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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 April 19 Ag News

Stress of dealing with flooding can be overwhelming to farmers
UNMC, Nebraska Extension encourage people to seek help – you are not alone!

Nebraska’s farmers had more than enough stress to manage before this year’s flooding events ravaged a huge swath of farm properties, businesses and communities. Now the uncertainty farmers face in crop and livestock operations may seem overwhelming.

The University of Nebraska Medical Center and the Nebraska Extension want farmers and their communities to know “You are not alone. We care about you!” and help is just a call – or even a text – away.

“We know it’s sometimes difficult to talk about the stress we experience,” said Susan Harris-Broomfield, Nebraska Extension Educator – Rural Health, Wellness and Safety. “Reaching out can be as simple as texting ‘GO’ to 741741 to connect with the National Suicide Prevention Crisis Text Line. It’s free, and there’s 24/7 support to crisis counselors.”

The initial effects of the March 14 collapse of the Spencer Dam were traumatic enough, wiping out bridges, roads, buildings and animals. But, the effects of that catastrophic event will greatly intensify the stress farmers and farm communities will undergo for years to come.

The Life Change Index is a scale that rates the impact individuals experience with different life changes. Sudden change has a physical, emotional and psychological effect on our body. It reorders important routines, sending our physical being into turmoil and resulting in significant stress.

“Cortisol is our built-in ‘fight-or-flight’ alarm system, our body’s main stress hormone,” Harris-Broomfield said. “It works in conjunction with our brain to control mood, motivation and fear. When it’s at normal levels, it aids a number of body functions. But when stress remains and we continue to overproduce cortisol, it has significant damaging effects.”

Excess levels of cortisol can disrupt normal body functions, leading to anxiety and depression, headaches, heart disease, memory and concentration problems, digestive problems, insomnia and weight gain.

“When cortisol levels remain high, it can increase blood sugar levels, putting a strain on your pancreas,” Harris-Broomfield said. “It can suppress your immune system and cause high blood pressure, setting the stage for a heart attack or stroke.”

While cortisol wreaks havoc with important body functions, emotional and psychological functions also suffer. The effects that prolonged stress has on our brain may not be highly visible in the early stages of a stressful event. However, over a period of time, the effect of mental stress can lead to depression, anxiety and personality disorders.

“While we sleep, our brain flushes out harmful toxins that build up there each day,” Harris-Broomfield said. “A good night’s sleep boosts memory, concentration and learning. Someone constantly under major stress is losing the benefits sleep provides.”

When stress is prolonged, people can become physically exhausted, experience forgetfulness and high levels of anxiety. A person who was typically well-balanced, friendly and outgoing may find they lose their sense of humor, desire to isolate themselves from others and develop a negative outlook on life.

“If the stress continues, it becomes a downward spiral that individuals can’t pull themselves out of unless they have help to do that,” Harris-Broomfield said.

“Active listening” is the approach Harris-Broomfield recommends for family members and friends of those under stress. Active listening techniques include demonstrating concern, gathering information to help you understand, giving nonverbal cues such as nodding and leaning forward, and restating what you heard in your own words.

“Listen without judgment,” Harris-Broomfield said. “If you see any sign that suggests a person may be considering suicide, just ask them, “Are you having thoughts of suicide?”

Warning signs of suicide include someone threatening to hurt or kill himself/herself; talking about wanting to die, especially if someone is wielding a weapon and intending to harm himself/herself with it.

Additional signals include talk of feeling hopeless or being a burden, giving away possessions, using alcohol or drugs excessively, acquiring a firearm and having questions about insurance in the event of a death. These signs should be especially concerning if these kinds of actions are out of the ordinary for that person.

“A lot of people are shocked if you ask them whether or not they’re considering suicide, but often, if they are, they will answer yes,” Harris-Broomfield saif. “Don’t worry that you’re putting the idea in their head. Just ask. If they answer ‘yes,’ don’t leave them alone. Immediately call or text someone for help. It’s very helpful to have hotline phone numbers in your phone, so they’re readily available if you need them.”

Harris-Broomfield emphasized that all available extension resources for Nebraska farmers, ranchers and their families are free.

“We’re rolling out a new webinar for farm and ranch families,” she said.

Nebraska Extension Educators Glennis McClure and Brandy VanDeWalle will present “Wellness in Tough Times,” a free webinar that will provide strategies for dealing with the stress of farming or ranching in today’s difficult economic environment. The live webinar will air at noon (CDT) on April 23 and can be accessed at

Following the April 23 airing, the webinar can be watched at

For more information, contact VanDeWalle at or (402)759-3712.

“Communicating With Farmers Under Stress” is a Nebraska Extension program intended to help agribusiness professionals as they meet and work with farmers and ranchers. The two-hour workshops, which will be held in five different locations across the state, will help build awareness around potentially stressful conditions some farmers are facing.

“The workshop will help participants identify stress triggers and signs of stress,” Harris-Broomfield said. “Presenters also will talk about helpful techniques for responding to people under stress. Some farmers may struggle to effectively cope with stress, and presenters will talk about how to identify, approach and work with them. We’ll also provide information on where to turn for additional help and provide resources information for many different situations.”

Dates and locations for the workshops will be released soon. For more information on the workshops, contact Harris-Broomfield at

Harris-Broomfield said machinery breakdowns, debt loads, volatile markets, sleep deprivation, changing regulations and the pressure to hold onto multi-generational farms are just some of the issues Nebraska’s farmers will deal with over coming weeks, months and years.

“Don’t be ashamed to reach out for help,” she said. “All of these things impact us as much mentally as physically. We’re Nebraska Strong, but sometimes that might mean having the strength to reach out for help.”

Lower Elkhorn NRD promotes Arbor Day with tree sales 

In Nebraska, Arbor Day is traditionally celebrated on the last Friday in April.  The 147th Anniversary of Arbor Day will be celebrated Friday, April 26th.

Since Nebraska is the birth state of Arbor Day, it’s only appropriate that the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) promotes tree-planting programs each year.  The LENRD will have tree seedlings available for purchase this Friday in celebration of Arbor Day, at the Maskenthine Lake Recreation Area, north of Stanton.  From Norfolk, the lake is located 10 miles east on highway 275 and then 2 miles south on Ridge Road.  Signs will direct you to the LENRD Tree Distribution Center (approximately 2 miles north of Stanton).

The Center will be open from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Arbor Day.  Seedlings can be purchased in bundles of 25 for $22.  The LENRD staff will be cleaning out the cooler that day, quantities are limited, and everything must go.

LENRD Forester, Pam Bergstrom, said, “Plant a tree to protect your property and the future.  Our parents did it for us, and we should return the favor for future generations.”

Contact Bergstrom at the LENRD office, 402-371-7313, if you have questions about your trees or if you need further assistance.


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

Most of us have more moisture in our soil profiles this spring than we’ve experienced in a long time.  Let’s take full advantage of this promising condition.

Do you remember when we last had soil profiles nearly completely full of moisture throughout our area?  I know I don’t?  Because full profiles are unusual for most of us, some suggestions might be helpful as reminders of how to take advantage of your good fortune.

First consider pasture fertilization.  Good moisture is needed to make full use of nitrogen fertilizer.  Our university recommendations are based on available moisture for various areas.  When soil moisture is high at the start of the growing season, like this year, heavier rates can be expected to produce economically higher grass yields as long as you can use the extra grass either for grazing or by cutting excess for hay.  I suggest applying an extra twenty to forty pounds of nitrogen per acre this spring if you can use that extra growth.

Alfalfa production should also benefit from all this moisture.  Older dryland fields probably will benefit the most since they usually extract most of the deep profile moisture within three or four years of stand life.  Most of our alfalfa fields tend to be low in phosphorus, especially if they haven’t had any fertilizer added for several years.  If your soils would benefit from a bit more phosphorus, this is a good spring to apply it since your alfalfa should be able to make immediate use of the increased nutrition to boost hay yields.

Lastly, look to plant and fertilize annual forages.  If you plant summer annual grasses or might double crop forages after wheat, take advantage of extra moisture if it remains available at planting time.

Extra moisture is valuable.  Take full advantage of it this year.


Winterkilled alfalfa has shown up throughout the area this spring.  In a moment I’ll offer some suggestions for overcoming this forage loss.

If you haven’t looked at your alfalfa this spring, check it soon.  Last winter was tough on a lot of fields.

If you find significant winterkill but decide to keep the stand anyway, here are a few options to increase forage production:
– for fields planted last year, simply interseed more alfalfa in thin spots,
– for older fields, autotoxicity and other problems make interseeding alfalfa risky.  But other species can be added.

Annuals like oats and Italian ryegrass can be interseeded right away; or plant summer annual grasses right after first cutting.

Perennials like orchardgrass, festulolium, and red clover can bring long-term help but won’t add much to this year’s production.

If you do interseed, competition by the remaining alfalfa for sunlight could be a serious threat to success.  It only takes about one week of shading by a full alfalfa canopy to kill seedlings below.  About the only way to open up that canopy once it develops is to harvest the alfalfa extra early.  This will lower first harvest yield and may further weaken already stressed alfalfa plants.  But it’s the only way to get enough sunlight to the new seedlings.

In some situations it might be better to wait until late summer to interseed. Alfalfa cut in late August or early September regrows more slowly than spring alfalfa, thus causing less competition.  Interseeding right after that harvest has a better chance of succeeding, provided adequate moisture is available.

Winterkill will reduce forage production in many alfalfa fields this year.  Act quickly and properly to minimize long-term losses.

Workshops to Help Educators Connect Ag and Food Production

Two-day professional development workshops for teachers will be offered throughout the summer and around the state by the Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation and partner organizations.

The workshops will help teachers apply Iowa Core standards including social studies, and science in the context of agriculture. The workshops will also use agriculture to teach other core concepts and skills like language arts and math. The workshops will be hands on and interactive with one day of site visits and tours and one day of practical classroom application. Many STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) concepts will be integrated throughout.

"My main goal was to get a credit. But once I got into the workshop, I realized it would exceed my expectation," said Betsy Anderson, a workshop participant in 2018. "I knew some of the information, but it was great to have it connected to real farmers and the science behind farming in Iowa."

The dates of the workshops are June 3-4 in Sioux Center; June 11-12 in Calmar; June 13-14 in Algona; June 13-14 in Pella; June 26-27 in Eldridge; June 26-27 in Fort Dodge; July 10-11 in Griswold; July 17-18 in Council Bluffs; July 23-24 in Ankeny; August 5-6 in Indianola; and Aug. 5-6 in Manchester. The workshops will include lesson demonstration, hands on implementation of concepts, tours of farms and agribusinesses, and technical skills in agriculture. The workshops will be available for teacher recertification credit and graduate level credit.

"It was simply the best professional development course I've taken! Said 2018 workshop participant, Kerri Bell. "It offered so much for two solid days. I loved every minute of it. I've made so many new friends across SE Iowa to collaborate with. I'm excited to have more resources."

Workshops are made possible by supporters of the Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation including the Silos and Smokestacks National Heritage Area, Bayer, REAP Conservation Education Program, and Farm Credit Services of America with additional support from Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, Iowa Pork Producers Association, Corteva Agriscience, GROWMARK, and the Iowa Beef Industry Council. To find out more about workshops in your area visit, email or call 515-331-4182.

USMCA Necessary for Soy: Report Does Not Convey Full Scope of Benefits

While the International Trade Commission (ITC) report on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) demonstrated marginal increases in agricultural exports, the value of USMCA to soybean producers goes beyond the pages released yesterday. The report is a good tool, yet it does not account for valuable non-tariff provisions in the “new NAFTA” –or look back historically on the myriad benefits to agriculture since NAFTA’s inception.

Davie Stephens, soy grower from Clinton, Kentucky, and American Soybean Association (ASA) president said, “USMCA builds upon the strong foundation set by the original NAFTA. Under NAFTA, the value of agricultural exports to Canada and Mexico increased to roughly $43 billion each year. Soybean exports to Mexico quadrupled under NAFTA, making Mexico the number two market for U.S. soybeans, meal and oil. We also saw a doubling of soybean exports to Canada, making it the number four market for soybean meal and the number seven market for soybean oil.”

Stephens continued, “We know that the modernizations included in USMCA will make trade with our North American neighbors even smoother. These non-tariff enhancements include the highest enforceable sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) standards of any trade deal to date, an enforceable biotechnology chapter that supports 21st century innovations, and create a rapid response mechanism to address trade challenges. These provisions not only serve to update the North American agreement but set a paradigm for future free trade agreements.”

While continuing to review and assess the ITC, the American Soybean Association reaffirms its support for USMCA and urges Congress to pass the agreement once the bill arrives. Passage of USMCA is vital to ensuring continued trade with two of U.S. soybeans’ top trading partners, Canada and Mexico.


Japanese Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi joined U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in Washington D.C. this week to begin trade talks between the countries. The focus of initial conversations were agriculture and automobiles. The countries are scheduled to meet again next week for further conversation.

The National Pork Producers Council continues to urge the Trump administration to expeditiously negotiate access for U.S. pork that is equal or better than the access extended by Japan for pork from the CPTPP nations and the European Union. U.S. pork producers are losing market share in Japan to these competitors.

Farm Groups Ask President, Congress for Disaster Relief

A group of 135 farm organizations and banks that supply seasonal loans to farms and ranches today called on the President and Congress to put aside political differences and supply urgently needed relief in the wake of weather-related disasters in 2018 and 2019.

The organizations highlighted the year’s unprecedented destruction in the letter. Farmers and ranchers are especially anxious for relief because these disasters have come on top of an ongoing downturn in farm income. In response, many banks have tightened credit, placing some growers in jeopardy of not receiving critical funds needed to plant this year’s crops absent some form of federal relief.

“Farms across the country endured an incredibly difficult year in 2018 and the trend continues in 2019 with challenging market prices and destructive weather conditions,” the groups wrote. “Historic hurricanes Florence and Michael, along with unprecedented wildfires, droughts, flooding and other natural disasters, devastated agricultural regions throughout the nation. Estimated agriculture losses in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina alone total nearly $5.5 billion. Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri currently estimate losses at more than $3 billion. Droughts have devastated the Southwest, wildfires the West and volcanic activity in Hawaii. Puerto Rico encountered its own humanitarian crisis from hurricanes Irma and Maria. For many farmers, these events have meant near complete losses.”

Thursday April 18 Ag News


Nebraska feedlots, with capacities of 1,000 or more head, contained 2.58 million cattle on feed on April 1, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. This inventory was down 4 percent from last year.  Placements during March totaled 425,000 head, down 11 percent from 2018. Fed cattle marketings for the month of March totaled 425,000 head, down 9 percent from last year. Other disappearance during March totaled 20,000 head, up 5,000 head from last year.


Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 710,000 head on April 1, 2019, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Cattle on Feed report. This was unchanged from March 1, 2019, but down 4 percent from April 1, 2018. Iowa feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head had 635,000 head on feed, down 2 percent from last month but up 1 percent from last year. Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in all Iowa feedlots totaled 1,345,000 head, down 1 percent from last month and down 2 percent from last year.

Placements of cattle and calves in Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head during March totaled 104,000 head, down 22 percent from last month and down 3 percent from last year. Feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head placed 55,000 head, up 15 percent from last month and up 20 percent from last year. Placements for all feedlots in Iowa totaled 159,000 head, down 12 percent from last month but up 4 percent from last year.

Marketings of fed cattle from Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head during March totaled 100,000 head, down 8 percent from last month but up 8 percent from last year. Feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head marketed 62,000 head, up 59 percent from last month and up 15 percent from last year. Marketings for all feedlots in Iowa were 162,000 head, up 9 percent from last month and up 10 percent from last year. Other disappearance from all feedlots in Iowa totaled 7,000 head.

United States Cattle on Feed Up 2 Percent

Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 12.0 million head on April 1, 2019. The inventory was 2 percent above April 1, 2018. This is the highest April 1 inventory since the series began in 1996. The inventory included 7.45 million steers and steer calves, down 1 percent from the previous year. This group accounted for 62 percent of the total inventory. Heifers and heifer calves accounted for 4.51 million head, up 8 percent from 2018.

Placements in feedlots during March totaled 2.01 million head, 5 percent above 2018. Net placements were 1.95 million head. During March, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 325,000 head, 600-699 pounds were 300,000 head, 700-799 pounds were 595,000 head, 800-899 pounds were 539,000 head, 900-999 pounds were 185,000 head, and 1,000 pounds and greater were 70,000 head.

Marketings of fed cattle during March totaled 1.78 million head, 3 percent below 2018.


Nebraska's number of farms and ranches declined during 2018, according to USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. The number of farms and ranches in the State, at 45,900, was down 400 farms from 2017. Numbers of farms and ranches in Nebraska with less than $100,000 in agricultural sales decreased 200 farms from a year earlier while operations with more than $100,000 in agricultural sales decreased 200 farms.

Land in farms and ranches in Nebraska totaled 45.0 million acres, unchanged from 2017. The average size of operation, at 980 acres, was up 8 acres from a year earlier.


The total number of farms in Iowa in 2018 was 86,000, down 100 farms compared with a year ago, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Farms and Land in Farms 2018 Summary report. This decrease in number of farms came in the $10,000-$99,999 range with a decrease from 26,300 in 2017 to 26,200 in 2018.

Total land in farms in Iowa in 2018 was 30.6 million acres, unchanged since 2010. The average farm size in Iowa in 2018 was 356 acres, up 1 acre from last year.

2018 Farms and Land in Farms Highlights

The number of farms in the United States for 2018 is estimated at 2,029,200, down 12,800 farms from 2017. Total land in farms, at 899,500,000 acres, decreased 870,000 acres from 2017. The average farm size for 2018 is 443 acres, up 2 acres from the previous year.

Farm numbers and land in farms are differentiated by six economic sales classes. Farms and ranches are classified into these six sales classes by summing the sales of agricultural products and government program payments. Sales class breaks occur at $10,000, $100,000, $250,000, $500,000, and $1,000,000. Producers were asked during the 2018 mid-year surveys to report the value of sales based on production during the 2017 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 2017 Census of Agriculture showed that 471,593 farms or 23.1 percent of the 2.04 million farms were Point Farms. These Point Farms operated 59.2 million acres or 6.6 percent of the 900.2 million acres of farmland.

Number of farms declined by 12,800 from 2017. The number of farms in Sales Class $500,000 - $999,999 increased while all other sales classes declined. Fifty-one percent of all farms had less than $10,000 in sales. Eighty-two percent of all farms had less than $100,000 in sales. Seven percent of all farms had sales of $500,000 or more. 

Nebraska Cattlemen Disaster Relief Fund

Application for Aid - Flood and Winter Storm Ulmer/Bomb Cyclone Event (March 2019)

The Nebraska Cattlemen Disaster Relief Fund is providing financial assistance on a statewide basis to needy or distressed cattle producers in Nebraska impacted by Winter Storm Ulmer/Bomb Cyclone.
Eligible applicants under the Fund include any cattle producer with an operation located in a county or tribal area falling under an emergency or disaster declaration made by the Nebraska Governor or Nebraska Emergency Management Agency (NEMA). Moreover, applicants must demonstrate genuine need or distress as a result of the disaster by providing relevant asset information and certifying their assets are not sufficient or adequate to rebuild from the damage suffered.

Membership in Nebraska Cattlemen is NOT required for an applicant to receive relief.

Submitted applications must be fully completed and have all required eligible expense documentation attached or enclosed to be considered. Applicants may submit documentation and requests for reimbursement for cattle production expenses not paid for by insurance or other governmental sources, including but not limited to costs for rebuilding and recovery for lost fencing and pens, feed, livestock/carcass removal or other necessary cattle production costs directly related to rebuilding from the winter storm.   Documentation can include copies of receipts for purchases of supplies, invoices for repairs, photos of damage, etc.

Applicant must demonstrate that expenses/losses incurred were related to cattle production and directly caused by recent storms and flooding as the result of Winter Storm Ulmer/Bomb Cyclone in the State of Nebraska.

Submitted applications will be reviewed individually by a committee selected by the Nebraska Cattlemen Disaster Relief Fund Board of Directors. Eligibility for financial assistance will be determined on a case-by-case basis with the goal of distributing relief so as to maximize the Fund's charitable impact to support cattle producers in Nebraska. The total amount that each applicant will be eligible to receive will be determined after the application period ends in accordance with the above stated impact goal. The review committee has the right to reject any and all applications for any reason.

Applications must be completed and have all required documentation to be considered.
Applications for relief must be postmarked by May 31, 2019. No application will be considered if postmarked after that date.

Completed applications must be mailed to 4611 Cattle Drive, Lincoln, NE 68521 or scanned and e-mailed to

NE Extension Hoof Care workshop

Dr. Jan Shearer, DVM, MS - Dairy Extension Iowa State University will be providing information on lameness and foot problems.  Registration is only $30 per person and can be paid at the door the day of the workshop.

Date: April 24, 2019
Time: 10:00 am-2:30 pm
Location: Platte County Extension Office - 2715 13th St. Columbus, NE
Who should attend: Dairy farm owners, manager, herdsman, hoof trimmers, veterinarians,
Cost: $30 per person

10:00 am - Welcome
10:15 - 11:00 am - Lameness and Foot Problems
11:00 - 11:15 am - BREAK
11:15 - 12:15 pm - Discussion of Functional and Corrective Trimming Techniques
12:15 - 1:00 pm - LUNCH
1:00 - 2:30 - Functional and Corrective Trimming Demonstration

Hosted by the NE Extension Dairy team. Get more information here...

Rural Mainstreet Index Falls for April: More Than One-Fifth of Bankers Expect Flood Loan Defaults

The Creighton University Rural Mainstreet Index (RMI) for April stood at growth neutral for the month. According to the monthly survey of bank CEOs in rural areas of a 10-state region dependent on agriculture and/or energy, the RMI has now remained at, or above, growth neutral 50.0 for five straight months.     

The overall index slipped to 50.0 from 52.9 in March. Since falling below growth neutral in November of last year, the overall RMI has risen above the growth neutral value. The index ranges between 0 and 100 with 50.0 representing growth neutral.

“Our surveys over the last several months indicate the Rural Mainstreet economy is expanding outside of agriculture. However, this month, 43.8 percent of bank CEOs indicated that the recent floods were having a negative impact on their local economy,” said Ernie Goss, PhD, Jack A. MacAllister Chair in Regional Economics at Creighton University’s Heider College of Business. 

Farming and ranching:
The farmland and ranchland-price index for April rose to 45.2, its highest level since February of last year, and up from March’s 36.4. This is the 65th straight month the index has remained below growth neutral 50.0. 

The April farm equipment-sales index sank to 27.4 from March’s 32.8. This marks the 68th straight month that the reading has fallen below growth neutral 50.0.

Below are the state reports:

Nebraska: The Nebraska RMI for April fell to 47.9 from 50.8 in March. The state’s farmland-price index rose to 44.6 from last month’s 35.8. Nebraska’s new-hiring index declined to 51.8 from March’s 57.3.

Iowa: The April RMI for Iowa improved to 51.5 from March’s 50.2. Iowa’s farmland-price index climbed to 44.4 from March’s 35.7. Iowa’s new-hiring index for April slumped to 50.3 from 55.7 in March.  Regarding recent floods in the state, Larry Winum, CEO of Glenwood State Bank in Glenwood, reported, “Now is the time for our Federal legislators, USACE, FEMA, and all levee districts to come together and develop a comprehensive plan for our levee systems. We have been discussing this for years, now we have no excuse not to get something done permanently.”   

Each month, community bank presidents and CEOs in nonurban agriculturally and energy-dependent portions of a 10-state area are surveyed regarding current economic conditions in their communities and their projected economic outlooks six months down the road. Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming are included.  

This survey represents an early snapshot of the economy of rural agriculturally and energy-dependent portions of the nation. The Rural Mainstreet Index (RMI) is a unique index covering 10 regional states, focusing on approximately 200 rural communities with an average population of 1,300. It gives the most current real-time analysis of the rural economy. Goss and Bill McQuillan, former chairman of the Independent Community Banks of America, created the monthly economic survey in 2005.

Sundstroms Receive Nebraska Leopold Conservation Award

Russ, Angela, and Cheyenne Sundstrom are the recipients of the 2019 Nebraska Leopold Conservation Award®.

The Sundstroms own and operate Broken Box Ranch in Moorefield, Nebraska.

The prestigious award, given in honor or renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, recognizes extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation and management of natural resources by American ranchers, farmers and foresters in 13 states.

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts presented the Sundstroms with a $10,000 award, and a ranch sign recognizing them as Leopold Conservation Award recipients, at a special ceremony in the Nebraska State Capitol in Lincoln on April 18.

In Nebraska. the award is presented by Sand County Foundation, Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska (AFAN), Cargill, and the Nebraska Environmental Trust.

The Sundstroms are land stewards committed to productive, restorative and sustainable conservation practices on one of Nebraska’s biologically unique landscapes. The native prairie rangelands, hardwood trees, flowering plants, and abundant wildlife found on their ranch in the Loess Canyons are testaments to their conservation ethic.

The soil beneath the scenic, hilly landscape is highly-erodible. However, Russ Sundstrom’s proactive use of prescribed burning and innovative grazing techniques have nursed back the once-tired pastures and cropland that he bought from others. Productive rangeland with diverse vegetation results in quality forage for his beef cattle, and provides an oasis for wildlife including more than 250 species of birds.

Not only has Russ removed hundreds of acres of invasive cedar trees from his Broken Box Ranch, but he and his brother, Neil, cooperate and educate neighbors on conservation land management issues. They volunteer with the Loess Canyons Prescribed Burn Association, a landowner-led effort to burn invasive species from the rugged canyon landscape.

Russ is a skillful grazing manager who uses an innovative style of rotational grazing of his beef cattle. He intensely mob grazes an area to rid it of invasive species. This welcomes native vegetation to return to the landscape during the year-long rest period that follows. Intensive mob grazing around an area designated for a burn also reduces the risk of fire escape.

When Broken Box Ranch was accepted recently as a Rangeland Health Demonstration Ranch, it was further evidence of Russ’ leadership and innovation. He will be responsible for collecting data and monitoring effects of various management strategies and their impacts on wildlife, beef production, and soil and plant health. This community-driven landowner will then share his findings through public access and tours of the property.

The Sundstroms share large swaths of their ranch with the public through its enrollment in the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission’s Open Fields and Waters Program. Public hunting access provides wildlife population management of turkey, deer, prairie chickens, quail and elk, while other areas are managed for endangered species. In addition, he has established 20 acres of flowering pollinator habitat for bees and butterflies. Sometimes conservation success comes from what you don’t do to the landscape. They do not aerially apply herbicides or insecticides out of concern that it will kill non-target species. Instead, they spot spray for noxious weeds only.

Russ has a sharp pencil when it comes to knowing the economic impacts of his decisions on his business. His tireless devotion to leaving the landscape better than he found it is making a positive impact on his ranch and far beyond the Loess Canyons.

Sand County Foundation, the nation’s leading voice for conservation on private land, created the Leopold Conservation Award to inspire American landowners by recognizing exceptional ranchers, farmers and foresters.

In his influential 1949 book, A Sand County Almanac; Aldo Leopold called for an ethical relationship between people and the land they own and manage. He wrote it was “an evolutionary possibility and an ecological necessity.”

“The Sundstroms are an excellent example of the care Nebraska farmers and ranchers put into their land,” said Steve Martin, Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska (AFAN) Executive Director. “What really impressed us is not only what they've implemented on their own ranch, but their willingness to share the lessons they've learned with others. That spirit of cooperation is fundamental to continuing to improve our stewardship of the natural resources that support our number one industry: agriculture.”

“Devotion to finding balance between production and conservation in agriculture is tireless, and often unappreciated work,” said Sammy Renteria, general manager of Cargill in Schuyler. “Cargill is proud to support the recognition of the Sundstroms through the Leopold Conservation Award. Their devotion to their land is evident by their efforts to reduce invasive cedar trees, and provide quality habitat for wildlife and livestock.”

“The Nebraska Environmental Trust is proud to be part of the annual Leopold Conservation Award in Nebraska recognizing families that do so much for conservation like the Sundstroms,” said Mark Brohman, Nebraska Environmental Trust Executive Director. “The Sundstroms have removed hundreds of acres of eastern redcedars on their land and thousands of acres in the region with their local prescribed burn association. Their burning and grazing practices have had very beneficial impacts to wildlife and cattle.”

“Leopold Conservation Award recipients are at the forefront of a movement by America’s farmers and ranchers to simultaneously achieve economic and environmental success,” said Kevin McAleese, Sand County Foundation President and Chief Executive Officer.

The Leopold Conservation Award in Nebraska is made possible thanks to the generous contributions from Cargill, Nebraska Environmental Trust, Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska, Farm Credit Services of America, Rainwater Basin Joint Venture, Sandhills Task Force, Tri-State Generation & Transmission Association, Audubon Nebraska, Nebraska Game & Parks Commission, Lyle Sittler Memorial Fund, McDonald’s, World Wildlife Fund – Northern Great Plains, and Green Cover Seed.

For more information about the Leopold Conservation Award and Sand County Foundation, visit

Field Scouting Basics Workshop Is One-day Crop Scouting Course

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is offering a Field Scouting Basics Workshop on May 16 at the Field Extension Education Lab, near Boone, Iowa. Designed for beginning-level crop scouts, as well as those looking to receive a refresher course on crop scouting principles, the course provides hands-on, in-field experience to crop scouts for the 2019 growing season. Participants will also have the opportunity to consult with extension specialists from various disciplines about crop issues to look for in 2019.

“The goal of the workshop is to provide a learning opportunity in actual field conditions, and help participants feel confident when they’re scouting fields on their own,” said Warren Pierson, program specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach. “Scouts are often the first to find issues in fields and their reports help drive important pest management decisions.”

ISU Extension and Outreach specialists and field agronomists will provide instruction on weed, insect and crop disease identification in Iowa corn and soybean production. Participants will learn principles of integrated pest management and an overview of basic field scouting skills including sample collection, observation and documentation.

The Field Scouting Basics Workshop presentation topics and instructors include:
    Crop scouting tips and tricks – Angie Rieck-Hinz, extension field agronomist.
    Corn and soybean growth and development – Mark Licht, extension cropping systems specialist.
    Weed identification – Bob Hartzler, extension weed specialist.
    Crop plant disease identification – Alison Robertson, extension field crop plant pathologist.
    Insect pest identification – Erin Hodgson, extension entomologist.

Registration check-in opens at 9:30 a.m. The program starts at 9:50 a.m. and adjourns at 3:50 p.m. Registration is $100. Registration deadline is midnight, May 13 and pre-registration is required to attend. Additional workshop information and online registration is available at

Study Shows U.S. Pig Farmers Making Major Sustainability Progress

America’s pig farmers continue to practice many of the principles of Earth Day, which is April 22, every day on their farms, and in many cases, have done so for generations. This fact is underscored by the results of a recent study from the University of Arkansas, which confirmed that today’s pork is more earth-friendly than ever thanks to great progress in multiple key sustainability metrics over more than five decades.

According to the new study, A Retrospective Assessment of U.S. Pork Production: 1960 to 2015, the inputs needed to produce a pound of pork in the United States have become more environmentally friendly over time. Specifically, 75.9% less land is needed, 25.1% less water and 7% less energy. This also has resulted in a 7.7% smaller carbon footprint (see infographic.)

To save as much water as today’s pig farms do over their predecessors of 50-plus years ago, the average American would have to take 90 fewer showers per year. Likewise, to understand the energy savings accomplished by pig farmers during the study period, a typical household would need to eliminate the use of a refrigerator altogether.

“The study confirms that U.S. pig farmers like me have been making progress in our ongoing commitment to do what’s best for people, pigs and the planet, which is at the heart of the industry’s We Care initiative,” said Steve Rommereim, National Pork Board president and a pig farmer from Alcester, South Dakota. “It’s encouraging to see this level of progress in environmental stewardship over the years. It also is helpful to have a benchmark to measure additional improvements.”

Unlike some earlier studies, the new Pork Checkoff-funded study used a comprehensive life-cycle assessment approach and the best available methodology along with a field-to-farm gate approach. This meant including material and energy flows associated with the full supply chain, beginning with extraction of raw materials through production of live, market-weight pigs, including marketed sows.

“As it has for decades, the U.S. pork industry will continue to make strides in overall efficiency, which is the major driver behind improving sustainability across all metrics,” Rommereim said.

This may come in terms of nutrition, genetics, health management, crop management and overall technology adoption. The ongoing trend is clearly seen in the Arkansas study. Feed conversion (pounds of feed needed for pound of pork gained) started at 4.5 in 1960 and ended at 2.8 in 2015 – a 38% improvement even while market hog weights went from 200 pounds to 281 pounds.

“Celebrating Earth Month in April provides an opportunity to not only recognize the environmental sustainability advancements of pig farming in the last five decades, but also to explore new ways to build on this progress going forward,” Rommereim said. “We look forward to the challenge of improving our current metrics of sustainability because it’s right for consumers, farmers, animals and the planet.”

Agriculture Trucking Relief Act Introduced

Representative Austin Scott of Georgia introduced the Agricultural Trucking Relief Act of 2019 last week. The measure would provide clarity for the definition of "agricultural commodity" as it relates to transportation policy and compliance with new Electronic Logging Device (ELD) and the Hours of Service (HOS) rules and regulations. Scott, a senior member of the House Agriculture Committee, released the following statement upon reintroducing the bipartisan bill.

"Transportation carriers are vital to the movement of goods and services from coast to coast and everywhere in between, and our farmers depend on them to ensure that we are able to feed and clothe not only our country, but the world," Rep. Scott said. "H.R. 1673 would more clearly define 'agricultural commodities' as applied to transportation laws, extending regulatory relief for all farm commodities including aquaculture, floriculture, and horticulture."

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is the main agency responsible for administering agricultural trucking laws, including new ELD and HOS rules and regulations. Currently, the "agriculture commodities" definition does not apply to all agricultural products, making it difficult for those that transport these commodities to comply with regulations.

H.R. 1673 would create a clearer "agricultural commodity" definition for FMCSA to use when implementing and enforcing ELD and HOS. Currently, horticultural products have been recognized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USAD), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and numerous other federal and state agencies as an agricultural commodity.

February Exports Below Year-Ago Levels for U.S. Pork, Beef

February exports of U.S. pork and beef fell below last year’s levels while lamb exports trended higher, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

Pork export volume was down 9% from a year ago in February to 186,745 metric tons (mt), while export value dropped 17% to $455.9 million — the lowest monthly value total since February 2016. For January through February, pork exports were 5% below last year’s pace in volume (388,580 mt) and 13% lower in value ($950 million).

Pork export value averaged $45.12 per head slaughtered in February, up slightly from January but 21% lower year-over-year. The January-February average was $44.93, down 16%. Exports accounted for 24% of total February pork production and 21% for muscle cuts only, down from 27.8% and 24%, respectively, a year ago. For January-February, the ratio of total production exported was 23.8% (down from 26.1% a year ago) and 20.6% for muscle cuts only (down from 22.7%).

February beef exports declined 6% year-over-year to 94,885 mt while value was down 3% to $581.6 million. January-February exports were 3% below last year’s record pace in volume (199,651 mt) but steady in value at $1.22 billion. The volume decline is mainly due to lower exports to Hong Kong and Canada, as shipments to most other major beef markets have trended higher in 2019.

Beef export value per head of fed slaughter averaged $309.39 in February, down 4% from a year ago, while the January-February average was down 3% to $296.19. February exports accounted for 12.8% of total beef production and 10.1% for muscle cuts only, down from 13.6% and 10.8%, respectively, in February 2018. For January-February these ratios were 12.5% and 9.9%, each down one-half percentage point from the first two months of 2018.

“The stiff headwinds trade disputes have created for U.S. pork exports have certainly not subsided,” said USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. “USMEF is encouraged by reports of progress toward resolution of these disputes, but in the meantime missed opportunities for export growth are mounting. On the beef side there is still much to be excited about, especially with the launch of U.S.-Japan trade agreement talks. A great deal is at stake for both U.S. beef and U.S. pork in those negotiations, as exports to Japan deliver remarkable returns for the entire U.S. supply chain and it is essential that we get back on a level playing field with our competitors.”

Pork export value to Mexico down nearly one-third; competition heightens in Japan

Retaliatory duties continue to pressure U.S. pork exports to Mexico, with volume through February down 13% from a year ago to 119,430 mt and export value dropping 32% to $171.3 million. The U.S. is still Mexico’s primary pork supplier but Canada, Chile and the European Union have all gained market share in 2019.

Demand for imported pork may now be on the upswing in China/Hong Kong due to African swine fever (ASF) as buyers prepare for a looming pork shortage, but China’s retaliatory duties make it difficult for the U.S. industry to capitalize. The duty rate on U.S. pork is 62%, compared to 12% for other suppliers. Through February, exports to China/Hong Kong were down 22% from a year ago to 54,383 mt, with value dropping 34% to $108.2 million.

In the leading value market for U.S. pork, exports are feeling the pinch from Japan’s lower duties on imports from the EU, Canada and Mexico. Through February, U.S. pork exports to Japan were down 9% from a year ago in volume (61,464 mt) and 12% lower in value ($248.7 million). Chilled pork exports to Japan were down 6% in both volume (34,685 mt) and value ($166 million).

January-February highlights for U.S. pork include:

-    Exports to South America continued to shine behind strong performances in Colombia and Peru and a surge in exports to Chile. Export volume to the region increased 44% from a year ago to 25,772 mt while value jumped 49% to $64.1 million.
-    Strong growth in both Australia and New Zealand pushed exports to Oceania 31% ahead of last year’s pace in volume (20,117 mt) and 18% higher in value ($53.7 million).
-    Despite lower exports to leading market Honduras, Central America continued to be a strong performer for U.S. pork as growth in Costa Rica, Panama and Guatemala moved export volume to the region 16% higher year-over-year to 14,201 mt, while value climbed 12% to $32.4 million. A safeguard measure in the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement triggered April 1, raising tariff rates on U.S. pork through the end of this year, but USMEF still anticipates strong demand for U.S. pork in Panama.
-    Pork exports to the Dominican Republic remained on a record pace and variety meat exports to Trinidad and Tobago surged, pushing exports to the Caribbean significantly higher in both volume (9,331 mt, up 18%) and value ($22.1 million, up 16%).
-    Fueled by strong growth in the Philippines and Singapore, exports to the ASEAN region were up 29% year-over-year in volume (7,982 mt) and 21% higher in value ($20.4 million).
-    Taiwan has emerged as a strong growth market for U.S. pork, with exports climbing 85% in volume to 4,200 mt and value up 50% to $8.6 million. After slumping in 2016, pork exports to Taiwan have trended higher over the past two years.
-    High inventories and lower domestic prices caused pork demand in South Korea to pull back from last year’s record-breaking pace, but exports to Korea remained relatively strong in both volume (38,209 mt, down 6%) and value ($102.1 million, down 14%). Korea’s hog prices gained momentum in March and were at or above last year’s levels from mid-March to mid-April, suggesting Korea’s pork demand remains strong and the industry is preparing for ASF’s potential impact on global pork supplies.

Impressive growth for beef exports to Japan, Korea; Hong Kong trends lower

Beef exports to leading market Japan remained strong in February, pushing January-February exports 8% above last year’s pace in volume (47,695 mt) and 10% higher in value ($309.3 million). Frozen beef exports to Japan, primarily short plate and cuts in the clod/round category, rebounded from last year when frozen U.S. beef was still subject to Japan’s 50% snapback duty rate. Variety meat exports (mainly tongues and skirts) have also performed especially well in 2019, soaring 35% in volume (8,707 mt) and 29% in value ($58.9 million). But the competitive landscape continues to intensify in Japan, as major competitors enjoyed another decrease in import duties on April 1. The duty rate for beef cuts from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Mexico dropped from 27.5% to 26.6%, while the U.S. rate remains at 38.5%. The duty rate for beef tongues and skirt meat from these competitors is now 5.7%, while the U.S. rate remains at 12.8%.

Following a record-shattering 2018, beef exports to Korea continue to push higher, though at a more moderate pace. January-February exports to Korea increased 7% in volume to 35,529 mt while value was up 11% to $261.7 million. U.S. beef continues to make strides in the Korean supermarket and foodservice sectors, driven by red-hot demand for U.S. steaks. Prepared U.S. beef products are also increasingly popular in a wide range of home meal replacement items.

Other January-February highlights for U.S. beef include:

-    While beef exports to Mexico were steady with last year in volume (40,048 mt), value climbed 13% to $197.9 million. Beef muscle cuts achieved strong growth in both volume (24,434 mt, up 15%) and value ($155.5 million, up 19%).
-    Exports to Taiwan were 3% ahead of last year’s record volume pace at 8,342 mt, but value slipped 6% to $73.7 million.
-    Beef exports to Central America cooled in February but January-February exports to the region were still up 17% year-over-year in volume (2,357 mt) and increased 14% in value ($13.2 million), with growth driven mainly by Costa Rica and Honduras. Beef exports to the Dominican Republic have surged in 2019, climbing 87% in volume (1,470 mt) and 78% in value ($11.5 million).
-    Africa has been a promising source of beef variety meat growth this year, with variety meat exports to South Africa (mainly livers) increasing 80% in volume (1,179 mt) and more than doubling in value ($1.1 million, up 113%). Variety meat exports were also sharply higher to Gabon, increasing 311% in volume (739 mt) and 157% in value ($529,000).
-    As noted above, a slow start to 2019 in Hong Kong and Canada partially offset solid growth in other markets. Exports to Hong Kong fell 40% to 13,712 mt, valued at $110.4 million (down 35%). Exports to Canada were down 15% in volume (15,908 mt) and dropped 13% in value to just under $100 million.

Lamb exports continue to gain momentum

U.S. lamb exports continued to trend higher in February, driven by muscle cut growth to the Caribbean, Mexico, Panama and Saudi Arabia and strong variety meat demand in Mexico and Canada. February exports of U.S. lamb totaled 1,361 mt, up 51% from a year ago. Export value was $2.43 million, up 31%. For muscle cuts only, exports climbed 17% from a year ago in volume (244 mt) and 31% in value ($1.55 million).

Through February, lamb exports were 67% ahead of last year’s pace in volume (2,745 mt) and 37% higher in value ($4.57 million). Muscle cut exports were up 46% in volume (488 mt) and 38% in value ($2.72 million).

United States Wins Dispute Finding China’s Administration of Grain Tariff-Rate Quotas Breaches WTO Commitments

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced today that a World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement panel found that China has administered its tariff-rate quotas (TRQs) for wheat, corn, and rice inconsistently with its WTO commitments.  Contrary to those commitments, China’s TRQ administration is not transparent, predictable, or fair, and it ultimately inhibits TRQs from filling, denying U.S. farmers access to China’s market for grain.

This panel report is the second significant victory for U.S. agriculture this year, and, together with the victory against China’s excessive domestic support for grains, will help American farmers compete on a more level playing field.

“This second important victory for the United States further demonstrates that President Trump will take all steps necessary to enforce trade rules and to ensure free and fair trade for U.S. farmers. The Administration will continue to press China to promptly come into compliance with its WTO obligations,” said Ambassador Lighthizer.

China’s grain TRQs have annually underfilled.  USDA estimates that if China’s TRQs had been fully used, it would have imported as much as $3.5 billion worth of corn, wheat and rice in 2015 alone.

“Making sure our trading partners play by the rules is vital to providing our farmers the opportunity to export high-quality, American-grown products to the world,” said Secretary Perdue. “Today’s announcement is another victory for American farmers and fairness in the global trade system. We will use every tool available to gain meaningful market access opportunities for U.S. grains and other agricultural products.”


Upon accession to the WTO, China made commitments specific to its administration of TRQs, including the commitment to administer its TRQs in a transparent, predictable, and fair basis, using clearly specified administrative procedures and requirements that do not inhibit the filling of each TRQ.  In August 2017, the United States requested that the WTO establish a dispute settlement panel to consider whether China administers its TRQs for long-grain rice, short- and medium-grain rice, wheat, and corn in a manner inconsistent with its WTO commitments.

Today’s panel report agrees with the United States that China administers its TRQs in a manner inconsistent with its Accession Protocol obligations, through its eligibility criteria, allocation and reallocation procedures, public comment process, and processing restrictions.  In addition, China allocates a significant portion of each TRQ to a designated state-trading enterprise (STE) and does not subject the STE to the same rules applied to non-state trading enterprises applying for and importing grains under the TRQs.   Each finding individually established that China’s TRQ measures are inconsistent with its obligations.

Compliance with WTO rules will lead to market-oriented TRQ administration and improved access for U.S. and other exporters, overall creating a more level playing field.

U.S. Grains Council Supports WTO Report Finding China Misused Corn TRQ

The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) strongly supports a decision announced Thursday by the World Trade Organization’s (WTO's) Dispute Settlement Body determining China administered its tariff-rate quotas (TRQs) for wheat, corn and rice inconsistently with its WTO requirements.

The report found that China’s TRQ administration is not transparent, predictable or fair and that it ultimately inhibits TRQs from filling, which is one factor denying U.S. farmers access to China’s market for corn and other grains.

This decision stems from consultations first requested by the U.S. government in 2016 based on findings and analysis done for the Council, U.S. Wheat Associates and the USA Rice Federation.

“The report is an important acknowledgement China has not fulfilled its obligations to allow for tariff-rate quotas for corn to be filled while maintaining high domestic corn prices consistently above international prices,” said Tom Sleight, Council president and CEO. "We believe this is an example of the WTO working to help move us all toward a more open and fair market for grains."

As part of its WTO accession commitments, China agreed to eliminate import prohibitions and move to a system establishing TRQs for several crops including corn, wheat, rice, sugar, cotton and wool. A share of China’s TRQ is allocated to private end-users while the rest is allocated to state-owned trading companies. For corn, the TRQ specified in the accession agreement is 7.2 MMT, with 40 percent allocated to private end users (2.88 MMT) and the remaining 60 percent to state-owned trading companies.

The TRQ levels have not been adjusted since China’s accession to the WTO in 2001 and do not reflect prevailing demand. The TRQs reserved for private sector (vs. state-owned enterprises) are in many cases too small to be commercially viable. A lack of transparency and unpredictability in timing of quota distributions inhibits efficient use of the quotas and increases the cost of agricultural trade as traders are unsure of available import opportunities.

"The Council believes a stable market in which prices are determined by supply and demand as part of global dynamics will benefit the long-term development of China’s feed, livestock and corn-processing industries, as well as its consumers of animal and processed corn products,” Sleight said. “A more open market is in both China’s best interest and that of our members, farmers and exporters.

On Dec. 15, 2016, the United States requested formal WTO consultations with China on the administration of its tariff-rate quotas for wheat, corn and rice. In its request, the United States alleged China had failed to administer its TRQs for the three products in a way that would allow them to be filled.

At the heart of the U.S. case was China’s lack of transparency on the operation of its TRQs, specifically its poorly-defined criteria for applicants; unclear procedures for distributing TRQ allocations; and failure to announce quota allocations and reallocation results as required under China’s WTO obligations. In the case of corn, a particular concern is the unused portion of the state-owned trading companies allocation is not reallocated on a consistent basis.

When the issues raised were not satisfactorily resolved through consultations that began in February 2017, the United States requested establishment of a WTO dispute panel in August 2017. Hearings before the panel took place in July and October 2018.

"We appreciate the U.S. government officials working diligently to continue pursuing this issue at the WTO,” Sleight said. “We would urge U.S. government officials to continue to examine China’s current TRQ administration process and discuss any issues they find with the Chinese government as part of the compliance requirements of the panel report."

NCGA Statement: International Trade Commission Report on USMCA

National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) President Lynn Chrisp made the below statement today following the release of the U.S. International Trade Commission’s (ITC) economic analysis on the U.S-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

“The release of the ITC report is an important step in moving USMCA toward Congressional action. ITC reports typically measure the economic impact of new trade agreements and focus on market access. USMCA is different – it’s an update to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) – which already eliminated most tariffs on exports of U.S. food and agriculture products. So, the ITC report released today doesn’t fully capture the economic benefits of trade with Canada and Mexico, nor the improvements to trade rules in USMCA that benefit agriculture.

“NAFTA has been a resounding success for agriculture. In 2016 alone, American corn growers exported $3.2 billion in corn and corn co-products to Mexico and Canada. USMCA secures and builds upon this important partnership, which is why ratifying USMCA is so important for agriculture.”

U.S. Wheat Associates Urges China to Comply with WTO Agreements Following Second Favorable WTO Dispute Ruling

U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) and the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) welcome the ruling today by a World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute panel that China’s government does not fairly administer its annual tariff rate quotas (TRQ) for imports of corn, rice and 9.64 million metric tons (MMT) of wheat. This decision follows a seperate ruling in late February that determined China provides excessive domestic price supports in excess of its WTO commitments. The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) brought these disputes to the WTO in 2016, armed with clear evidence that China’s policies distort world trade of those commodities and create an unfair advantage for domestic production.

“With these decisions, we call on the Chinese government to come into compliance with the rules it accepted when it joined the WTO,” said USW President Vince Peterson. “The world now sees that their policies stifle market-driven wheat trade, block export opportunities and force private sector buyers and consumers to pay more than they should for milling wheat and wheat-based foods. We appreciate that the Trump Administration continues to shine a light on these distorting policies by supporting the WTO dispute cases.”

"NAWG applauds the Administration for pressing the WTO to enforce trade rules that ensure fair trade for U.S. wheat growers," said NAWG CEO Chandler Goule. "Further, we appreciate the work done by those Members of Congress who continued to press on this issue ad move the process forward."

China’s wheat TRQ was established in its WTO membership agreement in 2001. Under that agreement, China may initially allocate 90 percent of the TRQ to government buyers, or state trading enterprises (STEs), with only 10 percent reserved for private sector importers. The private sector typically imports its full portion due to growing demand for flour from different wheat classes with better milling and baking characteristics than domestically produced wheat provides.

However, China's notifications to the WTO on TRQ usage show an average fill rate of just 25%. The WTO does not require that TRQs fill every year, but it has established rules regarding transparency and administration that are intended to facilitate the use of TRQs.

Considering that China’s domestic wheat prices are significantly more than the landed cost of U.S. wheat imported from the Pacific Northwest, Peterson said the TRQ should be fully used if the system were operating fairly, transparently and predictably as the rules intend.

The facts also argue against potential claims that enforcing the TRQ agreement would threaten China’s food security. China produces more wheat each year than any other single country and currently holds about 50 percent of the world’s abundant wheat supplies. If China met its 9.64 MMT wheat TRQ, its farmers would still produce 90 percent of domestically consumed wheat. Opening the wheat TRQ would also allow private sector millers and food producers to import more of the types of wheat they need, but cannot now obtain, and the benefits would be passed on to China’s consumers.

“Once China meets its obligations under the WTO and the temporary retaliatory tariffs are removed, wheat farmers from the United States and other countries can compete fairly for sales to this growing market,” Peterson said.

NPPC Comments on USMCA Report

The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) today issued its evaluation of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade agreement and its impact on the U.S. economy, a required step before Congress can consider ratification of the deal. USITC concluded that USMCA will have an overall favorable impact on the U.S. economy, increasing U.S. exports to Mexico and Canada by nearly seven and six percent, respectively.

"NPPC supports ratification of USMCA, an agreement that preserves zero-tariff access to markets that represent more than 30 percent of total U.S. pork exports," said Nick Giordano, NPPC vice president and counsel, global government affairs. "We are eager to see the removal of U.S. metal tariffs that prompted Mexico's 20 percent retaliatory tariffs nearly a year ago. Members of Congress have said that ratification of USMCA will be delayed and the benefits of the agreement diluted as long as this trade dispute goes unresolved."

Giordano added, "The value of U.S. pork exports to Mexico are down 32 percent this year due to punitive tariffs. Our farmers need zero-tariff trade restored to our largest export market."

NPPC has designated USMCA ratification as a "key vote" and will closely monitor support of the agreement among members of Congress. U.S. pork exports to Mexico and Canada support 16,000 U.S. jobs.   

USMCA Passage Critical to Preserve and Strengthen Dairy Export Markets

The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) released an economic analysis of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) today and dairy industry officials eager to see USMCA’s passage welcomed this key step in the trade agreement approval process.

Tom Vilsack, president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council, said the ITC study is important because it moves the USMCA process closer to ratification, a step urgently needed to secure trading conditions with Mexico and usher in the improvements the agreement makes for U.S. exports.

“We shipped $1.4 billion in dairy products to Mexico last year, which accounts for more than one-fourth of U.S. dairy exports,” he said. “Without a trade treaty with Mexico in place, the dairy industry would be hard pressed to maintain and expand these sales, as our competitors in Europe are expected to implement a lucrative new trade arrangement with Mexico by next year. Moreover, without USMCA we lose out on the new rules this deal puts in place such as key reforms to Canada’s dairy system. Congress must pass USMCA to shore up our market in Mexico and harness the gains made in other areas through USMCA.”

In addition to increases in tariff-rate quota access for dairy products to the Canadian market, Canada will remove a controversial milk pricing scheme that disadvantaged American businesses, impose new disciplines on its dairy pricing programs and Mexico will update the way it treats imports of common-name food products like parmesan and swiss cheeses that could face trade roadblocks.

“When examining USMCA’s benefit to the economy, we believe it is important to keep the full picture in mind of what’s at stake here,” explained Jim Mulhern the president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation. “USDA recently reported that our country lost an average of seven dairy farms a day in 2018 due to the poor economic conditions in rural America. That’s a startling number, and reversing this alarming trend is what we should be discussing. USMCA helps put us on a path to doing that by safeguarding our largest export market and instituting valuable new improvements to dairy trade in North America.”

The benefits of USMCA expand far beyond just dairy; the Food & Agriculture Dialogue on Trade also summarized the value of the agreement and the proper lens through which to examine the ITC report’s results. That document lays out why American Agriculture needs passage of USMCA noting for instance that: “uncertainty about NAFTA’s future threatens the North American market integration that has created and supports jobs for many U.S. food and agriculture producers.”

ITC Report Underscores Importance of NAFTA and Passing USMCA for US Agriculture

Today, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) released its report on the economic benefits of the United States-Mexico-Canada agreement (USMCA). NAWG President and Lavon, Texas farmer Ben Scholz issued the following statement in response:

“It is critical for Congress to understand how substantial USMCA is for agriculture, especially the undervalued wheat market. As the International Trade Commission (ITC) report just assesses the USMCA agreement as compared to the status quo (NAFTA), in which U.S. wheat farmers already have free market access, it doesn’t fully capture the importance of USMCA.

“Once NAFTA was implemented, U.S. wheat exports to Mexico shot up to an annual average of almost 3 million metric tons (more than 100 million bushels). This made Mexico the largest U.S. wheat importer in the world in the 2016/17 marketing year

“Additionally, USMCA captures the original intentions of NAFTA while improving some of the provisions for wheat growers. It retains tariff-free access to imported U.S. wheat for our long-time flour milling customers in Mexico. Furthermore, the USMCA makes important progress towards more open commerce for U.S. wheat farmers near the border with Canada by working to fix the broken grain grading system and making trade more reciprocal along the U.S.-Canadian border.

“The ITC report is not reflective of vast benefits USMCA will bring to agriculture. A vote for USMCA means more jobs for Americans, stronger export markets for farmers to sell their crop, and billions of dollars added to the economy.”

NFU Urges Implementation of E15 Waiver, Common-Sense Provisions for Higher Level Blends

As the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) works towards allowing year-round use of E15 gasoline, National Farmers Union (NFU) is concerned EPA’s proposed rule will make it harder for retailers to sell higher level blends of ethanol.

In a letter to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, NFU President Roger Johnson urged EPA to rewrite a provision contained within the rule that could amount to a cap on ethanol. It is viewed within the farm community as yet another barrier to family farmers and ranchers being able to sell farm products for biofuel production.

“Farmers Union is eager for EPA to follow through on its promises to get an E15 waiver out of the door by June 1,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “But we are concerned that certain provisions within EPA’s rulemaking unnecessarily work against expanded use of higher level blends of ethanol.”

NFU’s concerns stem from EPA’s interpretation of the “substantially similar” clause of the Clean Air Act, which prohibits the sale of any fuel or fuel additive that is “not substantially similar” to fuels or fuel additives used in the certification of new vehicles. In 2017, E10 gasoline—gasoline blended with 10 percent ethanol—became the nation’s certification fuel, making higher level blends of ethanol, like E15 and E30, substantially similar. Yet in its proposal, EPA has limited its “substantially similar” interpretation to only an E15 blend, making the prospects of using higher level blends of ethanol harder to achieve.

“Unfortunately, EPA’s substantially similar determination is limited to E15,” said Johnson. “While we do not necessarily disagree with EPA’s interpretations that would allow for E15 year-round, we believe the statute clearly allows for higher ethanol blends as part of the substantially similar determination based on E10 certification fuel.”

“Indeed, higher ethanol blends would further reduce emissions and provide similar or better engine and vehicle performance,” he added.

Johnson noted EPA should continue to consider the needed changes to facilitate and promote use of mid-level ethanol blends. “These fuels provide enormous societal benefits and represent a win-win-win for automakers, consumers, the environment, and farmers,” he said.

“For that reason, we respectfully request that EPA clarify that the Clean Air Act’s “substantially similar” provisions for gasoline do not cap ethanol at 15 percent.”

Growth Energy, NAAE Release Curriculum to Promote Biofuels Education in the Classroom

Today, Growth Energy, in partnership with the National Association of Agricultural Educators (NAAE), announced the release of their new curriculum aimed at educating high school students to the world of biofuels. The curriculum is the first industry-supported biofuels curriculum that provides students a guided in-classroom experience and will offer ag educators the tools needed to provide students with an array of technical skills and historical knowledge in biofuels. 

“Our one-of-a-kind curriculum offers students a glimpse into the innovative world of biofuels,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “Every day, the biofuels industry is working alongside the ag community to provide cleaner fuels and products for American drivers and consumers. We are excited for high school students to experience first-hand the role STEM education plays in our nation’s agriculture and energy and learn through our curriculum how the next generation of biofuels are moving rural America into the future. We are proud to offer this curriculum to our nation’s ag educators and help to foster a new generation of biofuels advocates among the leaders of tomorrow.”

Dr. Wm. Jay Jackman, NAAE executive director, said, “NAAE’s Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education (CASE) team was pleased to partner with Growth Energy to develop these instructional resources to teach students, and teachers, the important role of biofuels in meeting energy demands for the twenty-first century.”

The curriculum offers agricultural educators a two-week long course with six activities. These activities not only allow students to produce their own biofuel and measure its energy content and emissions, but also give them the technological and historical background to ensure a full understanding of why science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) activities and biofuels are so important to agricultural innovation.

Culver's Brings Back 'Farming Fridays' Social Media Campaign

In an effort to help its loyal customers better understand the world of agriculture and farming, Culver's is once again planning its #FarmingFridays social media series. The Wisconsin-based restaurant chain is asking agricultural influencers to share photos and videos during the coming months on its Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts each Friday through October.

"We feel it's important to celebrate and support the hard work that goes into providing our country with food," said Jessie Kreke, senior marketing manager at Culver's. "By shining a light on the different roles that exist in agriculture, we're hoping to ignite a passion in our guests for supporting agricultural education, too."

This is the fourth year the company has organized the social media effort. The initiative is part of Culver's 'Thank You Farmers' program, which recognizes the hard work and commitment of the farmers who feed the nation.

NCBA OpEd: The Real Whopper

Jennifer Houston, Sweetwater, TN
National Cattlemen's Beef Association President

We’re not even a third of the way through 2019, but we already have a frontrunner for a political fact-checker’s annual “Lie of the Year” award: the trendy yet incorrect political/media narrative that if we all just cut back on eating delicious real beef hamburgers, we’re going to stop or significantly slow climate change.

You’ve heard the drumbeat all year. U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez unveiled her so-called “Green New Deal” in January, lamenting that we probably can’t “get rid of all the farting cows” in just ten years. Vegan U.S. Sen. Cory Booker claimed that our planet “can’t sustain billions of people consuming industrially produced animal agriculture.”

And then (appropriately) on April Fools Day, Burger King announced that it would start selling  beefless “Impossible Whoppers” — and the big-city media fell right into line extolling the supposed Earth-saving opportunity represented by the heme and soy-based product.

On April 9, Wall Street Journal columnist Walter Russell Mead praised the alleged environmental benefits of fake meat, while complaining that “Nine percent of U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions come from agriculture, and almost one-third of that comes from cattle-based methane.”

Not to be outdone, the Washington Post on April 16 ran not one - but two long, nearly identical articles about the Impossible Whopper - combining for a “whopping” 2,158 words in that day’s print edition. 

While one Post article lauded the product’s supposedly “environmentally friendly message” and “environmental appeal,” the second went a step further, claiming that eating less beef “could help reduce the many environmental impacts that raising cattle has on our vulnerable planet” and possibly even “save (planet) Earth.”

Predictably, none of these politicians or journalists included any sourced data to support their assumptions, so I’ll do that here.

Here are the facts. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, direct emissions from beef cattle in the United States account for only two percent of our nation’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, USDA recently reported that U.S. beef cattle production is “not a significant contributor to long-term global warming.”

Compare U.S. cattle’s two percent to the transportation and electricity sectors, which account for a combined 55% of our nation’s emissions, with another 41% coming from other sources.

The truth is beef production in the United States has become much more efficient and environmentally sustainable over the past few decades. Compared to 1977, today’s American beef farmers and ranchers produce the same amount of beef with 33 percent fewer cattle. Improved efficiency and animal well-being mean a 16 percent lower carbon footprint and fewer natural resources used for every pound of beef produced.

And contrary to Sen. Booker’s vegan utopia, research shows that if every American went vegan, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions would only drop 2.6%. At the same time, our national diet would provide insufficient nutrients to feed the U.S. population and result in increased use of synthetic fertilizer, as well as increased soil erosion.

If all these politicians and elite journalists want to replace delicious and nutritious American-produced beef in their diets with heme and soy, we wish them the best (along with our sympathies.) But to claim that doing so will have any significant impact on global climate is ultimately the real whopper in this debate.

Wednesday April 17 Ag News

Performances in West Point and Norfolk focus on farmland transfer

Who’s going to get the farm? And what are they going to do with it? Will your future plans for your land create harmony or strife for your family? Or have you even started to think that far ahead?

“Map of My Kingdom,” a play focusing on farmland transfer, will be presented on Tuesday, May 7, at 7 p.m. at West Point Community Theater, 237 N. Main St., in West Point, Nebraska. A second performance will take place on Thursday, May 9, at 7 p.m. at Cox Activity Center Theater on Northeast Community College campus, 801 E. Benjamin Ave., in Norfolk, Nebraska. Admission is free, hosted by the Center for Rural Affairs and Northeast Community College Foundation.

The drama tackling land transition is by Mary Swander, and commissioned by Practical Farmers of Iowa. In the play, a lawyer and mediator share stories of how farmers and landowners approach land successions.

“We hope this play will inspire the hesitant and the fearful to start the conversation that cannot wait,” said Sandra Renner, project associate with the Center for Rural Affairs. “In the next 10 to 15 years, a tremendous amount of land transfer will take place as the average age of Nebraska farmers is around 56.4 years old.”

The featured actor is Lindsay Bauer, a theatre educator from northwest Iowa. An audience discussion will follow the performance with Dave Goeller, retired deputy director of North Central Risk Management Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

These are the final performances in a series of four in Nebraska and six in Iowa. The Iowa performances were co-hosted by the Practical Farmers of Iowa.

Funds Available to Plant Severe Weather Damaged Acres to Cover Crops

To help manage cropland damaged by Nebraska’s severe spring weather, the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is providing funds to plant cover crops on cropland acres. Producers are encouraged to apply by May 17, 2019, or June 21, 2019 at their local USDA Service Center.

Nebraska NRCS State Conservationist Craig Derickson said, “This funding will address resource concerns like erosion and water quality, resulting directly from the March 2019 severe weather damage on cropland acres. Cover crops are an excellent way to provide protection to cropland after conservation work has been completed.  Cover crops can stabilize the soil and improve soil health.”

This funding is available statewide in order to assist the widespread recovery work on cropland acres directly impacted by the severe weather in March.  The highest priority cropland includes land which is unable to be planted with a cash crop and/or harvested in 2019.

Cover crops prevent erosion, improve soil’s physical and biological properties, supply nutrients, suppress weeds, improve the availability of soil water, and break pest cycles along with various other benefits. Cover crops can also potentially be grazed.

Work currently being done to maintain conservation structures as well as sediment removal, debris removal or grading and reshaping can be stabilized and protected from further erosion and damage by planting a cover crop.

Derickson said, “For Nebraska’s cropland that suffered significant damage, planting a cover crop can be a great way to help protect fields and help restore productivity.”

For more information, visit NRCS at a USDA Service Center, or visit

Nebraska Coalition Says “WOTUS Rule” Replacement A Step in the Right Direction

After battling against the Obama era Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ 2015 “Waters of the U.S.” rule (WOTUS), a wide-ranging, Nebraska-based coalition is offering support for a revised clean water rule offered by the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers. The agencies were obligated to make changes to the WOTUS proposal in response to a 2017 Presidential Executive Order. The Common Sense Nebraska coalition offered support for the new proposal in comments submitted to the agencies April 15.

“This new proposal addresses many of the concerns our coalition partners had with the 2015 WOTUS rule. It is clearly a step in the right direction for all those who would have been impacted by the federal overreach of the previous proposal,” said Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau president on behalf of the Common Sense Nebraska coalition.

Specific improvements noted by the coalition in comments included the agencies recognition that the Clean Water Act does not authorize the agencies to federally regulate every water body and waterway in the United States. The new proposal recognizes the original intent of Congress that federal regulations apply to permanent flowing and standing waterbodies that are traditionally navigable waters or have a specific connection to traditional navigable waters, as well as wetlands abutting or having a direct hydrological surface connection to those waters.

The proposal also recognizes an individual state’s right to regulate and co-implement protections for state waters under the Clean Water Act. Congress recognized that certain water bodies are important to the nation as a whole but other waters should be managed by the states. The 2015 WOTUS Rule in many ways failed to appropriately recognize the rights of individual states.

Lastly, the revised proposed rule offers greater clarity and certainty through clear definitions regarding which waters are subject to Clean Water Act jurisdictions through the elimination of case-by-case “significant nexus” testing. This method of determining whether a water or waterway was subject to federal regulation often added both considerable time and added costs for those seeking to identify their regulatory obligations under the Clean Water Act.

“While the coalition offered broad support for the revised clean water rule, we also offered suggestions for improvement,” said Nelson.

One of the key areas for adjustment lies in the definition of “traditional navigable waters.” In comments, the coalition urged the agencies to limit the definition of traditional navigable waters to those waters which are used to transport interstate or foreign commerce, as consistent with the federal Rivers and Harbors Act jurisdiction. The coalition believes the change is needed to tighten up the overly broad definition in the proposal.

Other areas the coalition noted as needing improvement include how the agencies define “intermittent” tributaries, elimination of provisions that could be interpreted to having all ditches subject to Clean Water Act regulations, as well as improvements of the definition of “wetlands.”

“We believe our recommendations will help in this rulemaking process by eliminate ambiguities, that if not addressed, could make their way into the final rule and lead to more conflicts into the future,” said Nelson.

Common Sense Nebraska is a Nebraska-based coalition consisting of organizations and entities that have come together in response to EPA’s “Waters of the U.S.” proposal which would harm both rural and urban Nebraskans through expansion of EPA’s powers and authorities under the federal Clean Water Act. The coalition’s purpose is to build awareness and understanding of the EPA proposal and the impacts it would have on Nebraskans.

Common Sense Nebraska Coalition members include:
Association of General Contractors - NE Chapter
Farm Credit Services of America
Iowa-Nebraska Equipment Dealers Association
National Federation of Independent Businesses/Nebraska
Nebraska Agribusiness Association
Nebraska Association of County Officials
Nebraska Association of Resource Districts
Nebraska Bankers Association
Nebraska Cattlemen
Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Nebraska Club Management Association
Nebraska Cooperative Council
Nebraska Corn Board
Nebraska Corn Growers Association
Nebraska Farm Bureau
Nebraska Golf Course Superintendents Association
Nebraska Grain and Feed Association
Nebraska Grain Sorghum Association
Nebraska Grain Sorghum Board
Nebraska Pork Producers Association
Nebraska Poultry Industries
Nebraska Rural Electric Association
Nebraska Soybean Association
Nebraska State Dairy Association
Nebraska State Home Builders Association
Nebraska State Irrigation Association
Nebraska Water Resources Association
Nebraska Wheat Board
Nebraska Wheat Growers Association
Nemaha Natural Resources District
Pawnee County Rural Water District #1

NePPA Announces Participants in the 2019 Pork Leadership Program

The Nebraska Pork Producers Association is proud to welcome participants in the 2019 Pork Leadership Program. Participants in the 2019 Pork Leadership Program are:

Aaron Holliday of Columbus, with Pillen Family Farms provides oversight to five nursery barns and six finishing barns, totaling 78,000 pigs.

Allison Zabel of Papillion, with PIC, works as a Customer Service Specialist to enter orders, organize transportation and provide support for customers.

Joel Kaelin, with DNA Genetics, is the lead officer for the Fairbury Nucleus, managing growth of pigs from farrow to finish.

Zachary Lubeck of Omaha, with Quality Pork International, works to negotiate raw materials prices and manage relationships with suppliers.

The 2019 Pork Leadership Program is comprised of four talented professionals. Each participant shares unique experiences that shape their perspective based on their particular career path as well as their personal involvements and interests.

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

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

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

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


Mark Rosegrant, research fellow emeritus at the International Food Policy Research Institute, will discuss managing water and agriculture for sustainable food security during the next Heuermann Lecture on April 30.

The free lecture, sponsored by the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, will be at 5 p.m. at the Nebraska Innovation Campus Conference Center, 2021 Transformation Drive.

With a doctorate in public policy from the University of Michigan, Rosegrant has extensive experience researching and analyzing policy related to agriculture, economic development and the world's future food security. He focuses on water resources and other issues that influence rural livelihoods and environmental sustainability. Rosegrant is the author or editor of 15 books and more than 100 refereed papers in agricultural economics, water resources and food-policy analysis. He has won numerous awards and is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.

The lecture is in conjunction with the annual Water for Food Global Conference, which will convene leading international experts and organizations to discuss “Water for a Hungry World: Innovation in Water and Food Security,” focusing on the next generation of research, smart technology, policy development and best practices that are achieving breakthroughs in this vitally important mission. The conference is organized by the Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute at the University of Nebraska.

Heuermann Lectures are funded by a gift from B. Keith and Norma Heuermann of Phillips. The Heuermanns are longtime university supporters with a strong commitment to Nebraska’s production agriculture, natural resources, rural areas and people.

Lectures are streamed live at and air live on campus channel 4. Lectures are archived after the event and are later broadcast on NET2.

Nominate Your Neighbors for the 2019 Iowa Farm Environmental Leader Awards

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig and Department of Natural Resources Acting Director Bruce Trautman invite Iowans to nominate families in their communities for the Farm Environmental Leader Award. Farmers who voluntarily take actions, like planting cover crops or installing conservation infrastructure in their fields, are eligible for the award.

Farmers that are nominated should have made environmental stewardship a priority on their farm and incorporated best management practices into their farming operation. As true stewards of the land, they recognize that improved water quality and soil sustainability reaps benefits that extend beyond their fields to citizens of Iowa and residents even further downstream.

“Iowa farmers do an incredible job feeding and fueling the world in a way that’s sustainable and acknowledges important conservation practices,” said Gov. Reynolds. “They go above and beyond improving water quality and soil sustainability which serves as a model for others to follow.”

“I commend the farmers who have implemented conservation practices that help us achieve the goals outlined in the Nutrient Reduction Strategy,” said Secretary Naig. “The award recipients are leading by example and helping preserve Iowa farm land for the next generation.”

“It is always gratifying to be able to recognize the farmers who are voluntarily leading the way when it comes to protecting our land and waters,” said DNR Acting-Director Trautman. “Being conscientious of our natural resources will ensure a rich legacy for future generations.”

Nominations are due by June 15, 2019. An appointed committee of representatives from both conservation and agricultural groups will review the nominations and select the winners. The recipients will be recognized on Wednesday, Aug. 14 at the Iowa State Fair.

Since the creation of the award in 2012, more than 500 farm families have been recognized. Winners are presented a certificate as well as a yard sign donated by Bayer. The nomination form, a list of previous awardees and other information can be found at

Innovative Consortium Reduces Post-Harvest Loss and Food Waste

Food loss and waste is a global problem that negatively impacts the bottom line of businesses and farmers, wastes limited resources and damages the environment. The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR), The Rockefeller Foundation and Iowa State University today launched the Consortium for Innovation in Post-Harvest Loss and Food Waste Reduction at the 2019 Iowa International Outreach Symposium. Through this consortium, thought leaders and experts from across the globe will work in tandem with industry and nonprofit organizations to address social, economic and environmental impacts from food loss and waste.

“Feeding a growing global population demands innovation at all levels — from planting to processing to consumption. This consortium will help farmers across the globe use technology to continue using resources efficiently,” said Sally Rockey, FFAR’s executive director. “Optimizing food production practices is critical for ensuring that farmers are profitable, food is plentiful and accessible, and the environment is preserved.” 

Due to the volume of food that is moved globally, food loss and waste affects producers, manufacturers, distributors and end-users. More than 40 percent of fruits and vegetables in developing regions spoil before they can be consumed. These goods include mangoes, avocadoes, pineapples, cocoa, and bananas, many of which are exported to the United States. This loss negatively impacts the bottom line for farmers, who are not compensated for their products. Consumers then don’t have access to these popular foods. Additionally, food waste forces farmers to use precious natural resources producing food that either never makes it to the supermarket or is otherwise thrown out by consumers due to quality issues, creating a significant drain on environmental resources. 

In 2016, The Rockefeller Foundation launched the YieldWise Initiative aimed at reducing both food loss in developing nations like Kenya, Nigeria and Tanzania, and food waste in developed markets like the United States. In sub-Saharan Africa, YieldWise provides farmers with access to segmented markets, technologies and solutions that curb preventable crop loss and facilitates training that helps them solidify buyer agreements with markets in African communities.

“To nourish, sustainably, nearly 10 billion people by 2050, we must implement a menu of solutions that simultaneously shift diets toward plant-based foods, close the yield gap, and reduce food loss and waste,” said Rafael Flor, Director, Food, The Rockefeller Foundation. “This is paramount to meeting both the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 12. Failing to reduce food loss and waste will make the challenge of achieving a sustainable food future significantly more difficult.”

Food loss and waste highlights the inefficiencies in our food system. According to the FAO*, nearly 1.3 billion tons of food—costing roughly $940 billion—are either lost or wasted yearly, generating about 8 percent of annual global greenhouse gas emissions. Food is lost more at the consumption stage in higher-income countries, while more food is lost at handling and storage stages in lower-income regions.

This consortium will work collaboratively to develop a scalable approach for adoption of the YieldWise model and provide farmers with cost-effective strategies and technologies that link their crop supply to the market demand. This will allow farmers to gain more value from their crops and become more profitable, while also stimulating local economic growth and improving the resiliency of rural communities.

“Our consortium approach will build academic and entrepreneurial capacity of the next generation by engaging researchers and students in multi-national, multi-disciplinary teams in the project identification, planning, and execution phases together with professionals from the private and public sectors,” said Dirk Maier, a professor in the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering at Iowa State University and the consortium director. 

FFAR is contributing $2.78 million for this three-year project, which partner organizations from around the world are matching for a $5.56 million project budget. Participating institutions include The Rockefeller Foundation, Iowa State University, USA; University of Maryland, USA; Wageningen University and Research, Netherlands; Zamorano University, Honduras; University of São Paulo, Brazil; Stellenbosch University, South Africa; University of Nairobi, Kenya; Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana; and the Volcani Center, Israel.

Fertilizer Prices Steady as Application Ramps Up

Though fertilizer applications have begun to ramp up in some areas of the Corn Belt, average retail prices saw only small moves in either direction the second week of April 2019, according to retailers surveyed by DTN.

Prices for five of the eight major fertilizers were slightly higher than a month ago. Potash had an average price of $387 per ton, urea $404/ton, 10-34-0 $481/ton, UAN28 $271/ton and UAN32 $317/ton.

Average prices for the other three fertilizers were slightly lower. DAP had an average price of $505/ton, MAP $532/ton and anhydrous $592/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.44/lb.N, anhydrous $0.36/lb.N, UAN28 $0.48/lb.N and UAN32 $0.50/lb.N.

All eight of the major fertilizers are now higher compared to last year with prices shifting higher. MAP is 5% more expensive, DAP is 6% higher, both urea and potash are 10% more expensive, both 10-34-0 and UAN28 are 13% higher and anhydrous and UAN32 are now both 16% more expensive compared to last year.


State and national corn staff gathered in Kansas City, MO this week for their bi-annual Eleven State Water Quality Meeting.

The meeting brings together National Corn Growers Association staff and state corn staff representing Illinois, Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and Ohio.

The group received updates on programs and issues like Water of the U.S. (WOTUS), atrazine reregistration, monarch education and outreach, nutrient management and Farm Bill Conservation Title opportunities.

During the two-day meeting, participants shared lessons learned from state policy efforts and innovative agricultural nutrients and water quality efforts. The nuts and bolts portion of the meeting covered topics such as: assessing current water quality initiatives; costs and benefits of current practices; educating key thought leaders and the public regarding progress in the industry; and farm bill proposals opportunities to expand water quality efforts.

Participants will also be meeting with representatives of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and The Nature Conservancy as the meeting continues through tomorrow.

Weekly Ethanol Production for 4/12/2019

According to EIA data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association for the week ending April 12, ethanol production increased 15,000 barrels per day (b/d), or 1.4%, to an average of 1.016 million barrels per day (b/d), equivalent to 42.67 million gallons daily. The four-week average ethanol production rate ticked up 0.3% to 998,000 b/d—equivalent to an annualized rate of 15.30 billion gallons. It remains 3.1% behind the year-ago level.

Stocks of ethanol declined for the third straight week, decreasing 2.2% to 22.7 million barrels, the lowest level since October. Stocks declined in all regions (PADDs) except the West Coast, where they rebounded by 384,000 barrels to the highest level in four weeks.

There were no imports reported by EIA for the 22nd week in a row. (Weekly export data for ethanol is not reported simultaneously; the latest export data is as of February 2019.)

After spiking upward last week, the volume of gasoline supplied to the market fell 3.9% to 9.420 million b/d (395.6 million gallons per day, or 144.41 billion gallons annualized). Still, this was the third-highest weekly rate in 2019. Refiner/blender net inputs of ethanol continued to strengthen, rising 0.5% to 924,000 b/d—equivalent to 14.16 billion gallons annualized. This was the highest utilization rate this year, and the four-week average was 1.3% above the comparable period in 2018.

Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production rebounded to 10.79%.

February U.S. Ethanol Export Market Softens but Remains Robust; Distillers Grains Exports Dip to 6-Year Low

Ann Lewis, Research Analyst, Renewable Fuels Assoc.

U.S. ethanol exports totaled 113.8 million gallons (mg) in February, according to government data released this morning and analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). This reflects an 11.0% decline from January. However, global sales remain healthy as average exports over the past four months are 25% greater than the comparable period a year ago.

Brazil was our top trading partner for the third straight month, purchasing 36.2 mg—nearly a third of all U.S. ethanol shipments, despite a 6% trim from January. Exports to Canada declined by 15% to 17.0 mg, dropping 40% over the span of two months. India also pared its U.S. ethanol imports to 15.0 mg, down 25%. These three markets accounted for two-thirds of all shipments in February. Other significant importers include Oman (9.2 mg), South Korea (8.4 mg), and the Philippines (7.5 mg).

February exports of U.S. undenatured fuel ethanol thinned by 2.4% to 67.9 mg. Over half the shipments (36.2 mg) were destined for Brazil, a 6% decline. India increased its offtake by 4% to 9.7 mg. Sales to the Philippines (7.3 mg), Spain (5.6 mg), and Colombia (3.4 mg) were notably high.

American producers exported 41.1 mg of denatured fuel ethanol in February, 23% under prior month sales. U.S. shipments to Canada declined by 16% to 15.9 mg, which was enough to capture nearly 40% of the U.S. market. Intermittent partner Oman purchased 9.2 mg and Peru scaled up its offtake by 42% at 5.3 mg. India (5.3 mg, -51%) and South Korea (5.1 mg, -10%) were other notable buyers. The Philippines and Jamaica were absent from the U.S. marketplace.

The global market for U.S. ethanol for non-fuel, non-beverage purposes remained on par with January volumes at 4.8 mg. Nearly all exports landed in Nigeria (3.5 mg denatured) and Canada.

February was absent of any fuel ethanol imports for the second straight month.

Exports of U.S. dried distillers grains with solubles (DDGS)—the animal feed co-product generated by dry mill ethanol plants—slid 15.0% to 686,005 metric tons (mt) in February. This marks the smallest monthly volume of DDGS to ship in six years (since March 2013), with cuts in exported volumes felt across the globe. Shipments to Mexico decreased 19% from record January volumes to 162,032 mt, landing fairly close to recent averages. South Korea (87,077 mt, -3%), Indonesia (75,134 mt, -17%), and Vietnam (73,377 mt, -18%) were other significant markets.

U.S. Beef, Poultry and Egg Products Gain New Market Access in Tunisia

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced today that the government of Tunisia and the United States have finalized U.S. export certificates to allow imports of U.S. beef, poultry, and egg products into Tunisia.  This announcement follows meetings between U.S. and Tunisian officials on the safety and wholesomeness of U.S. beef, poultry, and egg products.

“President Trump continues to prioritize the opening of new markets for U.S. agricultural products, and we welcome Tunisia’s agreement to begin imports of U.S. beef, poultry, and egg products,” said Ambassador Lighthizer. “New access to the Tunisian market is an important step in ensuring that American farmers and ranchers can continue to expand their exports of U.S. agricultural products.”

“I'm convinced that when the Tunisians get a taste of U.S. beef, poultry, and eggs, they're going to want more. These products coming into Tunisia are safe, wholesome, and very delicious,” said Secretary Perdue. “At the direction of President Trump, USDA remains committed to opening up new markets across the globe. While we continue to supply Tunisia’s domestic animal proteins sector with quality U.S. grains and oilseeds, I have no doubt that U.S. beef, poultry, and eggs will only help increase competitiveness and consumer choice within Tunisia.”

In 2018, U.S. exports of agricultural products to Tunisia exceeded $264 million. Over 90 percent of exports were corn, soybeans, or corn and soy products.  Initial estimates are that Tunisia would import annually $5-10 million of beef, poultry, and egg products from the United States, with additional growth over time.

NMPF Endorses EPA WOTUS Proposal, Praising Clarity and Certainty

The National Milk Producers Federation endorsed the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed changes to the Waters of the U.S. rule, a proposal meant to provide clarity and certainty about the waterways subject to regulation under the federal Clean Water Act. Released in February 2019, the EPA proposal was a response to the ill-fated 2015 WOTUS rule that has been mired in litigation.

NMPF urged the EPA in 2014 to rethink WOTUS, citing its many ambiguities and uncertainties. A subsequent NMPF analysis showed that the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers’ proposal did not meet the requirements of various Supreme Court rulings that were the catalyst for the 2015 regulation.

NMPF expressed strong support for the basic jurisdictional line EPA made around intermittent and more significant waters as being within the regulatory power of the United States. NMPF believes this line accurately reflects the U.S. Constitution, statutes, and court decisions interpreting the law.

“Clean water is essential to milk production, and the dairy industry is very willing to work with EPA to protect U.S. waters,” said NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern. “EPA’s latest draft provides the clarity and certainty we were seeking in 2014 around which waterways fall under the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act. While it has taken five years, we are grateful EPA has redrafted the WOTUS regulations.”

NMPF submitted 22 pages of comments on the EPA regulation for when farmers must seek Clean Water Act permits for a long list of normal farming activities near wetlands. While the WOTUS proposal did address many long-standing concerns, NMPF offered some additional points of clarity in other areas to further improve the proposal.

Tuesday April 16 Ag News

Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Ag Land Management Quarterly Webinar

Date: May. 20, 2019 Time: 6:30 pm
Contact: Jim Jansen, 402-261-7572,

The Agricultural Land Management Quarterly webinar series will offer management advice and insight for Nebraska landowners, agricultural producers and others with an interest in agricultural land.

The first episode will examine recent trends in Nebraska cash rental rates and considerations for updating agricultural leases for 2019. Future episodes will address landlord-tenant communication, lease decision-making issues and seasonal lease considerations. The webinars will conclude with an “Ask the Experts” session where participants can get answers to their land or lease questions.

Additional Info at:

Search is on for Iowa's Best Breaded Pork Tenderloin of 2019

There is no one right way to make a delicious breaded pork tenderloin. That's one of the reasons the Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA) is beginning its search of Iowa restaurants to find the best in Iowa for 2019. And, you can help!

IPPA is accepting nominations for its 17th annual Best Breaded Pork Tenderloin Contest, and will continue to take those nominations of your favorite pork tenderloin and restaurant that serves it until June 6.

"We look forward to this contest each year because we love how excited and passionate our Iowa tenderloin connoisseurs get," said Kelsey Sutter, IPPA marketing and program director. "This contest recognizes Iowa dining establishments that have pork as a regular menu item in support of Iowa's nation-leading pork industry."

Any Iowa restaurant, café, or tavern that has hand-breaded or battered pork tenderloins on its menu is eligible to be nominated. In order to win, the nominated business must be open year-round, however seasonal restaurants can be in the final top five.

It's the first round where you, the tenderloin-lover, will have the biggest impact. Nominations can be made online at, or by mailing in a form from the May issue of the Iowa Pork Producer magazine to the IPPA office. Only one nomination per person, so you may have to try a few of your favorites out before sending in your selection! Also, your nomination could help you win some money. The people nominating the winning restaurant will be entered in a drawing for one $100 prize.

The nomination round will generate up to 40 restaurants that will get a bit more scrutiny over the summer. That's when the restaurants with the most nominations from each of the eight IPPA districts will be selected for a review by IPPA's restaurant and foodservice committee. Their reviews will determine which restaurants are turned over to a secret panel of judges who will score the tenderloins on the quality of the pork, taste, physical characteristics and eating experience. The winner will be named during October Pork Month.

As she's looking ahead to crowning the winner, Sutter said "We're looking forward to discovering more of the greats and finding Iowa's best of 2019!"

The winning restaurant will receive $500, a plaque to display in their business, and statewide publicity that will bring in new business.

Winners from the past five years (past winners are not eligible for the competition): 2018 - Three C's Diner, Corning; 2017 - Grid Iron Grill, Webster City; 2016 - Nick's, Des Moines; 2015 - Belmond Drive-in, Belmond; 2014 -The Lucky Pig Pub & Grill, Ogden.

Nominations in 2018: - IPPA received nearly 1600 nominations for 380 different establishments.

Iowa Corn Promotion Board® to Hold Director Elections for USDA Crop Reporting Districts 2, 3, 5 & 7

Since 1978, Iowa corn growers have elected their peers to serve on the Iowa Corn Promotion Board® (ICPB) to oversee the investment of funds generated by the Iowa Corn checkoff program.

On July 16, 2019, corn farmers in Crop Reporting Districts 2, 3, 5 and 7 can vote at their local county ISU extension office for representation on the Iowa Corn Promotion Board for a 3-year term. The board’s primary priorities and responsibilities include domestic and foreign market development, research of new and value-added corn uses and education on corn and the farmers who grow it.

Corn producers within Districts 2, 3, 5 and 7 who have produced and marketed 250 bushels of corn or more in Iowa in the previous marketing year (September 1, 2017 to August 31, 2018) and are interested in running for a position may still file a petition with the ICPB. Petitions can be obtained by contacting the Iowa Corn office and must contain the signatures of 25 corn producers from the same district as the prospective candidate. Completed and notarized petitions must be delivered to the Iowa Corn office no later than 4:30 PM on April 26, 2019. Once all grower petitions have been received, a final list of candidates will be generated, and candidate names will be listed on the election ballots.

Current candidates are as follows:

USDA Crop Reporting District 2 (Butler, Cerro Gordo, Floyd, Franklin, Hancock, Humboldt, Kossuth, Mitchell, Winnebago, Worth and Wright)
    Monica Lursen, Butler County
    Jerry Maier, Wright County
    Kevin Pope, Cerro Gordo County

USDA Crop Reporting District 3 (Allamakee, Black Hawk, Bremer, Buchanan, Chickasaw, Clayton, Delaware, Dubuque, Fayette, Howard and Winneshiek)
    Jim Fitkin, Black Hawk County
    Derek Taylor, Winneshiek County

USDA Crop Reporting District 5 (Boone, Dallas, Grundy Hamilton, Hardin, Jasper, Marshall, Marion, Polk, Poweshiek, Story, Tama, Warren, Webster)
    Mark Kenney, Polk County
    Rod Pierce, Dallas County

USDA Crop Reporting District 7 (Adair, Adams, Cass, Fremont, Mills, Montgomery, Page, Pottawattamie, Taylor)
    Ralph Lents, Adair County
    Jeff Thomsen, Cass County

Anyone who has produced and marketed 250 bushels of corn or more in Iowa in the previous marketing year is eligible to vote in the election. Producers unable to visit the local ISU extension office on July 16 can vote by absentee ballot. Absentee ballots can be requested beginning May 29. Requests must be made no later than June 24 by contacting the Iowa Corn office at 515-225-9242 or on our website at Absentee ballots must be postmarked or returned to the Iowa Corn office no later than July 16. Results of the election are announced publicly July 19.

Iowa Leaders Submit Comments on EPA’s Proposed Definition of WOTUS

Iowa Governor Reynolds, Secretary of Agriculture Naig, Acting Director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Bruce Trautman, and Director of the Iowa Department of Transportation Mark Lowe submitted comments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Monday. The letter voiced support for the EPA’s proposed changes to the definition of “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS).

“The new WOTUS rule provides much-needed stability for our farmers whose livelihoods depend upon their ability to work the land,” said Gov. Reynolds. “It’s another win in the battle against the Obama administration’s massive federal overreach in 2015. During this time, I’ve been proud to be Iowa’s voice at EPA hearings and our recent district court victory in 2018. We must continue to be vigilant as future generations of farmers are counting on us to succeed.”

“Farmers, businesses and communities need to clearly understand what bodies of water are and are not covered under the WOTUS rule,” said Secretary Naig. “We appreciate the EPA’s willingness to listen to farmers, address their concerns about the previous definition, and give the public the opportunity to weigh in on the proposed changes.”

“DNR is responsible for implementing many programs under the Clean Water Act. We hope the EPA’s response to these comments and suggestions will clear up some uncertain areas of the proposal,” said DNR Acting-Director Bruce Trautman. “We are grateful for the opportunity to submit comments and look forward to supporting the process as it moves forward.”

In February, the EPA proposed changes to the definition of WOTUS as outlined in 2015. The letter from Governor Reynolds, Secretary Naig, Trautman and Lowe were submitted to the EPA during the 60-day public comment period.

Nominate Your Neighbors for the 2019 Iowa Farm Environmental Leader Awards

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig and Department of Natural Resources Acting Director Bruce Trautman invite Iowans to nominate families in their communities for the Farm Environmental Leader Award. Farmers who voluntarily take actions, like planting cover crops or installing conservation infrastructure in their fields, are eligible for the award.

Farmers that are nominated should have made environmental stewardship a priority on their farm and incorporated best management practices into their farming operation. As true stewards of the land, they recognize that improved water quality and soil sustainability reaps benefits that extend beyond their fields to citizens of Iowa and residents even further downstream.

“Iowa farmers do an incredible job feeding and fueling the world in a way that’s sustainable and acknowledges important conservation practices,” said Gov. Reynolds. “They go above and beyond improving water quality and soil sustainability which serves as a model for others to follow.”

“I commend the farmers who have implemented conservation practices that help us achieve the goals outlined in the Nutrient Reduction Strategy,” said Secretary Naig. “The award recipients are leading by example and helping preserve Iowa farm land for the next generation.”

“It is always gratifying to be able to recognize the farmers who are voluntarily leading the way when it comes to protecting our land and waters,” said DNR Acting-Director Trautman. “Being conscientious of our natural resources will ensure a rich legacy for future generations.”

Nominations are due by June 15, 2019. An appointed committee of representatives from both conservation and agricultural groups will review the nominations and select the winners. The recipients will be recognized on Wednesday, Aug. 14 at the Iowa State Fair.

Since the creation of the award in 2012, more than 500 farm families have been recognized. Winners are presented a certificate as well as a yard sign donated by Bayer. The nomination form, a list of previous awardees and other information can be found at


The Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion & Research Board (CBB) has named Gregory Hanes of Colorado as their new chief executive officer, effective June 17, 2019.

“Knowledge of beef producers and the overall beef industry is a must in this role,” notes Chuck Coffey, CBB chairman from Davis, Oklahoma. “Greg is well-regarded – both here in the U.S. and abroad – for his background and understanding of promoting beef and building industry relationships.”

The Beef Board is a body which oversees the Beef Checkoff and works very closely with the USDA, state beef councils, contractors, beef industry leaders and cattle producers. As a result, the person who serves as the Beef Board’s operational leader needs to function in many different roles and in many environments. According to Coffey, Hanes fits that description very well.

“Greg is extremely talented with a diversified skillset,” said Coffey. “He already has knowledge of the Beef Checkoff, and he’s an outstanding public speaker who clearly articulates his message, has a great work ethic and is a team builder at all levels. Most importantly, he is passionate about the beef industry. The Cattlemen’s Beef Board is elated to have him as part of the team.”

Hanes comes to the CBB from the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) in Denver, Colorado, where he most recently was vice president of international marketing programs, and he led the marketing team through global strategic planning processes. Hanes also served as the USMEF liaison to the beef industry and worked closed with a variety of national and state beef organizations. From 2006 to 2009, he was the director of the USMEF’s Tokyo-based office, where he was responsible for all activities occurring in Japan. During his time as the USMEF Japan director, Hanes lived in Japan for nearly 11 years. Throughout his time overseas, he was the only foreigner in a Japanese company, and he held an additional position with responsibilities across Asia.

Hanes currently serves as the chair of the U.S. Agricultural Export Development Council (USAEDC), a group comprised of 80 U.S. commodity trade associations, farmer cooperatives and state regional trade groups from around the country, representing the interests of growers and processors of U.S. agricultural products.

In addition to a master’s degree in international management with an emphasis in marketing from the Thunderbird School of Management at Arizona State University in Phoenix, Arizona, Hanes also holds a B.A. in economics from Colorado College. Hanes was born and raised in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

For more information about the Beef Checkoff and its programs, including promotion, research, foreign marketing, industry information, consumer information and safety, visit


The National Corn Growers Association this week submitted comments to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers on the Agencies’ proposed rule revising the definition of waters of the United States, or WOTUS.

“Overall, NCGA supports the Proposed Rule,” NCGA President Lynn Chrisp wrote. Chrisp also highlighted NCGA and state affiliates’ work to balance environmental protection efforts while sustainably feeding and fueling a growing world, pointing to the benefits of the Soil Health Partnership and Field to Market as proactive efforts to help farmers fully utilize sustainability tools.

NCGA also submitted comments on the revised WOTUS rule as part of the organization’s participation in the Agricultural Nutrients Policy Council (ANPC) and the Waters Advocacy Coalition (WAC).


National Pork Producers Council President David Herring, a pork producer from Lillington, NC, on Friday, April 12, 2019, joined President Trump, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai and Ivanka Trump for an announcement on the administration's plan to make the United States the global leader in 5G wireless deployment. Today, Herring issued the followed statement.

"It's meaningful that the administration has made the development of rural communities a centerpiece of its plans to deploy next generation broadband technology. While 'smart cities' and immersive gaming experiences may be more glamourous applications, no economic sector will benefit more from advanced broadband technology than farming, which will use it to more reliably gather data about barn temperatures, efficient water use, soil characteristics, feed consumption and other factors that help us better care for animals, the environment, people and communities.

"Agriculture is a competitive strength for the United States. Americans enjoy the safest, most affordable and highest-quality food in the world. Our farmers, who produce one of our nation's strongest export products, will play a leading role in meeting the ever-growing food-security challenge presented by a global population that will reach nine billion by 2050. Technology is a critical component for sustainably and successfully meeting this challenge. I would like to thank President Trump, Chairman Pai and Ivanka Trump for their commitment to our producers and rural communities, and their recognition of the critical role technology plays on our farms."

Friday's White House announcement included administration plans to create the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, which will inject $20.4 billion into high-speed broadband networks in rural America over the next decade.

EU’s Exclusion of Agriculture Disappointing for Soy Growers

The American Soybean Association (ASA) is disappointed that the European Union has voted on a mandate to move forward with an EU-U.S. Free Trade Agreement that excludes agriculture. The EU is a critically important market for U.S. food exports, including soybeans.

Soybeans exported to the EU in 2017 were valued at $1.6 billion. ASA applauded the initial decision to launch comprehensive negotiations between the U.S. and European Union in order to liberalize trade and investment in a variety of sectors.

“We had high hopes that some of the longstanding concerns regarding the EU’s policies on agricultural biotechnology and on revising the EU’s pesticide laws would be addressed,” said Davie Stephens, Kentucky soy grower and ASA president. “With the EU now formally excluding ag, it will be difficult if not impossible to address these non-tariff barriers that severely inhibit trade between our countries.”

ASA maintains that the EU approach to biotechnology, gene editing and pesticide regulation needs to be risk-based and consistent with international practice under the Codex Alimentarius (Codex), which is the foundation of internationally-accepted standards and guidance. The current and emerging EU regulatory approaches lack alignment with Codex, are based on hazard rather than risk–based assessments, and represent barriers to trade.

ASA urges the U.S. Administration to push back on the EU and insist that these vital agriculture issues are addressed either in the context of an FTA or through bilateral discussions.


Spring is a great time to revisit the use of best management practices (BMPs) as farmers plant a new crop, and the National Corn Growers Association is encouraging thoughtful use and handling of neonic seed treatments to protect crops, pollinators and wildlife.

“Spring is a busy time for farmers. We literally set the stage for the success or failure of our new crop and the future profitability of our farm, said Bob Hemesath, Decorah, IA farmer and chairman of NCGA’s Freedom to Operate Action Team. “It’s also a great time to reset and revisit the steps we are taking to improve stewardship and integrate best management practices as we grow the crops the public needs.”

Specifically, NCGA’s message to farmers is:
    Always read and follow the label when using treated seed
    Use the right amount of an appropriate seed lubricant to minimize dust
    Clean planters in non-sensitive areas and clean or cover up any seed spills
    Utilize the wealth of information online including this new seed treatment resource.

“Farmers understand the importance of reducing risks to bees and birds by using these products safely and responsibly. But, given the hectic pace of planting a timely reminder is helpful,” Hemesath said. “Seed treatments are a great tool that provide an economical means of protecting seeds and seedlings against early-season pests and diseases assuring they get a strong start, so proper handling and usage is in everyone’s best interest.”

NCGA applauds the new BeSure campaign supported by the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) and the National Pesticide Safety Education Center (NPSEC) that makes it easy to find the most up-to-date resources related to the handling, planting and disposal of treated seeds and from other neonic applications used throughout the growing season.

There Is More Bacon on Fastfood Menus

It's not just your imagination. Just about every fast-food chain, from McDonald's to Carl's Jr. to Burger King, is introducing more bacon items to their menus.

The number of restaurant menus across the U.S. that feature bacon has grown by 5% in the last 10 years. Bacon was found on 68.1% of fast-food menus in 2018, according to Datassential. By 2022, the number is expected to jump to 69.8% of menus.

The fatty meat has always been popular with consumers. A&W Restaurants, one of the oldest fast-food restaurants, claims to have invented the bacon cheeseburger all the way back in 1963. Dale Mulder, the restaurant's chairman, put the item on the menu after customers kept asking for bacon on top of their burger patties.

Over the last 15 years or so, the ingredient has fully made the switch from a breakfast staple to a food that U.S. consumers will eat at any time of day. Since then, it has become a go-to for restaurants to jazz up their dishes. Bacon bits can be found at supermarkets and on top of salads, while restaurants use whole slices of the fatty meat to wrap asparagus, pizza and every food in between.

Now fast-food chains are using bacon to lure customers through their doors without the hassle of real menu innovation. For example, Burger King added bacon to its cheesy tater tots as a way to add something new to the limited-time offer.

"It does seem like bacon is a way to change up the flavors," Darren Seifer, a food and beverage analyst for The NPD Group, told CNBC recently.

In some cases, like Carl's Jr.'s bacon truffle-flavored burger and fries, bacon just works as a complement to other new flavors.

Fast-food favorites like McDonald's, Yum Brands' Taco Bell and Wendy's have had to raise prices to keep sales from declining as foot traffic across the industry falls. Bacon not only offers a way to lure customers back, it can also be used to justify higher prices for the value-focused consumer by emphasizing the amount of bacon -- double or triple the usual serving.

"McDonald's is currently driving a great deal of excitement (and volume) around this popular ingredient," Charley Orwig, marketing director at Datassential, said in an email to CNBC.

At the beginning of this year, McDonald's added bacon to its Big Mac and Quarter Pounder burgers and introduced cheesy bacon fries. Like many other fast-food chains adding more bacon to their lineup, McDonald's chose to offer the bacon-centric menu items for a limited time only.

Limited-time offerings can drive foot traffic and encourage customers to buy more than just the promoted item, so fast-food restaurants likely also see similar benefits, according to Seifer.

To get customers excited for its bacon additions, McDonald's held a "Bacon Hour" that gave away free bacon to customers with any order. Wendy's used the lure of a free Baconator cheeseburger to get customers to order their food through third-party delivery service DoorDash. All they had to do was spend $10 and they would score a free burger without a delivery fee.

The ironic part of bacon's popularity is that it comes as consumers are increasingly focused on health and wellness and are opting for low-calorie options or fewer processed foods. While packaged-food companies have tried to adapt by buying smaller, health-focused brands, changing consumer tastes has not stopped the fast-food industry from adding bacon, which contains high levels of saturated fat and has been linked to heart disease.

"Health at restaurants has a different meaning than what we think about when we think about health at home," Seifer said. "We're not looking for pure health when we go to quick-service restaurants."

April 15 Crop Progress & Condition Reports


For the week ending April 14, 2019, there were 2.2 days suitable for fieldwork, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 0 percent very short, 1 short, 66 adequate, and 33 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 0 percent very short, 2 short, 68 adequate, and 30 surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Winter wheat condition rated 1 percent very poor, 4 poor, 27 fair, 64 good, and 4 excellent.

Oats planted was 12 percent, well behind 33 last year and 53 for the five-year average. Emerged was 1 percent, near 4 last year, and behind 13 average.


 Iowa farmers were waiting for warmer weather and drier conditions as snow, ice and rain throughout the State prevented much fieldwork during the week ending April 14, 2019, according to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Statewide there were 1.9 days suitable for fieldwork. Southwest Iowa had the most days suitable for fieldwork at 4.1 days. Fieldwork activities remained mostly limited to applying anhydrous and spreading manure with very little planting done.

Topsoil moisture levels rated 0 percent very short, 0 percent short, 55 percent adequate and 45 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated 0 percent very short, 0 percent short, 52 percent adequate and 48 percent surplus.

Sixteen percent of the expected oat crop has been planted, 4 days ahead of last year but a week behind the 5-year average. While one-quarter of the expected oats have been planted in northeast and west central Iowa, north central Iowa farmers have not yet begun planting oats.

Pastures continued to green up slowly with very little livestock placed on pasture ground. Overall, livestock and feedlot conditions have improved. However, in the Northwest District there were reports that recent weather conditions stressed livestock and caused respiratory issues.

USDA: Corn, Spring Wheat Planting Fall Behind Average Pace

U.S. corn planting slipped behind the five-year average pace and spring wheat planting fell further behind average last week, according to USDA NASS' weekly Crop Progress report on Monday.

For the week ended Sunday, April 14, 3% of the nation's corn crop was planted, equal to last year at the same time but 2 percentage points behind the five-year average of 5%. In last Monday's report, corn planting was reported as equal to the five-year average.

Most corn-planting activity was still only taking place in the Southern states, such as Texas, North Carolina and Tennessee.

Spring wheat planting also further behind the average last week. NASS reported that only 2% of spring wheat had been planted as of Sunday, up only 1 percentage point from the previous week, behind 3% at the same time last year and significantly behind the five-year average of 13%.

Progress of the winter wheat crop also slowed last week. Nationwide, 6% of winter wheat was headed as of Sunday, behind 8% at the same time last year and also behind the five-year average of 9%.

The condition of the winter wheat crop, on the other hand, remained steady at 60% good to excellent, the highest good-to-excellent rating at this time of year in seven years. Fifty-nine percent of winter wheat in top-producing Kansas was rated good to excellent.

Sorghum was 16% planted, compared to 20% last year and a 19% five-year average. Cotton planting was 7% complete, compared to 8% last year and a 7% average. Rice was 26% planted, compared to 30% last year and a 35% average. Thirteen percent of rice was emerged, compared to 14% last year and an average of 15%.

Oats were 30% planted as of April 14, compared to 29% last year and a 40% average. Emergence was at 26%, compared to 26% last year and a 28% average.

Monday April 15 Ag News

Increased grain bin hazards can result from recent floods

Under normal conditions, grain and grain bins pose many safety hazards. Once damaged by floodwaters, safety risks around grain and storage bins are even higher.

In every reclamation situation, personal safety must be of the utmost concern. Assembling appropriate and effective personal protective equipment (PPE) should be the first step in all grain bin reclamation activities.

“Use of respirators (dust masks) and goggles or some form of eye protection is critical,” said Aaron Yoder, Ph.D., associate professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Public Health. “An N95 mask or one that provides even greater protection is crucial for protecting you from mold and other bacteria that may be growing in wet grain or inside a compromised bin.”

Choose a dust mask that is certified by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). NIOSH-certified dust masks will have a NIOSH (N) rating on the mask and will have two straps to ensure a proper fit. When used properly, a mask labeled as N95 removes at least 95 percent of airborne particles. Dust masks are available in N99, and N100 efficiency levels. To determine if your mask is fitting correctly, watch this short instructional video –

Anyone with a breathing condition such as asthma should not enter a bin that has suspected mold damage, as the mold can significantly aggravate asthma symptoms. Individuals with health issues such as a compromised immune system (due to cancer treatment or immune suppressing medications) are very vulnerable to contracting serious illness related to mold. Children should never enter grain bins.

Long pants and waterproof boots also are effective PPE while working in post-flood recovery. Duct tape can be used to attach the top of the boot to your pants. This will reduce the chance of getting moisture and grain in your boots.

Other key PPE includes a long-sleeved shirt, protective gloves (rated to protect against sharp materials, chemicals, solvents, etc.). Kevlar gloves have a wide variety of industrial applications, since they are cut- and abrasion-resistant and provide protection against both heat and cold.

Additional information on respiratory protection and mold cleanup are available at: and

Insurance companies have policies that should be followed prior to beginning any restoration work. Digital images are easily captured and stored. However, insurance professionals are likely to require documentation of specific issues/items.

“Some insurance companies may want to send a representative out before any work is done,” Dr. Yoder said. “Typically, in disasters such as Nebraska and Iowa recently experienced, organizations such as FEMA hire extra help so they’re able to quickly assess damage.”

There are many advantages for bringing in experts such as bin manufacturers and engineers to assess bin damage. Before anyone approaches a damaged bin, all electrical, gas and other types of utilities should be turned off.

“Many times, significant hazards at the bin site aren’t easily visible. These include washouts at the bin foundation or the presence of debris that was never around the site before,” Dr. Yoder said. “Manufacturers and engineers who are familiar with bin equipment more readily identify equipment issues that can occur in situations such as a flood.”

Some common damages to look for in the bin include compromised caulking seals, sheared bolts and elongated holes, misaligned doors, and any damage that occurred during a shift of the bin and/or the foundation.

“There are many busted bins across Nebraska that were damaged due to swelling grain,” Dr. Yoder said. “Even if the bin hasn’t given way, look closely at bin fasteners and joints to detect potential for imminent collapse.”

Inside a compromised bin, in addition to mold and spore inhalation, hazards include grain entrapment. Undetected loading, unloading and grain management equipment damage can also pose serious safety hazards.

“Grain bins must be perfectly round in order for stirring devices to perform,” Dr. Yoder said. “If the bin or the stirring device is misshapen at all, it can cause many problems. If you bring an inspector to the bin, make sure they’re aware of all the equipment installed in the bin.”

None of a compromised bin’s electrical or gas-powered equipment should be turned on before an inspector has checked it out. Utility companies often provide these kinds of services.

Grain in elevated bins may be protected from flood waters, but the bin foundation may be compromised.

“If the foundation has been damaged, there’s potential for the foundation to crack and for the bin to tip over,” Dr. Yoder said. “Inspection done by your bin manufacturer or installer will help identify any hazards caused to your elevated bin by flood waters.”

When it comes to salvaging damaged grain, he said each bin site needs to be assessed carefully to determine whether grain can be reclaimed. The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality has provided guidance on flood damaged grain and hay

“Grain vacuums will be helpful to many bin owners,” Dr. Yoder said. “All the safety practices related to working around flowing grain apply to those using a grain vacuum for reclamation or any other purpose.”

Confined entry safety practices for grain bins include:
·                     De-energize (turn off) and disconnect, lockout and tag or block off all mechanical, electrical, hydraulic and pneumatic equipment, especially grain-moving equipment.
·                     Workers cannot be inside the bin when grain is being removed.
·                     Prohibit walking down grain or any other practices where a worker walks on grain to make it flow.
·                     Prohibit entry onto or below a bridging condition, or where grain is built up on the side of the bin.
·                     Provide each worker entering a bin from a level at or above stored grain with a body harness with a lifeline or boatswain’s chair. Ensure that the lifeline is positioned and of sufficient length to prevent a worker from sinking further than waist-deep in grain.
·                     Provide works with rescue equipment, such as winch systems that are specifically suited for rescue from the bin.
·                     Station an observer who is equipped to provide assistance and perform rescue operations outside the bin.
·                     Test the air within a bin for oxygen content and the presence of hazardous gases before entry.

Safety practices specific to grain vacuums include:
·                     Ensure that the vacuum has an emergency stop device.
·                     Make grain vacuum operators aware of hazardous conditions caused by clumped or spoiled grain.
·                     Enforce manufacturer’s guidelines for safe operation of the vacuum, including working at a shallow angle and frequently moving the vacuum intake. Avoid forming a cone depression in the grain. Rather, work to keep the grain surface level and work from the outside wall and move inward.

Grain vacuums may be used infrequently, making it critical to review operation procedures prior to using the vacuum. Thoroughly review the operating manual and check to make sure all safety shields and features are in place and operating. Check the vacuum to ensure it is in good repair.

Grain vacuums provide powerful suction and any attempt to troubleshoot the vacuum must be done after it’s turned off. Extra caution is required when using a grain vacuum to work with damaged grain.

AGP Contributes to Midwest Flood Relief Efforts

Ag Processing Inc (AGP) announced today that the Company is aiding in the recovery efforts from the recent floods that have affected parts of Nebraska, Iowa, and Missouri. The aid consists of a $100,000 contribution split equally among four charities and relief organizations assisting recovery efforts in the region: the American Red Cross of Nebraska and Southwest Iowa; the Salvation Army of Omaha, NE; the United Way of the Midlands; and the Fremont Area United Way of Fremont, NE.

“The flood damage to farms and communities in this region negatively affected many people,” said AGP Chief Executive Officer Keith Spackler. “We are encouraged by the care and assistance of countless volunteers and organizations who have provided relief to the people and communities who need it the most. AGP’s contribution supports these recovery efforts.”

Grants available for Iowa farmers impacted by flooding

Grants are available for Iowa farmers impacted by the recent flooding. The Center for Rural Affairs is partnering with Farm Aid and Iowa Farmers Union to provide grants up to $500. Individuals must be located in an area damaged by the recent flooding and must be farmers.

“We are working together with partners to help farmers navigate the recovery process,” said Cora Fox, policy associate at the Center for Rural Affairs. “We understand the challenges farmers face, and want them to know that they aren’t alone.”

The grant can be used for household expenses, including medical bills, and may not be used for professional expenses related to farming operations.

To apply, visit

Nebraska farmers impacted by recent flooding and looking for assistance can reach out to Interchurch Ministries of Nebraska, which is partnering with Farm Aid and the Center for Rural Affairs. They can be reached on the Nebraska Rural Response Hotline at 800.464.0258.

EPA-required paraquat training among additional use restrictions

New, federally required training now is available for certified applicators who use products that contain paraquat as an active ingredient.

The new training is in addition to certification for applicators of restricted use pesticides, say officials with the Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) and Nebraska Extension’s Pesticide Safety Education Program (PSEP). The reason is paraquat requires extreme care when handling and applying.

The Environmental Protection Agency states the new restrictions are intended to help reduce accidental ingestion and other exposures. Since 2000, 17 deaths have been caused by accidental ingestion of paraquat. Many resulted from people illegally transferring the pesticide to beverage containers, with victims later drinking from the containers.

“Paraquat is so toxic that a single sip can be fatal and there is no antidote,” said Tim Creger, NDA Pesticide/Fertilizer Program Manager.

In addition to deaths by accidental ingestion, since 2000, three more deaths and many severe injuries have been caused by the pesticide getting onto the skin or into the eyes of those working with it.

“Wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) is extremely important when handling and applying paraquat,” said Clyde Ogg, PSEP extension educator. “Proper PPE for applicators includes goggles or other protective eyeware; a NIOSH-approved respirator with any N, R or P filter; chemical-resistant gloves; plus the usual fare of long-sleeved shirt, long pants, and shoes and socks.” Handlers must wear all of the previous PPE, plus chemical-resistant apron and face shield.

Products that contain paraquat dichloride as an active ingredient may be known to growers under brand names such as Gramoxone, Firestorm, Helmquat and Parazone.

“As an aggressive leaf desiccant, paraquat has become more popular with the onset of herbicide-resistant weeds such as Palmer amaranth,” Creger said. Applicators wearing backpack sprayers must be especially cautious because of the potential for leaks.

Ogg urged that the best advice still remains to read and follow the label directions on the product being used, keep product in its original packaging, and NEVER put product in any type of food container -- especially a drink container.

Companies are required to have newly labeled product in the market after Nov. 14, 2019, although some may produce and sell newly labeled product before that date.

When purchasing the newly labeled product:

    Product may ONLY be mixed, loaded, or applied by certified applicators who have successfully completed the paraquat-specific training before use
        Application "under the direct supervision" of a certified applicator is NO LONGER allowed

·  Training must be repeated every three years

The requirement for training is only one of several actions EPA has taken to prevent poisonings with new label changes, including:

·  Restricting the use of all paraquat products to certified applicators only

o   Certified Applicator Statement (for mixers, loaders, & applicators)

·  Clarifying toxicity in English and Spanish language formats

·  New graphics and statement on the label:

        “DANGER-ONE SIP CAN KILL” and skull and crossbones symbol on the container

·  A “product package safety requirements sticker” affixed to the container

·  A “counter card” reiterating the same important warning information to be distributed with every container

·  Plans for closed system packaging for containers less than 120 gallons    

It is also important to note that:

·         EPA is allowing the sale of paraquat already in the channels of trade, so some paraquat sold this growing season may NOT have the new training requirement on the label.

·         If the new training requirement is listed on the label of the product that applicators purchase, applicators MUST complete the training

·         Growers who currently have a supply of paraquat that DOES NOT have the new labeling listing the required training ARE NOT required to complete the training.

    Pesticide registrants were to submit label changes and new product registrations for the closed system packaging by March 30, 2019, and will have 12 months from EPA’s label approval date to adopt the closed system packaging.

EPA’s approved training module was developed by paraquat manufacturers and the National Pesticide Safety Education Center. It may be accessed at:

EPA’s Q&A and other information about paraquat is at:

Kevin Anderson Lyons-Decatur N.E. FFA Advisor Receives Award

The Nebraska FFA Foundation presented Mr. Kevin Anderson, Lyons-Decatur N.E. FFA advisor, with the 2019 Gary Scharf Helping Hand Award at the Nebraska FFA Convention on Thursday, April 4.

Anderson, FFA advisor for the Lyons-Decatur N.E. FFA chapter, was nominated for the award with support by colleagues and community members. Kylie Penke, whom nominated Anderson shared that “Kevin gravitates toward leadership roles…He has been a teacher for twenty years and served as president of the Elim Church Council and Lyons Community Foundation. He has raised his children to be active in 4-H and FFA, and has lead their 4-H clubs. In all of the organizations mentioned, Kevin has been active in selecting and distributing college scholarships to youth all over the country!”

Other nominations also shared stories of the commitment Anderson has to helping other agriculture teachers and their students be successful. Jill Hensley Arlington Agriculture teacher and FFA advisor says, “Kevin spent an entire evening in late January with myself and two of my students working through their record books and helping us understand how to fill out the Sate Degree Application…Kevin Anderson is a true mentor.”

The Gary Scharf Helping Hand Award recognizes a Nebraska agriculture teacher or FFA advisor for what he or she has done in helping others, specifically in the school and community outside of agriculture education and FFA. Anderson was announced as the award winner during the Nebraska FFA State Convention in Lincoln. He received a plaque and $500 cash award from the Nebraska FFA Foundation.

“The Foundation Board is honored to present this award to Mr. Anderson today. He exemplifies many qualities that defined Gary Scharf’s life – commitment, self-sacrifice and genuine kindness,” says Stacey Agnew, Executive Director, Nebraska FFA Foundation.

The annual award is named for Gary Scharf, who was a victim of an Omaha mall shooting in December 2007. Scharf grew up on a family farm outside of Curtis, Nebraska and worked in the agricultural chemical industry. He made a significant contribution to Nebraska’s agricultural and FFA community through his years of service on the Nebraska FFA Foundation Board, including a year as Board President in 2002-2003.

Record Breaking I Believe in the Future of Ag Donations

Nebraska FFA chapters broke the record from 2017-18 by nearly $70,000 by receiving over $412,000 from local donors through the 2018-19 I Believe in the Future of Ag fundraising campaign.

This campaign serves as an outlet for local FFA chapters to receive donations for innovative projects in their classrooms, leadership programming, community service projects and field trips to advance agriculture education in their schools. Chapters receive 100% of all funds directed to them and a portion of a $35,000 matching grant provided by the Nebraska FFA Foundation.

This year, 123 of the 189 Nebraska FFA chapters participated in the campaign. The average total donation per chapter was over $3,000 from local donors.

Chapters are rewarding for receiving at least $500 in donations and participating in the sponsor engagement contest. Those top chapters receiving recognition this year are the following: McCool Junction FFA, Ravenna FFA, Elgin FFA, O’Neill FFA, Heartland FFA, Johnson County Central FFA, Verdigre FFA, Litchfield FFA, Riverside FFA, Lakeview FFA and Oakland-Craig FFA.

Smith, Sewell Introduce Bipartisan RURAL Act

U.S. Reps. Adrian Smith (NE-03) and Terri Sewell (AL-07) have introduced the Revitalizing Underdeveloped Rural Areas and Lands (RURAL) Act, bipartisan legislation which would help preserve jobs and encourage infrastructure development by ensuring tax-exempt electric cooperative organizations’ continued access to government grants and assistance, including rural broadband grants and FEMA disaster relief.

“Nebraska has a long tradition of relying on public and cooperative power generation to affordably meet the needs of families, farmers, ranchers, and small businesses,” Rep. Adrian Smith said. “While continuing to ensure rural electric co-ops are largely funded by their membership as a condition of their tax-exempt status, we should also ensure funds received from grants or for pole usage do not affect their tax status.  Just as rural power generation and transmission were vital to rural economic growth in the 20th century, access to both power and broadband will drive our rural economies in the 21st.”

“Our rural communities depend on reliable infrastructure, access to broadband, and secure energy sources for their local economies to thrive,” Rep. Terri Sewell said. “Alabama’s rural electric co-ops provide essential broadband services in rural areas where high-speed internet is limited but essential to that areas’ economic growth. We must do more to provide high-speed internet – and the opportunities and resources that it brings – to the 22.4 million Americans living in rural parts of our country without quality internet access. The RURAL Act would ensure that these co-ops can retain their tax-exempt status when applying for grants to expand rural broadband or disaster assistance and provide these co-ops with the ability to secure the grants needed to continue to grow their renewable energy, economic development and energy efficiency initiatives.”

The RURAL Act would amend the Internal Revenue Code to ensure tax-exempt cooperative organizations do not lose their tax-exempt status when they apply for and use certain government grants, contributions and assistance, including rural broadband grants and FEMA disaster relief.

A Senate companion measure was introduced by Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Tina Smith (D-MN).

Nebraska Farmers Union Board Releases Legislative Positions

The Nebraska Farmers Union Board of Directors met April 13th for their spring board meeting.  They spent a good deal of time reviewing bills before the legislature. Their list of legislative positions is below.

Strong Support
1.  Property tax reform and relief. NeFU reaffirmed their strong support for the efforts of Nebraskans United Coalition to broaden the sales tax base, eliminate income tax exemptions, and more fairly fund K-12 education.  Efforts to undo the one billion shift from state income and sales tax based education funding to property taxes over the last 25 years must be addressed this session.  There must be immediate and substantial property tax relief.

2. Take full advantage of the 2018 Farm Bill’s decriminalization of industrial hemp. The board reaffirmed their longstanding support for Senator Lathrop’s LB457 that removes industrial hemp from the scheduled drug list and Senator Wayne’s LB657 that authorizes 2019 hemp production under the rules and regulations still in place under the 2014 Farm Bill, and authorizes the development of state rules and regulations that accommodate the USDA guidelines that will authorize production under the 2018 Farm Bill. They welcome the prospect of adding a new profitable crop as an option for farmers to consider.

3.  Expansion of Cottage Foods.  The board reaffirmed their support for Senator Crawford’s LB304 that expands the opportunity for people to sell non-potentially hazardous “cottage foods” already allowed at farmers markets from their homes or at certain events.  Many of these cooks are farm women.

Strong Opposition
1.  Efforts to radically change Right to Farm protections. The NeFU board took strong opposition to Senator Hughes LB227 that undermines Nebraska’s Right to Farm’s traditional protections for agricultural activities and neighbors.  It would provide carte blanche nuisance exemptions for one neighbor who dramatically changes or expands their operation at the expense of their neighbors, most of whom are also farmers. The clear intent of this bill is to proactively provide nuisance exemptions for Costco poultry growers and other mega CAFO livestock operations. Everyone in rural Nebraska should use good neighbor practices and be responsible for the well-being of their neighbors. LB227 picks one winner at the expense of all their next door neighbors who will be the losers. 

2. Efforts to undermine Nebraska wind development.  The NeFU board strongly opposes Senator Brewer’s LB155 and LB373 and Senator Bostelman’s LB700.  All these bills are unnecessary, and intended to discourage wind development in Nebraska. Wind development has brought $3 billion of new capital investment and tax base and millions of dollars additional income landowners and local and state taxes.  These bills are intended to yank the Nebraska “Welcome Mat” for clean burning renewable energy that uses no water, emits no carbon, and uses only willing buyer/willing seller landowner easements. Only willing landowners have wind turbines on their land.

Invasive Scotch Thistle Weed has Staying Power

Gary Stone - Extension Educator

Early Detection and Rapid Response (EDRR) is a concept to identify potential invasive species prior to or just as the invasive is becoming established. An Integrated Pest Management plan (IPM) can be developed to manage, contain and eradicate the invasive species before it can spread further. This will avoid costly, long-term control efforts.


Scotch thistle, generally found along the Platte River in western Nebraska, also can be found in poorly managed pastures. Scotch thistle is a non-native biennial forb but can behave as an annual or short-lived perennial. It reproduces/spreads from seed.

Scotch thistle is a prolific seed producer. Each thistle plant can produce up to 40,000 seeds. Less than 20% of the seeds initially produced are ready to germinate. The remaining seeds (more than 80%) have a water-soluble coating that serves as a germination inhibitor that requires moisture to break dormancy. Light can also serve as a seed germination inhibitor; therefore, seeds need to be in the soil or covered to germinate. This allows seeds to remain viable in the soil up to 20 years. Water, livestock, wildlife, and humans disperse seed.

Scotch thistle forms a rosette the first year and then bolts the second year to produce flowering stalks. It has a taproot. Plants are usually 2-6 feet tall but can grow to a height of 12 feet with a width of 5 feet. Plants appear blueish-gray because of the thick hairs covering the leaves. Leaves are arranged on an alternate pattern from the stalk and can be 20 inches long. Leaves are oblong and lobed with yellow spines. Stems have spiny wings and become rectangular with plant age. Flowers are purple to white in color. There can be one to seven flower heads per branch. Seeds are small brown to black in color.


Scotch thistle is found in any type of habitat but normally establishes quickly in disturbed areas dominated by annual plants such as cheatgrass. It also can be found in over-grazed sites, roadsides, and riparian areas. Scotch thistle is found across most of North America. It can invade healthy, undisturbed sites as well, out-competing desirable forbs and grasses in pastures and rangeland and reducing biodiversity. The sharp spines deter wildlife and livestock from grazing. Scotch thistle is considered a noxious weed in some counties of Nebraska and in some neighboring states.


Prevention is the best and cheapest management option. Having well-established perennial grasses and forbs on a maintained pasture or rangeland with proper grazing and rotational grazing techniques can go a long way to prevent its establishment. Scouting, monitoring, and proper identification are key factors for management. Infestations of this weed can occur very rapidly. Management of seed production is the key to keep this plant from spreading. Several different management options will need to be utilized to manage this weed.

There are no biological control methods available at this time, other than early grazing with sheep or goats that can reduce seed production. A chemical follow-up treatment may be needed to manage surviving plants. Pulling and/or digging up the plants below the crown is effective if there are a few plants.

Mowing can be done but will have to be repeated for the regrowth. Mowing will not kill the plant. Mowing plants with visible seed heads will not prevent seed production. Chemical treatment should follow the mowing to prevent seed formation.

Numerous chemical treatments are available to manage Scotch thistle. Products containing aminopyralid, clopyralid, chlorsulfuron, dicamba, metsulfuron, picloram (Restricted Use), triclopyr, glyphosate (non-selective) and 2,4-D have been shown to work. Spring or fall applications, especially in the rosette stage, prior to the pre-bud stage, are best. Fall treatments are better after a light freeze.

Tank mixes of several of these compounds may provide better control. The addition of a non-ionic surfactant to the herbicide mix will aid in control. Re-treatment is usually necessary for three to five years or until the seed in the soil is exhausted. Spray early as plants with visible seed heads will still produce viable seed. Be sure to select a product labeled for the site. Read, understand and follow all label instructions when using any pesticide.

Nebraska Extension has a number of publications on management of thistles and other invasive species. These publications and much more are found at Search “thistle” or “invasive.”


The production of Iowa’s field and miscellaneous crops was valued at $14.0 billion in 2018, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Crop Values summary. This was a 2 percent decrease from 2017.

The value of corn for grain production totaled $8.78 billion, up 2 percent from the previous year, and production was down 4 percent. Iowa’s corn price averaged $3.50 per bushel, an increase of $0.19 from the last marketing year.

Down 7 percent from 2017, the value of soybean production was $4.86 billion, and production was down fractionally. Average prices decreased $0.65 from the previous year to $8.60 per bushel.

Value of production decreased in 2018 from 2017 for alfalfa hay, other hay, oats and winter wheat.

Upcoming Changes to the May 2019 World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates Report

Starting with the May 10 issue, the following changes will be made to the World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates Report (WASDE):
-    Price range forecasts will be eliminated in favor of single price points for all crops and livestock.
-    The international Supply and Use tables for Crops will include an aggregate value for “World less China,” representing the balance sheet values outside of China.
-    The ordering of countries and lists of Major Importers/Exporters will be updated to eliminate outdated aggregations (such as “Former Soviet Union”), and better reflect current trade patterns.

The World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report is prepared monthly by the USDA World Agricultural Outlook Board based on information from USDA and other domestic and foreign official sources. It includes forecasts for U.S. and world wheat, rice, and coarse grains (corn, barley, sorghum, and oats), oilseeds (soybeans, rapeseed, palm), and cotton. U.S. coverage is extended to sugar, meat, poultry, eggs, and milk.

NACD comments on revised WOTUS definition

Today, the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) submitted comments to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers’ proposed rule redefining waters of the United States (WOTUS) under the Clean Water Act (CWA).

Through the proposed rule, the agencies clarify the definition of jurisdictional waters designated under the CWA.

“NACD appreciates the certainty provided by this definition,” NACD President Tim Palmer said. “America’s farmers and ranchers are stewards of the land. This clarified definition reduces the complexity of the rule, enabling landowners and operators to responsibly manage their resources and prioritize production of the nation’s food, fuel and fiber.”

Consistent with comments submitted in previous rulemakings to define WOTUS, NACD’s comments emphasize the need for the agencies to enhance coordination with local conservation districts when making local determinations for which waters may be jurisdictional. Conservation districts have worked for decades with landowners in their communities and can provide valuable insight during the development of maps and implementation of the proposed rule.

“Conservation districts are uniquely positioned to assist with the management and protection of the nation’s natural resources,” Palmer said. “Conservation districts’ local expertise is an invaluable strength in resource management. By enhancing coordination with local conservation districts, the agencies will ensure the jurisdiction of waters subject to the CWA is workable across the country.”

U.S. Cover Crop Acreage Surged 50% in a 5-Year Period

The adoption of cover crops as a key soil health practice continues at a rapid rate throughout the country, according to new data from the 2017 Census of Agriculture. Cover crops were planted on 15.4 million acres in 2017, an increase of 50% over five years, the census shows. Iowa led the way with a 156.3% increase during that period, and a number of other states also more than doubled their cover crop acreage, including Missouri, Illinois, Ohio, Mississippi, Nebraska, Vermont and Arizona.

“In visiting with my fellow farmers all over the United States, it’s been incredibly gratifying to see so many people committed to the stewardship of our soils,” says Steve Groff, a Pennsylvania farmer and one of a growing number of enthusiastic cover crop experts. “In too many places our soils have become degraded, and we really need to reverse that trend and rebuild the health of our soils going forward. Cover crops are one of the most effective tools we have to restore soil carbon and regenerate our soils.”

The remarkable expansion of cover crop acreage is a result of countless efforts by conservation advocates and others across the country. “This significant growth in cover crop acreage is providing major dividends in soil health and conservation on many types of farms and in all regions of the United States,” says Dr. Rob Myers, director of Extension programs for North Central Region SARE. “My hope is that this pace of increase will continue and even accelerate, leading us to 40 or 50 million acres of cover crops in the next decade.”

“Getting significant additional growth in cover crop adoption will take continued interest by farmers and a coordinated effort among many different partner organizations and agencies, which I believe we can accomplish," Myers says. "The need for additional protection and improvement of our nation’s soils is paramount, as our whole food system depends on having healthy soils."

According to Myers, a number of factors have contributed to this growth in cover crop acreage:
-    Perhaps most notable is the growing interest by farmers in increasing soil health. Along the way, a number of organizations have contributed to education on soil health, including USDA NRCS, the Soil Health Institute, the Soil Health Partnership, SARE, other conservation and farm organizations, and the agricultural media.
-    Awareness of how to best use and manage cover crops has grown in part through the innovative work done by leading farmers. The SARE program has supported some of these farmers directly with grants, while other farmers have gained incentive funds to try cover crops through NRCS or state agency programs.
-    Farmers are recognizing that cover crops can help with the efficiency and performance of their cropping system, including under extreme weather conditions. A national cover crop survey, conducted by the Conservation Technology and Information Center and funded by SARE and the American Seed Trade Association, found that soybean yields increased 11.6 percent and corn yields increased 9.6 percent in the drought year of 2012 following use of cover crops versus no cover crops.

The SARE program has funded close to 1,000 research and education projects on cover crops in the 30 years since SARE was first funded by USDA, including grants awarded directly to farmers to try new ideas such as different cover crop management approaches on their land. Program staff and grantees have also developed a wealth of educational materials on cover crops, much of which can be found at

Friday April 12 Ag News

Green Light for Ag Property Rights Bill

A bill to further clarify and expand farm and ranch property rights protections advanced on first round floor debate Wed., April 10, but only after supporters and opponents to the measure agreed to continue to work on the bill before it returns for a second round of legislative debate. LB 227 was introduced by the Legislature’s Natural Resources Committee Chair, Sen. Dan Hughes of Venango at the request of Nebraska Farm Bureau and other agriculture groups. The bill would modify Nebraska’s “Right to Farm” statutes.

“Historically, Right to Farm laws are meant to protect farms and ranches from someone moving into the neighborhood and filing a lawsuit against the operation because they don’t like the dust, odor, smell, noise, or other agriculture related realities of living in an agricultural area,” said Ansley Mick, Nebraska Farm Bureau state director of governmental relations. “LB 227 would ensure these nuisance related property right protections would continue for farms and ranches in the event the farmer or rancher wants to make changes to their operation, even after new neighbors have moved in.”

As the bill stands after first round debate, farmers would have extended nuisance protections should the farm or ranch change from one type of operation to another, experience a change in ownership or size, enroll in or stop participating in a government program, or adopt new technologies. An amendment adopted during floor debate clarified the nuisance protections wouldn’t be automatically granted but would stand provided the operation isn’t found to be a nuisance within two years of making any of the above changes. The bill would also clarify, that for an agricultural operation to be provided nuisance protections, it must employ reasonable techniques to mitigate things which could be considered a nuisance, such as dust, noise, insects, and odors, in addition the operation needing to follow all applicable laws and regulations, including any zoning regulations.

“To stay viable, our members need to have the flexibility to make investments and changes in their operations. In some cases, that means being able to add livestock to their operation so they can bring their son or daughter home to the farm. We believe they should be able to do that without being fearful of nuisance suits that have been successfully used against farmers in other states. LB 227 is critical to offering that protection,” said Mick.

Passage of LB 227 in one of Nebraska Farm Bureau’s top priorities for the 2019 legislative session.

Wait For Better Conditions Before Heading Out On Wet Soils

Paul Jasa - NE Extension Engineer

With the recent rains and wet soils, many producers may be tempted to head to the field sooner than they should. Wet soils are easily compacted when tilled or driven on as the soil particles are lubricated and “slide” easily under the weight of the implement and/or tires. Sidewall compaction during planting can be a problem in wet soils, especially if the crop is "mudded in" and a dry spell occurs after planting. Patience is required to wait for the soil to dry some for better conditions.

How wet is too wet?

If you are putting a log chain or a tow strap in the tractor cab to pull you out when you get stuck, even you know it’s too wet.

Make a quick check of soil moisture conditions by taking a handful of soil from planting depth (or tillage depth if planning on doing tillage) and press it in your hands to make a mud ball. If wet soil sticks to your hand, it’s probably too wet. Drop the mud ball to the ground from waist high. If the mud ball doesn’t break apart when it hits the soil surface, it’s probably too wet.

Even with no-till, waiting a day or two for the soil to dry out some will provide better soil conditions for stand establishment. Mudding in the crop often results in some seed-vee smearing, sidewall compaction, and/or over packing of the seed. The resulting uneven emergence and poorer stands often reduces yields more than the slight reduction in yield from planting later.

Depending on the intensity of the rain and how little residue was on the soil surface, a crust may have formed and some may want to till the field to break up the crust. This should be avoided as the soil may be too wet to do tillage. The soil will be able to support the weight of a planter well before it is dry enough to be tilled. Producers will be better off to simply plant the crop through the crust. The seedlings will come up through the slot that the planter cut into the soil when placing the seeds. By not tilling the soil and by not running residue movers, there will be more residue on the soil surface to reduce crusting problems, another advantage to no-till.

Addressing Harvest Ruts and Erosion Gullies

Paul Jasa - NE Extension Engineer

Some fields were harvested last fall when the soil was quite wet and the harvest equipment left ruts. In addition, runoff from storms created rills and gullies in some fields, leaving them rough. Flooding also created gullies in some fields and may have deposited sand, silt, and other debris. With the wet spring, producers need to evaluate soil moisture conditions before heading to their fields to clean up flood debris and fill in ruts, rills, and gullies. 

Harvest Compaction

Compaction is the loss of pore space between soil particles. When that pore space is lost, it "reappears" on the soil surface as the rut. Tillage will fluff the soil surface so that the compaction from tillage is not easily seen. Usually, the ruts or gullies are as deep as the tillage depth since tillage destroys soil structure and leaves a compaction layer below the tillage depth. Unfortunately, the compaction from harvest equipment cannot be broken up with spring tillage on wet soils as the soil needs to be dry to fracture. The soil may appear dry on the surface, but it's usually too wet at tillage depth to effectively reduce compaction and deeper tillage should be delayed until after harvest.

Field Drydown

Wait as long as possible for the soil to dry before lightly tilling very shallow to fill in and smooth ruts or gullies. Tilling deeper on wet soils will cause soil smearing and create compaction. The tillage also will destroy soil structure such that subsequent tillage passes or trips across the field will cause more compaction. The compaction from wheel traffic ruts extends far deeper into the soil than typical spring tillage operations can reach. Building soil structure is the best way to avoid compaction and wheel traffic rut problems.

Spot Tillage

Usually, ruts or gullies are only in portions of a field, not across the entire field. As such, shallow spot tillage rather than whole field tillage should be used to smooth these areas. While popular for cutting up residue, vertical tillage implements are not very effective for filling in ruts or gullies as they aren’t designed to move soil side-to-side. A light disking or field cultivation, at an angle to the ruts or gullies, is far more effective to fill in the deeper ones. Shallow rills (three inches or less) could be planted across without tillage so as not to destroy the residue. The planter may need to be operated slightly slower than usual to reduce bounce and the planting depth may need to be set deeper to make sure all seeds are placed in the soil.

Cover Crops

Many of the gullies were formed by concentrated flows of runoff. Unless something is done to anchor the soil when the gullies are filled, they will simply wash out again. Seeding a cover crop in these areas will help anchor the soil, especially on sloping soils. Rather than using a wide tillage implement, far less soil will be disturbed by using a center pivot track filler. Unlike conventional tillage implements, many center pivot track fillers also firm the soil into the filled track, helping anchor the soil. Mounting a simple 12-volt spinner seeder in front of the track filler could seed a cover crop at the same time. The roots of the growing cover crop will help reduce compaction and help build soil structure.

Residue Benefits

Producers should leave as much residue standing in the field as possible and minimize full width tillage. Tillage dries the soil, buries residue, destroys soil structure, and increases erosion and runoff. Standing residue, still attached, is one of the most effective ways to protect soil from the erosive forces of wind. The standing residue will greatly decrease the amount of blowing soil when wind erosion is at its peak before the planting season. Producers should consider no-tilling directly into the standing residue to continue the erosion control benefits until crop canopy can take over.

NePPA Announces Participants in 2019 Pork Mentorship Program

The Nebraska Pork Producers Association is proud to welcome participants of the 2019 Pork Mentorship Program. This year, five college-age students will participate in the program, which has worked to further develop youth leaders through individual and group based learning experiences since 1999.

Participants in the 2019 Pork Mentorship Program are:

Ronald Kramer of West Point, is a senior at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln studying Animal Science, Grazing Livestock Systems. Ronald is the son of James and Julia Kramer.

Miranda Mueller of Yutan, is a freshman at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln studying Animal Science, Grazing Livestock Systems. Miranda is the daughter of Matt and Steph Mueller.

Darren Segner of Friend, is a freshman at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln studying Animal Science with an option in food animal production and management. Darren is the son of Paul and Deb Segner.

Mekenzie Beattie of Sumner, is a freshman at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln studying Agribusiness. Mekenzie is the daughter of Bart and Shana Beattie.

Heather Hunt of Fullerton, CA, is a sophomore at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln studying Animal Science with an option in meat science. Heather is the daughter of Bradley and Lisa Hunt.

The 2019 Pork Mentorship Program is comprised of five members attending college at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, with academic majors that represent a cross section of interests and disciplines within the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.

Each year, participants in the Pork Mentorship Program participate in activities that encourage personal growth, career readiness, and develop leadership skills, while expanding their knowledge of the pork industry. Participants are also active in projects that encourage giving back to their community. Each of the participants will receive a $500 scholarship upon the successful completion of requirements throughout the year-long program.

Morningside Students Learn from Legislators at the Iowa Capitol

Thirty-five students from Morningside College majoring in agriculture or political science filled the state Capitol rotunda yesterday. Iowa Corn Grower Association® (ICGA) District 4 Committee sponsored the Day on the Hill for the Morningside students. This opportunity from Iowa Corn facilitated a one-on-one interaction with state legislators where students discussed and learned about the policy process and issues important to agriculture.

“The relationship between advocate groups like Iowa Corn Growers Association and legislators are important because not everyone can be an expert on all issues,” stated Jessica Higgins, a Morningside senior and American government and politics major. “I learned that having a voice on the Hill to represent and speak on behalf of your issue is of the upmost importance.”

After the students learned from legislators, they had the opportunity to sit down with Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig. Naig answered questions from the student group covering a variety of topics including trade, foreign animal disease, conservation efforts, and engaging in the political process.

“I enjoyed meeting Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig and asking him questions about cover crops and environmental safety around the farming industry,” stated Kyle Fowler a biology and political science major. “Although I am not directly linked in agriculture studies, it’s important for me to understand the agricultural industry as it plays a crucial role in the economics of Iowa.”

Many of the students had not been to the state Capitol prior to yesterday’s event. They appreciated the opportunity ICGA provided them to help build relationships with the people that serve as their voice at the Capitol.

USDA Opens Signup for Emergency Conservation Program in Iowa

USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) State Executive Director Amanda De Jong today announced that FSA offices in Fremont, Harrison, Mills, Monona, Pottawattamie and Woodbury counties in Iowa are accepting applications for the Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) beginning April 15 to address damages from spring flooding. ECP enrollment deadlines may vary by county, as such, producers need to contact their local FSA office for more information.

The approved ECP practices under this authorization may include debris removal; fencing replacement and repair; grading, shaping and leveling of impacted fields; and conservation structure rehabilitation. For more information on eligible practices, please contact your local FSA county office.

ECP assists producers with the recovery cost to restore the agricultural land to pre-disaster conditions. Approved ECP applicants may receive up to 75 percent of the cost of approved restoration activity.

“Dealing with natural disasters is never easy and the extreme weather we’ve had this spring is going to require we all work together to get farmland back in use. ECP is one more tool producers can utilize on their road to recovery.  It is important that producers contact their local FSA office before they take action to permanently repair damages to discuss their options,” said De Jong.

Producers with damage must apply for assistance prior to beginning reconstructive work to qualify for cost-share assistance. The use of ECP funds is limited to activities to return the land to the relative pre-disaster condition. Conservation concerns that were present on the land prior to the flooding are not eligible for ECP assistance.

For more information on the Emergency Conservation Program, please contact your FSA county office.

U.S. Soy Leaders Hold Successful Meetings in China to Strengthen Trade Relations

This week, leaders from the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC), the American Soybean Association (ASA) and the United Soybean Board (USB) visited Chinese customers to reinforce and strengthen trade relationships. Following successful meetings in Beijing and Shanghai, U.S. soy leaders released the following statements.   

“The U.S. soy industry and China have a 37-year track record of actively investing and partnering in programs that support each other’s industries,” said USSEC CEO Jim Sutter. “American soybean farmers prosper when they have access to these international markets, and China is a great example of that. We are hopeful that our farmers will have the opportunity to continue delivering high-quality soy to China and other customers throughout the world. Open, free market access is critical to our success."

“We are ready to do more business with China in the coming season,” said ASA President Davie Stephens. “Our farmers are proud of the soy they grow in the U.S., and we are optimistic a mutually beneficial trade agreement will be reached soon so that open, free trade can get started again.” 

“Customers around the world know they can count on American soybean farmers to deliver a consistent, sustainable and nutritious product year after year,” said USB Chair Keith Tapp. “U.S. soy is the preferred choice in more countries than ever before and continues to deliver strong performance internationally and right here at home.”   

The visits to Beijing and Shanghai were a part of USSEC’s efforts to maintain and further build relationships with exporters and stakeholders in China. In Beijing, U.S. soy leaders met with industry leaders, long-term partners in key Chinese organizations and other industry experts. While in Shanghai, USSEC hosted Chinese partners at an event called Experience Today’s U.S. Soy Advantage, at which the U.S. Ambassador to China, Terry Branstad, participated and delivered keynote comments. The purpose of the meeting was to remind Chinese customers of the benefits of U.S. soy, thank them for their trust in American soybean farmers and the U.S. supply chain and foster business in the future with U.S. soy interests. In addition, the team visited a site near Shanghai where USSEC is demonstrating new technology for aquaculture production to the Chinese industry. This technology, called Intensive Pond Raceway System (IPRS), is being rapidly adopted across China, and the benefits for the industry are significant.

EPA’s Latest Effort on SRE Transparency Helpful Progress But Not Enough

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced they will take comment on the current process for issuing small refinery exemptions, allowing EPA to post the names of refineries who have applied for and received small refinery exemptions, an important first step in providing transparency in the process. While noting EPA’s progress, Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor challenged EPA to go even further:

“Any move by EPA to increase transparency is long overdue but always welcome by this industry,” said Skor. “For years, we’ve been trying to navigate these exemptions in the dark, all while over 2.6 billion gallons of ethanol demand has been lost. It is imperative that EPA and the Department of Energy reveal the methodology behind granting these exemptions, and for EPA to fully recognize that every time they grant an exemption, they are taking away critical demand from our already struggling rural economy. We look forward to participating in EPA’s comment period on this proposal and continuing to impress upon them the dire importance of more transparency for our industry and for rural America.”


Under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), refineries producing transportation fuel must demonstrate each year that they have blended certain volumes of renewable fuel into gasoline or diesel fuel or acquired credits from others called “RINs” representing all of part of those volume obligations. The RFS allows certain “small” refineries – those with a throughput of less than 75,000 barrels per day – to petition EPA for a temporary extension of an exemption from the renewable fuel volume requirements for a given year if they can show that compliance would have a “disproportionate economic impact” on them. EPA is required to consult with the Department of Energy to determine whether to grant an exemption.

To date, EPA has yet to provide the public with any information regarding how it assesses small refinery exemption petitions and it has resisted release of almost all information regarding recent exemptions that have been granted, including: (1) the name of the exempted refinery; (2) the volume of renewable fuel exempted; and (3) EPA’s analysis of whether the small refinery would be subject to disproportionate economic harm if it had to comply with the RFS.

In 2018, Growth Energy and allied organizations also filed a lawsuit in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and a related administrative petition with EPA on the misuse of small refinery exemptions.

Additionally, Growth Energy and an industry ally filed another lawsuit in federal district court in August on 2018, alleging that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Energy (DOE) have improperly denied agency records requested by Growth Energy and RFA under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

At the start of 2019, Growth Energy filed an appeal in federal district court in Feb. challenging EPA over their failure to address small refinery exemptions in their 2019 renewable volume obligation.

Higher Limits Now Available on USDA Farm Loans

Higher limits are now available for borrowers interested in USDA’s farm loans, which help agricultural producers purchase farms or cover operating expenses. The 2018 Farm Bill increased the amount that producers can borrow through direct and guaranteed loans available through USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) and made changes to other loans, such as microloans and emergency loans.

“As natural disasters, trade disruptions, and persistent pressure on commodity prices continue to impact agricultural operations, farm loans become increasingly important to farmers and ranchers,” FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce said. “The 2018 Farm Bill provides increased loan limits and more flexibility to farm loans, which gives producers more access to credit when they need it most.”

Key changes include:

    The Direct Operating Loan limit increased from $300,000 to $400,000, and the Guaranteed Operating Loan limit increased from $ 1.429 million to $1.75 million. Operating loans help producers pay for normal operating expenses, including machinery and equipment, seed, livestock feed, and more.

    The Direct Farm Ownership Loan limit increased from $300,000 to $600,000, and the Guaranteed Farm Ownership Loan limit increased from $1.429 million to $1.75 million. Farm ownership loans help producers become owner-operators of family farms as well as improve and expand current operations.

    Producers can now receive both a $50,000 Farm Ownership Microloan and a $50,000 Operating Microloan. Previously, microloans were limited to a combined $50,000. Microloans provide flexible access to credit for small, beginning, niche, and non-traditional farm operations.

    Producers who previously received debt forgiveness as part of an approved FSA restructuring plan are now eligible to apply for emergency loans. Previously, these producers were ineligible.

    Beginning and socially disadvantaged producers can now receive up to a 95 percent guarantee against the loss of principal and interest on a loan, up from 90 percent.

USDA Update on Farm Bill Implementation Progress

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced the implementation status of the 2018 Farm Bill. President Trump signed this Farm Bill into law on December 20th, 2018 and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) promptly began implementation of key programs. USDA held several listening sessions with stakeholders and the public, specific to each agency’s respective mission areas.

“At USDA we are implementing the 2018 Farm Bill as quickly as possible. We know the programs that are renewed and updated in this farm bill are critical to farmers, ranchers, and producers as they plan for the future,” said Secretary Sonny Perdue. “Our mission areas have all held several public listening sessions, both formally and informally, to receive stakeholder input. Our goal is to have programs that function best for the people that we serve. We have made progress in new Farm Bill provisions, and look to implement programs that are customer service focused and economically efficient. We still have a lot of work ahead of us, but we are diligently working on behalf of all of USDA’s customers.”

Implementation Progress:

TITLE I – Commodity Programs

    Dairy Forward Pricing Program: On March 1, 2019, the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) published a final rule reauthorizing the Dairy Forward Pricing Program in the Federal Register.
    Class I Skim Milk Price: On March 11, 2019, AMS published a final rule implementing the Class I Skim Milk Price provision in the Federal Register.
    Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP-Dairy): On March 22, 2019, Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced that dairy producers who elected to participate in the Livestock Gross Margin for Dairy Cattle Program in 2018 can now retroactively participate in the MPP-Dairy for 2018.
    Dairy Margin Coverage Program: On March 28, 2019, the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) revised monthly price survey reports to include prices for high-quality alfalfa hay in the top five milk producing states to be utilized in the new Dairy Margin Coverage feed calculation.
    FSA will begin offering reimbursements to eligible producers for MPP-Dairy premiums paid between 2014-2017 by May 1.
    The Office of the Chief Economist has entered into an agreement with the University of Wisconsin to develop a Dairy Margin Coverage decision tool that will be available to producers by May 1.
    FSA will open sign-up for the new Dairy Margin Coverage Program beginning June 17, providing coverage retroactive to January 1, 2019, with applicable payments following soon after enrollment.

    Emergency Conservation Program (ECP): On April 4, 2019, FSA announced several changes to ECP as provided by the 2018 Farm Bill, including increasing the payment limit from $200,000 per person or legal entity per natural event to $500,000.
    On April 4, 2019, FSA announced that socially disadvantaged and beginning farmers or ranchers are now eligible for up to 90 percent ECP cost share of their total allowable cost.

    Noninsurance Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP): On April 8, 2019, FSA announced that producers now have a one-time opportunity until May 24, 2019, to obtain buy-up coverage for 2019 or 2020 eligible crops for which the NAP application closing date has passed. In addition, qualified military veteran farmers and ranchers are now eligible for a service fee waiver and premium reduction.
    Marketing Assistance Loans (MAL): On April 10, 2019, FSA announced the 2019 Marketing Assistance Loan rates for wheat, feed grains, oilseeds, rice and pulse crops. Relative to 2018-crop MAL levels, the 2018 Farm Bill increased the national loan rates for most of these commodities for each of the 2019-2023 crops.
    Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) Programs: FSA will open ARC/PLC elections for the 2019 and 2020 crop years beginning in September 2019.

TITLE II – Conservation

    Conservation Innovation Grants: On March 26, 2019, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) state offices began publishing notices of funding availability for the Conservation Innovation Grants state competitions.
    Agricultural Conservation Easement Program: On March 27, USDA published an announcement regarding the availability of $450 million for wetland and agricultural land easements that will help private landowners, tribes, land trusts and other groups wanting to restore and protect critical wetlands and protect agricultural lands and grasslands.
    Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP): On April 5, 2019, NRCS announced the next deadline for CSP applications to be raked and considered for funding this year is May 10, 2019. It includes higher payments for enhancements that include cover crops, resource conserving crop rotations, and advanced grazing.
    Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP): On April 9, 2019, NRCS determined that RCPP projects with agreements entered into prior to September 30, 2018, may continue to enter into new RCPP-CSP contracts with eligible producers, which will be administered under the new CSP authority.
    Environmental Quality Incentives Program: This program operates through a continuous signup process. Applications may be submitted throughout the year. At the state level, NRCS has periodic funding cutoff periods when applications are evaluated for selection.


    Agricultural Trade Promotion and Facilitation Funding: On February 7, 2019, the Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS) allocated more than $204 million in Market Access Program and Foreign Market and Development Program.
    Food for Progress: On March 26, 2019, FAS announced $155 million funding opportunity for the Food for Progress program.
    McGovern-Dole School Feeding Program: On March 26, 2019, FAS announced $191 million in a funding opportunity for the McGovern-Dole School Feeding Program.
    Local and Regional Food Aid Procurement: On March 26, 2019, FAS announced up to $15 million funding opportunity for Local and Regional Food Aid Procurement.
    Cochran Fellowship Program 2019: On March 26, 2019, FAS announced the availability of $1.8 million for the Cochran Fellowship Program.

TITLE IV – Nutrition Programs

    Simplified Homeless Housing Costs: On February 8, 2019, the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) issued an informational memorandum on Simplified Homeless Housing Costs.
    Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Employment and Training: On March 6, 2019, FNS issued an information memorandum on the Employment and Training provisions, including those that are self-executing.
    Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): On March 7, 2019, FNS issued an information memorandum for the self-enacting provisions of the SNAP Provisions of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018.
    Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP): On March 8, 2019, FNS issued the information memorandum for CSFP and the exception for temporary monthly certification periods.
    Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR): On February 14, 2019, FNS held an in-person consultation with tribal leaders to discuss a variety of topics regarding FDPIR, including Farm Bill provisions. On April 5, 2019, FNS issued an informational memorandum to announce the availability of FDPIR administrative funding for two-years at the State/Indian Tribal Organization level.

TITLE V – Credit

    Modified Micro Loan Limits: On March 7, 2019, FSA implemented a change to allow agricultural producers to receive both a $50,000 Direct Operating Microloan and a $50,000 Direct Farm Ownership Microloan. Previously, agricultural producers were limited to a combined total of $50,000.
    Increase in Percent of Guarantee for Beginning and Socially Disadvantaged Farmers: On March 7, 2019, FSA increased the percent for new guaranteed loans to any beginning or socially disadvantaged agricultural producer to 95 percent.
    Increased Loan Limits: On April 11, 2019, FSA announced that eligible agricultural producers have access to higher loan amounts, to better provide them with the credit needed during this period of lower market prices and numerous natural disasters.

TITLE VI – Rural Development

    Cushion of Credit Program: On December 21, 2018, Rural Development informed all the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) borrowers of the new provisions in the 2018 Farm Bill affecting the borrower’s participation in the Cushion of Credit Program.
    American Broadband Initiative: On February 13, 2019, Rural Development released the American Broadband Initiatives Milestones report, describing how the Federal government is partnering with the private sector expand rural broadband.
    Community Facilities Technical Assistance and Training Program: On April 1, 2019, the Rural Housing Service began soliciting applications for the Community Facilities Technical Assistance and Training Programs.
    Council on Rural Community Innovation and Economic Development: The Council is the successor to the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity. The Council held its first call on April 8, 2019, to coordinate rural community innovation and economic development across the federal government.
    Rural Water and Waste Water Technical Assistance and Training Programs: On April 1, 2019, the Rural Utilities Service published a Notice of Solicitation of Applications in the Federal Register.

TITLE VII – Research and Related Matters

    Matching Fund Requirements: On March 20, 2019, National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) published the updated matching requirements chart on its website, sent an update to all stakeholders via the weekly NIFA Stakeholder Update. Relevant future RFA’s will include updated matching requirements.
    Indirect Cost Limitations: On March 20, 2019, NIFA published the updated indirect cost rate requirements by program chart on its website. Relevant future Requests for Applications (RFA’s) will include updated indirect cost rate requirements.
    The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP): On April 5, 2019, NIFA published the Request for Applications (RFA) for BFRDP.
    Barley Estimation Program: On March 7, 2019, the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) established that New York will be added to the Barley estimation program.
    Nominations of Members: On March 28, 2019, the Request for Nominations of Members for the National Agricultural Research, Extension, Education, and Economics Advisory Board, Specialty Crop Committee, Citrus Disease Subcommittee, and National Genetic Resources Advisory Council published in the Federal Register.

TITLE VIII – Forestry

    Healthy Forests Restoration Act of 2003 Amendments – On March 14, 2019, the Forest Service announced the changes and the extension to 2023 of these provisions.
    Stakeholder Engagement: On March 22, 2019, Under Secretary Hubbard and Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen held a public listening session to receive stakeholder input on 2018 Farm Bill provisions regarding national forests and grassland.

TITLE IX – Energy

    Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical, and Biobased Product Manufacturing Assistance Program: On April 1, 2019, the Rural Business and Cooperative Service posted an Administrative Notice to the Rural Development web site implementing the Farm Bill provisions for Section 9003 administratively. The Administrative Notice applies to all existing active 9003 program applications.

TITLE X – Horticulture

    Hemp: On February 27, 2019, AMS issued a Notice to Trade regarding the hemp provisions in the Farm Bill and on March 13, 2019, AMS held a listening session on the hemp provisions in the Farm Bill.  The 2018 Farm Bill extended the 2014 Farm Bill provisions for hemp production by 12 months to allow USDA to complete the required rulemaking process, and USDA intends to issue regulations in the Fall of 2019 in order to accommodate the 2020 planting season.  For the 2019 planting season, the 2018 Farm Bill provides that States, Tribes, and institutions of higher education can continue operating under authorities of the 2014 Farm Bill.
    Specialty Crop Block Grant Program: On March 7, 2019, AMS announced the availability of approximately $70 million for the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.
    National Organic Standards Board (NOSB): In March 2019, AMS issued a Call for Nominations for the NOSB that included 2018 Farm Bill provisions that will lead to a more diverse candidate pool for the NOSB.

TITLE XI – Crop Insurance

    Specialty Crop Insurance: On March 6, 2019, Risk Management Agency (RMA) created a dedicated Specialty Crop website to fulfill the requirements of the 2018 Farm Bill. The website lists specialty crop liaisons by Regional Office and provides a link to the 2019 Specialty Crop Report as well as a link to archived prior reports.
    Beginning Farmer and Rancher: On March 12, 2019, RMA implemented the new definition for the Whole Farm Revenue Protection program that extends the time for new beginning farmer and rancher eligibility from 5 years to 10 years for the sales closing dates after the passage of the farm bill.
    Multi-County Enterprise Units: Starting with sales closing dates after the passage of the farm bill RMA is offering a new endorsement for farmers. Producers of corn, grain sorghum, soybeans, cotton, canola, peanuts, rice, barley, wheat, and sunflowers now have the option to combine acreage in one county that does not qualify for enterprise units with crop acreage in another county that does qualify. The option offers flexibility and a low-cost option for producers.

    Yield Cups: RMA has fully implemented yield cups that provide producers with an election to limit the decrease in actual production history (APH) to not more than 10% of the prior crop year’s APH. This prevents abnormally low yielding years from dramatically impacting a producers APH and stabilizes insurance guarantees.

TITLE XII – Miscellaneous

    Agriculture and Food Defense: The Office of Homeland Security has commenced a series of events to educate the Intelligence Community on threats to agriculture and the collection of information on emerging threats.
    United States Drought Monitor (USDM): The Office of the Chief Economist has initiated a thorough review of the data being used in the USDM, the geographic coverage of data collection sites, and other climatological data that will improve the USDM.
    Agriculture Wool Apparel Manufactures Trust Fund: The Wool Apparel Manufacturing Trust Fund application period closed March 1, 2019.  FAS reviewed 38 affidavits and is on course to issue payments by the statutory deadline.
    Pima Agriculture Cotton Trust Fund: The Pima Agriculture Cotton Trust Fund application period closed March 15, 2019.  FAS reviewed 8 affidavits and is on course to issue payments by the statutory deadline.
    U.S. Grain Standards: On March 5, 2019, AMS posted a Notice to Trade announcing the restoration of certain exceptions under the U.S. Grain Standards Act.
    Acer Access and Development Program: On March 12, 2019, AMS announced the availability of funding under the Acer Access and Development Program.
    Peanut Standards Board: On March 19, 2019, AMS published in the Federal Register a notice requesting nominations to the Peanut Standards Board. The notice adds South Carolina as a part of the Virginia/Carolina peanut producing region for purposes of appointments to the board.

USDA Publishes SNAP Final Rule; Implements Key Eligibility Reforms, Safeguards

The U.S. Department of Agriculture published a final rule today designed to ensure that Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) standards on eligibility for students and restrictions for lottery winners and convicted felons are consistently applied, and that program integrity is secure.

The rule, published in the Federal Register, reforms SNAP by:
-    Restricting SNAP eligibility for those with lottery and gambling winnings;
-    Ensuring that exceptions to the prohibition on student SNAP eligibility focus appropriately on educational programs that deliver skills needed for the current job market;
-    Requiring consistent use of a system of robust data verification technology for income, eligibility, and immigration status to protect integrity; and
-    Implementing the statutory prohibition against SNAP receipt for certain convicted felons who are fleeing or otherwise not in compliance with the terms of their sentence or parole.

“Americans lose confidence in our oversight of the SNAP when there is a chance benefits go to millionaire lottery winners and convicted felons violating parole,” said USDA Acting Deputy Under Secretary Brandon Lipps, “which is why I am pleased that we have completed action on this rule that strengthens integrity in this critical nutrition assistance program."

States have long had the authority to impose a number of these requirements at their option but did not do so consistently. The final rule clarifies the specific standards for their implementation and reflects careful consideration of comments from program stakeholders.

This rulemaking is the latest in a series of actions that USDA has taken to promote integrity in SNAP, including:
-    Modernization of the SNAP Quality Control system, which assesses the volume and causes of improper payments, through updated guidance and training for states to improve data quality;
-    The SNAP Fraud Framework, a toolkit designed to help state agencies detect and prevent fraud, and to sharpen their investigative techniques; and
-    Updating the Memorandum of Understanding between FNS and USDA’s Office of Inspector General to increase the expeditious investigation and pursuit of suspected SNAP retailer violations.

USDA will continue to work with all who are interested in its programs, their participants, and the taxpayers who make it possible, to ensure that every dollar invested in the program is used wisely.

Culver's 'Scoops of Thanks' Day to Support FFA, Ag Groups

If you are near a Culver's restaurant on Thursday, May 2, you may want to stop in for a quick treat. That's because each location will be giving away a single scoop of frozen custard in exchange for a $1 donation to the FFA that day, while supplies last.

Proceeds raised from the event will benefit local or state FFA chapters or other agricultural organizations selected by each restaurant.

"Every dollar really does count on Scoops of Thanks Day," said Culver's Marketing Manager Jessie Kreke. "FFA members are changing the world, and we're so excited to host this fundraiser on May 2 to support them and other young people interested in agriculture."

Since the first Scoops of Thanks day in 2015, Culver's has donated more than $230,000 from the fundraiser to agricultural organizations.

Scoops of Thanks Day is part of the Culver's 'Thank You Farmers' program, an initiative that recognizes all farmers for their hard work and dedication in growing and producing the wholesome food that feeds our nation. To date, the program has raised over a million dollars in support of the National FFA Organization and Foundation, local FFA chapters and a variety of local agricultural organizations.

Thursday April 11 Ag News

2017 Census of Agriculture Data Now Available

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced the results of the 2017 Census of Agriculture, spanning some 6.4 million new points of information about America’s farms and ranches and those who operate them, including new data about on-farm decision making, down to the county level. Information collected by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) directly from farmers and ranchers tells us both farm numbers and land in farms have ongoing small percentage declines since the last Census in 2012. At the same time, there continue to be more of the largest and smallest operations and fewer middle-sized farms. The average age of all farmers and ranchers continues to rise.

“We are pleased to deliver Census of Agriculture results to America, and especially to the farmers and ranchers who participated,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. “We can all use the Census to tell the tremendous story of U.S. agriculture and how it is changing. As a data-driven organization, we are eager to dig in to this wealth of information to advance our goals of supporting farmers and ranchers, facilitating rural prosperity, and strengthening stewardship of private lands efficiently, effectively, and with integrity.”

“The Census shows new data that can be compared to previous censuses for insights into agricultural trends and changes down to the county level,” said NASS Administrator Hubert Hamer. “While the current picture shows a consistent trend in the structure of U.S. agriculture, there are some ups and downs since the last Census as well as first-time data on topics such as military status and on-farm decision making. To make it easier to delve into the data, we are pleased to make the results available in many online formats including a new data query interface, as well as traditional data tables.”

Census data provide valuable insights into demographics, economics, land and activities on U.S. farms and ranches. Some key highlights include:
-    There are 2.04 million farms and ranches (down 3.2 percent from 2012) with an average size of 441 acres (up 1.6 percent) on 900 million acres (down 1.6 percent).
-    The 273,000 smallest (1-9 acres) farms make up 0.1 percent of all farmland while the 85,127 largest (2,000 or more acres) farms make up 58 percent of farmland.
-    Just 105,453 farms produced 75 percent of all sales in 2017, down from 119,908 in 2012.
-    Of the 2.04 million farms and ranches, the 76,865 making $1 million or more in 2017 represent just over 2/3 of the $389 billion in total value of production while the 1.56 million operations making under $50,000 represent just 2.9 percent.
-    Farm expenses are $326 billion with feed, livestock purchased, hired labor, fertilizer and cash rents topping the list of farm expenses in 2017.
-    Average farm income is $43,053. A total of 43.6 percent of farms had positive net cash farm income in 2017.
-    Ninety-six percent of farms and ranches are family owned.
-    Farms with Internet access rose from 69.6 percent in 2012 to 75.4 percent in 2017.
-    A total of 133,176 farms and ranches use renewable energy producing systems, more than double the 57,299 in 2012.
-    In 2017, 130,056 farms sold directly to consumers, with sales of $2.8 billion.
-    Sales to retail outlets, institutions and food hubs by 28,958 operations are valued at $9 billion.

For the 2017 Census of Agriculture, NASS changed the demographic questions to better represent the roles of all persons involved in on-farm decision making. As a result, in 2017 the number of producers is up by nearly seven percent to 3.4 million, because more farms reported multiple producers. Most of these newly identified producers are female. While the number of male producers fell 1.7 percent to 2.17 million from 2012 to 2017, the number of female producers increased by nearly 27 percent to 1.23 million. This change underscores the effectiveness of the questionnaire changes.

Other demographic highlights include:
-    The average age of all producers is 57.5, up 1.2 years from 2012.
-    The number of producers who have served in the military is 370,619, or 11 percent of all. They are older than the average at 67.9.
-    There are 321,261 young producers age 35 or less on 240,141 farms. Farms with young producers making decisions tend to be larger than average in both acres and sales.
-    More than any other age group, young producers make decisions regarding livestock, though the difference is slight.
-    One in four producers is a beginning farmer with 10 or fewer years of experience and an average age of 46.3. Farms with new or beginning producers making decisions tend to be smaller than average in both acres and value of production.
-    Thirty-six percent of all producers are female and 56 percent of all farms have at least one female decision maker. Farms with female producers making decisions tend to be smaller than average in both acres and value of production.
-    Female producers are most heavily engaged in the day-to-day decisions along with record keeping and financial management.

Results are available in many online formats including video presentations, a new data query interface, maps, and traditional data tables. To address questions about the 2017 Census of Agriculture data, NASS will host a live Twitter chat (@usda_nass) Ask the Census Experts #StatChat on Friday, April 12 at 1 p.m. ET. All information is available at

The Census tells the story of American agriculture and is an important part of our history. First conducted in 1840 in conjunction with the decennial Census, the Census of Agriculture accounts for all U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. After 1920, the Census happened every four to five years. By 1982, it was regularly conducted once every five years. Today, NASS sends questionnaires to nearly 3 million potential U.S. farms and ranches. Nearly 25 percent of those who responded did so online. Conducted since 1997 by USDA NASS – the federal statistical agency responsible for producing official data about U.S. agriculture – it remains the only source of comprehensive agricultural data for every state and county in the nation and is invaluable for planning the future.


Data from the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) 2017 Census of Agriculture show the number of farms in Nebraska during 2017 was 46,332, down 7 percent from the 2012 Census of Agriculture. Land in farms, at 45.0 million acres was down 1 percent from that reported five years prior. Land in farms account for 91.5 percent of the total land area in the state compared to 39.8 percent for the U.S. The average size of farm in Nebraska was 971 acres, up 7 percent or 64 acres from 2012.

The total value of agricultural products sold in 2017 was 22.0 billion dollars, down 5 percent from 2012. Of the total value of production, 58 percent originated from livestock with 42 percent from crops. Average net income per farm was 87,824 dollars, down 19 percent from 2012.

During 2017, the average age of producers was 56.4 years compared to 54.3 years in 2012. The number of young producers, defined as age 35 or less, was 9,141, or 12 percent of all producers. The number of female producers was 24,730, or 32 percent of all producers. For 2017, data were collected from a maximum of four producers per farm, while for 2012 data were collected from a maximum of three producers per farm.

The Census of Agriculture contains numerous statistics not readily available from other sources. For example, 81 percent of Nebraska farms have Internet access compared to 75 percent for all U.S. farms. Additional information on demographics, decision making, and minor commodity statistics are also available.

Naig: Census Proves Agriculture Vital to Iowa Economy

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig commented on the USDA NASS 2017 Census of Ag report released Thursday.

"Thank you to all the farmers who participated in the 2017 Census of Ag. This data gives us a valuable snapshot of the crop and livestock production happening right here in Iowa, and it reaffirms that agriculture is vital to the state's economy," said Secretary Naig. "We generated almost $29 billion in crop and livestock sales in 2017, and livestock sales now exceed crop sales by 4 percent. Iowa remains number one in corn and pork production, and planted cover crop acres increased 256 percent since the 2012 census."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) Thursday released the 2017 Census of Agriculture results sharing a wide-range of information about Iowa's farms and ranches and those who operate them, including new data about on-farm decision making, down to the county level. Information collected directly from producers tells us both farm numbers and land in farms have small percentage declines since the last Census in 2012 and the average age of all farmers and ranchers continues to rise.

The Census information will be used by farmers, ranchers, local officials, agribusiness, commodity groups and others to guide future decisions, in evaluating and implementing policies, and to educate consumers, which will provide a return on the investment made by the thousands of farmers who completed their Census form.

"We are pleased to deliver Census of Agriculture results, especially to the farmers and ranchers who participated," said Greg Thessen, NASS' Upper Midwest regional director. The Census provides a wide range of demographic, economic, land, and crop and livestock production information. Many of these data about Iowa and our counties are only collected and reported as part of the every-five-year census."

The 2017 Census of Agriculture data show the following key trends for Iowa:
- There are 86,104 million farms (down 2.9 percent from 2012) with an average size of 355 acres (up 2.9 percent) on 30.6 million acres (down 0.2 percent).
- The value of agricultural products sold by Iowa farmers totaled $29.0 billion, down 6 percent or $1.87 billion from 2012. Crop sales accounted for $13.8 billion of the total, down 20 percent from 2012, while livestock sales accounted for $15.1 billion, up 12 percent from 2012.
- Iowa ranked 2nd nationally for total value of agricultural products sold and livestock sales in 2017 with Iowa's crop sales ranking 3rd highest.
- Farmers in Sioux, Lyon, Plymouth, Washington, and Kossuth counties had the largest value of sales in Iowa for 2017.
- Farmers spent a total of $23.5 billion on production expenses in 2017, down 1 percent from the $23.7 billion in 2012.
- Farmers harvested crops from 24.3 million acres in 2017 with no-till practices used on 8.20 million acres (up 18 percent from 2012) and reduced (conservation) tillage practices used on 10.1 million acres (up 16 percent).
- Farms with internet access rose from 74 percent in 2012 to 80 percent in 2017.

For the 2017 Census of Agriculture, NASS changed the demographic questions to better represent the roles of all persons involved in on-farm decision making. As a result, in 2017 the number of Iowa producers is up nearly 11 percent to 143,447, because more farms reported multiple producers. Most of these newly identified producers are female. While the number of male producers fell 3.2 percent to 94,382 from 2012 to 2017, the number of female producers increased by nearly 53 percent to 49,065. This change underscores the effectiveness of the questionnaire changes.

Other demographic highlights include:
- The average age of all Iowa producers is 57.4, up 1.8 years from 2012.
- There are 14,986 young producers age 35 or less on 11,136 farms. Young producers are more involved in making decisions regarding livestock than any other age group.
- Just over one in five producers is a beginning farmer with 10 or fewer years of experience and an average age of 43.7.
- The number of Iowa producers who have served in the military is 12,829, or 9 percent of all producers. They are older than the average at 70.1 years of age.
- Thirty-four percent of all Iowa producers are female with the largest percentage of female producers involved in record keeping and financial management along with day-to-day decisions.

Results are available in many online formats including video presentations, a new data query interface, maps, and traditional data tables. To address questions about the 2017 Census of Agriculture data, NASS will host a live Twitter chat (@usda_nass) Ask the Census Experts #StatChat on April 12 at 1 p.m. ET. All information is available at

The Census tells the story of American agriculture and is an important part of our history. First conducted in 1840 in conjunction with the decennial Census, the Census of Agriculture accounts for all U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. After 1920, the Census happened every four to five years. By 1982, it was regularly conducted once every five years. Today, NASS sends questionnaires to nearly 3 million potential U.S. farms and ranches. Nearly 25 percent of those who responded did so online. Conducted since 1997 by USDA NASS -- the federal statistical agency responsible for producing official data about U.S. agriculture -- it remains the only source of comprehensive agricultural data for every state and county in the nation and is invaluable for planning the future.

Star City BaconFest 2019 Draws Hundreds of Lincoln-Area Foodies to Sample Bacon-Inspired Gourmet Treats.

Star City BaconFest 2019 returned to the Capital City for its fifth year on April 7, with well over 600 bacon enthusiasts enjoying gourmet treats served up by leading Lincoln-area restaurants. The event was hosted again this year by the Cornhusker Marriot Hotel.

    The annual event, sponsored by the Nebraska Pork Producers Association (NPPA) and the Nebraska Restaurant Association (NRA), benefits culinary students in the state and provides over $5,000 in scholarships through the NRA's Hospitality Education Foundation.  

    “Bacon-based creations from the Lincoln area’s talented chefs wowed the BaconFest crowd,” said Brandy Nielson, Membership and Marketing Coordinator with the Nebraska Restaurant Association. “Their tasty items definitely were enjoyed by everyone. And thanks, too, to Hormel for providing all the bacon used by the chefs.”

    Jane Stone, the NPPA’s Domestic Marketing Director, agreed. “The Nebraska Pork Producers Association continues to be amazed at the excitement and enthusiasm BaconFest generates each year. Hats off to our participating chefs. Everything was delicious. Our industry loves this event because not only do we get to showcase bacon, one of our most popular pork products, but we hope it also provides a farm-to-table connection for our urban consumers.”

    BaconFest-goers were asked to vote for their favorite treats again this year. Winners were:
First place, Brewsky’s, for its Sweet & Spicy Sliders – seasoned slow smoked pork injected with apple cider topped with Granny Smith Apple Coleslaw, diced candied Jalapeno Bacon and a Raspberry Bullet Bourbon Jam; Second place, Hurts Donut, for its Mini Maple Bacon Long John; Third place, Smoking Gun Jerky, for its Sweet & Spicy Jalapeno Bacon, Maple & Cracked Black Pepper and Hawaiian Jerky.

    Participating vendors included: 9 South Char Grill; Brewsky's; HiWay Diner; The Single Barrel/Mulberry BBQ; HopCat; McKinney's Irish Pub;The Eatery; Ashland Country Club; Rodizio Grill; Lazlo's Brewery & Grill/Fireworks; Hurts Donut; Screamers Dining & Cabaret; Billy's Restaurant; Smoking Gun Jerky; Hormel; Buzzard Billy's; LeCupcake; Art & Soul; Papillion LaVista South ProStart; Cornhusker Hotel; Millertime Pub and Grill; and Green Flash.

USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety to speak April 15

Merging science with policy to ensure food safety will be the topic of an April 15 seminar at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. United States Department of Agriculture Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety, Mindy Brashears, will speak at 10 a.m. in Room 277 of the Food Innovation Center.

As Deputy Under Secretary, Brashears leads the Food Safety and Inspection Service, which has a mission of protecting the public’s health by preventing foodborne illness, modernizing inspection systems, policies and approaches, and achieving operational excellence. Brashears has served in the role since Jan. 29, 2019.

Prior to the USDA, Brashears was a professor and director of the International Center for Food Industry Excellence at Texas Tech University. Her research program focused on improving food safety standards to make an impact on public health. Her work evaluated interventions in pre- and post-harvest environments and on the emergence of antimicrobial drug resistance in animal feeding systems. She has an extensive publication record in peer-reviewed journals and has been invited to speak at national and international events on the topics of her research to give keynote addresses. Her research has resulted in more than 20 patents or patents pending for her innovative approach to improving food safety in the food supply.

Brashears began her career at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, working as an assistant professor and extension food safety specialist from 1997-2001.

The seminar is supported by the Department of Food Science and Technology at Nebraska.


Farmers participating in the Nebraska On-Farm Research Network (NOFRN) conducted over 70 on-farm research studies in 2018, covering a wide range of topics. The projects evaluated practices such as cover crops, row spacing, planting population, starter fertilizer and more.

“Farmers in Nebraska have generated a lot of valuable research data,” said Nebraska Extension Educator Laura Thompson. The results help address critical production, profitability and natural resources questions that producers in the region are facing.

Accessing the research results is now easier than ever before with a new online Results Finder tool. The tool allows users to search and filter data from over 800 on-farm research studies dating back to 1990. Thompson encourages farmers and agronomists to use the Results Finder tool to review the findings and possibly generate ideas to implement on operations in 2019. The tool is available at

In addition to being posted online, the results were shared with farmers, crop consultants and others in the ag industry during winter meetings. Attendees of the research meetings noted they appreciated having a source of unbiased research, the variety of topics, and the opportunity for interaction with other farmers and educators.

The Nebraska On-Farm Research Network is a collaborative partnership between Nebraska Extension, the Nebraska Corn Board, the Nebraska Corn Growers Association, the Nebraska Soybean Checkoff and the Nebraska Dry Bean Commission. It provides a way for growers to validate their production practices and make decisions for future years based on what they have learned in their own fields. Research is typically conducted with the producer’s equipment, on the producer’s land and using the producer’s management practices. Nebraska Extension educators provide technical expertise to set up robust research studies and analyze research results.

“Conducting on-farm research provides the opportunity to evaluate production practices with a grower’s equipment using replicated field length strips in a farm environment. This is a great way to address questions related to the productivity, profitability, and sustainability of your operation,” said Nebraska Extension Educator Keith Glewen.

The Nebraska On-Farm Research Network is open to farmers across the state and welcomes new participants. To view recently posted research projects or learn more, visit

Naig Appoints Susan Kozak as Soil Conservation and Water Quality Division Director

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig today announced that the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship has hired Susan Kozak as division director for Soil Conservation and Water Quality.

“Our economy is dependent upon agriculture, and agriculture is dependent upon our natural resources,” said Secretary Naig. “I am confident Susan will provide strong leadership as we continue to implement the state’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy, build on our rich history of soil conservation, and increase our focus on water quality. Susan is the right person to nurture key partnerships that help us execute our conservation work.”

Kozak’s appointment follows a recommendation from the State Soil Conservation and Water Quality Committee. By statute, the committee recommends three candidates to the Secretary of Agriculture.

Kozak joined the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship as an environmental specialist in the Mines and Minerals Bureau in 2008. She was appointed the Mines and Minerals Bureau Chief in 2014, and has been serving as the Acting Division Director for Soil Conservation and Water Quality since January 2018. Kozak works closely with the State Soil Conservation and Water Quality Committee, is a leader with the Monarch Conservation Consortium, and is the current Secretary/Treasurer for the National Association of Abandoned Mine Land Programs.

Since Kozak stepped into the Acting Division Director role last year, she has provided leadership for the state’s Water Quality Initiative (WQI) and other soil conservation programs. The WQI was established during the 2013 legislative session to help implement the state’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy. The WQI seeks to harness the collective ability of both private and public resources and organizations to support Iowans as they implement practices to reduce nutrient loss and improve water quality.  

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to lead this team of conservation experts, who are very passionate about their work and ensuring the wise use of our soil, water and mineral resources,” said Kozak. “I am excited to continue our outreach efforts with the 100 Soil and Water Conservation Districts across the state and our many other conservation partners.”

USDA Announces Emergency Grazing on CRP Acres in Iowa

USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) State Executive Director Amanda De Jong today announced that effective immediately, emergency grazing use of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres is approved in Iowa through May 14, 2019. The authorization was granted to address the impacts of the recent extreme weather, including flooding. Participation is limited to livestock producers who lost pasture or fences due to the flooding.

“By allowing emergency grazing, we expand the available resources to help Iowa producers respond to recent weather events,” De Jong said.

Producers who are interested in the use of emergency grazing of CRP acres must request FSA county office approval before moving livestock onto the acres. Producers whose livestock grazing land was adversely impacted by the flood, must file a CCC-576 Notice of Loss or provide written certification of that loss. The request must include a modified conservation plan, with grazing provisions, from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

CRP participants can allow others to use their CRP acres under this emergency grazing authorization; however, the livestock owners will also need to complete FSA paperwork indicating their grazing land was adversely impacted by severe weather. There will be no reduction in CRP rental payments to CRP contract holders who use the emergency grazing authorization. CRP contract holders are not permitted to charge livestock producers for the emergency grazing option.

For more information on eligible practices or to request approval for emergency grazing use of CRP acres, contact your local FSA office

Emergency CRP Grazing Available

For several weeks now, the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association has been working to help producers across the state adjust to the inclement and disastrous weather that has plagued our state. Today we applaud USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) State Executive Director Amanda De Jong for her announcement of emergency Conservation Reserve Program grazing.

Emergency grazing is approved in Iowa through May 14, 2019. Participation is limited to livestock producers who lost pasture or fences due to flooding. Interested producers must contact the FSA county office before grazing.

According to FSA, “CRP participants can allow others to use their CRP acres under this emergency grazing authorization; however, the livestock owners will also need to complete FSA paperwork indicating their grazing land was adversely impacted by severe weather. There will be no reduction in CRP rental payments to CRP contract holders who use the emergency grazing authorization. CRP contract holders are not permitted to charge livestock producers for the emergency grazing option.”

For more information on eligible practices or to request approval for emergency grazing use of CRP acres, contact your local FSA office or visit

While weather and natural disaster continues to affect our producers and the production livestock they tend to each and every day, we will continue to work with FSA on Livestock Indemnity Program  flexibility and work with local offices to ensure this assistance goes into widespread use on behalf of Iowa’s beef business during a very challenging time.

Biodiesel Tax Credit Marker Bill Introduced, House Supporters Push Leadership to Act

Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D-IA) has introduced a bipartisan marker bill, the Biodiesel Tax Credit Extension Act of 2019 (HR 2089), that would provide a two-year (2018-19) extension of the $1 per gallon biodiesel and renewable diesel blenders tax credit. As of today, the House Members that have signed on as co-sponsors include: Reps. Kelly (R-PA), Kind (D-WI) Adrian Smith (R-NE), Axne (D-IA), Bustos (D-IL), Craig (D-MN), Danny Davis (D-IL), LaHood (R-IL), Loebsack (D-IA), Walorski (R-IN), DeLauro (D-CT), Pascrell (D-NJ), Larson (D-CT), Sewell (D-AL), and Pence (R-IN). The marker bill serves as a demonstration of support and, if enacted, would be part of a larger package of tax extenders or tax provisions.

Also, biodiesel supporters in the House of Representatives are preparing to send a letter to House leadership urging immediate action on the extension of the biodiesel tax credit. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) is leading the letter along with Reps. Cheri Bustos (D-IL) and Dave Loebsack (D-IA).


The National Pork Producers Council today wrapped up its Spring Legislative Action Conference. More than 100 pork producers from across the United States gathered in Washington this week to meet with their representatives in Congress to discuss solutions for trade, animal disease preparedness and agriculture's labor shortage.

"Lifting metal tariffs on Mexico and restoring zero-tariff access for U.S. pork in our largest export market is our number one priority," said David Herring, a pork producer from Lillington, North Carolina and president of the National Pork Producers Council.  "Restricted access to Mexico has placed a severe financial strain on our farmers for more than a year. We asked our representatives to do all they can to push for an end to this and other trade disputes, including China, that are hurting our export-dependent farmers."

NPPC members also urged members of Congress to advocate for the quick completion of a trade deal with Japan at a time when new trade agreements Japan has formed with other countries are threatening U.S. pork market share in its largest value market. Pork producers also urged their representative to vote to ratify the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement to secure long-term zero-tariff pork trade in North America.

Producers also discussed two solutions to mitigate the risk of animal disease in the United States: 1) appropriations funding for 600 new U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture inspectors to further strengthen defenses against African swine fever (ASF) and other animal diseases and 2) to sign a letter of support that calls for the USDA to implement the Farm Bill as intended, including development of a Foot-and-Mouth Disease vaccine bank.

"Prevention is our best defense against an animal disease like African swine fever for which no vaccine exists," said Herring. "For a disease like Foot-and-Mouth disease, which would also close U.S. pork's export markets, prevention is also critical. Should an outbreak occur, a vaccine bank will allow us to quickly contain the disease. A vaccine back is critical."

NPPC members also asked members of Congress to address U.S. agriculture's labor shortage challenge by reforming the H-2A visa program to include year-round agricultural workers and asked for support to place for oversight of this program with the USDA.

Secretary Perdue Statement on Vietnam's Ban on the Importation of Glyphosate

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue issued the following statement in response to the announcement by Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) that Vietnam will ban the importation of glyphosate:

“We are disappointed in Vietnam’s decision to ban glyphosate, a move that will have devastating impacts on global agricultural production. As I’ve often said, if we’re going to feed 10 billion people by 2050, farmers worldwide need all the tools and technologies at our disposal.

“On numerous occasions, USDA has shared scientific studies with MARD from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other internationally recognized regulatory bodies concluding that glyphosate is unlikely to pose a carcinogenic hazard to humans. This ban flies on the face of that scientific evidence. Furthermore, Vietnam has sidestepped its obligation to notify this regulatory change to the World Trade Organization.

“Vietnam also needs to look at the potential ramifications for its own farmers. In addition to the immediate effect of slowing the development of Vietnamese agricultural production, there’s the very real risk that Vietnam’s farmers will turn to unregulated, illegal chemical products in place of glyphosate.”

Ranchers Welcome Bernhardt Confirmation, Urge Action on Remaining Vacancies

Today Ethan Lane, senior executive director of the Public Lands Council and NCBA Federal Lands, released the following statement in response to the confirmation of David Bernhardt to be Secretary of Interior:

“The confirmation of Secretary Bernhardt is welcome news for livestock producers across the country. We look forward to continuing our partnership with the Secretary and are glad he can finally focus on the Department of Interior’s critical work. While we celebrate the confirmation of a new Secretary, several senior positions at the Department of Interior remain vacant. We urge the White House to quickly address these vacancies by re-nominating qualified candidates like Aurelia Skipwith to serve as Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as filling other critical vacancies throughout the Department and Administration.”

DMC Payments Already Outpace Annual Premium, According to USDA Data

USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service margin calculation for February indicates a second month of payouts for producers who enroll at the higher coverage levels allowed under the new Dairy Margin Coverage program.

The prices used to determine the February 2019 margin under the Dairy Margin Coverage program, the new version of the previous Margin Protection Program for Dairy, generated a margin of $8.22 per cwt. That would not have produced a payment to any farmer under the old MPP, which had a $8/cwt. ceiling. Under the new DMC, that margin will generate a payment of $1.28 per cwt. for producers who purchase coverage for this year at the new maximum level of $9.50 per cwt.  For example, a farmer insuring 5 million pounds of milk production history at the maximum $9.50 per cwt. is already guaranteed to receive $6,307 and $5,347, respectively, for the first two months of the year under the DMC as currently calculated.

The February margin was $0.23 per cwt. higher than the margin in January, the result of a $0.20 higher milk price and a 3-cent lower feed cost. Together, margins from the first two months of 2019 are already enough to ensure that producers who enroll at the maximum coverage level will receive more in DMC payments during 2019 than they will pay in premiums. USDA, which has announced that signups for the 2019 program will begin by June 17, is predicting that DMC coverage at $9.50 per cwt. will continue generating payments each month from March through August.

The 2018 Farm Bill also removes the previous restriction that prohibited producers from enrolling milk in both the MPP program and the Livestock Gross Margin for Dairy (LGM-Dairy) program during the same month. It further allows farmers previously prevented from enrolling in MPP during 2018 due to this restriction to enroll retroactively in MPP and collect payments for 2018 for the months during which they were prevented from doing so. Farmers who purchased buy-up coverage under MPP during 2014-2017 are also eligible under the Farm Bill to receive a partial refund of their net payments during those years.

CWT-Assisted Export Sales Near a Half-Billion Pounds of Milk Equivalent, Adds Products

CWT member cooperatives secured 50 contracts to sell 5.1 million pounds of American-type cheeses, 1.6 million pounds of butter, and 11.1 million pounds of whole-milk powder in March. These contracts bring the 2019 total of the CWT-assisted product sales contracts to 25.4 million pounds of cheese, 2.8 million pounds of butter, and 22.2 million pounds of whole milk powder and will move the equivalent of 459.6 million pounds of milk on a milkfat basis abroad this year.

CWT also announced that effective April 1, it will add pasteurized process cheese, cream cheese and anhydrous milkfat to the other dairy products eligible for export assistance – American-type cheeses, butter and whole milk powder.

“World dairy markets are evolving and the addition of these products to those eligible for CWT assistance will help U.S. dairy farmers serve world consumer demand,” noted Jim Mulhern, President and CEO of NMPF.

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

EIA Data Underscores Need for Commitment to Secure, Clean Energy Future

For fifteen years, the Solutions from the Land's (SfL) renewable energy platform, the 25x'25 Alliance, has compiled and compared year-to-year total and renewable energy production and consumption data to gauge progress to the 25x'25 Goal: By 2025, America's farms, forests and ranches will provide 25 percent of the total energy consumed in the United States, while continuing to produce safe, abundant, and affordable feed, food, fiber and energy.

According to the most recent Monthly Energy Review (MER) issued by the DOE's Energy Information Administration (EIA), both renewable energy production and consumption grew over 2018. But due to a relatively small increase in the amount of energy consumed last year, the percentage of renewables as part of that mix increased only slightly.

Total energy production in the United States increased by 7.275 quadrillion BTUs (quads) to 95.533 quads, a jump of more than 8 percent. Fossil fuel production was led by net increases in natural gas (3.984 quads) and crude oil (3.267 quads) and accounted for most of the production growth. (Coal, however, saw a slight decrease in production over the previous year.)

All renewable energy resources saw an uptick in production, except for hydroelectric power. Total renewable energy production clocked in last year at 11.716 Quads, or 12.26 percent of total energy production, which is actually a slight decrease from 2017's 12.71 percent.

Even though the production of renewable energy increased, it did not increase as much as fossil fuel production, thus contributing to an overall percentage decline of renewable energy production as compared to total energy production.

The year-over-year increase in total fossil fuel production was 9.89 percent (6.835 quads), while total renewable energy production only increased by 3.7 percent (0.418 quads).

On the consumption side, a total of 101.268 quads was consumed in the United States last year, an increase of 3.461 quads over 2017. Consumption of most energy sources (natural gas, petroleum, nuclear, geothermal, solar, wind and biomass) increased, except for coal and hydroelectric power. This is the first time U.S. energy consumption exceeded 100 quads of energy since 2007. Total fossil fuel energy consumption increased to 81.161 Quads, a hike of 3.144 quads (4.03 percent) over 2017 levels.

If fossil energy production increased by 6.835 quads and fossil energy consumption only increased by 3.144 quads, it might be asked: Where did the remaining energy go? The difference went to energy exports. The United States has nearly doubled its energy exports over the past five years, with increases coming in nearly every energy source.

Much like fossil fuels, nearly all renewable energy resources (except hydroelectric power) experienced an increase in consumption in 2018, coming in at 11.515 quads, a hike of 3.01 percent over the 11.179 quads recorded in 2017. Again, renewable energy consumption increased, but not at the rate or volume that fossil fuel energy consumption increased.

Because total energy consumption only grew at a rate of 3.54 percent, renewable energy consumption as a percentage of total energy consumption ticked up 0.1 percent, to 11.37 percent. This represents a significant gap from our goal of 25% renewable energy consumption by 2025.

Given that the total renewable energy consumption (11.515 quads) was less than total renewable energy production (11.716 quads) in 2018, it might be asked: Why the 0.201 quad difference? The United States is now a net exporter of biomass-based energy when accounting for the export of biofuels (ethanol and/or biodiesel) and compressed wood pellets.

If the United States is producing 95.533 quads of energy and consuming 101.268 quads of energy, where is the net difference in energy being sourced from? While the nation has dramatically increased energy exports over the years, the United States remains a net importer of energy - especially of crude oil - to satisfy our domestic energy needs.

The 2018 numbers drive home the need for the right local, state and federal policies and investments that can enable the country to close the energy gap with renewable energy produced domestically from sustainable feedstocks and renewable resources, mostly from our rural areas.

Stakeholders are urged to ramp up their messaging to policy makers by reinvigorating the national 25x'25 goal and calling on them to: make energy efficiency the option of first choice in energy decisions; increase the production of renewable energy resources; ensure renewable energy has unfettered access to markets; increase consumer access to renewable energy resources; and, expand public and private investments in renewable energy R&D to increase efficiencies and further reduce production costs.

When the 25x'25 Goal was introduced fifteen years ago, it was seen as the answer to a national energy strategy that lacked vision. At that time, the 25x'25 Goal was the sort of long-term vision the country needed. To achieve our goal, policy makers and the consuming public must strengthen their commitment to a secure and clean energy future.

 ACE introduces fuel retailers to ethanol at a technical forum in Mexico’s “oil country”

This week, American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) Senior Vice President Ron Lamberty traveled to Tuxtla Gutiérrez, the capital and largest city of the southeast Mexico state of Chiapas. This trip marks his third time to the country this year to speak at ethanol technical information forums for Mexican petroleum equipment installers and retailers. The forums are a joint effort of the U.S. Grains Council and the Mexican Association of Service Station Suppliers (AMPES), to inform Mexican petroleum marketers about opportunities in sourcing, marketing, and retailing ethanol-blended gasoline, as Mexico’s transportation fuel sector evolves.

“Chiapas shares a border with Guatemala to the east, the northwest part of the state touches Mexico’s largest oil fields, and Tuxtla Gutiérrez is only a few hours from PEMEX’s headquarters. For all practical purposes, it’s oil country,” Lamberty said. “It’s also an area of amazing natural beauty, and we’re helping these marketers understand ethanol can help make gasoline cleaner and more friendly to their environment while also making it more affordable.”

“Mexico’s refineries operate far below capacity, and 70 percent of the fuel sold in the country is imported,” Lamberty added. “A new 600,000-barrel waterborne terminal directly north of Tuxtla Gutiérrez opened last year, and with so much of the nation’s fuel imported, we’re asking these marketers, ‘Why not import ethanol?’ And because this is an area built on oil revenue, we’re making it clear that it’s not ethanol versus gasoline, it’s ethanol to add octane, lower emissions, and bring down the cost of gasoline. We’re here to introduce them to ethanol and address any questions they may have about ethanol supply, logistics, blending, octane economics, and retail marketing and promotion.”

Lamberty has shared his experience as an ethanol splash blender and retailer at 10 events in Mexico since the fall of 2017, to set owners’ minds at ease with respect to adding ethanol blended fuel to locations using existing infrastructure. He has also demonstrated how marketers can make money as distributors of ethanol, something that has inspired the same entrepreneurial spirit exhibited by U.S. splash blenders back when ethanol was first being introduced in the nation. Fuel equipment companies in Mexico report increased interest from retailers and prospective wholesale distributors of ethanol since the workshop series began.

U.S. Tractor and Combine Sales Were Up in March

According to the Association of Equipment Manufacturer's monthly "Flash Report," the sale of all tractors in the U.S. in 2018, were even in March compared to 2018.

Two-wheel drive smaller tractors (under 40 HP) were up even compared to last year, while 40 & under 100 HP were down 3%. Sales of 2-wheel drive 100+ HP were up 5%, while 4-wheel drive tractors were up 13%. Combine sales were up 71% for the month.

For the year, a total of 44,523 tractors were sold which compares to 42,027 sold in 2018 representing an 6% increase for the year.  For the year, two-wheel drive smaller tractors (under 40 HP) are up 10% from last year, while 40 & under 100 HP are down 2%. Sales of 2-wheel drive 100+ HP are even, while 4-wheel drive tractors are up 25%.  Sales of combines for the year totaled 977 compared to 719 in 2018, an 36% increase.

Wednesday April 10 Ag News

USDA Announces Sign-Up Period for Updated Conservation Stewardship Program

The deadline for Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) applications to be considered for funding in fiscal year 2019 is May 10, 2019.

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) plans to invest up to $700 million for new enrollments and contract extensions in fiscal year 2019. The 2018 Farm Bill made several changes to this critical conservation program, which helps agricultural producers take the conservation activities on their farm or ranch to the next level.

“CSP continues to be a very effective tool for private landowners working to achieve their conservation and management goals,” said Craig Derickson, Nebraska NRCS state conservationist. “It is the largest conservation program in the United States with more than 70 million acres of productive agricultural and forest land enrolled.”

CSP is a popular program for Nebraska’s ag producers. Over 5 million acres are currently under contract in Nebraska. In 2018, over 550 farmers and ranchers enrolled over 1.3 million acres into CSP.

While applications are accepted throughout the year, interested producers should submit applications to their local NRCS office by May 10, 2019, to ensure their applications are considered for 2019 funding.

Changes to the Program

The 2018 Farm Bill authorizes NRCS to accept new CSP enrollments from now until 2023, and it makes some important improvements to the program. These updates include:
-    NRCS now enrolls eligible, high ranking applications based on dollars rather than acres. For fiscal year 2019, NRCS can spend up to $700 million in the program, which covers part of the cost for producers implementing new conservation activities and maintaining their existing activities.
-    Higher payment rates are now available for certain conservation activities, including cover crops and resource conserving crop rotations. 
-    CSP now provides specific support for organic and for transitioning to organic production activities and a special grassland conservation initiative for certain producers who have maintained cropland base acres.

About the Program

CSP provides many benefits including increased crop yields, decreased inputs, wildlife habitat improvements and increased resilience to weather extremes. CSP is for working lands including cropland, pastureland, rangeland, nonindustrial private forest land and agricultural land under the jurisdiction of a tribe. 

More Information

For additional information about CSP, contact your local USDA service center.

 Reinke Offers Safety Tips For Checking Irrigation Equipment After Flooding

With flood waters beginning to recede on more than a million acres of farmland in the Midwest, growers will be wanting to restore their operations. Reinke Manufacturing is reminding you of some critical safety guidelines.....
-    Wait for the waters to completely recede.
-    Contact your dealership to inspect your system for needed repairs or to restore power to your center pivot and other irrigation equipment. 
-        Do NOT attempt to do this yourself as there could be additional electrical safety hazards due to debris striking electrical components on equipment, broken power lines and other unforeseen dangers. 
-        Your local dealership has a great deal of experience with irrigation systems and will be more likely to notice additional damage, problems or needed repairs before you go on-site or contact your insurance company. 
-        *Be Aware* - Some areas are requiring a permit before restoring any form of power. Your local dealership will know how to find this information.
-    Contact your insurance company to file a claim. Claims should be completed as soon as possible. 

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the farmers and ranchers who are suffering because of the historic flooding that has hit the Midwest,” said Chris Roth, Reinke President. “Many of us have never seen this level of flooding before, so we wanted to make sure growers are safe as they head out into their fields. Your safety is of the utmost importance.”


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Is nitrogen fertilizer too expensive for pasture?  It might be unless your fertilizer applications and grazing are managed well.  Stick around and I’ll describe some efficiency tips.

               After adding a hundred, sixty, or even just forty pounds of nitrogen per acre to your pastures in past years, did your grass grow really nice in April and May?  Then did it get stemmy in June with cows trampling and laying on more of it than eating it?  And by August was most of the grass brown or dead, much of it matted down, with the only green material so short that cows could barely get any of it?

               If this describes your pastures, do something a little different this year.  For starters, don’t fertilize all your pasture right away.  You’re stimulating more spring growth than your cows can eat, so only fertilize half or three-quarters of your pasture now.  Be sure, though, that the unfertilized area is fenced off from the rest of the pasture.

               Now, go ahead and have your cows graze pretty much like you normally do, but be sure to finish grazing the unfertilized area sometime in mid-May.  Then check the weather and soil moisture.  If you think there will be enough moisture for some good regrowth, then fertilize this previously unfertilized area.  Let it regrow for six weeks or longer and you should have some really good regrowth available for grazing in July or August.

               What if it’s dry in mid-May with poor prospects for regrowth?  In that case, save your money and don’t apply any more fertilizer.  You still will have produced about as much pasture growth as if you had fertilized everything to begin with, but at less cost.

               If your pastures often grow too fast in spring yet run out in summer every year, change fertilizer timing.  You’ll get more grass when you want it or maybe save some money.


               Does rain often damage your high quality hay just before it’s ready to bale?  There is a baling method that may help solve that problem.

               Rain plays havoc with hay quality.  Even when you study weather reports and do your best to cut when good drying weather is expected, just before your hay is ready to bale, it often gets damaged by rain.

               So what are your options when dark clouds are on the horizon and your hay still is a little too wet?  Well, you could go ahead and bale that tough hay and hope – hope that it doesn’t spoil, or even worse, get hot and burn.  Or you can wait out the storm and cross your fingers that you get good moisture for your row crops but it skips over the hay fields.

               There is another option.  Maybe you bale it tough, then wrap it with stretch wrap plastic to keep water and air out while keeping nutrients in.

               Studies have shown excellent success wrapping bales containing twenty-five to forty percent moisture.  After a full year in storage, the hay came out of the wrapping in great shape, with very little storage loss, a nice silage-like odor, and well-preserved nutrients.

               Wrapping tough hay reduces weather risk because wrapping often occurs at least a day sooner than normal baling.  Both yield and forage quality can be higher because fewer leaves are lost than with dry hay.

               It does take a lot of plastic, though.  Six or seven layers are needed to maintain feed quality.  If you don’t use enough plastic or fail to repair any holes, this kind of hay can spoil very fast.

               Wrapping slightly tough hay in plastic can improve your forage quality and reduce weather losses.  If rain damage often plagues your hay making, it might be worth looking into.


The National Pork Producers Council's board of directors today announced its decision to cancel World Pork Expo 2019 out of an abundance of caution as African swine fever (ASF) continues to spread in China and other parts of Asia. World Pork Expo, held each June at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, hosts approximately 20,000 visitors over three days, including individuals and exhibitors from ASF-positive regions.  African swine fever affects only pigs and presents no human health or food safety risks. There is currently no vaccine to treat the swine disease.

"While an evaluation by veterinarians and other third-party experts concluded negligible risk associated with holding the event, we have decided to exercise extreme caution," said David Herring, NPPC president and a producer from Lillington, North Carolina. "The health of the U.S. swine herd is paramount; the livelihoods of our producers depend on it. Prevention is our only defense against ASF and NPPC will continue to do all it can to prevent its spread to the United States."

The decision to cancel this year's World Pork Expo comes as more than 100 U.S pork producers gather in Washington this week to meet with their members of Congress during NPPC's Legislative Action Conference. To augment the USDA's efforts to protect the United States from ASF and other animal diseases, U.S. pork producers are asking Congress to appropriate funding for 600 new U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture inspectors to further strengthen our defenses against African swine fever.

"Our farmers are highly export dependent," Herring said. "An ASF outbreak would immediately close our export markets at a time when we are already facing serious trade headwinds. The retaliatory tariffs we currently face in some of our largest export markets due to trade disputes are among the factors that prompted a conservative decision regarding World Pork Expo. U.S. pork producers are already operating in very challenging financial conditions."

Herring added, "The widespread presence of African swine fever in China's swine herd, the world's largest by far, takes the threat of this swine disease to an entirely new level. We ask all producers, travelers and the general public to recognize the heightened risk since the first outbreak was reported in China last year and to heed biosecurity protocols in support of U.S. agriculture. 

Pork Checkoff Acknowledges “Tough Decision” to Cancel World Pork Expo

The National Pork Board today offered a statement of support to the National Pork Producers Council as it took the extremely rare step to cancel the 2019 World Pork Expo scheduled June 5-7, 2019, in Des Moines.

“We completely understand that to cancel World Pork Expo is a tough decision that no one wants to make,” said Steve Rommereim, president of the National Pork Board and a pig farmer from Alcester, South Dakota. “But when it comes to the ongoing spread of African swine fever in Asia and Europe, caution must come first. We stand by our pig-farming partners in doing anything we can to stem the spread of this disease.”

The Pork Checkoff has been helping to inform producers’ response to African swine fever since it broke in China in August 2018. The fundamental purposes of the Checkoff are swine research, producer education and pork promotion. To that end, the organization has provided comprehensive information through a dedicated foreign animal disease web page located at

Key materials on the page that every pig farmer need to know center on protecting their herd through following biosecurity principles and ensuring every pig farm has a defined Premises Identification Number, or PIN, which are fundamental to the U.S. pork industry’s Secure Pork Supply plan. Details on the Secure Pork Supply plan are at

“We acknowledge the relatively low risk that World Pork Expo may have posed to the introduction of African swine fever to the U.S. But any risk needs to be managed – and that is our purpose at the National Pork Board,” Rommereim said. “This is a serious global issue and we need to maintain our commitment and oversight to managing this disease spread.”

Rommereim encourages all U.S. pig farmers to review the foreign animal disease preparation checklist and biosecurity steps to take, among other materials located on

Lindsay Corporation Reports Second Quarter Results

Lindsay Corporation, a leading global manufacturer and distributor of irrigation and infrastructure equipment and technology, Tuesday announced results for its second quarter ended February 28, 2019.

Revenues for the second quarter of fiscal 2019 were $109.2 million, a decrease of $21.2 million, or 16 percent, compared to revenues of $130.3 million in the prior year's second quarter. Approximately $19.6 million of the total decrease in revenues was attributable to previously announced business divestitures in the irrigation segment as part of the Company's Foundation for Growth initiative.

The Company incurred a net loss for the quarter of $3.4 million, or $0.32 per diluted share, compared with net earnings of $1.7 million, or $0.16 per diluted share, for the same period in the prior year. In addition to the impact of lower revenues, net earnings for the quarter were reduced by after-tax costs of $3.7 million, or $0.34 per diluted share, related to the Company's Foundation for Growth initiative. Excluding these additional costs, net earnings for the second quarter would have been $0.2 million, or $0.02 per diluted share.1 Net earnings for the same period in the prior year adjusted for these costs, plus the tax expense attributable to enactment of the U.S. Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, were $6.0 million, or $0.56 per diluted share.

"North America irrigation sales volumes were significantly lower than anticipated as the unresolved US-China trade dispute contributed to a further decline in farmer sentiment," said Tim Hassinger, president and chief executive officer. "Along with that, lower Road Zipper System sales contributed to a disappointing quarter. We were however pleased to see an increase in our international irrigation sales compared to the prior year."

Irrigation segment revenues for the second quarter of fiscal 2019 were $95.8 million, a decrease of $16.1 million, or 14 percent, compared to $111.9 million in the prior year's second quarter. Excluding the impact of the divestitures, North America irrigation revenues of $57.7 million decreased $1.6 million, or 3 percent, compared to the prior year. Lower irrigation equipment sales volume was partially offset by higher average selling prices and higher revenue from engineering project services. International irrigation revenues of $38.1 million increased $5.1 million, or 15 percent, compared to the prior year. Excluding the negative impact of differences in foreign currency translation compared to the prior year, international irrigation revenues increased $7.4 million, or 22 percent, led by higher project sales in developing markets.

Irrigation segment operating margin was 7.9 percent of sales in the second quarter, compared to 10.7 percent of sales (11.2 percent adjusted)1 in the prior year. Irrigation segment operating margin was negatively impacted in the quarter by negative margin mix from lower equipment sales volumes in North America, higher warranty costs and operational inefficiencies.

Most Retail Fertilizer Prices Higher First Week of April

Average retail prices for the majority of fertilizers were slightly higher the first week of April 2019, according to retailers surveyed by DTN. This brings to an end a string of several weeks when prices for the majority of fertilizers were lower.

Six of the eight major fertilizers were slightly higher compared to last month. Potash had an average price of $386 per ton, urea $405/ton, 10-34-0 $474/ton, anhydrous $599/ton, UAN28 $272/ton and UAN32 $319/ton.

Two fertilizers were slightly lower than they were the prior month. DAP had an average price of $509/ton and MAP $533/ton.

On the cost of N/per pound, urea is at $0.44, anhydrous $0.37, UAN28 $0.49 and UAN32 $0.50.

All eight major fertilizers are now higher compared to last year. MAP is 5% higher, DAP is 6% more expensive, urea is 9% higher, potash is 10% more expensive, 10-34-0 is 12% higher, UAN28 is 14% more expensive, UAN32 is 16% higher and anhydrous is 18% more expensive.

Weekly Ethanol Production for 4/5/2019

According to EIA data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association, ethanol production increased 3,000 barrels per day (b/d), or 0.3%, to an average of 1.002 million barrels per day (b/d), equivalent to 42.08 million gallons daily. The four-week average ethanol production rate eased 0.1% to 995,000 b/d—equivalent to an annualized rate of 15.25 billion gallons. This represents the smallest 4-week average production rate in two years years.

Stocks of ethanol tapered for the second straight week, decreasing 3.3% to 23.2 million barrels.

There were no imports for the 21st week in a row. (Weekly export data for ethanol is not reported simultaneously; the latest export data is as of January 2019.)

Gasoline supplied to the market jumped 7.4% to 9.806 million b/d (411.9 million gallons per day, or 150.33 billion gallons annualized). Refiner/blender net inputs of ethanol expanded 1.1% to 919,000 b/d—equivalent to 14.09 billion gallons annualized.

Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production declined to 10.22%—the lowest level since Oct. 2017.

NCGA Testifies on Importance of Inland Waterways

National Corn Growers Association First Vice President Kevin Ross testified before the U.S. House Transportation Committee’s Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment today at a hearing titled, “The Cost of Doing Nothing: Why Full Utilization of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund and Investment in our Nation’s Waterways Matter.”

The hearing was an opportunity for NCGA to share the importance of the inland waterway system to farmers and serve as a resource for future discussions regarding water transport.

“America’s corn farmers need reliable means of moving our crops to customers, whether it’s to livestock feed yards, grain elevators, the ethanol plant, or ports for export. Farmers use many modes of transportation, with the inland waterway system being a vital artery of transportation for our products, especially for farmers in the Midwest,” Ross told the Subcommittee.


U.S. corn farmers grew an abundant crop in 2018 with a near-record national average yield of 176.4 bushels per acre and 14.4 billion bushels of corn produced in the United States, the third-highest production on record.

To highlight these achievements and all they mean, the National Corn Growers Association delves into the facts about corn production, using a historical comparison in its newest edition of the World of Corn. This statistical look at the corn industry, both domestic and worldwide, features a wide array of information on corn production and usage.

In addition to the traditional statistics guide, this year’s distribution includes a poster highlighting the many incredible ways in which corn farming practices and uses make a more sustainable world. The companion piece this year allows for greater exploration through a new augmented reality function.

“In 2018, America’s corn farmers demonstrated again how the world of opportunities corn farmers create truly does a world of good” NCGA President Lynn Chrisp and Chief Executive Officer Jon Doggett note in the introduction. “This crop continues to offer innovative solutions that help us all care for our world with the same passion as the farm families who view it as their legacy.”

World of Corn is a respected collection of the most important statistics about corn production, exports and consumption, providing key information in a readable format, comparing numbers and trends across the years.

NCGA proudly offers an interactive online presentation of the World of Corn that allows users to easily locate information or to explore the limitless possibilities the crop offers at their leisure. The format offers improved navigability with an elegant user interface.

To explore the World of Corn online, click here....

New Feature Enables USDA Customers to Manage Farm Loans Online

Courtney Dixon, USDA Farm Service Agency

Do you have farm loans through USDA? If so, USDA’s Farm Service Agency has launched a new feature that enables you to login to view farm loan information, history, and payments through, USDA’s new information and self-service website available to agricultural producers.

Using a desktop, tablet, or phone, the “My Financial Information” feature enables you to view:
-    loan information.
-    interest payments for the current calendar year (including year-to-date interest paid for the past five years).
-    loan advance and payment history.
-    paid-in-full and restructured loans.
-    account alerts giving borrowers important notifications regarding their loans. For example, an account alert will be displayed if a loan is past due.

Currently, access is only available for customers doing business as individuals. Entities – such as an LLC or Trust – can’t access the portal at this time, but access is being planned.

How to Access

To access USDA farm loan information, visit and sign in to the site’s authenticated dashboard, available on the menu at the top right of the site. To access, you will need a Level 2 USDA eAuth account.

If you do not have a Level 2 USDA eAuth account, sign-up for one today. This account gets you access to your loan information and other self-service features available through the portal.

Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Microsoft Edge are the recommended browsers to access the feature.

As part of this process, we took a close look at FSA farm loans, tracking the farm loan journey. In interviews with customers and staff, we developed some key recommendations, many of which involved access and self-service to loans online. This latest feature is one of many to come.

More Features to Come

These functionalities are the first of many that will be available to USDA customers through the portal. Eventually, customers will be able to use the portal to:
-    find the right loan programs that best fit their business goals.
-    submit loan documents to their service center via the dashboard.
-    view loan information as entities.

Farmers for Free Trade Announces Former U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln as New Campaign Spokesperson for USMCA Campaign

Farmers for Free Trade, the bipartisan campaign focused on amplifying the voices of American farmers, ranchers and agricultural businesses that support free trade, will launch its #MotorcadeForTrade RV tour across the Midwest on Friday, April 12, 2019 in support of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). Joining the kickoff event will be former U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln, who joins the campaign as a senior advisor and spokesperson. Senator Lincoln brings over two decades of experience working on agriculture and trade policy. Her expertise brings a powerful voice to American farmers during a critical time in trade history.

“Now more than ever it is critical that the voices of farmers, ranchers, and agricultural workers are heard across the country,” Senator Lincoln said. “Congressional approval of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement is a top priority for our nation’s agriculture industry and I’m pleased to have the opportunity to join the voice of America’s farmers on the importance of North American trade. The whistle stop tour Farmers for Free Trade is leading across the country will help lift up the voices of farmers who need to be able to participate in the global economy and deserve certainty that they’ll have access to the Canadian and Mexican markets.”

Senator Lincoln represented Arkansas in Congress for 16 years as both a two-term member of the House and a two-term member of the Senate. She is the youngest female ever elected to serve in the United States Senate and became the first female in history to serve as Chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. As a farmer’s daughter, she became known in the Senate as a champion of production agriculture who fought to ensure that producers were able to continue to provide the safest, most abundant, and affordable supply of food to meet the global needs of the 21st century. Senator Lincoln is also responsible for founding the Senate Hunger Caucus and working across party lines to author and enact the largest investment in child nutrition programs in history. As a member of the Senate Finance committee, she also fought hard to expand free and fair trade.

“Farmers for Free Trade has been working for years to mobilize the voices of farmers to bring attention to the importance of trade to agriculture. During a period of declined farm income and uncertainty due to the trade war, I am especially glad to join the fight in rebuilding bipartisan support for trade.”

Early registration for Animal Ag Alliance 2019 Stakeholders Summit ends April 12

Early registration for the Animal Ag Alliance’s 2019 Stakeholders Summit, themed A Seat At The Table, closes April 12th. The event will be held May 8-9 at the InterContinental at the Plaza Hotel in Kansas City, Missouri. The Summit is so popular this year that the hotel block sold out. There is an overflow block with rooms at a discounted rate at the nearby Hampton Inn. To view the agenda, register and book your hotel, visit

Winners from the 2018 College Aggies Online scholarship competition will take the stage during Summit to be recognized in front of hundreds of industry professionals. The 2019 program is set to kick off in early September. Students and collegiate clubs interested in becoming confident and effective advocates for agriculture can sign up for the 2019 CAO scholarship competition at

Be sure to check the Summit website for the most up-to-date Summit information. You can also follow the hashtags #AAA19 for periodic updates about the event. For general questions about the Summit please contact or call (703) 562-5160.

Tuesday April 9 Ag News

Food Connection on UNL’s City Campus April 16

The Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska (AFAN) and numerous agricultural clubs on East Campus have teamed up to organize Husker Food Connection. The event helps students gain a better knowledge of general agriculture within the state of Nebraska.

“The purpose of this event is to connect urban students to agriculture through something they’re familiar with: food,” said Amanda Kowalewski, Husker Food Connection Coordinator. Amanda is a senior Agricultural Economics major from Gothenburg, NE.

The event will feature a free lunch catered by Skeeter Barnes, farm equipment displays, booths by Nebraska commodity groups, and an opportunity to interact with livestock at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln City Campus Union Plaza.

The 2019 Husker Food Connection theme is “Agriculture is Everything.” “It’s important to the agricultural community to share the story of food from production to consumption. Whether you realize it or not, you rely on a farmer three times a day and the agricultural students of our University are excited to engage with the public about our industry,” says Hannah Borg, a senior Agricultural Communications major from Wakefield, NE, and the Husker Food Connection Communications Coordinator.

HFC organizers look forward to answering questions and sharing personal experiences by engaging in one on one conversations. Students and faculty are encouraged to take part in the interactive event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesday, April 16.

Student organizers include representatives from campus groups such as Collegiate Farm Bureau, Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow, and Block and Bridle. The Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska (AFAN) is a nonprofit organization formed by leading agricultural membership groups in Nebraska. The AFAN mission is to encourage the development of environmentally responsible and economically viable livestock production in the state.

Champion Auctioneer and Livestock Market Owners “Sell” Pies and Policy on Capitol Hill

D.C. policy leaders learned about issues affecting the livestock marketing industry and participated in a mock auction during Livestock Marketing Association’s (LMA) Washington D.C. Fly In.

World Livestock Auctioneer Champion, Jared Miller, auctioned pies during Hill staff briefings for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Legislative staff gained a better understanding of how the auction method of selling drives up price for producers’ livestock. Bidders from around the room joined in on the competition by raising their hands. The sale topping pie went for $100,000 of mock money. “Where else can you buy a pie for that?” joked Miller, who also owns LMA member market Lamoni Livestock Auction in Iowa.

The pie auction and briefing were just one piece of LMA’s annual D.C. Fly In. LMA members and staff also met individually with legislators and legislative staff to discuss issues that affect LMA member businesses. Participants educated policy leaders about livestock marketing and the extreme pressure their businesses face under current law.

On the top of the LMA’s list was support for the creation of a Dealer Statutory Trust. In the 2018 Farm Bill, Congress directed the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to conduct a feasibility study of Dealer Statutory Trust.

Under the Packers and Stockyards Act, markets are required to maintain a custodial account and pay sellers for livestock promptly, even if the buyer does not pay the livestock market. Under current law, the ability to recover livestock or funds when a livestock dealer defaults is extremely limited.

The creation of a Dealer Statutory Trust would give unpaid sellers of livestock first priority to reclaim livestock or, if they have been resold, the proceeds/receivables from livestock. It would not require a change in day-to-day operations. Rather, it would simply provide unpaid sellers (producers selling directly or markets selling on their behalf) priority in the event of a dealer default.

Livestock marketers in town for the Fly In also discussed the continued need for a livestock hauler Electronic Logging Device (ELD) exemption while pursuing needed Hours of Service (HOS) drive time flexibility.

LMA members also met with officials from the USDA Packers and Stockyards Division, which regulates livestock markets, packers, and dealers on payment and fair trade practices. Animal Disease Traceability was the main topic discussed in the LMA meeting with USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

“Livestock markets and dealers work hard day in and day out to gain top dollar for producers’ livestock,” said Chelsea Good, LMA Vice President of Government and Industry Affairs and Legal. “I’m proud of our members who invested their time to leave the barn for the Beltway to connect with policy leaders who make decisions affecting their lives.”

Webinar Outlines 2019 Calf Market Expectations

How will the market respond after a prolonged winter created poor conditions for much of the cattle industry? An upcoming free CattleFax webinar will address that question as well as provide an outlook for the cow-calf and entire beef industry. 

The CattleFax Trends+ Cow-Calf Webinar, which is free to attendees thanks to sponsor Elanco Animal Health, will be held May 22, 2019, at 5:30 p.m. MT. To participate in the webinar and access program details, producers and industry leaders simply need to register online at!/about

Even though one of the most aggressive U.S. beef cowherd expansions in the last four decades has recently slowed its pace, the rapid growth has increased beef supplies and caused cow-calf profitability to be reduced back toward long-term levels. As profits have narrowed, well-informed producers can maintain healthy margins by adjusting production, marketing and risk management plans with increasing supplies in mind.

CattleFax analysts will discuss a variety of topics in the one-hour session, including:
-    Cattle and feedstuff market projections for the next 12 to 18 months
-    Outlook of the summer and fall calf markets for 2019
-    Review of the recent Cow-Calf Survey
The Trends+ webinar is designed to update cattle producers about current market realities and provide producers with decision-friendly information to assist in making intelligent marketing decisions. More than 6,500 producers have benefited from the analysis and strategies shared through the webinar series since fall 2013.

USDA Announces Buy-Up Coverage Availability, New Service Fees for Noninsured Crop Coverage Policies

USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) today announced higher levels of coverage will be offered through the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP), a popular safety net program, beginning April 8, 2019. The 2018 Farm Bill also increased service fees and made other changes to the program, including service fee waivers for qualified military veterans interested in obtaining NAP coverage. 

“When other insurance coverage is not an option, NAP is a valuable risk mitigation tool for farmers and ranchers,” said FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce. “In agriculture, losses from natural disasters are a matter of when, not if, and having a NAP policy provides a little peace of mind.”

NAP provides financial assistance to producers of commercial crops for which insurance coverage is not available in order to protect against natural disasters that result in lower yields or crop losses, or prevent crop planting.   

NAP Buy-Up Coverage Option

The 2018 Farm Bill reinstates higher levels of coverage, from 50 to 65 percent of expected production in 5 percent increments, at 100 percent of the average market price. Producers of organics and crops marketed directly to consumers also may exercise the “buy-up” option to obtain NAP coverage of 100 percent of the average market price at the coverage levels of between 50 and 65 percent of expected production. NAP basic coverage is available at 55 percent of the average market price for crop losses that exceed 50 percent of expected production.   

Producers have a one-time opportunity until May 24, 2019, to obtain buy-up coverage for 2019 or 2020 eligible crops for which the NAP application closing date has passed.   

Buy-up coverage is not available for crops intended for grazing.

NAP Service Fees

For all coverage levels, the new NAP service fee is the lesser of $325 per crop or $825 per producer per county, not to exceed a total of $1,950 for a producer with farming interests in multiple counties. These amounts reflect a $75 service fee increase for crop, county or multi-county coverage. The fee increases apply to obtaining NAP coverage on crops on or after April 8, 2019.

NAP Enhancements for Qualified Military Veterans

The 2018 Farm Bill NAP amendments specify that qualified veteran farmers or ranchers are now eligible for a service fee waiver and premium reduction, if the NAP applicant meets certain eligibility criteria. 

Beginning, limited resource and targeted underserved farmers or ranchers remain eligible for a waiver of NAP service fees and premium reduction when they file form CCC-860, “Socially Disadvantaged, Limited Resource and Beginning Farmer or Rancher Certification.”

For NAP application, eligibility and related program information, visit or contact your local USDA Service Center. To locate your local FSA office, visit

Floods Impacting Ethanol Industry, Pushing Gas to 5-Year Highs

The March floods that punished the U.S. Midwest have trapped barrels of ethanol in the country's interior, causing shortages of the biofuel and helping to boost gasoline prices in the western United States. The historic floods have dealt a series of blows to large swaths of an ethanol industry that was already struggling with high inventories and sluggish domestic demand growth.

According to Reuters the ethanol shortages are one factor pushing gasoline prices in Southern California, including Los Angeles, to the highest in the country, and they could top $4 a gallon for the first time since 2014, according to tracking firm GasBuddy.

Benchmark price for ethanol used in most supply contracts initially jumped on news of the floods but has been hobbled by rising waters around the Chicago hub that have halted barges and sales. That stands in contrast to prices on the coasts, which rose dramatically - drawing in heavy imports from Brazil, the main U.S. ethanol competitor.

The floods inflicted billions of dollars in damage to crops and homes in the U.S. Midwest, and knocked out roughly 13 percent of ethanol capacity.

U.S. ethanol is made from corn and required by the government to be blended into the country's fuel supply to reduce emissions.

While some ethanol plants were flooded, the primary effect of the rising waters was to shut rail lines that serve as the main arteries for corn and ethanol deliveries.

Ethanol prices on the coasts spiked due to shortages, but Midwest producers have been unable to take advantage because of washed-out rail lines, market sources told Reuters.

"Unfortunately for anyone who was impacted by logistics issues it was a double whammy. You couldn't capture the rally," said one trader.

At Chicago's Argo terminal, the nation's main ethanol pricing hub, the cash price for ethanol fell for an eighth straight session last week to $1.29 a gallon, the longest downward skid since April of last year, according to Oil Price Information Service, which does daily assessments.

Initially, fears of widespread plant outages boosted that benchmark, but plants proved more resilient than expected, continuing to produce despite logistical challenges.

U.S. ethanol inventories were at 24 million barrels for the week ended March 29, just off a record hit a week earlier, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration data.

Crude Oil Price Surge, Seasonal Patterns Driving Gasoline Price Increases, Not Ethanol

RFA Chief Economist Scott Richman

There has been considerable discussion lately regarding the reasons for rising gasoline prices in the late winter and early spring of 2019, including the potential role of ethanol following the Midwest floods in March. However, according to an analysis released today by the Renewable Fuels Association, the recent increase in gasoline prices is driven by:
-    A surge in crude oil prices since the start of the year;
-    Typical seasonal patterns in gasoline pricing, partially reflecting the changeover to summer specifications; and
-    Refinery maintenance and unplanned outages.

Ethanol prices are at a steep discount to gasoline prices (and to other sources of octane), and inventories have recently been at record levels. While transportation challenges caused issues with delivery to isolated locations in the immediate aftermath of the floods, production was not significantly affected. In the vast majority of the country, ethanol has been helping to hold down gasoline prices for consumers.

R-CALF USA Praises Beef Checkoff Reform Legislation

Last week, legislation was reintroduced in the U.S. Senate to reform the most prominent government subsidy program in the U.S. cattle industry – the national beef checkoff program, which generates about $80 million annually from government-mandated producer assessments that many cattle producers refer to as “the cattle tax.” Senators Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Rand Paul (R-K.Y.) introduced the Voluntary Check-Off Program Participation Act, S. 934.

The bill was previously introduced during Congress’ 2017-2018 session, and was referred to the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry. This year’s reintroduction will ensure the measures are again considered by the full Congress.

R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard said his group welcomes the bill because it imparts accountability and transparency to the beef checkoff program. He said approximately one-half of the current cattle tax, about $40 million dollars, flows to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), a lobbying group that represents some of the world’s largest multinational meatpackers along with some cattle producers.

“Cross-subsidized by the current beef checkoff program, the NCBA lobbies against cattle-producer initiative on the basis that it does not want the government involved in the cattle industry. Yet, the NCBA is the single-largest benefactor of the $80 million government-mandated cattle tax that funds government speech.

“This outcome isn’t what U.S. cattle producers bargained for when the checkoff was first started in the late 80s,” Bullard concluded.

“The voluntary bill, S. 934, will allow producers to vote freely with their pocketbooks regarding whether they are individually satisfied with the checkoff’s performance,” said Bullard.

Congress Should Expeditiously Consider and Ratify USMCA, AED Tells Lawmakers

On April 9, Associated Equipment Distributors (AED) delivered a letter to congressional leadership expressing support for the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and urging lawmakers to expeditiously consider and ratify the accord between the United States’ closest trading partners.

“As a U.S.-based organization with companies operating in the United States, Canada and Mexico, AED’s members are uniquely impacted by the trade uncertainty in North America,” said AED’s President & CEO Brian P. McGuire. “The USMCA modernizes and strengthens the trade ties between the three countries, which will boost economic growth and job creation here in the United States.”

The letter highlighted that while the U.S. construction equipment industry has experienced a period of economic expansion, trade uncertainty is a top concern for equipment dealers. “For American construction equipment companies to remain competitive in the global market, we need strong international agreements, such as USMCA,” wrote McGuire. “The USMCA will help restore predictability to North American trade markets, while limiting disruptions to the construction equipment supply chain that causes delays in product delivery and increased costs for equipment purchasers.”

NASS Invites Comments on Proposed Changes to the 2019 Organic Survey

In preparation for the 2019 Organic Production Survey, the USDA National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS) is seeking public input on proposed changes to several specific questions and:
-    whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, and will have practical utility;
-    the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used;
-    ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and
-    ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond.

DEADLINE for Comments: Monday, April 29, 2019.

The 11th Annual Ag Innovation Showcase Sets New Roots in Minneapolis

Larta Institute's Ag Innovation Showcase is proud to announce its 11th Annual Conference with the theme, “The Power of Convergence: Food, Health, and Energy.” The event will feature novel innovations across the spectrum of food production, health sciences, and sustainability, all with the common goal to provide global wellness through the healing power of nutrition.

Hosted at the Guthrie in downtown Minneapolis, The Ag Innovation Showcase will take place from September 9-11, 2019 and will feature keynote speakers, industry panels, intimate networking receptions, and presentations highlighting select technology and research institutions. The Showcase will be delving into the thriving health-based food and beverage industry of the Twin Cities by inviting local vendors to share their goods and participate in the event.

“We are delighted to bring the Ag Innovation Showcase to Minneapolis for the 11th edition in September 2019. The region is a thriving hub of ag and food activity and home to many world-class companies and institutions. Also, it is especially inviting to innovators and to the continued development of what is a remarkable ecosystem. The Showcase will serve as a beacon to the world, shining a spotlight on the Greater MSP region,” says Larta Institute Founder & CEO, Rohit K. Shukla.  

Founded by Larta Institute and the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in 2009, The Ag Innovation Showcase has been a hub for innovation in the food and ag industry for the past decade and famous for its intimate setting, effective network, and community-oriented mission. Previously hosted in St. Louis, the event will be setting new roots in the Minneapolis-St. Paul region to facilitate the growth of consumer and producer awareness about the budding future of agriculture in the confluent fields of food, health, and energy.

Over the past decade, Ag Showcase has hosted over 200 emerging companies, representing 27 unique countries, and has assisted in facilitating over $1.7B in funding for our Showcase Alumni. 

For more information, please visit the Ag Innovation Showcase website:

Golden Harvest brings more choices to farmers, expands soybean portfolio with new trait technology

Golden Harvest demonstrates its continued dedication to the local needs of farmers by expanding its soybean portfolio with the latest trait technology. By adding the new Enlist E3™ and LibertyLink GT27™ traits to its current portfolio – which already includes Genuity® Roundup Ready 2 Yield®, Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® and Liberty Link® soybeans – Golden Harvest offers farmers access to more trait choices than almost any other seed company.

“By pairing the latest trait technology with best-in-class genetics, farmers are better equipped to protect their yield potential against today’s toughest threats,” said Dennis Storm, Golden Harvest soybean product manager. “We are committed to meeting the local needs of our farmers across all the varying conditions throughout the Midwest. By adding Enlist E3 and LibertyLink GT27 soybeans to our portfolio, we are even more confident in our ability to do so.”

Golden Harvest will have trials for both Enlist E3 and LibertyLink GT27 soybeans for the 2019 growing season, with broad commercial availability of both traits for 2020 planting. Enlist E3 soybeans offer advanced herbicide tolerance through three modes of action with tolerance to 2, 4-D choline, glyphosate and glufosinate. Having received Chinese import approval in January, the Enlist E3 trait technology will be available for 2020 planting in 30 Golden Harvest® soybean varieties. The LibertyLink GT27 soybean technology, which offers glyphosate and Liberty® herbicide tolerance, will be offered in 20 Golden Harvest soybean varieties.

“Year after year, we see superior performance from the Golden Harvest soybean portfolio,” said Storm. “We know farmers have a lot of options when it comes to where they buy their seed, which is why we continue to invest in their success. Giving farmers access to all the major soybean trait platforms is another way we can help them manage difficult weed spectrums, and increase their yield potential to effectively improve their profit potential.”

The breadth and quality of the Golden Harvest seed portfolio showcases the pledge of an incremental $400 million investment made in 2018. For 2019 spring planting, Golden Harvest has a strong portfolio of high-performing, strong-quality seeds that are still available. For the 2020 planting season, farmers can look forward to an expanded portfolio, which will include 17 new RR2 Xtend soybean varieties.


CASE Construction Equipment celebrated 50 years of skid steer manufacturing with a ceremony on Wednesday, April 3rd at its Wichita, Kan., plant. CASE first built skid steers in 1969 at its Burlington, Iowa, facility, before eventually moving production to Wichita.

"Skid steers completely transformed the construction equipment landscape, and CASE has played a leading role in the evolution and development of this product category throughout the last 50 years," says Michel Marchand, vice president - North America, CASE Construction Equipment. "These machines reflect every bit of our heritage from construction to agriculture, and we are committed to helping our customers build strong communities and businesses with the help of CASE skid steers built here in the U.S.A."

Global CASE and CNH Industrial leaders Carl Gustaf G ransson (president of construction, CNH Industrial), Larry Bryce (chief operating officer of construction equipment, CNH Industrial) and Marchand were on-hand to mark the milestone, as were local CASE employees and members of the manufacturer's Dealer Advisory Board. The event was hosted by Mike Peterson, plant manager, CNH Wichita.

CASE skid steers and compact track loaders (CTL) are made "For the World" in Wichita - meaning that every CASE skid steer or CTL sold and operated anywhere in the world today comes from Wichita. The plant is designated at the "Silver Level" for World Class Manufacturing (WCM), one of the global manufacturing industry's highest standards for the integrated management of manufacturing plants and processes.

Weekly Crop Progress & Condition Report - April 8


For the week ending April 7, 2019, there were 2.0 days suitable for fieldwork, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 0 percent very short, 2 short, 63 adequate, and 35 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 0 percent very short, 4 short, 67 adequate, and 29 surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Winter wheat condition rated 1 percent very poor, 4 poor, 21 fair, 66 good, and 8 excellent. Oats planted was 8 percent, behind 17 last year, and well behind 30 for the five-year average.


Cool temperatures and rain throughout Iowa kept fields from drying out enough for fieldwork during the week ending April 7, 2019, according to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Statewide there was just 0.8 day suitable for fieldwork. Fieldwork activities were limited with some farmers spreading manure and applying dry fertilizer on fields able to support the equipment.

Topsoil moisture levels rated 0 percent very short, 0 percent short, 44 percent adequate and 56 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated 0 percent very short, 0 percent short, 46 percent adequate and 54 percent surplus.

Two percent of oats have been planted statewide, nine days behind the 5-year average and nearly a week behind last year. This is the smallest percent planted by this time since 2008.

Cover crops and hay continue to green as warmer temperatures induced growth. Livestock and feedlot conditions have improved, but feedlots remain muddy.

Winter Wheat Condition Improves; Spring Wheat Planting Behind Average Pace

U.S. winter wheat condition improved last week, while spring wheat planting, reported for the first time this season in USDA NASS' weekly Crop Progress report on Monday, was behind the five-year average pace.  For the week ended Sunday, April 7, winter wheat was rated 60% in good-to-excellent condition, up 4 percentage points from 56% the previous week. The latest good-to-excellent rating is the highest for the crop in six years for this time of year.  Nationwide, 3% of winter wheat was headed as of Sunday, equal to last year and near the five-year average of 4%.

Spring wheat progress, on the other hand, was behind normal. Only 1% of the crop was planted as of Sunday, behind 2% last year and 5% for the five-year average. Planting was furthest behind in Idaho, where 3% of the crop was planted versus the average of 26%; Washington, where 11% was planted versus the average of 28%; and South Dakota, where none of the crop was planted versus the average of 14%.

In addition to spring wheat planting, NASS also reported national corn planting progress for this first time this season on Monday. As of Sunday, 2% of corn was planted, equal to both last year and the five-year average. Most corn planting took place in Texas, where 53% of the crop was planted as of Sunday, slightly ahead of the average pace of 51%.

Sorghum was 14% planted, compared to 16% last year and a 14% five-year average. Cotton planting was 6% complete, compared to 7% last year and a 5% average. Rice was 19% planted, compared to 20% last year and a 21% average. Oats were 27% planted as of April 7, compared to 27% last year and a 32% average. Emergence was at 25%, compared to 25% last year and a 26% average.

Monday April 8 Ag News

2019 USDA and Nebraska Extension Flood Disaster Relief Meeting for Colfax County

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is working to implement programs that may aid in flood recovery efforts in the agricultural community and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is leveraging its informational resources through Nebraska Extension, the outreach mission of the land-grant university.

In an effort to update farmers in Colfax County on assistance programs and current resources available, USDA and Nebraska Extension will be hosting a flood disaster relief informational meeting this Thursday from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. at the Oak Ballroom in Schuyler.

Short presentations will be given by Bruce Coffey—FSA, Brach Johnson - NRCS, Aaron Nygren—UNL Extension. Topics being covered included USDA programs for livestock losses, emergency loans, field damage and rehabilitation, and more.  Nebraska Extension will share key publications and online resources at During and following presentations, there will be time for questions. Sponsored by Nebraska Extension and USDA.

There is no fee to attend and water, pop, and a snack will be provided. Please visit to view and share this digitally.

Wellness in Tough Times Webinar for Farm and Ranch Families

Farmers and ranchers have many stressors in their lives. Weather challenges and disasters like many Nebraskans have recently experienced have led to uncertainty in their crop and livestock operations. Machinery breakdowns, debt loads, volatile markets, sleep deprivation, changing regulations, and the stress of holding onto a multi-generational farm/ranch all play a part of the stress and mental health of a farmer or rancher. Farmers and ranchers know the importance of planning and talking about their financial health to bankers, financial planners, spouses, etc. but might not realize how important it is to spend time on their mental health.

A free webinar will be offered April 23 via the web for farm and ranch families.  The webinar will be at noon (CST) and can be accessed at  Wellness in Tough Times will be presented by Nebraska Extension Educators Glennis McClure and Brandy VanDeWalle starting at 12 p.m. (CST). This free webinar is available for farm and ranch families to participate and will provide strategies for dealing with the stress of farming or ranching in today’s difficult economic environment.

Participants will learn how to recognize the signs and symptoms of stress; understand the role stress plays in our lives; and strategies and resources to manage stress.

For more information about this webinar, contact Brandy VanDeWalle at or (402) 759-3712.

Dates and locations for a separate workshop available to agribusiness professionals and service providers working with farmers and ranchers will be released soon:  Communicating with Farmers Under Stress. For more information on this workshop contact Susan Harris-Broomfield

Flood Damage Estimate Soars to $12 Billion

AccuWeather estimates the total damage and economic loss caused by record-breaking flooding in the Midwestern U.S. this spring will total $12.5 billion, based on an analysis of damages already inflicted and those expected by additional flooding, as well as the lingering health effects resulting from flooding and the disease caused by standing water.

AccuWeather's damage estimate factors in official states' estimates while incorporating independent methods to evaluate all direct and indirect impacts of the flooding damage based on a variety of sources and statistics.

The flooding erupted in the wake of a historic bomb cyclone and the economic damage rivals that of some of the worst hurricanes to hit the U.S. The $12.5 billion estimate for flooding this spring would compare to Hurricanes Matthew (2016) and Irene (2011).

"Our decades of experience forecasting high-impact weather events and witnessing the damage left behind enable us to calculate damage estimates that have proven to be the most accurate," said Dr. Joel N. Myers, AccuWeather founder and CEO. "These losses occurred in farm states that contribute significantly to the nation's Gross Domestic Product. With the ground already saturated and more flooding rain expected, our independent forecast shows that the aggregate economic toll of these floods will be far greater than official estimates initially suggest. Official estimates of damage do not fully take into account uninsured losses as well as lost work hours and damage sustained by contaminated water, in addition to a range of other direct and indirect impacts."

AccuWeather's $12.5 billion estimate includes damage to homes, their contents, and cars, business and farm losses - including crops and livestock - contamination of drinking water wells, infrastructure damage, auxiliary business losses and the long-term impact from the flooding, which will likely contribute to, and exacerbate, health issues.

Importance of Cow Nutrition from Calving through Breeding

Steve Niemeyer – NE Extension Educator

For cow-calf producers, the last few months have been very challenging from a weather standpoint.   This has left many first-calf heifers and cows in less than optimum in terms of body condition at the time of calving.   Weather conditions have also significantly depleted feed resources available as many producers have had to feed earlier and more than normal.

For cows to start cycling, conceive and maintain a 365 day calving interval, it is important that thin cows, those in a less than a body condition score of 5, be gaining weight from calving through breeding.   Cows in a body condition score of 5 or 6 need to be at least maintaining body condition during this time.   Now is a good time to assess both cow body condition and feed resources and develop a plan to provide adequate nutrition to meet cow needs.

Steps to Assess Current Conditions and Develop a Feeding and Management Plan
1.    Body condition score cows, making note especially of higher risk females that may need additional energy and protein to meet nutrition needs.   Resources on  can be found at the website.
2.    Inventory feed on hand, noting both quantity and quality.
3.    Prioritize quality of feedstuffs to younger and thinner females.
4.    If possible, sort thin and adequate condition scores into different feeding groups.   This will help develop a feeding plan that will maintain cows in adequate body condition or will provide needed weight gain for thin cows prior to and through the breeding season.
5.    When additional feed resources will need to be purchased to meet cow nutrient requirements, consider pricing them on a price per unit of protein and energy to find the best buy.   The Feed Cost Cow-Q-Lator is an Excel® spreadsheet tool that allows producers to compare different feed options to one another.
6.    Identify ways to minimize feed waste and effectively utilize feed resources.
7.    If feeding daily, consider the use of the ionophore monensin to improve feed efficiency for cows.
8.    The use of CIDRs (Controlled Internal Drug Release) on cows that are at least 20 days post calving can help initiate estrus in cows that are on an adequate plane of nutrition.
9.    For thin, lactating, non-cycling cows, early weaning of calves can provide an effective way to drastically reduce cow nutrient requirements and also induce estrus. 

Nebraska Extension has both Specialists and Educators who can assist producers with developing rations to meet cattle nutrient needs. Taking time to assess both cow body condition and feed availability can help producers develop an effective plan for a successful breeding season.

NCTA alumna to be graduation speaker

An agricultural graduate and family farmer from Dodge, Nebraska, will deliver the 2019 commencement address at the University of Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis.

Joan (Wieczorek) Ruskamp, a 1980 alumna, will join University of Nebraska leaders in delivering messages at the 1:30 p.m. commencement on Thursday, May 2, announced Ron Rosati, NCTA dean.

“We are honored to welcome back to Curtis Joan and Steve Ruskamp, who are both graduates of this institution, for our 2019 NCTA Aggie graduation activities,” Rosati said.

“As Joan is not only a graduate but an agricultural advocate, active ag producer, grandmother and community leader, I am sure Joan’s message will resonate with our NCTA Aggie students and their families,” Rosati added.

University of Nebraska Vice President Mike Boehm will confer degrees. He will be joined by two members of the University of Nebraska Board of Regents and other dignitaries. Regent Bob Phares of North Platte and Regent Barbara Weitz of Omaha will deliver remarks.

Rosati said the Class of 2019 will include students receiving associate degrees or certificates from four divisions – Agribusiness Management Systems, Agronomy and Agricultural Mechanics, Animal Science and Agricultural Education, or Veterinary Technology.

Students are currently finalizing semester projects and internships in the next two weeks, and will be taking final exams April 24 -April 30, Rosati said.

Joan and Steve Ruskamp studied in the two-year college in the late 1970s when the institution was known as the University of Nebraska School of Technical Agriculture (UNSTA).

Joan earned her associate degree in veterinary technology in May, 1980, and Steve in agriculture production in 1976. They married in 1981 and began their farming career and family at a location west of Dodge which has been in the Ruskamp family for more than a century.

There, they have raised five children while growing corn, soybeans and alfalfa along with finishing cattle in a 4,000-head feedlot. Joan applies her college skills in animal health and management in the family’s operation. Her primary jobs are walking pens of cattle, doctoring and processing the feedlot cattle, and serving as office manager.

Many will know her agricultural literacy and advocacy work in Common Ground Nebraska and as past president of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB) for the national beef checkoff. She serves her community as a volunteer 4-H leader and EMT (Emergency Medical Technician).

Ruskamp also has been active in the beef industry serving in the Dodge County Cattlemen, Nebraska Cattlemen, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, American National CattleWomen, Nebraska Farm Bureau and Nebraska Soybean Association.

In addition to five children, the Ruskamps have three sons-in-law, a daughter-in-law and six grandchildren.

“Joan Ruskamp serves as an outstanding model for our NCTA graduates.” Rosati said. “Her outstanding career demonstrates the success that is possible by combining an NCTA degree with a strong work ethic, intelligence and integrity.”

On May 1, students will be recognized in special Aggie honors and graduation events beginning at 1 p.m. with an initiation of new members into Phi Theta Kappa academic honorary for two-year colleges, a community picnic at 5:30 p.m., awards night at 7 p.m., followed by NCTA belt buckle presentations.

Doors to graduation will open at 1 p.m. at the Curtis Memorial Community Center, located at 301 Garlick Avenue. All are invited to attend however, there will not be reserved seating for families and guests.

Additional information about the graduation events can be found at the NCTA web site at or by contacting the Dean’s Office at 308-367-5200.

Nebraska Extension Field Scout Training

A May 8 Nebraska Extension training course is scheduled for industry representatives and corn and soybean growers wanting to learn how to better manage corn and soybean pests.

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

The course is from 8:25 a.m. to 5:10 p.m. with registration at 8:00 a.m. at the University of Nebraska’s Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center near Mead.

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

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

Topics include:
- Factors Influencing the Growth and Development of Corn and Soybeans
- Crop Diseases and Quiz
- Weed Control Management; Identifying Weeds – Plant Morphology, Herbicide Management; Using a Key to Identify Weed Seedlings
- Corn and Soybean Insect Management
- Nutrient Deficiencies in Corn and Soybeans

Certified Crop Advisor continuing education credits are available. 7.5 CCA credits have been applied for and pending (6 Pest Mgmt. 1 Crop Mgmt., and .5 Fertility/ Nutrient Mgmt.).

Fee for this training is $165 which includes a resource book. Or for participants attending the training only (no resource book) the fee is $60. Pre-register to reserve your seat and to ensure workshop materials are available the day of the training session. Fees include lunch, refreshment breaks, and workshop materials. About the optional resource book - the instruction manual contains a variety of reference materials that are excellent resources for crop scouting professions. Registration fees do not include the cost of lodging.

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

Download the flyer at:

The Cycle of Reproduction - Cattlemen's Webinar Series

April 18, 2019 - 7:00 p.m. CST

Every management decision you make can impact the success of your breeding season. It is important to understand how your management decisions can impact the success of future breeding seasons, from the time you wean and/or select your replacement heifers until they are determined pregnant and even after that replacement heifer is pregnant. This presentation, hosted by the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, will cover how to make the right management decisions for your cow herd to be productive and profitable now and in the future.

Meet the Speakers

George Perry, PhD.
Professor, Beef Reproductive Mgt Specialist - South Dakota State University
Dr. Perry was raised in south-central Texas. He received his Bachelor's degree in Animal Science from Texas A&'M University, and his M.S. and PhD. from the University of Missouri. His research efforts are in the area of factors that influence reproductive efficiency, pregnancy success, and embryo mortality.

Adam Summers, PhD.
Assistant Professor - New Mexico State University
Dr.  Adam Summers is an Assistant Professor in Animal Science at New mexico State University with an emphasis in reproductive physiology. Dr. Summers grew up in Northern Utah and received his Bachelor's and Master's degrees from Utah State University in Animal Science. He completed his PhD. at the University of Nebraska in 2012. His research focuses on increasing livestock productivity, efficiency, and reproductive longevity through improved management strategies.

Register Now...

Rep. Jason Smith Fires Up Family Business Estate Tax Coalition

Helping lawmakers, especially new members of Congress, get a good handle on the overall importance of farming and ranching is the first step to securing support for repealing the estate tax, Rep. Jason Smith (R-Mo.) recently told several members of the Family Business Estate Tax Coalition. The American Farm Bureau Federation is a member of the coalition.

Smith, a seventh-generation Missouri family farm owner who serves on the House Ways and Means Committee and the Budget Committee, along with Rep. Sandford Bishop (D-Ga.), earlier this year introduced the Death Tax Repeal Act (H.R. 218).

“There’s a lot of opportunity to provide basic education about agriculture” to members of Congress who may not know a lot about farming, Smith said, noting that getting additional support for estate tax repeal legislation, especially from Democratic members, would take time.

“A lot of great things don’t happen immediately. We can get there, slow and steady,” he said optimistically.

Lawmakers who haven’t been exposed much to agriculture have a hard time understanding that the estate tax can really hurt family farmers, who are far from wealthy.

“Many farmers are truly land-rich, but cash poor,” Smith said, citing a cotton farmer in the boot heel of Missouri who doesn’t need to farm very many acres to go over the estate tax exemption, especially with a cotton picker costing around $600,000.

The 50-plus members of the Family Business Estate Tax Coalition in February sent a letter to Smith, Bishop and Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), who introduced the Death Tax Repeal Act of 2019 (S. 215) in the Senate, thanking them for their efforts to eliminate the estate tax.

Nominations Sought for Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) Awards

Nominations for the 13th annual National Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) Awards are now being accepted. Deadline for nominations is June 7, 2019.

The 2019 National BQA Awards, funded by the Beef Checkoff Program, recognize five winners in the areas of beef producer, dairy, marketing and education:

·         The beef producer honors include BQA Cow Calf and BQA Feedyard awards, which recognize producers who best demonstrate the implementation of BQA principles as part of the day-to-day activities on their respective operations.

·         The BQA / FARM (Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management) award honors those dairy operations that demonstrate the best in animal care and handling while implementing the BQA and FARM programs at the highest levels.

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

·         The BQA Educator Award celebrates individuals or companies that provide high quality and innovative training to individuals that care and handle cattle throughout the industry chain.

“These awards recognize the industry’s most accomplished representatives of quality in beef production, marketing and education,” according to Glen Dolezal, Ph.D., AVP Technical Services and Procurement, Cargill Protein. “They also demonstrate pride we all have in the work being done to enhance our industry and the products we provide to consumers.”

The National BQA Awards are selected by a committee of BQA certified representatives from universities, state beef councils, sponsors and affiliated groups. Nominations may be submitted by organizations, groups or individuals on behalf of a U.S. beef producer, dairy producer, marketer or educator. Individuals and families may not nominate themselves, though the nominees are expected to be involved in the preparation of the application. Past nominees are encouraged to submit their application under the new nomination structure. Previous winners may not reapply.

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association manages the BQA program as a contractor to the Beef Checkoff Program. Funding for the BQA Awards is made possible by the generosity of Cargill, which has supported the program since its inception, and Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health, which sponsors the BQA educator award.

Find the application and nomination requirements here...  All nominations are due by June 7, 2019.

More than 100 Bayer-owned glyphosate safety study reports accessible as Monsanto integration continues

Bayer welcomes a science-based discussion with regulators around the globe, the international research community, as well as with consumers on the safety profile of glyphosate. To that end, all 107 Bayer-owned glyphosate safety study reports that were submitted to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) as part of the substance authorization process in the European Union (EU) are now accessible on Bayer’s dedicated transparency platform. In doing so, the company delivers on its commitment to more transparency, including its crop protection safety studies following the acquisition of Monsanto. Many of these and other similar studies were submitted to and evaluated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency during its own risk assessment of glyphosate.

“Transparency is a catalyst for trust, so more transparency is a good thing for consumers, policymakers and businesses. As an innovation company, safety is our top priority and we are completely committed to doing everything we can to ensure that our products are safe for people and the environment,” said Liam Condon, member of the Board of Management of Bayer AG and president of the Crop Science Division. “By making our detailed scientific safety data available, we encourage anyone interested to see for themselves how comprehensive our approach to safety is. We embrace the opportunity to engage in dialogue so we can build more trust in sound science.”

This new addition to the Bayer Transparency platform follows last December’s publication of more than 300 glyphosate safety study summaries submitted under the EU substance authorization process for plant protection products. Access has now been enabled to all the related in-depth glyphosate safety studies to which Bayer wholly owns the rights.

Due to legal restrictions, Bayer cannot release the glyphosate studies conducted and owned by third parties. For more information, please visit our FAQ page.

Bayer stands behind the safety of glyphosate and will continue to vigorously defend its glyphosate-based products. The company is working diligently to ensure the conversation around glyphosate is accurate and will continue to share information on the strong body of science that confirms glyphosate and glyphosate-based products are safe when used as directed and that glyphosate does not cause cancer. Read more about glyphosate and its importance for modern farming on

Friday April 5 Ag News

Nebraska Farm Service Agency Clarifies Conservation Reserve Program Emergency Use Provisions

USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) State Executive Director Nancy Johner today announced additional flexibility to the emergency use of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres that is authorized for all Nebraska counties.

The release of CRP acres for emergency use was authorized in late March to address the impacts of recent adverse weather.

“FSA has a variety of disaster assistance programs to support farmers and ranchers through times of adversity,” Johner said. “The emergency use of CRP acres provides an option for producers to temporarily move their livestock from locations negatively impacted by the flooding, snowmelt and mud.”

The emergency use authorization is effective through April 30, 2019. Nebraska FSA is clarifying today that producers who choose this option can use a full CRP field, not only half of a field’s acres, as originally noted. CRP contract holders who are interested in using this emergency authorization must contact their FSA county office to complete required paperwork before allowing use to begin.

“It is important for CRP contract holders to work with their FSA county office before moving their own livestock onto these acres or allowing another producer to move livestock there,” Johner said.

CRP participants who use this option will need to obtain a modified conservation plan, which includes emergency use provisions, from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). CRP participants can allow others to use their CRP acres under this emergency use authorization; however, the livestock owners also will need to complete FSA paperwork. There will be no reduction in CRP rental payments to CRP contract holders who use the emergency use authorization. CRP contract holders are not permitted to charge livestock producers for the emergency use option.

For more information on CRP emergency use, please contact your FSA county office. To find your local FSA office, go to Visit USDA's disaster resources website to learn more about USDA disaster preparedness and response.

Support farmers and ranchers impacted by recent storms and flooding through local disaster relief funds

With recent storms and significant flooding impacting much of the state, Nebraska Corn is thankful for the outpouring of support at the local and national levels and said there are still opportunities for farmers to help in relief efforts.

During their next visit to their local grain elevators, farmers can donate proceeds from their grain sales to the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation’s Disaster Relief Fund or the Nebraska Cattlemen Foundation. At the farmers’ discretion, grain elevators across the state will be able to collect and disperse the donations to the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation or the Nebraska Cattlemen Foundation. Both of these disaster assistance programs are designed to help local farmers and ranchers by providing 100% of donations to those who need them the most.

“Farmers often help out neighbors in need,” said Dan Nerud, farmer from Dorchester and president of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association. “These relief programs are great ways to extend the generosity of our producers. Farmers can simply deliver grain to their local elevator and designate the entire load or a percentage of the load to relief efforts. Farmers will get a receipt for their contribution and 100% of the dollars from the sale of that grain will go to help their neighbors in need.”

Interested donors can also help rural farmers and ranchers by making direct donations to the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation or the Nebraska Cattlemen Foundation. Checks can be sent to the following addresses:

Make checks payable to: Nebraska Cattlemen Disaster Relief Fund
Nebraska Cattlemen Disaster Relief Fund
4611 Cattle Drive
Lincoln, NE 68521

Make checks payable to: Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation
Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation
Attn: Disaster Relief Fund
P.O. Box 80299
Lincoln, NE 68501-0299

“Recent storms and flood waters have been devastating, and it’s difficult to imagine what impacted farmers, ranchers and rural residents are going through,” said David Bruntz, farmer from Friend and chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board. “Fortunately, those involved in agriculture help those who are down on their luck. It’s impossible to undo what has happened, but when we all come together, we can make the devastation easier for many Nebraska families. We appreciate everyone’s efforts and contributions in keeping #NebraskaStrong.”


On April 3, the University of Nebraska–Lincoln recognized 52 high school seniors from Nebraska FFA chapters who have committed to attend the university in the fall.

A signing ceremony was part of the 91st Nebraska FFA State Convention in Lincoln. FFA members, advisers, guests and several university leaders — including Chancellor Ronnie Green and Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources Harlan Vice Chancellor Mike Boehm — participated in the event at the Nebraska Coliseum.

"I want to congratulate you on what will be one of the best decisions you’ve made in your life,” Green told the future Huskers. “We’re here to help you be successful and get the best education you can get."

Green was a state FFA officer and member in Virginia.

Following the opening remarks, each student was announced with their hometown and intended major. As the names were announced, they were met with cheers from their fellow FFA members in the crowd. After the students signed a large "N," Green, Boehm and the other dignitaries lined up to congratulate them with high-fives.

The state convention brought more than 8,000 FFA members, advisers, parents and guests to Lincoln. It featured educational sessions, workshops, a career fair, a leadership academy, interviews and leadership skill sessions. The events are designed to prepare high school students for careers in agriculture, Nebraska's largest industry.

"We need your help figuring out how to help propel the world forward as our population increases," Boehm said. "We look forward to you joining us on campus, whether you’re in ag, architecture, business or engineering."

The following is a list by hometown of students who were recognized during the signing ceremony and their intended major(s).
> Amherst: Sam Florell, grazing livestock systems
> Beatrice: Kelsay Schlichtman, animal science and pre-veterinary science
> Belvidere: Taralee Hudson, animal science
> Blair: Jaycie Meggison, agribusiness; Abby O’Brien, animal science, and agricultural and environmental sciences communication
> Bruning: Isaac Baysinger, computer engineering
> Carleton: Emilie Schardt, agribusiness
> Curtis: Tristin Smith, animal science; Sydney Veldhuizen, pre-veterinary science
> Decatur: Cassidy Farrens, undecided
> Deweese: Boone Svoboda, animal science and grazing livestock systems
> Elba: Kiaya Radke, agricultural and environmental sciences communication
> Elgin: Hunter Reestman, undecided; Kira Widger, undecided
> Genoa: Kate Mohr, animal science and pre-veterinary science; Kelsey Swantek, agricultural education
> Grand Island: Katie Eberl, agricultural education; Garret Laub, engineering; Peyton Traudt, business
> Hastings: Luke Krabel, civil engineering
> Hooper: Taylor Gregory, agricultural and environmental sciences communication
> Lincoln: Rieley Kowalski, animal science and pre-veterinary science; Erica Riley, biology; Jenifer Velzquez, environmental science
> Lyons: Nick Ronnfeldt, animal science; Brandi Simonsen, health sciences
> Mead: Bryn Hannan, undecided
> Minatare: Marco Martinez, computer science
> Mullen: Koby Walker, PGA golf management
> Norfolk: Mercedes Barg, animal science; Autumn Gubbels, agricultural education; Christopher Lidgett, grassland studies; Kenzie Radenz, animal science; Taylor Suhr, social sciences; Tori Wacker, animal science; Alison West, animal science
> Oak: Kalee Fanning, nursing
> Ohiowa: Glenn Meyer, animal science
> Petersburg: Lauren Seier, pre-veterinary science
> Plymouth: Alexis Gerritse, animal science
> Raymond: Rachael Lange, philosophy and Russian
> Shelton: Luryn Hendrickson, architecture; Anna Palmer, nursing
> Silver Creek: Lana Hebda, agribusiness
> Stanton: Sam Bates, animal science
> Sutton: Madison Nuss, nursing; Lacey Freking, animal science; Seth George, chemical engineering
> Valparaiso: Allissa Turnwall, animal science
> Wallace: Haylee Lopez, horticulture; Blake Pelster, agribusiness
> Yutan: Collin Morrissey, agribusiness

Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation Announces 2019 FFA Advisors of the Year

The Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation selected two recipients for the FFA Advisor of the Year award. Jenny Kocian from David City High School and David Rocker from Franklin Public Schools were honored at the Nebraska FFA State Convention on Thursday, April 4, in Lincoln. The winning advisors received a plaque and a $1,000 donation to their FFA chapter.

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

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

Kocian is the FFA Advisor for the David City FFA Chapter. Kocian makes her students a priority and ensures the success of her students by making connections with local businesses, farmers, and cooperatives to assist students in any career path they choose to pursue. Kocian also brings speakers into the classroom environment to introduce students to different types of agriculture. Under the direction of Kocian, one of the biggest accomplishments of this year was that a previous chapter officer, Brooke Belle, was elected to the Nebraska FFA State Officer Team.

Rocker has been the FFA Advisor for Franklin FFA Chapter for 33 years. Because of his dedication and leadership, the Franklin FFA Chapter is highly regarded in South Central Nebraska. Rocker works with fellow teachers to create learning opportunities to teach young people about agriculture. Through various programs and activities that Rocker leads, Franklin Public School students learn about agriculture and how it is important in their rural communities.

“I think every student has a talent - whether it’s welding, science, business, or mechanical - things not in a normal classroom,” Rocker said. “In agricultural education you get to seek out those strengths and build the student’s confidence in something they can have success in for the rest of their lives.”

“We had a number of exceptional nominations this year. All of the FFA advisors nominated make a positive difference every day,” Schafer said. “They invest in the students who are the future of our great state, and we are proud to celebrate their service.”

Ricketts Signs Bill Merging Agencies to Create New Department of Environment & Energy

Governor Pete Ricketts recently signed two bills to streamline and improve the operations of state agencies.

LB302 introduced by Senator Dan Hughes of Venango merges the Department of Environmental Quality and the Nebraska Energy Office into a single agency as of July 1, 2019.  The new agency, named as the Department of Environment and Energy, will be under the direction of Jim Macy.  Macy presently serves as the Director of Environmental Quality and interim director of the Nebraska Energy Office.

“As with the mergers that created our Transportation and Veterans agencies in 2017, this merger will make our state government work more effectively and more efficiently,” said Governor Ricketts.  “The new Department of Environment and Energy that will allow the state to form a more unified vision and strategic plan for our work in these related areas.”

“The two agencies currently have a number of related functions and similar services which will be enhanced for Nebraskans by combining efforts,” said Director Macy.  “Thank you to the Legislature for supporting our work.”

David Bracht, who oversaw the Nebraska Energy Office from 2015 to 2018, also spoke of the benefits of the bill: “The combination of the agencies is going to allow for more resources to achieve the Energy Office’s mission by generating a number of efficiencies and synergies.”

The Governor also signed LB 301 to assign sole responsibility of the Boiler Inspection Act, the Nebraska Amusement Ride Act, and the Conveyance Safety Act to the Fire Marshal.  The bill’s sponsor, Senator John Lowe of Kearney, spoke of the wisdom of housing the inspections under one roof.

“Right now, the Department of Labor and the Fire Marshal have overlapping responsibilities and inspections within these three acts,” said Senator Lowe.  “This overlap can lead to the need for two different inspections, from two different state agencies, on the same item in a building.  This can lead to confusion if one agency approves a boiler or an elevator, but the next agency comes out on a different day and says that changes are needed on that same boiler or elevator.”

LB 302 received a vote of 45-0-4 on final passage.  LB 301 was given final approval with a vote of 44-0-5.

Nuisance Immunity for Confined Animal Feeding Operations Puts All Nebraskans At Risk

Legislative Bill 227, (AM 746), introduced into the agriculture committee on January 14, 2019, by Senator Dan Hughes and co-sponsored by Senators Tom Briese and Mark Kolterman, is slated for debate today/tomorrow in the Nebraska Unicameral and puts all Nebraskans at serious risk.

LB 227 elevates the private property rights of a protected landowner (confined animal feeding operation) over those of an unprotected one (family farmer or rural resident).  The bill allows a concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) to substantially interfere with the use and enjoyment of another person’s property without repercussion.  Such a bill seriously weakens local control and puts our Nebraskans’ local decision-making authority at serious risk.

GC Resolve President Graham Christensen said, “Over the last 20 years our state has completely wiped out protections from large animal feeding operations putting both rural and urban Nebraskan’s at risk.  It feels as if some folks in leadership positions would be ok with eroding our strong rural culture, and putting thousands of Nebraskan’s health at risk.  LB 227 is a horrible idea and needs to be stopped in its tracks.”

When local control is weakened, downstream urban population centers take on new concerns with increasingly contaminated water as we have seen in Des Moines, and are seeing in communities across Nebraska already.  There are approximately 450 confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) being constructed in Nebraska to supply the Costco/Lincoln Premium Poultry plant in Fremont, the largest poultry operation in U.S. History.  Each CAFO will hold 47,500 chickens.  Litter generated by the birds is expected to be twice the volume of all human waste generated in the Omaha metro area daily.  In heavy rainfall events, these contaminants which include excess nutrients and increased pathogens run into our waterways where Nebraskans gather their water from.

We are in a new era with an extreme approach that threatens Nebraska’s independent way of life.  Recently at the Governor’s Ag Conference, Governor Ricketts announced another Costco/Lincoln Premium Poultry processing plant is slated for Central Nebraska.  In addition, Hormel in Fremont was recently sold to WholeStone/Pipestone, and they have announced plans to double hog production necessitating more hogs.  Maschhoffs and Cactus Farms are both mega industrial feeding companies currently looking for more hog growers in Nebraska.  All would utilize large, environmentally hazardous CAFO operations.  

What this means is an unprecedented amount of CAFOs are coming to Nebraska in a short amount of time.  With further weakened regulations Nebraska’s rural residents have no process to protect themselves.  LB 227 is an unprecedented overreach by industrial agriculture to strip rights from adjoining landowners by granting nuisance immunity to CAFO owners.   

Iowa Farm Bureau unites farming neighbors, friends with online exchange to help Iowa flood victims

Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF), the state’s largest grassroots farm organization, launched the Farming Community Disaster Exchange where Iowans can offer help to those impacted by the floods or to seek assistance. The online exchange, which can be found at, is a place where Iowans can offer goods and services to those who need it most.

“As Iowans fight their way through this $2 billion devastation, it’s important to keep the lines of communication open, and that’s what we are offering through our online exchange,” says IFBF President Craig Hill.   “We’ve had calls from around the country from folks willing to donate goods and services. This exchange is a way to connect those people with farmers and Iowans in need impacted by the floods. It’s not just what they need right now, such as assistance for clean-up, hay for their livestock or fresh water for their homes if their wells were contaminated.  According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), flooding may peak again once snow melts make their way down river, and other needs such as sump pumps or heavy excavation equipment to move sand off their flooded fields may also be needed.  We hope the Exchange will be the place where Iowans and others come together to help each other.”

The latest damage estimates from IFBF crop experts show the areas impacted are more extensive than the 2011 Missouri River flooding, where more than 127,000 crop acres were lost.

This year’s planting challenges may not be the only thing impacting agriculture.  “Iowa livestock farmers are also having a tough time navigating flood-damaged roads to feed their animals or to take them to market.  Maybe their trucks got stuck in the mud or their tractors got damaged from floods.  All these challenges can also be opportunities for Iowans to embrace the ‘see a need/fill a need’ approach, which will help us all get through this,” says Hill.

Apply for NFU's Beginning Farmer Institute

Applications for National Farmers Union's (NFU's) 2019-20 Beginning Farmer Institute (BFI) cohort are open through April 15. BFI is a free training program that prepares beginning farmers of all ages and operation types for a successful future in agriculture.

NFU Beginning Farmer Institute participants will attend three in-person learning sessions over the course of the year, one each in Washington, D.C., Northern California, and Savannah, Georgia. The sessions include farm tours as well as seminars on a variety of beginning farmers issues, such as business planning, USDA programs, and accounting. Each year's curriculum will be tailored to the participants' needs as determined by a pre-attendance survey.

A typical session is four to six days long. NFU will cover the majority of the remaining costs of the NFU Beginning Farmer Institute including travel, lodging, and most meals during the event. NFU's expectation is to have each institute graduate become an inspiration to and actively mentor similar individuals in their area, or to become candidates for local boards and other community opportunities. NFU plans to provide ongoing support to participants after they return to their farms.

There is no age limit for the BFI program -- anyone over the age of 18 is eligible to apply. Applicants should be currently farming or planning on starting within the next year. You do not need to be a member of National Farmers Union or a state Farmers Union to apply.

Learn more about the program, past attendees, and apply to the NFU Beginning Farmer Institute at:

If you have any additional questions, please contact Emma Lindberg

New Study Exposes Absurdity of NWF Land Use Change Claims

A new study published in the academic journal Biomass and Bioenergy exposes the fatal methodological flaws and erroneous conclusions regarding biofuels and land use change (LUC) found in recent studies paid for by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF). In addition, the new analysis found that U.S. biofuels expansion has not caused a detectable increase in the U.S. food prices.

“The real-world data showed no evidence of food price increases or other lands converting to agriculture because of biofuel,” according to the study, which was conducted by scientists at the University of Idaho and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The research was funded by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture and USDA Office of the Chief Economist.

The new analysis found that the type of satellite data relied upon by NWF is error-prone, unreliable, and “misleading.” According to the report, “The automated [satellite] land use classification errors were biased towards classifying ambiguous land as agriculture.”

Specifically, the authors manually inspected actual land uses to see if the satellite imagery used by NWF correctly classified the land use. The researchers found that 10.9% of actual non-agricultural land was misclassified as agricultural land by the satellite data. Further, while automated classification using the satellite data showed an 8.53% increase in agricultural land from 2011-2015, the manual classification indicated no significant land use change at all.

“The use of satellite data is prone to error in classifying certain land uses, such as distinguishing between cropland used to grow hay, and pasture land for grazing…Although an automated satellite image classification provides a convenient way to quantify land use change, the results could be misleading if not carefully verified,” the authors explained.

As an example of the problems associated with relying on satellite data for land use change analysis, the paper includes a captivating image showing how satellite tools mistakenly characterized large tracts of urban housing in Lemoore, Calif., as “cropland.”

The CropScape satellite data tool characterized the yellow areas as “cropland” in 2015, when aerial photography clearly shows the area is in the middle of urban or suburban housing.

“This latest analysis joins a growing body of real-world evidence showing that cropland area has continued to shrink and food prices have continued to trend lower since the Renewable Fuel Standard was adopted,” said RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “Recent studies from University of Illinois, USDA, Iowa State University, Purdue University, the Department of Energy, and others have all found that initial predictions of biofuel-related land use change were grossly overstated. Actual empirical evidence shows that farmers have responded to increased demand by using existing cropland more efficiently.”

Montana is Latest State to Regulate Lab Grown Meat Labels

Another state has made the decision to ban lab-grown food from being labeled as meat. Rep. Alan Redfield of Montana sponsored the 'Real Meat Act,' which has passed the state's House and Senate and now goes to Gov. Steven Bullock for his signature.

Missouri became the first state to ban the labeling of such products in 2018. Other states with similar rules on the books include Arkansas, Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.

The National Conference of State Legislatures is tracking legislative action on the state level to regulate lab-grown meat alternatives. At the federal level, USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services have agreed to a joint regulatory framework for the lab products.

Pesticide Industry Leaders Discuss Innovation, Sustainability at 2019 CropLife America & RISE Regulatory Conference

This week, more than 400 leaders from the pesticide industry gathered to discuss innovation, sustainability and the role of regulation at the 2019 CropLife America and RISE Regulatory Conference. This year’s conference programming featured experts addressing issues that ranged from the importance of risk-based regulation to pollinator health to the importance of communicating science in an approachable way to consumers and allies.

"Each year, we have the opportunity to hear from the scientists who drive agricultural innovation. These innovations will help us enhance food safety, increase productivity and sustainability, and protect human health,” said Chris Novak, president and CEO of CropLife America (CLA). "By providing a forum that allows scientists and regulators to understand the benefits of these innovations, we are hopeful that we can maintain an efficient regulatory process that strengthens consumer confidence in our pesticide products.”

“Once again at this year’s conference, we’ve seen strong corporate and academic commitment to developing solutions to pest challenges here in the U.S. and around the world,” said Aaron Hobbs, president of RISE (Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment)®. “The full stakeholder chain, including regulators, is dedicated to developing the most effective and precise products possible through cutting-edge science. An efficient and transparent regulatory process ensures we can continue to advance specialty pesticide products that protect our homes, our places of work and all the public spaces we enjoy.”

Since 2009, the Regulatory Conference has provided a forum to discuss the evolving science and regulation behind crop protection and specialty pesticide products. Each year, interactive sessions encourage open discussion among industry, stakeholders and federal regulators about the issues facing the crop protection and specialty pesticide industries. The Council of Producers & Distributors of Agrotechnology, the premier advocate for agricultural adjuvant and inert ingredient suppliers, joined the conference this year as a co-host.

Thursday April 4 Ag News

Meeting for Growing Annual Forages after a Flood for Cattle Producers – April 9

Due to historic flooding and farmland damage, over 180 farmers attended the USDA and Nebraska Extension Flood Disaster Recovery Meetings on Tuesday (April 2) in Scribner and Fremont and Wednesday (April 3) in Omaha. As a result of feedback from these meetings and individual producers, Nebraska Extension will be providing a meeting for cattle producers with USDA and Crop Insurance Partners to discuss how to utilize annual forages this season to supplement loss of hay and pasture in flood affected areas.

Growing Annual Forages after a Flood Meeting will be held this Tuesday, April 9 from 1:00 to 3:00 pm at the Dodge County Extension Office located at 1206 West 23rd Street in Fremont near the airport.

Speakers include Daren Redfearn and Kristen Ulmer from Nebraska Extension, Brach Johnson - USDA-NRCS personnel, and crop insurance company representatives.

Topics will include discussion of the UDSA-NRCS EQIP program, preventative planting, selecting annual forage species and mixes, growing two annual forage crops in a year instead of corn or soybeans, and other important information about growing annual forages on your farm to help supplement damaged pastures and stored hay loss. The meeting will be recorded and video posted at

Sponsored by Nebraska Extension. No pre-registration is required and there is no fee to attend. Water, pop, and a snack will be provided. Please visit to view the flyer and share this digitally.

USDA-NRCS Offers Post-Blizzard/Flood Assistance; Damage Assessments Underway

In the wake of the “bomb cyclone” and flooding in Nebraska, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is meeting with landowners, partners, and other agencies to assess damages and offer technical and financial assistance.

Disaster recovery assistance programs through NRCS include the Emergency Watershed Protection Program (EWP) and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program’s (EQIP) Livestock Mortality Initiative.
Watershed Assistance

“EWP is designed to install recovery measures to safeguard lives and property as a result of a natural disaster,” said Craig Derickson, NRCS Nebraska state conservationist. “We have teams assembled to complete damage survey reports. Our goal is to get the damage survey reports completed as quickly as possible so we can request funding for the recovery work.”

Watershed impairments that the EWP Program addresses include debris-clogged stream channels, scoured or eroded bridges, and undermined and/or unstable streambanks that pose an imminent threat to public infrastructure (i.e.: bridges, county roads, etc.).

“It is work we can do with a local sponsor to help mitigate damages so lives and property are protected and additional hardships are not heaped upon the devastated community,” Derickson said.

As farmers and ranchers cope with the aftermath of these disasters EWP-type services are key to preventing further damage. The program requires local government bodies or other sponsor to assist with on-the-ground work.

“Generally, NRCS will pay up to 75 percent of the restoration costs, and the sponsor is responsible for the remaining balance of funding needs, which can include in-kind support,” Derickson said.

Potential sponsors seeking assistance through EWP should work with their local USDA service center, which can be found at:

Farmer/Rancher Assistance

Through the EQIP Livestock Mortality Initiative, farmers and ranchers can apply for assistance to properly dispose of livestock lost during the blizzard/flooding. Applications are being accepted now through May 1. Additional application cutoff dates may be announced if there is demand and available funding.

EQIP can also provide long-term support to repair livestock fencing and install conservation practices to reduce erosion and improve soil health. NRCS is taking applications and encourage interested landowners to contact their local office for more information.

For more information on available NRCS assistance, contact a local USDA service center, or visit Information about all USDA disaster assistance programs available to ag producers may be found at

Sasse Seeks Regulatory Relief For Farmers And Ranchers After Flood

Today, U.S. Senator Ben Sasse wrote to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, seeking regulatory relief for Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers in the wake of the state’s historic flood.

“Agriculture took a big hit, but nobody outworks Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers,” said Senator Sasse. “Nebraska is going to get the job done, and we could use some help from our partners at the Department of Agriculture. We’ve got a long road ahead, but we’ll pull together.”

Sasse, who will spend Friday surveying damage alongside Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson and Nebraska Cattlemen President Mike Drinnin, asked the Department of Agriculture for three common-sense steps:

1. Providing additional flexibility as needed with deadlines in the Livestock Indemnity Program for Nebraskans still recovering from the disaster.

2. Waiving a narrow definition of “winter storm” that currently requires three consecutive days, which does not adequately cover the fast-moving and extreme weather conditions that Nebraska faced.

3. Detailing additional USDA personnel to help county and state Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices.

Disposing of Flood-Soaked Grains and Forages

Amy Millmier Schmidt - NE Extension Livestock Bioenvironmental Engineer

Regulatory Considerations

The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) recognizes in NDEQ Guidance Document 11-023 that flood-soaked grain or hay is almost certain to be contaminated, making it unfit for use as food or feed. Therefore, the NDEQ has historically allowed spoiled grain or hay to be land-applied to agricultural fields, with consideration for the nature of contamination or spoilage, amount of material affected, application field topography, proximity to neighbors, etc.

Flood-damaged grain and hay have been demonstrated to be a danger to wildlife. As a result, the department recommends land application of flood damaged grain or hay to be disked into the soil within 24 hours of application. For additional information on NDEQ considerations, see Flood Damaged Grain and Hay Disposal.

Time is of the Essence

Flood-soaked grains and feeds will begin to heat and mold very quickly, making spoilage likely and spontaneous combustion of hays a possibility. The following guidance applies to water-damaged feeds that are not salvageable:

The temperature inside piles can be checked by driving a pointed pipe into the pile and lowering a thermometer inside the pipe. The thermometer should be left in place for about 20 minutes to allow the temperature reading to stabilize.

Alternatively, digging into the innermost layer of the pile with a spade or bucket loader to check for smoldering material or ash can reveal if dangerously high temperatures are present (Hellevang, 2010).
-    Remove flooded grain from bins and stack in a well-drained location away from farm facilities. If possible, separate wet and dry grain and store separately. Wet forages and hay that are no longer submerged in water can begin to generate heat within hours due to microbial activity. It is important to move these away from farm facilities and monitor the temperature of forage piles. Farmers need to be aware of the risk of sudden flair ups in stockpiled hay and forage. Don’t get too close to these stockpiles and allow room for escape routes. If already smoking, stay away because opening the pile and adding oxygen will almost certainly result in fire. If the temperature inside the pile approaches 150°F, the feed is composting and should be monitored closely. At 170°F, material may begin to smolder or catch fire (Hellevang, 2010).
-    Mix any pile that exceeds 150°F with a bucket loader to cool the interior of the pile. Be aware that temperatures will again begin to rise following mixing, so monitoring should continue and piles should be mixed whenever high temperatures are detected.
-    If field conditions will hinder access for land application of these materials for several days or more, continue monitoring and mixing the pile. The heating cycles, if allowed to continue, should eventually generate compost that can be safely stored until land application is possible. Instructions for compost pile establishment follow below. When the material no longer generates heat, it is a sign that the composting process is complete (i.e. no food remains for the microbes) or that the material has dried below about 40%. If the material dries out prior to fully composting, there may still be a risk to wildlife that consume the material following field application.
-    Inspect grain storage bins containing flood-soaked grains for possible damage due to grain swelling, and damage to electrical motors and controls. Grain swelling may cause bolts to shear, doors to misalign, or caulked seals to show signs of stretching.


Composting may reduce the potential for livestock and wildlife to consume the contaminated grain and would limit their exposure to potential toxins. It should also reduce the potential for germination of grain seeds following land application and the potential for volunteer corn in fields.

To actively compost the material, pile the wet feedstuffs in windrows four to six feet high. Smaller windrow can reduce the risk of piles over-heating and spontaneous combustion. Leave adequate space between windrows to provide access for a bucket loader to turn the piles. It is desirable to cover wet grain with damaged hay or other forage or residue.

As noted in the previous section, closely monitoring pile temperatures is essential to detect and manage excessive heating that could generate a fire. Good compost is achieved when temperature peaks between 140°F and 160°F Checking pile temperatures regularly and maintaining a water source nearby to suppress smoldering or burning material are advisable.


The NDEQ guidance for flood damaged grains and hay suggests that burning might be a preferable method for disposal of flood-damaged foodstuffs. According to the NDEQ, open burning of these materials can be conducted without an air permit provided that the material is burned on the same site where it was damaged by flooding and no other debris or waste is combined with the grain and/or forages during burning. It is advisable, however, that the local fire department be contacted to secure a burn permit. Burning these materials may require careful monitoring over an extended period of time to ensure the fire is well-controlled and may produce significant smoke, which could generate nuisance complaints. Notifying neighbors prior to conducting disposal of feedstuffs in this way is recommended.

Land Application

If grain is spoiled but not capable of causing an infectious disease to humans (e.g. contaminated with human septage or sewage), then it may be either sent to a permitted municipal solid waste landfill or land applied. If the grain is applied to the land at an appropriate agronomic rate, prior approval from the NDEQ for land application of this material is NOT required. However, notifying NDEQ of your plans for land application is encouraged.

An agronomic application rate should be based upon nitrogen. Not all nitrogen in the flood-soaked feed would be available in the first year following application. If we assumed 50% availability, application rates shown in Table 1 would likely be a maximum acceptable rate for a typical rainfed field averaging 160 bushels/acre and an irrigated field average 225 bushels/acre. Table 1 includes application rate estimates for feed at both 30% and 50% moisture, and for corn silage at 70% moisture.

Because the moisture content of the feedstuff impacts your final application rate, if the table does not represent the moisture content of a material being considered for land application, an application rate estimate can be calculated by dividing the “Tons of Dry Matter Per Acre” value in the table for that feedstuff by the fraction dry matter (or 1 – fraction moisture). As an example, for corn at 65% moisture content, divide 4.3 tons DM/ac by (1 – 0.65) to arrive at an application rate of 12.3 tons/ac).

Additional considerations when land applying flood-soaked feeds include:
-    An in-season N assessment is recommended due to low predictability of applied organic N availability (50% assumption is likely high). Additional N application may be warranted and an option should be available for side-dressing corn.
-    Incorporation of land-applied feedstuffs is recommended to minimize risks to wildlife from toxins in the grains. A moldboard plow or other aggressive tillage practice may be necessary to completely bury grains. Flood-damaged grains can be particularly dangerous to bird wildlife. Composting grain before land applying should reduce palatability and risk of consumption.
-    Volunteer plant growth from land-applied grain is likely. If corn has herbicide tolerant traits, controlling volunteer plants will present unique challenges. Composting of grains should reduce germination of grain seeds.
-   If flood-soaked corn has herbicide-tolerant traits, it should NOT be applied to fields that will be used for human food production (e.g., popcorn production) or seed grain production in the following growing season.

Recordkeeping Recommendations

Document flood-damaged grains and forages with written records summarizing amounts of feedstuffs damaged and dates of flooding. Time-dated photos can be particularly valuable.

When land-applied, record the number of loads hauled (or scale records, if available), area covered by land application, and timing. Again, time-dated photographs are valuable. An estimate of moisture content of the grain or hay when land applied is also desirable for document application at an agronomic rate. If feedstuffs are incorporated into the soil, photographic documentation would be desirable.

Recovering Dry Grains in Flooded Bins

Any dry grain should be inspected, checked for moisture content, and possibly considered for re-use with animals. If the grain can be salvaged for use by animals, Ken Hellevang, agricultural engineer at North Dakota State University, recommends:
-    If the grain depth is less than 6 feet, use a natural-air bin drying system with a perforated floor and a high-capacity drying fan. Verify that the air is coming through the grain. Supplemental heat can be used to speed drying, but do not raise the air temperature more than 10 or 15 degrees F.
-    If a dryer is not available, spread the grain in as dry a place as possible. Don't pile it any higher than 6 inches. Stir it daily to prevent overheating and to speed drying. Watch for and remove molded grains.
-    Wet grain can be ensiled if it is intended for feed and the moisture content is between 25% and 35%. If using a conventional silo, contact an Extension educator about treating the grain with propionic acid to prevent mold.

Lastly, in a North Dakota State University publication, Hellevang and his co-authors warn: “Do not feed flood-damaged grains until they are tested for mycotoxins, toxic substances produced by fungi. Ask your county Extension agent for locations of testing laboratories. Even if the feed is deemed safe to use, watch animals carefully for signs of illness.”

Management Recommendations for Irrigation Equipment Affected by Flooding

Aaron Nygren - Extension Educator

With the recent widespread flooding, many irrigation systems across the state have been affected by flooding. As waters drain and soils dry out, part of the recovery process will include checking irrigation systems for damage and performing maintenance/repair before those systems can be used.

Above all else, staying safe is critical, so make sure that electricity is shut off when inspecting electrical components. Double check to confirm that power is off and that it cannot be restored prior to completion of the inspection/repair work.

It is advised to contact your local well or pivot company service technician to get your systems inspected, as damage may have occurred and more damage could be caused by operating the system. Depending on the water level, inspection and maintenance might be needed for the power unit, irrigation well, and center pivot. Listed below are areas to look at with each of these components.
Power Unit

If water reached the power unit, maintenance is needed before operating the system. Do not attempt to start the electric motor until it has completely dried out or damage may occur. This may require the motor being removed and brought into the shop and disassembled to make sure everything is OK, so it is recommended to check with your pump company. Once dry, it is advised to drain the oil and replace. In addition, be sure to grease the motor bearings by removing the relief plug and adding grease until old grease is expelled.

If the water completely submerged the internal combustion engine, it will require major servicing which should be performed as quickly as possible and may require a complete rebuild. This will include draining and replacing the oil, pulling injectors or spark plugs to make sure no water is in the cylinders before turning over the engine, and replacing all filters. Electrical systems may be damaged and need repair or replacement. Also, check the fuel system for water and drain if water is present.
Irrigation Well

Once the power unit is inspected, the next concern is if the well had contamination or debris go down the column. This is of more concern if the system had an open discharge pipe such as a gravity irrigation system. Wells with proper functioning backflow valves should be less likely to have contamination or debris. If debris is possible, make sure the pump turns freely before operation or damage may occur to the impellers.

Once the power unit is operable, it may be helpful to start up wells that were flooded to pump contaminates out. As a precaution, you may choose to shock chlorinate the well to kill any bacteria that might be present. (For more information see Restoring a Flooded Well to Service.)

Well gearheads are usually sealed well, but it is still advised to drain the oil, flush if possible, and refill with new oil.

Center Pivot

The main components to check on center pivots are the wheel and center drive gearboxes, center drive motors on electric drive pivots, tower boxes if the water reached them, and the pivot panel. Hydraulic drive pivots would still need the wheel gearboxes checked, but the hydraulic system should be OK unless the pump and/or oil reservoir were submerged.

With gearboxes, drain any water present. If the oil appears contaminated, drain and refill with new oil. The center drive motors should be inspected to make sure they are dry and free of debris, which may require removing the stator housing from the motors.

If water reached the pivot panel and/or the tower boxes, it is recommended to have a service technician or electrician inspect them. Be sure to let them dry out completely before servicing. Both basic and computer panels may operate after drying out and cleaning, but often they will need to be replaced.

Midwest Dairy Elects Leadership

Allen Merrill, a dairy farmer from Parker, South Dakota, was re-elected chairman of Midwest Dairy during the organization’s annual meeting held in conjunction with the Western Dairy Forum in Phoenix, Arizona.

Elections for the Corporate board officer team also were held. Charles Krause, Buffalo, Minnesota, was re-elected first vice chairman; Dan Hotvedt, Decorah, Iowa, was re-elected second vice chairman; Lowell Mueller, Hooper, Nebraska, was re-elected secretary and Barb Liebenstein, Dundas, Minnesota, was re-elected treasurer.

New members elected by their Divisions to the Midwest Dairy Corporate board include:
Sheri Atteberry, Conway, Missouri;
Kelly Cunningham, Atlantic, Iowa;
Margaret Johnson, Fountain, Minnesota;
Brent Mueller, Garden Prairie, Illinois; and
Joyce Racicky, Mason City, Nebraska.

Division board officers and new members are as follows:

Iowa Division
Chairman – Dan Hotvedt, Decorah;
Vice Chairman – Bruce Brockshus, Ocheyedan;
Secretary – Jonna Schutte, Monona; and
Treasurer – Larry Shover, Delhi.
Patrick Jones, Spencer, was seated as a new member of the Iowa Division board.

Nebraska Division
Chairwoman – Joyce Racicky; Mason City; and
Vice Chairwoman – Mary Temme, Wayne; and
Secretary/Treasurer – Jodi Cast, Beaver Crossing.
Mike Henn, Norfolk, was seated as a new member of the Nebraska Division board.

Nebraska Corn Board Seeks Candidates for Vacancies

Notice is hereby given that the terms for three members of the Nebraska Corn Development, Utilization and Marketing Board will expire June 30, 2019, and Nebraska’s corn checkoff program is seeking candidates to petition for those districts. The open positions represent Districts 1, 4 and 5.

    District 1: Includes the counties of Butler, Cass, Douglas, Gage, Jefferson, Johnson, Lancaster, Nemaha, Otoe, Pawnee, Saline, Sarpy, Saunders, Seward and Richardson (Note:  David Bruntz, the current District 1 director, has indicated he will pursue re-appointment).

    District 4: Includes the counties of Burt, Cedar, Colfax, Cuming, Dakota, Dixon, Dodge, Knox, Madison, Pierce, Stanton, Thurston, Washington and Wayne (Note: Debbie Borg, the current District 4 director, has indicated she will pursue re-appointment).

    District 5: Includes the counties of Buffalo, Dawson, Hall, Howard and Sherman (Note:  Tim Scheer, the current District 5 director, has indicated that he will not pursue re-appointment).

Appointments to the board for Districts 1, 4 and 5 are made by the Governor of Nebraska. Any candidate for appointment may place his or her name on the candidacy list by filing a petition with the Nebraska Corn Board. Qualified candidates include those individuals who are citizens of Nebraska, are at least 21 years old, have been actively engaged in growing corn in Nebraska for a period of five years and derive a substantial portion of their income from growing corn. Board members who currently represent these districts are also eligible to re-petition.

Petitions may be obtained by writing the Nebraska Corn Board (P.O. Box 95107, Lincoln, NE 68509-5107), by calling 800-632-6761 or emailing A candidacy petition must carry the signatures of at least 50 corn producers from that district. All petitions must be received by the Nebraska Corn Board no later than 5:00 p.m. central time on Friday, May 17, 2019.  Faxed copies do not qualify.

Nebraska Hall of Agricultural Achievement honors, elects new members

The Nebraska Hall of Agricultural Achievement honored Bob Dickey and Al Svajgr at a banquet on March 29 at Nebraska East Union in Lincoln.  

Formed in 1916, the Nebraska Hall of Agricultural Achievement is dedicated to preserving and improving Nebraska agriculture. Each year, the group recognizes at least one honoree and elects new members.

Dickey is a third generation farmer raising cattle, hogs, soybeans and corn on his farm near Laurel. As he became more established in farming, he invested in Nebraska agribusinesses, including Specialty Protein Producers in Norfolk, Husker Ag Processing in Plainview and Advanced Bioenergy at Fairmont.

Dickey has served in many volunteer and civil organizations. He was director and chairman of the Farm Credit Bank Board, representing Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota and Wyoming. A member of the Nebraska Corn Board for 21 years, he served as its chairman. Dickey worked in many different leadership roles, including president, in the National Corn Growers board. As a member and chairman of the United States Grains Council, he worked to build alliances between many U.S. commodities to improve cross-industry partnerships.

Svajgr’s passion for the beef industry began while growing up on the family farm in Diller, where he was involved with 4-H cattle and FFA. He is currently the owner of Agrow, feeding approximately 5,000 head of cattle annually. Svajgr is also original owner and board chairman of Darr Feedlot, which markets over 100,000 head of cattle each year. He is director of Waypoint Bank and chairman of Midwest Banco, a bank holding company.

Svajgr is a past president of Agriculture Builders of Nebraska and the Nebraska LEAD Board. He has served on the University of Nebraska Foundation Board of Trustees and the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Chancellor’s Advisory Board and Animal Science Advisory Committee. Currently, he is on the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture Advisory Board, chairman of the Cozad Hospital Board, and on the Cattlemen’s Ball of Nebraska board.

NHAA also welcomed new members at the banquet. New members were nominated by a fellow member of the hall for their significant contributions to the state’s agriculture industry.

This year’s new NHAA members, listed by hometown are:
    ANSELMO: Barbara Cooksley, cattle rancher, range conservationist
    GORDON: Nancy Peterson, veterinarian, Plum Thicket Farms
    GRANT: Ted Tietjen, agribusiness consulting
    HARRISBURG: Douglas Olsen, owner, Olsen Ranches, Inc.
    LINCOLN: Mary Garbacz, emeritus professor of practice, Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communication, University of Nebraska–Lincoln; Terry Hejny, director, Nebraska LEAD Program; Pete McClymont, executive vice president, Nebraska Cattlemen; Richard Rasby, associate dean, Nebraska Extension
    NORTH PLATTE: Chuck Burr, extension educator, University of Nebraska–Lincoln
    POTTER: Rick Larson, farmer and rancher
    SUTHERLAND: Roric and Deb Paulman, owners, Paulman Farms

NBB Thanks Representatives for Proposed Biodiesel Tax Incentive Extension

The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) today thanked Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D-IA), Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA), Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) and Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE) for introducing bipartisan legislation that would provide a two-year extension of the biodiesel and renewable diesel tax incentive. The Biodiesel Tax Credit Extension Act of 2019 (HR 2089) would provide certainty for 2018 and 2019 to biodiesel producers and their employees. The legislation is co-sponsored by Reps. Angie Craig (D-MN), Cheri Bustos (D-IL), Cindy Axne (D-IA), Danny K. Davis (D-IL), Darin LaHood (R-IL), Dave Loebsack (D-IA), Jackie Walorski (R-IN), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Bill Pascrell (D-NJ, and John Larson (D-CT).

“NBB and its members are grateful to Representatives Finkenauer, Kelly, Kind and Smith for their leadership to extend the expired biodiesel tax incentive,” Kurt Kovarik, NBB’s Vice President of Federal Affairs, said. “We continue to appreciate the strong bipartisan support in Congress for biodiesel and renewable diesel industry workers.

“Biodiesel companies and their employees are facing an uncertain future because the biodiesel tax incentive has been expired for 15 months. The economic pressure is threatening the future of the industry, putting good-paying, blue-collar jobs and production of a low-carbon, domestic fuel at stake. It is adding economic pressure to farmers who have been hit from both sides by unfavorable weather and trade disputes. If enacted swiftly, this bill will provide the agricultural economy some certainty and relief for 2018 and 2019.”

The House legislative language mirrors the biodiesel tax incentive provision in Senate legislation introduced by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), chairman, and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee. The Senate legislation (S.617) would provide a two-year extension of expired temporary tax incentives, including the biodiesel and renewable diesel tax incentive.

With plants in nearly every state, the U.S. biodiesel and renewable diesel industry supports more than 60,000 jobs, paying more than $2.5 billion in annual wages and generating more than $11 billion in economic impact. Every 100 million gallons of biodiesel production supports 3,200 jobs.

The U.S. biodiesel market has grown from about 100 million gallons in 2005, when the tax incentive was first implemented, to more than 2.6 billion gallons annually since 2016. The biodiesel tax incentive helps producers across the country continue to invest in capacity for future growth.

Webinar Takes a Look at Why Improving the Soil Pays Dividend

The Iowa Learning Farms webinar Wednesday, April 17, will discuss the importance of soil quality for agriculture production.

The 12 p.m. webinar will cover how the quality of the soil impacts productivity of crops and how weather changes contribute to yield variation among years and within fields. Enhancing the soil pays dividends because of the improved water and nutrient availability during crop reproductive development stage. Jerry L. Hatfield, laboratory director and supervisory plant physiologist at the USDA National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment, will explain how soil can be enhanced by changing the system to promote and sustain an active soil biological system.

“The research paves the way for reduced yield variation among years and within fields,” said Hatfield, whose research focuses on understanding the dynamics of the G x E x M (genetics x environment x management) complex to evaluate the role of soil, with the changing weather, in crop performance. He wants webinar participants to understand that soils can change quickly and create a path toward increased efficiency of water and nutrient use.

A Cover Crop Adviser board approved continuing education unit is available for those who are able to watch the live webinar. Information for submitting your CCA/CPAg/CPSS/CPSC number to earn credit will be provided at the end of the presentation.

To watch, go to and click the link to join the webinar shortly before 12 p.m. April 17, to download the Zoom software and log in option. The webinar will be recorded and archived on the ILF website for watching at any time at

CHS Reports $596.3 million of net income for first six months of fiscal 2019

CHS Inc., the nation's leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, agronomy, grains and foods company, today reported net income of $248.8 million for the second quarter of fiscal 2019 and $596.3 million for the first six months of fiscal 2019.

"Our strong performance in the second quarter reflects our hard work at serving our owners and other customers better. We've refocused on serving our customers and improving our operations, and that has shown positive results in our financials for the first half of fiscal 2019," said Jay Debertin, CHS president and chief executive officer.  "Our performance also reflects the benefit of a diverse platform across business units that serves our cooperative and farmer-owners."

Key financial highlights for the quarter ending Feb. 28, 2019, include:
-    Consolidated revenues of $6.5 billion compared to $7.0 billion in the restated second quarter of fiscal year 2018.
-    Net income of $248.8 million compared to $166.0 million from the restated second quarter of fiscal year 2018.
-    Pretax income of $261.9 million compared to a loss of $21.7 million from the restated second quarter of fiscal 2018.
-    Favorable pricing for crude oil supplied to the CHS refinery business.
-    Higher earnings from the investments in CF Nitrogen and Ventura Foods.

"The first six months of our fiscal year have returned overall good financial results," Debertin said. "But we face challenges, particularly in our Ag segment. These challenges of low commodity prices, trade difficulties and harsh winter weather impact all of agriculture, especially farmers. As we look to the rest of our fiscal year, we know there are factors such as the recent flooding we cannot control that will continue to affect agribusiness and those growing the food to feed the world."

Second Quarter Fiscal 2019 Segment Results

The following segment results were reported for the second quarter of fiscal 2019 as compared to second quarter fiscal 2018.
The $282.1 million increase in Energy pretax earnings reflects:
    Improved market conditions in the CHS refined fuels business, primarily driven by favorable pricing on heavy Canadian crude oil.

The $8.9 million decrease in Ag pretax earnings was driven by:
    Significant pressure on grain volume and margin due to slower movement of grain caused by price, weather, logistics and unresolved trade issues.

The $6.2 million increase in Nitrogen Production pretax earnings reflects:
    Improved margins at CF Nitrogen, driven by increased sale prices of urea and UAN, which are produced and sold by CF Nitrogen.

The $4.2 million increase in Corporate and Other pretax earnings reflects:
    Higher earnings from the company's investment in Ventura Foods and increased revenue from other corporate activities.

North American Grain and Oilseed Crushings 2018 Summary

Combined United States and Canadian Soybeans Crushed Up 10 Percent From 2017

This information is a result of a joint effort by Statistics Canada and USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service to release the soybean and canola seed crushings information for both countries within one publication. United States soybean and oilseed crushings numbers for 2018 were previously released on March 15, 2019. Canadian soybean and oilseed crushings were released on March 22, 2019.

Combined United States and Canadian soybeans crushed for crude oil was 65.2 million tons in 2018, an increase of 10 percent from 2017.  Crude oil production was 24.9 billion pounds compared to 22.9 billion pounds in 2017.

Combined United States and Canadian canola seeds crushed for crude oil was 12.1 million tons in 2018, up less than 1 percent from 2017.  Crude oil production was 10.7 billion pounds, up 1 percent from 2017.

U.S. Sorghum Sales Continue To Spain, Italy

Recent sales of U.S. sorghum to Spain and Italy reinforce the importance of these European markets to U.S. farmers.

Italy purchased 36,600 metric tons (1.44 million bushels) of sorghum the week of March 14, and Spain has purchased just under one million tons (39.4 million bushels) of sorghum since April 2018.

A combination of factors has resulted in the return of these two buyers to the sorghum market this marketing year. In addition to ample supply of U.S. sorghum, a drought in Europe has driven up the price of European feedstock. U.S. sorghum is an attractive alternative with duty-free access to the market and no biotechology-related concerns.

The Council worked with Spanish buyers last spring by bringing sorghum sellers to Spain and conducting two purchasing conferences, resulting in purchases of diverted shipments from China. These activities paved the way for renewed interest in U.S. sorghum, and the Spanish have continued to purchase since that time, with U.S. sorghum destined for hog production.

“There has proven to be some demand in Spain for sorghum,” said Reece Cannady, U.S. Grains Council (USGC) manager of global trade. “I look forward to Spain being a partner with the sorghum industry in the United States for years to come.”

Italy also is looking for feed grains to fill the demand gap left by the European drought. The recent purchase allows Italian end-users to evaluate the economical and nutritional advantages of U.S. sorghum.

The Council will continue building on this positive momentum by conducting a buyers conference in Europe this summer to provide more information on the availability and value of U.S. sorghum to Spanish and Italian buyers, as well as those in other European countries.

American Farm Bureau Relieved that Border Will Remain Open

AFBF President Zippy Duvall.

“We are relieved by the administration’s announcement today that there will not be an immediate closure of our border with Mexico. That is good news for farmers and ranchers on two fronts – trade and access to agricultural workers. Our farm and ranch families continue to face an economic storm that would have become even more severe had the border been closed. Our ability to secure workers through the H-2A program is essential to many of our farmers and growers, and we continue to seek additional improvements to help our farmers secure the workforce they need to grow and harvest their crops and tend their livestock. When it comes to trade, Mexico is an essential partner and we will continue to push for congressional approval of the USMCA trade agreement.”

Wednesday April 3 Ag News

Repairing Flood-Damaged Fields 
John Wilson - NE Extension Educator

In the words of the immortal Yogi Berra, “It’s like déjà vu all over again.” At least that’s the way it seems for some farmers adversely affected by the 2011 Missouri River flood. I hope our current flooding will not be the duration of the 2011 flood; it definitely impacts many more farmers over a larger area.

Even if the flooding is short term, there are still some important things we learned about bringing flooded fields back into production in 2011 that are just as applicable today. From our experience in 2011, farmers found that they needed to work on things in three stages to repair flood-damaged fields.

1. Remove debris and sediment.

We grouped debris into two general categories: plant material and other debris. The kind of "other" debris will make a difference on how it is handled. Plant material, primarily corn stalks and trees, can be burned on the tract of land where it was found (if it is zoned agricultural) and the ashes buried there.

If a layer of corn stalks or other crop residue isn’t too deep, it can be incorporated into the soil with normal tillage operations. One concern, and this will be a recurring theme, is to not perform tillage when the soil is too wet. This will cause compaction and create more of a problem than it solves. Also, burying high-carbon crop residues may temporarily tie up nitrogen in the soil as microbes break it down.

Other debris we encountered varied from a lot of smaller “junk” such as tires, posts, and boards to propane tanks and vehicles to wooden decks, cabins and whole homes that had floated into fields. There are two options for this type of debris. It can be buried onsite if the land is zoned agricultural, or it can be taken to an approved landfill.

In the case of buildings, an asbestos inspection may be required by the Nebraska Health and Human Services (NHHS). Call 402-471-0386 to see if you need an inspection. For other information on handling miscellaneous debris, contact the Waste Management Section of the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) at 402-471-4210.

Sedimentation from floods can pose a great challenge for crop production on agricultural land. The difference in texture of the deposition and the native soil below can cause major production issues. In 2011, we encountered deposits that varied from an inch or two to over 30 feet deep. The depth of the deposition will determine how it is best handled:
-    0-2 inches: incorporate with normal tillage operations.
-    2-8 inches: incorporate with chisel or moldboard plow.
-    More than 8 inches: spread or remove to a depth of 8 inches or less and incorporate as listed above.
-    Tillage in the native soil should be the depth of the sand plus 1.5 times the depth of sand; for example, you would till 10 inches deep for 4 inches of sand [4 + (1.5 x 4) = 10].
-    Avoid tillage or other field operations until soil is dry enough to reduce the chance of compaction.

2. Repair Erosion

The degree of erosion can vary from a few inches to many feet and different levels will need to be managed differently.
-    Tillage – if soil can be smoothed and farmed following a normal tillage operation
-    Earth Moving – if erosion is too deep to be corrected with tillage, but can be filled, then farmed. Fill eroded areas or top dress with native soil from other parts of the field, depending on the depth of the erosion.
-    Abandonment – may be the only option if erosion is too deep to correct economically, even with earth moving.

If you’re using sediment depositions to fill eroded areas, use native soil from another area in the field for the final three feet to avoid droughty areas.

Avoid field operations until the soil is dry enough to reduce chances of compaction. After major eroion repairs, sample the soil in the repaired area. (Consider sampling from both the repaired area and undisturbed area to determine if fertility should be managed differently in each.) Use traffic lanes if making multiple trips in the same field to correct erosion.

3. Manage Other Factors

-    Soil Crusting. Surface soil texture changes and the loss of structure can cause effects resembling compaction. This can restrict root penetration and reduce water infiltration. Tillage should remedy a shallow (less than 2-inch) crust. You guessed it… don’t do tillage when the soil is too wet!
-    Wind Erosion and Planting Cover Crops. Sedimentation and the removal of crop residues from the soil surface may lead to wind erosion. The easiest way to reduce this is by seeding a cover crop as soon as conditions permit. There are several options:
+            Aerial seeding success depends on timely rains and may not be as effective because of a lack of seed to soil contact. However, this does allow the earliest seeding in a field where ground operations might be impossible. The whole field can be done at once, regardless of conditions.
+            Broadcast seeding followed by light tillage provides better seed-to-soil contact, but is dependent on being able to get into a field. Often the whole field may not be seeded at the same time.
+            Drilling gives the best seed to soil contact and seed distribution which leads to more rapid germination and establishment. Also, drills may provide some soil smoothing and cause less compaction than tillage to incorporate seeds.

Besides reducing wind erosion, cover crops significantly increased corn yields (+30 bu/ac) but not soybean yields in 2012 on ground that was flooded in 2011. We don’t know if cover crops will have the same effect on yields in a flood of shorter duration. This study was conducted on a field that was under water for over three months in 2011.


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

Flooded pastures are a mess.  After water recedes, what needs to be done so recovery can occur?

First of all, be safe.  Who knows what might have been left behind.  Then, before doing any recovery efforts, alert local FSA and NRCS offices that you experienced this problem and discuss what assistance they may be able to offer.  Do this first!  You might be ineligible for assistance if you do work before receiving authorization.

Then, after water recedes and soils firm up, remove debris and repair fences and water sources.  Be sure to have water sources tested for nitrates and contaminants.  Especially test any surface water like ponds or remaining standing water from the flood.

Next, evaluate sediment levels.  Pasture plants may have a tough time emerging through any more than two or three inches of sediment so expect poor stands any place where you have thick deposits.  Remove thick deposits if possible.

Erosion may not be a big problem in many areas.  However, make any repairs or apply other erosion control measures as needed.  Also check for any chemical contamination.  While it’s unlikely due to dilution by all the flood water, specific sites may be affected, especially if chemical containers were part of the debris.

Don’t even consider grazing until all the previous steps have been taken.  Once pastures dry out, allow plants extra time and growth before initiating grazing.  And when animals do graze, be sure to leave taller stubble than usual to both keep plants healthy and to minimize animal consumption of any flood contaminants remaining on surface soil.

It’s a lot of work to recover flooded pastures.  It can be done if you follow the right steps.


A little nice spring-like weather always causes an outbreak of diesel fever among farmers.  Before you start working your row crop land, however, let’s take a look at your alfalfa.

We are getting closer and closer to field work time.  In fact, many folks already are anxious to apply fertilizer, spray fields, and even chop stalks.

If you also have alfalfa, though, it is critical that you take a little time to check those fields over the next couple weeks to make sure you don’t miss making some important decisions.

First is weed control.  Last fall provided excellent weather conditions, both moisture and temperature, to start a bumper crop of winter annual weeds like mustards, pennycress, and wild oats or downy brome.  If you want to prevent these weeds from possibly damaging your first cutting, you must act now to apply the right herbicides before your alfalfa develops much growth.

Next comes evaluating your alfalfa stand.  With all the alternative cropping and forage options available to you, there is no good excuse for having low production from fields due to a thin stand of alfalfa.  If alfalfa stands in your fields have declined to the point where you should make additions like oats for extra hay this year or orchardgrass and festulolium for more permanent help, these plantings need to be done now, before your alfalfa gets too much of a head start and overwhelms later new seedlings.  Or maybe you just need to rotate to another crop and start a whole new field of alfalfa.

I know you are tempted to rush ahead to prepare for corn and bean planting.  But don’t forget about your alfalfa.  Even a short delay could be too late.

Governors Meet with Corps of Engineers to Call for Change to Missouri River Management

Today, Governor Mike Parson,  Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, and Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts met with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to hear an updated assessment of flood damage and look ahead on the Missouri River outflow. However, the primary purpose was to identify regional solutions for recovery and levee repairs.

“It’s long past time for change,” said Governor Parson. “We must begin a serious discussion about how we improve flood control on the Missouri River. One third of Missouri’s most productive farmlands’ fate rests in the hands of those who manage our rivers - the Corps. The Corps maintains one of the nation’s largest flood-control systems on the Missouri River mainstem, but the devastating flooding we are experiencing and the previous record 2011 flooding have demonstrated the current system is insufficient to protect us.”

After the 2011 flood, the Governors of Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming agreed that flood control was their number one priority. Today’s discussion marked the first step forward in Missouri River basin states reasserting their leadership in guiding the federal government’s management of the river.

“It’s time for a coordinated, consistent approach to Missouri River Management, levee reconstruction, and a long-term regional improvement plan,” said Governor Reynolds. “Today’s meeting was about each state presenting a united front to achieve a new level of effective response to severe flooding."

“Nebraska is just starting to recover and rebuild after the most widespread natural disaster in our state’s history,” said Governor Ricketts. “Today, we had a clear message for the Army Corps: We want to see people and communities put first.  As we rebuild, we are asking for the Corps and FEMA’s help in cutting red tape and rebuilding bigger and better than before to keep people safe. The three Governors committed to working together to change how the river is managed.”

All three Governors agreed their states are committed to taking a stronger and more active role in guiding the federal government’s management of the Missouri River. They also agreed that the number one priority is flood management and people.

“Our citizens cannot continue to risk their lives, homes, livestock, and futures on a flood-control system that is insufficient to protect them,” said Governor Parson.


Fellowship applications for Nebraska LEAD (Leadership Education/Action Development) Group 39 are now available for men and women involved in production agriculture or agribusiness.

“Up to 30 motivated men and women with demonstrated leadership potential will be selected from five geographic districts across our state," said Terry Hejny, Nebraska LEAD Program director.

In addition to monthly three-day seminars throughout Nebraska from mid-September through early April, Nebraska LEAD fellows also participate in a 10-day national study/travel seminar and a two-week international study/travel seminar.

Seminar themes include leadership assessment and potential, natural resources and energy, agricultural policy, leadership through communication, Nebraska’s political process, global perspectives, nuclear energy, social issues, understanding and developing leadership skills, agribusiness and marketing, advances in health care, and the resources and people of Nebraska’s Panhandle.

The Nebraska LEAD Program is designed to prepare spokespersons, problem-solvers and decision-makers for Nebraska and its agricultural industry.

In its 38th year, the program is operated by the nonprofit Nebraska Agricultural Leadership Council, in collaboration with the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Nebraska colleges and universities, businesses and industry, and individuals throughout the state.

To request an application, email or call 402-472-6810. Requests can also be sent to 104 ACB, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 68583-0940. Applications are due no later than June 15.

For information about the selection process, visit


The National Corn Growers Association participated in the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef’s Feed Transparency Summit at McDonalds Headquarters in Chicago last week. Representatives from the major grain aggregators, feed yards, packers, brands and retailers, as well as non-governmental organizations (NGOs) were also present.

“Continuing to be a part of these conversations is extremely important, as corn and DDGs are a primary component of rations fed to beef cattle,” said NCGA First Vice President and Iowa farmer Kevin Ross. “The meeting was the first step towards exploring opportunities to pilot a collaborative project between the grain and beef value chains to improve transparency. Consumers are asking more and more questions about where their food comes from. The summit brought together stakeholders from across the beef supply chain to discuss that.”

Each group in attendance had the opportunity to expand upon the challenges and opportunities within their industry and shared their perspectives on what the broader value chain needs to be aware of.

“Special attention was given to the role of investors in pushing grain aggregators, packers, and brands and retailers towards having public commitments to sustainability and measurable metrics and targets,” Ross added. “We shared NCGA’s sustainability goals and initiatives with the group, so they were aware of what we already have in place and what we are working towards to help demonstrate corn’s positive impacts to the environment and the beef value chain.”

Moving forward, the group agreed to continue discussions on publicly available sustainability metrics and data. Attendees representing NCGA included: Nathan Fields, vice president of production and sustainability; Sarah McKay, director of market development; Kevin Ross, Iowa farmer and NCGA first vice president; Ken Harman, Illinois farmer and NCGA board member; Brandon Hunnicutt, Nebraska farmer and NCGA board member and Paul Hodgen, Indiana farmer and Indiana Corn Marketing Council board member.

Weekly Ethanol Production for 3/29/2019

According to EIA data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association, ethanol production expanded 24,000 barrels per day (b/d), or 2.5%, to an average of 999,000 b/d, equivalent to 41.96 million gallons daily. The four-week average ethanol production rate declined 0.6% to 996,000 b/d—equivalent to an annualized rate of 15.27 billion gallons. This represents the smallest 4-week average production rate in 99 weeks, and the first time since Oct. 2017 to fall below one million b/d.

Stocks of ethanol were 24.0 million barrels, 1.9% below the prior week’s high.

There were no imports for the 20th week in a row. (Weekly export data for ethanol is not reported simultaneously; the latest export data is as of January 2019.)

Gasoline supplied to the market ticked higher to 9.131 million b/d (383.5 million gallons per day, or 139.98 billion gallons annualized). Refiner/blender net inputs of ethanol decreased 1.2% to 909,000 b/d—equivalent to 13.93 billion gallons annualized.

Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production increased to 10.94%.

U.S. Soy Leaders Visit China on Experience Today’s U.S. Soy Advantage Tour

As part of the continued, multi-country tour to promote U.S. Soy, leaders from the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC), the American Soybean Association (ASA), and the United Soybean Board (USB) will hold meetings this week with Chinese importers in Beijing and Shanghai. The meetings are a part of USSEC’s efforts to maintain and further build relationships with exporters and stakeholders in international markets.

“U.S. soybean farmers work hard every year to deliver a high-quality product to customers around the world,” said Jim Sutter, CEO, USSEC. “Our mission at the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) is to help our growers remain competitive by building global demand and expanding market access for U.S. Soy.”

Consumers globally are demanding soy products in record volume and U.S. exports to other countries have grown significantly over the past year. To ensure this demand continues, USSEC is focused on short and long-term strategies to increase availability of innovative, nutritious and quality U.S. Soy.

As part of these strategies, USSEC is conducting a tour called Experience Today’s U.S. Soy Advantage in key priority markets. The purpose of these meetings is to remind customers of the benefits of U.S. Soy, thank them for their trust in American soybean farmers, and foster U.S. Soy interests. To date, events have been held in numerous markets across the world.

“U.S. soybean farmers and exporters should know that USSEC is investing in markets that represent future growth opportunities for U.S. Soy. We believe these discussions are having a positive impact on our current and future growth opportunities,” affirmed Sutter.

Fertilizer Prices Mostly Lower Now

Retail fertilizer prices are mostly lower for the fourth week of March 2019, according to retailers tracked by DTN. This marks the fifth week in a row in which at least some prices were declining, and the first week in which a majority of prices were lower.

Six of the eight major fertilizers' prices were lower compared to last month, although the drop was fairly minor. DAP had an average price of $509/ton, MAP $534/ton, potash $385/ton, urea $401/ton, UAN28 $269/ton and UAN32 $318/ton.

Two fertilizers were higher compared to the prior month, but the increase was fairly slight. 10-34-0 had an average price of $470/ton and anhydrous $597/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.44/lb.N, anhydrous $0.36/lb.N, UAN28 $0.48/lb.N and UAN32 $0.50/lb.N.

All eight of the major fertilizers are now higher compared to last year with prices shifting higher. MAP is 5% more expensive, both DAP and urea are 8% higher, potash is 10% more expensive, 10-34-0 is 11% higher, UAN28 is 14% more expensive, UAN32 is 17% more expensive and anhydrous is now 18% higher compared to last year.

USDA Dairy Products February 2019 Production Highlights

Total cheese output (excluding cottage cheese) was 991 million pounds, 0.5 percent above February 2018 but 9.7 percent below January 2019.  Italian type cheese production totaled 440 million pounds, 3.3 percent above February 2018 but 8.3 percent below January 2019. American type cheese production totaled 394 million pounds, 0.9 percent below February 2018 and 10.4 percent below January 2019.  Butter production was 165 million pounds, 2.9 percent below February 2018 and
12.9 percent below January 2019.

Dry milk products (comparisons in percentage with February 2018)
Nonfat dry milk, human - 154 million pounds, down 2.6 percent.
Skim milk powder - 35.8 million pounds, down 4.8 percent.

Whey products (comparisons in percentage with February 2018)
Dry whey, total - 74.9 million pounds, down 16.4 percent.
Lactose, human and animal - 98.8 million pounds, up 14.5 percent.
Whey protein concentrate, total - 39.1 million pounds, down 0.9 percent.

Frozen products (comparisons in percentage with February 2018)
Ice cream, regular (hard) - 51.1 million gallons, down 7.7 percent.
Ice cream, lowfat (total) - 32.3 million gallons, down 4.7 percent.
Sherbet (hard) - 2.59 million gallons, down 13.5 percent.
Frozen yogurt (total) - 4.55 million gallons, down 1.6 percent.

American Farm Bureau Concerned about Labor, Trade if Border Closed

The American Farm Bureau Federation is urging the administration to make sure that any steps undertaken to tighten enforcement at the U.S. border do not create more uncertainty for agricultural producers.

“Right now, farmers and ranchers are toughing it out,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “Many of our products are caught up in a trade dispute. Mother Nature has devastated the livelihoods of tens of thousands of producers. Prices for many commodities remain depressed. We are doing the best we can in a very challenging environment.

“While our members support border security, they are increasingly anxious about what ‘closing the border’ might mean for their farms and ranches. This is especially true for growers who have had H-2A applications approved and are expecting their workers to arrive on time, ready to help tend and harvest this year’s crops. We are hopeful the administration will take concrete steps to ensure that H-2A workers can arrive in time for the work that needs to be done.

“If further efforts are undertaken to secure the border, we want to make sure farmers and ranchers are not adversely affected by any of these efforts and that producers who depend on international markets and workers have an assurance that their farm businesses are not jeopardized.”

Farmers Union Urges Trump Against ‘Disastrous’ Closing of the Southern Border

Amidst escalating rhetoric and threats from President Donald Trump to close the U.S.-Mexico border, National Farmers Union (NFU) today insisted the President avoid such a “disastrous” decision, which would effectively cripple trade with U.S. agriculture’s top trading partner.

NFU President Roger Johnson released the following statement in response to the President’s remarks:

“Without regard for the American family farmer, rural resident or consumer, President Trump is yet again risking essential trade markets and our country’s once-pristine trading reputation. Shutting down the U.S.-Mexico border would be disastrous for trade with our top agricultural trading partner, and the effects would be consistent with the numerous other trade disruptions the President has self-inflicted on our country: lost markets and lower prices for products grown and raised by family farmers and ranchers.

“For two years, President Trump has dug American agriculture into a tremendous hole. We’ve lost markets that took decades to build, and worse yet, we’ve lost our reputation as a reliable trading partner. Threats to close our border worsen this reputation, digging our hole deeper and depressing farm prices for years to come.

“Many American farm families are already in dire financial strain because of a drastic decline in farm prices over the past five years. Unfortunately, the President’s tactless, flailing approach to trade has exacerbated the situation. In order to begin to fill the hole he has singlehandedly dug, he must work to repair relationships, not make them worse."

Study Examines Contribution of American Lamb Checkoff Program

The American Lamb Checkoff Program has positively contributed to American lamb demand and industry profits, according to the Texas A&M University 2019 report "Return on Investment in the American Lamb Checkoff Program" conducted by agricultural economists Gary Williams, Ph.D., and Dan Hanselka.

After extensive econometric modeling, researchers concluded that the American Lamb Checkoff Program added from 2.4% to 2.7% of the annual value of retail lamb. The study measures 2002 to 2018, the time period during which the American Lamb Board (ALB) has been conducting programs. This new study has similar results compared to five years ago, when the last study was released.

This white paper covers both traditional and nontraditional US lamb markets and compiles relevant data from the Livestock Marketing Information Center, U.S. Department of Agriculture, industry reports on lamb sales, and other reputable sources. The paper discusses factors that affect seasonal supply, the role of US and imported lamb, impact on all industry segments, opportunities to alter the US seasonal supply, and case studies of producers who have shifted season of production to meet the needs of their customers. 

Researchers went on to write: "With modest funds available for promotion, the ALB succeeded in substantially enhancing the annual value of U.S. lamb consumed." The American Lamb Checkoff Program's promotion program is about $1.5 million a year, with another $0.5 million invested in education and research programs. Administration costs must be less than 10 percent of yearly collections.

The new study indicated that this 2.4% to 2.7% "lift" is the result of increased consumption of lamb and a more modest increase in retail price. ALB promotion programs have helped increase the U.S. production share of lamb consumption to "some extent over time."

"These results are a win for every member of the American lamb industry," says ALB Chairman Dale Thorne, a Michigan lamb producer and feeder. "The purpose of our checkoff is to increase demand for American Lamb and enhance opportunities for all segments to profit. This extensive analysis tells us that we remain on the right track with our promotion programs."

Price of American lamb is of particular interest to the industry. While the effect of lamb price on product demand has declined in recent years, a 10 percent increase in the price of lamb leads to a decline of about 6 percent in lamb demand. When it comes to competitive meats, a 10 percent decline in the price of beef results in about a 5 percent decline in the quantity of lamb demanded while the price of pork is insignificant as a driver of lamb demand. As for poultry, U.S. consumers do not consider it to be a substitute for lamb, said the report.

Consumers' "habit persistence" has a statistically significant effect on U.S. lamb consumption and has increased among current lamb eaters during recent years. Habit persistence means that past consumption influences current preferences and demand. So, according to this study, the more that U.S. consumers can be enticed to choose American lamb, the more likely they are to continue doing so.

Another measure of checkoff program contribution to the industry is the cost-to-benefit ratio. The Texas A&M study reported that the average return to industry stakeholders for every $1 invested into the American Lamb Checkoff Program is approximately $14.20.

By law, the checkoff program must undergo an economic return on investment analysis every five years. 

Speakers to discuss legal protections for animal ag at 2019 Stakeholders Summit

The Animal Ag Alliance announced today that discounted registration rates for the 2019 Stakeholders Summit, themed A Seat At The Table, have been extended through April 12th. The event will be held May 8-9 at the InterContinental at the Plaza Hotel in Kansas City, Missouri. The hotel block at the official Summit hotel is full. An overflow room block is available at the Hampton Inn & Suites Kansas City Country Club Plaza for Summit attendees until April 15th or until rooms are sold out. To view the agenda, register and book your hotel, visit

One topic that will be on the table at Summit is how animal activists continue to find new and different ways to challenge animal agriculture and other animal industries in the courtroom. Their litigation strategies are often coordinated with legislative, media/public relations and federal agency engagement. Summit attendees will hear from two seasoned animal law attorneys who have decades of experience in handling high stakes litigation and public relations battles against animal activist groups. Attendees will learn about the topics and trends that affect their businesses and organizations, including proactive steps that may be taken to avoid litigation issues and best practices when litigating with these groups.

Speakers include John Simpson and Michelle Pardo, partners at Duane Morris LLP, a law firm with more than 800 attorneys in offices across the United States and internationally.
-    John Simpson is experienced in the conduct of complex, protracted federal court litigation and has a deep background in federal administrative law involving multiple U.S. regulatory programs. Simpson achieved a national profile in the area of animal law and animal rights litigation. He tried a landmark case under the Endangered Species Act to a defense verdict for the client in a case that received international media attention.
-    Michelle Pardo has developed extensive experience in animal law and animal rights litigation and regulatory counseling, including representation of businesses or entities in the entertainment, agricultural, food production, educational and research spaces whose operations involve animals or animal products or services.

Be sure to check the Summit website for the most up-to-date Summit information. You can also follow the hashtags #AAA19 for periodic updates about the event. For general questions about the Summit please contact or call (703) 562-5160.

Get involved:

Show your support for the Alliance’s outreach efforts by becoming an official Summit sponsor today! For 2019 sponsorship opportunities, please visit For more information, contact Allyson Jones-Brimmer at

Thank you to our 2019 Summit sponsors: Watt Global Media, Farm Journal Media, Meatingplace, National Provisioner, American Feed Industry Association, National Pork Producers Council, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Pork Board, Smithfield, United Soybean Board, Elanco, National Turkey Federation, Dairy MAX, Farm Credit, Country Folks, National Biodiesel Board, Summit Livestock Facilities, United Egg Producers, Cobb-Vantress, Inc., Council for Biotechnology Information, Protect the Harvest, Agri Beef, American Farm Bureau Federation, American Veal Association, BPI Technology, Inc., Progressive Dairyman, Kemin, National Chicken Council, Live Oak Bank, North Carolina Farm Bureau, Phileo Lesaffre Animal Care, Vivayic, Eggland’s Best, Brakke Consulting, Inc., Food Industry Environmental Network, Kansas Farm Bureau and Kansas Soybean.

The Alliance also thanks the following members for their continued support of Summit and other Alliance programs: U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, Merck Animal Health, Charleston|Orwig, Diamond V, Zoetis, Alltech, Inc., Aviagen Group, Bayer Animal Health, Boehringer Ingelheim, Cattle Empire, LLC, Dairy Farmers of America, Genus PLC - PIC/ABS, Hendrix Genetics, Hy-Line North America LLC, Iowa Soybean Association, Midwest Dairy, Nutrien, Provimi North America, Inc. and Seaboard Foods LLC.

Three Factors Impacting Profitability for Farm Supply in 2019

The agronomy and farm supply sector will be stressed through 2019, and profitability for ag retailers could face a multi-pronged threat. Poor weather last fall and so far this spring have combined with stressed farm financials to pressure ag retailer margins and impact farmer decisions that could reduce sales volumes, according to a new report from CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange Division.

Increased costs in the form of operating expenses for ag retailers, including labor, equipment and other expenses, will potentially rise due to a compressed or hard-hitting spring planting season.

“The near-term outlook for ag retailers and agronomy departments does raise some concern,” said Will Secor, grain and farm supply economist at CoBank. “As always, there’s a lot riding on spring weather. If farmers and ag retailers have ample time to get in the fields and make up time that was lost last fall, that will ease the pressure. However, a compressed spring will increase costs and could have impacts that last throughout the growing season.”

Three Drivers Impacting Farm Supply Outlook

Poor Weather – Bad weather throughout much of the Midwest last fall kept farmers and applicators out of the fields, pushing much of that fieldwork to spring. And now with flooding throughout much of the Midwest, that fieldwork will be pushed further into the year. As a result, ag retailers will likely be stretched to fulfill service requests. To meet the needs in their areas, some ag retailers may rent additional equipment, hire more seasonal labor or pay additional overtime hours. On the other hand, ag retailers that have significant capacity in labor or equipment may welcome a compressed, hard-hitting spring.

Stressed Farm Financials – As commodity prices have declined, farmers are increasingly price shopping and looking to cut costs. Variable costs like fertilizer, seed and crop protection products are key targets. Fertilizer volume and seed choices are becoming more constrained by farm finances. Farmers may pull back on macronutrient fertilizers and are less likely to apply micronutrients or try biologicals. Delayed farmer decisions can also be linked to weak farm financials. Combined with a decrease in prepays, ag retailers are facing greater inventory risk and more difficult inventory decisions. Accounts receivable risk for ag retailers will likely increase as cash farm income dropped nearly ten percent in 2018.

Fertilizer Prices – Fertilizer prices are expected to increase as the spring application season kicks into high gear. This should provide a good margin opportunity for ag retailers who purchased product before the run-up in prices last fall. Ag retailers who purchased inventory at high prices last fall that are still unpriced going into the spring, face uncertainty. If retail prices do not increase to meet the prices paid, margins will shrink.

“Profitability will be pressured for most ag retailers and agronomy departments in 2019,” said Secor. “The USDA is predicting higher farm income in 2019, which we could see the effects of in 2020. However, many farmers will be cash-strapped for the current planting season and that will certainly impact ag retailers.”

DOT, New Leader Collaborate on Autonomous Dry Spreader

DOT Technology Corp., Saskatchewan, Canada, and New Leader Manufacturing, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, announced their collaboration on a state-of-the-art dry spreader for the DOT Power Platform. This agreement will advance autonomous agriculture by strengthening an already robust offering of DOT-ready implements, including the SeedMaster 30-foot drill, the Connect PLU S120 Sprayer and C40 Coulter, and the SeedMaster grain cart.

This week, the New Leader engineering team unveiled a CAD drawing of their concept at the demonstration hosted by DOT Technology Corp. at the University of Arizona, Maricopa Research Farm.

"New Leader is known for designing and manufacturing innovative, high quality broadcast spinner spreaders that lead the industry," said Norbert Beaujot, president and founder of DOT Technology Corp. "The company has a well-known history of leveraging technology to make its equipment more productive and effective. We are very excited to work together with them to offer farmers the opportunity to have a G5 spreader on their DOT Power Platform."

New Leader is designing a custom dry spreader based on their NL5000 G5 for the DOT Power Platform. The G5, through its patented swath width control technology, lets operators apply nutrients to the soil with pinpoint accuracy. The G5 can spread material in up to 16 sections, thereby reducing overlap, decreasing nutrient waste, and optimizing the placement of nutrients; making it a perfect accessory for farmers pursuing precision fertilizer application.

"We're proud to be working with DOT on this exciting project. Both companies are committed to bringing versatile equipment to the marketplace that meets the needs of this ever-changing industry. We're confident the combined solution between our companies will bring a real opportunity for growers to increase productivity and efficiency," said Rob Rudolphi, Director of Global Business at New Leader Manufacturing.

As DOT Technology Corp. increases the number of implement partners it is working with, farmers will have more implements they can use on their power platforms, thus increasing the versatility of the Power Platform.

"We are keen to continue working with other implement manufacturers who are seeking to extend their products into autonomous farming," said DOT CEO Leah Olson-Friesen. "Our collaboration with companies like New Leader will broaden DOT's value to farmers significantly, enabling them to spend more of their time focusing on the overall operation of their farms."

The innovative DOT Power Platform is helping farmers in myriad ways, by utilizing the mobile, diesel-powered, machine to handle a large variety of implements commonly used in agriculture. Through the continuous development of artificial intelligence capabilities, DOT reduces greenhouse gas emissions and creates efficiencies such as: approximately 20 percent savings on fuel, labour, and equipment capital costs -- resulting in a reimagination of how farming is and can be done.

DOT Technology Corp. is located in Saskatchewan, Canada, and was established in 2017. It is a technology company that manufacturers DOT, a patented autonomous diesel-powered platform. New Leader Manufacturing was established in 1939 and is a family-owned business located in Cedar Rapids. It manufactures industry-leading New Leader crop nutrient applicators, and Hi-Way deicing spreaders and road maintenance equipment.

Tuesday April 2 Ag News

USDA provides support to Nebraska

During one of the worst weather events in Nebraska, the citizens of Nebraska have come together and helped each other in tremendous ways.  With neighbor helping neighbor, stranger helping stranger and people from out of state sending supplies and donations to help rebuild, the resilience of Nebraskans shows through.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is also on the ground to help Nebraskans as they recover and rebuild.  There are many programs available to everyone, including farmers and ranchers.  For a list of all the programs available, please go to

In Nebraska, USDA has several crews conducting aerial surveillance in the federal designated disaster areas looking for stranded livestock.  If you see stranded or deceased livestock, please report it to the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality at 877-253-2603.  USDA has contractors in place to remove livestock carcasses.

Nebraska Farm Service Agency Announces Livestock Indemnity Program Application Deadline for Producers Impacted by Extended Cold, Precipitation

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) State Executive Director Nancy Johner today announced that producers who suffered livestock losses due to a combination of extended cold and above-normal precipitation during the months of January, February and March may be eligible for assistance under the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP). The deadline to submit a LIP Notice of Loss due to these weather circumstances is April 29, 2019.

“The Livestock Indemnity Program provides producers with a vital safety net to help them overcome the financial impact of extreme or abnormal weather,” said Johner. “Extended cold combined with above-normal precipitation during the months of January, February and early March created an adverse weather event that has had a significant impact on some livestock producers. We encourage them to reach out to our office by the April 29 notice of loss deadline.”

LIP compensates livestock owners and contract growers for livestock death losses in excess of normal mortality due to an adverse weather event. The payment rate is based on 75 percent of the average fair market value of the livestock.

A livestock producer must file a notice of loss within 30 calendar days of when the loss of livestock is first apparent. Due to the abnormal conditions in January, February and March 2019, producers with livestock losses attributable to the combination of extended cold and above-normal precipitation have until April 29, 2019, to submit a notice of loss to FSA county offices. Livestock producers must provide evidence that the death of livestock was due to an eligible adverse weather event or loss condition.

Once a Notice of Loss is completed and approved by FSA, an application for payment can be completed by submitting supporting documents regarding beginning inventory and losses. This may include documentation showing the number and kind of livestock that died, photographs or video records to document the loss, purchase records, veterinarian records, production records and other similar documents.

Producers may apply for LIP benefits at their county FSA office. For more information on LIP, or to locate a county FSA office, visit

LENRD Coffee & Conversation event coming to Pender

The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) is partnering with the Pender High School FFA Chapter to host a free, public event to test the nitrate levels in private well water.

“Coffee & Conversation” will be held next Wednesday, April 10th from 7:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. at Welsh’s Pizza in Pender.  Participants can bring samples of their private well water to be tested for nitrates.  Samples should be about 1-2 cups and must be collected within 24 hours in a clean, sealed container and kept cool before testing.  If a water treatment system is used, a sample should be taken before and after treatment.  All test results are kept confidential.  LENRD staff will be present to answer any questions you may have about nitrates in your water, the conservation tree program, or the recent flooding that has devastated many parts of Nebraska.  Stop by and see them!  Coffee and rolls will be provided.

Bipartisan Group Urges Prompt Livestock Disaster Payments

North Dakota's Senator John Hoeven joined a bipartisan group of senators, led by Senator John Thune (R-S.D.), in urging Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to provide Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) assistance as quickly as possible. The senators also requested that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) delegate LIP approval authority to Farm Service Agency (FSA) County Committees. The senators stressed that the county committees are the most familiar with local weather, disaster events and the livestock management practices of area farmers and ranchers.

"The extreme conditions our ranchers faced this winter led to real losses," said Hoeven. "These payments are needed to help ranchers recover and maintain their operations. That's why we're pressing Secretary Perdue to ensure the payments are issued as soon as possible, and delegating this authority to the FSA County Committees is an important step in making that happen."

The letter follows a series of severe weather events in the Plains, Rocky Mountains, Mississippi Valley and Great Lakes regions that have led to devastating livestock losses. The senators also urged Perdue to prioritize LIP regulatory updates as USDA implements the 2018 Farm Bill, revisit and broaden weather-related LIP eligibility criteria and adhere to the management protocol changes outlined in the 2018 Farm Bill.

In addition to Hoeven and Thune, the letter was signed by Senators Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.).

Farmers Need Disaster Relief Now

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall

“Farms and ranches across the country have endured an incredibly difficult year in 2018 and the trend continues in 2019 with historic hurricanes, floods, tornadoes and wildfires. Losses total more than $8 billion, and the full impact of recent flooding in the Midwest is still being assessed. But we know that many farmers are facing near-complete losses of their crops, livestock and farm infrastructure. At the same time, Puerto Rico’s humanitarian crisis continues and reauthorizing the Nutrition Assistance for Puerto Rico program at $600 million is critical.

“In times of unprecedented natural disaster, our nation always has stepped up to help farmers and ranchers recover from circumstances beyond their control and to restore their farms to productivity, so we can get back to the business of feeding our people and our economy. Farm Bureau urges U.S. senators to support farmers and ranchers and the rural communities impacted by these catastrophic weather events by moving past this political impasse. 

“Our nation always has come together in times of difficulty. That’s what we must do now. We ask all senators to set aside political concerns and prioritize concern for our nation’s food producers.”

USDA Study Shows Significant Greenhouse Gas Benefits of Ethanol Compared with Gasoline

A new study released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) finds greenhouse gas emissions from corn-based ethanol are about 39 percent lower than gasoline. The study also states that when ethanol is refined at natural gas-powered refineries, the greenhouse gas emissions are even lower, around 43 percent below gasoline.

“These new findings provide further evidence that biofuels from America's heartland reduce greenhouse gases even more than we thought, and that our farmers and ethanol plants continue to become more efficient and effective,” said Secretary Sonny Perdue. “President Trump has made it abundantly clear he is unleashing the full potential of American energy production as we retake our rightful place as the world’s leader. Expanding the sale of E15 year-round will provide consumers with more choices when they fill up at the pump, including environmentally friendly fuel with decreased emissions. I appreciate EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler moving expeditiously to finalize the E-15 rule before the start of summer driving season.”


The study, led by Dr. Jan Lewandrowski of USDA’s Office of the Chief Economist, and published in the journal Biofuels, supports findings of other research that ethanol has a significantly better greenhouse gas profile than previously estimated.

The study, titled “The greenhouse gas benefits of corn ethanol—assessing recent evidence,” attributes much of these additional benefits to revised estimates of the impacts of land-use change as a result of demand for ethanol. Where previous estimates anticipated farmers bringing additional land into production as a result of increased corn prices, recent analysis finds only modest increases in crop acreage. Additional improvements at ethanol refineries, combined with on-farm conservation practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, such as reduced tillage and cover crops, have further decreased emissions associated with corn ethanol. The study projects that with added improvements in refineries and on farms, a reduction of over 70 percent in lifecycle emissions is possible by 2022.

The study is available for download. More information on the greenhouse gas profile of biofuels is available at

New USDA Study Underscores Ethanol’s Critical Role in Reducing Greenhouse Gases

Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released an independent analysis that shows how ethanol continues to significantly reduce greenhouse gases (GHG) by up to 47 percent by 2022. The study notes that ethanol use in fuel transportation reduces GHGs by 43 percent, and projects that, based on current trends, the reductions will increase 4 percent in just three years.

Growth Energy welcomed the report findings, and CEO Emily Skor issued the following statement:

“This new USDA study further supports that ethanol is a win-win for all Americans,” said Skor. “Higher ethanol blends provide not only tremendous health and environmental benefits, but economic benefits as well for rural America and our farmers. Our industry remains committed to cleaner fuel options for all drivers, and ethanol’s role in reducing GHGs is among the reasons why. We look forward to drivers experiencing these benefits and more when they soon have access to E15 year-round.”

The Climate Corporation and Lindsay Corporation Partner to Deliver Data-Driven Irrigation Management Insights for Farmers

The Climate Corporation (Climate), a subsidiary of Bayer, and Lindsay Corporation, a leading global manufacturer and distributor of irrigation technology, today announced a platform agreement that will establish two-way data connectivity between The Climate Corporation’s Climate FieldView™ digital agriculture platform and Lindsay’s FieldNET platform. Through the collaboration, mutual farmer customers will be able to make faster, more-informed field and irrigation management decisions.

“As global water use for crop production increases, farmers are adopting more efficient irrigation practices to sustainably improve their productivity,” said Mike Stern, CEO of The Climate Corporation and Head of Digital Farming at Bayer. “Like Climate, Lindsay recognizes the benefits of helping farmers leverage their field data to optimize and simplify all their management decisions. Through this new partnership, we look forward to helping farmers seamlessly connect their data between both systems to gain more precise irrigation and water use insights to get the most out of every acre.”

With Climate FieldView, farmers across more than 60 million paid acres are experiencing fast, easy field data collection and the ability to gain analytics-based insights from their data for increased productivity. With the addition of Lindsay as a platform partner, shared farmer customers will see additional values, streamlined data transfer, more precise irrigation monitoring and the ability to visualize and analyze irrigation data. Combining this information alongside other important field data layers in the FieldView platform will unlock new insights about field performance. 

“We’re thrilled to collaborate with The Climate Corporation to help more farmers harness the power of their data to more efficiently manage water use for improved productivity, “ said Tim Hassinger, President and CEO at Lindsay. “At Lindsay, our goal is to make water and energy-savings accessible to all farmers through our best-in-class irrigation scheduling solutions. Through this collaboration with Climate, we’re making significant strides towards that goal.”

The Climate Corporation’s mission is to help all the world’s farmers sustainably increase their productivity through the use of digital tools. First launched in the United States in 2015, the Climate FieldView digital agriculture platform is on more than 60 million paid acres across the United States, Canada, Brazil and Europe. It has quickly become the most broadly connected digital platform in the industry and continues to expand into new global regions.

FieldNET by Lindsay is a leading, global irrigation management platform, enabling farmers to remotely monitor and control their irrigation system from anywhere. Through FieldNET, farmers have access to FieldNET Advisor, the world’s first turn-key, cloud-based irrigation scheduling tool that delivers automated, daily irrigation recommendations, helping farmers decide precisely when, where and how much to irrigate. For more information about FieldNET and Lindsay Corporation, please visit the Company’s website at

As innovation in digital agriculture continues to accelerate rapidly around the globe, Climate continues to explore partnership opportunities to provide farmers with the insights they need to improve their productivity. To date, Climate has announced partnerships with more than 60 platform partners globally. For more information about the Climate FieldView platform, contact a local FieldView dealer, or visit If you are interested in partnering with The Climate Corporation, please visit

Leading Farm, Conservation, and Wildlife Groups Unite in Support of Protecting Conservation Funding

Having succeeded in protecting funding for the Conservation Title in the 2018 Farm Bill, more than 140 leading farm, conservation, and wildlife groups are once again joining together to protect those hard-fought conservation funds and programs in the fiscal year (FY) 2020 appropriations process.

In a letter delivered today, the groups, which include the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), National Farmers Union (NFU), National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD), National Wildlife Federation (NWF), and American Farmland Trust (AFT), called upon appropriators to respect the funding decisions made in the 2018 Farm Bill and reject any cuts to farm bill conservation funding through the appropriations process.

Farm bill conservation programs, including the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), and Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), play a vital role in helping farmers, ranchers, and landowners to keep their lands sustainable and profitable for generations to come.

“America’s farmers and ranchers worked hard to ensure that the 2018 Farm Bill included support for the conservation programs they rely upon,” said Alyssa Charney, NSAC Senior Policy Specialist. “The Agriculture Committees listened when farmers told them what they needed to thrive, and now we are asking congressional appropriators to do the same. The farm bill process is closed; appropriators should seek to build upon the foundation laid by the 2018 Farm Bill, not attempt to undercut it. Appropriators have protected these programs in their last two funding bills, and we now ask them to continue to do so in FY 2020.”

“As America’s farm and ranch families endure significant environmental and economic challenges, it is as important as ever that we maintain funding for voluntary, incentive-based conservation programs,” said Roger Johnson, President, NFU. “Congress just last year passed a farm bill with strong provisions and mandatory funding for conservation programs. Appropriators should reject changes that were settled in the process of crafting the Farm Bill and provide adequate funding to NRCS staff to fulfill their important role in ensuring the sustainability of family farms across the country.”

“Farm Bill conservation programs are critical to addressing America’s wildlife crisis,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “We call on lawmakers to reject any efforts to cut mandatory funding for Farm Bill conservation programs. These effective and widely supported programs give farmers and ranchers the tools they need to voluntarily restore important habitat for wildlife across America’s working lands and proactively recover at-risk wildlife populations.”

In their letter, the 146 organizations also urged appropriators to protect funding for conservation technical assistance.

“Ensuring full funding of CTA and farm bill programs will continue to allow conservation districts to work hand-in-hand with NRCS at the local level to deliver conservation on America’s landscapes,” NACD President Tim Palmer said. “Farm bill conservation programs are essential to our nation’s producers, as well as the consumers of their products. We urge Congress to protect and sustain conservation funding to allow our producers to continue providing a safe, reliable food supply while emphasizing locally-led conservation solutions to improve the quality of our nation’s soil, water and natural resources.”

The wide range of organizations signed on to the letter speaks to how significantly any cuts to conservation programs and technical assistance would be felt across the country.

“Farm Bill conservation programs are critical to the efforts of farmers and ranchers across this country to voluntarily protect their land from development and implement environmentally sound farming practices,” said John Piotti, President & CEO of American Farmland Trust. “At a time when we are losing three acres of farmland per minute, it is absolutely necessary to save every last dollar for these programs and serve as many farmers and ranchers as possible.”

AFT, NACD, NFU, NSAC, and NWF stand united with the more than 140 co-signed organizations in urging appropriators to protect funding for critical conservation programs and technical assistance in FY 2020.

Study Identifies a Key to Soybean Cyst Nematode Growth

The soybean cyst nematode, one of the crop's most destructive pests, isn't like most of its wormy relatives. Whereas the vast majority of nematodes look like the microscopic worms they are, the female soybean cyst nematode shape-shifts into a tiny lemon after feeding on soybean roots. In a new EvoDevoarticle, a University of Illinois research team explains how it happens and why.

"We think the soybean cyst nematode has evolved this body shape so that they can produce a lot more offspring," says Nathan Schroeder, assistant professor in the Department of Crop Sciences at the University of Illinois and corresponding author on the new study. "If you compare the most closely related species that stay long and skinny, they have a lot fewer babies than this lady does."

The round shape allows female soybean cyst nematodes to retain about two-thirds of their fertilized eggs inside their bodies. As embryos develop, the mother's body hardens to become a protective cyst. Schroeder says these adaptations have allowed the soybean cyst nematode to become as successful as it is.

From previous research with a different species, the scientists suspected seam cells were responsible for the shift from long and skinny to fat and round. Seam cells, which have stem-cell-like properties, run the length of these worms and divide to enlarge the epidermis every time the worms molt.

"Normally, there's one division for each molt, creating one new set of nuclei in the multinucleated epidermis. We found that with soybean cyst nematode, they divide multiple times after infection, molt, divide even more times, molt, divide even more times. You have exponential growth which leads to this fat, round beast that has lots and lots of these epidermal nuclei," Schroeder explains. "Between the last juvenile phase, which is long and skinny, and the reproductive adult phase, the number of nuclei increase forty-fold."

The research team also investigated the division pattern in other plant-parasitic nematodes and found similar seam cell proliferation in several others, despite not being closely related to soybean cyst nematodes. Essentially, they found evidence of convergent evolution, or the appearance of similar traits to meet the same needs in distantly related species. The common example is wings in butterflies and bats, but now nematode body shape can be added to the list.

NCGA Releases Pollinator Protection Guide

The National Corn Growers Association – in partnership with the Honey Bee Health Coalition – is releasing new best management practices (BMPs) to protect bees and other pollinators in and around cornfields.

At roughly 92 million acres, field corn covers more land than any other row crop in the country, and in the Midwest Corn Belt, corn often makes up to 40 percent of the landscape or more. The BMPs presented in the NCGA’s new guide identify potential effects of agricultural practices on bees at each stage of production and recommend ways to mitigate those impacts.

The digital publication showcases specific strategies such as reducing dust and drift while planting pesticide-treated seed.

“While corn does not rely on honey bees for pollination like some crops, bees depend on neighboring plants for forage,” said Nathan Fields, NCGA vice president of production and sustainability. “As good stewards of the land, corn growers can follow these BMPs to help protect honey bee health, ensuring productive agricultural systems for all.”

Corn farmers who rotate with soybeans could also see added benefit from their pollinator stewardship because bees can increase soybean yields by up to 18 percent, according to a 2005 study.

Planting time is a key time for farmers to map out a bee-friendly strategy, and the NCGA Best Management Practices guide features season-long BMPs for growers. It also contains information for beekeepers who often work in concert with farmers on healthy bee populations.

A summary of key practices includes:
-    Communicating about beehive locations, crop management practices, and coordinating with beekeepers.
-    Checking extension recommendations, considering multiple strategies for pest control, and verifying in-field needs before applying pesticides.
-    Planting and preserving flowering plants in non-crop areas.

“Making adjustments in how we spray and what time of day we spray can yield positive results for pollinators,” Roger Zylstra, a Lynnville Iowa farmer and chairman of NCGA’s Stewardship Action Team said. “And better communications between farmers and beekeepers to reduce bee exposure to pesticides in the spring and summer can provide big benefits.”

To date, the NCGA and two other Honey Bee Health Coalition member organizations – the U.S. Canola Association and United Soybean Board – have worked with the Coalition to develop and distribute BMP guides specific to corn, canola and soybean.

The Honey Bee Health Coalition brings together beekeepers, growers, researchers, government agencies, agribusinesses, conservation groups, manufacturers, and consumer brands to improve the health of honey bee populations both generally and around production agriculture by addressing hive pests and disease, forage and nutrition and exposure to crop pesticides.

Each set of best practices, available online for free download, was developed by an expert team of agronomists, entomologists, beekeepers, extension and regulatory agents and reviewed by farmers, crop consultants, agribusiness representatives, retail suppliers, conservation NGOs and other stakeholders.


In a letter to members of the House and Senate, Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) President and Chief Executive Officer Rick Smith urged “immediate action to ensure the U.S.-Mexico border remains open to U.S. dairy exports.” The communication to Congress is a reaction to a proposal by the administration to close the United States’ southern border, which would negatively impact an already struggling U.S. dairy industry.

DFA, owned by 14,000 dairy farmers across the country, expressed concern that the recent announcement risks the largest destination for American dairy products, accounting for more than one-quarter of all U.S. dairy exports.

“The dairy industry has worked together closely for more than two decades to grow and strengthen the market for U.S. dairy products in Mexico,” Smith said. “In the volatile dairy industry, strong dairy export markets are crucial for our farmer-owners, who have suffered years of financial stress on the farm. Mexico remains a key customer for our dairy farmer-owners, and we are asking Congress to work with the administration to keep our border open and quickly ratify the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) to ensure our robust trade partnership continues.”

Closing the border could put the future of the USMCA in peril and further strain key trading relationships that are already fragile as a result of recently imposed tariffs.

“We are in the worst rural economic recession since the 1980s,” Smith added. “Our farmer-owners need strong dairy markets, both at home and abroad to recover and continue providing wholesome dairy products for generations to come. The Mexican export market is critical to the longevity of our industry.”

USDA, EPA, and FDA Recognize April as Winning on Reducing Food Waste Month

Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) kick off Winning on Reducing Food Waste Month by calling for greater collaboration with public, private, and nonprofit partners as well as state and local officials to educate and engage consumers and stakeholders throughout the supply chain on the need to reduce food loss and waste.

In the U.S., more than one-third of all available food goes uneaten through loss or waste. Food is the single largest type of waste in our daily trash. In recent years, great strides have been made to highlight and mitigate food loss and waste, but the work has just begun. When food is tossed aside, so too are opportunities for economic growth, healthier communities, and environmental prosperity – but that can change through partnership, leadership, and action. Further elevating the importance of this issue, today’s announcement follows a Presidential Message from President Trump acknowledging the month of April as Winning on Reducing Food Waste Month and encouraging public action and participation from all sectors.

“USDA alone cannot end food waste, it will require partners from across the supply chain working together on innovative solutions and consumer education. We need to feed our hungry world and by reducing food waste, we can more wisely use the resources we have. I am pleased President Trump identified this issue as one of importance, and I look forward to USDA’s continued work with our agency partners at EPA and FDA to change behavior in the long term on food waste,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.

“Reducing food waste and redirecting excess food to people, animals, or energy production provide immediate benefits to public health and the environment. I am proud to join President Trump and my federal partners in recognizing April as Winning on Reducing Food Waste Month,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “We are working closely with our federal partners and stakeholders across the nation to reduce the amount of food going to landfills and maximize the value of our food resources.”

“With 1 in 6 people getting a foodborne illness every year in the U.S. and up to 40 percent of food left uneaten, it’s understandable why food safety and food waste are major societal concerns,” said FDA Deputy Commissioner Frank Yiannas. “The FDA is working to strengthen its collaboration and coordination with the EPA and USDA to strategically align our federal efforts between the two issues to better educate Americans on how to reduce food waste and how it can be done safely.”

As part of the month’s observances, on April 9, EPA will host a livestreamed event with USDA and FDA. Additional joint agency actions will be announced at the event regarding the Winning on Reducing Food Waste Initiative. At the event, a panel of food waste stakeholders will share how state and local communities can join the federal government in reducing food waste and loss.

USDA, EPA, and FDA invite public and private partners to participate in Winning on Reducing Food Waste Month through the following:
-    Join the conversation: Share your efforts with the #NoWastedFood hashtag in your social media posts throughout the month.
-    Educate your community: Learn about USDA, EPA, and FDA programs and resources to reduce food loss and waste.
-    Be a U.S. Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champion: Join other corporate and business leaders who have made a public commitment to reducing food loss and waste in their U.S. operations by 50 percent by the year 2030.

The Winning on Reducing Food Waste Initiative is a collaborative effort (PDF, 579 KB) among USDA, EPA, and FDA to reduce food loss and waste through combined and agency-specific action. Individually and collectively, these agencies contribute to the initiative, encourage long-term reductions, and work toward the goal of reducing food loss and waste in the United States. These actions include research, community investments, education and outreach, voluntary programs, public-private partnerships, tool development, technical assistance, event participation, and policy discussion.

For more information about Winning on Reducing Food Waste Month, visit the USDA Food Loss and Waste website.

FFAR Announces $4M Animal Welfare Technology Research Initiative, in Partnership with McDonald's

The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) announces the launch of the SMART Broiler, a research initiative offering $4 million for research supporting the development and commercialization of automated monitoring tools that quantitatively assess key animal welfare indicators in broiler chickens. FFAR is excited to partner with McDonald’s Corporation as a cofounder on this initiative. The SMART Broiler program is now accepting applications to improve animal welfare.

Existing methods for assessing animal welfare rely on human observation and subjective scoring. This initiative aims to identify technology solutions to provide objective and comprehensive information about broiler welfare across the supply chain.

“FFAR is committed to improving animal welfare. Developing monitoring tools is critical to understanding and improving animal welfare across the broiler industry,” said FFAR Executive Director Sally Rockey. “The SMART Broiler program will not only improve the accuracy of welfare assessments, but also enhance producer efficiency and profitability.”

The SMART Broiler program will develop tools to quantitatively assess and collect information regarding key welfare indicators such as walking ability and behavior. The Sensors, Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technologies (SMART) developed during this initiative will be tested in McDonald’s suppliers’ commercial broiler facilities, encouraging their adoption on a wide scale. These tools have the potential to improve welfare for 9 billion birds annually in the U.S. and over 20 billion worldwide.

“This work builds on our decades-long commitment and progress on animal welfare. We are excited to partner with FFAR to identify innovative, scalable technology solutions that will allow our supply chain to monitor animals’ behavior and welfare across diverse, global supply chains at commercial scale and ultimately help drive improved welfare outcomes,” Keith Kenny, Vice President of Global Sustainability, McDonald’s.

“FFAR is pleased to partner with McDonald’s to develop tools that improve animal welfare. Testing these tools with one of the largest food companies has the potential to make considerable impact industry wide,” noted FFAR Scientific Program Director, Tim Kurt.

SMART Broiler grants will be awarded in two phases to multiple, cross-disciplinary teams. The research objective is to rapidly develop the hardware components, data management and analytics necessary to assess broiler chicken welfare on the farm. The initial funding phase will award a maximum of four grants, each receiving up to $500,000. SMART Broiler phase I is currently accepting pre-proposals until June 5, 2019. The SMART Broiler website includes information about applying for these grants.

During the second research phase, those awardees whose technology solutions demonstrated promise and delivered value will receive up to $1,000,000 in additional funding to continue to refine and validate their technologies. The end goal of the program is to develop commercially-feasible tools that can deployed worldwide.

The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization established by bipartisan Congressional support in the 2014 Farm Bill, builds unique partnerships to support innovative and actionable science addressing today's food and agriculture challenges. FFAR leverages public and private resources to increase the scientific and technological research, innovation, and partnerships critical to enhancing sustainable production of nutritious food for a growing global population. The FFAR Board of Directors is chaired by Mississippi State University President Mark Keenum, Ph.D., and includes ex officio representation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and National Science Foundation.

April 1 USDA Crop Progress & Condition Report


For the week ending March 31, 2019, there were 0.5 days suitable for fieldwork, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Topsoil moisture supplies rated 0 percent veryshort, 2 short, 51 adequate, and 47 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 0 percent very short, 4 short, 62 adequate, and 34 surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Winter wheat condition rated 1 percent very poor, 4 poor, 26 fair, 63 good, and 6 excellent.


Fields remained wet across most of Iowa during the week ending March 31, 2019, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Statewide there was just 0.3 day suitable for fieldwork. Wet conditions prevented most field work activities; however, there were reports of hauling grain, spreading manure and planting oats.

Topsoil moisture levels rated 0 percent very short, 0 percent short, 38 percent adequate and 62 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated 0 percent very short, 0 percent short, 43 percent adequate and 57 percent surplus.

There were a few reports of oats being planted. However, for the first time since 2013 less than 0.5 percent of the expected crop was planted by the end of March at the State level.

In parts of Iowa, pastures and hay have started to green. Temperature fluctuations have created some health issues during calving season and mud continued to be an issue in feedlots.

USDA Weekly Crop Progress

U.S. winter wheat is starting off the 2019 growing season in the best condition in three years, according to USDA's first weekly Crop Progress report released Monday.

For the week ended March 31, 2019, winter wheat was rated 56% in good-to-excellent condition, well above 32% at the same time last year and the highest initial good-to-excellent rating in three years. Nine percent of the crop was rated poor to very poor, well below 30% last year.

For the other crops USDA included in its report this week, planting was progressing at a near- to above-average pace. Sorghum was 13% planted, compared to 8% last year and a 9% five-year average. Cotton planting was 4% complete, compared to 6% last year and a 3% average. Rice was 12% planted, compared to 15% last year and a 12% average.

Nationwide, soil moisture was considerably higher this year than last year at the same time. Based on reports from 48 states, topsoil moisture nationally was rated 8% very short to short compared to 24% last year and 92% adequate to surplus compared to 76% last year. Subsoil moisture was rated 8% short to very short compared to 28% last year and 92% adequate to surplus compared to 72% last year.

Monday April 1 Ag News

Study Area Expanded for Growers Interested in Participating in Soybean Yield Gap Research
Laura Thompson - NE Extension Educator
Keith Glewen - NE Extension Educator

The Nebraska On-Farm Research Network (NOFRN) is seeking 20 farmers to participate in a study of practices affecting the soybean yield gap. That's the difference between current farm yield and potential yield as determined by climate, soil, and genetics. An analysis of survey responses from over 2000 soybean producers indicated a 20%-30% yield gap for soybean. The analysis also revealed a number of agronomic practices that, for a given soil-climate context, could be fine-tuned to close the gap and improve profit from soybean.

In Nebraska, three practices have been identified as being important for improving yield and producer profit. These practices relate to planting date, seeding rate, and the use of foliar fungicides and insecticides.

The study is seeking 20 growers in eastern Nebraska to test "improved" practices versus "baseline" practices in 2019 and 20 again for 2020.

Participating growers will be provided some monetary compensation.

To participate, contact Nebraska Educators and NOFRN Co-coordinators Keith Glewen (402-624-8030, or Laura Thompson (402-245-2224,, or your local extension educator.

Further details on the research protocol for this study are available here...

Other studies are also available for the 2019 production season.

Groundwater Levels Recovering from 2012 Drought 

Shawna Richter-Ryerson - Communications Associate in the School of Natural Resources

Following another year of above-average precipitation, Nebraska groundwater levels continued to rise in the areas most affected by the 2012 drought, according to a new report from the Conservation and Survey Division at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Still, some portions of the state recorded levels below that of the pre-drought years.

The annual statewide report, part of a nation-leading groundwater-level monitoring program, examines short-term groundwater rises and declines measured in 5,365 regional wells from spring 2017 to spring 2018, but it also looks at long-term trends since monitoring began in the 1930s.

“The one-year change maps really aren’t the ones that are the most important,” said Aaron Young, CSD survey geologist and lead author on the annual report. “It’s the long-term trends that illustrate the lasting effects of both our conservation measures and our water use.”

The long-term trends show both the rises and declines in the groundwater levels when compared to pre-development records. The greatest declines of about 122 feet are recorded in western Nebraska in areas with high irrigation-well densities in aquifers that have little or no connection with surface water and where annual precipitation is limited, and the largest rises of up to 120 feet are recorded in counties in southcentral, central and western Nebraska where extensive canals and surface-water irrigation systems seep into the aquifer.

In addition to man-made changes that alter the water levels, natural changes in precipitation have an effect as well.

“Nebraska has an excellent system in place to monitor and react to groundwater-level trends and prevent problems,” Young said. It is just that system that helped portions of eastern and central Nebraska, which once had rapidly declining water levels, stabilize and in some cases begin recovery.

In-depth maps in the report give visual representations of all of these changes over time, providing the information in one-year, five-year, 10-year and since-pre-irrigation (about 1950) increments. The maps are based on information collected by the Conservation and Survey Division, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Nebraska Natural Resources Districts and Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District, and are produced by CSD.

Authors of this year’s report are Aaron Young, survey geologist; Mark Burbach, environmental scientist; Leslie Howard, geographic information science and cartography manager; Michele Waszgis, research technician; Susan Lackey, research hydrogeologist; and Matt Joeckel, state geologist and associate director for CSD and the School of Natural Resources.

The report is available for $7 from the Nebraska Maps and More Store, 3310 Holdrege St., and also is available online at the Maps and More marketplace. Phone orders also are accepted at 402-472-3471, and a PDF of the report can be downloaded at

Ricketts, Ethanol Board Urge Timely Approval of Year-Round E15

On Friday, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts submitted testimony urging the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to finalize modifications to fuel regulations to clear the way for year-round sales of E15.  In written testimony submitted to the EPA’s public hearing in Ypsilanti, Michigan, Governor Ricketts expressed hope that the EPA would wrap up the regulatory changes prior to the start of the summer driving season.

“The ethanol industry’s success is vital to the health of the Nebraska economy,” Governor Ricketts testified.  “Providing retailers the ability to sell E15 all year throughout the country will help strengthen and grow the ethanol market in the state, along with its economic and environmental benefits.”

Sarah Caswell, Administrator of the Nebraska Ethanol Board, attended the hearing to offer additional testimony.

“Nebraska’s elected officials and ethanol industry stakeholders, including farmers, producers, retailers, and consumers were encouraged to hear President Trump announce last fall that he would direct EPA to move forward with the necessary rulemaking that would enable the nation’s retailers to sell E15 year round,” said Caswell.  “This market confidence is especially important now, as Nebraska farmers are already dealing with an ongoing downturn in the national agriculture economy, record local flooding issues, as well as unknowns with some of our global trading partners.”

Farm Finance and Ag Law Clinics this April

Openings are available for one-on-one, confidential farm finance and ag law consultations being conducted across the state each month. An experienced ag law attorney and ag financial counselor will be available to address farm and ranch issues related to financial planning, estate and transition planning, farm loan programs, debtor/creditor law, water rights, and other relevant matters. The clinics offer an opportunity to seek an experienced outside opinion on issues affecting your farm or ranch.

Clinic Sites and Dates

    Grand Island — Thursday, April 4
    Norfolk — Wednesday, April 10
    North Platte — Thursday, April 11
    Fairbury — Wednesday, April 17
    Lexington — Thursday, April 18
    Norfolk — Wednesday, April 24
    Valentine — Thursday, April 25

To sign up for a free clinic or to get more information, call Michelle at the Nebraska Farm Hotline at 1-800-464-0258.  The Nebraska Department of Agriculture and Legal Aid of Nebraska sponsor these clinics.

Free workshops scheduled for Latino beginning farmers

Latino beginning farmers are invited to three workshops on production, legal aspects of starting a business, and budgeting, hosted by the Center for Rural Affairs.

All three sessions are free and will be presented in both English and Spanish.

• “Legal Workshop: Starting a Farming Business,” Saturday, April 20—Find out about registering your farm and the difference between an LLC and a corporation. This course will be from 9 to 11:30 a.m., at Schuyler Public Library, 108 E. 18th St., in Schuyler, Nebraska.

• “Enterprise Budgeting,” Thursday, April 25—Learn the basics of how to create an enterprise budget and find out ways to find other possible financing to help you start your farming business. This workshop is set for 6:30 to 8 p.m., at Centro Hispano of Nebraska, 3020 18th St., in Columbus, Nebraska.

• “Production 101,” Thursday, May 2—Learn the basics of vegetable or livestock production from experienced farmers. This session is scheduled from 6:30 to 8 p.m., at Centro Hispano of Nebraska, 3020 18th St., in Columbus, Nebraska.

“All three of these sessions will be beneficial to those thinking about starting a farm, or farmers in their first year,” said Lucia Schulz, project assistant with the Center for Rural Affairs. “Hear from experienced farmers and network with other beginning farmers.”

For more information, contact Schulz at 402.750.5727 or

NU's Annual Economic Impact Grows to $4.5 Billion

The teaching, research and outreach activities of the University of Nebraska grow the state's economy by $4.5 billion every year, according to a new, independent analysis of the university's significant and far-reaching impact on Nebraska's growth and prosperity.

The analysis, presented to the NU Board of Regents, was conducted by Tripp Umbach, a leading national consultant with expertise in economic impact studies. Tripp Umbach's findings, which for the first time detail NU's impact by region and legislative district, show that the University of Nebraska generates $7 for every $1 the state invests.

The University of Nebraska--Lincoln's direct annual economic impact also grew, expanding from $2 billion in 2016 to $2.2 billion today.

"The flagship, land-grant, research-intensive campus is the key driver in the University of Nebraska economic engine," Chancellor Ronnie Green said. "For 150 years, we have provided talent and expertise for all sectors of the Nebraska economy, and we spark innovation for increased dividends in the future. The number of Nebraskans who benefit continues to grow as we have set new records in number of graduates, research, and commercialization of technology."

Hank Bounds, NU president, said the report demonstrates the vital role the university campuses play in ensuring Nebraska's continued economic competitiveness. It is especially important as Nebraska aims to address a workforce crisis that includes 34,000 projected annual openings in high-skill, high-wage, high-demand jobs in the coming years, affordable, quality higher education will be essential to Nebraska's success, Bounds said.

"We know intuitively that the University of Nebraska is a major force for economic growth and personal well-being across our state," Bounds said. "This analysis confirms that Nebraska cannot be successful without its public university.

"From producing the workforce of the future, to expanding opportunities for young people, to sustaining vibrant communities in every county, the University of Nebraska serves as a change agent for Nebraska and its people."

Bryan Slone, president of the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Industry, described the university's impact on the state economy as being remarkable.

"The university is central to building the workforce necessary to keep Nebraska's economy competitive, and its research capabilities help attract new-growth companies in strategic industries," Slone said. "Simply put, the University of Nebraska is a key partner for the private sector as we build our state's economic future."

Key findings in the Trupp Umbach report include:

- The university's $4.5 billion annual impact -- an increase from the $3.9 billion impact calculated in 2016 -- means that the activities of NU campuses, faculty, staff and students, along with the resulting ripple effects in communities across the state, add more than $12 million to Nebraska's economy every day.

- The University of Nebraska builds economically and socially vibrant communities, not just in cities where NU campuses are located, but in all 93 counties. Tripp Umbach broke down NU's impact by both region and legislative district and found significant returns across the state. For example, the university grows western Nebraska's economy by $230 million annually. Additionally, public-private partnerships like Nebraska Innovation Campus are growing economic activity and quality of life across regions.

- The University of Nebraska sustains a highly skilled workforce for the state, supporting one of every 26 jobs in Nebraska. The nearly 40,000 Nebraska jobs supported by the university include not just NU employees, but those who have jobs as a result of university activities.

- University graduates generate significant economic activity for the state. About 1 of every 7 working-age Nebraskans holds an NU degree, and 11,000 new NU graduates enter the workforce every year. The earnings and spending activities of each graduating class add $2.4 billion to the state's economy annually, above and beyond NU's baseline $4.5 billion impact.

- The university is giving students the opportunity to change their lives through education. Nebraska U campuses educate 52,000 students a year, including many who would not be able to pursue a university degree if not for affordable tuition rates. About 40 percent of university undergraduates are first-generation.

NU's growing research enterprise supports 2,600 jobs, and more importantly addresses key challenges facing Nebraska and the world. The university is a leader in research in agriculture, national defense, early childhood education, health care and other areas.

The well-being of the state is directly linked to the University of Nebraska. University employees annually provide $100 million in charitable donations and volunteer services, likes student-led service activities, free health screenings and scholarly lectures. The university's campuses also offer activities that enhance Nebraskans' cultural understanding and build connections among citizen through concerts, art exhibits and athletic events.

The university's annual economic impact by campus follows. Figures do not include Nebraska Medicine and its affiliates and partners; when those are factored in, the system's impact grows significantly.
- University of Nebraska--Lincoln: $2.2 billion
- University of Nebraska Medical Center: $1.2 billion
- University of Nebraska at Omaha: $716 million
- University of Nebraska at Kearney: $265 million
- Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture: $11.5 million

A full and detailed report from Tripp Umbach is being finalized and will be released to the public.

First Step in Recovering Flooded Pastures and Hay Ground

Flood waters are receding, but the challenges in recovery for farmers and livestock producers are just beginning. Beth Doran, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach beef specialist, recommends producers get out in their fields as soon as possible.

“Beef producers should assess the damage to pastures and hay ground, then check out possible disaster assistance,” she said.

Doran advised cattlemen to look for three things in their assessment – debris, silt on the forage, and thinned or dead forage plants.

“Debris includes wire, metal and trash that may be injurious to animal health and is usually found along fence lines and in the corners of fields,” Doran said.

According to Brian Lang, extension field agronomist, silt on forage is a big issue because it is unpalatable and could carry microbes affecting animal health.

“Ironically, we need rain to wash off the silt. This early in the season, it is likely more rain will come," he said. "Otherwise, if the forage was tall enough, chop silted forage back onto the field to encourage clean regrowth. By the time farmers are able to run equipment on a pasture or hay field, visual assessment of forage species survival can be conducted and should be rather obvious.”

Whether the forage plants survived depends on three factors – plant species, time under water and how much of the plant was submerged. Some species, such as Smooth bromegrass, orchardgrass, fescue and ryegrass, should grow through a moderate silt deposit (less than 2 inches) and can withstand several days of flooding without injury. Reed canarygrass can stand longer submersion than other perennial grasses; whereas, Meadow bromegrass cannot tolerate any flooding.

Time under water affects the amount of oxygen available to the plant and is related to temperature, Lang said. Fortunately, during spring flooding, cooler temperatures allow plants to survive longer under water. Flash flooding – as opposed to standing water – increases survivability because the plants experience less oxygen depletion in moving water than still water conditions. Also, plants with more leaves above water are more likely to survive.

The USDA Farm Service Agency administers the Emergency Conservation Program, which provides funding and technical assistance for farmers to rehabilitate farmland damaged by natural disasters. Pastureland and hay ground are considered eligible land under ECP. Eligible practices pertaining to pastures and hay fields include debris removal (cleanup of woody material, sand, rock and trash on pastureland and hay fields) and restoring fences (livestock cross fences, boundary fences, and livestock gates.)

Producers with pasture damage or hay field damage are encouraged to contact their local Farm Service Agency Office to report the damage and determine if they are eligible for assistance. If the requirements are met, a formal application will need to be completed.

FFAR Grant Improves Soil Health and Increases Farm Sustainability

Midwestern farms produce a quarter of the world’s corn and soybeans, yet this bounty drains nutrients from the soil, reducing future yields. The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) awarded a $746,204 Seeding Solutions Grant to Iowa State University to improve soil health through prairie strips. The FFAR grant has been matched with funding from Iowa State University, Roeslein Alternative Energy, Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance and the Walton Family Foundation for a total $1.49 million investment.

Corn and soybean crops are crucial to supplying affordable and nutritious food. However, the nutrient depletion caused by corn and soybean production reduce future yields, which undermines long-term farm sustainability and profitability. In fact, soil erosion costs the agriculture industry about $44 billion annually and increases production costs by about 25 percent each year.

Dr. Cruse’s research aims to restore soil health by identifying how to integrate practices that provide continuous living cover on corn and soybean fields, including prairie strips and cover crops. Such practices ensure the presence of live roots in the ground throughout the entire year, which can stabilize soils, enhance soil health and improve farm-level economics.

“Prairie strips have been discussed in research circles for a decade,” said Dr. Richard Cruse, a professor in the Agronomy Department at Iowa State University and Director of the Iowa Water Center. “We’re looking at the environmental and economic impact of prairie strips over time.”

Farmers have expressed interest in prairie strips and cover crops; however, knowledge gaps and perceived obstacles stymie the widespread adoption of these practices. Not only will this grant identify the most effective practices, but the grant also aims to tackle barriers that prevent farmers from adopting these practices.

“Prairie strips haven’t been adopted as quickly as some other management practices,” said Cruse. “We want to look at possible obstacles to implementation, like the flexibility of converting strips back into farm ground and changes that impact soil health as well as economic factors. For a farmer to make a change it has to either be net positive or neutral at the very least.”

Farmers need more information about impacts on soil erosion, changes in soil properties, and the yield and financial benefits of improving soil health. Cruse’s team will develop a model to inform the integration of soil management practices, while simultaneously maintaining current cropping systems; their goal is to help farmers limit soil loss and improve soil health. 

“This research project has the potential to advance soil management practices that protect farm lands for generations to come, and help ensure that these farms remain profitable,” said FFAR’s Executive Director Sally Rockey. “The added benefit of this Seeding Solutions Grant is that it determines the best solution for our Midwestern corn and soybean farmers and helps them easily adopt these practices, so their farms can continue to thrive.”

FFAR’s Seeding Solutions grant program is an open call for bold ideas that address a pressing food and agriculture issues in one of the Foundation’s Challenge Areas. Iowa State’s research furthers FFAR’s 2018 Healthy Soils, Thriving Farms Challenge Area, now the Soil Health Challenge Area, which enriches soil by building knowledge, fueling innovation and enabling the adoption of soil management practices.

Fats and Oils: Oilseed Crushings, Production, Consumption and Stocks

Soybeans crushed for crude oil was 4.88 million tons (163 million bushels) in February 2019, compared with 5.49 million tons (183 million bushels) in January 2019 and 4.95 million tons (165 million bushels) in February 2018. Crude oil produced was 1.90 billion pounds down 10 percent from January 2019 but up slightly from February 2018. Soybean once refined oil production at 1.29 billion pounds during February 2019 decreased 8 percent from January 2019 but increased 2 percent from February 2018.

Grain Crushings and Co-Products Production

Total corn consumed for alcohol and other uses was 449 million bushels in February 2019. Total corn consumption was down 9 percent from January 2019 and down 7 percent from February 2018. February 2019 usage included 91.7 percent for alcohol and 8.3 percent for other purposes. Corn consumed for beverage alcohol totaled 2.74 million bushels, down 4 percent from January 2019 but up 16 percent from February 2018. Corn for fuel alcohol, at 403 million bushels, was down 9 percent from January 2019 and down 7 percent from February 2018. Corn consumed in February 2019 for dry milling fuel production and wet milling fuel production was 91.2 percent and 8.8 percent, respectively.

Dry mill co-product production of distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) was 1.69 million tons during February 2019, down 7 percent from January 2019 and down 8 percent from February 2018. Distillers wet grains (DWG) 65 percent or more moisture was 1.21 million tons in February 2019, down 11 percent from January 2019 and down 4 percent from February 2018.

Wet mill corn gluten feed production was 250,857 tons during February 2019, down 5 percent from January 2019 and down 12 percent from February 2018. Wet corn gluten feed 40 to 60 percent moisture was 224,333 tons in February 2019, down 11 percent from January 2019 and down 12 percent from February 2018.

No April Fools Here - Cull Cow Prices are Up

David P. Anderson, Extension Economist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

Cull cow prices are sharing in the Spring cattle price rally. Normally, cull cow prices increase from the Fall into late Spring, and that increase is well underway. Cow prices are climbing along with fed cattle prices.

Cow prices in the Southern Plains have increased about $13 per cwt, or 32 percent, from about $40 per cwt in January to $53 at the end of March. The meat market indicates higher values for the meat from cull cows. Ninety percent lean beef prices have climbed 10 percent to $218 per cwt since January. Over the same period the cow-beef cutout value is up 7.7 percent.

Cow Slaughter Historically Large

The rally in cow prices has come in the face of historically large slaughter. Dairy cow slaughter has exceeded 70,000 per week for that last 5 weeks. The 72,700 head sent to market the first week of March was the largest weekly dairy cow slaughter since 1986. Some readers might remember the Dairy Herd Buyout program that contributed to large dairy cow slaughter in 1986. Beef cow slaughter dropped below last year's levels by mid-March, 53,000 head compared to 56,000 head this time last year. Total beef and dairy cow slaughter is the most since drought forced movement in 2012-2013.

Some significantly higher cow prices than those in the Southern Plains have been reported in Northern markets. One of the results of the 2010-2012 Southern Plains drought has been a loss in regional cow packing capacity. New capacity in the Northwest has added value to cull cows further North.

Presumably, dairy cow marketings will decline later in the year as increased culling has an effect on milk production and prices. Some milk market recovery should lead to higher milk prices and slower culling rates. The slowing rate of growth of the beef cow herd should slow beef cow marketings. The combination of slowing culling, limiting the growth in supplies, should provide some price support.


The National Pork Producers Council welcomed reports that the United States and Japan will commence trade negotiations on April 15, 2019 and urged the Trump administration to expeditiously complete and deliver for ratification to Congress a trade deal that puts U.S. pork producers back on a level playing field in Japan.

"U.S. pork producers are losing market share in Japan to international competitors that have recently negotiated more favorable trade terms in our most valuable market," said David Herring, NPPC's president and a pork producer from Lillington, North Carolina. "We are already seeing a decline in sales to Japan and will see market loss accelerate if we don't quickly secure competitive access to Japan."

Six countries – Canada, Australia, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore and Vietnam – have implemented the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement of Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and gained more favorable access to Japan. These countries and other CPTPP implementing countries will see access to Japan steadily improve over the next ten years. Japan's recently implemented trade deal with the European Union effectively mirrors the CPTPP agreement.

According to Dr. Dermot Hayes, an economist at Iowa State University, U.S. pork will see exports to Japan grow from $1.6 billion in 2018 to more than $2.2 billion over the next 15 years if the United States quickly gains access on par with international competitors. Hayes reports that U.S. pork shipments to Japan will drop to $349 million if a trade deal on these terms is not quickly reached with Japan.

NPPC's director of international affairs, Maria Zieba, will address U.S. pork's position on the trade negotiation with Japan at the Washington International Trade Association's "Future of U.S.-Japan Trade" panel on April 3.


The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) today asked the Trump administration to carefully consider the fallout from cutting off trade between the United States and Mexico. U.S. pork producers and other American farmers are already facing mounting financial losses from retaliatory tariffs by Mexico and China. The following statement may be attributed to David Herring, president of the National Pork Producers Council and a pork producer from Lillington, North Carolina.

"A cloud of uncertainty and restricted access to our most important export markets have strained U.S. pork producers and their families for more than a year. The value of our exports to Mexico and China are down 28 percent and 32 percent, respectively, this year. We are at the breaking point and cannot afford a total loss of the Mexican market, one that accounted for more than 20 percent of total U.S. pork exports last year.

"While we recognize the importance of border security, we respectfully ask the Trump administration to proceed cautiously and consider the implications of cutting off trade with a market that is so vital for rural America. We urge the administration to end current trade disputes and to focus its efforts on the upcoming trade negotiation with Japan and the expansion of export markets for U.S. agriculture, an economic sector that reduces the U.S. trade deficit by producing some of America's most competitive export products." 

2018-2019 Corn Export Cargo Quality Report: Overall Good Quality for U.S. Corn

The quality of corn assembled for export early in the 2018-2019 marketing year was rated at U.S. grade No. 2 or better on all grade factors, based on the U.S. Grains Council’s (USGC’s) Corn Export Cargo Quality Report, released this week.

“Corn quality information is important to foreign buyers and other industry stakeholders as they make decisions about purchase contracts and processing needs for corn for feed, food or industrial use,” said USGC Chairman Jim Stitzlein. “This report – along with its companion, the Corn Harvest Quality Report – has consistently created value for all stakeholders due to the familiarity of the information and the ability to evaluate year-to-year changes in the U.S. corn crop.”

Average test weight found by the analysis was the same as 2017/2018, indicating overall good quality. Chemical composition indicated similar protein, lower starch and slightly higher oil concentrations than the previous year. The exports had lower average stress cracks, higher average 100-kernal weight, slightly higher average kernel true density and higher average percent of whole kernels and horneous endosperm than in 2017/2018. All export samples tested below the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) action level for aflatoxins and below advisory levels for deoxynivalenol (DON) or vomitoxin.

The report is based on 436 export cargo samples collected from corn shipments undergoing federal inspection and grading processes at export terminals. It also provides information on grading, handling and how U.S. corn is moved and controlled through export channels.

The report is a companion to the 2018/2019 Corn Harvest Quality Report that provides information about the quality of the most recent U.S. corn crop at harvest as it enters the international merchandising channels.

The reports provide reliable information on U.S. corn quality from the farm to the customer based on transparent and consistent methodology. They each give an early view of grading factors established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), moisture content and other characteristics not reported elsewhere. Both reports identify any noticeable changes occurring between these two time periods.

The Council will roll out the new results in a series of crop quality seminars around the world beginning with one in Mexico the first week of April and more in Panama, El Salvador and Colombia in May. These outreach activities help establish clear expectations with buyers and end-users regarding the quality of corn this marketing year.

“The Council’s mission is one of developing markets, enabling trade and improving lives,” said Stitzlein. “To help fulfill this mission, the Council offers this report as a service to our partners. We hope it continues in its role of providing information about the quality of the U.S. corn crop to our valued trade partners.”

E15 Expansion, Consumer Adoption Driving Terminal Growth

Growth Energy announced that consumers have surpassed 8 billion miles on E15, known to consumers as Unleaded 88, – a fuel blended with 15 percent renewable biofuel that is approved for all cars 2001 and newer. This milestone is a reflection of the growing popularity of the fuel made possible by rapid retail adoption and more terminal availability of the fuel across the nation.

“With a surge in retailer adoption and terminal availability, we’re seeing steady growth in consumer adoption as exemplified by consumers surpassing 8 billion miles on this cleaner-burning, engine-sound fuel,” said Growth Energy Vice President of Market Development Mike O’Brien. “Supply of E15 into the fuel marketplace is a crucial step in further expansion, and our success with Prime the Pump has led to a steep growth in terminals offering E15 across the country. Our work with the nation’s leading independent retailers has put pressure on terminals to follow suit, causing a domino effect in their offering of E15 at their locations across most of the country.”

Consumer demand from retailers like Kwik Trip, RaceTrac, Casey’s, Cumberland Farms, and others has pushed open the doors to a ready supply of E15 at terminals. Working with Prime the Pump, Growth Energy has focused its efforts on establishing partnerships with the largest, independent players in the fuel space, which in turn has spurred a significant increase in E15 availability at terminals across the country – from five in 2017 to more than 100 today.

Friday March 29 Ag News


Nebraska corn growers intend to plant 9.70 million acres this year, up 1 percent from 2018, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Soybean planted acreage is expected to be 5.40 million acres, down 5 percent from last year.

All hay acreage to be harvested is expected to total 2.80 million acres, up 4 percent from 2018.

Winter wheat acres seeded in the fall of 2018 are estimated at a record low 1.10 million acres, unchanged from last year.

Sorghum growers in Nebraska intend to plant 210,000 acres, down 9 percent from a year ago.

Oat intentions are estimated at 115,000 acres, down 8 percent from last year.

Dry edible bean acreage intentions are estimated at 95,000 acres, down 32 percent from 2018. Beginning in 2019, chickpeas are excluded from the dry edible bean estimates.

Sugarbeet growers expect to plant 43,800 acres, down 4 percent from last year.

Sunflower producers expect to plant a record low 25,000 acres, down 32 percent from 2018. Oil varieties account for a record low 15,000 acres, down 40 percent from a year ago. Non-oil varieties made up the balance of 10,000 acres, down 17 percent from the previous year.

Dry edible pea acreage intentions are estimated at 55,000 acres, down 5 percent from last year.
Estimates in this report are based on a survey conducted during the first two weeks of March.

Iowa Prospective Plantings Report

Iowa farmers intend to plant 13.6 million acres of corn for all purposes in 2019 according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Prospective Plantings report. This is up 400,000 acres from 2018.

Producers intend to plant 9.40 million acres of soybeans in Iowa this year. This is a 600,000 acre decrease from 2018.

Iowa farmers intend to plant 135,000 acres of oats for all purposes, unchanged from last year.
Farmers in Iowa expect to harvest 1.05 million acres of all dry hay for the 2019 crop year. This is 110,000 acres more than harvested in 2018.

The Prospective Plantings report provides the first official, survey-based estimates of U.S. farmers’ 2019 planting intentions. NASS’s acreage estimates are based on surveys conducted during the first two weeks of March from a sample of approximately 82,400 farm operators across the United States with more than 2,800 from Iowa. Actual plantings will depend upon weather, economic conditions and the availability of production inputs at the time producers make their final planting decisions.

USDA:  Corn Planted Acreage Up 4 Percent from 2018

Soybean Acreage Down 5 Percent
All Wheat Acreage Down 4 Percent
All Cotton Acreage Down 2 Percent

Corn planted area for all purposes in 2019 is estimated at 92.8 million acres, up 4 percent or 3.66 million acres from last year. Compared with last year, planted acreage is expected to be up or unchanged in 34 of the 48 estimating States.

Soybean planted area for 2019 is estimated at 84.6 million acres, down 5 percent from last year. Compared with last year, planted acreage is down or unchanged in 26 of the 29 estimating States.

All wheat planted area for 2019 is estimated at 45.8 million acres, down 4 percent from 2018. This represents the lowest all wheat planted area on record since records began in 1919. The 2019 winter wheat planted area, at 31.5 million acres, is down 3 percent from last year but up 1 percent from the previous estimate. Of this total, about 22.4 million acres are Hard Red Winter, 5.55 million acres are Soft Red Winter, and 3.55 million acres are White Winter. Area planted to other spring wheat for 2019 is estimated at 12.8 million acres, down 3 percent from 2018. Of this total, about 12.4 million acres are Hard Red Spring wheat. Durum planted area for 2019 is estimated at 1.42 million acres, down 31 percent from the previous year.

All cotton planted area for 2019 is estimated at 13.8 million acres, 2 percent below last year. Upland area is estimated at 13.5 million acres, down 2 percent from 2018. American Pima area is estimated at 255,000 acres, up 2 percent from 2018.


Nebraska corn stocks in all positions on March 1, 2019 totaled 1.01 billion bushels, up 5 percent from 2018, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Of the total, 600 million bushels are stored on farms, up 11 percent from a year ago. Off-farm stocks, at 406 million bushels, are down 3 percent from last year.

Soybeans stored in all positions totaled 217 million bushels, up 31 percent from last year. On-farm stocks of 80.0 million bushels are up 57 percent from a year ago, and off-farm stocks, at 137 million bushels, are up 19 percent from 2018.

Wheat stored in all positions totaled 48.9 million bushels, down 7 percent from a year ago. On-farm stocks of 2.15 million bushels are down 17 percent from 2018, and off-farm stocks of 46.8 million bushels are down 7 percent from last year.

Sorghum stored in all positions totaled 7.53 million bushels, up 37 percent from 2018. On-farm stocks of 890,000 bushels are up 19 percent from a year ago and off-farm holdings of 6.64 million bushels are up 40 percent from last year.

On-farm oat stocks totaled 360,000 bushels, down 28 percent from 2018.

Iowa Grain Stocks Report

Corn stored in all positions in Iowa on March 1, 2019, totaled 1.57 billion bushels, down 8 percent from March 1, 2018, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Grain Stocks report. Of the total stocks, 63 percent were stored on-farm. The December-February 2019 indicated disappearance totaled 614 million bushels, 10 percent below the 685 million bushels from the same period last year.

Soybeans stored in all positions in Iowa on March 1, 2019, totaled 420 million bushels 15 percent above the 366 million bushels on hand March 1, 2018. This is the largest March stocks on record, 11 percent higher than the previous record of 380 million bushels on hand March 1, 2007. Of the total stocks, 46 percent were stored on-farm. Indicated disappearance for December-February 2019 is 107 million bushels, 12 percent below the 122 million bushels from the same quarter last year.

Oats stored on-farm in Iowa on March 1, 2019, totaled 760 thousand bushels, up 1 percent from March 1, 2018.

USDA: Corn Stocks Down 3 Percent from March 2018

Soybean Stocks Up 29 Percent
All Wheat Stocks Up 6 Percent

Corn stocks in all positions on March 1, 2019 totaled 8.60 billion bushels, down 3 percent from March 1, 2018. Of the total stocks, 5.13 billion bushels were stored on farms, up 3 percent from a year earlier. Off-farm stocks, at 3.47 billion bushels, are down 11 percent from a year ago. The December 2018 - February 2019 indicated disappearance is 3.33 billion bushels, compared with 3.67 billion bushels during the same period last year.

Soybeans stored in all positions on March 1, 2019 totaled 2.72 billion bushels, up 29 percent from March 1, 2018. Soybean stocks stored on farms are estimated at 1.27 billion bushels, up 49 percent from a year ago. Off-farm stocks, at 1.45 billion bushels, are up 15 percent from last March. Indicated disappearance for the December 2018 - February 2019 quarter totaled 1.03 billion bushels, down 2 percent from the same period a year earlier.

All wheat stored in all positions on March 1, 2019 totaled 1.59 billion bushels, up 6 percent from a year ago. On-farm stocks are estimated at 368 million bushels, up 42 percent from last March. Off-farm stocks, at 1.22 billion bushels, are down 1 percent from a year ago. The December 2018 - February 2019 indicated disappearance is 419 million bushels, 11 percent above the same period a year earlier.

Nebraska Farmers Union Spring 2019 District Meeetings

District 5 Spring Meeting:  Brewsky’s, Food & Spirits, 1602 South St., Lincoln, NE 68502
Monday, April 8, 2019.  6:00 pm supper on your own with meeting to follow
 · District 5 Director’s Report:  Ben Gotschall
· NFU Convention, state & national issues:  John Hansen
Flood Relief efforts and Nebraska Legislature updates will be given.
Special Guests: Senators Tom Brandt & Myron Dorn
Bring a friend, neighbor or family member. Donations will be accepted to the NeFU Foundation for flood relief at the meeting.
For more information, call Ben Gotschall (402) 705-8679.

District 7 Spring Meeting: Barnstormers Family Bar & Grill, 4100 S. 13th St., Norfolk
Wednesday, April 10, 2019 11:00 am Lunch on your own with meeting to follow
District 7 Director’s Report:  Martin Kleinschmit
NFU Convention & national issues:  John Hansen
Flood Relief efforts and Nebraska Legislature updates will be given
Special Guest:  Josh Moenning-Mayor of Norfolk & Director of New Power Nebraska
Bring a friend, neighbor or family member. Donations will be accepted to the NeFU Foundation for flood relief at the meeting.
For more info, call Art Tanderup (402) 278-0942 or (402) 887-1396.

District 6 Spring Meeting: 
The Office bar & Grill, 121 N Main Street, Hooper, NE 68031
Wednesday, April 10, 2019 6:00 pm supper on your own with meeting to follow.
 ·District 6 Director’s Report:  Graham Christensen
· NFU Convention report: Graham Christensen & John Hansen
Flood Relief efforts and Nebraska Legislature updates will be given.
LB227: Nuisance Law, LB729 Soil Health Productivvity
LB23 Soil Health Task Force, Property Tax Reform & Hemp
Updates on the Dist. 6 First Tree-Range Regenerative Poultry Farms
Bring a friend, neighbor or family member. Donations will be accepted to the NeFU Foundation for flood relief at the meeting.
For more information, call Paul Poppe (402) 380-4508.

Confirmed Case of Equine Herpesvirus in Altoona Has Been Contained

The Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship received positive test results of a case of Equine Herpesvirus (EHV) at a barn in Altoona. To prevent the virus from spreading, other horses in the barn were quarantined for two weeks, with barn staff checking their temperatures twice daily. State Veterinarian Dr. Jeff Kaisand is working with owners and staff to ensure proper procedures are followed to contain the virus.

EHV can cause herpesvirus myeloencephalopathy (EHM), a neurological disease affecting horses that can cause damage to blood vessels in the brain and spinal cord. EHV does not pose any threat to humans or other species of animals.

EHV is common in large horse populations and is spread through respiratory tract and nasal secretions. Most horses have been exposed to EHV at some point in their lives and most show no serious signs of illness.

The Department encourages horse owners and caretakers to monitor their horses for symptoms of EHV. If a horse develops a fever or shows signs of other symptoms, such as loss of coordination, leaning against a wall or fence to maintain balance, nasal discharge, decreased urine output, loss of tail tone, hind leg weakness, lethargy or the inability to stand, owners should call their veterinarian immediately.

To prevent EHV horse owners should practice the following good husbandry and biosecurity practices at all times. If you own or interact with horses:
-    Make sure you work with a veterinarian to have a good health program for your horse(s).
-    Practice good biosecurity while at and after attending events where multiple horses gather. This includes:
-        Not sharing equipment with other horse owners. This includes avoiding shared water and feed buckets/troughs between other horse(s) and your horse(s).
-        Wash hands or use hand sanitizer between handling other horse(s) and your horse(s).
-        When returning home, isolating your horse(s) that were at the event from your horse(s) that did not attend. This will help keep the rest of your horses from being exposed to any potential diseases brought back from the event.
-    For additional guidance speak with your veterinarian.

Iowa Winner of Pulled Pork Madness Contest

An Ottumwa restaurant beat out fifteen other competitors to take the championship bracket of Pulled Pork Madness sponsored by the Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA). Warehouse Barbecue Co. was the top vote-getter in this social media contest that had 2,200 votes cast as Iowans worked their way through the Sweet Sixteen group announced March 13.

IPPA's Consumer Outreach Director Kelsey Byrnes initially invited Iowa Pork social media followers to nominate the Iowa restaurant they felt had the best pulled pork sandwich. About 1,130 pork fans nominated 80 restaurants and Byrnes then selected the top two vote-getters in each of IPPA's eight districts to fill out the "Sweet 16" bracket that got the head-to-head contests underway.

In the championship round, Warehouse Barbecue Co. defeated Iowa BBQ Co. of Le Mars.

Warehouse Barbecue Co. is owned by a father and son duo, Dusty and Roger Ware. The menu describes their winning Pulled Pork as made from hickory-smoked Duroc premium pork. You can order a pulled pork sandwich, or buy the pulled pork in ¼, ½, or 1-pound quantities.

"We hold this social media contest to attract new pork fans and remind people that there are restaurants in all parts of Iowa that offer really great barbecue pork," Byrnes said.

Along with bragging rights, Warehouse Barbecue Co. receives $250 and a "Pulled Pork Madness" plaque.

R-CALF USA Asks Attorney General Barr to Block Merger Between National Beef Packing Co. and Iowa Premium

Yesterday, R-CALF USA sent a formal request to U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr urging him to block the proposed acquisition of Iowa beef packer Iowa Premium by National Beef Packing Company (National Beef), which is now majority owned by Brazilian-based Marfrig Global Foods (Marfrig).

In its nine-page letter, R-CALF USA wrote that National Beef’s acquisition of Iowa Premium will substantially reduce competition for fed cattle regionally as well as nationally, thus harming independent U.S. cattle producers and will also likely substantially reduce competition for boxed beef, which will harm American consumers.

The letter points out that National Beef is a member of the “Big 4,” which the group refers to as a beef packing cartel because the Big 4 beef packers already control 85 percent of the nation’s fed cattle market. According to a Cattle Buyer’s Weekly report referenced in the letter, National Beef slaughters 12,000 fed cattle per day and Iowa Premium slaughters 1,100 fed cattle per day, making Iowa Premium the nation’s twentieth largest beef packer.  

The group argues that allowing National Beef to roll Iowa Premium into the Big 4 cartel will accelerate the already shrinking price discovering cash market; will accelerate the decline of smaller to mid-sized beef packing plants; and will allow the Brazilian beef packing cartel to weaken the U.S. cattle industry.

The letter states that the Iowa-Minnesota fed cattle procurement region “is the U.S. cattle industry’s last bastion of robust regional competition for fed cattle.” The Iowa-Minnesota fed cattle region is the only region in which over 50 percent of fed cattle are still purchased in the competitive cash market.

The group states this will likely change if the acquisition is allowed to occur because small to mid-sized beef packers like Iowa Premium operate differently than do the Big 4. Among the differences the group cites are that smaller packers are not inclined to refuse to buy cattle on a live weight basis by offering bids only on a carcass weight basis, which then subjects cattle producers to shipping costs; and smaller packers are more inclined to “step out” of the narrow, one- to two-day, late week trading window established by the Big 4 to offer more competitive bids earlier in the week. 

Another difference the group cited is that unlike National Beef, which has joined in a cartel with Tyson and Cargill to limit access to the marketplace unless producers become certified under the Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program, smaller packers are less likely to engage in such conduct. The group explains that National Beef’s conduct is an example of market power abuse as National Beef does not even specify which particular production standards it wants producers to follow.

“Indeed, it does not need to because by joining the cartel, the three Big 4 packers know they possess sufficient market power to force producers into compliance, including producers whose cattle are not purchased by National Beef or the other three packers,” the group wrote.

The group also raised concerns with what it calls the Brazilian cartel that is trying to “swallow up America’s critical food production facilities and gain control over America’s food-production supply chain, particularly its live cattle supply chain.”

According to the letter, National Beef’s new owner, Brazilian-based Marfrig, had been cited for antitrust violations in Brazil and was implicated in the widespread Brazilian food safety scandal that caused the U.S. to close its border to fresh Brazilian beef in 2017.

“The U.S. Department of Justice should take decisive action to prevent Marfrig-owned National Beef from acquiring Iowa Premium on the grounds that Marfrig demonstrates an unrepentant propensity for: i) exploiting cattle producers through anticompetitive buying practices; ii) exploiting consumers through the production and sales of unsafe beef; iii) violating basic food safety standards; and, iv) engaging in cartel behavior with JBS, the group wrote.

In its conclusion, R-CALF USA urged the U.S. Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division to aggressively enforce United States antitrust laws to block the proposed acquisition of Iowa Premium by National Beef.

ICGA Leaders Raise Concerns Over Proposed Rule at EPA Hearing

Today, Iowa Corn Growers Association® (ICGA) President Curt Mether and ICGA At-Large Director Bob Hemesath testified to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on the importance and impact of finalizing the proposed E15 RVP rule released earlier this month. The proposal would allow for year-round E15 sales; however, it also raises many concerns for farmers and ethanol blending due to a few renewable identification number (RIN) reform proposals within the proposed rule.

In Mether’s testimony he noted, “We support using the proposed substantially similar determination for equitable RVP treatment of E15.” He also emphasized that, “EPA needs to finalize the proposed RVP rule by June 1 because the current landscape is causing needless confusion for consumers and retailers and limiting greater ethanol sales through increased E15 availability."

Hemesath added, “Programs and initiatives that help put in place biofuels pumps and tanks have some serious momentum, and that momentum has been multiplied on the heels of this proposal to ensure E15 is now available year-round to motorists around the country.”

However, both farmer leaders cautioned the EPA on the RIN reform proposals, with Mether stating, “When it comes to the RIN reform proposals within this proposed rulemaking, we ask that EPA ensure changes to the RIN market are fair to those who are actually blending biofuels. The current proposal seems to tip the scales in favor of those who choose not to blend biofuels, instead of incentivizing those who blend biofuels and actually further the goals of the RFS.”

ICGA and its members will continue to engage with the EPA and our elected leaders on this proposed rule to finalize equitable RVP treatment for E15 by June 1. ICGA encourages farmers and ethanol supporters to join us to lift the outdated restrictions on E15 to ensure this proposal continues to enhance ethanol blending opportunities by submitting a comment to the EPA and supporting E15 year- around here. The EPA is accepting comments on the proposed rule until April 29.

E15 is a fuel blend containing 15 percent ethanol and is approved for use in all 2001 and newer vehicles, making up roughly 90 percent of the vehicles on the road today. Currently, outdated Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) regulations force fuel retailers to restrict sales of E15 to flex fuel vehicles (FFV) only from June 1 to September 15, the peak driving season. Today’s EPA hearing allows ICGA to speak and inform the public about the importance of year-round sales of E15.

NCGA Testifies in Support of Year-Round E15

National Corn Growers Association First Vice President and Minden, Iowa, farmer Kevin Ross spoke in support today of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed rule to allow for year-round sales of E15 across the country.

“Farmers stand ready to work with the Administration to clear obstacles to higher blends of ethanol such as E15 and ensure a final rule works for the full ethanol and fuel supply chain,” Ross said. “To ensure E15 sales are not interrupted, NCGA urges EPA to complete this rulemaking by June 1.”

Ross’s comments came during a hearing held as part of the rulemaking that would remove outdated regulations requiring retailers in many areas of the country to stop selling E15, a blend of gasoline and 15 percent ethanol approved for all vehicles 2001 and newer, during the summer months.

Year-round E15 is a no-cost means for farmers to grow demand. It also saves drivers between 3 and 10 cents per gallon and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

During the hearing, Ross also spoke on the negative impacts EPA’s expansive Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) waivers for refiners have had on farmers who are already struggling amid declining farm incomes and trade disruptions. NCGA has urged the EPA to rein in RFS exemptions provided to profitable refiners.

Ross also urged caution around the proposed rule’s complex RIN market reform proposal. “To ensure E15 sales are not interrupted, NCGA urges EPA to complete this rulemaking by June 1, as well as keep the complex RIN market reform proposal from weighing down the E15 rule,” Ross said.

Growth Energy Backs E15 Year-Round Proposal at EPA Hearing

Today, Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor testified at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) hearing on the proposed rule to implement year-round sales of E15, a fuel blended with 15 percent ethanol. Skor spoke alongside farmers, retailers, and ethanol producers in support of this proposal, pressing EPA to finalize the rule before the June 1 deadline.

In her testimony, Skor emphasized the economic, engine performance, and environmental benefits of E15: “For motorists, the value proposition of E15 is clear. Drivers typically save up to 10 cents per gallon, while E15’s superior octane rating provides better engine performance. The value to our planet is equally compelling. E15 is a cleaner fuel that reduces evaporative emissions and greenhouse gas emissions. It replaces toxic fuel additives associated with cancer, asthma, and smog.”

And stressed how allowing E15 sales year-round will be the shot in the arm rural America needs:

“Eliminating this barrier promises to unlock an estimated 1.3 billion gallons of new annual ethanol demand. Over time, that added demand could grow to seven billion gallons, lending an economic lifeline to rural families.... Across the heartland, more than 200 biofuels plants support their communities, and these plants are under incredible strain. Many have already shut their doors or idled production in recent months. The recent flooding across the Midwest has only exacerbated these tough times, not to mention the 2.6 billion gallons lost to small refinery exemptions.

“With year-round E15, EPA has the opportunity to give American farmers and producers the ability to grow greater demand and expand market access for their homegrown fuel.”

The proposed rule would lift a nearly thirty-year-old limitation on E15, which restricts sales between June 1 and September 15. Today’s hearing is part of the public comment period of the rulemaking process, which ends on April 29. EPA has committed to completing the rulemaking process by June 1, 2019.

RFA Strongly Supports, Urges Quick Action on EPA Proposal to Allow Year-Round E15

In testimony delivered at a public hearing today in Ypsilanti, Mich., RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper urged the agency to finalize the Modifications to Fuel Regulations to Provide Flexibility for E15 proposal ahead of the summer driving season.

In remarks to EPA officials, Cooper said, “We strongly support EPA’s proposal allowing E15 to take advantage of the 1-psi Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) waiver that currently applies to E10 during the summer months….Extending the 1-psi RVP waiver to E15 during the summer volatility control season will open the marketplace to a fuel that provides consumers higher octane, lower cost, and reduced tailpipe emissions. We firmly endorse EPA’s proposal to interpret section 211(h)(4) of the Clean Air Act as being applicable to ethanol blends containing at least 10 percent ethanol, including E15, and we believe EPA’s justification for this interpretation is well supported by the statutory text and Congressional intent.”

Cooper further commented on E15 made at blender pumps, stating, “RFA encourages EPA to consider a more flexible approach to regulation of E15 made at blender pumps. A majority of the retail dispensers selling E15 today are, in fact, blender pumps that mix E85 and E10 together to make the finished fuel. Under your proposal, E15 made in this manner would not qualify for the 1-psi RVP waiver, even if the finished fuel met applicable sulfur and benzene standards and had volatility of 10.0 psi or less. This seems unreasonable, especially because E15 made from E85 and E10 via a blender pump typically contains just 1 percent natural gasoline.”

In addition, Cooper testified to the RIN (Renewable Identification Number) Reform portion of the proposal, saying “RFA generally opposes any changes that would reduce RFS compliance flexibility, diminish liquidity in the RIN market, give certain parties in the marketplace unfairly advantaged positions, add unnecessary complexity, increase administrative burdens, or impugn the RIN market’s ability to incentivize expansion of renewable fuel consumption. RFA does not believe any of the four main options proposed represent an improvement or enhancement of the current RIN program.”

Cooper further discussed the issue of Small Refinery Exemptions (SREs), noting “while RFS small refinery exemptions are not the explicit subject of this rulemaking or today’s hearing, we feel compelled to remind EPA that continued abuse of the SRE program would significantly undermine the ethanol market expansion intended to result from finally allowing year-round sales of E15.”

In closing, he stated, “We continue to believe it is very important that the Agency sever the RVP and RIN reform provisions into two rulemaking efforts in the event it appears from the comments submitted that the RIN reform provisions might jeopardize or complicate promulgation of the RVP measures before May 31.”

NBB Asks EPA to Reform Small Refinery Exemptions at Public Hearing

Today, representatives from the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) and its member companies testified at the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) public hearing on the proposed Modifications to Fuel Regulations to Provide Flexibility for E15 and to Elements of the Renewable Identification Number (RIN) Compliance System. NBB asked the agency not to adopt the proposed changes to the RIN system as it finalizes the E15 rule.

“EPA must change its practice of encouraging retroactive small refinery exemption petitions,” Kurt Kovarik, NBB’s Vice President of Federal Affairs, testified. “We ask that the agency use this opportunity to instead address the timing of small refinery exemption petitions. If EPA finds that it can easily propose a quarterly compliance deadline in the RIN reform proposed rule, the agency should feel just as comfortable applying a similar reasonable administrative requirement that small refineries submit petitions before the end of the compliance year.”

NBB Chairman Kent Engelbrecht also testified, stating, “We appreciate EPA taking claims of RIN market manipulation seriously. But because the agency has yet to see data-based evidence of such behavior, we recommend that EPA not finalize the RIN reform portion of the proposed rule.”

Roy Strom, President & CEO of W2Fuel, LLC, an NBB member, stated at the hearing, “To succeed, the biodiesel industry needs signals that allow us to forecast market demand. While the RVO should be the forecast, the current practice of granting retroactive small refinery exemptions undermines that signal.”

Chris Peterson, President of HERO BX, testifying on behalf of NBB, said, “Unfortunately, EPA has not provided any evidence of RIN market manipulation to warrant any of its proposed reforms. The reforms themselves could further lead to market uncertainty and financial losses.”

David Cobb, NBB Director of Federal Affairs, added, “EPA acknowledges within its proposal that there is no evidence of RIN market manipulation to date. Rather than solve a problem, the proposed RIN system changes could potentially disrupt the RIN market and even undermine the RFS.”

On Thursday, March 28, EPA granted a 35th small refinery exemption for 2017, upping the total volume of exempted gasoline and diesel for that year to 17.05 billion gallons. The exemptions have destroyed demand for more than 360 million gallons of biomass-based diesel over the past 12 months.

ACE leadership testifies on EPA’s proposed RVP/RIN rule

American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) Senior Vice President and Market Development Director Ron Lamberty testified today during the public hearing in Ypsilanti, Michigan, on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed rule “Modifications to Fuel Regulations to Provide Flexibility for E15; Modifications to RFS RIN Market Regulations.”

Lamberty’s testimony highlights points which will be detailed in ACE’s written comments to the proposed rule. The points include: (1) supporting EPA’s effort to allow the 1-psi Reid vapor pressure (RVP) waiver to apply to E15 today and accommodate for a higher octane higher ethanol blend if one were approved in the future; (2) finalizing a legally-defensible rule in time for fuel retailers to sell the fuel by June 1; (3) welcoming EPA’s analysis that E15 would be held to the same gasoline volatility standards as E10 and have substantially the same level of emissions performance as E10; (4) urging EPA to cast away the proposed changes to RINs that would undermine ethanol demand and negate the upside benefit of E15 year-round; and (5) emphasizing the need for proper implementation of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Small Refinery Exemption (SRE) program.

In his testimony to EPA, Lamberty said, “ACE supports EPA’s effort to enact a legally-defensible rule providing RVP relief to ethanol blends 10 percent and higher, and to do so in time for E15 retailers to avoid the pointless stop-and-start dance they have been forced to perform for the previous seven summer driving seasons. The unnecessary changes in product availability and labeling currently required each June and September – changes which prevent stations from offering a more environmentally friendly, higher octane, lower cost fuel, during the busiest time of the year - have been a major roadblock preventing gas station and convenience store owners and operators from offering E15. The fact thousands of other retailers are willing to jump through EPA’s hoops each spring and fall is testament to how valuable E15 is to those businesses and their customers.”

On EPA’s RIN Reform portion of the proposal, Lamberty noted ACE continues to encourage EPA to separate these unrelated matters and stated, “the proposed changes to blending and RIN trading proposed in this rule would create new challenges for retailers and blenders, removing incentives for those who have invested in blending infrastructure and turning control of the RFS back to those who have refused to take action to comply with the rule over almost a decade and a half since the RFS became law.”

NMPF Thanks Congressional Agriculture Leaders for Urging Dairy-Program Implementation

The National Milk Producers Federation today thanked key House and Senate dairy leaders for adding bipartisan momentum to implementing new, greatly needed dairy programs, a top priority for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The letters from the House and Senate to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue urge the department to implement dairy-related provisions of the Farm Bill passed in 2018 as swiftly as possible. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-MN) and senior committee member Representative Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-PA) led the House effort, and Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) led in the Senate. As noted in the letters, the new Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program and other improvements in the new farm bill will provide critical help to dairy farmers this year.

The letters, signed by 77 House members and 38 Senators from both parties, also urge active USDA engagement with farmers on multiple levels, including mailings, phone calls and local meetings, as well as collaboration with stakeholders including state officials, cooperatives, producer groups and institutions of higher education.

“We commend Chairman Peterson, Rep. Thompson, Ranking Member Stabenow, Senator Blunt, and their numerous colleagues for drawing attention to the difficulties dairy farmers are enduring,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation. “Implementing dairy programs in a fast and farmer-friendly manner is important to NMPF members. We applaud Secretary Perdue for his efforts to commit to a timeline that gives farmers some certainty for financial planning. We need to ensure that outreach is broad and that farm-specific issues that arise during implementation are addressed with flexibility.”

“We look forward to working with USDA to continue to best serve our hard-working, economically stressed producers, and we support the congressional support of this process,” Mulhern said. 

Cargill reports fiscal 2019 third-quarter results

Cargill today reported results for the fiscal 2019 third quarter and first nine months ended Feb. 28, 2019. Key measures include:
-    Adjusted operating earnings were $604 million, up 8 percent from the $559 million earned last year. This brought earnings for the first nine months to $2.34 billion, a 2 percent decrease from the prior year.
-    Net earnings on a U.S. GAAP basis for the quarter were $566 million, a 14 percent increase from $495 million in the year-ago period. For the nine-month period, net earnings declined 3 percent to $2.33 billion.
-    Third-quarter revenues decreased 4 percent to $26.9 billion, bringing the year-to-date figure to $83.5 billion.

“Disruptions and uncertainty in the global business environment continued to present challenges during the quarter, but our teams captured greater efficiencies across the company,” said Dave MacLennan, Cargill’s chairman and chief executive officer. “We remain focused on our growth objectives. To achieve them, we are innovating what matters for our customers so they can win with consumers in local markets.”

Segment results

Adjusted operating earnings across Cargill’s four business segments were below the year-ago level. The difference was offset by reduced spending among corporate functions and other cost reductions.

Animal Nutrition & Protein was the largest contributor to Cargill’s adjusted operating earnings. Within the segment, earnings in North American protein exceeded the year-ago period, boosted by continued strong domestic and export demand for beef as well as consumer demand for egg products. Higher production costs at Cargill’s poultry processing joint ventures in the Philippines and U.K. contributed to a decline in global poultry results. Two recently acquired value-added chicken processors – Campollo in Colombia and Konspol in Poland – both got off to a good start as part of Cargill. Increased sales volumes for salmon feeds in the North Sea region and functional feeds in North America improved earnings in aqua nutrition, but animal nutrition results in total trailed the prior year due in part to the outbreak of African swine fever in China and other countries, as well as unfavorable dairy economics in the U.S.

Food Ingredients & Applications delivered mixed results across the segment. Starches and sweeteners earnings declined on historically low ethanol prices in North America, and higher energy and raw material costs in Europe. Lower sales volume and higher operating costs in North America trimmed otherwise strong cocoa and chocolate performance in other regions. Edible oils pulled ahead of last year on good positioning and operating efficiencies. In North America, wintry weather slowed bioindustrial sales to the road construction industry; at the same time, icy and snowy road conditions drove demand for deicing products. Sales of salts for food and water quality applications also contributed to improved salt results.

In early March, Cargill announced its intent to acquire Smet, a Belgium-based supplier of chocolate and chocolate decorations. The purchase aligns with Cargill’s intent to accelerate growth in specialty ingredients, as Smet would broaden product offerings and services to artisan, chocolatier and foodservice customers. Subject to information and/or consultation procedures with the appropriate employee representative bodies, the transaction is expected to close in the first half of calendar 2019.

Earnings in Origination & Processing reflected a challenging environment with ongoing trade tensions and other supply chain disruptions. In North America, soy and canola crush operations ran at high capacity, but the near absence of the Chinese market for plentiful U.S. soybean stocks reduced profitability. The trade turbulence also negatively affected soybean crush operations in China, as did lower demand for soybean meal for feed following the culling of hogs to control the spread of African swine fever. The segment’s European and South American operations both posted higher profits over the prior year, with soybean and soft seed processing leading the way in Europe, and corn and soybean origination improving in Brazil.

Announced last quarter, Cargill completed the formation of Grainbridge with Archer Daniels Midland. The technology joint venture will begin developing a suite of digital tools to give North American farmers market data and information on their grain marketing activities in a single platform at no cost to them.

Earnings in the Industrial & Financial Services segment were negatively affected by the industrywide impact of a mining disaster in Brazil in January that required the mine owner to cut iron ore production and exports to China. The incident caused iron ore futures prices in China to rise sharply, and Capesize vessel freight rates to fall significantly. Ocean shipping rates began to strengthen by quarter end, but concerns about a slowdown in global growth continued to weigh on markets. Elsewhere in the segment, the risk management business, which develops diversified risk management strategies for a wide range of customers, put up a strong quarter with balanced performance across agriculture, energy, metals and other product lines.

Thursday March 28 Ag News


Nebraska inventory of all hogs and pigs on March 1, 2019, was 3.55 million head, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. This was up 3 percent from March 1, 2018, and up 1 percent from December 1, 2018.

Breeding hog inventory, at 450,000 head, was up 7 percent from March 1, 2018, and up 2 percent from last quarter. Market hog inventory, at 3.10 million head, was up 2 percent from last year, and up 1 percent from last quarter.

The December 2018 - February 2019 Nebraska pig crop, at 2.14 million head, was up 1 percent from 2018. Sows farrowed during the period totaled 185,000 head, up 3 percent from last year. The average pigs saved per litter was 11.55 for the December - February period, compared to 11.70 last year.

Nebraska hog producers intend to farrow 195,000 sows during the March - May 2019 quarter, up 3 percent from the actual farrowings during the same period a year ago. Intended farrowings for June - August 2019 are 200,000 sows, up 8 percent from the actual farrowings during the same period a year ago.

Iowa Hog Inventory Up 4 Percent

On March 1, 2019, there were 23.5 million hogs and pigs on Iowa farms, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Hogs and Pigs report. The March 1 inventory is up 4 percent from the previous year.

The December-February 2019 quarterly pig crop was 5.94 million head, down 5 percent from the previous quarter and 2 percent below last year. A total of 530,000 sows farrowed during this quarter. The average pigs saved per litter was 11.20, equal to last quarter.

As of March 1, producers planned to farrow 530,000 sows and gilts in the March-May 2019 quarter and 560,000 head during the June- August 2019 quarter.

United States Hog Inventory Up 2 Percent

United States inventory of all hogs and pigs on March 1, 2019 was 74.3 million head. This was up 2 percent fromMarch 1, 2018, but down slightly from December 1, 2018. 

Breeding inventory, at 6.35 million head, was up 2 percent from last year, and up slightly from the previous quarter.  Market hog inventory, at 67.9 million head, was up 2 percent from last year, but down slightly from last quarter.

The December-February 2019 pig crop, at 33.0 million head, was up 3 percent from 2018. Sows farrowing during this period totaled 3.08 million head, up 2 percent from 2018. The sows farrowed during this quarter represented 49 percent of the breeding herd. The average pigs saved per litter was a record high of 10.70 for the December-February period, compared to 10.58 last year.

United States hog producers intend to have 3.12 million sows farrow during the March-May 2019 quarter, up 1 percent from the actual farrowings during the same period in 2018, and up 3 percent from 2017. Intended farrowings for June-August 2019, at 3.19 million sows, are down slightly from 2018, but up 3 percent from 2017.

The total number of hogs under contract owned by operations with over 5,000 head, but raised by contractees, accounted for 47 percent of the total United States hog inventory, unchanged from the previous year.

Should Leases be Adjusted for Flood Damaged Ground?

Allan Vyhnalek, NE Extension Educator

Where there is significant damage from flooding to cropland, should the rental rate be adjusted for 2019? The answer lies in the characteristics of the individual situation. This article provides guidance on adjusting rental rates for flood-damaged land with different lease characteristics.

How bad is the damage and who is going to fix it?

Flood damage can be categorized into two distinct types. One is the ‘hard’ work and the other is the ‘heavy’ work:

The ‘hard’ work will probably not be avoided. This usually includes quite a bit of hand labor and light work with equipment to remove branches, corn stalks, trash debris and other obstacles deposited on the field.

The ‘heavy’ work may not need to be done at all. This work includes heavy equipment like bulldozers, scrapers or graders to take care of major problems. It might include moving topsoil, removal of sandbars, and fixing holes, gullies, and ruts from the flooding.

In both cases, the party primarily responsible for completing this work is the landlord. The landlord bears the responsibility for providing the tenant with the land ready to farm. Desiring a positive long-term landlord/tenant relationship and knowing the work needs to be done in a timely fashion, most tenants are probably going to provide most if not all, of the ‘hard’ work described above. When that happens, is it appropriate for the landlord to acknowledge that effort? Most would say yes.

Should rental rates be adjusted?

Crop Share
If the land lease arrangement is a conventional crop share, the rental rate may not need to be adjusted. Since the crop share lease arrangement shares production risk between the landlord and tenant, if the production varies, the amount received from a share varies based on production. Crop insurance policies contain preventative plant provisions which could lead to an insurance payment, even though nothing was planted. This will only apply to those with an insurance policy and payment size, if any, depends upon the rules contained in the preventative plant provisions. We encourage those with crop insurance policies to contact their agent about preventative planting rules. 

Cash Rent
For cash rents, is it appropriate for the landlord to receive a full cash rent payment for 2019, if the land has flood damage? Due to the language in the lease contract, full payment will likely be expected. However, is that equitable to both parties? Good landlord and tenant communications will be key to deciding equitable payment for 2019. Begin that conversation now instead of waiting until the end of the production year. Waiting will likely result in a hardship with at least one of the parties. The language contained in the lease needs to be examined. If the lease does not specifically address weather-related events prior to planting, the amount paid might vary. Under contractual law, if an event renders the property unusable for the entire growing season, the tenant may have a case for vacating the premise and not making any lease payments for 2019. Seeking release from a property under these terms may have a devastating effect on the relationship between the tenant and the landlord (even the neighborhood) in the future.

One suggestion for adjusting cash rents in 2019 is to look at some way to adjust cash rent based on actual productivity. Another possibility is to use some measure of total revenue on a per acre basis. Setting up some type of flexible cash rent that takes into account the date of planting, damage to topsoil, sand deposits, and other aspects that might affect yields. Check with your local Agricultural Economics Extension Educator for ideas to accomplish this.

Do you have crop insurance?

The other issue with cash rental rates relates to the holder of the crop insurance policy, which is the tenant. The tenant may consider assisting the landlord in the ‘hard’ and/or ‘heavy’ work by contributing preventative planting payments to cleaning up flood damaged farmland.

For crop share rents, both the landlord and tenant could have crop insurance, which will likely include a prevented planting coverage.  For either type of rent, have good communications with your insurance agent. 

In addition, Good communications between the landlord and tenant on issues like this will go a long way towards an amicable resolution.

Also be sure to visit with the Farm Service Agency to understand any implications on changes to the crop lease agreement.

For government help, be sure to document

There will be situations where the cost of doing both the ‘heavy’ and the ‘hard’ work can be documented and submitted to Farm Service Agency for Emergency Conservation Program payments. The key point is that documentation should include pictures (before and after), tracking equipment used, supplies, and labor.

If you are modifying your rental agreement for 2019, get it in writing. Stress may be high, you will want to make sure both parties are fully aware of what they are agreeing to. In summary, 2019 may be the year that both parties need to share the pain of the March flooding. Good communications between landlord and tenant is probably the only sure way that both parties are satisfied with the results of the lease.

If you would like to visit about this issue, the team of Extension Educators working in Agricultural Economics can help:
Jim Jansen, Northeast District, 402-261-7572;
Allan Vyhnalek, Department of Agricultural Economics, 402-472-1771;

Questions Frequently Asked about Prevented Planting

Recent flooding has forced many crop producers to reexamine their timeline for planting this spring. Planting a crop early provides the best chance for optimum yields, but what happens when tillage and planting are not able to be accomplished as early as desired?

Steve Johnson, farm management specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, has compiled a list of frequently asked questions regarding prevented planting and the options farmers have.

When is prevented planting available?

Prevented planting must be due to an insured cause of loss that is general in the surrounding area and that prevents other producers from planting acreage with similar characteristics. Failure to plant when other producers in the area were planting will result in denial of the prevented planting claim.

There’s also a 20/20 Rule – a minimum of 20 acres or 20 percent of the unit must be affected. Total acres of planted and prevented planted cannot exceed the total cropland acres. Prevented planting claims must be filed with your crop insurance agent by June 28 for corn and July 13 for soybeans. Prevented planting acres must be reported on the FSA Form 578 acreage report. That deadline to file that form in Iowa is July 15, 2019.

When is prevented planting not available?

On ground that is insured through a New Breaking Written Agreement; Conservation Program Reserve land that is in its first year out of CRP; on ground where a pasture or forage crop is in place during the time of planting; when other producers in the area are able to plant; and on county-based crop insurance area policies such as AYP and ARPI.

How much do I get paid for prevented planting?

55 percent of the initial revenue guarantee on corn and 60 percent on soybeans.
    An example payment for corn would look like the following: 190 bushels APH x 80% x $4.00/bu = $608 initial revenue guarantee x 55% = $334.40/acre PP payment.
    For soybeans, an example is: 55 bushels APH x 80% x $9.54/bu = $419.76 initial revenue guarantee x 60% = $251.86/acre PP payment.
    Note that payments for prevented planting use the projected price (new crop futures price average in February).

How are eligible acres for prevented planting determined?

The insurance company considers each of the insured’s crops in each county. They look at the maximum number of acres reported for insurance and certified in any of the four most recent crop years. The acres must have been planted in one of the last three crop years.
What happens if you are prevented from planting and there are not enough eligible acres for the crop being claimed?

When the insured runs out of acreage eligibility for one crop, the remaining prevented planting acres will be “rolled” to another crop, such as corn to soybeans.

What happens to my APH – actual production history – if I take prevented planting?

The insured farmer who receives prevented planting on a crop does not have to report the actual yield for the year. Generally, prevented planting will not impact the APH yield in future years, unless a second crop is planted on prevented planting acres.

What happens if the first crop is prevented planting, but the second crop is planted?

If the second crop is planted, it MUST be insured if there was insurance for that crop elected on or before March 15, 2019. The second crop must have been planted AFTER June 25 for corn and July 10 for soybeans. If the insured farmer plants a second crop they will still receive 35 percent of the indemnity for the prevented planting crop and pay only 35 percent of the premium.

Planting a second crop on prevented planting ground affects the following year’s APH:
    First crop – you receive 60 percent of the approved yield (190 bu/A APH X 60% = 114 bu/A).
    Second crop – actual yields are used for APH.

What will crop insurance adjusters need to do for prevented planting claims?

Visually inspect all prevented planting acres to determine:
    Acres are within 5 percent of what was on the acreage report.
    Whether the acres are left idle, or whether a cover crop or second crop has been planted.
    What the cause of loss was, and if it is general to the area.
    Determine eligible acres.
    Roll acres to other crops if insured is short of eligible acres for reported prevented planting crop.

What are the deadlines for filing prevented planting in Iowa?

These dates vary by state, but tend to be three days after the last day of the late planting period.
    In Iowa, the deadline for filing prevented planting with your crop insurance agent is June 28 for corn and July 13 for soybeans.
    Acreage reporting deadline is July 15.
    Prevented planting acres listed on your acreage report (FSA Form 578) should match the information provided to your crop insurance agent in order to qualify for a full indemnity payment.
    Work with your crop insurance agent well in advance of these dates regarding a prevented planting claim and whether a cover crop or a second crop will be planted.

If I have to leave some of my acres unplanted (prevented planting), will they still count toward my eligibility for enterprise units?

Only planted acres are considered when determining eligibility for enterprise units. (To qualify for enterprise units on crop insurance policy, at least the smaller of 20 acres or 20 percent of planted acres must be in two or more different township sections.) For example, a farm with 200 acres each in two sections would normally qualify for enterprise units. However, if fewer than 20 acres are planted in one of the sections, the farm would no longer qualify. Possible increases in crop insurance premiums due to a change in unit designation should be considered when deciding whether or not to file a prevented planting claim on some acres.

If I take prevented planting on some of my fields and plant a cover crop, when can I harvest or graze the cover crop?

If you plant any kind of cover crop and expect to receive a crop insurance indemnity payment for prevented planting, you cannot harvest or graze those acres until after Nov. 1.

More details can be found in the ISU Extension and Outreach Ag Decision Maker publication “Delayed and Prevented Planting Provisions.” An electronic decision spreadsheet is also available to help analyze alternative actions. Producers should communicate with their crop insurance agent before making decisions about replanting or abandoning acres.

Husker researchers develop livestock-monitoring technology

Livestock producers face a recurring challenge: watching animal behavior for signs of illness or injury.

An interdisciplinary team from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has developed precision technology to help producers continuously monitor animals and use the resulting data to improve animal well-being.

The team includes Nebraska electrical and computer engineers Lance C. Pérez, Eric Psota and Mateusz Mittek, and animal scientists Ty Schmidt and Benny Mote, who developed the technology system using video footage of pigs.

The system processes video footage from livestock facilities — day and night — and applies machine learning, which uses statistical algorithms to help computer systems improve without being explicitly programmed. It identifies individual pigs and provides data about their daily activities, such as eating, drinking and movement.

Based on this data, the system can also estimate how much each pig weighs and how fast it is growing.

“Our system provides a pattern of typical behavior,” said Psota, research assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering. “When an animal deviates from that pattern, then it may be an indicator that something’s wrong. It makes it easier to spot problems before they get too big to fix.”

The team created their system using deep learning networks, a form of machine learning with millions of coefficients and parameters. To identify pigs from all angles, the networks processed images large and small, rotated, skewed and otherwise transformed. The team uses ear tags to help with identification but aims to rely on unique physical characteristics such as ear shape, saving producers the added work of tagging.

Although the system has been developed to identify pigs, its algorithms can be used for other livestock, such as cattle, horses, goats and sheep.

“We want to make a tool that is available to the livestock producers,” said Schmidt, associate professor of animal science. “In a competitive agricultural market with rising costs, producers are looking for solutions that streamline operations while enhancing the health and well-being of their animals.”

The team is pursuing further development with the help of NUtech Ventures, the university’s technology commercialization affiliate. NUtech has patented the technology and is exploring industry investment.

“NUtech provides a valuable service and opens us up to conversations with people outside the university,” Schmidt said. “We’re now looking for industry collaboration to help us advance this system.”

Detecting illness, deciphering traits

The team recently received $675,000 from the National Association of Pork Producers to fund two studies. In collaboration with Kansas State University, the first study will explore the technology’s ability to predict illness. The team plans to collect data from both healthy and immune-compromised pigs, training the system to distinguish early symptoms.

The second study will explore the lifespan of sows — female pigs of reproductive age — and traits that may be associated with longevity. The Nebraska team’s technology will track sows over time and identify changes in movement, gait patterns and physical activity — data that may yield links between genetic background and longevity. It’s a connection that hasn’t been measured because there hasn’t previously been technology to do it, Schmidt said.

“Could we make more informed management decisions — identifying optimal genetic lines that are healthier, more efficient or less aggressive?” Schmidt said. “Can we identify a sick pig, days ahead of when symptoms are visible to the producer? In both of these studies, we’re looking to push the boundaries of what we’ve already created.”

ICGA Members Take Their Priorities to the State Capitol

Nearly 100 Iowa Corn Growers Association® (ICGA) members filled the State Capitol rotunda yesterday for the “Iowa Corn Day on the Hill” lobbying event. This delegation included ICGA Board, county leaders, grassroots members and student FFA members from across the state. Their lobbying efforts focused on continued support for Iowa’s Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Program, support of Iowa State University through both continued funding for the Veterinary Diagnostic Lab as well as support for the new request for biosciences, and last protecting agriculture in comprehensive tax reform. In addition, corn farmers took time to thank the state lawmakers who helped pass funding of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy with SF 512 and increasing state coupling of the federal section 179 expensing provision.

“Our ‘Iowa Corn Day on the Hill’ event facilitates one-on-one interactions with state legislators where members can discuss and promote ICGA policy priorities and issues important to Iowa agriculture,” stated Iowa Corn Growers Association President Curt Mether, a farmer from Logan. “The dedication and engagement of our members allow ICGA to have a strong, unified voice at the State Capitol.”

ICGA's “Day of the Hill” efforts focused on the organization’s top state legislative priorities for this session, including:
    Conservation/Water Quality – Maintain legislative funding stream for Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy
    Ethanol: Continue funding for renewable infrastructure cost-share program (RFIP)
    Livestock: Support existing regulatory framework for the livestock industry
    Research: Ag Extension and Diagnostic Lab funding
    Taxes: Protect critical tax credits (Section 179 and biofuels)

“Our focus is to help Iowa’s struggling farm economy, and at the top of our list is Section 179,” explained Mether. “We also want thank our legislators for passing Section 179 to the federal provision allowing farmers and small businesses to expense and depreciate capital expenses on their tax returns, but they need to hold firm to allow it to fulfill full coupling in year three.”

If you missed this Day on the Hill event, we encourage you to contact your legislators by other means, including by participating in calls to action or attending local townhalls. To see ICGA’s full list of state and federal priorities for 2019, visit

Corn Farmers Disappointed with Latest Water Quality Lawsuit

Two environmental groups, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement and Food & Water Watch, filed a lawsuit yesterday suing the state of Iowa claiming the state has violated its obligation to protect the Raccoon River for the use and benefits of Iowans . This lawsuit comes as a disappointment to Iowa farmers as it will be costly and cause scarce resources to be reallocated from current water quality projects without any guarantee of improving our waters.

“Iowa farmers are aware of the role we play in our state’s quality of life, this includes the water we share. By implementing Iowa’s nutrient reduction strategy, we embrace the best science and rely on years of experience to collaborate in results that better our water,” stated Iowa Corn Growers Association® President Curt Mether, a farmer from Logan. “Farmers will continue to work together to achieve the best long-term solutions for our soil and water while feeding the world.”

“At a time farmers are struggling financially and also from historic flooding, this lawsuit is a low blow to farmers” continued Mether. “It will divert resources from implementing conservation practices and helping our farmers recover from the latest natural disaster.”

The Iowa Corn Growers Association has partnered with farmers and agricultural stakeholder in projects targeted at improving water quality for all Iowans such as the National Corn Growers Association’s Soil Health Partnership and Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance.

Red Meat Export Volume Fairly Steady in January; Pork Value Still Reflects Tariff Impact

January exports of U.S. beef and pork were slightly below last year’s volume levels while export value posted mixed results, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

Beef exports slipped 1 percent year-over-year to 104,766 metric tons (mt), but value still increased 3 percent to $642.3 million. Export value per head of fed slaughter pulled back from the red-hot pace of 2018, averaging $284.86, down 3 percent from a year ago. January exports accounted for 12.2 percent of total beef production and 9.7 percent for muscle cuts only, down from 12.4 percent and 10.1 percent, respectively, in January 2018.

January pork exports were also down 1 percent from a year ago at 201,835 mt, with value dropping 9 percent to $494.1 million. Export value averaged $44.75 per head slaughtered, down 12 percent year-over-year. Exports accounted for 23.6 percent of total January pork production, down from 24.7 percent a year ago. For muscle cuts only the ratio was 20.3 percent, down from 21.5 percent.

Results for both beef and pork were bolstered by stronger variety meat volumes. Beef variety meat exports totaled 26,630 in January, up 7 percent from a year ago, valued at $81.8 million (up 19 percent). This was fueled by strong performances in Japan, the ASEAN region and Africa. Pork variety meat exports climbed 5 percent year-over-year to 41,143 mt, led by increases in Mexico, Japan, Central and South America and Taiwan. But value was still down 11 percent to $81 million, because exports to China, the leading market for U.S. pork variety meat, remain subject to China’s 50 percent retaliatory duties.

Japan, Korea set strong early pace for 2019 beef exports

January beef exports to leading market Japan increased 8 percent year-over-year to 25,925 mt, valued at $167 million (up 12 percent). Variety meat exports to Japan (mainly tongues) were especially strong, soaring by 36 percent in both volume (4,645 mt) and value ($31.4 million). January was the first full month in which competitors of U.S. beef received tariff relief in Japan under the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) with the import duty rate dropping from 38.5 to 27.5 percent on Dec. 30, 2018. This gap will widen further on April 1, when the rate for CPTPP countries drops to 26.6 percent.

“It’s great to see Japan’s demand for U.S. beef increase in January despite these tariff rate changes for our major competitors,” noted Dan Halstrom, USMEF president and CEO. “But this disadvantage will become more and more pronounced over time, so negotiations toward a U.S.-Japan trade agreement cannot come soon enough. The playing field needs to be leveled as quickly as possible so that the U.S. industry can continue to capitalize on booming meat demand in Japan.”

Following a record-shattering year, beef exports to South Korea increased 4 percent in January to 17,900 mt, with value up 10 percent to $134.3 million. U.S. beef enjoys a tariff rate advantage under the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS), with the import duty rate declining from 40 to 18.7 percent since KORUS was implemented in 2012 (the rates for Australian and Canadian beef are 24 and 26.6 percent, respectively). U.S. beef is benefiting from several new trends in Korea, including mid-priced steak restaurants (also underway in Japan), inclusion of beef cuts such as chuckeye roll and short plate in meal kits sold at retail and through e-commerce, and demand for a wider range of U.S. beef cuts, such as brisket point, in Korean barbecue establishments.

Other January highlights for U.S. beef include:

-    Export volume to Mexico was steady with last year at 21,194, but value climbed 14 percent to $101.7 million. The results for beef muscle cuts were especially strong, increasing 16 percent in volume (12,532 mt) and 21 percent in value ($78.2 million).
-    Led by Indonesia and the Philippines, exports to the ASEAN region jumped 49 percent from a year ago in volume (4,644 mt) and 31 percent in value ($20.7 million). Variety meat exports more than doubled from a year ago to 1,941 mt (up 107 percent), with value up 85 percent to $3.8 million.
-    Strong growth in Costa Rica, Guatemala and Honduras drove beef exports to Central America up 39 percent to 1,508 mt, while value was up 36 percent to $8 million.
-    Exports to Taiwan were steady with last January at 4,215 mt, but value was down 12 percent to $36.8 million.
-    A slow month in Hong Kong partially offset growth in other markets, as exports fell by 36 percent in volume to 7,047 mt, while value was down 28 percent to $57.4 million.

Amid trade disputes, smaller markets step up demand for U.S. pork

Retaliatory duties continued to pressure U.S. pork exports to Mexico in January, with volume down 9 percent from a year ago to 66,293 mt. Export value absorbed an even harsher blow, dropping 28 percent to $96.1 million. While the U.S. is still Mexico’s main pork supplier, Canada’s January exports to Mexico were up 26 percent to 11,500 mt and EU exports increased 91 percent to 305 mt. Chile’s volume was steady at 690 mt.

Exports to China/Hong Kong also felt the sting of China’s retaliatory duties, dropping 16 percent from a year ago in volume (26,744 mt) and 32 percent in value ($53.2 million).

While Japan’s import duties on U.S. pork remain unchanged, CPTPP countries received tariff relief at the end of 2018 and will see another rate decrease on April 1. This likely contributed to the January decline in U.S. pork exports to Japan, which were down 6 percent from a year ago in volume (32,910 mt) and 8 percent in value ($135.2 million). Lower duty rates for European pork under the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) were implemented Feb. 1, so the EPA’s impact was not yet reflected in Japan’s January import data.

“Trade barriers in these large, mainstay markets are very unsettling for major customers of U.S. pork and are hurting the entire U.S. supply chain, so it is essential that they are addressed in a timely manner,” Halstrom explained. “On a positive note, the U.S. industry’s longstanding efforts to expand and diversify international destinations for U.S. pork have never been more important, and it is gratifying to see impressive growth in many of our emerging and developing markets.”

January highlights for U.S. pork include:

-    Led by continued record exports to Colombia and a surge in shipments to Chile, pork exports to South America increased 57 percent in volume (12,752 mt) and 61 percent in value ($31.3 million). Exports were also higher year-over-year to Ecuador and Uruguay.
-    Strong growth in Panama, Costa Rica and Guatemala moved exports to Central America 18 percent higher year-over-year in volume (7,271 mt) and 15 percent higher in value ($16.6 million).
-    Exports to the Dominican Republic remained on a roll, increasing 29 percent from a year ago in both volume (3,289 mt) and value ($7.2 million).
-    Growing exports to Canada (16,165 mt, +13 percent) indicate the U.S. is backfilling Canada’s product needs as more Canadian pork is bound for China, Japan and Mexico. Canadian pork production is not increasing, therefore Canada needs to import more U.S. pork to meet domestic demand. This situation will continue until retaliatory tariffs on U.S. pork exports to China and Mexico are removed and could intensify across other markets as China’s buying ramps up due to African swine fever.
-    Pork exports to both Australia and New Zealand were higher year-over-year in January, pushing results for Oceania up 22 percent in volume (9,272 mt) and 12 percent in value ($24.8 million).
-    Led by excellent growth in the Philippines and Singapore, exports to the ASEAN region were up 28 percent in volume (3,895 mt) and 25 percent in value ($9.9 million).
-    Strong demand in Taiwan pushed January exports to 2,561 mt (up 153 percent) valued at $4.9 million (up 70 percent). The results for pork muscle cuts were even more impressive, nearly tripling in volume (1,780 mt, up 196 percent) and climbing 149 percent in value to $3.8 million. Taiwan is importing less pork from the EU and Canada so U.S. pork is gaining market share, climbing from 9 percent in January 2018 to 19.5 percent this year.
-    Pork exports to Korea eased from the record-breaking pace of 2018 but remained strong at 18,491 mt, down 2 percent year-over-year, with value down 8 percent to $50 million.

Lamb exports trend higher in January

Muscle cut growth in the Caribbean and the United Arab Emirates, along with continued strong demand for variety meat in Mexico pushed January exports of U.S. lamb to 1,384 mt, up 87 percent from a year ago. Export value was $2.13 million, up 45 percent. For muscle cuts only, exports climbed 94 percent from a year ago in volume (244 mt) and 49 percent in value ($1.17 million).

Senators Sponsor Bill Expanding Family Farm Protections

Struggling farm families who need to consider protection from the U.S. bankruptcy code may see a little relief under a proposal being considered by a bipartisan group of senators. On Wednesday, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Iowa's Chuck Grassley introduced the Family Farmer Relief Act of 2019 to help family farms financially reorganize after falling on hard times.

"For a host of reasons, farm bankruptcies have increased. Current policies don't accurately reflect the increased cost of running a farm in today's day and age," Johnson said. "This legislation is designed to help keep more of Wisconsin's family farms operating by allowing them access to a streamlined path to reorganization to get through tough times."

Under current law, Chapter 12 bankruptcy removes certain costly reorganization requirements intended for large corporations. Johnson's measure raises the Chapter 12 operating debt cap to $10 million, allowing more family farmers to seek relief under the program.

Grassley says several years of low commodity prices, stringent farm lending regulations and market uncertainty have taken a toll on America's agriculture producers.

"Farm bankruptcy rates in many farming regions across the country are at their highest point in a decade," he said. "In some places in 2018, farm bankruptcies doubled from the previous year. Debts held by farmers are nearing historic levels set in the 1980s, further financially extending farm operations."

Other supporters of the bill include Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith of Minnesota, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Doug Jones of Alabama, and Joni Ernst of Iowa

Bipartisan Demand for Checkoff Reform Renewed with Filing of U.S. Senate Legislation

Common ground was found among unlikely allies again as the Opportunities for Fairness in Farming (OFF) Act was reintroduced by U.S. Senators Mike Lee (R-UT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Rand Paul (R-KY) and Elizabeth Warren, (D-MA). The Off Act would put an end to the most egregious abuses committed by the boards and contractors of the federally mandated commodity checkoff programs.

Checkoff programs have been instrumental in the history of agricultural advertising. Famous campaigns, such as “Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner,” have been paid for with family farmers’ checkoff tax dollars. However, checkoff programs have fallen under the control of commodity trade organizations representing global agribusiness interests, and oftentimes the millions of dollars paid into checkoff programs by hard-working family farmers and ranchers end up being used to lobby for policies that harm their interests.

Farmers are struggling amidst increasing consolidation, low commodity prices, and excess supply. Net farm income is at a 19-year low. Along with recent trade disruptions and natural disasters, such as the flooding in the Midwest, the last thing farmers want or need is their tax dollars working against them.

The Off Act would prohibit lobbying trade organizations from receiving checkoff funds, however, this restriction does not apply to universities. It would rein in conflicts of interest and stop anti-competitive activities that harm other commodities and consumers. It would also force checkoff programs to publish their budgets and undergo periodic audits so that farmers and ranchers know where their hard-earned tax dollars are going.

Having filed the OFF Act in the last Congress, Senators Lee and Booker offered the legislation as an amendment to the 2018 Farm Bill. The amendment was supported by over 100 organizations and garnered the support of 38 U.S. Senators.

In November 2018, independent polling by the nation’s oldest livestock publication, Drovers, found that over half of cattle producers flatly rejected the notion that the checkoff was helpful to their farms and ranches. A November 2017 Government Accountability Office report found that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) must do more to keep checkoffs in check across commodities.

Fred Stokes, founding member of the Organization for Competitive Markets, said:
“Organization for Competitive Markets extends our gratitude to the sponsors of this legislation. The evidence is clear: commodity checkoff programs abuse the very farmers and ranchers who are mandated to pay into them. The over $850 million these programs take from farmers each year have become the cash cow for organizations that work against fair competition and market transparency. So long as checkoff funds remain hidden from accountability and in the hands of trade and lobbying groups, independent family agriculture is in peril of being wiped from the face of the countryside. It is imperative this legislation be passed and signed into law.”

Checkoff programs have had a long history of acting beyond the scope of their statutory mandate. Lax oversight by the USDA has resulted in collusive and illegal relationships between checkoff boards and lobbying organizations, both of which have repeatedly used checkoff funds to influence legislation and government action despite a broad statutory prohibition against these activities. Such advocacy efforts have an anticompetitive effect, benefiting certain producers to the detriment of others, and forcing some producers to pay into a system that actively works against them.

The major reform provisions of the OFF Act, which would end the glaring abuses of the program boards, are:

1.     Stop federally mandated checkoff dollars from being transferred to parties that seek to influence government policies or action relating to agriculture issues.

2.     Enforce the prohibition against conflicts of interest in contracting and all other decision-making operations of the checkoff program.

3.     Stop federally mandated funds from being used for anticompetitive programs or from being spent to disparage another commodity in the marketplace.

4.     Increase transparency of the individual boards’ actions by shedding light on how federal checkoff funds are spent and the purpose of their expenditures.

5.     Require audits of each program every five years to ensure their activities are in compliance with the law.

Organization for Competitive Markets is a national membership-based research and advocacy organization working for open and competitive markets and fair trade in America’s food and agricultural sectors.

U.S. Members of Congress Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Help Farmers Export to Cuba

Today, U.S. Representatives Rick Crawford (R-AR-1) and Cheri Bustos (D-IL-17) introduced the Cuba Agricultural Exports Act (H.R. 1898), legislation that would make it easier for American farmers to sell to our island neighbor by removing arbitrary restrictions on private financing for U.S. agricultural exports to Cuba.

Cuba imports nearly 80% of its food, which amounts to almost $2 billion annually, creating a huge potential export market for American farmers only 90 miles off our shores. However, U.S. financing restrictions limit the ability of U.S. producers to compete for market share. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the proposed legislation would save U.S. taxpayers $690 million over 10 years.

“Eliminating these onerous, outdated restrictions will finally allow our farmers to claim their fair market share in Cuba, while at the same time, giving the Cuban people the quality U.S. food they desire,” said James Williams, President of Engage Cuba. “Why should Cuba turn to Vietnam and Brazil for rice and soy when Arkansas and Illinois are right next door? We need to update our policies to reflect the realities of today and allow our farmers to compete in a market 90 miles off our shores."

“The Cuba embargo has been in place for several decades, yet it has done little to weaken the oppressive socialist government of Cuba and has instead stifled American business opportunities that are within a short reach. Eliminating the cash-for-crop requirement would open up a substantial market for Arkansas farmers and open the door to future trade partnerships among our nations," said Congressman Rick Crawford (R-AR-1).

“On top of a struggling farm economy, the President’s trade war has been devastating for producers in our region,” Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (D-IL-17) said. “That’s why I’m working across the aisle on this legislation that would expand agricultural trade with Cuba – because we need to protect and open new markets for farmers and manufacturers. By providing Cubans with access to the standard credit terms offered by virtually every other nation in the world, we’ll take meaningful steps toward increasing our agricultural exports and strengthening our local economy. That’s a goal we should all be able to get behind."

U.S. producers have been allowed to export agricultural commodities to Cuba since Congress passed the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act (TSRA) in 2000, but a cash-in-advance requirement prevents Cuba from purchasing U.S. food on credit. As a cash poor country, U.S. agricultural exports to Cuba have declined every year since 2009 in terms of dollar amount, market share, and in the variety of products shipped. The U.S. used to be the number one supplier of agricultural commodities to Cuba, but has since fallen behind international competitors like the European Union, Brazil, and Vietnam.

Farmers seeking to export to Cuba won some success in the 2018 farm bill. Last year, the farm bill passed with a provision that allows U.S. agricultural producers to use federal market promotion dollars for agricultural exports to Cuba. A cornerstone of Engage Cuba's legislative advocacy efforts in the last Congress, this was the first law to repeal part of the U.S. embargo on Cuba in nearly 20 years and laid the groundwork for comprehensive trade between the United States and Cuba.

The provision codifies the ability of U.S. farmers receiving U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) market promotion grants to direct those funds toward marketing their products in Cuba. These grants, under the Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) program, help U.S. farmers offset the costs of overseas marketing. An amendment to the farm bill, the provision was part of the Senate companion to the Cuba Agricultural Exports Act, introduced by Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and John Boozman (R-AR).

In September of 2017, a bipartisan group of over 60 agriculture associations, businesses, and elected officials across 17 states sent a letter to the leadership of the House and Senate Committees on Agriculture to urge the inclusion of both Cuba trade provisions in the final farm bill.

The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee approved the bill as an amendment to a financial services spending bill in 2016, as well as in July 2015.

RFA Statement on EPA Issuing Yet Another Small Refinery Exemption from RFS Compliance

Today, EPA issued its 35th small refinery exemption from the 2017 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper had the following statement:

“If these exemption trends continue, they will fully and completely undermine the RFS at the expense of rural America and cause consumers to pay more at the pump for dirtier fuels. With dozens of ethanol plants closing or idling and U.S. ethanol consumption showing the first annual decline in 20 years, it is unfathomable that the new EPA Administrator would double down on former Administrator Pruitt’s unjustifiable abuse of the small refinery exemption provision. We hope that today's waiver marks the end of this destructive trend and hope to see a more transparent process in the weeks to come as EPA decides on the 39 pending 2018 exemption requests.”

Skor on Another Small Refinery Exemption Granted by EPA

Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor issued the following statement on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) announcement that it granted another small refinery exemption for 2017:

“New leadership at the EPA was supposed to mean a return to the president’s pro-biofuel agenda. Instead, we’re getting a man-made recession in rural America, just to boost profits for a few oil giants. There’s no way to view continued abuse of EPA wavers except as a betrayal of rural manufacturing workers and farm communities. The EPA has now destroyed 2.6 billion gallons of biofuel demand, eliminating the market for a billion bushels of U.S. grain. Farm families are already facing natural disasters, on top of lost export markets. If the EPA doesn’t act now to restore the market promised to farmers, there is little hope for a swift rural recovery. EPA must start considering denials for the record 39 exemption requests that have already arrived for 2018. If 2018 looks anything like 2017 in terms of refinery handouts, the damage to the rural economy could be irreparable.”

WTO Director-General to open Farm Foundation trade conference

The Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) will open the April 30 Farm Foundation trade conference, Agricultural Trade in a Time of Uncertainty. Director-General Roberto Azevêdo will address conference attendees via video at 8:30 a.m. at the DoubleTree Hotel Crystal City, Arlington, VA.

"Given the role of the WTO in international agricultural trade, it is most appropriate that the Director-General open this conference," says Megan Provost, Farm Foundation's Vice President of Policy and Programs. "His comments will set the stage for the day's discussion of the issues and opportunities of global food and agricultural trade today."

Azevêdo's address will be followed by a panel discussion of U.S. agriculture and the WTO, including the international organization's dispute settlement process and its long-term future given the current proliferation of bilateral and regional trade agreements. Joe Glauber, Ph.D., a senior fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute, will moderate the discussion. Panelists will include Ambassador Alan Wolff, Deputy Director-General of the World Trade Organization, Chad Bown of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, and Evan Rogerson of Nanyang Technological University.

This conference will also feature key leaders from Congress and the Administration. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) has been invited to provide perspectives on the domestic policy landscape for U.S. agricultural trade. Invited to discuss the Administration's approach to food and agricultural trade are Ted McKinney, USDA Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs, and Gregg Doud, Chief Agricultural Negotiator in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

Other topics for the day-long conference include the intricacies of free trade agreements, the impacts of trade wars and retaliatory trade measures on the farm economy, and the trade implications of today's geopolitical landscape. The conference agenda is available on the conference website.

This is the first conference hosted by Farm Foundation's Food and Agricultural Trade Resource Center. The Resource Center was created to bring clarity to trade discussions and enable productive debate and dialogue on trade policy issues.

Trade issues--from tariff escalations and other trade barriers to proposed restructurings of long-standing trade agreements--have disrupted market flows around the world. U.S. agriculture, which exports more than 20% of its production, has been particularly hard hit and the ripple effects have been seen in farm cash receipts and rural communities. The U.S. food and agriculture sector exports nearly $140 billion in commodities and value-added goods, making it one of the nation's only sectors with a trade surplus.

"Given these dynamics, a basic understanding of food and agricultural trade is critical," says Provost. "With our 86-year reputation for providing objective information, Farm Foundation established the Resource Center to provide public and private decision-makers with informational tools and analyses. A solid foundation of basic trade education, as well as more detailed analyses of larger trade issues, will support quality dialogues on agricultural trade."

CoBank Quarterly Economic Outlook – Agriculture Still Seeking Relief

U.S. agriculture will face challenges in 2019 as slowing domestic and global economic growth rates, trade talks continue and weather casts uncertainty in the short- and long-term markets. U.S. commodity markets remain focused on potential progress in U.S.-China negotiations and the ratification of USMCA agreement pending the removal of U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs. Current trade disputes and global acreage shifts for this crop year may ease some downward pressures on prices. A slowing global economy may force animal protein and dairy sectors to scale back planned production increases as the year unfolds.

The latest Quarterly Rural Economic Review from CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange Division indicates that as global and U.S. economic growth has slowed, financial conditions in agriculture have remained highly variable across commodities and regions.

“U.S. agricultural producers and markets are in for a challenging year with economic uncertainty,” said Dan Kowalski, vice president of CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange Division. “There are a few bright spots, but growth is likely to average 2 to 2.5 percent with significant volatility in quarterly growth.”

The report states that world economic growth has slowed from 3.8 percent in 2017 and 2018, and will likely average between 3 to 3.5 percent. China’s economy continues to slow to 6.6 percent—the slowest since 1990—as reduced trade flows and inability to stimulate domestic consumption hamper growth potential. Europe’s growth potentials have also declined as uncertainties over Brexit and reduced trade flows to Asia have dampened optimism.

Also noted is that economic growth in the U.S. slowed significantly in the fourth quarter to a 2.2 percent annual rate compared to the 3 to 4 percent growth in the previous six months. First quarter growth was significantly impacted by the government shutdown and ongoing trade disruptions.

CoBank quarterly economic reviews provide market outlooks for several topics and industries, including: global and U.S. economic environments, U.S. agricultural markets and rural infrastructure industries.

A recap of the report is provided below and the full quarterly U.S. rural economic review, “Agriculture Still Waiting for Relief” is available at
Grains, Oilseeds and Biofuels

As trade deals continue to be ironed out, a resolution of current trade disputes and global acreage shifts could influence U.S. producers. Sharp declines in farm income since 2014 have resulted in significant reductions in working capital of nearly 70 percent and rising levels of farm debt of nearly 24 percent. Devastating flooding in Nebraska and Iowa now threatens the livelihood of many producers and will impede agricultural transportation and processing for months.

    Corn: Domestic corn demand dipped by 2 percent despite continued growth in animal protein supplies. Ethanol remains a weak spot, but feed demand and corn exports should remain strong.
    Soybeans: The U.S.-China trade dispute is easing up with reports of a pledge from China to buy soybeans. U.S. exports continue to lag behind last year; domestic demand remains robust.
    Wheat: Domestic demand is in line with USDA expectations; wheat demand is strengthening on the export front with commitments for 2019 just ahead of last year’s levels.
    Ethanol: Ethanol producer margins have improved slightly from lows this winter with supply and demand balanced by a reduction in supply.

Farm Supply

Poor fall weather and a wet start to the year has impacted the Midwest, resulting in delayed fieldwork and decisions on seed and fertilizer. Without knowing what farmers will plant or what their fertilizer plans will be, ag retailers have an elevated risk of having too much or too little inventory of a product.

Fertilizer prices have largely declined from recent highs. Urea and DAP (diammonium phosphate) prices in New Orleans are now approximately 20 percent below highs set last fall. Potash prices remain robust on tighter supplies. Seasonal upticks in demand should increase prices this spring.
Animal Protein

Animal protein supply grew less than expected in 2018. The primary driver was a slowdown in fourth-quarter chicken production. Overall, animal protein production grew by 2.5 percent. Pork led the way with nearly 3 percent growth. Beef and chicken followed at 2.5 and just over 2 percent, respectively.

While supply isn’t expected to change from 2018 levels, domestic and international demand is uncertain. Trade negotiations with Asian markets will likely sway export opportunities. If the USMCA trade agreement is not ratified, it could also impair trade flows with these important markets.

    Pork: Trade and exports are important as domestic consumption remains between 46 and 52 pounds per person. Factors including African Swine Fever and trade negotiations will influence U.S. pork exports.
    Chicken: The U.S. chicken sector is seeing a building boom that will continue through the spring of 2020 with expected production increases of 1.5 percent in 2019, down from 2.2 percent in 2018.
    Beef: The U.S. beef sector outlook reflects a balance of supply and demand and anticipates continued production growth. U.S. exports have seen remarkable growth of 40 percent since 2015.


U.S. milk production totaled 217.5 billion pounds in 2018—a 0.9 percent increase over 2017 compared to a typical increase of 1.5 percent. Production was driven by an additional 250 pounds per cow despite 49,000 fewer cows in the national herd.

Slower growth rates in milk production translate to less excess milk being dried into powder. Cheese inventories are about 5 percent higher compared to last year despite slowed production in December. Relatively low cheese and whey prices offset somewhat higher powder and stable butter prices, resulting in farm milk prices remaining in the current range.
Specialty and Other Crops

Some other U.S. crops expect production growth in the year ahead. Rice production is expected to be up 26 percent. Cane sugar production is estimated to hit a record 4.1 million tons raw value—a 3 percent increase. However, beet sugar production is projected to fall by 7 percent.

Cold and wet weather conditions in California have delayed harvest, while Florida has capitalized on favorable conditions. Reports show promise of a good production year with an increase in orange and grapefruit production of 41 and 29 percent, respectively. Cooler temperatures and rains set California strawberry crops for a good spring harvest, although weather will limit harvest volumes and quality.

Grape crush and acreage reports are delayed due to the government shutdown and are expected in April.
Rural Infrastructure Industries

Natural gas supply is projected to outpace rising domestic and international demand resulting in an abundance that should keep prices lower than 2018. Despite high demand in the 2018/19 winter heating season, supply growth is anticipated to replenish the U.S. gas inventory.

The first quarter saw continued development of non-hydro renewable and combined cycle capacity and significant retirements of coal-fired capacity. Coal is likely to fuel less than 25 percent of the country’s power generation this year—the lowest share since 1949.

The recently passed Farm Bill provides funding for rural water opportunities—$4 billion over the next 10 years—to support efforts to protect sources of drinking water. While this investment is not enough to address the cost of modernizing the nation’s broader water infrastructure, the increased funding is likely to afford communities across rural America significant health benefits.

Fiber assets saw aggressive acquisition as significant domestic and foreign capital flowed into infrastructure funds specifically targeting fiber assets. Investors prefer fiber assets with prospects of emerging tech like 5G, augmented and virtual reality, and data centers. Rural broadband also saw attention with a focus on improving access to rural America.

IGC Raises Global Grain Production Estimate for 2019-20

The International Grains Council said Thursday that it expects rising global grain demand to outstrip an increase in production next year.

The IGC's fresh monthly estimation revealed its first forecasts for the 2019-20 season, with the body upping expected production to 2,175 million tons--up from a previous upward revision to 2,125 million tons expected in 2018-19--but forecasting a fall in expected carryover stocks to 575 million tons from the 604 million tons expected this year.

Still, that would represent a 2.4% increase in global production next season, and the IGC's expectations for this season's production was raised just 4 million tons from its February forecast of 2,121 million tons.

In its predictions for the 2019-20 production season, the IGC upped its expected wheat production by 24 million tons--or 3.3%--year on year to 759 million tons from its 2018-19 forecast of 735 million tons.

Soybean production is expected to stay flat at 359 million tons, with rice and corn expected to rise 5 million and 10 million tons on-year to 505 million tons and 1,124 million tons.

The IGC expects much of the reduction in carryover stocks to be accounted for by corn, and the body sees a 38 million-ton deficit.

Case IH Bolsters RB5 Round Baler Series Lineup With Premium HD Addition

From wet silage to dry hay to straw and stalks, the new Case IH RB565 Premium HD round baler provides producers the flexibility to bale a full range of crops. The RB565 Premium HD round baler is equipped with components to efficiently handle wet hay making in an all-purpose, multicrop baler. This new baler expands the RB5 series lineup, taking high-efficiency hay production to the next level.

“More and more producers are baling wet hay due to shorter production windows and added feed value,” said Brian Spencer, Case IH hay and forage marketing manager. “To accommodate those customers wanting to produce baleage in a 5x6 bale, we added the proven, robust design of our 4-foot silage baler to our 5-foot baler with some additional features.”
New round baler features

Building on the robust design, larger platform and improved bale-ejection system of the RB5 series, RB565 Premium HD round balers help to achieve higher bale density with the following enhancements:
•    Higher torque load on the cutout clutch
•    Larger main gearbox with heavier output shaft
•    Larger main drive chain and sprockets
•    Larger roll drive chains
•    Dual chopping rolls in the tailgate and sledge areas to prevent crop buildup
•    Neoprene-covered backwrap roll
•    Factory-installed moisture sensor option
•    Endless belts with 3-year/15,000-bale warranty

ISOBUS Class 3 technology boosts round baler productivity

The RB565 Premium HD round balers can be equipped with ISOBUS Class 3 Tractor and Baler Automation. Paired with a Puma® or Maxxum® tractor featuring a CVXDrive™ continuously variable, PowerDrive powershift or ActiveDrive 8 dual-clutch transmission, this system controls the tractor stop, bale wrap and bale-eject functions without operator input. Operators can take advantage of ISOBUS Class 3 controls to automatically stop the tractor when the target bale size is reached. From there, net wrap is automatically applied. When the wrap cycle is complete, the baler tailgate raises and lowers automatically to eject each wrapped bale. Once the completed bale is ejected, the operator can simply move the tractor shuttle lever to the forward position and go.

“When hay-making windows open, baler automation can help reduce bale cycle time, minimize operator stress and increase productivity, even with a less-experienced operator,” Spencer said. “Case IH strives to deliver equipment with the technology necessary to make the highest-quality hay.”

Wednesday March 27 Ag News

Flood Recovery for Ag Information Meetings Set for Scribner, Fremont, Omaha
Dodge County FSA CED Bryan Ralston

We are working to implement programs that may aid you in your flood recovery.  We will be hosting a series of informational meetings next week.  Those meetings include:

Tuesday April 2, 2019-Scibner, NE-Mohr Auditorium---10:00 a.m.  Address 650 County Road 13 Blvd, Scribner, NE

Tuesday April 2, 2019-Fremont, NE-Dodge County Extension Office---2:00 p.m.  Address:  1206 W 23rd St, Fremont, NE

Wednesday April 3, 2019-Omaha, NE-Papio Missouri NRD Board Meeting Room---10:00 a.m.  Address:  8901 S 154th St, Omaha, NE

Presentations by Bryan Ralston-FSA, Jay Schroeder-FSA, Wes Finkner-FSA, NRCS Personal, Nathan Mueller, UNL Extension, Keith Glewen, UNL Extension.  

A Few Notes On the New Farm Bill....

For those of you who have been wondering about the 2018 Farm Bill and how you might be impacted, USDA Farm Service Agency recently released a couple of documents that highlight key changes in which you may be interested. You can review “What’s New: FSA and the 2018 Farm Bill” for a quick overview of the main programs you visit our office for, or you can access “The 2018 Farm Bill – What Is New and What Has Changed” for a more detailed explanation of program changes.

Many of you are asking about a timeline for program enrollments under the new Farm Bill. As you would expect, there is a fair amount of background work that needs to be completed before we can tackle things like Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC)/Price Loss Coverage (PLC) sign-up and Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contract applications. Watch your email inboxes for additional information on these and other programs via this GovDelivery communication tool. Please note that from what USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue has said publicly, sign-up action on these programs, in particular, won’t be until later in the year.

Folks also have been inquiring about the availability of FSA farm operating and ownership loans at the increased maximum loan limits that were approved in the new Farm Bill. Details on these loan limit increases can be reviewed in the documents highlighted above. Farm Loan Managers Jay Schroeder and Wes Finkner said they are hopeful all the pieces will be in place by the end of March to be able to obligate loans at these increased amounts.

Our office continues to be busy with farmers stopping by to update their farm records. If you’ve lost or added ground, changed financial institutions, addresses or phone numbers, or altered your business structure, please make an appointment to see us about these changes.


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Good quality pasture might be in short supply this spring.  If you need some early pasture, plant oats and Italian ryegrass.

               I like oat forage.  It grows during spring when we are likely to receive rain and when moisture is used efficiently to produce forage.

               Oats can be grazed earlier than anything else you plant this spring.  Once it gets five or six inches tall, it quickly can shoot up to a foot tall in almost no time.  Unfortunately, once oats gets that tall it may not stool out, tiller, and regrow after grazing very well.  So it’s important to start grazing early when oats get six to eight inches tall to stimulate it to form new tillers.

               After this first grazing, keep oat regrowth between six and sixteen inches tall. Begin with a light stocking rate, about one animal every two acres.  Then adjust animal numbers as oat growth changes.

               For a longer grazing season, plant a mixture of oats and Italian ryegrass.  Oats comes on strong early while Italian ryegrass tends to wait until June before it grows rapidly.  Then it just keeps growing high quality leaves the rest of the year if moisture is available.

               For straight oats, drill at least three bushels per acre as soon as possible.  Oats will be 6 to 8 inches tall and ready to graze in about 6 weeks.  With good moisture and 40 to 60 pounds of nitrogen, oats can provide a couple months of grazing for 1 or 2 cows per acre.  For extended grazing, drill just a couple bushels of oats plus around twenty pounds of Italian ryegrass per acre.  Your stocking rate might need to be a little lighter at first, but with some timely moisture or irrigation you can continue to get great grass all summer and fall.

               Do you need reliable high quality pasture this year?  Oats, with or without Italian ryegrass, may be your best option.

Conservation Tree Windbreaks Provide Critical Protection for Cattle During Harsh Winter

Windbreaks have played an important role in the protection of livestock as Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers have worked to protect their cattle during a remarkably long and harsh winter.   Since 1972 Nebraska’s Natural Resources Districts (NRDs) have worked with Nebraska landowners to plant over 96 million trees and shrubs.  Many of these plantings are multi-purpose windbreaks that shade and shelter homes, reduce soil erosion, protect crops and provide food and cover for wildlife.  But this winter, it was the protection windbreaks provided cattle that proved most beneficial to Nebraska farmers and ranchers.

Windbreaks provide benefits to feedlots, pastures, and calving areas by reducing wind speeds and providing the animals a reprieve from the harsh winter elements.  Protecting the animals from the elements not only reduces stress and mortality, it reduces feed requirements and saves the producer money. 

“The red cedar windbreaks on our ranch were critical in protecting our cows this winter” said, Justin Hammond, Nebraska Rancher and Middle Niobrara NRD board member.  “Without the windbreak protection, we’d have lost a large portion of our herd.”

NRD foresters say now is the time to rehab an existing windbreak or design plans for the planting of a new one.  According to the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts (NARD), local NRDs have ordered nearly 400,000 trees and shrubs for landowners to plant this spring.

“Our NRD Tree Program offers landowners an inexpensive way to protect their property,” Mike Murphy, General Manager, Middle Niobrara NRD said. “NRD staff and foresters work with landowners to select the right trees for the property, design the space and we can even plant them for you.”

For around a dollar a tree, conservation trees shade and shelter homes, reducing energy costs, protect and increase crop yields, reduce soil erosion from wind and water, improve water quality, control snow and preserve winter moisture, protect livestock, provide food and cover for wildlife, control noise, capture atmospheric carbon, raise property values, and add beauty to our landscape.

Each of the 23 NRDs administer their own conservation tree program.  Tree and shrub options may vary from district to district depending on what grows well in different areas of the state.

“The local NRDs really work with landowners to determine what species best fit a landowners need,” Murphy said. “In some areas it may be eastern red cedar that offers the best protection, and in other areas it may be a combination of species.”

Trees arrive in early spring and many NRD Conservation Tree Program order deadlines are quickly approaching.  Contact your local Natural Resources District to complete your tree order.  You can visit to locate your local NRD.


All layers in Nebraska during February 2019 totaled 8.47 million, up from 7.51 million the previous year, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Nebraska egg production during February totaled 201 million eggs, up from 177 million in 2018. February egg production per 100 layers was 2,373 eggs, compared to 2,353 eggs in 2018.


Iowa egg production during February 2019 was 1.29 billion eggs, down 10 percent from last month but up 6 percent from last year, according to the latest Chickens and Eggs report from the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

The average number of all layers on hand during February 2019 was 57.6 million, up 1 percent from last month and up 2 percent from last year. Eggs per 100 layers for February were 2,245, down 11 percent from last month but up 4 percent from last year.

February Egg Production Up 3 Percent

United States egg production totaled 8.56 billion during February 2019, up 3 percent from last year. Production included 7.48 billion table eggs, and 1.08 billion hatching eggs, of which 1.00 billion were broiler-type and 80.3 million were egg-type. The average number of layers during February 2019 totaled 398 million, up 2 percent from last year. February egg production per 100 layers was 2,154 eggs, up 2 percent from February 2018.
All layers in the United States on March 1, 2019 totaled 399 million, up 2 percent from last year. The 399 million layers consisted of 336 million layers producing table or market type eggs, 59.4 million layers producing broiler-type hatching eggs, and 3.47 million layers producing egg-type hatching eggs. Rate of lay per day on March 1, 2019, averaged 76.6 eggs per 100 layers, up 1 percent from March 1, 2018.

Egg-Type Chicks Hatched Up 6 Percent

Egg-type chicks hatched during February 2019 totaled 53.1 million, up 6 percent from February 2018. Eggs in incubators totaled 53.4 million on March 1, 2019, down 5 percent from a year ago.

Domestic placements of egg-type pullet chicks for future hatchery supply flocks by leading breeders totaled 201 thousand during February 2019, up 31 percent from February 2018.

Broiler-Type Chicks Hatched Up 2 Percent

Broiler-type chicks hatched during February 2019 totaled 750 million, up 2 percent from February 2018. Eggs in incubators totaled 694 million on March 1, 2019, up 2 percent from a year ago.

Leading breeders placed 7.96 million broiler-type pullet chicks for future domestic hatchery supply flocks during February 2019, up 4 percent from February 2018.

Midwest Dairy and Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin Announce Second Annual Dairy Experience Forum

Hundreds of dairy farmers from across the nation will convene in Saint Paul, Minnesota July 16-18, 2019 for the second annual Dairy Experience Forum to gain a deeper understanding of today’s consumers and how their different values, shopping habits and consumption patterns impact how the industry can collaborate to build dairy demand. Building on the success of last year’s event, Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin is joining Midwest Dairy in co-sponsoring the second annual forum to make a bigger footprint in the dairy community.

The vision for the Dairy Experience Forum is to facilitate conversation and learning among farmers, dairy experts and partners as they discuss useful insights and ideas that can be used in their ongoing work to help ensure a successful future for dairy. As part of the program, attendees will hear from leaders, both from within and outside of the dairy industry, who are translating consumer insights, relevant to variety of generations, into innovative products that meet the needs of consumers of all ages.

The event will provide opportunities to engage with leading experts from research institutions, food companies, retailers and processors, cooperatives and dairy farm operations. It will also allow a platform for dairy farmers to hear from consumers firsthand what attributes and values are important to them as they make purchasing decisions related to the dairy products they enjoy.

“With the mutual goal of sparking new thinking and innovation, we’re excited to collaborate with Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin to co-lead this forward-looking event with an even broader audience, said Midwest Dairy CEO Lucas Lentsch. “By convening a larger representation of the dairy community, we can all gain an even greater perspective on the roles consumers play in driving our industry into the future.”

“We are thrilled to be working together to help farmers and dairy companies better understand consumer mindsets as well as what is driving massive shifts behind product innovation and the way people buy and consume dairy products,” said Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin CEO Chad Vincent. “It is essential we understand what consumers are looking for and how we can meet their needs to drive demand. Anyone from the farm community that is interested in learning how to adapt to these trends is encouraged to attend.”

A confirmed agenda and registration for the forum will be available late April.

Soybean Growers Unhappy with President Trump’s Comments on Keeping Tariffs in Place under a China Agreement

The American Soybean Association (ASA) is not pleased with recent comments from President Trump that he could leave tariffs in place under an agreement with China. ASA has always considered the lifting of the Section 301 tariffs by the U.S. in exchange for China removing its retaliatory 25 percent tariff on U.S. soybean imports as essential to any initial agreement between the two countries.

Davie Stephens, president of ASA and a soybean grower from Clinton, Kentucky, said, “The President’s statement that the tariffs should remain in place to ensure China’s compliance with the terms of a deal, rather than being rescinded as a part of that deal, is confounding. If reciprocal tariffs have generated current pressure to reach an agreement, why wouldn’t removing the tariffs and relieving that pressure be a necessary part of any initial deal? How can the U.S. and China reach any deal without doing so?”

Stephens continued, “We do understand the President’s concern regarding enforcement of other provisions of a deal, given China’s past record of walking back its commitments. And we would understand why the President would want to include a “snap back” mechanism to re-impose tariffs in the event other parts of any agreement were not honored, but we are tired of being collateral damage in this ongoing trade war and suffering because of these tariffs.”

ASA has gone on record in prior statements that it is has not been enough for China to make one-off “good will” purchases of U.S. soy over the last three months. Any longer-term plan to “manage” soybean trade under which China would guarantee to buy specified amounts of soybeans over an extended period of months or years—but still keep its 25 percent tariff in place—is not an acceptable alternative to full market access.

Soybean farmers continue to suffer from restricted access to China, by far the industry’s most important foreign customer. With depressed prices and unsold stocks forecast to double before the 2019 harvest begins in September, producers need China reopened to U.S. soybean exports within weeks, not months or even longer.

Any agreement reached between the U.S. and China that does not include removal of China’s 25 percent tariff on U.S. soybeans would not be acceptable to American soybean farmers. Bypassing elimination of China’s soybean tariff should not be on the table.

Mixed Moves in Retail Fertilizer Prices

Retail fertilizer price movement continued to be mixed the third week of March 2019, according to retailers surveyed by DTN. This marked the fourth week in a row in which at least some prices declined.

Prices for half of the eight major fertilizers were slightly lower compared to last month. DAP had an average price of $509 per ton, MAP $533/ton, urea $401/ton and UAN28 $270/ton.

The other half of fertilizers were slightly higher in price. Potash had an average price of $386/ton, 10-34-0 $470/ton, anhydrous $597/ton and UAN32 $318/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.44/lb.N, anhydrous $0.36/lb.N, UAN28 $0.48/lb.N and UAN32 $0.50/lb.N.

All eight of the major fertilizers are now higher compared to last year with prices shifting higher. MAP is 6% more expensive, both DAP and urea are 9% higher, potash is 10% more expensive, 10-34-0 is 11% higher, UAN28 is 14% more expensive, UAN32 is 18% more expensive and anhydrous is now 19% higher compared to last year.

January U.S. Ethanol Exports Strong, Distillers Grains Exports Subside

Ann Lewis, Research Analyst, Renewable Fuels Association
U.S. ethanol exports totaled 127.9 million gallons (mg) in January, according to government data released this morning and analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). This reflects an 8.5% decline from December and the lowest monthly volume in four months, but it represented an increase from the 88.3 mg shipped in January 2018.

Brazil remained the top U.S. customer for the second straight month at 38.5 mg, buying 3% more than in December and capturing 30% of global sales. India’s purchase of U.S. ethanol more than doubled (108%) in January at 20.0 mg. Canada sharply reduced its U.S. imports at 19.97 mg (-29%), its smallest purchase in a year. Exports to South Korea ticked up to 13.5 mg, while Colombia expanded to a record 9.5 mg. These five countries accounted for roughly 80% of January exports of U.S. ethanol.

January exports of U.S. undenatured fuel ethanol thinned by 10.1% to 69.6 mg. Over half the shipments (38.5 mg) were destined for Brazil, a slight increase over December volumes. India increased its offtake by 22% to 9.3 mg, and South Korea purchased 7.4 mg, a 22-month high. Other markets for undenatured fuel product included Mexico (4.0 mg), the Netherlands (2.2 mg), Norway (2.1 mg), and the Philippines (2.1 mg).

American producers exported 53.5 mg of denatured fuel ethanol in January, 4.7% under prior month sales. U.S. shipments to Canada weakened by 28% to 18.9 mg. Exports to India intensified to 10.7 mg following an absence of activity in December, effectively nabbing its second-highest monthly offtake. Colombia also stepped up with record U.S. imports of 7.6 mg, up 165%. South Korea (5.7 mg, down 55%) and the Philippines (4.5 mg) were other significant destinations.

The global market for U.S. ethanol for non-fuel, non-beverage purposes lost traction in January with 22% lower sales at 4.8 mg—the majority (89%) was undenatured. Japan (1.8 mg), Canada (1.0 mg), Colombia (0.8 mg), and Saudi Arabia (0.7 mg) were significant destinations.

January was absent of any fuel ethanol imports for the first time in six months. Imports have averaged less than 6 mg per month over the past four years.

January exports of U.S. dried distillers grains with solubles (DDGS)—the animal feed co-product generated by dry mill ethanol plants—slid 9.4%. Sales of 806,615 metric tons (mt) of DDGS were the smallest monthly volume to ship since Aug. 2017. Notably, Thailand cut its purchases significantly in January to just 34,969 mt (down 64%) for the lowest U.S. DDGS imports since Sept. 2015. However, exports to Mexico recovered from a December slump as 50% more animal feed crossed the border; a record 199,312 mt of DDGS purchased by our top customer was equivalent to a quarter of global sales in January. The UK & Ireland (101,370 mt, up 13%), Indonesia (90,291 mt, down 12%), South Korea (89,364 mt, up 13%), and Vietnam (89,356 mt, down 21%) were key markets with the remaining 30% of exports dispersed among 30 additional countries.

Weekly Ethanol Production for 3/22/2019

Here is the weekly ethanol supply-and-demand data for the week ended 3/22/2019. Please note that some of the statistics were affected by the terrible flooding in the Midwest.

According to EIA data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association, ethanol production fell 29,000 barrels per day (b/d), or 2.9%, to an average of 975,000 b/d, equivalent to 40.95 million gallons daily. This was the lowest production rate since the week ended Feb. 1, which in turn was the lowest level since Oct. 2017. The four-week average ethanol production rate declined 1.3% to 1.002 million b/d—equivalent to an annualized rate of 15.36 billion gallons.

Stocks of ethanol were 24.4 million barrels. Although stocks increased only 0.1% from the previous week, this still represented a new record high.

There were no imports for the 19th week in a row. (Weekly export data for ethanol is not reported simultaneously; the latest export data is as of January 2019.)

Gasoline supplied to the market slumped 3.0% to 9.124 million b/d (383.2 million gallons per day, or 139.87 billion gallons annualized), essentially returning to the level experienced before last week’s jump. Notably, refiner/blender net inputs of ethanol increased 1.2% to 920,000 b/d—equivalent to 14.10 billion gallons annualized.

Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production ticked upward to 10.69%.

House Letter Supporting USDA’s Proposal to Relocate ERS and NIFA

House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member K. Michael Conaway (TX-11) and committee member Rep. Vicky Hartzler (MO-4) today led 30 of their colleagues, including all House Agriculture Republicans, in a letter to House Agriculture Appropriators supporting the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) plans to relocate the Economic Research Service (ERS) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) out of the Washington, D.C. metro area.

Conaway and Hartzler were joined in their letter by Reps. Neal Dunn (FL-2), Roger Marshall (KS-1), Ann Wagner (MO-2), Trent Kelly (MS-1), Glenn “GT” Thompson (PA-15), Don Bacon (NE-2), Mike Bost (IL-12), Joe Wilson (SC-2), Kevin Brady (TX-8), Ralph Abraham (LA-5), Rick Crawford (AR-1), Doug LaMalfa (CA-1), James Comer (KY-1), Sam Graves (MO-6), Bill Flores (TX-17), David Rouzer (NC-7), Dusty Johnson (SD-AL), Jackie Walorski (IN-2), Austin Scott (GA-8), Ted Yoho (FL-3), Jim Hagedorn (MN-1), Jim Banks (IN-3), Scott DesJarlais (TN-4), Jim Baird (IN-4), Trey Hollingsworth (IN-9), Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO-3), Greg Pence (IN-6), Denver Riggleman (VA-5), Rodney Davis (IL-13) and Rick Allen (GA-12).

The text of the letter follows:
We write in strong support of Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue’s goal to improve customer service, strengthen offices and programs, and save taxpayer dollars by relocating the Economic Research Service (ERS) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) outside of the National Capital Region.

Key functions of the USDA such as the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) are already located outside of the Washington, D.C. area and have a strong track record of providing quality service to America’s farmers, ranchers, rural communities, and research and extension stakeholders. We believe relocating ERS and NIFA would build upon USDA’s capacity and improve the agency’s ability to recruit top talent from universities across the nation while being closer to rural America and reducing taxpayer expenditures.

We commend the Secretary for his commitment that no ERS or NIFA employee will be involuntarily separated during this transition, and that employees will be offered relocation assistance and will receive the same base pay as before. We also appreciate USDA’s notice and attention to its important research, extension, and education mission. It is clear that the Secretary remains committed to mission-delivery both during this transition and once the relocation effort is complete.

For the above mentioned reasons, we request that no relocation limitation be included in the FY 2020 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill.

While we understand Congressional oversight is appropriate, we are ready to work with you to ensure any logistical complications or issues that may arise are overcome. We appreciate your time and attention to this matter and strongly support this effort.

Hearing Highlights Impacts of ERS, NIFA Relocation on Family Farmers, Consumers, Researchers

Highlighting concerns among legislators, farmers, rural residents, consumers and researchers for the proposed reorganization and relocation of two U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) research agencies, the U.S. House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee today held a hearing to examine the impacts of such a move. USDA has initiated a process to move the Economic Research Service (ERS) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) outside of the nation’s capital and place the ERS under the purview of the Chief Economist.

On the heels of the meeting, National Farmers Union (NFU), the nation’s second largest general farm organization and a strong proponent of public agricultural research, urged USDA to stop the move. NFU sent a letter to USDA in September highlighting the NFU Board of Directors opposition the ERS and NIFA proposal.

NFU Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Communications Rob Larew issued the following statement shortly after the hearing:

“ERS and NIFA play an important role in helping family farmers and ranchers improve productivity, steward our nation’s natural resources, and access global markets and trade. As the economic and environmental challenges facing family farmers and ranchers mount, it is critical that USDA prioritize the work of the agencies and maintain the integrity and impact of public research. Farmers Union urges USDA to end the relocation of these two important agencies.”

ICBA Supports Bill Offering Tax Relief for Rural Lending

The Independent Community Bankers of America® (ICBA) today expressed support for legislation to support farmers, ranchers and rural homeowners. Authored by Rep. Steve Watkins (R-Kan.) and co-sponsored by Rep. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), the Enhancing Credit Opportunities in Rural America Act (H.R. 1872) would allow community banks to lower loan rates and more efficiently serve borrowers by exempting interest income on farm real estate and rural mortgage loans from taxation.

“ICBA strongly supports the Enhancing Credit Opportunities in Rural America Act, which will allow community banks to offer lower rates to rural borrowers and homeowners in communities across the nation,” ICBA President and CEO Rebeca Romero Rainey said. “Community banks, which make 80 percent of all agricultural loans across the banking industry, should play on the same level playing field as other providers of credit in rural America that already enjoy these same advantages.”

Under ECORA, interest earned on loans secured by agricultural real estate would not be taxable. The bill would provide similar relief to interest on loans secured by rural single-family homes that are the principal residence of the borrower in towns with a population of less than 2,500. Together, these provisions will offer community bankers greater flexibility to work with farmers who may have trouble servicing their debt while giving lenders a strong incentive to remain in the rural farming and housing markets.

The legislation would implement a recommendation in ICBA’s Community Focus 2020 policy platform, a multifaceted agenda designed to promote greater access to financial services and economic opportunity throughout local communities.


A long-awaited scrapie rule was published this week in the Federal Register. The rule - which was first proposed in 2015 by U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service - has been anticipated by the American sheep and goat industry since 2016.

    For the most part, the industry will not notice much of a difference in the scrapie eradication program, but some segments will see a change. Particularly, changes will be noticed by goat producers and those moving animals in slaughter channels or transporting unidentified sheep or goats.

    Importantly, the rule incorporates into regulation APHIS' long-standing policy to use genetic testing to identify genetically resistant or less susceptible sheep for exemption from destruction and as qualifying for interstate movement. The rule takes effect on April 24, 2019.

    Producers are asking the American Sheep Industry Association how the rule affects them. As mentioned before, most producers will not notice a change to their current practices. However, goat producers and those who move animals in slaughter channels or who move unidentified animals will be affected by the rule changes.

 Identification and Records Requirements in Interstate Commerce

    A foundational component of the scrapie eradication program is the ability to trace diseased animals to their flock of origin. The new rule makes the identification and recordkeeping requirements for goat owners consistent with those requirements that sheep owners have followed for many years. Like sheep producers, producers of goats for meat or fiber and slaughter goats more than 18 months of age will be required to officially identify their animals to their flocks of birth or flocks of origin, and to maintain certain identification records for five years. There is flexibility in the type of official identification that can be used, but the device or method must be approved in accordance with USDA regulations.

    A sheep or goat must be identified to its flock of origin and to its flock of birth by the owner of the animal (or his or her agent) before commingling the animal with sheep or goats from any other flock of origin. This includes unloading of the animal at a livestock facility approved to accept unidentified sheep or goats and that has agreed to act as an agent for the owner to apply official identification. The animal must be identified prior to commingling with other animals from other flocks of origin. When transporting unidentified sheep, the owner or the owner's agent must have an owner/hauler statement that contains the information needed for the livestock facility to officially identify the animals to their flock of origin and - when required - their flock of birth. Ownership changes also require the sheep and goats to have official identification.

    APHIS notes that if the flock of birth or flock of origin is not known because the animal changed ownership while it was exempted from flock of origin identification requirements, the animal may be moved interstate with individual animal identification that is only traceable to the state of origin and to the owner of the animals at the time they were so identified. However, to use this exemption the person applying the identification must have supporting documentation indicating that the animals were born and had resided throughout their life in the state.

    Sheep and goat producers who are new to the program and are requesting their flock identification number for the first time may receive some assistance in obtaining tags. Currently, APHIS will provide up to 80 plastic flock ID tags, free of charge, to producers who have not received free tags from APHIS in the past. APHIS will discontinue the availability of no-cost metal tags for producers. For more information, visit USDA's Sheep and Goat Identification page on their website: To request official sheep and goat tags, a flock/ premises ID or both, call 1-866-USDA-Tag (866-873-2824).
Owner/Hauler Statements

One of the purposes for the changes to the current scrapie eradication program is to ensure that all potential pockets of infection are captured so that the United States can be officially declared free of scrapie. Full eradication of the disease will ultimately reduce producer costs and improve trade opportunities for American sheep and goat products.

    A key part to this effort is identifying all sheep and goats that are moved in interstate commerce. Fortunately, the majority of sheep and goats that are moved in interstate commerce are already identified back to their flocks of origin and birth, but there are some populations that have not been previously included. The new regulation makes some changes to capture animals that previously were not required to be identified.

    APHIS will now require that those individuals - or their agents - who move unidentified sheep or goats to a market or other premises where they will then be identified and those moving animals in slaughter channels to have an owner/hauler statement that indicates specific information needed for official identification and recordkeeping. This includes the name, address and phone number of the owner and the hauler (if different), the date the animals were moved, the flock identification number or the PIN that is assigned to the flock or premises of the animals, the number of animals, and the species, breed and class of animals. If breed is unknown, the face color for sheep must be recorded and for goats, the type (milk, fiber or meat) must be recorded.

    The name and address of point of origin - if different from the owner address - and the destination address must also be included in the owner/hauler Statement. If moving individually unidentified animals or other animals required to move with a group/lot identification number, the group/lot identification number and any information required to officially identify the animals must be included on the owner/hauler statement. For animals in slaughter channels, the owner/hauler statement must indicate that the animals are in slaughter channels (except wethers that are less than 18 months of age).

An owner/hauler statement is not required if the animals are not in slaughter channels and are officially identified or are traveling with an Interstate Certificate of Veterinary Inspection, commonly called a health certificate.

    Animals moved from one premises owned by the producer across state lines to another premises owned or leased by the producer - such as for grazing - will need an owner/hauler statement unless an ICVI is required.

    ASI will keep the industry informed as it continues to evaluate the changes to the scrapie eradication program regulations, and its impact on producers. Additional educational material will be available soon to help producers comply with the regulation changes.

National Wheat Improvement Committee (NWIC) Holds Annual Washington Fly-In to Discuss Research Priorities for Wheat

This week a group of researchers, growers, and millers took to Capitol Hill to discuss the importance of wheat research and appropriations priorities for FY 2020. The National Wheat Improvement Committee (NWIC) is composed of 24 voting members whose mission is to communicate, educate and advocate on behalf of the scientific well-being of the U.S. wheat industry. In addition to meeting with the majority and minority staffs for the House and Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittees and Agriculture Committees, the NWIC members met with most of the House and Senate Appropriations Committee Member offices, with over 60 meetings in total.

“To maintain an adequate food supply and food safety, ensure farmers can battle disease and pest pressures, and to keep the United States as the world’s source of premier quality wheat, we must have robust and stable federal, state, and private investment in wheat research,” said NAWG President and Lavon, TX farmer Ben Scholz. “We very much appreciate the support of Congress for continued investments in research over the years, and in particular for key provisions in the Farm Bill research title that will help wheat farmers.”

During the 2018 Farm Bill deliberations, NAWG and our member states and other stakeholders were successful in getting a funding authorization increase for the US Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative (USWBSI) from $10 million to $15 million annually. During its meetings, the Committee advocated for full funding and pushed for the Administration to move forward with implementation of a Farm Bill provision capping indirect costs for the USWBSI at 10 percent.

The NWIC also requested increasing the funding levels for the NIFA Hatch Act to $250 million, maintaining Smith-Lever Formula Grants at $300 million, and increasing the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative to $445 million. Moreover, the Committee supports a funding increase of a total of $940,000 for the ARS Small Grains Genomic Initiative (SGGI) to bring appropriated levels to the total $3.44 Million. 

“Through the use of these tax dollars for research, the American consumer has one of the lowest cost of disposable income expense for safe and high-quality food of any nation in the world,” continued Scholz. “Whether it be in the form of a Land Grant or ARS facility, congressional investments in agricultural research has a reach into all districts. NAWG urges Congress and the Administration to prevent cuts to funding levels for these research programs as they are vital to the entire wheat value chain.”

DEKALB®, Asgrow® and Deltapine® Brands To Celebrate Agronomy Week April 1st to April 5th

 Whether providing seed recommendations, monitoring crop progress or helping to evaluate harvest results, farmers depend on the expertise of their agronomic team throughout the growing season.
The DEKALB®, Asgrow® and Deltapine® brands will celebrate Agronomy Week again this season, giving farmers the opportunity to recognize the key role played by their agronomists, seed dealers and crop consultants. Now in its third year, Agronomy Week will be held April 1-5, 2019, as an industrywide celebration.

Recognizing the parallels between farming and racing in terms of season-long performance and the importance of a trusted support crew, NASCAR driver Clint Bowyer will again encourage farmers to participate in the program, appearing in a series of “It’s Time to Perform” social media videos.
And, for the first time, he and his agronomic support crew on Bowyer’s farm outside Charlotte, North Carolina, will enter the NCGA National Corn Yield Contest. “After two years of talking agronomy, I’m excited to throw my hat in the ring and compete in two seasons this year – racing and farming,” he said.

During Agronomy Week, farmers, regardless of the seed brand they choose to plant, can pay tribute to their agronomic team by nominating up to three individuals. Farmers who nominate their teams will be entered into a sweepstakes for a chance to win a daily prize, as well as the grand prize: Clint will host that winner and three guests ages 18 and older for a mid-season celebration on his farm.

“Over 1,500 farmer entries were received in the first two years of the program, and we’re very excited to celebrate Agronomy Week again in 2019,” said Pete Uitenbroek, DEKALB® Asgrow® and Deltapine® Brand Lead. “We invite farmers to join us in saluting agronomic professionals for their expertise and dedication in promoting farmer success and a strong agricultural industry.”

Eligible farmers can view sweepstakes rules and nominate their agronomic professionals at from April 1-5 or by posting the professionals’ names on the DEKALB Asgrow Facebook, Instagram or Twitter page with #AgronomyWeek and #contest.

Tuesday March 26 Ag News

As flood waters recede, danger levels increase for farmers/ranchers

Even after the flood waters in Nebraska and Iowa recede, multiple and serious dangers from major flooding will remain.

To assist farm and ranch families with safe flood recovery, members of the Central States Center of Agricultural Safety and Health (CS-CASH) at the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Public Health collaborated with the AgriSafe Network to create an on-demand webinar that provides information on farm flood hazards and safe methods of clean-up and recovery.

The webinar can be viewed at:

Major safety concerns related to any post-flood event include:
·                     Chemicals released from barns, homes and other on-farm sources and businesses. The chemicals may be found in water or in the form of vapor or fumes. Local authorities can assist with handling chemical spills.
·                     Contaminated well water.
·                     Human and animal communicable disease. Water-borne (hepatitis A), vector-borne (West Nile virus), bacterial (tetanus), and fungal (histoplasmosis) spores found in dust, dirt, animal droppings and animal carcasses are among the disease threats related to flood waters.
·                     Mold, which is part of our natural environment, can be present in high concentrations and occur in unusual areas where flood waters resulted in wet buildings or materials not typically exposed to water. This can result in production of microbial volatile organic compounds (MVOCs), which emit chemical-like odors and can become noxious respiratory irritants.
·                     In dealing with the extra stress created by conditions left behind from a major flood, anxiety and fatigue levels can become overwhelming, leading to major depression, generalized anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.

“Contaminated well water from exposure to bacteria, sewage, gas or oil, agricultural or industrial waste, chemicals and other substances can cause serious illness,” said Bruce Dvorak, Ph.D., professor, civil engineering, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. 

“All wells should be checked by a professional testing laboratory before using as a water source. Even if municipal water sources are deemed to be safe for drinking, each individual well must be tested before use.”

Linda Emanuel, community health nurse for AgriSafe, stressed the importance of using appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) during cleanup.

Because major flooding such as that seen in Nebraska can result in serious increases in bacterial and fungal populations and high levels of mold, it’s critical to wear safety goggles and N95 (or greater) respirators that fit your face and are approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Waterproof, cut-resistant gloves also are key to working safely, Emanuel said, and people should always work in a properly ventilated area.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides recommendations regarding the proper PPE to wear when entering a home or building that contains mold. This information is found at

If there’s suspicion that chemicals have contaminated any part of the work area, she said it’s important to wear coveralls, liquid and chemical resistant boots or waders, gloves and safety glasses. NIOSH- approved respirators – such as chemical cartridge respirators for organic vapors with an added pre-filter – also are key to protecting yourself from chemical exposure.

Products such as hay bales, especially those that are wrapped, and wet grain in bins can harbor large volumes of dangerous mold, Emanuel said.

Chad Roy, Ph.D., director of infectious disease aerobiology at the Tulane National Primate Research Center, said cooler temperatures during the Nebraska and Iowa flooding events will help subdue microbiological growth, but the level of microbial growth in flooded areas will still be much higher than normal.

“Microbial growth can be a real problem once water recedes, and it may not be readily apparent,” said Dr. Roy, who is professor of microbiology and immunology in the Tulane School of Medicine. “It’s a subtle, hidden hazard until remediation is completed.”

He said the “witch’s brew” in flood waters is that they can potentially contain petroleum, a variety of chemicals, animal waste, human sewage, and other elements that can pose serious health threats to those who come in contact with the water or flood debris.

“Soil has its own wealth of bacteria, which in general is not harmful to us,” Dr. Roy said, “but the presence of ample water causes that bacteria to explode and those higher volumes of bacteria could lead to health issues.”

Avoiding contact with flood water – as much as possible – and diligent use of PPE can help reduce health risks, he stressed. Additional threats to flood remediation come in the form of washed out roads, sink holes, unseen objects buried in water or mud, and damage to buildings that may not be immediately recognizable.

“In flood events like these, we need to think of people first, then livestock,” said Aaron Yoder, Ph.D., associate professor at the UNMC College of Public Health and the Nebraska Extension. “Make the farm site as safe as possible for livestock, but realize that fences and facilities are likely to be damaged and unstable. The main goal with livestock is to get them to a safe place where they can be fed.

“Recovering livestock also can pose a threat to handlers, since the animals are likely to be in a higher state of anxiety and have more intense levels of adrenalin than what’s seen in everyday circumstances.”

He said other common issues with catastrophic floods include inspecting machinery to ensure they’re undamaged and using extra caution with unfamiliar farm machinery that may have been damaged by the flood.

“If there are extra people on site, make sure everyone understands safety practices, such as how to approach a tractor that’s running, not getting caught up in equipment such as generators and being mindful of the potential for hidden debris,” Dr. Yoder said.

Another precaution farmers need to take, he said, is with flood-damaged grain. Professional inspection of the grain bin and the grain is necessary to ensure that a flood-stressed bin doesn’t collapse and that flood-damaged grain is properly managed to avoid contaminating undamaged grain.

“Don’t start aeration fans in a flood-damaged bin,” Dr. Yoder said. “They may be damaged and cause more harm to you or the bin. By the time flood water recedes, grain is usually moldy, which means dangerous toxins are in the bin.”

During flooding, grain bin foundations may be damaged, bolts can be broken or stressed and other aspects of the bin may be compromised, he said.

“Don’t energize anything in the bin or on the farm site before a professional electrician verifies that the site is safe from electrical issues,” Dr. Yoder said. “Consult your insurance carrier before moving grain and obtain the consent of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before reconditioning grain exposed to flood waters.”

If supplemental power – such as a generator – is used, it’s key to avoid fumes or electrical shock related to the generator, he said. PTO (power takeoff) shafts used to power a generator also add a level of injury risk.

Due to wet, muddy conditions caused by flood waters, the risk of slips, trips and falls and subsequent serious injury is greatly increased during remediation or during the time when water remains on a site, Dr. Yoder said. Documenting all aspects of remediation can assist with insurance claims, and reaching out for help as necessary can help flood victims cope with conditions.

“Flood events like these can result in shock, disbelief, disorientation and a deep sense of feeling powerless,” said Tina Chasek, Ph.D., associate professor, department of counseling and school psychology, and director of the Behavioral Health Education Center for Nebraska (BHECN) at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. “Farmers had enough stress before the flood. These kinds of events can easily lead to depression and many types of ill health. Talk to others about what you’re experiencing and ask for help whenever you need it.”

Dr. Chasek also reminds those working with flood recovery to “do things that make you feel in control, spend time with family, friends and other social support. Take care of yourself, sleep eat and exercise. Limit exposure to images of the flooding. Establish routines and find time to do things that you enjoy. Avoid making major life decisions until the major impact has passed. And Ask for help when needed.” 

Farm and ranch flood-related resources are available on the CS-CASH website:

Nebraskans: Protect Yourselves from Unscrupulous Contractors

While compassion and support are customary in the aftermath of a natural disaster, some individuals and businesses may use this opportunity to prey on those in need.

“Taking advantage of those affected by these devastating floods is inexcusable,” said Attorney General Doug Peterson. “But consumers can protect themselves and their property by keeping certain information in mind when selecting a home improvement contractor.”

Consider the following information to protect yourself and your property in the wake of recent flooding in Nebraska and surrounding states:
-    Before allowing anyone to repair your damaged home, verify his or her credentials.
-        Check with the Nebraska Department of Labor to find out whether your contractor is properly registered and insured.  You can search their website here or call 402-471-2239.  Check with city officials to find out whether contractors must be licensed to perform specific work in your area.
-    Never sign any document or pay any contractor before verifying their license and/or registration.
-    Get at least three written estimates and make sure each contractor bids on exactly the same work. Talk with your neighbors about what they are paying for similar work.
-    Ask contractors for references and, if possible, call previous clients.
-    Verify all claims made about insurance coverage with your insurance company. If a contractor tells you certain work is covered by your insurance, call your insurance company to confirm.
-    Get a written estimate and sign a written contract. Make sure it includes a description of the work, the materials included, when the work will be finished, the price, and the contractor’s contact information. Read all contracts and make sure all the blanks are filled in before you sign. Keep a copy of the contract in a safe place.
-    Negotiate a reasonable down payment, and only pay in full when the work is done to your satisfaction. Do not agree to a large down payment.
-    Pay by check or credit card and keep all receipts. Be wary of contractors who ask you to pay them in cash – even for a deposit.
-    If possible, write down the contractor’s vehicle information (make, model, and license plate) as well as their driver’s license number.
-    Know your cancellation rights. You have the right to cancel a contract within three days if you signed it at your home or at a contractor’s temporary location, like a convention center or restaurant.

Those who suspect a home improvement scam should contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at or 800-727-6432.

Disaster Relief Bill Includes Down Payment for Nebraska Flood Recovery

U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) issued the following statement today after the Senate Appropriations Committee released the text of the disaster supplemental bill, which includes a down payment to help Nebraskans impacted by the catastrophic flooding:

“Nebraskans are facing the worst natural disaster in our state’s history and that’s why for the past week and a half I’ve worked hard to add Nebraska to this disaster relief bill. The legislation released today includes a down payment to help Nebraska ag producers and communities rebuild and recover from the catastrophic damage. This is a good start, but we have a long road ahead and I’m going to continue to fight for Nebraska every step of the way.”

More information on the programs Nebraska is eligible for under this bill:

The Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program (WHIP) – This U.S. Department of Agriculture program would make funds available to ag producers for expenses related to losses as a result of the flooding in Nebraska. Ag producers could apply to receive up to $125,000. Some producers could receive a higher payment if ¾ or more of their income is derived from farming or another agriculture-based business.

Economic Development Assistance Programs – Under this program, Nebraska communities, tribes, and organizations could apply for disaster grants that support a wide range of construction and non-construction activities. These dollars would go towards expenses related to flood mitigation, disaster relief, long-term recovery, and restoration of infrastructure.

Click here for information about other programs for which Nebraska has been made eligible in the disaster relief bill.

Last week, following the request of Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts and the support of the Nebraska congressional delegation, President Trump declared a major disaster in the state of Nebraska. This declaration makes Nebraska eligible for federal aid for disaster assistance.

Sasse Statement on Disaster Aid

U.S. Senator Ben Sasse, who spent last week touring Nebraska flood damage and helping initial recovery efforts, issued the following statement regarding disaster aid legislation that was released today that expands eligibility for 2019 flood relief.

“Nebraskans are resilient and tough. We’re going to rebuild by loving our neighbors and rolling up our sleeves. While the most important work is going to happen at home in our communities, it’s good to have federal help. I’m grateful for the initial down payment in this disaster aid bill. Our state has a long road to recovery, but Nebraskans will get the job done.”

Smith Meets with President Trump, Thanks Him for Disaster Declaration

Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) visited the White House on Tuesday for a discussion on the USMCA trade agreement and personally thanked President Trump for approving Nebraska’s disaster declaration in response to harsh weather and historic flooding throughout much of the state. 

“I was happy to visit the White House today and deliver a message of appreciation to President Trump on behalf of Nebraskans. His swift response to our request for a federal disaster declaration will be very helpful to rebuild after historic storms and flooding,” said Smith. “Expanding market access through USMCA will also go a long way toward enabling our farmers, ranchers, and small businesses to recover and thrive in the long term.”

The purpose of Smith’s visit to the White House was to discuss passage of USMCA, or new NAFTA, which is critical to Nebraska’s agricultural economy. 

NDEQ, DHHS Providing Free Water Testing March 28, 29 and April 1, 2 for Private Well Owners Impacted by Flood

The Nebraska Departments of Environmental Quality and Health and Human Services are offering free testing for total coliform and E.coli for those samples submitted during the collection events in Columbus, West Point, Fremont and Ashland.  In addition, information about septic systems and disposal of solid wastes will be available.

Recent flood conditions can pose threats to the quality of private water supplies.  Flooded private water wells or wells suspected of being impacted by flooding should be tested to ensure that they are safe. Cloudiness or a change in taste or smell are signs of possible contamination. However, if there is any indication that the water supply has been breached by flood waters, even without noticeable changes in taste or smell, residents are encouraged to test their well water.  We also advise that residents with wells inundated in flood water contact their local water well professional to shock treat their well or follow well treatment guidance from UNL at followed up by testing.

Staff will be available in:

Columbus – Thursday, March 28 - 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Location: Nebraska Extension Platte County, 2715 13th Street, Columbus

West Point - Friday, March 29, 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Location: West Point City Municipal Building, 444 S Main Street, West Point

Fremont – Monday, April 1, 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Location: Three Rivers Public Health Department, 2400 N. Lincoln Avenue, Fremont

Ashland – Tuesday, April 2, 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Location: Ashland City Library, 324 Silver Street, Ashland

 Here’s how it works:
 ·    Pick up a testing kit at the locations during the hours specified or from one of the local sites listed below ahead of time.
 ·    Follow the instructions and collect a water sample from the private well.
 ·    Bring the sample back before 5:00 PM to one of the locations during the day noted above to be eligible for free testing.  Samples not brought to the locations will be subject to mailing and processing costs.

Locations where sample kits may be obtained before the event:
 · Nebraska Extension Platte County for Thursday, 2715 13th Street, Columbus
 · Elkhorn Logan Valley Public Health Department for Friday, 2104 21st Circle, Wisner
 · Three Rivers Public Health Department Monday and Tuesday, 2400 N. Lincoln Street, Fremont

Nebraskans can also request kits from the Nebraska Public Health Environmental Laboratory to test for coliform bacteria for $17.00. Order kits online at or by calling (402) 471-3935 between 8:00 AM and 5:00 PM Monday through Friday.

Diving into the Changing Nutrient Profile of Distillers Feed Products

The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) held the first Distillers Feed Products Nutrition Roundtable, bringing together animal ag partners, animal nutrition experts and ethanol technology providers to discuss the changing number and nutrient profile of distillers feed products.

“Our goal is to start a meaningful dialogue across segments of the supply chain,” said NCGA Director of Market Development Sarah McKay. “This is just one of the many steps to better understanding how new corn fractionation technologies are being deployed in dry mills in the U.S. These technologies create value by separating out the various components of corn to allow improved utilization of the subsequent product streams. While this technology has a lot of potential for early adopters and could increase corn grind, it will require a change in how the value chain views and uses the products of ethanol plants. Gathering stakeholder input and starting a dialog early should help the rollout of this technology proceed smoothly.”

As the profile of distillers feed products change, challenges and opportunities arise. Beef, pork, poultry, and dairy experts, Drs. Dan Loy, Jerry Shurson, Shelia Purdum, and Alvaro Garcia, respectively, gathered to discuss current understanding and key research needs. The afternoon consisted of technical presentations by ICM and Fluid Quip Process Technologies along with a discussion on the next steps and action items to address the changing nutrient profile and value added from these feed products. Other participants included representatives from Green Plains, Flint Hills Resources, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, and Mitch Schweers, a farmer from Wisner, Nebraska and member of NCGA’s Feed, Food and Industrial Action Team.

“The group agreed that more research and outreach would be needed in the future,” Schweers said. “We look forward to continuing these discussions and hope to include other stakeholders, such as regulatory agencies, additional technology providers, importers, and the aquaculture and pet food industries.”

RFA Congratulates KAAPA Ethanol on 15th Anniversary

The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) today congratulated member company KAAPA Ethanol LLC on its 15th anniversary of commencing operations. The company held a celebratory event this week to commemorate the occasion.

The farmer-owned company operates two Nebraska biorefineries. Its Minden plant produces 80 million gallons of ethanol from 27 million bushels of corn per year and has 37 employees. The company’s Ravenna plant produces more than 125 million gallons of ethanol from 42 million bushels of corn per year and has 50 employees. KAAPA is also a major supplier of distillers grains, a valuable animal feed co-product that has helped Nebraska’s beef industry thrive.

KAAPA Ethanol also operates a grain elevator in Elm Creek, Neb., and is in the process of building a new central office in Kearney, Neb., slated to be completed later this year. The company is also the largest stockholder in Guardian Energy, which manages three ethanol plants in Minnesota and Ohio.

“For 15 years, KAAPA Ethanol has been a leading voice and effective advocate for the ethanol industry and value-added agriculture,” said RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper, adding that KAAPA CEO Chuck Woodside formerly served as RFA’s Chairman. “The company is a mainstay in Nebraska’s vibrant agriculture sector, providing high-paying jobs, creating new markets for local farmers, and boosting economic activity across the Cornhusker state. KAAPA Ethanol plays a vital role in an industry that supports more than 29,000 Nebraska jobs and generates $3.9 million in state gross domestic product. Congratulations to KAAPA Ethanol’s visionary leaders, passionate farmer investors, and hardworking employees for reaching this tremendous milestone, and best wishes for many more successful years to come,” he added.


Nebraska's layer numbers during 2018 averaged 7.83 million, down 4 percent from the year earlier, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. The annual average production per layer on hand in 2018 was 305 eggs, unchanged from 2017.

Nebraska egg production during the year ending November 30, 2018 totaled 2.39 billion eggs, down 4 percent from 2017.

Total number of chickens on hand on December 1, 2018 (excluding commercial broilers) was 10.2 million birds, up 7 percent from last year.

The total value of all chickens in Nebraska on December 1, 2018 was $41.8 million, up 18 percent from December 1, 2017. The average value increased from $3.70 per bird on December 1, 2017, to $4.10 per bird on December 1, 2018.

United States Average Number of Layers Up 3 Percent:

Layer numbers during 2018 averaged 391 million, up 3 percent from the year earlier. The annual average production per layer on hand in 2018 was 279 eggs, down 1 percent from 2017.

United States Egg Production up 2 percent: Egg production during the year ending November 30, 2018 totaled 109 billion eggs, up 2 percent from 2017. Table egg production, at 95.3 billion eggs, was up 3 percent from the previous year. Hatching egg production, at 13.9 billion eggs, was up 2 percent from 2017.

United States December 1 Chicken Inventory Numbers: The total number of chickens on hand on December 1, 2018 (excluding commercial broilers) was 528 million birds, up 3 percent from last year.

United States Total Value: The total value of all chickens on December 1, 2018 was $2.28 billion, up 7 percent from December 1, 2017. The average value increased from $4.16 per bird on December 1, 2017, to $4.33 per bird on December 1, 2018.

Larry and Bunny Buss Awarded Iowa Master Farmer

Larry and Bunny Buss of Logan, Iowa are among the newly awarded Iowa Master Farmer Class of 2019. Larry currently serves as an Iowa Corn Promotion Board® Director representing district four, chair of the Grassroots Network, Membership and Checkoff and active in the Iowa Corn Growers Association®. He is also president of the Harrison/Crawford County Corn Growers Association, a National Corn Growers Association Risk Management Action Team Member, US Grains Council Middle/East Africa and a member of the Iowa Pest Resistance Management Program Implementation Team.

Alongside his wife, Bunny and their two sons, Troy and Jason, Buss has been farming for over 45 years while continuously making improvements to the land his family operates. Dealing with many different soil types on the farm, Larry and Bunny understand the importance of soil management. They have been no-till farming for 33 years and implement the use of cover crops and other conservation practices.

“Reducing erosion and increasing water infiltration, improving drainage, and enhancing soil health have always been a focus for us,” Buss says in an interview with Wallaces Farmer.

The Iowa Master Farmer Award was started by Henry A. Wallace in 1926 to highlight farmers demonstrating outstanding management of their farming operations and community involvement.  The 83rd class will be honored at the annual awards day at the end of March.

73 Biodiesel Companies, Stakeholders Ask Congress to Immediately Extend the Biodiesel Tax Incentive

Today, the National Biodiesel Board (NBB), its member companies, and stakeholder organizations delivered a letter to House leaders, urging them to make a multiyear extension of the biodiesel and renewable diesel tax incentive an urgent priority. In February 2018, Congress retroactively extended the tax incentive for 2017, leaving it expired for 2018 and beyond. The letter thanks Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) for their bipartisan bill to immediately extend all expired tax incentives.

In the letter, the biodiesel industry stakeholders write, “The future of the credit has been unclear for more than 14 months. That uncertainty is curtailing investments in new plants and capital projects to upgrade existing plants. It is beginning to force some producers, blenders and distributors to cut back purchases of raw materials and deliveries of renewable fuel to consumers, which will have impacts across the economy.”

Congress last addressed the biodiesel tax incentive in February 2018, retroactively extending it for 2017 but leaving it expired for 2018 and beyond.

“The U.S. biodiesel and renewable diesel industry’s continued success is now at stake,” the letter continues. “Tens of thousands of American workers and manufacturers—as well as the millions of Americans who benefit from cleaner air and water—are depending on you to provide our industry the certainty we need to secure investments and continue growing over the next several years.”

The U.S. biodiesel and renewable diesel market grew from about 100 million gallons in 2005, when the incentive was first implemented, to more than 2.6 billion gallons annually since 2016.

Kurt Kovarik, Vice President of Federal Affairs with NBB, added, “The biodiesel industry has long advocated for a multiyear extension of the tax incentive. But because the incentive has been expired for 15 months – the longest period of uncertainty for this policy since its start – it is urgent that Congress act immediately to provide the biodiesel industry certainty for 2018 and 2019.”

Effective parasite control begins with understanding active ingredients

Using parasiticides in cattle without considering the active ingredients in those products presents dangers for an operation. Using different parasiticide active ingredients can extend the effectiveness of parasite control products and play a significant role in the management of healthier cattle.

Some common, yet misguided, management practices can lead to an operation unintentionally increasing resistance in parasites. One type of parasiticide — macrocyclic lactones — saw the first documented case of resistance approximately 14 years ago, and now Cooperia and Haemonchus parasites have been demonstrated as resistant to macrocyclic lactones in more than half of all operations examined.1 Of course parasites must be dealt with, but producers need to find a balance in their management practices.  

Here are three common active ingredient families and how they work to control parasites:

• Benzimidazoles — This active ingredient family depletes energy reserves in parasite cells and inhibits the elimination of waste — actions that appear to play an essential role in having a lethal effect on worms because it prolongs the time the parasite is exposed to the drug.2

• Macrocyclic lactones — Microscopic worms experience paralyzed pharynx, body wall and uterine muscle when exposed to macrocyclic lactones, which leads to death.2 This active ingredient works by binding to receptors that open up parts of the nematode to allow the influx of chemicals that cause the paralysis.

• Imidazothiazoles — This group of parasite control products stimulates muscle contractions in worms that leads to paralysis.2

The judicious use of parasiticides with different modes of action will control parasites in a herd and also help keep products effective longer in the industry. Keep these tips in mind when developing a management plan for parasiticides:

• Dosing is based on accurate weight. Underdosing is a contributing factor to parasite resistance.3 Accurate weights help drive accurate dosing, which can help ensure product efficacy.

• Careful management practices. A growing trend calls for replacing the current practice of repeated dosing of whole groups of animals with a move to targeted selective treatments to animals showing clinical signs or reduced productivity.4

• Use different active ingredients to reduce risk. Most of the commonly used parasiticides are either benzimidazoles, macrocyclic lactones or imidazothiazoles. Thus, resistance to one particular compound may be accompanied by resistance to other members of the same group — also known as side-resistance.4 Theoretically, resistance may be delayed by using products with different modes of action annually between dosing seasons.4

For more information on parasite control products and solutions, talk to your Zoetis representative or visit

Three advantages to flexible-label mastitis therapy

Juan Rodrigo Pedraza, DVM, Dairy Technical Services, Zoetis

Costs of re-treatments, milk loss and the spread of pathogens associated with mastitis relapse offer tremendous incentive to completely cure the disease. But too often, mastitis treatments end before the infection is completely cured, meaning bacteria may remain in the udder.

What then?

With a flexible-label mastitis treatment, you have the option to treat for up to eight days on-label to help achieve a complete bacteriological cure, which can mean more milk in the tank. Cows with complete mastitis cures gave 8.8 pounds more milk than cows not cured, according to a Cornell University study. 

Stopping treatment because clinical symptoms clear up doesn’t guarantee a complete cure. Using a mastitis treatment with a flexible-label therapy option allows you to treat once daily for up to eight consecutive days, giving you a better chance to reach a bacteriological cure.

Eliminate unnecessary risk and needlessly expensive treatment costs with these three steps:

    Tailor treatment: Examining each cow’s health history can help you and your veterinarian identify the right treatment for those difficult mastitis pathogens. As a triaging procedure, consider culture results, parity of the cow, stage of lactation, number of previous clinical mastitis cases and which quarter was affected, chronicity of the mastitis case and other persistent health issues. Once you’ve reviewed the available health information, you can consider flexible-label mastitis therapy to help tailor treatment duration to the individual case for mastitis when extra days of therapy are needed. Also, keep in mind that not every cow is a candidate for mastitis treatment.

    Achieve a complete bacteriological cure: Even though milk returning to normal signals a clinical cure, it may not equal a bacteriological cure. And the difference between the two is lost productivity and significant cost increases. Relapse that can occur after a clinical cure and before a bacteriological one also increases the risk of spreading mastitis-causing pathogens in the herd. Flexible mastitis therapy that is on-label can sometimes be necessary to achieve a bacteriological cure and help reduce the chance of relapse. SPECTRAMAST® LC (ceftiofur hydrochloride) Sterile Suspension is approved for additional treatments and provides the flexibility to continue once-daily treatment for up to eight consecutive days for more stubborn mastitis cases.

    Reduce milk loss: Without a complete bacteriological cure, mastitis can rob milk production and profit. Avoid additional losses in milk production by choosing a treatment with a label flexible enough to work longer to clear up bacteria lurking in the udder. Additionally, flexible-label therapy offers you approved milk and slaughter withholds for up to eight days of treatment per label directions.

Learn more about how to work toward achieving a complete, or bacteriological, mastitis cure with the flexible-label therapy of SPECTRAMAST LC.

IMPORTANT DIAGNOSTIC INFORMATION: SPECTRAMAST LC is intended for use in lactating dairy cattle only with the specified, labeled pathogens. To assure responsible antimicrobial drug use, it is expected that subclinical mastitis will be diagnosed using a positive culture, or other pathogen-specific test, in addition to any other, appropriate veterinary medical evaluation prior to treatment.

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION: People with known hypersensitivity to penicillin or cephalosporins should avoid exposure to SPECTRAMAST LC. Product requires a 72-hour milk discard period and a 2-day pre-slaughter withdrawal period following the last treatment. Use of this product in a manner other than indicated on the label, or failure to adhere to proper milk discard period, will result in violative residues.

Monday March 25 Ag News

USDA Announces Availability of Additional Emergency Programs in Nebraska

USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) State Executive Director Nancy Johner today announced that emergency grazing of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres is authorized for all Nebraska counties, due to the impacts of recent adverse weather. Johner also announced that 45 Nebraska counties have been approved to begin accepting applications for the Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) to address damages from recent flooding. 

“FSA has a variety of disaster assistance programs to support farmers and ranchers through times of adversity,” Johner said. “Once you are able to evaluate your losses, it is important to contact your local FSA office to report all damages and losses and learn more about how we can assist.”

Emergency Grazing

The emergency grazing authorization is effective immediately and ends April 30, 2019. The authorization was granted to address the impacts of the recent extreme weather, including flooding, snowmelt and mud. CRP contract holders who are interested in using this emergency grazing authorization must contact their FSA county office to complete required paperwork before allowing grazing to begin.

“It is important for CRP contract holders to work with their FSA county office before moving their own livestock onto these acres or allowing another producer to move livestock there,” Johner said.

CRP participants who use this option will need to obtain a modified conservation plan, which includes emergency grazing provisions, from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). CRP participants can allow others to use their CRP acres under this emergency grazing authorization; however, the livestock owners also will need to complete FSA paperwork indicating their grazing land was adversely impacted by severe weather. There will be no reduction in CRP rental payments to CRP contract holders who use the emergency grazing authorization. CRP contract holders are not permitted to charge livestock producers for the emergency grazing option.

Emergency Conservation Program

The approved ECP practices under this authorization include debris removal; fencing replacement and repair; grading, shaping and leveling of impacted fields; conservation structure rehabilitation; and shelterbelt rehabilitation.

ECP enrollment deadlines will vary by county as the timeframe is set by each county committee. More information on ECP enrollment deadlines will be provided by FSA county offices.

Counties approved to begin accepting applications include: Antelope, Boone, Boyd, Buffalo, Butler, Brown, Burt, Cass, Cedar, Colfax, Cuming, Custer, Dakota, Dixon, Dodge, Douglas, Franklin, Garfield, Greeley, Hall, Harlan, Holt, Howard, Keya Paha, Knox, Loup, Madison, Merrick, Nance, Nemaha, Otoe, Pierce, Platte, Polk, Richardson, Rock, Sarpy, Saunders, Sherman, Stanton, Thurston, Valley, Washington, Wayne and Wheeler.       

ECP assists producers with the recovery cost to restore agricultural land to pre-disaster conditions. Approved ECP applicants may receive up to 75 percent of the cost of approved restoration activity.

“Dealing with natural disasters is never easy, especially when you have to consider the health and safety of livestock, but it’s important for producers to call our office before they take action to permanently repair damages,” said Johner.

Producers with damage must apply for assistance prior to beginning reconstructive work in order to qualify for cost-share assistance. This allows FSA offices to assess the need for on-site inspection and environmental compliance requirements, taking into consideration the type and extent of the damage.

The use of ECP funds is limited to activities to return the land to the relative pre-disaster condition. Conservation concerns that were present on the land prior to the disaster are not eligible for ECP assistance.

More Information

For more information on CRP emergency grazing and ECP, please contact your FSA county office. To find your local FSA office, go to Visit USDA's disaster resources website to learn more about USDA disaster preparedness and response.

Flood Damaged Grain & Hay   

It would be rare to be able to use flood-soaked grain or hay for its intended original use of food or feed. The grain or hay is almost certainly contaminated with floodwater contaminants or related toxins. It can also harbor fungal growth such as Ergot, which can lead to lethal poisoning if consumed. Even drying the damaged grain or hay will not make the materials safe for consumption and storing the materials in stacks or bundles presents a potential fire danger.

It is not unusual for soaked bulk grain, hay bales, or hay “piles” to spontaneously ignite. Freshly bailed or piled hay or grain can go through a process of fermentation leading to combustion when as low as 20% water by weight. If flood-damaged grain or hay must be stored, carefully spread the material out to encourage drying without the potential of creating heat sufficient for combustion. Because the dried grain or hay will still be unusable as a product this presents a disposal problem for the farmer or rancher in possession of the flood-damaged grain or hay.

The department has historically allowed spoiled grain, hay, or some food processing by-products to be spread evenly on farm or ranch fields. This allowance has, and continues to be, based on factors such as the land topography, season, amount, proximity to inhabited structures, and nature of the spoilage. Spoiled, unusable grain or hay will rarely ever exhibit the characteristic of hazardous waste toxicity. If it is, or is suspected of being, a hazardous waste then Title 128 – Nebraska Hazardous Waste Regulations must be followed and the waste grain or hay cannot be spread on the ground. If the grain is spoiled but not capable of causing an infectious disease to humans then it may be either sent to a permitted municipal solid waste landfill or land applied. For land application prior approval is required from the NDEQ (Title 132 – Integrated Solid Waste Management Regulations, Chapter 13, §003) if the material is not applied to the land at an appropriate agronomic rate for the application site. If approval is required, use the following form for land application: Special Waste Disposal Request. This form can be accessed at the NDEQ web site. If approved, the department will provide information on application procedures with the approval.

Flood-damaged grain and hay has been demonstrated to be a danger to bird wildlife. As a result, the department recommends land application of flood damaged grain or hay to be disked into the soil within 24 hours of application. The department discourages stockpiling of flood-damaged grain or hay prior to application except for a short period of time prior to land application..

Depending on the nature of the contamination and the condition of the flood-damaged grain or hay, burning might be the best method of waste management. If so, Title 129 – Nebraska Air Quality Regulations covers the exceptions to the general prohibition against open burning. Generally, this on-site open burning can be exercised without an Air permit if the damaged grain or hay was on the site when initially flooded and there is no other debris or waste. On any open burning situation always contact the local fire department to secure a burn permit.

Flood damaged grain or hay has no exclusions from requiring a waste permit from NDEQ for burial. Waste farm products other than trees or brush must be disposed at a permitted municipal solid waste landfill unless burned per the discussion in the previous paragraphs. Ash from such a burn is considered a newly generated waste and as such cannot be buried on site, it must be sent to a municipal solid waste landfill.

Nebraska Farmers Union Foundation is Accepting Flood Relief Donations

Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU) Foundation President Jeff Kirkpatrick announced the foundation will be accepting tax deductible donations to support flood relief efforts for family farmers, ranchers, and members of rural communities.

“Our hearts go out to the thousands of Nebraskans who suffered both financial and emotional losses as the result of the recent unprecedented 500 year floods in the eastern part of our state and severe blizzards in western Nebraska.  Our foundation board will do our best to put the donated money where it will do the most good,” said NeFU Foundation President Jeff Kirkpatrick.

NeFU President and NeFU Foundation Secretary Hansen said, “This is the most severe and widespread natural disaster in Nebraska in our lifetime and in the history of our state.  The frozen ground, heavy snow base, the thicker than normal river ice due to the coldest February on record, and the heavy spring rains set in motion river flooding that set all-time flood stage records for the Missouri, Platte, Elkhorn, and Loup rivers as well as many of their tributaries at the same time. The financial losses for agriculture are currently estimated at $400 million for livestock and $440 million for cropland.  By the time farmsteads, equipment, and stored grains, most of which will not be covered by insurance is counted, the loss numbers will grow.”

Kirkpatrick continued, “In addition to the loss of at least five lives, many rural people who lost their homes also lost personal family photos, mementos, and records whose values cannot be measured in dollars. We continue to be amazed at the overwhelming response of Nebraskans to pitch in and help their friends, families, and neighbors in their time of need.  In addition, we thank all the organizations and people from around the country who have called and contacted us to ask what they can do to help. We will put your donations to good use.”

NeFU Foundation Secretary Hansen concluded, “Please make out checks to: Nebraska Farmers Union Foundation, and send them to 1305 Plum Street, Lincoln, NE 68502.  If you want to make contributions in some other manner, contact the office at (402) 476-8815, or email

Nominations sought for 2019 AG-ceptional woman award

Each year, Northeast Community College recognizes the vital role that women play in agriculture and honors one individual during its AG-ceptional Women’s Conference.

Nominations are currently being accepted for the 2019 AG-ceptional Woman of the Year Award, which will be presented during the 11th Annual AG-ceptional Women’s Conference on Friday, November 22, in the Lifelong Learning Center at Northeast Community College in Norfolk. The recipient will be featured in a video tribute sponsored by Farm Credit Services of America.

Corinne Morris, dean of agriculture, math and science, said she looks forward to honoring all women in agriculture during the annual event.

“This will be our 11th annual conference and we expect it to be the best conference so far!  At Northeast Community College, we recognize the contributions women make as advocates for agriculture, in their own operations, and in their communities. They make a difference and we want to provide a day to educate, motivate and celebrate these special people. The AG-ceptional Woman of the Year Award draws attention to the importance of their role in agriculture. We encourage you to nominate a deserving woman in agriculture for this award.”

Shana Beattie, Sumner, was honored as the 2018 AG-ceptional Woman of the Year for her commitment to agriculture. She was nominated by Karen Grant, of Grant Family Farms of Meadow Grove, and a past AG-ceptional Woman recipient, who said Beattie “has such a passion for life, for her family and for agriculture in general.”

Other past AG-ceptional Woman of the Year honorees include: Bonnie Schulz, Battle Creek, in 2010; Jan Miller, Belden, in 2011; Nancy Kirkholm, Homer, in 2012; Jan Frenzen, Fullerton, in 2013, Dawn Winkelbauer, Norfolk, in 2014; Karen Grant, Meadow Grove, in 2015; Anne Meis, Elgin, in 2016; and Liz Doerr, Creighton, in 2017.

The deadline for nominating the 2019 AG-ceptional Woman of the Year recipient is April 30. Nomination forms may be accessed at:

For additional information, contact Morris at (402) 844-7361.


For the month of March 2019, topsoil moisture supplies rated 0 percent very short, 2 short, 47 adequate, and 51 surplus, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 0 percent very short, 4 short, 62 adequate, and 34 surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Winter wheat condition rated 1 percent very poor, 4 poor, 34 fair, 53 good, and 8 excellent.

Weekly reports will begin April 1st for the 2019 season.

Market Impacts of a Meat Tax

Regan Gilmore, Undergraduate Student, UNL Dept of Ag Economics
Azzeddine Azzam, Roy Frederick Professor - UNL Dept of Ag Economics

Over time, animal activists and environmentalists have made calls to put a tax on meat. What effect would that have? To find out, we estimated the impacts that a retail-level greenhouse gas (GHG) tax on meat would have on livestock and grain markets.

The research used a multimarket economic model that integrates the beef, pork, and poultry markets with the corn, distillers’ grain, soybean, soymeal, and ethanol markets. For GHG taxes, we used those provided by Springman et al. based on an emission price (social cost) of $52 per metric ton of carbon dioxide equivalent estimated by EPA. Emissions by meat type include land use, feed production, livestock production, processing, and transport.

Using emission intensities of 26.83 pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent emitted per pound of beef produced, 5.75 pounds for pork, and 5.33 pounds for poultry, the carbon dioxide equivalent taxes as percentages of 10-year USDA retail price averages (2007-2016)  are 13.19%, 3.98%, and 7.52%, respectively. The percent tax for poultry is higher than that of pork because poultry is cheaper per pound, so the tax makes up a greater percentage of the price.

Implementation of the tax, using the same 10-year price averages as baselines, results in an increase in the price of beef by 6.95% and a decline in beef consumption by 3.31%. For pork, the price rises by 3.67% and consumption declines by 0.42%. For poultry, the price increases by 6.12% and consumption declines by 0.38%.

This implies that beef consumption would be more heavily impacted by a GHG tax than pork or poultry. The price of slaughter cattle at the feedlot level declines by 1.48%.

In general, grain markets are minimally affected, with the price of corn decreasing by 0.14% and corn usage decreasing by 0.04%, for example.

Taxing beef, pork, and poultry at retail is estimated to reduce U.S. GHG emissions by 11 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year. This would reduce total U.S. emissions by 0.17%, which is commensurate to taking 2.3 million cars off the road each year. This is approximately equivalent to 7% of cars registered in 2018.

The research was funded by a competitive grant from the Undergraduate Creative Activities and Research Experience (UCARE) at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Following ice, historic snow, and historic floods, it’s natural to wonder if your alfalfa survived.  What should you look for?

               It’s nearly impossible to predict how much damage this past winter’s weather did to existing alfalfa fields.  While alfalfa usually comes through winter in pretty good shape in our area, I’m sure this year there could be plenty of exceptions.

               It will be a couple weeks at least before you might expect to see the beginnings of spring growth.  However, it’s important that you determine the amount of damage as soon as possible so you have time to respond in the best way possible.

               Flooded fields may be the most difficult to evaluate, especially if much sediment was left behind.  Alfalfa that went into winter in good shape might tolerate up to a couple weeks of flooding.  But alfalfa will have a difficult time emerging through more than two inches of sediment so expect poor stands any place where you have thick deposits.  Also, expect some delayed emergence where sediments are lighter.  Removing sediments mechanically may help in some situations.  Also be sure to remove any debris that might interfere with mowing or could contaminate your hay.

               For both winter-damaged and flooded alfalfa, older, dryland fields that have fewer than 30 new shoots per square foot coming from 2 or 3 plants may need to be replaced soon.  Very productive sites, such as irrigated and sub-irrigated fields, should have at least 40 shoots per square foot from 4 to 6 plants.  Check for these densities in several areas of your fields when the early shoots are 4 to 6 inches tall.

               No one knows for certain how much damage might be expected in alfalfa fields so check your fields early, just in case.


The 12th Annual Nebraska Wind & Solar Conference will be held Tuesday, October 29 and Wednesday, October 30, 2019 at the Cornhusker Marriott Hotel in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The conference is a two-day event that brings together a diverse range of stakeholders from Nebraska and across the country to share the latest information and innovations in wind and solar development.  Over 350 people are expected to attend this year’s conference to hear from and network with wind and solar industry experts and leaders.

In addition to general sessions and workshops, the conference features a tradeshow with 30 exhibitors showcasing the latest advancements in technology and development.  The tradeshow includes interactive and educational displays from exhibitors that include governmental agencies, nonprofits, and a wide range of professional service and product providers related to wind and solar development. 

The conference programming is guided by a planning committee of volunteers from state agencies, farmer and rancher organizations, public power utilities, the renewable energy industry, and academia working together to present accurate and objective information pertaining to all aspects of wind and solar development. Among others, attendees include private sector developers, public officials, landowners, environmental and wildlife interests, public utilities, and the public at large.

“This unique ‘Nebraska Nice’ conference is able to keep the registration costs much lower than most comparable conferences because of the generous support of our sponsors.  Every year we have new sets of challenges, information, ideas, and solutions to share,” said John Hansen, Conference Chair. “If you are interested in wind and solar energy, this is the one state conference to attend.”

Early bird registration is $125 until October 1. Tickets are $175 after October 1 and $200 the day of the conference. Students are encouraged to attend at a discounted rate of $65.

Rooms at the Cornhusker Marriott Hotel are $114 per night until October 1 (conference block rate includes free parking). More information and past presentations are available on the conference website (

New Beef Specialist Ready to be Resource for Iowa Producers

To put it simply, Beth Reynolds sees herself as a resource for producers. As the new extension program specialist with the Iowa Beef Center, she said her goal is to provide relevant materials and keep resources readily available.

“The diversity and unique qualities of cattle operations throughout Iowa was a big draw for me to pursue a career here,” she said. “I know that not everything available from IBC applies to every operation, and I want to stay on top of topics producers care about and need information on.”

For example, Reynolds said her primary interest is in the cow-calf sector and forage utilization. However, as a Colorado native who grew up on a diversified family farming operation that uses cover crops and corn residue for their commercial cow and registered Charolais herd, she knows she’ll need to shift her focus somewhat.

“We typically graze native range during the growing season, turn out onto cornstalks immediately after harvest, calve on stalks, move pairs onto rye after green up in the spring, and then move the cows back to native range during planting season,” she said. “I’ve always enjoyed range management techniques, but in Iowa, I need to shift to pasture management. I anticipate a large part of my work here will be to focus on pasture and annual forages as this is a big topic in Iowa, and there is a need at the beef center for someone to focus on forages.”

Reynolds earned a B.S. in animal science with production focus from University of Wyoming in Laramie, and received her M.S. in animal science with focus on ruminant nutrition from University of Nebraska—Lincoln. Her thesis work centered on evaluating the risk of nitrate toxicity when grazing annual forages and determining how that risk might differ from feeding hayed annual forages. She also was involved with a research project that evaluated how the nutritive quality of oats, turnips and radishes changes when those crops are grazed from late October to January in south central Nebraska.

She said it’s important for producers to understand how to communicate with consumers about management decisions while keeping science at the forefront of the conversations.

“It’s challenging to discuss practices that aren’t well understood by consumers, yet still maintain consumer confidence in those discussions regardless of emotion,” she said. “For example, yes, ruminants produce methane. As producers we shouldn’t deny that, but they also convert otherwise non-useful products into a high quality protein and – when managed appropriately – can increase land productivity and health.”

Reynolds said producers should look forward to seeing her at meetings, field days and research projects. She looks forward to working with her IBC colleagues to share information and opportunities for education with producers and others in the beef industry.

“I am a firm believer in data driven conclusions and recommendations and hope information I provide remains relevant to the Iowa and national beef industry,” she said. “Our work is driven by the producers and we need feedback to stay relevant for all operations, however large, small, or unique they are.”

NFU, Broad Coalition Urge Full Funding for Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network

In an effort to improve mental health support for farmers, ranchers and farmworkers, National Farmers Union (NFU) and a broad coalition of leading farm and rural advocacy groups are urging Congress to fully fund the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network (FRSAN) in fiscal year 2020.

FRSAN provides grants for extension services, state departments of agriculture, nonprofit organizations and other entities to provide stress assistance programs to farmers, ranchers, farmworkers, and other agriculture-related occupations. Eligible programs include farm helplines and websites, training programs and workshops, outreach services, and home delivery of assistance.

“As you know, farming is a high-stress occupation,” said the groups in a letter to leadership of the Senate and House agriculture appropriations subcommittees. “Financial risk, volatile markets, unpredictable weather, and heavy workloads can all place a significant strain on farmers’, ranchers’ and farmworkers’ mental and emotional well-being. This is exacerbated by the fact that 60 percent of rural residents live in areas that suffer from mental health professional shortages.”

The groups noted the current prolonged farm economy downturn is causing even greater stress for farmers and ranchers. “Net farm income in 2018 was nearly 50 percent less than it was in 2013,” they said. “While current projections suggest slight improvements in 2019, a significant rebound could be years away.”

Congress provided $2 million in the fiscal year 2019 appropriations bill for a pilot of the program. The groups hope the pilot program will create an on-ramp to full program implementation.

“As the Subcommittee develops the FY 2020 agriculture appropriations bill, we urge you to fully fund the FRSAN at $10 million,” said the groups. “This funding will be critically important in meeting the needs of farmers and ranchers as they endure increasing financial and mental stress.”

Friday March 22 Flood Response, Cattle on Feed, + Ag News

Cuming County FSA, NRCS, and UNL Extension to Hold Informational Meeting on Flood Recovery Resources

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) Cuming County Executive Director Sarah Beck announces an informational meeting is planned for Monday, April 1, at 1 p.m. at the Cuming County Courthouse located at 200 S. Lincoln St. in West Point. The meeting has been scheduled to review resources available to assist producers with recovery from the recent floods.

Representatives from the Farm Service Agency (FSA), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and the University of Nebraska Extension will share information. All area producers are encouraged to attend.

Persons with disabilities who require accommodations to attend or participate in this meeting should contact Sarah Beck at 402-372-2451, ext. 2, or Federal Relay Service at 1-800-877-8339, by March 28, 2019.

DHHS Partnering With EPA to Provide Free Water Testing March 21-24 for Private Well Owners Impacted by Flood

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services is partnering with the Environmental Protection Agency to open a mobile lab in three Nebraska communities that will offer free water testing for private well owners.

Recent flood conditions can pose threats to the quality of private water supplies. Flooded private water wells or wells suspected of being impacted by flooding may need to be tested to ensure that they are safe. Cloudiness or a change in taste or smell are signs of possible contamination. However, if there is any indication that the water supply has been breached by flood waters, even without noticeable changes in taste or smell, residents are encouraged to test their well water.

The mobile lab will be available in:

Fremont Location – 2400 North Lincoln St.
March 21 – 2:30-6:30 p.m.
March 22 – 7:30-11:30 a.m.

Norfolk Location – 302 West Phillip Ave.
March 22 - 2:30-6:30 p.m.
March 23 - 7:30-11:30 a.m.

Verdigre Location – 301 South Main St.
March 23 – 2:30-6:30 p.m.
March 24 – 7:30-11:30 a.m.

Here’s how it works:
-    Pick up a free testing kit at either the mobile lab location during the hours specified or from one of the local health departments below ahead of time
-    Get a water sample from the private well.
-    Bring sample back to mobile lab for testing.

Local health department locations:
    Three Rivers Public Health Department, 2400 North Lincoln St., Fremont
    Elkhorn Logan Valley Public Health Department, 2104 21st Circle, Wisner
    North Central District Health Department, 422 East Douglas St., O’Neill

Nebraskans can also request kits from the Nebraska Public Health Environmental Laboratory to test for coliform bacteria. Order kits online at or by calling (402) 471-3935 between 8 and 5 Monday through Friday.


As Nebraskans begin returning to their homes in the aftermath of widespread historic flooding, Nebraska Extension has mobilized a number of resources to aid in the road to recovery.

“Extension is committed to helping Nebraska recover from this disaster,” said Chuck Hibberd, dean of Nebraska Extension. “Our team of statewide experts is available to offer assistance with immediate needs and will be there every step of the way for as long as it takes.”

Those affected by the flood are likely unsure of where to begin. Extension encourages individuals returning to homes and properties to first take steps to ensure their safety. When a home or building is flooded, there is likely damage to the structure. Buildings need to be thoroughly dried, and before drinking water it is critical to test domestic wells for bacteria. Also, be cautious when working in and around contaminated floodwater.

Extension has compiled a list of the state’s certified public health environmental laboratories where homeowners can obtain a water test kit. This information is available on Nebraska Extension's flood resources website,, which serves as a resource hub for families, homeowners, businesses and producers facing flood cleanup. New and updated information will be added to the site on an ongoing basis.

Tips for homeowners facing food-safety concerns after the flood can also be found on the flood resources website. This includes guidelines to help people decide when to throw out food and how to disinfect food that can be saved. For instance, screw-topped or crimp-topped jars or bottles of food that have come into contact with floodwaters should be thrown out, even when the jars have not been opened.

Extension is also a resource for those wanting to help flood victims. The Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center near Mead and Haskell Ag Lab near Concord are serving as donation locations for hay (large bales) and fencing materials for livestock owners and managers impacted by the flood. Those wishing to obtain the donated materials should contact the Nebraska Department of Agriculture.

“We’re partnering with a number of state agencies and organizations to do what we can to help those who need it most," Hibberd said. "We’re all in this together."

For the latest flood resources from Nebraska Extension, visit the flood resources site or follow @UNLExension on Twitter.

National Guard Completes Successful Hay Drop in Colfax County

A Nebraska Army National Guard helicopter crew delivered 10 round hay bales to cattle stranded by the recent devastating flood yesterday near Richland, in rural Colfax County.

The Nebraska Soldiers, who were part of mixed crew of multiple Army National Guard units, utilized a CH-47 Chinook helicopter assigned to the Grand Island-based Company B, 2-135th General Support Aviation Battalion, to drop the hay bales to the cattle, which were stranded in multiple locations, often standing in several feet of water far from any other available access. The aerial hay drop took place on a fifth-generation family farm.

Wende Settles, a cattle producer with Wolfe Ranch, said it’s hard to ask for help. But this time there were no other options.  

“We’re used to helping other people, we’re not used to having to ask for it.”   Settles said. “The [agricultural] community from one end of the state to the other end of the state has just been hit so hard… but we’re fortunate everybody got out safe…we just want to do what we can to help the animals… We calf all night long and check every two to three hours, and so not being able to get to them has just been really hard.”
Settles said her family appreciated all the assistance they have received.   “[The] community has been wonderful. They’ve reached out, we’ve got cows at neighbors and other neighbors… Everybody has just been trying to help.”

Chief Warrant Officer 4 Jeff Caniglia, Nebraska National Guard, said the mission was critical, considering that Nebraska’s farmers are the “lifeblood of Nebraska.”   While speaking to Settles, Caniglia said: “That’s why we’re here, to help… don’t hold back, if you need resources, if you need help, please ask.”

Those requesting assistance should go through their local emergency manager. An interactive list of all local emergency managers can be found under the “2019 Flood Dashboard” button on the NEMA website:

Funds from USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Help with Livestock Mortality

As the flood water recedes and snow melts, farmers and ranchers are getting a better look at the amount of damage their operations have suffered from last week’s extreme weather events.

One of the more significant losses experienced by landowners has been livestock death. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has assistance available to help landowners cope with the aftermath of livestock death.

Through NRCS’ Environmental Quality Incentives Program, commonly referred to as EQIP, farmers and ranchers can apply for assistance to properly dispose of dead livestock. Applications are being accepted now through April 5.  The second cut-off date is May 1.  Additional application cutoff dates may be announced if there is demand and available funding.

NRCS State Conservationist Craig Derickson said, “This was an unprecedented and devastating event for Nebraska. Some ranchers are dealing with hundreds of dead animals. This is not only damaging to their bottom-line, but if these animals are not disposed of properly, there could be negative impacts to water quality and other natural resources. NRCS conservationists are available to provide technical and financial assistance to help producers dispose of livestock carcasses in a safe manner.”

Producers who have not already disposed of livestock can apply for EQIP now. Producers can then get a waiver to allow them to begin working to dispose of deceased livestock before having an approved EQIP contract.

“Typically, producers cannot begin working on an EQIP practice before their EQIP contract has been approved. But since this situation is so time-critical, NRCS is encouraging producers to sign up for EQIP first, then submit a waiver to go ahead and begin animal disposal prior to having their EQIP contract approved,” Derickson said.

Producers in the area who suffered other damages due to the blizzard and flooding – such as damaged fencing, water sources, or windbreaks – may also seek assistance from NRCS through general EQIP funding. The sign-up period for general EQIP is continuous and has no cut off application date.

Derickson said, “NRCS is committed to helping producers get back on their feet after these extreme weather events while also ensuring Nebraska’s natural environment remains healthy and productive.”

For more information about the programs and assistance available from NRCS, visit your local USDA Service Center or

 Iowa State, IDALS and DNR offer information on how to handle grain affected by flooding

 Rapid snowmelt this spring has caused instances of stored grain being covered with floodwater. According to current Food and Drug Administration policy, grain inundated by uncontrolled river or stream water is considered adulterated and must be destroyed. The current situation is one of river water flooding rather than of rain-driven pooled water in low ground, for which there are salvage options. River-based floodwaters can bring in many hazards and rapid spoilage.

Flooding affects both the stored grain and the storage structures. Try to move the grain before the flood reaches the bin, but stop using underfloor conveyors and legs once the water starts entering the pits.

Grain and Grain Products

Flood damaged grain is adulterated grain because of the potential for many contaminants to enter through the water. This grain should be destroyed, never blended. Contact local Department of Natural Resources officials for the best disposal process in your area. The recent Food Safety Modernization Act has increased public awareness of food and feed related hazards.

Water coming up from tiles and pits is just as suspect because storm and sanitary sewers are usually compromised in floods. Even field tile water may contain animal waste products, high chemical levels and other contaminants.

Corn will stay at about 30 percent moisture after the water drains off; soybeans about 25 percent moisture. The moisture won't travel more than a foot above the flood water line.

Remove good grain on top of flooded grain from the top or side, not down through the flooded grain. The reclaim conveyors and pits under bins contain flood water as well. Remove all the good grain before doing anything with the bad portion. The good grain is still suspect, which is why FDA must evaluate the situation on a case-by-case basis before the grain can be sold into any uses.

Do not start aeration fans on flooded bins. Have the entire structure and related electrical components inspected by a qualified electrician, to verify that nothing is still energized, before taking action to salvage the grain. Use professional salvage operators that will take correct safety precautions for bin entry.

Mold toxins are likely in rewetted grain. Warm wet conditions are ideal for mold growth. Moldy grain is a safety hazard. Use precaution and wear protective equipment when working with moldy grain. Grain will be moldy by the time the water has receded.

Take care not to track or mix mud or gravel from flooded grounds into good grain during salvage operations. These materials are potentially toxic for the same reasons as the floodwaters.


Grains swell when wet, so bin damage is likely; more so with soybeans. Bolts can shear or holes can elongate. Look for signs such as stretched caulking seals, doors misaligned or similar structural problems. Farm bins typically have lighter-grade steel and fasteners than commercial bins. Stay aware for signs of failure when working around bins containing wetted grain. Check bins with stirring devices carefully. The bin must be perfectly round for them to work correctly.

Bin foundations can shift, float or deteriorate from flooding. Inspect structures and foundations carefully, and have an engineering evaluation for larger bins.

Expect electric wiring, controls, motors and fans to be ruined. Do not energize wet components. Be sure the power is off and locked out before touching any electrical components of flooded systems.

Wood structures will be hard hit and may retain mold and contaminants.

Clean and disinfect facilities and grounds completely. Then do a careful food safety inspection before returning facilities to operation. A third party inspection is recommended. Maintain records of cleaning.

Action Checklist

-    Cut all power and professionally verify that all structures are not energized.
-    Determine where the water line was, and therefore the extent of adulterated grain.
-    Consult your insurance carrier before moving any grain.
-    Remove good grain from the top or side, collect a 5-10 pound composite sample for grading by an official grader including a mycotoxin screening. Off-farm use will require consultation with the FDA; contact Keely Coppess ( at the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship for assistance.
-    Consult your local Iowa DNR field office for instructions on disposal of adulterated grain.
-    Clean and disinfect storage structures. Replace electrical components.
-    For on-farm feeding of the good grain, develop a use plan in consultation with a veterinarian.

Salvage (for grain in flooded bins but above the water line, and for pooled water inundation)

Evaluation and potential reconditioning for further sale has to be done with the written consent of the FDA. For feed on site by owner, producers have three alternatives:
-    Dry the grain if needed.
-    Feed it immediately to their livestock.
-    If wet, ensile the grain for future livestock feed in bunkers or bags.

Feeding should be done under the supervision of a veterinarian. Ensiling may be the best way of protecting quality and palatability of wetter grain.

Decisions need to be made quickly. The good grain should be removed immediately, again not down through the soaked grain. No flooded grain can be sold to any market without approval of FDA, to document its exposure only to uncontaminated (pooled) water, with subsequent reconditioning for an intended use. The flooded grain in 2019 is primarily from river water, which is considered contaminated.

There is no problem, other than spoilage within a day or two, with using uncontaminated soaked corn as a livestock feed. Just replace the corn in the animals' current diet with the wet corn. Remember to adjust amounts fed for moisture.

Wet, whole soybeans can be fed to cattle if the soybeans are limited to 10 to 12 percent of the ration's dry matter. Soybeans substitute well for the protein in soybean meal, but they need to be fed with a vitamin- mineral-additive premix if substituted for a complete protein supplement.

It is not necessary to heat-treat the soybeans for cattle. Also, if adding whole soybeans to diets high in distillers' grains, watch the total ration fat content. For hogs, raw soybeans can only be fed to mature sows. The soybeans need to be heat treated if fed to younger pigs.

USDA Emergency Conservation Program Details

The Emergency Conservation Program (ECP), administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA), provides emergency funding and technical assistance to farmers and ranchers to rehabilitate farmland damaged by natural disasters and to implement emergency water conservation measures in periods of severe drought.

ECP is administered by FSA state and county committees and county offices. Producers should inquire with their local FSA county office regarding ECP enrollment periods and eligibility.

FSA county committees determine land eligibility based on on-site inspections of damaged land and the type and extent of damage. Eligible land includes land used for:
  - Commercial farming, ranching and orchard operations;
  - Growing nursery stock and Christmas tree plantations;
  - Grazing for commercial livestock production; and
  - Conservation structures; such as, waterways, terraces, diversions and windbreaks.

Conservation problems existing before the applicable disaster event are ineligible for ECP assistance.

Cost-share payments are:
  - Up to 75 percent of the cost to implement approved restoration practices;
  - Up to 90 percent if limited resource producers; and
  - Limited to $200,000 per person or legal entity per disaster.

To rehabilitate farmland, ECP participants may implement emergency conservation practices, such as:
  - Debris removal from farmland (cleanup of woody material, sand, rock and trash on cropland or pastureland);
  - Grading, shaping or leveling land (filling gullies, releveling irrigated farmland and incorporating sand and silt);
  - Restoring fences (livestock cross fences, boundary fences, cattle gates or wildlife exclusion fence from agricultural land);
  - Restoring conservation structures (waterways, diversion ditches, buried irrigation mainlines and permanently installed ditching system); and
  - Providing emergency water during periods of severe drought (grazing and confined livestock and existing irrigation systems for orchards and vineyards).

This is for informational purposes only; other eligibility requirements may apply. More information on ECP is available at FSA offices, local USDA service centers and on FSA’s website at To find your local FSA office, visit

Farm Credit Services of America Supports Flood Relief for Agriculture and Rural Communities

Farm Credit Services of America (FCSAmerica) today announced the farmer-owned cooperative is mobilizing its financial and staff resources to help customers impacted by area floods.

To date, FCSAmerica has donated $175,000 to support the relief efforts of the American Red Cross, the Nebraska Farm Bureau and the Nebraska Cattlemen’s Association. Additional donations are being made by other Farm Credit entities, including CoBank, which has committed $300,000 to Midwest flood relief.

"Officials have only begun to assess the damage of recent flooding, but already the devastation is clear in the lives lost, the homes and farmsteads damaged, and the livestock and grain operations that now face new financial challenges,” said Mark Jensen, FCSAmerica’s president and CEO. “All of us in agriculture feel the enormity of the losses and are committed to help our communities recover.”

FCSAmerica financial officers and crop insurance agents are reaching out to customers in impacted areas to help them with individualized plans and assistance to manage their loss.

“As a financial services cooperative serving farmers and ranchers, we understand that agriculture is inherently risky,” said Bob Campbell, senior vice president in Nebraska. “Whether producers are impacted by natural disasters, such as what we are seeing today, or trying to navigate economic cycles, we use our financial strength to support agriculture.”

Growth Energy Calls on DOT to Provide Critical Rail Assistance During Midwest Flooding

Today, Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor called on the U.S. Department of Transportation to help expedite rail delivery of biofuels amid historic flooding. The recent flooding has not only had devastating impacts on residents but has delayed the transportation of critical supplies of biofuel, which in turn, could impact consumer fuel costs.

In her letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Skor said:
“While we certainly understand and appreciate that these rail issues have been caused by the calamitous flooding currently occurring in the Midwest, it is imperative that all possible actions be taken by the nation’s railroads to ensure that these critical fuel supplies are immediately prioritized and reach markets as quickly as possible. Further delays could not only impact our industry, but could also ultimately increase fuel costs for American drivers.”


Nebraska feedlots, with capacities of 1,000 or more head, contained 2.60 million cattle on feed on March 1, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. This inventory was down 3 percent from last year. Placements during February totaled 455,000 head, up 3 percent from 2018. Fed cattle marketings for the month of February totaled 415,000 head, up 1 percent from last year. Other disappearance during February totaled 20,000 head, up 10,000 head from last year.


Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 710,000 head on March 1, 2019, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Cattle on Feed report. This was up 3 percent from February 1, 2019, but down 3 percent from March 1, 2018. Iowa feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head had 645,000 head on feed, up 1 percent from last month and last year. Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in all Iowa feedlots totaled 1,355,000 head, up 2 percent from last month but down 1 percent from last year.

Placements of cattle and calves in Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head during February totaled 133,000 head, up 20 percent from last month and up 13 percent from last year. Feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head placed 48,000 head, down 20 percent from last month and down 9 percent from last year. Placements for all feedlots in Iowa totaled 181,000 head, up 6 percent from last month and last year.

Marketings of fed cattle from Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head during February totaled 109,000 head, unchanged from last month but up 3 percent from last year. Feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head marketed 39,000 head, down 15 percent from last month and down 5 percent from last year. Marketings for all feedlots in Iowa were 148,000 head, down 5 percent from last month but up 1 percent from last year. Other disappearance from all feedlots in Iowa totaled 8,000 head.

United States Cattle on Feed Up 1 Percent

Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 11.8 million head on March 1, 2019. The inventory was 1 percent above March 1, 2018.

On Feed: By State   1,000 hd - % Mar 1 '18)

Colorado ......:               1,050          111     
Iowa .............:               710             97        
Kansas ..........:              2,300           98    
Nebraska ......:              2,600           97    
Texas ............:              2,770          103    

Placements in feedlots during February totaled 1.86 million head, 2 percent above 2018. Net placements were 1.79 million head. During February, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 340,000 head, 600-699 pounds were 345,000 head, 700-799 pounds were 530,000 head, 800-899 pounds were 442,000 head, 900-999 pounds were 135,000 head, and 1,000 pounds and greater were 65,000 head.

By State  
             (1,000 hd  -  % Feb '18)
Colorado ......:             185           112   
Iowa .............:             133           113    
Kansas ..........:             425           101      
Nebraska ......:             455           103   
Texas ............:             370           101      

Marketings of fed cattle during February totaled 1.68 million head, slightly above 2018.  Other disappearance totaled 66,000 head during February, 16 percent above 2018.

By State 
              (1,000 hd  -  % Feb '18)
Colorado ......:            170           100      
Iowa .............:           109           103     
Kansas ..........:            365            96      
Nebraska ......:            415           101     
Texas ............:            340           106     

Nebraska Cattlemen Joint Venture with Harry A. Koch Co.

Nebraska Cattlemen has announced an exciting new opportunity in order to offer another member benefit. Nebraska Cattlemen has been working with The Harry A. Koch Co. (HAK) for the past several months to establish Nebraska Cattlemen Insurance Group (NCIG), providing you with a full range of risk management services specific to the line of work you perform. 

The program focuses on two things: helping your bottom-line and providing top-notch customer service. These represent NC values and The Harry A. Koch Co. experience. The NC Board and leadership believes NCIG is a valuable benefit for current and new NC members and encourage you to explore these competitive offerings.

There are many benefits for working through our NCIG program. Some of which include the following:
-    Access to a variety of insurance carriers & products typically not available from local agents
-    Access to employee and family health insurance options
-    Superior policyholder services through licensed professionals
-    Loss control and safety support
-    Claims advocacy in the event of a loss

NCIG offers members a variety of risk management products including farm owner, rancher and business protection, personal insurance as well as employee benefits.

To learn more about NCIG, a joint venture between Nebraska Cattlemen and The Harry A. Koch Co., please view our website at:

Star City BaconFest

April 7th 2019  - 4:30-7PM
Lincoln Marriott Cornhusker Hotel

Enjoy Bacon-Inspired Delights - Sample Lincoln’s finest takes on a Classic.
Experience Live Music - Listen to the sounds of Screamers Cabaret
Help Provide Education - All Proceeds create scholarships for local Culinary students

Purchase tickets at

Makin’ Bacon … and a Whole Lot More!

Apply now to participate in the 2019 Nebraska Youth Pork Conference: Makin’ Bacon … and a Whole Lot More! sponsored by the Nebraska Pork Producers Association, Nebraska Extension, and the UNL Department of Animal Science.

The conference will be conducted from Wednesday afternoon, May 29th through approximately noon, Friday, May 31st.

What Participants Experience

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

Throughout the program youth will discuss important issues related for consumers and farmers too. Additional lab activities include a hands-on food safety lab, and a biosecurity/animal health and animal handling activity. Not only will youth learn about pork as a wholesome food product, but they will also learn how the pork industry is using science to address many significant challenges.

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

Apply Today!

Sophomores, juniors, and seniors in high-school are encouraged to participate in the 2019 Nebraska Youth Pork Conference: Makin’ Bacon … and a Whole Lot More! Applications will be reviewed and up to 32 students will be selected to participate.

The deadline to apply is April 13th. A complete application includes a letter of recommendation from an advisor or educator.

Remember, the conference will be conducted from Wednesday afternoon, May 29th through approximately noon, Friday, May 31st.

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

Nebraska Corn Growers Association Returns from Washington DC Leadership Mission

Earlier this month young leaders from across the state took part in the Nebraska Corn Growers Association (NeCGA) 31st Annual Washington D.C. Leadership Mission. From March 11th to March 15th, 20 producers, along with five 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 farms back in Nebraska.

Deanna Finke, from Gothenburg, and her husband Adam, were first time attendees. Deanna had the opportunity to sit in on a meeting at the White House with Ambassador Gregg Doud and a meeting at the Mexico Embassy. “Getting a chance to sit in on a meeting at the White House was a once in a life opportunity. This trip opened my eyes to all the work that is going on behind the scenes. I am so glad I decided to participate in this program,” said Deanna.

“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 Nerud, president of NeCGA.

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


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

Will you plant a new hay field this year?   Instead of planting pure alfalfa automatically, maybe mix some grass into your planting.

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

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

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

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

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

Management to Prevent Calf Scours

Cold and wet weather have added to the calving challenges of Iowa cow-calf producers. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach beef specialist Beth Doran said both are ideal conditions for contributing to calf scours.

“There’s no magic bullet in preventing calf scours, but one key is to provide a clean, dry and draft-free environment,” she said.  “That is tough to do given the weather we have had.”

Doran recommended providing shelter for the calves such as a portion of a shed dedicated for calves to get away from their mothers or a portable calf shelter. While this area needs to be draft-free, natural ventilation is still necessary to reduce humidity, and calves need bedding, such as straw, poorer quality hay or chopped cornstalks, to nestle down in.

“Getting colostrum into the newborn calf is extremely important in preventing calf scours because it provides antibodies to the calf,” Doran said.  "Once the first 24 hours has lapsed, the absorption of antibodies ceases. The goal is to provide two quarts to the calf in the first two to six hours after calving, plus another two quarts in the remaining time. Ideally, the calf will nurse on its own, and intervention is not needed."

"However, not all colostrum is equal," she said.

The best colostrum is that which is provided by the calf’s mother, as it contains antibodies specific to the calf and its environment. If this isn’t possible, other sources include colostrum from other cows in the herd, a colostrum replacer or a colostrum supplement. Obtaining colostrum from other herds is not recommended for reasons of biosecurity.

One prevention strategy is pre-calving vaccination of pregnant cows and heifers, which increases antibody levels in the colostrum.  If this is not doable, there are oral and injectable vaccines that may be administered at birth to the calf.

ISU Extension and Outreach has a publication, “Control of Calf Diarrhea (Scours) in Midwest Beef Cattle Farms” available for free download. Producers dealing with calf scours are advised to work with their local veterinarian to develop a vaccination and prevention program specific to their herd.

Last, but not least, try to segregate expectant cows from cow-calf pairs. For most Iowa producers, this involves bringing close-up cows into the calving area and moving pairs out of the calving area into a clean area as soon as possible. After each calving event, the calving area should be thoroughly cleaned.

The old adage, “Prevention is worth more than a pound of cure,” aptly applies to calving and managing calf scours, Doran said. May the weather soon warm, the ground dry up and your calves be butting heads with each other!

Top 10 Announced for Iowa’s Best Burger Contest

Iowans submitted nominations between February 11 – March 11 to kick off the quest to find the best burger in Iowa. Nominations were accepted online by the Iowa Beef Industry Council and the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association. The number of votes each restaurant received determined the 2019 Top Ten restaurants. The restaurants making the Top Ten list includes:
The Twisted Tail Steakhouse & Saloon, Logan (Beebeetown)
Robin’s Nest Café and Bakery, Clarinda
Rides Bar & Grill, Fort Dodge
Ankeny Diner, Ankeny
Dotzy’s Restaurant and Saloon, Elgin
Landmark Restaurant, Williamsburg
Morgan’s Corner Bar & Grill, Ottumwa
Saucy Focaccia, Cedar Rapids
The IowaStater Restaurant, Ames
Wood Iron Grille, Oskaloosa

"Iowa has over 28,000 beef producers, and this contest is a great way to celebrate the beef they produce and the impact they have on Iowa," says Katie Olthoff, Director of Communications for the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association.

To qualify, the burger must be a 100% beef patty or patties, although other ingredients may be added such as spices, and served on a bun or bread product. Burgers may include any combination of condiments, sauces, cheese or toppings.

“Several restaurants have really unique and creative ways to encourage customers to vote. It was a close race to the finish line,” comments Kylie Peterson, Director of Marketing for the Iowa Beef Industry Council. “In total, we had over 500 towns and cities across Iowa represented which proves that there are a lot of great tasting burgers all across the state.”

Three restaurants are new to the contest’s Top 10 list and include: Dotzy’s Restaurant and Saloon, Elgin; Landmark Restaurant, Williamsburg; and Wood Iron Grille, Oskaloosa.

Returning contestants include: Ankeny Diner, Ankeny; Morgan’s Corner Bar & Grill, Ottumwa; Rides Bar & Grill, Fort Dodge; Robin’s Nest Café and Bakery, Clarinda; Saucy Focaccia, Cedar Rapids; The IowaStater Restaurant, Ames; and The Twisted Tail Steakhouse & Saloon, Logan.

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

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

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

Two Iowa Corn Grower Association Members Awarded AgGrad’s 30 Under 30

March 22, 2019, AgGrad announced winners of the first ever AgGrad 30 Under 30 Awards, a program created to celebrate the young professionals shaping the future of agriculture. Fourteen judges selected winners from peer and self nominations based on contributions in their career, community, and the industry at large. Elizabeth Burns-Thompson and Andrew Lauver both active members of the Iowa Corn Growers Association® were among the winners.

"I feel incredibly honored to be recognized alongside amazing young leaders in agriculture from across the country,” said Elizabeth Burns-Thompson. “Farming is in my blood, and I have been so fortunate to have the opportunity to translate that passion into a career. I owe a great deal of thanks to the numerous farmer-leaders and industry-mentors for their continued support, guidance, and faith in me."

Recipients of this award find the recognition both personally and professionally rewarding. AgGrad 30 Under 30 is bringing together the brightest minds and future leaders of agriculture together to collaborate and advance the industry.

“The leadership development provided by Iowa Corn through the Collegiate Advisory Team (CAT) and I-LEAD has been instrumental in building confidence to speak out on behalf of agriculture,” stated Andrew Lauver. “The exposure to issues and opportunities affecting corn growers early in my career has taken me places I would’ve never imagined as a 5th generation farm kid. I’m thankful for all Iowa Corn has done to enhance the quality of life on our family farm.

"We are very excited to recognize our first class of AgGrad 30 Under 30 winners,” says Tim Hammerich, Founder of AgGrad. “These 30 individuals are at the forefront of agriculture and will one day be the leaders in agribusiness, innovation and technology, education and advocacy, entrepreneurship, and production.”

AgGrad was established in 2015 with the mission of “helping young professionals find their place in modern agriculture.” The company accomplishes this mission by providing a job board, blog posts, career profiles, “AgGrad Live” (a Facebook Live show), daily snapchat stories, and a weekly podcast called the “Future of Agriculture.” All is provided at zero cost to students and young professionals and supported by participating agribusinesses.

For more information about AgGrad 30 Under 30, please visit the website:

USDA: Record High Red Meat and Pork Production for February

Commercial red meat production for the United States totaled 4.17 billion pounds in February, up 3 percent from the 4.06 billion pounds produced in February 2018.

By State                       (mil. lbs.  -  % Feb '18) 

Nebraska ...........:          611.3            101      
Iowa ..................:          650.9            110      
Kansas ...............:          424.3            102      

Beef production, at 1.99 billion pounds, was slightly above the previous year. Cattle slaughter totaled 2.45 million head, up 2 percent from February 2018. The average live weight was down 16 pounds from the previous year, at 1,352 pounds.

Veal production totaled 6.1 million pounds, 6 percent above February a year ago. Calf slaughter totaled 48,500 head, up 18 percent from February 2018. The average live weight was down 23 pounds from last year, at 219 pounds.

Pork production totaled 2.17 billion pounds, up 5 percent from the previous year. Hog slaughter totaled 10.1 million head, up 5 percent from February 2018. The average live weight was up 1 pound from the previous year, at 287 pounds.

Lamb and mutton production, at 11.2 million pounds, was down 5 percent from February 2018. Sheep slaughter totaled 169,300 head, 3 percent above last year. The average live weight was 132 pounds, down 11 pounds from February a year ago.

January to February 2019 commercial red meat production was 8.9 billion pounds, up 3 percent from 2018. Accumulated beef production was up 1 percent from last year, veal was up 2 percent, pork was up 4 percent from last year, and lamb and mutton production was down 2 percent.

USDA Cold Storage February 2019 Highlights

Total red meat supplies in freezers on February 28, 2019 were up 2 percent from the previous month and up 2 percent from last year. Total pounds of beef in freezers were down 6 percent from the previous month but up 4 percent from last year. Frozen pork supplies were up 9 percent from the previous month and up 1 percent from last year. Stocks of pork bellies were up slightly from last month and up 10 percent from last year.

Total natural cheese stocks in refrigerated warehouses on February 28, 2019 were up slightly from the previous month and up 4 percent from February 28, 2018.  Butter stocks were up 15 percent from last month but down 9 percent from a year ago.

Total frozen poultry supplies on February 28, 2019 were up 7 percent from the previous month and up slightly from a year ago. Total stocks of chicken were up 2 percent from the previous month but down 3 percent from last year. Total pounds of turkey in freezers were up 16 percent from last month and up 6 percent from February 28, 2018.

Total frozen fruit stocks were down 9 percent from last month and down 5 percent from a year ago. Total frozen vegetable stocks were down 6 percent from last month and down 7 percent from a year ago.

Dairy Producers Previously Enrolled in the Livestock Gross Margin Program Now Eligible for 2018 Margin Protection Program

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced that dairy producers who elected to participate in the Livestock Gross Margin for Dairy Cattle Program (LGM-Dairy) now have the opportunity to participate in the Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP-Dairy) for 2018 coverage. Sign-up will take place March 25 through May 10, 2019.

Producers enrolled in 2018 LGM-Dairy, administered by USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA), previously were determined by the 2014 Farm Bill to be ineligible for coverage under MPP-Dairy, a safety net program available through USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA).

“The 2018 Farm Bill included substantial changes to USDA dairy programs,” said FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce. “This includes the ability for producers with LGM coverage to retroactively enroll in MPP-Dairy for 2018. It also integrated recent improvements to the MPP-Dairy in the new Dairy Margin Coverage program, beginning with the 2019 calendar year.”

The MPP-Dairy program offers protection to dairy producers when the difference between the national all-milk price and the national average feed cost — the margin — falls below a certain dollar amount selected by the producers in a dairy operation. LGM-Dairy is an insurance product that provides protection when feed costs rise or milk prices drop. The gross margin is the market value of milk minus feed costs.

This retroactive sign-up is only for dairy producers with 2018 LGM coverage who produced and commercially marketed milk in 2018 but did not obtain full year MPP-Dairy coverage. FSA will notify eligible producers by postcard and provide a one-time payment for all of the months in 2018 that had margins triggering MPP-Dairy assistance. 

“I’m pleased that dairy producers will now be able to take advantage of enrolling in both Livestock Gross Margin and the Margin Protection Program for 2018 coverage,” RMA Administrator Martin Barbre said. “The 2018 Farm Bill gave dairy producers more options like these and when combined with the new Dairy Protection Program offered by RMA, that means more overall coverage for dairy producers.”

Pork Essentially Free of Veterinary Drug Residues

In a basic survey of more than a thousand pork kidney samples, almost no veterinary drug residues were found and none at levels that even approached U. S. regulatory limits, according to a study just published by an Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientist in Food Additives & Contaminants: Part A.

These findings signal that U.S. pork producers are using veterinary compounds properly, and indicate that veterinary drug residues in pork are not posing a health concern to U.S. consumers, according to ARS research chemist Weilin Shelver. Shelver is with the ARS Animal Metabolism-Agricultural Chemicals Research Unit in Fargo, North Dakota.

A total of 1040 pork kidneys were purchased from four grocery stores in the Midwest and tested for residues of 5 commonly used veterinary drugs and feed additives: flunixin, penicillin G, ractopamine, sulfamethazine and tetracycline. Pork kidneys are commonly used as an indicator meat as they are readily accessible and tend to concentrate drug residues compared to more commonly consumed muscle meats.

Only 6 samples from the 1040 tested—0.58 percent—were positive when screened for antibiotics, indicating these samples potentially contained antibiotic residues.

As a further check, a 278-sample subset of the pork kidney samples was screened with a more specific type of test for residues of four veterinary drugs: flunixin, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agent; ractopamine, an agent that enhances leanness in meat; and the antibiotics sulfamethazine and tetracycline. This testing used Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assays (ELISAs), which at times are capable of measuring residues at far lower concentrations than those called for by regulatory tolerances.

Regardless of the testing method, residue levels of all veterinary compounds were always well below U.S. regulatory tolerances. For example, of the samples assessed by the highly sensitive ELISA and other methods, only 4 percent were positive for minute amounts of sulfamethazine, 10 percent for trace quantities of tetracycline, and 22 percent positive for detectable quantities of the commonly used feed additive ractopamine.

Legislation Would Help Farmers Improve Irrigation Systems

Passage of the Water and Agriculture Tax Reform Act of 2019 (H.R. 807, S. 361) would help farmers and ranchers more efficiently operate mutual ditch, irrigation and water companies, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.

“Mutual ditch, irrigation and water companies are important to agriculture because they allow farmers, ranchers and others to form collaborative businesses to install and maintain vital irrigation infrastructure,” AFBF President Zippy Duvall wrote in a letter to the legislation’s sponsors, Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) and Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.).

Current law requires capital improvements be 85 percent shareholder financed. The Water and Agriculture Tax Reform Act multiplies the sources from which mutual ditch, irrigation and water companies can obtain capital to expand and improve their water systems.

Specifically, the bills allow mutual water storage and delivery companies to maintain their tax-exempt status – even if they receive more than 15 percent of their revenue from non-member sources — as long as the revenue is reinvested into maintenance, operations and infrastructure improvements.

Wednesday March 20 Ag News

ENREC Hay and Fencing Supplies Donation Site

The Eastern Nebraska Research & Extension Center near Mead is serving as a collection location for hay (large bales) donations and fencing materials for livestock owners/managers who were impacted by the recent adverse weather events in Nebraska.  This has been a rather quick developing project, so thank you for your patience as the details have come together, as I know people are anxious to learn about what is going on.

Information is online at:

Below are details that are also shared on the website….
Donations can be brought to ENREC between the hours of 7:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.  But it is important to contact us first at the number listed in the directions below!  Material unloading equipment/operators provided.

Directions for making donations follow:

·         Call (970)759-8626 or (402)624-8000 to let us know the day and approximate time that you plan to deliver hay (large bales only, no small bales) or fencing supplies.  And please let us know what you are donating.   Collection hours at ENREC near Mead, NE are between 7:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.  Material unloading equipment/operators provided.

·         Hay Donations - LARGE BALES ONLY - Large round and square hay donations will be collected approximately 1/2 mi. west of the intersection of County Road 10 (blacktop road that goes south out of Mead, NE) and County Road H.  Enter from the EAST and exit to the WEST.  Small bales should be taken to the Lancaster Event Center in Lincoln.

·         Fencing Materials Donations - Fencing materials donations will be collected at a designated location at the ENREC Farm and Facilities Operations Shop.  Follow redwood directional signs off County Road 10 (blacktop road that goes south out of Mead, NE) and County Road J.  Look for the redwood "Farm Operations" sign.

·         For those affected by the recent flooding that wish to obtain donated hay or fencing materials, please contact the Nebraska Department of Agriculture at 1-800-831-0550.  Load out hours 7:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.  Material loading equipment/operators provided.  Additional resources are available at:

Looking for a donation location in Northeast Nebraska? 

University of Nebraska Haskell Ag Lab - Concord, NE is also a donation site.

Ricketts Issues Two Executive Orders Waiving Certain Requirements for Trip Permits & Deceased Livestock

Governor Pete Ricketts has issued two new executive orders to provide relief to flood impacted communities.  Executive Order 19-03 gives farmers and ranchers a reasonable amount of time to dispose of deceased livestock lost due to severe weather and flooding.  Executive Order 19-04 temporarily suspends requirements for trip permits and fuel tax permits for certain vehicles engaged in flood relief.

“In light of the historic flooding and devastation our communities have experienced, the Governor’s Office is working to cut red tape,” said Taylor Gage, Director of Strategic Communications for Governor Ricketts.  “These executive orders will help our communities as they work to recover and rebuild after the most widespread natural disaster in state history.”

These orders are in addition to the Governor’s emergency declaration issued on March 12th and another executive order issued last week.  The directives are effective immediately until April 15, 2019.  Nebraska continues to encourage surrounding states to temporarily ease their restrictions as well.

The Governor’s Office, Nebraska Department of Agriculture, and Nebraska Emergency Management Agency are staying in touch with Nebraska’s agriculture associations on a daily basis to assess emerging needs.  State agencies are providing assistance as requests are made by local emergency managers. 

USDA Ready to Help Nebraska Farmers and Ranchers Recover from Recent Blizzards, Floods

Extreme weather conditions like the recent “bomb cyclone” and the ongoing flooding impacted many farmers and ranchers in Nebraska. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has disaster assistance programs available to help agricultural producers recover from these natural disasters.

USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Risk Management Agency (RMA) offer programs that help producers recover losses, rehabilitating farms and ranches, and managing risk. 

Recovering Losses

FSA offers many programs to help producers recover from losses, including the Livestock Indemnity Program, the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program, Emergency Forest Restoration Program and the Tree Assistance Program. Producers located in counties receiving a primary or contiguous disaster designation are eligible for low-interest emergency loans to help them recover from production and physical losses.

“FSA has a variety of disaster assistance programs to support farmers and ranchers through times of adversity,” said Nancy Johner, State Executive Director for the FSA in Nebraska. “Once you are able to evaluate your losses, it is important to contact your local FSA office to report all damages and learn more about how we can assist.”

Rehabilitating Farms and Ranches

NRCS provides technical and financial assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and other conservation programs to help producers recover and build resilience to better withstand future disasters. NRCS plans to direct additional EQIP funds to cope with livestock lost due to flooding in Nebraska. These dollars will help landowners remove and properly dispose of livestock carcasses that are obstructing streams and waterways.

“NRCS can be a very valuable partner to help landowners with their recovery effort,” said Craig Derickson, State Conservationist for the NRCS in Nebraska. “Our staff will work one-on-one with landowners to make assessments of the damages and develop approaches that focus on effective recovery of the land.”

Meanwhile, the FSA Emergency Conservation Program provides funding and technical assistance for farmers and ranchers to rehabilitate farmland damaged by natural disasters.

Managing Risk

Producers with coverage through federal crop insurance should contact their agent for issues regarding filing claims. Those who purchased crop insurance will be paid for covered losses. 

RMA Regional Director Collin Olsen said, “If you are concerned that you may not be able to get your crop planted, you should contact your crop insurance agent. The agent can provide details on your prevented planting coverage and how and when to file a claim. The Approved Insurance Providers, loss adjusters and agents are experienced and well-trained in handling these types of events.”

Compensation is also available to producers who purchased coverage through FSA’s  Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program, which protects non-insurable crops against natural disasters that result in lower yields, crop losses or prevented planting. Eligible producers must have purchased NAP coverage for 2019 crops.

Supporting Communities

In addition to helping producers, USDA also offers assistance to local governments and other entities with rebuilding infrastructure and removing debris. The NRCS Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) program provides assistance to local sponsors with the cost of addressing watershed impairments or hazards like debris removal and streambank stabilization. Interested entities should contact Allen Gehring, NRCS State Conservation Engineer at (402) 437-4037.

More Information

USDA offers a disaster assistance discovery tool that walks producers through five questions to help them identify personalized results of what USDA disaster assistance programs meet their needs. For more information on disaster assistance programs, contact your local USDA service center or


Scoular, an employee-owned company based in Omaha, Neb., that offers diverse supply chain solutions for end-users and suppliers of grain, feed ingredients, and food ingredients around the globe, has announced that an indirect, wholly-owned subsidiary of the company will build a new freeze-drying manufacturing facility in Seward, Neb. The facility will establish Scoular’s new freeze-dried pet food ingredients platform. Approximately $50 million will be invested to build this initial facility, which is expected to create nearly 100 new jobs once operational.

“For 126 years, Scoular has invested in the people of Nebraska. We are excited to build on this legacy and advance our strategy with a unique facility that brings all phases of the freeze-drying manufacturing process under one roof,” said Scoular CEO Paul Maass. “It was clear to us following an extensive national search that Seward is an ideal community for us to join and grow together. We are excited to begin this process with the people of Seward.

As the pet food industry has grown and expanded, so too has the need for quality ingredients. Pet owners increasingly seek protein-rich, nutritious and convenient products. Scoular has worked with pet food partners for years providing procurement and supply chain solutions. This facility will provide our pet food customers a simplified and efficient ingredient supply chain, while meeting the fast-growing demand for freeze-dried protein ingredients.”

“This latest expansion by Scoular, one of America’s largest private companies, is a testament to our state’s world-class business climate and agricultural strength,” said Governor Pete Ricketts. “Their investment in Seward will deepen their already strong roots in Nebraska, create new great jobs, and grow our state.”

"We are very excited to welcome Scoular to the Seward community. Communities across Nebraska don't see very many $50 million economic development projects and Seward hasn't seen a large industry come here since Walker, now Tenneco, built their facility more than 40 years ago,” said City of Seward Mayor Josh Eickmeier. “We are truly blessed to have a new community partner like Scoular.”

A ground-breaking ceremony is anticipated for June, which will celebrate the start of construction on an approximately 105,000 square foot state-of-the-art manufacturing facility at the Seward/Lincoln Regional Rail Campus. Construction will take approximately 14-16 months, with the goal of being operational by early Fall 2020.

One of the many reasons Seward was chosen was the available labor pool of talented, hard-working people. As the company begins to recruit for jobs at the new facility, it looks forward to hiring from within Seward and surrounding communities for new positions.

“We appreciate the teamwork and partnerships between Scoular, the community of Seward and the State of Nebraska that have made this project a reality,” said Department of Economic Development Director Dave Rippe. “Scoular is a valued member of our business community, and we’re excited to see that relationship continue to grow and thrive.”

To learn more about the project and see progress updates, please visit

U.S. Presidential Candidates to Discuss Farm Issues

Iowa Farmers Union is hosting the Heartland Forum to bring together leading Democratic presidential contenders to discuss their ideas for solving the range of economic and social challenges facing rural and small-town communities in Iowa and beyond.

"We are glad to have this discussion focused on family farmer and rural Iowa issues," said Aaron Lehman, Iowa Farmers Union president. "Our members will be anxious to see how candidates connect with voters on issues vitally important to them."

"Farm income has been dropping for five years. According to USDA statistics, the median farmer is losing money again this year. The average age of the Iowa farmer is over 59 years old. Agribusiness consolidation is at an all-time high. Farmers are being called upon to do more and more to help clean up Iowa's waters. Our challenges are huge."

"At the same time, farmers continue to find creative and innovative ways to make their farms and communities better places. We hope this event serves as a jumping off point for discussions with presidential candidates about the future of rural America."

Iowa Farmers Union, Open Markets Institute Action Fund, HuffPost and The Storm Lake Times are sponsors of the event which will be moderated by Pulitzer Prize-winning Storm Lake Times columnist and editor Art Cullen and hosted by Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa on Saturday, March 30, 2019 from 1-3pm.

Candidates confirmed so far include Julian Castro (former HUD Secretary), U.S. Rep. John Delaney, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI), Senator Amy Klobuchar (MN), Rep. Tim Ryan (OH) and Senator Elizabeth Warren (MA). Questions for the candidates will be developed by Farmers Union members.  More information about the event is here....

Weekly Ethanol Production for 3/15/2019

According to EIA data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association, ethanol production edged 1,000 b/d lower to an average of 1.004 million barrels per day (b/d), or 42.17 million gallons daily. Conversely, the four-week average ethanol production rate grew 0.2% to 1.015 million b/d—equivalent to an annualized rate of 15.56 billion gallons.

Stocks of ethanol increased 2.9% to a new record high of 24.4 million barrels, surpassing the high set 53 weeks prior.

There were no imports for the eighteenth week in a row. (Weekly export data for ethanol is not reported simultaneously; the latest export data is as of December 2018.)

Average weekly gasoline supplied to the market popped 2.9% higher to 9.409 million b/d (395.2 million gallons per day, or 144.24 billion gallons annualized). Refiner/blender net inputs of ethanol declined 1.3% to 909,000 b/d—equivalent to 13.93 billion gallons annualized. The ethanol content in gasoline supplied to the market averaged 9.66% compared to 9.82% a year ago.

Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production decreased to 10.67%.

Lower Fertilizer Prices Continue

Retail fertilizer prices continue their recent trend of mostly lower fertilizer prices, according to prices tracked by DTN for the second week of March 2019. This marks the third week in a row that prices are declining.

Like last week, five of the eight major fertilizers' prices were lower compared to last month. Once again, the moves lower were fairly minor. DAP had an average price of $510/ton, MAP $534/ton, urea $402/ton, UAN28 $269/ton and UAN32 $318/ton.

Three fertilizers were higher compared to the prior month, but again the move higher was slight. Potash had an average price of $386/ton, anhydrous $596/ton and UAN32 $318/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.44/lb.N, anhydrous $0.36/lb.N, UAN28 $0.48/lb.N and UAN32 $0.50/lb.N.

The prices of all eight major fertilizers are now higher, compared to last year: MAP by 6%, both DAP and urea are up 9%, potash rose by 10%, 10-34-0 by 11%, UAN32 by 13%, UAN28 increased 14%, and anhydrous jumped 19%.

Impacts of the Cold Wet Winter

Stephen R. Koontz, Dept of Ag and Resource Econ. - Colorado State University

The returning to normal of U.S. federal government reports and data sources are revealing the impact of the cold and wet winter on the fed cattle production. As pointed out in last week's ITCM, cattle on feed inventories are very high: 11,678 thousand head in the seven major states. This is above last year's 11,630 thousand head and average of the prior five years for February 1 of 10,781 thousand head. The inventory of long-fed cattle - cattle calculated to have been on feed over 120 days - is also substantial. This inventory is 3,993 thousand head, is well above last year's 3,558 thousand head, and the average of the prior five years for February 1 of 3,500 thousand head. There are a lot of cattle to be marketed through the end of March and into April and May. Slaughter volumes reported in the weekly Livestock Slaughter report do not communicate that this is happening. Total cattle slaughter is up modestly. Within total cattle, cow slaughter is higher some weeks by 10 thousand head, fed heifer slaughter is up some weeks 10-20 thousand head, and the largest portion - that being fed steer slaughter - is even with the prior year or softer. April marketings will be an important indicator of the potential strength of the cattle markets through the summer. Weak marketings will suggest a backlog of animals.

The Livestock Slaughter reports are also revealing the lower fed animal carcass weights. Fed steer weights for 2019 are all lower than the same week in 2018. Carcass weights are one to 13 pounds lighter each week of this year. Fed heifers, which are a larger portion of the slaughter mix this year, are almost always more than 10 pounds lighter than the week of the prior year. Clearly, the cold wet winter has slowed marketings, extended days on feed, decreased feed conversion, held down slaughter weights, and increased costs of gain. Information provided by Kansas State University and other sources indicates costs of gain are 5-7 cents per pounds higher than the same month this time last year with very similar feed input costs. There is a large volume of animals coming but at lighter weights.

Winter weather and general conditions appeared to slow the feeder cattle market down through the end of last year and early this year. In January and February, I worked cattle feeding budgets with fall fed cattle futures, spring feeder cattle futures - both basis-adjusted, and with reasonable projected spring and summer cost of gains. There were close to $100 per head profits that could be hedged in this window for heavier calves. Needless to say, feeder cattle prices have improved since then.


When Dairy Farmers of America — the largest supplier of raw milk in the world — kicked off its Annual Meeting in Kansas City this week, one message was clear: A commitment to preserving the family farm for generations to come means a commitment to feeding the world responsibly.

The theme for this year’s Annual Meeting — “One Cooperative. One Planet. One Community.” — highlights how DFA is working together with others to protect the environment and nourish families around the world through all the possibilities of dairy.

“As a global dairy community, we impact and help support the livelihoods of more than 1 billion people, with our family farms at the core,” says Randy Mooney, chairman of DFA’s Board of Directors. “With this reach and impact both locally and around the world, it’s more important than ever that our Cooperative is focused on family farms and investing in what makes sense for the future of the dairy industry.”

The meeting kicked off with the Chairman’s Report, delivered by Mooney, who operates a dairy farm in Rogersville, Mo. Mooney, who also serves as chairman of National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), talked about the importance of working together to create connections locally, across the United States and increasingly around the world, as well as the Cooperative’s member-focused strategic plan.

An overview of DFA’s business was delivered by President and Chief Executive Officer Rick Smith. His presentation highlighted DFA’s financial results for 2018 and provided insight on how DFA will continue to strengthen the Cooperative to better serve and provide value to members. He also talked about why DFA values community, and the Cooperative’s responsibility to ensure that we are doing our part for the future of the planet.

“As DFA grows and becomes more complex with a variety of investments across the entire dairy supply chain, the reality is that our business still starts on the farm by delivering value to our DFA farm families,” says Smith. “From sustainability practices and providing a voice on legislative issues to innovation and global export strategies, everything we do is about our farm families, and our commitment to preserving the tradition of family dairy farming for years to come.”

Special guests and additional highlights of the meeting included:
-    Thomas Halverson, president and chief executive officer at CoBank, discussing an economic outlook for the industry
-    Secretary Tom Vilsack, president and chief executive officer at U.S. Dairy Export Council, providing insights on global dairy export opportunities
-    An overview of the latest dairy promotion activities by Tom Gallagher, chief executive officer at Dairy Management Inc., along with Barb O’Brien, president of Dairy Management Inc. and president of Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy
-    An update on key initiatives from Jim Mulhern, president and chief executive officer, National Milk Producers Federation

The Cooperative’s Annual Banquet brought a host of recognitions, including the 2019 Members of Distinction. Every year, family members at one farm from each of DFA’s seven regional Areas are recognized for service to their dairies, their families, communities and the industry.

In addition, outgoing Board of Directors David Chamberlain of Wyoming, N.Y., Keith Huber of St. Paul, Ind., Frank Ponterio of Melrose, Wis., George Rohrer of Dayton, Va., and Charles Untz of Lake Mills, Wis., were recognized for their contributions to DFA.

Winners of the 2019 DFA Cares Foundation Scholarship were announced at the banquet. DFA Cares scholarships are awarded to outstanding students pursuing a career in the dairy industry. This year, 46 recipients will receive a combined total of $69,000 toward their undergraduate and graduate studies.

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

Chinese Leaders Visit NCGA St. Louis Office

Two business leaders from the People’s Republic of China visited the National Corn Growers Association’s St. Louis office yesterday to discuss the U.S. corn industry and NCGA’s role in working to create opportunities for corn farmers.

Robyn Allscheid, NCGA director of Research & Productivity, said the visitors were intrigued by NCGA’s focused mission of sustainably feeding and fueling a growing world in a way that is profitable for our nearly 40,000 dues-paying corn farmers nationwide as well as the 300,000 growers who contribute through corn checkoff programs.

Rong Zhang and Rui Li are touring America as part of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP). The program connects current and emerging leaders who travel to the U.S. for programs that reflect their professional interests and U.S. Foreign Policy Goals.

Zhang, manager Dalian Yigu Information Consulting Co., Ltd., and Li, an Associate Professor, Phytochemistry Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, are specifically looking at food safety and security in the U.S., Allscheid said.

“They were very interested in how farmers make independent planting decisions but also the role the market plays in determining corn prices,” Allscheid said. “Ethanol use is growing in China, so they were also interested in ethanol policy and NCGA’s role in growing the market for ethanol.”

While in St. Louis they also met with a farmer, AG Business Consultants, Bayer and the University of Missouri Extension.

Feed a Bee Program Reaches 50-State Milestone

Feed a Bee, the national pollinator forage initiative by Bayer, today announced it has reached its goal of awarding grants supporting diverse forage for honey bees and other pollinators in all 50 states. The 50th recipient awarded recently was Gateway to the Arctic Camp in Talkeetna, Alaska.

Dedicated to service and agriculture, the nonprofit camp teaches the significance of serving those in need and the value of hard work through fun activities involving sustainability, farming and environmental stewardship. This summer it will dedicate an entire field as forage for bees and other pollinators where campers of all abilities, including those with special needs, will discover the connection between honey bees and the crops they pollinate.

“We’re proud to have awarded more than $650,000 for pollinator-focused planting projects over the last three years,” said Dr. Becky Langer, project manager, Bayer North American Bee Care Program. “We’re now connected to nearly 170 organizations all over the country who are thinking critically about how to diversify forage for pollinators, have put that plan to action and, equally important, have integrated educational components encouraging their local community to get involved.”

“The Feed a Bee grant is a welcomed and powerful resource to continue our forage efforts at the farm,” said Raymond Nadon, executive director, Gateway to the Arctic Camp. “We’re committed to teaching Alaskans of all ages about the important role of honey bees and other pollinators in our ecosystem, and their connection to our food supply.”

Experts agree that one of the major health challenges facing honey bees is a lack of forage and habitat. Launched by the Bayer North American Bee Care Program in 2015, Feed a Bee has provided funds and sponsored educational activities encouraging people to get involved in meeting this need. To date, those efforts have led to the distribution of more than 3 billion pollinator-attractant wildflower seeds across the country.

In addition to Gateway’s efforts in Alaska, other groups awarded funding for their pollinator efforts include the Living Coast Discovery Center in San Diego, which is establishing a native pollinator garden, and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, which is planting pollinator-attractant wildflowers on former cropland and oil fields. Other recipients include additional nonprofits, growers and grower organizations, beekeepers and beekeeper groups, businesses, schools, clubs, gardening groups, government agencies, and more.

Feed a Bee proposals and grant submissions are selected by a steering committee comprised of independent educators, researchers and scientists. Members include:
·         Billy Synk – Project Apis m.
·         Dan Price – Sweet Virginia Foundation
·         Diane Wilson – Applewood Seed
·         Doris Mold – American Agri-Women
·         Keith Norris – The Wildlife Society
·         Barry Neveras – Massey Services
·         Nicole Hindle – Ernst Seed
·         Vince Restucci – R. D. Offutt Company
·         Richard Johnstone – IVM Partners
·         Scott Longing – Texas Tech University
·         Scott Witte – Cantigny
·         Zac Browning – American Beekeeping Federation; Project Apis m.; Bee and Butterfly Habitat Fund

Feed a Bee, an initiative launched by the Bayer Bee Care Program, continues the company’s 30-year history of supporting bee health. For more information on Bayer bee health initiatives, please visit: