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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
Monday December 17 Ag News

New Members Elected to Nebraska Beef Council Board

The Nebraska Beef Council has announced the results of the 2018 Board of Director elections.

Rosemary Vinton Anderson, a cow-calf producer from Whitman will represent district two including Grant, Hooker, Thomas, Blaine, Loup, Rock, Brown, Keya Paha, and Cherry counties.  

Jim Ramm, a cow-calf producer from Atkinson will represent district four including Boyd, Holt, Wheeler, Knox, Antelope, and Boone counties.

Michele Cutler, a cow-calf producer from Elsie, NE, will represent district six including Arthur, McPherson, Logan, Keith, Perkins, Lincoln, Chase, Hayes, Dundy and Hitchcock counties. 

Gregg Wiedel, a cow-calf producer from Hebron, NE, will represent district eight including Adams, Webster, Clay, Nuckolls, Fillmore, Thayer, Seward, Saline, Jefferson, Lancaster, Gage, Otoe, Johnson, Pawnee, Nemaha, and Richardson counties.

Each new board member will serve a four-year term beginning in January, 2019.

Nebraska Pulse Crops Expo Jan. 7 in Kearney

As corn, soybean, and wheat prices decrease, some growers are looking to pulse crops as an alternative crop to be integrated into current cropping systems. To learn about getting started with pulse crops or how to enhance your existing pulse production, don’t miss the 2019 Nebraska Pulse Crops Expo January 7 in Kearney.

The program is free and will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Holiday Inn, 110 S. 2nd Avenue.

“Pulse crops such as yellow or green field peas, lentils, and chickpeas fit well with cropping systems throughout the state,” said program coordinator and Extension Educator Strahinja Stepanovic. “With a rapidly growing industry and increased knowledge and resources, it is becoming easier to grow them as well as to find seed, crop insurance, and a market for them.”

Last year’s Pulse Crops Expo at Grant was attended by 165 people from seven states (Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, Wisconsin, Missouri, Idaho, and Utah).  Of the participants surveyed, 93% indicated that information and contacts acquired at the meeting would help them farm more profitably in the next year, Stepanovic said.

Lucas Haag, northwest area agronomist with Kansas State University, will be the keynote speaker, presenting on field pea growth and development and management of field peas at critical growth stages.

Other presentations, focused on dryland production in western Nebraska (S) or irrigated production in central and eastern Nebraska (C-E), will include:
    Field Pea as Fallow Replacement (W)
    Response of Field Pea to Planting Date and Seeding Rates (W)
    Are High-Performing Pea Cultivars Different Across Regions in Nebraska? (W)
    Tillage Effects on Pulse Crop Germination and Yield (W)
    How to Grow Chickpeas – Challenges and Opportunities (W)
    Double Cropping Pulses with Cover Crops, Forages and Short-Season Crops (C-E)
    Cover Crop Grazing after Field Peas (C-E)
    Irrigated Field Peas and Chickpea Production (C-E)
    Marketing Panel with representatives of the pulse grain processing industry (W, C-E)
    Promoting the Pulse Crops Industry in Nebraska – Should Nebraska have a Pulse Crops Checkoff? (W, C-E)

There also will be updates from certified seed dealers, market reports, crop insurance updates, and more.

The 2019 NE Pulse Crops Expo is sponsored by the SARE (Sustainable Agriculture and Research Education), the Nebraska Environmental Trust, and pulse crops industry partners. 

 The event and lunch are free, but preregistration is required by January 2. To register:
    Use the online form at
    Call or send a text to  402-318-1124 
    Email Strahinja Stepanovic

Rooms are available at the Holiday Inn for a special event rate of $99.95 per night. Call 308-237-5971 and ask for the Pulse Crops Meeting rate.

NA-BA Advanced Topic Soil School January 30-31, 2019

16 CEU's Available between the two days!

Soils School 2019: An Advanced Topics Shortcourse, co-sponsored by the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the Nebraska Agri-Business Association will be on January 30-31st, 2019 at the Quality Inn & Conference Center in Grand Island, NE.

Soils School 2019 has been specifically designed for employees to go into depth about the topics of soil. Leading experts from the University of Nebraska will be presenting the latest up-to-date information. Soils School 2019 will provide 16 hours of CEU's to CCA's.

The price for registration is $290.00 per person for NeABA Members and $390.00 per person for Non-Members. The registration fee includes lunch for both days, breaks, and handouts. Please contact Sarah Skirry at the Association Office with any questions at (402) 476-1528 or at You can register online through this link:  We look forward to seeing you at Soils School 2019: An Advanced Topics Shortcourse in Grand Island, NE!


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

Much expense and many long hours go into harvesting and storing hay for winter feeding.  So why waste it!  Hay feeding waste can be reduced.

Cattle can waste as much as 45 percent of their hay when it is fed in the open without restrictions.  How can you reduce these losses to minimize costs and maintain an adequate hay supply?

Your first step should be to limit how much hay is available.  Research shows that it takes 25% more hay when you feed cattle a four-day supply at once compared to feeding them every day.  Daily feeding reduces the amount of hay refused, trampled, fouled, over-consumed, or used for bedding.

A second step is to restrict access to the hay by using hay racks, bale rings, electric fences, feed bunks, or anything else that will keep animals off the hay.  It’s especially important to limit the amount of hay accessible to trampling.  So use racks or bale rings with solid barriers at the bottom to prevent livestock from pulling hay loose and then dragging it out to be stepped on.

If you do feed hay on the ground, either as loose hay, unrolled round bales, or as ground hay, it is especially important to follow these guidelines.  Limit the hay fed to an amount animals will clean up in a single meal.  Anything left over will be stepped on, fouled, or used for bedding instead of as feed.  And if you can – use an electric wire or other barrier to restrict access to only one side of the feed on the ground.  And also be sure to distribute that hay enough so all cows have access to it at the same time.

With a little foresight and careful management, you can stretch your hay and your hay dollars further.

35th Young Leader Class Kicks Off in Iowa

The 35th class of American Soybean Association (ASA) Corteva Agriscience, Agriculture Division of DowDuPont Young Leaders recently began their leadership journey at the Corteva Agriscience Global Business Center in Johnston, Iowa.

The Johnston training session was the first phase of the program designed to identify future grower leaders within the agriculture community and provide them with opportunities to enhance their skills and network with other farmers. Representatives from 19 states and the Grain Farmers of Ontario participated in the program. Young Leaders participated in DiSC and communications training, discussed CRISPR technology, consumer trends and other important soybean industry advancements.

“The Young Leader Program has had a huge impact on not only ASA, but all of agriculture,” said ASA President and Iowa farmer John Heisdorffer. “Former Young Leaders can be found in leadership roles throughout the industry and public policy. We are grateful to Corteva Agriscience for making this program possible. The Young Leader program provides training in key leadership areas and allows participants to form lasting relationships with growers from across the country, which strengthens our industry and allows us to work collaboratively in our local, state and national organizations.”

“Corteva Agriscience™ always strives to put the farmer-first in all that we do,” said Judd O’Connor, President, U.S. Commercial Business, Corteva Agriscience, Agriculture Division of Dow DuPont. “Having young leaders who are willing and well-equipped to speak up for agriculture is critical in helping to ensure the voice of farmers is part of the conversation among the public and the full value chain.”

The 2019 Young Leaders are: Stuart & Suzie Sanderson (AL); Kyle & Stacie Schlenker (AR); Austin & Katelynn Baer (IL); Miranda Biddle (IL); Tim & Brittany Gueldener (IL); Eric & Megan Scheller (IN); Reed Burres (IA); Tyler Cvitkovic (KY); Anna Redding (KY) & Jason Putt (OH); Kody Beavers (LA); Chris & Debra Schmidt (MI); Mark & Vanessa Senk (MI); Wes Miller & Amanda Heilman (MD); Haley Ammann (MN); Andrew & Heidi Pulk (MN); Mitchell & Andrea Rice (MO); Nathan White (MO); Clint & Katie Hostler (NE); Simeon Williams (NC); Joshua Askew (ND); Joshua Stutrud (ND); Adam Vance (OH); Brent & Mollie Greenway (SD); Derek & Micayla Giffin (TN); Donald Thomas (VA); Zac Soltvedt & Amber Bellows (WI); and Aaron McQueen (Canada).

This second phase of the Young Leader program will take place Feb. 26 – March 1, 2019, in Orlando, Fla., with training held in conjunction with the annual Commodity Classic Convention and Trade Show.

NCGA Announces 2018 Yield Contest Winners

With improved seed varieties, advanced production techniques and innovative growing practices, corn growers achieved impressive yields despite weather-related adversity in the National Corn Growers Association 2018 National Corn Yield Contest.

The National Corn Yield Contest is now in its 54th year and remains NCGA’s most popular program for members.

“While participating in friendly competition, yield contest participants create and share information that shapes the future of the industry,” said Roger Zylstra, chair of NCGA’s Stewardship Action Team. “Contest winners, at the state and national levels, find innovative ways to help their fellow farmers excel in a variety of situations. Emphasizing innovation both from growers and technology providers, our contest enables us to meet the growing demand for food, feed, fuel and fiber.”

The 18 winners in six production categories had verified yields averaging more than 349 bushels per acre, compared to the projected national average of 178.9 bushels per acre in 2018. While there is no overall contest winner, yields from first, second and third place farmers overall production categories topped out at 477.6877 bushels per acre.

“The National Corn Yield Contest serves as the first point of contact with NCGA, as entrants join the association,” said Brandon Hunnicutt, chair of NCGA’s Engaging Members Committee. “But, for so many, contest participation is just the first step in a journey. As they discover the breadth of activities NCGA carries out on the behalf of farmers, their involvement and support increases. Much as the data and ideas generated by contestants leads to advances that benefit all farmers, NCGA’s grassroots efforts join the single voices of members together to create positive change and real opportunities for our industry.”

For more than half of a century, NCGA’s National Corn Yield Contest has provided corn growers the opportunity to compete with their colleagues to grow the most corn per acre, helping feed and fuel the world. This has given participants not only the recognition they deserved but the opportunity to learn from their peers.

Winners receive national recognition in publications such as the NCYC Corn Yield Guide, as well as cash trips or other awards from participating sponsoring seed, chemical and crop protection companies. The winners will be honored during Commodity Classic 2019 in Orlando, Fla.

NE Non-Irriagted

1 - Dave Schmit, David City - Pioneer P1828AM - 286.1805
2 - Bradley Zierott, Murdock - Wyffels Hybrids W7888RIB - 280.8758
3 - Paul Tighe, Homer - DEKALB DKC70-27RIB - 276.6178

NE - NoTill/StripTill - Non-Irrigated

1 - Marvin and Glenn Wiles, Plattsmouth - DEKALB DKC66-74RIB - 295.2706
2 - Mark Moody, Auburn - Pioneer P1197AM - 284.9594
3 - Gerald Steffensmeier, Howells - DEKALB DKC64-34RIB - 284.3206

NE - NoTill/StripTill - Irrigated

1 - John Panowicz, Cairo - Pioneer P1370AM - 326.5289
* John Panowicz, Cairo - Pioneer P1828AM - 324.2855
* Michael Panowicz, Cairo - Pioneer P1828AM - 321.8824
2 - Bruce Schmit, Bellwood - AgVenture AV8614YHB - 321.2889
3 - Paul Gangwish, Shelton - DEKALB DKC70-27RIB - 319.9398

NE - Irrigated

1 - Ashton Peterson, Bertrand - Pioneer P1563AM - 331.9265
2 - Michael Panowicz, Cairo - Pioneer P1370AM - 322.3443
3 - Bob Panowicz, Cairo - Pioneer P1370Q - 316.8823

Please visit National Corn Growers Association website for the complete list of National and State winners.

Iowa Pork Producers Announces 2019 Pork Congress

The 2019 Iowa Pork Congress will be held Jan. 23 and 24 at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines. This event, organized by the Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA), is North America's largest winter swine trade show and conference. It features seminars, a keynote address each day, training sessions, social events and youth activities. Each day, Iowa Pork Congress opens at 9 a.m., and closes at 5 p.m. on Jan. 23 and at 4 p.m. on Jan. 24.

"We're excited about our lineup of seminars and presenters. We strive to present seminars on timely subjects, and on issues of importance to pork producers and stakeholders," said IPPA President Gregg Hora, a pig farmer from Fort Dodge.

The trade show includes more than 300 exhibitors, "which is a major draw," Hora said. "Every year, attendees have the opportunity to visit with representatives from companies that serve the pork industry. These companies come from Iowa, the U.S. and around the world to offer solutions that help our pork producers become more efficient, profitable and successful."

There is also a strong lineup of business seminars. They include one on Iowa regulations by attorney Eldon McAfee; a price and profitability outlook by Dr. Steve Meyer and Joe Kerns; a panel in which producers share their experiences with environmental stewardship practices, another on solving ventilation issues, and a third about on-farm experiences with mycoplasma.

The keynote speaker on Wednesday, Jan. 23, is Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam, an Extension Animal Science Specialist at the University of California-Davis. She runs the Animal Genomics and Biotechnology Laboratory there, and will talk about advancements in agriculture and the implications of using biotechnology to feed the world. Additionally, she will do a separate special presentation that day on the film Food Evolution, which explores the controversy surrounding developments in science and food production.

On Thursday, Jan. 24, the keynote speaker is consultant Mark Jewell, who will talk about ways producers can successfully handle uncertainty in both their business and personal lives.

Training sessions during the two-day conference will give pig farmers the opportunity to obtain or renew their PQA Plus® and TQA® certifications. A certification session for confinement site manure applicators is also being offered.

For youth, the annual Youth Swine Judging contest will be held on Thursday, Jan. 24, at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. There, registered 4-H and FFA members can learn more about the industry and compete for valuable scholarships.

Other activities and events will be held in association with Pork Congress. The association's annual meeting will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 22, followed by a reception and auction for the IPPA Scholarship Foundation. The Pork Congress Banquet is on Wednesday evening.

"The IPPA Board and staff have worked hard over the last several months to produce another good show and we hope to see many producers from Iowa and the Midwest," said Hora.

Pre-registration to attend Pork Congress is available through Jan. 7, 2019. IPPA members can attend the trade show and conference at no cost by registering by that deadline at, or by using the form in the November issue of the Iowa Pork Producer magazine, or by calling (800) 372-7675.

Non-IPPA members can save $5 off the normal $10 admission cost by registering by the deadline. Registrations will be accepted after the deadline, including through each day of the show, but the cost will be $10.

For more information about events and registration, contact IPPA at (800) 372-7675 or visit

Counties Must Register Soon to Evaluate CAFO Sites

Counties interested in evaluating construction permits for proposed animal feeding facilities must adopt a construction evaluation resolution and submit the resolution to DNR between Jan. 1 and 31.

On average, 88 counties pass a resolution each year, which allows them to review construction permit applications required for larger totally roofed animal feeding operations (confinements).

Producers in counties that file the resolutions must meet higher standards for a construction permit than sites in other counties. They must earn points on a master matrix by choosing a site and using practices that reduce effects on the environment and the community.

The Master Matrix development, submittal and approval process allows applicants and county supervisors to discuss options for site selection, facility type and management. The county submits a recommendation to the DNR on the permit application after reviewing the master matrix items the applicant selected.

Counties that participate in the master matrix process may accompany DNR on site visits to proposed locations. The county board of supervisors may also appeal the DNR's preliminary approval of a permit to the Environmental Protection Commission.

County boards of supervisors may approve the resolutions at any time, but must submit resolutions between Jan. 1 and 31. Send resolutions to Kelli Book at DNR, 502 E. Ninth St., Des Moines, IA 50319, email to or fax to 515-725-8201. Sign-ups in January apply to permit applications received from February through January 2020.

For historical information on counties that adopted resolutions, check the DNR website at and search for master matrix.

More information is available from the Iowa State Association of Counties at

USDA Launches Second Round of Trade Mitigation Payments

At the direction of President Donald J. Trump, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today launched the second and final round of trade mitigation payments aimed at assisting farmers suffering from damage due to unjustified trade retaliation by foreign nations.  Producers of certain commodities will now be eligible to receive Market Facilitation Program (MFP) payments for the second half of their 2018 production.

“The President reaffirmed his support for American farmers and ranchers and made good on his promise, authorizing the second round of payments to be made in short order. While there have been positive movements on the trade front, American farmers are continuing to experience losses due to unjustified trade retaliation by foreign nations.  This assistance will help with short-term cash flow issues as we move into the new year,” said Perdue.

Secretary Perdue announced in July that USDA would act to aid farmers in response to trade damage from unjustified retaliation.  President Trump directed Secretary Perdue to craft a short-term relief strategy to help protect agricultural producers while the Administration works on free, fair, and reciprocal trade deals to open more markets to help American farmers compete globally. In September, USDA initiated three programs to aid American agriculture in sustaining the short-term damages associated with the trade disputes and securing long-term, stable export markets.

Details of programs currently employed by USDA:
-    USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) has been administering MFP to provide the first payments to almond, corn, cotton, dairy, hog, sorghum, soybean, fresh sweet cherry, and wheat producers since September 2018 for the first 50 percent of their 2018 production.
-    USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is administering a food purchase and distribution program to purchase up to $1.2 billion in commodities unfairly targeted by unjustified retaliation. USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is distributing these commodities through nutrition assistance programs, such as The Emergency Food Assistance Program and child nutrition programs. So far, USDA has procured some portion of 16 of the 29 commodities included in the program, totaling more than 4,500 truckloads of food. AMS will continue purchasing commodities for delivery throughout 2019.
-    Through the Foreign Agricultural Service’s (FAS) Agricultural Trade Promotion (ATP) program, $200 million is being made available to develop foreign markets for U.S. agricultural products. The program will help U.S. agricultural exporters identify and access new markets and help mitigate the adverse effects of other countries’ restrictions. The application period closed in November with more than $600 million in requested activities from more than 70 organizations. FAS will announce ATP funding awards in early January.

Market Facilitation Program

Producers need only sign-up once for the MFP to be eligible for the first and second payments. The MFP sign-up period opened in September and runs through January 15, 2019, with information and instructions provided at  Producers must complete an application by January 15, 2019 but have until May 1, 2019 to certify their 2018 production.  The MFP provides payments to almond, cotton, corn, dairy, hog, sorghum, soybean, fresh sweet cherry, and wheat producers who have been significantly impacted by actions of foreign governments resulting in the loss of traditional exports. The MFP is established under the statutory authority of the Commodity Credit Corporation CCC Charter Act and is under the administration of USDA’s FSA. Eligible producers should apply after harvest is complete, as payments will only be issued once production is reported.

For farmers who have already applied, completed harvest, and certified their 2018 production, a second payment will be issued on the remaining 50 percent of the producer’s total production, multiplied by the MFP rate for the specific commodity.

Market Facilitation Program

Commodity - First and Second Payment Rate - Est. Total Payment** (in $1,000s)
Almonds (shelled) - $0.03 / lb. - $63,300
Cotton - $0.06 / lb. - $553,800
Corn - $0.01 / bu. - $192,000
Dairy (milk) - $0.12 / cwt. - $254,800
Pork (hogs) - $8.00 / head - $580,600
Soybeans - $1.65 / bu. - $7,259,400
Sorghum - $0.86 / bu. - $313,600
Sweet Cherries (fresh) - $0.16 / lb. - $111,500
Wheat - $0.14 / bu. - $238,400
Total - $9,567,400
** Total payment rate on 100% of production

MFP payments are limited to a combined $125,000 for corn, cotton, sorghum, soybeans, and wheat capped per person or legal entity.  MFP payments are also limited to a combined $125,000 for dairy and hog producers, and a combined $125,000 for fresh sweet cherry and almond producers. Applicants must also have an average adjusted gross income for tax years 2014, 2015, and 2016 of less than $900,000. Applicants must also comply with the provisions of the Highly Erodible Land and Wetland Conservation regulations.

For more further information or to locate and contact local FSA offices, interested producers can visit

Soybean Farmers Thankful for Final Installment of Market Facilitation Aid

U.S. soybean farmers welcomed news from President Trump Monday confirming a second payment under the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Market Facilitation Program.

“Soy growers are very thankful that President Trump understands the need for this payment on the full 2018 production and that the Administration will deliver the second half of the aid as promised. While it will not make our losses whole, it will certainly help offset the drop in prices we have experienced since China cut off U.S. soybean imports,” said American Soybean Association (ASA) president Davie Stephens, a soybean producer from Clinton, Kentucky. “We saw some initial sales of U.S. soybeans to China last week, which was also welcomed news and we hope a sign that the trade war could be turning a corner as a result of President Trump’s recent meeting with President Xi.”

The Administration announced the Market Facilitation Program (MFP) in July as part of a trade aid package to partially offset the short-term impact of foreign tariffs on U.S. agricultural exports, including a 25 percent duty imposed by China on soybean imports. Farmers who apply under the MFP by January 15 and who have been eligible to receive payments on half of their 2018 production will now receive a payment of $1.65 per bushel on their entire harvested crop.

ASA continues to advocate for a negotiated solution to the trade war that would result in China rescinding the 25 percent tariff and fully opening its market to commercial purchases of U.S. soybeans. Said Stephens, “The sooner the market opens and tariffs are rescinded, the sooner we can start to rebuild the exports we have lost this year.”

Administration Launches Second Part Of Farm Aid Plan

The Trump administration today announced the second phase of the market facilitation part of its assistance program for America’s farmers suffering from ongoing trade disputes. Also, this past week the first shipments of pork purchased by the government under the aid plan were delivered to food centers around the country.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture in late August unveiled details of the assistance program, which was initiated to mitigate the financial hit farmers have taken from punitive tariffs imposed on U.S. farm goods by China, Mexico and other nations. U.S. pork, for example, earlier this year was slapped with two 25 percent duties from China and a 20 tariff from Mexico, retaliation for U.S. tariffs on some of those countries’ goods.

Under the assistance program, pork producers with adjusted gross income of less than $900,000 are eligible for direct payments of $8 per animal – in two phases of $4 each – based on the number of live hogs they owned on Aug. 1, 2018, or on any day between July 15 and Aug. 15 if that is more representative of the entity’s ownership interests. Livestock payments are limited to $125,000 per person or legal entity. Sign-up for the Market Facilitation Program began Sept. 4 and runs through Jan. 15.

The $12 billion aid package also included a $559 million government purchase of pork to be used for federal food assistance programs for the needy. The purchases, which are expected to cover about a week’s worth of production, are being made by USDA in four tranches.

“Today’s announcement is further proof that President Trump is committed to America’s farmers, including pork producers, who support his efforts to realign U.S. trade policy,” said National Pork Producers Council President Jim Heimerl, a hog farmer from Johnstown, Ohio. “U.S. agriculture has borne the brunt of the retaliatory tariffs, so the administration’s aid plan helps.”

Still, Heimerl said, farmers would rather be producing and exporting food.

“We need to end these trade disputes soon and open new markets, so we can export to consumers around the globe the safest, most nutritious pork in the world,” said Heimerl.

In addition to asking the Trump administration to resolve the dispute with China and to drop the U.S. tariff on steel and aluminum imports from Mexico so that country will rescind its duty on U.S. pork, NPPC has been urging the White House to negotiate new trade deals with countries, particularly ones in the fast-growing Asia-Pacific region, beginning with Japan.

NAWG Applauds President’s Announcement of Second Round of MFP Assistance

Today, President Trump announced the Administration would be fulfilling the second half of assistance through the Market Facilitation Program (MFP) to help farmers impacted by the trade war between the United States and China. USDA Secretary Perdue subsequently announced details of the program. In anticipation of this announcement, NAWG met with senior officials at USDA and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and sent a letter to USDA reminding them of the ongoing damaging impacts that these tariffs have had on wheat growers and noting that a second round of assistance to producers is justified. 

“NAWG continues to emphasize to both the USDA and OMB that the ongoing trade war with China has continued to harm wheat farmers, which is evident with there having been no sales to China since March,” stated NAWG President and Sentinel, OK wheat farmer Jimmie Musick. “These retaliatory tariffs are not only harming growers through loss of sales but are also placing pressure on wheat prices. Growers want new export markets and trade deals so that this sort of assistance isn’t necessary.”

In the letter, NAWG pointed out that wheat growers have lost around $323 million in total sales to China. Additionally, wheat sales to Mexico have declined by 569,000 metric tons compared to the previous year, despite Mexico increasing overall wheat imports. This is an estimated loss of $178 million and caused by Mexico’s decision to source wheat imports from alternative markets amid uncertainty of trade agreements and unknown repercussions from Section 232 tariffs. 

“We appreciate the Administration’s recognition that farmers have suffered economic damages resulting from tariff retaliation through MFP assistance,” concluded Musick.

NCGA: USDA Trade Aid Comes Up Short, Again

The National Corn Growers Association today expressed disappointment that corn farmers impacted by trade tariffs and ongoing trade uncertainty would receive virtually no relief through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Market Facilitation Program (MFP). 

NCGA’s comments follow USDA’s announcement of the second round of MFP payments, again setting the payment rate for corn at just one cent per bushel, despite the fact that corn farmers have suffered an average 44 cent per bushel loss since tariffs were first announced.

“Farmers of all crops have felt the impact of trade tariffs,” said NCGA President Lynn Chrisp. “NCGA appreciates the progress the administration has made to advance ethanol, reach a new agreement with Mexico and Canada and move forward on negotiations with Japan, but the benefits of these efforts will take time to materialize and farmers are hurting now.”

“One cent per bushel is woefully inadequate to even begin to cover the losses being felt by corn farmers. USDA did not take into account the reality that many of our farmers are facing,” Chrisp added.

In a November 19 letter to USDA Secretary Perdue, Chrisp stressed the disappointment around USDA’s approach to calculating MFP payments. Many farmers felt it was too narrow in scope and did not capture real-time impacts of trade disruptions.

NCGA called on USDA to add ethanol and distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) to the calculation of damages for corn, roughly $254 million. The organization also asked that farmers who suffered production losses from disasters be allowed to use an alternative to 2018 production for their MFP calculation, ensuring those suffering losses from natural disasters would not be penalized twice. These requests were repeated in subsequent conversations between NCGA and administration officials but ultimately ignored in USDA’s final payment calculation for round two.

According to an NCGA-commissioned economic analysis, corn farmers suffered a 44 cent per bushel loss in the price of corn from the beginning of May, right before tariffs were announced, through July, when tariffs were implemented. Based on USDA yield averages and acres of corn planted, that amounts to a $6.3 billion loss to corn farmers.

NMPF Welcomes USDA Assistance, Looks Forward to Farm Bill Implementation

In response to USDA’s announcement of a second round of trade mitigation payments to U.S. farmers, NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern offered the following comments:

“The tariff-mitigation payment for dairy farmers in this second round of payments is less than we had hoped for, but it will provide some assistance during difficult times.

“The tit-for-tat tariffs that prompted these mitigation payments continue to inflict damage across the farm economy. We urge the Administration to resolve tensions with key trading partners, including China and Mexico, as the best way to assist farmers going forward.

“We are thankful that Congress last week emphatically supported milk producers and all of U.S. agriculture by passing a farm bill that will provide timely, critical assistance. We look forward to the president signing the bill and appreciate that USDA has highlighted implementation of the new dairy program as an early priority.”

Farm Bureau Welcomes Second Trade Mitigation Assistance Package

The Trump administration this week announced the second part of a trade mitigation assistance package to help farmers and ranchers hit hard by the ongoing trade disputes.  American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall says,

“This latest trade mitigation package announcement will help our farmers and ranchers weather the continuing trade storm. We continue to feel price pressure and very real economic damage due to the trade actions other nations have taken against our U.S. farm exports. While this assistance package will help a number of our farm families during this year of severe economic challenge, the best way to provide lasting relief is to continue pushing for trade and tariff reform from trading partners like China, Canada, Mexico, India, Turkey and the European Union.”

USGC Rolls Out 2018/2019 Corn Harvest Quality Report

A warm and moist growing season resulted in near-record yields and good quality for the 2018 corn crop, according to the U.S. Grain Council’s (USGC) latest corn quality report, released this week globally.

The 2018/2019 Corn Harvest Quality Report is the Council’s eighth annual corn quality survey. The report revealed the majority of 2018 corn crop conditions were rated as good or excellent during the growing season, leading to strong plant health, good kernel size and a projected crop of 371.52 million metric tons (14.626 billion bushels), the third-largest crop on record.

“The Council is pleased to offer this report as not only a service to our partners, but also as fulfillment of our mission to develop markets, enable trade and improve lives,” said Jim Stitzlein, USGC chairman. “The Council is committed to the furtherance of global food security and mutual economic benefit through trade, and we hope this report continues to provide readers accurate and timely insight into the quality of the 2018 U.S. corn crop.”

The report showed 93.9 percent of tested U.S. corn samples rated at U.S. Grade No. 2 or better; this was largely the result of a warm, wet vegetative period and a moderate pollination and grain-filling period. The drier, moderate temperatures during the second half of the growing season promoted healthy plants, good test weights and low kernel damage.

Average test weight of 58.4 pounds per bushel (75.1 kilograms per hectoliter) was higher than the five-year average and indicates good kernel filling and maturation. Average 100-kernel weight of 35.07 grams was lower than 2017, but above the five-year average.

All but one sample, or 99.5 percent of samples, tested below the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) action level for aflatoxin (20 parts per billion). One-hundred percent of the samples tested below the FDA advisory level for deoxynivalenol (DON), or vomitoxin, for chicken, cattle, hogs and other animals.

The 2018/2019 Corn Harvest Quality Report provides timely information about the quality of the current U.S. corn crop at harvest as it enters international merchandising channels. This information will be supplemented by a second report, the 2018/2019 Corn Export Cargo Quality Report, scheduled for early 2019, that measures corn quality at export terminals at the point of loading for international shipment.

“The Council’s series of quality reports uses consistent and transparent methodology to allow for comparisons across time,” Stitzlein wrote in the USGC’s report greeting. “This enables buyers to make well-informed decisions and have confidence in the capacity and reliability of the U.S. corn market.”

The Council also began its annual roll-out events to present its findings to buyers around the world, starting in Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar and the Philippines. Presentations, meetings and conferences will continue through the first quarter of 2019 and aim to arm participants with clear expectations regarding the quality of corn for this marketing year. During these events, crop quality information is accompanied by presentations on U.S. corn grading and handling, which helps provide a better understanding of how U.S. corn is moved and controlled through export channels.

USDA Highlights Benefits of Improved Dairy Safety Net Tool

More than 21,400 dairy producers opted for coverage through the Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP-Dairy) in 2018, up by more than 2,000 producers from the previous year. This U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) program was significantly updated in February by the Bipartisan Act of 2018, and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said those changes attracted more producers to enroll in the safety net program or to increase their coverage.

“Dairy producers have long been battling low prices, high input costs, and a surplus in the global market. Unfortunately, the 2014 Farm Bill did not provide a sufficient safety net to dairy producers and so it was timely that Congress opted to provide additional support through the Margin Protection Program last February,” Secretary Perdue said. “We are pleased to announce that roughly half of our nation’s dairy producers enrolled for coverage under this reworked Program, providing additional capital to keep some of these folks afloat. We understand that this is not a total fix nor long-term solution for dairy producers, but we are glad that the Farm Service Agency was able to spring into action to get these critical payments out the door just a few months after the legislative changes were enacted. USDA is looking forward to prioritizing the implementation of the Dairy Margin Coverage Program, the new longer-term, more comprehensive dairy safety net program, following the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill.”

MPP-Dairy, administered by USDA’s Farm Service Agency, protects dairy producers by paying them when the difference between the national all-milk price and the national average feed cost (the margin) falls below a certain dollar amount elected by the producer.

Many producers received their first MPP-Dairy payments in February 2018, and most producers who have chosen premium coverage levels of $7, $7.50, or $8 have seen a payment for every month since February. For these seven months, over $253 million in payments have been made to dairy operators.

The Bipartisan Budget Act made several changes, including:
    Providing monthly payments instead of bi-monthly;
    Permitting of dairy operations that had not participated before to enroll in the program;
    Covering 5 million pounds of production (instead of 4 million) on the Tier 1 premium schedule;
    Significantly reducing premiums per hundredweight under the Tier 1 premium schedule; and
    Exempting limited resource, beginning, veteran, and disadvantaged dairy operators from paying the annual administrative fee.

While enrollment for MPP-Dairy has closed, USDA encourages dairy producers to consider other programs, including the Dairy Revenue Protection Program, Livestock Gross Margin Insurance for Dairy Cattle, Environmental Quality Incentives Program, and Conservation Stewardship Program.

Contact your local USDA service center to learn more.

CWT Assisted Member Export Sales Five Million Pounds of Cheese and Whole Milk Powder

Member cooperatives of Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) accepted 14 offers of export assistance from CWT that helped them secure contracts to sell 1.821 million pounds (1,294 metric tons) of Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses, and 3.097 million pounds (1,405 metric tons) of whole milk powder. The product will be delivered during the period from December 2018 through June 2019.

CWT-assisted sales this year total 69.3 million pounds of American-type cheeses, 17.15 million pounds of butter (82% milkfat) and 41.1 million pounds of whole milk powder. These sales are equivalent to 1.326 billion pounds of milk on a milkfat basis.

Assisting CWT members through the Export Assistance program positively affects all U.S. dairy farmers and dairy cooperatives by strengthening and maintaining the value of dairy products that directly impact their milk price. It does this by helping member cooperatives gain and maintain world market share for U.S dairy products. As a result, the program has significantly expanded the total demand for U.S. dairy products and farm milk that produces those products.


Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) and Agropur announced today that they have entered into an agreement for DFA to acquire Agropur’s St. Paul, Minn., facility.

The acquisition by DFA, which is subject to satisfaction of customary closing conditions, will expand the farmer-owned cooperative’s extended shelf-life capabilities and introduce aseptic processing into its business portfolio.

“This acquisition offers an opportunity to grow our customer base while strengthening our processing capabilities for existing customers and diversifies our product portfolio,” says Pat Panko, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for DFA’s Fluid Milk and Ice Cream Division.

Of the sale, Doug Simon, President of Agropur inc., stated, “DFA is a tremendous organization with strong cultural and business ideations that marry well with those of Agropur’s cooperative roots. Our focus has been and will always be meeting the needs of our customers and being strategic in our investments toward complementary growth areas. This transaction is well aligned with long-term strategic plans for both parties.”

The facility manufactures a variety of fresh, extended shelf-life and aseptic dairy products for well-known grocery store chains and organic milk brands. Employees will retain their current positions. In addition, the existing management team will continue to manage all day-to-day operations, including customer relationships, milk procurement and production. It is anticipated the transaction will close early in January.

FBN Insurance LLC Launches FBN Health

Farmers Business Network, the independent farmer-to-farmer network, announced FBN Health, a multi-state healthcare network for farmers, their families and their farm employees, giving farmers access to more affordable healthcare options, designed just for them.

The high cost of health insurance is squeezing farmers, forcing family members to take off-farm jobs or even to leave farming altogether to afford medical care. And it's preventing young people from beginning to farm or return to their family farm.

“Healthcare is one of the greatest personal risks facing farm families – from the rising and unpredictable healthcare costs to the actual health and well-being of the family itself,” said Lucas Strom, Head of Insurance at Farmers Business Network. “Our members have been asking us to find a solution that’s affordable, has options and is easy to navigate, and we believe FBN Health is one giant step in the right direction.”

By leveraging the purchasing power of the FBN network, FBN has lowered health insurance premiums and passes those savings straight to the farmer. In many cases, FBN expects that eligible FBN members will see significant premium savings over the individual marketplace.

FBN has tailored health benefit plans to meet FBN members’ needs with a farmer-focused healthcare offering. FBN Health gives farmers the option of four different health plans that offer:
    Health coverage for the entire farm family – including farm employees: Medical, dental and vision
    Free, 24/7 telephone access to a doctor—at $0 co-pay—so farmers don’t have to waste any time driving to town when there’s a medical question or need
    Extensive regional and national networks of providers based across the country

With rising costs of health coverage, farmers need affordable health benefits that give them the chance to continue to farm as a business rather than have to make the choice among skyrocketing healthcare costs as an independent business owner, risking the health and wellness of the farm family, and their passion and livelihood.

“We are strong believers that farmers deserve quality health insurance that is not at the expense of a farmers’ P&L. By teaming up with Lifestyle Health, we’re able to provide much lower rates for relatively healthy members of the farm family or farm employees,” said Strom. “Through this approach, and the power of the FBN network, we anticipate qualified members may see up to 25 – 35 percent saving under the right circumstances. We’re really excited to bring this option to farmers.”

This is only the beginning. Rural communities deserve better healthcare options and with FBN Health, FBN is innovating ways to bring down costs and improve health outcomes.

FBN members in 11 states—Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma and South Dakota—can enroll at any time during the year, and members in Minnesota can enroll beginning April 1, 2019, with more states coming soon.

FBN Health benefits will be made available to any FBN member group that has a minimum of two enrolled employees that has its own Tax ID Number (FEIN). Any full time employee of the group will be eligible for coverage under the program including family members (active employees) and farm hands.

For more information on FBN Health, visit or call 800-483-6214.

Friday December 14 Ag News

Continuing the Fight Against WOTUS
Rep. Adrian Smith

Our nation’s natural resources have no better friend than farmers and ranchers whose livelihood depends on them. From growing crops to raising livestock, their long term success is dependent upon sustainable practices. This is why President Obama’s oppressive Clean Water Rule, also known as Waters of the United States (WOTUS), was unwelcome and even offensive to people throughout the Midwest.

WOTUS sought to greatly increase the EPA’s authority to regulate “ephemeral streams” - those which flow only when it rains or snow melts – by expanding the definition of navigable waterways under the Clean Water Act. However, a vast array of legal scholars, state officials, and federal judges have agreed this Obama-era regulation is both outside the will of Congress and downright unconstitutional.

It’s not at all difficult to imagine the ways in which an activist administration might use these expanded powers to issue a litany of burdensome and unnecessary regulations surrounding everything from irrigation ditches to water puddles. As a result of the EPA’s actions, I introduced a joint resolution to repeal WOTUS under the Congressional Review Act (CRA), which allows Congress to overrule any new regulations. The resolution easily passed both the House and Senate, but was vetoed by President Obama.

When President Trump took office, he attempted to roll back the rule almost immediately. Unfortunately, the courts intervened saying the current rule would have to be replaced with a completely new one, rather than rolled back. Much to the relief of farmers and ranchers across the country, the EPA announced a replacement rule this week which both honors past court decisions and includes a more appropriate definition of navigable waterways.

Under the new rule, the EPA will continue to do its job while respecting the rights of farmers and ranchers to steward our natural resources as they have for generations. I appreciate President Trump for his efforts to shield our agricultural producers from burdensome regulations and I’m proud to have played a part in bringing the Obama administration’s overreach to light. I look forward to this rule being finalized for the benefit of our rural economy.

The Career Academy Grows Poinsettias for the Holiday Season 

Tom Wheeldon, a former teacher in Schuyler, NE and current teacher within The Career Academy at Southeast Community College offered to Lincoln Public Schools students, is helping expose students to the agricultural industry. FFA members in The Career Academy ag bioscience program have been working to grow poinsettias as a fundraiser in their greenhouse just in time for the holiday season.

Wheeldon says the intro class was in charge of taking care of the poinsettias while the FFA members marketed them. The members' hard work towards this project helped make the fundraiser a success. Overall, 150 poinsettias were grown in the greenhouse. All FFA members had the opportunity to take one home and the rest were successfully sold and distributed.

There are 20 high school juniors and seniors in The Career Academy ag bioscience program that make up the only FFA chapter in Lincoln. While participating in many of the same events that any other FFA chapter would, Wheeldon says they like to tie in urban agriculture into what they do.

For many students in The Career Academy FFA chapter, it is their first time being exposed to the agriculture industry. Wheeldon says that students in the program are very proud that they can be competitive with other FFA members even though they have only been newly introduced to the contests. He adds that a lot of the students “embrace the risk and do very well.” Wheeldon hopes to see more students join the chapter to help them grow personally in the future.

AMS Reaches a Consent Decision with JBS USA Food Company at Grand Island NE

The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) reached a consent decision with JBS USA Food Company, also known as Swift Beef Company (JBS Swift), Greeley, Colo., for alleged violations of the Packers and Stockyards (P&S) Act.  The consent decision was signed by Acting Chief Administrative Law Judge, Channing D. Strother, on November 21, 2018.

AMS conducted an investigation that revealed JBS Swift failed to maintain the identity of beef carcasses purchased on a hot weight basis to ensure accurate payment to livestock sellers at its Grand Island, Neb., facility.  During the period of December 14, 2017 through March 31, 2018 JBS Swift failed to record accurately the weights, grades and prices of carcasses on accountings issued to sellers.

JBS Swift was notified of such violations and immediately took corrective action by making adjustments to its carcass tracking procedures and computer software.  Under the consent decision, JBS Swift agreed to remit amounts owed to livestock sellers resulting from the inaccurate recording of weights, grades, and prices of carcasses.  In addition, the consent decision ordered JBS Swift to pay a $50,000 civil penalty, and to cease and desist from:
-    Failing to properly maintain the identity of each seller's livestock and the carcasses therefrom;
-    Failing, after determination of the amount of the purchase price, to transmit or deliver to the seller or his duly authorized agent a true written account of such purchase showing the number, weight and price of the carcasses of each grade (identifying the grade) and of the ungraded carcasses, an explanation of any condemnations and any other information affecting final accounting; and
-    Failing to maintain sufficient records to substantiate the settlement of each transaction.

The Packers and Stockyards Division, which is in the AMS Fair Trade Practices Program, administers the P&S Act, a fair trade practice and payment protection law that promotes fair and competitive marketing environments for the livestock, meat and poultry industries.

Nebraska Announces Tour to Italy

The Nebraska Cattlemen has announced Italy as the destination for its next international tour. Dates for the tour are September 8 – 17, 2019.

The tour was announced, and registrations began during the NC Convention in Kearney. The number of participants is limited to about 20, and the tour is expected to be a sellout. Previous NC trips have included Ireland, and Vancouver, British Columbia and Alaska. Participants who sign up before Christmas will also receive a gift basket of Italian goods.

The trip is custom made for NC, with departures out of either Denver and Omaha. Tour participants will be merged in LaGuardia International Airport in New Your, making travel from both western and eastern Nebraska convenient.

Regarding the itinerary, it is a five-senses tour through the countryside of northern Italy culminating in the historic cities of Florence and Rome and includes no-wait tickets at the major museums. Participants will be able to hunt truffles, see and learn about Ferraris, taste olive oils straight from the olive grove, visit the Sistine Chapel, taste Prosciutto di Parma, visit a local winery in the Piedmont region, enjoy a hands-on cooking class with Mama Paula, and explore one of the world’s oldest shopping malls (1867). Also, a meeting with the Italian Cattle Breeders Association is being planned.

NC Past President Jeff Pribbeno and his wife, Connie, will be NC official hosts for the tour.

Participation is open to NC members as well as friends and supporters. More details and a registration form are available on the NC website: or by calling the NC office 402-475-2333.

Fremont Corn Expo Jan. 3

Eastern Nebraska corn growers can sharpen their marketing, production, and pest management strategies at the 2019 Fremont Corn Expo January 3 in Fremont.

The event, designed so growers can come and go among presentations, exhibits, and ag equipment, is free, said Nathan Mueller, event coordinator and Nebraska Extension Cropping Systems Educator in Dodge and Washington counties. It will be held at the Christensen Field Main Arena at 1730 West 16th St., starting at 7:30 a.m. with a complimentary breakfast and time to view commercial and educational exhibits. Presentations will begin at 8:45 a.m.

“This program is unique in that it focuses on east central Nebraska and the challenges faced by corn growers here the last few years,” Mueller said. “It’s designed to allow plenty of opportunities so attendees can connect with exhibitors and other growers throughout the day.”

Keynote speaker will be Elaine Kub, an independent market economist and author of the book, Mastering the Grain Markets: How Profits Are Really Made. Kub, a regular contributor to Market Journal, will present on “Prepping for Grain Market Opportunities.”

Amelia Breinig, the new Nebraska Department of Agriculture assistant director, will discuss the three E’s of corn economics: production efficiency, ethanol, and exports and how they can help keep Nebraska corn trending upward.

Other presentations will include:
    Hail Know: Resources for Hail-Damaged Crops – Tyler Williams, Nebraska Extension educator
    Cover Crops and Insects: Finding a Balance Between Risk and Benefit – Justin McMechan, Nebraska Extension crop protection and cropping systems specialist
    Project SENSE: A Three-Year Review of Sensor-Based Nitrogen Management in Irrigated Corn Production – Joe Luck, Nebraska Extension precision ag engineer
    Business and Industry Update – Nebraska Farm Bureau, Fremont Chamber, Nebraska Corn Growers Association, and Nebraska Corn Board

The event is sponsored by Nebraska Extension, the Fremont Chamber, Nebraska Farm Bureau, the Nebraska Corn Board, the Nebraska Corn Growers Association and many local ag businesses.

For more information on the program or speakers, visit  Information from the presentations will be available on the website after the event.

Extension Successful Farmer Series Starts January 4

Tyler Williams - Cropping Systems Extension Educator

Nebraska Extension in Lancaster County is hosting a Successful Farmer Program Series on Fridays from January 4 to February 8, featuring timely topics for today's farmers. Multiple sessions and topics allow ag producers to pick the topics most relevant to them and their operation. All sessions will be 9-11:30 a.m. in Lincoln at the Lancaster Extension Education Center, 444 Cherrycreek Road. Sessions also will be livestreamed. To watch, register online at

Attendees at last year’s series estimated a $16 per acre value gained by participating.

Scheduled topics are:
    Friday, Jan. 4 – Cover Cropping 2.0 with Justin McMechan, Extension Cropping Systems Specialist and Paul Jasa, Extension Engineer
    Friday, Jan. 11 – Alternative Crops with Nathan Mueller, Extension Educator and Stephen Baenziger, Professor of Agronomy
    Friday, Jan. 18 – Spray Drift Management (featuring a mobile lab) with Greg Kreuger, Associate Professor
    Friday, Jan. 25 – Changes in Ag with Tyler Williams, Extension Educator and Hilary Maricle, Commonground Nebraska and an Ag Tech Panel with Joe Luck, Associate Professor, Kelly Maaske, Midwest Farmers Cooperative, and a local ag producer
    Friday, Feb. 1 – Diseases and Nutrient Deficiency ID with Kyle Broderick, Coordinator, UNL Plant & Pest Lab and Ellen Paparozzi, Professor of Agronomy
    Friday, Feb. 8 – Ag Marketing (All attendees will be given access to a computer to follow along.) with Austin Duerfeldt, Extension Educator & Cory Walters, Associate Professor

Presenters are experts from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Other experts will be available to address more specific questions or interact with attendees during the breaks.

Registrations are not required, but are appreciated two days prior to the session(s) you want to attend. Register by contacting Karen Wedding at or 402-441-7180, or going to The cost is $5 per session or $15 for all six sessions. Pay at the door with cash or check. Debit/credit card payment available for an additional fee. Refreshments will be provided.

Certified Crop Advisor education credits will be available.

Ag Estate Planning Workshops this January in West Point and Blair

Nebraska Extension is hosting two Estate Planning Workshops this January for landowners, ranchers, and farmers. The first will be Wednesday, January 16 at the Nielsen Community Center in West Point from 2 to 5 p.m. The second will be Wednesday, January 23 at the Public Library in Blair from 2 to 5 p.m.

Registration is requested to ensure proper handouts for participants. To register for the West Point meeting call the Nebraska Extension office in Cuming County at 402-372-6006 or stop by the office. To register for the Blair meeting call Nebraska Extension in Washington County at 402-426-9455 or stop by the office.

The event is free and designed to help anyone thinking about how they should proceed with plans to retire, exit, or transfer the farm or ranch business.

Presentations will be made by Allan Vyhnalek, Extension Educator working in farm succession/transfer, and Brandon Dirkschneider, certified financial planner and certified farm/ranch transition coordinator.

Workshop topics will include the importance of having a plan, proper family communications, proper family negotiations, needed end of life documentation, estate planning options using wills, trusts, and/or other business entities.  A feature of this program will be to provide information about how insurance products can be used with estate planning.

Reactions from past participants can be summarized into one comment: Most participants wished that they had attended this workshop years earlier. Retiring or passing the farm to the next generation is difficult to think about and is an admission of your own impending demise; however, it is a necessary step and with good planning can be made as painless as possible.

For more information about the program, please contact Allan Vyhnalek, Extension Educator, at 402-472-1771 or e-mail For registration questions contact the host office.

Farm Finance and Ag Law Clinics this January

Openings are available for one-on-one, confidential farm finance and ag law consultations being conducted across the state each month. An experienced ag law attorney and ag financial counselor will be available to address farm and ranch issues related to financial planning, estate and transition planning, farm loan programs, debtor/creditor law, water rights, and other relevant matters. The clinics offer an opportunity to seek an experienced outside opinion on issues affecting your farm or ranch.

Clinic Sites and Dates
    Norfolk — Friday, January 4
    York — Thursday, January  10
    Norfolk — Thursday, January 17
    Valentine — Friday, January 18
    Fairbury — Wednesday, January  30

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.

Prescribed burn training workshops scheduled

Pheasants Forever and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission will host prescribed burn training workshops across the state early in 2019.

These workshops will provide guidance and instruction for completing safe and effective prescribed fires. Landowners, resource professionals, volunteer fire departments and other interested persons are invited to attend. No prior burn experience is required. Most workshops are scheduled for 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

Basic workshops will be held Jan. 17 in Grand Island and Wayne, Jan. 23 in Alma, Jan. 24 in Lincoln, Jan. 28 in Rushville, Jan. 29 in Scottsbluff, and Feb. 28 in Sumner.

Advanced topics will be covered at workshops that will be held Jan. 9 in Broken Bow, Jan. 10 in Curtis, Jan. 16 in Stockville, Jan. 23 in Niobrara, Jan. 30 in Imperial, and in March or April in Wahoo.

The $10 workshop fee includes a meal and training materials. To register, visit and then click on Events, or call 308-850-8395.

“Ranching for Profitability” Meeting to be held as webinar across Nebraska

Efficiency and sustainability are important topics to beef consumers and the future success of the beef industry. These topics are also the theme of Nebraska Extension’s Ranching for Profitability session in 2019.

In January, Ranching for Profitability will be offered as a webinar that beef producers can join from any of 13 downlink locations across Nebraska, or from their home via the internet. A list of sites and registration information follows.

The webinar will take place on Thursday, Jan. 17, from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Mountain Time (6:30-9:30 p.m. Central). Expert university and industry speakers will address genetic changes in cattle breeds; consumer preferences at the meat counter; and protecting herd health.

Dr. David Lalman from Oklahoma State University will lead off the evening on the topic “Genetic Trends for Maternal and Growth Traits in Major Cattle Breeds.”  Lalman will explore the implications of the tremendous genetic change of the last 50 years to input costs and productivity for cow-calf producers.

Dr. Kim Stackhouse, Director of Sustainability at meat-processing company JBS, will give a beef processor’s perspective on the kind of product sought by grocers and the food-service industry to meet consumer demands for “sustainably produced” meat. Understanding consumer desires will help producers understand ways to effectively tell how they efficiently utilize resources to sustainably produce beef.

Dr. Brian Vander Ley, Nebraska Extension Veterinarian, will wrap up the evening discussing “(Re)Moving the Needle on Herd Health.”

To attend a webinar host site, please contact the local Nebraska Extension office where you plan to attend by Jan. 15 to insure enough program materials are available.

Those who would like to attend from home can register for a remote webinar seat, by contacting their local Beef Extension Educator to receive program information and the webinar link.

Cost is $10 per person.  Those wishing to participate in the online meeting will need to pay their local Beef Extension Educator prior to receiving the webinar link.  Those attending a downlink site can pay at the door.

Please call to register for the webinar meeting at one of these locations:
Ainsworth (Brown County Courthouse), 402-387-2213;
Broken Bow (Mid-Plains Community College Campus), 308-872-6831;
Burwell (Garfield County Courthouse), 308-346-4200;
Curtis (NCTA Education Center Auditorium), 308-367-5284;
Columbus (Platte County Extension Office), (308)536-2691;
Kearney (Buffalo County Extension Office), 308-236-1235;
North Platte (West Central Research and Extension Center), 308-532-2683;
O’Neill (Holt County Courthouse Annex), 402-336-2760;
Rushville (Sheridan County Extension Office), 308-327-2312;
Scottsbluff (Panhandle Research and Extension Center), 308-235-3122;
Sidney (South Platte NRD Meeting Room), 308-235-3122;
Valentine (Cherry County Courthouse), 402-376-1850;
West Point (Cuming County Courthouse Meeting Room), 402-372-6006;

For questions about the “Ranching for Profitability” Meeting, please contact Extension Educator Aaron Berger at 308-235-3122

Crop Production Clinics, Recertification Training at 5 Sites

Updates on university research on cover crops, cropping systems, crop residue removal, fertility and soil nutrition, irrigation, and pest management are among the topics to be featured at the 2019 Crop Production Clinics. Programs will be held at five sites across the state in January and include pesticide applicator recertification training.

"Individual clinics will be customized to address topics specific to that area of the state, allowing growers to get research-based information on the issues they face locally," Proctor said. For example, the eastern Nebraska programs (LaVista, York, and Norfolk) will include information on removing crop residue through grazing and baling and the potential effects of removal on soil nutrition and erosion. Extension Educators Jenny Rees and Keith Glewen will present these sessions.

At LaVista Extension Educator Nathan Mueller will discuss university research on winter wheat production in eastern Nebraska and UNL Agronomy Professor Andrea Basche will summarize a broad range of research studies that have evaluated the effectiveness of cover crops for controlling weeds. At the York and LaVista meetings Justin McMechan, extension crop protection and cropping systems specialist, will present on the soybean gall midge, a relatively new pest in soybean.

Greg Kruger, extension weed science and application technology specialist, will present on dicamba drift and highlight the most current research and recommendations to reduce off-target movement at multiple locations. Other topics will include double-cropping field peas, marketing, farm management, and agribusiness.

“We strive to provide practical, profitable, environmentally sound, high-impact training for agricultural professionals and producers,” said Chris Proctor, weed management extension educator and clinic coordinator.

Complete agendas and online registration for each site will be available at

CCAs and Registration

Online registration is required for the clinics to provide meals and materials. To view topics and speakers at individual sites and register, go to The cost for registration is $80, which includes the 2019 Guide for Weed, Disease and Insect Management in Nebraska, the 2019 crop production clinic proceedings with further information on the topics being discussed, a meal and refreshments.

A maximum of six Certified Crop Advisor credits will be available per day in these areas: crop production (two), nutrient management (one), integrated pest management (six), water management (one) and professional development (two).

Pesticide Applicator Recertification

The clinics will be the first opportunity of the year for commercial and non-commercial pesticide applicators to renew their licenses in the following categories: ag plant and demonstration/research. The crop production clinics also will serve as a venue for private pesticide applicators to renew their licenses. Representatives from the Nebraska Department of Agriculture will be present to verify attendance.

Pesticide applicator recertification training will be available in these categories: commercial/non-commercial in ag plant, and demonstration/research; and private applicator.

2019 Schedule

Check-in each day is from 8 to 8:30 a.m., with sessions from 8:45 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Jan. 9 – Gering: Gering Civic Center, 1050 M St.
Jan. 10 – North Platte: Sandhills Convention Center, 2102 S. Jeffers St.
Jan. 15 - LaVista: LaVista Conference Center, 12520 Westport Pkwy
Jan. 16 - York: Holthus Convention Center, 3130 Holen Ave.
Jan. 23, 24 – Norfolk: Lifelong Learning Center, NECC, 601 E. Benjamin Ave.  (Two one-day sessions)
Nebraska Crop Management Conference, Jan. 24 & 25 – Kearney

Pesticide recertification and CCA credits are also available for this event, to be held at the Younes Conference Center, 416 W. Talmadge Road. 

View the Agenda and Register for NCMCs here....

Commercial Manure Applicator Training Scheduled for Jan. 3, 2019

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources will conduct a Commercial Manure Applicator training on Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019. Commercial manure applicators can attend the annual training to meet commercial manure applicator certification requirements.

The training will be held from 9 a.m. to noon at 76 locations in Iowa and one location in Minnesota. Doors open at 8:30 a.m. There is no fee for the workshop, but applicators must register by Dec. 26 with the ISU Extension and Outreach county office where they plan to attend. A complete list of workshop locations can be found at

Commercial manure applicators needing to recertify and those wanting to certify for the first time should attend. All currently certified commercial manure applicator licenses will expire on March 1, 2019. Those wanting to renew must complete training requirements and submit forms and fees to the DNR prior to March 1 in order to avoid paying late fees. The law requires all commercial manure applicators to attend three hours of training annually to meet certification requirements. Businesses that primarily truck or haul manure of any type or from any source are also required to meet certification requirements.

Those unable to attend the program on Jan. 3 need to schedule time with their ISU Extension and Outreach county office to watch the training video. Due to scheduling conflicts, many extension offices will no longer accept walk-in appointments to watch the video, but do offer scheduled dates and times to provide this training. If you can’t attend training during one of the scheduled reshow dates at your county extension office, you will be charged a $10 fee to view the training at your convenience.

If attending the workshops or watching the three-hour video is not convenient, commercial applicators may contact their local DNR field office to schedule an appointment to take the certification exam. Another option for commercial manure applicators is to take their training online at the DNR MAC eLearning site at The applicator will need to sign-in and get an A&A account.

In addition to the commercial manure applicator training offered on Jan. 3, ISU Extension and Outreach will also offer six dry/solid manure workshops for commercial manure applicators in February 2019. Information regarding these workshops and locations is also contained in the link to the brochure listed above. Program requirements are the same as the regular commercial training program, but this training program is geared more toward dry/solid manure issues. 

For questions about the commercial manure applicator certification program, contact your ISU Extension and Outreach county office or visit

Confinement Site Manure Applicator Workshops Scheduled for 2019

Confinement site manure applicators and anyone interested in learning about manure issues should plan to attend a two-hour workshop offered by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach in January and February 2019. These workshops are offered in cooperation with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. There is no fee to attend the workshops, but applicators will need to pay certification fees to complete certification requirements.

“Iowa law requires confinement site manure applicators to attend two hours of continuing education each year of their three-year certification period or take and pass an exam once every three years,” said Dan Andersen, associate professor and extension agricultural engineering specialist at Iowa State.

A total of 67 counties will participate in the confinement site manure applicator workshops. In addition, a series of six dry/solid manure applicator certification meetings will be held in February. A complete list of workshop dates and locations can be found online at or by contacting an ISU Extension and Outreach county office.

The workshops serve as initial certification for those applicators who are not currently certified, recertification for those renewing licenses and continuing education for those applicators in their second or third year of their license.

Due to uniform certification deadlines, applicators are encouraged to attend workshops prior to March 1 to avoid being assessed a late fee of $12.50 for those who are re-certifying. Those unable to attend one of the workshops need to schedule time with the ISU Extension county office to watch the training video. Due to scheduling conflicts, many extension offices will no longer accept walk-in appointments to watch these videos, but do offer scheduled dates and times to provide this training. Anyone requesting an individual reshow of the training video will be charge a $10 fee to view the training.

If attending the workshops or watching the two-hour training video is not convenient, confinement site manure applicators may contact their local DNR field office to schedule an appointment to take the certification exam to meet certification requirements.

Applicators also have an online certification option. Training is available online at the DNR MAC eLearning site at The applicator will need to sign-in and get an A&A account.

Contact an ISU Extension and Outreach county office for more information about the Manure Applicator Certification Program or visit

Dry Manure Applicator Certification Workshops Offered

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach in cooperation with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, will offer manure applicator certification workshops for dry/solid manure operators on six different dates and locations in February. These workshops meet manure applicator certification requirements for both confinement site manure applicators and commercial manure applicators who primarily apply dry or solid manure.

“The information in this workshop will benefit not only those needing certification, but anyone using dry or solid sources of manure as a nutrient resource,” said Dan Andersen, associate professor and extension agricultural engineering specialist at Iowa State University.

Please register for one of the workshops by calling the number listed with the selected site. All workshops begin at 1 p.m.
    Feb. 7, Wright County, Heartland Museum, Clarion. Call 515-532-3453 to register.
    Feb. 11, ISU Extension and Outreach Washington County office, Washington. Call 319-653-4811 to register.
    Feb. 18, Adair County, Warren Cultural Center, Greenfield. Call 641-743-8412 to register.
    Feb. 19, ISU Extension and Outreach Sioux County office, Orange City. Call 712-737-4230 to register.
    Feb. 22, Hamilton County, Kamrar Lions Community Building, Kamrar. Call 515-832-9597 to register.
    Feb. 26, ISU Extension and Outreach Buena Vista County office, AEA Office, Storm Lake. Call 712-732-5056 to register.

The workshops are free to attend and open to all. Applicators will be required to submit certification forms and fees to the Iowa DNR to meet manure applicator certification requirements.

Webinar Outlines 2019 Market Expectations

Due to the magnitude of the rallies and breaks in the cattle business, there has never been a more critical time for market participants to be fully engaged in market and industry information. An upcoming free CattleFax webinar is an opportunity to become more informed, as the webinar will provide an outlook for the cow-calf and entire beef industry for 2019.

The CattleFax Trends+ Cow-Calf Webinar, which is free to attendees thanks to sponsor Elanco Animal Health, will be held Jan. 23, 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 expansion 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
    Supply expectations for the cattle and beef industry as well as competing meats
    Margin expectations for cow-calf producers
    Profitability and risk management strategies for cattle producers

The Trends+ webinar series updates cattle producers about current market conditions and provides decision-friendly advice regarding management decisions. To date the analysis and strategies shared through the webinar series has reached more than 6,000 producers.

NMPF Strongly Supports EPA Efforts to Exempt Manure Air Emissions Reporting Under EPCRA

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) filed comments today in support of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Nov. 14 proposal to exempt manure air emissions reporting from the Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act (ECPRA).

In October 2017, EPA concluded that air emissions from manure did not need to be reported under EPCRA while signaling it would take a substantive approach through rulemaking to explain its thinking on the issue. EPA’s assessment largely was based on the fact that the air emissions were a result of “routine agricultural operations” exempt from EPCRA reporting.

EPA’s current actions with EPCRA are consistent with Congress’ recent action to exempt manure emissions reporting requirements under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA).

In today’s comments, NMPF expressed support for that approach and noted that the legislative history of EPCRA showed that Congress did not intend for continuous air emissions reports to be filed under EPCRA if they were not required under CERCLA. In further support of EPA’s action, NMPF has noted that the emergency response community has no use for these reports and that they impede their emergency response function.

“The record is clear,” NMPF said in its comments. “Congress, the U.S. Coast Guard, and Emergency Responders around the country all oppose air emissions from manure reporting. We appreciate the opportunity to share our views on this important topic and commend the agency for its diligence.”

NMPF also concurred with EPA’s proposed new definitions of “Animal Waste” and “Farms.” NMPF looks forward to EPA finalizing this rulemaking as proposed.

 RMA Announces New Crop Insurance Coverage Option

Farmers now have a low-cost option for insuring small parcels of land in one county by combining them into a single enterprise unit with land in a neighboring county under their crop insurance. The USDA's Risk Management Agency is offering the new endorsement known as the Multi-County Enterprise Unit for farmers interested in covering two counties in the same state under their crop insurance policy.

"Today's farmers and ranchers face tremendous challenges. Access to affordable, flexible crop insurance options shouldn't be one of them." said RMA Administrator Martin Barbre. "This simple policy change will help producers manage their overall production risk by combining acreage into a larger unit, which could also lead to lower insurance premiums for policyholders. It's a win-win."

The endorsement is available for spring crops with a November 30, 2018, and later contract change date. Initially targeted crops include coarse grains (corn, grain sorghum, soybeans), cotton, canola, peanuts, rice, small grains (barley, wheat), and sunflowers.

To qualify for the endorsement, one county must qualify independently for an enterprise unit and the other county must not qualify for an enterprise unit. Both county crop policies in the Multi-County Enterprise Unit must be with the same Approved Insurance Provider and have the same elections for Multi-County Enterprise Units, insurance plan, coverage level, and enterprise unit by practice.

Interested farmers should contact their crop insurance agent to discuss options. A list of crop insurance agents is available at all USDA Service Centers and online at the RMA Agent Locator.


The European Union parliament this week approved the EU-Japan trade agreement. The agreement removes tariffs on 97 percent of European exports, with agriculture exports seeing significant tariff reductions. The pact will enter into force Feb. 1, 2019. In addition, the 11 nation CPTPP regional trade agreement will come into effect on December 30 with a second round of tariff cuts coming again on April 1, 2019.

In 2016, Japanese consumers purchased almost $1.6 billion of U.S. pork products. With the CPTPP deal and the EU-Japan trade pact in place, the National Pork Producers Council feels U.S. pork is at risk of losing market share in one its largest export markets. NPPC continues to urge the Trump administration to expeditiously negotiate a trade agreement with Japan to avoid market share loss.

Secretary Perdue Hosts Former Secretaries of Agriculture at USDA

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue met with four former U.S. Secretaries of Agriculture today at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Those in attendance included former Secretaries John Block, Dan Glickman, Ann Veneman, and Mike Johanns. The Secretaries discussed several issues including trade, wildfires, agriculture research, infrastructure, cell-based meat, and rural prosperity.

USDA to Survey Sheep and Goat Producers

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) will measure sheep and goat inventories, including lambs and kids, as well as wool and mohair production utilizing the nationwide Sheep and Goat Survey starting in December.

Beginning in late December, operators surveyed will be asked to provide detailed information about their sheep and goat inventories, counts of lambs and kids born during 2018, plus production and prices received for wool and mohair.

Accurate data on sheep and goat production is a critical decision-making tool for USDA and the industry and enables them to be more responsive to domestic and international markets and consumer needs. The information can also help create public appreciation for the many benefits of U.S. sheep and goats and their products.

To make it as easy as possible for producers to participate in the survey, NASS offers the option of responding via the Internet, telephone, mail, or a personal interview with a local NASS representative.

As is the case with all NASS surveys, information provided by respondents is confidential by law. NASS safeguards the privacy of all responses and publishes results in aggregate form only, ensuring that no individual producer or operation can be identified. The January Sheep and Goat report will be released on January 31, 2019. 

USDA Updates Branding Rules for Mexican Cattle

The USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is revising branding requirements for cattle imported from Mexico. This change simplifies the branding process, while continuing to ensure Mexican cattle are easily identifiable and traceable for the rest of their lives, in the event of an animal disease detection.

Feeder cattle will be branded with a single "M" on the right hip, and breeding bovines will be branded with a single "M" on the right shoulder. The "M" brand will be larger in size and allow for better readability. An "MX" ear tattoo is still an option for breeder cattle instead of a brand since they have not caused a readability problem and are considered a permanent form of identification. Permanent identification on Mexican cattle is important because they are known to frequently carry tuberculosis and brucellosis, two diseases that are very limited in the United States. Cattle imported from Mexico will still require an official eartag for traceability purposes.

USDA has already allowed Mexico to use these updated branding requirements which has reduced errors and uncertainty at border ports. The change has proven beneficial to both countries by decreasing the need for rebranding and reducing the incidence of cattle rejections at port-of-entry inspection.

The agency issued a proposed rule in April and received 12 comments during the 60-day comment period.

NSP Announces Annual Yield Contest Winners

National Sorghum Producers is proud to announce the winners of the 2018 NSP Yield Contest. Farmers from 24 states entered to win this year’s contest. Producer yields are highlighted in five different categories. This year’s top yield and Bin Buster winner is Michael Ball of Idaho, with 219.1 bushels per acre.

"Throughout the trials and tribulations sorghum has faced this past year, it is inspiring to see farmers pushing through and showcasing their perseverance and dedication to finish the yield contest," said NSP board of directors Chairman Dan Atkisson. "We know harvest conditions were not ideal this year and interfered with many contestant entries, but we congratulate the winners, and I look forward to meeting each one at the upcoming Commodity Classic."

The 2018 first place winners of the NSP Yield Contest were Michael Ball of Idaho in the Irrigated-Tillage West category with a yield of 219.1 bushels per acre; Michelle Santini of New Jersey in the Irrigated-Tillage East category with a yield of 192.7 bushels per acre; Beckman Farms of Kansas in the Irrigated-No Till West category with a yield of 196.7 bushels per acre; Jeffrey Barlieb of New Jersey in the Irrigated-No Till East category with a yield of 183.89 bushels per acre; Lee Pifer of Kansas in the Dryland-Tillage West category with a yield of 170.63 bushels per acre; Harry Johnston of Pennsylvania in the Dryland-Tillage East category with a yield of 202.71 bushels per acre; David Knoll of South Dakota in the Dryland-No Till West category with a yield of 178.6 bushels per acre; Winter Johnston of Pennsylvania in the Dryland-No Till East category with a yield of 198.39 bushels per acre; and Mike Baker of Nebraska won the Food-Grade category with a yield of 172.52 bushels per acre.

The national winners and new hall of fame member, Ki Gamble of Greensburg, Kansas, will be further recognized at Commodity Classic in Orlando, Florida, on March 1, 2018, at an awards dinner sponsored by Corteva.

To see a complete list of the NSP Yield Contest national, state and county results, or to learn more about the contest, visit

John Deere’s Lagemann Elected Chair of the Assoc. of Equipment Manufacturers

John D. Lagemann, senior vice president of sales and marketing, Ag & Turf Division - Regions 3 and 4 for John Deere, has been elected 2019 Chair of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM). He previously served as chair of the ag sector board for the association.

AEM is the North American-based international trade group representing 1,000 companies in the off-road equipment manufacturing industry, which includes the agriculture, construction, forestry, mining and utility sectors. Officers and directors of the association work on behalf of member companies to provide strategic direction for AEM’s business development initiatives in areas of public policy, market data and exhibitions, as well as technical, safety and regulatory issues training.

“We welcome our 2019 officers and new and returning directors and want to publicly thank them and their companies for continued support of the association and its goals,” said AEM President Dennis Slater. “AEM could not succeed and grow without the dedication of its volunteer leadership and active member participation. They help ensure AEM delivers quality results that continue to strengthen member companies and the industries they serve.”

Lagemann works at the John Deere Ag Marketing Center in Olathe, Kansas, and brings 36 years of ag-industry experience to the AEM board. He began working at John Deere in various sales and marketing roles at the Kansas City branch in 1982, then served as factory marketing manager at John Deere Harvester Works in East Moline, Illinois in 1994. Lagemann also spent two years in Brisbane, Australia, managing the company’s operations in Australia, New Zealand and East Asia before returning to the U.S. to become vice president of sales for the U.S. and Canada in 2002.

In 2012 Lagemann was promoted to senior vice president of sales and marketing for the company’s Ag and Turf Divisions for the Americas and Australia. A native of Concordia, Kansas, he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Feed Science and Management and a Master of Business Administration degree from Kansas State University.

Douglas Products Creates Plant Health Division

Douglas Products announces the formation of a new Plant Health Division following the addition of two companies known for innovation in Biological plant nutrition and soil health. Growth Products, based in White Plains, New York, joined Douglas Products on October 19, 2018; and AgriEnergy Resources, based in Princeton, Illinois, joined on December 10, 2018. Growth Products produces and markets liquid nutrient and biological technologies serving the turf and ornamental, agriculture, arbor care and residential markets, and serves the citrus market in Florida through its G.P. Solutions division. AgriEnergy Resources specializes in the development and production of microbial and other soil fertility products for horticulture and row crops.

“We are excited to expand our resources and expertise with the addition of two companies which each have over 30 years of proven track record for developing innovative solutions aimed at improving soil health and increasing plant productivity,” says Wes Long, CEO. “The mergers are a major step in our company’s vision to expand its branded specialty chemicals and biological solutions portfolio for the Agriculture and Turf & Ornamental segments.”

“The announcement addresses an important issue within agriculture and T&O — the demand for proven sustainable biological technologies, adds Vince Adams, Chief Business Development Officer for Douglas Products.

“Under the Douglas Products banner, Growth Products and AgriEnergy Resources will capture R&D, Agronomical support and manufacturing synergies,” Adams says. “We will ensure that service and support to dealers, distributors and end-use customers will continue without disruption, but our main goal is to better serve customers by leveraging the combined strengths of all three companies. We will expand investment to develop new soil and plant health solutions both in the U.S. and overseas. And we will also take advantage of efficiencies in, logistics, warehousing, regulatory affairs and marketing.”

“Creation of a Plant Health Division is a strategic move,” Long adds. “Douglas Products has served agriculture for 103 years, primarily to protect grain. Its Ag product portfolio includes two postharvest fumigants, ProFume® gas fumigant and PH3 (phosphide) as well as several insecticide brands. The addition of Growth Products and AgriEnergy Resources now provides solutions from planting through post-harvest as well as expands the technology portfolio into the Turf & Ornamental market.”

Long says that Growth Products and AgriEnergy Resources will continue to operate from their current headquarter locations.

Thursday December 13 Ag News

CHS Inc. Elects Five Directors and Officers for 2019

CHS Inc. owners have elected a farmer from Nebraska and re-elected four other farmers to serve three-year terms on the board of the nation's leading farmer-owned cooperative and global energy, grains and foods company.

The elections took place during the 2018 CHS Annual Meeting, held Dec. 7 in Minneapolis. CHS Directors must be full-time farmers or ranchers to be eligible for election to the 17-member board.

Newly elected Director David Beckman of Elgin, Nebraska, succeeds Don Anthony of Lexington, Nebraska, who retired after serving on the board since 2006. Along with his brother and their families, Beckman raises irrigated corn and soybeans and operates a custom hog-feeding operation. He received his bachelor's degree in agronomy from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and he serves as board chairman for Central Valley Ag Cooperative, York, Nebraska, and secretary of the Nebraska Cooperative Council.

Re-elected were Steve Fritel, Rugby, North Dakota, David Johnsrud, Starbuck, Minnesota, David Kayser, Alexandria, South Dakota, and Russ Kehl, Quincy, Washington.

Following the annual meeting, the CHS Board re-elected Dan Schurr, LeClaire, Iowa, to a one-year term as chairman. Other directors selected as officers for 2019 were:
-    C.J. Blew, Castleton, Kansas, first vice chairman
-    David Johnsrud, Starbuck, Minnesota, secretary-treasurer
-    Jon Erickson, Minot, North Dakota, second vice chairman
-    Steve Riegel, Ford, Kansas, assistant secretary-treasurer

FCSAmerica to Distribute 2018 Cash-Back Dividend of 90 basis points; total payout of approx. $230m

At a time when agricultural producers face economic challenges, Farm Credit Services of America (FCSAmerica) has approved its largest cash-back dividend to date. The financial cooperative’s eligible customer-owners will receive a 2018 cash-back dividend equal to 0.90 percent of a customer’s eligible daily loan balance for an estimated total payout of approximately $230 million.

Since 2004, FCSAmerica has returned nearly $1.7 billion to farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses in Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming.

“As a mission-driven cooperative, one of our key goals is to maintain the financial strength to serve agriculture and rural America through all economic cycles. We strive to be a dependable lender through every ag cycle, but especially through the tough ones,” said Mark Jensen, president and CEO of FCSAmerica. “There is no better time than today to put our financial strength to work for our customer-owners.”

Earlier this year, the Board of Directors for FCSAmerica announced that it was enhancing its patronage program to share more of the cooperative’s earnings with eligible customer-owners. It intends to target a cash-back dividend of 90 basis points for the foreseeable future, barring unforeseen events and significant changes in the environment. The earnings retained by FCSAmerica are used to build the cooperative’s financial capacity to continue serving agriculture.

The 2018 dividend checks will be mailed to eligible customer-owners in March 2019. The Board of Directors has approved a cash-back dividend program for 2019, with the amount of the distribution to be decided in December 2019.


Growers who dealt with soybean gall midge infestations in 2018 and those who are interested in learning more about this newly emerging soybean pest are invited to attend a roundtable discussion on Thursday, December 20. The Nebraska Extension program will be from 8:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. at the University of Nebraska Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center at 1071 County Road G, Ithaca.

In the 2018 growing season there was a significant increase in reports from consultants, growers, and extension educators of dying soybean plants associated with soybean gall midge infestations in eastern Nebraska fields.

“These infestations were much earlier (late June) than what was seen in the past,” said Justin McMechan, Nebraska Extension crop protection and cropping systems specialist. “So we are concerned about the significant yield losses these infestations could present in soybean fields.”

McMechan and other UNL entomologists are conducting research on soybean gall midge at the University of Nebraska Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center near Mead.  Based on 2018 observations, researchers are initiating research plans for 2019. McMechan and others plan to monitor soybean gall midge emergence and evaluate management practices such as planting date and insecticide use.

He said the roundtable session will provide an opportunity to share University findings and learn from grower experience.

“We want to know what growers saw and connect them with some potential tools for making management decisions in 2019,” McMechan said.

“We are interested in finding out what did and did not work for growers, as far as management practices (such as planting date, maturity group, insecticides, adjacent crop, tillage, etc.). Grower input is critical to help guide our research efforts on this rapidly developing pest of soybean.”

Registration is from 8:30-9 a.m. “Soybean Gall Midge: Overview, Management, and Impact” will be presented from 9-9:45 a.m. followed by the roundtable discussion until 11 a.m.  A summary of the discussion will conclude the program.

Information is available online at  Please RSVP by Monday, Dec. 17 by calling 402-624-8030.

For more information, email McMechan at or Extension Educator Keith Glewen at, or call (402) 624-8030 or (800) 529-8030.

Nebraska Farm Bureau Names 2019 Leadership Academy Class

Ten farmers and ranchers from across Nebraska have been selected for Nebraska Farm Bureau’s 2019 Leadership Academy. The selected farmers and ranchers will begin a year-long program starting Jan. 24-25 at the Holiday Inn in Kearney.

“The goal of the Nebraska Farm Bureau Leadership Academy is to cultivate the talents and strengths of our members and connect their passion for agriculture to opportunities of service within the Farm Bureau organization. Great leaders have a clearly defined purpose; purpose fuels passion and work ethic. By developing leadership skills, academy members can develop their passions and positively impact their local communities and the state of Nebraska.” said Phil Erdman, facilitator of the 2019 Leadership Academy. Erdman works with Audrey Schipporeit, Nebraska Farm Bureau’s director of generational engagement to help facilitate the program. Erdman also serves as the vice president of membership for Nebraska Farm Bureau.

Academy members will participate in sessions focused on leadership skills, understanding the county, state, and national structure of the Nebraska Farm Bureau organization including Farm Bureau’s grassroots network and policy work on agriculture issues. Also, the group will travel to Washington, D.C. in September, for visits with Nebraska’s Congressional delegation and federal agency representatives.

“We congratulate this group of diverse individuals and thank them for their willingness to step out of their comfort zone to learn more about how they can influence their community, state, and world for the better,” said Schipporeit.

The 2019 Nebraska Farm Bureau Leadership Academy members are:

Brenda Jean Wendt, a member of the Boyd County Farm Bureau, lives in Bristow. She was born and raised on her family's farm in Howells. After meeting her husband at Wayne State College, they built a home by Bristow where she is involved with her husband’s family farm.

Krista Podany is a member of the Knox County Farm Bureau. Podany is a dedicated volunteer to both Farm Bureau and her community. She has a diversified farming operation along with a custom harvest business.

Owen Seamann is a Wheeler County Farm Bureau member and lives in Spalding. Seamann has been involved in agriculture for many years, first working for farmers and on a feedlot then purchasing his own cow herd.

Cherie Priest is a Brown County Farm Bureau member. She moved to Brown County with her husband, Randy, in 2005 to take over the ranch that has been in his family for three generations and runs a cow/calf operation. She is also the office manager for a local 50,000 head capacity feed yard.

Jolene Dunbar is a member of the Loup County Farm Bureau. After attending college and working for several ag related businesses, she returned home in 2008 and gradually worked her way back into the family farm business. She now resides in Almeria with her two girls, where they enjoy farming, ranching and showing their shorthorns and sheep.

Katherine Martindale is a Blaine County Farm Bureau member. Martindale served as Postmaster for Dunning and Brewster for thirty-one years. Since retiring, Martindale helps her husband Jay and his family operate their ranch/feedlot near Brewster.

Matthew Erickson is a member of the Johnson County Farm Bureau. Matthew received a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanized Systems Management with minors in Agronomy and Animal Science from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. After graduation, Erickson returned home to the farm and continues farming with his family.

Adam Rathman, a member of Hall County Farm Bureau, worked just over four years as a caseworker at the Nebraska Correctional Youth Facility in Omaha before moving back to Wood River to work on the farm. He currently helps his father run a row crop and cow calf operation just outside of Wood River.

Tyrell Fickenscher is a member of Kearney/Franklin County Farm Bureau. Fickenscher graduated from Colorado State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Soil and Crop Science and received his Master’s in Agribusiness from Kansas State University. He and his wife started Upward Ag Systems, where he continues to work to help farmers adopt technology focusing on irrigation management and data analysis.

Samantha Dyer, a member of the Dawes County Farm Bureau, graduated from Texas Tech University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Business. Dyer currently is a financial officer for Farm Credit Services of America.

ISA Garners Funds to Expand Watersheds and Promote Conservation Adoption

The Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) has secured a grant to improve water quality efforts throughout Iowa. The Walton Family Foundation approved funding in November towards a one-year project for ISA, in coordination with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS), to continue innovating and implementing watershed approaches.

“We support innovative approaches to scale practices that improve water quality in Iowa,” says Amy Saltzman of the Walton Family Foundation. “We are particularly excited by this opportunity to scale up successful collaboration between the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and the Iowa Soybean Association.”

The ISA Environmental Programs and Services team (EPS) will head the project.

“ISA, along with our farmers and numerous local, state and federal partners, has developed plans to implement nearly 30 small-scale watersheds,” says Roger Wolf, ISA EPS Director.  “These plans provide a roadmap to scale up practices to meet goals, and this new grant will work to build off that momentum by exploring ways to do it faster and at larger scales.”  

Wolf says the EPS team will be advancing the idea of creating Diffusion Hubs — areas of expansion from small watersheds to larger ones — using new tools, strategies, and technologies to innovate and move the Nutrient Reduction Strategy faster. Additionally, the team hopes to expand the knowledge of the finances behind on-farm conservation, with the ultimate goal of incentivizing broader conservation adoption across the state.

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture, Mike Naig, believes joint efforts to scale up watershed planning projects are a positive for the future of Iowa’s water quality.

“With the passing of the water quality bill this year, IDALS is continuing to explore opportunities for outside funding that can further expand water quality practice implementation,” said Naig. “This grant will give us the opportunity to develop and evaluate new pathways to deploy future funding.”

Soybean Growers Encouraged by China Sales, but Need Second Aid Payment

The American Soybean Association (ASA) is encouraged by news this week that buyers in China have made purchases of U.S. soybeans. U.S. soybean sales to China were suspended earlier this year as trade relations between the countries faltered under the current tariff war.

Davie Stephens, ASA President and a grower from Clinton, Ky., said, “This is positive news for our growers and for U.S-China trade relations. American soybean farmers prosper when they have access to international markets, and our trade relationship with China is critically important to our industry.”

The ASA leader continued, “The news of resumed sales represents a positive step under the current 90-day agreement to suspend new tariffs and negotiate on trade issues agreed to by President Trump and President Xi. Beyond yesterday’s sale announcement, it is vital that this 90-day process result in lifting the current 25 percent tariff that China continues to impose on U.S. soybean imports. Without removal of this tariff, it is improbable that sales of U.S. soybeans to China can be sustained.”

While ASA is hopeful that soy farmers will be able to resume delivery of high-quality soy to China, Tuesday’s sale announcement is only the first step in rebuilding soybean exports to China and will not fix the prolonged period of low prices soybean farmers have faced since the trade war began. Stephens said the roughly $2.00 drop in soybean prices experienced since last May continues to harm soybean farmers.

“It is critical for Secretary Perdue to move forward with his commitment to announce the second half of Market Facilitation Program payments. When USDA calculated the harm incurred by the tariffs on soybean prices, it assumed that China would still purchase at least 50 percent of the 32 million tons of U.S. soybeans it bought in 2017. With only a fraction of this amount accounted for in this week’s announced sale, it is critically important that we see additional purchases and actual deliveries, and for USDA to make a payment on the second half of 2018 soybean production,” Stephens said.

ASA urges USDA to honor its commitment by providing the second Market Facilitation Program payment to aid soybeans farmers as the Administration continues to negotiate eliminating tariffs with China.

House & Senate Approve Farm Bill—and Soy Growers Approve the Quick Progress!

ASA congratulates the House and Senate Agriculture Committees and Congressional leadership on both chambers’ quick actions to approve the “Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018,” or Farm Bill. ASA now encourages the President to act quickly, in turn.

“We are so pleased that the Senate and now the House have acted so swiftly to approve this bipartisan effort,” stated ASA President Davie Stephens, a soybean farmer from Clinton, Ky. “This legislation will undoubtedly provide a needed layer of stability and certainty for our soy industry and across agriculture. Timely passage of a new farm bill as opposed to another temporary extension this year will offer significant benefits to our industry, including resources for market development, crop insurance provisions, and more for the next five years.”

The 13 titles of the Farm Bill span programs affecting producers of food, feed, fiber and fuel, and that offer assurance the federal government will continue to provide assistance, when needed, through farm income support programs, nutrition and feeding programs, and through conservation, rural development, agricultural research, energy, and international agricultural development and food aid programs.

USGC To USTR, ITC: Japan, EU Negotiations Should Win New Market Access

Trade negotiations with Japan and the European Union (EU) should address long-time market access challenges for U.S. grains and ethanol including tariff rates, regulatory synchronization and technical barriers, the U.S. Grains Council told the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) and the International Trade Commission (ITC) in recently-submitted testimony and at hearings to prepare for the coming trade talks.

USGC Director of Trade Policy and Biotechnology Floyd Gaibler testified Monday at a USTR panel on priorities for the Japan talks, which will bring to the table the overall second largest buyer of U.S. feed grains in all forms and a country in which the Council has worked actively since the 1960s.

Gaibler said the coming negotiations with Japan should build on this deep relationship as well as the achievements of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations and the recently-signed U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

First and foremost, the new U.S.-Japan agreement should ensure that U.S. feed grains and ethanol have full market access by countering preferential treatment from other regional and bilateral agreements Japan already has in place. For example, a new Japan-EU agreement offers lower tariffs on barley and sorghum from EU countries than on those commodities from the United States.

TPP included a strong sanitary and phytosanitary chapter that should be included in a new agreement, Gaibler told USTR panelists, as well as the first-ever biotechnology chapter in a U.S. trade agreement, which was subsequently improved upon by the USMCA text.

"Matching or exceeding market access from competing regional and bilateral agreements must be a key negotiating priority in the U.S.-Japan agreement," he said. "At the outset, the negotiations should aim to eliminate or phase out all existing tariffs and tariff-rate quotas, and market access provisions with Japan should match or exceed those achieved under TPP."

By volume, Japan is now the second largest overall buyer of U.S. corn and U.S. sorghum, the third largest buyer of U.S. barley and the ninth largest buyer of U.S. distiller's dried grains with solubles (DDGS). Importantly, the country also recently modified its biofuels policy to allow U.S. ethanol to be used more widely as a feedstock for ETBE, a gasoline additive.

Gaibler is scheduled to testify at a USTR hearing on Friday and an ITC hearing on Monday on the coming EU talks, telling officials it is "fundamental" that food and agriculture issues be addressed in any new agreement, and that the product of those negotiations should build on understandings included in the former Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) text and achievements in the USMCA.

"The U.S. and the EU need to reconsider a systematic approach to normalize trade," he is slated to say, referencing regulatory barriers and legal challenges marring the grains trading relationship between the two markets. "Agriculture has to be included in these negotiations to meet that objective."

Gaibler will tell USTR and ITC leaders the U.S. government should push the EU to eliminate the price reference system and commit to maintaining zero duties on U.S. corn, barley, sorghum, DDGS and other co-products. The negotiations should also seek to address the existing asynchronous approval process for biotech events and other regulatory challenges.

Sales of grains in all forms to EU countries jumped significantly in 2017/2018 to 4.47 million metric tons (176 million bushels), the most imports since 2010/2011. The European Union ranked as the largest market for U.S. corn gluten feed/meal, fourth largest buyer of both U.S. ethanol and U.S. sorghum, the seventh largest market for U.S. DDGS and the eighth largest buyer of U.S. corn.

USDA to Gather Info to Determine Ag's Financial Well-Being

Beginning in late December, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) will spend several months gathering information about farm economics and production practices from farmers and ranchers across Indiana, as the agency conducts the third and final phase of the 2018 Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS).

In an effort to obtain the most accurate data, NASS will reach out to more than 30,000 producers nationwide, including nearly 1500 in Indiana, between February and April. The survey asks producers to provide in-depth information about their operating revenues, production costs, and household characteristics. The 2018 survey includes versions focused on soybean, and cattle and calf sector costs and returns.

In addition to producing accurate information, NASS has strong safeguards in place to protect the confidentiality of all farmers who respond to its surveys. The agency will only publish data in an aggregate form only, ensuring the confidentiality of all responses and that no individual respondent or operation can be identified.

The expense data gathered in ARMS will be published in the annual Farm Production Expenditures report on August 2, 2019. For more information about the 2018 ARMS, visit

Organic food worse for the climate

Organically farmed food has a bigger climate impact than conventionally farmed food, due to the greater areas of land required. This is the finding of a new international study involving Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, published in the journal Nature.

The researchers developed a new method for assessing the climate impact from land-use, and used this, along with other methods, to compare organic and conventional food production. The results show that organic food can result in much greater emissions.

“Our study shows that organic peas, farmed in Sweden, have around a 50 percent bigger climate impact than conventionally farmed peas. For some foodstuffs, there is an even bigger difference – for example, with organic Swedish winter wheat the difference is closer to 70 percent,” says Stefan Wirsenius, an associate professor from Chalmers, and one of those responsible for the study.

The reason why organic food is so much worse for the climate is that the yields per hectare are much lower, primarily because fertilisers are not used. To produce the same amount of organic food, you therefore need a much bigger area of land.

The ground-breaking aspect of the new study is the conclusion that this difference in land usage results in organic food causing a much larger climate impact.

“The greater land-use in organic farming leads indirectly to higher carbon dioxide emissions, thanks to deforestation,” explains Stefan Wirsenius. “The world’s food production is governed by international trade, so how we farm in Sweden influences deforestation in the tropics. If we use more land for the same amount of food, we contribute indirectly to bigger deforestation elsewhere in the world.”

Even organic meat and dairy products are – from a climate point of view – worse than their conventionally produced equivalents, claims Stefan Wirsenius.

“Because organic meat and milk production uses organic feeds, it also requires more land than conventional production. This means that the findings on organic wheat and peas in principle also apply to meat and milk products. We have not done any specific calculations on meat and milk, however, and have no concrete examples of this in the article,” he explains.

A new metric: Carbon Opportunity Cost

The researchers used a new metric, which they call “Carbon Opportunity Cost”, to evaluate the effect of greater land-use contributing to higher carbon dioxide emissions from deforestation. This metric takes into account the amount of carbon that is stored in forests, and thus released as carbon dioxide as an effect of deforestation. The study is among the first in the world to make use of this metric.

“The fact that more land use leads to greater climate impact has not often been taken into account in earlier comparisons between organic and conventional food,” says Stefan Wirsenius. “This is a big oversight, because, as our study shows, this effect can be many times bigger than the greenhouse gas effects, which are normally included. It is also serious because today in Sweden, we have political goals to increase production of organic food. If those goals are implemented, the climate influence from Swedish food production will probably increase a lot.”

So why have earlier studies not taken into account land-use and its relationship to carbon dioxide emissions?

“There are surely many reasons. An important explanation, I think, is simply an earlier lack of good, easily applicable methods for measuring the effect. Our new method of measurement allows us to make broad environmental comparisons, with relative ease,” says Stefan Wirsenius.

The results of the study are published in the article “Assessing the efficiency of changes in land use for mitigating climate change” in the journal Nature. The article is written by Timothy Searchinger, Princeton University, Stefan Wirsenius, Chalmers University of Technology, Tim Beringer, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, and Patrice Dumas, Cired.

Sorghum Checkoff Board Directors Sworn in, Officers Elected

Four Sorghum Checkoff board directors were sworn in during the board meeting in Lubbock, Texas, Dec. 10-12, 2018.

Returning to the board are Boyd Funk of Garden City, Kansas; Craig Poore of Alton, Kansas; and Jim Massey of Robstown, Texas. Newly appointed to the board is Adam Schindler of Reliance, South Dakota.

The newly sworn in board members were appointed by U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue in July and will serve a three-year term. Schindler will fill the at-large seat previously held by David Fremark of St. Lawrence, South Dakota, who is completing his service this month.

"It is always exciting to welcome both the new and returning directors to the Sorghum Checkoff," said Sorghum Checkoff Executive Director Florentino Lopez. "The board of directors leads the efforts to increase shared value of the crop, expand market opportunities and support an innovative and competitive industry for producers."

Leadership was also re-elected during the December board meeting. Verity Ulibarri of McAlister, New Mexico, will continue to serve as chairwoman, Jim Massey of Robstown, Texas, as vice chairman, Craig Poore of Alton, Kansas, as secretary and Carlton Bridgeforth of Tanner, Alabama, as treasurer.

"I am pleased to welcome our new director to the board and to work with all the directors as we move forward on the new USCP strategic plan," Ulibarri said."The Sorghum Checkoff board of directors represents all sorghum farmers across the country, and each director adds unique ideas and perspective to continue propelling the industry forward."

As Fremark exited the board, he was honored for his service to the Sorghum Checkoff at a ceremony on Dec. 11.

"We extend our deepest appreciation to David for his hard work and dedication to the board," said Sorghum Checkoff CEO Tim Lust. "He has spent countless hours over the past six years, both as chairman and director, serving his fellow board members and has remained committed to adding profitability, growth and improvement to U.S. sorghum farmers."

Pioneer Adds More Than 100 New, Top-Performing Corn and Soybean Products to Lineup

Pioneer has added more than 100 new, top-performing corn and soybean products to its industry-leading product lineup for growers in the United States and Canada. The 2019 class of new products further strengthens the Pioneer® brand corn and soybean offering, which recorded its best overall yields in Pioneer history during the 2018 harvest:
-    Pioneer Brand Corn Hybrids Record Best Overall Yields in History: The top 40 Pioneer brand corn products by demand — including several products introduced in the past few seasons — offered growers a 5.3 bu/A advantage over the competition.*
-    Record Number of Farmers Planting Pioneer® Brand A-Series Soybeans Celebrate 100 Bushel Beans: In 2018, more than 50 growers topped the 100 bu/A threshold with A-Series varieties.

“The Pioneer product lineup is as strong as it has ever been thanks to our continued investments in research and local testing,” said Judd O’Connor, President, U.S. Commercial Business, Corteva Agriscience™, Agriculture Division of DowDuPont. “When farmers plant our products, they can feel confident they are planting a yield and agronomic leader that will perform consistently.”

2019 Corn Product Advancements

The new class of Pioneer brand corn hybrids includes 67 new, high-performing products ranging from 72 to 119 days comparative relative maturity, or CRM.

The products that advanced to commercialization underwent two years of IMPACT™ (Intensively Managed Product Advancement, Characterization and Testing) plot trials. This final research process characterizes corn products for the optimal geographical fit and measures product consistency over multiple years.

“Our hybrids are subjected to a rigorous testing regime. This means we bring new genetic gain and better performance to our lineup year over year,” said Matt Smalley, Research Director, North America Corn Breeding, Corteva Agriscience. “This year’s products include a focus on early-season hybrids, including some of the best early performance we’ve seen. Our lineup is really strong at 101 days and earlier.”

Pioneer IMPACT plot trials help to ensure only the top products are advanced to market. These new corn offerings from Pioneer are the product of comprehensive breeding efforts, creating an unrivaled selection, including:
-    Ten new Pioneer brand Optimum® AcreMax® XTreme products, which offer two modes of action for above-ground insect control and two modes of action for below-ground control;
-    Three new Pioneer brand Optimum® AQUAmax® products, designed to help withstand drought conditions and protect against yield loss; and
-    Four new Pioneer brand Optimum® Intrasect® products for above-ground insect protection.

Building on the widest range of end-use products, Pioneer also advanced five new yellow and three new white food-grade products, as well as two new waxy products and one new Pioneer brand Qrome® product.

2019 Soybean Product Advancements

The 2019 soybean class complements the already-outstanding Pioneer brand A-Series soybean lineup, the highest-yielding soybeans ever introduced by Pioneer. The 40 new A-Series varieties now bring the A-Series soybean lineup to nearly 150 varieties, ranging in maturity from Group 000 to Group 7.

With best-in-class yield potential plus strong agronomics and defensive characteristics, highlights of the 2019 class include:
-    Twenty-five new Pioneer brand A-Series soybean varieties with Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® technology. These varieties have a 3.4 bu/A yield advantage vs. competitive Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® technology varieties across nearly 8,000 comparisons, with 72 percent wins — a significant yield boost over the current Pioneer brand soybean products with Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® technology that demonstrated a 1.8 bu/A yield advantage vs competitive Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® technology varieties;
-    Nine new Pioneer brand A-Series varieties with the LibertyLink® trait, giving farmers additional options for weed control;
-    Thirty-two new A-Series varieties with native resistance to soybean cyst nematode (SCN), including 10 varieties with Peking resistance;
-    Three new Pioneer brand A-Series Plenish®# high oleic soybean varieties; and
-    Two new conventional A-Series varieties for growers raising non-GMO soybeans.

“Pioneer continues to improve the yield potential and agronomic performance of our soybean products thanks to investments we’ve made in advanced breeding technology, including our Accelerated Yield Technology or AYT 4.0 technology,” said Paul Stephens, Senior Research Director, Soybeans, Corteva Agriscience. “We are excited about these new soybean varieties and the productivity boost they give farmers.”

Pioneer brand products are designed to help meet growers’ needs and to provide stable yields, despite unpredictable growing seasons.

Wednesday December 12 Ag News

New Software Tool Now Adds Payroll Functionality to Farm and Ranch Management

Magnify, a new ag management software tool from Farm Credit Services of America (FCSAmerica), now includes OnPay to give farming and ranching operations a full-service payroll solution that meets their business needs.

FCSAmerica, a financial cooperative, and OnPay, a payroll software provider for small and growing businesses, bring their respective agricultural expertise to a partnership that enhances Magnify as an all-in-one tool for managing the business side of a farm or ranch. Among OnPay’s features are payroll applications for seasonal labor, the ability to process different minimum wage rates for ag workers and the filing of tax forms, including federal form 943 for agricultural employees.

“OnPay’s experience with agricultural payroll gives the company a unique understanding of the solutions that our customers need to run their businesses and keep their employees happy,” said Tony Jesina, FCSAmerica’s senior vice president overseeing Magnify.  “We are confident that OnPay will be attractive to customers who want an affordable, efficient and easy-to-use payroll option that fully integrates with Magnify.”

FCSAmerica launched Magnify in 2018 as a combination accounting and managerial software system aimed at improving profitability and decision-making through a real-time view of an operation’s overall financial health. Automated recordkeeping and accounting functions, for example, allow producers and their advisors to more easily track budgets and cash flows. The managerial reporting side pairs underlying accounting data with production and inventory information to produce insights and analyses, including a producer’s true, all-in cost of production and breakeven price.

As a significant cost to ag businesses, payroll data is an important addition to the financial picture Magnify provides. It combines payroll data with other financials to provide ag businesses with all the information they need to make informed decisions.

“This partnership gives farmers and ranchers something they’ve needed for a long time,” said Mark McKee, OnPay’s president and chief operations officer. “Agricultural businesses use complex technology to increase yield and manage production. We’re excited to help make the back office more intelligent, too. Now owners and managers can save time on payroll, plus get a much clearer picture of their financials.”

Magnify, developed in partnership with software firms Xero and Figured, is available exclusively through FCSAmerica. The financial cooperative, in association with Frontier Farm Credit, is initially offering Magnify to its customer-owners in Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming and eastern Kansas.

Farmers and Ranchers Gather to Support Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation

The Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation held its third annual Grower’s Gala on Dec. 3, during the 2018 Nebraska Farm Bureau Annual Convention. The evening was filled with dinner, a live auction, and entertainment by dueling pianos with Fun Pianos!

The live auction featured a DJI MAVIC PRO Drone, Case IH 9000-watt generator, once-in-a-lifetime flight in an open-cockpit Historic WWII plane, dinner with the governor, and travel and entertainment packages. Lancaster County Farm Bureau sponsored the third annual “deck of cards” raffle, and Shane Greving of Merrick County Farm Bureau was the lucky winner of a Beretta A400 Lite Shotgun and Sig Sauer Pistol.

“I am grateful to the 300 people who attended the Grower’s Gala to support the next steps in agricultural literacy in Nebraska,” said Megahn Schafer, executive director of the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation. “The money raised from the event will enable us to demonstrate the importance of agriculture to a greater number of students and consumers across Nebraska.”

Thanks to the generosity of donor Charles W. Herbster of Falls City, Neb., a matching gift doubled the first $15,000 raised at the Grower’s Gala. Totals for the evening topped $50,000 to support the Foundation’s programs including Nebraska Agriculture in the Classroom, the Ag Pen Pal program, scholarships and awards, and consumer engagement efforts.

“Despite some tricky weather, we had a good crowd, and those who braved the cold were treated to a wonderful meal and a fun night of singing and dancing along with the dueling pianos. It was great to see Nebraska farmers and ranchers take a moment to celebrate their way of life while giving back to make sure the next generation also has opportunities for success,” said Schafer.

Special thanks to auctioneer Rick Shoemaker of Huss Livestock Market, LLC, and the following live auction and raffle donors: Farm Bureau Counties: Blaine, Box Butte, Brown, Buffalo, Cherry, Colfax, Custer, Douglas, Garfield, Hall, Hitchcock, Holt, Keya Paha, Lancaster, Lincoln, Loup, McPherson, Rock, Thomas, and Wheeler. Nebraska Farm Bureau member benefit partners: AAA of Nebraska, Case IH Agriculture, Certified Piedmontese, Choice Hotels, Farm Bureau Bank, Grainger Industrial Supply, Great Wolf Lodge, TripBeat, and Showboat Branson Belle. As well as these additional supporters: 21st Century Equipment, Applebee’s, Kevin and Penny Burch, Courtyard Marriott-Lincoln Downtown/Haymarket, Jordan Dux, Friends of the Foundation, Duncan Aviation, Governor Pete Ricketts, Graduate Hotel-Lincoln, Hilton Garden Inn-Lincoln Downtown/Haymarket, Terry and Shelley Keebler, Lied Center for Performing Arts, Lincoln Marriott Cornhusker Hotel, Lincoln Residence Inn, Lincoln Saltdogs, Landmark Implement, Livewire Fence Supply, Legends Restaurant, Lukas Fricke, Steve and Elma Nelson, Mellow Mushroom, Keith and Doris Olsen, Pepper Jax Grill, Bruce Rieker, Scotts Bluff Country Club, and Village Inn.

New JBS Violations Highlight Weak Enforcement of Packers & Stockyards Act

Today, Organization for Competitive Markets received information indicating that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) will be releasing the terms of a settlement agreement with JBS Swift over its gross mishandling of beef carcasses at its Grand Island, Nebraska facility, its largest beef processing plant in the U.S. This unconscionable practice led to probable underpayments to cattle producers in violation of the Packers & Stockyards Act.

In a soon to be released press statement, AMS states, “Beginning sometime prior to December 14, 2017, and continuing until on or about March 31, 2018, JBS Swift failed to properly record the weights, grades, and prices of carcasses accurately on accountings issued to sellers. The practice of failing to maintain the identify of beef carcasses purchased on a carcass weight basis at its Grand Island beef plant resulted in paying livestock sellers on inaccurate hot carcass weights and prices and is in violation of section of the Act and regulations.”

About a year ago, Nebraska cattle producer Steve Krajicek raised concerns with AMS over mishandling of his cattle. “Our yields have been lower than they are at other packing plants. Based the AMS findings in this case, I wouldn’t even know if JBS was paying me for my own cattle.”

Too often, smaller producers are required to sell their cattle on carcass weight, forcing them to carry all the risk of shipment including tissue shrinkage and injury to the animal, and then unreasonably having to trust that JBS weighs and grades the animal correctly. Larger producers are given the opportunity to sell on live weight at the point of sale, skirting these risks. The result is small producers are abused by the large packer as set out in this case by AMS.

This settlement follows a similar settlement agreement AMS reached with JBS in June of 2018 for failing to maintain its carcass monorail scales at its Cactus, Texas and Greeley, Colorado facilities resulting in cattle producers being inaccurately paid for their cattle.

In the June 2018 consent decision, JBS paid a $29,000 civil penalty. In this most recent consent decision, JBS has agreed to a $50,000 civil penalty. Unfortunately, these civil penalties dim in comparison with the amount of dollars stolen from cattle producers in a pattern of repeated violations of the Packers & Stockyards Act.

“It is like a thief stealing $5.00 and only being fined $1.00. Where is the incentive to stop stealing?” exclaimed Joe Maxwell, Executive Director of the Organization for Competitive Markets.

With USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue’s recent elimination of the Grain, Inspection, Packers & Stockyards Administration that was tasked with P&S Act enforcement, understaffed and under-resourced enforcers are ill-equipped to take on a global Goliath such as JBS. Further, Perdue’s withdrawal of the Farmer Fair Practices Rules leaves cattle producers with no recourse to recover their losses. OCM is currently in litigation against USDA in an effort to restore those rules.

“It is a national tragedy that farmers and ranchers are subjected to a marketplace where they are at the mercy of the packers who clearly have no moral compulsion to treat them fairly and a USDA Secretary that lets them get away with it. We’re in danger of losing our whole cattle industry in this situation,” concluded Maxwell.

ISU Land Value Survey shows 0.8 percent decrease statewide since 2017

After a reprieve in 2017, commodity prices, interest rates and trade disruptions drove Iowa farmland values down for the fourth time in five years. The average statewide value of an acre of farmland is now estimated to be $7,264. This represents a decrease of 0.8 percent, or $62 per acre, from the 2017 estimate.

Land values were determined by the 2018 Iowa State University Land Value Survey, which was conducted in November by the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development at Iowa State University and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. Results from the survey are consistent with results by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, the Realtors Land Institute and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Wendong Zhang, assistant professor and extension economist at Iowa State University, led the annual survey.

The $7,264 per acre estimate, and 0.8 percent decrease in value, represents a statewide average of low-, medium- and high-quality farmland. The survey also reports values for each land quality type, crop reporting district (district hereafter) and all 99 counties individually.

Farmland values hit a historic peak of $8,716 per acre in 2013; however, they immediately declined by 8.9 percent, 3.9 percent and 5.9 percent, respectively, the following three years. Farmland owners received a small reprieve in 2017 when the statewide average increased 2.0 percent. While modest when compared to 2014, 2015 and 2016, 2018 marks the fourth time in five years that statewide average farmland values have declined. In nominal value, the statewide average for an acre of farmland has fallen 17 percent since 2013.

Commodity prices were one of the biggest factors driving down farmland values this year, according to Zhang.

“Lower commodity prices, in part due to the recent trade disruptions, were cited as the most significant negative factor driving down land values,” Zhang said. He also noted that despite the downturns, farmers don’t need to worry about a sudden collapse of the U.S. agricultural sector similar to the 1980s farm crisis.

“Limited land supply and strong demand by farmers still seems to hold up the land market,” Zhang said. “For five consecutive years, survey respondents have reported fewer sales than the year before, and the ag economy is still robust with 82 percent of the land in Iowa fully paid for.”

Factors Influencing Land Values

The most common positive factors influencing land prices noted by survey respondents were limited land supply, strong yields and low interest rates. The most commonly cited negative influences were lower commodity prices, higher long-term interest rates and recent tariffs on U.S. soybeans, pork and other agricultural products.

The ISU land value survey was initiated in 1941, the first in the nation, and is sponsored annually by Iowa State University. The survey is typically conducted every November and the results are released mid-December. Only the state average and the district averages are based directly on the Iowa State survey data. The county estimates are derived using a procedure that combines the Iowa State survey results with data from the U.S. Census of Agriculture.

The ISU Land Value Survey is based on reports by agricultural professionals knowledgeable of land market conditions such as appraisers, farm managers and agricultural lenders, and actual land sales. It is intended to provide information on general land value trends, geographical land price relationships and factors influencing the Iowa land market. The 2018 survey is based on 792 usable responses from 605 agricultural professionals. Sixty-two percent of the 605 respondents answered the survey online.

Smith Commends Passage of 2018 Farm Bill Conference Report

Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) delivered the following remarks on the floor of the House of Representatives shortly before voting in favor of the 2018 Farm Bill Conference Report, which passed by a vote of 369-47.

Mr. Speaker – I rise today to express my strong support for this farm bill conference report.

-Given the ongoing challenges in the agricultural economy, it is very important our producers have all the certainty we can provide as they make their Spring planting decisions.

-I held a series of listening sessions around Nebraska’s Third District – our nation’s number one producing district for agriculture - last year to hear producers’ thoughts about the farm bill.

-The number one item on the farmer’s minds was the continuation of a strong crop insurance program. This farm bill accomplishes the objective.

-It also recognizes the challenges and threats facing our livestock producers by creating a disease prevention program and vaccine bank to help contain any potential future outbreak of foot and mouth disease in our country.

-This farm bill and continued positive progress on trade will go a long way toward increasing their piece of mind.

-I encourage my colleagues to join me in supporting this important piece of legislation and I appreciate the support of the Administration in bringing this legislation to a successful conclusion.

The 2018 Farm Bill Conference Report will now go to President Trump to be signed into law after having been approved by the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, December 11. Nebraska’s Third District leads the nation in agricultural production.

Rep. Bacon Says Farm Bill Will Help Grow Nebraska’s Economy

Congressman Don Bacon (NE-02) today joined his colleagues to pass the 2018 Farm Bill, which delivers key wins for Nebraskan farmers, ranchers, and consumers, as well as certainty and stability to the economies of Ag communities like Nebraska.

Four areas of concern to Rep. Bacon, addressed in the 2018 Farm Bill, include: trade promotion, a Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) Vaccine Bank, an affordable crop insurance program, and continued research funding for universities such as the University of Nebraska. 

The 2018 Farm Bill provides mandatory funding to the Foreign Market Development program, the Market Access Program, and other trade initiatives designed to promote U.S. agricultural exports, while streamlining the four existing trade promotion programs under one umbrella, the Agricultural Trade Promotion and Facilitation.

“These measures will help Nebraska’s number one economy thrive,” said Rep. Bacon. “Our farmers, ranchers, financial services sector, meatpacking plants, etc. all rely on fair trade programs.”

Other issues addressed helps the ag economy of Nebraska thrive.

“Speaking with many members of Nebraska’s agricultural community, l learned a large concern was animal disease prevention and management efforts,” said Rep. Bacon.  “This bill includes $300 million in funding for these efforts, including a priority of mine, a new U.S.-only vaccine bank stockpiling the FMD vaccine.

Rep. Bacon also stated he was glad that the farm safety net is strengthened with the 2018 Farm Bill.

“Crop insurance is protected in this legislation and it also makes several key improvements, including new insurance products and improvements to whole farm revenue coverage for specialty crop producers,” added Rep. Bacon. Certainty is provided to America’s farmers and ranchers with important policies like Price Loss Coverage, Agriculture Risk Coverage, Commodity Loans, Dairy Margin Coverage, Livestock Disaster Programs, and Crop Insurance.

Research, extension, and education is also vital to Nebraska’s ag economy, and the University of Nebraska is a front-runner in these areas.

“This bill provides over $600 million in funding for research and extension projects for land grant universities like the University of Nebraska, which helps keep Nebraska agriculture a leader of innovation,” said Rep. Bacon.

There are many wins for Nebraska in this bill.

“One out of every four jobs in Nebraska is related to agriculture and the 2018 Farm Bill provides certainty not only to our farmers, ranchers and producers, but to so many other related industries in Nebraska,” added Rep. Bacon.  “When our producers thrive, the processing, financial services and transportation industries on our state thrive meaning that more and more families in Nebraska are impacted by a successful farm bill.”

Statement of Secretary Perdue on Passage of the Farm Bill

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today hailed the passage of the 2019 Farm Bill.  The House of Representatives approved the conference report on the bill this afternoon, following the Senate’s passage yesterday.

Perdue issued the following statement:
“The passage of the 2019 Farm Bill is good news because it provides a strong safety net for farmers and ranchers, who need the dependability and certainty this legislation affords.  This Farm Bill will help producers make decisions about the future, while also investing in important agricultural research and supporting trade programs to bolster exports.  While I feel there were missed opportunities in forest management and in improving work requirements for certain SNAP recipients, this bill does include several helpful provisions and we will continue to build upon these through our authorities.  I commend Congress for bringing the Farm Bill across the finish line and am encouraging President Trump to sign it.”

Statement, Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson Regarding House Passage of 2018 Farm Bill

“Today Congress took yet another step forward in delivering a new farm bill that works for rural and urban America. We greatly appreciate the U.S. House of Representatives’ vote granting final passage of the 2018 Farm Bill. The House’s action ensures President Trump will have the opportunity to sign a new farm bill into law.”

“We thank Congressman Fortenberry, Congressman Bacon, and Congressman Smith for their votes and support for the farm bill. All have worked tirelessly to help shape the bill into one that addresses many Nebraska Farm Bureau priorities.”

Iowa Corn Welcomes Passage of 2018 Farm Bill

Iowa Corn Growers Association President Curt Mether released the following statement today after the announcement that Congress reached an agreement on a new farm bill. The final version of the farm bill passed out of the US Senate Tuesday by a bipartisan vote of 87-13 and the US House passed it out on a bipartisan vote today of 369-47. Now the bill will be sent to the President to await his signature to become law.

“Iowa Corn welcomes the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill before the start of the new year,” stated Mether. “ICGA is pleased to see there were no cuts to the current crop insurance program and a continuation of the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). “ICGA also appreciates the Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) trade programs will be funded at full levels for the next five years-a huge win for Iowa corn farmers as these fundamental programs support the promotion of corn in all forms in international markets. The Genomes to Phenomes Initiative has been included in the bill as it is essential for Iowa corn farmers in developing new varieties allowing the potential for higher yields. All of these programs are crucial to the success of Iowa’s corn growers and we thank our grower members for your efforts in urging lawmakers to reach a deal before the new year.”

Naig comments on passage of Farm Bill

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig issued the following statement regarding Congressional passage of a new Farm Bill. The bill now goes to President Trump to be signed into law.

“A new five-year Farm Bill will provide needed certainty and predictability for farmers in what has been a very volatile and challenging time. I commend the efforts by leaders in both the House and Senate, including Sen. Ernst who was a conferee, to finalize the agreement and get it passed. I encourage President Trump to sign the bill into law quickly so farmers can know what federal policy will be as they continue to plan for the 2019 growing season.

“Crop insurance, conservation and trade were the top three issues I heard about as I traveled the state and visited with farmers about the Farm Bill. The bill passed today maintains the crop insurance program and continues the important federal support for conservation efforts. The bill also preserves important trade promotion programs within USDA.

“The bill also provides significant funding to support efforts to prepare for and potentially respond to foreign animal diseases, including funding for a vaccine bank for foot and mouth disease. With new cases of African swine fever continuing to be found around the world and ongoing concerns about avian influenza, it is critically important we continue to expand emergency response preparations on both the state and federal level.”

NCGA Statement on Farm Bill Passage

National Corn Growers Association President Lynn Chrisp today made the following statement after Congressional approval of the 2018 Farm Bill, the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (H.R. 2). The legislation passed the Senate 87-13 Tuesday and the House 369-47 today. It now goes to President Trump to be signed into law.

“The certainty of a new farm bill is very welcome news for farmers as they begin to look toward the new year. NCGA is pleased to see a return to the bipartisanship that has been a hallmark of past farm bills and we look forward to the President quickly signing the bill into law.

“To put it bluntly, the farm economy stinks. Between depressed commodity prices, record low farm incomes and tariffs and trade uncertainty, farmers are facing difficult decisions. Getting the farm bill passed, and signed into law, is one less thing they need to worry about.

“NCGA is most pleased to see the bill maintains support for a robust crop insurance program, our organization’s top priority, and strengthens the ARC-CO program through administrative improvements including a one-time program change option, an increase to the plug yield for disaster years, the use of a trend-adjusted yield factor, and a market adjustment provision for the floor price. The bill also provides increased funding for trade promotion programs that are especially important to agriculture at this time.

“On behalf of our grower members, I thank Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow, and House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway and Ranking Member Collin Peterson, along with members of the farm bill conference committee for seeing this process through and passing a new bill before adjourning for the year.”

NCBA Hails Congressional Approval of 2018 Farm Bill

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Kevin Kester today issued the following statement regarding U.S. House and Senate passage of the 2018 Farm Bill conference report:

"America’s cattlemen and women want common sense and certainty from Congress this holiday season and throughout the year - today they received that through the passage of the Farm Bill. Certainty that a Foot-and-Mouth Disease vaccine bank will be authorized and funded. Certainty that important conservation programs will be reauthorized and funded. And certainty that trade promotion and access to foreign markets will remain a priority in the years to come.

"On behalf of all of our producers, I want to sincerely thank every Member of Congress who supported the Farm Bill - especially U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow, U.S. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway, and Ranking Member Collin Peterson, who all worked together across party lines for the past two-plus years. It wasn't always easy, but we truly appreciate all your hard work."

 Congress Passes 2018 Farm Bill; Trump To Sign It

The National Pork Producers Council praised Senate and House lawmakers for today approving the 2018 Farm Bill, which includes important mandatory funding for animal disease prevention and preparedness efforts. President Trump is expected to sign the legislation into law in the coming days.

“Obviously, the Farm Bill is extremely important to American agriculture,” said NPPC President Jim Heimerl, a pork producer from Johnstown, Ohio. “The 2018 bill is particularly good for livestock agriculture because it includes funds that will help protect our animals, our food supply and our economy from foreign animal diseases.”

The five-year agricultural blueprint includes $120 million for the first four years for animal health and disease preparedness, requiring at least $5 million a year for the National Animal Disease Preparedness Program. Money can be allocated for a foreign animal disease vaccine bank; for the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN), which provides disease surveillance and diagnostic support; and, through block grants, for state efforts to prepare for any foreign animal disease outbreak. The NAHLN is authorized for another $30 million a year for all five years of the bill, and in the fifth year another mandatory $30 million is allocated for all three programs, with at least $18 million going to the state block grants. The bill also gives the Agriculture secretary discretion to allocate additional funds, as necessary, for the vaccine bank and the disease preparedness program.

In addition to the animal health and disease-preparedness provisions, the bill has funding for the International Market Development Program, which includes the Market Access Program and the Foreign Market Development Program that support export markets for U.S. farm goods. The programs are funded at not less than $200 million and not less than $34.5 million, respectively.

“NPPC thanks members who voted in favor of this vital legislation and is particularly grateful to the leadership of the Senate and House agriculture committees for putting together a very good Farm Bill,” Heimerl said.

NAWG Supports 2018 Farm Bill Conference Report; Urges President to Sign into Law

The National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) applauds the Senate and House of Representatives for their quick action and bipartisan votes on the Farm Bill conference report, and call on President Trump to sign the bill into law as quickly as possible.

“Historically low prices, trade instability, and the current weather challenges are all weighing heavily on the minds of growers,” stated NAWG President and Sentinel, OK wheat farmer Jimmie Musick. “The 2018 farm bill provides the certainty they need to get through these arduous times and many of the programs within the bill can help growers stay in business.”

NAWG applauds the committee for maintaining a strong crop insurance title and supports the language allowing for producer choice between Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC). NAWG appreciates the Committee recognizing the importance of using consistent data in determining farm program payments, while making RMA data its primary source, and for making improvements to both ARC and PLC.

“Many producers own multi-generational farms and want our children to be able to thrive on the land more than we did,” continued Musick. “This means leaving it healthier and better than when we received it and incorporating good stewardship practices into our operations. The farm bill helps growers achieve this goal by supporting investment in conservation tools and wheat research.”

Additionally, NAWG is pleased to see that the conference report increases funding for research of Fusarium head blight to the amount of $15 million for each of fiscal years 2019 through 2023.

“The United States exports 50% of its wheat, making trade a vital component of the wheat industry,” continued Musick. “NAWG is pleased to see that the conference report renews funding for the Market Access Program (MAP) and the Foreign Market Development (FMD) program. We also support statements made by U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) on both programs and appreciate their work to make these programs successful for wheat.”

“NAWG commends the House and Senate for quickly voting on the bill and passing it out of their respective Chambers with strong bipartisan support,” concluded Musick. “We urge President Trump to support this bill and sign it into law.”

Farm Bill Passage Brings Farmers, Ranchers Added Certainty

American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall

“Today’s passage of the 2018 farm bill by the House of Representatives, and the Senate’s approval yesterday, is welcome news to America’s farmers and ranchers and the consumers who depend on them for our food, fiber and energy crops.

“Passage means we are one signature away from renewal of risk management tools, foreign market development and environmental stewardship programs that farmers and ranchers need to survive a prolonged and painful downturn in farm income and be sustainable.

“Americans from all walks of life will benefit from this farm bill, including consumers, low-income families, seniors and military veterans

“We eagerly await the president’s signature on this legislation and we know that Agriculture Secretary Perdue will implement it as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

NMPF Thanks Congress for Sending Pro-Dairy Farm Bill to White House, Urges President to Sign

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) applauded the U.S. House of Representatives for completing congressional approval of a new farm bill and sending to the White House a law that will provide important economic assistance to dairy producers in times of need. NMPF urged President Donald Trump to immediately sign the bill.

“The farm bill passed by the full Congress represents a truly bipartisan spirit and offers genuine hope for agriculture,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “The dairy provisions adopted by Congress will bring critically important assistance to the nation’s dairy farmers. The sooner the president signs the bill, the sooner that the Agriculture Department can implement these important policy improvements.”

The farm bill’s adoption by the House follows yesterday’s Senate vote of approval and reflects months of work in both chambers.

Among House members, Reps. K. Michael Conaway (R-TX) and Collin Peterson (D-MN), the chairman and ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee, worked tirelessly to reach a final agreement. In addition, NMPF thanked several members of the conference committee who advocated strongly for dairy, including Vice Chairman Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-PA) and Reps. Jim Costa (D-CA), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Ann Kuster (D-NH), Sean Duffy (R-WI), Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ), Bob Gibbs (R-OH), Paul Tonko (D-NY), Jodey Arrington (R-TX), and Tim Walz (D-MN). NMPF also appreciates the advocacy of Reps. David Valadao (R-CA), Peter Welch (D-VT), Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Joe Courtney (D-CT), John Faso (R-NY), Dan Newhouse (R-WA), Tom Emmer (R-MN), Mike Simpson (R-ID), and Mike Bost (R-IL) on specific provisions included in the bill.

The farm bill features several important policy reforms for dairy, including:
-    Affordable higher coverage levels in the Dairy Margin Coverage program (DMC) (renamed from the Margin Protection Program) will permit all dairy producers to insure margins above $8.00 on their Tier I (first five million pounds) production history.
-    The bill will reduce the cost of $5.00 margin coverage by roughly 88 percent. This aids larger producers and is critically important in times of catastrophically low milk prices.
-    Greater flexibility to allow producers of all sizes to access Tier I premium rates.
-    Expanded access to additional risk management tools, allowing producers to participate in both the DMC and the Livestock Gross Margin insurance program.
-    An option that will allow producers to receive a 25-percent discount on their premiums if they lock in their coverage level for the entirety of the bill.

Collaborative work across the dairy sector was instrumental in securing this year’s pro-dairy bill, Mulhern said. NMPF and the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) forged an unprecedented industry consensus during discussions of the bill dating to last year. The final bill includes an agreement reached between the two organizations on risk management that will help producers, cooperatives and processors to better hedge price risk.

“IDFA worked closely with colleagues at NMPF to unite behind shared solutions for dairy,” said Michael Dykes, DVM, president and CEO of IDFA. “Members of Congress have called our collaborative efforts historic, refreshing and, best of all, exceedingly helpful to their farm bill efforts. The dairy provisions included in the bill represent the positive outcomes we can gain through sustained industry collaboration.”

“Dairy works best when it works together,” Mulhern said. “Congress noticed. Hard work and cooperation among NMPF, IDFA, member co-ops, state associations and the entire dairy community helped craft a bill that will benefit us all.”

2018 Farm Bill Passes Congress

National Sorghum Producers Board of Directors Chairman Dan Atkisson, a sorghum farmer from Stockton, Kansas, made the following statement in response to Congress passing the 2018 Farm Bill today:

"National Sorghum Producers thanks the Senate and House for passing the 2018 Farm Bill. The bill provides certainty and stability as producers across the country try to balance uncontrollable variables. We commend leadership for producing a solid bill under the current circumstances.

“The new bill provides several helpful provisions for sorghum producers, including conservation language on resource conserving crop rotations. We also appreciate the yield update opportunity and the loan rate increase. 

“As this roller coaster year comes to a close, we see this as a win for sorghum producers. We appreciate the 115th Congress for holding true to their promise in delivering a farm bill this year and we hope to see the new legislation move across the President's desk quickly.”

ABA Applauds Congress for Final Passage of 2018 Farm Bill

Rob Nichols, American Bankers Assoc. president and CEO

“We applaud the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives for passing the 2018 Farm Bill. This important piece of legislation provides critical risk management tools and stability for our nation’s farmers and ranchers, as well as the 2,000 farm banks that serve them every day.

“We are particularly pleased that lawmakers recognized the vital role of crop insurance and USDA loan guarantees. These programs help farm banks make loans and manage risk in both good times and bad, which is critical to maintaining a stable and vibrant farm economy.

“We especially want to thank House and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairmen Mike Conaway and Pat Roberts and Ranking Members Collin Peterson and Debbie Stabenow for their leadership in advancing this legislation to the president’s desk for his signature.”

ICBA Applauds House Passage of Farm Bill

Independent Community Bankers of America® (ICBA) President and CEO Rebeca Romero Rainey issued the following statement on the House of Representatives’ passage of the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 (H.R. 2).

“ICBA applauds today’s bipartisan House vote to pass a new farm bill and send the bill to President Trump to be signed into law.

“The bipartisan bill includes important commodity price protections that will provide producers and community banks with greater business-planning certainty over the next five years. This is essential during an era of low commodity prices, sharply lower net farm income, and foreign trade uncertainties.

“The farm bill also maintains a strong crop insurance program, increases USDA guaranteed farm loan limits to $1.75 million, and provides for the possible increase in guaranteed USDA rural development loans—all of which are ICBA and community bank priorities.

“ICBA and the nation’s community bankers appreciate the bipartisan congressional action on the farm bill and urge President Trump to quickly sign it into law.”

Groups support climate friendly soil carbon pilot program in Farm Bill

The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE), Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) thank the Farm Bill conferees for including a new pilot Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) in the 2018 Farm Bill Conference Report to promote and document the benefits of farming practices which improve soil health.

“We appreciate the leadership of Senator Wyden (D-Ore.) in working with both House and Senate negotiators in securing the original provision in the Senate bill that will encourage farmers to implement and document the true greenhouse benefits of crop production that can make a meaningful impact in the fight against climate change,” said Nicole Lederer, co-founder of E2.

“This new EQIP provision provides the tools to incentivize farmers to adopt smart soil management practices that improve soil health to increase drought resiliency, improve nutrient utilization, and enhance soil carbon sequestration,” said Keith Alverson, South Dakota farmer and NCGA board member. “EQIP is a critical conservation working lands program most adept at helping farmers adopt new practices that improve production while enhancing ecosystem benefits related to agriculture. As a farmer, I have seen the benefits of these practices on my own farm and look forward to working with USDA to document these environmental values on a larger scale.”

“The economic value farmers can receive from being properly credited for their ability to sequester carbon and participate in low carbon fuel markets and for other climate policies is significant,” said Brian Jennings, ACE CEO.  “ACE is committed to fostering the development of these low carbon market opportunities that also increase income to farmers and rural America.”

U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance® Elects New Chairman and Launches Farm, Food, Facts Podcast

With U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) new 2.0 focus of elevating farmers and ranchers as the solution for sustainability, the organization is proud to announce National Corn Growers Association Past President Chip Bowling as its fourth Chairman.

Since USFRA’s inception in 2010, Chip’s predecessors include Bob Stallman, Nancy Kavazanjian and Brad Greenway. Also announced at the fall board meeting in Kansas City, coinciding with NAFB Convention, was USFRA’s new Farm, Food, Facts, which is the exclusive podcast on food and agriculture for retailers, CPGs, sustainability supply chain leaders and food trade media.

Elected at the USFRA board meeting on November 8, Chip Bowling will be joined by a new executive committee, including:
    Vice Chairman: Scott VanderWal, representing American Farm Bureau Federation
    Treasurer: Blair Van Zetten, representing American Egg Board
    Secretary: Anne Meis, representing Nebraska Soybean Board
    At-Large: Jennifer Houston, representing, National Cattlemen's Beef Association
    At-Large Premier: Michael Parrish, representing Bayer
    Immediate Past Chairman: Brad Greenway, representing National Pork Board

“I truly believe farmers and ranchers are the change makers, and real sustainability starts with each acre,” said Chip Bowling, USFRA Chairman and Maryland crop farmer. “With 48 percent of our land in the stewardship of America's farmers and ranchers, now more than ever, we need all of food and agriculture to speak in unison and ensure we have a seat at the table across the entire value chain. Our Farm, Food, Facts podcast is the first of many deliberate steps in proactively engaging food retailers and CPGs with the farmer and rancher perspective.”

USFRA’s Farm, Food, Facts podcast, hosted by SupermarketGuru Phil Lempert, food trends editor for NBC News’ Today Show, discusses top stories about today’s food. Phil engages directly with a farmer or rancher in real-time about questions surrounding sustainability and food production. Also, sustainability thought leaders will offer insights into food trends and perceptions of farming practices. It airs every Wednesday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. CST. Visit to sign up for the podcast and listen to the archived episodes, which are also available on iTunes, Stitcher and Soundcloud.

Of USFRA’s 15-member Board of Directors, our new board members are:
    Joe Koss, Culver’s: Joe Koss is president and chief executive officer of Culver Franchising System, Inc. (CFSI), the franchisor for more than 670 Culver’s restaurants in 25 states with over 20,000 team members.
    Brody Stapel, Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative: Brody Stapel of Double Dutch Dairy LLC, farms in Cedar Grove, Wis., and serves as President of Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative.

USFRA’s Board of Directors, consisting primarily of farmers and ranchers, includes: Jim Adams (U.S. Poultry & Egg Association), Phil Borgic (National Pork Producers Council), Chip Bowling (National Corn Growers Association), Cameron Gibson (United Soybean Board), Brad Greenway (National Pork Board), Jennifer Houston (National Cattlemen's Beef Association), Joe Koss, (Culver’s), Rochelle Krusemark (Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council), Anne Meis (Nebraska Soybean Board), Jeanette Merritt (Indiana Soybean Alliance), Michael Parrish (Bayer), Roberta Simpson-Dolbeare (Illinois Soybean Association), Brody Stapel (Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative), Blair Van Zetten (American Egg Board), Scott VanderWal (American Farm Bureau Federation)

Weekly Ethanol Production for 12/7/2018

Here is the weekly ethanol supply-and-demand data for the week ended 12/7/2018.

According to EIA data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association, ethanol production averaged 1.046 million barrels per day (b/d)—or 43.93 million gallons daily. That is down 23,000 b/d (2.2%) from the prior week and 42,000 b/d (3.9%) lower than last year at this time. The four-week average for ethanol production pared back to 1.051 million b/d—3.0% below last year at this time—for an annualized rate of 16.11 billion gallons.

Stocks of ethanol were 22.9 million barrels. That is down marginally from 23.0 million barrels the prior week.

There were zero imports recorded for the fourth week in a row. (Weekly export data for ethanol is not reported simultaneously; the latest export data is as of October 2018.)

Average weekly gasoline demand climbed 1.8% from the previous week to 9.036 million barrels (379.5 million gallons) daily. This is equivalent to 138.52 billion gallons annualized. Refiner/blender input of ethanol grew 1.6% to 910,000 b/d, equivalent to 13.95 billion gallons annualized.

Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production decreased to 11.58%.

DDGS, Grains Sales Top $400 Million At 2018 Export Exchange

The grain buyers from 35 countries who attended this year’s Export Exchange conference in Minneapolis have since reported buying an estimated $403 million worth of coarse grains and co-products, including distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) and feed grains.

The biennial event was held in October, sponsored by the U.S. Grains Council (USGC), Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and Growth Energy to offer an opportunity for education and introductions to members of the U.S. grains production and export industries.

Buyers and end-users were polled while at the conference and immediately after regarding purchase agreements with sellers and how much volume (tonnage) they bought. In total, attendees reported sales of approximately 2.1 million metric tons of grains and co-products traded either at the conference or immediately before or after.

"Bringing buyers and sellers together in this way is crucial to U.S. farmers right now, and these sales show buyers at Export Exchange 2018 were serious about making deals," said Tom Sleight, president and CEO of the Council. "Considering the international trade climate, we are pleased to see these number are holding steady."

Many buyers this year noted their purchasing strategies were more short-term, due to uncertain relationship between the United States and China, but reported they valued their long-term partnerships with U.S. suppliers. Many also reported they are still considering future purchases.

The top grain traded during the two-day conference was DDGS, with more than 1.3 million metric tons collectively exchanged. This number translates to just over 11 percent of last year's total U.S. DDGS exports. In addition, buyers reported contracting 619,000 metric tons of U.S. corn and 4,050 metric tons of U.S. sorghum.

“It’s no surprise that the top commodity traded during Export Exchange was DDGS, as last year we shipped the ethanol co-product to 50 countries on five continents,” said RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “DDGS and other ethanol co-products provide a value-added market for the U.S. ethanol industry, and the Export Exchange was successful, providing an ideal platform to connect buyers and sellers.”

Export Exchange 2018 offered overseas attendees a unique opportunity to meet and build relationships with domestic suppliers of corn, DDGS, sorghum, barley and other commodities. Nearly 200 international buyers and end-users of coarse grains and co-products were in Minneapolis for the conference, held Oct. 22-24, and for related tours of U.S. farms, ethanol plans and export infrastructure as part of 21 Council-sponsored trade teams.

“The 2018 Export Exchange has once again demonstrated the numerous benefits that ethanol and its co-products, like DDGS, bring to the international market,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “DDGS are the most extensively studied feed ingredient in the past 20 years and stands testament to the contributions of the biofuels industry in supporting global agriculture. This event is a critical venue for American producers to build bonds internationally and foster a healthy trade environment.”

Other grains traded at Export Exchange included:
• Corn Gluten Feed —54,000 metric tons;
• Corn Gluten Meal – 600 metric tons;
• Barley—500 metric tons; and
• Other products including soybeans, soybean meal, feed wheat – 70,000 metric tons

The next Export Exchange is scheduled for 2020. More information about the recent event is online at

Farm Bureau Board Endorses USMCA Agreement

The board of directors of the American Farm Bureau Federation today recommended swift passage of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

Exports to Canada and Mexico under USMCA’s predecessor, the North American Free Trade Agreement, increased from $8.9 billion to $39 billion yearly. The USMCA would retain those gains while adding improvements in terms of trade for poultry, eggs, dairy and wine. AFBF, meanwhile, continues to press for a resolution to disputes over steel and aluminum imports that have led to the imposition of tariffs and other trade barriers against U.S. agricultural products.

Prices for Majority of Fertilizers Still Higher

 Retail fertilizer prices continue their pattern of mostly higher prices the first week of December 2018, according to prices tracked by DTN.

Five of the eight major fertilizers are slightly higher, but none had a noteworthy price move compared to last month. Potash had an average price of $369 per ton, up $1/ton; urea was $3/ton higher at $410/ton; anhydrous was $7/ton more expensive at $524/ton; UAN28 saw a $4/ton increase to $249/ton; and UAN32 prices, at $293/ton, were $6/ton higher.

Two fertilizers were slightly lower than last month, but the price change was fairly subdued. DAP had an average price of $501/ton, down $5/ton while 10-34-0 was $1/ton cheaper at $457/ton.

MAP prices were unchanged from last month at $529/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.45/lb.N, anhydrous $0.32/lb.N, UAN28 $0.44/lb.N and UAN32 $0.46/lb.N.

All eight of the major retail fertilizer prices are now higher compared to last year with prices shifting higher in recent months. Potash is 8% more expensive, MAP is 12% higher, 10-34-0 is 13% more expensive, DAP is 14% higher, UAN28 is 16% more expensive, UAN32 is 17% higher, urea is 19% more expensive and anhydrous is now 24% higher compared to last year.

Syngenta offers advice on getting the most residual length out of herbicides

As corn and soybean growers look for advantages over yield-robbing, tough-to-control weeds, Syngenta is providing key insights into factors that determine how long a herbicide’s residual lasts.

Joe Wuerffel, Ph.D., Global Technical Manager for Herbicides at Syngenta, said these factors are the key to keeping fields clean.

“It really boils down to six main points,” he said. “If growers take these into consideration when planning their weed-management programs, they’ll be much more likely to increase the mileage on their herbicides.”

Amount of moisture

A certain amount of moisture, from either rainfall or irrigation, in fields after a pre-emergence application is critical to activate the herbicide. Most herbicides require at least a half-inch of water after a pre-emergence herbicide has been sprayed. Growers should try to plan herbicide applications around forecasted rain to help ensure a good activating rainfall for their pre-emergence herbicide. Fields should then be scouted after either a rainfall or irrigation watering to ensure proper activation has occurred. If escapes are present, plans should be made to treat these weeds early for maximum control.

Weed type and density

Growers should know what the primary weeds are in each field to make sure they are using the right products on the right fields at the right rate and at the right time in the right way.

Primary weeds, including large-seeded broadleaf weeds like giant ragweed, cocklebur and morningglory, are tough to control because they germinate from deep within the soil profile.

“This is what led us to seek out the unique active ingredient bicyclopyrone,” Wuerffel said. “It complements the other three active ingredients in Acuron® corn herbicide to deliver more effective and more consistent control of large-seeded broadleaf weeds. Herbicides without bicyclopyrone only provide partial control, if any, over these large-seeded broadleaf weeds.”

Weed and crop size

Growers should spray a post-emergence herbicide when both weeds and crops are small. The tallest weed in a field shouldn’t grow taller than what is stated on the herbicide label, which for most weeds is smaller than 4 inches. Keep in mind, it may only take a few days for weeds to reach those heights and grow too large for post-emergence herbicides to be completely effective. At the same time, post-emergence herbicides should be applied before corn or soybeans reach canopy, as this allows the herbicide to penetrate the soil and reach the weeds.

Type of herbicide used

Herbicides are created with different active ingredients, some of which are stronger against specific weed species than others, so it’s important to remember that not all herbicides are created equal.

“Many generic premixes contain metolachlor, an older and less potent version of S-metolachlor from Syngenta, which is included in many of our products. To obtain an equal level of weed control, the metolachlor rate has to be 1.5X higher than the S-metolachlor rate,” Wuerffel said. “Growers have to be careful that they’re aware of these seemingly subtle differences that could have a major impact on their weed control.”

Use rate

Experts recommend always using the full, labelled rate of a herbicide. An Iowa State University study found that reduced rates may be adequate against a flush of early-season weeds, but the residual control is greatly reduced – potentially creating problems later in the growing season.

“Using a full rate is the best way to maximize the length of that residual herbicide,” Wuerffel said. “If growers start to take it down to a three-quarters rate or a half rate, they’re essentially planning on having to follow up with a post-emergence application.”

Syngenta Technical Product Lead Dane Bowers agrees. Use rate is a major factor in maximizing residual control.

“Always apply herbicides at the full labelled rate and at the correct growth stage,” Bowers said. “Anything other than a full use rate is a recipe for disaster and may cause yield loss or additional spending to get weeds under control. Use of reduced rates can also contribute to selection of resistant weeds.”


Bowers also recommends using a two-pass program of overlapping residuals to extend the length of herbicide performance.

“It’s very important to use products with multiple, effective sites of action,” Bowers said. “In soybeans, I recommend using a pre-emergence application of Boundary® 6.5 EC, BroadAxe® XC or Prefix® herbicides. These each contain two effective sites of action. Both Boundary 6.5 EC and BroadAxe XC can be followed by a post-emergence application of Flexstar® GT 3.5 herbicide for two additional sites of action.”

Using multiple effective sites of action gives greater control of weeds. It also prevents yield-robbing weeds from going to seed, limiting their impact on the following year and minimizing uncontrolled weeds being harvested with the crop.

Gordon Vail, technical product lead for corn herbicides at Syngenta, recommends a similar course of action in corn.

“If you’re looking for the longest-lasting residual weed control in corn, I’d recommend Acuron,” Vail said. “It contains four active ingredients, including the unique component bicyclopyrone, and three effective sites of action. It also has great timing flexibility, from 28 days preplant, including burndown, up to 12-inch corn. Acuron can also be applied in a split-shot application with a portion of the rate applied pre-emergence, followed by the remainder of the rate applied post-emergence.”

Vail said that not only have multi-year trials shown Acuron offers the most consistent performance on a broad spectrum of tough weeds, but with four effective active ingredients, it also offers the best solution for responsible weed-resistance management.

Tuesday December 11 Ag News

Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center, 1071 County Road G, Ithaca, NE
DEC. 20, 8:30 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.

Did any of your soybean fields look like this during the past season?  Maybe you even found some small orange larvae at the base of your soybean plants. Come join us for up-to-date information on this newly emerging pest of soybean. We also want to know what you saw and connect you with some potential tools for making management decisions in 2019. Register now to make sure you have a spot at the table.

Get up-to-date information on soybean gall midge observations during the 2018 season and research efforts to guide your management practices on this pest in 2019.  As extension educators and specialists, we want to know what you saw during the 2018 season with soybean gall midge. Did you observe any differences in management practices (planting date, maturity group, insecticides, adjacent crop, tillage, etc.) with soybean gall midge?  Your input is critical to help guide our research efforts on this rapidly developing pest of soybean.

8:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.   Registration, Coffee, Juice and Donuts
9:00 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.  Soybean Gall Midge: Overview, Management, and Impact
10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.    Roundtable Discussion
11:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.   Summary from Roundtables
11:30 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.   Survey

For more information, contact:,, (402)624-8030, or (800)529-8030

Help them plan for morning refreshments.  Please RSVP by 12/17 to 402-624-8030

Cover Crop Management Day -- January 16

The NRCS and Nebraska Extension present COVER CROP MANAGEMENT DAY on January 16, 2019, 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m., at Columbus’ Ag Park, 822 15 Street.

Featured speakers will include Dr. Dwayne Beck, SDSU Extension Specialist along with a producer panel led by Dr. Daren Redfearn, UNL Extension Specialist.

Education will be provided on cover crops, residue management, soil health, incorporation of grazing and crop rotation.

Lunch will be provided.

Registration cost: $10

Register online at  or at 402-563-4901 by January 14.

Ricketts to Serve Trump Administration on Trade Advisory Committee 

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts issued a statement following news that President Donald J. Trump had appointed him to serve as a member of the Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations.

“President Trump has been working tirelessly to secure new trade deals for the United States,” said Governor Ricketts.  “From his newly-signed deal with Canada and Mexico to bringing American beef back to China, the President has been delivering on his promises.  It is an honor to support President Trump’s work in this advisory role as he continues to push for better trade deals for working Americans and our family farmers and ranchers.”

Governor Ricketts has made international trade a pillar of his grow Nebraska agenda.  Over the last four years, he has led trade missions to Japan twice, China twice, Canada, Mexico, and the European Union.  He has made trade policy a major focus of his work with the Trump Administration, including a visit to the White House to talk about trade policy.  This summer, the Governor’s Council for International Relations unveiled a new multi-year trade plan, which can be found by clicking here.

According to the Office of the United States Trade Representative, the Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations helps shape trade policy including: “(1) negotiating objectives and bargaining positions before entering into trade agreements; (2) the impact of the implementation of trade agreements; (3) matters concerning the operation of any trade agreement once entered into; and (4) other matters arising in connection with the development, implementation, and administration of the trade policy of the United States.”

More than $3 million in tax revenue generated from wind energy projects in Nebraska

Wind energy projects in Nebraska generated nearly $2 million in tax revenue for local schools in 2017, according to a fact sheet released today by the Center for Rural Affairs. In total, the projects generated $3,065,623 in tax revenue that was used to fund schools, roads, and other essential services like fire and emergency medical services.

“Many people wonder what their community will get out of wind development,” said Lu Nelsen, policy associate at the Center for Rural Affairs and author of the publication. “New tax revenue from a wind farm is something that benefits an entire community.”

“Fact sheet: Nebraska wind energy tax revenue” highlights tax contributions of more than 20 wind energy projects in the state through nameplate capacity and real property taxes.

The nameplate capacity tax is equal to $3,518 per megawatt of energy and is assessed on wind energy generation facilities based on their total potential for energy generation – an average wind turbine has a capacity of 3 megawatts. Real property taxes refer to collections paid on operations buildings, access roads, and the foundations for wind turbines. These taxes are determined by the tax district where the property is located.

“Wind energy has proven to be an important economic development tool for counties and small towns,” said Nelsen. “As Nebraskans search for property tax relief, wind energy expansion may be a tool for local economies to offset the need for additional property tax revenue. These new revenues allow officials to adequately fund local schools and other services without raising taxes on property owners.”

For more information and to view the fact sheet, visit

 Fischer Praises Senate Passage of 2018 Farm Bill Conference Report

 U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, released the following statement today after the Senate passed the 2018 Farm Bill conference report by a vote of 87-13:

“I’m proud that the Senate was able to come together in a bipartisan fashion today and pass a strong Farm Bill for Nebraska and all of rural America. From the beginning, I wanted to see a Farm Bill that protected critical risk management programs like crop insurance, improved our trade promotion programs, and deployed broadband in rural areas so agriculture producers can use precision agriculture technology. This Farm Bill achieves all of those goals and more. In a time of uncertainty for farm country, this bill is going to bring confidence, stability, and predictability to our families who feed our hungry world.”

Following passage by the Senate, the Farm Bill only needs to clear the House of Representatives before it heads to President Trump’s desk. The House is expected to vote on the Farm Bill conference report tomorrow.

The 2018 Farm Bill:
·       Continues to provide agriculture producers with important risk management tools and voluntary access to farm programs, including: crop insurance, Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program.

·       Streamlines the trade promotion programs. This will provide certainty for farmers and ranchers marketing products around the globe. These programs are also critical to providing agriculture producers access to international markets.

·       Includes the Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act, sponsored by Senator Fischer, which would create a task force at the FCC charged with identifying gaps in high-speed internet connectivity across America’s farm and ranch land. Working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the task force would promote the rapid expansion of high-speed broadband, with the goal of achieving service to 95 percent of agricultural lands by 2025.

·       Expands broadband access in rural areas by providing direct loan and grant incentives to encourage public-private partnerships that will expedite investment into rural broadband infrastructure.

·       Establishes a program to address animal disease prevention and management, including the National Animal Vaccine and Veterinary Countermeasures Bank and the National Animal Disease Preparedness and Response Program.

·       Includes language sponsored by Senator Fischer that recommends USDA recognize as a best management practice in conservation programs the use of remote telemetry data systems for irrigation scheduling. It also encourages USDA to incorporate remote telemetry data systems as a best management practice under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

·       Reauthorizes and bolsters the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, increasing the integrity of the program so it can better target the most vulnerable.

Statement from Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson Regarding Senate Passage of 2018 Farm Bill

“We welcome today’s action by the U.S. Senate to approve the final version of the 2018 Farm Bill. The Senate’s vote moves us one step closer to advancing this important legislation to the desk of the President.”

“Passage of a farm bill will help provide certainty to Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers as they navigate the challenges of today’s agriculture economy and also provide certainty to Nebraska’s lending industry that is tasked with making decisions regarding operating notes for Nebraska’s agriculture operations.”

“We thank Sen. Deb Fischer and Sen. Ben Sasse for their work on the 2018 Farm Bill and for their votes in favor of this measure. We encourage the U.S. House to follow suit and move quickly to provide final farm bill passage.”

NMPF Thanks Senators for Leadership in Passing Pro-Dairy Farm Bill

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) thanked the Senate for quickly passing a farm bill that includes needed reforms to dairy programs that will boost producer incomes in a tough economic environment. NMPF urged the U.S. House of Representatives to immediately approve the bill.

“The farm bill’s bipartisan support in the Senate is a vote of confidence in U.S. agriculture, and it’s a reason for hope among dairy producers,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “As dairy struggles with low prices and disrupted exports, the Senate has stepped up with improved programs that will help producers. We urge the House to pass this legislation and send it to the White House.”

Mulhern congratulated Sens. Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) for their leadership in building consensus for the bill. NMPF also thanked Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), who served on the conference committee and has long played a role in shaping dairy policy, as well as conferee Sens. Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) for their advocacy.  Additionally, NMPF commends Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), John Cornyn (R-TX), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Bob Casey (D-PA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Tina Smith (D-MN) for their work to strengthen the bill for dairy farmers.

The farm bill features several important policy reforms for dairy, including:
    Affordable higher coverage levels in the Dairy Margin Coverage program (DMC) (renamed from the Margin Protection Program) will permit all dairy producers to insure margins above $8.00 on their Tier 1 (first five million pounds) of production history.
    The bill will reduce the cost of $5.00 margin coverage by roughly 88 percent. This aids larger producers and is critically important in states where margins fall more quickly.
    Greater flexibility to allow producers of all sizes to access Tier 1 premium rates.

Expanded access to additional risk management tools, allowing producers to participate in both the DMC and the Livestock Gross Margin insurance program.

EPA and Army Propose New "Waters of the United States" Definition

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Army (Army) are proposing a clear, understandable, and implementable definition of “waters of the United States” that clarifies federal authority under the Clean Water Act. Unlike the Obama administration's 2015 definition of “waters of the United States,” today’s proposal contains a straightforward definition that would result in significant cost savings, protect the nation’s navigable waters, help sustain economic growth, and reduce barriers to business development.

“Our proposal would replace the Obama EPA’s 2015 definition with one that respects the limits of the Clean Water Act and provides states and landowners the certainty they need to manage their natural resources and grow local economies,” said EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “For the first time, we are clearly defining the difference between federally protected waterways and state protected waterways. Our simpler and clearer definition would help landowners understand whether a project on their property will require a federal permit or not, without spending thousands of dollars on engineering and legal professionals.”

The agencies’ proposal is the second step in a two-step process to review and revise the definition of “waters of the United States” consistent with President Trump's February 2017 Executive Order entitled “Restoring the Rule of Law, Federalism, and Economic Growth by Reviewing the ‘Waters of the United States’ Rule.” The Executive Order states that it is in the national interest to ensure that the nation's navigable waters are kept free from pollution, while at the same time promoting economic growth, minimizing regulatory uncertainty, and showing due regard for the roles of Congress and the states under the Constitution.

“EPA and the Army together propose this new definition that provides a clear and predictable approach to regulating ‘waters of the United States.’ We focused on developing an implementable definition that balances local and national interests under the Clean Water Act,” said R.D. James, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works. “I have heard from a wide range of stakeholders on Clean Water Act implementation challenges. This proposed definition provides a common-sense approach to managing our nation's waters.”

The agencies’ proposed rule would provide clarity, predictability and consistency so that the regulated community can easily understand where the Clean Water Act applies—and where it does not. Under the agencies’ proposal, traditional navigable waters, tributaries to those waters, certain ditches, certain lakes and ponds, impoundments of jurisdictional waters, and wetlands adjacent to jurisdictional waters would be federally regulated. It also details what are not “waters of the United States,” such as features that only contain water during or in response to rainfall (e.g., ephemeral features); groundwater; many ditches, including most roadside or farm ditches; prior converted cropland; stormwater control features; and waste treatment systems.

The agencies believe this proposed definition appropriately identifies waters that should be subject to regulation under the Clean Water Act while respecting the role of states and tribes in managing their own land and water resources. States and many tribes have existing regulations that apply to waters within their borders, whether or not they are considered “waters of the United States.” The agencies’ proposal gives states and tribes more flexibility in determining how best to manage their land and water resources while protecting the nation’s navigable waters as intended by Congress when it enacted the Clean Water Act. 

Robust, publicly accessible data is also a key component of common-sense, cost-effective environmental protection. In response to requests from some states, EPA and the Army are exploring ways the agencies can work with our federal, state, and tribal partners to develop a data or mapping system that could provide a clearer understanding of the presence or absence of jurisdictional waters.

The agencies invited written pre-proposal recommendations and received more than 6,000 recommendations that the agencies have considered in developing this proposal. The agencies listened to those directly affected by the regulations, and this proposal balances the input the agencies received from a wide range of stakeholders.

The agencies will take comment on the proposal for 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. EPA and the Army will also hold an informational webcast on January 10, 2019, and will host a listening session on the proposed rule in Kansas City, KS, on January 23, 2019.

More information including a pre-publication version of the Federal Register notice, the supporting analyses and fact sheets are available at:

Fischer Responds to EPA’s New Water Rule Replacing WOTUS

U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and the Senate Agriculture Committee, today welcomed the EPA’s announcement of a new water policy proposed rule. The rule replaces the Obama administration’s 2015 “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule, which expanded the federal government’s jurisdiction over Nebraska’s water:

“The 2015 WOTUS rule had far-reaching consequences that would have hurt every single Nebraskan. The proposed rule announced today provides clarity and will ensure the federal government stays in its jurisdictional lane.”

Sasse Statement on New Water Rule

U.S. Senator Ben Sasse, an outspoken advocate for American agriculture, released the following statement after the EPA proposed new rules to replace the unconstitutional 2015 Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. Senator Sasse will submit Nebraskans’ comments to the EPA during the rulemaking comment period.

"This is good news. The Obama-era WOTUS rule was textbook Washington hogwash: unelected federal bureaucrats were trying to unconstitutionally regulate puddles here in Nebraska. I'm grateful for today's new approach -- Nebraska producers need predictability and common sense. Here’s the truth Nebraskans have known all along: nobody cares more about our land and water resources than we do -- our farmers and ranchers don't talk about conservation, they do it."

Ricketts Applauds Next Steps on WOTUS Repeal

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts and the Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) applauded an announcement by Acting Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler that the Trump Administration has proposed a replacement for the 2015 Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule.

“Thank you President Trump and Acting Administrator Wheeler for your continued commitment to repealing President Obama’s onerous WOTUS rule,” said Governor Ricketts.  “This new proposal returns more power to the states and private land owners where it belongs.  From family farms to commercial developers, this certainty is critical for the job creators who provide opportunities and grow Nebraska.”

"I want to thank President Trump and Acting EPA Administrator Wheeler for their work in reducing the regulatory overreach contained in the previous WOTUS rule,” said NDA Director Steve Wellman.  “The new proposed rule provides landowners with long term certainty, clarity, and straight forward guidance with consistency across all states.  As the original conservationists, our farmers and ranchers want to ensure we have high water quality without overbearing government oversight.  We expect the proposed new WOTUS rule to restore the rule of law and draw a clear line between state and federal jurisdiction."

The State of Nebraska and other states have previously sued to stop the implementation of the 2015 WOTUS rule, which had attempted to shift oversight of intrastate waterways from state and local governance to federal oversight.

Statement by Steve Nelson, on Behalf of Common Sense Nebraska Coalition, Regarding New Clean Water Rule Proposal

“We are pleased by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (CORPS) actions to propose a new Clean Water Rule to replace the 2015, Waters of the U.S., (WOTUS) Rule.”

“Our coalition partners are committed to protecting the land and water resources under our stewardship, however, the 2015 WOTUS Rule was not about clean water, but instead about a massive expansion of federal authority over private lands and infringement upon individual property rights.”

“We thank President Trump for following through on his promise to address this important issue and we appreciate the EPA and CORPS for working with agriculture and numerous other interests to gather input and feedback to work towards a better proposal.”

“Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson is also to be commended for his ongoing efforts to protect Nebraska’s interests throughout this process, paving a way for us to get to this point.”

“Our coalition partners want a rule that provides a framework for clean water protection, but also clearly identifies waters subject to federal jurisdiction. We believe the EPA and CORPS have moved in the right direction with this new proposal on those fronts. We look forward to further evaluation and providing feedback to the agencies during the public comment period.”

Naig on Proposed revised definition of “Waters of the U.S.”

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig issued the following statement on the proposed revised definition of Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) that was released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today.

“I am encouraged by the proposed WOTUS rule released by EPA today. I appreciate their effort to listen to farmers and other stakeholders and address their legitimate concerns about the previous rule. It is critically important that farmers, businesses and communities have greater certainty and predictability around what is and what is not covered by the rule. Now is an opportunity for all stakeholders to take the time to closely review the new rule and provide input during the 60 day comment period.”

Secretary Perdue Statement on EPA & Army Corps WOTUS Announcement

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today praised the announcement from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers that they are fulfilling President Trump’s pledge to repeal and replace the Waters of the United States rule.

Perdue issued the following statement:

“When I meet with the men and women of American agriculture, one of their chief concerns is always the overreach of federal regulations.  The WOTUS rule is regularly singled out as particularly egregious, as it impedes the use of their own land and stifles productivity.  Farmers and ranchers are exceptional stewards of the environment, and states have their own standards as well.  This welcome action from the EPA and Army Corps will help bring clarity to Clean Water Act regulations and help farmers know where federal jurisdiction begins and ends.  President Trump is making good on his promise to reduce burdensome regulations to free our producers to do what they do best – feed, fuel, and clothe this nation and the world.” 

NCBA: New Water Rule a "Fresh Start" for Cattle Producers

NCBA President Kevin Kester today released the following statement in response to the Trump Administration’s announcement of a new proposed water rule:

“After years of uncertainty stemming from the 2015 WOTUS rule, the Trump Administration’s new water rule represents a fresh start for America’s cattle producers. NCBA advocated for a new water rule that is easy to understand and implement. The Administration listened. The proposed water rule provides safeguards to keep our waters clean and clear rules for landowners to follow. We look forward to engaging with the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers to finalize the rule.”

NCGA Statement on WOTUS Rule

National Corn Growers Association President Lynn Chrisp made the following statement on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) release of the new Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. The new rule replaces the 2015 WOTUS rule that would have increased regulatory burdens and costs for farmers.

“Farmers rely on clean water and are committed to protecting our environment and the communities where we live and work. With a clear understanding of what is and is not jurisdictional under the Clean Water Act, farmers can implement stewardship practices such as grass waterways and buffer strips without the burden of bureaucratic red tape or the fear of legal action.

“NCGA looks forward to fully reviewing the new WOTUS rule to ensure that it provides clear jurisdictional boundaries to farmers, protects our nation’s water and can be implemented without confusion.”

Soybean Growers Appreciative of WOTUS Announcement

The American Soybean Association (ASA) is pleased that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers have developed a proposed Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule that takes into account comments by ASA and other impacted stakeholders that aim to protect our waterways while offering a workable solution for farmers. Soybean producers appreciate the significance of clean water and strive to be responsible stewards of our water, land and environment. But it is important that any policies be in line with the intent of the law and the rulings of the Supreme Court—to protect our resources through responsible and practical rules and regulations.

ASA president and soybean farmer from Clinton, Ky, Davie Stephens said, “We appreciate the work done by the EPA and the Army Corps to provide regulatory certainty to farmers and landowners by clearly outlining the regulated bodies of waters, defining the terms, and remaining within the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act (CWA).”

Stephens continued that, “While ASA will review the rule in greater detail before submitting formal comments, we are pleased that it is based on the standard set out by the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in Rapanos v. United States that the CWA should apply only to ‘navigable waters’ connected by a surface flow at least part of the year, with other waters to be regulated by the states.”

ASA looks forward to commenting on the proposed rule and working toward a policy that protects U.S. waters without going beyond the jurisdiction of the law or placing an undue burden on soybean farmers and private landowners.

 NPPC Hails EPA’s Proposed New WOTUS Rule

The National Pork Producers Council applauded today’s announcement by the Trump administration of a proposed new Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule.

The regulation would replace the WOTUS rule issued in August 2015 by the Obama administration’s U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. That measure gave EPA broad jurisdiction over U.S. waters to include, among other water bodies, upstream waters and intermittent and ephemeral streams such as the kind farmers use for drainage and irrigation. It also covered lands adjacent to such waters.

Prior to the 2015 rule, EPA’s jurisdiction over waterways – based on several U.S. Supreme Court decisions – included “navigable” waters and waters with a significant hydrologic connection to navigable waters.

“The 2015 rule was overbroad and poorly written,” said NPPC President Jim Heimerl, a pork producer from Johnstown, Ohio. “Everyone, particularly farmers, wants clean water, but the old regulation wasn’t about clean water. It was a massive land grab that promoted federal control over private property, grew the size of government and allowed activists to extort and micromanage all kinds of farming and business activities.

“We’re pleased the Trump EPA is replacing it and that the agency took input from farmers in coming up with a new rule that will be practical and workable and, unlike the previous rule, that will protect the nation’s waterways,” Heimerl said.

NAWG Welcomes New WOTUS Proposed Rule

Today’s the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers released a new proposed Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule which redefines the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act more narrowly and provides clarity to what is required of landowners. NAWG President Jimmie Musick issued the following statement:

“NAWG is encouraged by today’s action by the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers to increase clarity and transparency around the Waters of the U.S. regulation.

“Wheat growers know the importance of protecting our resources in order to sustain our farming operations and feed a growing world population. However, we need regulatory certainty, so we can remain in compliance with the law.

“We believe the new proposed rule does just this and reduces ambiguity in the law. We welcome the new proposed rule and plan on submitting comments.”

Farm Bureau Applauds New Clean Water Rule Proposal Signed by EPA

State Farm Bureau presidents from across the nation attended an event today at the Environmental Protection Agency headquarters in Washington to witness the signing of the proposed Clean Water Rule. The following statement regarding the new Clean Water Rule can be attributed to American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall.

“Farmers and ranchers work every day to protect our nation’s waterways and drinking water. For more than five years we have advocated for a new water rule that protects clean water and provides clear rules for people and communities to follow. This new rule will empower farmers and ranchers to comply with the law, protect our water resources and productively work their land without having to hire an army of lawyers and consultants.

“We want to protect land and water in the communities where we live and work. Clean water is our way of life. Preserving our land and protecting our water means healthy places to live, work and play. We believe this new Clean Water Rule is rooted in common-sense. It will protect our nation’s water resources and allow farmers to farm.

“We appreciate the months of hard work that the administration, especially the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers, invested in making sure the new Clean Water Rule was done right. Unlike the 2015 WOTUS rule, this new rule protects our resources, respects the law and provides greater clarity so the agencies and the public can identify regulated federal waterways. We will further analyze this new rule in the coming days and will suggest further refinements during the comment period.”

Milk Producers Pleased Waters of the U.S. Rule Replacement is Underway

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) is pleased that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have begun the process of replacing the 2015 Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule.

NMPF staff were given an overview of the newly proposed WOTUS rule that will replace the 2015 version in a ceremony at EPA headquarters today. As NMPF reviews the proposal, staff are highly confident it will improve upon the current rule, which has led to unnecessary legal fees, compliance costs and confusion for U.S. dairy producers.

“Dairy farmers have a vested interest in the outcome of this rulemaking and its potential impact on their operations,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “We look forward to working with the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to achieve the proper clarity that dairy farmers need on WOTUS to continue to meet our shared commitment to clean water.”

NMPF, other trade associations and state governments have had grave concerns about the current rule, which is overly broad and potentially unconstitutional. NMPF has repeatedly called on the EPA to rewrite the 2015 regulation and narrow its scope. The rule has faced an enormous amount of litigation around the country and was on track to be reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The new rule will be subject to a public comment period that will last 60 days from its publication in the Federal Register, which is expected by January.

Farmer Co-ops Applaud Release of New Waters of the United States Rule

The National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC) today commended the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) for releasing a revised rule defining what constitutes a “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) for purposes of the Clean Water Act. The action comes over a year and a half after the Trump Administration withdrew the Obama-era WOTUS rule, which contained an overly broad definition of a WOTUS and would have imposed onerous federal regulations on farms and ranches across the country.

“The new rule released today rids the WOTUS definition of the broad federal overreach embodied in the rule written by the previous administration,” said Chuck Conner, president and CEO of NCFC. “With this action, the Trump administration is continuing its commitment to defending farmers, ranchers and growers from burdensome and costly regulations that result in little impact on the environment.”

NCGA Testifies in Support of RFS

Texas farmer and National Corn Growers Association past president and chairman, Wesley Spurlock, today testified on behalf of NCGA at a House Energy and Commerce Environment Subcommittee hearing to review a discussion draft of the 21stCentury Transportation Fuels Act.

Spurlock told the Subcommittee of the significant opportunities the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) has created for farmers.

“The RFS is one of the most ambitious and successful energy, environmental and economic policies Congress has enacted, not only for farmers and rural communities, but also for drivers, our air quality and our nation’s energy security. As use of homegrown renewable fuels has grown and as farmers have become more productive using fewer resources, the benefits of the RFS have exceeded those Congress projected,” Spurlock said.

Spurlock’s testimony cited farmers’ increased productivity, increasing their average yield by more than 25 bushels per acre, or 17 percent, since 2007, as well as the benefits of value-added co-products like distillers grains for feed and corn oil for biodiesel.

“The value added by ethanol and increased farmer productivity has had a tremendous positive impact on rural America, helping the next generation return to their family farm,” Spurlock said.

Spurlock’s testimony touched on the myriad benefits of ethanol – consumers pay lower prices at the gas pump, greenhouse gas emissions have been reduced, and the most harmful compounds in gasoline have been replaced.

Spurlock said that while NCGA agrees with several provisions within the discussion draft, the organization believes it would ultimately undo successful renewable fuel policy and that it is not possible to continue to reduce emissions with an octane standard that could be met by using more oil.

“The net impact of this proposal would not maintain the market access renewable fuels currently have with the RFS or offer opportunity to expand the use of ethanol as an octane source,” Spurlock said. “NCGA believes we should build on the success of the RFS when moving a future fuel policy forward.”

Spurlock thanked the Subcommittee for its advocacy for farmers and renewable fuels and stressed NCGA’s interest in providing input for any future consideration of renewable fuel policy.

Mid-Level Ethanol Blends Are the Transportation Fuel of the 21st Century

As Congress looks to revamp and coordinate federal-level policies that govern the transportation fuels and vehicles sectors, National Farmers Union (NFU) is urging legislators to expand use of high-octane, mid-level blends of ethanol in the transportation fuel supply. In doing so, policymakers have the opportunity to create lasting national policy that builds on the significant economic, environmental, and national security benefits associated with increased biofuel production and use.

NFU President Roger Johnson today submitted a statement to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on the Environment in advance of the subcommittee’s hearing on “Discussion Draft: The 21 Century Transportation Fuels Act.”

“NFU agrees that fuel and vehicle regulation can and should work hand-in-hand to promote clean-burning, alternative renewable fuels,” said Johnson. “High octane fuels through higher blends of ethanol should be the fuel for today and the future.”

The subcommittee met to focus on synergies and opportunities for the nation’s preeminent fuels and vehicles policies – the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) and Greenhouse Gas (GHG) standards. In doing so, the subcommittee acknowledged that “high-octane fuels and vehicles may be an economical and technologically feasible path forward for producers and sellers of fuels and vehicles as well as the consumers who use them.”

In his statement to the committee, Johnson touted the benefits of mid-level ethanol blends, like E30. “The synergies between high octane fuels and more efficient, high compression engines must be recognized and supported. Ethanol has a very high octane number and has many other benefits that increase engine efficiency and reduce tailpipe air emissions, supporting these advanced engines. It provides these benefits at a lower cost than any other octane booster in gasoline.”

Johnson also added that “consumers would benefit from fuel cost savings, reduced price volatility, increased performance, and the energy security and environmental attributes of mid-level ethanol blends.”

He noted that NFU was pleased by recent moves by the administration to support year-round use of E15 and to accept comments on the benefits of high-octane fuels for CAFE and GHG standards. Yet, EPA has not proposed any specific regulatory actions that would remove obstacles to higher blends entering the market and that would move the country toward high-octane fuels. To that effect, Johnson recommended:
·     Easing the ability to use mid-level ethanol blends as certification fuel under EPA regulations;
·     Adjusting CAFE and GHG regulations to better account for ethanol content in fuels, including providing credits to support vehicles that promote increased use of renewable fuels;
·     Modifying EPA emissions modeling to better account for the benefits of ethanol;
·     Reconsidering EPA’s Reid Vapor Pressure requirements for mid-level ethanol blends; and
·     Growing and enforcing the RFS.

“Virtually all parties, including EPA, acknowledge the GHG and fuel economy benefits of high-octane fuels in more efficient engines, and the cost-effectiveness of using higher ethanol blends to meet these goals,” said Johnson. “It’s time they act to increase the amount of mid-level blends of ethanol we use in the U.S.”

RFA CEO Cooper Testifies on the Future Role of High Octane Fuels

While draft legislation recently released by Reps. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) and Bill Flores (R-Texas) represents “an important first step in the debate about future fuels policy and the role of high octane fuels,” the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) cannot support the proposal because it “does not provide the long-term certainty and growth path” that America’s ethanol producers need.

That was the message delivered by RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper in testimony during today’s House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on the Environment hearing on the Shimkus/Flores proposal, named “The 21st Century Transportation Fuels Act.” While the proposal would establish a higher octane fuel requirement (95 RON) in 2023, the draft also would sunset the Renewable Fuel Standard’s (RFS) conventional biofuel requirements after 2022.

By eliminating the RFS for conventional biofuels, “…the draft bill would destabilize the considerable progress our nation has made toward greater energy security, economic vitality, and environmental health,” Cooper testified. “We simply cannot support eliminating the RFS program, as the draft envisions, without a much stronger signal to the market that ethanol’s role in our fuel supply will continue to grow.”

While any move toward higher octane would seem on the surface to benefit ethanol—the lowest-cost and cleanest source of octane on the market—recent analysis shows that refiners could meet the demand for 95 RON gasoline without using more ethanol. “Even though ethanol is far superior to other octane boosters in terms of cost, greenhouse gas emissions, air quality, health effects, and other factors, a 95 RON standard—when paired with elimination of the RFS conventional renewable fuel requirements—would not result in increased market opportunities for ethanol,” Cooper said. “RFA strongly believes a high octane fuel standard can work in concert with—not in conflict with—the RFS.”

“While a good conversation starter, this discussion draft does not provide the long-term certainty and growth path that America’s renewable fuel producers, farmers, automakers, and consumers need,” Cooper testified. “With proper oversight and implementation, the RFS can work in tandem with a high-octane standard to continue to drive innovation, support rural economies, and provide cleaner and cheaper fuel choices at the pump well beyond 2022,” he added.

ACE: 95 RON trade for RFS repeal not an ethanol growth strategy

American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) CEO Brian Jennings issued a statement today responding to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment hearing on the discussion draft “21st Century Transportation Fuels Act,” which proposes an exchange of a national (95 RON) octane fuel requirement for repeal of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Below is Jennings’ statement:

“The draft legislation recently made public by Representatives John Shimkus of Illinois and Bill Flores of Texas draws attention to why higher octane fuel is needed but fails to chart a sufficient course for how to get there. Requiring automakers to warranty their vehicles to operate on a minimum 95 RON fuel (about the same as today’s premium) in exchange for effective repeal of the RFS will not improve fuel quality by increasing ethanol use, rather, it is a mechanism to undo the competition-forcing core of the RFS and limit ethanol use to current volumes.

“In fact, while the legislative draft implies support for E20 blends, a recent study commissioned by the Energy Information Agency (EIA) concluded refiners could easily meet a 95 RON standard using just 10 percent ethanol.

“If the goal of the legislation is to increase the octane of motor gasoline, refiners cannot be allowed to insist on man-made limits just because they prefer not to use ethanol, which happens to be the lowest-cost and lowest-carbon source of octane on the planet. There may be ideas in the legislative draft which, in isolation, might seem appealing, but the net effect of the entire legislative package would be very harmful to the ethanol industry and farmers who need pro-growth policies.”

Skor Testifies Before Congressional Committee on Critical Role of RFS, Ethanol in America's Fuel Policy

Today, Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor appeared before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Environment’s hearing on the discussion draft put forth by Representatives John Shimkus (R-IL) and Bill Flores (R-TX) to repeal the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Skor testified on the success of the RFS in creating ethanol demand and achieving its' goal of providing drivers with a cleaner-burning and more affordable fuel at the pump:

“Today, ethanol is 25 cents less per gallon than gasoline, and was as much as 90 cents lower earlier this year,” said Skor. “The past decade has shown oil companies will actively ignore economic incentives to prevent market entry of higher ethanol blends."

"Only by coupling a stable RFS with a significant boost in octane from a mid-level ethanol blend, can consumers realize significant cost savings, increased engine efficiency, and substantial environmental benefits. Unfortunately, this draft as proposed will lead to reduced blending of cleaner biofuel and it will raise costs significantly for American drivers.”

Additionally, Skor noted that while Growth Energy supports many aspects of the draft, it "misses an opportunity to lay out a bold vision for the future of affordable liquid fuels and to make a significant impact - restoring growth in America's rural communities and carbonizing our nation's fuel supply."

 CWT-Assisted Member Sales Top 23 Million Pounds of Product in November

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) assisted seven member cooperatives last month in securing 76 sales contracts to export 23 million pounds of American-type cheese, butter and whole milk powder. Sixty contracts will deliver 14.7 million pounds of American-type cheeses to nine countries, nine butter contracts account for 5.3 million pounds of butter headed to four countries, and seven contracts will move 3.3 million pounds of whole milk powder to five countries. The products will go to customers in Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, Central America, Oceania and South America, and will be shipped from November 2018 through May 2019.

Member cooperatives’ sales activities through November bring the year-to-date CWT-assisted export sales to 66.4 million pounds of America-type cheeses, 15.9 million pounds of butter and 38.7 million pounds of whole milk powder. The milk equivalent of these sales is 1.252 billion pounds on a milkfat basis.

Helping CWT member cooperatives gain and maintain world market share through the Export Assistance program positively impacts all U.S. dairy farmers by strengthening and maintaining the value of dairy products that raise milk prices. It does this by expanding the demand for U.S. dairy exports, thereby increasing the total demand for U.S. farm milk.

National FFA Organization Announces National FFA Convention & Expo staying in Indianapolis through 2031

The National FFA Organization announced today that its National FFA Convention & Expo will be staying in Indianapolis through 2031.

"We are proud to keep the National FFA Convention & Expo in Indianapolis," Mark Poeschl, the National FFA chief executive officer, said. "The city has extended its very best brand of Hoosier hospitality to our members for many years, and we are very pleased that our convention will remain here through 2031."

The annual national convention and expo, which has been held in Indianapolis since 2016, hosts more than 67,000 attendees from across the country. The event was estimated to have an economic impact of $39.8 million for Indianapolis during 2018.

The national convention and expo utilizes downtown venues, including Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Lucas Oil Stadium, the Indiana Convention Center, the Indiana State Fairgrounds and event hotels.

“The National FFA Convention & Expo, much like the National FFA headquarters, is right at home here in Indiana,” said Gov. Eric Holcomb. “Indiana is ready and committed to support this event and welcome with open arms the 67,000 FFA members and guests who will come to our capital city each of the next nine years. Today’s news confirms that Indiana’s reputation is strong and growing stronger, and I appreciate FFA’s commitment to build on our already-robust agricultural heritage in the coming years.”

“We are so excited that the National FFA has chosen to keep its convention in Indianapolis through 2031,” said Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch, who also serves as Indiana’s Secretary of Agriculture and Rural Development. “With Indiana’s strong agricultural tradition, it is always inspiring to meet students who are passionate about getting involved in agriculture or pursuing careers in agriculture-related fields. We look forward to welcoming the thousands of attendees who will attend the organization’s annual week-long event and engaging with students and businesses who are helping shape the future of agriculture.”

During the national convention, in addition to attending workshops, participating in competitive events and attending general sessions, members also participate in National Days of Service, where they give back to the community.

“Indianapolis is excited to welcome back the National FFA Convention & Expo through 2031,” said Mayor Joe Hogsett. “Not only does this commitment create an estimated $39.8 million in annual economic impact for Central Indiana, but attendees from across the state and around the globe uplift our residents through community projects each year. There is so much success on the horizon for Indianapolis and I’m thrilled the FFA Convention will continue to be a part of that story.”

The National FFA Convention took place in Kansas City, Mo., from 1928-98. Louisville then hosted the event from 1999 to 2005, with Indianapolis being the host city from 2006-12. In 2009, the organization announced the national convention and expo would rotate every three years between Indianapolis and Louisville, with Louisville hosting the event 2013-15 and Indianapolis hosting the event 2016-18. In 2015, the decision was made to move the convention back to Indianapolis from 2016-24.

As the membership of the organization has grown so has the attendance of the national convention and expo. Following the 90th National FFA Convention & Expo, the National FFA Board of Directors opened a bid process for cities wanting to host the national convention and expo beginning in 2025. The final decision was between Atlanta and Indianapolis.

"Our members and guests feel at home in Indiana," Poeschl said, "and they share our enthusiasm for the city that FFA calls home."

“Visit Indy, the City of Indianapolis, and the State of Indiana have an outstanding partnership with the National FFA Organization,” said Leonard Hoops, president and CEO of Visit Indy. “We’re honored to host this event and look forward to delivering a great experience for FFA student members, advisors, and families for the next 13 years and many years to come.”

 R-CALF USA Tells Regulators Time’s Running Out to Protect Cattle Markets from Antitrust Takeover

At the competition roundtable held Friday at the University of Wisconsin School of Law, R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard told experts in antitrust and regulation that time is running out to stop multinational beef packers from capturing the U.S. live cattle supply chain away from independent cattle producers.

Sponsored by the American Antitrust Institute and the University of Wisconsin Law School, the competition roundtable, Food and Agriculture at a Crossroads:  Setting Competition Priorities to Protect Producers, Consumers, and the Supply Chain, focused on major competition issues involving concentrated food and agricultural markets.

Panelists and speakers for the event included marketplace regulators from the U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Trade Commission, and state attorneys general offices. Private attorneys, academia, industry advocates and a representative of the U.S. Department of Agriculture also participated.

Bullard was a presenter on the panel discussing packer market power and he explained that lack of enforcement of U.S. antitrust laws and laws prohibiting anti-competitive conduct is fast destroying the cattle industry’s competitive marketing channels.

He said the U.S. recently lost 25 percent of its local livestock auction yards and 75 percent of its independent feedlots. In addition, he said, nearly 80 percent of all beef packing plants in business in 1980 have disappeared.

“When we lose our industry’s competitive marketing channels, it’s game over,” Bullard said adding, “The cattle industry is the meatpackers’ last frontier and they’re now doing to our industry what they’ve already perfected in the poultry and hog industries.”

Bullard said the way to protect the cattle industry’s marketing channels, which will preserve the independence of U.S. cattle producers, is to immediately and vigorously enforce our U.S. antitrust laws and the Packers and Stockyards Act.

“The fact that this roundtable was so well attended suggests there is a heightened awareness among regulators and policy shapers for the need to begin protecting competition in the cattle industry.  Let’s hope they’re not too late,” Bullard concluded.

Mon Dec 10 Update - Conference Committee Announces Farm Bill

House and Senate Ag Committee Leaders Release Farm Bill Conference Report

House and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairmen Mike Conaway (R-Texas) and Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Ranking Members Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) today released the text of the bipartisan, bicameral 2018 Farm Bill conference report.

 “America’s farmers and ranchers are weathering the fifth year of severe recession, so passing a farm bill this week that strengthens the farm safety net is vitally important,” said Chairman Conaway. “I am grateful to the President, Secretary Perdue and my leadership for standing fast for the hard-working farm and ranch families that clothe and feed us. I also appreciate the members of the conference committee for bringing this process one step closer to completion.”

“The 2018 Farm Bill is our opportunity to make the American food and agriculture systems work more efficiently. I’m pleased to say we have done just that in this conference report,” said Chairman Roberts. “We started this journey nearly two years ago. Since then, the Senate Agriculture Committee has held dozens of hearings, listened to more than 90 witnesses, and received thousands of public comments. As promised, this farm bill provides much needed certainty and predictability for all producers – of all crops – across all regions across the country. I thank my counterparts in the Senate and House for coming to – and staying at – the table to reach a bipartisan, bicameral agreement for rural America.”

 “This bill is a strong start to addressing the issues our producers are facing right now, particularly our dairy farmers,” said Ranking Member Peterson. “The bill’s new provisions will offer more flexible coverage for lower cost when dairy farmers need it most, and provide producers more tools to manage their risk. It also invests $300 million in the prevention and response for animal pests and disease. More broadly, the bill invests in research, outreach to beginning & underserved producers, local and organic food production, bioenergy, and access to new markets. It also addresses broadband, farm stress and mental health issues, and the opioid epidemic in rural areas. It’s the product of strong bipartisan work in both the House and the Senate, and it’s something I’m proud to encourage folks to vote for.”

“By working across the aisle, we overcame many differences to deliver a strong, bipartisan farm bill for our farmers, families, and rural communities,” said Ranking Member Stabenow. “The 2018 Farm Bill is a good bill for our farmers and everyone who eats. Working together, we continued to expand the diversity of our agricultural economy, maintained a strong food and farm safety net, created new opportunities in our small towns and rural communities, and made significant investments in land and water conservation. Now is not the time to rest on our laurels – it’s time to get the bill across the finish line as soon as possible. I urge my colleagues to support this bill.”

Click here to read the text of the report....

The conference report was signed by the House and Senate Farm Bill conferees and will be considered with a vote in both chambers.

Secretary Perdue Statement on Release of Farm Bill Conference Report

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

“I welcome the introduction of the Farm Bill conference committee report, and hope the Congress can approve this legislation expeditiously. This legislation maintains a strong safety net for the farm economy, invests in critical agricultural research, and will promote agriculture exports through robust trade programs. While we would have liked to see more progress on work requirements for SNAP recipients and forest management reforms, the conference agreement does include several helpful provisions and we will continue to build upon these through our authorities. As farmers prepare to make decisions about next season, I commend the leadership of the conference committee in producing a bill that can be passed before the year’s end. If Congress passes this legislation I will encourage the President to sign it.”

NMPF Commends Lawmakers for Farm Bill That Makes Significant Dairy Policy Reforms

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) thanked members of Congress, especially the bipartisan leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees, for crafting a farm bill that includes much-needed reforms to help American dairy farmers. The 2018 Farm Bill reached a key milestone on Monday with the release of a long-awaited conference report.

“Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle should be commended for reaching a deal that will benefit U.S. agriculture and ensure safe, affordable food for Americans and the world,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “A new law is especially important for dairy, a sector struggling with low prices and disrupted exports. We thank lawmakers for addressing our concerns with measures that will help producers in need.”

NMPF called on the full Congress to pass the bill quickly while thanking its four principal negotiators: Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), as well as House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway (R-TX) and Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-MN).  While the bill includes a vast array of farm policy changes, improvements benefiting dairy include:
-    Higher coverage levels in a renamed Margin Protection Program (MPP) that address deficiencies in the current program’s feed-cost formula
-    Greater flexibility to allow producers of all sizes to access Tier 1 premium rates
-    Expanded access to additional risk management tools, allowing producers to participate in both MPP and the Livestock Gross Margin insurance program
-    Continued support for land and water conservation programs that assist dairy producers
-    Full funding for Farm Bill trade promotion programs, a crucial concern in an era of markets lost to tariffs
-    Nutrition provisions intended to enhance consumption of fluid milk

The law’s provisions build on improvements enacted in the Bipartisan Budget Act earlier this year, including dairy safety net reforms spearheaded by Stabenow and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), as well as risk management provisions championed by Conaway and Peterson.

Fischer Statement on Farm Bill Conference Agreement

U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, released the following statement today after the House and Senate Farm Bill conference committee released the text of the 2018 Farm Bill conference report:

“The Farm Bill conference report maintains key elements I fought for in the Senate bill, such as protecting crop insurance, simplifying trade promotion programs, and unleashing more broadband infrastructure in rural America. The report also includes my Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act, a solution to find and close gaps in broadband connectivity across farm and ranch country. Nebraska ag producers want a clearer and more predictable guide for the future, and that’s what this bill will provide.”

Soy Growers Pleased With Stability & Support New Farm Bill Will Provide

ASA today congratulated the House and Senate Agriculture Committees and Congressional leadership on release of a conference report that reflects a broad consensus of support for the “Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018.” ASA strongly supports this legislation and urges the House and Senate to approve it this week so it can be enacted before Congress adjourns for the year.

“Enactment of a new farm bill on schedule has been a top ASA priority for the last two years,” stated ASA President Davie Stephens, a soybean farmer from Clinton, Ky. “This legislation will provide the risk management tools farmers need to navigate difficult economic conditions over the next five years. It provides full funding for the Foreign Market Development program and the Market Access Program – key partnerships under which ASA and USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service work to expand developing and emerging country markets.” Stephens continued, “We commend Chairmen Conaway and Roberts and Ranking Members Peterson and Stabenow for finding compromises on several contentious issues, and urge President Trump to give his endorsement so this much-needed legislation can be delivered to farmers, ranchers and all rural Americans.”

Stephens’ remarks followed release of the joint House-Senate conference report that will extend authorization and funding for a broad spectrum of programs affecting producers and consumers of food, feed, fiber and fuel, not only in the United States, but also overseas programs that aid U.S. producers. Spread across 13 titles, the farm bill provides assurances to all Americans that the federal government will continue to provide assistance, when needed, through farm income support programs, nutrition and feeding programs, and through conservation, rural development, agricultural research, energy, and international agricultural development and food aid programs. Provisions in the bill important to soybean farmers include the following:
-    Allowing producers to sign up for the county option under the Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) program or the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program for 2019-2020 crops, and annually for 2021, 2022, and 2023 on a farm-by-farm and crop-by-crop basis.
-    Allows farmers to update their program yields, increasing the support they’re eligible to receive.
-     Increasing the Marketing Assistance loan rate for soybeans by 24 percent, to $6.20/bu. from $5.00/bu.
-     Establishes the Agricultural Trade and Facilitation Program, which will provide $255 million per year to fund FMD, MAP, emerging markets, and TASC. FMD is funded each year at not less than $34.5 million, and MAP is funded each year at not less than $200 million. A Priority Trust Fund will provide $3.5 million per year to programs for which requests are greater than the funds available. The Bill also allows FMD funds to be used in Cuba.
-    Reduces mandatory funding of the Energy Title significantly, but continues baseline funding for the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). The Biobased Market Program will be funded at $3 million per year for 5 years – the only Energy Title program to get increased funding.
-    Increases the overall acreage limit for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) to 27 million from 24 million acres by FY 2023, including 8.6 million acres to be devoted to continuous practices and two million for grasslands. Limits Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) funding, and encourages States to give higher consideration to contracts that improve soil health.
-    Maintains authorization for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) at $700 million per year and directs USDA to utilize the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) “Science Breakthroughs to Advance Food and Agricultural Research by 2030” consensus report, which identifies priority research areas for developing a more efficient, resilient, sustainable, and competitive U.S. agricultural system. ASA helped fund this study.
-    Crop insurance provisions allow producers to establish a single-enterprise unit across county lines. The language also includes cover crops as a good farming practice under crop insurance and ensures that the planting of a cover crop does not impact the insurability of a subsequent crop.

“ASA applauds the improvements in Title I support programs, including giving producers the option to choose between the county ARC and PLC programs in four of the five years of the new bill. This will allow farmers to respond to increased volatility in overseas markets and prices in coming years,” Stephens said. The ASA president added that, “The increase in the soybean loan rate will benefit farmers who need to access low-interest financing for their 2019 and future crops.”

Smith Statement on Farm Bill Conference Report

Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) released the following statement after the Farm Bill conference report was released for consideration by the House of Representatives and Senate.

“Through my Farm Bill listening sessions and travels across the Third District, Nebraska’s producers have made clear they need the certainty of a long term Farm Bill. I am pleased the conference report continues our commitment to a strong crop insurance program and creates a vaccine bank to help contain any future incidents of foot and mouth disease. I look forward to supporting the bill later this week as we move to quickly send it to President Trump for his signature.”

Nebraska Farm Bureau Urges Farm Bill Passage

The Nebraska Farm Bureau is calling on Congress to move swiftly in passing the 2018 Farm Bill as packaged by agriculture leaders in the House and Senate. The comprehensive bill would address many of the priorities previously outlined by the organization during farm bill negotiations.

“Our number one priority has been the protection of federal crop insurance. This final version delivers on that priority. We appreciate all the efforts that have gone into developing a farm bill that works for agriculture, as well as rural and urban Americans,” said Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau president, Dec. 11.

In addition to providing a strong crop insurance foundation, the bill makes needed adjustments in commodity programs, specifically the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs authorized in the 2014 Farm Bill. It also improves on federal conservation programs, funds important trade promotion programs, expands funding for broadband access in rural America, and provides permanent funding for an expanded livestock vaccine bank.

“All of these components are critical to current and future generations of Nebraska farm and ranch families,” said Nelson.

Votes on the 2018 Farm Bill could take place in both the House and Senate as early as this week.

“I want to thank the members of the Nebraska Congressional delegation for their efforts to get us to this point. Sen. Fischer, Sen. Sasse, Congressman Fortenberry, Congressman Bacon, and Congressman Smith have all played important roles in delivering the 2018 Farm Bill,” said Nelson. “Now it’s critical the House and Senate pass the 2018 Farm Bill and provide certainty to Nebraska’s farm and ranch families who continue to face a challenging agriculture economy.”

Center for Rural Affairs: Rural America has waited too long for farm bill

Congress released its compromise farm bill yesterday, Dec. 10, 2018, securing several victories for conservation, beginning farmers, and rural communities, while failing to cap payments to the largest farms or secure long-term funding for working lands conservation, according to Center for Rural Affairs Policy Manager Anna Johnson.

“Bottom line, farmers and rural America have waited too long for this bill,” Johnson said. “We are encouraged to see meaningful investment in beginning farmers, conservation, and programs that support rural vitality. At the same time, we are deeply disappointed that Congress disregarded bipartisan reforms to cap payments to the largest farms and address consolidation in agriculture.”


Farm bill conservation programs provide support and pathways for farmers and ranchers to improve their stewardship of soil and water resources on their land.

“We are pleased that Congress has maintained the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) in the final bill, and included many policy changes to strengthen the program,” Johnson said.

Policy changes include increased support for key practices such as cover crops, resource-conserving crop rotations, and advanced grazing management.

“While we also appreciate that overall conservation title funding was maintained, we are concerned that the funding for CSP is structured such that it and other conservation programs will enter the next farm bill debate at a funding disadvantage,” Johnson said. “Future funding for conservation will remain a top priority for the Center.”

Payment rules will further farm consolidation

“We are deeply disappointed that Congress did not step up to fix provisions that drive farm consolidation and funnel taxpayer dollars to the largest operations,” Johnson said. “Sadly missing from the final bill are Sen. Chuck Grassley’s (R-IA) bipartisan proposals to strengthen ‘actively engaged’ provisions, which would have closed loopholes in farm programs that allow many (loosely defined) ‘managers’ to receive payments of taxpayer dollars every year.”

Johnson said Congress chose instead to take a step in the opposite direction and expand these loopholes. The existing payment limitation of $125,000 can now be multiplied not only via spouse and immediate family members, but also by adding nephews, nieces, and first cousins.

“This will effectively allow mega farms to continue to collect unlimited payments and perpetuate misuse of taxpayer dollars,” she said. “We will continue our decades-long campaign to rein in these unlimited payments.”

Beginning farmers and rural vitality

Johnson praised the bill’s provisions for programs that support new farmers and rural vitality.

Several valuable programs for beginning, socially-disadvantaged, and veteran farmers; value-added agriculture; and local foods are combined into two new programs that will permanently preserve their functions. These are the Farming Opportunities Training and Outreach Program, and the Local Agricultural Marketing Program.

In addition, Congress increased funding for the Conservation Reserve Program - Transition Incentive Program to $50 million. Johnson said this change will do important work to facilitate beginning, socially-disadvantaged, and veteran farmers working with retiring farmers to access land.

“We deeply appreciate that Congress has chosen to invest beginning farmers and rural communities through these programs,” she said.

Another program that stimulates rural small businesses development, the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP), was reauthorized but, unfortunately, not funded in the final bill.

“RMAP’s support for loan funding and technical assistance to rural entrepreneurs will not continue unless Congress takes separate action to restore its funding, which we encourage them to do,” Johnson said.

She said a final bright note in the bill is the restoration of the position of Undersecretary of Rural Development at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

“Maintaining Rural Development as a Mission Area within USDA keeps rural programs on equal footing with the other functions of USDA,” Johnson said.

“Congressional action on this bill is long overdue,” Johnson said. “This compromise bill secures important victories for beginning farmers, programs that support rural vitality, and conservation. But, over the next five years, Congress will have a responsibility to keep funding strong for conservation and rural microenterprise development, and boldly address the policies and incentives that reward only the largest farms and drive farm consolidation.”

Dairy Producers from Coast to Coast Urge Congress to Quickly Approve Pro-Dairy Farm Bill

With the release of a farm bill that Congress will vote on in the coming days, the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) joined its member cooperatives and state dairy associations in urging Congress to pass the new law, which includes several measures crucial to dairy during tough economic times.

“Dairy farmers and the cooperatives they own are enduring a period of prolonged economic distress,” NMPF writes in a letter to the chairs and ranking members of each congressional agriculture committee – Reps. Mike Conaway (R-TX) and Collin Peterson (D-MN), and Sens. Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). “Timely reauthorization of the Farm Bill will provide effective, needed risk management tools to dairy producers across the country as we enter yet another year of uncertainty.”

The Farm Bill features several important policy reforms for dairy, including:
-    Affordable higher coverage levels in the Dairy Margin Coverage program (DMC) (renamed from the Margin Protection Program) will permit all dairy producers to insure margins above $8.00 on their Tier 1 (first five million pounds) production history.
-    The bill will reduce the cost of $5.00 margin coverage by roughly 88 percent. This aids larger producers and is critically important in states where margins fall more quickly.
-    Greater flexibility to allow producers of all sizes to access Tier 1 premium rates.
-    Expanded access to additional risk management tools, allowing producers to participate in both the DMC and the Livestock Gross Margin insurance program.
-    An option that will allow producers to receive a 25 percent discount on their premiums if they agree to lock in their coverage level for the entirety of the bill.

In addition to strong dairy-producer support, NMPF worked closely with the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) to forge an unprecedented industry consensus. The final bill includes an agreement reached between the two organizations on risk management that will help producers, cooperatives and processors to better hedge price risk.


On Monday, Dec. 10, House and Senate Agriculture Committee leaders released the text of the 2018 Farm Bill conference report. The National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) President Brent Van Dyke issued the following statement on the bicameral agreement:

“This is a great day for conservation on America’s private, working lands,” NACD President Brent Van Dyke said. “NACD welcomes the continued investment in the Conservation Title and appreciates the consideration given to the overall conservation delivery system. With the continued effects of a recession in the farm economy, strong agriculture policy ensures a safety-net for America’s producers. We appreciate the members of the conference committee and their staffs for their commitment to bringing this important process one step closer to completion.”

In addition to maintaining funding for the Conservation Title, NACD is pleased this farm bill keeps the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) functioning as separate programs; allows more grazing opportunities and acreage to the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP); makes reasonable reforms to the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) without converting the program away from its intended function; and supports forestry management by promoting reductions of hazardous fuel loads to prevent wildfires.

“The best parts of both bills are reflected in this final product—including NACD’s primary legislative priorities,” NACD President-elect Tim Palmer said. “Successful implementation of on-the-ground conservation is made possible through conservation districts and the locally-led conservation model. Investing in conservation is an investment in the nation’s future, and this agreement continues to make that a priority. We are thankful our nation’s farmers, ranchers and private forest landowners can continue to execute sustainable practices with the support of this bipartisan legislation.”

Monday night’s bill text release paves the way for both a House and Senate vote by the end of this week.

NSP Statement on Farm Bill Agreement

National Sorghum Producers welcomed news late yesterday an agreement was reached between farm bill conference committee leaders and the conference report was finalized.

"We commend the leaders of the Senate and House Agriculture Committees for their relentless effort driving this process forward to an agreement," NSP Chairman Dan Atkisson, a sorghum producer from Stockton, Kansas, said. "It cannot be overstated how important it is the farm bill makes it to the finish line this year, and we urge House and Senate members to vote yes in support of this legislation."

The new bill largely upholds legislation from the previous 2014 bill including a $3.95 reference price for sorghum producers. New additions to the 2018 farm bill include conservation language on resource conserving crop rotations and instructions to work on irrigated sorghum insurance. Lawmakers also provided loan rate increases in the new legislation, which will help the needs of sorghum growers.

"Farmers across the Sorghum Belt are wrapping up harvest and feeling the impacts of a difficult farm economy right now," NSP Vice Chairman Kody Carson, a sorghum producer from Olton, Texas, said."The new farm bill is central in providing much needed stability as we begin to refinance operations."

NSP has been actively engaged in the farm bill process and believes the new legislation maintains balanced and solid protection for America’s farmers and ranchers. NSP looks forward to working with lawmakers to ensure the needs of the sorghum industry are met through the implementation process once the bill is signed by the President. 

American Farmland Trust: 2018 Farm Bill a victory for farmland protection, environmentally sound farming practices and keeping farmers on the land

American Farmland Trust, the organization behind the national movement No Farms No Food®, praises the 2018 Farm Bill conference report released today and expresses great appreciation for the bipartisan nature of the final bill and the tireless work of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees. The 2018 Farm Bill delivers on the funding and programmatic priorities supporting AFT’s mission to save the land that sustains us by protecting farmland, promoting environmentally sound farming practices and keeping farmers on the land.

"Farmers, ranchers and the many partner organizations who use USDA programs to fund innovative work around the country can breathe a sigh of relief. The 2018 Farm Bill is just steps away from becoming law,” says John Piotti, AFT president and CEO. “AFT urges members of the House and Senate to vote to pass this bill, to allow programs to move forward expeditiously.”

He continues, “We are losing farmland at a rate of three acres a minute—31 million acres between 1992 and 2012 alone. Farmland is lost when farmers and ranchers don’t have adequate risk-management tools. When they can’t find new markets or develop new products. When there’s no next generation farmer able to afford the land that an exiting farmer is selling. When there’s not enough funding to meet demand for the sale of agricultural conservation easements. This bill, while not perfect, is an important step in addressing these needs.”

The bill includes many of AFT’s priorities, including funding increases and programmatic improvements to the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, and the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program. With support from these programs, AFT and its partners around the country will be able to move forward in fulfilling its mission.

Protecting Farmland

ACEP is a critically important voluntary federal conservation program implemented by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service that permanently protects agricultural land and conserves wetlands. ACEP cost-shares with state and local partners to purchase agricultural conservation easements from farmers, ranchers and agricultural landowners. The program permanently protects land from sprawling development while keeping it in agricultural production. Importantly, it enables farmers and ranchers to reinvest the proceeds of the easement sale in their businesses to transition land to the next generation or to improve their stewardship.

The ACEP funding increase—AFT’s top priority for the Farm Bill—to $450 million per year, is an important gain. This funding level, a $2 billion increase over the current baseline, will allow USDA to nearly double from last year the number of applications it can fund under the new Farm Bill.

In addition, the bill makes several programmatic changes championed by AFT and its partners at state and local Purchase of Agricultural Conservation Easement programs and agricultural land trusts. These include:
-    Ensuring that experienced partners can use their own easement deed terms and conditions as long as they are consistent with the program’s statutory objectives.
-    A change to the cost-share requirement that will enable partners to do more projects with limited funding.
-    A waiver of adjusted gross income limits for projects of special environmental significance, enabling partners to act on opportunities to permanently protect productive, at-risk agricultural land regardless of the financial situation of the owner.
-    Allowing “buy-protect-sell" transactions, in which land trusts help young and beginning farmers and ranchers especially gain access to land, by purchasing land in fee, protecting it with an agricultural conservation easement and then selling the protected land to a farmer or rancher.

Promoting Sound Farming Practices

Voluntary conservation programs are vitally important to farmers and ranchers who want to be good stewards of their land and the shared natural resources we all enjoy. A full toolbox of well-funded conservation programs, which often leverage matching funds from farmers and ranchers themselves, is important to improve environmental outcomes and to avoid the need for more stringent regulations in the future. For this reason, AFT applauds the Farm Bill Conferees for maintaining the overall funding level for the bill’s Conservation Title.

An important Conservation Title program that makes this possible is the Regional Conservation Partnership Program-- an innovative, landscape-scale program that brings many partners together to address targeted environmental issues including farmland loss. AFT is appreciative of the $300 million of annual mandatory funding for RCPP in this bill and changes to the program that pave the way for better quantification of the environmental outcomes being achieved by farmers, ranchers and their partners. AFT specifically uses RCPP to address water quality in the Macoupin Creek Watershed in Illinois, including measuring the changes in phosphorus and sediment loss from implementing conservation cropping systems.

Keeping Farmers on the Land

Since AFT’s founding in 1980, the average age of farmers has risen from 50 to 58. More than 371 million acres of agricultural land are likely to change hands within the next two decades. Yet, the most recent Census of Agriculture in 2012 showed the number of beginning farmers decreased 20 percent compared to the five years before. This bill includes several important avenues for helping beginning farmers and ranchers access the land they need to start their operations and to promote new markets and products to help all producers remain viable into the future.

Land protected under ACEP enables senior farmers to retire with a cash infusion and then sell their land at a price that new and beginning farmers can afford.

The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program is included under the umbrella of the new Farming Opportunities Training and Outreach Program. FOTOP is given baseline funding, amounting to $435 million over 10 years. Through BFRDP, AFT has provided technical support to state and local partners along with other agricultural service providers to become Land Access Trainers.

The Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program was also included in another umbrella program, the Local Agriculture Market Program, and given baseline funding at a level of $50 million per year. This program will provide grants to organizations working to improve local food infrastructure such as farmers markets, regional food hubs and value-added production enterprises that can improve farm viability for small- and mid-sized new and established farms alike.

Additionally, the bill contains several important provisions that will provide better information and better service to farmers and ranchers transitioning their land and operations to the next generation, including:
-    New reports on absent landowners and on farmland access, analyzing the effects of absent landowners and identifying barriers beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers face in accessing land;
-    New authority of State Agricultural Mediation Programs to address issues around land leases and family farm transitions;
-    A new Commission on Farm Transitions–Needs for 2050, to address the looming transfer of millions of acres of agricultural land and billions of dollars in agricultural assets over the next 20 years;
-    Expanded data collection around farmland ownership, tenure, transition and other issues, including a regular follow-on survey to the Census of Agriculture;
-    New authority enabling operators on heirs property land to obtain a farm number.

“The 2018 Farm Bill’s support for saving the land that sustains us through farmland protection, environmentally sound farming practices and keeping farmers on the land through its programs expands AFT’s ability to help ensure a future with enough farmland farmed well to sustain our society and help all of us to maintain a livable planet for this and future generations,” says Piotti.

He continues, “AFT is best known for its No Farms No Food® call to action, but just this year, I have added No Future to that mantra. We must see farmland as critical infrastructure akin to roads and bridges if we hope to feed, fuel and clothe our society for years to come.”

“AFT appreciates the bipartisan nature of this bill and the invaluable input provided from a wide variety of agricultural, conservation and nutrition stakeholders. AFT looks forward to working with Congress, with the Administration and with our partners across the country to help translate the promise of this legislation into positive direct outcomes on farms cross the nation.”

Farm Credit Welcomes Farm Bill Conference Report, Urges Passage

President and CEO of the Farm Credit Council Todd Van Hoose released the following statement following regarding the Farm Bill conference report:

“Farm Credit is deeply grateful to Senator Roberts, Senator Stabenow, Representative Conaway and Representative Peterson for their leadership in forging a strong, bi-partisan Farm Bill that will provide certainty for U.S. farm and ranch families. This Farm Bill strengthens the safety net for our farmers and ranchers, boosts jobs in rural communities and helps deliver a safe, affordable, abundant food supply to families in the U.S. and around the world.

We urge Congress to pass this bill immediately, and we urge President Trump to sign it without delay.”

Conference Panel Approves 2018 Farm Bill

Pork producers – and all livestock farmers – are poised for a significant victory after passage by a Senate-House conference committee of a 2018 Farm Bill that includes mandatory funding for animal disease prevention and preparedness. The National Pork Producers Council now is urging lawmakers in both chambers of Congress to approve the new five-year agricultural blueprint. NPPC has been a leading voice for the animal health and disease preparedness funding.

“This is a huge win for the livestock industry,” said NPPC President Jim Heimerl, a pork producer from Johnstown, Ohio. “The ability to respond to foreign animal disease emergencies is critical to safeguarding the well-being of our animals, our economy and the safety of our food supply.”

Under the new Farm Bill, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will be able to use funds for a Foot-and-Mouth Disease vaccine bank; for the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN), which provides disease surveillance and diagnostic support; and for state efforts to prepare for any foreign animal disease outbreak. Surveillance and diagnostic funding is critical to prevent the spread of diseases, such as African swine fever, for which vaccines don’t exist.

The U.S. pork industry, for example, is working with USDA on efforts to prevent African swine fever from entering the country and preparing to deal with the disease, which is spreading in Asia and Europe, should an outbreak in the United States occur.

The 2018 Farm Bill includes mandatory animal health and disease preparedness funding of $120 million for the first four years of the bill. At least $5 million per year must go to the National Animal Disease Preparedness Program in the form of state block grants, and the remaining dollars can be allocated across the vaccine bank, NAHLN and state block grants. Additionally, NAHLN is authorized for another $30 million per year for all five years of the bill. The fifth year of the bill includes another mandatory $30 million for all three programs, but at least $18 million must go toward the state block grants. The bill also authorizes appropriations for the vaccine bank and the National Animal Disease Preparedness Program for sums determined to be necessary.

In addition to the animal health and disease-preparedness provisions, the bill includes funding for the International Market Development Program, which includes the Market Access Program and the Foreign Market Development Program that support export markets for U.S. farm goods. These programs are funded at not less than $200 million and not less than $34.5 million, respectively.

“NPPC supports the Farm Bill approved today by House and Senate conferees and looks forward to its swift passage in both chambers,” Heimerl said.

NCBA to Congress: Vote "Yes" to Get 2018 Farm Bill Across the Finish Line

Today President Kevin Kester issued the following statement in response to the release of the 2018 Farm Bill conference report:

“The release of the Farm Bill conference report is encouraging news for farmers and ranchers across the country. Now it is time for Congress to get the 2018 Farm Bill across the finish line. In these uncertain times, agricultural operations and rural communities depend on the certainty the Farm Bill provides.

“NCBA was pleased to see authorization of a new Foot-and-Mouth Disease Vaccine (FMD) bank. The FMD bank will provide critical protection to rural economies, and we look forward to working with Secretary Perdue and Congress to address future funding needs.

”We ask Members of Congress to vote 'yes' and get the bill across the finish line before Christmas.”

NFU Statement on 2018 Farm Bill Compromise

The Farm Bill conference committee conferees today released the text of a compromise Farm Bill, largely the effort of House and Senate Agriculture Committee leadership resolving differences between the House and Senate versions of the 2018 Farm Bill. If approved by both chambers within the next week and a half, the legislation will be on President Trump’s desk and awaiting approval before the end of the year.

National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson released the following statement in response to the Farm Bill compromise:
“Passage of the 2018 Farm Bill cannot come soon enough for American family farmers and ranchers, who need the certainty of the Farm Bill safety net to continue to weather the worst farm economy decline in more than thirty years. We also need the bill to continue the sustainability gains and emergence of new markets for farmers that have been supported by Farm Bill programs.

“Senate and House agriculture leaders and their staff have worked tirelessly to resolve differences in the chambers’ respective farm bills, and they’ve produced a bill that represents a critical step toward providing the relief and certainty farmers need amidst struggling markets due to oversupply and trade volatility.

“We strongly urge Congress to approve the farm bill before the end of the year.”

Statement of NCFC President Chuck Conner on the Farm Bill Conference Report

“The 2018 farm bill process has entered the home stretch with the filing of the conference report last night. Getting to this point would have been impossible without the leadership and hard work of Senators Pat Roberts and Debbie Stabenow and Representatives Mike Conaway and Collin Peterson. In a time of continued low commodity prices and disruptions in overseas markets, they recognized that America’s farmers and ranchers need the certainty of a new farm bill before the new year. We urge the full House and Senate to meet that goal by passing the conference report as soon as possible.

 “The farm bill conference report will ensure a safety net for producers, maintain the strength of the federal crop insurance program and fund important priorities in conservation, rural development, trade promotion and nutrition.

“In addition, the bill contains language strengthening the Buy American provisions of the National School Lunch and Breakfast programs. This portion of the bill is needed since numerous investigations have found a troubling amount of foreign-sourced food products, particularly from China, served through the school feeding programs even when American food products are readily available and competitively priced. These provisions will help to ensure that taxpayer money is used in the way that Congress intended.”

Dangerous pesticide preemption rider scrapped from 2018 Farm Bill

The Farm Bill Conference Committee released negotiated text of the 2018 Farm Bill last night. The House version of the bill included language that would have weakened environmental and public health protections and stripped states and cities of their ability to protect their communities from toxic pesticides. This dangerous pesticide preemption rider was not included in the negotiated bill released yesterday.

In September, more than 60 local officials, in 39 communities from 15 different states across the country sent a letter to the Farm Bill conference committee urging the rejection of the pesticide preemption rider. More than 100 communities have passed policies to restrict pesticides to protect people, pollinators and the planet.

Tiffany Finck-Haynes, pesticides and pollinators program manager at Friends of the Earth, issued the following statement in response:

We are encouraged by the conference committee’s decision to prioritize public health and the environment instead of agrichemical industry profits. The dangerous pesticide preemption rider would have prevented state and local governments from protecting their communities from toxic chemicals. Thousands of people across the country, including dozens of local elected officials, spoke out against this dangerous language in the House Farm Bill. By keeping this troubling component out of the final bill, committee members stood up to preserve state and local governments’ ability to protect the public from these toxic chemicals.

NGFA issues statement on release of farm bill

In response to the Senate and House farm bill negotiators unveiling a compromise 2018 Farm Bill this week, NGFA President and CEO Randy Gordon released the following statement:

"The 2018 farm bill language unveiled by congressional negotiators this week includes several Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) reforms that the NGFA supported throughout the process, including reducing rental rates to provide a market-based disincentive to enrolling productive cropland. Too much productive farmland currently is enrolled in CRP, and reducing rental rates should help refocus the program on truly highly erodible and environmentally sensitive land. This policy change also benefits young and beginning farmers and ranchers who for too long have been forced to compete directly against the federal government to access farmland, a troubling policy when the average age of the American farmer is 58.

"While NGFA would have preferred that Congress limit the CRP acreage cap to the program's current 24 million acres - as too many whole farms and acres of prime farmland are idled while environmentally sensitive acres are left unprotected through the program's general sign-up process - the Association appreciates the conferees' adoption of a reasonable CRP limit of 27 million acres with 2 million acres of those expressly reserved for grasslands, especially in light of pressure early on from some groups to expand the CRP cap by a whopping 66 percent to 40 million acres. In implementing CRP, we also will be encouraging USDA to view this as a cap, not a minimum requirement for CRP enrollment.

"The NGFA also praises the conferees' decision not to include the Senate farm bill's provisions on permanent Conservation Reserve Easements, which we believe would have intensified what already is a rapid decline of available U.S. cropland attributable to urban encroachment, CRP and other factors. Conservation easements potentially would have removed hundreds of thousands of acres permanently from crop production each year.

"On balance, NGFA believes the conservation provisions in the compromise farm bill will help keep good quality land in production that can be farmed sustainably using prudent and sustainable conservation practices.

"The farm bill also includes an important provision for grain handlers regarding domestic official grain inspections by providing dozens of grain elevators whose non-use of service/open season exception agreements were revoked by USDA in 2017. Under the farm bill language, these elevators will have the option to restore the previous arrangement with their non-incumbent domestic official inspection provider by notifying USDA of the change. NGFA appreciates the leadership of Reps. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., and Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., to address and clarify Congress's intent in the U.S. Grain Standards Act Reauthorization.

"The NGFA thanks Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan.; Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.; House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway, R-Texas; and Ranking Member Collin Peterson, D-Minn.; and their staffs for their hard work and dedication to completing a farm bill. The certainty that a farm bill will provide to our industry's farmer-customers, including preserving a strong federal crop insurance program, is extremely important, and the NGFA looks forward to working with lawmakers to support the bill's passage in Congress."

Congress is expected to vote on the farm bill this week.

Monday December 10 Ag News


Tiffany Heng-Moss, who has served as interim dean of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources since July 2017, has been named permanent dean of the college.

Mike Boehm, Harlan Vice Chancellor for the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, made the announcement Dec. 10. Heng-Moss will formally begin the appointment, which is pending Board of Regents approval, in early 2019.

“Tiffany has done a tremendous job in leading CASNR’s efforts of preparing the next generation of leaders and problem solvers,” Boehm said. “Tiffany is a nationally recognized teacher and scholar, and an amazingly collaborative innovator. I am confident in her abilities to build upon the college’s momentum and am very excited that she has accepted this key leadership role.”

Now in its 146th year, the college is working to link curricular, co-curricular and experiential learning to prepare students for careers addressing global challenges. The college is focused on preparing students to engage in a globalized world. IANR has developed a number of new partnerships around the world to expand international programming with the shared goal of preparing students as leaders for a future in which demands on food, energy and water systems will challenge sustainability.

“I am truly honored to be named dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources,” Heng-Moss said. “The goal of the college is to foster an inclusive environment that empowers our students to be difference makers on campus, across the state and around the globe. I look forward to continuing to partner with those within CASNR and the broader university community to make this a reality.”

In 2018, Nebraska was named one of the top 50 universities in the world for agriculture and forestry in the Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings. This was the second year in a row Nebraska appeared in the ranking.

As an administrator within the college, Heng-Moss has led the development of IANR’s graduate education framework, graduate attributes and a smart enrollment growth framework. Prior to her administrative role, Heng-Moss developed and taught both graduate and undergraduate courses in the Department of Entomology. She also provided leadership for the development and implementation of the insect science bachelor’s degree program. Her research focused primarily on insect science and pest-management strategies. She has authored or co-authored more than 90 refereed teaching and research articles.

Heng-Moss is a prior recipient of the University of Nebraska’s Outstanding Teaching and Instructional Creativity Award, which recognizes faculty members who have demonstrated meritorious and sustained records of excellence in creativity and teaching.

Heng-Moss holds a bachelor’s degree in horticulture, and master’s and doctoral degrees in entomology from Nebraska.

To learn more about CASNR, visit

Collegiate Farm Bureau Leaders Receive Ron Hanson Scholarship

The Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation awarded the first ever Ron Hanson Collegiate Leader Scholarship to two students pursuing a degree from the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln and are members of the Collegiate Farm Bureau at the university.

Emily Frenzen, a Nance County Farm Bureau member from Fullerton, and Jacob Rosse, a Custer County Farm Bureau member from Gothenburg, received the two $1,500 scholarships.

“Dr. Ron Hanson, professor emeritus at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, established the scholarship to reward students who prioritize leadership building activities while on campus,” said Megahn Schafer, executive director of the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation. “A longtime Farm Bureau member, Dr. Hanson recognizes the power of grassroots volunteers, and he wants to encourage the next generation of leaders to step up, make their voices heard, and serve their communities. There aren’t two more deserving students for this inaugural honor than Emily and Jacob,” said Schafer.

Applicants were judged based on their involvement with Collegiate Farm Bureau, volunteer and leadership activities, and their goals for the future.

Frenzen is pursuing a degree in Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Communication. She is heavily involved in many volunteer organizations across campus including Collegiate Farm Bureau, Husker Food Connection, Agriculture Communicators of Tomorrow Club, and Chi Omega sorority. She is also an Ag Pen Pal with second grade students in Crete. Upon graduation she would like to share the story of agriculture by working in a communications role for a voluntary organization like Farm Bureau.

Rosse, an Agronomy major at the university, plans to return to the family farm in Gothenburg after graduation. He is vice president of programming for the UNL Chapter of Collegiate Farm Bureau and is also a part of the Agronomy Club on campus. After graduation he plans to return to the family farm and run his own crop consulting firm. He is excited to strengthen Nebraska agriculture by using the latest farming techniques and thinking progressively.

How to Prepare Your Dairy for the Winter Season

Dawn Klabenes, NE Dairy Extension Intern

Whether we are ready or not, winter comes a variety of challenges for dairy farmers and it can be a hard season. To prepare for those hardships, here are some things to keep in mind to make the cold season easier to get through.

Extra Energy!

As temperatures decrease and snow piles up, cold stress also sets in. It’s important to ensure that there is enough feed on hand for your cattle. With lower temperatures, an animal’s nutrition requirements go up. Meeting up with your nutritionist to tweak the ration to fit the cows’ needs will prove to be beneficial. Make sure you are prepared to provide all the energy your cows need to thrive.

Calf Care

Calves are going to need a little bit more TLC during the winter, so investing in calf jackets to keep them insulated will help. As I said in the last point, they need extra milk and feed to keep their body temperatures regulated, so remember to fulfill their needs. Lining up some hay bales along the huts will provide some extra protection from the wind, and facing the hutches out of the wind plays a big role in keeping them warm as well. Remember that southern winds are usually warmer than winds from the north, so facing the huts toward the south will be beneficial, and your calves will appreciate it!

Equipment Check-up!

To prevent delays from equipment failing due to the harsh temps, remember to prepare your equipment to help your winter days run more smoothly. Testing and servicing your generator might be the difference between keeping the milking on schedule and having no power to keep things moo-ving. Also, look at your waterers to make sure they are working properly to prevent your cows being stuck without water. Checking the heaters in your barn to make sure they’re working correctly will help keep you and your cows more comfortable.

Bundle Up!

Lastly, make sure you and your employees have the proper winter attire (winter boots, gloves, coats, etc.) that will help you all push through the fierce weather. If you are comfortable and haven’t lost all feeling in your toes yet, it will be easier for you to withstand the cold longer so that you can ensure all the animals are getting the proper care needed.

EPA and USDA Encourage Use of Market-based and Other Collaborative Approaches to Address Excess Nutrients

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a letter to state co-regulators that encourages increased engagement and a reinvigoration of state, tribal, and federal efforts to reduce excess nutrients in waterways, with a focus on market-based and other collaborative approaches.

“Thanks to the hard work of states, tribes, and stakeholders, EPA and USDA have made significant progress reducing excess nutrients in some watersheds. Now is the time to build on that success and leverage the market-based and other collaborative approaches that we know can lead to meaningful results across the country,” said EPA Office of Water Assistant Administrator David Ross.

EPA and USDA are committed to working with states, tribes, and stakeholders to identify watersheds and basins where market-based approaches can supplement traditional regulatory programs to promote meaningful reductions in excess nutrients and improved water quality. This could include providing technical and financial support and participating in problem solving at the local level to explore approaches including water quality credit trading, public-private partnerships, pay-for success, supply chain programs, and more.

“Voluntary conservation works,” said USDA Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation mission area Bill Northey. “Across the country, farmers are leading the way toward improved water quality by taking steps to decrease sedimentation and nutrient runoff from agricultural lands. But we know more can be done, and continue to look for partners to pursue innovative, market-based, and voluntary approaches that lead to cleaner water and a healthier agricultural sector.”

This renewed effort is part of a larger inter-Agency collaboration to better coordinate and focus federal resources on some of the nation’s most challenging water resource concerns, including addressing excess nutrients in waterways.

For more information visit

Biodiesel Stakeholders Ask Congress for Long-Term Extension of the Biodiesel Tax Incentive

Today, the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) and more than 50 member companies and affiliated organizations delivered a letter to House and Senate leaders, urging them to enact a multiyear extension of the biodiesel and renewable diesel tax incentive before Congress adjourns for the year. In February 2018, Congress retroactively extended the tax incentive for 2017, leaving it expired for this year and beyond. The letter welcomes a recent proposal for a seven-year extension of the tax incentive.

In the letter, the biodiesel industry stakeholders state, “We believe that a multiyear extension of the tax incentive would help the biodiesel industry achieve substantial growth over the next several years, creating significant new employment opportunities, an important market for agricultural products and renewable feedstocks, as well as opportunities for rural economic growth.”

The U.S. biodiesel and renewable diesel market has grown from about 100 million gallons in 2005, when the incentive was first implemented, to nearly 2.9 billion gallons in 2016.

Kurt Kovarik, Vice President of Federal Affairs with the National Biodiesel Board, added, “The biodiesel industry has long advocated for a multiyear extension of the tax incentive. Congress can provide the certainty and predictability for producers and feedstock providers that will help us achieve our potential. Because the incentive is currently expired, it is urgent that Congress act before the end of the year.”

Farm Bureau Encourages House to Advance Tax Extenders

The House may soon consider legislation that would extend several expired tax provisions, including Farm Bureau-supported credits that promote the production of biodiesel and support the sustainability of short line railroads. The measure may be attached to an end-of-the-year legislative package or another bill Congress is looking to finalize before the end of the month.

Tax credits for biodiesel, renewable biodiesel and second-generation biofuel, along with the alternative fuel vehicle refueling property tax credit, expired on Dec. 31, 2017. These cleaner-burning renewable fuels provide expanded markets for farm commodities.

“Tax incentives that encourage further development and use of renewable fuels and renewable energy benefit our nation and aid the agriculture sector.  The certainty of a multi-year extension will provide the biodiesel industry with the stability it needs for long-term planning and strategic investment,” American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said in a recent letter to House members.

The tax credit for short line railroads, which farmers and ranchers depend on to deliver their products to market and to supply them with the inputs they need to run their businesses, also expired at the end of last year.

“Tax incentives for track maintenance help to upgrade and continue local rail service that connects rail customers to the national main line rail network. Permanent extension of the credit is warranted because rail transportation remains important in providing a strong rural economy now and into the future,” Duvall wrote.

Farm Bureau is asking House lawmakers to approve the biodiesel and short line railroad extenders with the goal of passing them into law before the end of this session of Congress.

Cattlemen Urge Action to Reduce Trade Barriers in Japan

Today National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) President Kevin Kester urged the Trump Administration to move quickly to tear down trade barriers for U.S. beef in Japan. Speaking at a public hearing on the potential economic impact of a U.S.-Japan bilateral trade agreement, Kester noted that reducing tariff and non-tariff trade barriers would benefit Japanese consumers and U.S. cattle producers. Japan is the top export market for U.S. beef, accounting for nearly $2 billion in sales in 2017. However, U.S. beef exports face tariffs as high as 50 percent under some circumstances.

“NCBA strongly supports prioritizing and expediting negotiations for a U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement,” Kester said in his comments. “The U.S. beef industry is at risk of losing significant market share in Japan unless immediate action is taken to level the playing field.”

A number of key U.S. competitors have negotiated agreements that provide their producers with preferential access to the Japanese market. For example, under the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), Australian beef exporters will enjoy a tariff reduction of 27.5 percent in the first year of the agreement for fresh and frozen products. In most cases, the countries who are part of CPTPP will see their tariff rates for beef exports decline to 9 percent over the next 15 years. In addition to CPTPP, Japan is moving ahead with a trade agreement that will give European Union beef producers similar terms to those negotiated in CPTPP.

“NCBA supported the negotiated compromise under Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) because it reduced the massive tariff applied to U.S. beef, diminished the likelihood of triggering snap back tariffs, and established strong, objective, and predictable sanitary and phytosanitary standards and other rules-based trade standards,” Kester added. “We expect nothing less under a U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement.”

USW President Urges USTR to Help Protect Wheat Exports to Japan Through Trade Negotiations

When the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) enters into force Dec. 31, 2018, Japan will grant preferential access to wheat export countries that are in the agreement. This has the potential to slash sales to a crucial market for U.S. wheat farmers. That is why U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) President Vince Peterson today urged the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to seek a rapid solution to this vulnerability through trade negotiations with Japan.

Testifying Dec. 10 at a USTR public hearing and through written testimony, Peterson thanked the Trump Administration for making negotiations with Japan a priority and explained the risk to wheat export sales without a quick U.S.-Japan agreement.

The CPTPP will grant preferential access to Canadian and Australian wheat exports, he said, by reducing the effective tariff on their wheat. Eventually, this reduction will be about $70 per metric ton, or 45 percent below the current effective tariff applied to U.S. wheat. Because Japan has no obligation to change this tariff reduction schedule, Peterson said it will likely shut most U.S. wheat exports out of the Japanese market and undo decades of market development work.

“U.S. Wheat Associates has had an office in Tokyo for more than 60 years,” he said. “We have invested countless hours and millions of hard-earned farmer dollars and federal export market development program funds building this market. During that time, the Japanese milling industry has become an indispensable partner for U.S. wheat farmers.”

Peterson added that over the last five marketing years, Japan is the largest, most reliable and valuable market for U.S. wheat and consistently returns almost $1 billion per year to U.S. wheat farmers and the grain trade.

“All that is at risk without a U.S.-Japan agreement that quickly ends the preference Canada and Australia gain as members with Japan of the CPTPP,” Peterson said. “We thank you for understanding the plight of these farmers, who already face severe trade disruptions in other markets.”

Looking ahead, Peterson added, “U.S. wheat farmers and Japan’s flour milling industry hope that we can maintain provisional equivalence for U.S. wheat imports while our two countries conduct ongoing, good faith negotiations. And we urge the Administration to act quickly to save our market in Japan.”

Registration now open for 2019 Animal Agriculture Alliance Summit, “A Seat At The Table”

Registration is open for the Animal Agriculture Alliance’s 2019 Stakeholders Summit, themed A Seat At The Table. The event, now in its 18th year, will be held May 8-9 at the InterContinental At The Plaza Hotel in Kansas City, Missouri. Early registration discounts are available through February 1 (pending availability). To register, visit

The conversation surrounding animal agriculture has been going on for much too long without engagement between key stakeholders in restaurant, retail and foodservice companies, farms and ranches, government agencies, agribusinesses, and agriculture and food associations. The annual Stakeholders Summit brings top thought leaders in the industry together to discuss hot-button issues and out-of-the-box ideas.

“Consumers are asking more questions about environmental stewardship, nutrition and animal welfare today than ever before,” said Kay Johnson Smith, Alliance president and CEO. “At the 2019 Summit, food industry stakeholders will learn how to address these concerns and gain the supportive network and tools they need for success in their business.”

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, Smithfield, National Biodiesel Board, Summit Livestock Facilities, United Egg Producers, Cobb-Vantress, Inc., Council for Biotechnology Information, Protect the Harvest, BPI Technology, Inc., National Chicken Council, Live Oak Bank, North Carolina Farm Bureau, 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, Dairy Farmers of America, Genus PLC - PIC/ABS, Hendrix Genetics, Hy-Line North America LLC, Iowa Soybean Association, Midwest Dairy, National Pork Board, Nutrien, National Turkey Federation, Provimi North America, Inc. and Seaboard Foods LLC.


Culver's Raises Over $2 Million for 'Thank You Farmers' Fund

Wisconsin-based Culver's restaurant chain announced it has contributed over $2 million to the National FFA Foundation since the start of its 'Thank You Farmers' initiative six years ago. The franchise says the program has connected with people across the nation in its goal to thank family farmers who have made Culver's the business it is today.

"Every day we're inspired by the passion and intelligence of our country's agricultural students," said Jessie Kreke, Culver's senior marketing manager. "Through the Thank You Farmers Project, we're able to support them and ensure the agricultural industry has bright future leaders."

During 2018, Culver's restaurants in 24 states donated over $465,000 to agricultural education initiatives in schools and organizations like FFA.

Of the total amount donated through the project, about 75 percent has come from guests supporting local fundraising at Culver's restaurants. The remain was contributed by the company in the form of sponsorships.

Next year, the food chain plans to continue to fundraise for initiatives and organizations like FFA that work toward solutions for feeding our growing population.

Friday December 7 Ag News

Ag Estate Planning Workshop January 16

Nebraska Extension in Cuming County is hosting an Estate Planning Workshop for Ag for landowners, ranchers, and farmers on Wednesday, January 16. It will be at the Nielsen Community Center in West Point from 2 to 5 p.m. The event is designed to help anyone thinking about how they should proceed with plans to retire, exit, or transfer the farm or ranch business.

The event is free. Register by contacting Nebraska Extension in Cuming County at 402-372-6006 or stop by the office.  Registration is requested to ensure proper handouts for participants.

Speakers for this workshop will be Allan Vyhnalek, Extension Educator working in farm succession/transfer, and Brandon Dirkschneider, certified financial planner and certified farm/ranch transition coordinator.

Workshop topics include the importance of having a plan, proper family communications, proper family negotiations, needed end of life documentation, estate planning options using wills, trusts, and/or other business entities.  A feature of this program will be to provide information about how insurance products can be used with estate planning.

Reactions from past participants can be summarized into one comment: Most participants wished that they had attended this workshop years earlier. Retiring or passing the farm to the next generation is difficult to think about and is an admission of your own impending demise; however, it is a necessary step and with good planning can be made as painless as possible.

For more information about the program, please contact Allan Vyhnalek, Extension Educator, at 402-472-1771 or e-mail For registration questions contact Nebraska Extension in Cuming County at 402-372-6006 or Share this flyer to share meeting information with a friend.

Resistance Management Webinar Series Starts in January

Amy Timmerman - NE Extension Educator

Managing resistant pests is an increasing issue throughout crop production in Nebraska and the entire U.S. Staying updated on current strategies to manage resistant pests is critical. A new Nebraska Extension resource, the “Resistance Management Webinar Series,” will provide the most current research about resistant pests and management strategies.

Live presentations will be offered on three Mondays in January and February from 7 to 8 p.m. CST. Recordings will be available for up to seven days after the live presentation.

A total of three continuing education hours in integrated pest management will be available for certified crop advisors.

January 14 – “Strategies for Managing Palmer Amaranth with Multiple Resistance: The Most Troublesome Weed in U.S. Agriculture” presented by Professor Jason Norsworthy of the University of Arkansas

January 28 – “Principles of Fungicide Resistance: Frogeye Leaf Spot of Soybean” presented by Professor Carl Bradley of the University of Kentucky

February 11 – “Moving Forward with Bt Resistance by Looking at the History of Western Corn Rootworm” presented by Dalton Ludwick, a post-doctoral associate at USDA-ARS at Virgina Tech University

To register to participate in one or all three presentations please go to Webinar recordings will be available up to seven days afterward to allow flexibility in scheduling.

Questions regarding the webinar series can be directed to Amy Timmerman ( at the Holt County Extension Office 402-336-2760.

Costco Commits to Restricting Use of Medically Important Antibiotics

"As You Sow" press release

Following engagement with As You Sow, Costco Wholesale updated today their animal welfare standards to include a policy on the responsible use of antibiotics, establishing a commitment to restrict the use of medically important antibiotics in the company’s meat and poultry supply chains to therapeutic use only, under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian. Among others, this commitment covers the operator of the company’s new chicken processing facility currently under construction in Nebraska. Notably, Costco will adopt methods to assess compliance with this policy.

As You Sow filed a shareholder proposal with Costco this summer, highlighting the harmful impacts of using medically important antibiotics in raising animals for meat. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) consider antibiotic resistance one of the biggest threats to public health today. It has been estimated that antibiotic-resistant infections will cause as many as 300 million premature deaths and up to $100 trillion in global economic damage by 2050.

“We are particularly encouraged by the company’s plans to create mechanisms through which they will be able to verify supplier compliance with their antibiotics policy,” Christy Spees, environmental health program manager at As You Sow, said. “This is a significant undertaking, and one that we hope will cause a ripple of change in the meat industry and set a standard for other retail chains.”

The overuse and misuse of antibiotics in animal agriculture is recognized by the CDC and WHO as a significant contributor to the problem of antibiotic resistance. Retailers have significant purchasing power to influence industry standards, and we believe that Costco’s policy will help move the meat industry towards practices that will better protect consumers from this public health crisis.

Beef Genetics Researchers Seek to Understand Technology Utilization: Survey Respondents Sought

Beef cattle producers have a wide range of selection tools available for use in selection of breeding stock. These range from visual appraisal to EPD (expected progeny differences) and selection indexes that leverage genomic technologies. Adoption of new technologies by the beef industry has dramatically changed beef cattle selection strategies and opportunities. Beef genetics and genomic tools continue to evolve at a rapid rate.

To aid the development of new selection tools and their adoption by producers, researchers seek to understand current attitudes and perceptions of industry stakeholders. Producers and industry participants are encouraged to take part in an online survey to help inform the development of a new beef cattle selection decision support tool. This work is part of the activities funded through a recent USDA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Critical Agriculture Research and Extension grant (2018-68008-27888) awarded to research and extension faculty at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Kansas State University, USDA-ARS US Meat Animal Research Center and a leading genetic evaluation software developer, Theta Solutions, LLC.

“Bull purchasing decisions need to account for differing marketing goals and environmental constraints to improve profitability and sustainability, but these are unique to each herd as producer-specific production goals and inputs vary considerably,” says Dr. Matt Spangler, project director and University of Nebraska-Lincoln professor.

Industry research suggests that current bull purchasing decisions do not appear to use all relevant information available. Spangler adds, “Our team of leading beef genetic researchers and extension specialists aims to develop and provide software that enables beef producers to make more profitable genetic selection decisions, integrating additive and non-additive genetic effects, available resources, and firm-level economics.”

The online survey of industry stakeholders will explore their knowledge, attitudes and perceptions of current and envisioned beef genetic selection tools. Survey responses will be anonymous and summarized to help develop new selection tools and training programs. The survey is accessible until December 31, 2018, at:


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Feeding more protein than cattle need can get expensive.  Alfalfa can be an inexpensive protein source, especially if you feed just enough alfalfa to provide the protein your animals need.

               Cattle often need extra protein when their winter diet is based on corn stalks, prairie hay, straw, or winter range.  The protein supplement you chose is important, both in its effectiveness and its cost.  Many cheap protein sources contain mostly urea and other forms of non-protein nitrogen.  These supplements often are not used very effectively when cattle are eating mostly low energy winter forages.

               Supplements containing mostly all-natural protein may be better. All-natural protein feeds the microbes in the rumen so they can digest more fiber from your forage.  And many times the cheapest natural source of protein is alfalfa, especially when hay price is reasonable.

               Keep costs down further by determining how much extra protein your cows actually need.  Both a forage test for protein and a close estimate of how much your cows are actually eating are needed to be accurate.  Then you can work with a local extension educator, a nutritionist, or use your own skills to calculate how much more protein is needed.

               Many winter forage diets need between one-half and one pound of extra protein per day.  Since the forage test of your alfalfa will tell you how much protein it contains, you can calculate how much alfalfa to feed each day, or every other day, to keep cows healthy and productive.  This could come from as little 2 pounds of hay when feeding high protein alfalfa to cows needing just a little extra protein to as much as 8 to 10 pounds when using low quality alfalfa to cows after calving.

               It may not sound like a big difference, but when you feed just two or three pounds each day per cow, the savings add up fast.

Marketing Beef Is Focus of Feedlot Forum

Beef producers are in a new era of marketing with more changes rapidly coming. This new era will be the focus of Feedlot Forum 2019, set for Jan. 15 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. at the Terrace View Event Center in Sioux Center.

Tom Brink, CEO of the Red Angus Association of America and founder of Top Dollar Angus, Inc., is a morning session keynote speaker. He will visit about feeder calf verification and the importance of traceability to the beef industry.

Restaurant and culinary trends are changing menus offered to patrons. Jessica Dunker, president and CEO of the Iowa Restaurant Association, will share how changes in patron palates dictate the types of foods prepared and sold in fast food, family and upscale restaurants.

Chad Hart, associate professor of economics and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach economist, will lead off the afternoon with a discussion on the trade tariffs' impact on ag commodity prices, including beef. Hart and the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development just completed an analysis of the impact of tariffs on soybean prices. Hart is also versed in the effect of tariffs on meats and beef by-products.

Rounding out the afternoon is Andrew Gottschalk, senior vice president for R.J. O’Brien and Associates. Currently, U.S. livestock producers have record meat supplies. Gottschalk will project how these supplies and export demand will affect cattle outlook and potential prices for beef.

Other short presentations include the roles of the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association and Iowa Beef Industry Council and an update on Beef Quality Assurance and Beef Quality Assurance Transportation. This year’s forum also features 25 agri-business sponsors displaying the latest products, technology and services available to beef producers.

Feedlot Forum 2019 is a collaborative effort of Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Iowa Beef Center, Iowa Cattlemen’s Association and three county cattlemen’s associations – Lyon, Plymouth and Sioux.

“Previous Feedlot Forums have reached producers from 25 counties and seven states. Participants value the information presented by national speakers,” said Beth Doran, extension beef specialist with Iowa State University.

Registration for Feedlot Forum 2019 is $25 per person with a discounted price of $10 for students. All registrations are due January 10 to the Sioux County Extension Office, 400 Central Ave. NW, Suite 700, Orange City IA 51041. For more information, a flyer is available online. You also can contact Doran at 712-737-4230 or

Joe Heinrich re-elected Iowa Farm Bureau vice president

Joe Heinrich of Maquoketa was re-elected vice president of the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) for a two-year term at the organization’s 100th annual meeting in Des Moines.  Heinrich has served as IFBF vice president since 2011.

Heinrich, a Jackson County farmer, farms with his family, including his wife Shelley and a nephew.  Together, they have a diversified farming operation including corn, soybeans, oats, and hay.  They also have a beef cow-calf herd and a dairy operation.  Heinrich was first elected to the IFBF board in 2004, representing District 6, prior to his service as vice president.  Before his election to the state board, Heinrich served as Jackson County president, vice president, voting delegate, young farmer chair, and served on the state internal study committee.

IFBF delegates also elected Randy Brincks of Winneshiek County as District 1 director and Matt Schuiteman of Sioux County as District 3 director.  Mark Buskohl of Grundy County was re-elected as the District 5 director.  Brincks succeeds Carlton Kjos of Winneshiek County, who retired after serving as an IFBF district director since 2006, and Schuiteman succeeds Phil Sundblad of Buena Vista county who retired after serving as an IFBF district director since 2000.  The directors were elected to serve a three-year term.      

Brincks farms with his wife, Mary, on their family farm near Ossian, and will represent 11 counties in northeast Iowa.  Brincks grows corn, soybeans, and alfalfa and also finish beef cattle and farrow-to-finish feeder pigs.

Brincks has been an active member of the Winneshiek County Farm Bureau holding all positions on the county board of directors, chaired numerous county committees, and is a graduate of the IFBF Ag Leaders Institute.  Additionally, Brincks has served as president of the Upper Iowa Co-op and is a member of the Quality Pork Marketing Group, Winneshiek County Pork Producers, and serves on the 4H County Youth Committee board.  The Brincks have a daughter and four sons.            

Schuiteman and his wife, Minde, farm with Matt’s parents just east of Sioux Center, and he will represent 12 counties in northwest Iowa.  The Schuitemans grow corn and alfalfa and have used cover crops on the farm since 2005.  The Schuitemans also farrow and finish sows, custom feed isowean pigs, and have a cow-calf herd of registered Shorthorn and Shorthorn plus cattle.

Schuiteman has served in many leadership positions within the Sioux County Farm Bureau and IFBF including: holding county board member positions, chairman of the IFBF Young Farmer Advisory Committee, IFBF Legacy Planning Committee, IFBF Internal Study Committee, and is a graduate of the Ag Leaders Institute.  Additionally, Schuiteman is a graduate of the Leadership Iowa program, current chairman of the Sioux County 4-H Committee, and past president and current member of the Sioux Center FFA Alumni chapter.  The Schuitemans have seven children.

Mark Buskohl was re-elected to represent District 5, comprised of 11 counties in central Iowa.  He was first elected to the state board in 2012.  Prior to serving as District 5 director, Buskohl held various leadership positions within the Grundy County Farm Bureau including county president, vice president, voting delegate, AFBF voting delegate, internal study member, and served on various state committees.  Buskohl and his wife Nancy run a diversified farm consisting of a cow/calf herd, cattle feedlot, hog finishing, flock of sheep, corn, soybeans, and hay.

Nine delegates were elected to represent Iowa at the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Annual Convention in New Orleans, January 11-16.  They include: IFBF President Craig Hill of Warren County; IFBF Vice President Joe Heinrich of Jackson County; Will Frazee of Montgomery County; Neil Shaffer of Howard County; Jason Russell of Linn County; Gary Langbein of Sac County; Rebecca Dostal of Tama County; and Rachel Fishback of Washington County.

Brian Feldpausch of Grundy County and Bryan Reed of Monroe County were elected to the IFBF internal study committee.  The internal study committee serves as a liaison between the county Farm Bureau voting delegates and the state board of directors.

Baudler of Adair County earns Iowa Farm Bureau Young Farmer Leadership Award

Beth Baudler’s passion for agriculture and commitment to sharing that passion has earned her Iowa Farm Bureau Federation’s (IFBF) prestigious Young Farmer Leadership Award, presented during the IFBF 100th annual meeting in Des Moines on Dec. 3-5.

In addition to managing her own cow-calf herd and sheep flock in Adair County, Baudler also helps on her family farm where they grow hay, oats, corn and soybeans. She has an off-farm job as a cattle specialist, working with other farmers to formulate feed rations and select appropriate supplements for their livestock. She also instructs the Animal Breeding and Genetics course at Southwestern Community College in Creston and is responsible for giving the students real-life experiences with swine breeding and genetics.

Baudler serves as secretary of the Adair County Farm Bureau board. She is a 2016 IFBF Ag Leaders graduate, a year-long program that focuses on developing individual leadership skills and understanding of agricultural issues impacting today’s farmers. Working with her county Farm Bureau, Baudler spearheaded “Ag Adventure,” an interactive 10-station experience held at her county fair and a local Fourth of July celebration. She was able to secure buy-in from local businesses and recruit more than 90 volunteers to assist with the events. Through this experience, more than 600 people learned about various agricultural topics from livestock and crops to farm safety and conservation. Because of the success of this initiative, Baudler was able to secure grants and volunteers to bring ag education to six Adair County preschools. Plans are underway to expand this effort into kindergarten and third grade classes for the 2018-19 school year.

Baudler provides leadership to other projects that focus on connecting with non-farming audiences. She is an advisor for Speak Out for Agriculture (SOFA), mentoring teens who have planned to engage more than 100 inner-city youth in Chicago as well as Sioux Falls, SD in agricultural activities. She also is the administrator of the “Who’s Your Iowa Farmer?” Facebook page, which shares positive farming messages that are viewed more than 20,000 times per week.

Baudler volunteers in various roles for the Iowa State Fair and Adair County Fair, serves as a board member of Empowering Adair County Foundation and often looks for opportunities to talk with others about agriculture, whether on the radio or at an ag breakfast event.

“Beth is extremely deserving of this award,” says IFBF Regional Manager Beth Irlbeck. “When she is not working on her own farm or at her off-farm job, she is out there sharing what farming in Iowa looks like today. She’s an asset to the Adair County Farm Bureau and the community as a whole.”

The Young Farmer Leadership Award is in honor of past IFBF President Bob Joslin, who was well known for his support and encouragement of young farmers. It is designated for farmers under the age of 35 who demonstrate outstanding leadership in Farm Bureau, agriculture and their community.

As the Young Farmer Leadership Award recipient, Baudler receives a $1,500 Home and Workshop certificate from award-sponsor John Deere, a 90-day no-payment and no-interest John Deere Financial Certificate up to $5,000, a $750 gift card to FAST STOP or local FS Cooperative from GROWMARK. Baudler also will have expenses paid to the 2019 American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Annual Convention in New Orleans and 2019 GROWMARK annual meeting in Chicago.

Bailey Family of Ringgold County Presented Iowa Farm Bureau Young Farmer Achievement Award

Ryan and Alle Bailey of Ringgold County have been named Iowa Farm Bureau Federation’s (IFBF) 2018 Young Farmer Achievement Award winners at this year’s IFBF “Century Strong” 100th annual meeting in Des Moines, Dec. 3-5.  This award honors Iowa farmers between the ages of 18 and 35 who demonstrate outstanding management ability on their family farms and have a positive presence in both Farm Bureau activities and their local community.

As fifth generation farmers raising grain and cattle, the Baileys agree there’s no better place to grow up than on an Iowa farm. Because Ryan says legacy is very important to him, he and Alle have continuously worked to improve their family farm by converting old buildings on their land into areas where their cattle can have access to feed, seek comfort during inclement weather and have a designated place to give individual attention to cattle that need it. By working with nutritionists, veterinarians and with the use of genetics, the Baileys have seen health improvements within their livestock, creating a greater efficiency in getting cattle to market.

On the crop side, the Baileys run their own retail seed business. They offer drone crop scouting and agronomic solutions for their clients. On their own farm, they use precision ag to apply fertilizer where it is needed in the exact amount that is needed. They’ve also planted 50 acres of cover crops with a goal to increase these acres for cattle grazing. Their other goals include increasing their cattle herd size, finding ways to implement additional water quality practices and adopting new technologies for record-keeping.

“Knowing you’re creating a food supply for the world, it brings intense meaning, and that’s what really drives my passion,” says Alle.

The two are active with the Ringgold County Farm Bureau and IFBF Young Farmer program. They are also active within the cattle industry, serving various positions with the Iowa Beef Industry Council, county cattlemen and Iowa Cattlemen’s Association. In their community, they are involved in their church and civic groups.

As winner of the Young Farmer Achievement Award, the Baileys will have the option to lease a John Deere G-Series Skid Steer/Compact Track Loader (one year/1500 hours), 5-7 Series Tractor/Loader combo (1 year/300 hours) or take home a 590E Gator (valued at $9,500). They also receive a 90-day no payment, no interest (NPNI) John Deere Financial Certificate up to $5,000, and an all-expense paid trip to the 2019 GROWMARK annual meeting in Chicago. In January, the Baileys will travel to New Orleans where they will represent Iowa in the national Young Farmer Achievement Award competition at the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Annual Convention.

Kipp Fehr of Palo Alto County is the second-place finalist for the Young Farmer Achievement Award. Since high school, Fehr has grown his farm over time, acquiring land through beginning farmer loans and rental agreements. To continue expanding his farm, Fehr custom sprays other farms in the county and works at a local Case IH dealer. In 2013, he began using strip tillage, a minimum tillage method, to reduce soil erosion.  He hopes to continue to improve his land and farm’s bottom line with cover crops. In addition to serving on his county Farm Bureau board, Fehr has been involved in Farm Bureau policy and lobbying trips. He will be receiving parts on Site Bin (valued at $3,000), a 90-day NPNI John Deere Financial Certificate (up to $5,000) and a $500 gift card to Fast Stop or local FS Cooperative from GROWMARK.

The third-place finalists for this award are Sherwin and Kristin Plate of Mahaska County. They will receive a John Deere 23-foot safe, a 90-day NPNI John Deere Financial Certificate (up to $5,000), a $1,000 Granger gift certificate and Yeti cooler from Farm Bureau Financial Services. After serving four years in the United States Army, Sherwin came home to the family farm where he and Kristen and their three young children grow grain and raise hogs. The Plates also grow their own cover crop seed which they plant on 750 acres of their no-till corn and soybeans. Sherwin serves on the county Farm Bureau board, and Kristen is a recent IFBF Ag Leader graduate. They are both active with their local church.

Ringgold County farmer wins Iowa Farm Bureau Young Farmer Discussion Meet

Alle Bailey of Diagonal has been selected as the winner of Iowa Farm Bureau Federation’s (IFBF) Young Farmer Discussion Meet, held Dec. 4, during IFBF’s 100th annual meeting in Des Moines.

The winner of the Young Farmer Discussion Meet goes on to represent Iowa in the Young Farmer and Rancher National Discussion Meet during the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Annual Convention in New Orleans on Jan. 11-16. Since Alle and her husband, Ryan, will be competing for the Young Farmer Achievement Award at AFBF, Alicia Heun of Greene County will be the alternate representing Iowa during the national discussion meet competition.

The Young Farmer Discussion Meet is a unique competition in which participants are scored based on their ability to engage in a “cooperative” discussion on challenges affecting agriculture, such as how to correct fictitious information about modern farming practices or attract younger generations into the agricultural workforce. Throughout the discussion, the young farmers are awarded points in their ability to identify the problem, seek solutions and listen to others’ viewpoints—skills that are pertinent to gaining consumer trust in today’s world. 

The eight contestants who participate in the semi-final rounds during the annual meeting earned their slots by competing at the IFBF Young Farmer Conference held in January of this year. Throughout the year, these young farmers work with various IFBF staff members who provide both highlights and background information on discussion topics and public speaking coaching. Four of the eight go on to compete in the final round where a state winner is selected and named during the IFBF Young Farmer Award Ceremony.

As the top finalist of the Iowa competition, Alle received a John Deere x380 riding lawn mower, a 90-day no-payment and no-interest (NPNI) John Deere Financial Certificate up to $5,000 and expenses paid for the 2019 AFBF Annual Convention, 2019 GROWMARK Annual Meeting in Chicago and 2019 IFBF Young Farmer Conference.

Soy Checkoff Sets Strong Course for Future with New Leadership and Continued Focus

United Soybean Board (USB) farmer-leaders elected Keith Tapp, fifth generation soybean farmer from Sebree, Kentucky as chair at the annual meeting December 5, 2018. In addition, 16 directors, appointed by Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue in October, were sworn in by the USDA.

“Our soy checkoff has proven itself by developing new products and markets for U.S. soy for decades,” said Tapp. “Our job is to continue this progress through wise and strategic investments, which is more important now than ever.”

USB leadership is tasked with guiding the activity of the national soy checkoff in accordance with the strategy outlined by the entire board. USB continues to focus on three priority areas for investment: meal, oil and sustainability.

At the annual board meeting, USB also elected nine directors to serve alongside Tapp on the Executive Committee.
- Jim Carroll, Vice Chair – Arkansas
- John Dodson, Secretary – Tennessee
- Dan Farney, Treasurer – Illinois
- Gregg Fujan – Nebraska
- Tom Oswald - Iowa
- Woody Green – South Carolina
- David Iverson – South Dakota
- Meagan Kaiser – Missouri
- Mark Seib – Indiana

Three farmer-leaders were also elected to serve on the Strategic Management Committee: Rochelle Krusemark, Minnesota; Ralph Lott II, New York; Doug Winter, Illinois. 

ASA Board Elects 2019 Governing Committee

A new group of leaders is set to tackle soybean policy issues in the coming year. The American Soybean Association (ASA) Board of Directors elected its governing committee this week during the annual winter board meeting in St. Louis, and new board members immediately began their terms.

Davie Stephens of Clinton, Ky., will serve as 2019 ASA president. Stephens has been an ASA national director since 2012, serving as secretary and most recently vice president. He also represented his fellow state farmers on the Kentucky Soybean Association board from 2006-14, holding positions as treasurer, secretary, vice-president and president. Stephens farms more than 5,000 acres in Kentucky and Tennessee. In addition to soybeans, he grows corn and raises chickens.

Stephens replaces John Heisdorffer, Iowa, as president, and Heisdorffer moves to the role of ASA chairman. Former chairman Ron Moore, Ill., rotates off the nine-member governing committee.

Ryan Findlay, CEO of ASA, said of the changes, “Davie will transition smoothly into this role, as he has been intrinsically involved in ASA’s heavy trade advocacy this past year, among other issues. And for those leaders stepping down from the board or resuming other posts, we cannot thank them enough for all they have done during this past year. John Heisdorffer showed true leadership as our president, speaking on behalf of the nation’s soybean farmers in a time of increased media attention and anxiety. We know Davie will provide continuity in that remarkable level of dedication and service to the soy industry.”

The ASA board also elected Bill Gordon, Minn., to serve as vice president, a position that places him in line to serve as the association’s president in 2020. Gordon is a fourth-generation farmer who grows soybeans and corn across two-thousand acres, including 250 acres of buffer strips and wetlands. He is owner of Lindquist Tax and Accounting and owner/partner of CRG Management Company, a full-service business including farm analysis and planning.

In addition, the ASA board voted to elect Bret Davis, Ohio, as secretary and Brad Kremer, Wis., as treasurer; Kevin Scott, SD, Joe Steinkamp, In., Brad Doyle, Ark., and Ronnie Russell, Mo., were elected as at-large members of the governing committee.

New members of the ASA board are Daryl Cates, Ill., David Droste, Ill., and Christopher Hill, Minn. Member terms begin immediately upon election each December meeting.

U.S. Beef Exports Still Red-Hot; Pork Exports Slightly Below Year-Ago Level; Lamb Exports Trend Higher

U.S. beef exports remained on a record-shattering value pace in October, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). October pork exports trended seasonally higher compared to recent months but were still below the results posted in October 2017. Lamb export volume in October more than doubled year-over-year, while value increased nearly 50 percent.

October beef exports totaled 117,838 metric tons (mt), up 6 percent from a year ago, valued at $727.4 million – up 10 percent and the second-highest monthly total on record. For January through October, beef exports totaled 1.13 million mt, up 9 percent year-over-year, while value was up 17 percent to $6.92 billion. For beef muscle cuts only, exports increased 12 percent in volume (867,714 mt) and 19 percent in value ($6.19 billion).

Exports accounted for 13 percent of total beef production in October, which was steady with last year, and 11.6 percent for muscle cuts only (down slightly). For January through October, exports accounted for 13.5 percent of total production and 11.1 percent for muscle cuts – up from 12.8 percent and 10.2 percent, respectively, last year. Beef export value equated to $317.53 per head of fed slaughter in October, up 5 percent from a year ago. For January through October, the per-head average was up 15 percent to $320.50.

“Demand for U.S. beef continues to climb in nearly every region of the world, with annual records already falling in some markets,” said Dan Halstrom, USMEF president and CEO. “Per-head export value will also easily set a new record in 2018, which illustrates the strong returns exports are delivering for cattle producers and for the entire supply chain.”

October pork export volume was 207,725 mt, the largest since May but still 2 percent lower year-over-year, reflecting smaller variety meat exports. Export value ($536.5 million) was also the largest since May but still down 5 percent from a year ago. For January through October, pork exports were 1 percent above last year’s record pace at 2.02 million mt, while value was also up 1 percent to $5.33 billion. For pork muscle cuts only, January-October exports increased 5 percent from a year ago in volume (1.63 million mt), valued at $4.43 billion (up 2 percent).

October exports accounted for 23.6 percent of total pork production, down from 25.4 percent a year ago. For muscle cuts only, the percentage exported was 20.7 percent – down from 21.6 percent in October 2017. For January through October, pork exports accounted for 25.8 percent of total production, down from 26.4 percent last year, but the percentage of muscle cuts exported increased from 22 to 22.5 percent. Export value per head slaughtered was down 10 percent from a year ago in October to $46.07. The January-October average was $51.74, down 2 percent.

“Despite some very significant obstacles, global demand dynamics for U.S. pork remain strong,” Halstrom said. “We are hopeful that the events of the past week – the signing of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement and the return of trade negotiations between the U.S. and China – represent progress toward elimination of retaliatory duties imposed by key trading partners. If we can put that situation behind us, U.S. pork is well-positioned to regain the momentum displayed early in the year.”

Halstrom added that upcoming trade negotiations with Japan are critical for the U.S. pork and beef industries, as all major competitors in the Japanese market will soon benefit from significant tariff reductions. USMEF, along with producers, exporters and other industry organizations submitted comments to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) underscoring the importance and urgency of these negotiations and will convey these points again in USTR’s Dec. 10 public hearing.

New value records for U.S. beef in Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines

Beef exports to South Korea, which had already set a new annual value record through September, remained on a torrid pace as October exports reached 20,171 mt (up 17 percent from a year ago) valued at $153.1 million (up 25 percent). January-October exports were up 35 percent in volume (200,666 mt) and 47 percent in value ($1.44 billion). These results included a 21 percent increase in chilled beef exports to 44,440 mt, valued at $431 million (up 31 percent). While Korea’s imports from Australia and New Zealand have also edged higher in 2018, U.S. beef’s market share has increased sharply, jumping from 49 to 53 percent.

October beef exports to leading market Japan were up 12 percent from a year ago in volume (26,954 mt) and 13 percent higher in value ($166.8 million). For January through October, exports to Japan were up 7 percent from a year ago in volume (279,825 mt) while value increased 10 percent to $1.76 billion. Chilled beef exports to Japan were down 1 percent to 123,712 mt, but value increased 8 percent to $990 million.

For January through October, other highlights for U.S. beef exports include:

-    Beef exports to Taiwan were up 34 percent from a year ago in volume (49,135 mt), while value reached $455.3 million – up 36 percent and already easily surpassing last year’s annual record of $409.7 million. Chilled exports to Taiwan were up 30 percent in volume (19,878 mt) and 35 percent in value ($249 million), as the United States captured more than 75 percent of Taiwan’s chilled beef market – the highest market share of any Asian destination.
-    Exports to the Philippines soared 29 percent in volume to 14,751 mt and reached $72.4 million in value – up 35 percent and setting a new annual record. Solid growth in Vietnam also helped push beef exports to the ASEAN region 14 percent ahead of last year’s pace in volume (39,719 mt) and 26 percent higher in value ($218.1 million).
-    Exports to Mexico were up 1 percent from a year ago in volume (199,003 mt) and 8 percent higher in value ($879.2 million). Beef muscle cut exports to Mexico have shown particularly strong momentum in 2018, increasing 8 percent in volume (118,177 mt) and 11 percent in value ($691.6 million).
-    Although October volume trended lower, January-October exports to China/Hong Kong were still 4 percent ahead of last year’s pace in volume (102,545 mt) and 24 percent higher in value ($823.5 million). This included exports to China of 5,677 mt valued at $48.6 million.
-    Growth in the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and the Bahamas contributed to a 9 percent increase in the Caribbean region as exports reached 21,455 mt. Value was up 4 percent to $135.4 million.
-    Led by strong growth in Costa Rica, Guatemala, Panama, El Salvador and Nicaragua, beef exports to Central America increased 18 percent year-over-year in volume (11,923 mt) and 14 percent in value ($64.6 million).

New record for U.S. pork in Korea; growth in Japan, ASEAN also bolster October exports

Pork exports to South Korea continued to gain momentum in October, increasing 27 percent from a year ago in volume (19,588 mt) and 17 percent in value ($49.2 million). January-October exports to Korea increased 41 percent in volume (191,610 mt) and 44 percent in value ($538.4 million) – already topping the annual records set in 2011. Even as imports from all main suppliers have expanded this year, U.S. share of Korea’s pork imports has increased significantly, rising from 36 to 39 percent.

October pork exports to leading value market Japan totaled 35,134 mt, up 8 percent from a year ago, while export value climbed 9 percent to $146.6 million. This pushed January-October exports 2 percent ahead of last year’s pace in volume (330,480 mt) and 3 percent higher in value ($1.36 billion). This included a slight decrease in chilled pork volume (176,118 mt) while value was up 2 percent to $849 million. U.S. share of Japan’s pork imports held close to 35 percent, down slightly from last year. But Japan imported a record volume of ground seasoned pork from the European Union in October and U.S. share in that category has dropped from 71 to 65 percent in 2018. Unfortunately this trend is likely to continue with upcoming implementation of the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, which will reduce tariffs on all pork and phase the import duty on ground seasoned pork to zero over the next six years.

Led by strong growth in the Philippines and Vietnam, October pork exports to the ASEAN region increased 91 percent in volume (9,009 mt) and 59 percent in value ($22 million). January-October exports increased 46 percent in volume (58,415 mt) and 33 percent in value ($145.5 million). This was fueled in part by a surge in pork variety meat exports to the region, which more than doubled in both volume (24,090 mt, up 149 percent) and value ($39 million, up 126 percent).

Other January-October results for U.S. pork exports include:

-    Pork exports to South America, led by strong growth in Colombia and Peru and a rebound in exports to Chile, reached 106,444 mt – up 25 percent and already surpassing last year’s annual record. Export value was up 19 percent to $259.9 million.
-    Although October results slowed from a year ago, January-October exports to Central America still increased 17 percent in volume (66,428 mt) and 13 percent in value ($156.6 million). Exports increased to leading markets Honduras and Guatemala and were sharply higher to Panama, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica.
-    Exports to the Dominican Republic have already exceeded annual records in both volume (36,022 mt, up 36 percent) and value ($78.4 million, up 29 percent).
-    Exports to Australia were up 10 percent to 61,994 mt, with value climbing 8 percent to $178.8 million. Australia is a critical market for U.S. hams, especially with retaliatory duties in place in Mexico and China.
-    Despite a fifth straight month in which pork shipments were below year-ago levels, exports to leading volume market Mexico were still steady with last year’s record pace at 656,284 mt. But export value, pressured by the retaliatory duties first imposed in June, declined by 9 percent to $1.12 billion.
-    Exports to China/Hong Kong declined 27 percent from a year ago to 302,151 mt, with value dropping 16 percent to $730 million. China/Hong Kong is the largest destination for pork variety meat exports, which were down 28 percent in volume (194,472 mt) and 15 percent in value ($512.4 million).

Lamb exports solid in October

October exports of U.S. lamb more than doubled from a year ago to 1,161 mt (up 107 percent). Export value was also strong, climbing 48 percent to $1.96 million. Lamb muscle cut exports were 207 mt in October, up 20 percent from a year ago, valued at $1.13 million (up 27 percent).

Through the first 10 months of the year, lamb exports were 69 percent ahead of last year’s pace in volume (10,371 mt) and 19 percent higher in value ($19 million). While the increase is mainly attributable to stronger variety meat demand in Mexico, muscle cut exports were sharply higher to the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, the United Arab Emirates, Taiwan and the Philippines.

National Pork Industry Foundation to Award $2,500 Scholarships

The National Pork Producers Council is pleased to announce the 2019 Lois Britt Memorial Pork Industry Scholarship, which is sponsored by CME Group and the National Pork Industry Foundation and is managed and administered by the National Pork Producers Council.

The scholarship program was introduced in 1990 by CME Group and NPPC to celebrate the 25th anniversary of CME Hog Futures. The scholarship was renamed in 2006 to honor the passing of NPPC Board of Director Lois Britt. Britt, a lifetime supporter of agriculture, spent 34 years with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, finishing out her career for 15 years with Smithfield Hog Production doing Public and Government Relations. She was inducted into the NPPC Pork Industry Hall of Fame, the N.C. Pork Council Hall of Fame and awarded the N.C. 4-H Lifetime Achievement Award as some of her many achievements.

Ten $2,500 scholarships are awarded to students annually who intend to pursue a career in the pork industry with hopes that they may emerge as future pork industry leaders themselves.

To be eligible, applicants must:
1.Be a current undergraduate student in a two-year swine program or four-year college of agriculture and U.S. citizen. High school students are not eligible.
2.Write a brief letter indicating what role the applicant sees themselves playing in the pork industry after graduation.
3.Submit an essay of 750 words or less describing an issue the applicant sees confronting the pork industry today or in the future, including offering their solutions.
4.Obtain two letters of reference from current or former professors or industry professionals.
5.Prepare a cover sheet with the following information:
   a. Name of Applicant
   b. Name of School
   c. Year in School
   d. Contact Information (home & school mailing address, telephone number & e-mail address)

Please submit the items listed above online or via e-mail to the address listed below. All entries must be sent by JANUARY 4, 2019 to be accepted.
Online Submissions:
E-mail Submissions:

Essays will be judged on the basis of clarity and expression, persuasiveness, originality and relevance of topic. Winners will be announced at the National Pork Industry Forum in Orlando, FL March 6 - 8, 2019. NPPC and CME Group reserve the right to publish any or all parts the essays submitted. Please contact Rebecca Casey, NPPC Director of Industry Resource Development, with questions about the scholarship at (515) 645.9659 or

Thursday December 6 Ag News

Beef Quality Assurance -- Creston -- 12/18

All producers are invited to attend the Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) Training in your area.  Nebraska Extension has teamed up with local sponsors to schedule the training that will be a certification or recertification opportunity for cattle producers.

Date and Location
•             December 18, 12:00 Noon, Creston, NE, Alice’s - Meal Provided
•             Sponsors:
    o             Kent Feeds – Keith Paitz
    o             Rosendahl Farms, Seed and Feed

Rob Eirich, Nebraska Director of Beef Quality Assurance will be presenting BQA Best Management Practices, Animal Health & Antimicrobial Stewardship and the 2016 National Beef Quality Audit information.  Beef Cattle Producers are committed to producing a quality, wholesome and safe beef product for consumers.  These meetings will update producers on implementing BQA principles to ensure quality cattle care and handling.

All producers are encouraged to attend.  There is a $20 fee to become BQA certified/recertified, which is valid for three year time period.

For more information contact your local sponsors or Rob Eirich, Nebraska Extension, 308-632-1230 or

RSVP for meal count to 402-564-4237. 


The 2018 Nebraska Soybean Day and Machinery Expo will assist soybean producers in planning for growing season. The expo is 8:30 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. Dec. 13 in the pavilion at the Saunders County Fairgrounds in Wahoo.

The expo opens with coffee, doughnuts and the opportunity to view equipment and exhibitor booths. Speakers start at 9 a.m. and include university researchers and specialists, Nebraska Soybean Checkoff representatives, soybean growers and private-industry representatives. Producers will be able to visit with representatives from seed, herbicide, fertilizer and equipment companies and view new farm equipment during a 30-minute break at 9:45 a.m.

David Kohl, professor emeritus at Virginia Tech University, is the featured speaker. Kohl’s domestic and global overview will provide perspective on the factors and transformative trends influencing customers’ financials. His session contrasts the best-management characteristics of the top 40 percent of producers with those of the bottom 30 percent.

Justin McMechan, crop protection and cropping systems specialist at the University of Nebraska Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center, will update growers on new and emerging soybean pests. The primary focus of the presentation will be on the observations and management of soybean orange gall midge, a new and potentially damaging soybean pest in eastern Nebraska. Information will also be provided on the expansion, scouting and management of Japanese beetles and Dectes stem borers.

Darwin Rader, international sales and marketing manager with Zeeland Farm Services, will give a presentation on growing and marketing specialty soybeans to increase profits. Ken Hellevang, extension engineer from North Dakota State University, will discuss managing soybeans in storage. The expo will also include an update on the Nebraska Soybean Checkoff.

A complimentary lunch will be served at noon.

Registration is available at the door on the day of the expo. Registration is free, but the Saunders County Soybean Growers Organization requests donations of one or more cans of nonperishable food to the food pantry.

For more information about the program or exhibitor details, call 800-529-8030 or email Information is also available at

The program is sponsored by Nebraska Extension, the Nebraska Soybean Board, the Saunders County Soybean Growers Organization and private industry.

Farmers and Ranchers Adopt Policy Positions, Elect State Leaders at Nebraska Farm Bureau Annual Meeting and Convention

Farmers and ranchers from across the state set Nebraska Farm Bureau (NEFB) policy positions for the coming year and elected four individuals to the organization’s Board of Directors during the NEFB Annual Meeting and Convention held Dec. 2-4 in Kearney. NEFB is Nebraska’s largest general farming organization, representing the interests of farmers and ranchers who produce virtually every agricultural commodity in Nebraska.

“It’s clear property taxes remain a top priority for our members. We spent considerable time discussing the importance of solving our state’s property tax problem, but our delegates also covered a wide range of other policy issues that impact their operations,” said Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau president.

Among the policy resolutions adopted was support for the continued availability and use of dicamba herbicide for use on dicamba tolerant crops. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released new label directions for dicamba use in response to concerns about dicamba drift. Delegates also shared support for continued education efforts on proper dicamba application.

Protections for farm and ranch operations were also addressed by the delegate body in calls for strengthening private property and nuisance laws for agriculture. The resolutions seek to ensure existing Nebraska farms and ranches would continue to have the flexibility to change their operations as needed into the future without loss of private property rights and nuisance protections.

“Delegates also supported a resolution to prevent plant-based and lab-produced protein makers from using the word ‘meat’ or other ‘meat’ related terms from describing their products. With the lab-produced protein products entering the market, our members felt it was important to protect the significant financial investments made by farmers and ranchers over the years in programs to market and promote meat products from the traditional harvesting of livestock,” said Nelson.

Several resolutions were also advanced for consideration by delegates to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Annual Meeting and Convention in January.

“With all the advancements in technology, our members want to make sure there is appropriate oversight for these technologies when applied in the agriculture marketplace. Our members adopted resolutions encouraging enhanced oversight of block trading should those types of market exchanges be found to be problematic in the future. Delegates also supported the use of blockchain technology provided it is beneficial to agriculture and trade relations,” said Nelson.

Delegates also called for the U.S. to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). The agreement would provide tremendous market access for Nebraska agriculture commodities into CPTPP member nations. In addition, delegates advanced resolutions urging the U.S. to work with its allied trade partners to pressure China to address unfair trade and business practices.

Resolutions seeking flexibility in regulations governing the acquisition and use of antibiotics by farmers and ranchers to treat sick livestock also advanced.

In addition to setting state and making national policy recommendations, delegates elected four individuals to the Nebraska Farm Bureau Board of Directors.

Mark McHargue of Central City was re-elected to the position of Nebraska Farm Bureau first vice president.

Dennis Beethe of Elk Creek was elected to represent the Southeast Region on the Nebraska Farm Bureau Board of Directors. Beethe will represent members from Cass, Dodge, Douglas, Gage, Johnson, Lancaster, Nemaha, Otoe, Pawnee, Richardson, Sarpy, Saunders, and Washington counties.

Kevin Peterson of Osceola was elected to represent the Central Region on the Nebraska Farm Bureau Board of Directors. Peterson will represent members from Boone, Buffalo, Butler, Colfax, Greeley, Hall, Howard, Merrick, Nance, Platte, Polk, Sherman, and Valley counties.

Lance Atwater of Ayr was elected to the Youth-At-Large position on the Nebraska Farm Bureau Board of Directors. The Youth-At-Large position is charged with representing the Nebraska Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee on the state board of directors.

Nebraska plant scientist digs deeper into soybeans and soil bacteria

Nebraska plant scientist Marc Libault seeks to better understand soybeans and other legumes’ mutually beneficial relationship with the bacteria rhizobia.

If soybeans can take advantage of the air’s abundant supply of nitrogen, why does corn rely solely on nitrogen available in the soil? It’s no secret that soybeans have evolved a unique relationship with rhizobia, a common soil bacteria that converts atmospheric nitrogen into a form plants can use. Yet much about this alliance is unknown.

University of Nebraska–Lincoln plant scientist Marc Libault seeks to better understand soybeans and other legumes’ mutually beneficial relationship with the bacteria rhizobia. His research could help lead to improving legumes’ efficiency at assimilating atmospheric nitrogen, called nitrogen fixation, and even to transferring the capability to other crops, such as corn. Greater efficiency and expanding nitrogen fixation beyond legumes could reduce the need for costly fertilizers.

“Biological nitrogen fixation is quite useful, especially in Nebraska, because it has the capability of really minimizing the use of nitrogen fertilizer,” said Libault, associate professor of plant biology. “Overuse of fertilizers can create massive water pollution from runoff into lakes and rivers.” Excessive nutrients cause plants and algae to proliferate, choking out fish and other organisms.

Although plants are surrounded by atmospheric nitrogen, a vital nutrient, they’re unable to use it directly. Rhizobia have the ability to convert nitrogen gas into ammonia, a form of nitrogen that plants can use to manufacture the molecular components they need to grow. To take advantage of rhizobia’s ability to fix nitrogen, legumes entice the bacteria to live inside, or infect, their roots, where the plants supply them with energy and other nutritional needs. In exchange, rhizobia produce ammonia stored inside nodules that develop on the roots. Other organisms, particularly certain trees, such as alders, also have evolved this symbiotic relationship with rhizobia.

Libault’s research focuses on the changes that take place inside the plant to initiate a rhizobial infection. Researchers have identified a complex chain of events that plants use to control the initial stage of infection. Libault’s team is elucidating a key component: identifying a set of plant genes important to coordinating the activation and timing of gene expression in root cells in response to rhizobia.

Proteins that target and bind to the genes Libault is after are known. So his team is employing a technique that uses the proteins as bait. After the proteins bind to the genes, they are able to isolate the genes from the rest of the genome and sequence their DNA. By identifying the genes, the team will be able to further investigate their role in establishing rhizobial infection.

This fundamental research is an important step toward one day improving plants’ ability to enhance their nitrogen-fixing capabilities. Better understanding nitrogen-fixing plants may also provide insight into how to genetically modify other crops, such as corn, to give them the ability to attract rhizobia and fix atmospheric nitrogen, Libault said.

Libault’s project is funded with an $573,573 Faculty Early Career Development Program award from the National Science Foundation, the prestigious award given to outstanding pre-tenure faculty. Libault received his CAREER award as a faculty member at the University of Oklahoma and is continuing this work at Nebraska.

Libault also researches how soybeans and sorghum respond to stress from increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide and drought, both consequences of climate change.

Nebraska’s strong investment in researching crop production and plant-microbe interactions drew Libault to the university. He’s affiliated with the Center for Plant Science Innovation and the Center for Root and Rhizobiome Innovation.

Iowa State University to Lead Research to Increase Pig Survivability

A research project led by the Iowa Pork Industry Center at Iowa State University seeks to increase pork producers’ profits by improving the survivability of their animals.

Jason Ross, the Lloyd L Anderson Professor and director of the Iowa Pork Industry Center at Iowa State, will lead the project that includes scientists from Iowa State, Kansas State University and Purdue University. The National Pork Board and the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) are providing nearly $2 million for the five-year study.

“This project is a great example of industry leadership coming together to address emerging issues through university and industry research partnerships,” Ross said.

Across the pork industry, an estimated 30 to 35 percent of pigs born die before reaching the market, creating significant economic losses for farmers. Research indicates that mortality rates across all phases of production have been increasing, presenting a major challenge to animal wellbeing and sustainability.

“The members of the animal science and welfare committees of the National Pork Board recognize improving pig health, welfare and productivity are keys in extending pig survivability,” said Chris Hostetler, director of animal science for the National Pork Board. “While this project is slated to last five years, it is the vision of the committees that this effort will fundamentally shape the way pigs are raised to provide safe, wholesome pork far into the future.”

An interdisciplinary team of nutritionists, physiologists, veterinarians, well-being and behavior experts, geneticists, toxicologists, extension specialists and economists will examine the causes of mortality occurring on commercial swine farms.

“We know that improving survivability will increase the efficiency and environmental sustainability of the whole industry,” said Tim Kurt, FFAR’s scientific program director, “but solutions need to be economically feasible.”

“Increasing sow and piglet survivability is one of the most intractable issues facing the pork industry. While this is a clear animal welfare problem, it is also one of the most important productivity and economic issue for producers,” said Sally Rockey, FFAR’s executive director. “FFAR is pleased to be part of this important research that unquestionably will have a multitude of positive impacts.”

The project seeks a full understanding of the biological mechanisms that limit pig and sow survivability, how they interact and how they can be effectively improved. 

The project’s overarching goal, through effective research and extension activities, is to improve swine survivability by 1 percent or more each year. Increasing the wean-to-finish survival of animals by 1 percent would represent an estimated gain in productivity of approximately 1.2 million pigs a year for the nation’s swine industry.

The research team objectives include:
    Evaluate producers’ management attitudes and economics associated with improving survivability in U.S. swine production
    Identify the causes of mortality on U.S. sow farms to support development and implementation of targeted strategies to maximize survivability
    Define factors that influence wean-to-finish survivability and implement management strategies based on production-based research
    Develop national extension, outreach and education resources and strategies to encourage adoption and implementation of management practices to improve survivability in pork production.

Another aspect of the project is the significant effort placed on training future industry leaders. This includes graduate students and staff, but is also expected to employ many undergraduate and veterinary students through internship programs. 

Additional information on the project team, specific efforts and progress can be followed on the project website

U.S. Beef Gains New Market Access in Morocco

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced today that the government of Morocco has agreed to allow imports of U.S. beef and beef products into Morocco. 2018 is the first year that U.S. beef and poultry exporters have access to Morocco’s market under the terms of the U.S.-Morocco Free Trade Agreement (FTA).  Morocco opened its market to U.S. poultry in August, 2018.

“President Trump continues to prioritize the opening of new markets for U.S. agricultural products.  New access to the Moroccan market for beef and beef products is an important step in ensuring that American farmers and ranchers can continue to expand their exports of U.S. agricultural products,” said Ambassador Lighthizer.  “I welcome Morocco’s agreement to allow imports of U.S. beef and look forward to growing our shipments to Morocco.”

“Finding new markets for American agricultural products has been a priority for the Trump Administration from day one, and the opening of the Moroccan market is good news for our producers,” said Secretary Perdue.  “American beef is the best in the world, and once Moroccans get a taste of it, they’ll surely want more.”

In 2017, the United States was the world’s third largest beef exporter, with global sales of beef and beef products valued at $7.3 billion.  As of November 2018, U.S. exports of agricultural products to Morocco exceeded $512 million.  Initial estimates indicate that Morocco would be an $80 million market for U.S. beef and beef products.  Morocco had prohibited imports of U.S. beef.

Under the  leadership of USTR Chief Agricultural Negotiator, Amb. Gregg Doud and the direction of U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Ken Isley, U.S. and Moroccan officials met to negotiate a health certificate and the terms for the import of U.S. high quality and standard quality beef into Morocco.  Representatives also discussed improvements to the administration of Morocco’s wheat tariff-rate quota and other agriculture and SPS issues, and will continue this work through the agriculture and SPS subcommittees under the FTA.

NCBA Welcomes New Market Access for U.S. Beef in Morocco

Today President Kevin Kester issued the following statement in response to the announcement that U.S. beef gained new market access in Morocco:

“Open markets are the lifeblood of the U.S. cattle and beef industry. New access to Morocco is welcome news for producers and we are excited that Moroccan consumers can now enjoy high-quality U.S. beef. NCBA is grateful for the leadership President Trump, Ambassador Lighthizer, and Ambassador Doud have shown on this issue. We look forward to working with them to continue tearing down trade barriers for U.S. beef in markets around the world.”

Weekly Ethanol Production for 11/30/2018

According to EIA data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association, ethanol production averaged 1.069 million barrels per day (b/d)—or 44.90 million gallons daily. That is up 21,000 b/d from the week before and the highest since the week before Labor Day. However, the four-week average for ethanol production remained unchanged at 1.056 million b/d for an annualized rate of 16.19 billion gallons.

Stocks of ethanol were 23.0 million barrels. That is up marginally from 22.9 million barrels the prior week.

There were zero imports recorded for the third week in a row. (Weekly export data for ethanol is not reported simultaneously; the latest export data is as of October 2018.)

Average weekly gasoline demand dropped 3.4% from the previous week to 8.877 million barrels (372.8 million gallons) daily. This is equivalent to 136.08 billion gallons annualized. Refiner/blender input of ethanol decreased 3.3% to 896,000 b/d, equivalent to 13.74 billion gallons annualized.

Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production increased to 12.04%.

RFA: US Ethanol Exports Surged 95%

U.S. ethanol exports surged from 89.9 million gallons in September to 175.4 million gallons in October, posting a 95% increase, according to data released by the U.S. Department of Commerce and analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association.

Data showed Brazil bolstered imports of U.S. ethanol to 54.5 mg, up 49.1 mg, which represents 31% of U.S. export sales, while India purchased a record 29.1 mg or 17% of the total U.S. exports volume. On the other hand, Canada decreased its offtake by 12%, importing 30.7 mg or 18% of U.S. ethanol shipments in October.

According to RFA analysis, American producers shipped 91.4 mg of denatured fuel ethanol in October, a 35% increase and the highest volume on record. Despite a 7% decrease from the prior month, Canada retained a sizable lead as our top customer at 30.4 mg, or 31% of our export market for denatured product.

October exports of U.S. undenatured fuel ethanol were 79.7 mg, a more than 400% increase after dipping to 13.4 mg in September. Brazil accounted for more than half of the market, 41.5 mg or 52%, and India again took a record 24.6 mg for 31% of global sales of U.S. undenatured ethanol.

October sales of ethanol for non-fuel, non-beverage purposes backed off 54% from the prior month to 4.3 mg.

The United States imported 31.6 mg of undenatured ethanol from Brazil in October. This is the largest monthly volume to enter the United States in five years. Total year-to-date U.S. ethanol imports stand at 57.0 mg -- essentially all sourced from Brazil.

Responding to the Needs of Local Schools, USDA Publishes School Meals Final Rule

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today empowered local schools with additional options to serve healthy and appealing meals. A final rule on school meal flexibilities, to be published later this month in the Federal Register, increases local flexibility in implementing school nutrition standards for milk, whole grains, and sodium.  Secretary Perdue said the final rule will deliver on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) promise, made in a May 2017 proclamation, to develop forward-thinking strategies that ensure school nutrition standards are both healthful and practical.

“USDA is committed to serving meals to kids that are both nutritious and satisfying,” said Perdue.  “These common-sense flexibilities provide excellent customer service to our local school nutrition professionals, while giving children the world-class food service they deserve.”

The actions taken today will benefit nearly 99,000 schools and institutions that feed 30 million children annually through USDA’s school meal programs. This rule is part of USDA’s Regulatory Reform Agenda, developed in response to President Trump’s Executive Order to eliminate unnecessary regulatory burdens.

The Child Nutrition Programs: Flexibilities for Milk, Whole Grains, and Sodium Requirements final rule offers schools new options as they serve meals under the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), School Breakfast Program (SBP) and other federal child nutrition programs.  The rule:
-    Provides the option to offer flavored, low-fat milk to children participating in school meal programs, and to participants ages six and older in the Special Milk Program for Children (SMP) and the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP);
-    Requires half of the weekly grains in the school lunch and breakfast menu be whole grain-rich;
-    Provides more time to reduce sodium levels in school meals.

Perdue said schools have faced challenges serving meals that both are appetizing to students and meet the nutrition standards.  “If kids are not eating what is being served, they are not benefiting, and food is being wasted,” said Perdue. “We all have the same goals in mind -- the health and development of our young people.  USDA trusts our local operators to serve healthy meals that meet local preferences and build bright futures with good nutrition.”

“We will continue to listen to schools, and make common-sense changes as needed, to ensure they can meet the needs of their students based on their real-world experience in local communities,” said Perdue.

NMPF Applauds USDA Support for More Milk Options in School Meals

The National Milk Producers Federation commended Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue for returning low-fat (1%) flavored milk as part of the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs. The final rule implementing regulatory changes needed to add low-fat flavored milk to more school menus and other nutrition programs serving children was announced today by the USDA and will be published later this month in the Federal Register.

“NMPF thanks Secretary Perdue for completing this step that will encourage milk consumption in schools,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the NMPF. “USDA’s own studies have shown that students drank less milk after low-fat chocolate milk was removed from schools. Returning low-fat flavored milk to school menus will help reverse this harmful trend.  Milk has been an integral part of school meals since their beginning, and greater milk consumption equals better nutrition for America’s kids. The new rule is good news for schools, students and American dairy farmers.”

The final rule makes permanent the changes Secretary Purdue implemented last year to streamline the process by which schools can serve low-fat flavored milk. In 2012, the U.S. Department of Agriculture eliminated low-fat flavored milk as an option in school meal and a la carte programs, after which milk consumption in schools dropped. Students consumed 288 million fewer half-pints of milk from 2012-2015, even as public-school enrollments grew.

The USDA action will allow schools to offer low-fat flavored milk without requiring them to demonstrate either a reduction in student milk consumption or an increase in school milk waste, bureaucratic hoops that had limited their ability to offer low-fat flavored milk in the 2017/18 school year.

NMPF appreciates the bipartisan efforts of numerous members of Congress who advocated for this change, most notably Reps. Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-PA) and Joe Courtney (D-CT).

Wednesday December 5 Ag News

Three State Beef Conference Jan. 15-17, 2019

Area beef producers should make plans to attend the fifth annual Three-State Beef Conference Jan. 15, 16, and 17, 2019 with locations in Iowa, Missouri and Nebraska. The conference provides a forum of specialists from three of the United States’ leading beef cattle land-grant universities to discuss where one can reduce winter cow feed costs and improve management of those resources.

The theme for this year’s conference is “Reducing Cow Feed Costs Using Cropland.”

Participants will be able to engage in learning about opportunities to help lower the need for hay, the most common feed resource in winter cattle rations through alternative feed sources off cropland.

“Hay resources are in high demand and short supply this year, so discovering how to reduce winter feed costs highlights the need matched by this conference,” said Nebraska Extension Educator Kristen Ulmer. Ulmer will lead a conference session titled “Opportunities and management of corn residue for beef cattle.”

Additional topics and speakers for the conference include:  "Using Annual Forages to meet late fall and early spring forage needs," Mary Drewnoski, beef systems specialist, Nebraska Extension; and "Silage as the primary winter feed for cows" Eric Bailey, beef nutrition specialist, University of Missouri Extension.

The same program will be delivered at each of the following locations:
    JAN. 15: Warren Cultural Center in Greenfield, Iowa
    JAN. 16: Andrew County Youth Building in Savannah, Missouri
    JAN. 17: Otoe County Fair Center in Syracuse, Neb.

Registration will begin for each session at 5:30 p.m. with the program starting at 6 p.m.

The registration fee is $25 per person, and it includes a meal and copy of the conference proceedings. Preregistration is requested by Jan. 11, 2019 for meal-planning purposes.

To register for the Nebraska location, call Nebraska Extension in Otoe County at 402-269-2301 or email

Nebraska’s Natural Resources Districts Announce FIVE Youth Poster Contest Winners

The Nebraska Association of Resources Districts (NARD) is excited to announce the state winners of the Natural Resources Districts (NRD) 2018 Poster Contest. The poster contest is connected to the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) yearly poster contest. It’s a fun way for students, K – 12 to use their imagination to design and draw a poster related to conserving our natural resources. This year, the poster contest theme used to inspire and teach our youth is “Watersheds: Our Water, Our Home.”

Congratulations to these five Nebraska student winners!
K - 1: Emma Lienemann from Dodge, NE – Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District
2 – 3: Luke Belina from Clarkson, NE – Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District
4 – 6: Naomi Busenitz from Nenzel, NE – Middle Niobrara Natural Resources District
7 – 9: Brooke Milam from Thedford, NE – Upper Loup Natural Resources District
10 – 12: Zoey Kreikemeier from West Point, NE – Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District

“This poster contest goes deeper than just kids drawing pretty pictures,” Erika Hill, public relations director of the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts said. “It’s a way to get them thinking about what it truly means to conserve our natural resources and to learn about watersheds and other important parts of Nebraska’s resources. We hope they grow up with an interest in learning more and doing their part to continue creating a sustainable future for us all.”

Different grade levels are grouped together from Kindergarten through 12th grade. One local NRD winner is selected in every division. Each division is K-1; 2-3; 4-6; 7-9; 10-12. Those winners are sent to the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts state competition. The state winners are then selected to compete at the national competition in Washington D.C. Next year’s 2019 poster contest theme is “Life in the Soil: DIG DEEPER.”

Typically, the NRDs send poster contest information out to area teachers who then introduce the poster contest to their classrooms and encourage their students to compete. If individual students want to participate outside of the classroom, you can submit them to your local natural resources district. All students, K – 12 are welcome to compete. Call Erika Hill at NARD at 402-471-7672 or email her at to get signed up to participate next October.

Hormel Foods Finalizes Sale of Nebraska Processing Plant

Hormel Foods Corporation, Austin, Minn., announced it has completed the sale of its Fremont, Neb., processing facility to Wholestone Farms, LLC.

The transaction includes a processing facility and a multiyear agreement to supply pork raw materials to Hormel Foods.

The current Fremont plant management team and workforce will remain in place to ensure business continuity for all stakeholders.

The purchase price was $30 million in cash, subject to select inventory and administrative adjustments.

Hormel Foods is a global branded food company with over $9 billion in annual revenues across more than 80 countries worldwide.

WholeStone Farms was established in 2017 to create and capture value in the pork supply chain. WholeStone Farms is owned by 220 members who are independent producers and farmers raising livestock and crops in the Upper Midwest. The members collectively farm nearly 400,000 acres of cropland, raise 12 million pigs a year, and share a vision to continue the legacy of family farming.

New ISU swine faculty member ready to apply industry research to work with Iowans

The newest swine faculty member at Iowa State University said she’s ready to combine her education and private industry research experiences to create a great experience for students and pork producers. Since her start date in early November, Laura Greiner has been refamiliarizing herself with Iowa State’s animal science department, faculty, staff and students, and is enthusiastic about this step in her career.

“I’m an Iowa State alum, receiving my undergraduate degree in animal science, and both my master’s and Ph.D. in animal nutrition under Dr. Tim Stahly,” she said. “After some post-doctoral work in microbiology at the University of Iowa College of Medicine, I went to work at Carthage Veterinary Clinic in Carthage, Illinois. I was director of research for 11 years, then nutrition director for two years.”

In her previous job, Greiner’s responsibilities were focused on research, with occasional swine farmer contacts and periodic teaching opportunities with U.S. and international interns and visitors. In her new position at Iowa State, she’ll build upon those experiences in developing and strengthening research, teaching and extension programs to benefit the pork industry.

“Having connections in the industry at all levels helps establish a research program by cultivating new ideas or addressing an issue together. Also, the network will allow me to connect students with others that may be able to talk to them or assist with an internship,” she explained. “Being connected to others brings the ability to share information and to learn what works and what needs work and to move the industry forward as one.”

Greiner describes the four main components of her Iowa State position.

“First, a major part of my responsibility will be focused on teaching undergraduates and aligning them with the swine industry. Second, I’ll also be working with swine producers in the State of Iowa to assist them with nutrition or other production questions they may have,” she said. “I will also have the ability to interact with the youth in the state to cultivate their passion for animals. And finally, I will be looking to conduct research that focuses on application of ideas into production programs with the focus being associated with sows and lactation.”

From growing up on a row crop/livestock family farm in central Illinois where she raised show pigs and was a 4-H member, through her educational and professional experiences, Greiner said she understands the agriculture industry and is ready to share her enthusiasm with colleagues, students and others.

“I’m excited to be back at Iowa State University and am looking forward to helping others in the swine industry. To me, a good day accomplished is one in which a producer will call or email me and let me know that their issue has been resolved,” she said. “Agriculture is such an important part of who I am, and I look forward to working with others who either share that passion or are curious to learn more about animals.”

Animal science department chair Dr. Don Beermann said Greiner’s career success and first-hand experiences make her well qualified to be an outstanding educator, researcher and extension leader at Iowa State.

“Dr. Greiner parlayed her undergraduate and graduate education at Iowa State into an outstanding career focused on practical swine production research and service to the industry,” Beermann said. “Her expertise in nutrition, immunology and best management practices will provide students the best informed, real-world understanding of current swine production systems.”

Iowa Pork Industry Center director and animal science associate professor Jason Ross echoed those comments.

“Laura comes with a significant amount of industry relationships and a credibility for conducting research that is relevant and applicable to the US pork producers,” he said. “That will strengthen both our research and extension efforts, and we’re excited that she’s part of our team.”

Dairy Webinar Asks If It's Time to Visit Your Lender

The I-29 Moo University is hosting a webinar Dec. 20 focused on preparing the information that lenders request. The "Improving Conversations with Your Lender" webinar will outline and explain the banking benchmarks and financial documents that lenders need to evaluate loans. The hour-long webinar is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. and will include time at the end for questions.

In addition, the program will focus on improving enterprise expense breakdowns and identify available follow-up information.

Heather Gessner, extension livestock business management field specialist at South Dakota State University, will present the information. Gessner grew up on a diversified operation raising cattle and hogs, as well as corn, soybeans, oats and alfalfa. Since joining SDSU Extension in 2001, she has earned a national reputation providing farmers and ranchers with enterprise analysis, budget spreadsheets, marketing education and estate and transition planning, education and assistance.

There is no fee for the webinar, but an online registration is required at Upon registration, a confirmation email containing information to join the meeting will be sent.

The I-29 Moo University is a consortium of extension dairy specialists from Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota. Now in its 13th year, the consortium provides resources and education to enhance a sustainable dairy community along the I-29 corridor by focusing on best management practices, utilization of research-based expertise and resources, and ag-vocating the benefits of a vibrant dairy community.

For more information about this webinar or other I-29 Moo University programs contact Fred M. Hall at 712-737-4230 or

Prices for Most Fertilizers Continue to Rise

With a couple of exceptions, retail prices for most fertilizers continued to rise the fourth week of November 2018, according to fertilizer sellers surveyed by DTN.

Six of the eight major fertilizers were slightly higher, but none had a significant price move compared to last month. MAP had an average price of $530 per ton, potash $369/ton, urea $409/ton, anhydrous $519/ton, UAN28 $246/ton and UAN32 $287/ton.

Two fertilizers were slightly lower from the previous month. DAP had an average price of $501/ton and 10-34-0 $457/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.44/lb.N, anhydrous $0.32/lb.N, UAN28 $0.44/lb.N and UAN32 $0.45/lb.N.

All eight of the major fertilizers are now higher compared to last year with prices shifting higher in recent months. UAN32 is 6% higher, potash is 8% more expensive, 10-34-0 is 13% higher, UAN28 is 14% more expensive, both DAP and MAP are 15% higher, urea is 20% more expensive and anhydrous is now 24% more expensive compared to last year.

Coalition Files Suit Against USDA on Factory Farms

A coalition of eight groups representing family farmers, sustainable agriculture advocates and concerned citizens throughout the country filed suit against the United States Department of Agriculture today. The suit aims to stop a USDA policy allowing industrial agriculture facilities to set up operations in communities without undergoing any review of their impact on local families or providing any notice of their planned operations to neighbors in the impacted areas.

The groups bringing the suit are Animal Legal Defense Fund, Association of Irritated Residents (Cal.), Citizens Action Coalition (Ind.), Dakota Rural Action (S.D.), Food & Water Watch, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, and White River Waterkeeper (Ark.)*

The USDA’s rule change, adopted in 2016 by its Farm Service Agency, grants exemptions from the usual process of notice, comment and oversight in cases where the government is providing taxpayer-subsidized loans to Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) considered “medium-sized” by the USDA. Such facilities are authorized to hold nearly 125,000 chickens, 55,000 turkeys, 2,500 pigs, 1,000 beef cattle, or 700 dairy cows. By failing to review the financing for these facilities under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Trump Administration has helped cloak their planned operations in secrecy, preventing rural communities from obtaining information regarding the impact of these operations on local air and water quality. In so doing, the Administration promotes factory farms over family farms. 

Today’s lawsuit alleges that both the rulemaking process, and the final rule now being implemented by the Trump Administration, violate NEPA and the Administrative Procedure Act by failing to provide adequate notice of the proposed rule change and refusing to clarify why medium-sized CAFOs should be provided this special treatment and automatically exempt. Between the rule’s implementation in August 2016 and December 2017, the government allowed 40 such operations in four Arkansas counties alone with no public comment or environmental assessment. During the same time frame, eight such operations in Iowa, housing nearly 20,000 pigs and generating as much untreated sewage as a town of 200,000 residents, were also allowed to escape any assessment or comment period.

“Responsible agricultural operations that are committed to being both good neighbors and good stewards of the communities in which they operate have nothing to fear from notice to the community and an assessment of their operations,” the coalition of groups in today’s lawsuit said. “This irresponsible change in the rules that have helped protect rural and small communities for decades is, instead, designed to protect polluters and undermine transparency. Small, family farms and their neighbors are disadvantaged while huge corporations are given a government green light to operate with impunity. That’s not only morally wrong; it’s clearly illegal, too. Though we represent a broad and diverse coalition of citizens and advocates from across the country, we are all alarmed at the impact of this change and share a common goal of ensuring USDA looks out for family farms and rural communities, and not just the interests of giant corporations.”

“Trump’s USDA has handed a gift to polluting factory farms in violation of federal law,” said Tarah Heinzen, staff attorney at Food & Water Watch. “Government agencies shouldn’t be handing taxpayer money to industrial agriculture operations without any public oversight, or any review into the considerable environmental impacts on the surrounding community.”

Come Hear Top Speakers at 24th Annual National Ethanol Conference

A former U.S. Senate Majority Leader. A top General Motors powertrain executive. A well-known energy economist. Co-hosts of a popular Showtime political documentary series. Come hear these and many other top speakers and experts at the 2019 National Ethanol Conference (NEC), which is now just a few months away. The NEC will be held in Orlando, Feb. 11-13, 2019.

The Renewable Fuels Association’s NEC is the ethanol industry’s most widely attended annual conference, drawing energy executives, agricultural leaders, policymakers, and other stakeholders from around the globe. The full conference agenda has now been released, but here are highlights you don’t want to miss:
-    RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper will open the 2019 conference with the annual State of the Industry report;
-    Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and Dan Nicholson, vice president of Propulsion Systems, General Motors, will discuss the need for high octane fuels and the pathway to get there;
-    Noted petroleum expert Dr. Phillip Verleger will provide an outlook for the global liquid fuels market, which has been volatile and affected by geopolitical risks;
-    Political pundits John Heilemann and Mark McKinnon, co-hosts of Showtime’s political documentary series “The Circus: Inside the Greatest Political Show on Earth,” will provide entertaining and engaging luncheon remarks about the current state of our political climate; and
-    Home Service Oil Company Executive Vice President Bryan Goforth and Power Energy Corporation President Sam Odeh will speak on a panel about renewing retailer enthusiasm for ethanol blends.

At the 2018 NEC, about 1,000 industry leaders and professionals attended, representing 37 states, the District of Columbia, and 17 countries. The conference provides an unequaled opportunity to engage key decision makers and industry executives about the latest technologies and government policies affecting the industry today.

To register or for more information, visit

Cage-free unit added to Mississippi State poultry department

A new poultry research facility at Mississippi State University is addressing the growing consumer and corporate demands for cage-free eggs.

To help address the need, Assistant Poultry Professor Pratima Adhikari is at the forefront of the issue, having led the vision for the newly constructed development that is part of the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station at MSU. The facility gives university researchers and students opportunities to compare cage and cage-free egg production and quality, as well as bacterial diversity between these housing types.

“In just a few years, the bulk of the laying hen industry is likely going cage-free,” said Adhikari, who joined MSU in 2017. “We have to address questions that producers have about converting to cage-free production systems and bird health in a cage-free environment. Hen health will be the major issue while converting the production system to cage-free, and this should be addressed by implementing several management and feeding strategies in the facility.”

Currently, less than 16 percent of eggs are produced in a cage-free production environment. To meet demand, approximately 70 percent of the nation’s 320 million birds will need to be cage-free by 2025.

Mary Beck, head and professor in MSU’s Department of Poultry Science, said Adhikari is well positioned to contribute meaningful answers to questions poultry producers have about cage-free production systems.

“Dr. Adhikari brings a fresh, new perspective and innovative ideas to this important area of research for one of Mississippi’s most important agricultural commodities,” Beck said.

“I have wanted to build a cage-free facility since my arrival on campus, to better understand the differences in management between the cage and cage-free systems,” Adhikari said. “For instance, hens in the cage-free system have access to both indoor and outdoor facilities. I want to look at how that impacts management practices.”

Adhikari and graduate students plan to measure egg quality through different criteria, including weight, specific gravity (shell quantity compared to shell contents), shell thickness and weight, as well as the quality of the egg white, to see if there are significant differences based on housing type.

A total of 200 hens are divided between 12 new dual pens, with each about 12 by 5 feet inside and 24 by 5 feet outside with outdoor access. Current breeds housed are Hy-Line W-36 and Hy-Line Brown, and Adhikari said the brown ones are well-suited to cage-free systems, while the W-36 are better adapted to conventional cages with fewer cage-mates.

Another aspect of the new structure is the use of lighting, which is configured for hens to get 16 hours of light and eight hours of darkness to simulate what is found in a commercial setting. Each pen has nesting boxes on the wall, a perch, feeder and water line.

Daily, Adhikari’s graduate student and her two student workers record how many birds move from inside the building to the outside as a part of a behavior study. They also collect and count the eggs, and check the feeders.

“We plan on adjusting nutrition by supplementing these hens with different feed additives to see which additives produce a better egg quality,” Adhikari said.

Future plans include pullet cages for birds that have not reached laying age. Tampa Bay, Florida-based Alaso is supplying these cages, which will hold as many as 1,500 pullets and will be used for nutrition research trials. Also, Adhikari and other MSU scientists are collaborating with Mississippi-based Cal-Maine Foods, the largest egg producer in the United States, on several studies.

The new structure adds to the current simulated commercial poultry laying house situated on the H. H. Leveck Animal Research Center, also known as South Farm, with hens in both conventional and enriched colony cages.

MSU’s Department of Poultry Science is one of only six degree-granting programs in the nation. Broilers is the largest Mississippi agricultural commodity with a value of $2.5 billion in production in 2017. For more information, visit

MSU is the state’s leading university, available online at

Tuesday December 4 Ag News

Ryan and Amy Musgrave Take Home Nebraska Farm Bureau’s Excellence in Agriculture Award

Ryan and Amy Musgrave of Ong were named the recipients of the 2018 Young Farmers and Ranchers Excellence in Agriculture Award. The award was given Dec. 4, at the Membership Recognition luncheon during the Nebraska Farm Bureau’s 101st Annual Convention held Dec. 2-4 in Kearney, Nebraska.

Ryan and Amy Musgrave, of Clay County Farm Bureau, were recognized for their ongoing involvement and commitment to agriculture. Candidates for the award are judged on their involvement in agriculture, leadership ability, and involvement and participation in Farm Bureau and other civic, service, and community organizations.

Ryan enlisted in the Navy after high school, served four years, and went on two deployments. After the Navy, he received a diploma in welding. He has an 11-year old son, Dax, who is happy to be on the farm as he is involved with 4-H. Having another generation on their farm is important to the couple. Amy attended Oklahoma State and studied animal science and agricultural communications, earning a bachelor’s degree with a double major and a minor in agricultural economics. She went on to get her master’s degree in agricultural economics from the University of Missouri. Aside from their full-time positions, they raise Angus and Simmental cattle, club lambs, and Boer goats.

Ryan works for a diversified grain and livestock operation and delivers wet distillers grains to various cattle operations in the Hastings area. Amy works as a statistician, assisting in the estimation and production of various United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports and works part-time at a local veterinary clinic as an office assistant.

“It is important to tell our agriculture story to anyone and everyone who will listen. I have been an Ag Pen Pal the last two years and we use our social media presence to highlight the treatment our animals receive. As a USDA employee, I can put out timely and accurate statistics to keep farmers and ranchers better informed of the current state of agriculture and markets. With our involvement in the local county fair with Ryan’s son, Dax, we are helping the next generation of farmers and ranchers get and stay involved in agriculture,” Amy said.

The Musgraves are involved in their Clay County Farm Bureau with Amy serving as president and Ryan as a board member. Within the next five years, their goals include being members of Nebraska Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee, participating in the organizations Leadership Academy, making Clay County’s membership quota, and Ryan hopes to get on the Clay County Fair Board.

Farm Bureau members between the ages of 18 and 35 can apply for the Young Farmers and Ranchers Excellence in Agriculture award. As Nebraska winners, the Musgraves will receive $500 and an all-expenses paid trip to the 2019 American Farm Bureau Annual Convention in New Orleans, Louisiana in January to compete in the contest at the national level.

Jason Perdue, Takes Home Nebraska Farm Bureau’s Discussion Meet Competition

York County Farm Bureau member, Jason Perdue of York is the winner of the 2018 Young Farmers and Ranchers (YF&R) Discussion Meet competition. The award was announced Dec. 4, at the “We Love Our Members” luncheon during the Nebraska Farm Bureau’s 101st Annual Convention held Dec. 2-4 in Kearney.

Perdue received the top score of the contestants who advanced to the final round of the Discussion Meet contest. Rather than debating, contestants work to develop a solution to a problem being discussed, building on each other’s contributions. Competitors in the annual contest must be prepared to speak on several current agriculture-related topics; the selected question is announced a short time prior to the contest round. Perdue works for a family owned ag retail company that distributes crop protection products. He also raises corn and soybeans, has a small cattle herd, and is a contract poultry farmer. He serves as the York County Farm Bureau president and represents the At-Large position on the YF&R committee.

Perdue competed with three other contestants, Chris Niemann, Eleanor Aufdenkamp, and Brady Revels. Chris Niemann, is a fourth-generation farmer who grows corn, soybeans, and raises beef cattle on his family farm in Butler County near Dwight and serves on the Butler County Farm Bureau board. Eleanor Aufdenkamp is a second-year student at the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture (NTCA) in Curtis, majoring in Agriculture Education. Her goals include becoming a high school agriculture teacher and FFA advisor. Aufdenkamp is heavily involved in her Collegiate Farm Bureau, livestock judging team, Collegiate Cattlemen, and NCTA Women in Ag. Brady Revels of Omaha is a Douglas County Farm Bureau board member and represents the Southeast Region on the YF&R Committee. He grew up on a family farm in Florida but relocated to Nebraska when his job as a sales representative for an animal health company moved him to Omaha. He helps coach several area FFA judging teams and volunteers with the Nebraska State Dairy Contest.

Farm Bureau members between the ages of 18 and 35 can participate in the Young Farmers and Ranchers Discussion Meet competition. As a Nebraska winner, Perdue will receive $500 and an all-expenses paid trip to the American Farm Bureau Annual Convention in New Orleans, Louisiana in January to compete in the contest at the national level. For more information, visit

Boyd County Farm Bureau Couple Take Home NEFB’s Young Farmer and Rancher Achievement Award

Kyle and Tiffany Lechtenberg of Boyd County Farm Bureau were honored as Nebraska Farm Bureau's 2018 Young Farmers and Ranchers Achievement in Agriculture Award winners at the Nebraska Farm Bureau 101st Annual Convention Tuesday, Dec. 4 at the Younes Conference Center in Kearney.

Farm Bureau members 18 to 35 years of age apply for the award. The Lechtenbergs were selected on the basis of performance in farm or ranch management, setting and achieving goals, overcoming obstacles, and service to the community and Farm Bureau.

The Lechtenberg farm is near Butte, where Kyle grew up. They have diversified their farm, raising row crops, alfalfa, cattle, and managing a trucking business. Tiffany grew up with an agriculture background in Broken Bow as her family owns and operates Arrow Seed Company. Kyle earned two degrees from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in agricultural economics and animal science. Tiffany earned her Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Nebraska Medical Center and now works as a registered nurse in O’Neill. The couple married in 2009.

The main profit center of the Lechtenberg’s Farm, which has been named NorthView Family Farms, LLC, is a commercial alfalfa operation where they provide a custom hay brokering, harvesting, and hay hauling business. Having diversity in the operation allows the Lechtenbergs to purchase and/or produce additional commodities to sell at premium rates.

Kyle started farming and ranching in 2002, when he started a cow herd with his brother. In 2003, two additional brothers and his parents joined all their cattle assets together and named it Lechtenberg Cattle Company. In college, he then began working at a hay company, named Eagle Alfalfa. The owner asked Kyle if he would be interested in buying his commercial alfalfa business, and in 2008 Kyle purchased the Eagle Alfalfa company and merged it with Lechtenberg Cattle Company. At this point the only remaining partners in the company were Kyle and his parents, with Tiffany joining the business partnership after their marriage. Then in 2012, they rebranded their farm and renamed it NorthView Family Farms, LLC.

“Renaming the company has allowed us to pursue other diverse enterprise opportunities. Since the rebranding and setting a clear vision for our future, our farm has expanded to employ five full-time, and two to four seasonal employees along with multiple independent contractors,” Kyle said.

Setting marketing goals is important to the success of NorthView Family Farms, LLC. They recently launched a website to add value to both customers and land owners alike. They have an active Facebook page and send out monthly newsletters, customer letters, and pride themselves in building strong customer relationships.

“We are always planning for the future in our operation and are excited to find new ways to serve those in our community. We work diligently to find new opportunities, analyze those options, and plan for future growth and improvements. There’s no better feeling than knowing the work we are doing literally puts food on the table for both us as produces and for consumers all over the world,” Tiffany said.

The Lechtenbergs balance busy schedules with farm life, volunteer activities, and with Nebraska Farm Bureau. The Lechtenbergs have four children, Joycin, twins Addison and Austin and their youngest son Jackson. Both Kyle and Tiffany serve as the North Central representatives on the Nebraska Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee and they both serve on the Boyd County Farm Bureau board of directors. Tiffany is cofounder of a MOMS group at the Butte Community Bible Church. As winners of the Young Farmers and Ranchers Achievement Award, the Lechtenbergs will receive a $500 cash prize and an all-expense paid trip to the 2019 American Farm Bureau Annual Convention in New Orleans, Louisiana in January, where they will compete in the national contest.

Ricketts Announces Sherman County as Newest Nebraska Livestock Friendly County

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts designated Sherman County as Nebraska’s newest Livestock Friendly County (LFC).  Sherman County, located in central Nebraska, is the 49th county in the state to apply for, meet the requirements, and receive the LFC designation.  The Livestock Friendly County program is administered by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA).

“By requesting and receiving the state’s Livestock Friendly County designation, Sherman County is building an environment that encourages livestock growth and keeps Nebraska’s agriculture industry strong,” said Governor Ricketts.  “Sherman County’s LFC designation shows consumers and businesses around the world that the state is focused on agriculture and open to business.”

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Sherman County had more than $114 million in agriculture receipts for the year 2012.  Livestock sales accounted for $36 million, or 32 percent of the total value, with cattle and calf production as the largest livestock segment in the county.  Crop production accounted for $78 million, or 68 percent of the total value.  Major crops raised in Sherman County include corn, soybeans, and forages/hay.

“Sherman County is home to more than 400 farms and many other businesses with direct ties to agriculture,” said NDA Director Steve Wellman.  “With the LFC designation, the people of Sherman County are making a strong statement of support for the livestock industry and all the benefits and growth that come with responsible livestock production.”

More than half of the counties in Nebraska have been designated Livestock Friendly.  The complete list is on NDA’s website at:

Seminar Addresses Multigenerational Farm Transitions

Transitioning a farm from one generation to the next is a complicated matter. Not only should business and financial issues be considered, but potentially difficult conversations about when a transition should be made and the direction of the farm must take place.

The Returning to the Farm Seminar, offered by the Beginning Farmer Center through Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, is designed to help farmers start these conversations. The seminar will be held on Jan. 10-11 and Feb. 8-9, 2019 at the Gateway Hotel and Conference Center in Ames. The four-day seminar provides an opportunity for families to begin developing a succession plan.

ISU Extension and Outreach’s Beginning Farmer Center works to help multigenerational farms understand what needs to be discussed and considered as a transition approaches.

“During the 24-year history of this seminar, attendees share two common themes,” said Dave Baker, director of the Beginning Farmer Center at Iowa State. “They are more prepared to actually start the conversation regarding transitioning the family farm and they are equipped with a progressive, seven-step system to use to prepare and put the transition in place.”

The seminar will cover topics including conflict resolution, goal setting, business analysis, estate planning, farm planning and farm management. It provides multigenerational farm families an opportunity to discuss how to live and work together as the farm business is passed from one generation to the next.

ISU Extension and Outreach specialists, as well as other industry experts, will present throughout the seminar.

Cost for the seminar is $450 for up to four participants. Each additional participant is $50. The registration fee is for all four days of the seminar and includes lunch each day and a Farm Savvy binder filled with worksheets, exercises and additional management resources. Part one of the seminar will be held Jan. 10-11 and the second part will take place Feb. 8-9.

Credit hours for ISU students

Iowa State students can earn up to two credit hours for attending the seminar with their family. There is no additional academic cost to students currently carrying a class load of 12 credits. Students and their family must attend all four days of the seminar and complete a business plan paper to receive credit.

CHS Reports Fiscal 2018 Net Income of $776 Million

CHS Inc.,the nation's leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grains and foods company, today reported net income of $775.9 million for the fiscal year that ended Aug. 31, 2018.

"Our fiscal 2018 results show the progress we are making on the priorities we set for CHS," said Jay Debertin, CHS president and chief executive officer. "Our year-over-year financial performance shows good improvement, our balance sheet is solid, and our relationships with cooperative owners are strong. The diverse CHS business platform allowed us to deliver improved earnings and enables us to return $150 million in cash patronage and equity redemptions to owners even as we navigated challenging market conditions."

Key financial highlights for the fiscal year that ended Aug. 31, 2018, include:
-   Net income of $775.9 million, an increase of $704 million from the previous fiscal year.
-   Consolidated revenues of $32.7 billion, a $646 million increase from the previous fiscal year.
-   Pretax income of $671.2 million, an increase of $781 million from fiscal 2017.
-   Energy gains driven by higher refinery margins and favorable crude oil discounts.
-   Disposal of assets resulted in cash proceeds of approximately $234.9 million and a pretax gain of approximately $131.8 million. The cash proceeds were used to optimize debt levels.
-   A tax benefit through revaluation of the company's U.S. net deferred tax liability as a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in 2017.

"As we move into fiscal 2019, we continue to build on the momentum and strong performance we started in fiscal 2018. This includes evolving and growing our core businesses in a changing marketplace and capitalizing on the value of this diverse organization to make CHS our owners' and customers' first choice," said Debertin. "We are focused on serving those who grow food to feed the world."

In October, CHS filed an 8-K with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announcing that it would restate its audited consolidated financial results for fiscal years 2015, 2016, 2017 and its unaudited consolidated financial results for the first three quarters of 2017 and 2018. The restatement was necessary to correct material misstatements related to valuation and accounting for certain rail freight contracts. The misstatements were discovered as a result of an investigation the company conducted through external counsel and under the oversight of the Audit Committee of its Board of Directors. Appropriate personnel actions were taken, based on the investigation's findings. All overstated non-cash values have been written off and appropriately reflected in the company's restated financial results. Additional information can be found in the form 10-K filed with the SEC.

Fiscal 2018 Segment Results: The following segments results have been reported for fiscal 2018:


The $391.0 million increase in Energy pretax earnings over fiscal 2017 reflects:
-    Improved market conditions in the refined fuels business due to higher refinery margins and favorable crude oil discounts, which drove higher pretax earnings. These benefits were partially offset by planned maintenance activities at the company's Laurel, Montana, refinery.
-    Gains of $65.9 million associated with the sale of the Council Bluffs pipeline and terminal and 34 Zip Trip stores located in the Pacific Northwest.
-    An impairment charge of $32.7 million recorded during fiscal 2017 related to the cancellation of a capital project, which did not recur in fiscal 2018.


The $344.4 million increase in Ag pretax earnings over fiscal 2017 reflects:
-    Lower demand and uncertainties primarily associated with international trade, which resulted in decreased margins across multiple businesses in the Ag segment. These were partially offset by increased margins within the company's processing and food ingredients business.
-    Significant reserve and impairment charges recorded in fiscal 2017 that did not recur in fiscal 2018, the most significant of which related to the bankruptcy-like proceedings of a Brazilian trading partner.
-    Impairments of $26.3 million related to international investments that CHS has exited or is in the process of exiting.


The $9.0 million increase in Nitrogen Production pretax earnings versus fiscal 2017 reflects:
-    Higher pretax income attributed to increased sale prices of urea and UAN, which are produced and sold by CF Nitrogen.
-    A gain of $30.5 million in fiscal 2017 associated with an embedded derivative asset inherent in the agreement relating to CHS investment in CF Nitrogen. The gain was solely responsible for the income in Nitrogen Production in fiscal 2017, and there was no comparable gain in fiscal 2018.

The $36.9 million increase in Corporate and Other pretax earnings reflects:
    A gain of $58.2 million related to the sale of CHS Insurance, which was partially offset by lower earnings from the company's investments in Ventura Foods, LLC and Ardent Mills, LLC and CHS Capital and CHS Insurance (as a result of its sale).

RFA Releases Updated Brochure Allowing Consumers to Track Latest Flex Fuel Models

More than 24 million vehicles on U.S. roads today are flex fuel vehicles (FFV), capable of running on fuel blends containing up to 85 percent ethanol (E85). Can your vehicle use a cleaner, higher octane flex fuel? The Renewable Fuels Association has updated its annual FFV brochure to help consumers find out. The brochure compiles the FFV models available in the current model year (MY2019), as well as previous years going back as far as MY1998.

According to the brochure, for MY2019, Ford/Lincoln/Mercury led the pack with 12 FFV models available, followed by General Motors with 11 FFV models available and FCA (Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep) with five models. Additionally, automakers Mercedes-Benz offers two, while Nissan and Toyota each offer one. All of the data used in the brochure was collected directly from the automakers.

“There are now approximately 4,500 retail stations throughout the country that offer E85 or other ethanol flex fuel blends, at least 500 more than last year and growing every week,” said RFA Vice President of Industry Relations Robert White. “This new brochure will help educate consumers about FFV availability, putting them in the driver’s seat when it comes to fuel choice. E85 is a cleaner, higher octane fuel and more consumers are gaining access to the fuel every year,” he added.

Consumers can locate E85 stations to fuel their FFVs at, and also view what pricing experiences other users have reported.

EPA, USDA Encourage Use of Market-based and Other Collaborative Approaches to Address Excess Nutrients

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a letter to state and tribal co-regulators that encourages increased engagement and a reinvigoration of state, tribal and federal efforts to reduce excess nutrients in waterways, with a focus on market-based and other collaborative approaches.

“Thanks to the hard work of states, tribes and stakeholders, the EPA and the USDA have made significant progress reducing excess nutrients in some watersheds.  Now is the time to build on that success and leverage the market-based approaches that we know can lead to meaningful results across the country,” said David P. Ross, Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Water.

The EPA and the USDA are committed to working with states, tribes and stakeholders to identify watersheds and basins where market-based approaches can supplement traditional regulatory programs to promote meaningful reductions in excess nutrients and improved water quality. This could include providing technical and financial support and participating in problem solving at the local level to explore approaches including water quality credit trading, public-private partnerships, pay-for success, supply chain programs, and more.

“Voluntary conservation works,” said Bill Northey, Under Secretary for USDA’s Farm Production and Conservation mission area. “Across the country, farmers are leading the way toward improved water quality by taking steps to decrease sedimentation and nutrient runoff from agricultural lands. But we know more can be done, and continue to look for partners to pursue innovative, market-based, and voluntary approaches that lead to cleaner water and a healthier agricultural sector.”

This renewed effort is part of a larger inter-Agency collaboration to better coordinate and focus federal resources on some of the nation’s most challenging water resource concerns, including addressing excess nutrients in waterways.

Soil Health Partnership Expands New Program to Grow Network and Data

Just in time for World Soil Day on December 5, the Soil Health Partnership announced it is expanding a pilot project to give more farmers access to the soil health network.

As the organization launches phase 2 of its pilot Associate Program, it will invite 75 farmers to enroll in 2019. This will enable more farmers to join SHP in its mission of using science and data to support farmers in adopting agricultural practices that improve the economic and environmental sustainability of the farm.

The economic component of soil health has taken on an increasing level of urgency during a difficult farm economy, said Shefali Mehta, executive director of the Soil Health Partnership.

“We’ve seen increasing demand from farmers who would like to join our network,” Mehta said. “Expanding the pilot phase of our Associate Program provides a great number of farmers with access to a scientific platform to evaluate soil health as part of a comprehensive management strategy.”

Joining the Associate Program during the pilot phase will give farmers access to no-cost soil health sampling and results. The program will provide data insights and reports on how making a change, like growing cover crops, impacts their soil.

“I strongly believe sustainability has to apply to farm economics, as well as the environment, and we’re seeing that economic need become increasingly critical,” Mehta said.

After enrolling 25 farms in the pilot program in 2018, phase 2 will bring the number of associate sites to 100. The SHP plans a full-scale launch of the Associate Program for 2020, when even more farmers can join.

A less-intensive version of the SHP’s 115 Full Partner sites enrolled in the long-term data project, Associate Program farmers will commit to a 2-year project enrollment. Yearly soil health testing will measure key metrics. Enrolled farmers will choose between the following three treatment options:
-    Cover crop vs. no cover crop
-    Tillage vs. less intrusive tillage, or no-till
-    Nutrient management (comparison of different nutrient sources)

The program will also help SHP include more cropping systems and geographies, as well as strengthen the breadth and depth of data, Mehta said. 

Farmers interested in learning more can visit the Soil Health Partnership website.

USDA Dairy Products October 2018 Production Highlights

Total cheese output (excluding cottage cheese) was 1.12 billion pounds, 3.0 percent above October 2017 and 6.1 percent above September 2018.  Italian type cheese production totaled 471 million pounds, 3.5 percent above October 2017 and 4.4 percent above September 2018.  American type cheese production totaled 433 million pounds, 0.7 percent above October 2017 and 3.9 percent above September 2018.  Butter production was 144 million pounds, 0.3 percent below October 2017 but 7.0 percent above September 2018.

Dry milk products (comparisons in percentage with October 2017)
Nonfat dry milk, human - 125 million pounds, down 13.6 percent.
Skim milk powder - 37.5 million pounds, up 44.5 percent.

Whey products (comparisons in percentage with October 2017)
Dry whey, total - 87.2 million pounds, up 8.0 percent.
Lactose, human and animal - 85.4 million pounds, down 8.3 percent.
Whey protein concentrate, total - 41.1 million pounds, up 0.9 percent.

Frozen products (comparisons in percentage with October 2017)
Ice cream, regular (hard) - 60.5 million gallons, up 6.9 percent.
Ice cream, lowfat (total) - 32.2 million gallons, down 6.7 percent.
Sherbet (hard) - 2.85 million gallons, up 12.2 percent.
Frozen yogurt (total) - 3.86 million gallons, down 7.1 percent.

General Session at Commodity Classic Promises to Inspire and Inform

The General Session at Commodity Classic is one of the most highly-rated experiences during the three-day farmer-driven event—and the 2019 version promises to be as well.

The 2019 Commodity Classic will be held Thursday, February 28 through Saturday, March 2 in Orlando, Fla.

Keynote speaker for Friday’s General Session will be Christine Cashen, known worldwide for her ability to entertain and energize audiences.  Cashen will deliver a fast-paced, hilarious program on handling conflict and reducing stress—as well as tips on life, love, work and happiness.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has also been invited to speak.

The session will also include the nation’s commodity association leaders who will discuss the hottest issues facing the nation’s corn, soybean, wheat and sorghum producers.  Additionally, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers will provide an update on their industry.

“The General Session is where the true spirit of Commodity Classic comes through,” said Wade Cowan, a Texas soybean farmer and co-chair of the 2019 Commodity Classic. “There is a strong sense of common purpose with a combination of inspiration, information and insight.  You’re sure to leave the General Session with a smile on your face and your spirits soaring!”

Established in 1996, Commodity Classic is America’s largest farmer-led, farmer-focused agricultural and educational experience.  Commodity Classic is unlike any other agriculture event, featuring a robust schedule of educational sessions, a huge trade show featuring the latest technology, equipment and innovation, top-notch entertainment, inspiring speakers and the opportunity to network with thousands of farmers from across the nation.

Registration and housing for the 2019 Commodity Classic are now open. To register, reserve hotel rooms and sign up for email updates, visit  Early bird discounts on registration end January 10, 2019.

Monday December 3 Ag News

Report Finds $1 Billion Hit to Nebraska from Retaliatory Tariffs, Farm Bureau Offers Path Forward on Trade

A new report from the Nebraska Farm Bureau shows retaliatory tariffs imposed by U.S. trading partners in response to U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs have cut Nebraska farm level revenue between $700 million and $1 billion dollars in 2018. The report also shows the retaliatory tariffs have cost the state of Nebraska between $164 million and $242 million in lost labor income, in addition to the loss of 4,100 to 6,000 Nebraska jobs. In addition to identifying financial losses, the report “A Path Forward on Trade – Retaliatory Tariffs and Nebraska Agriculture,” also offers specific actions to eliminate retaliatory tariffs and secure long-term access for agriculture and other U.S. products into international markets.

“International trade is critical to agriculture. In most years the value of agriculture exports will equal roughly 30 percent of the total agriculture commodity receipts or sales for the state of Nebraska. Retaliatory tariffs make our U.S. products more expensive for international customers, meaning they buy less or buy from someplace else. This report provides a clear picture of how much we’ve lost due to those tariffs and the need to improve our trade relations,” said Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau president.

The economic analysis in the report specifically examines the impacts of retaliatory tariffs on corn, soybeans, and hogs to the Nebraska economy. Beef is absent from the analysis as the major customers for U.S. beef like South Korea and Japan have not been subject to U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs and therefore have not implemented retaliatory tariffs.

“Fortunately for Nebraska, U.S. beef exports are actually projected to exceed $8 billion in 2018, a record high. The continued strong demand for our beef helps mitigate the losses in other commodities,” said Jay Rempe, Nebraska Farm Bureau senior economist and co-author of the report.

Using June 1, 2018 cash prices at Hastings, Nebraska, the analysis found retaliatory tariffs dampened corn prices by 14 to 21 cents per bushel and soybean prices by 95 cents to $1.54 per bushel. Similarly, the analysis found Nebraska pork price reductions in the range of $17.81 to $18.80 per head due to the tariffs.

“The total loss in Nebraska farm revenues due to the retaliatory tariffs ranges from $695 million to $1.026 billion so far in 2018,” said Rempe. “That’s roughly 11 to 16 percent of the export values of Nebraska agriculture goods in 2017.”

In terms of the broader Nebraska economy, the analysis further shows that when direct farm losses are combined with the state’s labor income losses, the total economic loss to the state of Nebraska from retaliatory tariffs climbs between $859 million and $1.2 billion.

“To put a $1.2 billion loss into perspective, every person in the state of Nebraska would need to contribute $632 to cover that volume of lost dollars. That’s a significant hit to our state’s economy,” said Rempe.

The report also recommends specific actions to eliminate retaliatory tariffs and improve market access for agriculture and other U.S. goods. Those actions include:
    Securing Congressional Approval and Finalization of the U.S., Mexico, Canada Agreement (USMCA).
    Elimination of U.S. Imposed Steel and Aluminum Tariffs.
    Swift Action to Secure a Free Trade Agreement with Japan.
    U.S. Inclusion in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) or Securing Bi-lateral Trade Agreements with CPTPP Nations.
    Securing a Trade Agreement with the European Union.
    Use of a Multi-National Approach with U.S. Trade Partners to Address China.

“These actions define a path forward in remedying the losses we’ve seen from the retaliatory tariffs imposed by our trading partners, but also present an opportunity to improve trade relations with our closest allies,” said Jordan Dux, Nebraska Farm Bureau’s director of national affairs and co-author of the report.

According to the report, finalization of the USMCA presents an opportunity to continue productive relations with the two largest consumers of Nebraska agricultural goods in Canada and Mexico. It also suggests the elimination of U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs will present an opportunity for the U.S. to get the most out of the USMCA agreement while opening the door for more positive trade relations with the European Union.

“Japan presents a major opportunity for Nebraska beef. However, because the U.S. is not a part of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) Nebraska beef producers stand to lose as part of that agreement has Japan lowering beef tariffs for CPTPP partner countries, like Canada. Nebraska beef producers will be at a major disadvantage in paying higher tariffs than our competitors unless the U.S. joins or secures similar bi-lateral agreements with these CPTPP member countries,” said Dux.

The report also suggests the collective actions open the door for a multi-lateral approach for the U.S. and its trading partners to push China on trade negotiations.

“By building a coalition with China’s neighbors and largest customers, the U.S. creates a path forward in trying to change China’s behavior when it comes to theft of intellectual property and failure of China to meet World Trade Organization rules and standards. China remains a major market for U.S. goods, especially soybeans. We need to hold China accountable and by using a multi-national approach improves our chances in moving China in the right direction,” said Dux.

NEFB: Progress Being Made on Property Taxes; Resolving Trade Issues Key to Agriculture’s Future

In his annual address at the Nebraska Farm Bureau Annual Meeting and Convention, Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson told more than 350 farmers and ranchers from across the state that progress is being made in efforts to address the state’s overreliance on property taxes, a situation that has led to Nebraska being one of the highest property tax states in the nation. In his remarks, Nelson also highlighted the importance of the United States resolving trade disputes that have limited market access for Nebraska agriculture commodities into international markets, which are critical to the future of agriculture.

“Making significant change to state tax policy is like turning an aircraft carrier. It takes time. It’s large, It’s cumbersome. It doesn’t turn on a dime. But we are turning the corner on property taxes. This issue is no longer headed in the wrong direction. It’s headed in the right direction,” said Nelson, Dec. 3.

Nelson told attendees that more and more state senators have heard from their constituents and understand the need and importance of fixing the property tax issue.

“There was a time, not too long ago, when I would testify at the Capitol or talk to senators about the problem of property taxes being used to fund the responsibilities of the state. It was obvious they didn’t understand the issue and showed little interest doing something about it. If you walk into the Capitol today, you would be hard pressed to find many senators who would say property taxes aren’t a major issue for their constituents,” said Nelson. “Much of that change has to do with the collective efforts of our members and organization to make those concerns known.”

According to Nelson, partnerships with other interests will be needed to secure the votes necessary to advance a property tax relief measure in the Legislature in the upcoming legislative session.

“We are working closely with the other agriculture groups in the state. We are working closely with our rural and urban senators. We are working closely with all those who can help us lower our state’s property tax burden. Nebraska Farm Bureau remains laser focused on resolving this issue,” said Nelson.

Nelson also pointed to Nebraska Farm Bureau’s work to promote trade at the national and international level as being key to the future for Nebraska agriculture.

“We must continue to push for greater market access and market opportunities for the crops and livestock we produce here in Nebraska. Nearly 96 percent of the world’s population resides outside the U.S. These are people whose incomes are rising and their desire and appetite for American and Nebraska produced farm goods is growing,” said Nelson. “For Nebraska agriculture to be successful we must develop new markets, lower trade barriers, encourage beneficial trade agreements, and capitalize new opportunities by building trust and being engaged in the markets that matter.”

Nelson noted that few things create more uncertainty and downward price pressure in agriculture, than trade disruptions.

“The retaliatory tariffs against the U.S. imposed steel and aluminum tariffs have made it difficult for many in agriculture over the past year. While there are certainly positives in the new deal recently signed between the United States, Mexico, and Canada, and the deal to protect our interests in South Korea, it’s critical we continue to push forward with more trade agreements with our key partners, including the European Union and Japan; a nation whose appetite for Nebraska beef and Nebraska agriculture products only continues to grow,” said Nelson.

Nelson also pointed out that negotiation, not tariffs, provide the best path toward solving trade issues.

“There are plenty of competitors in the global market looking to displace American agriculture. Lost markets are difficult to recover. It can take years to do so; if it can be done at all,” said Nelson.

Nelson specifically spoke to the need to address trade issues with China, a country that has been the largest customer for U.S. soybeans and the third largest trading partner for Nebraska agriculture commodities and goods, in addition to the need for the U.S. to engage in improved trade relations with countries engaged in the new Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

“Clearly, issues with China must be addressed. Getting trade deals done with the European Union, Japan, and others, is the best way to apply more pressure to China and give us more leverage in negotiations,” said Nelson. “Furthermore, President Trump’s promise in pulling the U.S. out of Trans-Pacific Partnership was that we would get bilateral deals done with those potential customers. That must happen to ensure there is a bright future and opportunity for Nebraska farm and ranch families.”

Livestock and Crop Protection Clinic

Nebraska Extension Boone County will be hosting a Livestock and Crop Protection Clinic Monday, December 10, 2018, 9 a.m. – noon at the Casey’s Building, Boone County Fairgrounds, Albion.

Topics covered will include: Agronomy Pest and Disease updates, grazing cornstalks, nutrient requirements, alternative protein sources and energy sources.

The clinic is open to the public. Please register at 402-395-2158 by December 7th. Coffee and donuts will be provided.

NBC December Board meeting

The Nebraska Beef Council Board of Director's will meet at the Nebraska Beef Council office at 1319 Central Ave., Kearney, NE. on December 17, 2018 beginning at 11:00 a.m. CST. The NBC Board of Directors will review evaluations for FY-2017-2018 authorizations request.  For more information, please contact Pam Esslinger at 


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Is twine or net wrap good feed?  Obviously not, but it can cause health problems if animals eat too much of it.

               Feeding hay is work.  To lighten the work load feeding hay, we often take short cuts and leave some twine or net wrap on the bales.  And whether we want them to or not, animals eat some of that twine.

               A few years ago I shared with you information about the potential for twine to accumulate in the rumen of cattle and cause obstruction.  Recent research at North Dakota State University has confirmed this risk and provided further information on what happens to twine when cattle eat it.

               In a series of experiments, the North Dakota research first showed that neither plastic net wrap nor biodegradable twine get digested by rumen microbes.  The old fashioned sisal twine, however, does get digested, although quite a bit more slowly than hay.

               In another study net wrap was included in the ration fed to steers for an extended period of time.  Then, 14 days before the steers were harvested the net wrap was removed from the feed to learn if the net wrap eaten earlier might get cleared out of the rumen and digestive system.  Turns out it was still in the rumen even after 14 days.

               So what should you do?  First, remember that it doesn’t appear to be a health concern very often.  And cows obviously are more at risk than feedlot animals.  So, it might be wise to remove as much twine, especially plastic twine, as can be removed easily from bales before feeding.  Twine in ground hay may be less of a problem since more of it is likely to pass completely through the animal.

               Think about how shortcuts and work-reducing actions you take this winter might affect your animals.  Then act accordingly.

Beef Conference Looks at Using Cropland to Reduce Feed Costs

Beef cattle producers and others in the beef industry who attend the Three-State Beef Conference will receive updates on current cow-calf and stocker topics from Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri extension beef specialists.

Erika Lundy, beef specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, said the program is designed to meet current needs of producers. The conference will be held on Jan. 15, 16 and 17, 2019.

“The 2019 conference will focus on reducing cow winter feed costs through optimizing the use of cropland," Lundy said. "Topics this year are especially timely considering the 2018 weather challenges, which limited opportunities for producers to harvest high-quality feedstuffs.”

Featured presenters are Dr. Mary Drewnoski and Kristen Ulmer, both from University of Nebraska—Lincoln and Dr. Eric Bailey from University of Missouri.

Drewnoski, beef systems specialist at UNL, will open the program with, “Filling in the gaps: using annual forages to meet late fall and early spring forage needs.” Following the evening meal, UNL extension beef systems educator Ulmer will speak on “Opportunities and management of corn residue for beef cattle.” Bailey, state beef nutritionist at MU will round out the program with his presentation, “Silage as the primary winter feed for beef cows.”

The conference is a traveling program, offered at three locations on different dates. At each site, registration begins at 5:30 p.m., and the program will start at 6 p.m. The registration fee is $25 per person and includes a meal and copy of the presentations. Preregistrations are appreciated by Friday, Jan. 11, to help with meal planning.

The Iowa location is the first session on Tuesday, Jan. 15 in Greenfield at the Warren Cultural Center, 154 Public Square. To register for this session, contact Kathy Rohrig at the ISU Extension and Outreach Office – Adair County at 641-743-8412 or

The Wednesday, Jan. 16 session is in Savannah, Missouri at 411 Court. The Nebraska session is Thursday, Jan. 17 at 620 1st Street, Syracuse, Neb.

The conference brochure has agenda information and a registration form...

USDA Grain Crushings and Co-Products Production

Total corn consumed for alcohol and other uses was 513 million bushels in October 2018. Total corn consumption was up 3 percent from September 2018 but down 2 percent from October 2017. October 2018 usage included 92.0 percent for alcohol and 8.0 percent for other purposes. Corn consumed for beverage alcohol totaled 3.29 million bushels, up 17 percent from September 2018 and up 11 percent from October 2017. Corn for fuel alcohol, at 462 million bushels, was up 4 percent from September 2018 but down 2 percent from October 2017. Corn consumed in October 2018 for dry milling fuel production and wet milling fuel production was 90.6 percent and 9.4 percent respectively.

Dry mill co-product production of distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) was 1.98 million tons during October 2018, up 3 percent from September 2018 and up 1 percent from October 2017. Distillers wet grains (DWG) 65 percent or more moisture was 1.35 million tons in October 2018, up 4 percent from September 2018 and up 1 percent from October 2017.

Wet mill corn gluten feed production was 282,713 tons during October 2018, down 4 percent from September 2018 and down 20 percent from October 2017. Wet corn gluten feed 40 to 60 percent moisture was 245,681 tons in October 2018, up 7 percent from September 2018 but down 19 percent from October 2017.

Fats and Oils: Oilseed Crushings, Production, Consumption and Stocks

Soybeans crushed for crude oil was 5.49 million tons (183 million bushels) in October 2018, compared with 5.08 million tons (169 million bushels) in September 2018 and 5.28 million tons (176 million bushels) in October 2017. Crude oil produced was 2.13 billion pounds up 10 percent from September 2018 and up 6 percent from October 2017. Soybean once refined oil production at 1.57 billion pounds during October 2018 increased 7 percent from September 2018 but decreased 2 percent from October 2017.

Canola seeds crushed for crude oil was 175,960 tons in October 2018, compared with 178,162 tons in September 2018 and 184,463 tons in October 2017. Canola crude oil produced was 146 million pounds down 4 percent from September 2018 and down 6 percent from October 2017. Canola once refined oil production at 132 million pounds during October 2018 was down 18 percent from September 2018 and down 9 percent from October 2017.

Cottonseed once refined oil production at 47.9 million pounds during October 2018 was up 11 percent from September 2018 but down 10 percent from October 2017.

Edible tallow production was 82.3 million pounds during October 2018, up 7 percent from September 2018 and up 13 percent from October 2017. Inedible tallow production was 320 million pounds during October 2018, down 3 percent from September 2018 but up 17 percent from October 2017. Technical tallow production was 111 million pounds during October 2018, up 2 percent from September 2018 and up 7 percent from October 2017. Choice white grease production at 105 million pounds during October 2018 increased 1 percent from September 2018 but decreased 4 percent from October 2017.

USMEF Statement on Developments at G-20 Summit

At the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) was signed and the White House announced that the U.S. and China will enter negotiations on several key trade issues, including agricultural trade.

U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) President and CEO Dan Halstrom issued the following statement:

USMEF supports the Trump administration’s efforts to finalize the USMCA and to continue seeking resolution of the metal tariffs dispute with Mexico and Canada, which resulted in retaliatory duties on U.S. pork and beef. U.S. meat exports have also become entangled in trade disputes with China, so it is encouraging to see the U.S. and China return to the negotiating table. Global demand for U.S. red meat is very strong, but exports cannot reach their full potential until the retaliatory duties imposed by Mexico, China and Canada are removed.

Buyers Show Strong Enthusiasm for U.S. Lamb’s Return to Japan

On Nov. 28, the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) launched U.S. lamb’s return to the Japanese market with an educational seminar and tasting event that drew more than 200 chefs, importers, purveyors, trade media and other key food industry professionals to The Strings hotel in Tokyo.

Following the detection of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in the United States in December 2003, Japan was closed to U.S. lamb for nearly 15 years before reopening in July of this year. The USMEF event was designed to showcase the unique flavor profile and other positive attributes of U.S. lamb, introduce menu concepts featuring a variety of lamb cuts and connect suppliers with prospective customers.

“The turnout at the seminar was extremely impressive, and the enthusiasm was even more so,” said Greg Ahart, vice president of sales for Superior Farms. Ahart also serves on the American Lamb Board and the USMEF Executive Committee. “After a 15-year absence from the marketplace, seeing the amount of excitement and interest that was present in the room – both from the educational side, as well as when we proceeded to the presentation of products and the tasting – this event was truly something to be part of. I was completely blown away by the volume and genuineness of the interest expressed.”

USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom said U.S. lamb now has a long-awaited opportunity to capitalize on Japan’s strong demand for high-quality red meat products.

“The seminar and tasting confirmed that there is a lot of enthusiasm for the reentry of U.S. lamb into Japan,” Halstrom said. “We are in the midst of a ‘niku boom’ (meat boom) in Japan and there are many developing and emerging concepts, especially in the foodservice sector, for which high-quality U.S. lamb is a natural option.”

Ahart noted that the strong reputation and following U.S. pork and beef have established in Japan will provide positive momentum for U.S. lamb.

“The credibility that U.S. pork and beef have in this marketplace is very beneficial as we look at reintroducing lamb,” he explained. “Some of the more senior buyers in Japan have experience with U.S. lamb from before the market closure. But for the younger crowd at this event, which doesn’t have that historical knowledge, the reputation of the other two high-quality proteins really helps generate interest in American lamb.”

USMEF-Japan Director Takemichi Yamashoji also emphasized the need to attract younger customers, who will be a major focus of future USMEF tastings and promotions.

“There is an entire generation of Japanese consumers who have not tasted U.S. lamb,” he said. “USMEF wants to reach younger Japanese consumers and make them regular customers, so that U.S. lamb will be top-of-mind when they go out for fine dining.”

In addition to dishes that will be featured at high-end hotels and restaurants, Ahart added that the seminar was also an excellent venue for showcasing other lamb cuts that could gain traction in Japan.

“Lamb shanks and Denver ribs, which are comparable to short ribs, are examples of items that will have some applicability and interest in Japan as we build on the enthusiasm from the seminar,” Ahart said.

Japan’s imports of lamb and sheep meat are trending higher. Through October, imports in 2018 totaled 21,151 metric tons (up 11 percent from a year ago) valued at $171.2 million (up 20 percent and already a full-year record). Australian lamb currently holds about 60 percent market share, with New Zealand lamb capturing nearly 40 percent. Lamb and sheep meat enter Japan at zero duty.

Ontario Announces E15 Adoption As Soon As 2025

The U.S. ethanol industry applauds the release of the Province of Ontario’s Environment Plan, which includes a fuel requirement for conventional gasoline to be blended with 15 percent ethanol that could go in effect as early as 2025. Following this announcement, Growth Energy, U.S. Grains Council, and Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) issued the following statement:

“As one of the largest markets for ethanol, this is a huge milestone for Canada and the people of Ontario. Ontario recognizes the important environmental, economic, and health benefits that ethanol provides and we look forward to seeing this plan become a reality by 2025.”

Last year, Growth Energy and the U.S. Grains Council submitted comments to the Canada’s Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, urging them to look beyond E10 at higher blends like E15, and welcomed the commitment from the Ontario Province to move from a 5 percent blend to a 10 percent ethanol fuel blend by 2020.

NBB Asks Commerce for Rigorous Review of Argentina’s Biodiesel Subsidies

Today, the National Biodiesel Board Fair Trade Coalition submitted comments for the record on how the U.S. Department of Commerce should conduct recently initiated changed circumstances reviews (CCRs) of U.S. duties on Argentine biodiesel imports. Commerce imposed countervailing duty (CVD) and antidumping (AD) duty orders in January and April 2018, following investigations that found massively subsidized and dumped biodiesel imports from Argentina had significantly injured U.S. biodiesel producers.

The Coalition’s comments state, “Commerce must conduct a rigorous, comprehensive review of all relevant facts since its CVD and AD investigations, and not limit its consideration to the limited facts and narrow time period showcased by the Government of Argentina ('GOA') in its requests for reviews.”

In the letter, the Coalition further urges Commerce to undertake reviews that are no less rigorous than its annual administrative review process, with appropriate periods of review, extensive fact-finding, and adherence to strict administrative procedures. The Coalition asks Commerce to review all of Argentina’s actions since January 2017 relating to the provision of below-market priced soybeans to the biodiesel industry through high export taxes. Commerce invited the comments following a November 19 meeting with National Biodiesel Board (NBB) representatives.

Kurt Kovarik, NBB’s Vice President of Federal Affairs, added, “Argentina has made more than a dozen changes to its subsidies since January 2017. In fact, throughout 2017 – even after Commerce completed its original investigation – Argentina continued to massively subsidize its biodiesel industry. Given this history, Commerce should understand that Argentina is very likely to provide new subsidies to its domestic biodiesel producers in the future. Any outcome from these new changed circumstances reviews should be based only on the record developed during the reviews.”

The letter further recommends that Commerce issue extensive questionnaires to the Government of Argentina and Argentina’s biodiesel industries, establish deadlines for each stage of the newly initiated reviews, and provide an opportunity for public input.

Mexico's Impact on Cattle on Feed Placements

Jared Geiser, Research Assistant & Brenda Boetel, Extension Economist
Dept of Ag Economics, University of Wisconsin-River Falls

Mexico historically has been an important source of feeder cattle for U.S. cattlemen, with feeder calf imports of approximately 1 million head a year since the mid-1980s. Imports grew from 702,000 head in 2008 to their peak in 2012 at 1.44 million head. The largest portion of Mexican cattle imports typically enter the U.S. as feeder calves between 200-700 lbs. Lightweight calves are backgrounded to gain additional weight before entering U.S. feedlots. These Mexican feeder cattle contribute to cattle on feed placements at varying amounts throughout the year.
2018 feeder cattle imports from Mexico through the month of October total 898,000 head, a 5 percent increase over the same period in 2017. Feeder cattle imports over the last 5 years, have been highest in the months of November and December and typically drop off in January. Many of these lightweight calves are turned out in fall on wheat pasture for approximately 120 days before being pulled off and entering feedlots in March and April. Feeder cattle imports from Mexico reach a second smaller peak in March and April before dropping off to their yearly lows in the months of August and September.

U.S. cattle on feed placements through October are at 19.5 million head. Placements are down less than 1 percent for the same period in 2017. Cattle on feed placements have been at their lowest points in June and July over the last 5 years and have been at their highest in the month of October. This October followed the yearly pattern with the highest placements of 2018 to date, at 2.2 million head.

We estimate Mexican feeder cattle to account for approximately 5 percent of monthly cattle on feed placements over the last 5 years. Assuming a constant lag of 4 months between when the cattle are imported and when they are placed, Mexican feeder cattle make up the largest percentage of feedlot placements in the month of April, when overall placements are low. This lag time between importing and placement can vary depending on grass conditions and the weight cattle are placed; however even with varying lag times, spring still sees the greater percentage of Mexican placements. In April 2018 the percentage of cattle on feed placements made up by Mexican imports was as high as 11 percent (assuming a 4 month lag), the highest of any month since January 2014. Low cattle on feed placements in April 2018 coupled with high feeder cattle imports in December of 2017, contributed to the largest percentage of cattle on feed placements in the last 5 years. 

With 2018 imports from Mexico on pace to be 5% over last year, and the traditionally large imports in November and December still coming, placements of Mexican feeder cattle will continue to contribute additional placements into 2019.

Secretary Perdue Names NRCS Chief

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced today the appointment of Matthew J. “Matt” Lohr to serve as Chief of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). In his role, Lohr will provide leadership for NRCS and its mission to support America’s farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners in their voluntary conservation efforts through a network of over 3,000 offices in communities nationwide.

“Matt has committed his entire life to the betterment of agriculture,” Perdue said. “The knowledge and experience he brings to the table will help ensure our locally-led, science-based approach continues to offer farmers the conservation solutions needed to enhance their environment and commercial viability.”

Lohr, raised on a century farm in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, now owns and operates Valley Pike Farm, Inc., with his wife Beth and their six children. Prior to his appointment by the Trump Administration, Lohr held public office, serving in the Virginia House of Delegates from 2006-2010. In 2008, Lohr was awarded Legislator of the Year in honor of his work as an ambassador for economic and community development in Virginia. He then served as Virginia’s Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services from 2010 to 2013. More recently, Lohr worked as Knowledge Center Director for Farm Credit of the Virginias, a customer-owned financial cooperative that provides resources and education outreach to local farmers and the community. Since June 2017, he has been farming full-time on the family operation, which includes poultry, beef cattle, row crops, and sweet corn.

“I am honored and humbled to serve America’s agricultural industry in this new capacity,” Lohr said. “As a 5th generation farmer, I care deeply about conserving and protecting our most valuable agricultural resources. I look forward to the chance to lead this valuable agency and assist our producers nationwide with their conservation practices.”

NACD Applauds USDA’s NRCS Chief Appointment

Today, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue appointed Matthew Lohr to serve as Chief of the department’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

As Chief, Lohr will serve America’s producers and landowners in their conservation efforts to help them conserve, maintain and improve natural resources and the environment through a network of over 3,000 offices in communities nationwide.

“NACD welcomes this long anticipated announcement,” NACD President Brent Van Dyke said. “In addition to being raised on a farm, Matt Lohr has proven his commitment to agriculture and conservation through his nearly 30 years in leadership capacities. NRCS is a crucial partner in the federal, state and local government conservation partnership, and I applaud USDA for its diligence in appointing a strong leader.”

Lohr was raised on a farm in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, and as a fifth-generation farmer, he continues his family’s legacy with his wife Beth and their six children through their operation, Valley Pike Farm, Inc. In 2006, Lohr was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates and later served the state as the Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services from 2010 to 2013. Additionally, as a teenager, Lohr was elected vice president to lead the national FFA organization, a student organization of over 400,000 members.

“As a fellow Virginian, I am confident Lohr has the experience, passion and work ethic to lead NRCS and advance voluntary, locally-led conservation efforts in partnership with the nation’s 3,000 conservation districts,” NACD CEO Jeremy Peters said. “His extensive career as both a policymaker and a farmer gives him insight into effective program delivery and customer service working with landowners to implement conservation programs, to protect natural resources and to build sustainable conservation solutions.”

Lohr will take over for Leonard Jordan, who has been serving NRCS as the acting chief since 2017.

CWT Assisted Member Export Sales Top 6 Million Pounds

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) member cooperatives accepted 33 offers of export assistance from CWT that helped them capture contracts to sell 4.028 million pounds (1,827 metric tons) of Cheddar, Gouda and Monterey Jack cheese, 1.340 million pounds (608 metric tons) of butter, and 705,479 pounds (320 metric tons) of whole milk powder. The product will be delivered during period December 2018 through May 2019.

The year-to-date CWT-assisted member cooperative sales have reached 66.412 million pounds of American-type cheeses, 15.859 million pounds of butter (82% milkfat) and 38.671 million pounds of whole milk powder.  These sales are the equivalent on a milkfat basis to 1.252 billion pounds of milk. Totals are adjusted for contract cancellations.

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

Weekend Ag News Update - Dec 2

Soybean Growers Relieved to Hear Positive Trade News from G20

The American Soybean Association (ASA) was pleased to hear positive reports from the G20 Summit Saturday night that President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping have potentially agreed to deescalate the current trade friction by not raising tariffs further while negotiations continue. According to a White House statement, China has also agreed to purchase more U.S. agricultural and other products.

John Heisdorffer, a soybean grower from Keota, Iowa, and ASA president said, “This is the first positive news we’ve seen after months of downturned prices and halted shipments. If this suspension of tariff increases leads to a longer-term agreement, it will be extremely positive for the soy industry. We want to begin repairing damage done to our trade relations with China, which has been essential to successful soybean exports for years.”

Under the agreement reached on Saturday, tariffs on $200 billion worth of goods will not increase to 25 percent on January 1 from the current 10 percent level. Details have not been announced regarding the quantity of U.S. goods that China will purchase, but the White House statement indicated that purchases of ag products would begin immediately.

Trump and Xi struck the deal during a dinner Saturday night following the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The agreement apparently has a moratorium of 90 days for both sides to come to resolution on issues including technology transfer, intellectual property protection, and other concerns.

“During the 90-day negotiating period, ASA hopes to see China reopen its market to significant U.S. soybean imports as a key confidence-building step that will help restore our trade relationship,” Heisdorffer said. “This is an important opportunity to demonstrate positive momentum that will strengthen efforts on both sides to restore economic relations that are mutually beneficial.”

Statement Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson Regarding U.S., China Trade Negotiations

“Last night’s announcement that China will begin immediately to purchase more agricultural products from the United States, is welcome news to Nebraska farmers and ranchers.”

“It’s our hope that both countries will continue to work to get a long-term trade agreement in place in the next 90-days to avoid further escalation of retaliatory tariffs that have harmed U.S. agriculture.”

Tariffs Hurt the Heartland Statement on Agreement Delaying January 1st Tariff Increase

Tariffs Hurt the Heartland, the nationwide campaign against tariffs, released the following statement from campaign spokesman and former Congressman Charles Boustany on the announcement to hold off on upcoming tariff increases. Tariffs Hurt the Heartland is the largest campaign against the tariffs and includes over 150 of America's largest trade associations and ag commodity groups.

"Agreeing not to raise tariffs on American businesses, farmers and consumers is an encouraging first step. These tariffs are taxes that Americans pay, and avoiding a massive tax increase on January 1st is welcome news that must be followed up by rolling back the tariffs currently in place. Tonight’s announcement makes clear that the Administration has heard the stories of economic hardship from Americans who have been hurt by tariffs. Our campaign will continue to tell their stories as the Administration enters into this important negotiation period."

Farmers for Free Trade Statement on Announcement to Hold Off on January 1st Tariff Increases

Farmers for Free Trade Executive Director Angela Hofmann released the following statement today on the announced agreement to hold off on tariff increases on January 1st. Hofmann released the statement from the Illinois Farm Bureau Convention where she is talking to farmers and ranchers about the importance of trade and the impacts they have felt from the ongoing trade war.
“Any signal, even if temporary, that this trade war may de-escalate is welcome news for farmers. While farmers are cautiously optimistic about this development, they are also keenly aware that they are still subject to the existing painful retaliatory tariffs and lost markets that have hurt their recently harvested crops and income.”

“American farmers are results oriented and are hopeful that all parties will quickly resolve the trade war so they can regain markets that are decades in the making.

“In the months ahead, Farmers for Free Trade will continue traveling across the country to hear from farmers and to amplify their voices in Washington, D.C. The voices of American farmers have helped to create the pressure needed for any progress in easing trade tensions. Further progress will continue to require their stories and their advocacy.”

Friday November 30 Ag News

Save the Date for the Nebraska On-Farm Research Annual Results Meetings

The Nebraska On-Farm Research Network's Annual Results Updates are scheduled for February 2019 at 5 locations across the state!

Why Should You Attend?

1.     Hear from growers who conducted on-farm research on their own farms in 2018.
2.     Get a complimentary copy of the 2018 Nebraska On-Farm Research Results book.
3.     Network with innovate growers in your area.
4.     Get access to unbiased research on a variety of products and practices.
5.     Learn how you can participate in future on-farm research projects.

Approval has been sought for Certified Crop Adviser CEU credits and is pending approval.

Meeting Locations - Lunch will be served at all locations.

Grand Island — Feb. 18 at the Hall County Extension Office on College Park Campus; check-in begins at 8:30 a.m. and the program is from 9:00 to 4:30 p.m. CST.

Norfolk — Feb. 19 at the Lifelong Learning Center located on the Northeast Community College Campus; check-in begins at 8:30 a.m. with the program running from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CST

Beatrice — Feb. 20 at Valentino's Restaurant, 701 E. Court St.; check-in begins at 8:30 a.m. and the program is from 9:00 to 4:30 p.m. CST.

North Platte — Feb. 26 at the West Central Research and Extension Center; check-in begins at 8:30 a.m. and the program is from 9:00 to 2 p.m. CST.

Alliance — Feb. 27 at the Knight Museum & Sandhills Center, 908 Yellowstone Ave.; check-in begins at 8:30 a.m. with the program running from 9 a.m. to 12 noon MST.


There is no cost to attend, but pre-registration is requested for meal planning. To register for any of the sites call (402) 624-8030 or email and indicate which site you plan to attend.

For more information visit:  

NeCGA Washington DC Leadership Mission

Each year the Nebraska Corn Growers Association takes a group of members to Washington D.C. to participate in the Washington D.C. Leadership Mission. This mission is a way for members who are looking to get more involved, or are just starting out, to get an in depth look at the work the association does.

In 2019 the mission trip will take place March 11th through the 15th. Attendees can expect to visit with their elected officials, the National Corn Growers Association, the US Grains Council, and other cooperators. The mission trip is also a great chance for attendees to visit with members from across the state and form lifelong friendships.

Applications are due by January 11th to Spouses who are interested in learning more about the association are also encouraged to attend. Questions? Please call the office at (402) 438-6459, email Morgan Wrich, Director of Grower Services, at, or click here...

Farm Finance and Ag Law Clinics this December

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, December 6
    Norfolk — Tuesday, December 7
    North Platte— Thursday, December 13
    Lexington — Thursday, December 20

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.

FY 2019 Export Forecast Reduced by $3.0 Billion to $141.5 Billion; Imports Forecast at $127.0 Billion

USDA Economic Research Service

Fiscal year (October/September) 2019 agricultural exports are projected at $141.5 billion, down $1.9 billion from fiscal year 2018 and $3.0 billion from the August 2018 forecast, largely due to decreases in soybeans and cotton. Soybean export volumes are down because of declining Chinese purchases from the United States as a result of trade tensions, and as a record U.S. crop continues to pressure soybean prices lower. Cotton exports are down $1.0 billion from the August forecast to $5.9 billion, primarily due to slowing growth in global demand. Grain and feed exports are forecast up $700 million to $33.8 billion, driven by higher corn and wheat volumes. Livestock, dairy, and poultry exports are down $200 million to $30.1 billion. Declines in poultry and dairy products offset increases in beef and pork products. Horticultural products are unchanged at $35.3 billion. The forecast for exports to China is reduced by $3.0 billion to $9.0 billion, the lowest since fiscal 2007.

U.S. agricultural imports in fiscal year 2019 are forecast at $127.0 billion, up $500 million from the August forecast, primarily due to expected increases in horticultural, sugar, and tropical products. The U.S. agricultural trade surplus is expected to decline by $3.5 billion to $14.5 billion in fiscal 2019.

Farm Sector Profits Expected To Decline in 2018

USDA Economic Research Service

Net farm income, a broad measure of profits, is forecast to decrease $9.1 billion (12.1 percent) from 2017 to $66.3 billion in 2018, after increasing $13.8 billion (22.5 percent) in 2017. Net cash farm income is forecast to decrease $8.5 billion (8.4 percent) to $93.4 billion. In inflation-adjusted 2018 dollars, net farm income is forecast to decline $10.8 billion (14.1 percent) from 2017 after increasing $13.0 billion (20.2 percent) in 2017. If realized, inflation-adjusted net farm income would be 3.3 percent above its level in 2016, which was its lowest level since 2002.

Inflation-adjusted net cash farm income is forecast to decline $10.9 billion (10.5 percent) from 2017 to $93.4 billion, which would be the lowest real-dollar level since 2009. Net cash farm income encompasses cash receipts from farming as well as farm-related income, including government payments, minus cash expenses. Net farm income is a more comprehensive measure that incorporates noncash items, including changes in inventories, economic depreciation, and gross imputed rental income of operator dwellings.

Cash receipts for all commodities are forecast to increase $2.5 billion (0.7 percent) to $374.9 billion in 2018 in nominal terms. Total crop receipts are expected to increase $3.0 billion (1.5 percent) from 2017 levels following expected increases in corn and soybean cash receipts. Total animal/animal product receipts are expected to decrease $0.4 billion (0.2 percent) as lower receipts for milk and meat animals are expected to more than offset higher receipts for poultry/eggs. However, when adjusted for inflation, cash receipts for all commodities are forecast to decline $6.1 billion (1.6 percent), with crop cash receipts forecast to decline $1.6 billion (0.8 percent) and livestock cash receipts to decline $4.5 billion (2.5 percent). Direct government farm payments are forecast to increase $2.1 billion (17.9 percent) to $13.6 billion in 2018, with most of the increase due to higher anticipated payments for supplemental and ad hoc assistance and miscellaneous programs, including Market Facilitation Program payments to assist farmers in response to trade disruptions.

Total production expenses (including operator dwelling expenses) are forecast up $14.8 billion (4.2 percent) in nominal terms to $369.1 billion in 2018, led by increases in spending on fuels/oil, interest, feed, and hired labor.

Farm business average net cash farm income is forecast to decline $13,500 (16.2 percent) to $69,800 in 2018. This would be the 4th consecutive decline since 2014 and the lowest average income recorded since the series began in 2010. Every resource region of the country is forecast to see farm business average net cash farm income decline. Most categories of farm businesses are expected to see declines, with dairy farm businesses expected to see the largest.

Farm sector equity is forecast up by $26.4 billion (1.0 percent) to $2.63 trillion in 2018 in nominal terms. Farm assets are forecast to increase by $42.9 billion (1.4 percent) to $3.0 trillion in 2018, reflecting an anticipated 2.1-percent rise in farm sector real estate value. When adjusted for inflation, farm sector equity and assets are forecast to decline $27.0 billion (0.9 percent) and $34.3 billion (1.3 percent), respectively. Farm debt is forecast to increase by $16.4 billion (4.2 percent) to $409.5 billion, led by an expected 5.4-percent rise in real estate debt. The farm sector debt-to-asset ratio is expected to rise from 13.13 percent in 2017 to 13.49 percent in 2018. Working capital is forecast to decline 31 percent from 2017.

Median Income of Farm Operator Households Expected To Remain Unchanged in 2018

Median farm household income is forecast to reach $76,594 in 2018. In nominal terms, that income level represents an increase of 0.8 percent from its 2017 level; in inflation-adjusted terms, it is a 1.5-percent decrease. The total median income of U.S. farm households increased steadily over 2010-14, reaching an estimated $81,637 in 2014 in nominal terms. Median farm household income then fell 6 percent in 2015 and has remained relatively flat since.

Farm households typically receive income from both farm and off-farm sources. Median farm income earned by farm households is estimated at -$800 in 2017 in nominal terms and is forecast to decline to -$1,548 in 2018. In recent years, slightly more than half of farm households have had negative farm income each year. Many of these households rely on off-farm income—and median off-farm income is forecast to increase 2.8 percent from $67,500 in 2017 to $69,418 in 2018. (Because farm and off-farm income are not distributed identically for every farm, median total income will generally not equal the sum of median off-farm and median farm income.)

Fischer Statement on Signing of USMCA

U.S. Senator Deb Fischer, a member of Senate Agriculture Committee, released the following statement today after President Donald J. Trump signed the U.S.–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA):

“I’m grateful to President Trump for his hard work to negotiate this modernized trade deal. Nebraska agriculture producers and their families depend on access to international markets, especially during these difficult times for the farm economy. I look forward to reviewing the agreement soon.” 

Mexico and Canada are Nebraska’s two largest trading partners.

Smith Statement on Signing of USMCA Trade Agreement

Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) released the following statement after representatives of the United States, Mexico, and Canada signed the USMCA trade agreement in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

“Months of negotiations culminated this morning in the signing of USMCA, a three-party trade agreement to replace NAFTA. I commend President Trump and his team for securing an agreement which holds great promise for Nebraska’s agricultural producers through expanded trade with America’s neighbors. I look forward to reviewing the agreement in detail once submitted to Congress for ratification.”

Smith is a member of the House Ways and Means Committee which has jurisdiction over trade.

Ricketts Praises Signing of United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts issued a statement following news from the White House on the signing of a new trade agreement with Canada and Mexico named the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

“President Trump has delivered on his promise to finalize a new trade deal with Canada and Mexico,” said Governor Ricketts.  “The importance of this new deal to Nebraska cannot be overstated.  These two countries are top customers for Nebraska, and are critical markets for growing trade opportunities.  This new deal makes progress in the three areas Nebraska’s leaders outlined for trade negotiations with these countries over a year ago.  Most importantly, it helps give Nebraska’s farmers and businesses much-needed certainty, and will help us grow these important trade relationships for years to come.”


Mexico is Nebraska’s second largest export market and Canada is the state’s third largest market.  Combined, the countries purchased over $2.4 billion worth of Nebraska’s exports in 2016.  Canada and Mexico are also substantial direct international investors in Nebraska, employing about 6,400 people in the state.  Mexico is the state’s largest export market for corn, dairy products, and sugar/sweeteners.  Canada is Nebraska’s largest export market for ethanol and dog and cat food.

Here is a breakdown of Nebraska’s top six agricultural exports to Canada and Mexico (combined):
    Corn: $315 million
    Beef: $246.6 million
    Soybeans and Soybean Products: $217.6 million
    Sugars and Sweeteners: $124.2 million
    Ethanol: $88.5 million
    Pork: $78.3 million

Statement by Steve Nelson, NE Farm Bureau President, Regarding Signing of United States, Mexico, Canada Agreement (USMCA)

“Today’s signing of the United States, Mexico, Canada Agreement (USMCA) is a step in the right direction toward normalizing our trading relationship with two of our largest trading partners and closest allies. We thank President Trump as well his administration for all of their hard work in getting this new agreement, which does contain many positive wins for farmers and ranchers, this far. We now call upon Congress to take up and pass this new agreement quickly in order to provide a level of certainty for Nebraska’s farm and ranch families.” 

“However, it is also important to note the cloud of continued U.S. tariffs on imported steel and aluminum continue to hang over this new agreement. As long as these tariffs remain, Nebraska’s farmers, ranchers, small businesses, and consumers won’t be able to fully take advantage of the new opportunities that exist under this new agreement.” 


Today’s presidential signing of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) is an important step toward the final approval and modernization of the most important trade agreement to Iowa and U.S. corn farmers.

 Mexico and Canada are top markets for Iowa corn and value-added corn products. Mexico is the top market for corn, distillers dried grains, pork, and beef. Canada is among the top for ethanol, pork, and beef.  While both countries have traditionally been top buyers of corn in all forms, there is still opportunity for continued market expansion.

 Trade policy is important for Iowa farmers to gain market access, which includes removal of tariffs and other trade barriers. Iowa Corn Growers Association members will continue to work with our Congressional delegation on the final passage of this agreement, working towards our top goal of defending and expanding markets for corn products around the world. 

Statement of Secretary Perdue on Signing of USMCA

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today issued the following statement regarding the signing of the new trade pact, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), replacing the outdated North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA):

“I have often said that we live in the best neighborhood on Earth – North America – and the signing of a new trade agreement with Mexico and Canada helps cement our highly integrated relationship as nations.  President Trump has fulfilled a promise, which many said couldn’t be done, to renegotiate NAFTA and improve the standing of the entire American economy, including the agriculture sector.

“The new USMCA makes important specific changes that are beneficial to our agricultural producers.  We have secured greater access to the Mexican and Canadian markets and lowered barriers for many of our products.  The deal eliminates Canada’s unfair Class 6 and Class 7 milk pricing schemes, opens additional access to U.S. dairy into Canada, and imposes new disciplines on Canada’s supply management system. The agreement also preserves and expands critical access for U.S. poultry and egg producers and addresses Canada’s discriminatory wheat grading process to help U.S. wheat growers along the border become more competitive.

“This is good news for American farmers and we now need Congress to follow suit and enact the necessary implementing legislation.  I commend President Trump and our U.S. Trade Representative, Ambassador Lighthizer, for their perseverance, leadership, and hard work.”

NCGA: USMCA Signing an Important Step Forward

National Corn Growers Association President Lynn Chrisp today released the following statement applauding the important step taken by U.S., Mexican and Canadian officials today in signing the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

“U.S. corn farmers are proud of the strong trading relationships NAFTA has enabled us to build with our North American trading partners, exporting more than $3 billion of corn and corn products to Mexico and Canada last year. Today’s signing is an important step toward cementing a modernized relationship with these important partners. NCGA commends leaders from all three nations and looks forward to engaging on next steps as the USMCA moves to Congress for consideration.”

NCBA Welcomes USMCA Signing, Will Work with Congress to Secure Passage

Today President Kevin Kester issued the following statement in response to the signing of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA):

“With the signing of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), U.S. beef producers are one step closer to knowing that unrestricted, science-based trade will continue in North America. The agreement brings the trading relationship with our neighbors into the 21st century – and clearly rejects the failed beef and cattle trade policies of the past. Open markets have helped U.S. producers flourish and created billion dollar markets for U.S. beef.  We look forward to working with Congress to get USMCA passed into law as quickly as possible.”

Today the leaders of the United States, Mexico, and Canada signed the USMCA on the sidelines of the G-20 meeting in Argentina. The USMCA maintains unrestricted, duty-free trade for beef and cattle in North America. It also maintains science-based trade standards.

All three countries must complete their own domestic processes before the USMCA comes into force. In the U.S., Congress will need to pass legislation to implement the deal. The U.S. International Trade Commission is currently conducting an investigation into the likely impacts of USMCA. Texas rancher and NCBA member Kelley Sullivan participated in the public hearing to explain how the agreement will benefit U.S. producers.  

U.S. Pork Losses from Trade Dispute with Mexico: $1.5 Billion
The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) today called for an end to a trade dispute that has cost U.S. pork producers an estimated $1.5 billion this year, according to Iowa State University Economist Dermot Hayes.

“We are very pleased with the new trade agreement with Mexico and Canada, one that preserves zero-tariff pork trade in North America for the long term,” said NPPC President Jim Heimerl, a pork producer from Johnstown, Ohio. “But, it’s imperative that we remove U.S. tariffs on Mexican metal imports so that retaliatory tariffs of 20 percent against U.S. pork are lifted.”

Dr. Hayes estimates that live hog values this year have been reduced by $12 per animal due to retaliatory tariffs imposed by Mexico against U.S. pork in June. The loss estimate of $1.5 billion is based on an expected total harvest of 125 million hogs in 2018. These tariffs, along with China’s retaliatory tariffs, have turned what promised to be a profitable year into a year of losses for export-dependent U.S. pork producers. Dr. Hayes estimates U.S. pork producer losses of $ 1 billion, or $8 per animal, from the ongoing trade dispute with China.

Mexico and China represent approximately 40 percent of total U.S. pork exports. 

USMCA Agreement Important Relief for Agriculture
American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall

“Today’s signing of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement continues the progress American farmers and ranchers have made since the North American Free Trade Agreement took effect in 1994.

“Agricultural exports to Canada and Mexico increased from $8.9 billion to $39 billion under NAFTA. That boost provided important markets for farmers and ranchers whose productivity has only grown since the agreement was signed. USMCA keeps all those gains and adds improvements in poultry, eggs, dairy and wine. In every way, this new agreement is just as good, if not better than, the one that came before. We thank the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative for all the hard work that went into this accord.

“As good as all this news is, farmers and ranchers still face retaliatory tariffs over steel and aluminum disputes with our North American neighbors and other trading partners. We urge the administration to redouble its efforts to come to an agreement on those outstanding issues so we can regain the markets we had not long ago.”

U.S. Grains Council Statement On USMCA Signing

President and CEO Tom Sleight:

"The ceremony Friday to sign the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) is an important next step in the new pact's final approval and the process of modernizing the most important trade agreement to U.S. grain farmers and exporters.

"In the latest marketing year, Mexico and Canada again proved to be top buyers of U.S. feed grains in all forms, and both countries still hold significant potential for market expansion given the right trade policy frameworks and the robust market development we intend to undertake there with our partners.

"We applaud the many members of the Trump Administration, as well as their Mexican and Canadian colleagues, who worked diligently to negotiate this agreement. We see its forward movement as a sign our countries will continue our robust relationship, as business partners and friends."

NAWG and U.S. Wheat Associates Welcome Official Signing of USCMA, Encourage Repeat with Japan

Today, leaders of the United States, Canada and Mexico officially signed the revised North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), now known as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). The National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) and U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) applaud the three countries for working together to finalize USMCA.

This agreement includes important provisions for wheat farmers. Most notably, USMCA retains tariff-free access to imported U.S. wheat for our long-time flour milling customers in Mexico. That is a crucial step toward rebuilding trust in U.S. wheat as a reliable supplier in this important, neighboring market.

In addition, the USMCA makes important progress towards more open commerce for U.S. wheat farmers near the border with Canada. Currently under Canadian law, wheat grown in the United States delivered to Canadian grain elevators is automatically designated as the lowest grade wheat. Canadian wheat delivered to U.S. elevators however may enter the system without penalty. This disincentive for U.S. farmers when they would otherwise see higher cash bids across the border is unfair. The updated USMCA agreement would enable U.S. varieties registered in Canada to be afforded reciprocal treatment. While there are remaining challenges, we applaud the Administration for negotiating this critical provision in the USMCA and taking a big step towards reciprocal trade along the U.S.-Canadian border.

NAWG and USW look forward to Congress moving forward in reviewing the agreement through Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) requirements.

In the meantime, U.S. wheat farmers are excited to see the Administration build on the momentum of USMCA by initiating negotiations with Japan ( That is needed to end the threat of major wheat export losses without a new trade agreement. USW and NAWG are anxious for a quick deal and policies that would provide long-term stability in the critical Japanese market.

USMCA Deal Falls Short of Fair Trade Framework for Family Farmers, NFU Says

Officials from the United States and Mexico today signed the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the renegotiated trade deal formerly known as the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The agreement will not have binding force in the United States until it is signed by Canada and approved by the U.S. Congress.

National Farmers Union (NFU) said that while USMCA makes important improvements over NAFTA, the deal currently does not go far enough to institute a fair trade framework that benefits family farmers and ranchers and restores sovereignty to the U.S. In response to the signing, NFU President Roger Johnson urged Congress to demand the administration make changes to the deal before ratifying it:

“For decades, family farmers and ranchers have taken a backseat to corporate interests in international trade negotiations. If allowed to take effect without changes, USMCA will continue this trend.

“President Trump campaigned against the major flaws in international trade agreements that the original NAFTA created the framework for, and rightly so. It is this framework that has led to our annual $500 billion trade deficit, exported jobs, lowered wages, and lost sovereignty. NAFTA renegotiation is a key opportunity to create a trade framework for our future.

“The reworked agreement makes improvements to eradicate ISDS—the dispute settlement system that gives corporations an unwarranted advantage over citizens—yet the agreement maintains ISDS provisions for some oil and gas companies. And while this is the first U.S. trade pact to include rules on currency manipulation, these rules lack the teeth they need to be effective. As of right now, only the transparency requirements are binding.

“Finally, the USMCA ignores the sovereignty Americans have lost as part of NAFTA, particularly with respect to food labeling. Canada, Mexico, and multinational meatpackers pressured Congress—using NAFTA provisions—to scrap the commonsense Country-of-Origin Labeling for beef and pork that American consumers and producers benefitted from. These labels should be allowed under a new USMCA.

“It is Congress’s constitutional duty to regulate international trade, including implementation of trade agreements that benefit U.S. citizens. NFU urges Congress to ensure the administration negotiates improvements to USMCA to create a fair trade framework that benefits family farmers, ranchers and rural communities.”

Dairy Groups Applaud Final Signing of Modernized NAFTA Pact; Urges Congress to Approve Swiftly

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) commended the Trump Administration today for signing the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which had been agreed to in principle on Sept. 30.

The USMCA will benefit America's dairy sector by maintaining the overall U.S.-Mexico trading structure of the 24-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), while incorporating new commitments to strengthen U.S. dairy export prospects throughout the North American region. Thanks to NAFTA, Mexico is currently the largest export destination for U.S. dairy products, accounting for $1.2 billion in sales last year. The United States commands a dominant market share in Mexico, with sales that amount to three quarters of its imported dairy products.

Although the U.S. dairy industry had sought deeper market expansion and stronger disciplines from Canada on dairy, NMPF and USDEC praised U.S. negotiators for their ardent efforts to address Canada’s pervasive trade-distorting practices. The trade deal includes reforms to Canada’s controversial dairy pricing system and some additional market access – key objectives of the U.S. dairy sector.

In addition to Canada-specific dairy provisions, the USCMA broke new ground by establishing a strong sanitary and phytosanitary chapter, as well as numerous provisions aimed at tackling the misuse of geographical indications that erect barriers to U.S. exports of products that rely on common food names.

Industry leaders said the ultimate impact of the agreement, which must be approved by Congress, will depend on how it’s implemented by the three countries. The U.S. dairy industry will engage with both parties in Congress to seek their support for the agreement’s passage while at the same time seeking assurances that Canada will comply with their commitments in a fair and transparent manner.

“The signing of the USMCA gives America’s dairy industry greater confidence as we head into 2019,” said Tom Vilsack, president and CEO of USDEC. “We trust that the administration will aggressively enforce both the letter and the spirit of the agreed upon text. Thus, it is imperative that the United States ensures that Canada implements its commitments in a manner consistent with the hard-fought transparency and market-reforming disciplines secured in this agreement.”

The dairy organizations urged the governments of the three nations to take the next step toward better trade relations by removing currently imposed tariffs on agricultural exports – as well as steel and aluminum – that have been sticking points in relations between the countries.

“We appreciate the Trump Administration for continually raising our issues of concern and fighting for a better agreement with Canada,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “This year has been a challenging one for dairy producers, who are dealing with continuing low prices and the damaging effects of retaliatory tariffs that have already cost them about $1.5 billion. With today’s signing, we encourage the administration to take a fresh look at other tariffs that are hampering North American trade, including the steel and aluminum tariffs still imposed on Mexico, and to continue making progress in striking new free trade agreements and resolving ongoing trade conflicts.”

EPA Finalizes RFS Volumes for 2019 and Biomass Based Diesel Volumes for 2020

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a rule that establishes the required renewable fuel volumes under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program for 2019, and biomass-based diesel for 2020.

“Issuing the annual renewable volume obligations rule on time is extremely important to all stakeholders impacted by the Renewable Fuel Standard program,” said EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Unlike the previous administration, the Trump Administration has consistently met the deadline on time and fulfilled our commitment to provide stability to the program and greater certainty to farming and refining communities across the country.”

The key elements of today’s action are as follows:
-    “Conventional” renewable fuel volumes, primarily met by corn ethanol, will be maintained at the implied 15-billion gallon target set by Congress for 2019.
-    Advanced biofuel volumes for 2019 will increase by 630 million gallons over the 2018 standard.
-    Cellulosic biofuel volumes for 2019 will increase by almost 130 million gallons over the 2018 standard.
-    Biomass-based diesel volumes for 2020 will increase by 330 million gallons over the standard for 2019. 

The Clean Air Act requires EPA to set annual RFS volumes of biofuels that must be used for transportation fuel for four categories of biofuels: total, advanced, cellulosic, and biomass-based diesel. EPA is using the tools provided by Congress to adjust the standards below the statutory targets based on current market realities. EPA implements the RFS program in consultation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Ricketts Applauds EPA’s 2019 RFS Blending Levels

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts issued the following statement after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) release of the final rule setting the 2019 renewable fuel blending levels under the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS):

“I commend Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler and the U.S. EPA for the agency’s timely release of the final 2019 biofuel blending levels under the RFS,” said Governor Ricketts.  “The RFS continues to be a crucial driver of biofuel investment and demand in Nebraska—the nation’s second largest ethanol producer.  Biofuels create significant value-added agriculture market opportunities and benefits for our farmers, producers, and rural communities.  The increase in the cellulosic and advanced volumes requirements for 2019 sends an important market signal that will help Nebraska producers meet the original goals of the RFS, so that increasing volumes of those fuels—in addition to conventional ethanol—will become a part of the nation’s fuel supply.  I am encouraged by the robust 2019 blending levels and look forward to working with the agency to ensure that small refinery waivers do not inadvertently reduce the volumes.”

EPA Fails to Account for Future Refinery Waivers in Final 2019 RVO Rule

The National Corn Growers Association today said the EPA’s final 2019 Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO) rule under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) moves renewable fuels and energy security forward in 2019, but the growth will only be realized if EPA does not grant refiners further RFS exemptions.

“We are pleased the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) maintained the implied conventional ethanol volume of 15 billion gallons and increased the total 2019 renewable fuel volume as intended by the RFS. However, EPA granted refineries 2.25 billion gallons in RFS waivers over the past year but did nothing to account for those lost volumes. If EPA continues to grant large amounts of waivers in this manner, the volumes set in this final rule cannot be met,” said NCGA President Lynn Chrisp.

In comments on the rule, NCGA and its grower members urged EPA to take steps to maintain the integrity of the RFS, including projecting 2019 waivers and accounting for those gallons to keep the RFS volumes whole. By failing to account for waivers in this final rule, EPA ensures that any 2019 exemptions will reduce the volumes the agency sets today.

“Ethanol has been and continues to be a strong market for U.S. corn farmers, especially during these tough times in the farm economy. When the EPA continues to grant waivers and does not account for those volumes in this rule, domestic demand for our crop is lost, impacting farmers’ livelihood and the economy of rural America,” Chrisp said.

NCGA will continue to work with EPA to ensure the full energy and environmental benefits of the RFS are achieved. As EPA implements this volume rule, as well as considers pending petitions for RFS exemptions, NCGA urges the agency to prevent further demand destruction and support a strong RFS that will benefit America’s farmers and rural communities, provide cleaner air and boost our nation’s energy security.

Iowa Corn Farmers Search for Certainty in 2019 RFS Numbers

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today the final Renewable Volume Obligations (RVO) for the 2019 conventional biofuels requirement at 15 billion gallons under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

“While we’re pleased to see the EPA finalize numbers at the statutory target for corn-based ethanol, Iowa’s corn farmers want the EPA to stop granting unnecessary waivers to obligated parties and not to include those waivers in its formula for determining annual volumes as required under the RFS,” stated Iowa Corn Growers Association President Curt Mether. “This intentional omission effectively cuts ethanol demand and works against the goals of the RFS program to the detriment of motorists, our environment, and Iowa’s corn farmers.”

The RFS is a federal law that requires domestic, renewable, cleaner-burning ethanol to be blended into the nation’s fuel supply. Congress adopted the RFS in 2005 and expanded it in 2007. Renewable Volume Obligations (RVO) are set annually by EPA to determine the amount of renewable fuel blended into our fuel system each year.

“As corn farmers, we want to ensure the RFS continues to provide affordable fueling options for consumers, advancing America forward in its goals to be a leader in clean, renewable energy, and we have the ability to do that in America’s heartland,” said Mether, a farmer from Logan, Iowa. “Yet, while the farm economy is truly struggling, the EPA continues to hand out RFS waivers to oil companies making billions in profits in the name of economic hardship. If the EPA would simply follow the law and implement the RFS as Congress intended, farmers, consumers and our environment would all benefit.”

The RFS has been one of America’s most successful energy policies. It has spurred investment in rural communities and created high-tech jobs. It has given consumers more choices at the fuel pump. It has reduced our dependency on foreign oil. And it moves America forward as a leader in clean energy with ethanol reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 43 percent compared to gasoline.

“Iowa’s corn farmers look forward to working with our Congressional leaders, the Trump Administration, and the EPA to return certainty to the RFS program and ensure it keeps America moving forward,” added Mether.

EPA Announces Biodiesel and Advanced Biofuels Volumes

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today that the biomass-based diesel and advanced biofuels volumes will be increased above previous year levels, which is good news for the soybean industry. The increase, however, is mitigated by the absence of reallocation of the significant gallons that were waived under exemptions issued previously by EPA to refineries.

The final rule sets the 2020 requirement for biomass-based biodiesel (BBD) volumes at 2.43 billion gallons, a 330-million-gallon increase over the 2018 and 2019 levels. Total advanced biofuel volumes, which are largely filled by biodiesel, are increased to 4.92 billion gallons.

American Soybean Association (ASA) President John Heisdorffer, a soybean producer from Keota, Iowa, acknowledged the progress, saying, “We welcome this increase, as it helps a growing market for soybean oil. We are glad to see EPA acknowledge that biodiesel can play a larger role in our nation’s fuel supply.”

While ASA appreciates the increased biomass-based diesel volumes for 2020, Heisdorffer reiterated the ability and capacity for additional growth. “As ASA communicated to EPA during the rulemaking process, soybean farmers and our biodiesel industry partners can meet these targets, and we have the production capacity and feedstock to reasonably achieve even further growth.”

ASA and its biodiesel industry partners also remain concerned that EPA has not reallocated the previous year volumes that have been waived through exemptions granted to refineries by EPA. The agency’s data shows that the retroactive small refinery exemptions reduced demand for biodiesel by more than 300 million gallons in 2018.

“The biodiesel industry supports agriculture by creating jobs, diversifying fuel sources, and reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil. EPA is moving in a better direction, but we urge the Administration to address the waived volumes and support the full potential of U.S. soybean farmers and biodiesel producers.”

Growth Energy on 2019 Renewable Volume Obligation Targets

Today, the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) released the renewable volume obligation (RVO) targets for 2019 under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor released the following statement, underscoring that while the numbers are a positive step forward, the billions of lost gallons due to excessive small refinery exemptions need to be accounted for:

"We are pleased to see the 2019 RVO numbers released on time and that they hold strong promise, with a 15 billion gallon commitment to starch ethanol and 418 million gallons of cellulosic biofuels," said Skor. "But the latest EPA rule is also a missed opportunity to correctly account for billions of gallons of ethanol lost to refinery exemptions. Until these are addressed properly, we’re still taking two steps back for every step forward."

Skor continued, "The current Acting EPA Administrator, Andrew Wheeler, has a valuable opportunity to chart a new course for biofuels and rural America. To reverse the damage done by his predecessor, the EPA must follow the law and reallocate lost gallons, ensuring the ethanol targets set by Congress are actually met. This would plug the leak in America's biofuels targets and give farmers the boost they need to keep the rural economy moving."

RFA Urges EPA 'to Faithfully and Strictly Enforce' Final 2019 Conventional Biofuel Requirement Without Erosion from Small Refiner Waivers

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released today its final Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) renewable volume obligations (RVOs) for 2019. The agency finalized a total renewable fuel volume of 19.92 billion gallons (BG), of which 4.92 BG is advanced biofuel, including 418 million gallons (MG) of cellulosic biofuel. That leaves a 15 BG requirement for conventional renewable fuels like corn ethanol, consistent with the levels envisioned by Congress in the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act. Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper had the following statement:

“While we are pleased that EPA finalized the statutory 15-billion-gallon requirement for conventional renewable fuels and modest increases to the cellulosic and advanced biofuel categories, we note that EPA did not prospectively account for any small refiner exemptions that it expects to issue in 2019. Hopefully, that means EPA is not intending to issue any small refiner waivers at all in 2019 because it knows there is no rationale or basis for doing so.

“We urge Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler to faithfully and strictly enforce the 15-billion-gallon conventional renewable fuel requirement in 2019, rather than allowing the standard to be eroded through the use of clandestine small refiner waivers as former Administrator Pruitt did. Mr. Pruitt issued nearly 50 refinery waivers from 2016 and 2017 RFS requirements, including bailouts to companies like Chevron and Andeavor that recorded billions of dollars in net profits in those years. As a direct result of the exemptions, America’s ethanol producers and farm families have experienced demand destruction and are now facing the most challenging economics in years. In examining small refiner exemption petitions for 2018, 2019, and beyond, we implore Acting Administrator Wheeler to exercise the restraint and thoughtfulness that clearly eluded his predecessor.”

Final RFS Rule Provides Only Minimal Growth for Biodiesel, NBB Says

The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) today criticized the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) final Renewable Fuel Standards for 2019 and biomass-based diesel volume for 2020. EPA sets the advanced biofuel and biomass-based diesel volumes lower than what the agency acknowledges will be produced. Moreover, the rule leaves open a backdoor to retroactively reduce required volumes through hardship exemptions.

EPA made very few changes from its June proposal, setting the 2020 biomass-based diesel volume at 2.43 billion gallons and the 2019 advanced biofuel renewable volume obligation (RVO) at 4.92 billion gallons. The biomass-based diesel RVO for 2019 was set at 2.1 billion gallons in last year’s rule. EPA used its cellulosic waiver authority to make the maximum possible reductions to the advanced biofuel and overall renewable fuel categories.

NBB CEO Donnell Rehagen stated, “EPA recognizes that the biodiesel and renewable diesel industry is producing fuel well above the annual volumes. The industry regularly fills 90 percent of the annual advanced biofuel requirement. Nevertheless, the agency continues to use its maximum waiver authority to set advanced biofuel requirements below attainable levels. The method is inconsistent with the RFS program’s purpose, which is to drive growth in production and use of advanced biofuels such as biodiesel.”

In the final rule, EPA states that it has not received small refinery exemption petitions for 2019 and therefore estimates zero gallons of exempted fuel in its RVO formula. The agency has estimated zero gallons every year since 2015, even though it retroactively exempted more than 24.5 billion gallons of fuel between 2015 and 2017. The agency’s own data shows that the retroactive small refinery exemptions reduced demand for biodiesel by more than 300 million gallons in 2018.

Kurt Kovarik, NBB Vice President of Federal Affairs, added, “EPA’s RFS rule fails to address the uncertainty associated with the unprecedented flood of small refiner hardship exemptions. Moreover, the agency still has not addressed the Court order in the ACE case, which remanded the agency’s improper waiver of the 2016 volumes. The rule that EPA has finalized for 2019 and 2020 is meaningless without solutions to these issues.”

NFU Deeply Disappointed in EPA Decision to Ignore Waivers, Intent of Law in New RFS Obligations

The Trump Administration today finalized 2019 renewable volume obligations (RVOs) under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), setting the amount of renewable fuels that need to be blended in the transportation fuel supply at 19.92 billion gallons. The rule maintains the current 15-million-gallon target for corn ethanol and increases cellulosic and advanced biofuel requirements by 130 million gallons and 630 million gallons, respectively.

The 2019 mandate tracked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) July proposal, which ignored the billions of gallons of lost biofuel demand that resulted from EPA handing out hardship waivers to oil refiners. National Farmers Union (NFU), a staunch proponent of biofuels and higher blends of ethanol, was deeply disappointed by the news. NFU President Roger Johnson released the following statement in response to the rule:

"President Trump's numerous assurances to American family farmers to support the biofuels industry and increase demand for farm products continue to fall short at the hands of EPA.

"Today, EPA set biofuels requirements that completely ignore the 2.25 billion gallons of lost demand for U.S. farm products that resulted from their own handouts to oil refiners. The decision to exempt refiners from complying with the RFS, coupled with today's decision not to make up for the lost demand, leaves farmers at a significant net loss under the current administration.

"This rule is not keeping with Congress' intent with the RFS, which is to drive investment in American grown biofuels. In addition to ignoring lost demand for ethanol, the EPA has provided far too low obligations for advanced biofuels. These businesses need to believe they have the opportunity to create a profitable company in order for them to expand production and utilize more American grown fuels.

"So long as EPA continues to ignore its own mishandling of the RFS waivers, it will continue to undermine the will of Congress, directly contradict President Trump's promises, and destroy American family farmers' ability to expand demand for their products."

ACE statement on final RFS volumes for 2019

American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) CEO Brian Jennings issued the statement below in response to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) final Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) for the 2019 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

The Agency set a total renewable fuel blending obligation of 19.92 billion gallons next year of which 4.92 billion gallons shall be advanced biofuel, including 418 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel, resulting in 15 billion gallons of conventional biofuel such as corn ethanol.

“On paper, EPA appears to be resisting refiner demands to reduce conventional biofuel blending in 2019 below the statutory 15-billion-gallon level. However, in reality, as long as EPA fails to reallocate the over 2 billion gallons worth of blending obligations waived for ‘Small Refineries,’ renewable fuel demand will remain flat causing farmers and rural biofuel producers to continue suffering the consequences.

“While we are fighting this injustice with a challenge of three specific Small Refinery Exemptions (SREs) in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit and a petition asking EPA to account for the lost volumes resulting from retroactive SREs, Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler should be fixing this problem.

“Economic hardship is real, but not for oil refiners. The truth is farmers and ethanol producers are struggling to make ends meet because of depressed prices caused by man-made limits or waivers on demand.

“Assuming the President formally nominates Acting Administrator Wheeler to lead EPA, we call on U.S. Senators to insist he provides them with tangible evidence EPA will reallocate the blending obligations waived for Small Refiners before voting to confirm him.”

GIPSA Agency Elimination a Blow to Competitive Markets, NFU Says

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that it will be eliminating the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) as a standalone agency and consolidate its functions into the work of the Agricultural Marketing Service.

National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson issued the following statement in response to the announcement:

“At a time when just a handful of companies control all of the markets that supply and buy from family farmers and ranchers, the elimination GIPSA is a big step in the wrong direction. The agency’s statutory duty is to ensure fair and competitive markets for family farmers. This decision comes on top of USDA’s decision to withdraw the Farmer Fair Practices Rules, which would have given American family farmers the most basic of protections against abusive and undue practices levied against them by companies that hold substantial market power. Farmers Union strongly urges USDA to reconsider both of these decisions that undermine competition and place family farmers and ranchers at a significant disadvantage in the marketplace.”

Sanderson Changes Course on Chicken Antibiotics

One of the biggest defenders of antibiotic use in farming is changing its tune--somewhat. Sanderson Farms, one of the top US chicken processors, says by March 1, 2019 antibiotics used in human medicine will no longer be used to prevent disease among the company's chickens.

Sanderson for years has resisted as competing meatmakers, like Pilgrim's Pride and Tyson Foods, have scaled back antibiotics use, responding to criticism that widespread antibiotic use in livestock and poultry contribute to development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Sanderson questioned the link and still does, but says it can use other antibiotics to prevent disease.

Sanderson still intends to use medically important antibiotics, like gentamicin and virginiamycin, to treat and control diseases when they're found in poultry barns.

Thursday November 29 Ag News


New research by agricultural economists at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln challenges traditional thinking on federal crop insurance.

Since the inception of the federal crop insurance program, researchers have questioned whether the program causes moral hazard in input usage, meaning that if producers are shielded from yield risk via crop insurance, they respond by increasing low-yield risk exposure by applying fewer inputs. Opponents of the federal crop insurance program claim moral hazard leads farmers to use crop insurance to transfer costs from themselves to taxpayers, who help fund the program.

Previous research found evidence of moral hazard in input usage, suggesting crop insurance gives producers an incentive to reduce the economic-maximizing input amount, particularly nitrogen, to reduce yields and receive crop insurance payments.

Unlike previous research, the new project includes Actual Production History when examining producer input use behavior related to crop insurance. The addition of APH is important as it is used to calculate liability when producers file crop insurance claims and directly influences indemnity payments. For example, when APH decreases, the size of indemnity amounts decreases as does the likelihood of a payment.

When the role of APH is considered, the amount of moral hazard declines to miniscule amounts. When producers are thinking ahead to future growing seasons, their current year input use is not heavily influenced by the presence of crop insurance.

“Our research is based on the assumption that farmers want to farm next year with a strong crop insurance policy,” said Cory Walters, assistant professor of agricultural economics and study co-author. “Results from the study indicate that the presence of APH in the liability calculation can do a lot in limiting the amount of moral hazard in input usage in crop insurance.”

Walters is active in his family’s farming operation. His experience with production agriculture inspired the new research.

“It did not make sense to me that crop insurance research would not take into account the role of APH and the fact that farmers are forward-thinking,” he said.

Other study co-authors are Lilyan Fulginiti, professor of agricultural economics, and Taro Mieno, assistant professor of agricultural economics.

The results were recently published in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics.

State Beef Councils Join R-CALF USA’s Beef Checkoff Lawsuit: An Action that Will Reveal How Producers’ Money is Spent

The District Court for the District of Montana has allowed the Montana Beef Council, Nebraska Beef Council, Pennsylvania Beef Council, Texas Beef Council, and three individuals to join in R-CALF USA’s beef checkoff lawsuit, a request made with R-CALF USA’s consent. The lawsuit was recently expanded to include 15 state beef councils, including those now joined as parties.

R-CALF USA explained in its response to the intervention request that the intervening state councils’ statement to the court confirm the beef checkoff program is being administrated in an unconstitutional manner, violating producers’ First Amendment rights. However, R-CALF USA stated it agreed to them entering the case so the court can have a full record of how the checkoff money is spent by these private entities.

In their request to join the case, the beef councils argued they are entitled to join because their interests in accessing and using beef checkoff money are different from those of the government. They explained they are entitled to retain “state-specific control” over the checkoff money, where the state activities are directed by a non-governmental board, without committing to input from all producers. R-CALF USA stated this is in direct contradiction to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) statements that it remedies the earlier constitutional problems with the beef checkoff program by requiring all councils to subject themselves to USDA review. 

R-CALF USA also explained that for the beef checkoff program to be constitutional it must only produce government speech, which is speech controlled by the federal government, not subject to local or state control by nongovernmental entities. Therefore, R-CALF USA stated it would agree to the councils entering the case because their statements are proof that the councils are using producers’ checkoff tax dollars to fund private speech. As one example, R-CALF USA pointed out that the government did not agree to the councils’ request to join the case as parties. Yet, the councils have expended checkoff taxes to do just that.

The case will now go forward with the councils as intervening-Defendants. “This will allow R-CALF USA to uncover how the councils decide to expend checkoff dollars, helping producers be better informed about how their money is used or misused by the state beef councils,” said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard.

On-Farm Research helps growers generate results

Laura Thompson, NE Extension Educator - Ag Technology

While fall harvest wraps up the final phase of the production season, now is also when growers are making plans for the 2019 growing season. If growers are looking for confirmation the production practices they used this year were profitable, they can turn to the Nebraska On-Farm Research Network.

The Nebraska On-Farm Research Network (NOFRN) 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 typically is conducted with the producer’s equipment, on the producer’s land and using the producer’s management practices. The on-farm research team works with growers to develop custom plans for research experiments.

“A number of projects can be planned and evaluated in the 2019 growing season, such as soil fertility, cover crop management, starter fertilizer, row spacing, seed treatments, plant populations, variable rate planting prescriptions and in-season fertilizer applications,” says Laura Thompson, extension educator. “Now is the time to start planning these studies. I would encourage people who are interested in doing a study to visit with a Nebraska Extension educator.”

According to Thompson, extension educators can help producers plan a study so they will have confidence in the results. They can also help provide opportunities for additional data to be collected, such as aerial imagery, photographs and other measurements.

Don Batie, a corn-soybean farmer near Lexington, conducted two on-farm research studies in 2017.

“I’m a firm believer of testing it out before we implement a change. We try things all the time, but by doing the on-farm research with the university, we used a statistical approach that brought a lot more confidence to the findings,” said Batie.

South-central Nebraska farmer Ken Herz raises corn, wheat, soybeans, and alfalfa and has a cow-calf operation on a dryland farm. Herz researched the effects of grazing cover crops after wheat in a three-year corn-soybean-wheat rotation. 

“This experience has been extremely rewarding. I would encourage anyone who has questions about agronomic practices that have not been researched to consider doing some on-farm research,” Herz said.

NOFRN is a collaborative partnership of Nebraska Extension, the Nebraska Corn Growers Association, the Nebraska Corn Board, the Nebraska Soybean Checkoff and the Nebraska Dry Bean Commission. The goal of the network is to put to use a statewide on-farm research program addressing critical farmer production, profitability and natural resources questions.

For more information on the project or how to participate, call 402-624-8030, email, contact a local Nebraska Extension office or visit

Dairy Webinar Asks If It’s Time to Visit Your Lender

The I-29 Moo University is hosting a webinar Thursday, Dec. 20 focused on preparing the information that lenders request. The “Improving Conversations with Your Lender” webinar will outline and explain the banking benchmarks and financial documents that lenders need to evaluate loans. The hour-long webinar is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. and will include time at the end for questions.

In addition, the program will focus on improving enterprise expense breakdowns and identify available follow-up information.

Heather Gessner, extension livestock business management field specialist at South Dakota State University, will present the information. Gessner grew up on a diversified operation raising cattle and hogs, as well as corn, soybeans, oats and alfalfa. Since joining SDSU Extension in 2001, she has earned a national reputation providing farmers and ranchers with enterprise analysis, budget spreadsheets, marketing education and estate and transition planning, education and assistance.

There is no fee for the webinar, but an online registration is required at: Upon registration, a confirmation email containing information to join the meeting will be sent.

The I-29 Moo University is a consortium of extension dairy specialists from Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota. Now in its thirteenth year, the consortium provides resources and education to enhance a sustainable dairy community along the I-29 corridor by focusing on best management practices, utilization of research-based expertise and resources, and ag-vocating the benefits of a vibrant dairy community. For more information about this webinar or other I-29 Moo University programs contact Fred M. Hall at 712-737-4230 or

Crop Advantage Series Helps Producers Make Decisions for 2019

Crop Advantage meetings provide a solid foundation of current, research-based crop production information to help producers make informed decisions for the farming operation. The 2019 meetings are an opportunity for farmers and crop advisers to hear current research and crop production information from Iowa State University.

Extension specialists will travel to 14 Iowa locations from Jan. 3-30, providing updated management options and recommendations on current and future crop production issues. Meetings offer continuing education credits for Certified Crop Advisers and pesticide safety recertification.

“There is no other program in our crop production education year that brings this many extension specialists together at individual sites across the state,” said Joel De Jong, field agronomist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

In 2018 nearly 2,000 individuals attended one of the meetings, representing all 99 Iowa counties and surrounding states. Eighty four percent of attendees responding to follow-up surveys said information from Crop Advantage would likely save them between $5 and $20 per acre.

“Our goal is to prepare producers to manage potential issues when they arise, or even before they arise, by sharing the most up-to-date scientific knowledge from Iowa State University,” said De Jong. “Content at the meetings is driven by county needs and local production issues.”

Program topics vary by location and are selected for regional concerns and issues. Topics on the agenda this year include: market outlook for 2019 and strategies for dealing with stress, weed management and herbicide resistance, soybean gall midge as a new Iowa pest, nitrogen management in variable environments, and soil pH and liming strategies with low crop prices.

2019 CAS Meeting Dates and Locations
Jan. 3 – Sheldon
Jan. 4 – Burlington
Jan. 8 – Storm Lake
Jan. 9 – Ames
Jan. 10 – Moravia
Jan. 11 – Mason City
Jan. 15 – Okoboji
Jan. 16 – Fort Dodge
Jan. 17 – Waterloo
Jan. 18 – Davenport
Jan. 22 – Le Mars
Jan. 24 – Atlantic
Jan. 29 – Iowa City
Jan. 30 – Denison
For locations, times and program details visit

Early registration for each location is $50; late registration made less than seven days prior to the meeting or on-site is $60. Registration includes lunch, printed proceedings booklet, private pesticide applicator recertification and CCA credits. Online registration and additional information is available at Contact ANR Program Services at 515-294-6429 or, or contact your regional Iowa State University Extension and Outreach field agronomist with questions.

House and Senate Ag Leaders: We've Reached Agreement in Principle on 2018 Farm Bill

House and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairmen Mike Conaway (R-Texas) and Pat Roberts (R- Kan.) and Ranking Members Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) made the following announcement today on the state of 2018 Farm Bill negotiations:

“We’re pleased to announce that we’ve reached an agreement in principle on the 2018 Farm Bill. We are working to finalize legal and report language as well as CBO scores, but we still have more work to do. We are committed to delivering a new farm bill to America as quickly as possible.”

NCGA Welcomes News of Farm Bill Agreement

National Corn Growers Association President Lynn Chrisp today released the following statement after an announcement that farm bill negotiators – Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway, R-Texas, and Ranking Member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., have reached an agreement in principle on a new farm bill.

“It’s imperative that farmers and rural communities have a new farm bill this year. NCGA is grateful for today’s announcement that sets the steps in motion to ensure that happens. Our grower members have been making phone calls and sending emails to Capitol Hill urging lawmakers to reach a deal before year’s end. We thank them for heeding this call and look forward to fully reviewing the conference agreement.”

NAWG Applauds Farm Bill Negotiators for Moving Process Forward

The leadership of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees have announced that they’ve reached a tentative agreement on a conference report for the 2018 Farm Bill, pending final scores from the Congressional Budget Office. While the bill still needs to be reported out of the conference committee, voted on by both Chambers and signed into law, NAWG is pleased the process is moving forward. NAWG President Jimmie Musick made the following statement in response:

“NAWG appreciates conferees diligently working together to reach an agreement to strengthen the agriculture industry. This past year our growers have dealt with the impact of the trade war between U.S. and China, extreme weather conditions, and a struggling rural economy and more. Farm Bill support programs provide them with some certainty during these volatile times.

“NAWG looks forward to reviewing the language within the bill.”

NFU Encouraged by Farm Bill Deal, Urges Swift Passage

Agriculture committee leadership today announced that they have reached an agreement in principle on the farm bill. While the final details of the bill have yet to be released and negotiators wait on cost estimates from the Congressional Budget Office, National Farmers Union (NFU) today expressed optimism that relief from the lapsed 2014 Farm Bill might soon arrive for family farmers and ranchers. NFU President Roger Johnson issued the following statement in response to the news:

“Getting a farm bill through the finish line before the end of the year is critical for the long-term viability and sustainability of family farmers and ranchers across the country. Farmers are enduring a growing financial crisis in the farm economy, and programs that support farm sustainability and diverse markets for family farmers have expired. Senate and House agriculture leaders and their staff have worked tirelessly to resolve differences in the chambers’ respective farm bills, and we’re optimistic they’ve come to terms on a farm bill that begins to provide the relief and certainty farmers need amidst struggling markets due to oversupply and trade volatility. We urge Congress to approve a farm bill before the end of the year.”

Farm Bureau Calls for Final Farm Bill Approval

President Zippy Duvall

"The 2018 farm bill emerging from the conference committee is good news for farmers amid a prolonged downturn in the agricultural economy. Chairmen Roberts and Conaway and Ranking Members Stabenow and Peterson made the bill a priority for this Congress, and all Americans—farmers and consumers—are better off for it.

“Continued access to risk management tools, assistance in foreign market development, and conservation and environmental stewardship programs within the legislation are especially important for farmers and ranchers. These programs will help provide certainty to rural America at a time when it is much needed given the financial headwinds so many family farms now face. Additionally, the bill continues to help low-income children, families, seniors and military veterans access the high-quality foods produced by farm families.

“Farmers and ranchers continue to face challenges outside of the farm bill. Every day we struggle to find the workers we need. Exports were once a backbone of U.S. agriculture, but we now face an uphill battle reclaiming our once robust market share. While the Administration is reviewing the cost and effectiveness of federal regulations, overregulation remains a burden that farmers and ranchers cannot afford, especially now. We urge Congress to continue working on these issues to maintain our nation’s food security and continue agriculture’s significant contributions to U.S. job creation and economic growth.

“The farm bill and ag policy broadly remain bipartisan matters and we encourage both houses of Congress to approve this bill once it is finalized by House and Senate Ag Leaders. We are thankful the Agriculture committees have stayed true to their mission to serve the American farmer and rancher and our nation's consumers, and we look forward to working with the next Congress on all the issues facing agriculture.”

EIA Study: Refiners Could Meet 95 RON Standard Without More Ethanol

A new Energy Information Administration (EIA) study concludes that U.S. petroleum refineries would have “no problem” meeting a requirement to produce gasoline with a higher minimum octane rating (95 Research Octane Number, or “RON”) beginning in 2022, and assumes that refiners would not use more ethanol beyond current levels to meet such an octane standard.

Automakers have called for the broad introduction of higher octane fuels to facilitate fuel economy improvements and reduce tailpipe emissions.

The EIA-commissioned study, conducted by oil industry consulting firm Baker & O’Brien, Inc., examines a scenario in which all new vehicles beginning with model year 2023 require the use of 95 RON gasoline, which is equivalent to today’s premium grade gasoline. According to the study, refiners would simply increase reformer severity to produce higher octane gasoline blendstock, which would then be blended with 10% ethanol to produce a 95 RON finished fuel. The authors found that “…no significant changes in refinery configuration or throughput would be required to meet the minimum 95 RON gasoline requirement.”

Increasing the reformer severity to make higher octane gasoline at the refinery “is well within the range of normal operations,” the report says, noting that “...existing domestic refineries should have no problem meeting the (95 RON) requirements...” Even as the demand for 95 RON gasoline grows as more 95 RON-required vehicles enter the fleet in the study’s 2027 scenario, refiners “…appear to be able to meet the increased 2027 octane requirements with minor operational adjustments. No industry-wide capital intensive projects would be needed to meet the 2027 requirements.”

Reacting to the EIA report, Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) President and CEO Geoff Cooper said, “This study confirms that a 95 RON requirement by itself would do nothing to expand the market for ethanol, even though ethanol will continue to reign as the cheapest and cleanest source of octane available on the market. Rather than using ethanol to boost octane, refiners would choose to run their reformers more intensively to increase production of higher octane hydrocarbons, many of which are highly toxic and would worsen air quality. However, if implemented alongside of—not in lieu of—the Renewable Fuel Standard, a 95 RON requirement could provide new market opportunities for America’s ethanol producers and farmers, as refiners would be compelled to do the right thing and choose ethanol as the primary means of raising octane levels. Still, to truly deliver the efficiency gains and emissions reductions needed in the future, a high octane, low carbon fuel with 98-100 RON would be a much better option.”

Cuba Offers Potential For Grains, But Poses Unique Trade Barriers

Huge potential remains for U.S. agricultural exports to Cuba, including corn, sorghum, barley and their co-products, but so do steep trade challenges, U.S. Grains Council staff learned on a recent industry mission to the country.

Council staff from the Western Hemisphere office participated this month in the Cuba and U.S. Agriculture Business Conference in Havana to learn more about current U.S. export and import policies regarding Cuba, investing in Cuban agricultural production and creating a viable and long-term trade relationship between the two countries. The three-day conference endeavored to increase sales of U.S. agricultural commodities and boost cooperation.

The Council has been involved with Cuba many times over the years, sending a delegation to the island nation as recently as 2015 to examine the market potential for the U.S. grain trade and the financing possibilities the U.S. could offer the country.

The recent mission continued this outreach focused on ag trade. Taking a page from U.S. companies already successfully doing business in Cuba, including Marriott and Jet Blue, meeting attendees pooled their knowledge and know-how to better understand the political and commercial situation to find ways to facilitate U.S trade to Cuba. Comprised of Cuban agribusiness leaders and farmer cooperatives and members of the U.S. ag sector - including corn, soybean, wheat, rice, poultry and potato industries – the mission participants had high hopes to begin to hash out the barriers between the two countries.

“There are no easy answers in Cuba,” said Catalina Correa, U.S. Grains Council regional marketing specialist, Western Hemisphere, who attended the conference, "yet the soil is prepared for greater discussion in how to make the way to higher economic development despite the political realities of both countries.

"There is momentum. Particularly with trade disputes in other regions of the world, U.S. ag producers are searching for other markets, and ones that once seemed too challenging to surpass, like Cuba, now have greater promise.”

According to the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council, the United States has sold $5.7 billion in food and feed to Cuba since 2000, when an amendment to the trade embargo allowed agricultural sales for cash. U.S. farmers and agribusinesses would like to expand the market, but because the Cuban government is not allowed to make purchases on credit, there are still barriers to getting food and feed grains to the country of 11.4 million people.

Despite this hurdle, the market is expected to offer significant opportunities for U.S. farmers with marketing year 2018/2019 import estimates of a million metric ton (39.3 million bushels) of corn annually, mainly from Argentina. If U.S. farmers could capture that market share, Cuba would be the 12th largest importer of U.S. corn and would also have the potential to increase its usage of U.S. distiller's dried grains with solubles (DDGS) and other grains.

It’s not just the credit issue that’s causing issues in Cuba, and it’s not just sales that are the main driver of U.S. interest. The humanitarian consideration of malnutrition is a reality for the population of the island nation.

There is an established need for animal ag industries including broilers, eggs and beef, and this trip offered the opportunity for discussion about these needs between U.S. and Cuban farmers.

“Today, Cubans aren’t getting enough protein,” Correa said. “The average Cuban eats only four eggs per month. Milk is only accessible to infants until they reach the age of two. Malnutrition is their daily concern. The embargo touches the lives of every Cuban; it affects all aspects of their lives.”

Maintaining a consistent dialogue with Cuba is an important part of the Council's programs with the country's ag sector.

USGC President and CEO Tom Sleight also recently met with the new president of Cuba, Miguel Diaz-Canel, in New York City in conjunction with the U.S. General Assembly meeting.

“In many ways, meeting President Diaz-Canel reminded me of the early days of the reopening of the Cuban market back in the late 1990s,” Sleight said. “President Diaz-Canel was open and affable. The barriers to expanded U.S. trade are considerable, yet the desire on both sides to keep talking was sincere.”

NCGA Welcomes Sarah Doese Back to DC Team

The National Corn Growers Association welcomes back Sarah Doese, who rejoins the organization as the manager of regulatory affairs and public policy in the Washington office. Doese previously served at NCGA as the legislative assistant. In her new position, she will manage a diverse issue portfolio with an emphasis on regulatory affairs and emerging issues, including precision agriculture and technology, labor and immigration, and rural broadband.

“Sarah is a talented, knowledgeable and passionate advocate for agriculture. We are excited to welcome her back to NCGA,” said CEO Jon Doggett. “With her new experience on Capitol Hill and a long family history in production agriculture, she will be a strong advocate for corn farmers on policy and regulatory matters affecting their operations. I am confident that she will help us expand our relationships on the Hill and find common ground on our most important policy priorities for agriculture.”

Doese comes to NCGA from the House Appropriations Agriculture Subcommittee where she served as majority staff. Prior to that, she worked for Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE) as a legislative correspondent.

Doese graduated from Iowa State University in December 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in agriculture education. She has completed internships with CropLife America, Iowa FFA Association, and the National Association of Agriculture Educators. Sarah is a former Iowa FFA state officer and was a member of the Sigma Alpha professional agriculture sorority at Iowa State.

She is a native of Fairbank, Iowa.

Avoid Yield Losses From Volunteer Corn With Herbicide Control

Farmers in the Corn Belt have an option for controlling yield-robbing volunteer corn next season. Many farmers are considering the use of corn with the Enlist™ trait to control volunteer corn by applying a FOP herbicide in 2019.

“Outside of cultivation, controlling volunteer corn can be a challenge for farmers due to herbicide resistance traits,” says Jason Welker, Mycogen Commercial Agronomist in Nebraska. “However, if the traits differ between last year’s and this year’s corn, then control through the use of a herbicide is possible.”

Mycogen® brand corn hybrids with the Enlist trait were first commercially available in the 2018 growing season. Farmers experienced success controlling grasses and volunteer corn last year. For farmers planting corn after corn, Mycogen brand hybrids with the Enlist trait provide an option for farmers in 2019. Corn with the Enlist trait includes tolerance for FOPs and acetyl-CoA carboxylase (ACCase) enzyme inhibitor, making it an option to spray FOP herbicide. DuPont™ Assure® II is the only grass herbicide labeled to control volunteer corn in corn hybrids with the Enlist trait.

“In areas where there were stalk integrity issues, especially in the western Corn Belt, farmers might be challenged with volunteer corn this next year,” Welker says. “Today’s equipment does a pretty good job of picking up down corn, but those in corn-after-corn situations who are concerned with the potential of volunteer corn should consider this new option for control.”

Threats to next year’s yield
Research shows significant yield loss results from delayed control of volunteer corn, regardless of the control method.

In an article authored by Kansas State University Cropping Systems Specialist Ignacio Ciampitti and Kansas Corn, the authors note the following statistics:
-    A study from South Dakota State University reported yield losses of up to 13 percent in corn from volunteer corn.
-    Research from the University of Minnesota showed volunteer corn plants lagged from one- to six-leaf stages behind the crop and few plants produced an ear by harvest.
-    Iowa State University reported one volunteer corn plant per 10 feet of row reduced corn yield 1.3 percent.
-    The University of Nebraska-Lincoln found volunteer corn population of 3,500 plants per acre resulted in a 2 percent yield reduction in corn and doubling the density to 7,000 plants per acre caused a 5 percent yield reduction.

“Corn with the Enlist trait is a great option to protect yield from volunteer corn and other yield-robbing weeds and grasses,” Welker says. “Grasses like Johnsongrass, which are hard to control with glyphosate, can be managed using a grass herbicide such as DuPont Assure II labeled for use in hybrids with the Enlist trait. We’ve seen some strong yield advantages this year with Mycogen brand hybrids with the Enlist trait.”

Wednesday November 28 Ag News

AFAN Awards First Livestock Friendly County Grant to Red Willow County

The Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska (AFAN) awarded its first $5,000 Livestock Friendly County Grant November 26 in McCook to Red Willow County, in care of the McCook Economic Development Corporation (MEDC).

AFAN provides an award of up to $5,000 per application from previously designated Livestock Friendly Counties to support a multitude of projects and campaigns developed by local stakeholders to encourage and support agriculture, livestock and related food processing in their counties. Red Willow County was designated a Livestock Friendly County in January 2018 by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture.

Brief presentations from Will Keech, AFAN’s director of livestock development and Andy Long, executive director of MEDC, preceded the grant presentation.

“AFAN is committed to helping Nebraska counties attract ag industries to their communities by providing the Livestock Friendly County Grant,” Keech said. “We are happy to present our first grant award to Red Willow County. The MEDC put together a compelling application outlining their needs and marketing plans.”

The MEDC’s Long stressed that agriculture is the foundation of Red Willow County’s economy. “A large percentage of McCook’s economy is directly related to our agriculture industry,” he said. “Our cattle producers and complementary businesses are vital to our economic success.” He said the grant “will provide the catalyst for our efforts to improve value-added recruitment efforts. Anything we can do to help our producers increase their revenue is a bonus to the entire region.” According to Long, the grant will allow the MEDC “to start our own digital marketing efforts to value-added agriculture operations and gives us focus on our recruitment efforts. The grant has already resulted in some strong conversations about opportunities we have locally to play to our strengths.”

“Project GROW” Field Day will Feature National Keynote Speaker Ray Archuleta

Nationally acclaimed soil scientist and farmer, Ray Archuleta, “The Soils Guy,” will be the keynote speaker at the inaugural “Project GROW” Field Day in York on December 12, 2018, at the Holthus Convention Center. This event is hosted by the Upper Big Blue NRD.

Mr. Archuleta is a farmer from Seymour, MO. He teaches Biomimicry Strategies and Agroecology principles on a national scale for improving soil function. He has over 30 years of work experience as a Soil Conservationist, Water Quality Specialist, Soil Health Specialist, and Conservation Agronomist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service. He has worked in the following states: New Mexico, Missouri, Oregon, and North Carolina.

Mr. Archuleta is also a Certified Professional Soil Scientist with Soil Science Society of America, and also served for two years in Guatemala as a Livestock Specialist in the Peace Corps. He received an A.S. in Livestock Science from Northern New Mexico College and a B.S. in Agricultural Biology, as well as amassing 30 hours of graduate school work in soil related classes from New Mexico State University. Ray is a nationally known speaker on the importance of soil health and Agroecology. His mission is to teach and apply time-tested, ecological principles, and bio-mimicry to help others regenerate this living and life-giving ecosystem.

Other featured speakers are Al Dutcher who will provide an update on the latest Nebraska weather trends and what to expect as winter gives way to spring, as well as Steve Melvin, Hamilton & Merrick Extension Educator, who will discuss Irrigated Cropping Systems.

The NRD is providing a free meal, so please RSVP by December 7th by calling Patty at the Upper Big Blue NRD at (402) 362-6601.


Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig today announced that applications are now being accepted for water quality planning and development projects. Selected projects will help inform, prioritize and coordinate implementation of conservation practices focused on improving water quality.

“This is an opportunity to bring in new partners to work with farmers and landowners to scale up construction of infrastructure based conservation practices. With long-term water quality funding now joining existing conservation programs, we are able to look several years ahead and make sure we are able to use the additional funding in a targeted, cost-efficient manner to improve water quality” Naig said.

Projects should focus on planning and design efforts that will directly lead to the adoption of water quality focused conservation practices. Successful applicants will need to demonstrate a proven track record of delivering planning, development, and design of projects and practices. Strong partnerships with stakeholders that have or will be contributing significant resources to the project are also critically important.

Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs), counties, county conservation boards, other units of government, not-for-profit non-governmental organizations (NGOs), public water supply utilities or watershed management organizations are eligible to submit applications. Applicants are also encouraged to partner with additional stakeholders that will be able to assist with education and outreach.

The applications must be received by 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 15, 2019. Projects selected to receive funding will be announced in early March and are projected to start on April 1, 2019.

Project application guidance can be requested by contacting the Department’s Division of Soil Conservation and Water Quality at 515-281-5851.

Trump Asked to Review of Argentine Biodiesel Import Duties

Three trade groups today wrote President Donald Trump to express concern that the U.S. Department of Commerce has initiated “changed circumstances” reviews of U.S. trade duties on Argentine biodiesel companies. The National Biodiesel Board, the American Soybean Association, and the National Renderers Association urged the president to ensure that Commerce undertake a rigorous, comprehensive and transparent review before considering any adjustment to the duty rates it established just this year.

The U.S. Commerce Department imposed antidumping and countervailing duty orders in January and April 2018, following investigations in which the government found that biodiesel imports from Argentina were massively subsidized and dumped, injuring U.S. biodiesel producers.

“Given the importance of this new remedy for American energy and agriculture against unfair imports, it is a mystery that Commerce would open an expedited path for Argentina to reduce or remove the tariffs and resume their illegal imports. This political concession to the government of Argentina would once again distort U.S. markets and undercut crop prices that are only now regaining stability, following other trade disruptions,” the groups, which represent stakeholders in U.S. biodiesel production, state in the letter.

The groups opposed Commerce’s initiation of the changed circumstances review, arguing that Commerce has well-established administrative review procedures for revisiting antidumping and countervailing duty rates. The agency has not used “changed circumstances” reviews for these purposes. Commerce’s initiation of these reviews just months after finding that Argentina engaged in unfair trade practices creates a great deal of uncertainty for the biodiesel industry and other stakeholders.

Now that Commerce has initiated the changed circumstances review, the groups are urging President Trump “to ensure that Commerce’s review of these orders is no less rigorous and transparent than the “administrative reviews” that Commerce typically conducts in other cases. To do anything less would strike a devastating blow to U.S. biodiesel producers and soybean farmers.”

Weekly Ethanol Production for 11/23/2018

According to EIA data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association, ethanol production averaged 1.048 million barrels per day (b/d)—or 44.02 million gallons daily. That is up 7,000 b/d from the week before. The four-week average for ethanol production retreated to 1.056 million b/d for an annualized rate of 16.19 billion gallons, reversing its four-week upward climb. The four-week average of ethanol production was 0.6% lower than last year—which was the case for three out of the four weeks in November, marking the first time the average dropped below year-ago levels since March.

Stocks of ethanol were 22.9 million barrels. That is 0.4% greater than last week.

There were zero imports recorded for the second week in a row. (Weekly export data for ethanol is not reported simultaneously; the latest export data is as of September 2018.)

Average weekly gasoline demand remained fairly constant from last week at 9.188 million barrels (385.9 million gallons) daily. This is equivalent to 140.85 billion gallons annualized. Refiner/blender input of ethanol decreased 0.4% to 924,000 b/d, equivalent to 14.16 billion gallons annualized. Ethanol use is roughly on par with the volume input this week one year ago, while gasoline demand is a full 5% higher than last year at this time.

Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production increased to 11.41%.

Anhydrous Continues to Lead Fertilizer Price Hike

Anhydrous and MAP have continued to lead fertilizer prices higher month-over-month, according to retail prices tracked by DTN for the third week of November 2018.

The price of anhydrous came in at $520/ton, up from $494/ton one month ago and $410/ton one year ago. MAP recorded the second-highest price spike from $518/ton one month ago to $530/ton.

None of the remaining six fertilizers show significant price increases.

UAN32 prices increased $4/ton to $287/ton, UAN28 by $3/ton to $246/ton, potash by $3/ton to $368/ton, DAP by $3/ton to $501/ton, urea by $2/ton to $407/ton, while 10-34-0 had no change at $457/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.44/lb.N, anhydrous $0.32/lb.N, UAN28 $0.44/lb.N, and UAN32 $0.45/lb.N.

Steer Too Beefy to Become Burgers Reprieved to Life on Farm

(AP) -- Knickers the steer is huge on the internet -- for being huge. The black-and-white Holstein Friesian won social media fame and many proclamations of "Holy Cow!" after photos surfaced of the 194-centimeter (6-foot-4-inch) steer standing head and shoulders above a herd of brown cattle in Western Australia state.

Owner Geoff Pearson said Knickers was too heavy to go to the slaughterhouse. "We have a high turnover of cattle, and he was lucky enough to stay behind," Pearson said.

Australian media say Knickers is believed to be the tallest steer in the country and weighs about 1.4 tons. Instead of becoming steaks and burgers, 7-year-old Knickers will get to live out his life in Pearson's fields in Lake Preston, southwest of Perth.

Tuesday November 27 Ag News

Confronting Cropping Challenges
Getting the latest information on issues facing crop farmers AND an opportunity to renew your private pesticide applicator license will all take place at a series of meetings in December. This is the third year for Confronting Cropping Challenges and responses from last year’s programs were very positive. This year the program will be offered at five locations in the area.
*  Monday, December 17 from 9:00 a.m. to Noon – Nielsen Community Center - West Point
*  Monday, December 17 from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. – Pender Community Center - Pender
*  Tuesday, December 18 from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. – Club Room, Ag Park - Columbus
*  Wednesday, December 19 from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. – Madison Extension Office - Norfolk
*  Thursday, December 20 from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. – Blair Public Library - Blair

Topics that will be covered this year include:
•    Crop Insect Update on Soybean Gall Midge, Western Bean Cutworm, and others
•    Crop Disease Update on Gray Leaf Spot and Frogeye and others
•    Hail Know Resources
•    Cover Crops 101
•    Resistant Weed Update and Herbicide Carryover
•    Private Pesticide Applicator Recertification

Anyone that just wants the crops information can attend the first five sessions and leave. If you need to have your private applicator license renewed (renewal only, not initial certification) in 2019, you can stick around for the final session to be recertified. Even though this training is being offered in 2018, you will not lose a year of certification on your license.

The cost for the program is $10 if you are only attending the first five sessions. If you are being recertified, the cost will be $50. The additional $40 is the same as you would pay to be recertified at a traditional private pesticide applicator training.

Pre-registration is appreciated but not required by calling Nebraska Extension at 402-374-2929.

Stay tuned for additional private pesticide training dates that will be held in the area during the first part of 2019.

For more information, contact your local Nebraska Extension office.

Reduce Hay Feeding Losses

Larry Howard, NE Extension Educator, Cuming County

Hay is expensive and many long hours go into harvesting, storing, and feeding it.   Don’t waste up to a third of it by using poor feeding practices. Cattle trample, over consume, manure on, and use for bedding 25 to 45 percent of your hay when it is fed with no restrictions.   No matter how inexpensive or cheap your hay might be, extra control in feeding can pay off big time.

First, don’t provide more than one day’s supply at a time.   Research has shown that when cows are fed a four-day supply, they will overeat and waste 20 to 30 percent more hay than when they are fed one day at a time.   This can add up to $25 to $50 more per cow over a four month feeding period.   The best is to feed only what the livestock will clean up in one meal so nothing is left over to be wasted.   Be sure to provide sufficient space, though, for all animals to eat at once so boss cows don’t stop timid cows from getting their fair share.

Another thing you can do is restrict access to the hay.   Use bale racks or rings to keep animals off the hay.   Especially useful are racks with barriers around the bottom that prevent livestock from pulling hay loose with their feet and dragging it out to be stepped on. If you unroll bales or grind and feed on the ground, position an electric fence alongside or above the hay to keep cows from trampling or bedding down on the hay.

As always, feed a balanced ration that provides sufficient energy and protein, but not too much.   Animals that eat more protein than they need will simply excrete it as extra nitrogen in their urine.   This is just as wasteful as directly trampling it into the ground.

Paying it Forward Ham by Ham this Holiday Season

Pig farmers across the U.S. understand the important role that they play in contributing to a better way of life in their communities, and this Giving Tuesday is no different. Today, U.S. pig farmers, the National Pork Board, the National Pork Producers Council and State Pork associations kicked off the third annual Hams Across America campaign. The program’s goal is to highlight the many diverse product donations the pork industry makes throughout the year.

“As pig farmers, our We Care ethical principles are the core of who we are as farmers, and it is important for us not only to talk about them but to live them out every day,” said Steve Rommereim, president of the National Pork Board and pig farmer from Alcester, South Dakota. “Hams Across America allows me and other farmers to live the We Care ethical principles and share our love of the product that we produce.”

“All of us in our connected food system understand the importance of supporting our communities whether that’s someone next door or a world apart,” said National Pork Producers Council President Jim Heimerl, a pork producer from Johnstown, Ohio. “With Hams Across America, we’re honored to share our products so others might enjoy delicious, wholesome meals this holiday season.”

Today, the National Pork Board, National Pork Producers Council and the Iowa Pork Producers Association held a kickoff event where they served breakfast to clients of the Central Iowa Shelter and Services in Des Moines.

Several other events will be held in partnership with many state pork associations across the United States, including:
    Dec. 3 – Illinois Pork will make a large donation of pork products to the Greater Chicago Food Depository;
    Dec. 7 – Oklahoma Pork will pack and distribute backpacks for students in need as part of their Pork for Packs program;
    Dec. 10 – North Carolina Pork will make a large donation of pork products to the Central and Eastern North Carolina Food Bank;
    Dec. 12 – Pennsylvania Pork will partner with the Harrisburg Police Department to distribute holiday food boxes to individuals in the city;
    Dec. 14 – Nebraska Pork will donate hams to homeless shelters in the Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska, area.

Also, on, the campaign will highlight Minnesota Pork Producers Association’s Oink Outings food bank donations, Ohio Pork Council’s social challenge to producers to pay-it-forward during the campaign, as well as many other stories from across the industry.

Pig farmers and those involved in the pork industry are encouraged to extend Giving Tuesday through Dec. 23 with Hams Across America. Individuals can participate by purchasing a gift of ham and paying it forward to loved ones and those in need. Participants are encouraged to share their pay-it-forward stories on social media using #RealPigFarming and #HamsAcrossAmerica.

Each year the Hams Across America campaign kicks off on Giving Tuesday – the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving. This nationally recognized day promotes charitable giving and pay-it-forward programs.

Annual #HamsAcrossAmerica Campaign Kicks Off in Iowa

The first of many giving events that are part of the Hams Across America campaign is taking place in Des Moines on Nov 27. A breakfast that includes sausage and bacon is being served to clients of Central Iowa Shelter and Services. Members and staff of the Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA), along with Fareway Stores, Inc., are sponsoring and serving the breakfast. They are being joined in that work by staff of the National Pork Board and National Pork Producers Council.

Central Iowa Shelter & Services provides meals and support services at no cost to adults experiencing homelessness.

Each year the Hams Across America campaign kicks off on Giving Tuesday - the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving. This nationally recognized day promotes charitable giving and pay-it-forward actions. Hams Across America extends through December 23, and many county pork producer groups in Iowa will take part in local giving programs during the next four weeks. These events are just part of the diverse ways Iowa pig farmers support their communities throughout the year.

"Iowa pig farmers understand the important role they play in contributing to a better way of life in their communities," says Trent Thiele, a pig farmer from Elma who is president-elect of the Iowa Pork Producers Association. "As pig farmers, our We CareSM ethical principles are the core of who we are as farmers, and it is important for us not only to talk about them, but to live them out every day," he says.

Jeff Cook, Fareway Vice President of Market Operations, says "At Fareway, we understand the importance of supporting our connected food system, our farmers, and our communities; and this campaign does this. Therefore, we are honored to work with Iowa's pig farmers in their Hams Across America effort."

Pig farmers and those involved in the pork industry are encouraged to extend the Hams Across America campaign in their local communities. Participants can then share their pay-it-forward stories on social media using #HamsAcrossAmerica in their posts.

USDA/FDA reach "Fake Meat" regulation agreement

The Iowa Cattlemen’s Association has been working to support United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) oversight of food safety and labeling regulations of lab-produced "fake meat". These efforts were rewarded with a November 16 announcement from the USDA and Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A joint press release from the two agencies outlined how they plan to work together with each overseeing different aspects of production.

USDA will essentially have primary jurisdiction over the most important facets of lab-produced fake meat.The FDA will oversee cell collection, cell banks, and cell growth and differentiation. After cells are harvested, oversight will be transferred to the USDA. The USDA will then regulate production and labeling of fake meat products.

Prior to the November 16 announcement, ICA brought this issue to the national forefront by introducing policy at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s convention. In October ICA board member, Bob Noble, and staff member, JanLee Rowlett, gave comments in Washington, D.C. at a joint USDA/FDA public meeting regarding fake meat. ICA is also working at the state level to reinforce the federal level work on the issue.

While shared jurisdiction over fake meat is an important step in the right direction, there is still a lot of work to do on this issue to ensure that real beef producers and consumers are protected and treated fairly. ICA will continue to stay engaged on this issue. USDA and FDA are accepting public comment until December 26. ICA will submit comments, continue to keep lawmakers informed, and work with the NCBA, the Administration and Congress at every opportunity to represent Iowa’s cattlemen.

Land Value Survey Results to be Presented at Dec. 12 News Conference

 Results of the 2018 ISU Land Value Survey will be announced at a news conference at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 12 on the Iowa State University Campus in Ames.

The annual survey is conducted by the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development at Iowa State and ISU Extension and Outreach. The news conference will take place in the Horton Room of the ISU Alumni Center.

Wendong Zhang, assistant professor and extension economist at Iowa State, will lead the news conference and announce the 2018 findings. Printed material will be provided at the news conference, including Iowa land value data from 1950 to present, current land value data for all 99 counties and a summary of the 2018 results. Zhang will be available to reporters for follow-up questions or one-on-one interviews immediately following the presentation of results.

The ISU Land Value Survey is currently ongoing. Agricultural professionals knowledgeable about the farmland market who haven’t participated in this year’s survey, may participate in the survey online by Dec. 1 at Responses are especially needed from ag professionals for land values in Crawford, Ida, Sac, Monona, Shelby, Buena Vista, Mills, Appanoose and Clarke counties.

Questions regarding the survey can be directed to Zhang at or 515-294-2536. Land value trends at the county, district and state level since 1950 can be viewed at the interactive Iowa Farmland Value Portal at

Webinar Explains #NoTillb4Beans and #CoverYourBeans Campaigns

Iowa Learning Farms will host a webinar on Wednesday, Dec. 12 at 12 p.m. about #NoTillb4Beans and #CoverYourBeans. The campaigns were launched by the Conservation Learning Group to highlight the potential for time and money savings with no-tillage and cover crops ahead of soybean.

Mark Licht, assistant professor of agronomy and extension cropping systems specialist, helped create the yearlong social media campaign to spread the word about cover crop and no-till benefits for soybean growers. The goal of the campaign is to initiate the conversation among farmers and landowners about the benefits, concerns and results of using cover crops and no-till for soybean.

Licht’s extension, research and teaching program is focused on how to holistically manage Iowa cropping systems to achieve productivity, profitability and environmental goals. No-tillage and cover crop adoption are two practices that provide large environmental benefits for reducing phosphorus and nitrogen losses. The #NoTillb4Beans and #CoverYourBeans campaigns focus on these practices ahead of soybean as an easy entry point with no adverse effects on productivity.

“If Iowa’s nearly 10 million acres of soybean were no-till planted into a cover crop we would nearly reach the 10.5 million no-tillage and 12.5 million cover crop acres called for in the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy,” stated Licht. “Cover crops ahead of soybean can lead to an average 8 bushel/ac yield advantage and no-till planting lowers input costs and saves time.”

To watch, go to and click the link to join the webinar shortly before 12 p.m. on Dec. 12 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

Established in 2004, Iowa Learning Farms is building a Culture of Conservation by encouraging adoption of conservation practices. Farmers, researchers and ILF team members are working together to identify and implement the best management practices that improve water quality and soil health while remaining profitable. Partners of Iowa Learning Farms include the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Iowa Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Iowa Department of Natural Resources (USEPA section 319).

NCGA Submits U.S.-Japan Objectives to USTR

National Corn Growers Association President Lynn Chrisp yesterday submitted NCGA’s negotiating objectives for a United States-Japan Trade Agreement to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. Japan is the second largest market for U.S. corn exports and U.S. corn farmers have been a reliable supplier to this market for more than 50 years.

“Corn farmers have long counted on Japan as a leading export market and have spent decades developing this important partnership,” Chrisp wrote. “NCGA has been advocating for a formal trade agreement with Japan for years and we are pleased to see the Trump administration take this important step, one that we hope will be followed up with other trade agreements in the Asia-Pacific region.”

NCGA’s top priorities for this negotiation are to secure this market access for corn amid intensifying competition from other corn suppliers, to improve market access for other corn co-products, and to address technical, sanitary and phytosanitary, and other non-tariff barriers to trade between the parties, allowing for more efficient trade flows.

Farm Bureau Calls for Extension of Renewable Fuel, Short Line Railroad Tax Incentives

Farmers and ranchers are urging congressional lawmakers—recently returned to Capitol Hill for their lame duck session—to tackle several outstanding issues, including the extension of lapsed biodiesel and short line railroad tax incentives.

Tax credits for biodiesel, renewable biodiesel and second-generation biofuel, along with the alternative fuel vehicle refueling property tax credit, expired on Dec. 31, 2017. These cleaner-burning renewable fuels provide expanded markets for farm commodities.

Similarly, the tax credit for short line railroads, which farmers and ranchers depend on to deliver their products to market and to supply them with the inputs they need to run their businesses, also expired at the end of last year. The tax incentive for track maintenance helps to upgrade and continue local rail service that connects over 10,000 rail customers to the national mainline rail network.

The lapse of these tax credits, along with many others, has created confusion for the numerous industry sectors that use them and support thousands of jobs in the U.S. economy, the American Farm Bureau Federation and a diverse coalition of more than 55 other organizations said in a letter to House and Senate leaders.

“The continued uncertainty with regard to eventual congressional action on tax extenders is undermining the effectiveness of these incentives and stands as a needless barrier to additional job creation and economic growth in the private sector,” the groups wrote. They urged lawmakers to, at a minimum, retroactively extend the provisions through the end of 2019 before the 115th Congress adjourns.

Weekly Outlook: Tracking the Pace of Corn Consumption

The December corn futures contract closed lower for the third straight week on Friday. Weakness in soybean and oil markets continues to place bearish pressure on corn prices. Despite the price weakness, University of Illinois agricultural economist Todd Hubbs says the pace of corn consumption remains relatively robust thus far in the marketing year.

"Analysis of corn consumption for the marketing year that began in September indicates the pace is still on track to match current USDA forecasts for consumption," he says.

The USDA projects marketing-year corn exports at 2.45 billion bushels, 12 million bushels more than exported last year. With one reporting week left in the first quarter of the marketing year, cumulative export inspections exceed those of a year ago by 80 percent. Last year, however, weekly export inspections were relatively small early in the year with the first half of the marketing year averaging 28.2 million bushels per week.

The strength in exports during the last half of the marketing year, with a weekly average of approximately 58 million bushels, continued into the early part of this year. To date this marketing year, export inspections averaged 42.8 million bushels per week. Census Bureau export estimates for September came in at 207 million bushels and exceeded export inspection estimates by 23.5 million bushels.

"If that margin stayed constant through Nov. 22, exports sit at 539 million bushels and need to average nearly 47.4 million bushels per week during the final three quarters of the year to reach the USDA projection," Hubbs explains.

Unshipped export sales as of Nov. 15 came in at 463 million bushels, 111 million less than outstanding sales a year earlier. Export commitments (shipments plus outstanding sales) are 1.5 percent higher than those of the previous year. "The current pace of corn exports is encouraging, but sales and shipments need to continue the strength seen early in the marketing year," Hubbs adds.

The USDA projects feed and residual use of corn during the current marketing year at 5.5 billion bushels, 202 million bushels (3.8 percent) more than used last year. The pace of use can only be measured based on the USDA's quarterly estimate of corn stocks. The estimate of stocks at the end of the first quarter of the marketing year, Dec. 1, will be released on Jan. 11, 2019. Until then, the pace of feed use of corn is derived mainly from estimates of livestock slaughter and inventories. Weekly broiler chick placements continue to run about 1 percent below placements of a year earlier.

As of Nov. 1, the number of cattle in feedlots with capacity of at least 1,000 head was up 3.2 percent, but placements came in at 93.9 percent of last year and eased concerns about cumbersome supplies in the first quarter of 2019. Similarly, Hubbs says the number of hogs slaughtered in October was up 6 percent from that of last year, but frozen pork in storage came in 5 percent lower than last year. "While large livestock inventories point to increased feed use of corn, the magnitude of residual use is difficult to anticipate," he says.

Weekly EIA estimates indicate that ethanol production in September and October of this year exceeded that of last year by approximately 1 percent. Ethanol production from the beginning of the marketing year through Nov. 16 was 0.7 percent larger than during the same period last year. Ethanol production during the first quarter of the 2018-19 marketing year is likely about 0.7 percent larger than during the same quarter last year. Corn used for ethanol production may have been up slightly more than 0.6 percent for the quarter, which places corn use in ethanol at approximately 1.4 billion bushels for the quarter.

For the marketing year, the USDA has projected corn used for ethanol production at 5.65 billion bushels, only 0.8 percent more than used last year. Hubbs says corn use over the next three quarters of the year would have to be 0.9 percent more than the use of a year ago to meet that projection.

"Domestic ethanol consumption may plateau during the current marketing year following an increase last year. A continuation of lower crude oil and gasoline prices places pressure on ethanol profitability margins. At this juncture, it appears likely that corn used for ethanol production requires another strong year of ethanol exports," he says. Total ethanol exports during the 2017-18 marketing year reached a record 1.635 billion gallons, up 18 percent over the previous marketing year. Ethanol export data is currently available for September and shows an increase of 6.7 percent over last year.

The USDA will update the projections of marketing-year corn consumption on Dec. 11. "The current pace of use suggests that the forecast of total consumption will be little changed from the November projection. Corn prices will continue to struggle without a resolution of trade issues with China or price recovery in energy markets," Hubbs says.

New Joint Venture Formed to Convert Pig Poop to Power

(AP) -- The world's largest pork company is teaming up with a major energy company to turn pig manure into renewable natural gas.

Smithfield Foods and Dominion Energy announced a joint venture partnership Tuesday to trap methane from hog waste and convert it into power for heating homes and generating electricity.

Smithfield previously announced that its company-owned and contract farms over the next decade will cover waste-treatment pits to capture the gas and keep out rainwater. The gas will be channeled to processing centers and converted into natural gas.

Nearly 150 Business Groups Ask White House to Capitalize on G20 Meeting and End Trade War Ahead of Looming New Year's Day Tariff Increase

Americans for Free Trade today sent a letter to President Trump urging the White House to resolve the ongoing trade war with China during the President's meeting with Chinese President Xi at the G20 meeting this week.

"Mr. President, we urge you to capitalize on your upcoming meeting with President Xi to reach an agreement that addresses China’s unfair trade practices and policies in order to remove the 2018 tariff increases, forgo the January 2019 tariff increase and avoid an additional round of tariffs on the remaining $267 billion worth of everyday consumer products and manufacturing inputs. Millions of American farmers, business owners, companies, workers, and families are counting on you to make a deal," the coalition said.

Today's letter follows months of negative nationwide economic consequences caused by the impact of tariffs on American businesses, workers and families. Americans for Free Trade is holding townhall events across the country as part of the Tariffs Hurt the Heartland campaign. The town halls bring local businesses and farmers together to tell their stories of how tariffs are hurting them.

"Tariffs are leading to fewer opportunities for America’s farmers and ranchers to compete in overseas markets and less income to provide for their families," the coalition added in today's letter. "For U.S. companies importing manufacturing inputs or finished products, these significant costs will result in higher prices, fewer jobs, slower wage growth and reduced investment. We will continue to see the cost of the trade war ripple through the U.S. economy and reverse this year’s economic progress."

Americans for Free Trade and the Tariffs Hurt the Heartland campaign have also been releasing monthly data on the impact of tariffs on imports and the damage retaliatory tariffs have had on American exports.

Americans for Free Trade will continue to use its diverse coalition of employers in communities across the country to press for resolution of ongoing trade disputes with China. Americans for Free Trade is also working with Farmers for Free Trade on a grassroots nationwide campaign to illustrate the impacts of tariffs on American businesses, families, farmers and manufacturers.


Twenty-one leaders from the US agricultural community, including two former US Department of Agriculture (USDA) chief scientists and undersecretaries of agriculture for Research, Education and Economics (REE) today sent a letter to Congress expressing concern about the decision to relocate two USDA research agencies outside Washington, DC.

The Economic Research Service (ERS) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) would be affected by the move, and ERS—a statistical agency—would be realigned outside the REE mission area to a policy-supporting office, threatening its role as a policy-neutral agency. These two agencies are indispensable sources of agricultural and food research as well as objective national data and analysis for the $1 trillion food, agriculture and rural economies.

“The proposed restructuring is a major disruption in the USDA research arm that provides invaluable support for American food and agriculture,” said Gale Buchanan, former USDA chief scientist and undersecretary for REE. “The decades of planning and adjustments that have optimized the work of REE will be dismantled in a matter of months if this proposal is carried out as planned. Congress should block such an upheaval of our nation’s food and agriculture enterprise support system.”

The letter outlines numerous risks associated with relocating NIFA and ERS outside the Washington, DC, area. Among them are the following:
-    The loss of direct engagement with the broader scientific funding research community, including the National Science Foundation (NSF), USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and National Institutes of Health (NIH)
-    The undermining of USDA funding of research, which has stagnated for the last 40 years
-    The weakening of the coordination of NIFA and ERS with their sister REE agencies, the ARS and National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS)

The full impact has not been thoroughly examined, according to the signers of the letter who are urging Congress to intervene.

“The USDA did not consult stakeholders, Congress or the scientific community prior to this decision, and it is unclear what problems the USDA seeks to address with the relocation of these agencies,” said Catherine Woteki, also a former USDA chief scientist and undersecretary for REE. “The high quality of work that these agencies produce will be jeopardized by the substantial staff loss that will occur as a result of the relocation. In addition, moving ERS out of REE to a policy-supporting office is likely to jeopardize the policy-neutral work of the agency.”

The group, along with the American Statistical Association (ASA) and others, is calling on Congress to protect ERS and NIFA as independent statistical agencies so they maintain the quality, credibility and integrity of their research and statistical programs.

“The ASA is supporting the efforts of these agriculture experts and leaders in the broader food, agriculture and rural community who whole-heartedly oppose these ill-conceived changes to the USDA’s research structure and function,” said Ron Wasserstein, the ASA’s executive director. “The integrity of the work being done by these highly specialized and experienced professionals is at risk, and the community as a whole is standing up in their defense.”

Milo Shult—vice president for agriculture emeritus, University of Arkansas, and a signer of the letter—added, “Since the birth of our nation, there have been certain things that our central government must provide. In addition to a strong military, it is critical that we have a system that provides the food security necessary for the health and quality of life for the nation’s citizens. The system has grown, of necessity, to a multidisciplinary nationwide effort cutting across agricultural science, food science, medical science, social science, environmental science, and further. We are the envy of the world in those programs. We are highly concerned that the removal of NIFA and ERS from the location in our nation’s capital could be the beginning of a dismantling of our agricultural progress.”

Signers of the letter to Congress include the following:
Gale Buchanan, Former USDA Chief Scientist and Under Secretary of Agriculture for Research, Education, and Economics; Dean and Director Emeritus, University of Georgia, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
Catherine E. Woteki, Former USDA Chief Scientist and Under Secretary of Agriculture for Research, Education, and Economics
Daniel Arp, Dean Emeritus, College of Agricultural Sciences, Oregon State University
Kathryn J. Boor, Robert P. Lynch Dean, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University
Daniel Bush, Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs, Colorado State University
Neville Clarke, Director Emeritus, Texas Agricultural Experiment Director; Former Executive Director, Southern Association of State Agricultural Experiment Station Directors; Chair, Experiment Station Committee on Organization and Policy (ESCOP)
Helene Dillard, Dean and Professor, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, University of California, Davis
Dan Dooley, Former Vice President, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California
Robert Easter, President Emeritus and Dean Emeritus, College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois
John D. Floros, President, New Mexico State University
Alan L. Grant, Dean, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Virginia Tech
Bret W. Hess, Interim Dean, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and Director, Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station, University of Wyoming
Cathann A. Kress, Vice President for Agricultural Administration and Dean, College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, The Ohio State University
Michael D. Lairmore, Dean and Distinguished Professor, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis
Daryl Lund, Former Dean of Agricultural and Natural Resources, Rutgers University and Cornell University; Former Executive Director of the North Central Regional Association of State Agricultural Experiment Stations
Bobby Moser, Former Vice President, College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, The Ohio State University
Jack Payne, Senior Vice President, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida
Thomas L. Payne, Vice Chancellor and Dean Emeritus, College of Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources, University of Missouri
Gene Sander, President Emeritus, Former Vice President, and Dean for Agriculture and Life Sciences, University of Arizona
Milo Shult, Vice President for Agriculture Emeritus, University of Arkansas
Lynn Wooten, Dean, The Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, Cornell University

November 26 Crop Progress & Harvest Report - NE - IA - US


For the week ending November 25, 2018, there were 5.1 days suitable for fieldwork, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 1 percent very short, 4 short, 88 adequate, and 7 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 1 percent very short, 9 short, 85 adequate, and 5 surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Corn harvested was 94 percent, near 96 last year and 97 for the five-year average.

Winter wheat condition rated 2 percent very poor, 7 poor, 25 fair, 46 good, and 20 excellent.

Sorghum harvested was 95 percent, equal to last year, and near 98 average.

Pasture and Range Report:

Pasture and range conditions rated 2 percent very poor, 3 poor, 22 fair, 66 good, and 7 excellent.

This is the last weekly Crop Progress and Condition report for the 2018 growing season. We would like to extend our appreciation to the dedicated county FSA and extension staff who supplied the necessary information for these reports. For December through March, we will issue monthly reports. The first monthly report (for December) will be issued January 2, 2019. Weekly reports will begin April 1st for the 2019 season.


Iowa farmers had 4.4 days suitable for fieldwork during the week ending November 25, 2018, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Activities for the week included harvesting corn and soybeans, baling stalks, applying manure, and moving grain. Early in the week farmers were doing fall tillage, tile repair, and anhydrous application, but those activities halted as declining temperatures, rain and snow arrived.

Topsoil moisture levels rated 0 percent very short, 1 percent short, 81 percent adequate and 18 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated 0 percent very short, 2 percent short, 79 percent adequate and 19 percent surplus.

Ninety-six percent of the State’s corn for grain crop has been harvested, 4 days behind the five-year average. Farmers in northwest, north central, and central Iowa have harvested 98 percent of their corn for grain while farmers in the southwest have 13 percent of their corn for grain remaining to be harvested. Moisture content of field corn being harvested averaged 16 percent. Soybean harvest was 98 percent complete, 9 days behind last year and 12 days behind the average.

Feedlots and pastures were messy with warming temperatures followed by rain and snow late in the week. Livestock conditions varied by area with some reports of no issues while others had trouble getting water, feed, and bedding to livestock.

Final Report of Season Shows Row-Crop Harvest, Winter Wheat Planting Behind Average

The nation's row-crop harvest and winter wheat planting made little headway last week and remained behind the five-year average pace as of Sunday, Nov. 25, USDA's National Ag Statistics Service said in its final weekly Crop Progress report of the season on Monday.

Corn harvest progressed only 4 percentage points to end last week at 94% complete. That's equal to last year's pace of 94% complete but was 2 percentage points behind the five-year average of 96%.

Meanwhile, 94% of the nation's soybeans were harvested as of Sunday, up just 3 percentage points from the previous week. Harvest is still 4 percentage points behind the five-year average of 98%.

Winter wheat progress also remained behind average last week. Ninety-five percent of the crop was planted as of Sunday, up just 2 percentage points from the previous week, behind last year's 99% and also behind the five-year average of 99%. Winter wheat emerged, at 86%, was behind both last year's pace of 91% and the average pace of 92%.

NASS estimated 55% of the nation's winter wheat was in good-to-excellent condition, down 1 percentage point from 56% the previous week but up from 50% last year at this time.

Eighty-nine percent of the sorghum crop was harvested as of Sunday, behind 94% last year and 5 percentage points behind the five-year average of 94%.

Seventy percent of cotton was harvested, behind last year's 78% and also behind the average pace of 77%.

Monday November 26 Ag News

Ag Update December 6th and 7th 2018 in Lincoln, Nebraska

Please join us for this year's annual Ag Update sponsored by the Nebraska Agri-Business Association. There are a total of 12 speakers with four on the first day and eight on the second day.

Ag Update is at the Holiday Inn Southwest 2500 Tamarin Ridge Rd, Lincoln, NE and will start with registration at 12:30 pm on Thursday, December 6, 2018, continuing all day Friday, December 7, 2018 with registration beginning at 8:00 am.

The speakers and topics for Thursday are:
    Corey Brubaker - Ephemeral Erosion & Conversion Compliance (SW .5)
    Aaron Hird - Cover Crop Adaptive Management (CM .5)
    Aaron Hird - Soil Health Demonstration Farm Update (SW .5)
    Corey Brubaker - Adaptive Nutrient Management in EQIP (NM .5)
    Joe Luck - In Season Nitrogen Management - Project SENSE (NM 1.0)
    Renee Hancock - Water Quality Update (SW .5)

The speakers and topics for Friday are:
    Justin McMechan - Emerging Pests of Corn and Soybeans (PM 1.0)
    Bekah Nortrup - Nitrogen Stabilizers and the 4R's (NM 1.0)
    Tim Mundorf - Nutrient Pollution in Surface Waters (SW 1.0)
    Tom Clemente - Agriculture Biotechnology: Challenges and Opportunities (CM 1.0)
    Robert Klein - Trying to Solve Weed Management Problems (PM 1.0)
    Andrea Basche and Katja Koehler-Cole - Can Cover Crops be used for Weed Control in Nebraska (CM 1.0)
    Jeremy Quist - Corn Disease Management (PM 1.0)

Your registration includes rolls & coffee, lunch, and all speaker handouts. A registration form is included for you to register for Ag Update or you can register online at:
Please contact Sarah Skirry at or (402) 476-1528, if you have any questions. We hope to see you in Lincoln at this year's Ag Update!

Students: Apply by December 15 for Pork Mentorship Program

Choosing a career path can be difficult. In a world full of occupational options, it is helpful to receive a little guidance along the way. That’s why the Nebraska Pork Producers Association is extending help to college-age students who apply to participate in the Pork Mentorship Program.

The deadline for submitting student applications is December 15, with selection notifications to be sent to applicants by January 1.

The Pork Mentorship Program is a career development program that provides a variety of hands-on experiences to promote leadership and communication skills, ultimately fostering career exploration and professional development.  The NPPA Pork Mentorship Program is more than just a scholarship. It’s a way for students to build their capacity as a leader and professional in the swine and agriculture industries in Nebraska. The program provides students with an opportunity to identify future career goals and to evolve into strong agricultural advocates.

The Nebraska Pork Producers Association wants college-age students to be a part of the Pork Mentorship Program. If students are connected to agriculture and believe in the future of the pork industry, they are encouraged to apply. $500 scholarships are available for college-age students who have an interest in the pork industry – they don’t have to be a pork producer! 

How it works

Year-long programming will run from February 1, 2019 to February 1, 2020. During that time, students will attend seminars where they will learn about various aspects of the pork and agriculture industries, participate in a bus tour highlighting Nebraska agriculture, and have opportunities to promote Nebraska’s pork industry. Upon completion, students will receive a $500 scholarship toward their education expenses. Students will not be responsible for any expenses to participate in the program.

Eligible applicants must

·    Be enrolled full-time in a Nebraska post-secondary school, and be between 18-24 years of age
·    Be able to attend all quarterly meetings and complete all requirements before receiving his/her scholarship
·    Have access to and communicate effectively via email

Develop the skills needed to be a strong advocate for agriculture by
·    Shadowing industry professionals
·    Promoting pork
·    Blogging
·    Volunteering
·    Engaging in personal and professional development seminars
·    Attending quarterly meetings

Who Should Apply?

College-age men and women who have an interest in agriculture and the pork industry. You don’t have to be a pork producer.

What  Will I Do?

Job-shadow pork industry professionals, promote agriculture and the pork industry, and improve your leadership, team building and communications skills. You’ll also travel to the World Pork Expo and attend other exciting industry tours and group events.  

Apply Now!

Interested students should complete the application and submit an up-to-date resume by December 15. Applications will be reviewed, and selection notifications will be sent by January 1. Students may apply for the scholarship online by visiting the youth tab on

Dairy Store Operations to Shift and Expand

In the new year, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Dairy Store will dish up scoops of change alongside its rotating slate of sweet treats.

As part of a larger realignment toward the core of East Campus, Dairy Store operations will split, with the storefront moving to the north side of its current home in Filley Hall/Food Industry Complex, and the ice cream/cheese production shifting to the Food Innovation Center on Nebraska Innovation Campus.

The change allows for a modernization to the storefront and expands learning opportunities for students in the food science and technology program, which is based at Nebraska Innovation Campus.

"This is going to be an exciting project for the Dairy Store, students and our patrons," said LeRoy Braden, manager of the Dairy Store. "When the project is complete, we will have improved facilities while maintaining Dairy Store nostalgia with the same flavors everyone loves."

The new Dairy Store location -- which is scheduled to open in late spring -- will shift the ice cream shop to face what is known as Legacy Plaza. The green space, which includes four sculptures of Nebraskans who have served as U.S. secretaries of agriculture, is being transformed into a focal point of activity on East Campus.

The green space project launched in 2015 under the direction of Chancellor Ronnie Green, who, at that time, served as vice chancellor for the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources. When complete, Legacy Plaza will be framed by the new Massengale Residential Center, Dairy Store, Nebraska East Union and C.Y. Thompson Library.

Nebraska East Union is currently under renovation. The project will transition the building's west entrance to the south, facing Legacy Plaza.

The library is also scheduled for a renovation, transforming the space into a learning commons similar to the first floor of Love Library North, offering a shared space for information technology, tutoring, collaborations, meetings and study. While the library is under construction, books will be temporarily available for checkout in the Food Industry Complex.

"From this spring until fall 2020, the old Dairy Store location will become the library circulation desk," said Barry Shull, facilities director for the vice chancellor of IANR.

The tentative construction schedule for the C.Y. Thompson project is a year, starting in October 2019. When complete, the design will include an entrance/seating area that faces Legacy Plaza.

The Dairy Store project will create a new entrance facing Legacy Plaza. The traditional Dairy Store entrance on the south side of the building will continue to be open to patrons. To help alleviate parking constraints, eight 30-minute parking meters have been installed outside Filley Hall/Food Industry Complex.

The Dairy Store is expected to remain open through the remodel. Additional plans call for the creation of an outdoor seating area on Legacy Plaza for Dairy Store patrons.

Plans for moving the Dairy Store's ice cream and cheese production to Nebraska Innovation Campus are underway. The new space will be linked to the Food Innovation Center.

"This is definitely an opportunity for us to make sure we integrate additional training space for students while also allowing for expanded research and development needs for companies who might want to use the Dairy Store production facilities," said Josie Houston, manager of the Dairy Store production facility. "We're still working on a timeline for the move. But, when it is finished, we'll definitely be better positioned to support the needs of the Dairy Store while expanding teaching opportunities to students."


Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig today requested an additional $250,000 to support foreign animal disease response preparations as part of the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s Fiscal Year 2020 budget request. Naig also emphasized the importance of continued funding for the Iowa Water Quality Initiative and Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Program.

“Iowa’s $13.45 billion animal industry continues to see significant growth and is a key economic driver for our state. Avian influenza, African swine fever and other foreign animal diseases continue to represent a significant threat to our livestock farms and emphasize the need for us to expand efforts to prevent, prepare and potentially respond to an animal disease emergency,” Naig said. “It is important we continue to invest in priority areas such as animal health, water quality and renewable fuels to support our state’s farmers and help strengthen our rural economy.”

The additional $250,000 for foreign animal disease response preparations would be used to help the Department better equip and prepare for potential future outbreaks, including updating emergency response plans and organizing disease response exercises. The funds would also be targeted towards assisting livestock farmers with additional expertise and resources to increase biosecurity efforts to prevent a disease outbreak.

The Legislature provided $250,000 in funding this fiscal year to support animal disease response preparations, including supporting the hiring of Dr. Andrew Hennenfent as the Emergency Management Coordinator for the Department.

Naig also requested continued funding of $10.575 million to support the Iowa Water Quality Initiative in the next fiscal year. This annual funding is in addition to the long-term water quality funding that was passed last session and will provide $4 million to the Department next fiscal year.

This funding is used to provide cost share to implement conservation practices across the state. The funds will also support numerous demonstration projects focused on implementing and demonstrating water quality practices. Currently, there are 14 targeted watershed projects, seven projects focused on expanding the use and innovative delivery of water quality practices and 43 urban water quality demonstration projects.

Naig also highlighted the importance of continued funding for the Iowa Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Program.  The Department has received $3 million annually to offer cost share grants for the installation of E85 dispensers, blender pumps, biodiesel dispensers and biodiesel storage facilities. Since 2007, the program has distributed nearly $31 million to support the installation of 332 E85 dispensers/blenders, 291 biodiesel dispensers/blenders and 140 biodiesel terminals across Iowa.


Beef was a hot commodity in Lancaster, PA at the area’s premier food festival, attracting consumers who enjoy the pleasures of eating and entertaining with food. The TASTE! Lancaster Festival of Food, Wine & Spirits 2018 welcomed nearly 8,000 guests to the Lancaster Convention Center on November 16 & 17.

The beef checkoff highlighted beef’s versatility and flavor profile to the crowds as they passed through the festival space. Chef Barry Strand, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff, was on-site to demonstrate the new culinary craze of Beef Poke, sharing its trendy appeal to the millennial and foodie crowd. Nearly 1,600 samples of the tangy and delicious recipe were distributed “We wanted to highlight this dish for two reasons. Ribeye filet is a cut that not many people have tried before. You can ask your butcher to break this down for you, or, you can get more hands on and fabricate this cut yourself. There are cutting videos available on Also, according to Whole Foods Market Top 10 Trends of 2019, flavors of Hawaii and the Pacific Rim will be huge in 2019. This recipe capitalizes on the trend of poke using flavors beef Ribeye FIlet, without using the traditional raw ingredients.”

Along with a weekend of culinary demos, Chef Barry also showcased a step-by-step breakdown of the beef ribeye subprimal, demonstrating how cost effective this can be if done at home. Attendees were fascinated by the cutting demo and watched in amazement as Chef Barry talked through the best technique to freeze beef at home, as well. “Buying beef in bulk and learning the proper steps to freezing beef in smaller potions is a great option for feeding your family on a budget,” comments Jennifer Orr, Director of Nutrition Education with the Northeast Beef Promotion Initiative.

New to the beef booth was a Recipe Inspiration Kiosk, a digital experience where consumers had the opportunity to learn more about beef fabrication, view checkoff promoted videos, enter to win the ‘Beef & Wine’ Entertaining basket and even share recipes with themselves from Of those entering the survey at the kiosk, 84% stated they have a positive opinion of beef!

Overall, the checkoff was glad to be involved in this local foody event, educating consumers on the many benefits of beef from its versatility, economical capabilities and delicious flavor profile. The checkoff is thankful to JBS Souderton for the generous donation of beef subprimals for the cutting demonstration and ribeye filets, for sampling, in order to help make this event a success!

The event was sponsored by the Beef Checkoff’s Northeast Beef Promotion Initiative, along with the Pennsylvania, Colorado and Iowa State Beef Councils.

NBB Appreciates Proposal for Long-Term Extension of the Biodiesel Tax Incentive

Today, Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee, released a proposal to make technical corrections to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (PL 115-97) and to extend several expired tax credits, including the biodiesel and renewable diesel tax incentive. NBB welcomes the proposal for a multi-year extension of this important incentive; it would keep the credit at its current rate of $1.00 per gallon for 2018 through 2021 but gradually reduce it to $0.33 per gallon by 2024 and then allow it to expire.

Kurt Kovarik, Vice President of Federal Affairs with the National Biodiesel Board, stated, “The biodiesel industry has long advocated for a long-term tax extension to provide certainty and predictably for producers and feedstock providers. Too often, the credit has been allowed to lapse and then reinstated retroactively, which does not provide the certainty businesses need to plan, invest, and create jobs. We appreciate the recognition that the biodiesel industry is integral to our domestic energy needs through this long-term extension. We look forward to working with our supporters on Capitol Hill to ensure that consumers, producers and marketers benefit from a long-term, forward-looking pro-growth tax policy.”

Inventories Taking Shape

Matthew A. Diersen, Extension Specialist, South Dakota State University

Last week brought a flurry of market information from various NASS reports that give added insight into the cattle supply situation and the inventory levels likely in 2019. In the November Cattle on Feed report, placements were lower and marketings were higher than year ago levels. The placements were at the very low end of trade expectations, while marketings were at the very high end of trade expectations. The slight bump in futures last week, however, did not last long. The latest on-feed total of 11.7 million head continues to be a large absolute level of cattle to work through. Spatially, there was little disparity in the on-feed totals across major feedlot states. The marketings were a little higher in Nebraska than in other states. The implication of these factors is that the number on-feed is narrowing back toward the 2017 level.

There was a slowdown in placements weighing less than 800 pounds. Recent months have had larger levels of lighter placements, which partially explains why more cattle have been on feed for greater than 90 and greater than 120 days. In the Cold Storage report, there was slightly more beef stocks, but slightly less pork stocks as of October 31. In the Livestock Slaughter report, weights were unchanged for most classes. Both beef cow and dairy cow slaughter were up sharply during October. Year to date, there have been fewer steers and more heifers slaughtered compared to this time last year. Recall in the October Cattle on Feed report, the quarterly heifer mix was up compared to July 1 and up compared to a year earlier. An implication of these factors is that more heifers on feed limits the increase in beef production. The average steer dressed weight is about 70 pounds heavier than the average heifer dressed weight.

Other inventory indicators continue to take shape. The total cattle inventory at the beginning of 2018 was 94.4 million head. Extrapolating data on slaughter volumes and cattle trade flows, largely with Mexico and Canada, one can begin to obtain a balance sheet view of cattle inventories. For 2018, exports look to be unchanged from 2017 while imports look to be down slightly. NASS estimates the calf crop was higher. Slaughter is running at a higher pace than a year ago. The five-year average death loss as a percent of supply is about 3%. Adding up all of the changes suggests a 2019 inventory of 95.3 million head. Similarly, the 2018 beef cow inventory was 31.7 million head. The Economic Research Service (ERS) has a breakdown that relates replacements to inventory levels. On July 1, NASS estimated the beef cow inventory level at 32.5 million head. To that, add 25% of the July 1 beef replacements, or have 1.15 million head join the cow herd. Then subtract expected death loss and extrapolated cow slaughter for the second half of the year (1.71 million head), leaving 31.16 million head for January 1, 2019. The total inventory is slightly above and the beef cow inventory is slightly below the new USDA baseline estimates.

Hormel Foods Distributes Annual Profit Sharing

Hormel Foods Corporation, a global branded food company, today distributed its annual profit sharing of $17.9 million to eligible hourly and salaried employees during this 80th annual Thanksgiving Eve Day tradition.

"Our profit sharing program remains unique in our industry, and we are proud to be able to share our continued success with our more than 20,000 inspired team members who work tirelessly to deliver outstanding branded food products to millions of consumers each year," said Jim Snee, chairman of the board, president and chief executive officer at Hormel Foods. "It is this dedicated team that helps ensure we remain one of the most trusted and successful global branded food companies. We wouldn't be the company we are today without all of them."

The profit sharing program was started by Jay C. Hormel in 1938 and is voluntarily paid at the discretion of the company's Board of Directors.

Charlie Daniels Band to Perform at 2019 Commodity Classic

The Charlie Daniels Band will provide the Evening of Entertainment at the 2019 Commodity Classic, held Thursday, February 28 through Saturday, March 2 in Orlando, Fla.

The band will perform Saturday night to close the three-day event which attracts thousands of America’s top farmers and agricultural advocates.

The Charlie Daniels Band has populated radio with such memorable hits as “Long Haired Country Boy,” “The South’s Gonna Do It Again,” “In America,” “The Legend of Wooley Swamp” and of course, his signature song, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” which won a Grammy for Best Country Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group in 1979 as well as single of the year at the Country Music Association Awards.

An outspoken patriot and still a road warrior, Charlie Daniels has parlayed his passion for music into a multi-platinum, award-winning career.  He’s a member of the Grand Ole Opry and has been inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

The Evening of Entertainment is sponsored by Bayer. Admission to the concert is included with full registration or with a Saturday-only registration.

Established in 1996, Commodity Classic is America’s largest farmer-led, farmer-focused agricultural and educational experience.  Commodity Classic is unlike any other agriculture event, featuring a robust schedule of educational sessions, a huge trade show featuring the latest technology, equipment and innovation, top-notch entertainment, inspiring speakers and the opportunity to network with thousands of farmers from across the nation.

Registration and housing for the 2019 Commodity Classic are now open. To register and to make hotel reservations, visit

Commodity Classic is presented annually by the American Soybean Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Sorghum Producers and the Association of Equipment Manufacturers.

NCGA Seeks a Few Good Leaders for the FY2020 Corn Board

The National Corn Growers Association Nominating Committee reminds interested members that it is now accepting applications for the 2020 Corn Board. Through the Corn Board, members can become an integral part of the organization’s leadership.  Click here for the application, which provides complete information on requirements, responsibilities and deadlines.

“As a true grassroots organization, we rely upon farmers to volunteer to lead, helping to shape policy and drive efforts,” said NCGA Chairman and Nominating Committee Chair Kevin Skunes. “I have had the privilege of working with so many talented, dedicated volunteers who step forward to lead this organization during my years on the Corn Board. Their willingness to step forward as volunteer leaders plays a crucial role in building NCGA’s future successes. Serving on the Corn Board empowers farmers to play a proactive role in determining the collective future of our industry.”

The NCGA Corn Board represents the organization on all matters while directing both policy and supervising day-to-day operations. Board members serve the organization in a variety of ways. They represent the federation of state organizations, supervise the affairs and activities of NCGA in partnership with the chief executive officer and implement NCGA policy established by the Corn Congress. Members also act as spokespeople for the NCGA and enhance the organization’s public standing on all organizational and policy issues.

Applications are due Friday, January 11. Nominated candidates will be introduced at the 2019 Corn Congress meeting, held in conjunction with the Commodity Classic in Orlando, Florida. Corn Board members will be elected at the July 2019 Corn Congress in Washington, D.C., and the new terms begin Oct. 1.

For more information, growers may contact Kathy Baker at NCGA’s St. Louis office at (636) 733-9004.

American Farmland Trust Announces Renewed Commitment to Combating Climate Change

American Farmland Trust, the organization behind the national movement No Farms No Food®, announces new commitments to combatting climate change, including hiring Jennifer Moore-Kucera as the new director of its climate initiative and simultaneously announcing its commitment to support the US Climate Alliance’s Natural and Working Lands Challenge and the Global Soil Health Challenge by California and France.

Jennifer will direct strategy, provide leadership and support program activities for AFT’s “Farmers Combat Climate Change” initiative.

With Jennifer’s leadership, AFT will support states in the US Climate Alliance in developing policies and programs to increase carbon sequestration and reduce GHG on farmland and ranchland to ensure agriculture realizes its potential as an essential element of state plans to combat climate change by 2020.

“America’s farmers and farmland will play critical roles in our society’s response to combatting climate change. Today, American Farmland Trust is renewing our commitment to supporting farmers in responding to climate change with our hiring of a new climate director and our public commitment to supporting the Natural and Working Lands Challenge and the Global Soil Health Challenge,” says John Piotti, AFT president and CEO.

He continues, “Public action on all levels is needed to realize the potential for farmers and farmland to play a role in combatting climate change.  AFT looks forward to supporting the US Climate Alliance and its members states and participants in the Global Soil Health Challenge.”

Jennifer’s lead on “Farmers Combat Climate Change” will be critical to its success. The initiative supports farmers and ranchers in adopting climate-smart farming practices on land they own and rent, encourages smart growth and protecting farmland to reduce transportation emissions and expands renewable energy siting while protecting our nation’s most productive, versatile and resilient farmland.

Jennifer is a renowned soil health expert—researcher, educator and presenter—on soil’s links to carbon sequestration. She brings to AFT her experience as the West Region Soil Health team lead for the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service Soil Health Division as well as serving as co-director/Natural Resource Conservation Service liaison for the USDA-Northwest Climate Hub.

“Jennifer’s extensive technical and research expertise in soil health management and carbon sequestration practices will help farmers mitigate climate change while increasing crop yield, product quality and overall soil health,” says John Piotti.

He continues, “She has published extensively on soil health and has close connections across our research and public agency partners that will be pivotal to implementing soil health practices on a much larger scale across the country. We are thrilled that she will be joining us to elevate AFT’s work in combating climate change.”

Jennifer will be based in Corvallis, Oregon where she enjoys trail running, skiing, baking, and camping with her family.  She received her Bachelor of Arts in biology and environmental studies from Binghamton University, her Master of Science in soil science from Iowa State University and was awarded a Doctorate in soil science from Oregon State University. She was elected to serve as the 2017 Chair of Soil Biology and Biochemistry Division of the Soil Science Society of America and currently is an Adjunct Faculty member with the Department of Crop and Soil Science at Oregon State University.

“I am very excited to be joining American Farmland Trust and look forward to helping accelerate the adoption of conservation practices and policies that will promote soil health, productivity, and resiliency. The goals and strategies outlined in the Farmers Combat Climate Change Initiative will play a critical role in helping farmers, ranchers, and urban growth planners develop and implement practices that can reduce greenhouse emissions, sequester C, and will help mitigate, if not begin to reverse the negative impacts predicted by climate change models,” says Jennifer Moore-Kucera.

She continues, “At the forefront of this mission is to protect our productive lands and make them as resilient as possible. In combination with implementation of conservation practices and supportive policies, this holistic approach ensures our future with clean air, water and soil and high yielding, healthy food and fiber for our growing populations.

CLAAS Farmers Break 10-Hour Corn Harvesting Mark While Establishing Two World Records

On October 10, 2010, Jeff Gray, Product Manager – Field Support for CLAAS of America, harvested 51,153 bushels of corn in a 10-hour period in a CLAAS LEXION 760 TERRA TRAC combine at Stewart Farms Partnership in Yorkville, Illinois. The impressive harvesting record, which remained unbeaten until now, is a testament to the massive throughput of the LEXION combine and the skillful hand of an operator who knows how to push these machines to the limit.

Eight years later, Craig Stewart and sons Bob and Brad continue to harvest their crops with CLAAS LEXION combines. In fact, they have two CLAAS LEXION TERRA TRAC machines.

Recently, the Stewarts approached CLAAS with a proposition. They wanted to break the old 10-hour corn harvesting record on a field of theirs near Farmer City, Illinois. After some research, it was discovered that Guinness recognizes harvesting records for 8 hours and 12 hours, not 10. Undeterred, the Stewarts decided to break both the 8- and 12-hour world records, as well as the old 10-hour mark that was established on their farm nearly a decade ago.

“A lot has changed in the last eight years on the LEXION 760 TERRA TRAC,” explained Jeff Gray. “More engine horsepower, a higher capacity feederhouse drive, a larger grain tank, faster unloading, a more efficient DYNAMIC COOLING SYSTEM and higher capacity sieves made this challenge easier than the one we did in 2010.”

Maybe even more important than those enhancements are the operator assistance features found in CEMOS AUTOMATIC — the new flagship technology available as an option on 700 Series LEXION combines — which automatically and autonomously optimizes ground speed and system settings throughout the combine based on changing conditions. According to Gray, “CEMOS AUTOMATIC is able to make the same type of adjustments I made when I set the record — only faster and with more precision.”

One component of CEMOS AUTOMATIC that Bob Stewart really appreciates is CRUISE PILOT. “The CRUISE PILOT will actually optimize its own speed and make the adjustments for you on the back end. It’s a big deal.”

Countdown to the World Record
At 8:52 a.m., on Wednesday, September 26, Bob pushed the CMOTION control lever forward on the CLAAS LEXION 760TT combine and 16-row header as the 12-hour countdown clock was started. The conditions were not ideal. After receiving more than half an inch of rain the night before, the corn coming into Tate and Lyle Grain Elevator in Parnell, Illinois, was at 17-18 percent moisture levels. Bob Stewart got the vast majority of the stick time in the combine throughout the day, with Jeff Gray only stepping into the cab on two different occasions.

“I jumped in a couple times. Once to check the settings on CEMOS AUTOMATIC and see what adjustments it was making and another to give Bob a little break between hours 8 and 12.”

While Bob was driving the combine, his brother Brad managed the logistics of the record attempt. His job was to keep three grain carts and 10 trucks running at top speed to keep up with the nearly constant unloading of the CLAAS LEXION combine. “The machine is very impressive. It’s incredibly reliable and just eats corn! Our biggest worry was having enough trucks so that we didn’t keep the combine waiting.”

One key feature on the new LEXION combine is called TELEMATICS. This on-board technology transmits real-time performance information back to computers and mobile devices authorized to receive it. It allowed real-time monitoring of the record for the many people tracking the attempt.

For each of the three records, the Stewarts were required to bring their combine to a full stop, unload any grain in the tank into a grain cart, and unload the grain cart into a waiting truck. The truck was sent to the elevator where the grain totals were tabulated.

At the 8-hour mark, the combine had harvested an incredible 43,739.68 dry bushels of corn. At 10 hours, the total was 54,302.97 — more than 3,000 bushels greater than the record set 8 years earlier.

At the end of 12 hours, the combine came to a complete stop and the lone remaining truck made its way to the elevator. The final result after 12 hours: 63,770.10 bushels. With that, the Stewarts had set their third record for the day.

While the results are still being confirmed by Guinness, third-party witnesses and tabulations by the grain elevator show that new records have been set.

Friday November 23 Ag News

NE Soybean Day & Machinery Expo

Thursday, December 13 - Saunders County Fairgrounds – Wahoo, NE
8:30 a.m. - 2:15 p.m. with a break scheduled at 9:45 a.m. to view equipment and visit with exhibitors.

8:30 a.m. - View Commercial Exhibits 
9:00 a.m. - Opening Comments - Keith Glewen, Nebraska Extension Educator
What You Need to Know to Grow and Market Specialty Soybeans to Increase Your Profits
Darwin Rader, International Sales and Marketing Manager, Zeeland Farm Services, Des Moines, Iowa
9:45 a.m.  - Break - View Commercial Exhibits
10:15 a.m. - Economic Update & Taking Care of Business
Dr. David Kohl, Professor Emeritus, Virginia Tech
Nebraska Soybean Checkoff Update & Association Information - Soybean Board and Soybean Association
Kohl presentation continues...  Economic Update & Taking Care of Business
12:00 p.m.  - Lunch
Managing Soybeans in Storage – Is Poor Quality a Concern?
Ken Hellevang, Extension Engineer, North Dakota State University
New and Emerging Pests of Soybeans - Justin McMechan, Crop Protection and Cropping Systems Specialist, University of Nebraska Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center
2:15 p.m.   Adjourn

Soy doughnuts will be cooked on site.  And the PANCAKE MAN will serve pancakes and sausage for lunch!

Local Food Drive Donations - Bring a can or 2 and help out!
The Saunders County Soybean Growers Organization requests that each participant donate one or more cans of nonperishable food to the food pantry. 

The Nebraska Soybean Day & Machinery Expo is brought to you by Nebraska Extension, the Nebraska Soybean Board, the Saunders County Soybean Growers Organization, and private industry representatives.  For more information, call Keith Glewen at 800-529-8030 or e-mail at, and view the flyer here....

Nebraska Cattlemen Host 2018 Annual Convention & Trade Show

The 2018 Annual Nebraska Cattlemen Convention and Trade Show will be held in Kearney at the Younes Convention Center December 4th – 7th. This year’s convention schedule is packed full of industry leaders, speakers and educational opportunities for all ages of cattlemen and women.

Cattlemen’s College will kick off convention on December 4th and 5th. The event this year will be held at the Buffalo County Fairgrounds Ag Pavilion on Tuesday and reconvene at the Younes Convention Center for a second session on Wednesday. The program offers a wide range of speakers that will discuss livestock hauling, beef quality assurance, new technologies and so much more.  A sneak peek will be held from 11:30am to 12:30pm prior to the start of Cattlemen’s College for participants to interact with speakers and hear what they have lined up to share during their presentations. For a full Cattlemen’s College schedule click here...

Wednesday will be the start of regular convention council meetings and the 2018 Young Cattlemen’s Round-table, sponsored by the YCC Class of 2018.  The goal of the round table is to inspire members to get involved in the Nebraska Cattlemen and experience the benefits of the organization.  Attendees will be able to discuss what is happening in the beef industry and what it means to them. Wednesday will conclude with the General Session and time to mingle at the Welcome Reception in the Trade Show.

After a full day of committee meetings, the Nebraska Cattlemen Foundation Lunch and an open trade show, the annual banquet will wrap up the evening on Thursday, December 6th beginning at 7:00 p.m. As always a few cattlemen will be recognized for their dedication to the industry, great items will be up for grabs during the silent auction and phenomenal food to be enjoyed by all.
The 2018 Convention will come to an end on Friday, December 7th after the Market Outlook Breakfast and the Annual Business Meeting. The entire schedule can be viewed here...

Two New NC-PAC Events

The Nebraska Cattlemen Political Action Committee (PAC) committee is excited to announce two new events taking place in Lincoln on February 18-19, 2019. These events are aimed at engaging members in the political process and equipping them to advocate for the beef industry.

The events kick-off on Monday afternoon the 18th when attendees will spend the afternoon with Nebraska Cattlemen staff at the new NC office reviewing policy, learning about current issues and discussing the priority bills voted on by the NC Board of Directors. 

Following an educational morning, the inaugural “PAC Gala” will be held Monday evening.  The evening will be filled with great food, a keynote speaker and fundraising for the PAC. The planning committee is working on lining up an exciting silent and live auction. Tickets for the Gala will be available for purchase at the Nebraska Cattlemen Annual Convention in Kearney. You won’t want to miss this fun event, so mark your calendars and watch for further details.

NC’s “Cattlemen at the Capitol” will be held Tuesday morning. Attendees will meet at the state capitol for a breakfast and spend time individually meeting with Senators to discuss issues that impact their operations. This new event is modeled after NCBA’s “Boots on the Hill” and will be key in relating cattle industry issues to elected representatives and communicating the importance of protecting agriculture in the state of Nebraska. NC is represented at the Capitol daily by our lobbyists, and this event provides an opportunity for members to walk alongside them in communicating with state Senators.constituents

A tour of Neogen has been set for Monday afternoon. Kenny Stauffer and the Lincoln team will host members who would like to see the Lincoln Neogen facility. Neogen is the presenting sponsor of the PAC events.

For more information contact Jacob Mayer at 402-672-8852 or 

New Resource for Hispanics in the Cattle Industry: BeefWatch Articles Translated into Spanish

Bethany Johnston, NE Nebraska Extension Educator

BeefWatch, an electronic monthly newsletter that provides beef producers with timely, research-based information on beef production issues as well as current issues and timely topics for consumers, is expanding to reach Hispanics working in the cattle industry. One to two articles will be translated each month into Spanish, appearing both on the website and the Podcast version of BeefWatch.

“Our hope is to teach and educate more people involved in creating a healthy, safe beef product,” stated Bethany Johnston, Nebraska Extension BeefWatch co-editor.  “As the beef industry workforce continues to change and diversify, Nebraska Extension is looking to reach new audiences with current information based on research.”        

BeefWatch articles are authored by Nebraska Extension Beef Specialists and Educators about various aspects of the industry, from feedlot production, nutrition and forage management to beef economics - focusing on the most important issues producers are facing during that time of year.  Starting in October 2018, articles (and their Podcasts) will be selected each month for translation into Spanish.

The monthly electronic newsletter covers current and emerging issues in the beef industry. BeefWatch is emailed to subscribers the first of every month, and can also be accessed at or through the UNL Beef Website at Producers can subscribe to the monthly newsletter at

Beef Podcasts, the companion to BeefWatch, are also available at the website.  The BeefWatch Podcasts provide the same timely information as the newsletter, just in a downloadable form.  Audiences on the go can download Podcasts and listen at their convenience.

Translator Jose Valles, a livestock industry consultant in Kearney, says Hispanics workers are eager to learn and do things right in the beef industry.  “But we need to help them learn what they are doing, and why it is the correct way,” stated Valles.  With monthly updates through BeefWatch articles, beef education is one step closer for Hispanic cattlemen.


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Fall rainfall, and even snow, is good for wheat and next year’s crops, but it does have its drawbacks.  One challenge is rain’s impact on corn stalk feed quality.

                Rain in the fall usually is welcomed despite the delays it causes with crop harvest.  Pastures and alfalfa benefit from extra growth and winterizing capabilities.  Wheat and other small grains get well established as do any new fields of alfalfa or pasture.  And the reserve moisture stored in the soil will get good use during next year’s growing season.

               But rain also reduces the feed value of corn stalks in fields that were already combined, and even on standing stalks.  And this fall many fields have had some pretty heavy rain and snow on those stalks.

               Rain reduces corn stalk quality several ways.  Most easily noticed is how fast stalks get soiled or trampled into the ground when fields are muddy.

               Less noticeable are nutritional changes.  Heavy rain soaks into dry corn stalk residue and leaches out some of the soluble nutrients.  Most serious is the loss of sugars and other energy-dense nutrients, which lowers the TDN or energy value of the stalks.  These same nutrients also disappear if stalks begin to mold or rot in the field or especially in the bale.  Then palatability and intake also decline.

               There is little you can do to prevent these losses.  What you can do, though, is begin to supplement a little earlier than usual.  Since weathering by rain reduces TDN more than it reduces protein, consider the energy value of your supplements as well as its protein content.

               Weathered corn stalks still are economical feeds.  Just supplement them accordingly.

Farmer2Farmer: Where Innovation Meets Agriculture – In Omaha

Free For Nebraska Corn Grower Members!

Are you frustrated by rising prices, fewer choices and at the end of the day, you and your operation assuming all of the risk? We can’t control the consolidation in the industry, weather or global commodity trends, but we refuse to let these forces keep their control!

Join 3,000+ other like-minded farmers and Farmers Business Network at Farmer2Farmer IV, December 12 – 14 in Omaha, Neb., for the premier business-focused farmer conference. Sharpened pencils are put to action as production and marketing decisions are held up to the light in preparation for next season. The Nebraska Corn Growers Association will have a presence at Farmer2Farmer as well!

What You Can Expect:
● No-Holds Barred Conversations
The event takes place at the end of the year to give farmers a place to have blunt, brutally honest discussions about the state of agriculture. We won’t just talk about it, farmers will leave Farmer2Farmer with an action plan on how to get a headstart on 2019.

● Innovative Technology and Real-Life Use Cases
Farmers Business Network is bringing the latest technology from both FBN and from key partners to Farmer2Farmer – from autonomous grain carts to the true ROI of biologicals. We’ll be talking about real-life, practical applications of technology to apply to your farm that will result in incremental profitability gains.

● Key Learnings from Other Farmers on Key Issues Facing Agriculture and Operational Profitability
Hear from leaders who have rejected “business as usual” and have taken control of their operations to improve their balance sheets and are working to keep the bottom line in the black.

● Dissection of Industry Practices that Put Farmers Profitability at Risk (including the FBN Seed Relabeling Report)
Do you know that your same seed could be in up to 9 different bags, under different names and for vastly different prices? Not only is that misleading at best, but potentially dangerous when trying to diversify risk. Learn the truth behind the Seed Relabeling Report, ‘Zone Pricing’ otherwise known as regional seed pricing, including estimated map that one of the largest seed company uses to charge different prices for the exact same seed depending where they live or farm, and many other opaque practices that FBN believes are to the detriment of farmers profitability.

● Small-Group Networking with Fellow Premier Farms
Learning from like-minded farmers is invaluable; Farmer2Farmer is where the network effect comes to life, and farmers will have the chance to network, share ideas and gain new perspectives from one another. Leave with friends and possibly your own advisory panel.

● Many Exciting and Game-Changing Announcements for Farmers from Farmers Business Network

In addition to farm panels, speakers from across the ag industry, and FBN leaders, Farmer2Famer is featuring legendary pilot Captain Sully Sullenberger and MythBuster Adam Savage, who will keynote the conference.

Attend Farmer2Farmer and challenge the status quo, change long standing habits, alter long standing plans and learn new practices to Take Control of the 2019 season and beyond.

Join Nebraska Corn at Farmer2Farmer! Register now at and use ‘NeCGA100100’ for your free ticket!

More about Farmers Business Network:

Delta Dental of Iowa offers exclusive dental and vision plans for Iowa Farm Bureau members

Delta Dental of Iowa, the leading dental carrier in Iowa and the U.S., has partnered with Iowa Farm Bureau Federation to offer its members an exclusive discount on dental and vision insurance. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, preventive care such as routine dental and vision exams can help diagnose medical problems before other symptoms appear and become more serious issues.

The dental plan is based on Delta Dental’s best-selling individual plan and provides access to more than 90 percent of Iowa dentists. Coverage includes preventive care such as teeth cleanings and exams, basic services like fillings, and major services including root canals and dentures. In addition, Delta Dental will offer an optional DeltaVision plan which includes coverage for annual exams, $130 frame allowance per year and discounts on contact lenses.

“We are proud to continue to find ways to serve our members and assist them in taking care of their family’s health needs,” said IFBF President Craig Hill. “Our organization has a 100-year track record of taking care of our members. Providing them with dental and vision insurance options is another way we’re accomplishing that.”

“Taking care of your dental and vision health has a direct impact on your overall health,” said Jeff Russell, president and CEO of Delta Dental of Iowa. “We are pleased to offer Iowa Farm Bureau members these dental and vision plans to improve the health and smiles of Iowa families.”

These plans will be available through Farm Bureau agents, or members can complete their application online at using their Iowa Farm Bureau membership number. The plans are effective January 1, 2019 and can be purchased now. For more information, visit or contact your local Farm Bureau agent.

Government Climate Report Warns of Worsening US Disasters

(AP) -- As California's catastrophic wildfires recede and people rebuild after two hurricanes, a massive new federal report warns that these types of extreme weather disasters are worsening in the United States. The White House report quietly issued Friday also frequently contradicts President Donald Trump.

The National Climate Assessment was written long before the deadly fires in California this month and Hurricanes Florence and Michael raked the East Coast and Florida. It says warming-charged extremes "have already become more frequent, intense, widespread or of long duration."

The federal report says the last few years have smashed records for damaging weather in the U.S., costing nearly $400 billion since 2015. "Warmer and drier conditions have contributed to an increase in large forest fires in the western United States and interior Alaska," according to the report.

"We are seeing the things we said would be happening, happen now in real life," said report co-author Katharine Hayhoe of Texas Tech University. "As a climate scientist it is almost surreal."

And report co-author Donald Wuebbles, a University of Illinois climate scientist, said, "We're going to continue to see severe weather events get stronger and more intense."

The air pollution from wildfires combined with heat waves is a major future health risk for the West, the report says. During the fires in northern California, air quality hit "hazardous" levels, according to government air monitoring agencies.

"There's real concern about how the West will be able to manage this increasing occurrence," said report co-author Kristie Ebi, a University of Washington public health professor. She said global warming is already harming people's health, but it will only get worse.

The report is mandated by law every few years and is based on hundreds of previously research studies. It details how global warming from the burning of coal, oil and gas is hurting each region of United States and how it impacts different sectors of the economy, including energy and agriculture.

"Climate change is transforming where and how we live and presents growing challenges to human health and quality of life, the economy, and the natural systems that support us," the report says.

That includes worsening air pollution causing heart and lung problems, more diseases from insects, the potential for a jump in deaths during heat waves, and nastier allergies.

What makes the report different from others is that it focuses on the United States, then goes more local and granular.

"All climate change is local," said Pennsylvania State University climate scientist Richard Alley, who wasn't part of the report but praised it.

While scientists talk of average global temperatures, people feel extremes more, he said.

"We live in our drought, our floods and our heat waves. That means we have to focus on us," he said.

The Lower 48 states have warmed 1.8 degrees (1 degree Celsius) since 1900 with 1.2 degrees in the last few decades, according to the repot. By the end of the century, the U.S. will be 3 to 12 degrees (1.6 to 6.6 degrees Celsius) hotter depending on how much greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere, the report warns.

Outside scientists and officials from 13 federal agencies wrote the report, which was released on the afternoon following Thanksgiving. It was originally scheduled for December. The report often clashes with the president's past statements and tweets on the legitimacy of climate change science, how much of it is caused by humans, how cyclical it is and what's causing increases in recent wildfires.

Trump tweeted this week about the cold weather hitting the East including: "Brutal and Extended Cold Blast could shatter ALL RECORDS - Whatever happened to Global Warming?"

Friday's report seemed to anticipate such comments, saying: "Over shorter timescales and smaller geographic regions, the influence of natural variability can be larger than the influence of human activity ... Over climate timescales of multiple decades, however, global temperature continues to steadily increase."

Releasing the report on Black Friday "is a transparent attempt by the Trump Administration to bury this report and continue the campaign of not only denying but suppressing the best of climate science," said study co-author Andrew Light, an international policy expert at the World Resources Institute.

Trump, administration officials and elected Republicans frequently say they can't tell how much of climate change is caused by humans and how much is natural.

Citing numerous studies, the new climate report says more than 90 percent of the current warming is caused by humans. Without greenhouse gases, natural forces -- such as changes in energy from the sun -- would be slightly cooling Earth.

"There are no credible alternative human or natural explanations supported by the observational evidence," the report says.

Swine Fever Adds to China Economic Woes

First Detected in August, Disease Has Killed 1 Million Pigs

(AP) -- Reeling from rising feed costs in Beijing's tariff fight with President Donald Trump, Chinese pig farmers face a new blow from an outbreak of African swine fever that has sent an economic shockwave through the countryside.

African swine fever doesn't affect humans but is fatal to pigs and highly contagious, making it a serious threat to farm areas.

First detected in August, the disease has killed 1 million pigs, prompting authorities to restrict shipments of most of China's 700 million swine, even though nearly all are still healthy. That has disrupted supplies of pork, China's staple meat, to big cities while prices collapsed in areas with an oversupply of pigs that farmers are barred from shipping to other provinces.

"I can only manage to break even at the current price," said a breeder on the outskirts of Shenyang, northeast of Beijing, where the first swine fever case was reported Aug. 3. She said she was rearing about 100 pigs and would give only her surname, Yan.

"Unless we see a higher price for pigs, all my work this year would have gone for nothing," said Yan.

On Friday, Beijing reported its first cases. Authorities said 49 of the 1,325 pigs at a farm in suburban Fangshan district were found dead and 37 of the 429 pigs at another farm had died.

The outbreak adds to a swarm of challenges for Chinese leaders as they grapple with Trump over Beijing's technology policy and try to shore up cooling growth in the world's second-largest economy.

"Farmers have been losing money in pig-breeding provinces for the past a couple of months and their confidence has been shattered," said Feng Yonghui, chief analyst of, a pork industry consultant.

The cost of raising pigs spiked after Beijing retaliated for Trump's tariff hikes on Chinese goods by slapping 25% duties on imported U.S. soybeans used as animal feed.

American farmers supplied about one-third of China's imports of 96 million tons of soybeans last year, while its own farms produce about 15 million tons a year.

Soy prices have risen by as much as 4 and 5% per month since then in some areas.

Importers are buying more soy from Brazil and Argentina, the other major exporters. Authorities have encouraged breeders to look at other protein sources such as canola.

While farmers wrestled with that, the industry was jolted by the discovery of China's first case of African swine fever on Aug. 3 in Shenyang, in Liaoning province.

Since then, sick animals have been found in areas from Jilin province in the northeast to Yunnan on China's southern border with Vietnam.

Authorities responded by banning shipments of all pigs from any province with one case.

A big share of China's population still depends on farming even after the country became one of the biggest manufacturers. The agricultural share of the workforce has fallen to 18% from more than 50% two decades ago, according to World Bank data, but farm households still account for 250 million people.

The southwestern province of Sichuan, which accounts for some 10% of Chinese pork production, last week became the 18th region to report an outbreak. That extended swine fever's reach to all major Chinese pig breeding areas.

With Sichuan included, government restrictions on the movement of pigs now extend to some 90% of the Chinese industry's animals, according to Feng of

"The impact of the government policies is bigger than the epidemic itself," said Feng.

In the northeast, the export ban has led to a pork glut in markets, pushing down prices by 20% compared with three months ago, according to state media. Meanwhile, retail prices have jumped 30% in Chongqing, a city of 9 million people in the southwest.

The outbreak could cause longer-term disruption if farmers respond by raising fewer pigs next year, leading to shortages and higher prices.

Compared with previous cases of animal diseases, "the swine fever epidemic is more troublesome," said Tan of Zero Power. "Farmers and consumers may panic and cause greater damage to the pork industry."

The government maintains stocks of frozen pork in case of shortages but has yet to say whether any will be released this year.

Yan, the breeder in Shenyang, said she will skip buying piglets to rear this year but will keep sows to produce more.

"Even doing that is difficult because it is hard to keep these baby pigs alive," she said.

Wednesday November 21 Cattle on Feed + Ag News


Nebraska feedlots, with capacities of 1,000 or more head, contained 2.59 million cattle on feed on November 1, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. This inventory was up 3 percent from last year.

Placements during October totaled 650,000 head, down 4 percent from 2017.

Fed cattle marketings for the month of October totaled 480,000 head, up 10 percent from last year. Other disappearance during October totaled 10,000 head, down 5,000 head from last year.


Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 700,000 head on November 1, 2018, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Cattle on Feed report. This was up 1 percent from both October 1, 2018 and November 1, 2017. Iowa feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head had 405,000 head on feed, up 1 percent from last month but down 17 percent from last year. Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in all Iowa feedlots totaled 1,105,000 head, up 1 percent from last month but down 6 percent from last year.

Placements of cattle and calves in Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head during October totaled 107,000 head, up 20 percent from last month but down 25 percent from last year. Feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head placed 52,000 head, up 93 percent from last month but down 55 percent from last year. Placements for all feedlots in Iowa totaled 159,000 head, up 37 percent from last month but down 38 percent from last year.

Marketings of fed cattle from Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head during October totaled 93,000 head, up 24 percent from last month but down 6 percent from last year. Feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head marketed 45,000 head, down 10 percent from last month and down 36 percent from last year. Marketings for all feedlots in Iowa were 138,000 head, up 10 percent from last month but down 18 percent from last year. Other disappearance from all feedlots in Iowa totaled 6,000 head.

United States Cattle on Feed Up 3 Percent

Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 11.7 million head on November 1, 2018. The inventory was 3 percent above November 1, 2017.

On Feed - By State

                         (1,000 hd   -  % Nov 1 '17)

Colorado ......:        1,020          104     
Iowa ............:        700              101   
Kansas .........:       2,360           103     
Nebraska .....:       2,590           103     
Texas ...........:       2,680           102      

Placements in feedlots during October totaled 2.25 million head, 6 percent below 2017. Net placements were 2.18 million head. During October, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 640,000 head, 600-699 pounds were 525,000 head, 700-799 pounds were 450,000 head, 800-899 pounds were 363,000 head, 900-999 pounds were 180,000 head, and 1,000 pounds and greater were 90,000 head.

Placements by State

                            (1,000 hd   -   % Oct '17)

Colorado ......:             195           100      
Iowa ............:             107            75       
Kansas .........:             405            94   
Nebraska .....:             650            96    
Texas ...........:             465            92      

Marketings of fed cattle during October totaled 1.89 million head, 5 percent above 2017.  Other disappearance totaled 69,000 head during October, 5 percent below 2017.

Marketings by state

                            (1,000 hd   -   % Oct '17)

Colorado ......:      150           100       
Iowa .............:      93            94      
Kansas ..........:      395           105      
Nebraska ......:      480           110     
Texas ............:      430            97       

LENRD Board approves applications for new irrigated acres

Earlier this fall, landowners within the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) boundaries, had an opportunity to apply for new irrigated acres for 2019.

LENRD Assistant General Manager, Brian Bruckner, said, “The board voted to accept applications for standard variances from selected portions of the District.  We received 145 applications for new irrigated acres during the sign-up period, which was open between September 4th and October 3rd, 2018.”

The board voted at their November meeting to approve up to 2428 acres in the Hydrologically Connected (10/50 Area), and to approve up to 2515 new acres in the Non-Hydrologically Connected (Non 10/50 Area), under the district’s standard variance process.  Recommendations for approval were determined by using the variance scoring process which has been utilized by the District on previous occasions.  Eligible applications are scored and ranked from highest to lowest, and approvals made until the available acres have been allocated.

Bruckner continued, “District staff will be generating letters to all applicants to inform them on the status of their request (whether they were approved or denied), with those letters being generated and mailed next week .”  After the landowners have been properly notified, the list of applicants who were approved may be made available by submitting a public records request.

In other action, the board approved the allocations for the designated Quantity Management Subareas across the district for 2019.  Bruckner, said, “Each year, the board must determine the annual groundwater allocation amounts for the Wayne and Madison County Quantity Management Subareas for the upcoming crop year.”  The board voted to set the 2019 allocation amounts at:  18 acre-inches per irrigated acre for gravity/flood irrigation systems, 13 acre-inches per irrigated acre for subsurface drip irrigation systems, and 14 acre-inches per irrigated acre for all other irrigation systems in the Eastern Madison County Quantity Subarea, and 17 acre-inches per irrigated acre for gravity/flood irrigation systems, 12 acre-inches per irrigated acre for subsurface drip irrigation systems, and 13 acre-inches per irrigated acre for all other irrigation systems in the Wayne County Quantity Subarea.

In other business, the board approved 9 Community Forestry Incentive applications for a total cost of $32,867.95.  The communities receiving grants this year include:  Madison, Norfolk, Pender, Pierce Public Schools, Pilger, Wakefield, West Point, West Point Public Schools, and Wisner.

The board also voted to schedule a public hearing to be conducted on December 6, 2018 at 7 p.m. to receive comments and testimony from the public on Rules 1 and 17 of the District’s Groundwater Management Area Rules and Regulations.  The public hearing will be at the LENRD office at 1508 Square Turn Boulevard in Norfolk.

FSA County Committee Election Ballots Mailed

Nebraska Farm Service Agency (FSA) State Executive Director Nancy Johner announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) began mailing ballots to eligible agricultural producers for the 2018 FSA county committee elections. Producers must return ballots to their local FSA offices by Dec. 3 to ensure their vote is counted.

"County committee members represent the farmers, ranchers and foresters in our Nebraska communities," said Johner. "Producers elected to these committees have always played a vital role in local agricultural decisions. It is a valued partnership that helps us better understand the needs of the farmers and ranchers we serve."

Nearly 7,700 FSA county committee members serve FSA offices nationwide. Each committee has three to 11 elected members who serve three-year terms of office. One-third of county committee seats are up for election each year. County committee members apply their knowledge and judgment to help FSA make important decisions on its commodity support programs, conservation programs, indemnity and disaster programs, emergency programs and eligibility.

Johner said producers must participate or cooperate in an FSA program to be eligible to vote in the county committee election. Farmers and ranchers who supervise and conduct the farming operations of an entire farm, but are not of legal voting age, may also be eligible to vote.

Farmers and ranchers began receiving their ballots earlier this month. Ballots include the names of candidates running for the local committee election. Voters who did not receive a ballot can pick one up at their local FSA office. Ballots returned by mail must be postmarked no later than Dec. 3. Newly elected committee members will take office Jan. 1.

Upcoming Nebraska Farmers Union Convention Agenda Highlights Announced

“Eyes on the Horizon, Boots in the Soil” is the theme for the 105th annual Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU) state convention.  John Hansen, NeFU President said, “We made the decision to move our state conventions around the state to encourage more of our statewide membership to participate.  We are excited to be in Lincoln for the first time in decades. The Marriott Cornhusker is an exceptional facility.  On the business side, our delegates and members will do the nuts and bolts work of electing our officers, selecting our delegates to the National Farmers Union (NFU) Convention, and setting our policy.  Our theme reflects our focus on creating new economic opportunities for farm and ranch families while maintaining our core values and tie to the land.”

Friday morning highlights include hearing from new Nebraska Ethanol Board Administrator Sarah Caswell and retiring Administrator Todd Sneller discuss Nebraska’s cutting edge case study on the use of 30% ethanol in non-flex fuel state vehicles.  In addition, Caswell and National Farmers Union (NFU) Senior Vice-President Rob Larew of Public Policy will discuss federal RFS (Renewable Fuels Standards) issues that are critical to corn utilization and expanded ethanol use.  Larew will be the Friday noon luncheon keynote speaker as he presents NFU’s year of legislative efforts and issues.

Friday afternoon will feature:
·         Three chapter authors of the book “In Defense of Farmers:  the Future of Agriculture in the Shadow of Corporate Power” scheduled for release spring 2019.
·         Five Nebraska Public Power officials on the challenges and opportunities facing Nebraska Public Power.
·         A panel of newly elected and current state senators on issues facing the upcoming legislative session.

The Friday evening banquet keynote speaker will be well known author Dr. John Ikerd, Professor Emeritus of Agricultural Economics, University of Missouri. The entertainment will feature “The Audacious Nebraska Descendants of DeWitty” documentary re-enactors and traveling photo exhibit.  “We are extremely fortunate to have Dr. Ikerd as our keynote speaker.  We think our members will really enjoy learning about the Descendants of DeWitty.  The photo exhibits depict scenes from black homesteaders who lived in the Sandhills of Nebraska between Valentine and Thedford beginning in 1904.  The re-enactors will bring those photos, the courage of those homesteaders, and fascinating part of Nebraska homesteader history to life,” Hansen said.

Saturday morning representatives from the Nebraskans United for Property Tax Reform and Education coalition will share their perspectives on the challenges current state law places on small, medium, and large schools.  The Nebraskans United coalition’s goals are to adequately fund education while providing real property tax relief.  Speakers include:  Jordan Rasmussen- Center for Rural Affairs; Jack Moles, Executive Director-NE Rural Community Schools, Association; Dr. Mike Lucas, Superintendent of York Public Schools & STANCE (Schools Taking Action for NE children’s Education); Dr. Rob Winter, Executive Director-Greater NE Schools Association; Dr. Michael Dulaney, Executive Director-NE Council of School Administrators, and Al Davis, Board of Director, Independent Cattlemen of NE & NeFU.

Registration is $35 and begins at 8:00 a.m. Friday and Saturday mornings.  Convention begins at 9:00 a.m. Friday and 8:30 a.m. Saturday.  As always, all members and the public are welcome.  More information is available at: or call (402) 476-8815.  Call (402) 474-7474 for room reservations.

The NeFU Convention room rate is $99 per night and includes a complimentary hot breakfast.

All-Time Record High for Red Meat and Pork Production

Commercial red meat production for the United States totaled 4.90 billion pounds in October according to USDA, up 6 percent from the 4.64 billion pounds produced in October 2017.

Beef production, at 2.43 billion pounds, was 5 percent above the previous year. Cattle slaughter totaled 2.96 million head, up 6 percent from October 2017. The average live weight was up 2 pounds from the previous year, at 1,363 pounds.

Veal production totaled 7.2 million pounds, 13 percent above October a year ago. Calf slaughter totaled 53,800 head, up 22 percent from October 2017. The average live weight was down 18 pounds from last year, at 232 pounds.

Pork production totaled 2.45 billion pounds, up 6 percent from the previous year. Hog slaughter totaled 11.6 million head, up 6 percent from October 2017. The average live weight was unchanged from the previous year, at 283 pounds.

Lamb and mutton production, at 13.1 million pounds, was up 10 percent from October 2017. Sheep slaughter totaled 199,800 head, 9 percent above last year. The average live weight was 131 pounds, up 2 pounds from October a year ago.

By State             (mill lbs. -  % Oct '17)

Nebraska ......:     734.4            103      
Iowa .............:     725.0            111      
Kansas ..........:     522.8            104      

January to October 2018 commercial red meat production was 44.4 billion pounds, up 3 percent from 2017. Accumulated beef production was up 3 percent from last year, veal was up 2 percent, pork was up 3 percent from last year, and lamb and mutton production was up 6 percent.

USDA Cold Storage Report October 2018 Highlights

Total red meat supplies in freezers on October 31, 2018 were down 1 percent from the previous month and down 1 percent from last year. Total pounds of beef in freezers were up 2 percent from the previous month and up 2 percent from last year. Frozen pork supplies were down 3 percent from the previous month and down 5 percent from last year. Stocks of pork bellies were down 12 percent from last month and down 17 percent from last year.

Total natural cheese stocks in refrigerated warehouses on October 31, 2018 were down slightly from the previous month but up 8 percent from October 31, 2017.  Butter stocks were down 19 percent from last month but up 6 percent from a year ago.

Total frozen poultry supplies on October 31, 2018 were down 9 percent from the previous month but up 4 percent from a year ago. Total stocks of chicken were down 2 percent from the previous month but up 8 percent from last year. Total pounds of turkey in freezers were down 21 percent from last month and down 4 percent from October 31, 2017.

Total frozen fruit stocks were up 18 percent from last month but down 2 percent from a year ago.  Total frozen vegetable stocks were up 5 percent from last month but down 7 percent from a year ago.

Weekly Ethanol Production for the week ended 11/16/2018.

According to EIA data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association, ethanol production averaged 1.042 million barrels per day (b/d)—or 43.76 million gallons daily. That is down 25,000 b/d (-2.3%) from the week before for a 4-week low. Alternatively, the four-week average for ethanol production sustained a fourth week of increases, expanding to 1.059 million b/d for an annualized rate of 16.23 billion gallons.

Stocks of ethanol were 22.8 million barrels. That is a 3.0% drawdown from last week.

There were zero imports recorded after 37,000 b/d hit the books last week. (Weekly export data for ethanol is not reported simultaneously; the latest export data is as of September 2018.)

Average weekly gasoline demand tapered 0.1% to 9.185 million barrels (385.8 million gallons) daily. This is equivalent to 140.81 billion gallons annualized. Refiner/blender input of ethanol lifted 0.2% to 928,000 b/d, equivalent to 14.23 billion gallons annualized.

Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production decreased to 11.34%.

Skor Comments on Shimkus, Flores RFS Discussion Draft

Today, Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor issued a statement following the release of a Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) discussion draft by U.S. Representatives John Shimkus (R-IL) and Bill Flores (R-TX), which would sunset the RFS:

“While we welcome any improvements to octane standards nationwide, this bill would turn back the clock on our nation’s commitment to renewable biofuels, completely undermining the benefits that consumers have come to expect from ethanol at the pump. Ethanol itself has a natural octane of 113 and a lower carbon content than the gasoline components it replaces. It is only through coupling a stable Renewable Fuel Standard with improvements to octane standards that consumers can continue to reap the increased engine efficiency, environmental benefits, and cost savings that ethanol provides.”

In April, Skor testified on the benefits of higher ethanol fuel blends before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment hearing, “High Octane Fuels and High Efficiency Vehicles: Challenges and Opportunities.”

Anhydrous Leads Fertilizer Prices Higher Again

With one exception, retail fertilizer prices continued their trend of moving higher the second week of November 2018, according to retailers surveyed by DTN.

One fertilizer -- anhydrous -- was significantly higher -- 5% higher compared to last month. The nitrogen fertilizer had an average price of $519 per ton.

However, none of the remaining six fertilizers that were higher were up significantly. DAP had an average price of $500/ton, MAP $530/ton, potash $368/ton, urea $407/ton, UAN28 $245/ton, and UAN32 $287/ton.

One fertilizer was slightly lower compared to a month prior. 10-34-0 was just slightly lower with an average price of $457/ton. This marks the first week in which there has been a lower fertilizer price since the first week of September 2018, a period of 10 weeks.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.44/lb.N, anhydrous $0.32/lb.N, UAN28 $0.44/lb.N, and UAN32 $0.45/lb.N.

All eight of the major fertilizers now are higher compared to last year with prices shifting up in recent months. UAN32 is 6% higher, potash is 8% more expensive, both 10-34-0 and UAN28 are 13% higher, both DAP and MAP are 15% more expensive, urea is 20% higher and anhydrous is now 27% more expensive compared to last year.

Farmers National Co: Farmland Sales Activity Picking Up

Interest in selling agricultural land is picking up among landowners. The amount of land that Farmers National Company has listed for sale is up 21 percent compared to last year at this time.

"Most of the sales are coming from individuals or ownership groups who are deciding that now is the time to sell," said Randy Dickhut, senior vice president of real estate operations at Farmers National Company. "They may have recently inherited the land or have owned it for years, but sellers have watched the land market and some are deciding to take advantage of the still historically good land prices. Some sellers are thinking that there is more downside risk in land prices than upside potential, so for them, now is the time to sell."

Selling activity is also picking up at Farmers National Company due to its recognized success in selling land. Extensive local, regional, and national marketing by Farmers National Company reaches buyers looking for land and creates successful sales for sellers.

"Despite the slower land market the past few years, Farmers National Company's real estate sales have grown each year including a solid 5 percent increase in sales volume this year," Dickhut said.

Land buyers are generally more cautious right now causing some land brokerages to experience more no-sale auctions that don't achieve the reserve price during the public auction session.

Farmweld Rep Visits Bogotà, Colombia - Rapidly Growing Pork Market

U.S. pork officials are always looking to expand exports into new markets, so it was an easy decision when the National Pork Producers Council, National Pork Board and U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) collaborated to arrange an international trip to Colombia for 14 delegates from the Pork Leadership Institute. All three organizations support pork producers and pork consumption and have had a hand in fostering U.S. exports in this rapidly growing pork market.

In the two short days, U.S. representatives met with numerous Colombian officials, including Colombia’s elected representatives and senators, foreign trade representatives, market economists and trade experts. The group toured the Colombian Congress, a large wet market, the country’s largest packing plant, a retail supermarket that sold U.S. pork ribs and loins and restaurants that also sold U.S. pork.

“The wet market was like a farmer’s market on steroids,” said Geri Wohltman, Farmweld Marketing Director. “Vendors sold anything from fruits to meat to lottery tickets and herbs.” Of particular interest were the meat vendors, who’s displays ranged from cutting up carcasses onsite to whole roasted hogs sold as a type of pulled pork that was consumed at the market for lunch.

“It was a testament to free-trade agreements that we were able to eat at a restaurant in Bogotà, Columbia and consume the healthy, safe product we know and love in the United States,” said Geri Wohltman.

Meat consumption, of all types, is rising in Colombia as the country’s middle class continues to grow. Fortunately for U.S. pork producers, pork is a preferred meat and is leading the charge.

“The Colombian market not only imports ribs, loins and hams from the United States, but also variety meats,” said Geri Wohltman. “With U.S. exports to China declining in 2018, U.S. pork producers need markets for variety meats as well as higher-value cuts.”

Deere Announces Fourth-Quarter Net Income of $785 Million and $2.368 Billion for Year

Deere & Company reported net income of $784.8 million for the fourth quarter ended October 28, 2018, or $2.42 per share, compared with net income of $510.3 million, or $1.57 per share, for the quarter ended October 29, 2017. For fiscal 2018, net income attributable to Deere & Company was $2.368 billion, or $7.24 per share, compared with $2.159 billion, or $6.68 per share, in 2017.

Affecting results for the fourth quarter and full year of 2018 were adjustments to the provision for income taxes due to the enactment of U.S. tax reform legislation on December 22, 2017 (tax reform). Fourth-quarter results included a favorable net adjustment to income taxes of $37 million, while the full year reflected an unfavorable net income tax expense of $704 million. Without these adjustments, net income attributable to Deere & Company for the fourth quarter and full year would have been $748 million, or $2.30 per share, and $3.073 billion, or $9.39 per share, respectively. (For further information, refer to the appendix on the non-GAAP financial measures and Note 2 in the "Condensed Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements" accompanying this release.) 

Worldwide net sales and revenues increased 17 percent, to $9.416 billion, for the fourth quarter and rose 26 percent, to $37.358 billion, for the full year. Net sales of the equipment operations were $8.343 billion for the quarter and $33.351 billion for the year, compared with respective totals of $7.094 billion and $25.885 billion in 2017.

"John Deere has concluded another solid year in which the company benefited from a further improvement in market conditions and a favorable customer response to its lineup of advanced products," said Samuel R. Allen, chairman and chief executive officer. "In the fourth quarter, farm machinery sales in the Americas made further gains while construction-equipment sales continued to move higher, helped in part by our Wirtgen road-building business, whose financial contribution has exceeded our original forecasts. At the same time, the company has continued to face cost pressures for raw materials such as steel, which are being addressed through pricing actions and ongoing cost management." 

Added Allen, "The company's strong performance has allowed for significant investment in new products, services, and technologies. In addition, the company in 2018 returned almost $1.8 billion to shareholders in higher dividends and the repurchase of over $900 million of stock. These steps reflect the strength of the company and our optimism about its future prospects."

Monsanto Appeals Roundup Verdict

(AP) -- Agribusiness giant Monsanto on Tuesday appealed a $78 million verdict in favor of a dying California man who said the company's widely used Roundup weed killer was a major factor in his cancer.

The company filed a notice of appeal in San Francisco Superior Court challenging a jury verdict in favor of DeWayne Johnson. In August, the jury unanimously found that Roundup caused Johnson's non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and awarded him $289 million.

Last month, Judge Suzanne Bolanos slashed that award to $78 million. Monsanto had sought a new trial or judgment in its favor.

"We continue to believe that the liability verdict and reduced damage award are not supported by the evidence at trial or the law," Bayer, which acquired Monsanto in June, said in a statement.

Bayer said none of the science presented at trial supported the conclusion that Roundup was a substantial cause of Johnson's cancer.

An email to a spokeswoman for Johnson's attorneys was not immediately returned.

Johnson, now 46, sprayed Roundup and a similar product at his job as a pest control manager at a San Francisco Bay Area school district, according to his attorneys.

He was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2014 at 42, and his doctor testified that he has less than three years to live.

Monsanto is facing thousands of similar lawsuits that claim glyphosate -- the active ingredient in Roundup -- causes cancer.

Many government regulators have rejected a link between glyphosate and cancer. Monsanto says hundreds of studies have established that glyphosate is safe.

Tuesday November 20 Ag News


The Nebraska Power Farming Show, presented by Farm Credit Services of America and AgDirect, is hosting an Ag Innovation Pitch Competition LIVE at the show on Wednesday, December 5.

The competition will feature six ag tech start-ups pitching their latest ideas to help producers manage their operation more effectively. The competition, emceed by Chad Moyer (KTIC Radio Farm Director), will culminate with the winning company receiving a $20,000 prize.

Show attendees can watch these ag tech start-ups compete at 2:00 pm in Pavilion 2 East:
  - ChorChek: Changes the way livestock producers manage their daily tasks by streamlining processes and data collection.
  - FarmAfield: Low-cost ag investment platform where ag commodities can be bought and sold.
  - Farmland Finder: Makes farmland information more accessible through an online search engine and marketplace for ag real estate.
  - HitchPin: Connects farmers who need services or products to others that can provide them.
  - Quantified AG: Leverages data analytics to report on cattle behavior and biometrics with a smart cattle ear tag.
  - Tillable: A marketplace for connecting landowners and growers.

The Ag Innovation Pitch Competition is presented by Farm Credit Services in collaboration with CoBank, Farm Credit Leasing, Iowa-Nebraska Equipment Dealers Association, Nebraska Cattlemen, Nebraska Corn Board, Nebraska Innovation Campus and Rain and Hail.

The second largest indoor U.S. farm show, the Nebraska Power Farming Show will be held December 4-6 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Spread across 9.2 acres, the Nebraska Power Farming Show features the broadest mix of ag-related products and services in the Midwest. NEW show hours – 8:30 am to 4:30 pm Tuesday and Wednesday, and 8:30 am to 3 pm Thursday. Admission and parking at the Lancaster Event Center are FREE!

The Nebraska Power Farming Show is produced by the Iowa-Nebraska Equipment Dealers Association in conjunction with local Nebraska and Iowa farm equipment dealerships. The show is sponsored by: Diamond Sponsor – Farm Credit Services of America and AgDirect; Platinum Sponsors – Bayer and Nebraska Farm Bureau; Gold Sponsors – Mitas, Stine Seed Company and Sukup Manufacturing; Silver Sponsor – Heartland Chevy Dealers; and Media Sponsors – Midwest Messenger and Rural Radio Network.

AFAN/WSA bring Ag Groups Together to Discuss Workforce Challenges

A panel discussion on ag workforce shortage and housing issues was one of the highlights of the annual meeting of the Alliance for the Future of Agriculture (AFAN) and We Support Agriculture (WSA) in Lincoln. 

Panel participants were Bill Thiele of TLS Dairy of Clearwater, Liz Babcock with Adams Land and Cattle of Broken Bow, and Gary Person from the North Platte Area Chamber of Commerce.

Babcock, who handles human resources for the 160-employee Adams operation, said she has had success in recruiting employees by focusing on millennials through social media--and she said working to build a better culture has helped retain good employees.

Thiele said housing is “tremendous problem” for their 30-employee dairy operation. He said they had to start buying houses when they became available, so employees would have a place to live.  They also pay the rent for employees.

Person says North Platte has developed programs which provide incentives to contractors to build housing.

Anne Meis of Elgin, a member of the Nebraska Soybean Board, said she enjoyed the panel discussion. “I liked the diversity of the panel, from the large operation represented by Adams Land and Cattle to a smaller operation with Bill Thiele of TLS Dairy.  The diversification helped us understand the challenges that both sizes of farming operations experience. It was a good representation of the issue.”

Another highlight of the annual meeting was an address by Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts.  Ricketts said his administration continues to look for opportunities to expand livestock agriculture in Nebraska.

In her annual report, AFAN executive director Kristen Hassebrook said it’s been a good year for livestock development in Nebraska.

“There’s a lot of poultry that’s about to come online and hog development is really exciting right now,” Hassebrook said. “We also see the opportunity for some unique partnerships between beef and dairy related to heifer development and feedlot opportunities.”

The meeting concluded with the recognition of Jim and Lora O’Rourke of RuJoDen Ranch, Chadron, Nebraska as winners of the 2018 Nebraska Leopold Conservation Award. The award is sponsored by the Sand County Foundation with support from AFAN, Nebraska Cattlemen, Cargill, and The Nebraska Environmental Trust.

The annual meeting of AFAN and WSA was sponsored by the Nebraska Soybean Board and the Nebraska Corn Board.

Beattie named 2018 AG-ceptional Woman

A Sumner woman has been recognized for her contributions to agriculture. Shana Beattie was honored as the AG-ceptional Woman of the Year at the Northeast Community College AG-ceptional Women’s Conference on the Northeast campus in Norfolk on Friday.

The announcement was made during a video tribute that was played during the opening session of the 10th annual conference. The video was sponsored by Farm Credit Services of America and produced by the Northeast Agriculture Department and Media Production Group.

“Shana represents what it means to be AG-ceptional in so many ways … her passion and commitment to agriculture shines through in every role she fulfills,” said Corinne Morris, dean of agriculture, math and science at Northeast Community College and conference director.

A special selection committee made up of professionals from agricultural businesses and operations is assembled each year to select the winner from a very competitive group of nominees.

Beattie was nominated by Karen Grant, of Grant Family Farms of Meadow Grove and a past Ag-Ceptional Woman recipient. Grant said she knew of Beattie’s passion for agriculture when she heard her speak to members of Nebraska’s Congressional delegation.

“Shana was very professional, but she let them know where she stood on issues. And I just adored her from that moment on. She has such a passion for life, for her family and for agriculture in general. I just felt that Shana is a wonderful ‘AG-ceptional’ woman, so I wanted to nominate her to be the AG-ceptional Woman of the year.”

Shana Beattie was born and raised in north central Florida where her family is still involved in agriculture. Her father was a rancher who raised cattle and was also in the livestock trucking business. She and her four siblings grew up in a rural area and were actively involved in 4-H and FFA. Beattie was involved in livestock judging in high school and was recognized at state, district and national competitions.

While serving as a member of the University of Florida Livestock Judging Team, she met her future husband, Bart Beattie, who was attending the University of Nebraska-Lincoln at the time while she was working during a summer internship in North Carolina.

“I still bleed orange and blue which has been interesting living in Nebraska for twenty-two years. I’m true to my roots, but I have raised a bunch of little ‘Cornhuskers,’ so I’ve done my part. However, I still root for orange and blue on Saturdays.”

Bart and Shana Beattie operate Beattie Family Farms, along with his parents Jeff and Nanette Beattie. It is a diversified operation that includes a crop rotation of corn, soybeans, and alfalfa. They also partner in a 10,000 head sow farm for a large wean to finish swine operation. Additionally, they own a commercial cow/calf ranching operation near Sumner in central Nebraska. The Beattie’s employ 15 people.

“I’m the fifth generation to be on this family farm and I’m very proud of that. I have a lot of pride in the heritage that my grandfathers started years ago,” Bart Beattie said. “We’ve had the opportunity to be here for over twenty years and it’s just been a great opportunity to get to grow our operation with Shana, who has been very involved from the beginning.”

Shana Beattie’s primary role in the operation presently involves inventory management. Previously, she has worked with cattle and assisted during harvest driving grain cars, in addition to other jobs. She also serves as a member of the board of directors of the Nebraska Pork Producers Association.

She is also actively involved in the couple’s children’s agriculture activities.

“Shana has done a really good job with our kids in fostering a passion for agriculture, a passion for the farming operation, and getting the kids involved through FFA and 4-H,” Bart Beattie said. “Having them out on the farm gives them a good foundation.”

Bart Beattie, Jr. said of his mother, “She’s an awesome lady and I’m so blessed to have her. She helps with everything, and she knows a lot about the farm. She’s extremely passionate about agriculture and I’m very blessed to have her.”

Nanette Beattie, Shana’s mother-in-law, is pleased to see her receive the AG-ceptional Woman recognition.

“Shana is a ‘get-ur’ done gal. She goes forth with all that she has in any task that comes before her. She has a passion for agriculture and for her family. She has her priorities right and she is very knowledgeable and is informed in everything she does. She is most deserving of this award.”

Shana Beattie said she is fortunate to have the life she leads.

“I love to serve my family, I love to serve the farm, I love to serve my community … and that is a way for me to put my investment in agriculture. I enjoy learning. I also enjoy helping build the (Pork Producers Association) as we face new challenges in pork production.

Beattie said she is passionate about her life in agriculture.

“Everyone has their passion and everyone has their gift (to promote agriculture). Every situation for each individual is different, but I think as you find your true gift, you can use that as your way to promote and get involved with agriculture.”

The Beatties have four children, McKenzie, a freshman at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln who is majoring in agriculture, Mattison, a freshman at SEM Schools in Sumner, Bart Jr., a seventh grader, and Preston, a fifth grader at SEM.

Online Course Assists in Developing Weed Management Plan

Designing an effective weed management plan to combat troublesome weeds and delay the development of herbicide resistance requires careful planning. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates the cost of dealing with herbicide resistance once it occurs to be $20-60 per acre. Developing long-term weed management plans that reduce the chances of resistance developing will minimize the cost of resistance.

An online course offered through Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, titled "Herbicide Resistance and Weed Management," provides farmers and agribusinesses the tools and resources needed to help design an effective long-term weed management plan to help delay the development of herbicide resistance.

The interactive and self-paced course contains presentations narrated by ISU Extension and Outreach faculty and specialists, along with lesson activities that can be completed according to the user's timetable.

The cost of the course is $50 and can be purchased through the ISU Extension Store.

Those who complete the course are eligible for 3.0 integrated pest management Certified Crop Advisor continuing education units. In order to receive CCA credits, the entire course must be completed.

Additional course information can be found at

Farm Service Agency Names William “Bill” Beam as Deputy Administrator for Farm Programs

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Richard Fordyce announced today that William “Bill” Beam has been appointed by the Trump Administration to serve as Deputy Administrator of Farm Programs (DAFP). Beam was sworn in on Oct. 22, 2018.

As Deputy Administrator, Beam will be responsible for overseeing and implementing policies and procedures that regulate the delivery of federal farm programs. He along with DAFP staff oversee major portions of the farm bill including programs that help America’s farmers, ranchers and forest stewards manage market risks, recover from disasters and conserve and protect natural resources through FSA’s network of over 2,100 state and county offices.

Prior to his appointment, Beam was the president, owner/operator of Beam Farms, Inc., a fourth-generation row crop, specialty crop and hay operation in Elverson, Pennsylvania. In addition to his farming operation, Beam owns and manages a sawdust trucking business.

He was an appointed member of the United Soybean Board for nine years. In this role, Beam traveled internationally promoting U.S. soybeans and export markets. He also served two years on the United States Soybean Export Council and held leadership positions with the Pennsylvania Soybean Board.

Americans Give Thanks for Lower Fuel and Food Prices this Thanksgiving

Nearly 50 million travelers will take to America’s roads this Thanksgiving holiday, and ethanol is helping to lower the price they pay for gasoline. At the same time, a new survey shows the cost of Thanksgiving dinner is expected to hit an eight-year low.

According to AAA, 48.5 million travelers will drive for Thanksgiving, nearly 5 percent more than last year. Based on Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) analysis using the most recent monthly data, 10% ethanol blends (E10) are helping U.S. consumers save 22 cents per gallon at the pump. In fact, ethanol is on pace to reduce household spending on gasoline by $34 billion this year, or $270 per household.

The discount is even greater for 15% ethanol blends (E15), a fuel that is legally approved for more than 90% of the cars and trucks on the road today. Based on RFA analysis, E15 could help U.S. consumers save 27 cents per gallon at the pump. If E15 were adopted nationwide, the fuel would be expected to reduce household spending on gasoline by $42 billion this year, or $335 per household.

Consumers are not only saving money at the pump, but they’re also saving money on Thanksgiving dinner. According to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual survey, the classic Thanksgiving meal for a family of 10 will average $48.90 this year, less than $5 per person and down about 1 percent from prior-year levels. Since 2015, the average cost of Thanksgiving dinner has declined steadily and is now at the lowest level since 2010.

“As a record number of travelers are expected to hit the road this holiday week, they can be thankful that homegrown, renewable ethanol is helping to save them money at the pump,” said RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “Meanwhile, the cost of Thanksgiving dinner continues to fall, thoroughly debunking the ridiculous old argument that increased use of field corn for ethanol production would lead to higher prices for meat, milk, eggs, and other staple foods. In fact, annual food price inflation has averaged just 2.2% since the RFS was expanded in 2007, compared to an average of 3.0% in the preceding 25-year period.” 

Mexico City marks sixth visit to Mexico for ACE in 2018 to address ethanol questions from service station owners

American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) Senior Vice President Ron Lamberty traveled to Mexico City last week for the final ethanol technical workshop held this year for Mexican petroleum equipment installers and retailers. The workshops were a joint effort of the U.S. Grains Council and the Mexican Association of Service Station Suppliers (AMPES), to inform local station owners about opportunities in sourcing, marketing, and retailing ethanol-blended gasoline, as Mexico’s transportation fuel sector continues to evolve.

“These workshops have helped Mexican fuel marketers, equipment suppliers, and even some government officials understand offering gasoline with 10 percent ethanol is a safe and economically sensible way to have cleaner air and provide less expensive options at the pump for drivers in Mexico,” Lamberty said. “‘The math’ of ethanol blends is undeniably attractive for station owners and consumers right now, and our next challenge will be helping businesses do what they need to do to distribute our product to places where it can be blended and delivered to stations. Fuel equipment companies say the workshops have inspired interest from retailers and prospective wholesale distributors of ethanol.”

Those points were echoed at a press conference during last week’s workshop by AMPES President Isaias Romero Escalona, who said, “The interests of some politicians are the main obstacle to the incorporation of ethanol into the gasoline market,” while the President of the Mexican Energy Commission (COMENER) Juan Acra López said the introduction of ethanol would be “music for the ears of the next government, since it would reduce the cost of fuel.”

“Current U.S. ethanol exports to Mexico are primarily for industrial uses like perfumes, solvents, and beverages, but we’re starting to see retailers in border cities buying pre-blended E10 at U.S. terminals for resale in their convenience stores or service stations,” Lamberty added. “While these volumes are tiny right now, just as we saw ethanol spread across the U.S., when retailers see other retailers successfully selling E10, they become more confident they could offer it too, and volumes will increase.”

Lamberty’s 2018 travels to Mexico included visits to Xalapa in August, Chihuahua in July, and  León in June. Earlier this spring, Lamberty spoke at two other workshops in Monterrey and Tijuana. USGC and AMPES also held a workshop in Oaxaca earlier in November. Mexico City is the final workshop the USGC is hosting in 2018, but interest and attendance increase at each event, and ACE will continue to work with the USGC to provide information to retailers and others who want to sell more ethanol.

NCGA Calls for More Equitable Trade Relief

National Corn Growers Association President Lynn Chrisp today urged U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to consider changes to the Market Facilitation Program (MFP) ahead of the second round of payments.

In a letter to Perdue, Chrisp said that he continues to hear from farmers who are disappointed in USDA’s approach to calculating the first round of MFP payments because it was too narrow in scope and did not capture the real-time impacts of trade disruptions on our markets.

Chrisp asked Perdue to add ethanol and distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) to the calculation of damages for corn. Using USDA’s methodology, gross trade damages for ethanol and DDGS amounts to $254 million, which was not accounted for in the first MFP payments. Chrisp also asked the Secretary to allow farmers who suffer production losses from disasters to use an alternative to 2018 production for their MFP calculation. This would ensure farmers suffering from drought, hurricane-related losses or other natural disasters would not be penalized twice.

Text of the letter is below.

Dear Secretary Perdue,

On behalf of the more than 40,000 National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) members and the more than 300,000 corn farmers across the nation, I am writing to ask the U.S. Department of Agriculture to consider changes to its Market Facilitation Program (MFP) for the second tranche of payments, planned for December 2018.

During the development of the Department’s trade mitigation plan, NCGA provided USDA and the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) with analysis of losses to corn farmers resulting from trade disputes with China and the European Union. This information was based on a study, conducted by Integrated Financial Analytics and Research (IFAR), that found an average decline in the price of corn of $0.44/bu as a result of trade tariffs, amounting to a $6.3 billion loss to corn farmers.

NCGA requested that USDA’s trade mitigation efforts compensate commodities proportionate to their lost revenue and that farmers suffering production losses due to natural disasters be able to use an alternative method of calculating their payments.

At the same time, NCGA called on the Trump Administration to take immediate actions to strengthen market demand for farmers. These included, resolving ongoing trade disputes, securing existing and new trade agreements, and providing parity for ethanol blends above 10 percent.

NCGA is pleased that the Trump Administration has made progress on several of these priorities, including reaching a trade agreement with Mexico and Canada, moving forward with trade negotiations with Japan, and directing EPA to provide RVP parity. We appreciate the strong role you have played in working with the President to deliver on these priorities.

These are critical developments, but the economic benefits will take some time to materialize, and corn farmers are struggling now. I continue to hear from farmers who are disappointed in USDA’s approach to calculating the first round of MFP payments because it was too narrow in scope and did not capture the real-time impacts of trade disruptions on our markets.

Given that there is still significant uncertainty in the farm economy and that corn prices are still being impacted by ongoing disputes with China and the EU, NCGA is asking USDA for the following modifications in its calculation of the second tranche of MFP payments:

    Add ethanol and distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) to the calculation of damages for corn. U.S. corn farmers have seen value-added corn products grow as an important share of our global exports (see attached graphic). In 2017, according to FAS data, the United States exported $185 million worth of ethanol and $223 million worth of DDGS (for a combined value of $408 million in exports) to China and the European Union. Based on the Office of the Chief Economist’s MFP methodology, gross trade damages for ethanol and DDGS amounts to $254 million that was not accounted for in the first tranche of MFP payments.
    Allow farmers who suffer production losses from disasters to use an alternative to 2018 production for their MFP calculations. This programmatic modification would ensure that farmers in Kansas, Missouri and Texas, who are suffering from drought, and farmers in the Southeast, who are suffering losses from Hurricane Michael, would not be penalized twice. It is also important that farmers be allowed to use RMA production records in MFP.

 Thank you, Mr. Secretary, and your staff, for continuing this dialogue with NCGA. I know that we share the goal of ensuring that MFP provides farmers with much-needed relief in a way that is equitable and effective. I believe that the modifications I have outlined in this letter will get us closer to that goal and urge you to give this request serious consideration.

Lynn Chrisp, President
National Corn Growers Association

 ACE CEO statement on Chevron receiving RFS waiver at Utah refinery

American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) CEO Brian Jennings released the following statement, following reporting that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) granted Chevron Corp a 2017 hardship waiver from complying with its Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) blending obligation at its Utah refinery earlier this year:

“While Chevron and other refiners enjoy their record profits and “economic hardship” waivers from EPA on Thanksgiving, many farmers and ethanol producers in rural America are finding it harder and harder to make ends meet. Chevron posted net profits of nearly $10 billion in 2017. On what planet does that constitute the “disproportionate economic hardship” threshold needed to help justify a Small Refinery Exemption?  Meanwhile, it is insulting to rural America that EPA has found the time to grant nearly 50 Small Refinery Exemptions for 2016 and 2017 but insists on waiting until February of 2019 to propose a rule allowing retailers to offer E15 to their customers year-round.”

CattleTrace Participants Meet with USDA Under Secretary Greg Ibach

U.S. Department of Agriculture Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Greg Ibach was welcomed to Great Bend, Kansas, on Monday, November 19, by beef industry leaders participating in the CattleTrace pilot project for disease traceability. USDA is a partner in the pilot project that will develop and test an end-to-end disease traceability system.

Approximately 40 producer participants, including ranchers, livestock markets, cattle feeders and packers, as well as other CattleTrace partners, participated in the meeting that provided an update on the pilot project as well as allowed for discussion about disease traceability priorities at USDA. CattleTrace is being implemented by a cooperative public-private partnership including the Kansas Livestock Association, Kansas State University, Kansas Department of Agriculture, USDA and private producers.

“Without the partnership from beef producers across the state, CattleTrace wouldn’t have gotten off the ground. It is exciting to see enthusiasm from producers who are willing to step up and help lead the development of a disease traceability system that can work in and for our industry,” said Brandon Depenbusch, CattleTrace, Inc., Board of Directors chairman. “USDA is an important partner in CattleTrace and plays an integral role in disease traceability across the country. We are grateful that Under Secretary Ibach traveled to Kansas to meet with CattleTrace participants and share his vision for disease traceability.”

CattleTrace was launched in late June 2018 and will conclude in spring 2020. During the pilot, 55,000 Kansas-based calves will be tagged with an ultra-high frequency ear tag. As the calves move through the supply chain, minimal data, including an individual animal identification number, GPS location, and the date and time, will be captured and maintained in a secure, third-party database. The CattleTrace team will use the database to conduct mock traces to test the infrastructure in order to determine its effectiveness in tracing animal movements in the event of a disease outbreak.

Depenbusch noted that more than 31,500 tags have been distributed and the rest will be distributed in the coming months. He also highlighted tag readers are installed at all partner feedyards and livestock markets.

In September 2018, USDA outlined four overarching goals for advancing animal disease traceability. USDA will begin implementing the traceability goals starting in fiscal year 2019. CattleTrace will be playing an important role in USDA’s traceability initiatives. Each of the USDA goals aligns with the basic infrastructure and implementation protocol of the CattleTrace Pilot Project.

“The landscape surrounding animal disease traceability has changed dramatically in the past decade, and producers across the nation recognize that a comprehensive system is the best protection against a devastating disease outbreak like foot-and-mouth disease,” Under Secretary Ibach said in September.  “We have a responsibility to these producers and American agriculture as a whole to make animal disease traceability what it should be—a modern system that tracks animals from birth to slaughter using affordable technology that allows USDA to quickly trace sick and exposed animals to stop disease spread.”

To learn more about CattleTrace, visit


All layers in Nebraska during October 2018 totaled 8.39 million, up from 7.71 million the previous year, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service.  Nebraska egg production during October totaled 214 million eggs, up from 194 million in 2017. October egg production per 100 layers was 2,553 eggs, compared to 2,514 eggs in 2017.


Iowa egg production during October 2018 was 1.40 billion eggs, up 3 percent from last month and up 5 percent from last year, according to the latest Chickens and Eggs report from the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.  The average number of all layers on hand during October 2018 was 57.8 million, virtually unchanged from last month but up 4 percent from last year. Eggs per 100 layers for October were 2,422, up 3 percent from last month and up 1 percent from last year.

October U.S. Egg Production Up 3 Percent

United States egg production totaled 9.22 billion during October 2018, up 3 percent from last year. Production included 8.04 billion table eggs, and 1.18 billion hatching eggs, of which 1.10 billion were broiler-type and 86.3 million were egg-type. The average number of layers during October 2018 totaled 386 million, up 2 percent from last year. October egg production per 100 layers was 2,388 eggs, up 1 percent from October 2017.
All layers in the United States on November 1, 2018 totaled 386 million, up 2 percent from last year. The 386 million layers consisted of 326 million layers producing table or market type eggs, 57.6 million layers producing broiler-type hatching eggs, and 3.31 million layers producing egg-type hatching eggs. Rate of lay per day on November 1, 2018, averaged 77.1 eggs per 100 layers, up 1 percent from November 1, 2017.

Egg-Type Chicks Hatched Up 7 Percent

Egg-type chicks hatched during October 2018 totaled 55.0 million, up 7 percent from October 2017. Eggs in incubators totaled 45.2 million on November 1, 2018, down slightly from a year ago.

Domestic placements of egg-type pullet chicks for future hatchery supply flocks by leading breeders totaled 225 thousand during October 2018, up 14 percent from October 2017.

Broiler-Type Chicks Hatched Down Slightly

Broiler-type chicks hatched during October 2018 totaled 790 million, down slightly from October 2017. Eggs in incubators totaled 649 million on November 1, 2018, down slightly from a year ago.

Leading breeders placed 7.28 million broiler-type pullet chicks for future domestic hatchery supply flocks during October 2018, down 4 percent from October 2017.

November 19 Crop Progress & Harvest Report - NE - IA - US


For the week ending November 18, 2018, there were 5.7 days suitable for fieldwork, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 0 percent very short, 6 short, 87 adequate, and 7 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 1 percent very short, 8 short, 86 adequate, and 5 surplus.

Field Crops Report: Corn harvested was 88 percent, near 92 last year, and behind 93 for the five-year average.

Soybeans harvested was 97 percent, near 100 both last year and average.

Winter wheat condition rated 2 percent very poor, 5 poor, 23 fair, 51 good, and 19 excellent.

Sorghum harvested was 91 percent, near 90 last year and 95 average.

Pasture and Range Report:
Pasture and range conditions rated 1 percent very poor, 3 poor, 18 fair, 70 good, and 8 excellent.


Iowa farmers had a rather cold 4.8 days suitable for fieldwork during the week ending November 18, 2018, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Activities for the week included harvesting corn and soybeans, baling stalks, applying anhydrous and manure, moving grain, repairing tile, and fall tillage in areas where the ground was not too frozen.

Topsoil moisture levels rated 0 percent very short, 1 percent short, 81 percent adequate and 18 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated 0 percent very short, 2 percent short, 78 percent adequate and 20 percent surplus.

Ninety-one percent of the State’s corn for grain crop has been harvested, 4 days behind the five-year average. Farmers in northwest and north central Iowa have harvested 96 percent of their corn for grain while farmers in the southwest have 22 percent of their corn for grain remaining to be harvested. Moisture content of field corn being harvested averaged 16 percent.

Soybean harvest was 97 percent complete, 5 days behind last year and 4 days behind the average.

Feedlots and pastures have begun freezing with some areas reporting frost down to 3 inches. The adjustment to extremely cold temperatures and snow-covered pastures caused livestock some minor stress.

10% of Corn, 9% of Soybeans Still in Field

An estimated 10% of the nation's corn crop and 9% of the soybean crop was left to harvest as of Sunday, Nov. 18, USDA's National Ag Statistics Service said in its weekly Crop Progress report on Monday.

Corn harvest ended last week at 90% complete, up 6 percentage points from the previous week. Harvest was near last year's pace of 89% complete but was 3 percentage points behind the five-year average of 93%.

Meanwhile, 91% of the nation's soybeans were harvested as of Sunday, up just 3 percentage points from the previous week. Harvest is still 5 percentage points behind the five-year average of 96%.

Eighty percent of the sorghum crop was harvested as of Sunday, behind 89% last year and 10 percentage points behind the five-year average of 90%.

Winter wheat progress also remained behind normal last week. Ninety-three percent of the crop was planted as of Sunday, behind last year's 97% and also behind the five-year average of 97%. Winter wheat emerged, at 81%, was behind both last year's pace of 87% and the average pace of 88%.  NASS estimated 56% of the nation's winter wheat was in good-to-excellent condition, up 2 percentage points from 54% the previous week and also up from 52% at the same time last year.

Monday November 19 Ag News

Nebraska Cattlemen Announce Young Cattlemen's Conference Class of 2019

Nebraska Cattlemen announced the 2019 class of the Young Cattlemen's Conference (YCC). YCC nominees were accepted from throughout the state and selected by committee to participate in the two-year leadership program.

The Class of 2019 includes:
Dane Miller, Wisner
Grant Potadle, Herman
Misty Stauffer, Ashland

Quentin Dailey, Lexington
Tony Elting, Hebron
Marc Hanson, Fairbury
Kat Kennedy, Purdum
Clayton Krause, Hemingford
Brock Terrell, Hay Springs
Janessa Updike, St. Paul

"There was an outstanding set of applicants for the YCC program; making the discussion process difficult." stated Ken Herz, Nebraska Cattlemen Vice President. "I am looking forward to working with this group of young leaders as they participate in the YCC program.  The beef industry will remain strong with the next generation of Nebraska Cattlemen gaining industry knowledge and building their leadership skills."

The goal of the Young Cattlemen's Conference is to expose young and emerging leaders to a variety of areas of the beef industry and provide them with necessary leadership tools. During the two-year program, YCC members are provided training on professional communication, given the opportunity to tour multiple Nebraska-based agriculture production facilities and learn to navigate state agencies and legislative processes.

All of this could not happen without generous sponsorship from Farm Credit Services of America and Nebraska Cattlemen Foundation.


Women involved in agricultural production and management or who are interested in learning more about ag business are encouraged to attend Annie’s Project, a six-week educational course set to begin Jan. 28 in the Farm Credit Services of America Sale Barn Conference Room, 4101 N. Sixth St. in Beatrice.

Annie’s Project is a discussion-based workshop bringing women in agriculture together to learn from experts in production, financial management, human resources, marketing and the legal field.

Annie’s Project workshops aim to help women become better business partners or sole operators through networking and by managing and organizing critical information. Annie’s Project courses have successfully reached more than 9,000 women in 33 states.

“There's plenty of time for questions, sharing, reacting and connecting with presenters and fellow participants,” said Jessica Jones, extension educator and project organizer. “It's a relaxed, fun and dynamic way to learn, grow and meet other women.”

In addition to Jones, Nebraska Extension educators Austin Duerfeldt and Glennis McClure are organizing the workshops. Sponsors include Farm Credit Services of America, First State Bank, and the Southeast Community College agricultural program. Additional sponsors are welcome.

Space is limited to 20 participants, so early registration is encouraged. The cost for the course is $75 per person, which includes a workbook and support materials for all sessions. A light dinner will be served before each class at 5:30 p.m.

To register, visit

For more information, contact the Gage County Extension Office at 402-223-1384 or, or Austin Duerfeldt at More information also can be found at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Women in Agriculture website at and on the Annie’s Project website at


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Corn stalks are the main winter feed resource for many cattle producers.  Are they as good a resource as they were thirty years ago?

               My corn stalks don’t take care of my cows like they used to.  I hear this complaint often these days.  What is the basis for this claim?  Or is it just imaginary?

               I think two things might be happening here.  First, stalks indeed might be different.  And second, maybe cows themselves are different.

               Cows are larger today than thirty years ago.  Larger cows need more forage and usually greater supplementation than small cows.  So, a quarter section of stalks won’t carry as many cows as it once did.  And even when stocking adjustments are made, if supplements aren’t also adjusted accordingly, cow performance still might suffer.

               But it also is quite likely that stalk fields have changed.  In fact, they might have changed quite a bit.  For starters, modern combines collect grain much more effectively than before.  We used to estimate that four percent of the grain would be left in the field after combining.  Today the amount of grain left behind probably has been cut in half, maybe less.  Less grain means we need to supplement cows earlier than before.  Otherwise they may go out of condition as well as reduce the eventual production capacity of their calves.

               The stalks themselves also might be less nutritious.  Modern hybrids draw more nutrients out of the stalk and into the kernel.  And genetic modifications for insect resistance and less lodging produces stalks that break down or digest less rapidly, leaving behind stalks that may be less palatable and provide fewer digestible nutrients.

               So if you think stalks don’t care for your cows like they used to, you may be right.  But it’s up to you to adjust, rather than complain.

Cull Cow Marketing Decisions

Steve Niemeyer – Extension Educator

Fall weather brings many changes to the cattle operation, one of them being pregnancy testing and the subsequent removal of open, thin, lame or poor temperament cows from the herd.

Markets for Slaughter Cows

The 2018 slaughter cow market has been impacted by the large supply of beef in storage and an increase in cow slaughter volume compared to a year earlier. The South Dakota 2018 slaughter cow prices have been at or below 2017’s average monthly prices. The Livestock Marketing Information Center (LMIC) 2018 average through September for breaker grade cows was $65.05, 4.3 percent lower than a year earlier.

While August is historically the high for slaughter cow prices, producers can use the seasonal price index to visualize the seasonality in the slaughter cow market.

Using this seasonality, combined with cost of production budgets, producers can make informed decisions to increase the profit generated from cull cows.
Feeding Considerations

While the seasonality indicates profit, in the form of higher prices per hundred weight, may be realized by delaying sales, not every cull cow should be held and placed on feed for a later sale date. Characteristics of cows that should NOT be held include:
·    Cows in a Body Condition Score (BCS) of 5 or higher. One reason to keep the cow on feed is to increase the BCS thus increasing muscle mass, the fat layer and total pounds available for sale. Cows that are already in good condition will not gain additional pounds in an efficient manner and will likely eat more in feed than the return to feeding them.
·    Cows that are unsound or injured. These animals should be sold direct to a packer. Animals must be ambulatory and a direct sale reduces further injury. If a cow has been treated with any antibiotics ensure all withdrawal periods have been reached prior to any sales.
·    Cows that are unhealthy. These cows offer a whole set of management challenges to the operation. Unhealthy cows may not gain efficiently and thus may not improve the profitability of the operation through feeding. However, cows that have received medication with any antibiotics need to be monitored to ensure they are not sold before withdrawal periods are reached.
Feed Cost Options

There are many feeding options for cull cows. As corn fields are harvested, grazing aftermath acres becomes one of the available options. Depending on the weather, cows may be able to graze these acres until the desired market date for limited feed cost and labor requirements.

Cows can also be placed in a feedlot system and receive a balanced ration designed to maximize average daily gain and encourage the development of white fat. Cows placed in a feeding system will take more bunk space than other cattle, so ensure adequate bunk space is available for this option.

Making Plans

Producers that accurately identify cows that have the ability to gain weight when put on feed have the opportunity to increase the profitability of their operation. However, accurate ration costs, creation of a marketing plan and timeline, adherence to the plan and the markets behaving in the expected manner will all effect the profit received.

Women in Ag Leadership Conference Is Nov. 26-27 in Ames

The Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Women in Ag Leadership Conference will be held Nov. 26-27 at the Iowa State Center Scheman Building on the Iowa State University campus in Ames. The cost to participate in all conference activities and meals is $30 for students and $60 for all others. The conference theme is “The Conversations of Leadership.”

An optional tour of Iowa State University will run from 1-3:30 pm on Monday, Nov. 26. The tour highlights the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering and points of pride on central campus.

Conference attendees have the opportunity to participate in a workshop on building and marketing their personal brand, on Monday from 4:30-6:30 p.m. Dinner and networking activities follow the workshop.

The full-day conference on Tuesday, Nov. 27 begins at 8:30 a.m. and concludes at 3:30 p.m. Lunch and networking activities are included. The day begins with Janine Bruder’s keynote presentation, “Why It’s Important to Have REAL Conversations,” and concludes with Amanda De Jong’s capstone presentation, “When Conversations Open Doors, You Better Walk Through.” Throughout the day, more than 10 general session and concurrent session speakers will enlighten and energize attendees with a variety of leadership topics from conflict resolution to farm transition decisions, career conversations and organizational leadership.

Highlighting the conference will be the recognition of six inspiring women from across Iowa who are being honored as the 2018 Women Impacting Agriculture.

To register, visit the Women in Ag Leadership Conference website at Registrations will be accepted at the door. For questions about the conference, contact ISU Extension and Outreach Program Manager Madeline Schultz at or 515-294-0588.

Farm Credit Services of America is a key conference sponsor. The full conference agenda and other details are available at the ISU Extension and Outreach Women in Ag website...

Beef Checkoff connects students with beef farmer

New York Beef Council with the support of Iowa Beef Council and the Beef Checkoff hosted two virtual field trips for high school culinary classrooms involved in the ProStart program. Tim Pallokat, owner of Cayuga View Farm, located in Cayuga County gave nearly 250 students the opportunity to “visit” his farm and learn about beef production from farm to fork.

The 45 minute virtual tours included an overview of the beef life cycle including an up close look at a young calf and mother cow. The tour also included an introduction to sustainability practices and land management utilized on the farm, a demonstration of animal handling and discussion on antibiotic use and oversight, as well as, an in-depth discussion of what beef cattle eat and the finishing process.

Student from all corners of New York State joined the trips including classrooms streaming in from Long Island, Staten Island, Brooklyn, the Southern Tier, Central NY, and Western NY. When asked to assess the trip 100% of participating instructors indicated they would be very willing to both participate in another virtual field trip and recommend this virtual field trip to other teachers.

“This was my first time working with the New York Beef Council to host something like this”, shared Tim, owner of Cayuga View Farm, “the students were really engaged and I was impressed and surprised by all of their great questions, especially how interested they were in the economics of producing beef here in New York.”

U.S. Pork Advertisements Win Prestigious Japanese Award

A U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) advertising campaign that promotes the high quality of U.S. pork in Japan won accolades from the Japanese advertising industry. The “Mitsuboshi American Pork” series, featuring three newspaper ads touting the juiciness and flavor of U.S. pork, took first place honors in the Nikkei MJ Advertising Awards for 2018.

Funding for the advertising series was provided by the USDA Market Access Program (MAP) and the National Pork Board.

In Japanese, “Mitsuboshi” means “Three Star.” In the USMEF ad series, the three stars of U.S. pork are “juiciness, deliciousness and tenderness.”

“USMEF’s Mitsuboshi American Pork ad series expresses high-quality U.S. pork clearly with a combination of menus and wine,” the judging panel made up of academic and marketing experts noted in its decision. “We can sense the flow of deliciousness of U.S. pork with sophisticated use of color. And readers can feel the friendliness of ‘Gochipo,’ which is USMEF’s U.S. pork mascot. With the eye-grabbing creative and accurate message to the retail industry, this ad series reached a high degree of perfection in trade advertising.”

USMEF staff in Japan will be on hand to receive the award at a Dec. 4 ceremony.

“USMEF recognizes that the competition for the Japanese market is growing more intense and this advertising campaign is an example of our commitment to defend U.S. pork’s share,” said Dan Halstrom, USMEF president and CEO. “Although Japan is the largest value market for U.S. pork, we realize that we need to keep working very hard to maintain our relationship with the Japanese consumer to keep exports moving in the right direction.”

The three ads in the USMEF series appeared in late September in the Nikkei Marketing Journal, a Japanese publication specializing in marketing and retail businesses. The advertisements, along with descriptions provided by USMEF staff in Japan, are below:

Advertisement No. 1 -
    “We used Gochipo to introduce Mitsuboshi American Pork. Juiciness, deliciousness and tenderness are three important points used by Japanese people to evaluate pork quality. We showed multiple U.S. pork dishes people can enjoy.”

Advertisement No. 2 -
    “We showed mouth-watering U.S. pork loin in a photo that was highly valued by the judging panel. The text of the ad read, 'Once you have a bite, you can feel the mouthful juiciness and deliciousness of U.S. pork. American pork is raised with nutrient-rich corn and soybeans. That’s why American pork is juicy, delicious and tender. Please enjoy the ideal pork!'”

Advertisement No. 3 -
    “We provided facts as to why U.S. pork is high in quality. We explained the reasons for the 'juiciness,' 'deliciousness' and 'tenderness' of U.S. pork. We compared U.S. and domestic pork. We showed the cost difference of raising hogs in the U.S. and in Japan, because some Japanese consumers and even traders don’t know why the price of U.S. pork is better than domestic pork.”

October Milk Production in the United States up 0.8 Percent

Milk production in the United States during October totaled 17.9 billion pounds, up 0.8 percent from October 2017.  Production per cow in the United States averaged 1,912 pounds for October, 21 pounds above October 2017.  The number of milk cows on farms in the United States was 9.37 million head, 30,000 head less than October 2017, and 2,000 head less than September 2018.

IOWA - Milk production in Iowa during October 2018 totaled 432 million pounds, down 1 percent from the previous October according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Milk Production report. The average number of milk cows during October, at 220,000 head, was unchanged from last month but 1,000 more than last year. Monthly production per cow averaged 1,965 pounds, down 30 pounds from last October.

CWT Assisted Export Sales Top 1.3 Billion Pounds Milk Equivalent

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) member cooperatives accepted 23 offers of export assistance from CWT that helped them capture contracts to sell 8.607 million pounds (3,904 metric tons) of Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese, 716,502 pounds (325 metric tons) of butter, and 1.721 million pounds (781 metric tons) of whole milk powder. The product will be delivered during period November 2018 through May 2019.

The year-to-date 1.3 billion pounds of milk equivalent on a milkfat basis is made up of CWT member cooperative sales of 62.384 million pounds of American-type cheeses, 14.558 million pounds of butter (82% milkfat) and 54.555 million pounds of whole milk powder.

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

Meat Supply Concerns into 2019

Stephen R. Koontz, Extension Economist, Colorado State University

The fall run of feeder cattle is set to be essentially complete. The market will receive information on October placements and marketings this Wednesday. USDA AMS reports suggest the volumes of feeder cattle were slightly above the prior year. Likewise, weekly slaughter volumes suggest the total of steers and heifers will be reasonably strong compared to the prior year. Regardless of the outcome, the cattle and beef markets are entering into that time of year with continued large slaughter volumes and the heaviest slaughter weights. The hog and pork markets do the same. Thus, it is likely that the following weeks will see continued strong volumes of red meats, in the week with considerable focus on turkey.

Fed cattle and feeder cattle prices have remained at close to highs for the year. While boxed beef composite values and the choice/select spread have also remained strong. The underlying fundamentals are a bit of a mixed bag of bullish and bearish news. With the major suggesting lower prices ahead. The main concerns are the prospective marketings of heavy placements during July and August. The number of cattle on feed over 120 days on October 1 was substantially higher than the prior year and marketings/slaughter in October and November so far have not been enough to pull that inventory down. Fourth quarter volumes of beef - and for that matter pork - will be the highest for the year. But beef prices remain strong at the retail level while retail and packer margins remain excellent. Saturday slaughter volumes remain high. And there is just no bad news to be found with respect to beef exports.

Repeating what I said last newsletter, a lot has gone right for fed cattle, and calf, prices to remain strong and even improve. But, in the end, there remains considerable potential downside risk. It will be interesting to see if, and then the extent, the discounts of poultry and pork prices compared to beef will have an impact on beef trade into the last month of the year.

What do the technicals say? All live cattle contracts are off the highs established in October and the first couple of days in November. The rally in September was a bit excessive. Any uptrends drawn after the rally are broken which is a sell signal. Most contracts suggest that prices are in a correction phase and if that is the case then prices will move lower. The outside day with a strong close on 11/13 across contracts suggests overwise. The next few days will tell if the market is to drift sideways or move lower. Look for fundamentals to confirm that position. Feeder cattle charts are considerably more bearish. All contracts have moved down the months of October and November. The speed of the moves lower suggests a correct is possible but that will be difficult without stronger live cattle prices. Again, look for fundamental news to confirm any price reaction.

The Climate Corporation Partners with Farmers Mutual Hail, Simplifies Crop Insurance Reporting for U.S. Farmers

The Climate Corporation, a subsidiary of Bayer, today announced a platform agreement with Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Company of Iowa (FMH), enabling farmers to connect their field data to FMH for seamless delivery of crop insurance reporting. This collaboration will deliver new capabilities and value for farmers by simplifying this annual task and expanding Climate FieldView™ as the industry's broadest and fastest growing digital agriculture platform.

"We are working to accelerate the development and delivery of digital solutions for farmers by bringing  together participants across the agricultural value chain through our industry-leading Climate FieldView platform," said Mike Stern, Chief Executive Officer for The Climate Corporation and Head of Digital Farming at Bayer. "Like Climate, FMH recognizes the benefits of helping farmers organize their data in one place to optimize and simplify all their management decisions. Through this partnership, we look forward to bringing more streamlined insurance reporting to farmers."

With Climate FieldView, farmers across millions of 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 FMH as a partner, planting and harvest data captured in a farmer's FieldView account will seamlessly flow into FMH systems at the farmer's request for faster completion and delivery of planting and production reports. Ultimately, this will provide farmers and their agents a more simplified reporting experience, eliminating the need for manual data entry. In addition to enabling easy, digitized insurance reporting for farmers, Climate and FMH will be identifying further collaboration opportunities to partner in the area of digital risk management for farmers in the future.

"FMH has been focused on enhancing and expanding our use of digital ag data to best meet the needs of today's farmers. We continue to lead the industry through partnerships like these that grow our innovative insurance solutions," said Ron Rutledge, FMH President and CEO. "We are excited about working with The Climate Corporation to add an easy-to-use reporting option for our policyholders who use FieldView and agents utilizing FMH Precision Crop Insurance Solutions™. Not only will connecting our two systems enhance reporting processes, the data collected through FieldView can be used for adjusting crop losses, resulting in an enhanced claim experience for our policyholders."

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 platform in the industry and continues to expand into new global regions.

As innovation in the digital agriculture space 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 50 platform partners globally. Most recently, the company announcedthree new ag tech partners in Canada.

New field manager joins Soil Health Partnership team in South Dakota

The Soil Health Partnership welcomes a new field manager to the growing staff, along with a program coordinator to support farmers in the soil health effort. Madelyn Rabenhorst joins the SHP team to cover the state of South Dakota as a field manager, and Stacey Stiens is already making an impact in her role as Program Coordinator.

“As we build our organization, our priority remains ensuring that our enrolled farmers have the support they need to adopt practices that promote soil health, manage the SHP test plots, and help us in the critical process of data collection and insights generation,” said Shefali Mehta, executive director for the Soil Health Partnership. “We welcome Madelyn and Stacey to the SHP team and look forward to their expertise and enthusiasm.”

SHP field managers help new farmers get started in the program, assisting them with making decisions on which soil health-promoting practices best suit their farms. The field managers help farmers with setting test strips, as well as with soil sampling and answering questions about the farming techniques implemented on a particular site. They also help organize, attend and present at field days. They are critical in relaying individual data reports and insights back to farmers.

Rabenhorst will work in South Dakota, a state eager to begin enrolling farmers in the program, with funding support from South Dakota Corn, NRCS South Dakota, and SHP. She also is expected to cover future enrolled farms in North Dakota, where SHP is growing its incorporation of wheat farms with support from General Mills and the National Wheat Foundation. Both states represent important growth opportunities for the SHP program, which currently has about 140 farmers enrolled in other states, mostly in the Midwest.

Rabenhorst comes to the partnership after working as a precision ag manager. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from South Dakota State University, with a minor in insect pest management. She is working toward a Master of Science in Agronomy through Iowa State University’s distance learning program.

“I was born and raised here in South Dakota on our family’s farm,” said Rabenhorst. “I am excited to join an organization that focuses on helping farmers with good, realistic, reliable data.”

As program coordinator, Stacey Stiens organizes and oversees the partnership’s many events, assists with program communication and supports customer relationship management. A graduate of the University of Missouri-St. Louis, she has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, and has 12 years in planning and implementing educational activities, programs and events.

An initiative of the National Corn Growers Association, the Soil Health Partnership works closely with diverse organizations including commodity groups, industry, foundations, federal agencies, universities and well-known environmental groups toward common goals.

Friday November 16 Ag News


The Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) is encouraging producers and feed manufacturers to be mindful of mycotoxin levels in corn being fed to livestock this winter. Mycotoxins are naturally occurring mold fungi that affects corn.

“Summer drought coupled with wet harvest conditions creates a high risk for mycotoxin’s to grow,” said NDA Director Steve Wellman. “Fortunately, we have not seen alarming concentrations of mycotoxins in Nebraska like our neighboring states, but it is important for producers to remain vigilant to help protect the safety and wellbeing of their livestock herds.”

NDA Animal and Plant Health inspectors collect corn samples at grain elevators across the state each year during harvest. The NDA laboratory tests the samples for mycotoxins, including Aflatoxin and Fumonisin, as part of a collaborative effort between NDA and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Test results showed no detectable levels of Aflatoxin, but did indicate an increased presence of Fumonisin in several of the samples.

Livestock fed feedstuffs with a high enough concentration of Fumonisin can cause harm or even death. The most susceptible animals include horses, rabbits and swine. Cattle and poultry seem to have a higher tolerance for Fumonisin. The FDA has established safe feeding recommendations for grains containing significant levels of Fumonisin, those recommendations can be found here:

2018 NeCGA Annual Meeting

The Nebraska Corn Growers Association 2018 Annual Meeting will take place on Wednesday, December 19, 2018, at Nebraska’s Innovation Campus in Lincoln. The annual meeting is a time for grower members to come together and discuss the policy that will direct the association for the coming year. All local association president’s and NeCGA board members have received a hard copy of the 2018 resolutions, along with proposed resolutions forms, delegate forms, and other pertinent information. If you have any questions regarding the annual meeting, please reach out to the office, the local association president, or state board representative. Following the business portion of the meeting, NeCGA will join together with the Nebraska Soybean Association for lunch and to hear from the featured speaker.

This year we are excited to welcome Eric Snodgrass. Eric Snodgrass is the Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Each year, he guides over 1800 students through the wild side of weather in ATMS 120: Severe and Hazardous Weather. He teaches advanced courses on General Physical Meteorology (ATMS 201), Meteorological Instrumentation (ATMS 315), Economics of Weather (ATMS 491) and supervises numerous Capstone Research projects. Snodgrass also teaches ENSU 310: Renewable and Alternative Energy for the Environmental Sustainability Program. He advises all undergraduate majors and minors in atmospheric science (~100 students) and supervises graduate teaching assistants and master’s students. He serves on numerous committees and boards on campus including the Provost’s Teaching Advancement Board (Chair), Student Sustainability Committee and the Provost Task Force on Improving Large Enrollment Courses. Snodgrass’ research initiatives focus on K-12 science education. He has recently been awarded the LAS Teaching Excellence award, the Campus Teaching Excellence Award, and the Campus Teaching Excellent Award in Online and Distance Education. Also, his online version of ATMS 120 was awarded the 2012 “Best Online Course” from the University Professional Continuing Education Association (a national organization).

Snodgrass’ research focuses on weather analysis and forecasting applications to global agriculture production. He presents his research as a featured speaker at over 50 conferences annually. He is the co-founder of Global Weather and Climate Logistics, LLC. which is a private company that provides logistical guidance and solutions to weather sensitive financial institutions. In 2014, his company merged with Agrible Inc., a precision farm management and predictive analytics company, where he is also co-founder and senior atmospheric scientist. In July 2018, Nutrien Ag Solutions acquired Agrible, Inc. He provides weekly weather updates that focus on weather risk in US agriculture. His current research uses machine learning to better understand field-level weather impacts on yields in the US and how to increase confidence in long-range predictions of these impacts.

Green Plains Reports Third Quarter 2018 Financial Results

Omaha-based Green Plains Inc. announced financial results for the third quarter of 2018. Net loss attributable to the company was $12.5 million, or $(0.31) per diluted share, for the third quarter of 2018 compared to net income of $34.4 million, or $0.74 per diluted share, for the same period in 2017. Revenues were $1.0 billion for the third quarter of 2018 compared with $901.2 million for the same period last year.

“I am pleased to say that the portfolio optimization plan we launched six months ago to strengthen our balance sheet and to reposition our assets for growth remains on track,” commented Todd Becker, president and chief executive officer. “We estimate that the cash proceeds from the asset sales, net of fees and taxes, will be approximately $645 million. This will allow the company to pay off the outstanding term loan B balance of $495 million and execute on the other points of our portfolio optimization plan once the sale transactions close.”

“We will be free of term debt on our assets for the first time in the company’s history,” added Becker, “We will continue to focus on enhancing our margin structure for our ethanol production segment by reducing controllable expenses, investing in high-protein feed technology, and focusing our efforts on growing our earnings across our entire business.”

Revenues attributable to the company were $3.0 billion for the nine-month period ended September 30, 2018, compared with $2.7 billion for the same period in 2017. Net loss for the nine-month period ended September 30, 2018, was $37.6 million, or $(0.94) per diluted share, compared with net income of $14.4 million, or $0.48 per diluted share, for the same period in 2017.

“In addition to our food and ingredients segment delivering results in line with our expectations, we were successful in generating a consolidated ethanol crush margin of $32.3 million, or approximately $0.11 per gallon in a challenging third quarter environment. Ethanol exports continue on their record pace of 1.6 billion gallons for 2018 and we believe exports should grow again in 2019,” commented Becker. “The expected approval of E15 next year, along with strong demand for our products worldwide, should start to clear the way for a fundamental improvement in the business going forward. While the current environment remains challenging, our balance sheet has never been stronger due in part to the execution of our portfolio optimization plan and our very strong cash and liquidity position.”

Results of Operations

Green Plains produced 304.8 million gallons of ethanol during the third quarter of 2018, compared with 313.6 million gallons for the same period in 2017. The consolidated ethanol crush margin was $32.3 million, or $0.11 per gallon, for the third quarter of 2018, compared with $47.3 million, or $0.15 per gallon, for the same period in 2017. The consolidated ethanol crush margin is the ethanol production segment’s operating income before depreciation and amortization, which includes corn oil, plus intercompany storage, transportation and other fees, net of related expenses.

Consolidated revenues increased $98.9 million for the third quarter of 2018, compared with the same period in 2017 as a result of the acquisitions of cattle feeding operations in 2018 and 2017, partially offset by a decrease in ethanol production and trading activity.

Operating income decreased $20.1 million and earnings before interest, income taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) decreased $18.3 million for the third quarter of 2018 compared with the same period last year primarily due to the compression of ethanol production margins. Interest expense decreased $8.5 million for the third quarter of 2018, compared with the same period in 2017, primarily due to higher expense associated with the termination of previous credit facilities during the third quarter of 2017. Income tax benefit was $14.7 million for the third quarter of 2018, compared with $48.8 million for the same period in 2017 due to the company’s recognition of tax benefits related to R&D Credits during the third quarter of 2017 for all open tax years.

GPRE Completes Sale of Three Ethanol Plants to Valero Renewable Fuels
Green Plains Inc. also announced that it completed the previously announced sale of its three ethanol plants to Valero Renewable Fuels Company LLC for $319 million in cash, including net working capital and other adjustments. The transaction includes ethanol plants located in Bluffton, Ind., Lakota, Iowa, and Riga, Mich. which represented approximately 20% of the company’s reported ethanol production capacity.

GPRE Permanent Closes of Hopewell, Va. Ethanol Facility

Green Plains Inc. announced that it is permanently closing its Hopewell, Va. ethanol facility. A significant portion of the 60 million gallon a year capacity plant will be dismantled during the decommissioning process, with most of the equipment being transferred to other Green Plains facilities. The company is also currently determining the best uses for any remaining equipment and the land.

The Ins and Outs of Prepaid Expenses

Austin Duerfeldt - Nebraska Agricultural Systems Economist Extension Educator

We have all witnessed the prepaid December scramble: a farmer running all over town writing checks because a tax preparer just advised that an additional $40,000 in expenses would be beneficial. One stop will be to the chemical company, another stop to the machinery dealer, and then maybe, if more is necessary, there will be a stop at the oil company to contract some fuel. While this is all well and good, we sometimes forget that there are some rules to the prepaid expense game. Here are the things you need to keep in mind before writing that check.

Testing for Availability -
There are three tests for prepaid expenses. The first of these tests is easy but gets abused none the less.

Test 1: The expenditure must be an actual purchase; it cannot be a mere deposit to buy in the future.

What this means is you cannot just write a check to the machinery dealer. This test is to determine whether the transaction is a purchase or a deposit. To be an actual purchase, it needs to include several details.

First, it needs to outline the specific quantity of items purchased. I can have prepaid expenses from the chemical company for 30 tons of lime at $X.XX price. I cannot, however, have a prepaid expense of $X.XX to the chemical company that is applied to my account for use later. The best practice here is to secure an invoice that clearly states a definitive quantity, quality, and price for the item purchased. There should also be no right to refund the payment nor substitute for other goods or services.

Test 2: The expenditure must be for a business purpose and not merely to avoid taxes.

The establishment of a prepaid expenditure as a legitimate business purpose in agriculture is straightforward. Here are some examples to keep in mind. If you are prepaying anhydrous so you have the required quantity at the time of application, it fits this test. If you are purchasing seed corn in late fall to take advantage of discounts, that fits this test. If you are contracting fuel due to the expectation of rising costs, that also fits this test. The main point is that when asked about why you purchased this prepaid expense, you have a justified business purpose that drove the decision, not just wanting “to avoid paying taxes.”

Test 3: The expenditure must not result in a material distortion of income.

This test is the most difficult for the purchase to pass as a legitimate prepaid expense. There are six key factors to look at with your tax preparer when working through this test:
-    The relationship between quantity purchased and the projected quantity to be used.
-    The materiality of the expenditure in relation to total income for the year.
-    Customary business practices of the taxpayer in buying supplies and the business purpose for paying in advance.
-    The relationship between the expenditure and past purchases.
-    The time of year in which the expenditure was made.
-    How deductions of prepaid expenditures have affected taxes paid by the farmer in previous years.

Rules and Limitations -
In addition to the testing process, there are two rules/limits to keep in mind.

1.  The 50% prepaid expense limit
Under this limit, if your prepaid expenses equal 50% or more of your deductible non-prepaid expenses for the taxable year, the prepaid expenses are only deductible as the purchased items are consumed. In a simplified example, if you had $100,000 in deductible non-prepaid expenses in 2018, you could only deduct $50,000 in prepaid expenses. Any prepaid expenses over $50,000 would need to be expensed in a later tax year when these goods are used or consumed. There are some exceptions to this limit that you can find in IRS Publication 225.

2. Farm Syndicate Rules
These rules were developed to manage investors in limited partnership tax shelters. There are two primary points to review if you are wondering if the IRS considers you a syndicate:
-    Have ownership interests been offered for sale at any time in an offering required to be registered under federal or state securities regulations?
-    Were more than 35% of the losses during any period allocated to limited partners or limited entrepreneurs?


Prepaid expenses can be a helpful tool for farming and ranching operations.  Hopefully, this article cleared up some gray areas that may have otherwise been a conversation starter during an audit. If you have questions feel free to email me, Austin Duerfeldt, at

Biosecurity Workshop Series Planned for Iowa Pork Producers

The recent spread of African Swine Fever in China has elevated the importance of biosecurity measures in reducing the risk of a domestic or foreign animal disease entering farms. Iowa Pork Industry Center and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach swine specialists have developed a workshop program to provide information and deeper understanding of critical steps necessary in biosecurity and health management for producers, employees, veterinarians and industry partners.

The no-cost workshop “Biosecurity Best Practices for Pork Producers” uses a variety of methods to help attendees learn about, develop and prioritize biosecurity practices. Case studies, demonstration and lecture will guide participants in prioritizing the highest ranking risk events for their own operations, with a focus on employee entry, traffic patterns, bench entries and other measures.

The program is delivered by the swine specialist team of ISU Extension and Outreach professionals in collaboration with Dr. Derald Holtkamp of Iowa State’s department of Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine.

Session topics include diseases of concern, carrying agents, risk event, intervention strategies, prioritizing farm risk, creating a biosecurity culture and Secure Pork Supply. The workshop agenda also includes round table discussions and a demonstration of how disease may pass a clean/dirty line.

Attendance is free, but preregistration is strongly encouraged. For more information or to preregister, contact the specialist listed by the location you wish to attend. See the workshop flyer...

Dates and locations include:

Thursday, Dec. 6,  1-3:30 p.m.
ISU Extension and Outreach -- Shelby County
906 Sixth St., Harlan
Contact Dave Stender,, 712-261-0225

Friday, Dec. 7,  9-11:30 a.m.
ISU Extension and Outreach -- Sioux County
400 N. Central Ave., #700, Orange City
Contact Dave Stender,, 712-261-0225

Friday, Dec. 7,  1-3:30 p.m.
ISU Extension and Outreach -- Cherokee County
209 Centennial Drive, Cherokee
Contact Dave Stender,, 712-261-0225

The programs are sponsored by ISU Extension and Outreach, IPIC and the Iowa Pork Producers Association.

Statement from USDA Secretary Perdue and FDA Commissioner Gottlieb on the regulation of cell-cultured food products from cell lines of livestock and poultry

Last month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration held a public meeting to discuss the use of livestock and poultry cell lines to develop cell-cultured food products. At this meeting, stakeholders shared valuable perspectives on the regulation needed to both foster these innovative food products and maintain the highest standards of public health. The public comment period will be extended and will remain open through December 26, 2018.

After several thoughtful discussions between our two Agencies that incorporated this stakeholder feedback, we have concluded that both the USDA and the FDA should jointly oversee the production of cell-cultured food products derived from livestock and poultry. Drawing on the expertise of both USDA and FDA, the Agencies are today announcing agreement on a joint regulatory framework wherein FDA oversees cell collection, cell banks, and cell growth and differentiation. A transition from FDA to USDA oversight will occur during the cell harvest stage. USDA will then oversee the production and labeling of food products derived from the cells of livestock and poultry. And, the Agencies are actively refining the technical details of the framework, including robust collaboration and information sharing between the agencies to allow each to carry out our respective roles.

This regulatory framework will leverage both the FDA’s experience regulating cell-culture technology and living biosystems and the USDA’s expertise in regulating livestock and poultry products for human consumption. USDA and FDA are confident that this regulatory framework can be successfully implemented and assure the safety of these products. Because our agencies have the statutory authority necessary to appropriately regulate cell-cultured food products derived from livestock and poultry the Administration does not believe that legislation on this topic is necessary. 

NCBA on Fake Meat News: "Step in the Right Direction, More Work Remains"

Colin Woodall, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs, today issued the following statement regarding the announced plan regarding how USDA and FDA would regulate lab-produced fake meat:

“This announcement that USDA would have primary jurisdiction over the most important facets of lab-produced fake meat is a step in the right direction, but there is still a lot of work to do on this issue to ensure that real beef producers and consumers are protected and treated fairly. We look forward to continuing our work with the Administration and Congress as this moves forward, and we continue to encourage producers to file official comments with USDA and FDA between now and December 26th.”

NPPC Testifies In Support Of USMCA

Exports of U.S. pork and other American agricultural goods to Canada and Mexico are expected to grow under the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, the National Pork Producers Council testified today at a hearing on the trade deal held by the International Trade Commission (ITC).

The Trump administration recently concluded renegotiations with Canada and Mexico on a modernized North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) – now known as the USMCA. As part of the deal’s ratification process, the ITC is providing the president, the U.S. Trade Representative and Congress with independent analysis of and information and support on the agreement.

In addition to maintaining on pork traded in North America the zero-tariff rate that was included in NAFTA, the USMCA has strong sanitary-phytosanitary (SPS) provisions, including ones on plant inspection equivalence and plant auditing, that expand on rules contained in the old agreement and in the World Trade Organization’s SPS Agreement, NPPC pointed out.

“The USMCA will maintain and strengthen our strong economic ties with our North American neighbors,” testified Maria Zieba, NPPC’s director of international trade. “Preserving the North American market is particularly vital to U.S. pork producers, who have been suffering the consequences of retaliatory tariffs,” particularly duties from China and Mexico.

To take advantage of the duty-free access afforded through the USMCA, said Zieba, the 20 percent Mexican tariff on U.S. pork must be lifted, and for that to happen, the United States needs to resolve a dispute over – and rescind the tariff on – Mexican steel and aluminum imports.

Mexico is the No. 2 export market for the U.S. pork industry, which last year shipped more than $1.5 billion of product there. (Canada, which took nearly $793 million of U.S. pork in 2017, is the industry’s No. 4 export market.)

“NPPC calls on Congress to expeditiously pass the USMCA so that U.S. pork and other American farm products can be sent duty-free to America’s two largest export markets and so that U.S. agriculture can continue helping to boost the U.S. economy,” Zieba testified.


EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström was in Washington, D.C., this week to discuss a potential trade negotiation between the United States and the European Union. President Trump alluded to the need for free and reciprocal trade between the European Union and the United States in a series of tweets this week. One tweet in particular described the barriers that U.S. wine faces entering the EU. NPPC responded to this tweet, pointing to the barriers that U.S. pork faces as well and emphasizing the need for the EU to stop disparaging U.S. agriculture products and to remove unscientific barriers currently hindering U.S. exports to the EU.

Unfortunately, while in Washington, Malmstrom argued that food and agriculture should not be within the scope of U.S.-EU trade talks. The Trump administration, on the other hand, continues to insist that food and agriculture be included in negotiations. NPPC, and presumably other U.S. food and agriculture groups, will oppose the initiation of trade talks that do not include food and agriculture.

As in all prior U.S. free trade agreement negotiations, NPPC’s position is that all tariff and non-tariff barriers on pork must be eliminated. The EU’s reasoning for wanting to exclude food and agriculture from trade talks is blatantly transparent: EU agriculture is inefficient and shielded from competition. The United States produces the safest, highest-quality pork and other foods in the world. While U.S. agriculture runs a global trade surplus, the United States has a significant trade deficit in food and agriculture with the EU. That deficit only can be rectified through comprehensive trade negotiations with the EU that include food and agriculture, resulting in the elimination all tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade.


Vice President Mike Pence was in Asia this week to attend meetings on behalf of President Trump with the leaders of several countries. Early in the week, Pence met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to discuss a U.S.-Japan trade agreement, among other things. NPPC strongly supports the initiation of trade talks with Japan and is hopeful that the two nations can quickly reach an agreement.

Time is of the essence for U.S. pork producers as exports to their top international market are imperiled because of the imminent implementation of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) on Dec. 30 and the likely implementation of the Japan–EU free trade agreement early next year. The CPTPP is an 11-country trade deal that was known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership when it included the United States. U.S. pork’s competitors in Canada, Chile and Mexico, which are part of the CPTPP, will have preferential access to Japan and Vietnam.

Valuable Rancher Recordkeeping Tool from NCBA Available for 2019

A pocket-sized recordkeeping tool from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, offered to cattle producers for more than 30 years, is now available for 2019. NCBA’s Redbook helps cattle producers effectively and efficiently record their daily production efforts, helping enhance profitability.
The 2019 Redbook has more than 100 pages to record calving activity, herd health, pasture use, cattle inventory, body condition, cattle treatment, AI breeding records and more. It also contains a Producers Guide for Judicious Use of Antimicrobials in Cattle, Beef Quality Assurance Best Practices and proper injection technique information, as well as a calendar and notes section.
“The Redbook has become a vital tool for U.S. cattlemen and women in their efforts to detail actions and practices on farms and ranches,” according to Dan Kniffen, a Pennsylvania beef producer. “It’s a way to document both the daily challenges and the positive steps they’re taking to show continuous improvement on their operations. Furthermore, in this age of electronics the paper Redbook is cost-effective and always available, regardless of internet service or access to electricity. It’s a time-proven handheld method for record-keeping.”
Redbooks can be purchased for $7.00 each, plus shipping and handling. Customization of the Redbooks is available (for 100 books or more). To order, visit, click on “Producers.

Cattlemen, Sheep Producers Urge Senate Action After House Passes Manage our Wolves Act

Today the Public Lands Council (PLC), National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), and American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) praised the passage of H.R. 6784, the Manage our Wolves Act. The Act requires the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to remove the gray wolf from federal protections under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Similar action was initially proposed by the FWS under the Obama Administration in 2011 and 2012. Prior to today’s vote, PLC, NCBA, and ASI, along with 37 additional livestock and agriculture organizations, sent a letter support for the bill to House leadership. 

“Since 2011, the best scientific and commercial data available has supported removing gray wolves from the List of Threatened and Endangered Species,” said NCBA President Kevin Kester.  “It is encouraging to see the House of Representatives take this important step to make the Endangered Species Act work the way it was intended.”

In addition to requiring the FWS to reissue the Obama-era rules, H.R. 6784 would require further rulemaking to remove ESA protections for gray wolves across the contiguous United States. Current and emerging science continues to find that wolf populations have been fully recovered nationwide. 

“We are pleased this bipartisan effort to remedy a critical issue impacting livestock producers across the country was successful in the House of Representatives,” said ASI President Mike Corn. “We urge the Senate to take quick action on this bill and stand ready to help ensure final passage.”

PLC President Bob Skinner noted that if the ESA process was working as originally intended, species-specific legislation like H.R. 6784 would not be necessary. 

“We are grateful to see a vote on this legislation, but the bill itself speaks to the need to modernize the Endangered Species Act,” said Skinner. “Activists should not be allowed to abuse technicalities in the judicial system to force a relisting – especially when sound science and hard data clearly illustrate that it is time for these wolves to come off the list.” 


H.R. 6784 passed the House of Representatives on a bipartisan basis.

In 2011 and 2012 respectively, The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under President Obama issued final rules to remove gray wolves in the Western Great Lakes (76 FR 81666) and Wyoming (77 FR 55530) from federal protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  This decision was informed by the best scientific and commercial data available, but activist litigants used the judicial system to circumvent sound science and restore full ESA protections to these predators.  While listed under the ESA, wolves cannot be properly managed by state wildlife agencies, who best know how to balance healthy ecosystems with the needs of local communities and changing conditions on the ground. 

Commodity Classic Educational Sessions Focus on Bottom-Line Impact

As farmers look to improve their profitability in an unpredictable agricultural environment, the educational sessions at the 2019 Commodity Classic are designed to help farmers make better-informed decisions that can have a powerful impact on their bottom line.

The 2019 Commodity Classic will be held Thursday, February 28 through Saturday, March 2 in Orlando, Fla.

Educational sessions in Orlando will cover a wide range of important topics including soil health, grain marketing, farm policy, cover crops, farm succession planning, nutrient stewardship, weed and herbicide management, rural economic development, soybean cyst nematode (SCN), wheat yields, Blockchain technology, corn residue, weather trends and more.

The 2019 Commodity Classic will offer nearly 50 educational sessions including Learning Centers, Early Risers, What’s New, Mini What’s New and additional presentations on the Main Stage on the trade show floor.   Applicable educational sessions are offered at no extra charge for the days for which an attendee is registered.

“Every educational session is selected by the Commodity Classic Farmer Committee to ensure the content and the presenters provide high-quality, relevant content that matters to today’s growers,” said Wade Cowan, a soybean farmer from Texas and co-chair of the 2019 Commodity Classic.  “In a time of great challenge for agriculture, it’s critical that farmers continue to educate themselves—and there is no better place to do that than Commodity Classic.”

Established in 1996, Commodity Classic is America’s largest farmer-led, farmer-focused agricultural and educational experience.  Commodity Classic is unlike any other agriculture event, featuring a robust schedule of educational sessions, a huge trade show featuring the latest technology, equipment and innovation, top-notch entertainment, inspiring speakers and the opportunity to network with thousands of farmers from across the nation.

Registration and housing for the 2019 Commodity Classic is now open. To register, reserve hotel rooms and sign up for email updates, visit  Early bird discounts on registration end January 10, 2019.

Commodity Classic is presented annually by the American Soybean Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Sorghum Producers and the Association of Equipment Manufacturers. 

China Outlines Possible Trade Concessions to U.S. Before G20

Chinese officials have outlined a series of potential concessions to the Trump administration for the first time since the summer as they continue to try to resolve a trade war between the world’s two largest economies, according to three people familiar with the discussions.

Bloomberg reports that the commitments for now fall short of the type of major structural reforms that President Donald Trump has been demanding, two of the people said, cautioning that a long road lies ahead in negotiations. One person said that talks are continuing and constructive.

As a result, one of the people said, it raised doubts over how substantive a deal Trump could make with Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping when the two leaders meet later this month on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Buenos Aires.

Most of the document appeared to be a rehash of previous changes already made by Beijing, such as raising equity caps on foreign investment in certain industries, according to one person. It did not contain the sort of commitment to change industrial policies such as Xi’s “Made in China 2025” that Washington has been seeking, according to one person familiar with the discussions.

Two other people familiar with the talks also said the Chinese offer was a sign of what they characterized as constructive discussions between the two sides ahead of the planned G20 meeting between the two leaders.