable resources for current industry topics," said IPPA Producer Education Director Drew Mogler. "This year's regional conferences will provide worthwhile information for anyone involved in the day-to-day management of pork production."

The following presentations will be delivered at each location:
Swine Health Update

Dr. Chris Rademacher, Extension swine veterinarian - ISU College of Veterinary Medicine
Rademacher will disclose what's been learned about how to manage and prevent introduction or re-introduction of PEDV back into our swine herds. He'll also discuss the current state of PRRS management and what researchers are learning about how to manage and prevent this disease. The latest on Senecavirus A also will be discussed.
Swine Market Outlook

Dr. Lee Schulz, ISU Extension livestock economist
Exports, domestic demand, health challenges and a multitude of other factors can impact the livestock producer's bottom line. Dr. Schulz will dive into these issues and current projections, review forecasts for input costs and market hog value in 2017 and discuss what profit opportunity may be in store for producers in the year to come.
"Safe Pigs, Safe People - Steps to Make Your Barn Safer for All"

Erik Potter, swine specialist, Iowa State University Extension & Outreach
You've built the barn for the safety and well-being of the pigs, but have you identified the safety risks to you or your employees? Participants will learn how to identify risks along with steps to eliminate or minimize those risks. Topics to include animal handling, slips/trips/fall hazards, machine guarding, lock out/tag out, hazard communication, emergency preparedness and pit pumping.
Swine Health Management and Antibiotic Stewardship

ISU Extension swine specialists
Swine producers need to prepare their farms for new regulations that will likely change their health management strategies. As producers, we can choose to ignore, dispute or defend our operations, but during this session, the fourth option, stewardship, will be promoted. The swine specialists will look at what's always been done and try to find ways to do it better. They'll also focus on tools and techniques to use to reduce antibiotic usage.

Free PQA Plus® producer certification training sessions will be held prior to each conference. Training will be hosted from 9:30 a.m. to noon at each location.

To pre-register for the conference and/or certification training, contact Barb Nelson at (800) 372-7675 or The regional conferences are free for those who pre-register or $5 at the door.

For more information, contact Drew Mogler at (800) 372-7675.


Iowa Secretary of Agriculture and Land Stewardship Bill Northey today encouraged Iowans with pesticide sensitive crops and apiaries to register their locations using the Department’s new sensitive crop registry through FieldWatch™, Inc.  FieldWatch™ is a non-profit company that was created by Purdue University in collaboration with interested agricultural stakeholder groups.

The new registry offers two online platforms that provide state of the art mapping features.   DriftWatch® is a registry site for use by producers of commercial crops sensitive to pesticides and includes the online capacity to map boundaries around production fields.  BeeCheck® is a registry site for beekeepers that designates one-mile radius boundaries around apiaries.  Sensitive crop producers with apiaries may enter hive locations using either the DriftWatch® or BeeCheck® registries.

“We’re excited to offer this new directory with all of its capabilities.  The mapping features, streamlined data entry, and increased accuracy of the information presented will promote better communication of sensitive site data between farmers and pesticide applicators,” Northey said.  “By improving our Sensitive Crop Registry we hope to make sure Iowa continues to be a great place for all types of agriculture.”

Commercial pesticide applicators are also encouraged to register through FieldWatch™ to gain increased access to mapping features and e-mail notifications about new sensitive sites in their spray areas.  Applicators can also access downloadable files including shapefiles, Excel, csv or live stream through a software provider for a $100 per year fee.  Also, agriculture retailers can join for a $500 fee and $100 per location to give multiple applicators access to the downloadable files.

An information session for applicators will be held during the FieldWatch annual meeting on February 15 as part of the Agribusiness Showcase and Conference at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. More information about this session is available online at

The new registry was made possible by a monetary award presented to IDALS by the Agribusiness Association of Iowa Foundation.  Donors included the Iowa Agriculture Aviation Association, Syngenta Crop Protection, Dow AgroScience, GROWMARK Foundation, Monsanto, BASF, Bayer CropScience, Iowa Wine Growers Association, Crop Production Services, Inc., Helena Chemical, and Meridian Agriculture.

Along with apiary sites, half an acre or larger commercial vineyards, orchards, fruit and vegetable grow sites, nursery and Christmas tree production sites, and certified organic crops are included in the registry.

“No Spray” signs will still be provided at cost by IDALS.  FieldWatch™ also offers signage on their website.  Links to the FieldWatch™ site and the Department’s “No Spray” signs can be found at .  Questions can be directed to IDALS State Horticulturist, Paul Ovrom, at or 515-242-6239.

BASF expands its On Target Application Academy stewardship program with a new online training module

The advent of new and advanced herbicide technologies demands increased stewardship education to ensure proper application and to reduce weed resistance. BASF is responding to this need by expanding its On Target Application Academy (OTAA) stewardship program with an online training module. The new digital training provides growers and applicators easy-to-access best practices for proper and effective herbicide application, including the application of Engenia™ herbicide, the most flexible and advanced dicamba for use on dicamba-tolerant soybeans and cotton.

“Proper application is critical for success with any crop protection product,” said Dr. Bob Wolf, owner of Wolf Consulting & Research LLC and OTAA trainer. “With easy-to-access herbicide application tips, growers and applicators can improve on-target applications.”

The online module, which can be accessed in the field or at home on any device, includes a series of educational videos that feature tips for a successful application, including drift mitigation, nozzle selection and proper calibration.

Additionally, applicators seeking to earn Continuing Education Unit (CEU) credits can qualify for 1.0 CEU by completing the OTAA digital training module.

“BASF is continuing its commitment to stewardship through this one-of-a-kind program,” said Chad Asmus, Technical Marketing Manager, BASF. “The newly released module allows BASF to reach more applicators with information that will help steward new technologies and the land for future generations.”

Engenia herbicide is the newest innovation in the BASF herbicide portfolio. It controls more than 200 broadleaf weeds, including glyphosate resistant weeds in dicamba tolerant soybeans and cotton. With stakeholder input, BASF developed a comprehensive set of best management practices and label requirements for Engenia herbicide to maximize on-target application and minimize off-target spray drift.

Since its inception in 2012, the OTAA stewardship program has reached more than 13,400 growers across 31 states. These sessions have tallied more than 9,700 grower and applicator training hours. By taking the program online, BASF aims to bring critical application knowledge inside the homes of growers across the country. In-depth in-person trainings are available for those seeking more extensive training from the OTAA application experts.

Growers and applicators can take the OTAA training module by visiting, clicking on the “Herbicides” tab and selecting the module titled “Making an On Target Engenia Herbicide Application.”

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.”