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Chad Moyer | KTIC Radio

Chad Moyer

Welcome to the KTIC Agriculture Information blog!!! Check back here for the latest in ag news and information, from local events to international happenings and government reports that affect your operation. Please email with suggestions! -Chad Moyer, Farm Director, KTIC Radio
Wednesday May 24 Ag News

The Nebraska Junior Beef Expo is pleased to announce its 20th Anniversary on Friday, June 2nd – Sunday, June 4th, Norfolk, NE.

Seven cattle organizations, along with their youth participants, are planning to make its 20th anniversary a huge success.  The Nebraska Junior Beef Expo will be held on Friday, June 2nd, Saturday, June 3rd, and Sunday, 4th, 2017, at the Northeast Community College in Norfolk, Nebraska.  Northeast Community College is a co-sponsor of this great event. Breeds represented at this event will be Simmental, Red Angus, Charolais, Shorthorn, Maine-Anjou, Chianina and Limousin.  Each are responsible in working together to present educational contests and cattle show competitions.

Approximately 80 youth, ages 8 to 21, from these breed associations, will compete for prizes and trophies in various competitions ranging from Sales Talk Competition and Poster/Photography Contests to Judging and Showmanship Contests to Interview/Resume Contests. Each contest, along with Showmanship, is divided into a junior and a senior division. The NJBE committee will check-in over 100 cattle entries that represent these seven breed organizations.

Each breed provides their individual contest awards and each contest winner is eligible to win the Supreme Awards presented by the NE Jr. Beef Expo Committee.  Supreme Awards presented by the committee include Supreme Individual Contest Awards, Supreme High Percentage Breeding Heifer, Supreme Low Percentage Breeding Heifer, Supreme Jr. and Sr. Showmanship, Supreme Market Animal and Supreme Bred & Owned.

The NE Jr. Beef Expo relies heavily on businesses, associations and individual sponsorships to provide these opportunities for the youth involved with raising and showing animals.  It also requires many volunteers to run this three-day event. This is a unique event where seven major cattle breeds in Nebraska have come together to offer their junior organizations additional educational and recreational opportunities.

Diamond Level Sponsors are: NE Farm Bureau; Farmer’s National Company; NE Cattlemen’s Foundation and NE Cattlemen’s Classic.

Gold Level Sponsors are: KRVN 880 AM, Lexington, KNEB 94.1 FM & 960 AM, Scottsbluff & KTIC 840 AM, West Point and TransOva Genetics, Sioux Center, IA.

Silver Level Sponsors are: Aurora Cooperative Co., Aurora, NE; Randolph Feed & Grain -Marty Nordhues; Washington County Cattlemen’s.

Bronze Level Sponsors are: Sullivan’s Supply, Dunlap, IA; Purina Honor Show Chow & Elkhorn Feed Center, Norfolk, NE; The Show Circuit, Roland Schumaker, Lexington, IL; Dinkel’s, Norfolk, NE; Northeast NE Cattlemen- Wayne, Dixon, Dakota and Thurston Counties-Dave French, Pres;  Red Barn Veterinary- Dr. James Unwin,  Dr. Stewart Hartwell,  Dr. Patrick Maline and Dr. Kellie Wise, Oakland, NE; Bullis Creek Ranch- Rob and Brenda Brawner and family - Wood Lake, NE; T-T Seed Express & Endurplas- Scott Trauernicht, Wymore & Randy Thimm, Cortland, NE; Kersten Cattle Co., Gretna, NE ; ABS, Larry Rowden, Regional Representative; Vogler Cattle Co/Vogler Semen Centre’. - Ashland, NE- Lloyd, Rosalyn, Les & Loren Vogler; Zoetis Animal Health; Livestock Plus, Inc.- Mike Sorensen; Western Sire Services, John Weston, Manager, Gordon, NE; Green Line Equipment - Serving 9 locations in Nebraska.  Albion - Aurora - Central City - Grand Island - Neligh - Norfolk - Plainview - Spalding - St. Paul; Specially 4 You, Linda Duren; Farm Credit Services of America, Norfolk, O’Neill, Columbus, Lincoln and Beatrice Offices; Central Valley Ag;  Breeder’s World Online Auctions; Wagonhammer Ranches, Albion & Bartlett; First State Insurance Agency, Amy Rains, Wilbur, NE

Other Cash and In-Kind Donations: Farmer’s Union Coop Supply Co., Clarkson - Stanton- Howells; Hawkeye Breeders Service, Inc.- Adel, IA ; Ken’s Trailer Sales & Repair- Norfolk, NE; Nichols Ranch, Dave, Lynn, Taylor & Nicole; Wurtz Cattle Co., Valley, NE; Wayne & Barb Ohlrichs, Norfolk, NE;  Preferred Genetics, Phil Buhman; Illingworth Farms, Amber Illingworth, Fairfield, NE; Citizen’s State Bank- Spalding; G & S Livestock- Greg & Susan Gehl; S. Diamond Angus, Kim & Lindy Siebert, Henderson, NE; Reproductive Services- Bennet NE; Off-The-Wall Graphics, Rising City, NE ; Circle 5 Beef, Henderson, NE; One Source Office Solutions, Norfolk, NE ; Ahlberg Cattle, Longmont, CO; Ruth Simmentals, Rising City, NE; Foxxy Ladies Simmental Sale (Felt/Roberts/Beeson)- Wakefield, NE; Stateline Farms-Jim & Ellen Zvolanek, Wymore, NE; West Point Livestock Auction.


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Haying season is here, along with the rainy season.  We need ways to hasten hay dry-down to beat the weather.

               Does it seem to you that clouds and rain are here just about every other day this spring?  Rain obviously is a problem when making hay, but why I’m also talking about clouds.  Well, other than rain itself, the most important weather factor that affects rate of hay dry-down is sunlight.  Temperature, humidity, soil moisture content, and wind speed all are important, but solar radiation has the greatest impact on drying rate.  In fact, research has shown as much as a 10-fold increase in drying rate as solar radiation changes from heavy cloud cover to full sunlight.  No other factor affected drying rate even half as much.

               So how do you use this information?  Obviously, you can’t control how much sunlight you receive.  But, you can watch weather reports and try to cut hay during sunny weather.  Okay – that states the obvious.  Another thing you should do, though, is spread your cut hay out in as wide a swath as possible to expose more hay to direct sunlight.  This does two things.  Sunlight keeps stomates open on the leaves, which is the fastest way for moisture to exit the plant.  Stomates in the dark inside or bottom of windrows will close, preventing rapid moisture loss.  Wide windrows also enables your hay to absorb as much sun energy as possible to heat and evaporate moisture out of your hay.  This may bleach hay more than thick windrows, but fast dry-down usually is more valuable than green color.

               Also, mechanically condition your hay and turn it gently after tops get dry to expose moist hay under the swath to hasten dry-down.

               Make hay while the sun shines is an old, old saying but today’s science has shown how true it really is.

USDA Webinar: Using Fire and Grazing to Manage Grasslands, June 1

Using fire and grazing management effectively is critically important in maintaining the ecological health of grasslands.  In this webinar, Dr. Chris Helzer, Director of Science with The Nature Conservancy, in Aurora, Nebraska, discusses:
-    Fire and grazing management techniques,
-    The value of biological diversity and ecological resilience in maintaining healthy grasslands,
-    How fire and grazing can sustain wildlife habitat, pollinator communities and other important components of grassland ecosystems, and
-    How landowners can evaluate the success of their fire and grazing management practices from a conservation standpoint.

Education credits are available from the American Forage and Grassland Council, the Society for Range Management and The Wildlife Society.

This webinar, sponsored by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, is scheduled for June 1, 2017, at 2 p.m., Eastern. Connect to the webinar at Audio is computer broadcast only.

For more information, contact Dr. William L. Hohman, NRCS Wildlife Biologist, on Or visit the webinar’s webpage at

ICA Welcomes Governor Kim Reynolds

The Iowa Cattlemen’s association today released the following statement in response to the swearing in of Governor Kim Reynolds:

On behalf of the Iowa Cattlemen's Association, ICA President Mike Cline said "The Iowa Cattlemen's Association sends sincerest congratulations to Governor Kim Reynolds. Governor Reynolds has been an ally to Iowa agriculture and the beef industry in our state as Lieutenant Governor, and we are excited to see her transition to her new role. Iowa Cattlemen look forward to what she will accomplish as Governor."

Reynolds succeeds former Iowa Governor Terry Branstad who has been confirmed as the United States Ambassador to China. Branstad was officially sworn in as ambassador at a ceremony today at the Iowa State Capitol and Governor Reynolds was sworn in as the Governor of Iowa shortly after.

 Jay Debertin Elected President and CEO of CHS Inc.

CHS Inc., the nation's leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grains and foods company, announced today that its board of directors has elected Jay D. Debertin as president and chief executive officer (CEO) of CHS.  Debertin succeeds Carl Casale, who led CHS during record performance levels and expansion.

CHS Inc., the nation's leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grains and foods company, announced that its board of directors has elected Jay D. Debertin as president and chief executive officer (CEO) of CHS.

During Casale's seven years with the company, CHS returned $3 billion to its owners, invested $9 billion in new capital expenditures and nearly doubled the size of its balance sheet from $8.7 billion in 2010 to $17.3 billion at the end of fiscal 2016. Casale focused on prudent fiscal management and enhancing management systems at the company.

"As we take our cooperative into its next chapter, we are confident that Jay is the right leader," said Dan Schurr, chairman of the CHS Board of Directors. "Jay's experience in achieving operational excellence and driving results fits squarely with our unwavering goal to deliver returns to our member-owners now and for the long term."

Debertin previously served as executive vice president and chief operating officer for the company's diverse energy operations and processing and food ingredients business. He joined CHS in 1984 and has held a variety of leadership positions within the organization in energy, trading and risk management, transportation, and agricultural processing. Jay also serves as chairman of Ventura Foods.

"CHS is strong today because we drive the business with a central purpose in mind and that is to help our cooperatives and farmers grow," said Debertin. "I look forward to working with our talented group of employees as we concentrate on world-class execution across our system. I see growth and strength ahead for our business."

Debertin, who is originally from East Grand Forks, Minn., holds a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, N.D., and an MBA from University of Wisconsin – Madison.

Additional Information from CHS Board chairman Dan Schurr

After careful consideration, Dave Bielenberg has decided to step down as chairman of the CHS Board of Directors after serving in the position since 2012. Dave will continue to serve as the CHS Board of Directors Region 6 representative.

Therefore, at the CHS Board of Directors meeting in May, directors held an election for the chair position, and I was elected to serve as your new chairman. In addition, C.J. Blew, representing Region 8, was appointed first vice chair and Jon Erickson, representing Region 3, second vice chair. These appointments are effective immediately. No other officer changes were made.

On behalf of the CHS Board of Directors, I want to thank Dave for his leadership as chair over the past five years. Dave brings the owner’s perspective to everything he’s worked on at CHS. His steadfast leadership over the years has helped create the strong foundation upon which we continue to build our future.

USDA to Survey Pork Producers in June

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is contacting producers for the June Hogs and Pigs Survey. The agency will survey pork producers for detailed information on market hog and breeding stock inventories as well as pig crop and farrowing intentions.

The information is used by all sectors of the industry to help make sound and timely business decisions. NASS will mail the questionnaires to all producers selected for the survey in late May. To ensure all survey participants have an opportunity to respond, NASS interviewers will contact producers who do not respond by mail or online to conduct telephone and personal interviews.

NASS will publish the survey results in the Quarterly Hogs and Pigs report on June 29.

American Drivers Surpass 1 Billion Miles on Earth-Kind, Engine-Smart E15 Saving up to $72 Million by End of 2017

Cleaner-burning, high-octane E15 has fueled more than 1 billion miles for American motorists around the country

American consumers have helped E15 – a fuel containing 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline – reach a significant milestone. According to Growth Energy’s ongoing analysis of fuel sales and consumption data reported by major gasoline retailers, drivers across the United States have logged more than 1 billion miles on E15 – attesting to the fuel’s performance, safety, and value. The availability of E15 could save consumers up to $72 million by the end of 2017, based on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data.

“American drivers are taking advantage of the proven performance, environmental benefits, and savings E15 provides,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “That’s why Congress should pass the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act and give drivers freedom to choose E15 year-round. This common-sense fix to the Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) law will end confusing restrictions on retailers and allow consumers to choose a fuel that is kinder to the earth, good for their engines, and saves them up to 10 cents per gallon each trip to the pump in the summer.”

Growth Energy is proud to celebrate this milestone and highlight the value E15 delivers in terms of better performance, reduction of toxic emissions, and savings at the pump. Today, E15 is sold at more than 800 retail outlets across 29 states, and its availability continues to grow each day because 21st century drivers are demanding 21st century fuels.

The EPA approves E15 for use in any vehicle manufactured since 2001, which equates to 9 out of 10 cars on the road today. Automakers also approve E15 for use in nearly three-quarters of new cars.

Little Price Movement in Fertilizer Prices Again

Average retail fertilizer prices continued to stay fairly stable the third week of May 2017, with no prices significantly higher or lower compared to last month, according to fertilizer retailers surveyed by DTN.

Of the eight major fertilizers, prices for five are slightly higher compared to a month earlier. These are MAP, potash, anhydrous, UAN28 and UAN32.

MAP had an average price of $471 per ton, potash $340/ton, anhydrous $510/ton, UAN28 $248/ton and UAN32 $283/ton.

The remaining three fertilizers were slightly lower in price from last month but, again, none were down substantially. DAP had an average price of $437/ton, urea $350/ton and 10-34-0 $510/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.38/lb.N, anhydrous $0.31/lb.N, UAN28 $0.44/lb.N and UAN32 $0.44/lb.N.

Retail fertilizers are lower compared to a year earlier. Three of the eight major fertilizers are still double digits lower.

10-34-0 is 22% lower from a year ago, anhydrous is 13% less expensive and UAN32 is 12% lower. Both UAN28 and urea are 9% less expensive, DAP is 8% lower, potash is 7% less expensive and MAP are 6% lower compared to year earlier.

Rancher Calls on Congress to Address ‘Sue and Settle’ Abuse

If family ranching operations and rural economies are going to survive another generation, Congress must address the problem of so-called “sue and settle” abuse. That’s the message that Darcy Helmick, Land Manager for Simplot Land & Livestock, stressed to Congress in subcommittee testimony today.

Helmick testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Subcommittee on Intergovernmental Affairs and Subcommittee on the Interior, Energy, and Environment during its hearing to examine how environmental advocacy groups and federal agencies regulate through consent decrees using citizen lawsuit provisions in environmental laws, which is known as “sue and settle.”

“In my extensive experience dealing with the federal grazing system and western land use in general, offensive litigation tactics by outside activist groups have served to totally derail business operations,” said Helmick. “While it is critical that we maintain the right of citizens to litigate when necessary, reform is needed to prevent that right from being abused or exploited.”

It is critical that permitted public lands users have a role in any settlement agreements, and that federal employees at a local level have input, Helmick said. She added that while unreasonable timelines have become the norm, once imposed during settlements, they are rarely reached.

“The repercussions of the missed timelines heavily impact the permitted public lands users and result in a level of uncertainty that is prohibitive in any business environment. Unfortunately this is often the goal of these litigants,” said Helmick.

Helmick concluded her testimony by explaining how the sue and settle tactics used by radical environmental groups also serve to limit young producers from entering the industry, which will inevitably lead to further erosion of the footprint of ranching in the West.

“As a fourth generation cattle producer it is in my blood to continue with my family business,” said Helmick. “As my parents age and need more help, my brother and I are working with financial advisors on how to transition the business. How does one budget for litigation, how does one calculate the expense of the stress and time used to work through litigation?” she asked.

Ethanol Stocks, Blend Demand Down

The U.S. Energy Information Administration issued a report midmorning Wednesday showing across-the-board declines for domestic ethanol inventories, plant production and blending demand during the week-ended May 19.

The EIA's Weekly Petroleum Status Report showed ethanol inventories tumbled roughly 700,000 barrels (bbl), or 3.0%, to about 22.7 million bbl while 1.9 million bbl, or 9.1%, higher year-on-year last week. Stocks declined in all but one of the regions -- the PADD 5 West Coast, with supply up 300,000 bbl to 2.9 million bbl, the highest supply level for the region since the week-ended Dec. 11, 2015.

Domestic plant production declined 17,000 barrels per day (bpd), or 1.7%, to 1.010 million bpd, while up 64,000 bpd or 6.8% higher year-on-year. For the four weeks ended last week, fuel ethanol production averaged 1.007 million bpd, up 62,000 bpd or 6.6%.

Net refiner and blender inputs, a gauge for ethanol demand, eased 2,000 bpd, or 0.2%, to 949,000 bpd. Blending demand surged 33,000 bpd, or 3.6%, year-on-year. For the four-week period ended May 19, blending demand were up 25,000 bpd, or 2.75%.

Agriculture Can’t Balance the Budget Alone

Zippy Duvall, President, American Farm Bureau Federation

This week, President Trump sent to Congress a proposal to slash the USDA budget by more than $228 billion over 10 years, including $38 billion from farm programs. This proposal would fail agriculture and rural America, and for that reason the American Farm Bureau cannot support it.

Farm Bureau members are concerned about the federal budget deficit. We believe agriculture should do its fair share to get us back to fiscal discipline and a balanced budget. But we’ve already done more than our fair share.

When Congress passed the 2014 farm bill, it was estimated to cut the deficit by $23 billion over 10 years. Agriculture was the only sector that voluntarily offered savings during the 113th Congress, when the 2014 farm bill was passed. Before that, Congress passed budget reconciliation bills that targeted agriculture for savings. In fact, it is difficult to think of another sector that has done as much as agriculture to address the national deficit.

Farmers and ranchers tend to be fiscally conservative. But we are not martyrs. We should not be expected to sacrifice more, when we’ve already done more than virtually any other sector. And we certainly shouldn’t be asked to do so at a time of depressed farm prices and income.

Presidents’ budget proposals typically are declared “dead on arrival” in Congress. The president’s budget submission checks a procedural box, but it’s Congress that writes and passes a budget. The American Farm Bureau Federation will work with the appropriate committees in Congress to ensure that we maintain programs that help farmers manage risks and help rural communities survive. 

Beef Takes Center Stage During NYC #BeefTogether Meat Retreat

NYC Meat RetreatSeven New York City bloggers and retail influencers attended a day-long #BeefTogether meat retreat, all thanks to a partnership between the national beef checkoff and the New York and South Dakota Beef Councils.

The event was a meat fabrication and culinary experience hosted at the Brooklyn FoodWorks kitchen in Brooklyn. Attendees had the opportunity to observe Kari Underly, a master butcher and author of The Art of Cutting Beef, break down two beef subprimals, the rib and the top butt, with the opportunity to fabricate their own.  

Attendees then took their passion for beef into the kitchen where they created five different Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. recipes. Checkoff staff provided insight into the beef lifecycle, beef choices and beef nutrition through interactive presentations and Q&A with attendees. 

Northeast Beef Promotion Initiative programs manager, Kaitlyn Carey, noted, “This event provided us the opportunity to engage directly with key influencers in New York City. These influencers have a large following. Arming them with beef skills and information will help them share the beef story with their followers. Our goal is to foster more beef advocates within our region.”

Events such as this one allow the checkoff to highlight beef’s taste, nutritional benefits and flavor-enhancing cooking techniques to those who have a large following on digital media. Checkoff-funded research in the Northeast shows that consumers are not confident in their abilities to pair the correct cut of beef with the appropriate cooking method. Engaging these beef influencers and providing them with information helps share the beef story with their followers. 

Chicago Event Brings the Farm to the Festival

Last weekend, farmers and consumers came together to enjoy corn-based spirits and conversations about sustainability at the Heartland Craft Spirits Festival. The Illinois Corn Marketing Board organized the event, held in Chicago, as a pilot project to test the learnings gained through the National Corn Growers Association's corn reputation research. A number of state corn associations, including Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin, sponsored state-specific categories in the juried tasting competition preceding the event.

The event, which took place in Bucktown's Concord Music Hall, truly brought the farm to the city. With dozens of living corn plants, virtual reality farm tours and farmer volunteers, craft spirit enthusiasts looked beyond their local distillery to find out more about the men and women who grow corn. This proved particularly relevant as this specific competition, due to the partnership with ICMB, featured only spirits made using corn for 50 percent or more of their feedstock.

"Illinois corn was excited to lead this pilot project and pleased so many representatives from both state and national staff turned out to support the effort," said ICMB Director of Communications Tricia Braid. "This event offered a unique opportunity to interact directly with future opinion leaders and cultural influencers. By meeting this important group in a familiar setting that they enjoy, we were able to reach beyond our normal sphere of contact and build mutual understanding that will facilitate productive conversations based in mutual interest and trust well into the future."

Attendees mingled with several Illinois farmers who traveled to Chicago, despite an ongoing planting season, to engage in important conversations highlighting the sustainability of corn growing and as a source of feed, fuel and fiber. In the outdoor food truck area, sponsored by Illinois pork and beef associations, curious consumers fed their appetites for knowledge with trips through the Biofuels Mobile Education Center.

The day prior to the event, state staff from Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin, as well as NCGA staff, explored unique agricultural projects in Chicago. In the morning, the group met with a representative of the group NeighborSpace, a non-profit land trust dedicated to providing long-term protection for community gardens across Chicago. The group, which links community organizations to a support network, helps transform underused spaces into urban oases while growing deep roots for communities. With more than 100 gardens across the city, NeighborSpace fosters not only communities but also helps urban residents develop an understanding of and appreciation for agriculture.

Later, participants visited the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences. This magnet school, located on a working farm, allows children from across Chicago the unique opportunity to gain an exceptional level of knowledge in programs such as horticulture, animal sciences, biotechnology, food sciences and agricultural finance while still completing a college preparatory general curriculum. The student-led tour provided firsthand understanding of the excitement for agriculture that permeates the school, which incorporates hands-on programs that allow students to take responsibility for a bee colony, working greenhouse, live farm animals and a joint aquaculture and aquaponics laboratory.

The day concluded with a trip to the communal inspiring office solution WeWork. There, the staffers interacted with educated urban creatives to practice discussing the sustainability subjects indicated as most important to consumers in the corn reputation research. Trying out both the whiskey submitted by craft distillers to the competition and the messages to promote the sustainability of corn led to a greater understanding by both urban and rural alike.

Syngenta announces name of S-metolachlor/dicamba premix currently under development: Tavium® plus VaporGrip® Technology herbicide

Syngenta announced the name of its new herbicide featuring the active ingredients of S-metolachlor and dicamba. Upon registration by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the herbicide will be marketed as Tavium® plus VaporGrip® Technology.

Syngenta is seeking approval of the S-metolachlor/dicamba premix for preplant, at-planting and post-emergence use on Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® Soybeans and Bollgard II® XtendFlex® Cotton, and preplant application on non-dicamba-tolerant soybeans. This premix will offer growers another tool to manage key ALS-, PPO- and glyphosate-resistant broadleaf and grass weeds with its built-in resistance management.

“Tavium will provide growers a new herbicide designed specifically for dicamba-tolerant soybeans and cotton,” said John Appel, herbicide product lead at Syngenta. “The addition of S-metolachlor to dicamba in a premix will not only help manage resistance, but will provide residual control compared to solo dicamba products.”

The S-metolachlor/dicamba premix will target driver weeds, including Palmer amaranth, waterhemp, common and giant ragweed, kochia, horseweed (marestail), morningglory, barnyardgrass and foxtail. In addition to its two active ingredients, the herbicide contains VaporGrip Technology to decrease dicamba volatility. Once available, growers will be able to apply the herbicide preplant, at planting, pre-emergence and post-emergence on dicamba-tolerant cotton and soybeans, and as a preplant herbicide on non-dicamba-tolerant soybeans.

“Compared to other stand-alone dicamba products, this herbicide’s dual modes of action broaden the activity spectrum and increase its overall efficacy and sustainability,” said Don Porter, technical herbicide product lead at Syngenta. “To stand a fighting chance against aggressive weeds, we need a herbicide with multiple effective modes of action that controls emerged weeds through contact activity and weeds that have yet to emerge through residual activity.”

Tavium premix will be commercially available for future growing seasons upon EPA approval and receipt of individual state registrations.


When the German Embassy in Washington, D.C., planned its activities for the annual EU Open House on May 13, it turned to CLAAS of America for help with its display of U.S. trade goods. The North American sales company for CLAAS KGaA mbH was invited to showcase a JAGUAR forage harvester in the Embassy parking lot as an example of the healthy trade business Germany has with the United States of America. The German Embassy was the host site for both German and French officials celebrating along with other EU members.

Approximately 8,000 people braved the rain and overcast weather in order to explore the grounds and enjoy the food, culture, music and traditions of Germany and France. The festival included a German biergarten and French café, musical performances from both nations and plenty of kid-friendly activities.

German ambassador Peter Wittig and French embassy deputy chief of mission Nathalie Broadhurst took a tour of the open house, and made a point to climb onto the JAGUAR forage harvester displayed by CLAAS for a fun photo op.

“The United States is a country of immigrants,” said Leif Magnusson, President of CLAAS Global Sales Americas. “Many of the farmers we serve here in the U.S. have deep cultural ties to Germany and France – both of which are important manufacturing regions for CLAAS equipment.”

CLAAS is not only the global sales leader of self-propelled forage harvesters, it is also the U.S. sales leader in this category, which is home to many of the largest manufacturers of agricultural equipment in the world. “CLAAS pioneered the self-propelled forage harvester which has revolutionized forage production for beef producers and dairies,” explained Magnusson.

A long-line manufacturer of harvesting equipment, CLAAS is the fourth largest agricultural equipment company in the world. In business for more than a century with global headquarters in Harsewinkel, Germany, the family-owned company has manufacturing operations in 11 different countries including the United States, where the LEXION combine is assembled in Omaha, Nebraska.

CLAAS is more than an importer to the U.S. — it’s also an important economic driver. With approximately 400 employees throughout the U.S. and Canada, the equipment manufacturer sources close to 50 percent of its components for the North American LEXION combine locally.

Tuesday May 23 Ag News

NePPA Hosts Webinar June 13th at Noon on Biosecurity

Nebraska Pork Producers Association is hosting a one-hour online webinar on Tuesday, June 13th, beginning at noon. The webinar will focus on the different types and the importance of biosecurity on and off the farm. It is a great review for pig farmers who have been in the industry and for new pig farmers to learn more about the importance and different areas of biosecurity. There is no fee to participate in the webinar.

Registration for the webinar can be accessed by visiting Participants are encouraged to register for the webinar, several days in advance and will receive an email with the direct link for the webinar.

 Dr. Benny Mote, Assistant Professor; Swine Extension Specialist will speak about the importance of biosecurity through different avenues on the farm from:
 ·    New animal entry into the barn
 ·    Downtime before farm entry
 ·    Trucking biosecurity issues and protocol
 ·    New barn siting separation from other pig farms

“Farmers’ priority of keeping their pigs healthy is an issue of biosecurity. Pig farmers have made great changes in their biosecurity practices over the years, but there are still areas for improvement,” said Dr. Benny Mote.

Nebraska Pork Producers Association will be hosting a webinar on the second Tuesday of every month from noon to one o’clock. The July webinar will cover heat stress on hogs in farrow-to-wean barns. For additional information on webinar topics and speakers go to

Fischer Reintroduces Bill to Lift Burdens for NE Producers

U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW), today reintroduced legislation to provide regulatory relief for Nebraska farmers and ranchers. The bill, known as the Farmers Undertake Environmental Land Stewardship (FUELS) Act, builds on her past efforts to modify costly EPA regulations that could negatively affect ag producers with on-farm fuel storage.

Across Nebraska and our nation, ag producers store fuel in aboveground tanks on their property. Often, this is because they live miles from the towns where they can refuel. A regulation intended for major oil refineries, known as the Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) rule, would affect the amount of fuel producers can store on their land. It would force families to make costly upgrades to fuel storage tanks and would also impose heavy fines if these tanks go over the on-farm fuel limit exemption mandated by the federal government.

“The FUELS Act is common-sense legislation that would provide Nebraska farmers and ranchers with relief from a burdensome federal rule that’s meant for oil refineries. In the past, we have been successful in providing limited exemptions to this rule, but there’s more work to do. Through the bill I’m reintroducing today, Congress can cut red tape for our ag producers so they can continue do their jobs and support their families,” said Fischer.

The FUELS Act would:
·         Provide an exemption for farms with 10,000 gallons or less of aggregate aboveground oil storage capacity.
·         Allow farms with an aggregate above ground storage of 10,001 to 42,000 gallons and/or no history of spills to maintain a self-certified spill plan to respond to any potential spills.
·         Maintain full rule compliance, including certification from a professional engineer for farms with:
     o   An individual tank with an above ground storage capacity greater than 10,000 gallons and/or,
     o   An aggregate above ground storage capacity greater than 42,000 gallons and/or,
     o   A reported discharge history
·         Amend the threshold for individual tank and aggregate capacity on separate land parcels by
     o   Increasing the individual tank capacity from 1,000 gallons to 1,320 gallons
     o   Increasing the aggregate capacity from 2,000 gallons to 3,000 gallons

Senator Fischer has been successful in her past efforts to modify the SPCC rule. Last year, Fischer negotiated a bipartisan provision, which was signed into law as part of the WIIN Act. The language fully exempts animal feed tanks from the SPCC rule. It also provides greater flexibility for producers with on-farm fuel storage by exempting up to 2,500 gallons of capacity on remote or separate parcels of land (as long as these tanks are not larger than 1,000 gallons each).

Statement by Steve Nelson, President, Regarding the Introduction of the FUELS Act by NE Sen. Deb Fischer

“Today U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE) again demonstrated her ongoing commitment to representing the interests of Nebraska’s farm and ranch families by introducing legislation that would bring a much needed, common sense approach to regulations governing on-farm oil and fuel storage.”

“As introduced by Sen. Fischer, the ‘Farmers Undertake Environmental Land Stewardship Act’ or ‘FUELS Act’ would exempt the vast majority of Nebraska’s farms and ranches from having to comply with the EPA’s ‘Spill Prevention Containment and Control (SPCC) regulations which were established to prevent spills from large scale fuel storage facilities, such as oil refineries.”

“As farmers and ranchers who rely on the land for their livelihood, we understand there is a time and place for environmental protections. However, when it comes to on-farm oil and fuel storage, there is no significant history of petroleum spills from agriculture operations that justify the expansive and widespread regulatory scheme EPA has sought to push on farm and ranch families. This is clearly a case of EPA trying to use regulations to solve a problem that simply does not exist.”

“If enacted, Sen. Fischer’s FUELS Act could save Nebraska farm and ranch families thousands of dollars in unneeded facility upgrades and potentially thousands more in regulatory paperwork requirements.”

“We thank Sen. Fischer for her efforts to help lessen the regulatory burden on Nebraskans and look forward to working with her to secure passage of the FUELS Act.”

Statement from Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on the Proposed FY 2018 Budget

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today issued the following statement on the proposed FY 2018 budget:

“President Trump promised he would realign government spending, attempt to eliminate duplication or redundancy, and see that all government agencies are efficiently delivering services to the taxpayers of America.  And that’s exactly what we are going to do at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

“Having been the governor of Georgia from 2003 to 2011 – not during the best economic times – we did what it took to get the job done, just like the people involved in every aspect of American agriculture do every single day.  While the President’s budget fully funds nutrition programs, wildland fire suppression and food safety, and includes several new initiatives and increases for Rural Development, whatever form the final budget takes, it is my job as Secretary of Agriculture to manage and implement that plan, while still fulfilling the core mission of USDA,” said Secretary Perdue.

Statement by Steve Nelson, President, Regarding Cuts to Crop Insurance in the Federal Budget

“Today President Trump’s administration proposed dramatic cuts to the farm safety net in the administration’s FY2018 budget request being delivered to Capitol Hill. Crop insurance today serves as the main agricultural safety net that exists for Nebraska farmers and ranchers who have seen a 50 percent decline in farm revenue since 2013. We have opposed cuts to crop insurance in the past, and we continue to oppose them today.”

“Crop insurance helps to reduce taxpayer risk and has come in under budget since the 2014 Farm Bill was passed. Farmers have collectively spent $50 billion out of their own pockets on crop insurance since 2000, which clearly demonstrates our willingness to help fund our own safety nets.”

“Our congressional leaders recognize the importance of maintaining a strong farm safety net. We fully expect that to be the case again this year, and we are hopeful to engage in meaningful dialogue about how to support America’s hardworking farmers and ranchers in difficult times.”

NCGA Statement on President’s Proposed FY18 Budget

The White House today released its detailed proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2018. The budget proposal includes the following:
-    Cutting the federal crop insurance program by $28.56 billion over the 2018-2027 period
-    Eliminating funding for the Market Access Program (MAP) ($200 million/year) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) program ($34.5 million/year)
-    Reducing conservation program funding by $5.8 billion over the 2018-2027 period

The following is a statement from the National Corn Growers Association:
“The time and place to debate farm bill programs is during the farm bill reauthorization, not the annual budget process. The farm bill represents a 5-year commitment to America’s farmers and ranchers, which Congress made in 2014. We are counting on Congress to honor that commitment, and reject cuts that would be harmful for rural America. These proposed budget cuts would hurt farmers’ ability to manage risk, grow their revenues, and farm more sustainably.

“Targeting the federal crop insurance program is extremely shortsighted. It is especially harmful during an extended period of low commodity prices. NCGA members consistently tell us that crop insurance is their most important risk management tool. This public-private partnership helps farmers manage their risk, and it saves taxpayers money in the long run by reducing reliance on ad hoc disaster assistance.

“MAP and FMD are successful programs that build global demand for U.S. farm products, and increase income and jobs in our communities. MAP and FMD create an average return on investment of $28 for every $1 spent, and account for 15 percent of all U.S. ag export revenue—making them a solid investment. At a time when the farm economy is struggling, we should be investing more in these programs, not less.

“Finally, the budget calls for streamlining conservation programs, which includes eliminating any new enrollment into the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). Voluntary conservation programs such as CSP help farmers to be good environmental stewards, which benefits everyone. NCGA is committed to continuous improvements and helping our farms become even more sustainable.”

“We urge Congress to honor the commitment they made to rural America when they reauthorized the farm bill in 2014. We hope to engage in a meaningful dialogue about how we can support America’s farmers, ranchers, and rural communities through these challenging economic times.”

Soy Growers Oppose White House Budget

The American Soybean Association (ASA) signaled strong opposition to proposed cuts in the FY-2018 budget released by the White House this morning.

“By shredding our farm safety net, slashing critical agricultural research and conservation initiatives, and hobbling our access to foreign markets, this budget is a blueprint for how to make already difficult times in rural America even worse,” said Ron Moore, ASA president and a soybean farmer from Roseville, Ill.

The budget would cut the federal crop insurance program by $28.5 billion—or roughly 36 percent—by capping the premium subsidy and eliminating the harvest price option. The crop insurance program is widely used by soybean farmers, and the harvest price option was selected in 99.4 percent of soybean revenue insurance policies sold in 2016. The White House’s proposed budget also would cut nearly $9 billion from Title I commodity supports, including the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs, by reducing the adjusted gross income (AGI) eligibility cap from $900,000 to $500,000.

“Thirty six percent is the most extreme proposed cut to crop insurance I’ve seen in my 40 years on the farm,” Moore said. “This is a program that exists to sustain farmers who suffer catastrophic losses. Coupled with the arbitrary caps the budget would impose on premium subsidies, it’s clear that this budget was written without input from farmers who would be severely affected.”

The budget also poses an existential threat to export promotion and foreign food assistance programs. It eliminates funding for the two hallmark USDA programs for the expansion of foreign markets: the Market Access Program (MAP) and the Foreign Market Development program (FMD). MAP and FMD leverage matching funds from industry to establish and grow markets for U.S. agricultural products abroad, and ASA recently requested that funding for them be doubled in the coming farm bill. The budget would also zero out the McGovern Dole Food for Education Program, as well as the Food for Peace program (P.L. 480), both of which provide funding for the food security programs that ASA undertakes in the developing world through its World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH) program.

“Elimination of MAP and FMD completely ignores the global nature of our industry,” Moore said. “Those programs are key to the work that soybeans and so many other crops conduct overseas to boost trade and trigger a multiplier effect that creates jobs and increased economic activity well beyond agriculture.”

The budget would cut nearly $6 billion from conservation programs, including the elimination of the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), which is USDA’s largest conservation program with more than 70 million acres enrolled, and the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).

“Beyond our concern that these programs were already cut by more than $6 billion just three years ago as part of the 2014 Farm Bill, their elimination will significantly hamper on-farm progress toward healthier water, soil and air,” Moore said.

A positive note in the budget welcomed by Moore was progress on regulatory reform and infrastructure investment. “We are encouraged by the promise of reducing burdensome regulations and permitting processes, as well as the recognition of the need for infrastructure investments, including inland waterways and ports,” he said.

“This exercise is not a new one,” Moore added. “We’re aware that Congress—not the president—passes the budget, and agriculture has rebuffed attacks on farm and food programs for years. The danger is that the extreme and ill-informed cuts in this document will embolden those in Congress who lack any understanding of how these programs combine to protect the food and farm supply chain for all Americans.”

Proposed Ag Budget Fails Farmers, Ranchers

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall:

“The American Farm Bureau Federation and its members are concerned about the federal budget deficit. However, we also know that agriculture has done its fair share to help reduce the deficit. Going back to the early 1980s, agriculture often has been targeted to generate budget savings, from the reconciliation bills in the late 1980s and 1990s to farm bill reforms as recently as 2014. At the time of passage, the 2014 farm bill was estimated to contribute $23 billion to deficit reduction over 10 years. The farm bill was the only reauthorization bill that voluntarily offered savings during the 113th Congress. It is difficult to think of another sector of the economy that has contributed so much, so consistently, over the last several decades.

“The administration’s budget proposal fails to recognize agriculture’s current financial challenges or its historical contribution to deficit reduction. It would gut federal crop insurance, one of the nation’s most important farm safety-net programs. It would drastically reshape important voluntary conservation programs and negatively impact consumer confidence in critical meat and poultry inspection. This proposal would hamper the viability of plant and animal security programs at our borders and undermine the nation’s grain quality and market information systems. It would stunt rural America’s economic growth by eliminating important utility programs and other rural development programs.

“Clearly, this budget fails agriculture and rural America.

“Farm income is down substantially since Congress passed the last farm bill. USDA cuts of this magnitude in the current economic cycle would be unwarranted and unwise. AFBF will work with the House and Senate Agriculture, Appropriations and Budget committees to protect programs that are critical in managing risks inherent to production agriculture, and maintain programs that are vital to rural communities.”

Crop Insurers Comment on President's Proposed Budget

The White House today released details of its FY2018 proposed budget, which included steep cuts to crop insurance and other farm policies.

The American Association of Crop Insurers, Crop Insurance and Reinsurance Bureau, Crop Insurance Professionals Association, Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America, National Association of Professional Insurance Agents, and National Crop Insurance Services released the following joint statement in response:

"Weakening crop insurance and making it more difficult for farmers to bounce back during tough times will jeopardize rural jobs and will find little support in rural America or on Capitol Hill. The rural economy is already suffering through a period of low prices and a multitude of spring weather disasters. Yet, the Administration's budget proposal targets the primary tool farmers use to handle these risks.

"Lawmakers favor crop insurance because it reduces taxpayer risk exposure and has come in under budget since the 2014 Farm Bill was passed. Farmers are willing to help fund their own safety nets – collectively spending $50 billion out of their own pockets on crop insurance since 2000 – because they know private-sector efficiency will speed aid when it is needed most.

"Destructive cuts to crop insurance have been proposed by past Administrations and soundly rejected by Congressional leaders, who recognize the importance of maintaining a strong farm safety net. We fully expect that to be the case again this year, and we are hopeful to engage in meaningful dialogue about how to support America's hardworking farmers and ranchers in difficult times like these."

How does crop insurance benefit taxpayers?

Crop insurance is an effective taxpayer investment that helps ensure the stability of America's food, feed, fiber and fuel producers and promotes rural economic growth.

Absent crop insurance, the cost of natural disasters that cripple America's farmers would fall directly on the laps of taxpayers, which happened repeatedly before the widespread use and availability of crop insurance. In fact, 42 emergency disaster bills in agriculture cost taxpayers $70 billion from 1989 to 2012, according to the Congressional Research Service.

The 2014 Farm Bill cemented crop insurance as the cornerstone of farm policy.  Under this policy, farmers shoulder a portion of the risk along with private-sector crop insurance companies.  Farmers must first purchase crop insurance before being protected, and must shoulder a portion of the losses through deductibles before receiving an indemnity for the verifiable loss. On average, a farmer in the United States must lose at least 25 percent of the value of their crop before a crop insurance policy kicks in. This ensures that farmers are active participants in risk management and that taxpayers are not being asked to bear all the burden of natural disasters in farming.

President Trump’s Budget is an Assault on the Farm Safety Net and Rural Communities, NFU Says

President Donald J. Trump issued a detailed fiscal year 2018 federal budget proposal today, recommending drastic cuts to agricultural and rural related agencies and programs. The proposal would cut Farm Bill programs by nearly $230 billion and slash the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) annual budget by 21 percent.

In response to the proposal, National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson issued the following statement:

“The President’s proposed budget is an assault on the programs and personnel that provide vital services, research, and a safety net to America’s family farmers, rural residents and consumers. It is deeply disappointing that the President would propose such cuts, especially in the midst of a farm crisis that has family farmers and ranchers enduring a drastic, four-year slide in farm prices and a 50 percent drop in net farm income.

“The proposal slashes crop insurance by $29 billion, conservation programs by $6 billion, and SNAP by $191 billion, in addition to $3 billion in cuts to other farm programs. Such cuts would leave farmers, ranchers, and consumers without an effective safety net, and would make passing a new Farm Bill almost certainly impossible.

“The proposal also continues the $4.7 billion cut to USDA that was proposed by the Administration in March. This huge cut to discretionary spending would put rural development, conservation and research programs on the chopping block.

“In addition to cuts to farm and rural programs, the president’s proposal stands to worsen access to healthcare for rural residents. The proposed $800 billion cut to Medicaid would disproportionately impact rural residents who enroll in the program at a higher rate than their urban counterparts.

“NFU calls on Congress to reject these budget cuts and adopt funding levels that ensure the success and vibrancy of farming communities and rural America.”

NAWG Opposes Cuts to Crop Insurance in the Administration’s FY 2018 Budget Proposal

Today, the Administration released its full budget request for fiscal year 2018. The request calls for significant cuts to Farm Bill safety net and risk management programs at a time when net farm income is nearly half what it was just three years ago.

NAWG President David Schemm made the following statement:

“NAWG understands the administration is facing pressure to reduce spending and lower the national debt. However, proposing cuts to crop insurance and weakening the Farm Bill is not the right approach.  Proposing significant restrictions on crop insurance, commodity, conservation, trade, nutrition, and economic development programs is short-sighted and ignores the needs of rural America.

“The 2014 Farm Bill is estimated to reduced spending by $23 billion over ten years, at the time of passage. Further, the Congressional Budget Office’s 2017 baseline estimates that the 2014 Farm Bill costs far less than projected and is going to save the federal government $100 billion.

“The Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs offer a safety net to producers when there is a substantial drop in prices or revenues. Recent events such as the late season blizzard in the Midwest, proves that these programs are working and need to be upheld in the 2018 Farm Bill.

“Any reduction in the discount for crop insurance will increase the cost of crop insurance to farmers. As commodity prices decline and farmers’ budgets tighten, an increase in the cost of crop insurance is only more likely to result in less participation and higher premiums for all farmers.

“In the trade title, the Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) are two government programs that have proven to have tremendous return on investment and yet funding for these programs has eroded. MAP and FMD strengthen export market development, meriting an increase in federal funding, not elimination as proposed in this budget request. 

“The rural vote was a key factor in the last election. Budget proposals should support rural America and U.S. farmers but this current budget misses that mark. NAWG will actively work to make sure these proposals aren’t enacted by Congress.”

USW Dismayed by Budget Proposal to Eliminate Trade Development Programs

U.S. Wheat Associates is very disappointed that the Administration’s proposed FY 2018 budget eliminates funding for the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) program and severely cuts funding for food aid programs. These cuts and other proposed cuts to the farm safety net would be devastating to wheat farmers who are already facing severely challenging economic conditions.

“These are the wrong proposals at the wrong time for the wheat farmers we represent,” said USW President Alan Tracy. “Agriculture is truly a global industry and export demand determines the prices U.S. wheat farmers receive. Without funding from MAP and FMD, we would not be able to continue the training, technical assistance and service that is needed to promote this incredibly complex food crop. Our competitors would swoop in to take those markets and the potential effect on wheat prices is obvious.”

In addition, a major econometric study led by Texas A&M agricultural economists in 2016 on the effectiveness of MAP and FMD showed that eliminating these programs would result in an annual average loss of $14.7 billion in export value, which would hurt almost every farmer in the country.

“It is very short-sighted to cut out programs that are vital to the health of the entire U.S. agricultural economy,” said Jason Scott, USW Chairman and a wheat farmer from Easton, Md. “Farmers, livestock producers, small businesses and the U.S. government have seen an amazing return on the investment in these highly successful programs. Our farmer leaders agree with the National Association of Wheat Growers President David Schemm who believes MAP and FMD merit an increase in federal funding, not elimination as proposed in this budget.” 

In addition, time-honored U.S. food aid programs have been engines of peace, food security and local economic development in countless countries around the world. Wheat makes up 40 percent of of all in-kind food aid and because almost all food aid recipients are wheat-import dependent, particularly in Africa, wheat donations do not distort local markets. It is not a good time to diminish our ability to promote better lives around the world.”

For more information about MAP, FMD and the essential role they play in building a more productive agricultural economy, please visit

USW’s mission is to “develop, maintain, and expand international markets to enhance the profitability of U.S. wheat producers and their customers.” USW activities in more than 100 countries are made possible through producer checkoff dollars managed by 18 state wheat commissions and cost-share funding provided by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. For more information, visit our website at

Opportunity for Iowa Youth to Learn Agronomy, Scouting Basics

The Integrated Pest Management program with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach will host the seventh annual Crop Scouting Competition for Iowa Youth on July 31 at the Field Extension Education Laboratory in Boone, Iowa at 1928 240th St.

High school students (those completing grades 9-12) from Iowa are invited to put their crop scouting skills to the test, competing against other Iowa youth teams across the state. In addition to team competition, the goal of the event is to bring awareness to Iowa agriculture and learn more about integrated pest management basics through hands-on learning and teamwork.

Joe and Suzanne Shirbroun of Clayton County have been team leaders at the Crop Scouting Competition for the past six years. Joe Shirbroun says he's witnessed the competition make a big impact on the participating youth.

"The competition is a great way to connect education to the industry," he said. "Over the last six years, we've had several students on our team realize this is something they have a passion for and decide to pursue it in college."

Teams' crop knowledge will be tested at topic-specific field stations and with a written exam. Several field stations will be run by ISU Extension and Outreach faculty and staff, giving students the opportunity to work next to and learn from Iowa State experts. Potential topics will include: crop diseases, insects, disorders, weed identification, herbicide injury, crop growth stages, degree day computation and sprayer calibration and sprayer issues.

"I like to bring my FFA students to this competition because it enables them to learn from ISU Extension and Outreach faculty and staff," said James Abbas, AGWSR FFA advisor in Ackley, Iowa. "The experts working the competition are able to provide instant feedback to the teams, and they do so in a respectful, positive manner. They are always willing to help the kids and work with them."

The top four teams, based on points accrued from the field stations and exam, are eligible to win cash prizes, and all participants will receive a free event t-shirt. The top two teams will be invited to the regional competition held in Indiana on Aug. 28.

ISU Extension and Outreach has various resources such as field guides, publications and presentations to help each team prepare for the event. For more information on where to obtain these materials, visit

Visit for more details, registration and a list of resources for team preparation. The registration form is due by July 1, 2017. View the 2016 competition online by reading about the winners and watching a recap from last year's event.

The event is sponsored by the following: DuPont Pioneer, Iowa Soybean Association, Iowa Independent Crop Consultants Association, ScoutPro, Iowa Certified Crop Advisors and Environmental Tillage Systems.

For questions, please contact Adam Sisson at or Daren Mueller at

Grain Barge Movement in Good Shape with High Water Levels

Grain barge movements have recovered from the previous week, as high water gradually receded in the Upper Mississippi River. For the week ending May 13, downbound grain barge tonnages was 0.8 million tons at Mississippi River Locks 27, the southern-most lock on the Mississippi river, a 61 percent increase from the previous week.

Total corn and soybean shipments were 0.71 million tons and 0.25 million tons, up 213 percent and 240 percent from the previous week, respectively.

However, the barge industry has reported potential pick-up and transit delays in parts of the Lower Mississippi, Ohio, Illinois, and Arkansas Rivers.

On May 17, most navigation on the Arkansas River was limited or stopped, due to high water and flood conditions.

The National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office forecasts that the Lower Mississippi River will crest near Baton Rouge, Donaldsonville, and New Orleans later next week.

AFBF Asks Administration to Withdraw Proposed Changes to Estate Tax Discount Valuation

As the Treasury Department reviews all the significant tax regulations issued on or after Jan. 1, 2016, farmers and ranchers are calling on the administration to withdraw proposed changes that would limit the use of discount valuation for estate tax purposes.

The proposed changes “would significantly endanger the future of family farms in America. They wrongly set forth more restrictive rules for using valuation discounts that would make it more difficult for our nation’s family-owned farms and ranches to survive intergenerational transfers,” American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said in a letter to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Purdue.

 Valuation discounting has proven to be a very effective strategy for transferring business assets to subsequent generations, particularly when it comes to the transfer of small family businesses and farming and ranching operations, according to Farm Bureau.

We urge swift action to withdraw this unwarranted and harmful proposal to promote the transfer of agricultural businesses to the next generation of farmers and ranchers who will grow and produce our nation’s food, fiber and energy.
—  AFBF President Zippy Duvall

In the letter, Duvall also urged that a recommendation to withdraw the valuation-related changes be made by the Promoting Agricultural and Rural Prosperity in America task force, under its charge to promote the preservation of family farms and other agribusiness operations as they are passed from one generation to the next. President Donald Trump created the task force with an executive order issued on April 25.

Dr. Cropp Thinks Milk Prices May Have Bottomed Out

Despite higher production and increased stock levels, dairy product prices are beginning to strengthened as we moved into the summer months. But Dr. Bob Cropp from the University of Wisconsin-Extension says the level of U.S. milk output over the next several months will determine just how much those milk prices will rise.

In his monthly Dairy Situation and Outlook report, the professor emeritus said April was likely the low-point for milk prices after the Class III price fell from $16.77 in January to $15.22 in April. However, the May price could swing back up to around $15.60.

"Milk prices should continue to improve form here out," Cropp said. "Domestic sales appear to be favorable for butter and cheese. Dairy exports are also expected to continue above year ago levels."

His monthly summary said cheese and butter prices have responded to a slower growth in milk production and improved dairy exports. In addition, first quarter dairy exports were up 14-percent by volume compared to a year ago--resulting in the best first quarter since 2014.

"These higher product prices explain the higher May Class III price," he said. "If the Class III price ends up near $15.60, it will average about $2.50 higher during the January to May period than last year. Last year the May Class III dropped to a low of $12.76."

Cropp predicts that as world supply and demand tightens, world dairy product prices will increase. And that could result in U.S. dairy product prices becoming more competitive.

"Milk production among major dairy exporters has been below year ago levels for the EU-28, New Zealand, Australia and Argentina. U.S. has been the exception with higher milk production," Cropp pointed out. "However, milk production by the other four exporters, particularly the EU-28 and New Zealand is expected to start running above year ago levels during the second half of the year. But, stronger buying by China and others will help to keep a tighter world supply-demand situation."

Looking ahead, he says Class III futures have turned more optimistic about milk prices than at the beginning of May. With continued good domestic sales and improved dairy exports, the dairy marketing expert says a Class III price in the higher $17s by October is very possible.

May 22 Crop Progress & Condition Report - NE - IA - US


For the week ending May 21, 2017, temperatures averaged three to five degrees below normal, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Significant rainfall of two inches or more was recorded across the majority of counties; however, rainfall totals of three inches or more was recorded across the southeast. Producers made planting progress during the early part of the week, but wet conditions kept farmers out of the field for the remainder of the week. There were 2.1 days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 0 percent very short, 5 short, 74 adequate, and 21 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 1 percent very short, 6 short, 80 adequate, and 13 surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Corn planted was 87 percent, near 88 last year and 91 for the five-year average. Emerged was 52 percent, near 48 last year, but behind 57 average.

Soybeans planted was 52 percent, near 50 last year, but behind 61 average. Emerged was 13 percent, near 12 last year, but behind 21 average.

Winter wheat condition rated 2 percent very poor, 12 poor, 41 fair, 41 good, and 4 excellent. Winter wheat jointed was 99 percent, ahead of 94 last year and 86 average. Headed was 55 percent, ahead of 42 last year and 36 average.

Sorghum planted was 18 percent, behind 28 last year and 36 average. Emerged was 6 percent.

Oats condition rated 0 percent very poor, 0 poor, 22 fair, 74 good, and 4 excellent. Oats jointed was 46 percent, near 43 last year. Headed was 6 percent, equal to last year and near 4 average.

Alfalfa condition rated 0 percent very poor, 1 poor, 12 fair, 76 good, and 11 excellent. Alfalfa first cutting was 8 percent, near 12 last year, and behind 17 average.

Pasture and Range Report:

Pasture and range conditions rated 0 percent very poor, 1 poor, 26 fair, 62 good, and 11 excellent. Stock water supplies rated 0 percent very short, 1 short, 93 adequate, and 6 surplus.

Access the National publication for Crop Progress and Condition tables at:

Access the High Plains Region Climate Center for Temperature and Precipitation Maps at:

Access the U.S. Drought Monitor at:


Statewide, Iowa farmers had only 2.3 days suitable for fieldwork during the week ending May 21, 2017, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Those few days came early in the week as rain throughout the rest of the week made conditions too wet for planters to enter the fields.

Topsoil moisture levels rated 0 percent very short, 0 percent short, 65 percent adequate and 35 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated 0 percent very short, 1 percent short, 71 percent adequate and 28 percent surplus.

Ninety-two percent of the corn crop has been planted, 3 days behind last year but 2 days ahead of the 5-year average. Corn emerged reached 59 percent, 4 days behind last year. The first corn condition rating of the season was 1 percent very poor, 2 percent poor, 22 percent fair, 63 percent good and 12 percent excellent.

Soybean planting reached 62 percent complete, 2 days behind last year but 1 day ahead of average. Fifteen percent of soybeans have emerged, 1 day behind average.

Oat emergence reached 92 percent, 2 days ahead of average. Oat condition was rated 80 percent good to excellent.

The first cutting of alfalfa hay advanced to 8 percent complete. Hay conditions decreased slightly to 82 percent good to excellent.

Pasture condition remained at 82 percent good to excellent. The week’s rain resulted in muddy feedlots again, stressing some cattle.

USDA Weekly Crop Progress

Planting and emergence were running close to the average pace for both corn and soybeans last week, while winter wheat conditions saw a slight boost from the previous week, according to USDA's weekly Crop Progress report released Monday.

USDA estimated 84% of U.S. corn was planted as of Sunday, May 21, even with a year ago but slightly above the five-year average of 85%. USDA also said 54% of U.S. corn was emerged, down from 58% a year ago and down slightly from the five-year average of 55% emerged. 

Soybean planting was estimated at 53% complete, even with a year ago and slightly above the five-year average of 52%. USDA said 19% of U.S. soybeans were emerged, down slightly from 20% a year ago and down from the five-year average of 21%. 

Winter wheat conditions saw a slight boost in Monday's report. Fifty-two percent of the winter wheat crop was rated in good-to-excellent condition.  USDA reported that 72% of winter wheat is headed, down from 74% a year ago, but up from the five-year average of 67%.

Meanwhile, U.S. spring wheat planting reached 90% complete as of Sunday, down from last year's 94%, but above the five-year average of 84% planted. Sixty-two percent of spring wheat was emerged, down from 75% a year ago but up from the five-year average of 59%.

In other crop reports, cotton was 52% planted, compared to 45% last year and 50% average. Rice was 91% planted and 78% emerged, compared to 92% and 82% last year and 90% and 76% on average.

Sorghum was 37% planted, slightly behind the five-year average of 41%. Barley was 88% planted and 59% emerged, compared to 93% and 78% last year and 87% and 64% on average. Oats were 95% planted, 83% emerged and 26% headed, compared to 97%, 89% and 25% last year and 93%, 81% and 28% on average.

Monday May 22 Ag News


Nebraska Department of Agriculture Director Greg Ibach today announced METRO, a French based chain store with 780 stores in 25 countries, will showcase beef from Nebraska in their European stores.  METRO, is self-described as catering to the needs of the key target group of hotels, restaurants and catering firms through exceptional competence in fresh foods.

Ibach announced the news after returning from a trip to the European Union last week, where he was accompanied by University of Nebraska-Lincoln Animal Science Professor Dr. Chris Calkins.  During meetings just outside of Brussels, the two worked together to share the story of beef from Nebraska with key sales, purchasing managers and decision makers from each country where METRO stores are located.

“We are extremely pleased to be able to announce this partnership with METRO,” said Ibach.  “The story of beef from Nebraska resonates well in every country, and more and more consumers are seeking high quality beef to serve to their families.  This is a tremendous opportunity for Nebraska and we are excited to continue our work to further develop relationships with METRO stores.”

According to Ibach, Greater Omaha Packing will be supplying the beef to METRO via INALCA an Italian importer.

In 2016, Nebraska beef accounted for 48.3 percent of the $265.6 million worth of beef exports to Europe.

Later in the trade trip, during a meeting with Goodman’s, a fine dining restaurant with multiple locations in London, Ibach and Calkins were able to assist the restaurant’s chefs in understanding ways to increase the number of cuts included on their menu, increasing the use of U.S. and Nebraska beef products.

The final stop of the trip was the 2nd Annual Celebration of Nebraska Beef at Zelman Meats in London.  The promotion was geared towards food influencers in the London area and had a large turnout where the story of beef from Nebraska was shared while the attendees were able to enjoy a wide variety of beef products.

The promotional activities were partially funded by the Nebraska Beef Council and represent a continued partnership between Nebraska’s beef community and the Nebraska Department of Agriculture to increase the sales of Nebraska beef.  Since the beginning of the partnership in 2005, Nebraska’s share of the international U.S. beef sales have increased from 3.6 percent to over 18 percent and Nebraska’s market share in Europe has also increased from 5 percent to nearly 50 percent of total sales.

New Agricultural Economic and Technology Summit Focuses on Agriculture’s Economic Outlook, Technology, Cattle Markets, and More

From global trade to the data and technology use, Nebraska farmers, ranchers, and agriculture professionals will get the information they need to develop strategies for not only this year’s growing and marketing season, but also to better position themselves for the future through tough economic times. The new Agricultural Economic and Technology Summit, to be held at the Kearney Holiday Inn, June 13-14, is a partnership between Nebraska Farm Bureau, the University of Nebraska Lincoln Agricultural Economics, Biological Systems Engineering Department, and KRVN Rural Radio Network.

“With planting and birthing season wrapping up, now is the opportunity for folks in agriculture to get away from the day-to-day grind and get the latest happenings in the world of agriculture. Plus, those attending can compare notes with fellow producers and others involved in agriculture from across the state on how the year is going so far,” said Jay Rempe, Nebraska Farm Bureau senior economist.

The summit will feature a range of Nebraska-based and national experts, including Michael Swanson, an agricultural economist and consultant for Wells Fargo; Paul Genho, an independent consultant and visiting professor for the University of Florida; Kent Bacus with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, who will discuss the ins and outs of U.S. Agricultural Trade; and Al Dutcher, Nebraska’s extension agricultural climatologist with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, who will share his insights on Nebraska’s weather and climate for the remainder of the growing season.

Jim Pollock, a partner with Prassack Advisors, will share his vision and insight into the adoption and use of technology and how it is fundamentally changing how agriculture operates. Mary Kay Thatcher, American Farm Bureau’s senior director of congressional relations, is set to provide a look at the future of farm programs.

The Agricultural Economic and Technology Summit will also feature a series of breakout sessions to dig deeper into a range of subjects important to today’s agriculture. Topics include; commodity marketing strategies, technology in livestock production, nitrogen management, livestock market drivers, using data to benchmark efficiency, financial strategies to weather falling income, and UAVs in Agriculture.

"These breakouts will give the summit participants the ability to focus on the topics that are most interesting and critical to the health of their farms and ranches," Rempe said.

Information on the summit, including an online registration form and agenda, can be found at or contact Whittney Kelley at 402-421-4760 or via email at


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Warm-season grasses provide good pasture and hay, and they use soil nutrients efficiently.  However, adding a little fertilizer can stimulate a lot more growth.

              As summer approaches, it soon becomes time to apply fetilizer to warm-season grasses.  Where you have moisture, these grasses will begin growing rapidly as soil and air temperature increase.  Adding fertilizer now will help these grasses produce extra hay or grazing.

               So – how much should you apply?  Well, that depends on your own situation.  For starters, will you effectively use the extra grass to graze more cattle or increase hay yields?  It's surprising how often we apply fertilizer and then waste extra growth by grazing poorly.  This may seem obvious, but unless you economically harvest extra growth as hay or with livestock, do not fertilize!

               Also consider the ability of your warm-season grass to yield more.  Taller warm-season grasses like big bluestem, switchgrass, and indiangrass will give a larger response to fertilizer than will shorter grasses like little bluestem, sideoats grama, or blue grama.

               And finally, adjust fertilizer for moisture conditions.  In eastern Nebraska, 50 to 60 pounds of nitrogen per acre works well for average or better moisture conditions.  In central and western Nebraska only subirrigated meadows normally have enough growth potential to respond to added nitrogen; there about 40 pounds per acre will do.  Check your moisture conditions, though, before investing in fertilizer nitrogen.  Many of these fields also need a little phosphorus so follow soil test recommendations for its amount.

               If you can benefit from extra growth on your warm-season grasses, fertilize now, in late May, for higher yields.  Then graze or cut hay on a timely basis for profitable returns.


PORK Academy Seminars Offer On-Farm Tips at World Pork Expo June 7-8

The Pork Checkoff’s Producer Opportunity for Revenue and Knowledge (PORK) Academy sessions will return to World Pork Expo, with seminars held Wednesday, June 7, and Thursday, June 8, at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa. The annual sessions help educate pig farmers on the latest trends in pork production.

“The PORK Academy sessions offer more than leading pork industry news,” said Andrew Reinecker, chair of the Checkoff’s Producer and State Services Committee and a pig farmer from York Springs, Pennsylvania. “Attendees learn more about different aspects of the industry and programs funded by the Pork Checkoff. The sessions also provide networking opportunities with leading industry professionals.”

2017 PORK Academy seminars will be held at the Varied Industries Building, Room C. Following are the topics and schedule.
WEDNESDAY- JUNE 7, 2017 - Varied Industries Building – Room C

9:15 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.                                                                        
Pork Quality Initiative
Everett Forkner, Truline Genetics
The National Pork Board has been involved with producer-led meat-quality projects and initiatives for more than 25 years. The objective has always been to create more value to all segments of the pork chain by producing a better product for all consumers. Increasing the consistency of pork quality will be the major cornerstone of reaching this objective primarily by sorting various pork quality attributes such as pH, color and marbling. The ideal cooking temperature – 145o F, with a three-minute rest, also will continue to be emphasized.

10:15 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Social Media in Pork Production
Erin Brenneman, Brenneman Farms
Logan Thornton, 2017 Pig Farmer of Tomorrow
Brad Greenway, 2016 America’s Pig Farmer of the Year
There are over 2.3 billion active social media users worldwide, and that number continues to climb. With so many people active on social media sites, the importance of sharing your #RealPigFarming story online continues to grow. At this session, the three producers will share how they share their farms’ stories through social media and offer tips on how you can join the conversation.

11:15 a.m. – Noon      
Compensation in Pork Production
Karen Hoare, National Pork Board
The 2017 survey of Employee Compensation and HR Practices in Pork Production provides both a benchmark for producers when evaluating their current HR strategies and positive talking points when promoting careers in pork production. At this session, learn about the key findings from the survey and comparisons with the 2011 survey. Hoare also will highlight successes and opportunities for the pork industry in recruiting and retaining employees.

1:30 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.
Sub-Therapeutic Growth Promoting Antibiotic Alternatives
Wes Schweer, Iowa State University
Due to increased restrictions in the use of sub-therapeutic antibiotic growth promotants in pigs, there is a need to understand effective ways to evaluate dietary alternatives. This review of published literature was performed to determine how different alternatives influenced growth performance.

2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Who Are the Auditors Coming onto my Farm?
Collette Kaster, PAACO
This session will provide producers with more details about the types of people who are conducting Common Swine Industry Audits, including their backgrounds, the types of training they receive and their ethical responsibilities as third-party auditors.

THURSDAY- JUNE 8, 2017 - Varied Industries Building – Room C

9:15 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.
Pork Quality Initiative
Jim Compart, Compart Family Farms, Inc.
The National Pork Board has been involved with producer-led meat-quality projects and initiatives for more than 25 years. The objective has always been to create more value to all segments of the pork chain by producing a better product for all consumers. Increasing the consistency of pork quality will be the major cornerstone of reaching this objective primarily by sorting various pork quality attributes such as pH, color and marbling. The ideal cooking temperature – 145o F, with a with three-minute rest, also will continue to be emphasized.
10:15 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Veterinary Feed Directive
Chris Rademacher, Iowa State University
This session will to answer your questions on the increased use of veterinary feed directives (VFDs) in pork production.

11:15 a.m. – Noon      
Walking through Sow Housing and Tools Available
Tim Safranski, University of Missouri
This session will present an overview of sow housing, including an introduction to recently developed tools available to help you choose or use various sow housing options.

1:30 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.
Secure Pork Supply Implementation
Pam Zaabel, Iowa State University
Business continuity for the pork industry during a foreign animal disease outbreak revolves around the ability to move animals to processing facilities and between production premises. Having the Secure Pork Supply Plan implemented prior to an outbreak enhances coordination and communication between all stakeholders. Webb and Zaabel will present an overview on the progress of the Secure Pork Supply Plan.

2:30 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.
U.S. Exports and International Trade
Becca Nepple, National Pork Board
Dermot Hayes, Iowa State University
Lean about U.S. pork export markets, insights into world economics and the growing opportunities for global trade.

For more information about Pork Checkoff-sponsored events and activities at World Pork Expo, call the Pork Checkoff Service Center at (800) 456-7675. For information about other World Pork Expo activities, visit

Dairy Iowa Event is June 8

Dairy Iowa, a partnership between individuals and organizations invested in Iowa’s dairy industry, will hold its annual June Dairy Month event June 8 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Heartland Agribition Center in Independence. The meeting’s keynote speaker is Kevin Murphy of Food Chain Communications, addressing the challenges faced by the dairy community from misinformation and extremist attitudes, and how to respond.

The day’s events are concurrent with a youth communications workshop presented by Midwest Dairy. All Iowa dairy youth enthusiasts are encouraged to attend.

The program includes a panel of dairy farmers sharing their labor-saving and value-added efforts, as well as roundtable discussions among many of the groups who work on behalf of dairy throughout Iowa. In addition to Midwest Dairy and the Iowa State Dairy Association, participants will include the Western Iowa Dairy Alliance, Northeast Iowa Community College, the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, and Iowa State University.

In addition, the meeting will host the presentation of the annual Ralph Keeling Awards given to individuals dedicated to Iowa’s dairy legacy, and scholarships presented by Midwest Dairy Association and the Iowa State Dairy Association.

Those wishing to attend may visit for more information, or may contact Mitch Schulte at or 319-775-3451.

USDA Cold Storage April 2017 Highlights

Total red meat supplies in freezers were up 4 percent on April 30, 2017 from the previous month but down 4 percent from last year. Total pounds of beef in freezers were down 1 percent from the previous month and down 2 percent from last year. Frozen pork supplies were up 9 percent from the previous month but down 6 percent from last year. Stocks of pork bellies were up 66 percent from last month but down 53 percent from last year.

Total frozen poultry supplies on April 30, 2017 were up 7 percent from the previous month and up 5 percent from a year ago. Total stocks of chicken were up 4 percent from the previous month but down 1 percent from last year. Total pounds of turkey in freezers were up 11 percent from last month and up 20 percent from April 30, 2016.

Total natural cheese stocks in refrigerated warehouses on April 30, 2017 were up 3 percent from the previous month and up 10 percent from April 30, 2016. Butter stocks were up 7 percent from last month but down 1 percent from a year ago.

Total frozen fruit stocks were down 6 percent from last month but up 17 percent from a year ago.  Total frozen vegetable stocks were down 8 percent from last month but up 5 percent from a year ago.


All layers in Nebraska during April 2017 totaled 8.25 million, down from 8.94 million the previous year, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Nebraska egg production during April totaled 203 million eggs, down from 219 million in 2016. April egg production per 100 layers was 2,455 eggs, compared to 2,447 eggs in 2016.


Iowa egg production during April 2017 was 1.31 billion eggs, down 4 percent from last month, but up 21 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 April 2017 was 54.7 million, down 1 percent from last month, but up 11 percent from last year. Eggs per 100 layers for April were 2,388, down 3 percent from last month, but up 8 percent from last year.

April Egg Production Up 4 Percent in US

United States egg production totaled 8.64 billion during April 2017, up 4 percent from last year, according to USDA. Production included 7.55 billion table eggs, and 1.10 billion hatching eggs, of which 1.02 billion were broiler-type and 78.4 million were egg-type. The total number of layers during April 2017 averaged 374 million, up 2 percent from last year. April egg production per 100 layers was 2,311 eggs, up 2 percent from April 2016.
All layers in the United States on May 1, 2017 totaled 373 million, up 2 percent from last year. The 373 million layers consisted of 313 million layers producing table or market type eggs, 55.8 million layers producing broiler-type hatching eggs, and 3.24 million layers producing egg-type hatching eggs. Rate of lay per day on May 1, 2017, averaged 76.7 eggs per 100 layers, up 1 percent from May 1, 2016.

Egg-Type Chicks Hatched Up 1 Percent

Egg-type chicks hatched during April 2017 totaled 51.6 million, up 1 percent from April 2016. Eggs in incubators totaled 47.4 million on May 1, 2017, down 9 percent from a year ago.

Domestic placements of egg-type pullet chicks for future hatchery supply flocks by leading breeders totaled 228 thousand during April 2017, down 35 percent from April 2016.

Broiler-Type Chicks Hatched Up 2 Percent

Broiler-type chicks hatched during April 2017 totaled 793 million, up 2 percent from April 2016. Eggs in incubators totaled 668 million on May 1, 2017, up 3 percent from a year ago.

Leading breeders placed 7.05 million broiler-type pullet chicks for future domestic hatchery supply flocks during April 2017, down 7 percent from April 2016.

ASA Welcomes Branstad as Incoming Ambassador to China

Following a vote by the Senate today to confirm former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad as the U.S. Ambassador to China, American Soybean Association (ASA) President and Illinois farmer Ron Moore expressed congratulations and support, citing Branstad’s extensive experience working with China and the importance of the market for U.S. soybean farmers.

“We cannot understate the importance of maintaining a good trading relationship with China, along with all of our top exporting countries, and having Gov. Branstad in place will help ensure that agricultural trade remains a top priority between our two countries,” Moore said.

The U.S. soybean sector exported $27 billion in soybean products last year, making it the largest agricultural export. Of that, sales to China comprised more than $14 billion, establishing the market as the most significant for U.S. soy.

“ASA is hopeful that Gov. Branstad’s background in agriculture will help the U.S. and China create greater transparency and efficiencies in the biotech approval process and maintain good trade relations,” Moore added.

Cattlemen Applaud Gov. Terry Branstad's Confirmation As Ambassador to China: "Ideal person to help facilitate the U.S. beef industry’s return to the Chinese market"

Craig Uden, president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, today released the following statement in response to the U.S. Senate’s confirmation of Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad to be the U.S. Ambassador to China:

“As the six-term governor of a state with more than $10 billion in annual agricultural exports, Terry Branstad is an ideal person to help facilitate the U.S. beef industry’s return to the Chinese market for the first time in 13-plus years. Ambassador Branstad has said that he intends to serve American-produced beef at the U.S. embassy in Beijing, and America’s cattle producers look forward to working with him to make that a reality as soon as possible.”

In addition, Mike Cline, president of the Iowa Cattlemen's Association, said:

"Ambassador Branstad has been a great friend to Iowa cattlemen and the agriculture industry as Governor of Iowa. He has shown a great commitment to the growth of beef and other agricultural exports, and we look forward to the work he will do on behalf of all Americans in his new capacity as Ambassador to China."

Growth Energy Applauds Confirmation of Ambassador Branstad to China

Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor released the following statement regarding the Senate’s confirmation of Iowa Governor Terry Branstad for Ambassador to China.

“We congratulate Ambassador Branstad on his confirmation and look forward to a great champion for ethanol to serve in this role. This will hopefully be an important first step to re-opening the Chinese marketplace to American ethanol and distiller’s grains (DDGs).

“We thank Ambassador Branstad for his tireless work on behalf of America’s farmers and the biofuels industry in his capacity as governor of Iowa and we are excited to have a trusted ally in this important new role.”

Iowa Soybean Association, biodiesel industry welcome Kim Reynolds as Iowa Governor

With the U.S. Senate’s confirmation of Terry Branstad as U.S. Ambassador to China, the Iowa Biodiesel Board and Iowa Soybean Association welcome Kim Reynolds as the 43rd Governor of Iowa. Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) President Rolland Schnell of Newton and Grant Kimberley, ISA director of market development and executive director of the Iowa Biodiesel Board, issued the following statement:

Rolland Schnell
“Gov. Kim Reynolds is a proven advocate for farm families, supporting Iowa jobs and improving the prosperity of our local communities. Her experience as lieutenant governor and state senator provides her with a unique understanding of agriculture’s role as a catalyst for employment and economic development in Iowa.

“She also knows the important role trade plays in supporting Iowa jobs and economic prosperity. She has been a staunch supporter of the soybean industry, participating in numerous trade missions while welcoming international delegations to Iowa. Soybean farmers look forward to accompanying her on a trade mission to China this summer as we continue to build relationships and business with key markets.

“Gov. Reynolds is also keenly aware of the leadership role Iowa plays in producing and selling soybeans and how soybean farmers are demonstrating efficient production with improved conservation and water quality practices. We will work closely with her to establish dedicated and sustained funding to drive greater adoption of conservation practices to the betterment of all Iowans.”

Grant Kimberley
“It is with great enthusiasm that we welcome Kim Reynolds as Governor of Iowa. We have no doubt she will be an extremely capable governor who will continue to care deeply about science, agriculture and biofuels, recognizing the benefits these key industries bring to our state.

“Having worked with her on trade missions abroad and on biofuels issues at home, she has shown herself to be a natural-born leader in her own right. Governor Reynolds has steadfastly supported the comprehensive state biodiesel policies that help make Iowa the number one biodiesel-producing state. At the federal level, we’re confident she will be an outspoken proponent of the Renewable Fuel Standard, as was her predecessor. 

“The State of Iowa is fortunate to have her take the helm from Governor Branstad, who we heartily thank for his decades of strong leadership. His work made Iowa a better place, and we look forward to many productive years ahead working with Governor Reynolds on issues critical to Iowa’s economy and environment.”

CWT Assists with 2.8 Million Pounds of Cheese and Butter Export Sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 14 requests for export assistance from Dairy Farmers of America, Foremost Farms USA, Northwest Dairy Association (Darigold) and Tillamook County Creamery Association, which have contracts to sell 2.57 million pounds (1,165 metric tons) of Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses, and 220,462 pounds (100 metric tons) of butter to customers in Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and Oceania. The product has been contracted for delivery in the period from May through August 2017.

So far this year, CWT has assisted member cooperatives that have contracts to sell 34.17 million pounds of American-type cheeses and 2.31 million pounds of butter (82% milkfat) to 16 countries on four continents. The sales are the equivalent of 367.38 million pounds of milk on a milkfat basis.

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

Urge Congress to Pass Legislation Eliminating Unnecessary NPDES Permits

Bipartisan legislation has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives (H.R. 953) and U.S. Senate (S. 340) that would clarify that federal law does not require the redundant and unfairly burdensome National Polluntant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits for already regulated pesticide applications.  

The requirement to obtain NPDES permits for point source discharges from pesticide applications to waters of the United States stems from a 2009 decision by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.  In its ruling, the Sixth Circuit determined that (1) biological pesticides and (2) chemical pesticides that leave a residue are pollutants as defined under the CWA and as such are subject to regulations applicable to pollutants. Courts have previously determined that applications of pesticides, such as from nozzles of planes and trucks, irrigation equipment, etc. are point sources.

The Agricultural Retailers Association and allied industry stakeholders have been leading an effort to pass this legislation over the past several years.  It was one of ARA's priority issues discussed during the 2017 ARA Winter Board meeting and Legislative Fly-In this past February.  There are many obstacles in our path to secure a NPDES permit legislative fix and we need your help in urging your Senators and Representatives to support and pass this common-sense, bipartisan legislation.

H.R. 953 is pending in the House Rules Committee and scheduled to be considered by the full U.S. House of Representatives this Wednesday, May 24, 2017.

Terry Wehrkamp takes leadership of Animal Agriculture Alliance board

Terry Wehrkamp, director of live production, Cooper Farms, is now chairperson of The Animal Agriculture Alliance Board of Directors. Cooper Farms has been a member of the Alliance for more than ten years and Wehrkamp has served on the board since 2014. Wehrkamp accepted the gavel at the spring board meeting earlier this month from immediate past chairperson Sherrie Webb, director of animal welfare for the National Pork Board.

As director of live production, Wehrkamp manages the teams caring for the company’s turkeys, hogs and chickens and its feed production. A well-respected industry leader, Wehrkamp was inducted into The Ohio State University Department of Animal Sciences Hall of Fame in December 2015 and was awarded the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Distinguished Alumni Award in 2010.

At the same meeting, the board elected Sarah Novak of the American Feed Industry Association as its chair-elect for a two-year term beginning in May 2019. AFIA, one of the founders of the Alliance, has remained a member of the organization for its entire 30-year history. Novak joined the Alliance board in 2009. Novak is the American Feed Industry Association’s vice president of membership and public relations. Prior to joining AFIA, Novak was Director of Membership for the U.S. Grains Council and has industry experience from her employment with Vita Plus and Milk Specialties. Novak joined AFIA in 2007 and holds a Bachelor’s degree in animal science and a Master’s degree in Communications from the University of Wisconsin.

“The Alliance is very appreciative to Sherrie Webb for two years of supportive, innovative leadership,” said Kay Johnson Smith, Alliance president and CEO. “We are excited to work with Terry as our new chair and Sarah as our chair-elect. They both possess clear passion for animal agriculture, and I know their guidance will help take the Alliance’s efforts to new heights.

The Alliance also announced two new members of its Executive Committee: Dallas Hockman, vice president of industry relations, National Pork Producers Council and Derek Yancey, president, Morning Fresh Farms.

These announcements were made earlier this month at the Alliance’s spring board meeting, held in conjunction with the 2017 Stakeholders Summit. The Summit, themed “Connect to Protect Animal Agriculture: #ActionPlease2017” attracted a record-setting crowd of 276 to Kansas City. Recorded sessions are available to view at:

A Look at the Economics of Parasite Control

When cattle prices are lower and every input cost is scrutinized, it’s tempting to drop parasite control from the health program to save a little money. However, studies have shown a true economic benefit to controlling parasites.

“Parasite burdens in grazing cattle can decrease efficiency due to decreased appetites and utilization of feed that is readily available,” said Libby Fraser, DVM, Beef Technical Services at Zoetis. “When cattle are gathering their own feed, it is important for them to have healthy appetites. That good appetite can often be measured in end-of-grazing season weight gains.”

A field trial in preweaned grazing beef calves nursing their dams demonstrated a net value advantage for DECTOMAX® Injectable Solution when compared to LongRange® and a set of control animals that were not treated for parasites.1 Both treated groups received the recommended label dosage of 1 mL per 110 lbs. of body weight at turnout time in June. The DECTOMAX group received a second dose in August at the time calves were processed for preconditioning vaccinations. The LongRange group only received the single dose at the beginning of the grazing season as per its label.

While the calves treated for parasites showed a significant (P-value < .03) advantage in gain over the control group, there was no difference in gain between DECTOMAX and LongRange. When the labor costs, the costs of the products and the pounds of gain were all analyzed, the DECTOMAX group had a net value advantage over the control group of $65.55, while LongRange had a $62.50 advantage.1 Controlling parasites had a true economic benefit in this field trial.

Benjamin Ranch near Silma, Colorado, had a similar experience with the products in grazing yearling stocker cattle. Lee Benjamin and his family operates a commercial cow/calf herd of about 250 Angus cows bred to Charolais bulls, as well as grazing yearlings.

Benjamin wanted to see how DECTOMAX Injectable and LongRange would perform in his grazing yearlings. At the end of a 96-day grazing season, during which he conducted a small side-by-side trial, Benjamin was pleased with the results he had in the yearlings receiving DECTOMAX.

“Overall, I was really pleased with the health and performance of the cattle receiving DECTOMAX, and it cost less to administer,” said Benjamin. “When you couple those two together, it makes more sense to me.”

“My biggest disappointment for 2016 was that I gave all of my yearlings LongRange except the 18 head that received DECTOMAX,” Benjamin said. “I feel like I used the wrong product on 175 head of yearlings.”

When developing a parasite control program, work closely with your veterinarian or visit with your Zoetis representative about options available.

Deere Announces Second-Quarter Earnings of $802 Million

Net income attributable to Deere & Company was $802.4 million, or $2.49 per share, for the second quarter ended April 30, 2017, compared with $495.4 million, or $1.56 per share, for the period ended May 1, 2016.

For the first six months of the year, net income attributable to Deere & Company was $996.2 million, or $3.10 per share, compared with $749.8 million, or $2.36 per share, last year.

Worldwide net sales and revenues increased 5 percent, to $8.287 billion, for the second quarter and increased 4 percent, to $13.912 billion, for six months. Net sales of the equipment operations were $7.260 billion for the quarter and $11.958 billion for the first six months, compared with $7.107 billion and $11.876 billion for the same periods last year.

"John Deere reported strong results in the second quarter as market conditions showed signs of further stabilization," said Samuel R. Allen, chairman and chief executive officer. "We are seeing modestly higher overall demand for our products, with farm machinery sales in South America experiencing a strong recovery. Deere's performance also reflects the sound execution of our operating plans, the strength of a broad product portfolio, and the impact of our actions to develop a more agile cost structure. As a result, we have raised our forecast and are now calling for significantly higher earnings for the full year."

Friday May 19 Ag News


Nebraska Farm Bureau has identified 10 key regulations the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should modify or repeal. The list was compiled and shared with the agency as part of a public comment request from the EPA seeking feedback on where regulatory changes are needed.

“For the past eight years, our nation’s food producers have endured a near constant onslaught of new regulations and attempts to use the federal regulatory process to further the objectives of both environmental and animal rights extremists. The leaders in the new administration, however, continue to demonstrate they want feedback from those who must comply with the regulations. It’s refreshing to work with an administration that follows the direction of Congress and is committed to common sense solutions that don’t needlessly increase costs and red tape for our members,” said Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau president.

The list of 10 regulations Nebraska Farm Bureau recommended for modification or repeal include:

1.    EPA’s Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) Rule. The measure grants the EPA broad sweeping authorities to regulate waterways and land management practices on private property. Farm Bureau recommended the agency repeal the existing rule and restart the process in a separate rulemaking to ensure it adheres to the EPA’s authority granted under the Clean Water Act and Supreme Court rulings.

2.    EPA’s Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasures (SPCC) Rule. The rule originally created regulations to prevent spills at oil refineries, but the EPA modified the measure to apply new regulations to prevent spills for on-farm fuel storage. The measure brought with it significant costs in engineering design and enhanced requirements for fuel storage, despite there being no history of spill issues on farms. Farm Bureau recommended SPCC regulations for farms be repealed.

3.    CERCLA/EPCRA Regulations – The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) was originally aimed at helping cleanup sites contaminated with hazardous waste and assign liability for cleanup, while the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) was designed to help communities plan for chemical emergencies. Due to a recent court ruling, farmers will be required in 2017 to calculate and report emissions from the storage of livestock manure to be used as fertilizer on farm fields under CERCLA/EPCRA rules. Farm Bureau recommended EPA take regulatory action to clarify manure for use as fertilizer is not a “hazardous waste” subject to CERCLA/EPCRA regulations.

4.    Worker Protection Standards (WPS) Rule. EPA regulations currently allow individuals with a designated status to gain access to a farmer’s proprietary records related to pesticide use. The rules provide no restrictions on the sharing of the information, nor does it provide protection for farmers from fraudulent claims about pesticide use. The EPA adopted the measure despite any demonstration of how the rule improves work safety, yet it exposes farmers to additional paperwork and legal liability. Farm Bureau recommended the EPA repeal this and related provisions of the WPS.

5.    Clean Water Act “Normal Farming Practices.” Congress established that normal farming practices are exempt from the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps 404 “dredge and fill” permit requirements. The EPA and the Corps have continually narrowed the definition of farming practices exempt from permit requirements. As a result, plowing of farm fields without permits have led to enforcement actions against farmers. Farm Bureau recommended the EPA the and the Corps undertake rulemaking to re-establish the broader exemptions for normal farming practices.

6.    Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs). Originally TMDLs were designed to limit pollutant loads into waterways, however, the EPA has used informal interpretations of the Clean Water Act to blur the line of authority between federal and state governments, robbing states of the ability to establish plans to meet state water quality standards. The federal overreach unlawfully puts the EPA in a positon to regulate farming practices. Farm Bureau recommended the EPA revise its TMDLs regulations to clarify that state’s, not the EPA, have the ability to manage water quality within their borders.

7.    Prior Converted Cropland. In 1993, the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers adopted a regulation that any wetland converted to farmland before 1985 would not be designated as “Waters of the U.S.” subject to federal EPA/Corps regulations moving forward. In 2005, the Army Corps changed the rule stating that wetlands previously converted to farmlands could be regulated if the ground was put into a non-agriculture use. Despite a court ruling finding the Corps rule change was illegal, the Corps continues to re-regulate prior converted cropland. Farm Bureau recommended the EPA adopt regulation to recognize the original 1993 protection of converted cropland from Clean Water Act regulations.

8.    Army Corps of Engineers Wetland Delineation. The designation of wetlands on farm ground brings significant regulatory requirements and restrictions for land use. The Army Corps of Engineers was directed by Congress in 1993 to develop, with public input, a final manual on wetland designations, yet the agency has failed to do so allowing them significant latitude in wetland designations. Farm Bureau recommended the EPA not use the Corps wetland designations for regulatory purposes until the Corps finalizes a wetland designation manual through the rigors and transparency of the public notice and comment process.

9.    Revisions to State Administered EPA Permits. States, like Nebraska, often take on the responsibility of issuing federal permits on the EPA’s behalf. Because states often have limited staff, they can and do establish a process to administratively continue existing permits versus reissuing new permits upon expiration. This saves the state and the permit holder time and money. The EPA is now proposing to give itself the power to object to this process, eliminating these benefits. Farm Bureau recommended the EPA withdraw its proposal to intervene in states’ ability to administratively continue permits.

10.  National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for Course Particulate Matter. These regulations deal with emissions into the air known as course particulate matter. The current definition of course particulate matter is overly broad and doesn’t account for naturally occurring sources of particulate matter such as dust on farms. Farm Bureau recommended EPA reexamine these regulations to ensure agriculture operations aren’t pulled in under NAAQS regulations based on naturally occurring emissions like dust on farms.

“We appreciate the administration’s willingness to examine these regulations. Farmers and ranchers are true environmental stewards and are committed to taking care of land and water resources that provide for them and for future generations. There is a time and place for environmental regulations, but they must be based on common sense and not founded in expanding regulatory power for a federal agency which was the basis of many of the regulations introduced under the previous administration,” said Nelson.

Corn Survival in Ponded or Flooded Fields 

Roger Elmore - NE Extension Cropping Systems Agronomist

Heavy rains of 2 to more than 6 inches in south central Nebraska May 15-19 have led to ponding or flooding in many fields. Survival of young corn plants under these conditions depends on several factors.

Smaller seedlings are more susceptible than larger seedlings. The effect of standing water on germinating seeds is not well known. Some hybrids will probably respond better than others, yet differentiating among poor and good hybrids is not possible due to limited data.

A germinating seed is a living organism and as such requires oxygen to survive. In flooded soil conditions, the oxygen supply will become depleted within approximately 48 hours. Cool air temperatures help to increase the possibility of survival. Yet, we would not expect survival of germinating seeds to be greater than that of young plants; they should not be expected to survive more than four days.

Additional points on heavy rains, flooding, and crusting (from CropWatch, May 23, 2011).
-    The longer an area remains ponded, the higher the risk of plant death.
-    Completely submerged corn is at higher risk than corn that is partially submerged. Plants that are only partially submerged may continue to photosynthesize, albeit at limited rates.
-    Corn will survive longer when temperatures are relatively cool — mid-60s or cooler — than when it's warm — mid-70s or warmer. Cooler temperatures forecast for this week will encourage survival.
-    Even if surface water subsides quickly, the likelihood of dense surface crusts forming as the soil dries increases the risk of emergence failure for recently planted crops.
-    Extended periods of saturated soils after the surface water subsides will take their toll on the overall vigor of the crop.
-    Associated with the direct stress of saturated soils on a corn crop, flooding and ponding can cause significant losses of soil nitrogen due to denitrification and leaching of nitrate N. (See earlier CW article.)
-    In addition, diseases and other problems can develop due to silt in the whorls.

Groundwater Levels Decline 0.53 Feet on the Average in Upper Big Blue NRD

During April-May 2017, the Upper Big Blue NRD measured 528 observation wells throughout the District and then averaged the data of all these wells.  Overall, the spring 2017 average measurement for the groundwater level change shows a decline of 0.53 feet from last spring.  The findings show that the spring 2017 average groundwater level is 3.02 feet above the “Allocation Trigger.”  As a result, there will be no allocation restrictions for the 2018 irrigation season.

All groundwater irrigators are required to annually report their water use.  This is how the NRD records historic use.  Irrigator’s records are very important for making wise management decisions.  Even though the reported 2016 withdrawals were above the three-year average, they were still well below the 2012 growing season usage.  That is good news for landowners, operators, and District staff as the 2016 growing season was certainly one for the record books.  Heavy spring rains (avg. 10.21” in April and May) and above average temperatures in June (eight degrees warmer than June 2015) made for a non-typical growing season in the Upper Big Blue NRD.  As the 2016 growing season and harvest went by, the NRD had some producers reporting that they were using as much water in 2016 as they did in 2012.  Hence, the amount of water pumped during the 2016 growing season has a direct impact on the groundwater level measurements collected during spring 2017. 

The District goal is to hold the average groundwater level at, or above the 1978 level.  In 2005, the District average groundwater level reached the “Reporting Trigger” initiating groundwater users to report annual groundwater use to the District and to certify their irrigated acres.  If the District average level falls below the 1978 level (“Allocation Trigger”), groundwater allocation will begin.

Observation wells are measured in the spring of each year, allowing the water table to rebound from the previous irrigation season.  The observation wells measured are uniformly distributed and represented geographically throughout the District to provide an accurate profile of the District average.  Each well measured is assigned an area of the District based on distances to other measured wells.  This method of averaging is called the Thiessen polygon method, and gives the average groundwater level change calculation a weighted average.  For more information, please visit or call (402) 362-6601.  

Nebraska researchers join national team studying psychology of water use

            Six University of Nebraska researchers will join colleagues at Penn State University, Arizona State University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (USDA/ARS) to develop a model for engaging communities and stakeholders to ensure adequate supplies of good-quality water both for and from agriculture.

            The USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture has awarded $2.2 million for the first year of a planned four-year, $5 million project to 18 researchers from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Penn State University, Arizona State University and USDA/ARS.

            “The project’s main goal is to promote sustainable water management through the use of a proven, flexible, and transferable model of engagement of farmers and other stakeholders,” said Chittaranjan Ray, director of the Nebraska Water Center, within the University of Nebraska’s Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute.

            Case study locations in Nebraska, Arizona and Pennsylvania represent different types of water issues and various institutional settings.

            “Development of the stakeholder engagement model will involve testing how what we know, how we behave, and how our institutional partnerships, collective norms and other factors affect the way we address increasingly complex water issues faced by farmers and water resource managers at the local level,” said School of Natural Resources environmental scientist Mark Burbach, who is part of the study.

            Joining Burbach and Ray from the the university are agricultural economists Lilyan Fulginiti, and Richard Perrin, Department of Agricultural Economics; crops-economic risk management extension educator Jessica Grosskopf, Panhandle Research and Extension Center, Scottsbluff; and Daran Rudnick, irrigation management specialist, Department of Biological Systems Engineering.

            The full research group includes nine researchers from Penn State University, including the project’s leader, rural sociologist Kathryn Brasier; two from Arizona State University and one from USDA/ARS.

            “Part of the viability of this project comes from the depth and diversity of the cooperating researchers from three separate regions of the country,” Ray said.

            The project will develop a model for stakeholder engagement that transforms the way scientists, extension educators, government officials and others combine their knowledge, communication and engagement skills to effectively reach out to water users who have their own knowledge base, perceptions and societal influences on how and why they use water in their agricultural operations.           

“The project will help us better understand how farmers and other water users get information and made decisions about water usage in agriculture” Burbach said.

            Researchers will conduct the project in parts of Nebraska, Arizona and Pennsylvania and will also consult with partners in Israel and Australia to learn about their engagement and assessment work. The collected data will be used to help create a transferable engagement model that can be used internationally.

April Milk Production in the United States up 2.0 Percent

Milk production in the United States during April totaled 18.3 billion pounds, up 2.0 percent from April 2016.  Production per cow in the United States averaged 1,949 pounds for April, 24 pounds above April 2016.  The number of milk cows on farms in the United States was 9.39 million head,
69,000 head more than April 2016, and 8,000 head more than March 2017.

Milk production in Iowa during April 2017 totaled 432 million pounds, up 2 percent from the previous April according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Milk Production report. The average number of milk cows during April, at 217,000 head, was 1,000 more than last month and 5,000 more than last year. Monthly production per cow averaged 1,990 pounds, the same as last April.

Iowa’s Wine Industry Continues to Grow

 May is Iowa Wine Month, celebrating an industry that continues to grow within the state.

Iowa is home to 103 wineries and nearly 300 vineyards, up substantially from just 13 wineries and 15 growers in 1999. The industry makes a $420 million economic impact on the state, according to the most recent impact study conducted in 2012. Additionally, wine-related tourism in Iowa had an economic impact of $41 million, drawing nearly 360,000 visitors to the state.

“Iowa’s wineries are drawing people to their tasting rooms, showcasing locally grown and produced wines,” said Jennie Savits, enology specialist with the Midwest Grape and Wine Industry Institute. “Many of these wineries are in rural areas and they also provide event space for that community, whether it’s for a music event, wedding or other gathering. They are helping enhance the communities where they are located.”

The Midwest Grape and Wine Industry Institute at Iowa State University works to help the wine-making industry in the state continue to grow.

“We provide resources on best practices for growing grapes and making wine, this includes topics such as winery sanitation and proper processing techniques,” Savits said. “We also help producers with their stylistic choices. Wine in Iowa is unique, due to the cold hardy grapes grown here. You are going to taste something different than from the traditional wine regions.”

The climate in Iowa is much different than what is found in traditional wine-making areas of the world, but the development of cold-tolerant varieties has allowed grapes to be grown in previously unsuitable areas.

“Part of our research is trying to help producers figure out what types of grapes to grow, and the processing techniques to employ to produce their desired style of wine,” Savits said. “The chemistry of grapes grown in Iowa is different than what is grown in California or Europe so we are working to discover what type of characteristics the grapes possess.”

Despite the different climate, two parts of the state have been designated American Viticulture Areas, the southwest corner of Iowa and the northeastern part of the state near the Mississippi River. The designation means the soil and geography of that area is different enough that it will positively affect growing.

For those wishing to learn more about sensory evaluation of wine, the Midwest Grape and Wine Industry Institute will host its Intensive Tasting Proficiency Training in July. The workshop will teach a variety of skills in wine evaluation to become proficient in tasting wines critically.

For a map of all Iowa wineries and more information about the Iowa wine industry visit


The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) this week updated the export requirements for U.S. pork access to Barbados. The change makes fresh/frozen and cooked pork and pork products officially eligible for export to the island nation.

Barbados has accepted the use of the U.S. pork industry’s Pork Quality Assurance Plus (PQA Plus) program sourcing as a means to meet trichinae mitigation requirements, which allows for the shipment of fresh chilled pork products without testing, freezing or cooking. Previously, wild boar was the only pork product that could be exported to Barbados.

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, the United States has been shipping very minimal volumes of frozen pork to Barbados over the past few years. The country’s 186 percent duty on pork products – except ribs and some cuts for hotels – continues to be the biggest hurdle to the market.

Trump Plan to Balance Budget Includes Farm Subsidy Cuts

A budget plan President Donald Trump is expected to submit to Congress Tuesday includes steep cuts to farm subsidies, according to Bloomberg News. The 2018 budget proposal, which would begin the process of balancing the budget within ten years, would make cuts to mandatory spending on an array of social programs while sparing the Social Security and Medicare entitlement programs. The budget proposal will also include Trump's proposal to overhaul the tax code.

With an effort of eliminating the federal deficit, many suspect tax cuts will be offset by the elimination of credits and deductions, a move opposed by agriculture groups who say farmers need both. Bloomberg News says the possibility of proposed cuts to target price supports and crop insurance led House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway to seek a meeting with White House director Mick Mulvaney.

However, Senate leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky signaled that lawmakers would seek substantial changes to the proposal, calling it a “process of negotiation.” McConnell added: “We haven’t paid a whole lot of attention to any president’s budget since I’ve been here.”

Senate Ag to Hold Farm Economy Hearing

The Senate Agriculture Committee will hold a hearing on the farm economy conditions Thursday, May 25th. Announced by leadership of the committee, Senators Pat Roberts, and Debbie Stabenow, the hearing is titled "Examining the Farm Economy: Perspectives on Rural America."

The hearing is recognized as the start of the Senate Agriculture Committee's farm bill hearings. It follows two "boots on the ground" field hearings in Kansas and Michigan, according to Chairman Roberts. Ranking Democrat Stabenow says the committee “must understand the current state of the farm and rural economy because our farmers and families are already doing more with less."

Witnesses for the hearing have not been determined but will be announced before the hearing.

REMINDER: Deadline Approaching for BQA Award Nominations

Nominations for the 2018 national Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) Awards are due by June 2, 2017. The beef checkoff-funded program, now in its 12th year, recognizes five winners in the areas of beef and dairy beef production, marketing and education.

Categories for the award are:

BQA Cow-Calf, BQA Feedyard and BQA Dairy awards recognize producers who best demonstrate the implementation of BQA principles as part of day-to-day activities on their respective operations;

The BQA Educator Award is open to individuals or companies that provide high quality and innovative training to individuals who care for and handle cattle throughout the industry chain; and

The BQA Marketer Award is open to livestock markets, cattle buyers and supply-chain programs that promote BQA to their customers and offer them opportunities to get certified.

Nominations for the national BQA Awards are submitted by organizations, groups, or individuals on behalf of a U.S. beef producer, dairy beef producer, marketer or educator. Individuals and families may not nominate themselves, although nominees are expected to be involved in the preparation of the application. While applications from past nominees are encouraged, previous winners may not reapply.

Winners of the BQA Awards are selected by a committee of BQA-certified representatives from universities, state beef councils, sponsors and affiliated groups.

For the application and nomination requirements, go to Applications should be submitted to Grace Webb at

NGFA reiterates need for STB to develop streamlined rate-challenge procedure for ag commodities

The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) this week submitted a statement to the Surface Transportation Board (STB) again calling on the agency to develop a new, streamlined and cost-effective method for grain and other agricultural shippers to challenge unreasonable rail rates.

The NGFA submitted the statement in response to an STB proposal to improve and expedite its existing freight rail rate-review process.

"The NGFA consistently has supported the STB's efforts to improve and streamline the procedures used to evaluate formal rail rate complaints," the statement said, referencing the NGFA's extensive 2014 proposal of a new, innovative, objective and inexpensive rate-challenge methodology. "The NGFA again urges the STB to redouble its efforts to develop and implement meaningful changes to its current rate-reasonableness standards and methodologies that have rendered futile the pursue of rate-reasonableness challenges by grain and other agricultural shippers."

No rate challenge has been filed by an agricultural shipper in nearly 40 years.

In its statement, the NGFA commended the STB for several of its proposed procedures designed to expedite rate cases, which the association said also could be applied to a new process for challenging unreasonable grain rail rates if the STB ultimately creates one. STB-proposed concepts supported by the NGFA would involve:

    Limiting the length of final briefs in rate cases to no more than 30 pages. The NGFA did recommend that the STB evaluate the need for or length of closing briefs on a case-by-case basis to determine whether to dispense with the filing of final briefs or even shorter page limits depending upon the case and issues involved.

    Appointing a STB staff liaison to be the point-of-contact to provide technical advice to the parties involved in a specific rate case in an effort to reduce the number of issues brought to the full agency for resolution.

    Staggering the filing of public and highly confidential versions of filings three days apart, as well as adoption of standardized markings to designate confidential, highly confidential and sensitive security information.

Thursday May 18 Ag News

Ricketts Announces Second International Trade Mission to Japan

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts announced plans to lead a second international trade mission to Japan, nearly two years after his inaugural visit to Nebraska’s number one direct foreign investor and third largest trading partner.  Governor Ricketts shared details on the trade mission at Lincoln’s Kawasaki plant while celebrating the opening of the company’s new aerospace division.  The Governor met with Kawasaki leaders in Japan during his 2015 trade mission to thank the company for their substantial investments in Nebraska, which have spanned more than 40 years.

“Japanese business facilities employed 4,410 people in Nebraska in 2016,” said Governor Ricketts.  “Meeting personally with business leaders during trade missions gives us a chance to promote our state as a destination for foreign direct investment and create opportunities to grow quality jobs.”

The Governor’s international trade mission is scheduled for September 10-16, 2017.  Throughout the trip, Governor Ricketts and the Nebraska delegation will have an opportunity to strengthen relationships with current and potential investors, as well as host events to promote Nebraska products.

Gov. Ricketts will lead the mission in conjunction with the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED) and Department of Agriculture (NDA).  DED Director Courtney Dentlinger and NDA Director Greg Ibach will join the Governor during the Japan trade mission, along with members of the Nebraska delegation.  The Governor encourages Nebraska agriculture and business representatives to consider joining the trade mission for an opportunity to meet with government officials, community leaders, and industry representatives.

“Japan continues to be one of Nebraska’s most important trading partners.  In 2015, total agricultural and manufactured exports from Nebraska to Japan equaled an estimated $1.13 billion.  The trade mission is an unparalleled opportunity for our own business leaders to connect with companies who have an interest in buying our products and services,” said DED Director Courtney Dentlinger.  “Traveling to Japan with a diverse team of company, community, and academic representatives also gives us an opportunity to represent the state in the best possible light to potential investors.”

NDA Director Greg Ibach stressed the importance of increasing Nebraska’s ag exports and commodities in Japan.  Over the past several years, this highly-urbanized country, with a population of nearly 127 million, has experienced a growing demand for quality agricultural products.

“Nebraska agricultural products have a strong demand in the Japanese marketplace and through trade missions like this one, we continue to build new and strengthen established relationships,” said NDA Director Greg Ibach.  “Since Nebraska’s last trade mission to Japan in 2015, Nebraska’s beef exports have grown 31 percent and pork exports 32 percent into the country.  In 2016, Nebraska exported $316 million worth of beef and $191 million worth of pork products to Japan – making Japan the largest Nebraska export market for both beef and pork.”

Ibach noted that Japan is also the second largest export market for U.S. corn and wheat and the third largest export market for U.S. soybeans.

DED, NDA, and the Nebraska Center Japan in Yokohama developed the Nebraska Delegation’s itinerary for the upcoming trade mission, which includes visits to Tokyo, Shizuoka, and the Kansai region.

The delegation’s first stop in Tokyo includes a visit to the annual conference of the Midwest U.S.-Japan Association and the Japan-Midwest U.S. Association.  The Midwest U.S.-Japan Association is comprised of eight Midwestern states, including Nebraska, and is designed to bolster international relationships with companies with a particular interest in growing in the central U.S. 

In 2016, Gov. Ricketts addressed delegates during the 48th annual conference in St. Louis.  During the event, the Governor highlighted Nebraska’s long-standing relationship with Japan and announced that Omaha will host the 2018 joint conference for the association’s 50th anniversary.

In addition to the conference, trade mission delegates will participate in promotional events and business meetings that will occur in Tokyo over four days.

Governor Ricketts and the trade delegation will also visit Shizuoka, which is a sister city of Omaha, Nebraska where they will promote investment opportunities in Nebraska.

The trade delegation will spend the last two days of the trade mission in the Kansai region, where they will hold a variety of events and meetings in Osaka, Kobe, and Kyoto.  Kawasaki and several other Japanese companies with investments in Nebraska are based in the Kansai region.

Because space is limited, company officials interested in participating in the trade mission should fill out this application form: 

Rural Mainstreet Climbs to Highest Level in Almost Two Years - One-Fourth Bank CEOs Support June Fed Rate Hike

After dropping below growth neutral for 20 straight months, the Creighton University Rural Mainstreet Index moved above the 50.0 threshold for May according to the latest monthly survey of bank CEOs in rural areas of a 10-state region dependent on agriculture and/or energy.  

Overall: The index, which ranges between 0 and 100, climbed to 50.1 from 44.6 in April. May’s reading was the highest recorded reading since July 2015. The last time the overall index was at or above growth neutral was August 2015.

“Stabilizing and slightly improving farm commodity prices helped push the overall index into a weak but above growth neutral for May,” said Ernie Goss, Jack A. MacAllister Chair in Regional Economics at Creighton University's Heider College of Business. “The U.S. Department of Agriculture is projecting that net U.S. farm income will sink by 8.7 percent to $62.3 billion for 2017, the fourth consecutive year of declines after reaching a record high in 2013. This downward trend has weighted on our survey results for almost two years.”

This month, and in May 2016, bank CEOs were asked to name the biggest economic challenge to their banking operations over the next five years. The largest share of bankers, or 28.9 percent, named rising regulatory costs as the top challenge or risk. This is almost the same percent as 2016. More than one in five, or 26.7 percent, detailed government subsidized competition from Farm Credit and credit unions as the greatest challenge, or almost double the 13.6 percent reported in May 2016.

More than one of 10 bankers, or 11.1 percent, reported that farm foreclosures represented the greatest risk to banking operations for the next five years, or more than double the 4.5 percent of bankers who identified such foreclosures as the greatest risk last year at this time.

In terms of risk to the rural economy, almost nine of 10 bankers, or 86.7 percent, think low agriculture commodity prices are the greatest threat to the rural economy. This is down slightly from the 90.9 percent who detailed the same risk in May 2016.

Nebraska: The Nebraska RMI for May jumped to 50.5 from 43.9 in April. The state’s farmland-price index rose to 36.7 from April’s 30.4. Nebraska’s new-hiring index expanded to 66.4 from 59.3 in April.

Iowa: The May RMI for Iowa climbed to 49.4 from 39.1 in April. Iowa’s farmland-price index for May slipped to 34.9 from 35.8 in May. Iowa’s new-hiring index for May climbed to 60.8 from April’s 51.5.

Farming and ranching: The farmland and ranchland-price index for May rose to 36.4 from April’s frail 30.7. This is the 42nd straight month the index has languished below growth neutral 50.0, but is the highest recorded reading since September 2016.

The May farm equipment-sales index increased to 26.8 from 21.5 in April. This marks the 45th consecutive month the reading has fallen below growth neutral 50.0, and is the highest recorded reading since January 2015.

Almost one in four bank CEOs, or 24.5 percent, said the Federal Reserve should increase short-term interest rates at its next meeting on June 14. On the other hand, approximately 22.2 percent want the Fed to keep rates at current levels.

Confidence: The confidence index, which reflects expectations for the economy six months out, expanded to a weak 46.6 from 45.6 in April indicating a continued pessimistic outlook among bankers. “Until agricultural commodity prices begin to trend higher, I expect banker’s economic outlook to remain weak,” said Goss.

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

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


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               It takes rain to grow grass.  While some areas still are quite dry, most others recently have greatly increased their soil moisture.

               When moisture is plentiful and temperatures get warm, grass grows rapidly.  There are several ways you can reap maximum benefits from extra grass.  But you must be able to control when and where your animals graze to take advantage of this grass.  And that means fencing and management.

               One option for extra grass is to cut hay for winter feed.  If you select this option, choose the area you plan to cut for hay now so you can prevent animals from grazing there, both before and after cutting hay.  Build or repair fences if needed.

               Another option is stockpiling extra growth in a pasture for grazing next winter.  This can save on winter hay and is inexpensive to try.  It also is a good way to strengthen plants following drought or a hard winter.  On summer rangeland, you need to start accumulating growth no later than early July by fencing cows out of the planned winter pasture.  If, instead, your winter pasture will be from cool-season grasses like bromegrass, wheatgrass, or fescue, be ready to fence off and save the winter grazing portion by late July or early August.  And don't overgraze that area this summer or late season growth will be slow.

               Finally, simply start or improve a planned rotational grazing program this summer.  Your pasture plants will recover well during their rest periods, building deep and healthy root systems that will maintain production when it finally does turn dry.

               Don't just be satisfied when abundant rain gives you extra grass.  Take advantage of this growth for long term benefits.

Synchronization Protocols for Cows

The Beef Reproductive Task Force has released its 2017 recommended synchronization protocols for beef producers.

"These recommendations are designed to optimize pregnancy rates," said Taylor Grussing, South Dakota State University Extension Cow/Calf Field Specialist.

Recommendations are based on review of current research and field-use of bovine estrous synchronization protocols.

Two sets of protocols are released. One for cows and one for heifers. "This is due to the physiological differences in the timing of key events, such as ovulation," Grussing explained.

The protocols are outlined for step-by-step instructions of how to carry out each synchronization protocol, detailing the number of days required for each protocol, products needed and timing for each step. The 2017 protocols can be viewed at the UNL website at

Beef producers can choose from between 3 types of synchronization protocols for cows:

1. Heat Detection: Select Synch, Select Synch + CIDR, PG 6-day CIDR

2. Heat Detection and Time AI: Select Synch & TAI, Select Synch + CIDR & TAI, PG 6-day CIDR & TAI

3. Fixed-Time AI: 7-day CO-Synch + CIDR, 5-day CO-Synch + CIDR

Heat Detection: Heat detection protocols work by setting cows up to show visual estrus and then to be bred by an AI technician 12 hours after the onset of standing heat.

In order for heat detection protocols to return acceptable pregnancy rates, cows need to be frequently monitored for visual signs of estrus.

Check cows at least three times per day for a half hour each time, with extra time spent detecting heat at sunrise and sunset as research shows that 56 percent of cows show heat from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Heat detection aids are also available to assist in identifying cows in heat when no one is watching.

For this reason, when using a heat detection protocols, it is important to train people to look for specific signs of estrus behavior in order to detect cows coming into estrus, during estrus and after estrus.

Heat detection & Time-AI: Heat detection and Time-AI protocols are the same as heat detection protocol steps with the exception of the shorter duration of time for heat detection.

After the three days of heat detection, any animals that have not shown signs of estrus are given an administration of GnRH (product that causes ovulation to occur within 30 hours) and fixed-time AI at that time.

Even though these cows may not be showing visual estrus, there is a possibility that fertilization can still occur.

Fixed-Time AI: Fixed-Time AI protocols are designed to breed all cows at a predetermined time as these protocols synchronize ovulation and not necessarily visual estrus.

These protocols are more labor intensive and expensive than the previously described protocol categories, as they require more trips through the chute and injections. However, there is no heat detection with fixed-time AI, so the value of labor saved not heat detecting can go towards funding these more intensive protocols.

In order for these recommended protocols to be most effective, cows should meet some minimum qualifications before beginning an estrous synchronization protocol.

Body condition score (BCS) is important for reproductive efficiency. Cows should be in a BCS of 5 at protocol initiation. Also, cows should be 50 days postpartum before starting protocols.

By waiting 50 days after calving, cows should have completed uterine involution and resumed fertile estrous cycles which will give them better chances of conceiving than if started earlier.

There are several steps to each protocol that must be carried out correctly in order to achieve the best pregnancy rates possible. Yet, we know mistakes happen and the environment cannot be controlled.

In order to assist producers in scheduling estrous synchronization protocols, the Beef Reproductive Task Force has a free Estrous Synchronization Planner available to download in Excel.

"This program allows producers to select the specific protocol they want to use, date to breed and products to use," Grussing said.

She explained that the spreadsheet back calculates date to start the protocol, when to administer injections and breeding. It even calculates when to turn in the cleanup bull. Once complete, a check list and calendar can be printed out for easy access.

This free calculator can be accessed at the Iowa State Extension website at


In the Northern Plains Region (Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota) there were 32,000 workers hired directly by farm operators on farms and ranches during the week of April 9-15, 2017, down 6 percent from the April 2016 reference week, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Workers numbered 27,000 during the week of January 8-14, 2017, down 10 percent from the January 2016 reference week.

Farm operators paid their hired workers an average wage of $14.02 per hour during the April 2017 reference week, up slightly from the April 2016 reference week. Field workers received an average of $14.81 per hour, up 71 cents. Livestock workers earned $12.47 per hour compared with $13.08 a year earlier. The field and livestock worker combined wage rate, at $13.55, was up 5 cents from the April 2016 reference week. Hired laborers worked an average of 40.2 hours during the April 2017 reference week, compared with 42.0 hours worked during the April 2016 reference week.

Farm operators in the Northern Plains Region paid their hired workers an average wage of $14.13 per hour during the January 2017 reference week, up 1 percent from the January 2016 reference week. Field workers received an average of $14.76 per hour, up 37 cents. Livestock workers earned $12.77 per hour, down 6 cents. The field and livestock worker combined wage rate, at $13.50, was up 20 cents from the 2016 reference week. Hired laborers worked an average of 38.4 hours during the January 2017 reference week, compared with 41.4 hours worked during the January 2016 reference week.

Iowa Farm Labor Report

During the reference week of April 9-15, 2017, there were 18,000 workers hired directly by farms in the Cornbelt II Region (Iowa and Missouri). Farm operators paid their hired workers an average wage rate of $13.41 per hour during the April 2017 reference week, up $0.24 from April 2016. The number of hours worked averaged 37.2 for hired workers during the reference week, down from 37.8 hours in April 2016.

There were 15,000 workers hired directly by farms in the Cornbelt II Region (Iowa and Missouri) during the reference week of January 8-14, 2017, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Farm Labor Report. Farm operators paid their hired workers an average wage rate of $13.82 per hour, up $0.59 from January 2016. The number of hours worked averaged 35.3 for hired workers during the reference week, compared with 36.1 hours in January 2016.

U.S. Farm Labor Report

There were 673,000 workers hired directly by farm operators on the Nation's farms and ranches during the week of April 9-15, 2017, down 4 percent from the April 2016 reference week. Workers hired directly by farm operators numbered 533,000 during the week of January 8-14, 2017, down 8 percent from the January 2016 reference week.

Farm operators paid their hired workers an average wage of $13.23 per hour during the April 2017 reference week, up 4 percent from the April 2016 reference week. Field workers received an average of $12.22 per hour, an increase of 2 percent. Livestock workers earned $12.53 per hour, up 4 percent. The field and livestock worker combined wage rate, at $12.32 per hour, was up 3 percent from the 2016 reference week. Hired laborers worked an average of 40.4 hours during the April 2017 reference week, equaling the hours worked during the April 2016 reference week.

Farm operators paid their hired workers an average wage of $13.43 per hour during the January 2017 reference week, up 5 percent from the January 2016 reference week. Field workers received an average of $12.15 per hour, up 3 percent, while livestock workers earned $12.66 per hour, up 5 percent from a year earlier. The field and livestock worker combined wage rate, at $12.35 per hour, was up 4 percent from the January 2016 reference week. Hired laborers worked an average of 38.0 hours during the January 2017 reference week, compared with 38.8 hours worked during the January 2016 reference week.

For the April 2017 reference week, the largest percentage increases in the number of hired workers from the 2016 reference week occurred in the Florida, Northeast II (Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania), and Southeast (Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina) regions. The Southeast region saw the largest increase, with 36 percent more workers on the region's farms.

The largest percentage decreases in the number of hired workers from the 2016 reference week occurred in the Cornbelt I (Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio), Lake (Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin), and Southern Plains (Oklahoma and Texas) regions. Cornbelt I saw the biggest decline, with workers down 23 percent from the 2016 reference week. The largest percentage increases in average wage rates for all hired workers occurred in the Appalachian I (North Carolina and Virginia), Hawaii, and Northeast I (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont) regions.

For the January 2017 reference week, the largest percentage increases in the number of hired workers from the 2016 reference week occurred in the Appalachian II (Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia), Northeast II (Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania), and Southeast (Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina) regions. The Southeast region saw the largest increase, with 41 percent more workers on the region's farms.

The largest percentage decreases in the number of hired workers from the 2016 reference week occurred in the Lake (Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin), Mountain III (Arizona and New Mexico), Pacific (Oregon and Washington), and Southern Plains (Oklahoma and Texas) regions. Pacific saw the biggest decline, with workers down 27 percent from the 2016 reference week. The largest percentage increases in average wage rates for all hired workers occurred in the Appalachian I (North Carolina and Virginia), Mountain I (Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming), Northeast I (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont), and Southern Plains regions.

Tax Reform Central to Improving Economy, Farm Bureau Tells Congress

Farmers and ranchers need the economic benefits that will follow from tax reform, the American Farm Bureau Federation told Congress in testimony submitted to the House Ways and Means Committee today.

Weather, high debt-service, a lack of liquidity and the difficulties of passing on land from one generation to the next all make taxation an important issue for farmers and ranchers.

AFBF asked legislators to ensure that tax reform results in lower effective tax rates for small and family-owned farms and ranches as well as for corporations. The group urged lawmakers to:
-    Continue cash accounting, which matches farm income and expenses better than accrual accounting methods to help farmers pay their bills and manage their taxes;
-    Preserve interest deductibility – an important matter at a time when the Agriculture Department estimates 17.9 percent of fixed farm and ranch expenses go to interest payments;
-    Reduce capital gains taxes, which help families pass farms to the next generation;
-    Continue like-kind exchanges to defer taxes when farmers and ranchers sell assets and purchase similar property to replace them. Without like-kind exchanges, some farmers and ranchers would need to borrow to continue their farm or ranch businesses or, worse yet, delay mandatory improvements to maintain the financial viability of their farm or ranch;
-    Eliminate the estate tax, which unduly penalizes farm owners who on average earn a small fraction of the income they might enjoy if they invested their dollars elsewhere.

Secretary Perdue Statement on Administration’s Intent to Renegotiate NAFTA

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue issued the following statement today after U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer notified Congress that President Trump intends to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA):

"While NAFTA has been an overall positive for American agriculture, any trade deal can always be improved. As President Trump moves forward with renegotiating with Canada and Mexico, I am confident this will result in a better deal for our farmers, ranchers, foresters, and producers.  When the rules are fair and the playing field is level, U.S. agriculture will succeed and lead the world. It's why we recently announced the creation of an undersecretary for trade at USDA, because as world markets expand, we will be an unapologetic advocate for American agriculture. As I have often said, if our people continue to grow it, USDA will be there to sell it," said Secretary Perdue.


Last week, Secretary Perdue announced the creation of an undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs in the USDA, a recognition of the ever-increasing importance of international trade to American agriculture. The new undersecretary will work hand in hand with Commerce and the USTR and help open up even more markets to American products.

Agricultural trade is critical for the U.S. farm sector and the American economy as a whole.  U.S. agricultural and food exports account for 20 percent of the value of production, and every dollar of these exports creates another $1.27 in business activity.  Additionally, every $1 billion in U.S. agricultural exports supports approximately 8,000 American jobs across the entire American economy.  As the global marketplace becomes even more competitive every day, the United States must position itself in the best way possible to retain its standing as a world leader.

NAFTA Modernization Must Not Disrupt Pork Exports

Following today’s notification by the Trump administration to Congress that it intends to modernize the trade agreement among the United States, Canada and Mexico, the National Pork Producers Council urged the president to make sure that tariffs remain at zero for pork traded in North America.

The White House today officially notified the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means committees, which have jurisdiction over trade, that the administration will update the 23-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The notification begins a 90-day period in which Trump trade officials must consult with Congress on the objectives of the trade talks; 30 days prior to negotiations starting, the administration must make public a “detailed and comprehensive summary of the specific objectives” for a new agreement.

NPPC committed to work with the administration to preserve tariff-free market access for U.S. pork exports to Canada and Mexico, which last year were almost $799 million and nearly $1.4 billion, respectively.

“Canada and Mexico are top pork export markets. We absolutely must not have any disruptions in exports to our No. 2 (Mexico) and No. 4 (Canada) markets,” said NPPC President Ken Maschhoff, a pork producer from Carlyle, Ill.

Since NAFTA went into effect Jan. 1, 1994, U.S. trade north and south of the borders has more than tripled, growing more rapidly than U.S. trade with the rest of the world. Canada and Mexico are the two largest destinations for U.S. goods and services, accounting for more than one-third of total U.S. exports, adding $80 billion to the U.S. economy and supporting more than 3 million American jobs, according to data from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. In fact, U.S. manufacturing exports to Canada and Mexico have increased nearly 260 percent over the past 23 years, and U.S. farm exports to the countries have grown by more than 150 percent.

Under Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), which Congress approved in June 2015 and which covers trade agreements reached before July 1, 2018, the administration is required to give lawmakers 90-days’ notice prior to entering talks on a trade deal that would require changes in U.S. law needed to comply with the agreement. TPA also requires Congress to consider agreements it receives within a specified time and to vote for or against them without amendments.

“U.S. pork trade with Canada and Mexico has been very robust, and we need to maintain and even improve that trade,” Maschhoff said. “We will work with the Trump administration to do that as it reviews the existing trade deal with our North American neighbors.”

NCBA Joins Canadian, Mexican Partners in Presidential Letter: “Don’t Jeopardize Our Success Under NAFTA”

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association today joined its cattle-industry partners in Canada and Mexico in sending a joint letter to the presidents of those two nations and to President Trump, urging the three leaders to not “jeopardize the success we have all enjoyed as partners of the North American Free Trade Agreement.”

The letter to President Trump, President Justin Trudeau of Canada, and President Enrique Pena Nieto of Mexico was signed by NCBA President Craig Uden, Dan Darling, president of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, and Oswaldo Chazaro Montalvo, president of the Confederación Nacional de Organizaciones Ganaderas.

“Recent statements about the possible dissolution of NAFTA or potential renegotiation of NAFTA are deeply concerning to us because of the unnecessary risk it places on our producers,” the letter states. “While there may be general agreement among the countries to improve some parts of the NAFTA trade framework, we urge you to recognize that the terms of the agreement affecting cattle producers are strongly supported as they currently exist and should not be altered.”

 The groups also urged Presidents Trump, Trudeau, and Nieto to “reject efforts to use NAFTA as a platform to resurrect failed policies, especially the misguided mandatory country-of-origin labeling policy that was the law of the United States for over seven years.”

“M-COOL failed to deliver its proponents’ promise to increase consumer demand or consumer confidence,” the groups said. “Instead, it created massive disruptions in live cattle trade that hurt beef producers across North America and jeopardized the jobs of American workers that depend on processing those cattle.”

NCBA has worked for years to expand access to foreign markets for America’s cattle and beef producers and in a February op-ed on Uden called NAFTA “one of the greatest success stories in the long history of the U.S. beef industry.”

“Since NAFTA was implemented in 1993, exports of American-produced beef to Mexico have grown by more than 750%, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation,” Uden said. “In addition, exports now account for as much as 13% of overall U.S. beef production -- and it's more likely to be higher-quality cuts that bring in higher revenues for the hundreds of thousands of American families in the beef community.”

Dairy Industry Welcomes Swift Action by USTR Lighthizer to Launch NAFTA Modernization Efforts

The U.S. dairy industry commended Robert Lighthizer, the newly confirmed U.S. Trade Representative, for taking swift action under the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act (TPA) to begin the process for modernizing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

In a notification letter sent today to Congress, Ambassador Lighthizer outlined some of the areas of the agreement that are either outdated or missing – several of which are important to the U.S. dairy industry – and reaffirmed commitment to pursuing the trade priorities outlined by TPA, including goals related to market access and curbing the abuse of geographical indications. He also emphasized the importance of effectively implementing and aggressively enforcing the commitments made by Canada and Mexico, two of the dairy industry’s top trade partners.

The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) have repeatedly urged administration officials and legislators to focus on maintaining what has worked well, such as trade with Mexico, the top market for U.S. dairy exports. The dairy groups have also continued to call for improving market access to Canada and tackling that country’s expanding list of protectionist policies and other barriers to U.S. dairy exports.

“As an industry, we fully support the administration’s call to modernize NAFTA. Without this trade agreement and the market access it provides, the United States would stand to lose nearly $2 billion annually in dairy exports and tens of thousands of farming and manufacturing jobs in communities across the country,” said Michael Dykes, D.V.M., IDFA president and CEO. “The issues of geographical indications, intellectual property rights and ways to resolve sanitary and phytosanitary measures (SPS) are also of keen interest to the dairy industry. We look forward to working with Ambassador Lighthizer and other Trump Administration officials during the renegotiation process to provide helpful data and input.”

“We agree with Ambassador Lighthizer that the current NAFTA agreement has areas upon which we can build as the renegotiation process begins, including the market we have developed in Mexico,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “Obviously, dairy trade with Canada – where we continue to face 200%-300% tariffs and a slew of nontariff policies that distort dairy trade – is an entirely different story, and we need to address it as part of these talks. Central to any successful NAFTA negotiations will be changes to Canada’s new policies designed to harm bilateral trade and dump their structural dairy surplus on the world market.”

"With this first step, I now encourage the administration to swiftly commence modernization negotiations with our NAFTA partners and prioritize their quick conclusion," said Tom Vilsack, president and CEO of USDEC. “Mexico is our only $1 billion dairy market; finding a replacement for sales that are so critical to supporting tens of thousands of jobs across this country is no small task, so preserving it is essential. At the same time, numerous opportunities exist to shore up open trade and further deepen it with our NAFTA partners, such as addressing Canada’s tariff and nontariff constraints on dairy trade, instituting stronger SPS commitments and ensuring that geographical indications are not used to restrict the use of common names.”

NCGA Statement on NAFTA Modernization

Today U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer formally notified Congress of the Trump Administration’s plans to modernize the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico.

National Corn Growers Association President Wesley Spurlock urged Lighthizer to remember the interests of U.S. agriculture as they begin modernizing the agreement.

“The Trump Administration understands that NAFTA has been an unequivocal success story for American agriculture,” said Spurlock.

“Exports are one pillar of a strong farm economy, accounting for 31 percent of farmer income. Nowhere is the importance of trade stronger than right here in North America. Since NAFTA was implemented, U.S. agricultural exports to Canada and Mexico have tripled and quintupled, respectively. We export billions of dollars of corn and corn products to these countries each year.

“The National Corn Growers Association will work closely with the Trump Administration and Congress to build on the successful trade relationship we have with Canada and Mexico. We want to ensure any updates to NAFTA maintain or increase opportunities for America’s farmers and ranchers.”

Today’s announcement means trilateral negotiations could begin as early as August 16. USTR will publish goals for the negotiations at least 30 days prior to negotiations.

U.S. Grains Council Statement On NAFTA Renegotiation Process

On Thursday, the Trump Administration formally informed Congress it intends to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Below is a statement from Chip Councell, chairman of the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) and a farmer on the Eastern Shore of Maryland:

“NAFTA is the most critical free trade agreement on the books for U.S. grain farmers, providing open access to countries that are among our top corn, sorghum and barley export markets as well as significant and growing markets for distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) and meat products made using grain. This agreement has served our industry extremely well over the past 20 years, allowing us and our customers there to integrate operations and build deep relationships that both sides value.

“Our top priority in the modernization of NAFTA is to maintain this market access and keep in place what we and our customers have built. For instance, all corn products currently go into Mexico and Canada duty-free, with sales last marketing year of $2.7 billion in commodity corn alone. That demand is an essential part of ensuring farmers can continue to farm in this economy.

“We look forward to working with the Trump Administration, Congress and our partners in Canada and Mexico as this process progresses to ensure our neighbors remain our top customers.”

American Farm Bureau Looks Forward to NAFTA Renegotiation

AFBF President Zippy Duvall:

“With the delivery of the required formal notice to Congress, the Trump administration has officially taken the first step toward renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement. The American Farm Bureau looks forward to working with the administration, Congress, other agricultural groups, and officials in Canada and Mexico to protect these important markets while also addressing issues that have limited the trade potential of U.S. farmers and ranchers. We remain committed to the goal of a positive, market-expanding and modernized NAFTA. Achieving this objective starts with ensuring the negotiations protect U.S. agriculture’s benefits under the current trade agreement.

“The 2015 Trade Priorities and Accountability Act gives farmers, ranchers, the agriculture community and other stakeholders the opportunity to provide input and share our significant expertise with U.S. negotiators. Our ability to be part of these negotiations is important to our members and will help ensure the outcome improves trade relationships with our neighboring countries. Mexico and Canada are two of our largest export markets for the commodities and products raised on U.S. farms and ranches. America’s farmers and ranchers value them as customers and trade partners. We will work to ensure the renegotiation strengthens that critical relationship.”

NGFA and leaders of U.S. Food & Ag Dialogue for Trade

The National Grain and Feed Association is a leader on the Implementing Team of the U.S. Food and Agriculture Dialogue for Trade (Dialogue), which today commended U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer for officially notifying Congress given the Trump administration's previously announced intent to negotiate a "modernization" of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Mexico and Canada.

"Our North American trading partners represent U.S. food and agriculture's largest export market, with total U.S. agricultural exports to Canada and Mexico more than quadrupling since NAFTA came into effect," said Dialogue Implementing Team Co-Chairs Gary Martin, president and chief executive officer of the North American Export Grain Association, and William Westman, senior vice president for international affairs with the North American Meat Institute. "As modernization of NAFTA is negotiated, it is critical to preserve the considerable gains that have been achieved for U.S. food and agriculture. We look forward to consulting with the administration, and interacting with Congress and other entities to incorporate the views of the U.S. Food & Ag Dialogue for Trade as the U.S. negotiating position is developed."

More than 200 associations, companies and individuals nationwide currently participate in the Food and Agriculture Dialogue for Trade.

Wheat Industry Looks for New NAFTA Opportunities, But Priority Remains Do No Harm

U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) and the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) urge caution today as the Trump Administration officially submitted to Congress its notice of intent to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The U.S. wheat industry welcomes the opportunity for improving the framework for cross border wheat trade between the United States, Canada and Mexico, but would strongly oppose changes that might limit the current NAFTA’s benefits for wheat farmers and their customers, particularly in the Mexican food processing industries.

Since NAFTA entered into force on Jan. 1, 1994, trade has boomed between the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Specifically, NAFTA delivered a winning combination of free trade on a level playing field and a growing Mexican middle class with the income to demand better products, including food using imported wheat. Following years of market development work and duty free access, Mexico dramatically increased its U.S. wheat imports after NAFTA and imports in the current marketing year are up 40 percent, making Mexico our largest buyer.

“I cannot emphasize enough how important our Mexican customers are to U.S. wheat farmers,” said Jason Scott, a wheat farmer from Easton, Md., and USW Chairman. “There is nothing wrong with modernizing a 23-year-old agreement, but that must be done in a way that benefits the food and agriculture sectors in both countries.”

Negotiating a new NAFTA certainly can make improvements. A good place to start are the sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) rules that the three countries already agreed to as part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. 

“If the administration intends on renegotiating NAFTA, it must guarantee growers that new terms won’t reverse the significant benefits for U.S. wheat farmers, like duty free access,” said David Schemm, a wheat farmer from Sharon Springs, Kan., and NAWG President. “Despite the risks, there’s an opportunity here to get better trade rules in place that will set the gold standard for trade agreements going forward, without hurting wheat farmers and their importing customers.”

NMPF Facilitates NCIMS Passage of Proposals to Enhance Safety of Dairy Foods

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) helped secure several positive developments for dairy farmers and their cooperatives at the National Conference on Interstate Milk Shipments (NCIMS) this week, as multiple NMPF-led initiatives won approval from the NCIMS delegates during their biennial meeting here.

The NCIMS is a national cooperative regulatory program that includes state milk regulatory agencies, dairy companies and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which work together to ensure the safety and integrity of Grade “A” dairy products. The six-day NCIMS meeting concluded Wednesday, after delegates approved approximately 40 of the 100 proposals offered to revise the conference’s model milk sanitation ordinance and supporting documents.

“NMPF appreciates the opportunity to advocate on behalf of our members and is proud of our relationship with the NCIMS Conference and its participants,” said NMPF Vice President for Dairy Foods Beth Briczinski. “The collaborative spirit of this year’s conference again demonstrated the NCIMS motto of ‘Assuring the Safest Possible Milk Supply for All the People.’”

NMPF staff and members significantly contributed to the drafting of two proposals that were ultimately passed by the state voting delegates to finalize the alignment of the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance (PMO) – which has regulated the production and processing of Grade “A” milk products since 1924 – with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Final Rule for Preventive Controls for Human Foods. NMPF has been working since FSMA was approved in 2011 to bring both regulatory schemes into one harmonized program, as the FSMA law has led to the most significant change to U.S. food safety regulations in 70 years.

NMPF submitted several proposals that were passed by conference delegates to provide clarity for processors, dairy cooperatives and their farmer-members, including alleviating any confusion about the timing criteria for tanker washing and milk sample collection; increasing transparency around milk safety program equivalence in other countries; and updating the requirements for bulk milk transportation and the requirements for voluntary testing of milk for drug residues.

Conference delegates also approved a resolution submitted by NMPF to encourage participation in a new pilot program to screen the milk supply for tetracycline drugs.  Although not mandatory by industry or states, widespread participation in the program starting July 1 would assure any future changes in milk testing “can be based on the most representative and complete data available,” according to the resolution.

Briczinski noted that the dairy industry currently tests each tanker load of milk for the most commonly used farm antibiotics, beta-lactam drugs, and also carries out additional random testing for other classes of antibiotics, such as tetracycline. The new program “will help us fine tune the more than 3 million tests already being conducted each year to keep antibiotics out of the milk supply, and give us sound data on how to continue improving the screening process in the future,” she said.

NMPF also played a key role in opposing proposals that would have added an undue regulatory burden and unnecessary costs to dairy producers and the industry at large without enhancing food safety – such as adding requirements to the designs of milkhouses and milking equipment, and to the transportation of manufactured dairy products.

NMPF expressed gratitude for the involvement of its member cooperatives, processors, state dairy program regulators and FDA for their active participation during the conference.

Retail & Cellulosic Leaders join Growth Energy Push for Senate Action on E15 Fix

Growth Energy today urged the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to quickly approve legislation that would extend the Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) volatility waiver to gasoline blended with 15 percent ethanol (E15). The bill would allow retailers across the country to offer more biofuel choices to customers year-round. Growth Energy’s call to action was echoed by a growing alliance of companies representing both pioneers in advanced biofuels and major E15 retailers, including POET-DSM, Novozymes, Protec Fuel, and Kwik Trip. The Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act has 18 bipartisan sponsors and was introduced in March by Sens. Deb Fischer (R-NE), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), John Thune (R-SD), and Joni Ernst (R-IA). Backed by Growth Energy and other allies, Senate champions have sought to bring the bill to a vote in next few weeks.

“This is a simple and long-overdue fix that will improve air quality, lower prices at the pump, and level the playing field for homegrown biofuels,” said Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy. “We’ve been working with champions in the House and Senate for three years to get this over the finish line so that local fuel retailers have the freedom to offer cleaner-burning, less expensive biofuel blends all year long. Consumer access to E15 will provide a vital market for continued investment in the next generation of cellulosic biofuels produced from agricultural waste and other natural materials.”

Jeff Pinkerman, Chairman of the POET-DSM Board, which oversees a cellulosic facility in Emmetsburg, Iowa said, “For cellulosic biofuel to be successful in the U.S., we must eliminate artificial regulatory barriers that limit consumer choices and hinder the acceleration of new technologies. The Reid Vapor Pressure limits on E15 stifle market competition and undermine our efforts to bring lower carbon fuels to drivers everywhere. Congress needs to make this technical correction and allow consumers year-round access to higher performing and cooler burning biofuels.”

The proposal has broad, bipartisan support in both the House and Senate, in part because the current restrictions force many convenience stores to switch to less environmentally-friendly fuel options during the summer months, from June 1 to September 15, and discourage many retailers from offering higher biofuel blends altogether. According to the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI), E15 can help to “reduce harmful volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions, displace cancer causing emissions, and reduce smog forming potential, as well as cutting greenhouse gases … E15 is also typically two to 10 cents cheaper per gallon than E10.”

“Stability and consistency of policy and regulations are critical factors for the long-term planning of any business. They drive innovation and capital investments like the $36 million investment we just made in our manufacturing facility in Blair, Nebraska,” said Adam Monroe, President, Americas, Novozymes, a company with over a decade of experience developing enzyme technologies to convert agricultural waste into low-carbon cellulosic ethanol. "We see a legislative fix to RVP as the strongest signal to continue to spur business and jobs growth and put more money back in American pockets.”

Earlier this year, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt also expressed his hope for a fix but acknowledged the need for greater certainly in the laws governing RVP, a key topic raised by Growth Energy in comments to the agency earlier this week. These efforts are also backed by several U.S. governors and widely supported by the nation’s top fuel retailers.

“There is no reason for the current RVP burden that blocks retailers, like us, from offering our customers less expensive, earth-friendlier fuel choices year-round,” said Steve Walk, COO of Protec Fuel. “The Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act is a common-sense policy that lifts this decades-old rule to allow fuel retailers to offer E15 during the summer driving season and provide our customers a consistent option at the pump that contains higher octane for a lower price.”

“This long-overdue fix simply holds E15 to the same standard as conventional blends, which means more affordable options for our customers and fewer baseless restrictions on retailers,” said Joel Hirschboeck, General Manager of Fuel Procurement and Marketing of Kwik Trip. “We plan to add E15 at more than 500 locations in Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin over the next few years, and we want our customers to benefit from a full array of clean-burning choices all year long. For many drivers, E15 is a smart choice that can help cut costs while delivering more octane and fewer emissions.”

AgriLabs® Delivers Innovation with New Custom Vaccine Option for Swine

AgriLabs® today announced the introduction of a new innovative custom vaccine option for swine veterinarians and producers. AgriLabs custom vaccines combine the benefits of herd-specific autogenous vaccines with proprietary production processes and ENABL® adjuvant technology designed to improve vaccine performance.

"The custom vaccine market has seen little innovation in recent years despite a growing number of companies," says Sean O'Hare, executive vice president of AgriLabs. "Our technological advancements allow us to deliver a custom vaccine option that is truly different from – and better designed to evolve with your health management practices than – others in the market."

O'Hare says proprietary production processes will help AgriLabs produce custom vaccines from particular strains of certain swine diseases, such as PRRS, that have evolved to become harder for other custom vaccine manufacturers to grow. "Making custom vaccines for hard-to-grow virus strains has become a particular challenge in the industry, and our scientists have developed novel techniques to address that challenge," O'Hare says.

In addition, O'Hare says the company's recently patented ENABL adjuvant technology will be a key differentiator.

"ENABL novel adjuvants feature a patented lipid/polymer matrix to which antigens attach for efficient delivery to target cells," says O'Hare. "That means higher absorption of antigen to immune cells. The result is a greater immune response – and a custom vaccine offering unlike any other."

Because it's a nanoparticle, ENABL has the benefit of dispersing the vaccine rapidly from the injection site to activate the immune system. This rapid processing in injection sites differs from many traditional adjuvants that can be associated with lingering vaccine mass at the injection site, and with local inflammation and longer pre-slaughter withholding requirements.

AgriLabs custom vaccines can include bacterins, viruses or a combination of both. They are also easy to use, O'Hare says. They feature superior syringeability, as well as a 21-day withdrawal period – the lowest allowed for food animals.

"The ENABL technology and other innovations AgriLabs is introducing make custom vaccines even more attractive to the swine industry – and give the industry even more viable options for reducing the use of antibiotics," O'Hare says.

Commitment to Custom Vaccines

AgriLabs' commitment to custom vaccines includes the construction of a new state-of-the-art vaccine production facility in Lincoln, Nebraska. In addition, AgriLabs has added a cutting-edge diagnostic lab with new capabilities for disease identification and sequencing for herd-specific vaccine production.

"We are proud of the team we've assembled to support the swine industry's custom vaccine needs," O'Hare says. "From diagnostics to production to technical sales support, our team knows the challenges of an evolving swine industry. We are ready to apply our deep experience to address the industry's herd-specific disease issues."

Wednesday May 17 Ag News

Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Pasture weeds are a problem for many of us.  It’s a challenge to control or prevent them in the first place.  The right grazing practices, though, can help reduce this problem.

               If you have weedy pastures, first ask yourself – Why?   Nearly always the existing forage stand was not thick or vigorous enough to out-compete invading weeds.  So the first step in pasture weed control must be to manage pastures so they can be competitive.  That may include fertilizer, extra seeding, and especially well-managed grazing.

               Once weeds become a problem, though, control strategies must be used.  One technique is to heavily stock a pasture, maybe with a ten-fold higher concentration of animals per acre than usual, for a very short time.  Only do this if your good grass is healthy.

               Use temporary cross fences to create small enough areas to achieve these high animal concentrations.  If this is done while weeds like crabgrass, foxtail, lambsquarter, and field bindweed are still young, many of them will be eaten readily.  Animals even eat cheatgrass, downy brome, and sandbur when plants are young.  Once they form seed stalks, though, cattle almost totally reject them.  Be sure to remove animals while desired grasses still have a few leaves remaining so they regrow quickly and compete with any recovering or new weeds.

               Some established weeds, especially perennials, aren’t controlled easily with grazing.  Clipping or spraying these weeds when their root reserves are low and to prevent seed production will reduce their pressure.  But remember, they will return quickly unless follow-up grazing management keeps your pasture healthy, vigorous, and competitive.

               Pasture weeds are troublesome, but proper grazing helps control them.

Seven UNL students to represent Nebraska Corn through annual internship programs

In early-May, seven students studying at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln began summer internship experiences offered by the Nebraska Corn Board and Nebraska Corn Growers Association. These internships vary in scope and location, but are designed to provide students with an overview of Nebraska’s corn industry through real-world professional examples and experiences.

“Nebraska Corn is always encouraged by the next generation of ag professionals,” said Kelly Brunkhorst, executive director of the Nebraska Corn Board. “Through seven different internship experiences, we’re able to help students see how vast our state’s corn industry can be. Interns may be familiar with the production side, but we’re able to take that knowledge a step further and introduce them to other important topics such as policy, promotion and international trade.”

Five of the seven internships are located outside of Nebraska and last throughout the summer. These five internships are with cooperating partners of the Nebraska Corn Board.

The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) is hosting two of the interns. Jacy Spencer is majoring in agricultural economics and is interning with the NCGA office in Washington D.C. Renae Sieck is with the NCGA office in St. Louis, Missouri. Sieck is majoring in agricultural education.

“Much of our college education is theory and discussion without true application,” said Spencer. “Internships represent a critical area of growth that can set many students apart from their peers. They also help students to discover where their true passions lie.”

Michaela Clowser is interning with the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) in Denver, Colorado. Clowser is double majoring in agricultural economics and animal science at UNL.

“This internship provides me with once-in-a-lifetime experiences that will push personal boundaries and create professional connections and develop new perspectives,” said Clowser. “Working for USMEF will challenge me to learn more about global marketing and the barriers that come with international trade.”

Two students are interning with the U.S. Grains Council. David Schuler is working at the international headquarters in Washington D.C., and Stephen Enke is gaining international experience in the Mexico City office. Schuler is studying animal science and Enke is majoring in business administration.

“After graduation, I plan to attend law school and study international trade and policy,” said Enke. “Gaining an inside perspective on our trade relations with Mexico and how these relations impact both farmers back home and consumers in Mexico is important. It’s an opportunity to understand the lives of those I hope to help when creating policies that will shape our nation.”

Two of the internships are year-long experiences and are located in Lincoln, Nebraska. Catherine Jones is an agricultural and environmental sciences communications major and is interning with the Nebraska Corn Board. Brooke Tempel is majoring in agricultural education and works with the Nebraska Corn Growers Association. Both internships assist with the coordination of communications and promotional efforts with their respective organization.

“This internship will challenge me to step out of my comfort zone,” said Tempel. “Not having the opportunity to grow up on a farm myself and see firsthand how producers operate will give me the opportunity to learn from our state’s producers and see the impact they make on our society.”

Each intern will document their learning experiences through blog and social media posts. To keep up with the students throughout the summer, visit or follow the Nebraska Corn Board on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.


During the next several weeks, U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) will conduct two major mid-year surveys, the June Agricultural Survey and the June Area Survey. The agency will survey over 5,000 operators across Iowa to determine crop production and supply levels in 2017. Additionally, approximately 200 operators will be surveyed to evaluate coverage for the upcoming 2017 Census of Agriculture.

“Due to the widespread and significant impact of its results, the June Agricultural Survey, also known as the Crops/Stocks Survey, and the June Area Survey are two of the most important and well-known surveys NASS conducts,” explained Greg Thessen, director of the NASS Upper Midwest Regional Field Office in Des Moines, Iowa. “When growers respond to these surveys, they provide essential information that helps us determine the prospective production and supply of major commodities in the United States for the 2017 crop year. Everyone who relies on agriculture for their livelihoods is interested in the results.”

NASS gathers the data for the June Agricultural Survey online, by mail, phone and in-person interviews. For the June Area Survey, agency representatives visit randomly selected tracts of land and interview the operators of any farm or ranch on that land. Growers provide information on crop acreage – including biotech crops—as well as grain stocks, livestock inventory, cash rents, land values, and value of sales.

NASS will compile and analyze the survey information and publish the results in a series of USDA reports, including the annual Acreage report and quarterly Grain Stocks report, both to be released June 30, 2017. Survey data contribute to NASS’s monthly and annual Crop Production reports, as well as the annual Small Grains Summary and USDA’s monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates.

“NASS safeguards the privacy of all responses and publishes only state- and national-level data, ensuring that no individual operation or producer can be identified,” stated Thessen. “We recognize this is a hectic time for farmers and ranchers, but the information they provide helps U.S. agriculture by leveling the playing field and minimizing risk. I urge them to respond to these surveys and thank them for their cooperation,” said Thessen.

All reports are available on the NASS website:

Field Days to Demonstrate Manure Distribution and Calibration

Uniform liquid manure distribution across the application tool-bar is important for proper use of nutrients. Uniform distribution of manure across the tool-bar swath ensures minimal variability among application points. Uneven manure application, especially under low application rates, can potentially lead to uneven response in crop growth.

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach has scheduled four field days to help manure applicators better understand manure distribution, calibration and the value of manure. Flow meter calibration check is important to achieve accurate application rates in the field. Understanding the value of manure can help producers to utilize nutrients appropriately, leading to better manure management for their livestock operations.

“We want to remind producers to check their manure application equipment to make the most out of the distribution manifold (see photo) as the cost to supplement nutrients with commercial fertilizers can be expensive,” said Kapil Arora, agricultural engineering specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach.

Speakers for the Manure Distribution and Calibration field days include Dan Andersen, assistant professor and agricultural engineering specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach and coordinator of the Iowa Manure Management Action Group (IMMAG) and Arora, Greg Brenneman, Kris Kohl and Shawn Shouse, agricultural engineering specialists. ISU Extension and Outreach field agronomists Mark Johnson, Michael Witt, Joel DeJong, Paul Kassel, Meghan Anderson and Rebecca Vittetoe will also be present at the field days.

The program for each field day will begin at 11:30 a.m. with registration followed by a free lunch at noon. Presentations and demonstrations will begin at 1 p.m. and will cover manifold distribution, flow-meter verification and value of manure as fertilizer. Information on manifold distribution collected through research funded partly by the National Pork Board will also be shared.
2017 Manure Distribution and Calibration field days schedule

June 2 – Puck Custom Enterprises, 1110 100th Street, Manning, Iowa 51455
Contact: Shawn Shouse, agricultural engineering specialist, 712-769-2650 or

June 23 – ISU Allee Memorial Demonstration Farm, 2030 640th Street, Newell, IA 50568
Contact: Kris Kohl, agricultural engineering specialist, 712-732-5006 or

July 26 - Zoske’s Sales & Services Inc., 604 Greenfield Avenue, Iowa Falls, Iowa 50126
Contact: Kapil Arora, agricultural engineering specialist, 515-291-0174 or

August 4 – Eldon C. Stutsman, Inc., 350 Oakcrest Hill Rd SE, Hills, Iowa 52235
Contact: Greg Brenneman, agricultural engineering specialist, 319-337-2145 or

The program for each field day is the same and interested participants are requested to register online at to help with lunch arrangements and field day planning.

Multi-State Research Reveals Best IPM Against Soybean Aphid

About 89.5 million acres of soybeans will be planted across the United States in 2017 -- a record high, according to the USDA. Research published in the April 2017 issue of Pest Management Science indicates that many of these soybean growers will invest in neonicotinoid insecticide seed treatments. The two-year, multi-state study revealed that, even during periods of infestation by the key pest across the region, the soybean aphid, the neonicotinoid treatment produced the same yields as using no insecticide at all.

The study was a joint effort of Purdue University, Iowa State University, Kansas State University, North Dakota State University, the University of Minnesota, South Dakota State University, and the University of Wisconsin. The research was grower-funded, using soybean checkoff funds provided by the North Central Soybean Research Program (NCSRP).

The neonicotinoid insecticide thiamethoxam, which is applied as a coating to soybean seeds, provides a maximum of two weeks of protection against insect feeding. Aphids typically don't reach damaging numbers until much later in the season, said Christian Krupke, an entomology professor and extension specialist at Purdue University and one of the researchers and authors of the study. As a result, when soybean aphid populations reached threshold levels, from late July to August, the insecticide levels in tissues of neonicotinoid-treated soybean foliage were similar to plants grown from seeds without the insecticide.

Bruce Potter, Insect Pest Management (IPM) specialist for the University of Minnesota Extension, said one of the most important aspects of the study was providing soybean growers information about how to invest their funds.

Potter said soybean growers in northern regions, including Minnesota, don't have chronic and consistent economic infestations of early season insect pests. "Farmers wouldn't get an advantage from putting insecticide on soybean seeds," he said. The exception to this conclusion would be fields at a higher risk for infrequent pests like seed corn maggot and white grub or for seed production fields where bean leaf beetle and bean pod mottle virus occur.

The research study concluded soybean farmers in all the regions in the study should employ the IPM approach, combining scouting and foliage-applied insecticide where necessary. "In terms of long-term sustainability and the bottom line for your yearly balance sheet, the IPM approach is the most effective approach for pest management in the growing season," Krupke said.

A study examining neonicotinoid seed treatments of corn had a similar result. This study, published in the journal PLOS ONE in March 2017, was conducted by Krupke's doctoral student, Adam Alford. It revealed that concentrations of the insecticide most commonly applied to corn seeds, clothianidin, declined rapidly and approached zero in plant tissues within 20 days after planting. Less than 5 percent of what was applied to the seed was recovered from corn plants in the field.

Currently, at least one of two neonicotinoids, clothianidin or thiamethoxam, are routinely applied to more than 80 percent of the corn and over half of the soybeans grown in North America.

Previous studies, although smaller in size, had shown similar results with neonicotinoid seed treatments, which were introduced in the 1990s, said Kelley J. Tilmon, state extension specialist for the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center and an associate professor of entomology at Ohio State University. She performed the research in South Dakota when she was on the faculty of South Dakota State University. The recent study was launched to provide more definitive scientific answers across a large geographic area, Tilmon said.

Janet J. Knodel, extension entomologist and associate professor at North Dakota State University, said the results were similar in North Dakota. "As part of our research, we saw the soybean aphids coming into the field in late July and early August in North Dakota," she said. "By then, the residual of the insecticide seed treatment is gone."

Farmers can consult with their local university Extension services for additional information on specific pest management strategies in their state. They also can obtain information by downloading the Purdue Extension publication "The Effectiveness of Neonicotinoid Seed Treatments in Soybean" at

Fertilizer Prices Continue to Hold Steady

Retail fertilizer prices continued to hold steady the second week of May 2017, according to fertilizer retailers surveyed by DTN.

Of the eight major fertilizers, five were slightly lower in price compared to a month earlier. These were DAP, urea, 10-34-0, UAN28 and UAN32. DAP had an average price of $437 per ton, urea $351/ton, 10-34-0 $437/ton, UAN28 $247/ton and UAN32 $280/ton.

The remaining three fertilizers were slightly higher in price from last month. MAP had an average price of $466/ton, potash $340/ton and anhydrous $508/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.38/lb.N, anhydrous $0.31/lb.N, UAN28 $0.44/lb.N and UAN32 $0.44/lb.N.

Retail fertilizers are lower compared to a year earlier. Half of the eight major fertilizers are still double digits lower.

10-34-0 is 22% lower from a year ago, anhydrous is 14% less expensive, UAN32 is 13% lower and UAN28 is 10% less expensive. Urea is 9% lower, DAP is 8% less expensive and both potash and MAP are 7% lower compared to year earlier.

Ethanol Stocks, Blending Demand Up

The U.S. Energy Information Administration issued a report midmorning Wednesday showing across-the-board increases for domestic ethanol inventories, plant production and blending demand during the week-ended May 12.

The EIA's Weekly Petroleum Status Report showed ethanol inventories surged by roughly 300,000 barrels (bbl), or 1.3%, to about 23.4 million bbl while 2.3 million bbl, or 10.9%, higher year-on-year. Total fuel ethanol stocks are moving closer to the record high of 23.7 million bbl reached at the end of March.

Domestic plant production increased for the second straight week, up 21,000 barrels per day (bpd), or 2.1%, to a 1.027 million bpd seven-week high last week, while up 80,000 bpd, or 8.3%, higher year-on-year. For the four weeks ended last week, fuel ethanol production averaged 1.001 million bpd, up 61,000 bpd or 6.5%.

Net refiner and blender inputs, a gauge for ethanol demand, jumped 23,000 bpd, or 2.5%, to 951,000 bpd, the highest since the week-ended June 24, 2016, when it was also recorded at 951,000 bpd. Blending demand surged 33,000 bpd, or 3.6%, year-on-year. For the four-week period ended May 12, blending demand was up 26,000 bpd, or 2.9%.

NAWG Applauds House Ag Committee for Holding Hearing on the State of the Rural Economy

Today, the House Committee on Agriculture held a Full Committee hearing on the “State of the Rural Economy.” USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue shared his perspective on the on the current state of the agricultural economy and how to make USDA programs work better for America’s farmers and ranchers.

NAWG President David Schemm made the following statement:

“Wheat farmers and all of agriculture are suffering some of the toughest economic conditions we’ve had to deal with since the 1980s. Wheat prices have been on the decline for the past couple of years and are expected to remain low for the foreseeable future.

“Between a rapidly declining market and years of sustained low prices, farmers are having a difficultly getting by, particularly young and beginning farmers who weren’t able to build up reserves during the high price years. Funding in the 2018 Farm Bill must be increased to address the significant reductions in farm prices and income incurred since 2013.

“These factors, along with significant competition in our export markets, have led to a decrease in production of wheat crops planted. Overall wheat crops planted for 2017 is estimated at 46.1 million acres, representing the lowest total planted area for the United States since 1919.

“NAWG applauds the House Committee on Agriculture for holding this hearing to examine some of the toughest issues being faced by growers in rural America.

“NAWG also thanks Secretary Purdue for stressing the importance of crop insurance in his remarks."

State Milk Regulators Ask FDA for Assistance on Assuring Proper Use of Dairy Product Terminology

State milk regulators today requested that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) work with them to enforce the proper use of milk and milk product labeling terms, especially those meant to distinguish between real dairy products and plant-based imitators – a development the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) hailed as “the strongest statement yet that the abuse of dairy terms has gone too far.”

“It’s time for FDA to work with state agencies in defending standards of identity for dairy products,” said Beth Briczinski, NMPF’s vice president of dairy foods and nutrition.

The pushback by state officials against FDA’s history of inaction on labeling enforcement came Wednesday at the biennial meeting of the National Conference on Interstate Milk Shipments (NCIMS) in Grand Rapids this week. The NCIMS is a national cooperative regulatory program that includes state milk regulatory agencies, dairy companies and FDA. The states collaborate with federal regulators and industry groups to ensure the safety and integrity of dairy products regulated under the Grade “A” program, including fluid milk, yogurt and other dairy products.

During today’s NCIMS session, state milk safety regulators voted unanimously in favor of a resolution intended to clarify the responsibilities of FDA and state programs in ensuring the proper use of standardized dairy product names.

“The state agencies, through their vote today, acknowledged that more effort is needed from FDA to clarify the role of State Milk Regulatory Programs in assuring the proper use of the standardized names of milk and milk products,” said Briczinski. “FDA needs to stop picking and choosing which regulations it wants to enforce.”

For example, FDA’s standards of identity specify that milk is the product of cows and other dairy animals, and that yogurt is the product obtained exclusively from the culturing of dairy ingredients.  Absent any regulatory consistency about how these label terms are applied, “consumers are bound to be confused and misled by the growing variance in the nutritional and compositional content of imitation foods made from nuts, seeds and grains, but purporting to be dairy products,” Briczinski said.

By approving this resolution, “the NCIMS delegates are acknowledging that states need federal assistance in the regulation of all products utilizing standardized dairy terms. This will ultimately benefit consumers, who face an increasingly bewildering assortment of imitation dairy products,” Briczinski said.

A renewed emphasis by FDA on the regulation of dairy terms would bring the United States into closer alignment with how the issue is handled in other countries, Briczinski noted. Canada, the United Kingdom and the European Union “do not allow plant-based imitators to call themselves milk on their packages. We have the same regulation on the books in the United States, but there has been no effort to enforce that policy. Today’s decision will hopefully create a new approach to the issue.”

NCGA Encourages Pollinator Friendly Practices

With another growing season underway across corn country, the National Corn Growers Association encourages farmers to complete a mental check list and assess your farming operation and any potential impact for pollinators like honey bees.

If you are using treated seed, remember to consider the following five basic steps for stewardship of treated seed during planting season:

Follow Directions: Follow directions on treated seed container labels for handling, storage, planting and disposal practices.

Eliminate Flowering Weeds: Eliminate flowering plants and weeds in and around the field prior to planting.

Minimize Dust: Use advanced seed flow lubricants that minimize dust.

Bee Aware: Be aware of honey bees and hives located near the field, and communicate with beekeepers prior to planting when possible.

Clean and Remove: Completely clean and remove all treated seed left in containers and equipment used to handle harvested grain and dispose of it properly. Keep all treated seed out of the commodity grain channels.

Likewise, as you plan summer spraying of insecticides, consider best management practices on your farm. This is especially critical if you have bee hives on your farm or on neighboring land. It's all about awareness and communication.

Always refer to the pesticide label for application requirements. It is also advisable to identify any risks of pesticides to be used and discuss the best timing and management practices with any nearby beekeepers. You can find more information related to seed treatments at and bee friendly practices at

NCGA also encourages growers with marginal land not in production to also consider habitat development projects like those being offered by Pheasants Forever. Pheasants Forever has partnered with Project Apis m. and Browning's Honey to offer landowners a new conservation program, the Honey Bee and Monarch Butterfly Partnership, designed specifically to create native wildflower and grassland plots that positively influence upland bird, bee and butterfly populations.

The Honey Bee and Monarch Butterfly Partnership is forged out of a desire to create diverse, high-quality habitat for pollinators.

Tuesday May 16 Ag News

Cow-Calf Management Field Day Set for June 17

Area beef producers will want to make plans to attend a Cow-calf Management Field Day that is scheduled for Saturday, June 17.  According to Nebraska Extension Educator in Cuming County, Larry Howard, this Field Day will be hosted by producers in Cuming and Dodge counties.

The event will begin at 1:00 p.m. at the Dave Franzluebbers farm south of Dodge, Ne (509 Co Rd 2, Dodge, NE) where we will tour their Cow/Calf Confinement Barn.  The second stop will be at the Tom Ruskamp farm north of Dodge (441 B Road, Dodge NE) where we will also tour their Cow/Calf Confinement Barn.  The third stop will be the Bob Anderson farm just west of Aloys (621 5th Rd, Dodge, NE).  At this stop we will tour the operation and learn about their rotational grazing program, see conservation practices implemented through the Conservation Stewardship Program and do a Pasture Walk.  The final stop will be at Native Acres, LLC just north of Aloys (789 7th Road, West Point, NE) where we will see the Aronia Berry Shrubs and visit about the Winery that is in progress of being developed.

Nebraska Extension Specialists, Bruce Anderson, Forage and Rick Stowell, Animal Environmental Engineer are the invited guest to this Field Day.

The plans are for everyone to drive their won vehicles, so plan your own carpooling in advance.

This event is sponsored by the Cuming County Cow/Calf Association, Nebraska Extension in Cuming County and the USDA NRCS office in Cuming County.

This Field Day is free and there will be a light meal to follow the tour so a RSVP is appreciated for meal planning.  For more information or to pre-register contact Larry Howard at the Nebraska Extension office in Cuming County at 402-372-6006 or Tom Ruskamp, Cuming County Cow/Calf President at 402-380-2347.

Nebraska Beef Council Hosts Beef Experience Tour

Chefs, dietitians, bloggers and foodservice professionals were guest on the Beef Experience Tour hosted by the Nebraska Beef Council on May 9th and 10th. The tour attendees were visitors from states across the country including New York, Ohio, Tennessee, California, Arkansas, Utah and Pennsylvania. The tour is offered each year to help attendees better understand the various segments of the beef community and how farmers and ranchers work together to raise quality beef products.

“We specifically target individuals for this tour that work with beef products every day but don’t necessarily have the background on how beef is raised,” said Adam Wegner, director of marketing for the Nebraska Beef Council. “These guests also have the ability to share their experience and knowledge with many other people creating a much larger impact.”

The tour included a visit to Knobbe Feed Yards near West Point where the attendees experienced a large-scale feeding operation and learned about the various feed sources used to raise high quality beef. The group continued with stops at Peregrine Ranch near Fullerton and Loseke Farms outside of Columbus. Each stop explained their role in raising beef from grazing pastures and breeding to corn production and animal care.

“I feel that my line of work has provided me with some strong insight on our country’s beef supply, but seeing it firsthand was very gratifying,” said Chris Johnson, senior specialist in culinary innovation for The Wendy’s Company. “The one component that stuck out to me the most was the passionate care the farmers had for their cattle. They aren’t just looking at their livestock from a dollar standpoint, they genuinely care about the health of their animals and providing high quality beef for everyone, including their own families.”

The tour concluded with a visit to Cargill Meat Solutions, a 5,000 head per day harvesting facility in Schuyler. The group watched the harvest process and carcass breakdown resulting in boxed beef ready for shipment.

“Nebraska is ideal for telling the story of how beef is raised,” said Wegner. “We have the natural resources, the feed, the packing industry and most importantly, the people that it takes to efficiently raise quality beef.”

Nebraska is the number one red meat production state in the country with over seven billion pounds produced each year.

Ricketts, Novozymes Unveil $36 Million Investment in Blair

Today, less than five years after Novozymes opened a state-of-the-art advanced manufacturing facility in Blair, Governor Pete Ricketts announced that the company has selected the site for its most recent expansion efforts in North America.  The company’s new $36 million investment in the facility, which produces enzymes for renewable fuels, will increase the plant’s capacity to meet growing needs within the bioscience industry and global biofuels market.  Novozymes’ expansion efforts support the company’s long-term commitment to the production of enzymes for the biofuels industry, a segment within the larger bioscience industry.

“Nebraska’s biofuels industry has been a focus for my administration on trade missions because of the international investment we’ve seen here in Nebraska,” said Governor Pete Ricketts.  “Meeting face-to-face with Novozymes’ CEO, Peder Holk Nielsen, not only allowed us to thank him for doing business in our state, but also allowed us to make the case for additional investment in Nebraska.  Novozymes’ recent investment in Blair is an example of the importance of trade missions and how this evolving industry is helping grow Nebraska.”

In 2015, Governor Ricketts visited Novozymes’ headquarters in Copenhagen, Denmark to meet with senior executives, strengthen Nebraska’s relations with the company, and encourage further investment in the state.  While there, the Governor and his delegation had a unique opportunity to tour the facility that oversees the company’s production of enzymes used in the agriculture, animal nutrition, and biofuels industries.  The Governor pitched Nebraska’s unique characteristics as an ideal location for the company’s continued investment. 

Since 2012, production capacity in Nebraska’s biofuels industry increased by 7.8 percent.  Nebraska is the number two ethanol producer in the nation and produces more than 2 billion gallons annually, second only to Iowa.  Nebraska, Iowa and Illinois produce nearly half of the 15.2 billion gallons of ethanol generated each year in the United States.

“With stable, clear policies like the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) that encourage competition at the gas pump, we will continue to grow the market for American ethanol,” said Novozymes Americas President Adam Monroe.  “This means expanding facilities like ours here in Blair, adding jobs, and generating more revenue for American towns and workers by increasing domestic production of liquid transportation fuels.”

The company has hired more than 100 local contractors to install additional production equipment and water cooling units at the facility, where work is currently underway.  Company officials worked with both state and local economic development partners to expand in Blair, including the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED), Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) and Gateway Development Corporation.  

“Novozymes’ investment in Nebraska continues to create wonderful opportunities for our state’s talented workforce,” said DED Director Courtney Dentlinger.  “Over the past five years, the company has hired more than 100 full-time employees in Blair and has consistently relied on local contractors to build and expand this facility.  Nebraskans’ strong work ethic and skilled labor capabilities have positioned our state as an ideal location to grow an international business.”

“Novozymes is one of Blair’s most impactful corporate citizens.  Its multi-million-dollar expansion represents another remarkable economic win for the Blair community, Washington County, and the state of Nebraska, solidifying our reputation as a major player in the bio-industry on a global level,” said Lisa Scheve, Executive Director of Gateway Development Corporation, a member of the Greater Omaha Chamber Economic Development Partnership.

The company employs 6,200 team members worldwide, including 115 at the Blair facility.  Community leaders continue to capitalize on efforts to recruit skilled labor at Novozymes.

“The community of Blair appreciates Novozymes’ presence in our city, as well as efforts by corporate leaders to provide new opportunities for our diverse workforce,” said Blair Mayor Jim Realph.  “By expanding capabilities within the plant, this company is providing great incentives for skilled workers to stay in Nebraska.”

While the company’s North American presence includes its headquarters in Franklinton, NC, and 10 additional facilities in the United States and Canada, Novozymes’ Blair plant currently serves as its only American facility dedicated to the growing biofuel industry.

Novozymes is a prime example of the Trump administration’s recent Executive Order on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity in America.  The company supports the vision stated in the Executive Order, that, “It is in the national interest to promote American agriculture and protect rural communities where food, fiber, forestry and many of our renewable fuels are cultivated.”

Ricketts, Ag Industry Groups Highlight Importance of U.S.-Mexico Trade Relationship

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has been a boon for America’s farmers and ranchers, and we must maintain a strong partnership between the U.S. and Mexico, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts and national and state grain industry leaders told Mexican officials today at a press conference highlighting the importance of Mexico to U.S. agriculture.

“Bilateral trade with Mexico has helped grow agriculture in our state over the years,” said Governor Ricketts. “Mexico is Nebraska’s largest export market for corn, dairy, sugar and sweeteners, and second largest market for soybeans, wheat, sorghum and distillers grains. All of this combined accounts for thousands of Nebraska jobs. I’m encouraged by local and national discussions to expand trade, and am committed to helping grow our trade relationship with Mexico so we can continue to grow Nebraska.”

The Nebraska Corn Board, the U.S. Grains Council and the National Corn Growers Association are hosting a team of Mexican grain and industry officials in Nebraska for a town hall and industry meetings, ahead of the Trump Administration’s plans to renegotiate NAFTA, a 20-year-old trade agreement between the U.S., Mexico and Canada. Later this week, the Mexican delegation will travel to Washington, D.C., where they will join U.S. corn farmers for meetings with Congressional leaders to discuss the U.S.-Mexico trade relationship.

“Nebraska agriculture is at its best when we all work together, which includes our trading partners,” said Kelly Brunkhorst, executive director of the Nebraska Corn Board. “Mexico is currently Nebraska’s largest export market for corn, which provides $287 million in added value to our state’s economy. I’m looking forward to the positive dialogue over these next few days as we look for ways to maintain and even strengthen our relationship with this key partner.”

Approximately 20 percent of U.S. corn and corn co-products are exported. Mexico is the largest market for U.S. corn. In 2016, U.S. corn exports to Mexico totaled 13.3 million metric tons (523.5 million bushels) of corn, valued at $2.5 billion. The U.S. also exported 1.9 million metric tons of distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS), a byproduct of ethanol.

“Today’s farmers rely more on foreign demand for their products. Exports account for 31 percent of farmer income. When commodity prices are low, as they are now, 31 percent is an even bigger deal,” said Jon Doggett, executive vice president and head of public policy for the National Corn Growers Association. “That’s why we need strong trade agreements like NAFTA. NAFTA has been one of the most important catalysts for economic growth in our industry that I have seen.”

As a result of NAFTA, corn is exported to Mexico without tariffs or duties. Under the agreement, U.S. agricultural exports to Canada and Mexico have tripled and quintupled, respectively. One in every 10 acres of American farmland is planted to be exported to Mexico and Canada.

“The National Corn Growers Association is committed to fair and open global trade policies and practices. We will work closely with the Trump Administration and Congress to build on the successful trade relationship we have with our neighbors in Mexico, and make sure a modernized NAFTA is a win-win for both our countries,” said Doggett.

Tom Sleight, president and CEO of the U.S. Grains Council, echoed the importance of the U.S.-Mexican relationship.

“The U.S. Grains Council has worked for more than 35 years in Mexico to help local feed and livestock industries expand their production of meat, milk and eggs and to build the relationships that are the foundation for our strong, interdependent trade relationship,” said Sleight. “Having these industry leaders here in the United States this week to share how NAFTA has impacted their companies and their country is invaluable to helping us communicate how important strong trade policy with our nearest neighbors is to the continued success of U.S. grain producers and exporters.”


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Will your hay and forage supply be adequate this year?  Maybe summer annual grasses can help, but which one should you plant?

               Are you planning to plant a summer annual grass, maybe to boost cattle numbers or to build hay supply?  Which one will you plant?  It can be confusing because there are six different types of major summer annual forage grasses — sudangrass, sorghum-sudan hybrids, forage sorghum (which we often call cane or sorgo), foxtail millet, pearl millet, and teff.  Each one has its own strengths and weaknesses.  So base your choice primarily on how you plan to use it.

               For example, do you want pasture?  Then use sudangrass or pearl millet.  Both are leafy, they regrow rapidly, and they contain less danger from prussic acid poisoning than other annual grasses.

               What if you want hay or green chop?  Then select sorghum-sudan hybrids or pearl millet because they yield well and they have good feed value when cut two or three times.  On sandy soils, though, foxtail millet may be a better choice for summer hay.  It dries fast, doesn't regrow after cutting, and handles dry soils well.  Cane hay is grown in many areas and produces high tonnage, but it’s lower in feed value and dries more slowly after cutting than the hybrids or millets.  Or you could choose teff for a really soft, leafy, high quality horse hay.

               Maybe you plan to chop silage.  Then choose the forage sorghums, especially hybrids with high grain production.  They can't be beat for tonnage or for feed value.

               See, it's not so confusing after all, is it?  Simply select the one that is best adapted to the way you plan to use it.  And, of course, pray for rain since even these grasses won’t grow without some moisture.

Biodiesel Production Continues to Benefit Nebraska Ag Producers

May is Renewable Fuels Month in Nebraska, and the benefits of cleaner-burning fuels go beyond what’s available at the pump. Soybean oil makes up more than 50 percent of the feedstock for biodiesel production, which helps Nebraska farmers, as well as livestock and poultry producers in a couple of ways.

First, a growing demand in biodiesel production has given soybean producers a greater return for every bushel harvested. According to the United Soybean Board, biodiesel helped increase soybean value by 63 cents per bushel between 2006 and 2015. During that time, farmers received $18.8 billion dollars in additional revenue for their soybean oil.

Livestock and poultry producers have also benefitted from biodiesel production through reduced costs of soybean meal used for animal feed. As the demand for soybean oil in biodiesel production increases, so does the supply of soybean meal. This lowered meal prices for livestock producers by as much as $48 per ton between 2005 and 2009.

The Nebraska Soybean Board (NSB) continues to invest checkoff dollars to ensure these benefits to ag producers continue. Executive Director Victor Bohuslavsky says the organization has been at the forefront of developing new markets for biodiesel to help increase demand for soybean oil.

“Several years ago, the NSB invested checkoff dollars into research on the use of biodiesel blends in heating oil,” said Bohuslavsky. “Today that investment is paying off in New York City where more of the fuel, known as Bioheat, is now used for heating oil.”

NSB has also invested in making biodiesel more available in the state by offering grant dollars to fuel retailers interested in installing blending infrastructure. For a list of biodiesel retailers in Nebraska, please visit

Biodiesel is the first and only fuel commercially available nationwide that meets the EPA’s definition of an Advanced Biofuel, which requires greenhouse gas emissions to be reduced by at least 50 percent. Biodiesel is currently available in all 50 states and more locations are offering the renewable fuel each year.

World Pork Expo Seminars Offer Ideas and Innovation for Pork Businesses

Attendees will have access to more than 15 free seminars.

Pork professionals attending the 2017 World Pork Expo will have the opportunity to hear the most up-to-date production information and ideas, as well as have access to world-class experts during a wide range of free educational seminars, scheduled throughout Wednesday, June 7, and Thursday, June 8. Attendees can participate in more than 15 presentations covering topics such as nutrition management, understanding consumers, data collection and more. The seminars are just a sampling of the many events presented at this year’s World Pork Expo, brought to you by the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), June 7-9 at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa.

“The Expo seminars always present a wealth of information that producers can use to run efficient and responsible pork production businesses,” says Ken Maschhoff, NPPC president and Illinois pork producer. “I would encourage producers to bring their family and employees to Expo. It’s a great place to expose them to the latest innovations and learn about research and new developments that they can apply when they return home.”

Business seminars address pigs, consumers and technology

This year’s business seminars will outline new ways to manage swine herds from birth to market, as well as review technologies that can help producers stay competitive in today’s fast-paced world.

Kicking off the business seminars on Wednesday, June 7, from 10:00 a.m. to noon, Hamlet Protein will review the nutritional aspects of feeding challenged piglets, followed by a discussion on how fluctuating grain and protein markets influence decision-making and pig production.

From 1:00 to 4:45 p.m., Tonisity will present three seminars, each on a different topic. The first will run from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m., with a panel discussion on the economic power of pig health, including best management practices and guidance on managing stressful periods. The discussion will expand into proactive pig care from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m., when producers and other experts will share tips to reduce pre-weaning mortality, raise heavier pigs and increase income. Wrapping up the day, from 4:00 to 4:45 p.m., producers, pig caretakers and company personnel will share their experiences using the first isotonic protein drink for pigs.

On Thursday, June 8, the business seminars get an early start, with “Farm to Fork: Healthy Animals, Healthy Food, Healthy People,” presented from 8:30 to 9:45 a.m. by Zoetis. The seminar will focus on bridging the gap between modern pork production and consumers’ confidence in the pork products they buy. It will be presented again at 10:15 to 11:30 a.m., and each session will allow time for audience questions.

From 1:00 to 5:00 p.m., smart-barn controllers, electronic sow feeding, mobile-data collection and production software will dominate the afternoon as experts discuss new-world technologies for pork producers. Presented by Maximus Systems and Maximum Ag Technologies the seminar will occur in segments that will outline steps to a seamless, integrated system of hardware and software for pork operations.

PORK Academy provides answers for today and tomorrow

Rounding out Expo’s seminar lineup is PORK Academy, with 10 additional free seminars presented by the Pork Checkoff. The PORK Academy sessions run throughout Wednesday and Thursday from 9:15 a.m. to around 3:30 p.m.

Wednesday’s seminar topics will include pork quality research, social media ideas for pork producers, employee compensation trends, feed-grade antibiotic alternatives and third-party audits for the farm. On Thursday, the discussions will again begin with pork quality, followed by the Veterinary Feed Directive, sow housing tools, business continuity and the Secure Pork Supply Plan, as well as U.S. pork exports and global trade prospects.

Pork Checkoff also provides a weather, crop and hog market outlook session on both Wednesday and Thursday in their hospitality tent at 12:30 p.m.

Both the business seminars and PORK Academy will take place in the Varied Industries Building.

Schedule plenty of time to take in all of Expo’s events

“Expo is a great place to interact with pork experts from veterinarians to researchers to allied industry to fellow producers,” Maschhoff says. “Anyone involved with pork production needs to spend some time at World Pork Expo. In fact, the schedule is so filled with options that attendees should consider attending more than one day.”

Always a highlight, World Pork Expo features the world’s largest pork-specific trade show, with more than 320,000 square feet of exhibit space and featuring hundreds of companies from around the world. Trade show hours run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, June 7, and Thursday, June 8, as well as from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday, June 9.

Attendees will find no shortage of mouthwatering grilled pork, including free lunches served up at The Big Grill. The World Pork Expo Junior National youth hog show and educational events begin on Monday, June 5 and run through the week. An open show takes place on Friday, June 9, with breeding stock sales on Saturday, June 10, from 8 a.m. until approximately noon. Attendees can also consider signing up for the golf tournament and industry tours for additional networking and educational opportunities.

Visit the website for updates on event schedules and room availability at official World Pork Expo hotels. Through May, the website also offers convenient online registration for the discounted rate of $10 per adult (ages 12 and up), which covers all three days of Expo. Registration will be available on site for $20 per adult, with a special rate of $10 for people arriving on Friday.

For the most up-to-date details about this year’s World Pork Expo, be sure to connect with Expo on Twitter and Facebook by following our pages, tagging us in your posts and using the hashtag #WPX17!

USDA Approves Modifications to Margin Protection Insurance

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Risk Management Agency (RMA) Monday announced greater crop insurance options for farmers against unexpected decreases in their operating margin. Offered through the federal crop insurance program, margin protection insurance for corn, wheat, rice and soybeans will be available in more states and have updates designed to better clarify the real input costs covered beginning in 2018.

"The federal crop insurance program is a prime example of how USDA works with producers to create products that fit their needs, making the farm safety net stronger for the economic health of our rural communities," said RMA Acting Administrator Heather Manzano.

The RMA is expanding margin protection for corn and soybeans to Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. The RMA also reevaluated how the liabilities and deductibles were identified and has increased the maximum coverage level available to 95 percent. In addition, the program was updated to add a harvest price option for all margin protection crops, which will allow farmers to get the greater of the projected price or the harvest price to further result in a more effective safety net for farmers.

The expansion of the margin protection insurance pilot program for corn and soybeans to 11 more states also includes a harvest price option, which allows farmers to get the greater price so they can rebound faster.

Margin protection insurance is a privately-developed product and first became available in 2016 to provide coverage based on an expected margin, which is the expected area revenue minus the expected area operating costs, for each applicable crop, type and practice. Margin protection is area-based coverage and may not necessarily reflect individual experience. The margin protection plan can be purchased by itself, or in conjunction with a Yield Protection or Revenue Protection policy.

A producer may choose coverage from 70 percent to 95 percent of their expected margin. A higher level of coverage will have a higher premium rate. The last day to purchase a margin protection policy for corn, soybeans, and spring wheat is Sept. 30, 2017. The last day to purchase margin protection for rice is the same as the sales closing date for the underlying rice insurance policy, which varies by county. Maps of eligible counties and other resources can be found on the margin protection webpage.

Crop insurance is sold and delivered solely through private crop insurance agents. A list of crop insurance agents is available at all USDA Service Centers and online at the RMA Agent Locator. Learn more about crop insurance and the modern farm safety net at

ICUSD/DMI Launch Campaign to Grow Consumer Confidence

The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, in partnership with America’s dairy farm families and importers has announced an unprecedented industry-wide campaign to re-introduce dairy products to consumers.  The goal is to build consumer confidence by helping consumers better understand dairy foods and dairy farming. 

Barb O'Brien, President of DMI and ICUSD, says the campaign is called "Undeniably Dairy".  She says, "As I think about what we're trying to do, it's to proactively provide the context for the consumer to understand that farmers are doing good work.  Because we know that consumers are increasingly looking back through that chain to understand where their food came from, how it was produced and our vision is ultimately to ensure that people trust dairy as essential to their lives." 

THE MULTI-YEAR CAMPAIGN WILL WORK TO RE-INTRODUCE DAIRY TO CONSUMERS, AND SHARE ALL THAT IS GOOD ABOUT DAIRY FOODS AND DAIRY FARMING.  NATIONAL DAIRY BOARD CHAIR AND WISCONSIN FARMER AMBER HORN LIETERMAN SAYS "UNDENIABLY DAIRY" IS AN EXCITING NEW WAY TO REACH CONSUMERS.  She says, "Now we have that means to open that barn door and really share what to us is undeniably dairy.  And it gives us a way to reconnect to those consumers and be able to reassure them that we can be trusted and they can feel good about how their food is produced and the dairy farmers that produce it." 


NOP Posts Fraudulent Organic Certificates

The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) National Organic Program (NOP) is alerting the organic trade about the presence of fraudulent organic certificates. Fraudulent organic certificates listing the following businesses are in use and have been reported to the NOP:
-    Renagrotec SPR de Rl
-    Rand Express Purity Ltd.
-    JEM Enterprises
-    Betterbell Company Ltd.
-    Bickerton Trade Ltd
-    Saffire Blue Inc.                                               
-    Green India Herbs
-    Erin’s Faces

Review these and other fraudulent certificates online at:

These certificates falsely represent agricultural products as certified organic under the USDA organic regulations, violating the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990. Fraudulent certificates may have been created and used without the knowledge of the operator or the certifying agent named in the certificate.

The posting of fraudulent certificates does not necessarily mean that the named operator or certifying agent was involved in illegal activity. If an operation named on a fraudulent certificate is certified, its certifying agent, identified in the list of certified operations, can provide additional information and verification to the organic trade. Organic handlers should continue to review certificates carefully, validate with their certifying agents where needed, and send any suspicious certificates to the NOP Compliance and Enforcement Division.

Any use of these certificates or other fraudulent documents to market, label, or sell non-organic products as organic can result in a civil penalty of up to $11,000 per violation. Persons with information regarding the production or use of this or other fraudulent NOP certificates are asked to send information to the NOP Compliance and Enforcement Division.

Livestock Industry Calls for Relief from EPA’s Overly Burdensome Regulations

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Public Lands Council filed comments this week to the EPA calling for immediate action on several burdensome regulations the agency put forward under previous Administrations.

The groups said that the regulations, “inhibit job creation, are ineffective, are unnecessary, or impose costs that exceed the environmental benefits. Often, these regulations impose federal requirements on cattle producers that discourage innovation and impose rigid requirements that do not work on cattle operations and, moreover, defy common sense.”

NCBA and PLC called on the agency to replace the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule with a rule that will clarify the extent of federal jurisdiction without overreaching. The replacement rule, the comments state, must work for cattle producers, follow the rule of law, and replace each instance of WOTUS in the Code of Federal Regulations so that there is one single definition across the federal government.

The associations also called on the agency to repeal the Mandatory Reporting of Greenhouse Gases (GHG) rule for manure management.

“According to the EPA, beef cattle production was responsible for 1.9 percent of total U.S. GHG emissions in 2014,” the comments, signed by NCBA President Craig Uden and PLC President Dave Eliason, read. “By comparison, GHG emissions from transportation and electricity accounted for 25.8 percent and 30.6 percent of total U.S. GHG emissions in the same year. The GHG Mandatory Reporting Rule places an undue burden on animal agricultural producers, significantly increasing production costs with negligible environmental benefit.”

NCBA and PLC also targeted the Spill Prevention Control and Counters rule for farms, which has been an on-going regulatory burden for producers. While EPA attempted to address the farming community’s concerns related to the SPCC rule, the program presents many unnecessary challenges for agricultural producers. NCBA and PLC asked EPA to modify the rule so that it is easier for farms to implement.

Finally, the associations called on EPA to protect the privacy of farmers and ranchers in implementing the agency’s regulations. Many farmers and ranchers maintain a personal residence on their operations and this information may be protected under privacy protections of the law.

“The U.S. cattle industry is proud of its history as stewards of our nation’s natural resources,” the comments read. “The industry takes very seriously its obligation to protect the environment while providing the nation with a safe and affordable food supply.”

Farm Bureau Urges Support for Bills Leveling the Sales Tax Playing Field

House and Senate legislation to promote fair competition between local and Main Street retailers and Internet-only sellers has the backing of the American Farm Bureau Federation. The Remote Transactions Parity Act of 2017 (H.R. 2193) and the Marketplace Fairness Act of 2017 ( S. 976) would allow states to apply sales tax laws uniformly. Currently, a legal loophole allows some online retailers to avoid collecting the sales tax due during a transaction. While consumers are still liable for paying what’s owed, few do, which gives online stores a strong advantage over their Main Street competitors.

"The businesses that line the streets of our nation’s small and rural towns provide essential goods and services to the farmers and ranchers who work the fields that surround them. But hometown businesses are at a disadvantage when they compete with online-only retailers who don’t have to collect sales taxes. When this disadvantage causes a ‘Main Street’ business to close or scale back, the impact is especially hurtful to already struggling small and rural towns"
—  AFBF President Zippy Duvall

When the sales tax disparity causes a Main Street business to close or scale back, Duvall noted, it’s not only small business owners and the families they serve who are harmed.

“Since local governments and schools rely heavily on property taxes for funding, when sales tax revenues decline they often turn to property taxes to make up the difference. For land-based businesses like farming and ranching, this is particularly onerous,” Duvall wrote.

National Biodiesel Board Submits Comments to Ease the Administration of the Renewable Fuel Standard for Biodiesel Producers

Today the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) submitted comments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in response to President Trump’s Executive Order 13777, “Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda,” which called for input on regulations that may be appropriate for repeal, replacement or modification. The executive order is largely aimed at reducing burdensome regulations. NBB’s goal in submitting these comments to EPA is to make it easier to administer the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program and to support the increased use of biofuel.

NBB provided comments on five subjects: (1) funding for additional guidance and compliance assistance, (2) RFS implementing regulations, (3) the proposed Renewable Enhancement and Growth Support (REGS) rule, (4) Product Transfer Documents (PTD) and (5) vehicle regulations.

Specifically, NBB requests that EPA add approved feedstocks to Table 1, clearly define heating oil for biodiesel, raise the threshold for upward delegation of RIN assignments, provide funding for additional guidance and compliance assistance, reconsider the CARBIO program, and maintain or increase RFS volume requirements. In the comments, NBB also suggests changes to the proposed Renewable Enhancement and Growth Support (REGS) rule, Product Transfer Documents requirements and vehicle regulations.

 “NBB welcomes the opportunity to provide constructive feedback on ways to further improve the successful, working RFS program. These suggestions would lighten the load of overburdened EPA staff and streamline some burdensome processes for participants of the program. Taken together, these adjustments would continue to support the growing biodiesel industry,” said Anne Steckel, NBB’s vice president of federal affairs.

NCGA Files Comments with EPA on Ethanol, WOTUS

The National Corn Growers Association filed comments yesterday with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on ethanol and the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) regulations, following President Trump's executive order, "Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda."

NCGA urged the EPA to use its authority to give drivers year-round access to higher blends of ethanol such as E15. EPA has previously issued a Reid Vapor Pressure waiver for 10 percent ethanol blends. Providing E15 with the same waiver would lead to more choices at the pump and cleaner air.

NCGA also encouraged EPA to update its lifecycle analysis for corn-based ethanol. EPA last updated its lifecycle analysis in 2010, projecting that corn-based ethanol would produce 21 percent fewer GHG emissions when compared to gasoline by 2022. Other federal government agencies have issued updated GHG lifecycle analysis for ethanol based on actual corn and ethanol production experience. Most recently, USDA analysis released in 2017 shows corn-based ethanol results in 43 percent fewer GHG emissions when compared to gasoline.

EPA's outdated lifecycle analysis for corn-based ethanol is hindering ethanol exports, as well as expansion of domestic ethanol use. NCGA also believes EPA should review and update its emissions modeling and fuel petition procedures to help ensure sound regulatory decision-making for future high-octane fuels such as higher ethanol blends.

Finally, NCGA expressed support for Executive Order 13778, which directs EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to review the 2015 Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule. NCGA has serious concerns with the 2015 rule and supports Agency efforts to rescind and replace it with a rule that achieves the 1972 Clean Water Act's underlying goal of protecting the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation's waters. NCGA is committed to working with the Agency on a rule that provides clarity and certainty for farmers and is in line with the Clean Water Act.

Farmers Union Confronts the Farm Crisis

The national farm economy is deteriorating, forcing many family farmers and ranchers to make tough financial decisions that will impact their families, communities, and the entire country.

In order to provide farmers with the resources and support needed to endure these tough economic conditions, National Farmers Union (NFU) and Farmers Union state divisions have compiled resources, organized listening sessions, and initiated a national campaign to raise awareness for the current farm crisis.

“We’re in the midst of a farm crisis,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “Net farm income has been cut in half over the past four years, and other indicators point to intense, ongoing stress within our rural communities. Importantly, there is no foreseeable end to these tough conditions. Farmers, ranchers, and their communities are bracing for very hard times, and Farmers Union is going to be there to help them through it.”

Johnson echoed this sentiment in a letter to NFU members, announcing the start of a campaign to raise awareness for the farm crisis and provide support to family farmers and ranchers. NFU launched a new online resource center today, the Farm Crisis Center, to help farmers find the information and services they need to get through financial and personal emergencies.

“When times get tough and farmers are under significant stress, services provided by farm groups, hotlines, and mediation programs can go a long way in making sure families keep their farms and their families. The Farm Crisis Center is a go-to resource for farmers looking for help,” noted Johnson.

Part of confronting the current farm crisis is elevating the issue to national prominence. Farmers Union state divisions are organizing listening sessions to bring together farmers to discuss the impacts of the depressed farm economy. NFU will bring these stories and information to the halls of Congress, the administration, and across multimedia platforms to raise awareness for the crisis currently confronting farming and rural communities.

“The farm crisis needs to be front and center of every major farm and rural discussion occurring amongst policymakers and the national media,” said Johnson. “We encourage all farmers to attend our listening sessions and share their stories with us on the Farm Crisis Center so that we can be your voice in Washington. The plight of rural and farming communities must be addressed for the betterment of the entire country.”

More information on the farm crisis, farmer resources, and Farmers Union listening sessions can be found at

May 15 Crop Progress & Condition Reports - NE - IA - US


For the week ending May 14, 2017, temperatures averaged four to six degrees above normal, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Rainfall accumulations of an inch were common in Panhandle, southcentral, and southwestern counties, but limited to half an inch or less for the rest of the State. Dry, warm weather allowed farmers to make progress in corn and soybean planting. There were 5.1 days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 3 percent very short, 14 short, 79 adequate, and 4 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 4 percent very short, 14 short, 78 adequate, and 4 surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Corn planted was 78 percent, ahead of 71 last year, and near 76 for the five-year average. Emerged was 31 percent, near 28 last year and 34 average.

Soybeans planted was 37 percent, ahead of 27 last year, but equal to average. Emerged was 4 percent, near 3 last year and 7 average.

Winter wheat condition rated 2 percent very poor, 12 poor, 40 fair, 41 good, and 5 excellent. Winter wheat jointed was 94 percent, near 90 last year, and ahead of 76 average. Headed was 32 percent, near 31 last year, and ahead of 22 average.

Sorghum planted was 14 percent, near 12 last year, but behind 19 average. Emerged was 1 percent.

Oats condition rated 0 percent very poor, 0 poor, 15 fair, 81 good, and 4 excellent. Oats planted was 99 percent, ahead of 92 last year, and near 97 average. Emerged was 95 percent, ahead of 85 both last year and average. Jointed was 16 percent.

Pasture and Range Report:

Pasture and range conditions rated 0 percent very poor, 3 poor, 29 fair, 59 good, and 9 excellent. Stock water supplies rated 1 percent very short, 3 short, 94 adequate, and 2 surplus.

Access the National publication for Crop Progress and Condition tables at:

Access the High Plains Region Climate Center for Temperature and Precipitation Maps at:

Access the U.S. Drought Monitor at:


 It was a dry week across much of Iowa for the week ending May 14, 2017, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Statewide there were 4.5 days suitable for fieldwork, up more than a day from the previous week. This allowed farmers to plant one-third of the State’s expected corn acreage and just under one-third of the State’s expected soybean acreage. The dry and warm weather also aided crop emergence.

Topsoil moisture levels rated 0 percent very short, 1 percent short, 86 percent adequate and 13 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated 0 percent very short, 1 percent short, 84 percent adequate and 15 percent surplus. Similar to last week, the Southwest and South Central Districts reported the largest percentages of surplus subsoil moisture.

Eighty-five percent of the corn crop has been planted, 2 days behind last year, but 4 days ahead of the 5-year average for the first time this year. Farmers in the Central and North Central Districts have over 90 percent of their corn planted. Twenty-eight percent of corn has emerged, 6 days behind last year, and 3 days behind average.

Forty percent of the soybean acreage has been planted, 1 day behind last year, but 2 days ahead of average.

Oats emerged reached 85 percent, 3 days ahead of average. Oat condition rated 79 percent good to excellent.

Hay condition rated 84 percent good to excellent. Pasture condition rated 82 percent good to excellent with most livestock reported as being out in pastures. Livestock conditions were reported as good.

USDA Weekly Crop Progress

Corn planting jumped to a slightly ahead-of-average pace and soybean planting caught up to the average pace last week thanks to drier conditions across the central U.S., according to USDA's weekly Crop Progress report released Monday.

USDA estimated 71% of U.S. corn was planted as of Sunday, May 14, down from 73% a year ago but slightly above the five-year average of 70%. USDA also said 31% of U.S. corn was emerged, down from 41% a year ago and down from the five-year average of 36% emerged. 

Soybean planting also jumped ahead with USDA reporting 32% of U.S. soybeans planted, down from 34% a year ago but even with the five-year average of 32%. USDA said 8% of U.S. soybeans were emerged, down slightly from 9% a year ago and from the five-year average of 9%.

While last week was a banner week for planting, the condition of the nation's winter wheat crop didn't fare as well in Monday's report.  Fifty-one of the winter wheat crop was rated in good-to-excellent condition.  USDA reported that 63% of winter wheat is headed, down from 66% a year ago, but up from the five-year average of 57% headed.

Meanwhile, U.S. spring wheat planting reached 78% complete as of Sunday, down from last year's 87%, but above the five-year average of 73% planted. Forty percent of spring wheat was emerged, down from 57% a year ago and down from the five-year average of 44%.

In other crop reports, cotton was 33% planted, compared to 38% last year and 37% average. Rice as 83% planted and 73% emerged, compared to 86% and 755% last year and 81% and 65% on average.

Sorghum was 32% planted, slightly behind the five-year average of 35%. Barley was 78% planted and 42% emerged, compared to 88% and 65% last year and 79% and 50% on average. Oats were 91% planted and 72% emerged, compared to 93% and 79% last year and 87% and 71% on average.

Monday May 15 Ag News

Field Day on June 6 Showcases Local Value of Growing Winter Wheat
Nathan Mueller, NE Extension Educator

Positioning your farm to manage manure, control tough weeds, and improve soil health are just some of the advantages to growing winter wheat in Dodge and Washington counties. Nebraska Extension in Dodge and Washington counties will be hosting a Winter Wheat Field Day on Tuesday, June 6 at 6:00 pm east of Winslow in northwest Washington County.

Current livestock producers and future poultry growers are encouraged to attend this field day to understand the potential value of adding winter wheat to their farming operation and to learn local agronomic fundamentals of growing wheat.

Speakers will discuss the following topics during the field day:
·        Winter wheat variety trials – Teshome Regassa, Research Assistant Professor
·        Variety tour and variety selection – Stephen Baenziger, Professor and Nebraska Wheat Growers Presidential Chair
·        Managing diseases of wheat – Stephen Wegulo, Extension Plant Pathologist
·        Value of wheat in manure management plans – Rick Koelsch, Extension Livestock & Bio Environmental Engineer
·        Other key fundamentals of growing wheat – Nathan Mueller, Agronomist – Extension Educator

The field day starts at 6:00 pm in the evening at the winter wheat variety field trial site located 4 miles east of Winslow on paved County Road J, 1 mile north on County Road 3 from the Immanuel Lutheran Church corner, and then ¾ east on County Road 10. A map with directions can be found at our website at  A sponsored supper will follow the field day at the Immanuel Lutheran Church gymnasium. If inclement weather occurs during the field tour, the event will be moved to the gymnasium. This event is sponsored by University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the Nebraska Wheat Board. Continuing education units for certified crop advisers will be available for the event.

The field day is free and pre-registration is highly encouraged to ensure all attendees have a meal provided.  Please pre-register by doing one of the following:
1.      Call the Dodge County Extension Office at 402-727-2775
2.      or Register Online at

More information about the field day can be found at

Scout Emerging Corn for Early Season Insects 

Keith Jarvi - NE Extension Educator

As corn begins to emerge, be alert to the potential for damage from early season insects such as cutworms, wireworms, or white grubs.

Wireworms and white grubs are most often associated with fields that have been in pasture or CRP where the grasses were allowed to grow for more than one year. It is rare to see these problems in continuous corn, but exceptions happen. Since wireworms and white grubs feed underground and cutworms feed on or below the soil surface, scout for plant damage and then dig in soil around the plant to identify the insect causing the damage.


Cutworms and other insects may hinder emerging corn plants this spring, even if seed was treated with insecticide or Bt corn hybrids were used. High populations of insects can overwhelm the protection method, regardless of whether it was an insecticide applied at planting (liquid, granular, or seed treatment) or a Bt corn hybrid.

In some cases products are not labeled for the full spectrum of Nebraska insects. For example, Bt corn hybrids expressing the Cry 1F and VIP3A Bt protein list control of black cutworm on the label, but do not list control of other soil cutworm species. The Agrisure Duracade hybrids also list control of black cutworm on the label. See the Handy Bt Trait Table for a list of which hybrids express which Bt proteins.

Cutworms can cause serious damage to corn in the first couple weeks after emergence so it is important to scout fields early for damage. Several species of cutworms attack corn. The severity and the area affected will vary greatly, depending on species involved, previous crop history, and weather conditions.

The black cutworm does not overwinter in Nebraska, and infestations depend on moths moving up in southerly spring winds. They are most commonly found in the eastern one-fourth of the state. We have been capturing black cutworm moths in pheromone traps in several counties in eastern Nebraska. Fields with winter annual weeds or abundant crop residue are more attractive to the egg-laying black cutworm moths in the spring. Several other cutworm species ― dingy, claybacked, army, and Sandhills ― overwinter as partly grown caterpillars and are found more widely in Nebraska.

Remember that early detection of a problem is essential because most of the cutting occurs within seven days of plant emergence.

Generally, a postemergence "rescue" treatment should be considered if cutting is observed on 3-5% or more of plants and the worms are one inch or less in length. Rescue treatments are effective in controlling soil cutworms.

Insecticides containing pyrethroids or chlorpyrifos will give satisfactory control as postemergence sprays. If soil is dry or crusted, rotary hoeing immediately before or after a chlorpyrifos application may enhance control. Products containing pyrethroids should not be incorporated.


Wireworms are the larvae of click beetles. The adult beetles prefer to lay eggs in grass and the larvae can remain in that stage for up to six years, depending on the species. Wireworms are our earliest corn pests each season, as they can feed on the seed before germination, causing reduced plant emergence. Later feeding may kill or stunt small emerged plants.

All wireworm feeding is done underground. Wireworms are white, yellow, orange, or brown with hard shells. They tend to be more numerous in fields that have been in grass or pasture or fields that have had grassy weed problems. Wireworms prefer cooler soil temperatures, under 70°F, so fields that were planted early or have heavy surface residue may be at higher risk than tilled fields.

Treatment. There is no rescue treatment for wireworms, so the main decision at this time is whether there is sufficient stand reduction to warrant replanting. The use of seed treatments like Cruiser and Poncho has greatly reduced the incidence of wireworm damage. These products are excellent early season stand protectors.

White Grubs

White grubs are the larvae of May (or June) beetles. They also prefer to feed on grasses and rarely affect crops other than corn. There are two basic types of grubs.

    Annual grubs complete their development in one year. They do most of their feeding in the late summer and fall and are not considered serious pests of spring-planted field crops.

    Three-year grubs, however, can damage corn severely in the last two years of their larval stage. The larvae overwinter deep in the soil. As the soil warms they begin feeding on plant roots. Damage to corn may not occur until the corn is in the 2- to 6-leaf stage. This is difficult because up to the time of feeding, the stand may look fine. Often three-year grub damage is near shelter belts where the adults may congregate to feed and mate.

    To identify white grubs examine the pattern of spines on the underside of the last abdominal segment. Three-year grubs have two rows of parallel spines in a line; annual white grubs have spines scattered randomly.

Like wireworms, there is no rescue treatment for white grubs. Again, high risk areas need to be treated at planting. Products for white grub control are similar to wireworm control.

If wireworm or white grub damage is serious enough to warrant replanting, use planting time treatments, although the odds for damage diminish with the warming of the soil.

For More Information

    On insecticide products and rates, see the Insect Management section of EC 130, 2017 Guide for Weed Management, with Insecticide and Fungicide Information.

    On managing cutworms, see UNL Extension NebGuide G1153, Corn Cutworms.


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Bluegrass is heading out and overrunning brome pastures throughout the region this spring.  Stick around for some ways to get brome dominance back into these pastures.

               Pastures greened up early this spring during our warm March weather.  Unfortunately, bluegrass in pastures also matured and headed out early, reducing both its growth potential and forage quality.

               This early heading also showed us we had much more bluegrass in these pastures than many of us realized.  So how do we get rid of this bluegrass and bring back the higher producing brome?

               It would be nice if a magic chemical would kill bluegrass and not hurt brome but I’m afraid there isn’t anything labeled and available to do that yet.  So we need to use other methods.

               It starts with creating a growth environment that is better for brome than bluegrass.  That means higher soil fertility and improved rotational grazing management.

               As a taller, potentially higher yielding grass, brome responds more to fertilizer than does bluegrass, especially to nitrogen.  Spring fertilization can give brome a competitive advantage over bluegrass.

               But we can’t stop there.  Bluegrass invades and thrives in areas that are grazed short and remain short for a long time.  Unfortunately, this describes how most brome pastures are grazed.  What we also need to do is leave more grass in pastures when we move to a new area, shorten the length of time a pasture is grazed to no more than four or five days, and let pasture regrow longer before grazing again.

               The only way to practically do this is to subdivide with more cross-fences.  It probably takes ten to twelve smaller pastures to make a big change.  I know it sounds like a huge undertaking, but if you are serious about improving your pastures, it’s worth doing.

NCTA leads in “vet tech” programs

One of the nation’s oldest college programs for educating technicians in animal health care has been reaccredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association.

The University of Nebraska’s Veterinary Technology program at the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis was notified in late April that its program has again received national accreditation.

Accreditation is required in Nebraska for post-secondary institutions offering academic programs to students studying to become licensed veterinary technicians, said Ron Rosati, NCTA dean.

“Since its establishment in 1968 through the efforts of the University of Nebraska and Dr. Walter Long, the veterinary technology program has graduated more than 1,000 students,” Rosati said.

Then known as the University Of Nebraska School Of Technical Agriculture, the UNSTA program was one of the first two in the U.S. to be accredited and has continuously maintained that status, which is important for students seeking top training.

When students from the Midwest and around the nation arrived at Curtis in 1968 for their two-year associate degree program, they were paving the way for many to follow.

They were educated in radiology, anesthesia, anatomy and physiology, surgery, pharmacology, diseases, facilities, office records, and many of the primary areas studied by their nursing and radiology counterparts in human health.

One of those early-year graduates is Barbara Berg, licensed veterinary technician (LVT) and assistant professor, who is chair of the NCTA Veterinary Technology Systems program.

“Over the years the veterinary technician profession has grown and changed,” Berg said. “Today’s LVT’s share with the veterinarian the challenge of providing high level quality care for the patients in their hospital or clinic.  There are now over 15 specialties a technician can pursue after completing their veterinary technician education.”

In a national review, the AVMA scorecard is a rigorous team evaluation of an institution’s entire program including curriculum, staffing, learning objectives, facilities, equipment, laboratories, animals, safety and biosecurity, and more.

“Our iconic campus dairy barn where early graduates attended classes, including large animal surgery, has been transformed into the Dr. Walter Long Veterinary Technology Teaching Clinic,” Berg noted. “Here, the students can apply the hands-on skills they have learned in classes to scenario-based practice cases.  This allows a little more  real-world experience before internship and graduation.”

Aggie students pursue one or more areas of study for an Associates of Applied Science degree:  veterinary technician, veterinary assistant, equine health care, animal health management, and animal husbandry.

Those who graduate from NCTA as a veterinary technician are qualified to sit for the VTNE (Veterinary Technical National Examination) which is offered by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards. Veterinarian technicians who practice in Nebraska must be licensed by the state.

“This highly successful reaccreditation of NCTA’s veterinary technology program is testament to the effectiveness and knowledge of our faculty. External evaluators thoroughly reviewed their work and verified the academic rigor and historical integrity of the program,” Dean Rosati said.

Faculty members in the NCTA Veterinary Technology Systems division are Berg; Professor Ricky Sue Barnes, DVM; Assistant Professors Judy Bowmaster Cole, LVT and Glenn Jackson, DVM; and facilities class coordinator Josi Arnold.

Additional information about NCTA can be found at or specifically about veterinary technology at

Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation Seeks Scholarship Applicants

The Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation is seeking applicants for scholarships of up to $2,500 per recipient. The Nebraska Rural Radio Foundation (NRRF) Scholarship in Honor of Max and Eric Brown is awarded to non-traditional students, age 25 or older living in Nebraska’s rural communities.

Non-traditional students seeking funding for education or training are encouraged to apply for the scholarship through the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation’s website. Go to, click on the Scholarships and Awards tab, select For Students, and scroll to find the NRRF scholarship. Application forms are available for download and are due June 1.

ACE opens registration, previews agenda for 30th annual conference

The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) has opened registration and announced a preliminary agenda for its milestone 30th annual conference coming up Aug. 15-17 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in downtown Omaha. This year’s conference theme is Tested. Proven. Driven. The general session will include testimonials from retailers and fuel marketers on why they are selling E15 and flex fuels and a presentation on ethanol’s export market potential. In addition, the general session will decode tax reform efforts in Washington, D.C. and highlight progress toward high-octane ethanol blends.

General session preview:
 ·    Retail Panel Discussion: Ethanol’s Point of Opportunity
Fuel marketers Charlie Bosselman, owner of Bosselman Enterprises, and Bob O’Connor, owner of JETZ Convenience Centers, will reveal why and how they made the move to offering higher ethanol blends and lessons learned along the way.
 ·    Global Tailwinds and Headwinds
Lakeview Energy CEO and director, Jim Galvin, who also serves as the leader of the U.S. Grains Council Advisory Team for Ethanol, will discuss market trends and factors impacting global demand for ethanol and coproducts—all with an eye on the implications of Trump’s trade policy reform on the industry.
 ·    Tax Reform: Opportunities and Challenges for the Ethanol Industry
Donna Funk, principal at KCoe Isom, will step conference attendees through potential impacts on tax reform and how to prepare for the proposed changes.
 ·    Shifting to High-Octane Fuel
Leadership from Wayne Fueling Systems—the first equipment manufacturer to exclusively offer fuel dispensers UL-listed for E25 in North America—will be joined by the brains behind the engine testing and regulatory strategies for high-octane fuel. Brian West with Oak Ridge National Lab and Adam Gustafson at Boyden Gray & Associates will provide this insight.

Topics for many breakout sessions have also been determined, including a track specifically for ethanol plant boards of directors covering roles and responsibilities, succession planning and retention, and risk management. Other breakout session topics include coproduct diversification, production efficiency trends, and bringing ethanol direct to retail.  For more information on breakout sessions see the online agenda...

“We encourage ethanol producers and industry members to register now for this year’s ACE conference,” said Brian Jennings, ACE executive vice president. “This event will equip those who attend with the knowledge of the most current activities underway to increase demand for ethanol here and around the world.”

Iowa Cash Rent Prices Decline for Fourth Consecutive Year

Rental rates for Iowa farmland declined for the fourth consecutive year, according to the results of the 2017 Cash Rental Rates for Iowa Survey conducted by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

After 14 consecutive years of rental price increases (2000-2013), prices have now gone down for four straight years. Prices dropped by 4.8 percent in 2017 and have gone down nearly 19 percent in the last four years. 

“Cash rents are declining but not as fast as crop prices,” said Alejandro Plastina, assistant professor in economics and extension economist at Iowa State University. “Corn prices dropped by about 60 percent in the last four years and rent has gone down 19 percent. Profitability in cash rented acres will still remain tight.”

Rental rates came to $219 per acre statewide, with a dip in prices shown in all regions but the southeast region. The state average rate was $270 just three years ago. The largest drop in prices came from District 2, a $25 drop in the counties making up the north-central region of the state. Most regions saw decreases of $9 or more.

The highest average cash rent was observed in the District 3 (north-east region) at $241 per acre.

District 8, the south-central region, saw the smallest drop in rental prices but continues to have the lowest rental rate at $180 per acre.

“Even with these overall lower cash rental rates, it will still be hard to squeeze profits out of cash rented acres in 2017,” Plastina said. “Despite some recent anecdotal evidence of firm land values scattered across the state, I wouldn’t expect a generalized increase in cash rental rates any time soon if corn and bean prices remain at current levels.”

Rental values were estimated by asking people familiar with land rental markets what they thought were typical rates in their county. Of the 1,448 responses received, 52 percent came from farm operators, 29 percent from landowners, 9 percent from agricultural lenders, 9 percent from professional farm managers and realtors and 2 percent from other professionals.

The Cash Rental Rates for Iowa – 2017 Survey is available online from the Iowa State Extension Store and Ag Decision Maker.

Other resources available for estimating a fair cash rental rate include the Ag Decision Maker information files Computing a Cropland Cash Rental Rate (C2-20), Computing a Pasture Rental Rate (C2-23) and Flexible Farm Lease Agreements (C2-21). All documents include decision file electronic worksheets to help analyze leasing questions.

Ibotta Mobile App Campaign a Huge Success for Beef Industry

Nationwide sales of fresh beef at retail got a boost earlier this year as the result of a beef industry partnership with the mobile rebates app Ibotta. The partnership also significantly increased consumer engagements with beef through videos, recipes and messages on the app. Overall, the Federation of State Beef Councils of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association invested $600,000 in reserve funds in the partnership, which ran through early February. Local state beef councils also added $90,000 to help boost the campaign in specific states.

Ibotta is a consumer mobile app that has a subscriber rate of 22 million mostly-millennial consumers and growing. In the campaign, consumers who downloaded the app could browse the grocery category for small rebates on fresh ground beef products, unlock the rebates and after reviewing educational information about beef through a short recipe, message or video get cash back on the beef items they bought at any grocery store nationwide. Beef only paid for verified sales.

Results from the ground beef Ibotta campaign, which was managed by NCBA, a beef checkoff contractor, significantly surpassed standard Ibotta campaigns. The redemption rate for ground beef was nearly 40 percent, almost double the average Ibotta redemption rate of 23 percent. There were about 1.45 million consumer engagements, with beef rebates unlocked after consumers got the videos, recipes and messages. Of those, more than 576,000 consumers redeemed the rebates. The 4-week campaign resulted in more than 631,000 pounds of ground beef sold.

Other campaign results were just as significant, according to Jerry Effertz, a beef producer from Velva, N.D., and chairman of the Federation of State Beef Councils.  Ibotta campaign analytics showed that when consumers were offered the small (25 to 50 cent) rebates on ground beef, they also bought other whole muscle cuts, such as steaks or roasts, which were not offered on rebate. According to Ibotta receipt data, the average Ibotta user spent $7.80 on beef products.

“These results suggest our efforts inspired more beef trial and usage,” Effertz says. “Consumers were buying more beef overall, and that’s one of the things this Ibotta campaign was meant to accomplish.” 

Furthermore, during the 4-week Ibotta users increased their beef buying overall and decreased the amount of other protein (such as pork and chicken) they were buying. Beef’s protein market share increased by 14 percent, and beef maintained a 9 percent market share increase even two months after the campaign ended, the data showed. This highlighted a second Ibotta campaign objective: drive people back to beef after years of record-high beef prices, when many consumers may have stepped away from the product.

In addition to the national campaign, many state beef councils contributed additional funding to promote the campaign to consumers in their own markets. These state partners helped drive traffic to the app and created broader visibility for beef. The total value of the Ibotta campaign is estimated to be more than $4.4 million.

“This campaign was conducted during a time of high protein production, and our cattle industry was definitely in need of a lift because of the struggling market,” according to Effertz. “This campaign, targeted to a consumer millennial audience that loves beef but wants more information about it, was the right promotion at the right time.”

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

Beef checkoff funds invested in the Ibotta program were part of a $1,240,000 package from the Federation reserve fund for both international and domestic beef sales-enhancement efforts. The initial $940,000 investment was made in November, 2016.

CWT Assists with 1.2 million Pounds of Cheese and Butter Export Sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 8 requests for export assistance from Dairy Farmers of America, Foremost Farms, Northwest Dairy Association (Darigold) and Tillamook County Creamery Association that have contracts to sell 930,351 pounds (422 metric tons) of Cheddar and Gouda cheese and 220,462 pounds (100 metric tons) of butter to customers in Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa. The product has been contracted for delivery in the period from May through August 2017.

So far this year, CWT has assisted member cooperatives who have contracts to sell 31.604 million pounds of American-type cheeses, and 2.088 million pounds of butter (82% milkfat) to 15 countries on four continents. The sales are the equivalent of 338.708 million pounds of milk on a milkfat basis.

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

Choice-Select Spread

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

The Choice-Select spread has widened in the last few weeks. Although it is occurring slightly early, this widening of the spread is a seasonally expected occurrence. This widening of the Choice-Select spread provides incentives for increased production of Choice beef as compared to Select beef.  Over a 12 month period of time, the Choice-Select spread is typically narrowest in the January to March timeframe as the demand for Choice graded middle meats is at its lowest and the supply of Choice graded cattle is typically at its highest.  In contrast, as we go into summer, the demand for Choice graded middle meats is higher as retailers fill shelves in anticipation of the grilling season, but the supply of Choice graded cattle is lower as we see more calf-fed cattle being harvested.

What makes the widening of the Choice-Select spread this year interesting is the slightly early occurrence. However, the early widening can still be explained through supply and demand.  On the supply side, the industry is extremely current and the average weekly year to date dressed weights for steers in 2017 is down 17 pounds as compared to last year.  Beef production however is up almost 4 percent due to increased slaughter. Year to date, the percentage of cattle grading choice is up 2 percent, however, this percentage is starting to slip and in the last month the year-over-year weekly increase in percentage is only up 1 percent. 

On the demand side, demand is strong and retailers are struggling with procuring enough product for the summer sales. Additionally demand for Choice quality beef increases relative to Select quality beef in summer. Putting all this together tells us the total tonnage of both Choice and Select graded beef is up this year; and although Choice quality tonnage is up by more than the Select quality tonnage, the demand for Choice beef has increased by even more. Likely one reason for this increased demand for Choice quality beef is the overall decline in retail beef prices.  On average, fresh retail beef prices have declined 5 percent over the same period in 2016.  This overall decline in beef prices allows consumers to potentially switch from Select quality beef to Choice quality beef while not paying substantially more for a better product.

The widening of the Choice-Select spread is seasonal, and although the widening is a bit earlier than typical this year, it likely will return to normal by mid to late June.

NGFA and Grain Journal introduce CONVEY17 - a new operations and regulatory compliance conference

The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) and Grain Journal Magazine introduce CONVEY 2017, a newly redesigned operations and regulatory compliance conference and trade show for the grain handling, processing, milling and feed industries.

CONVEY, a successor to the former NGFA-Grain Journal Safety Conference and Elevator Design Conference, will focus annually on key regulatory compliance, safety and operational issues that are vital to facility managers and their key employees.

"We are excited to build on the safety, grain quality, and elevator design conferences we have held with the NGFA over the past seven years with this rebranded CONVEY17 conference," said Grain Journal publisher Mark Avery.

A significant focus of CONVEY17 will be on the Trump administration's regulatory philosophy and policy changes affecting the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Environmental Protection Agency. Key operations issues affecting the industry and prudent safety practices to maintain safe and operationally efficient facility operations also will be addressed.

"The NGFA and Grain Journal are natural partners for this endeavor. The combination of NGFA's Washington-based expertise on regulatory matters and on-the-ground knowledge of grain handling facility operations issues and Grain Journal's contacts with firms offering the latest products and services for the industry will provide valuable information for industry members," said NGFA Vice President of Safety and Regulatory Affairs Jess McCluer. "To boot, CONVEY will serve as a great way to reiterate the dedication to safety and health that guides our members' operations."

This year's conference, to be conducted July 24-26 at the Westin Kansas City Hotel at Crown Center in Kansas City, Mo., includes several sessions on specific OSHA regulations - like recordkeeping and reporting - that are not expected to change, as well as an interactive session covering OSHA inspections.

In addition to opportunities to engage with industry leaders about emergency preparedness, automation and employee retention, CONVEY17 also will cover best practices on how to comply with the most far-reaching law to hit the feed industry - the Food Safety Modernization Act.

CONVEY17 includes a 75-exhibitor trade show, which offers ample time to explore the latest product offerings and meet with colleagues.

Registration for CONVEY17 is available here....

Growth Energy Outlines Regulations Hindering Biofuels in Comments to EPA

 Growth Energy today filed comments to the Environmental Protection Agency in response to the agency’s request for comment following President Trump’s Executive Order, “Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda.” Growth Energy’s comments outlined multiple concerns with regulations that hinder the growth of American biofuel.

Chiefly, Growth Energy urged the agency to administer the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) as enacted into law by Congress and make every effort to get annual renewable volume obligations proposed, out for public comment, and finalized in a timely manner. Also related to the RFS, the association called on the agency to finalize its denial of the petition to change the point of obligation.

Another key issue in Growth Energy’s comments include a request for EPA to work with Congress to support legislation to fix the vapor pressure disparity amongst ethanol-blended fuels so that American drivers and retailers alike may choose E15 – fuel blended with 15 percent ethanol. Additionally, the association urged EPA to continue to find ways to improve the approval process for fuel pathways under the RFS.

“By removing these barriers, our industry can continue its success to create jobs, improve our agriculture and rural economies, increase our energy security, and improve our nation’s environment,” Growth Energy stated in its comments.

NFU, Coalition of Rural Organizations Oppose Elimination of Rural Development Mission Area and Under Secretary

Highlighting the important work carried out by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development, National Farmers Union (NFU) and a diverse coalition of rural organizations are calling on Congress to prevent any attempt to eliminate the Rural Development Mission Area (RD) and the Office of the Under Secretary for Rural Development.

The groups outlined their concerns in a letter to members of Congress today. The letter follows a proposed reorganization of USDA by the Trump Administration, which would eliminate Rural Development as a core mission area and replace the Under Secretary for Rural Development with a Special Assistant.

“Rural America is much more than production agriculture,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “Family farmers and ranchers need vibrant rural communities because they provide desirable amenities and jobs. Underfunding, understaffing or demoting the Rural Development Mission Area within USDA would cause real harm to programs that benefit farming and rural communities.”

Rural families, businesses and cooperatives need efficient transportation infrastructure, high-speed broadband, affordable water, quality schools and public safety for rural communities to prosper. USDA’s Rural Development Mission Area allows underserved rural communities to be competitive in the national and global marketplace.

“RD has a $216 billion portfolio with over forty different programs,” noted the coalition’s letter. “Programs under the Rural Development portfolio provide critical resources and technical assistance for some of the most underserved communities in the country – a responsibility demanding the highest caliber of leadership and accountability.”

Rural Development is currently a core USDA Mission Area. It is overseen by an Under Secretary, and is therefore part of the USDA subcabinet. The reassignment would remove Rural Development from the subcabinet and rescind both the decision-making power that comes with being a core USDA Mission Area and the ability for Congress to have direct oversight.

“The Administration highlights the shift as an “elevation of rural development” as the new assistant would report directly to the Secretary of Agriculture,” noted the letter. “Yet all Under Secretaries already report directly to the Secretary, and indeed serve as part of his subcabinet, so the assertion this would better position RD is deeply misleading.”

The letter also noted the USDA reorganization is the result of a congressional directive included in the 2014 Farm Bill, which instructed USDA to create a new Undersecretary of Trade. Although Congress directed USDA to create a Trade Under Secretary, USDA was under no legal obligation to eliminate any other mission area or Undersecretary to accomplish the directive.

“Rural America should not have to choose between production agriculture and critical economic development investments. We need core services and programs aimed directly at addressing the unique and diverse needs of rural communities,” concluded the letter.

Friday May 12 Ag News

Ricketts Applauds News that China Plans to Reopen Market to American Beef

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts issued a statement following news that American and Chinese officials had struck a deal that will allow American beef into China for the first time since 2003.

“We welcome China’s announcement to allow U.S. beef into the Chinese marketplace again,” said Governor Ricketts.  “As Governor, I along with my team at the Nebraska Department of Agriculture have worked to forge relationships with the Chinese government and business community to help grow Nebraska in the Chinese marketplace.”

In 2016, the Governor led a trade mission to China to share the story of Nebraska beef with potential customers in anticipation of the market re-opening.

In 2015, the Governor visited Beijing to urge the Chinese government to reopen the Chinese market to American beef.

“We have been anticipating this announcement and have already been working to build key partnerships in China for Nebraska beef,” said Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) Director Greg Ibach.  “We will be reaching out to our state’s beef community to ensure that we continue to position Nebraska to play a key role in the Chinese market.”

According to the Governor’s Office, NDA’s International Trade Officer Stan Garbacz will be in China next week to ensure that the state maximizes the potential opportunity for the Nebraska beef community.

The Chinese market has been closed since 2003.  At the time of closure Chinese beef imports were $64 million, which has since grown to $2.5 billion in 2016.

As the nation’s leader in commercial red meat production and the number one exporter of US beef, Nebraska agriculture stands to benefit greatly from the opening of this marketplace.

Nebraska Cattlemen Welcome Historic Reopening of China to U.S. Beef

Nebraska Cattlemen is very excited the Trump Administration has reached an agreement with China to restore market access for U.S. beef.  Nebraska's beef producers have been waiting for this moment for 13 years.  

"Nebraska leads the United States in red meat production, and trade drives our economy.  Opening up the Chinese market will allow our beef to compete in a market estimated at $2.6 billion for the U.S. beef industry.  This is tremendous news for Nebraska's livestock producers, and Nebraska Cattlemen is thrilled to have played an active role in reestablishing our economic relationship with the Chinese," said NC President Troy Stowater.

Chinese officials have been in our state numerous times over many years to learn more about the high quality beef produced in Nebraska.  Nebraska Cattlemen members have stepped up repeatedly to help foster a growing relationship with China.

Last fall, then NC President Barb Cooksley and then NCBA President-Elect Craig Uden helped host a Chinese delegation focused on resuming market access for U.S. beef.  The Chinese witnessed firsthand that because of our state's resources, Nebraska's producers are able to deliver some of the best beef grown in the world.

Last November, NC President Troy Stowater participated in a Nebraska delegation to China, led by Governor Pete Ricketts.  The trip's primary focus was reopening market access to U.S. beef, which closed in 2003.  This successful trip helped Chinese officials gain confidence in restoring beef trade between the two countries.

Because of the numerous harvest plants in Nebraska, this announcement will impact all Nebraska beef producers more than any other state in the U.S.  Currently, product equivalent of 2600 head of cattle is exported worldwide from Nebraska every day. Click here for Nebraska Exports Infographic. 

China's middle class has grown exponentially in recent years.  By 2022, an estimated 73% of China's population will be middle class.  Presently, the Chinese people eat roughly 12 pounds of beef per year.  However, research has long shown that, as disposable income grows, people tend to consume more protein.

According to the Trump Administration, there is one more round of technical consultations before U.S. beef arrives in China by July 16, 2017. Nebraska Cattlemen will actively continue to support the U.S. government in accomplishing this goal as soon as possible.

Statement by Steve Nelson, President, Regarding Resumption of U.S. Beef Trade with China

"The Commerce Department's announcement of an agreement to ship U.S. beef to China no later than July 16 is welcomed news for Nebraska's beef industry. As a top producer of beef, Nebraska has much to gain from a market estimated to be worth $2.6 billion. With Nebraska beef exports alone reaching $1.126 billion last year, Nebraska's cattlemen and women stand ready to meet the growing demand in this new market.”

“We thank the Trump administration and all of those who helped move us closer to reopening beef trade with this important customer. With May being national beef month, there is no better way to celebrate than to confirm Nebraska beef producers will have access to a critical market that has been closed for more than a decade. It is our hope that the Chinese market remain fully open to the benefit of all Nebraska cattle producers.”

U.S Beef Access to Chinese Market Takes Step Toward Restoration

On Thursday May 11, the Trump Administration announced an important new development in the restoration of U.S. beef access to China. With market access closed for U.S. beef to China for the past 13 years, this comes as welcomed news for American beef producers. The beef community thanks the President for making U.S. beef trade a priority and appreciates the work of the Trump Administration on this effort.

While this is an important step forward in gaining access to the second largest beef importing country in the world, American beef will not be immediately available to Chinese consumers. One more round of technical consultations between the U.S. and China must take place for final details to be arranged.

For Iowa cattle producers and their fellow cattlemen around the country, getting U.S. beef into China means increased sales and greater value for the product they work hard to produce. China is home to one-fifth of the world’s population, with a growing middle-class that is larger than the entire U.S. population. These middle-class consumers are buying record amounts of protein and China is becoming one of the greatest importers of beef in the world. Access to the Chinese market results in increased demand, not only for commonly recognized cuts like rounds and chuck rolls, but also opportunity for sales of other cuts like tongues, intestines, short ribs.

Statement of Secretary Perdue Regarding Trade Breakthrough with China

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today hailed the agreement between the United States and China on several key trade issues, most notably the return of American beef to the Chinese market after a hiatus that began in 2004.

Secretary Perdue issued the following statement:
“This is tremendous news for the American beef industry, the agriculture community, and the U.S. economy in general.  We will once again have access to the enormous Chinese market, with a strong and growing middle class, which had been closed to our ranchers for a long, long time.  I commend the persistence of President Trump, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, the U.S. Trade Representative’s officials, and our own USDA professionals.  I also thank our Chinese counterparts, who worked so hard to get this agreement into place.  When the Chinese people taste our high-quality U.S. beef, there’s no doubt in my mind that they’ll want more of it.”

Administration’s 100-Day China Plan a Step Forward for Soybeans

The American Soybean Association (ASA) welcomes details today from the Department of Commerce regarding the Trump Administration’s 100-Day Action Plan of the U.S.-China Comprehensive Economic Dialogue. ASA particularly cheered the inclusion of commitments to address the current backlog of approvals of new biotechnology traits for import into China, and also welcomed the commitments to restart U.S. beef exports to China.

“Clearly, we’ve been frustrated for some time now with the slow and unpredictable nature of China’s biotech approval process that has hampered the ability of U.S. soybean farmers to adopt the latest biotech traits. This week’s announcement that the Chinese have committed to ruling on eight outstanding traits is a major step forward,” said ASA President and Illinois farmer Ron Moore. “We recognize and greatly appreciate the administrations of both President Trump and President Xi for coming together and establishing a dialogue that we hope will yield more progress on biotech traits and larger market access issues in China in the future.”

China is by far the largest buyer of U.S. soybeans. American farmers sent more than $14 billion in soybeans, meal and oil to China, or roughly one in every four rows of beans produced in the U.S. Under the 100-day plan, China’s National Biosafety Committee (NBC) has committed to conduct science-based evaluations of the eight outstanding traits, and either approve or offer justification for—and next steps to resubmit following—rejection for each.

“There’s not a soybean farmer in the country that doesn’t recognize the importance of the Chinese market to his or her success,” Moore added. “The Chinese are our most significant trading partners, and while we understand that this step only clears the current backlog of unapproved traits, we hope that it will signal progress in opening and clarifying China’s approval process.”

Moore also commended the administration, including the Department of Commerce, USDA and USTR for their role in moving the plan forward.

“President Trump and Secretary Ross deserve a great deal of credit for putting together a level-headed, results-based plan with their Chinese counterparts,” he said. “We appreciate their work, and look forward to what’s next.”

As part of the 100-day plan, China will also begin the process of allowing imports of U.S. beef into that country, a development that will benefit soybean farmers given that soybean meal is a component of cattle feed rations domestically.


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               The rye, triticale, and other small grains you planted last fall are starting to grow tall.  Harvest as hay or silage should occur soon.

               Small grain cereals can be made into quite useful silages or hay.  Now, I’m not going to try and mislead you into thinking they are just as good as corn silage or alfalfa hay.  However, they can provide good feed when harvested and fed correctly.

               Tonnage and forage quality are affected most by stage of plant maturity at harvest.  Plants that contain ten to twelve percent crude protein when in the boot stage may only have seven or eight percent protein when they reach soft dough.

               In order to time harvest for the best use in your own operation, first determine what livestock will be fed this forage.  Calves, stockers, replacement heifers, and especially dairy cows need a fairly high quality forage to gain weight as rapidly as desired or produce milk, so hay and silage should be harvested while plants are in the boot to early heading stage.  Dry cows, though, won’t need such high quality so harvest can be delayed until dough stage to achieve higher yields and still have acceptable protein levels.

               Think twice, though, about making hay from rye, triticale, or wheat that has formed seed heads.  These seed heads produce rough awns that can irritate and injure the eyes and mouth parts of livestock.  To avoid problems from awns, either cut hay before seed heads emerge or make silage from the more mature plants to soften and break these awns.

               I also suggest testing the hay or silage for nitrates as well as for protein and energy before beginning to feed it.  This will help you feed more safely and efficiently.

               Last fall’s cereal planting is about ready to harvest.  Time it right to get the best feed for your livestock.

Statement from the Leopold Center regarding the decision of the Iowa legislature and Governor

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad signed into legislation on May 12, 2017, Senate File 510, a bill that included language to "eliminate the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture." However, he vetoed this segment of the bill, sparing it from elimination. Although the Leopold Center remains, Gov. Branstad approved moving its funding to the Iowa Nutrient Research Center at Iowa State University.

The Leopold Center, named in honor of renowned Iowa-born naturalist Aldo Leopold, was created as part of the 1987 Iowa Groundwater Protection Act, also signed by Governor Branstad.

"For 30 years, the Leopold Center has offered hope, new knowledge and significant research findings to Iowa and the nation," said Director Mark Rasmussen. "While we appreciate that the name and the Center will remain, the loss of all state funding severely restricts operations and our ability to serve our many stakeholders."

More than 30 new grant projects were approved to begin in February and their management will transfer to the ISU College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, which has been charged with winding up the Center's affairs by the end of the 2017.  Over the past three decades, the Leopold Center sponsored more than 600 grants involving research, education and demonstration on a wide range of agricultural topics as outlined in its educational mission in the Iowa Code.

Researchers investigated many of the practices years before being enshrined in Iowa's Nutrient Reduction Strategy, including: buffer strips, bioreactors, prairie strips, cover crops, payments for ecosystems services, integrated pest management, early spring nitrate tests, crop rotations, and rotational grazing.  Local foods systems were just getting started in Iowa as the Leopold Center promoted farmers markets, grape production for wineries, food hubs, and immigrant garden projects.  Thousands of investigators, graduate students, farmers, community members, agency staff and interested Iowans have participated in Leopold Center research and outreach.

To all those who collaborated with the Center, to faithful advisory board members and grantees, to the ISU personnel who worked on so many projects and shared the results of their Leopold Center funding, we offer sincere thanks and appreciation. Your efforts on behalf of sustainable agriculture were and are valuable. We are deeply grateful for the outpouring of supporters who contacted their legislators, signed petitions, and testified in favor of keeping the Leopold Center doors open at the public hearing on April 17. We appreciate the many emotional letters and opinion pieces you have written to news outlets and social media on behalf of the Center and on the future of sustainable agriculture in Iowa.

Special thanks go to advisory board members Aaron Lehman, Doug Gronau, and Gail Hickenbottom for going the extra miles in support for the Center.  Former Center director Jerry DeWitt was tireless in his efforts to rally support for the Center in the last month. Angie Carter, along with other former sustainable agriculture graduate students, led grassroots efforts of support. We salute the wisdom and courage of Paul Johnson, Ralph Rosenberg, and David Osterberg, the three legislators who shepherded the Leopold Center into existence in 1987.

The Leopold Center has been true to its mission and transparent in its operations. It also has given Iowa a wealth of gifts to continue the work of sustainable agriculture into the future.

Celebrate June Dairy Month in Iowa - Multiple dairy open house opportunities across state

June is dairy month and the public is invited to celebrate the efforts of Iowa’s dairy farmers who deliver a wholesome and nutritious supply of milk and dairy products, making a significant contribution to the state’s economy. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is offering several educational opportunities across the state to learn about dairy farming first-hand.

“Our goal is to create the next generation of dairy lovers,” said Leo Timms, Morrill professor of animal science and extension dairy specialist with Iowa State University. “We’re giving visitors an opportunity to get inside a dairy barn and see our commitments to animal well-being, environmental stewardship and production of high quality, safe milk and dairy products. Consumers need to know about local dairy products and the work it takes to make Iowa 12th in the nation for milk production.”

Dairy is the fifth-largest agricultural business in Iowa, generating $4 billion a year in economic activity according to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service 2012 Census of Agriculture. There are about 1,400 dairy farms in the state and about 99 percent of them are family-owned.

The dairy month open house schedule includes face-to-face conversations with farmers and on-farm milking demonstrations. Open house activities vary by location and may include a meal or samples of dairy products, a kid friendly area to meet calves and visit educational exhibits, and a guided farm tour allowing families to milk a cow and see robotic milking machines.

June Dairy Month open houses
-    Friday, June 9, 6-11 a.m. – ISU Dairy Farm Open House and Ag Discovery Center, 52470 260th St., near Ames.
-    Saturday, June 17, 8:30 a.m.-12 p.m. – 7th Annual Breakfast on the Farm at Iowa’s Dairy Center, 1527 Hwy 150 South, near Calmar.
-    Wednesday, June 28, 4-7 p.m. – 9th Annual Western Iowa Dairy Alliance Open House, Summit Dairy (5564 390th Street near Primghar).

Events are held in partnership with the Midwest Dairy Association, Iowa State Dairy Association, Western Iowa Dairy Alliance, Northeast Iowa Dairy Foundation, Northeast Iowa Community College and various agriculture and commodity group sponsors and supporters in the local communities.

Visitors are asked to take precautions and follow biosecurity policies if they have been at another livestock operation. Those who have recently returned from a trip abroad are asked to wait five days before visiting farms with animals. Visitors are asked to change clothing and footwear if going from farm to farm and to refrain from bringing any food items to the farm. For more information contact the farm manager of the dairy operation.

June Dairy Month Celebrates Dairy Products and Dairy Farmers

More than 75 years since the annual celebration began, June Dairy Month continues to recognize dairy products and the farmers who produce them. The festivities will kick off with World Milk Day on June 1. Initiated by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Milk Day marks the importance of milk as part of a healthy and balanced diet and the dairy industry’s global contributions to economic development and agriculture, including the one billion people who derive their livelihood from it, as well its commitment to sustainability and protecting the environment. Throughout the month, people, companies and communities will continue to recognize dairy’s positive impact on nutrition and the planet.

The 2015 Dietary Guidelines affirms dairy’s important place in the diet in its recommendation that people ages nine and older consume three servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy foods every day. Dairy products including milk, cheese and yogurt provide important nutrition to families, including a high-quality protein which supports healthy muscles and promotes fullness. Additionally, with only three ingredients listed on the label – milk and vitamins A and D – and about a 48-hour journey from the farm to the grocery store, milk is a local food which fits easily into the clean eating trend.

Dairy’s contribution to healthy eating would not be possible without the people behind the dairy products: dairy farmers. Dairy farmers work hard to minimize their impact on the environment, consistently focusing on recycling practices so that they use as little water and energy as possible in the daily management of their farms.

 “June is a time when we can show our appreciation for the 7,400 dairy farm families in the Midwest,” says Midwest Dairy Association CEO, Lucas Lentsch. “Dairy farmers demonstrate the highest commitment to producing nutritious milk while protecting the land on which they live and work, as well as fund research that leads to dairy product innovation.”

Midwest Dairy offers the following ways for you to celebrate June Dairy Month:
-    Get to know a Midwest dairy farm family by attending a June Dairy Month event in your state or meeting a Midwest dairy farm family online.
-    Take the Dairy 3 For Me pledge where you commit to enjoy three servings of dairy every day.
-    Include dairy as part of meals and snacks. To start, try this Raspberry-Strawberry Smoothie made with milk and yogurt.

For more dairy recipes, and dairy nutrition and farming information, visit

SHIC Funded Study Suggests Potential for Pathogen Transmission Via Feed

 In preliminary findings, a study conducted by Pipestone Applied Research and South Dakota State University shows the potential for porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) and other viruses to contaminate and survive in feed ingredients, including soybean meal (SBM) and dried distillers grains (DDGs). The study is based on a model simulating the transboundary movement of contaminated ingredients that was developed to identify “high risk combinations” of viruses and feed ingredients. The entire white paper is available at

The Swine Health Information Center (SHIC) is interested in discovering potential risks to the US pork industry and has provided significant funding for this ongoing work. The SHIC Swine Disease Matrix was used to identify target viral pathogens for evaluation in the study. Researchers used “surrogate viruses” in some instances which allowed study of closely related and structurally similar viruses.

This research examined multiple viruses for their ability to survive under shipping conditions coming into the US. Preliminary data indicate the survival of viruses and surrogate viruses including the Seneca Virus A (surrogate for FMDV and of interest itself), Bovine Herpesvirus-1 (surrogate for Pseudorabies virus), and PRRSV (using PRRSV 174) during the 37-day study period. Ingredients frequently supporting virus survival include SBM, lysine, choline, and Vitamin D, and, in some cases, DDGs. Other products were not shown to consistently support viral survival during the 37-day study period. In the process, a subset of viruses has also been recovered from pork casings and different kinds of pet food. None of the viruses survived the 37-day incubation period in the absence of a feed component matrix.

These results suggest a subset of contaminated feed ingredients could serve as vehicles for foreign animal disease, other transboundary introduction in the US and possibly circulation of viruses within the US. In particular, the PRRSV data may provide new insights and areas of further study on the role of area spread.

Further mitigation research has already begun. This process will include testing of a variety of feed additives that might be able to neutralize these pathogens when added to feed during milling or other processes that may help mitigate risk.

Heat treatment during corn processing into DDGs and soybean conversion into SBM should neutralize pathogens present on the corn kernel or bean prior to processing. However, research at Kansas State University has shown the potential for porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) contamination of feed during the milling process if PEDV is present within the feed mill emphasizing the need for feed mill biosecurity plans ( Although, more information is needed about oral viral infective doses to accurately assess risk.

ASA Encourages Safe Use of Seed Treatment

The American Soybean Association (ASA) is reminding growers to take special care to keep treated seeds from entering the supply of U.S. grains and oilseeds. Treated seeds in commodity shipments are a multi-commodity problem that warrants the attention of the entire supply chain and directly jeopardizes U.S. markets, both foreign and domestic

Maintaining the stellar U.S. reputation for appropriately managing all pesticides is one key element of providing customer satisfaction and official acceptance of exports. Few concerns can be as damaging to supplier reputation for quality and safety of agricultural products as the presence of seed treatment compounds in commodities intended for use in food and feed.

Growers with questions are encouraged to visit The Guide to Seed Treatment Stewardship, an industry-wide initiative to promote the safe handling and management of treated seed. Endorsed by ASA and other ag groups, the guide provides farmers and seed companies with critical information and up-to-date guidelines for managing treated seed effectively to further minimize the risk of exposure to non-target organisms.

EPA Extends Timeline for Pesticide Applicators Rule

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt Thursday announced a 12-month extension for implementation of the revised final Certification and Training of Pesticide Applicators (C&T) rule. EPA received feedback from states and stakeholders that more time and resources are needed to prepare for compliance with the rule. The extended timeline will enable EPA to work with states and provide adequate compliance and training resources.

"In order to achieve both environmental protection and economic prosperity, we must give the regulated community, which includes farmers and ranchers, adequate time to come into compliance with regulations. Extending the timeline for implementation of this rule will enable EPA to consult with states, assist with education, training and guidance, and prevent unnecessary burdens from overshadowing the rule's intended benefits," said Administrator Pruitt.

Last month, Administrator Pruitt met with Missouri Governor Eric Greitens to discuss the C&T rule, among other issues.

Administrator Pruitt recently launched his Back-to-Basics agenda for returning EPA to its core mission: protecting the environment by engaging with state, local, and tribal partners to create sensible regulations that enhance economic growth. Thursday's action is the latest evidence of Administrator Pruitt's commitment to cooperative federalism and getting the EPA back to basics.


National Pork Producers Council Chief Veterinarian Dr. Liz Wagstrom was busy in Washington last week as she participated in the Presidential Advisory Council on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria (PACCARB) meeting. The meeting focused on incentives for developing diagnostics, vaccines and new therapeutic products. Veterinarians and animal health manufacturers were on hand to help educate the PACCARB panel on livestock farming, veterinary care and development of new drugs and vaccines.

Also last week, Wagstrom met with officials from USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). The National Pork Board, Association of Swine Veterinarians and Swine Health Information Center joined the meeting, which addressed progress in the APHIS Veterinary Service sector.

Additionally, Wagstrom on Tuesday held briefings for House and Senate staff on responsible antibiotic use in animals and humans. She pointed out that pork producers recognize the importance of using antibiotics responsibly to protect the health and well-being of both while striving to reduce the overall need for the use of antibiotics in pork production and to maintain their efficacy for future generations.

Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program Targets Youth

As a part of ongoing efforts to reach a broader audience of beef producers, a new multispecies youth quality assurance training platform is now available: Youth for the Quality Care of Animals (YQCA). The BQA program was involved in the development of training curriculum and content during the development phase of the program and now supports the program through its online and in person training components. The curriculum is designed for students and youth, ages 8-21, raising livestock. For information and training visit

Bill Would Help Farmers Improve Irrigation Systems

Passage of the Water and Agriculture Tax Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 519) would help farmers and ranchers more efficiently operate mutual ditch, irrigation and water companies, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.

AFBF President Zippy Duvall said in a letter to Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), the measure’s sponsor, "Mutual ditch, irrigation and water companies are important to agriculture because they allow farmers, ranchers and others to form collaborative businesses to install and maintain vital irrigation infrastructure."

Current law requires capital improvements be 85 percent shareholder financed, which can be limiting. The bill would multiply the sources from which mutual ditch, irrigation and water companies can obtain capital to expand and improve their water systems.

Specifically, the legislation would allow mutual water and storage delivery companies to retain their nonprofit status even if they receive more than 15 percent of their revenue from non-member sources. Under the act, additional non-member revenue raised must be used for maintenance, operations and infrastructure improvements.

NGFA and NAEGA outline importance of two-way trade in comments to Trump administration

The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) and North American Export Grain Association (NAEGA) this week submitted a joint statement to the U.S. Trade Representative's Office and U.S. Department of Commerce emphasizing U.S. food and agriculture's contribution to the U.S. economy and importance of trade to and from the United States.

The comments were submitted May 10 in response to a request for input to inform the U.S. Trade Representative and Secretary of Commerce in their preparation of an Omnibus Report on Significant Trade Deficits for President Donald Trump.

"The U.S. food and agriculture experience is one of generating significant trade surpluses that have benefited the U.S. balance of trade, job creation and economic growth," said the NGFA and NAEGA in their statement.

The organizations cited data from the U.S. Department of Commerce, as well as analyses conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, showing that the food and agriculture sector supports more than 15 million U.S. jobs, creates more than $423 billion in annual U.S. economic activity, and represents the single largest U.S. manufacturing sector - constituting 12 percent of all U.S. manufacturing jobs. Every dollar in U.S. agricultural exports generates an additional $1.27 in U.S. economic activity, they noted.

The comments also outlined key areas that would preserve and enhance U.S. agricultural competitiveness. Specifically, the NGFA and NAEGA cited the need to:
-    maintain and expand market access and tariff concessions;
-    improve regulatory coherence and cooperation, including by implementing enhanced science-based sanitary and phytosanitary rules;
-    remove non-tariff barriers that lack scientific merit;
-    increase transparency and cooperation in approving modern agricultural production technologies, including seed-breeding innovations;
-    more closely align standards; and
-    enable innovation of information technologies to improve implementation of logistics and regulatory systems.

"While we understand the need to examine the underlying causes of trade deficits to various sectors of the U.S. economy, it also remains essential that the United States continue to recognize the economic principle of comparative advantage and the benefits that two-way trade contribute to advancing U.S. and world economic well-being and global security," the comments stated. "For example, within the agricultural space, imports of farm inputs, such as fertilizer, may lower U.S. production costs and enable U.S. food and agricultural exports to remain competitive."

The NGFA and NAEGA said they are eager to assist the Trump administration in identifying "opportunities to update and modernize existing U.S. trade agreements and relationships with other countries - and to initiate new agreements, particularly with Asia-Pacific countries - while preserving the core benefits that have helped the U.S. food and agriculture sector support U.S. economic growth and job creation."

Separately, the organizations noted that they are eager to work with newly confirmed U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in his central role in developing and coordinating U.S. international trade policy and leading trade negotiations with other countries.

Alltech acquires Montana-based WestFeeds

Strengthening its commitment to bringing the latest field-proven technologies to Western U.S. livestock producers and companion animal owners, Alltech has purchased WestFeeds, a leading animal nutrition company in Montana.

“WestFeeds has a strong reputation of providing producers with high quality animal nutrition products,” said Michael Castle, COO of Alltech.  “We believe there is great benefit for our customers in our teams joining forces for the future.”

With state-of-the-art manufacturing plants in Billings and Great Falls, as well as outlets in Billings, Dillon, Great Falls, Lewistown and Miles City, Montana, WestFeeds has a demonstrated commitment to local support.

“Our WestFeeds team is embracing the opportunity to join Alltech because we can see very clearly how our companies’ strengths complement one another, to the benefit of our customers,” said Jerry Begger, general manager of WestFeeds.

Begger will continue leading WestFeeds, assisted by ten-year Alltech veteran Kyle Klimpke.

Thursday May 11 Ag News

45 Outstanding Students Awarded 2017 AKSARBEN AG Leaders Scholarship

The AKSARBEN Foundation today announced 45 students from a six-state region as the 2017 recipients of an AKSARBEN AG Leaders Scholarship. Together, the students will receive $90,000 in recognition of their contributions to the agricultural tradition of the Heartland.  

“The AG Leaders Scholarship program is designed to provide scholarships annually to youth who have participated in the stock show but never had the opportunity to participate in the Purple Ribbon Auction,” said Kevin Kock, Executive Director of AKSARBEN Agriculture Initiatives. “These students are leaders and by supporting their passion we hope to keep as many of them as possible leading our rural communities.”

Nearly 1,200 4-H Exhibitors from a 10-state region take part in the AKSARBEN 4-H Stock Show each year. Each AG Leaders Scholarship winner is a high school senior and 4-H Exhibitor who has participated in the stock show for three or more years. The scholars plan to attend a two or four-year college or university and have expressed interest in pursuing a career related to agriculture or a non-agriculture career within a rural community.

Scholarships are the core of AKSARBEN Foundation's mission. Founded in 1895, the non-profit organization, based in Omaha, NE, funds needs-based scholarship programs for Heartland youth, awarding over $1 million annually.

AKSARBEN Foundation President Sandra Reding said we are proud of these young people and very grateful to the donors who make this scholarship program possible.

“AG Leaders not only exemplifies the Foundation’s commitment to scholarships and agriculture,” Reding said. “It further demonstrates our mission of giving back to the community.”

The 2017 AKSARBEN AG Leaders Scholarship recipients from Nebraska are Blake Bauer from Fairbury, NE; Jessica Blaser from Columbus, NE; Jenna Bromm from Oakland, NE; Hannah Brudigam from Oakland, NE; Katie Entz from Mason City, NE; Jessica Fleischman from Herman, NE; Hannah Groth from Monroe, NE; Ty Groth from Monroe, NE; Blake Guenther from West Point, NE; Kiley Guenther from West Point, NE; Karleigh Kleinknecht from Cozad, NE; Connor Klitz from West Point, NE; Cody Lambrecht from Kennard, NE; Adam Oldemeyer from Firth, NE; Kelsey Padgett from Shelton, NE; Lindsey Padgett from Shelton, NE; Jamie Plagge from West Point, NE; Evan Pohl from Benedict, NE; Grant Romshek from Shelby, NE; Jessica Rudolph from Gothenburg, NE; Laura Scamehorn from Kearney, NE; Payton Schaneman from Denton, NE; Tejlor Strope from O’Neill, NE; Cora Svoboda from Ord, NE; Leah Treffer from Cozad, NE; and Louise Wiseman from Hershey, NE. 


Could the solutions to feeding a booming global population be found through video gaming? Researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln are attempting to make their case.

Jeyam Subbiah, Kenneth E. Morrison Distinguished Professor of Food Engineering, is leading a team trying to stimulate interest in the food-energy-water nexus by developing an educational video game called Agpocalypse 2050.

The game was created around the projection that the global population is expected to reach 9 billion people by 2050, requiring twice the amount of food than what the world currently produces. Players are tasked with creating sustainable agricultural systems that will feed and fuel the world with limited resources under a changing climate. With each task, the players have to analyze at the system level, with the idea that they will gain an understanding of the dynamics between food, energy and water.

"Too often, food people work on food, energy people work on energy and water people work on water. They very rarely look at the interconnection between these systems," Subbiah said. "This game allows us to comprehensively look at the food, energy and water nexus using real-world situations, but without the risk of actually implementing system changes."

A fuel shortage is one example of the challenges an Agpocalypse 2050 player might face. To succeed in the game, the player must identify how a fuel shortage would affect fuel, ethanol, corn and distiller prices immediately and long-term. The player will have to make adjustments within each area to maintain a sustainable agricultural system. One day is equivalent to one year in the game. The players compete based on economic and sustainability metrics.

Subbiah came up with the idea while watching his son play a football video game. In the game, a player could go back to old Super Bowls and attempt to change the outcomes. Subbiah thought it would be interesting if there were a game that would allow a player to go back 10 or 15 years and attempt to yield a larger crop than the average Nebraska farmer. While the idea was relatively simple, Subbiah knew he would need help to make the game a reality.

"I had never designed a video game before," Subbiah said. "For people to really get excited about playing it, I knew the graphics would be extremely important.”

Ashu Guru, an assistant professor focused on 4-H youth development, is also involved with the project. Guru, who was director of the design studio at Nebraska's Jeffrey S. Raikes School of Computer Science and Management, reached out to Colleen Syron, assistant professor in the university’s School of Art, Art History and Design, who adapted her curriculum to include a unit on game design for her undergraduate interaction design class.

"I knew this project could be really special because not only did it bring a gaming component to the class, but it also created an in-class interdisciplinary learning environment," she said. "We brought experts into the classroom including economics professors, 4-H professionals, biological systems engineers, irrigation engineers, animal scientists, food scientists, environmental engineers and farmers. These client experts allowed students to also gain an understanding of an actual academic client relationship."

The first step for the design students was to research the food-energy-water nexus and the agricultural industry.

"Some of the students from urban areas did not know a thing about agriculture, which created a unique social component to the project because they could learn from other students who grew up on farms or ranches," Syron said.

Once the students felt comfortable with the food-energy-water nexus and the challenges facing sustainability, they split up into seven teams. Each team developed a different set of strategies for playing the game and designed graphics to go along with them. They then presented their games to Subbiah's team.

Agpocalypse 2050 is designed by undergraduate art student Jake Eiserman. Subbiah is now working with biological systems engineering graduate students Ryan Anderson and Nathan Rice to walk through each computational model for the game, along with the sustainability and profitability metrics.

One unique feature is the expert help section. Should a player ask for help, a character pops up that acts as an educator or specialist from Nebraska Extension. The characters will share information such as the difference between drip irrigation and center irrigation, or till and no-till. In addition to the character assistance, fact sheets and a web link to learn more about each topic will be available, Guru said.

Once the computational models are complete, students from the Raikes School will develop the game, under Guru's guidance.

The goal is to get Agpocalypse 2050 in front of urban middle and high school students. Jennifer Keshwani, assistant professor and science literacy specialist, is working with Omaha Bryan High School through the Urban Agricultural Career Academy to pilot the program. Corresponding educational materials will also be tested through Nebraska 4-H summer camps and an undergraduate food, energy and water in society minor at Nebraska.

The project is made possible by a three-year, $999,644 grant from the National Science Foundation.

Statement by Steve Nelson, President, Regarding Aetna Withdraw from Nebraska Health Insurance Exchange

"The decision by Aetna to pull out of the Nebraska health insurance exchange further demonstrates Obamacare is crumbling under its flawed philosophy of removing free market concepts from our nation’s health insurance system. Nebraska's farm and ranch families, many of whom get their health insurance from either the health insurance exchange or the open market, are the ones who will pay the very high price of Obamacare's failures.”

“Aetna’s departure leaves only one health insurance provider in the Nebraska exchange, and creates tremendous uncertainty for Nebraska farm and ranch families that find themselves with few "affordable" options Obamacare promised. While not perfect, the U.S. House passed the American Health Care Act that at least serves as a starting point to begin the necessary process of repealing and replacing the many problematic pieces of Obamacare. Now it is time for the Senate to act. All Nebraskans deserve a better system than the one currently provided by Obamacare."

Quality assurance sessions scheduled for Iowa pig farmers

The Iowa Pork Producers Association is partnering with the Iowa Pork Industry Center and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach to offer free Pork Quality Assurance Plus® (PQA Plus®) and Transport Quality Assurance® (TQA®) programs for Iowa pig farmers.

"Pork producers, their employees and pig transporters continue to show their dedication to continuous industry improvement through certification in PQA Plus and TQA," said IPPA President Curtis Meier. "These programs, along with the We Care initiative, continue to show our customers the strong commitment we have to food safety and animal care."

Special quality assurance training sessions will be hosted at the 2017 World Pork Expo on Wednesday, June 7, and around the state this summer. The expo session will be hosted in room A-2 of the Varied Industries Building on the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines. Interested individuals should pre-register by contacting Carla Vanderheiden at (800) 372-7675 or Pig farmers also can register at .

Session details are as follows:
Wednesday, June 7
TQA - 9:30 a.m. - Noon
PQA Plus - 1 p.m. - 4 p.m.

Additionally, PQA Plus and TQA training sessions will be offered in each of the eight IPPA districts throughout the summer. Here is the schedule:

District 5 - Monday, July 24 - Cass County Extension & Outreach - 805 West 10th St. - Atlantic
District 6 - Thursday, July 27 - Madison County Extension - 117 N. 1st Ave. - Winterset
District 1 - Monday, July 31 - Sioux County Ext. - 400 Central Ave. NW Ste. 700 - Orange City
District 7 - Tuesday, August 8 - Mahaska County Extension & Outreach - 212 N. I St. - Oskaloosa
District 4 - Tuesday, August 8 - Delaware Co Ext. & Outreach - 1417 N. Franklin St. - Manchester
District 8 - Tuesday, August 8 - Johnson Co Ext. & Outreach - 3109 Old Hwy. 218 S. - Iowa City
District 2 - Tuesday, August 22 - Humboldt Co Ext. & Outreach - 727 Sumner Ave. - Humboldt
District 3 - Tuesday, August 29 - Borlaug Learning Center - 3327 290th St - Nashua

All district locations offer TQA from 9:30 a.m. to noon and PQA Plus from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. All sessions are sponsored by IPPA and the Pork Checkoff. Producers are encouraged to pre-register to allow adequate space and materials. To pre-register or for more information, contact Carla Vanderheiden at (800) 372-7675 or, or visit The form can be found under "Producers" and "Quality Assurance Programs."

PQA Plus and TQA are part of the industry aligned We Care responsible pork initiative, which establishes ethical principles for pork producers to produce safe food, protect and promote animal well-being, protect public health, safeguard natural resources, provide a safe work environment and contribute to a better quality of life in their communities.

Agri-Pulse Farm Opinion Poll: Growers see trade as hope for sour farm economy

With the farm economy stuck in a multiyear funk, Iowa soybean producers see trade as one of the big opportunities for improving their economic situation.

More than a third of 133 soybean farmers (34.5 percent) surveyed by Agri-Pulse said passing new trade agreements is the most important national issue affecting the profitability of their farm. Coming in second was maintaining the Renewable Fuel Standard (27.8 percent), followed by reducing regulatory burdens (13.5 percent).

Agri-Pulse Editor Sara Wyant, who helped collect and tabulate the results of the quarterly poll conducted in April with the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) said, farmers are closely following the trade agenda of President Donald Trump.

“Almost three quarters of respondents said they agree with his plan to renegotiate NAFTA,” Wyant said. “It’s clear that the farm economy depends on trade and that our farm exports to Mexico and to Canada are critical for agriculture.”

Poll participants were somewhat divided over the president’s decision to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which would have joined the U.S. in a trading agreement with 11 other Pacific Rim nations. Forty-five percent disagreed with that move, while almost 38 percent backed his decision.

Perhaps the strongest response in the survey was to a question about the EPA. About 85 percent of the farmers surveyed said they “somewhat” or “strongly” agree with the executive orders Trump has issued rolling back agency regulations. Only 13 percent disagreed with those orders.

Meanwhile, for the fourth straight year, responding farmers said they expect weaker financial conditions and are “tightening their belts” to trim expenses. Almost 55 percent said they expect their economic outlook to worsen either slightly or significantly, with 31.5 percent predicting things to stay about the same. Almost half said they would be cutting back on farm expenses, with equipment and fertilizer at the top of their lists.

“During these lean economic times, farmers are focused on strong yields, building market share for U.S. and Iowa-grown soybeans and easing regulatory burdens,” said Grant Kimberley, ISA director of market development. “With expectations of a fourth consecutive year of record global soybean production, it’s critical that we find more uses and markets for soybeans. Thus far, demand is holding strong and we’ll continue to emphasize the importance of trade to elected leaders and buyers.”

With a still sluggish economy, respondents said they fail to see any jump coming in farmland values. In fact, 48 percent said farmland values will continue to fall while 46.6 percent said they would stay about the same. Predictions about cash rents were similar.

Farmers also weighed in on the next farm bill, with 38 percent saying they’d like to see more investment in crop insurance followed by more funding for the conservation title (23 percent).

Secretary Perdue Announces Creation of Undersecretary for Trade

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced the creation of an undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), a recognition of the ever-increasing importance of international trade to American agriculture.  Perdue made the announcement standing by barges filled with agricultural products along the banks of the Ohio River.  As part of a reorganization of USDA, Perdue also announced the standing up of a newly-named Farm Production and Conservation mission area to have a customer focus and meet USDA constituents in the field.  Finally, Perdue announced that the department’s Rural Development agencies would be elevated to report directly to the secretary of agriculture in recognition of the need to help promote rural prosperity.

Perdue issued a report to announce the changes, which address Congressional direction in the 2014 Farm Bill to create the new undersecretary for trade and also are a down payment on President Trump’s request of his cabinet to deliver plans to improve the accountability and customer service provided by departments.

“Food is a noble thing to trade.  This nation has a great story to tell and we've got producers here that produce more than we can consume,” said Secretary Perdue.  “And that’s good, because I’m a grow-it-and-sell-it kind of guy.  Our people in American agriculture have shown they can grow it, and we’re here to sell it in markets all around the world.”

Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs

Agricultural trade is critical for the U.S. farm sector and the American economy as a whole.  U.S. agricultural and food exports account for 20 percent of the value of production, and every dollar of these exports creates another $1.27 in business activity.  Additionally, every $1 billion in U.S. agricultural exports supports approximately 8,000 American jobs across the entire American economy.  As the global marketplace becomes even more competitive every day, the United States must position itself in the best way possible to retain its standing as a world leader.

“Our plan to establish an undersecretary for trade fits right in line with my goal to be American agriculture’s unapologetic advocate and chief salesman around the world.  By working side by side with our U.S. Trade Representative and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, the USDA undersecretary for trade will ensure that American producers are well equipped to sell their products and feed the world,” Perdue said.

USDA’s reorganization seeks to place agencies in more logical order.  Under the existing structure, the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), which deals with overseas markets, and the Farm Service Agency (FSA), which handles domestic issues, were housed under one mission area, along with the Risk Management Agency (RMA).  It makes much more sense to situate FAS under the new undersecretary for trade, where staff can sharpen their focus on foreign markets.

Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation

Additionally, a new undersecretary will be selected for a newly-named Farm Production and Conservation mission area, which is to focus on domestic agricultural issues.  Locating FSA, RMA, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service under this domestically-oriented undersecretary will provide a simplified one-stop shop for USDA’s primary customers, the men and women farming, ranching, and foresting across America.

“The men and women of American agriculture are hardy people, many of whom were born into the calling of feeding America and the world,” Perdue said.  “Their efforts are appreciated, and this adjustment to the USDA structure will help us help them in even better ways than before.”

Under the reorganization plan, the undersecretary for natural resources and environment will retain supervision of the U.S. Forest Service. A reduction in USDA workforce is not part of the reorganization plan.

Elevating Rural Development

Just as importantly, the USDA reorganization will elevate the Rural Development agencies to report directly to the secretary of agriculture to ensure that rural America always has a seat at the table.  Fighting poverty wherever it exists is a challenge facing the U.S., and the reality is that nearly 85 percent of America's persistently impoverished counties are in rural areas.  Rural childhood poverty rates are at their highest point since 1986, affecting one in four rural children, with deep poverty among children being more prevalent in rural areas (12.2 percent) than in urban areas (9.2 percent).  The vitality of small towns across our nation is crucial to the future of the agricultural economy and USDA must always argue for the needs of rural America.

“The economic health of small towns across America is crucial to the future of the agriculture economy. It is my commitment to always argue for the needs of rural America, which is why we are elevating Rural Development within USDA,” said Secretary Perdue. “No doubt, the opportunity we have here at the USDA in rural development is unmatched.”

Fischer Statement on Creation of New Undersecretary for Trade

U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb), a member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, today released the following statement regarding the creation of a new undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA):

“I welcome Secretary Perdue’s announcement today that he will follow the law and create this much-needed position at the USDA. This idea was a wise recommendation of my friend and former colleague, Senator Mike Johanns. The undersecretary for trade will expand opportunities for Nebraska producers to reach new markets and deliver more of their high-quality products to consumers around the world.”

Statement by Steve Nelson, President, Regarding Creation of New Position of USDA Undersecretary for Trade

"We are extremely pleased by today’s announcement by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to create a new position of undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).”

“Agricultural trade is critical to Nebraska and this position will help ensure it remains a focal point for USDA into the future. As I’ve noted before, nearly 30 percent of U.S. farm income today comes from dollars generated from moving products into foreign markets. We appreciate the work of Sonny Perdue and former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns for helping make this a reality.”

Statement of NPPC President Ken Maschhoff on USDA Establishing an Undersecretary for Trade

NPPC is very pleased that Secretary Perdue is establishing within USDA an undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs, a position that we and others in agriculture fought to get included in the 2014 Farm Bill.

Clearly, the Trump administration recognizes the importance of exports to U.S. agriculture, which has a trade surplus. The new undersecretary can help convey our message to the administration that it should work to preserve and expand foreign market access for U.S. agricultural products.

NPPC looks forward to working with the undersecretary to advance trade policies that will be beneficial for U.S. agriculture, including free trade agreements that eliminate all tariff and non-tariff barriers to our products.

USMEF Statement on USDA Undersecretary for Trade

Earlier today, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the creation of a USDA undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs. The U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) issued the following statement:

USMEF strongly supports Secretary Perdue's establishment of an undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs within USDA, in accordance with the 2014 farm bill. USMEF was an early supporter of this initiative and we feel this will be a very positive addition to the department. We look forward to further details regarding this appointment.

USDA Reorganization Will Build Global Demand for U.S. Ag Products

Today U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the creation of a USDA Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs as part of a broader reorganization of the department. The following is a statement from Wesley Spurlock, president of the National Corn Growers Association:

“The National Corn Growers Association has long advocated for a dedicated position at USDA focused on increasing U.S. agricultural exports, and we pushed for this provision in the 2014 farm bill. We are pleased to see that post finally become a reality today.

“Secretary Perdue’s announcement signals to farm country that the Trump Administration is listening to America’s farmers and ranchers. In this farm economy, trade is more important than ever to farmers’ incomes. Overseas markets represent 73 percent of the world’s purchasing power, 87 percent of economic growth, and 95 percent of the world’s customers. Now is the time for U.S. agriculture to fully capitalize on the long-term, increased global demand for our products around the world. Today’s announcement is a big step toward that goal.

“NCGA looks forward to working with Secretary Perdue, the new Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs, and others throughout the Administration to ensure more consumers around the world are consuming American corn and corn products.”

Farm Bureau Praises Creation of New USDA Trade Undersecretary

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall today lauded the establishment of an undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“Secretary Perdue’s action to create an undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs is good news for farmers and ranchers, and assures that exports will receive daily attention at the USDA,” Duvall said. “We know that there are other, important changes coming to the department as part of a larger reorganization effort. We look forward to receiving and reviewing details of that plan, as well as the effect it will have on America’s farmers, ranchers and farm communities.

“It was clear throughout the secretary’s confirmation process that members of Congress – like the secretary himself – were eager to see him create the office of the undersecretary as required by the 2014 farm bill. Today’s announcement makes good on that commitment.”

NGFA, NAEGA commend Ag Secretary Perdue for Trade Undersecretary announcement

The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) and North American Export Grain Association (NAEGA) today commended Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue for his "decisive and prompt" action in announcing a reorganization of the U.S. Department of Agriculture that includes the creation of a long-sought undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs position.

"It is highly significant that one of Secretary Perdue's first actions reflects his recognition of, and strong support for, the essential role that agricultural trade plays in the economic well-being of U.S. farmers, ranchers, agribusinesses, rural communities and the nation as a whole," said NGFA President Randy Gordon and NAEGA President and Chief Executive Officer Gary Martin. "Reorganizing its structure and mission areas along these more functional lines, combined with the appointment of strong and capable officials to fill these positions, will help ensure the ongoing success of USDA programs that support trade and  that USDA plays an influential role in helping inform and develop the Trump administration's overall trade strategies."

The NGFA and NAEGA noted that the U.S. food and agricultural sector is the world's largest and most efficient, providing food security to domestic and world consumers. 

"The economic benefits of agricultural trade have been enjoyed by U.S. farmers, ranchers, dairy operators, feed mills, grain elevators, feed ingredient suppliers, grain and food processors, and many other agricultural businesses," Gordon and Martin said.  "But those benefits also have accrued to the broader U.S. economy, particularly in terms of job creation and economic growth." 

The NGFA and NAEGA cited data from the U.S. Department of Commerce, as well as analyses conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, that has found that the food and agriculture sector supports more than 15 million U.S. jobs, creates more than $423 billion in annual U.S. economic activity, and represents the single largest U.S. manufacturing sector - constituting 12 percent of all U.S. manufacturing jobs. Every dollar in U.S. agricultural exports generates an additional $1.27 in U.S. economic activity.

"We look forward to working closely with Secretary Perdue and the new undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs and their team, as well as the White House, to build an even more robust and prosperous future for U.S. agricultural trade," Gordon and Martin said.

Cattlemen Applaud Changes made at USDA, including Establishment of USDA Undersecretary for Trade Positon

NCBA President Craig Uden today released the following statement in response to USDA’s restructuring and the decision to establish an Undersecretary for Trade, authorized under the 2014 Farm Bill:

“We believe the restructuring of USDA makes sense for cattlemen and women, providing a one-stop shop for producers who utilize the many services of the Farm Service Agency, the Risk Management Agency, and the Natural Resource Conservation Service. Additionally, having Rural Development directly reporting to the Secretary shows the emphasis he is placing on helping rural America.

“Furthermore, establishing this new Undersecretary for Trade position was one of our top priorities for 2017, so we are extremely pleased to see Secretary Perdue filling in the gaps left by the previous Administration. This position will play a vital role in leading USDA’s efforts to capitalize on foreign demand for U.S. agriculture products and we look forward to working with the Undersecretary to break down trade barriers and expand our ability to meet the growing demand for U.S. beef in key markets like Asia.”

ASA Cheers Creation of USDA Trade Under Secretary, will Closely Evaluate Reorganization

The American Soybean Association (ASA), which represents growers of the nation’s largest agricultural export, expressed strong support today for the establishment of an Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs at USDA. The move comes as part of a larger reorganization of USDA by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. The post is one that ASA and other agriculture groups have long advocated for, including in a letter to the White House in late February. ASA President Ron Moore spoke on the new position and to the reorganization in a statement:

“The U.S. exports well over half of the soybeans we produce, and agriculture is one of only a handful of business sectors in the country with a positive trade balance--$17 billion last year. That success abroad leads to success here at home, returning billions to the economy and supporting more than a million jobs. To have USDA recognize the importance of farm trade by creating this position is very encouraging, and we appreciate the administration’s foresight in doing so. We know that President Trump has big ideas on trade, and it will be imperative to have high-level officials within the administration who understand the intricacies of global agriculture markets. Secretary Perdue has shown himself to be an advocate for agricultural trade, and the new Under Secretary will be a similarly major part of those conversations.

“Concerning a reorganization this comprehensive, ASA will need time to evaluate the impacts of the shift in mission areas, and any potential reallocation of resources to determine their effects on soybean farmers. We will review the new structure with a careful eye, looking to make sure that the new USDA increases efficiency, while keeping its commitment to expanding markets both at home and abroad for farmers; investing in rural infrastructure and development; meeting conservation goals; and helping U.S. farmers maintain their role as providers of food for the world’s hungry.”

NAWG Applauds USDA Reorganization Efforts, Urges Farmer Input During Transition Process

Today, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the creation of an undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).  He continued by declaring that the reorganization includes the formation of a newly-named Farm Production and Conservation mission area to have a customer focus and meet USDA constituents in the field.

NAWG President David Schemm made the following statement:

“Mandated in the 2014 Farm Bill, the establishment of this Undersecretary position emphasizes the mutual importance of agriculture and trade to the American economy.

“NAWG applauds the USDA for emphasizing the importance of trade by creating a specific mission area devoted to the Department’s trade programs.  This move highlights the significance that programs like the Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) program play in promoting wheat and other ag commodities all over the world.

“We also commend the Administration for recognizing the value of American agricultural products to international markets.

“Further, NAWG appreciates USDA’s efforts to streamline agencies that producers interact with locally by moving NRCS into the same mission area as the Farm Service Agency (FSA) and the Risk Management Agency (RMA).  We hope this effort will also lead to streamlining the paperwork of the programs administered by these agencies.

“Our producers rely on trade access throughout the world. It’s vital that whomever fills this new position ensures that American wheat growers are made a priority in trade negotiations.

“NAWG is ready to work with the Administration in its search for a qualified candidate to fill this position and encourages them to use farmers and their farm organizations as a sounding board as the process moves forward.”

Nebraska Farm Bureau Tells New U.S. Trade Representative Not to Sacrifice Agriculture in Trade Policy

In a letter to newly confirmed United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson made it clear that agriculture shouldn’t be sacrificed for the benefit of other U.S. industries under the Trump Administration’s trade policies. The letter reiterates the message Nelson shared with Lighthizer in person during a meeting between Nebraska agriculture leaders and Lighthizer, organized by U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse. 

“While we certainly hope that new levels of success can be achieved for all segments of our nation’s economy, we must work to ensure the significant gains achieved in agricultural trade are not sacrificed for the benefit of other industries,” wrote Nelson in the letter dated May 11.

In making the case for agriculture to continue as a focal point of U.S. trade policy, Nelson noted the importance agricultural trade has had on Nebraska, specifically related to the free trade agreements the United States has signed with numerous countries around the world.

“Nebraska ranks in the top five among the 50 U.S. states in terms of value of its agricultural exports. In 2015 alone, exports to countries with free trade agreements accounted for 53 percent of Nebraska’s exports. From 2005-2015, exports from Nebraska to free trade agreement markets grew 104 percent, with growth in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) far outpacing that with other free trade agreement countries,” wrote Nelson.

Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, as well as mixed messages about NAFTA and other previously passed free trade agreements have been a source of concern for Nebraska farmers and ranchers and other Nebraskans. Agriculture accounts for more than 40 percent of the state’s economic output and employs roughly one out of every four Nebraskans, all of which are impacted by Nebraska agriculture’s success in the global trade arena.

“Nebraska farm and ranch families rely on international trade for 30 percent of their overall income. It’s our hope that you will keep our industry at the forefront of your thoughts as you work on these important issues which will shape future trade policy. We look forward to working with you as the new U.S. Trade Representative,” wrote Nelson.

Cattlemen Stress Importance of Trade as Senate Confirms New U.S Trade Representative

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association today applauded the U.S. Senate’s confirmation of Robert Lighthizer to be the U.S. Trade Representative. With a growing global marketplace, Craig Uden, NCBA president, said expanding international markets is a top priority for cattlemen.

“International trade is vital to the success of America’s cattle industry and in his new role, Ambassador Lighthizer will serve as our chief negotiator in all trade matters. As Ambassador Lighthizer begins his new job, we urge him to focus his efforts on opening and expanding our access to other markets and preventing any action that may hinder our export growth.”

NCBA particularly encourages Ambassador Lighthizer to prioritize trade with Asian markets by focusing efforts on restoring U.S. beef access to China and by establishing a bilateral trade agreement with Japan.

“As the 13-year ban of U.S. beef into China has been lifted, we encourage U.S. and Chinese government officials to establish a protocol for U.S. beef so that we can start exporting to the world’s most populous nation immediately. Furthermore, Japan is the top export market for U.S. beef, despite a 38.5 percent tariff. With TPP no longer an option to us, we urge Ambassador Lighthizer to prioritize a bi-lateral free trade agreement with Japan so that we can compete fairly with Australian beef producers.”

The North American Free Trade Agreement is another trade deal top of mind for the cattlemen, said Uden, having increased beef sales into Mexico by more than 750 percent.

“NAFTA has been one of the greatest success stories in the history of the American beef industry by removing tariffs on U.S. beef exports to Canada and Mexico and developing roughly $2 billion in annual sales. Any potential renegotiation of NAFTA must protect the market access and scientific standards that NAFTA has provided for the U.S. beef industry for over 20 years,” said Uden.

In Europe, the U.S. beef industry still faces decades-old trade barriers that unfairly discriminate against American producers for using science-based standards in beef production.

Uden said, “Now that Great Britain is leaving the European Union, we will have the opportunity to establish a new trade relationship with British allies. We hope to see the British emerge from behind the iron curtain of bad trade policies like precautionary principle, which plague the EU and discourage market-driven and science-based standards.”

USMEF Statement on Confirmation of Robert Lighthizer to Serve as U.S. Trade Representative

Today the U.S. Senate, on a vote of 82-14, confirmed Robert Lighthizer to head the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR). U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) President and CEO Philip Seng issued the following statement:

USMEF congratulates Ambassador Lighthizer on his confirmation to serve as U.S. trade representative. Red meat exports continue to face import barriers in dozens of markets around the world. One of the keys to ensuring continued growth of beef, pork and lamb exports will be dismantling these barriers so our industry is able to compete on a level playing field. USMEF looks forward to continuing its strong partnership with USTR under Ambassador Lighthizer's leadership, as we work together to open these markets.

ASA Welcomes Lighthizer to USTR

Following a vote by the Senate today to confirm Ambassador Robert Lighthizer as U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), American Soybean Association (ASA) President and Illinois farmer Ron Moore expressed congratulations and cited Lighthizer’s understanding of the important role trade plays in the U.S. economy and agriculture community.

“Lighthizer’s confirmation to USTR is an encouraging step in developing trade policies that continue to promote U.S. food and agriculture production,” Moore said.

ASA, along with many food and agriculture trade associations and companies, has continuously been supportive of Lighthizer’s confirmation, highlighting the need for more officials who understand the impacts and importance of trade.

“As we urge prudence on any trade negotiations or renegotiations, Lighthizer’s confirmation will allow the U.S. to engage on trade negations that will benefit all Americans though economic growth and job creation,” Moore added.

Statement by Joel G. Newman, President and CEO, American Feed Industry Association,
Regarding Senate Confirmation of Robert Lighthizer

"The American Feed Industry Association thanks the Senate for its confirmation of Robert Lighthizer, the new U.S. Trade Representative. USTR is a key player under U.S. law in the development and implementation of U.S. international trade policy and leading our country's trade negotiations.

"We welcome Ambassador Lighthizer and look forward to working with him to keep agricultural trade issues a top priority. During his confirmation process, Ambassador Lighthizer highlighted the importance of international trade in our industry and made note that U.S. farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses would be taken into greater account during the renegotiation of NAFTA.

"NAFTA, currently under the limelight, will be at the top of our list as the Trump administration moves forward with its plans to renegotiate the agreement's terms with Canada and Mexico. We look forward to working with the new ambassador on the renegotiation of NAFTA and other trade accords to come."

NAFTA Relationships Need Attention as NMPF, USDEC Begin Work with New U.S. Trade Representative Lighthizer

The dairy industry is eager to work with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to protect and expand market access for U.S. dairy while addressing problematic Canadian dairy policies, the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) said today following Lighthizer’s Senate confirmation.

Lighthizer will begin work on a variety of pressing trade policy issues, including the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), expanding market access channels in Asia, and preventing the loss of common food names.

“We welcome Mr. Lighthizer’ s confirmation because of his grasp of global trade rules and understanding of the importance of balanced trade agreements to the U.S. dairy sector,” said NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern. “We will continue to urge USTR to focus on protecting Mexico, our No. 1 market, insist that Canada revoke its detrimental new milk pricing policy, and pursue additional export opportunities around the world.”

Another significant challenge for Ambassador Lighthizer is the European Union’s aggressive stance on the use of geographic indications (GIs). Not only must the United States resist using GIs at home, Lighthizer has said, it should discourage other countries from agreeing to use them, as well.

“As the Trump Administration’s trade policy strategy develops, we want to build upon the U.S. government’s past successes in pushing back against the EU’s global GI agenda,” said Tom Vilsack, president and CEO of USDEC. “We also want to examine opportunities for bilateral trade agreements in key markets like Japan.” Vilsack recently visited Japan on a trade mission.

Lighthizer’s experience includes deputy trade representative under President Ronald Reagan, chief of staff for the Senate Finance Committee, as well as direct private sector experience in enforcing trade rules on behalf of his clients.

Wheat Grower Organizations Welcome USTR Confirmation

U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) and the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) welcome the U.S. Senate’s confirmation of Robert Lighthizer today as the next U.S. Trade Representative. Fair access to international markets is crucial for America’s productive wheat farmers. Our organizations believe Ambassador Lighthizer fully understands that a strong agricultural economy depends on improving free trade opportunities and rules.

“We look forward to working with Amb. Lighthizer to help build new export opportunities for the farmers we represent,” said David Schemm, NAWG President and a wheat farmer from Sharon Springs, KS. “To that end, we also encourage him to quickly name a new U.S. Agricultural Trade Ambassador to represent agricultural interests in the upcoming re-negotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement and trade negotiations with Asia-Pacific nations.”

During his confirmation process, Amb. Lighthizer said “ensuring that our trading partners meet international trade obligations, especially those of the World Trade Organization, is a core foundation for fairer and freer trade.”

“We wholeheartedly agree,” said Jason Scott, USW Chairman and a wheat farmer from Easton, MD. “A good example is the U.S. dispute case against China’s excessive domestic wheat subsidies that violate its WTO membership agreement. The case recognizes that China’s policy restrains wheat trade and costs farmers in exporting countries billions of dollars every year. It is the kind of enforcement that we think must and will continue under Amb. Lighthizer.” 

With the full support of Amb. Lighthizer, his negotiating team and the new interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity led by Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, USW and NAWG believe we can overcome trade distorting policies and other barriers to help American farmers compete fairly for the increasing global demand for high quality wheat and other agricultural products.

Trump, China Reach Preliminary Trade Agreements on Beef, Poultry

The Trump administration has reached new deals with China to ease market access for a variety of industries, including beef and financial services, as the White House makes progress on trying to soften economic barriers between the two sides.

The 10-part agreement, announced by Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, comes as part of an ongoing negotiation between the two countries following a meeting between President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping last month.

“We have some very big news,” Ross told reporters Thursday. “U.S.-China relationships are now hitting a new high, especially in trade. We’re announcing, jointly with the Chinese, the initial results of the 100-day action plan of the U.S.-China Comprehensive Economic Dialogue.”

The new arrangements include an agreement from China to allow imports of U.S. beef, on certain conditions, by July 16. The United States has pressured China for years to allow beef imports, but the process has been constantly delayed.

“It’s at least a $2.5 billion market that’s being opened up for U.S. beef,” Ross said.

Similarly, Washington has agreed to advance a new rule that would allow China to export cooked poultry to the United States. The impact of this change on the U.S. poultry industry is uncertain, but Ross said it would not be severe.

And there were numerous other parts of the preliminary agreement. This included language that appears to pave the way for U.S. firms to export liquid natural gas to China, the expediting of Chinese safety reviews for U.S. biotechnology applications, and cooperation between Chinese and U.S. regulators over financial transactions.

Other parts of the arrangement would direct China to issue bond underwriting and settlement licenses to “two qualified U.S. financial institutions” by July 17, a date that is significant because it comes 100 days after Trump and Xi met in Florida. And the United States has agreed to allow Chinese entrepreneurs to a Washington summit in June.

Trump spent months on the campaign trail berating China for its trade practices, but he has softened his approach since winning office. He has initiated reviews of China’s support of its steel and aluminum industries and its impact on U.S. trade, but the outcome of those reviews is unclear. He has shown a willingness to back away from trade-related threats after consulting with aides and foreign leaders, and he has recently heaped praise on Xi and what he perceives as China’s willingness to negotiate.

“As you can appreciate, this addresses 10 items,” Ross said of the initial agreements. “There are probably 500 items that you could potentially discuss; maybe more than 500.” Ross said they would continue working and then “see if we can reach agreement” on other matters.

Cattlemen on Historic Reopening of China to U.S. Beef: "Impossible to Overstate How Beneficial This Will Be For America's Cattle Producers"

 National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Craig Uden today issued the following statement regarding the announcement from the White House that an agreement has been reached that will restore U.S. beef access to China:

“After being locked out of the world’s largest market for 13 years, we strongly welcome the announcement that an agreement has been made to restore U.S. beef exports to China. It’s impossible to overstate how beneficial this will be for America’s cattle producers, and the Trump Administration deserves a lot of credit for getting this achieved. We look forward to providing nearly 1.4 billion new customers in China with the same safe and delicious U.S. beef that we feed our families. I look forward to the day when we can serve President Trump and President Xi a dry-aged American-made New York strip in Beijing.”

USMEF Statement on U.S. Beef Regaining Access to China

The Trump administration has announced that following one more round of technical consultations between the United States and China, China is to allow imports of U.S. beef on conditions consistent with international food safety and animal health standards and consistent with the 1999 Agricultural Cooperation Agreement, beginning as soon as possible but no later than July 16, 2017. The U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) issued the following statement:

USMEF welcomes today’s announcement that the United States and China have reached a high-level agreement that will allow U.S. beef to reenter the Chinese market after a prolonged absence of more than 13 years.

USMEF and its members greatly appreciate the efforts of the Trump administration and officials at USDA and USTR that made today’s announcement possible.

Fertilizer Prices Continue Fairly Stable

Retail fertilizer prices continued to hold fairly steady the first week of May 2017, according to retailers surveyed by DTN. While more fertilizer prices were lower this week compared to the previous week, the moves were fairly minor.
Anhydrous prices were slightly higher the first week of May 2017, compared to the previous month, with an average of $508 per ton. Anhydrous is currently 14% less expensive than a year ago. (DTN chart)

Of the eight major fertilizer, six were slightly lower in price compared to a month earlier. These were DAP, MAP, urea, 10-34-0, UAN28 and UAN32.

DAP had an average price of $436 per ton, MAP $466/ton, urea $351/ton, 10-34-0 $436/ton, UAN28 $247/ton and UAN32 $280/ton.

Retail fertilizer prices are lower compared to a year earlier. Half of the eight major fertilizers are still double-digits lower.

10-34-0 is 22% lower than a year ago, anhydrous is 14% less expensive, UAN32 is 13% lower and UAN28 is 10% less expensive. Urea is 9% lower, DAP is 8% less expensive and both potash and MAP are 7% lower compared to year earlier.

U.S. Tractor, Combine Sales Up in April

According to the Association of Equipment Manufacturer's monthly "Flash Report," the sale of all tractors in the U.S. in April 2017, were up 7% compared to the same month last year.

For the month, two-wheel drive smaller tractors (under 40 HP) were up 11% from last year, while 40 & under 100 HP were up 1%. Sales of 2-wheel drive 100+ HP were down 12%, while 4-wheel drive tractors were down 5%. Combine sales were up .3% for the month.

For the four months reported in 2017, a total of 67,682 tractors were sold which compares to 63,952 sold thru April 2016 representing a 6% increase for the year.

So far this year, two-wheel drive smaller tractors (under 40 HP) are up 13% over last year, while 40 & under 100 HP are down 3%. Sales of 2-wheel drive 100+ HP are down 12%, while 4-wheel drive tractors are down 11%.

Sales of combines for the year totaled 1,034 a decrease of 12% from 2016.

Wednesday May 10 Ag News

Ricketts Proclaims May as Renewable Fuels Month in Nebraska
Today, Governor Pete Ricketts designated the month of May as Renewable Fuels Month in Nebraska during a proclamation ceremony at the State Capitol.

“The biofuels industry has been a key part of growing Nebraska agriculture,” said Governor Ricketts.  “Corn-based ethanol and soy biodiesel not only make our air cleaner, but also create jobs, encourage investment in rural communities, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and help consumers save their hard-earned dollars when filling up at the pump.  Filling up with biofuels is not only a financially smart decision, but it is also an investment in Nebraska and our state’s number one industry.”

Currently, ethanol is blended with 90 percent of all fuel in Nebraska, and this number continues to increase each year.  There are over 227,000 flex fuel vehicles in the state, which equates to 1 in 7 Nebraska vehicles.  The 25 ethanol plants in Nebraska produced 2.1 billion gallons of ethanol in 2016.  The industry directly employs over 1,300 people in the state with an average salary of more than $50,000.  The economic strength of Nebraska’s corn and ethanol industry also spills into the livestock sector.

“Nebraska is often referred to as the ‘Golden Triangle,’” said Nebraska Corn Board Chairman David Merrell of St. Edward.  “Due to their proximity to each other coupled with Nebraska’s ample resources, our crop, livestock, and ethanol industries are able to thrive.  Each of these industries support and strengthen each other.  For example, from the ethanol production process, we not only get a renewable fuel, but we also get distillers grains, which are great feed resources for livestock domestically and internationally.”

The biodiesel and livestock industries also work synergistically to benefit Nebraska farmers and ranchers.  A healthy biodiesel industry provides nearly $58.5 million a year in aggregate benefits to beef and pork production due to decreased meal expenses and the use of inedible tallow and white grease as a biodiesel feedstock.

“It’s really amazing to see how well our ag sectors work together,” said Nebraska Soybean Board Chairman Tony Johanson of Oakland.  “As a farmer, it’s encouraging to see the value biodiesel has added to soybeans.  For example, biodiesel adds roughly $0.74 per bushel, and the industry helps support more than 60,000 jobs in the United States.”

Because renewable fuels are produced domestically, they greatly reduce our reliance on imported oil.  In 2016, ethanol replaced the need for 540 million barrels of imported crude oil and biodiesel displaced 2.9 billion gallons of imported petroleum diesel.

Renewable Fuels Month has been coordinated through the Nebraska Corn Board, the Nebraska Ethanol Board, and the Nebraska Soybean Board.  Several promotional events are being held throughout the month through the organizations’ social media platforms.

Additionally, the corn and ethanol boards are partnering together with ethanol producer Green Plains and Kum & Go at its Gretna location (I-80 Exit 439).  During this promotion on May 19 from 10:00 a.m. through 2:00 p.m., American Ethanol blends will be sold at a steep discount.  E15 and E85 will each sell for $0.99 per gallon.

Sasse and McCain Announce Opposition to President's Nominee for Trade Representative

Tonight, U.S. Senators Ben Sasse (R-NE) and John McCain (R-AZ) wrote to Robert Lighthizer, announcing their intent to oppose his nomination to be United States Trade Representative (USTR).

The full text of the letter is available below.

Dear Mr. Lighthizer,

We write to explain our intent to oppose your nomination to be United States Trade Representative (USTR). Unfortunately, your confirmation process has failed to reassure us that you understand the North American Free Trade Agreement’s (NAFTA) positive economic benefits to our respective States and the nation as a whole. We fear that you do not have an appreciation for the millions of jobs created by this free trade deal, and that you would not champion agriculture during your time as USTR. Furthermore, we worry that you would not negotiate trade deals that would protect the American consumer and expand economic growth.  These concerns, along with the need for Congress to grant you a waiver to serve in the Trump Administration in a must-pass omnibus spending bill is troubling.

Beyond your vocal advocacy for protectionist shifts in our trade policies, the Administration’s ongoing, incoherent, and inconsistent trade message has compounded our concern.  This is especially troubling because confirming a USTR grants the Administration additional legal authority to negotiate trade deals that Congress must consider under “fast track” procedures.  Given these circumstances, granting the Trump Administration additional legal powers through your confirmation without understanding how you or the Administration intend to use those powers would be irresponsible.

A constant theme throughout your confirmation process has been your failure to grasp the importance of protecting agriculture in trade negotiations. Your meeting with one of us (Senator Sasse) did nothing to disabuse of us this notion. America needs a USTR who will effectively defend agriculture during trade negotiations and fight to expand agricultural export markets, not let America’s farmers and ranchers become collateral damage in a trade war.

You also have made your skepticism of NAFTA well known, which we find to be alarming. America deserves a USTR who will renegotiate NAFTA in order to build on its successes, not as a pretext for unraveling it. Mexico and Canada are two of our largest export markets and the free movement of goods is essential to the growth of our national economy. For example, Mexico is Arizona’s number one trading partner, accounting for 40 percent of the State’s exports to foreign markets. This is due to the free trade policies in NAFTA that create fewer trade barriers with Canada and Mexico, which makes it easier for Americans to make a living and provide for their families. Further, according to the Nebraska Farm Bureau, a withdraw from NAFTA could cost Nebraska farmers and ranchers more than $2.6 billion per year in agricultural exports. Increasing trade barriers with Canada and Mexico, and risking a trade war, only hurts American families and small businesses.

The Trump Administration’s incoherent and inconsistent trade posture to date makes it impossible for us to overlook our concerns with your nomination. On April 29, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order that required the Secretary of Commerce and the USTR, in consultation with several federal agencies, to “conduct comprehensive performance reviews” of all of the United States’ free trade agreements and “renegotiate or terminate” policies that the Administration believes are harmful to the United States. This executive order was signed only days after the release of troubling reports of the Trump Administration’s preparations to withdraw from NAFTA. Reports that the Administration is even considering withdrawal from NAFTA is contrary to previous statements from key Administration officials - including Dr. Peter Navarro, Secretary Wilbur Ross, and Secretary Steve Mnuchin, - that NAFTA would only be up for re-negotiation, not withdrawal. These disjointed positions are causing great uncertainty over the Administration’s trade objectives.

Moreover, this incoherent and protectionist message on trade has caused serious uncertainty for export markets, and has harmed our valuable relationships with Canada and Mexico. The Administration’s actions may also encourage our trading partners to move their markets elsewhere, especially if they believe that future negotiations will hurt their interests. For example, Mexican officials have cited the possible re-negotiation of NAFTA as a major reason why they are currently pursuing actions to import less corn from the U.S. and more from other nations, including Argentina and Brazil.

Other countries may follow Mexico’s suit. For example, China continues to advance the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a regional multilateral trade agreement in the Pacific that includes our current FTA partners, South Korea and Australia, as well as Japan, a potential FTA partner. According to the Congressional Research Service, should the RCEP move forward in its current form, the “United States would face higher tariffs in RCEP markets”[4] and thus many of our trading partners could run to RCEP markets under trade rules set by China.

Confirming your nomination would allow the Trump Administration to negotiate “fast track” trade agreements, a power that Congress granted the executive branch in the 2015 reauthorization of TPA.  For us to consider the complete implications of confirming you, the Administration would need to provide Congress with clear trade objectives with respect to: 1) the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), as well as a timeline for upcoming negotiations; 2) other free trade agreements (FTA); and 3) future FTAs, including which countries the Administration intends to pursue trade negotiations and timelines on those intended negotiations.

We hope the future actions and the Administration’s future actions will prove us wrong. The economic well-being of consumers, small businesses, farmers, and ranchers across our country depend upon it.

U.S. Senator Ben Sasse
U.S. Senator John McCain      

Farmers Surveyed on Efforts to Stop Monarch Butterfly Decline

Research has shown a steep decline in North America’s monarch butterfly population. The 2016 Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll examined ways farmers might help reverse that decline through habitat restoration. The survey’s questions examined farmer awareness, concern and willingness to support monarch habitat improvement.Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll logo

“The Iowa Monarch Conservation Consortium is really ramping up activities to help the species in a number of ways, including working with farmers and others in the agricultural community,” said J. Gordon Arbuckle, associate professor of sociology at Iowa State University and director of the Farm Poll. “We needed to know if farmers were aware of and concerned about population declines, and whether they might lend a hand by improving habitat.”

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents reported they were aware of the monarch butterfly’s population decline. About 65 percent were concerned about the decline, and 18 percent checked the “don’t know” box. Similarly, 42 percent indicated they would like to learn how to improve monarch habitat, while 23 percent weren’t sure.

Farmers were asked if they might be willing to establish and maintain a small amount (1/3-1 acre) of monarch habitat on their farmland. Of the farmers who responded, 38 percent said they would be willing to establish and maintain habitat if they could receive 100 percent of the cost of planting and management. Twenty-one percent said they would participate if they could receive 50 percent cost-share and 14 percent would be willing to establish habitat with their own money. Between a quarter and a third indicated that they did not know whether they would be interested or not.

The poll also asked farmers how many acres they would be willing to plant if they could receive 100 percent of the costs of planting and management. Fifty-one percent of respondents selected “don’t know,” 13 percent wrote “0” and 11 percent did not answer the question.  Among the 25 percent who provided an estimate, the average response was 4.8 acres.

“In general, farmers have a lot more capacity to help monarchs than the rest of us, because they have land,” said Arbuckle. “The results show that many farmers are interested in taking steps to help improve habitat. But the results also suggest a lot of farmers want to learn more before committing land to the effort. So that points to a need for more outreach.”

The Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll has been in existence since 1982, surveying Iowa farmers on issues of importance to agricultural stakeholders. It is the longest-running survey of its kind in the nation.

AgGateway to Hold Ag Retail eConnectivity Seminar at Upcoming Mid-Year Meeting in Altoona, Iowa

As part of its Mid-Year Meeting next month in Altoona, Iowa, June 12-15, AgGateway will be holding a half-day Ag Retail eConnectivity Seminar designed to introduce the many benefits of electronic connectivity to agricultural retailers and service providers. The session will be held Tuesday, June 13, from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm. Ag retailers are encouraged to register now for this one-time event.

The session will include a new video on eConnectivity that features ag retailers Co-Alliance, The Equity and Ceres Solutions, as well as Monsanto, WinField United and Mycogen, manufacturers that are all using eConnectivity to boost productivity, efficiency and accuracy in their businesses.

"This seminar is an excellent opportunity for ag retailers and business system providers who have not yet committed to electronic connectivity to find out more about the tremendous value and competitive advantages," said AgGateway Executive Vice President and COO Brent Kemp. "The seminar will focus on the efficiencies as retailers, manufacturers and distributors move to seamless electronic data exchange."

Some of the topics and speakers will include:
-    Networked Agriculture - Jeremy Wilson, Crop IMS
-    What is eConnectivity and Why Should I Care? - Randy Beard, River Valley Cooperative; Jeff Griffeth, Co-Alliance LLP
-    What Does it Take to Achieve Connectivity? - Randy Fry, Ceres Solutions
-    Ability and Flexibility - Knowing Your Needs and Limits - Brian Gates, Key Cooperative;  Scott Meredith and Eric Hoefing, ACS
-    Who Can Help Me? - Jody Costa, Barcoding Inc.
-    eConnectivity Matters Now - Daren Coppock, President & CEO, Agricultural Retailers Association
-    Panel Discussion: Why My Company Chose Connectivity - Natasha Lily, The Equity; Ann Vande Lune, Key Cooperative; Chuck Bohanon, AgVantage Software; Pat Johnson, Crop Production Services

To register for the seminar, go to the "Events" section of and click on registration for the Mid-Year Meeting. In the registration process you can choose whether to attend the entire Mid-Year Meeting for a registration fee of $150, or only the Ag Retail Seminar for a $50 registration fee.

NAWG and USW Submit Joint Comments on Omnibus Report on Significant Trade Deficits

The National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) and U.S. Wheat Associations (USW) today submitted comments for the public hearing on an Omnibus Report on Significant Trade Deficits, pursuant to a request for comments from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and U.S. Department of Commerce.

“NAWG and USW strongly support efforts to correct policy barriers that reduce potential wheat exports to foreign markets. Open markets and fair trade are critical to the U.S. wheat industry as roughly half of U.S. wheat production is exported on average,” stated NAWG President and Kansas farmer David Schemm.

In the comments, NAWG and USW identified policy barriers erected by various countries that limit wheat export opportunities from the United States. If these barriers were removed, U.S. wheat exports would likely grow as a result.

“Our strong policy preference has been for trade agreements – whether at the World Trade Organization (WTO), regional, or bilateral – to reduce barriers to trade and let the individual players in those markets drive trade and investment decisions,” stated USW Chairman and Maryland farmer Jason Scott.

U.S. wheat farmers have a competitive advantage in producing wheat and the United States is one of the largest exporters of wheat in the world. Ensuring a fair playing field for U.S. producers facilitates wheat exports, resulting in reduced trade deficits and increased revenue and jobs in rural America.

Livestock Industry Shines Spotlight on the Use of Grazing to Prevent Wildfires

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Public Lands Council today kicked off a media and advertising campaign that will shine a spotlight on how grazing on public lands helps to mitigate the risk of catastrophic wildfires – the leading threat to species like the greater sage grouse. The campaign will be centered around a new website,, and will run through May.

“Coming off the wet winter we had across much of the west, ranchers are on the sidelines as new spring growth explodes and adds to residual grasses from prior grazing reductions," said Ethan Lane, executive director of the Public Lands Council and NCBA's Federal Lands. "These fuel loads are building at the same time that livestock numbers on federal grazing permits continue to shrink due to misplaced priorities, political pressure, and a lack of regulatory flexibility for BLM and Forest Service staff to make the right management decisions on the ground.”  

In addition to the launch of the new website, the campaign kicked off with a two-minute video that will be heavily promoted on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms. The video features Darcy Helmick, Land Manager for Simplot Livestock Company in southern Idaho. In the kickoff video, Helmick walks through a vast, dense Bureau of Land Management (BLM) grass field in rural Owyhee County, Idaho, which she explains will turn into wildfire fuel as it dries out in the summer months.

“What’s unfortunate is we’ve already grazed this allotment,” Helmick points out. “So no more of this forage will be removed prior to fire season. If we have the ability and the flexibility to bring cows out and stay long enough to remove some of this forage, we’re literally reducing the fuel load in these areas.”

NCBA and PLC this week also released a Beltway Beef podcast with Lane discussing the lack of flexibility within federal agencies to allow more grazing after unusually wet spells. Over the coming weeks, NCBA and PLC will release additional videos, infographics, op-eds, and other materials aimed at educating policy makers, reporters, and other industry stakeholders in Washington and around the country.

“The time to address this threat is now, while we still have a chance to get ahead of the game," Lane said. "Congress and the Administration need to provide staff on the ground with the flexibility to use grazing as a tool to protect sagebrush and native forage before a fire, and make sure ranchers can get back into those burned areas quickly after a fire to prevent the spread of invasive weeds like cheatgrass.”

BASF Strengthens Partnership with National FFA Organization

For more than 60 years, BASF has worked with the National FFA Organization to ensure the future of agriculture and agricultural education. Through a generous donation, BASF has worked with FFA to provide FFA members the opportunity to grow into leaders, build their communities and strengthen agriculture.

In 2017, BASF will serve as a Silver sponsor. They currently support state officer programs, delegate programs, the grain production-placement proficiency as well as the Teach Ag program.

“We appreciate that the goals and values of BASF align with FFA and that they see agricultural education and FFA as a critical part of their industry and company success,” said Molly Ball, National FFA Foundation president.  “We are thankful for their increased support to become a Silver sponsor.”

"It is our responsibility to help prepare our future leaders in agriculture and provide students and educators with the understanding of how their curriculum is relevant to the work being accomplished in the business community,” said BASF North America Crop Protection Senior Vice President Paul Rea. “This helps them better understand what skills are needed for various careers and learn more about current industry practices. The BASF team is committed to financially supporting FFA and to contributing employee time and expertise. It takes both resources to yield success.”

At the local, state and national levels, FFA brings their mission to life for student members. Members gain experience in the areas of agricultural literacy and advocacy, agricultural knowledge, career exploration, leadership development, food security and service engagement.

New Children's Book, Busy on the Farm Serves as  Ag Literacy Tool

Busy on the Farm: with Casey & Friends, the sixth in a series of books for children ages four through eight, is a fun and entertaining yet educational story about caring for livestock. It helps children understand the connection between agriculture and food production, highlighting the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) used every day in farming. With its entertaining and whimsical cartoon characters and educational content, Busy on the Farm can help both farm and non-farm children learn about modern agriculture.

“Science and technology are at the heart of today's agriculture,” says Holly Dufek, author of the Casey & Friends series. “Including STEM aspects of agriculture was a natural fit, and the book exposes young children to agriculture and science with the hope of exciting them about both.”

Dufek has spent nearly 15 years writing and editing educational curriculum, including helping to develop content to enrich the National Common Core Standards for elementary through high school classrooms. She has authored six Casey & Friends educational books and believes the series can serve as a beginning-level ag literacy tool for young children.

“Even though the number of farms continues to decline, the agricultural industry has many programs promoting the wide range of career opportunities available in STEM and agriculture,” notes Dufek. “Since there currently aren’t National Common Core Standards in science for children before middle school, the series can help fill that gap for this age group.”

Science and Women in Ag Featured

Casey the Farmer, a woman, is the narrator in all the books. “During library readings, it’s amazing how many boys remark that girls can’t be farmers,” says Dufek. “We didn’t initially cast the farmer as female, but as the first book evolved it became a way to show boys, and especially girls, that anyone can be a farmer or work in agriculture.”

The Casey & Friends book series combines real action photographs with bright illustrations and a cast of cartoon characters that were created by Pixar Cars artist Paul Nunn. This book was illustrated by veteran children’s book artist Mike Kasun. Characters in the book include Bailey the Baler, Fern the Farmall and Tillus the Worm, who deliver fun facts about farming and STEM throughout the book.

Educational sidebars, a glossary of ag terms and fun farm facts provide additional learning opportunities. In Busy on the Farm, children learn how weather affects crops and what farmers do to protect their crops, that one cow produces about 6.5 gallons of milk each day, an acre of land produces about 10,000 pounds of alfalfa each year and cows are part of the Bovine subfamily, which includes buffalo.

Other Casey & Friends books from Octane Press, include A Year on the Farm: with Casey & Friends, Big Tractors: with Casey & Friends, Planters & Cultivators: with Casey & Friends, Combines: with Casey & Friends and Casey’s Bright Red Christmas. Each book highlights the science and technology associated with different farming practices and the equipment used. To learn more about the Casey & Friends books, visit

Dufek concludes, “Agricultural Science is one of the top fields to study in college today. Yet fewer and fewer people either live on a farm or have a direct connection to agriculture. We hope Casey & Friends books can help pique kids’ interests at an early age, so later they will consider careers in STEM and agriculture.” 

May 10 USDA Crop Production + WASDE Update


Based on May 1 conditions, Nebraska's 2017 winter wheat crop is forecast at 51.5 million bushels, down 27 percent from last year's crop, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Average yield is forecast at 51 bushels per acre, down 3 bushels from last year.

Acreage to be harvested for grain is estimated at 1.01 million acres, down 300 thousand acres from last year. This would be 91 percent of the planted acres, below last year's 96 percent harvested.

May 1 Nebraska hay stocks of 1.30 million tons are down 10 percent from last year.

Dry hay stored on Iowa farms as of May 1, 2017, is estimated at 630,000 tons, an increase of 2 percent from May 2016, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Crop Production report. Disappearance from December 1, 2016, through May 1, 2017, totaled 2.02 million tons, compared with 2.66 million tons for the same period last year.

USDA:  Winter Wheat Production Down 25 Percent from 2016

Winter wheat production is forecast at 1.25 billion bushels, down 25 percent from 2016. As of May 1, the United States yield is forecast at 48.8 bushels per acre, down 6.5 bushels from last year's record yield of 55.3 bushels per acre.

Hard Red Winter production, at 737 million bushels, is down 32 percent from a year ago. Soft Red Winter, at 297 million bushels, is down 14 percent from 2016. White Winter, at 212 million bushels, is down 13 percent from last year. Of the White Winter production, 16.8 million bushels are Hard White and 195 million bushels are Soft White.



The U.S. feed-grain outlook for 2017/18 is for lower production, domestic use, exports and ending stocks. The corn crop is projected at 14.1 billion bushels, down from last year’s record high with a lower forecast area and yield. The yield projection of 170.7 bushels per acre is based on a weather-adjusted trend assuming normal planting progress and summer weather, estimated using the 1988-2016 time period. The yield model includes a downward stochastic adjustment to account for the asymmetric response of yield to July precipitation. The smaller corn crop is partly offset by the largest projected beginning stocks since 1988/89, leaving total corn supplies down from a year ago but still the second highest on record.

Total U.S. corn use in 2017/18 is forecast to decline 2 percent from a year ago as a slight increase in domestic use is more than offset by lower exports. Food, seed, and industrial (FSI) use is projected to rise 80 million bushels to 7.0 billion due to increased use of corn to produce ethanol for fuel and expected growth in non-ethanol FSI. Corn used to produce ethanol is up 50 million bushels, reflecting expectations of gasoline consumption growth, reduced sorghum used to produce ethanol, higher expected blending and continued global ethanol import demand. Projected feed and residual use declines as a smaller crop and increased use of ethanol by-products more than offsets growth in grain consuming animal units. U.S. corn exports are down 350 million bushels, as a 1.0-billion-bushel year-over-year increase in the combined corn exports of Brazil and Argentina during 2016/17 (local marketing years beginning in March 2017 and ending February 2018) is expected to cut into the 2017/18 U.S. shipping season. With total supply falling faster than use, 2017/18 U.S. ending stocks of corn are down 185 million bushels. The season-average farm price is projected at $3.00 to $3.80 per bushel, unchanged at the midpoint from 2016/17.

The global coarse grain outlook for 2017/18 is for lower production, increased use and sharply reduced ending stocks. Corn production is forecast down from a year ago, with the largest declines in China and the United States. Partly offsetting are larger crops projected for the EU and Canada. Global corn use is up 9 million tons (1 percent), while global corn imports are projected to increase 7 million tons. Notable increases in corn imports include Vietnam, Egypt, the EU, Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Iran. Global corn ending stocks are down from last year’s record high and if realized would be the lowest since 2013/14. The drop largely reflects forecast declines for China and the United States.

For China, total corn supply is down 14 million tons in 2017/18, based on projected declines in beginning stocks and production. Area is reduced based on planting intentions published by the National Bureau of Statistics. On the demand side, feed and residual use is expected to increase based on continued relatively low internal market prices, efforts by the government to promote use of domestic supplies and reduced imports of corn substitutes. Projected FSI use is higher based on expectations of growth in domestic use and exports of corn-based industrial products.


The 2017/18 outlook for U.S. soybeans is for higher supplies, crush, exports, and ending stocks. The soybean crop is projected at 4,255 million bushels, down 52 million from last year’s record crop with a forecast lower trend yield more than offsetting higher harvested area. With sharply higher beginning stocks, soybean supplies are projected at 4,715 million bushels, up 4 percent from 2016/17.

The U.S. soybean crush for 2017/18 is projected at 1,950 million bushels, up 25 million from the revised 2016/17 forecast. Domestic soybean meal disappearance is forecast to increase with expected gains in U.S. meat production. U.S. soybean meal exports are forecast at 12.4 million short tons, leaving the U.S share of global trade slightly lower than in 2016/17. With increased supplies and lower projected prices, U.S. soybean exports are forecast at 2,150 million bushels, up 100 million from the revised 2016/17 projection. Despite sharply higher beginning stocks in South America this fall, a smaller projected harvest in early 2018 leaves 2017/18 total supplies almost unchanged from 2016/17, limiting projected gains for South American soybean exports. With forecast global soybean import growth of 5 percent, the U.S. soybean export share is projected at 39 percent, up slightly from 2016/17 and near the 5-year average. U.S. ending stocks for 2017/18 are projected at 480 million bushels, up 45 million from the revised 2016/17 forecast. The 2017/18 U.S. season-average soybean price range is forecast at $8.30 to $10.30 per bushel compared with $9.55 per bushel in 2016/17. Soybean meal prices are forecast at $295 to $335 per short ton, compared with $320 per ton for 2016/17. Soybean oil prices are forecast at 30.0 to 34.0 cents per pound compared with 31.75 cents for 2016/17.

The 2017/18 global oilseed supply and demand forecasts include higher production, crush, and exports compared to last year. Global oilseed production is projected at 572.1 million tons, up 6.0 million from 2016/17. Growth in rapeseed, cottonseed, peanut, sunflowerseed, copra, and palm kernel is partly offset by lower soybean production. Soybean production is projected down 3.4 million tons to 344.7 million mainly on declines from last year’s records for the United States, Brazil, and Paraguay as yields return to trend levels. Conversely, soybean production is forecast up for Canada, China, Bolivia, and Ukraine. Rapeseed production is projected to increase 6 percent to 72.8 million with increases for Canada, the EU, Ukraine, and India.

Global oilseed crush is forecast to increase 17 million tons to 486.0 million in 2017/18 driven by higher demand for protein meals and oils. Global protein meal consumption is projected to expand 4 percent in 2017/18. China’s soybean meal equivalent consumption is expected to grow at 5 percent, similar to last year but below the prior 5-year average. Global vegetable oil consumption is projected at 189.0 million tons, up 5.4 million led by increases for India and China. Soy oil production gains are expected for China and palm oil production gains for Indonesia and Malaysia.

Global soybean exports are projected at 149.6 million tons, up 5.0 million from 2016/17. Imports are expected to grow for China, Egypt, Vietnam, and the EU. Lower global production has led to a 1.3-million-ton decrease in soybean stocks, particularly in Brazil and Argentina where stocks are expected to decline by 2.6 million tons combined. Partially offsetting are higher stocks in the United States and Canada.


U.S. wheat supplies for 2017/18 are projected down 9 percent from 2016/17 on lower production, which is partially offset by higher beginning stocks. All wheat production for 2017/18 is projected at 1,820 million bushels, down nearly 500 million bushels from the prior year. The year-to-year decline is due to a sharp reduction in planted area and projected lower yields. The all wheat yield is projected at 47.2 bushels per acre, down 10 percent from last year’s record. The first survey-based forecast for 2017/18 winter wheat production is down sharply with the lowest harvested area in more than a century and lower yields. Winter wheat benefited from diminishing drought conditions in the Plains and Midwest. However, a late April snow storm affected large portions of the Hard Red Winter wheat belt, especially western Kansas. Combined spring wheat and Durum production for 2017/18 is projected to decline 10 percent on lower area and a return to trend yields.

Total use for 2017/18 is projected down 2 percent on lower exports and feed and residual use. Exports are projected at 1.0 billion bushels, down 35 million from the previous year’s revised level but above the five-year average. The EU is expected to regain export market share following last year’s small crop and quality problems. U.S. feed and residual use is projected down 20 million bushels on lower supplies. U.S. ending stocks are projected to decline 245 million bushels to 914 million, the lowest in three years. The season-average farm price is projected at $3.85 to $4.65 per bushel. The mid-point of this range is up $0.35 from the previous year’s low level.

Global wheat supplies are projected to decline fractionally as higher beginning stocks are more than offset by a production decline following last year’s record. Total wheat production is projected at 737.8 million tons, the second highest total on record. Global wheat consumption is projected down slightly from last year’s record with reduced feed and residual usage partially offset by increased food use. Global imports are expected to be a record for the fifth consecutive year. Global ending stocks are projected at a record 258.3 million tons, up 2.9 million from 2016/17.


Total red meat and poultry production for 2018 is projected higher than 2017 on increased livestock and poultry production. Cattle placements during second half 2017 and early 2018 are forecast higher; these cattle will be slaughtered during 2018, supporting higher beef production. Carcass weights are expected to be higher. Pork production is forecast higher on expected increased farrowings and continued gains in sow productivity. Higher broiler and egg production reflects expanded production in response to moderate feed prices and relatively strong 2017 prices. Turkey production is forecast higher as demand strengthens.

Total red meat and poultry production for 2017 is reduced from the previous month on lower beef, pork and broiler production. Beef and pork production is reduced on lighter expected cattle and hog carcass weights. Broiler production is lowered on lower forecast second-quarter production. Turkey production is raised on higher first-quarter slaughter data. The 2017 egg production forecast is reduced on lower first-quarter table egg production and lower expected hatching production for the remainder of the year.

For 2018, larger beef supplies and lower prices are expected to support stronger U.S. beef exports. Beef imports are forecast higher as supplies of domestic processing-grade beef remain relatively tight and supplies of beef increase in key exporting countries. Pork exports are forecast to increase as expanding supplies and competitive prices support demand for U.S. pork. U.S. pork imports are forecast to decline as domestic supplies are expected to pressure prices. Broiler and turkey exports are forecast higher on expected continued gains in foreign demand.

The 2017 beef and pork export forecasts are raised as demand is expected to remain strong. The beef import forecast is raised on recent trade data for the first quarter, but pork imports are reduced. Changes to the 2017 poultry and egg trade forecast reflect first-quarter trade data.
Cattle and hog prices for 2018 are forecast to decline relative to 2017 as both cattle and hog supplies are expected to increase. Turkey and egg prices are forecast to increase in 2018 on increased demand. The 2018 broiler price is forecast lower, as production increases and supplies of competing meats are higher.

The 2017 cattle and hog price forecasts are raised on recent price strength and expectations that demand will remain relatively firm through the year. The broiler price forecast is increased as second quarter prices are raised due to recent price strength. Turkey and egg prices are forecast lower for the remainder of the year as relatively large supplies pressure prices.

Milk production for 2018 is forecast higher on stronger milk prices and moderate feed prices. Commercial exports on fat and skim-solids bases are forecast higher on stronger global demand. Fat basis imports are forecast modestly higher in 2018 while skim-solids basis imports are forecast lower relative to 2017. Cheese and non-fat dry milk prices are forecast higher than 2017, but butter and whey prices are forecast lower. The increase in the Class III price reflects higher forecast cheese prices which more than offset lower whey prices. The Class IV price is higher as the higher non-fat dry milk price more than offset lower butter prices. The all milk price is forecast at $17.55 to $18.55 per cwt for 2018.

Forecast milk production in 2017 is lowered from the previous month on slower growth in milk per cow. Fat basis imports are lowered from the previous month while skim-solids basis imports are increased. Commercial exports are forecast higher for both fat and skim-solids bases. Non-fat dry milk price forecasts are raised from last month while butter is lower. Cheese and whey prices are unchanged. The Class III price is unchanged while the Class IV is higher than the previous month. The milk price is forecast at $17.35 to $17.85 per cwt.

Tuesday May 9 Ag News

New Device Aims to Improve Beef Safety
The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (MARC) in Clay Center have recently developed a new continuous sampling device for beef trim pathogen testing that could soon be implemented in beef packing facilities. The beef checkoff funded research addresses foodborne illnesses caused by microorganisms that are a food safety concern among consumers and regulatory agencies.

Foodborne pathogens such as E. coli O157:H7 can contaminate carcasses during beef processing steps, especially hide removal. Beef processors have implemented sophisticated food safety systems to minimize the risk of contaminated product entering commerce. One of the final steps in this system, called test-and-hold, samples beef trimmings and tests for E. coli O157:H7. The product is not released for sale until the tests come back negative.

Currently, the gold standard sampling methods are N60 Excision and N60 Plus. These methods are used to sample beef trimmings commonly held in 2000lb combo bins. The N60 Excision method requires a worker to manually cut 60 pieces of the trim for testing while the N60 Plus method uses a drill to core down through the trim in the combo bin to shave off samples. Both methods target pieces from the carcass surface that are more likely to be contaminated. The current methods of sampling are effective, but MARC food technologist Tommy Wheeler and microbiologist Terry Arthur believe there is room for improvement.

A criticism of the N60 Excision method is that the 60 sample pieces all come from the trim on the top of the combo which may not represent the entire bin. N60 Plus samples are gathered by drilling down through the combo, but still only sample a small percentage of the trim pieces. 

“Our new continuous sampling device provides a much more representative sample of all the beef trim in a combo bin,” said Wheeler. 

The new method uses continuous sampling of the trim as the combo bin is filled. A stainless-steel bracket attached at the end of the trim conveyor holds a sampling cloth that the trim pieces rub against as the trim falls into the bin. The cloth is changed for each combo and is processed for pathogen analysis.

“We have conducted a series of experiments with our industry partners comparing the new method to the approved and commonly used N60 methods,” said Wheeler. “We have data from over 900 samples collected on numerous days across multiple companies, processing plants, and lean types.”

The researcher hope that sampling beef trim using the new device will provide an alternative sampling method with the same or better organism recovery and some implementation advantages in labor, cost, safety, and ease of use when compared to current methods, ultimately resulting in improved beef safety. 

“Several companies and the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) are very interested in the new sampling method,” said Wheeler. “We are expecting FSIS approval of the new method soon and some initial commercial implementation shortly thereafter.”

You're Invited to the Agricultural Economic & Technology Summit June 13-14 in Kearney

Nebraska Farm Bureau is partnering with the UNL Department of Agricultural Economics, UNL Department of Biological Systems Engineering at the University of Nebraska, and KRVN Rural Radio Network on the Agricultural Economic & Technology Summit, June 13-14 in Kearney.

The Summit is new this year and provides the opportunity for all persons interested in Nebraska agriculture to gather mid-year to discuss the state’s largest industry—agriculture.  Featured speakers on the global and domestic agricultural economy, the use of technology in agriculture, the beef industry in 50 years, and much more promise an interesting and informative conference.

For more information on the Summit and to register, click Here...

The Agricultural Economic & Technology Summit is co-sponsored by the Nebraska Corn Board, Nebraska Cattlemen, Nebraska Agri-Business Association and Nebraska Cooperative Council.


Bio Nebraska Executive Director Phil Kozera and Iowa Biotechnology Association (IowaBio) Executive Director Joe Hrdlicka announced today the two organizations are collaborating on an animal health symposium scheduled for Tuesday, July 18th and Wednesday, July 19th in Ames that will focus on the biotech industry’s role in mitigating animal health emergencies.

Kozera and Hrdlicka said they are again pleased to have commitments from some of the nation’s foremost research and regulatory experts to lead the discussion on preventing past and future emergency outbreaks. The event kicks off with a 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. facility tour and a 5 to 7 p.m. networking reception on Tuesday, July 18th. The main symposium is scheduled from 8 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. on Wednesday, July 19th.

Tuesday’s facility tour will be located at the USDA National Centers for Animal Health in Ames with the networking reception following at Olde Main Brewing Co. Wednesday’s events will feature presentations and panel discussions at the Scheman Building on the Iowa State University campus.

Dr. John Schleifer, DVM, MS, DACPV, Staff Veterinarian with Rembrandt Inc. will lead off the discussion on Wednesday followed by a list of leading animal health experts addressing critical topics to livestock producers and animal health professionals in government, academia and industry (See full agenda at website listed below). Those interested in attending this event may register by clicking this link:

Recent outbreaks of Avian Influenza (AIV) and Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDV) have had serious consequences in the Heartland region, impacting animal health, human health, animal producers, the encompassing agriculture industry, and the overall economy both domestic and abroad, Kozera and Hrdlicka said. They indicated the impact of these recent outbreaks inspired the symposium.

“These were not the first diseases emerging in the region, and will certainly not be the last, Hrdlicka said. “In our discussion with industry and regulatory experts, we believe it’s critical to open the dialogue to minimize impact from future events.”

Kozera said our regions’ leadership in animal production dictates a need for an ongoing conversation on practices designed to quickly respond to outbreaks. “We have seen first-hand the significant dangers these diseases pose for the economies of Midwest states like Nebraska and Iowa,” he said. “It is critical that animal health professionals, producers, academia and government leaders collaborate in an effort to minimize future threats.”

Dr. Marcus Kehrli (director of the National Animal Disease Center with the U. S. Dept. of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service) assisted the organizations coordinating the event. “I’m pleased to work again with these organizations on this event,” he said. “The discussion and collaboration is needed to prepare for these emergencies and raise the level of awareness surrounding the significant impact of these events.”

Newly Revised BRaNDS Software Available from Iowa Beef Center

Beef producers who are interested in software that assists with balancing rations may check out the Iowa Beef Center’s ration balancing software. Associate scientist Garland Dahlke recently completed the update to the Beef Ration and Nutrition Decision Software, and said the new version is easier to use and has the most current information.

"This new version reflects the updated guidelines in the recently released Nutrient Requirements of Beef Cattle so people will have the best information," he said. "There’s just a small update fee for those who already have either the professional or standard edition."

Owners of the previous professional edition will pay $50 to update, and standard edition owners will pay $10 per module update. To learn more about the software, see all the available modules and view a sample report output, check out the BRaNDS page on the Iowa Beef Center website,

"The cost of the new professional edition is $525 for new users,” he said. “The complete standard edition will be sold to new customers for $260.”

Dahlke said users should note that the professional version now requires Microsoft Excel 2007 or later installed on a Windows-based computer to operate. The Standard Edition will operate on both Windows and Mac systems running Excel.

To help users better understand the programs and their capabilities, training sessions are being planned with the first scheduled for Aug. 1 at the Hansen Agricultural Student Learning Center in Ames. He said BRaNDS users should watch for more details on this session and future sessions from IBC.

"Whether you are a new user or are upgrading your old version, remember that program support is just a phone call or email message away," Dahlke said. "You can call the Iowa Beef Center at 515-294-2333 or email us at"

To order, pay for and download the desired version, go to the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach online store.

Customers who are updating from a previous version should be sure to indicate that in the customer request space on the order shipping page to receive the much lower update price. This will be validated with the customer's name and email. Those who prefer to order a software CD rather than electronically download the program should call the Extension Store at 515-294-5247.

Cattle Producers Invited to give Input on Industry Issues at 2nd Annual BeefMeets

Iowa cattle producers have an opportunity to weigh in on beef industry topics of concern at this year’s regional BeefMeets in June. In addition to several educational sessions, a full tradeshow and opportunities for networking, cattlemen will get a chance to share policy and industry issue concerns with ICA leaders. BeefMeets will be held June 13 in Dubuque, June 15 in Ottumwa, June 20 in Creston and June 22 in Le Mars.

The Iowa Cattlemen’s Association is a grassroots membership organization, with a dedication to “grow Iowa’s beef business through advocacy, leadership and education.” The organization, which includes nearly 10,000 members, uses feedback from cattle producers and those involved in the industry to protect and enhance Iowa’s beef business.

Time has been set aside at each BeefMeet for ICA districts to gather and provide input on cattle industry issues. “Our district breakouts will allow cattle producers to weigh in on topics that matter to their operations,” says ICA’s President Mike Cline. “As a grassroots organization, our policy is developed by members for members, and provides guidance for staff and leaders as we work on behalf of the industry.” All cattle industry stakeholders are invited to attend BeefMeets and learn more, but only current ICA members are allowed to participate in the policy development.

Policy discussions at this year’s BeefMeets are expected to affect every sector of the industry, from cow/calf producers to feedlot operators. Discussions will likely revolve around policies related to national animal identification and traceability, foreign trade, and regulation of transportation of cattle.

To register for BeefMeets, visit

Senate Panel OKs Branstad

(AP) -- A Senate panel on Tuesday easily approved Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad's nomination to be the U.S. ambassador to China, a move that all but assures full Senate confirmation of President Donald Trump's pick for the key diplomatic post.

Members of the Foreign Relations Committee approved Branstad by voice vote. Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, the committee's top Democrat, described Branstad as "fully qualified" for the job at a time when the Trump administration is pushing the Chinese to act more aggressively to defuse North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

During his confirmation hearing last week, Branstad pledged to confront Beijing on a range of thorny subjects, including human rights and trade. Branstad told senators he plans to leverage his decades-long relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping to advance U.S. and international interests. The two met in 1985 when Xi, at the time a provincial official, led an agricultural trade delegation to Iowa.

Branstad said North Korea's push for a weapon of mass destruction is a "threat to all of humankind." He said recent events, which include missile tests by Pyongyang, should prompt China to take the threat more seriously. He also said he expects China to become more engaged because of concerns that North Korean refugees may flood China if the crisis on the Korean Peninsula escalates further.

Branstad, 70, is in his sixth nonconsecutive term as governor. He served from 1983 to 1999 before entering the private sector. He was re-elected in 2010. With more than 22 years heading Iowa government, Branstad is the country's longest serving governor.

ACE applauds Branstad’s confirmation as US Ambassador to China

Brian Jennings, executive vice president of the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE), issued the following statement on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee voice vote today confirming Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad as the U.S. Ambassador to China:

“We’re grateful for the speedy confirmation of Terry Branstad by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. We believe as the new U.S. Ambassador to China, Branstad will capitalize on his longstanding relationship with the President of China to continue to drive global demand for ethanol and coproducts, as well as advise the Trump administration on trade policy reform for the U.S. ethanol industry. When it comes to export efforts, this industry is facing both global tailwinds and headwinds. We’re hopeful Branstad will help battle the headwind protectionist trade barriers being erected.”

NMPF Statement on Confirmation of Scott Gottlieb as FDA Commissioner

Jim Mulhern, President and CEO, NMPF

“We congratulate Dr. Gottlieb on his confirmation by the Senate today. NMPF will engage with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s new leadership on ways to strengthen the safety of the food supply, promote the judicious use of antimicrobials in livestock, and ensure the clear, consistent labeling of foods regulated by FDA.

“We share Commissioner Gottlieb’s goal of remedying the bureaucratic inertia that has hindered FDA’s work on several issues. This should include the proper labeling of foods that are disregarding FDA standards of identity. For too long, FDA has not responded to dairy imitators’ obvious violation of FDA’s clear definition that milk, cheese, ice cream and yogurt must be made from real dairy sources.

“We welcome a more proactive, responsive FDA on the food standards issue to reduce the confusing terminology proliferating in grocery stores and retail food markets. This will greatly enhance the credibility of the agency as the federal authority on food labeling, composition and safety.”

New Tools Available to Answer Consumer Questions about Beef Production

Ever wonder what the difference is between grass-fed and organic beef? Confused by terms like "antibiotic-free" and "raised without antibiotics"? New tools are now available to help consumers answer these and many other questions about today's beef production.

"Today's consumer demands transparency and more information about how their food, including beef, is raised and grown," Mandy Carr, Ph.D., senior executive director of Science & Product Solutions for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff. "Cattle farmers and ranchers are committed to providing answers to their questions."

Consumer research conducted by the National Cattlemen's Beef Association and funded by the Beef Checkoff indicates that consumers are confused about terms commonly found on labels such as "grass-fed" and "organic." Additionally, some consumers have questions about the use of antibiotics in cattle production. Two new factsheets walk consumers through how cattle farmers and ranchers use antibiotics in accordance with Food and Drug Administration guidelines and the choices consumers have when buying beef in their local supermarket.

Decoding the Label: Know Your Beef Choices

Beef labels can be helpful, but they can also cause confusion in the meat case. Terms like grain-finished, grass-finished, certified organic and naturally raised may be confusing to some; this fact sheet breaks down the four common labels and what they actually mean, based on U.S. Department of Agriculture definitions.

Antibiotics Use in Cattle

Antibiotic use in livestock is a hot topic with consumers. It is also top of mind for the beef producers who want consumers to know that we care about the issue and what we are doing to address it. The Antibiotic Use in Cattle fact sheet addresses consumer questions about how and why antibiotics are used and what the Beef Quality Assurance program is doing to educate producers about best practices. This tool helps consumers feel confident knowing that antibiotics are only given to cattle to treat, control or prevent disease.

Research shows that 88 percent of the millennial parents polled approved of the new Antibiotics Use in Cattle fact sheet saying that it was meaningful and it made them feel better about how beef is raised.

"This feedback affirms these tools will be helpful as a resource for both our partners and consumers," said Carr.

To download the new tools or to find answers to other beef related questions, visit

Farmers, Ranchers Call for Senate Action on Regulatory Reform

A Farm Bureau-backed bill that would make much-need changes to the federal rulemaking process could be considered by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in the next few weeks.

The Regulatory Accountability Act of 2017 (S. 951) would make fundamental reforms to the Administrative Procedure Act. Specifically, the measure would require a cost-benefit analysis of proposed regulations, invite early public participation on major rules and require federal agencies to disclose the information they rely upon.

In addition, the bill, sponsored by Sens. Robert Portman (R-Ohio) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), would codify key bipartisan regulatory executive orders; require federal agencies to build in an automatic review for the most significant rules at least once every 10 years; and require federal agencies to follow a more evidence-based approach in crafting rules that will cost more than $1 billion annually.

The House earlier this year passed its own regulatory reform bill. With the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee poised to mark up the Regulatory Accountability Act, Farm Bureau is urging farmers and ranchers to contact their senators and ask them to act now on regulatory reform.

USDA Delays Organic Meat, Eggs Rule

(AP) -- The Trump administration is delaying for six months a rule that would require organic meat and egg producers to abide by stricter animal welfare standards.

Former President Barack Obama's Agriculture Department announced the rule two days before he left office in January. The regulations are designed to ensure that organically grown livestock have enough space to lie down, turn around, stand up and fully stretch their limbs. Poultry would have enough room to move freely and spread their wings. Beaks couldn't be removed and cattle tails couldn't be cut. Living conditions would have to include fresh air, proper ventilation and direct sunlight.

The rule was originally scheduled to go into effect in March. President Donald Trump's USDA has delayed that to May and will now delay it another six months until Nov. 14, saying in an online notice that "there are significant policy and legal issues addressed within the final rule that warrant further review by USDA."

In the meantime, USDA will solicit comments on the rule and whether the department should put it into place or withdraw it.

Some farm-state lawmakers and farm groups are opposed to the rules, which they say could raise food prices and force some farmers out of business.

Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., chairman of the Agriculture Committee, praised the delay.

If the new rule goes forward, Roberts said, "organic consumers will see increased prices at the grocery store, family farmers will be put out of business and animal health will be put at risk, which will decrease food safety."

Animal welfare groups said the rules would lead to more consistency in the market. The retail market for organic food products is valued at almost $40 billion in the United States, and USDA said last year that the number of certified organic operations in the United States increased by almost 12 percent between 2014 and 2015 -- an increase of nearly 300 percent since the department began counting operations in 2002.

Valent and ASA Offer a New Opportunity for Young People Interested in Ag Policy

The American Soybean Association (ASA) and Valent USA are pleased to announce the Soy Leaders of the Future program, a new opportunity for young people interested in improving their understanding of major policy issues that impact soybean farmers, the importance of advocacy, and careers that can impact agricultural policy. The first class will take place this summer and will be held in conjunction with the ASA Board Meeting and Soy Issues Briefing, July 10-13, 2017, in Washington, D.C.

The U.S. agriculture industry needs more leaders in Washington, D.C. who understand the needs of farmers and the agriculture industry, especially as it relates to the development of policies and regulations that impact farm productivity. The proportion of rural congressional districts is at its lowest point in history. An analysis of the most recent U.S. Census data, correlated with the 2012 Census of Agriculture, shows that only one of 435 districts in the U.S. House of Representatives is comprised of a rural population greater than 75 percent.* In fact, more than half of the U.S. population currently resides in 39 of the nation’s largest cities. As a result, positions on Congressional staffs, regulatory agencies and services groups within the Federal government are often filled with individuals who have a very limited understanding of farming and the needs of the agriculture industry.

The new Soy Leaders of the Future program, sponsored by Valent and ASA, is designed to expose young people with a connection to the farm to an education on major policy issues and advocacy. The program will also encourage these future young leaders to consider careers within agriculture associations and industry, as well as government regulatory and legislative positions.

Application Information

To apply for the Soy Leaders of the Future program, students must be at least 18 years old and have an interest in learning more about advocacy and policy issues that impact U.S. soybean farmers and career opportunities in Washington, D.C. and the agriculture industry. This program may be especially appealing to students majoring in a various areas of agriculture, political science, communications and business. Program sponsors will cover all travel, lodging and meal expenses for the students who are selected for this program.

Class size is limited.  All applications must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. on Friday, June 9. For more information, click here....  

Farm Bureau Applauds EPA’s Water Rule Outreach

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall today praised the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to collaborate closely with governors regarding revision of the Waters of the United States rule.

“EPA Administrator Pruitt’s decision to consult with the states before revising the Waters of the United States rule marks a sharp break with the recent past,” Duvall said. “His letter to the 50 state governors requesting their comments on what a new rule should do recognizes the checks and balances that were written into the Clean Water Act in the first place.

“This is an important, first step towards the restoration of law in environmental regulation. A distant and unaccountable Washington bureaucracy has too often punished farmers and ranchers for alleged infringements that have no basis in law. The EPA and Army Corps have ignored requirements that they consult state officials in their work. Administrator Pruitt calls this new relationship a partnership, rather than a fiat. We agree that this is the right way to proceed: Regulation must be done with an open door and open mind. We look forward to working with the states, the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers to set things right once more.”

CREAATE Act Would Bolster Investment in Ag Trade

The National Corn Growers Association, along with the Coalition to Promote U.S. Agricultural Exports and the Agribusiness Coalition for Foreign Market Development, welcomed the introduction late last week of a bill to gradually increase investment in the Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) programs, ultimately improving the competitiveness of the U.S. agricultural community in the global economy.

H.R. 2321, the Cultivating Revitalization by Expanding American Agricultural Trade and Exports (CREAATE) Act, was introduced by Reps. Dan Newhouse (R-Washington) and Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) and is co-sponsored by Reps. Cheri Bustos (D-Illinois), Roger Marshall (R-Kansas), Jimmy Panetta (D-California), and Thomas Rooney (R-Florida).

The MAP and FMD programs match dollars contributed by U.S. farmers and ranchers for programs that create, expand and maintain access to foreign markets. Independent evaluations have shown that MAP and FMD and the activities they help fund are consistently effective at increasing demand overseas and raising farm income at home. A 2016 study commissioned by USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) found that from 1977 to 2014, MAP and FMD accounted for 15 percent of all U.S. ag export revenue.

"At a time when trade is top of mind to many U.S. farmers, the CREAATE Act shows that the U.S. is serious about promoting high-value corn and corn products around the world," said NCGA Director of Public Policy Lesly McNitt. "With an average return on investment of $28 for every dollar spent, MAP and FMD represent a public-private partnership that we can all be proud of."

Yet investment in these programs has failed to keep pace in an increasingly competitive global economy. Statutory funding of $200 million per year for MAP and $34.5 million per year for FMD has been static since 2006 and 2002, respectively. Over the past 15 years, these programs have lost more than 40 percent of their value due to inflation, sequestration, and administrative costs.

Meanwhile, America's competitors have ramped up their own export promotion. For example, the European Union spends more than $255 million per year just to promote wine exports, more than the U.S. spends for the promotion of all commodities through MAP and FMD.

"Programs like MAP and FMD help America's farmers and ranchers compete for the world's business, and ultimately improves their bottom lines. In a challenging farm economy, it's important to invest in these programs so that we can maintain the markets we have, and expand into new ones," said McNitt.

The CREAATE Act would gradually increase annual funding for these programs to $400 million for MAP and $69 million for FMD by FY2023. A separate econometric study by Informa Economics IEG found that this funding increase, combined with an increase in producer contributions, would increase average annual agricultural export value by between $3-4 billion and create nearly 85,000 new jobs.

Visit to learn more about MAP and FMD and other topics related to agricultural trade.

A perception change needs to happen for animal agriculture

The overarching message on how the animal agriculture community can protect the livelihoods of farmers, ranchers, veterinarians and industry professionals is to engage and change the perception of the industry, according to speakers at the 2017 Animal Agriculture Alliance Stakeholders Summit. A record-setting 276 people attended the Summit, held in Kansas City May 3 and 4.

Two panels discussed how farm tours and engaging with consumers are key to growing confidence in agriculture. The first panel included Rex Martin, senior vice president, owner relations and Scott Wallin, director, consumer confidence, both with Dairy Management Inc.

Martin and Wallin shared how DMI is engaging with unexpected audiences about the dairy industry with their “Acres to Avenues” video initiative connecting farmers with consumers and having them switch roles for a day to learn what it takes to do each other’s job.

The second panel which focused on how farm tours can be an instrumental tool in engaging with influencers included Meagan Cramer, director of communications & marketing, Kansas Farm Bureau; Jancey Hall, program manager, Kansas Soybean; Stacey Forshee, Kansas grain and beef farmer; LaVell Winsor, Kansas grain farmer; and Abby Heidari, Registered Dietitian.

“Remember that your common knowledge is not the consumer’s common knowledge,” suggested Heidari.

Media also plays a role in shaping consumer perceptions and Luke Runyon with Harvest Public Media and Tyne Morgan with U.S. Farm Report explained how the tone of rural America changed in the media after the presidential election.

“Rural America has this very loud voice out there and maybe they’re not the loudest, but they’re the silent majority often times,” Morgan said. After the election, “the media finally wanted to hear what rural America had to say.”

Morgan and Runyon shared how it is in agriculture’s best interest to cultivate a relationship with media proactively and when your company or organization isn’t currently in the news. Working with potentially biased media was highlighted in the next panel with Cindy Cunningham of National Pork Board, Jennifer Trey of Illinois Pork Producers and Phil Borgic of Borgic Farms. Be transparent, talk to reporters and use your tools to determine if a response will help or hurt the situation were three pieces of advice offered by the panelists to help set the record straight.

Key issues often covered in the media were discussed in the next session, including antibiotics, sustainability and animal agriculture’s role in public health. Panelists included: Leah Beyer, director, digital and social media communications, Elanco Animal Health; Dan Thomson, D.V.M., Ph.D., Jones Professor of Production Medicine and Epidemiology, Kansas State University; and Steve Solomon, M.D., principal, Global Public Health Consulting.

Beyer shared how consumers are not talking about antibiotic use in animal agriculture on social media, but some meat companies are dominating the conversation while Solomon shared how everyone “just wants to do a better job” in regards to how medicines are used both in animal agriculture and in human health.

“Activists today are masquerading as the consumers” working to increase the price of food, according to Thomson. “This is about sustainability of mankind and providing good for people in an affordable manner. Poverty in this country is determined by the price of food.”

Broiler chicken welfare took the stage to kick off the second day of Summit with a panel exposing how animal rights organizations are threatening not only the sustainability, but the welfare of broilers with the demand for “slower-growing” chickens.

Three broiler welfare experts included Kate Barger Weathers, D.V.M., director of world animal welfare, Cobb-Vantress, Inc.; Ken Opengart, D.V.M., Ph.D., D.A.C.V.P., head, global animal health & welfare and U.S. sustainability, Keystone Foods; Matt Salois, Ph.D., director of global scientific affairs & policy, Elanco Animal Health.

“Animal welfare is currently being defined by a very noisy group of people,” said Barger Weathers, alluding to the animal rights activist organizations. “We need to paint the positive picture of agriculture.”

Opengart and Salois talked about the broiler industry’s efforts towards continuous improvement and how “slower growing chickens will absolutely have a negative impact on sustainability.”

The conversation shifted to campus dining with Topanga McBride, agricultural communications and economics student and Melissa Schrader, assistant unit director at Kramer Dining Center, both from Kansas State University.

“It’s not only about feeding students to support their education, but also educating them about where their food comes from,” said Schrader. She shared how their campus dining program brings in farmers to join their chefs to help answer student questions.

“The conversations [about agriculture] have gotten better with more discussions,” said McBride. “Mostly it’s people just looking for answers and they haven’t found them yet.”

Another panel featured Domino’s Pizza with Tim McIntyre, executive vice president of communication, investor relations and legislative affairs sharing that the pizza company supports farmers and ranchers and will never cave to supply chain demands made by animal rights extremists.

Next, three more speakers took the stage to talk about how to defend against activist threats. The panelists included Greg Slipher, livestock specialist, Indiana Farm Bureau; Michelle C. Pardo, partner, Norton Rose Fulbright; and Mike Siemens, Ph.D., director of business development, agribusiness division, Arrowsight. Slipher emphasized how the industry needs to “own the message” and “be the source of the information” about animal agriculture to minimize challenges and activist threats. Pardo delved into the trend of consumer fraud action by animal rights groups attempting to paint a negative picture of animal agriculture by attacking package labels and offered compliance as one way of avoiding lawsuits by activists. Siemens shared how remote video auditing can be a tool for companies to use to help improve their operations by ensuring compliance and committing to continuous improvement.

To close the Summit, Diane Sullivan, affordable food and anti-poverty advocate who defended low-income consumers against the 2016 ballot initiative in Massachusetts addressing animal housing shared why taking action and protecting animal agriculture matters.

“I know that productive agriculture is among the very best friends that struggling people have,” said Sullivan. “We must have the voice of the victims join with those who produce” and “protect our dinner plates from the self-appointed food police.”

Videos from Summit sessions will be posted at as they become available.

The 2018 Summit will be held May 3-4 at the Renaissance Capitol View in Arlington, Va.

May 8 Crop Progress & Condition - NE - IA - US


For the week ending May 7, 2017, temperatures averaged one to two degrees below normal, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Rainfall was limited to half an inch or less across most of the State. Dry weather allowed planting and other field activities to continue at week’s end. Producers started to move cows and calves to pastures. There were 3.3 days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 3 percent very short, 8 short, 81 adequate, and 8 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 6 percent very short, 12 short, 76 adequate, and 6 surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Corn planted was 48 percent, near 49 last year, and behind 55 for the five-year average. Emerged was 10 percent, near 14 last year, and behind 15 average.

Soybeans planted was 13 percent, near 11 last year, but behind 18 average.

Winter wheat condition rated 2 percent very poor, 15 poor, 47 fair, 31 good, and 5 excellent. Winter wheat jointed was 77 percent, near 80 last year, but ahead of 58 average. Headed was 1 percent, behind 9 both last year and average.

Sorghum planted was 5 percent, near 4 last year and 8 average.

Oats condition rated 0 percent very poor, 0 poor, 9 fair, 88 good, and 3 excellent. Oats planted was 94 percent, ahead of 89 last year, and near 93 average. Emerged was 76 percent, near 78 last year and 73 average. Jointed was 1 percent.

Pasture and Range Report:

Pasture and range conditions rated 0 percent very poor, 1 poor, 19 fair, 72 good, and 8 excellent. Stock water supplies rated 1 percent very short, 4 short, 93 adequate, and 2 surplus.

Access the National publication for Crop Progress and Condition tables at:

Access the High Plains Region Climate Center for Temperature and Precipitation Maps at:

Access the U.S. Drought Monitor at:


Drier conditions as the week progressed allowed farmers to plant corn and soybeans during the week ending May 7, 2017, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Statewide there were 3.4 days suitable for fieldwork. However, below normal temperatures have slowed the emergence of crops.

Topsoil moisture levels rated 0 percent very short, 0 percent short, 82 percent adequate and 18 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated 0 percent very short, 1 percent short, 80 percent adequate and 19 percent surplus. Southwest and South Central Districts reported 25 percent or more surplus subsoil moisture.

Almost one-quarter of the State’s expected corn acreage was planted during the week ending May 7, 2017. Fifty-two percent of the corn crop has been planted, remaining over a week behind last year, and slightly behind the 5-year average. Northeast Iowa has the smallest percentage of corn planted at 35 percent, while central Iowa has the most planted at 65 percent. Seven percent of the corn has emerged, 6 days behind last year, and 4 days behind average.

Nine percent of the soybean acreage has been planted, 6 days behind last year, and 2 days behind average.

Planting of the State’s oat crop is nearing completion. Oats emerged reached 61 percent, over a week behind last year, but just 2 days behind average. The season’s first oat condition rating came in at 0 percent very poor, 1 percent poor, 23 percent fair, 62 percent good and 14 percent excellent.

The first hay condition of the season rating was 0 percent very poor, 1 percent poor, 17 percent fair, 67 percent good and 15 percent excellent.

Pasture condition rated 79 percent good to excellent, an increase of 3 percentage points from the previous week. Livestock conditions were reported as normal, and feedlot conditions improved from the previous week.

USDA Holds Steady on Winter Wheat Condition as Planting Slows

USDA downgraded the winter wheat condition only marginally in its weekly Crop Progress and Conditions report, despite reports of widespread damage from the Plains. Continued wet and cool weather in parts of the Corn Belt continued to hamper fieldwork, and corn and soybean planting slipped behind the average pace yet again for the week ending May 7.  The percentage of winter wheat rated in good to excellent condition dropped only a single percentage point from 54% last week.  Exactly 50% of the winter wheat crop was reported to be heading, up from the five-year average of 46%, but behind 55% last year at this time.

Corn is 47% planted, behind the average pace of 52%, as well as last year's brisk pace of 61%. Corn emergence is at 14%, dropping four points behind the five-year average of 19% and a full 10 points behind last year's pace of 25%.

Soybean planting also slipped behind the average pace this past week. Soybeans are 14% planted, down from 17% on average and 21% last year.

Spring wheat is 54% planted and 21% emerged, compared to 74% and 37% last year, and 60% and 29% on average. "Monday's report is slightly bullish for spring wheat," Hultman said.

Cotton is 21% planted, compared to 25% last year and on average. Rice is 76% planted and 65% emerged, compared to 81% and 65% last year and 71% and 53% on average.

Sorghum is 30% planted, just up from 29% last year, but the same as the five-year average. Barley is 53% planted and 26% emerged, compared to 76% and 44% last year and 68% and 35% on average. Oats are 79% planted and 59% emerged, compared to 87% and 68% last year and 79% and 60% on average.

Monday May 8 Ag News

Farm Finance Averages Show Some Light, Despite Concerning Ag Debt
Tina Barrett - Executive Director of Nebraska Farm Business Inc.

Nebraska Farm Business, Inc. recently completed its financial averages for 2016. These averages represent the 120 farms across the state participating in this financial analysis program.

Nebraska Farm Business Inc. provides producers with a comprehensive analysis of the financial health of their business, including their

Each year the data collected from these farms’ records is averaged to provide participants with information to benchmark their operations. Taking a closer look at these averages also  indicates shifting trends across these farms and ranches.

The average data shows several surprises including an increase in net farm income from $29,432 in 2015 to $45,703 in 2016. This is the first increase in net farm income since 2011, but it is still lower than any other year (other than 2015) since 2002. In 2015 44% of the operations saw negative net farm income while in 2016 only 30% did with a majority of those being predominately livestock operations. The income for crop operations (more than 70% of their gross income comes from crops) rebounded to the 2014 levels after a drop in 2015, but the operations with a significant beef component saw continued losses.
-    accrual basis net farm income (the true earnings of the business),
-    an earned net worth change,
-    cost of production,
-    21 financial ratios,
-    and more.

Not all the surprises were good surprises. The level of total debt carried by each operation jumped 13% from 2015 to 2016. Gross income also increased, possibly indicating that the size of operations increased. However, this continued increase in risk is something operations need to be concerned with. Since 2004 the average debt per acre has more than doubled (Table 1). It should be noted that there is certainly a factor for livestock operations that would have debt without crop acres that this simple comparison doesn’t capture, but the fact remains that the rising total debt must be serviced by the same number of acres. This dramatically increases the risk of not being able to repay the debt.

Another good surprise was in family living. We have seen costs dropping slightly from the peak of spending in 2012, but this was the first time we approached a drop of more than 10%. The average family living costs in 2016 were $83,210 compared to $91,991 in 2015. The largest drops came from personal care, recreation and miscellaneous expenses. Cash donations and household repairs were the other large drops. The only significant category to increase was food and meals. One other item to note from family living is that 2016 was the first time in over 10 years that more money was pulled out of savings than was put in. This is an indicator of the continued cash flow crunch.

That cash flow crunch is most accurately measured by Working Capital which saw no significant improvement in 2016 even with a large amount of refinanced debt (restructuring debt from the current position to a long term). Without adequate working capital, an operation will struggle to pay their bills and service the mounting debt.

While the increase in net farm income is significant and a positive sign that the farm economy is trending in the right direction, it is still too low to create a return on the significant investment of a farming operation with an addition of payment for the labor and management for the operator. Farm operators will need to continue to be diligent in the management of every aspect of their operation to ensure the survival of the business.
New Service

Beginning farmers interested in developing strong financial information for their operation  may be interested in a new opportunity being offered by Nebraska Farm Business Inc: a Beginning Farmer Analysis Program for those who have been farming for less than five years.  The goal of the service is to provide information and analysis to help the beginning farmer better understand the costs of the operation and make sound financial decisions. The five-year program includes a free analysis the first year.

Recent Cold, Wet Conditions are Favorable for Seedling Diseases in Early Planted Corn

Tamra Jackson-Ziems, NE Extension Plant Pathologist

Recent cold, wet field conditions and fluctuations in soil temperatures have put early planted corn at risk for seedling disease development. Cold soil temperatures and episodes of recent rainfall (and snow) are especially favorable for some of the most common and damaging seedling diseases favored by cold wet conditions. Numerous seedling diseases can take advantage of any of these conditions. Be sure to monitor seedling emergence and stand establishment in the coming weeks so if problems occur they can be detected as early as possible.

Seedling diseases can be caused by any of several common soilborne organisms, such as Pythium, Fusarium, Rhizoctonia or plant parasitic nematodes. Seedling diseases are often difficult to diagnose because their symptoms are very similar. Sometimes, diagnosis may be of limited value because management is often the same for several seedling diseases. Microscopic examination and other laboratory analyses of the diseased seedlings can often identify the cause(s) of the problems. Also, seedling diseases can be confused with insect injury, herbicide damage, planting problems, or environmental stresses that often have similar symptoms.

Possible symptoms of seedling diseases include:
-    Rotted seed prior to germination  
-    Rotted or discolored seedlings after germination prior to emergence
-    Post-emergence seedling damping off
-    Root or hypocotyl decay

At least 14 species of Pythium have been identified that can cause seedling blight and root rot. These pathogens require excessive moisture because they produce motile swimming zoospores that infect plant roots. The pathogen overwinters in soil and infected plant debris by producing thick-walled oospores that can survive for several years in the absence of a suitable host and favorable weather conditions. In addition to wet soil conditions, some species of Pythium are favored by cold soil conditions and are most likely to cause seed and seedling diseases lately.

At least six Fusarium species can cause seedling diseases and root rots and several are common in Nebraska fields. Stressed plants due to weather extremes (temperature and moisture), herbicide damage, and physical injury are more prone to infection and disease caused by Fusarium species.

Rhizoctonia species can also cause seedling diseases, but tend to be more common in drier growing conditions. Rhizoctonia tends to cause reddish-brown lesions that can girdle and rot off roots. Root and crown rot may be severe enough to cause seedling death.


Unfortunately, hybrid resistance is not available for seedling diseases in corn. Where practical and in cases where flooding is a frequent concern, improved field drainage can help reduce the incidence and severity of some seedling diseases. Waiting to plant until soil conditions are warmer can promote rapid seed germination and emergence and help plants avoid infection and disease development. The most common method for disease management is the use of seed treatment fungicides.

Crop rotation can provide some reduction in disease, but some of the pathogens may also infect soybean and other crops.

Most seed corn is already treated with more than one seed treatment fungicide, often an insecticide, and, sometimes with a nematicide. These products can provide protection against some of the pathogens that cause seedling diseases; however, they only provide protection during the first few weeks immediately after planting. But, in spite of their activity, diseases may still develop, such as during extended periods of inclement weather or under severe pathogen pressure.

Some fungicides now also are labeled for application in-furrow at planting. Use of fungicides in-furrow at planting may provide some additional protection against these pathogens in fields with severe pathogen pressure and chronic seedling diseases, but more research needs to be conducted to better predict their potential benefits and economic return.

You can minimize the likelihood of developing seedling diseases by planting high quality seed at appropriate planting depths and soil conditions to support rapid plant growth and emergence.


Farm Bureau’s Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge is now accepting applications from entrepreneurs working on food and agriculture businesses. A total of 10 teams are selected for the 2018 Farm Bureau Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge, four finalists and six semi-finalists. These business owners compete for a share of $145,000 of startup funds.

The Farm Bureau Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge is the first national business competition focused exclusively on helping rural entrepreneurs overcome hurdles they face. Last year two Nebraska start-up businesses were selected as finalists’ in this competition. Levrack in Seward and Windcall Manufacturing, Inc., in Venango. Members of the public participated in a live-streamed of the event finals and voted online to select the People’s Choice Award, which was given to Levrack along with an additional $10,000. “This is a wonderful program that really helps rural entrepreneurs,” Audrey Schipporeit, Nebraska Farm Bureau’s director of generational engagement, said.

“Rural entrepreneurs typically face unique challenges including limited options for startup funding, which Farm Bureau aims to address through the challenge. Farm Bureau is focused on elevating rural entrepreneurs, their ideas, and their skills to make good things happen in rural areas,” Schipporeit said.

Applications for the challenge opened May 1 and will be accepted until June 30. The finalist will compete during the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Annual Convention in Nashville, Tenn., for a chance to win an additional $15,000 in prize money, courtesy of sponsor Farm Bureau Bank. After a live-stream of the event, members of the public will be invited to vote online for the People’s Choice Award, which gives an additional $10,000 in start-up funds.

For more information about the AFBF Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge contact Audrey Schipporeit at

Don’t Mix Young and Old bulls in the Breeding Pasture

Gary Stauffer, Extension Educator, Holt and Boyd Counties

With spring bull sales in full swing, cow-calf operators are assessing their bull batteries and making needed purchases; however, in most cases, producers should not place young bulls in the same breeding pasture as older, larger bulls.

Young bulls generally cannot compete with older bulls when it comes to deciding the dominant individual in the breeding pasture.

In some cases, ranchers have reported cases where young bulls have been severely whipped and are less aggressive breeders after the incident, thereby negatively affecting the producer’s investment in the young bull as breeding stock.

Australian data on multi-sire pastures have shown that some young bulls gain a dominant role as they mature and breed a large percentage of the cows. Other young bulls never recover, gain that dominant status and only breed a very small percentage of the cows in a multi-sire pasture for the remainder of their stay at the ranch.

The best solution is to always place young bulls with young bulls and mature bulls with mature bulls in the breeding pasture. In some situations, the rancher may choose to use the mature bulls in the first two-thirds of the breeding season and then rotate in the young bulls.

This allows the young bulls to gain one or two months of additional age and sexual maturity. In addition, the young bulls should have considerably fewer cows in heat at the end of the breeding season as the mature bulls will have bred the bulk of the cows or heifers. The young bulls therefore will be in the breeding season only a few weeks and should not be as run down or in poor body condition at the conclusion of the breeding season.

As for determining how many cows should be mated to young bulls, the old rule of thumb is to place the young bull with about as many cows as his age in months.

Hopefully a breeding soundness exam and close observation during the first part of the breeding season will identify those potential failures.

Soy Growers Support CREAATE Act to Double MAP, FMD Funding

The American Soybean Association (ASA) strongly supports new legislation from Reps. Dan Newhouse and Chellie Pingree to double funding for the MAP and FMD programs though the Cultivating Revitalization by Expanding American Agricultural Trade and Exports (CREAATE) Act.

“The MAP and FMD programs are two of the most impactful USDA export promotion programs for soybean producers across the country,” said ASA President and Illinois farmer Ron Moore. “The proposed increase to these market development programs through the CREAATE Act will provide an enormous return on investment for America’s agricultural community and the U.S. economy as a whole, and will ensure our continued ability to compete in the global marketplace.”

The $150 billion in U.S. agricultural exports that occurred in 2014 produced an additional $190 billion in economic activity for a total of $340 billion of economic output. This supported 1.1 million full time U.S. civilian jobs, including 800,000 in the non-farm sector required to assemble, process and distribute agricultural products for exports.

The CREAATE Act calls for phasing in additional annual funding for MAP to $400 million in FY 2023, and additional annual funding for FMD to $69 million in FY 2023. Doubling public funding for MAP and FMD, coupled with increasing private contributions from 10 to 50 percent, would result in average annual gains in GDP of $4.5 to $6.0 billion.

“Agricultural exports are one of the brightest lights in the U.S. economy, and these proposed increases to MAP and FMD will have a strong multiplier effect by creating jobs, expanding the farm and larger U.S. economy and increasing revenues to the Treasury,” Moore said.

Farmers Encouraged to Tell Personal Stories to Reintroduce Consumers to Dairy

Over the next few weeks, the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy – in partnership with dairy farmers through their checkoff – will launch a multi-year, multi-stakeholder proactive campaign that boldly and proudly tells dairy’s stories through people in the industry.

The campaign kicks off on World Milk Day on June 1, and celebrates June Dairy Month through a creative and engaging communications effort. During this time, farmers, cooperatives, brands and other dairy community members will come together to spark connections with consumers by sharing stories that build dairy trust and relevance.

Farmers have some of most credible voices in telling dairy’s story about how milk is produced and the commitment to animal care and environmental stewardship. Visit for more information about the campaign and content farmers can share to reignite the passion people have for nature’s perfect food. Further details about the campaign and how to share its content will come next month.

 Dairy Farmers May Lose Air Emissions Reporting Exemption

An appeals court ruling last month could significantly expand the air emissions reporting requirements imposed on animal agriculture operations across the nation, if the court’s decision is not challenged. The National Milk Producers Federation is working with federal regulators to assess and mitigate the problems that may arise from the April 11 ruling, in which the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia removed a long-standing exemption for dairy and other livestock operations from two federal laws requiring reporting any air emissions associated with animal manure.

Back in 2008,  the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final rule that exempted most farms from the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA) and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act of 1986 (EPCRA) reporting requirements for air releases from animal waste. Both rules were originally created to address accidental hazardous air emission emergencies. Initially, EPA did not hold that these measures warranted the inclusion of animal agriculture operations, but the recent appeals court ruling said EPA cannot simply ignore a statute because the reporting requirements “aren’t worth the trouble.” The final rule required CAFOs to continue reporting air emissions under EPCRA, but not under CERCLA; smaller farms were exempted from both rules.

The exemption from CERCLA notifications applied to the general release into the air of hazardous substances from animal waste (on dairy farms, this includes ammonia and hydrogen sulfide). The exemption from EPCRA notifications applied only to air releases of hazardous substances (on dairy farms, this includes ammonia and hydrogen sulfide) from animal waste on farms below the thresholds specified in the U.S. regulatory code 40 CFR 355.31, and for farms that are not confined. With respect to dairy, the reporting size threshold was 700 mature dairy cows, milked or dry.

EPA has not clarified the requirements for reporting in response to the court decision, nor has it revealed its intention to file an appeal. NMPF and other agriculture groups have conveyed to EPA the gravity of the situation and the short timeline to act. If the decision stands, CAFOs and smaller farms that exceed the daily reportable quantity (RQ) of 100 pounds per day of air emissions of either ammonia or hydrogen sulfide could have to file the required notifications. NMPF estimates that farms with as few as 250 cows could be required to report. The court will not release its mandate to vacate the exemption until the time to appeal has run out around May 26 (45 days from the decision).

NMPF and other animal agriculture associations are discussing all short-term options, which include appealing the decision or securing a regulatory fix from EPA, as substantive discussions with EPA begin.  Discussions with Congress about a legislative intervention as a long-term solution also are underway. For now, dairy producers should not take any action until the best course of action has been determined.

DFA Urges Activist Groups to Report Not Record

Recently we learned that activist group Compassion Over Killing (COK) reported allegations of animal mistreatment at a Dairy Farmers of America member farm in Pennsylvania. DFA, the dairy industry and our individual farm owners do not tolerate abuse of any kind.

Immediately upon learning about this allegation, we initiated a third-party audit to investigate the claim. No evidence of abuse or mistreatment was found in this audit. Unfortunately, the actions captured on video by a member of COK who was undercover on this dairy, were concerning. An employee was terminated by the farm owner, and we worked with authorities in filing charges against him.

This individual’s actions were not representative of the farm’s practices or practices on dairies in general. Despite that, today, long after the undercover activist left the farm and weeks after the initial allegation, COK began sharing a highly edited version of this video. In addition, Dairy Farmers of America executives received a letter from COK requesting an open dialogue.

As an organization and industry that has invested considerable resources in animal welfare, we welcome the opportunity for dialogue with any organization that has the best interests of our animals at heart.

Unfortunately, we question the agenda of organizations like Compassion Over Killing. Rather than work with us, they continue to use deceptive practices to go undercover recording footage over a period of months that is then used to create highly edited videos that distort what truly happens on America’s dairy farms.

Anyone who truly cares about animals would not go undercover and observe, incite or fail to immediately report incidents of abuse. We encourage anyone who suspects animal abuse on our dairies to report, not record that abuse.

CWT Assists with 1.5 million Pounds of Cheese and Butter Export Sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted seven requests for export assistance from Foremost Farms USA, Northwest Dairy Association (Darigold) and United Dairymen of Arizona. Together they have contracts to sell 1 million pounds (461 metric tons) of Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses, and 440,525 pounds of butter (200 metric tons) to customers in Asia and the Middle East. The product has been contracted for delivery in the period from May through August 2017.

So far this year, CWT has assisted member cooperatives that have contracts to sell 30.7 million pounds of American-type cheeses and 1.9 million pounds of butter (82% milkfat) to 15 countries on four continents. The sales are the equivalent of 325.2 million pounds of milk on a milkfat basis.

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

CWT Member Co-ops Capture 6.2 Million Pounds of Export Sales in April

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) assisted member cooperatives in securing 40 contracts to sell 6.2 million pounds of cheese to customers in Asia, Central America, the Middle East and Oceania in April 2017. The product will be shipped from April through July 2017.

Adding these transactions to the other sales made so far this year raises the total CWT-assisted product sales to 29.7 million pounds of cheese and 1.4 million pounds of butter. These sales are destined for customers in 14 countries in five regions, and will move overseas the equivalent of 306 million pounds of milk, on a milkfat basis, in the first seven months of 2017.

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

Williams Highlights Strengths of Conservation, Biobased Programs in Michigan Farm Bill Hearing

David Williams, a fifth-generation soybean farmer from Elsie, Mich., told Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow and fellow committee members Saturday that conservation and biobased programs are essential to advancing farmer sustainability goals and establishing new markets and should be reauthorized and funded as the committee moves ahead in its work on the coming farm bill.

Testifying on behalf of the American Soybean Association and the Michigan Soybean Association on which he serves as president, Williams emphasized the importance of farm bill conservation programs like the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), noting that both CSP and EQIP incentivize farmers to adopt better conservation practices within their operations.

“I signed my first CSP contract, and adopted a new practice of seeding cover crops using a combination of oilseed radishes, oats, and peas. Recently I seeded cereal rye, and I have seen first-hand that cover crops prevent soil erosion and improve water quality by reducing drainage rates,” Williams said. “… The cost-sharing provided under EQIP helped us build a chemical and fertilizer containment facility which assisted in our compliance with Michigan state water quality regulations. This is a good example of how leveraging private investment with farm bill dollars leads to improved water quality for everyone.”

Williams also testified to the importance of the biobased programs authorized by the farm bill’s energy title—including the Biobased Market Program, the Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels, and the Biodiesel Education Program—making special note of the 4.2 billion jobs supported by the biobased economy in 2016.

“Michigan is a leader in the world bioeconomy thanks to a long history of innovation by companies like Ford and Lear and their collaboration with U.S. soybean growers. Every Ford car made in North America now contains soy in its seat cushions,” said Williams. “… (W)e believe that (these programs’) relatively low cost and the benefits they provide warrant their continuation with an increased level of mandatory funding.”

NAWG Secretary Testifies on the Importance of the Farm Bill to Michigan Agriculture Before Senate Panel

On Saturday, May 06, 2017, the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry held a field hearing, entitled “Growing Jobs and Economic Opportunity: Perspectives on the 2018 Farm Bill from Michigan.”  NAWG Secretary Dave Milligan, a wheat farmer from Cass City, MI, submitted testimony for the hearing record about how the Farm Bill is critical to the growth of Michigan agriculture.  The hearing also featured testimony from a wide variety of agricultural producers and Farm Bill stakeholders, examining agriculture, as well as conservation, rural economic development, research, forestry, energy, and nutrition policies that affect Michigan.

“Wheat is a significant component of Michigan agriculture, with 2016 sales exceeding $210 million from over 50.7 million bushels of wheat,” testified Milligan, a wheat farmer from Cass City, MI.

“This could have not been possible without the strong safety net, risk management tools, conservation, and other important titles in the Farm Bill. The Farm Bill brings far-reaching benefits to rural communities and growers across the country including the creation of well-paying jobs.”

“The economic conditions in wheat country have declined rapidly as a result of low prices the past few years,” continued Milligan. “Timely completion of the Farm Bill reauthorization process is even more important now than ever before.”

“I appreciate the Committee holding this hearing, and I look forward to working collaboratively with the Committee members to write a bill that meets the needs of wheat farmers not only in Michigan but across the country.”

Michigan Dairy Farmer Outlines Changes Needed in Farm Bill Safety Net at Senate Hearing

Dairy farmers in Michigan and across the nation need federal lawmakers to revise the safety net created in the 2014 Farm Bill to provide them adequate risk management protection, according to a dairy farmer from eastern Michigan who testified in Frankenmuth on Saturday at a Senate hearing.

Darrin Siemen of Harbor Beach, Mich., told a Senate Agriculture Committee field hearing held at the Saginaw Valley Research Center that the Margin Protection Program (MPP), created in the 2014 Farm Bill, “has failed to deliver the protection farmers need and expect. While MPP remains the right model for the future of our industry, changes are needed if Congress wants to prevent dairy farmers like me from going out of business,” he said.

Siemen is a fourth‐generation family farmer and owner of Prime Land Farm in Harbor Beach, in Michigan’s Thumb region. He testified on behalf of his cooperative, Michigan Milk Producers Association, as well as the National Milk Producers Federation, of which MMPA is a member. His full testimony can be found here.

Siemen said that the MPP is designed to help farmers insure against either low milk prices or high feed costs, but the way the program calculates the relative value of feeds such as corn, soybean meal and hay was “significantly changed” as it was written into law. This change “fundamentally altered the safety net designed by NMPF and other dairy leaders around the country. Unfortunately, as a direct result of these changes, the MPP safety net has failed to deliver the protection farmers need and expect,” he said.

He explained that in the first two years of the program, 2015 and 2016, farmers have paid $90 million in fees and premiums to USDA while receiving only $14 million in insurance payouts, even though margins have been tight during much of that period.  This has led to a drastic reduction in the number of farmers paying premiums to selecting higher levels of margin protection. Most are now only paying the minimum annual $100 administrative fee, for which they receive only a low level of insurance coverage.

“I am not asking for a program that guarantees a profit, nor do I want a program that will incentivize excess production,” Siemen said. “However, when Congress made changes to the program, rendering it ineffective, dairy farmers like me lost faith in the idea that MPP could serve as a viable risk management tool under its current formulation. If Congress makes changes to ensure that MPP more accurately reflects the actual costs of production for businesses like mine, participation in the program will increase.”

Siemen said that in addition to adjusting the feed cost formula and the data sources for the prices of feed and milk, Congress should reassess the MPP’s premium rate structure, and consider expanding access to the Livestock Gross Margin program, a separate risk management tool offered by USDA.

The combination of suggested changes to the MPP “will require this committee to make significant and necessary improvements to the program,” Siemen said, so that “it functions as intended and that producers participate in the program. A safety net is not a safety net if no one participates.”

Siemen pointed out that dairy farmers are also facing other policy challenges, including immigration and labor shortages, tax reform, child nutrition and environmental sustainability. He thanked Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow for arranging the hearing in Michigan, and for her engagement on behalf of the U.S. dairy sector in its recent struggle against Canada’s new pricing policy, which will have long-term negative consequences for Michigan farmers’ export opportunities.

He also recognized the efforts of Stabenow and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts for their recent efforts to bring more milk options and flexibility to the School Lunch and School Breakfast programs.

Zoetis' Sales, Net Income Rose During Past Year

Zoetis Inc. reported its financial results for the first quarter of 2017 and reaffirmed its guidance for full year 2017.

The company reported revenue of $1.2 billion for the first quarter of 2017, an increase of 6% compared with the first quarter of 2016. Net income for the first quarter of 2017 was $238 million, or $0.48 per diluted share, an increase of 17% on a reported basis.

Adjusted net income1 for the first quarter of 2017 was $261 million, or $0.53 per diluted share, an increase of 9% and 10%, respectively, on a reported basis. Adjusted net income for the first quarter of 2017 excludes the net impact of $23 million for purchase accounting adjustments, acquisition-related costs and certain significant items.

On an operational2 basis, revenue for the first quarter of 2017 increased 6%, excluding the impact of foreign currency. Adjusted net income for the first quarter of 2017 increased 10% operationally, excluding the impact of foreign currency.

Friday May 5 Ag News

Ricketts Proclaims May is Beef Month in Nebraska

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts proclaimed May is Beef Month in Nebraska to recognize the state’s beef producers and celebrate the many ways Nebraska leads the nation in beef production. Joining the Governor for the proclamation signing was Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) Director Greg Ibach and representatives from Nebraska Cattlemen and the Nebraska Beef Council.

“Nebraska became the nation’s number one exporter of beef in 2016 giving us the world-wide recognition we deserve for our great tasting, quality beef,” said Gov. Ricketts. “Additionally, May kicks off grilling season in Nebraska, making this month the perfect time to celebrate beef and recognize the hard-working ranchers who continue to grow the state’s beef industry.”

Along with being the nation’s number one exporter of beef, Nebraska continues to be the number one processor of beef and the number one state in the nation for cattle on feed, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Nebraska has exceeded the $1 billion mark in overall beef exports every year since 2014.

“Our efforts to market and promote Nebraska beef products nationally and internationally, along with our reputation for delivering premium beef products, are increasing Nebraska’s beef exports,” said NDA Director Greg Ibach. “It’s opening doors for us in new and existing markets.”

Buck Wehrbein, Waterloo, Chairman of the Board for the Nebraska Beef Council, agreed saying how much producers appreciate the recognition of Beef Month in Nebraska.

“Beef Month is another opportunity to share the story with consumers of premium beef from Nebraska,” said Wehrbein. “Nebraska farmers and ranchers have high standards and work hard to deliver quality beef products that consumers desire.”

“Family farms and ranches have a rich history here in Nebraska,” said Troy Stowater, president of Nebraska Cattlemen and rancher from Wayne. “Our families care for the land, provide a safe and comfortable environment for their animals, protect natural resources, and work diligently to provide people with delicious and nutritious food.”                     

Flow meters required for all wells designed to pump more than 50 gallons per minute

At the April board meeting of the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD), the board held a public hearing to consider amending its rules to expand the requirement of flow meters.  The amendment added the requirement of flow meters on all public water supply, commercial, industrial, and livestock wells designed to pump more than 50 gallons per minute.  The board approved these changes, which become effective on May 26, 2017.  The amended rules require flow meters to be installed on these wells by January 1, 2019. 

LENRD Water Resources Manager, Brian Bruckner, said, "These high-capacity wells in the district join irrigation wells in the requirement to have flow meters installed.  All irrigation wells must have flow meters installed by January 1, 2018."

Mike Sousek, LENRD General Manager, said, "This makes the groundwater management rules more equitable across the district.  The board made the decision that instead of focusing everything on agriculture, we need to look at all the stakeholders.  If your well pumps more than 50 gallons per minute, you will need a meter installed."

Sousek added, "We're going to work with the communities in our district, explaining the next steps.  This will be a benefit to them in the long run.  When a drought hits, especially a multi-year drought, it affects everyone."

In other action, the board also approved cost-share funding for the City of Randolph’s Middle Logan Creek channel enlargement and floodplain reduction project.

The LENRD board and staff recently celebrated the retirement of Assistant General Manager, Ken Berney, of Stanton.  Ken has been on the staff at the LENRD for almost 40 years.  He has formed lasting relationships with, not only his co-workers and the board, but with the numerous partners and agencies that have worked with the LENRD since 1972.  Sousek said, “Thank you, Ken, for your commitment to the protection of our natural resources, and for your constant support of our projects and programs for the past 39 ½ years.  We wish you all the best in retirement.”

Visit the LENRD website to sign up for emails from the district.  Like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter.

Lower Elkhorn NRD offers Scholarships to attend 4-H & NRD Camps

The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) is accepting applications for 4-H & NRD summer camp scholarships from youth throughout the 15-county district. The LENRD will reimburse the winning applicants for their camp registration fee.

Scholarships are available for various 4-H and NRD sponsored camps around the state, including the Nebraska Range Youth Camp, and the Adventure Camp about the Environment (ACE Camp).

4-H scholarship winners must register for the camp of their choice, arrange for their own transportation and pay all fees.  The LENRD will reimburse the registration fee after the scholarship winners send camp attendance verification to the LENRD office.

Any 4-H member who would like to apply for these scholarships should contact their local Extension office or the LENRD office for more information and an application form.  All applications must be received by Friday, May 26th.  4-H scholarship winners will be notified the week of May 29th.

For more information, and a complete listing of all area camps, visit the University of Nebraska Extension 4-H web site at:

NE Corn Board to Meet

The Nebraska Corn Board will hold its next meeting on Tuesday, June 6, 2017 at River’s Edge Convention Center, 265 33rd Avenue in Columbus, Nebraska.

The meeting is open to the public, providing the opportunity for public comment.  The Board will conduct regular board business, consider funding requests and set the budget for fiscal year 2017-2018.  The meeting is open to the public.  A copy of the agenda is available by writing the Nebraska Corn Board, PO Box 95107, Lincoln, NE  68509, sending an email to or calling either 402/471-2676 or 800-NECORN1.

Buhr Joins the Nebraska Soybean Board

The Nebraska Soybean Board is pleased to announce the hiring of Cale Buhr as the Communications Coordinator.

In his role, Buhr will handle internal and external communications, media planning and public relations on behalf of the Nebraska Soybean Board (NSB). He will manage the Nebraska Soybean Board’s quarterly magazine as well as other ag-related communications and marketing projects to promote the Nebraska soybean industry.

Buhr was raised in Trumbull, Nebraska, and is a 2015 graduate of Hastings College, where he received his degree in Communication Studies and Advertising/Public Relations. Prior to joining the NSB, Buhr worked for the travel media company Sojern, where he practiced effective promotion among multiple media channels.

“Growing up on a farm, I learned to appreciate the hard work and dedication of our Nebraska soybean farmers,” said Buhr. “The checkoff program is a great way to promote all of the benefits that soybeans bring to our state and I’m excited to be a part of it.”

With this hire, the NSB will also move current Marketing and Communications Director Andrew Guiney to the role of Director of Market Development.

USDA Secretary Tours Couser Cattle Company, Hosts Farmer Town Hall

Iowa Farm Bureau President Craig Hill and other Iowa agriculture leaders and elected officials are energized by the Trump administration’s renewed pledge for trade and renewable energy, following the first Iowa visit for new U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.

Perdue toured Farm Bureau member Bill Couser’s farm in Nevada and gave his first farm policy speech Friday morning, to rousing applause by farmers.  Perdue, who was sworn in as U.S. Agriculture Secretary just over a week ago, says the Trump administration will fight to eliminate unfair trade barriers and open new markets for U.S. agricultural commodities.

“What are we going to do about trade? Governor Branstad and I are going to go to China and sell all of the Iowa beef we can,” said Perdue, to an enthusiastic crowd of farmers.  Purdue also said he will be “an unapologetic advocate for trade.  If you grow it, we’ll sell it.”

Perdue also met with Hill and a select group of farm leaders at a town hall meeting following his address, and said the Trump administration will keep their promise to maintain renewable energy targets.  President Hill, a Warren County crop and livestock farmer, says IFBF’s diverse membership will be pleased to hear that the Trump administration sees the value of Iowa agriculture. “We’re so appreciative to have a Secretary of Agriculture with his experience and his philosophy. It really improves the outlook for all of agriculture to have somebody like him advocating for us.”

Online Tool Helps Farmers Target Ideal Alfalfa Feed Value

Relying on calendar date is not the best way to determine when to harvest the first alfalfa crop of the season, due to climatic variations impacting alfalfa growth and development.

A better way to make harvest decisions is the PEAQ method (Predictive Equations for Alfalfa Quality) which takes climate variations into account to roughly estimate the relative feed value (RFV) of standing alfalfa in the field.

“This system provides a quick and easy ballpark estimate of forage quality,” said Brian Lang, field agronomist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. “Planning harvest of alfalfa by calendar date doesn’t work to determine forage quality. Instead farmers should pay attention to plant height and maturity to estimate the crop’s relative feed value.”

ISU Extension and Outreach is monitoring alfalfa fields across Iowa using PEAQ and posts readings online.  Obviously farmers monitoring their fields in southern Iowa will reach their target RFV values earlier than those in northern Iowa. But fields in the same region can also show different PEAQ readings relative to variety and response to last season’s management.

“We are trying to create awareness of the growing conditions across the state,” Lang said. “We really want farmers to check their own fields. Even on their own farm they might have three alfalfa fields that will measure differently. This approach helps them know what field to harvest first and when they might want to start that harvest relative to their forage quality needs.”

There is a fact sheet that instructs farmers how to use PEAQ in their own fields. A critical step with the PEAQ method is to understand that readings from the field represent standing crop quality and that those readings need to be adjusted to account for harvest losses. Harvest losses equal about 15 RFV units for haylage and about 25 RFV units for hay. Therefore, if the target for harvest is 150 RFV alfalfa, it is recommended to harvest haylage when PEAQ measurements predict about 165 RFV for haylage and 175 RFV for hay.

Herbicide Research Field Day Showcases Current ISU Research

Iowa State University Agronomy Department Weed Science Project will host a Herbicide Research Program Field Day on June 22 at the Curtiss Farm (2219 520th Avenue) in Ames, Iowa. The field day, which has occurred since 1982, is an event that allows the weed science program at Iowa State to demonstrate its research to the public.

Attendees will have the opportunity to review new herbicides, application techniques and other weed management strategies in corn and soybeans.

“As weeds continue to evolve herbicide resistance, the need to find better management strategies increases,” said Mike Owen, university professor and extension specialist in agronomy and weed science at Iowa State. “We need to continue to work to find solutions to these developing problems. This field day will provide attendees an opportunity to look at what may be those solutions.”

Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. with the program beginning at 9 a.m. and continuing until noon. A field book describing each experiment will be available for a self-guided tour. There is no cost to attend and refreshments will be provided.

All are welcome to attend the event free of charge, with no preregistration required.

Directions to the Curtiss Farm are as follows: Exit U.S. 30 at University Boulevard and turn south to the round-about. Turn right (west) on Oakwood and proceed to the first stop sign which will be a “T” intersection. Turn right (north) on State Street to the Curtiss Farm entrance. Turn left (west) and follow the cinder road to the field day tent.

Contact Owen at 515-294-5936 or with any questions.

Iowa’s Best Burger is at Smokin’ Hereford BBQ in Storm Lake

The 2017 Iowa’s Best Burger has been named at Smokin’ Hereford BBQ in Storm Lake, Iowa. The Iowa Cattlemen’s Association (ICA) and the Iowa Beef Industry Council (IBIC) announced the winner on Monday, May 1, during a live broadcast in Storm Lake.

This is the eighth year the two organizations have teamed up to sponsor the Iowa’s Best Burger contest. This year, Iowans submitted more than 9,200 nominations representing nearly 500 restaurants in February and March. Those nominations were used to select the Top Ten restaurants. The Top Ten were independently visited and judged based on the hamburger’s taste, appearance, and proper serving temperature (160 degrees).

“The judges found the burgers at the Smokin’ Hereford were very juicy with outstanding flavor,” comments Brooke German, Director of Marketing for the IBIC. “They also noted that the burger was presented very nicely and cooked to medium doneness as they had requested.”

The restaurant serves The Hereford Burger which is 8 ounces of hand-pattied Hereford beef dressed with their house seasoning, made to order. The burger is cooked over a flame grill and is served with a choice of one side and corn bread. The burger is served with lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle on the side, and served on a toasted bun.

The restaurant owners, Nathan and Nancy Jenson, and Chad and Jennifer Hustedt, opened the restaurant in October of 2015. When the restaurant opened, the menu was limited and has since grown into a more complete menu and now offers caterings. In January of 2016, the decision was made to add a burger special on Friday and Saturday nights. The burger special went over so well, that within one month, the burger was added to the menu.

“They do a tremendous job of helping their customers connect the pasture to plate story by identifying where their beef comes from on each menu,” says Matt Deppe, CEO of the ICA. “Like all of Iowa’s 26,000 beef producers, Seth and Etta Smith are dedicated to producing a safe and wholesome product for this restaurant.”

The Smokin’ Hereford is located at 1605 W. Milwaukee Ave., Storm Lake, IA 50588; look for Smokey the Bull on their sign in front of the restaurant. The hours are Monday – Saturday 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. and they are closed on Sunday. Reservations are accepted for four or more except for Friday and Saturday evenings after 4:30 p.m. The restaurant has a seating capacity of 123.

The burger starts at $9.99, or for an extra charge it can be customized one of five ways. Extras include: bacon, friend banana pepper, coleslaw, blue cheese or spicy mac & cheese.

“We are ecstatic to be named Iowa’s Best Burger!” says Jennifer. “It’s so rewarding. We have worked so hard to put this all together. Now that it’s a reality, all of that hard work has paid off to become such a great accomplishment.”

On Monday, the restaurant offers a slider special. The sliders are 4 ounces of their Hereford Burger beef with beer-battered fries for $5.99 each or three specialty sliders for $15.99.

Other restaurants that made the Top Ten in addition to the Smokin’ Hereford are (alphabetically): Ankeny Diner, Ankeny; BeerBurger, North Liberty; BW’s Burgers, West Des Moines; Doc’s Stadium and Grill, Jefferson; Down Right Delicious, Clarinda; Elm’s Club, Creston; The Irish Shanti, Elgin; Saucy Focaccia, Cedar Rapids; and Vaughn’s Café & Bakery, Clarinda.

Previous winners in the contest are: 2016 – The Chuckwagon Restaurant, Adair; 2015 – The Cider House, Fairfield; 2014 – Brick City Grill, Ames; 2013 - 61 Chop House Grille, Mediapolis; 2012 - Coon Bowl III, Coon Rapids; 2011 - Rusty Duck, Dexter; and 2010 - Sac County Cattle Company, Sac City.

Record Volume for U.S. Pork Exports in March; Beef Exports Remain Strong

U.S. pork and beef exports capped a strong first quarter with excellent March results that included a new record volume for pork, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

Pork exports reached 227,955 metric tons (mt) in March, up 16 percent year-over-year and topping the previous monthly high set in November 2016. Export value was $586.6 million, up 22 percent. For the first quarter, pork exports were up 17 percent in volume (627,647 mt) and 22 percent in value ($1.58 billion).

March exports accounted for 28 percent of total pork production and 23.3 percent for muscle cuts only, up from 25.4 percent and 22 percent, respectively, last year. First-quarter ratios were also significantly higher at 27.2 percent and 22.6 percent, compared to 23.9 percent and 20 percent in 2016. Export value per hog slaughtered averaged $54.93 in March, up 15 percent year-over-year, while the first-quarter average increased 18 percent to $52.42.

Beef exports totaled 105,310 mt in March, up 18 percent year-over-year, with value increasing 22 percent to $588.2 million. First-quarter beef exports were up 15 percent in volume (292,215 mt) and 19 percent in value ($1.61 billion).

March exports accounted for 12.5 percent of total beef production and just under 10 percent for muscle cuts only, each up slightly from last year. For the first quarter, the percentage of total beef production exported was down slightly from a year ago (12.4 percent vs. 12.5 percent) despite an increase for muscle cuts (9.8 percent vs. 9.4 percent). Export value per head of fed slaughter averaged $270.14 in March, up 11 percent from a year ago, while the first-quarter average increased 10 percent to $267.71 per head.

“Entering 2017 with record-large pork production and an uptick in beef slaughter, we knew this ‘wall of U.S. meat’ presented a challenge for our industry,” said USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng. “So the fact that first-quarter export volumes are higher than a year ago is not surprising, but it’s important to look beyond that – to the higher percentage of production being exported and the strong return on those exports. The U.S. is not just moving more meat internationally because we have more available. Our products are commanding solid prices and winning back market share in many key destinations, even with a strong U.S. dollar and many trade barriers still in place. But our competitors are working every day to reverse this trend, so we must aggressively expand and defend our international customer base.”

Mexico, Korea and South America fuel record volume for pork exports

The red-hot pace for U.S. pork exports to Mexico continued in March, with volume up 34 percent year-over-year to 68,866 mt, and value increasing 47 percent to $127.2 million. For the first quarter, exports to Mexico totaled 206,262 mt (up 29 percent) valued at $371.9 million (up 42 percent). Strong demand from Mexico is especially important for U.S. ham prices, but pork variety meat exports to Mexico also posted a strong first quarter, increasing 14 percent in volume (37,596 mt) and 38 percent in value ($58.1 million).

In leading value market Japan, March exports increased modestly in volume (37,806 mt, up 2 percent) but climbed 12 percent in value to $155.2 million – the highest since October 2014. In the first quarter, export volume to Japan was up 7 percent in volume (101,581 mt) and 13 percent in value ($411.3 million). Chilled pork exports to Japan increased 3 percent to 56,307 metric tons, while value increased 10 percent to $260 million.

Other first-quarter highlights (compared to year-ago levels) for U.S. pork included:

-    Strong variety meat demand in China/Hong Kong helped drive exports to the region 5 percent higher in volume (131,036 mt) and 11 percent higher in value ($258.8 million). While muscle cut exports slowed, variety meat volume climbed 24 percent (to 86,097 mt) while value was up 29 percent to $176.2 million – making an important contribution to per-head value.
-    Since posting a slow start in 2016, pork exports to South Korea have steadily regained momentum as exports totaled 51,158 mt (up 31 percent) valued at $137 million (up 39 percent). Most U.S. pork now enters Korea duty-free under the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, which has helped boost volumes of raw material for further processing, as well as processed pork products.
-    Another major market rebounding from last year’s slow start is Colombia, where U.S. pork also benefits from lower tariffs secured in a recent free trade agreement. First quarter exports to Colombia doubled from a year ago in both volume (16,532 mt) and value ($36.5 million). Also bolstered by a near-doubling of exports to Chile and Peru, first-quarter pork exports to South America were up 95 percent in volume (23,838 mt) and 94 percent in value ($57 million).
-    In Australia, an important market for U.S. hams and other cuts utilized in further processing, exports increased 38 percent in volume to 20,607 mt, while export value climbed 43 percent to $57.7 million.

Beef exports move higher in Asian and North American markets

March beef exports to Japan increased 41 percent in volume (28,135 mt) and 39 percent in value ($167.7 million). This capped a very strong first quarter in which exports jumped 41 percent (to 74,411 mt) and 42 percent (to $427.3 million), respectively. This included a 55 percent increase in chilled beef volume to 33,366 mt, as U.S. beef captured its highest-ever market share in Japan’s high-value chilled sector.

Coming off a record performance in 2016, beef exports to South Korea posted a very strong first quarter, with volume up 23 percent to 42,551 mt and value increasing 30 percent to $267.5 million. With U.S. beef continuing to gain momentum in Korea’s retail and restaurant sectors, first-quarter chilled beef exports were up 78 percent to 8,508 mt.

Other first-quarter highlights (compared to year-ago levels) for U.S. beef included:

-    Exports to Mexico posted a solid increase in volume (57,057 mt, up 17 percent), while value increased 3 percent to $226.8 million. An important destination for shoulder clods, rounds and other beef end cuts, muscle cut exports to Mexico expanded at an even faster pace, climbing 23 percent in volume (30,015 mt) and 11 percent in value ($175.1 million).
-    Despite a recent slump in the value of the Canadian dollar, beef exports to Canada have rebounded in 2017, with solid increases in both volume (29,909 mt, up 14 percent) and value ($190.5 million, up 19 percent).
-    In Taiwan, where U.S. beef captures more than two-thirds percent of the chilled beef market, exports increased 28 percent in volume to 9,746 mt and 29 percent in value to $85.7 million. This included a 10 percent increase in chilled beef volume to 3,650 mt.
-    Beef exports to South America were down 2 percent in volume (4,919 mt) but increased 16 percent in value ($23 million), bolstered by a strong performance in Colombia and a recent rebound in Peru. This week USDA also confirmed the arrival of the first U.S. beef shipments to Brazil since a BSE-related suspension was imposed more than 13 years ago. The first significant export volumes for Brazil will likely appear in the May USDA data, which will be available in early July.
-    March exports to South Africa (1,107 mt) were the highest since the market opened last year, making it the month’s 10th largest volume destination for U.S. beef. For the first quarter, South Africa ranked 11th at 1,971 mt. Export value was $1.5 million, with most of the volume being beef livers.

Lamb export value highest in 18 months

U.S. lamb exports showed notable improvement in March as volume increased 6 percent from a year ago to 926 mt, while export value reached $2.3 million – up 35 percent and the highest since October 2015.

For the first quarter, lamb exports were still down 26 percent year-over-year in volume (1,986 mt) due to weak variety meat demand, but export value increased 10 percent to just under $5 million. Growth was driven in large part by a strong performance in the Caribbean, where volume increased 17 percent (to 187 mt) and value climbed 34 percent to $1.6 million.

National Biodiesel Board Applauds House Biodiesel Bill That Closes Loophole, Saves Taxpayer Dollars and Creates U.S. Jobs

Today the National Biodiesel Board applauded the introduction in the U.S. House of Representatives of a bipartisan biodiesel tax credit bill that would convert the blender’s credit for biodiesel to a $1-per-gallon production credit for fuels produced in the United States for 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020. The bill, H.R. 2383, led by U.S. Representatives Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) and Bill Pascrell (D.-N.J.), provides an additional 10-cent-per-gallon credit for small U.S. biodiesel producers. Companion legislation was recently introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.).

“We are thrilled to see momentum building in both chambers of Congress for this important tax reform. It is long overdue to close this loophole and better align the incentive with Congress' intent—to invest American taxpayer dollars to spur job creation here at home. We look forward to working with Congress to move this proposal forward,” said Anne Steckel, vice president of federal affairs at the National Biodiesel Board. After all, the U.S. biodiesel industry supports more than 50,000 jobs.

This bipartisan bill seeks to reinstate the biodiesel and small producers tax credits that expired at the end of 2016, but with a change to who is eligible for the credit. Previously, the tax credit was open to blenders of biodiesel, but this legislation would provide tax credits to U.S. producers instead of blenders. Doing so prevents subsidization of foreign manufacturers.

Taxpayer dollars and U.S. energy policy should be—and typically are—aimed at incentivizing domestic production, not foreign production. The current structure of the biodiesel tax incentive as a blender’s credit increasingly allows foreign producers to access the credit if their fuel is blended in the United States. Importantly, this reform would not block imported biodiesel from entering the U.S. market; in fact, significant imports would likely continue coming to the U.S. and receiving incentives under the RFS and California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard.

U.S. biodiesel producers just need a level playing field to compete with foreign production. For example, since 2009, the European Union has levied duties on U.S. biodiesel that effectively block U.S. biodiesel from entering the European market. At the same time, U.S. policy is incentivizing European biodiesel shipments to the U.S. by rewarding it with the $1-per-gallon credit. Additionally, Argentinian biodiesel that receives significant incentives under that country’s Differential Export Tax regime is increasingly being shipped to the U.S. market where it also can qualify for the U.S. tax incentive. Without this reform, U.S. tax policy is increasingly creating competitive disparities in which U.S. companies are losing U.S. market share to subsidized foreign production in Europe, Argentina and other nations.

Changing the structure of the tax credit also would save taxpayers millions of dollars. Biodiesel imports to the U.S. have grown sharply in recent years, largely as a result of the tax credit. In 2015 alone, the U.S. Treasury spent more than $600 million on tax credits for imported biodiesel and renewable diesel. Importantly, this fuel often had already received subsidies in its country of origin (Argentina, Indonesia and the European Union, for example).

The Senate version was introduced by U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), with 14 other original cosponsors, including Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.). The House version was also cosponsored by Rep. Dave Loebsack (R-Iowa).

Dairy Groups Applaud Sen. Johnson's Guest Worker Bill

Individual states will be allowed to tailor a guest worker program that meets their own specific workforce needs under a plan being introduced by U.S. Senator Ron Johnson. The Wisconsin Republican, who chairs the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, unveiled the 'State Sponsored Visa Pilot Program Act of 2017' on Wednesday. He said the measure is necessary to help sectors of the economy, such as the dairy industry, by filling jobs positions that are often difficult to place in certain parts of the country.

"We have a shortage of workers in all different areas of the economy. We need to recognize that a one-size-fits-all federal model for visas or guest workers doesn't work," Johnson said. "Let the states manage the visas, allocate them to the industries that need the workers, set prevailing wage rates. I think states would do a better job of protecting their state workers--American workers--as well as making sure their industries have the people they need to be able to grow."

Rep. Ken Buck from Colorado plans to introduce an identical version of the bill in the House of Representatives.

Meanwhile, the American Dairy Coalition applauded the effort. CEO Laurie Fischer says policies like this are desperately needed to secure workers to milk cows and harvest crops.

"For years, farmers have tried to hire domestic workers, but they are simply not attracted to these jobs, even though starting pay has increased to $13.00 to $15.00 an hour plus benefit packages," Fischer said. "It is critical for the dairy industry to have a means to utilize a legal workforce since current immigration visa programs are not available for dairy farms."

Last month, Congressman Sean Duffy introduced a bill that would expand the H-2A worker program to benefit Wisconsin's dairy farmers. His measure is called the Defending the Agricultural Industry's Requirements Year-round Act of 2017 or ''DAIRY Act,' which modifies the existing immigration program to allow dairy workers to hold a visa for 18 months, thus giving state dairy producers stability within their workforce.

Livestock Risk Protection Insurance for Lambs Available

Sales of Livestock Risk Protection insurance for lambs (LRP-Lamb) resumed on April 24. LRP-Lamb has not been available for about one year while revisions were made to the program.

LRP-Lamb is a single-peril price insurance policy offered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Risk Management Agency (RMA) and is sold by livestock insurance agents (who also sell crop insurance). A list of approved agents is available on the RMA website at

"LRP-Lamb was designed to protect lamb producers from declines in lamb prices,"

says Tim Petry, North Dakota State University Extension Service livestock economist. "It is available to producers in North Dakota, Minnesota, Montana, South Dakota and other lamb-producing states."

Lamb producers who are considering purchasing LRP first must submit a one-time application for approval. Once a policy is approved, producers are eligible to purchase specific coverage endorsements (SCE). Each SCE will cover up to 2,000 head of lambs weighing 50 to 150 pounds. The annual limit per crop year, which is July 1 through June 30, is 28,000 head.

LRP-Lamb will be available once a week on Monday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Central time.

Coverage prices, ranging from 80 to 95 percent of the lambs' expected ending value, will be available on the RMA website at

Premiums, which must be paid to the insurance agent before a SCE is submitted, are subsidized 13 percent by the USDA and also will be shown on the same RMA website. Beginning farmers may receive a 23 percent subsidy.

Lamb producers may select coverage prices for 13-, 26- or 39-week insurance periods, which should correspond to the actual marketing date for lambs. Because lambs must not be sold until 30 days prior to the maturity date, selecting the appropriate policy length is important, Petry says.

On the maturity date, if the actual ending value is below the coverage price, an indemnity for the difference will be paid to the producer. The actual ending price reported for the week of April 21 was $140.66 per hundredweight (cwt).

On April 24, the 95 percent coverage price for the 26-week contract was $136.525/cwt, with a subsidized premium of $5.15/cwt. and a maturity date of Oct. 23, 2017.

The American Sheep Industry Association has a LRP online education course available at It was designed for producers and insurance agents to learn more about LRP and to assist with the decision to purchase insurance.

Time to Act

Stephen R Koontz, Ag and Resource Econ, Colorado State University

The fed cattle and feeder cattle markets have continued their impressive rallies that took off last week.  Live cattle futures increased $15/cwt and better than $30/cwt since the beginning of April.  Feeder cattle futures $20/cwt and $30/cwt since April 1.  Do these rallies have legs or, in other words, are there underlying fundamentals that support these prices?

The fundamentals are there but are short term and will not likely persist through the summer.  I do not believe these opportunities will continue until cow-calf enterprises have the chance to market the current calf crop on video auctions.  My recommendation is to establish price floor protection now or as soon as the rally slows.  If you didn't learn how to trade options over the last two years then there's no time like the present.

What's the fundamentals behind the rally?  In short, Memorial Day.  The grilling season is upon retailers and aggressive meat as well as beef purchases have been seen over the last two weeks.  Fed cattle marketings have been very strong and needed to happen with very short showlist inventories.  The opposite side of the same coin that drove prices so low and lower in fall of 2015 is now driving them high and higher in spring of 2017.  Marketings have been strong, market-ready inventories low, and slaughter weights continue to drop - more animals are needed to secure the tonnage.

All this will likely not persist into August.  Slaughter weights show a normal seasonal increase beginning in May and continuing through October.  Cattle on feed placements were heavy in March and are expected to be so again in April.  And packer margins have been very tough in 2017.  As soon as beef supplies in the marketing pipeline are replenished the market will likely soften and become focused on larger summer supplies.

Late summer and early fall live cattle and feeder cattle futures contracts are trading at a respectable discount to the nearby contracts but all are a good $15-$20/cwt better than two weeks ago.  I believe it's time to get some price floor insurance purchased on fall calves in particular.  October feeder cattle options are very pricy at-the-money after all it's a long time until October.  But a Put with a $130 strike price is trading around $2.35/cwt.  That's $1,175 without commissions to buy a floor at $130.  More liquid options are at higher strike prices and have higher premiums.

What do the technicals say?  It's hard to draw a believable trend line with the speed of this rally so selling at resistance is the reasonable alternative.  Live cattle show firm long-term resistance at slightly better than $140.  There are little fundamentals to support that high of a fed cattle price.  Feeder cattle show similar resistance at $165 and the August contract is close to that now.  Again, I believe it is time to act.  A price floor at $130 plus a reasonable Colorado basis on a 5-6 cwt steer calf of $20/cwt is a cash price floor of $150/cwt.  Compared with last fall, that's a number that hard to argue with.

Texas Tech Researchers Earn Grant to Study Stress of Weaning Pigs

Though it’s not always seen, stress affects almost every mammal on the planet, whether it walks on four legs or two, whether it speaks or not. And stressors come in all shapes and sizes.

For young piglets, one of the biggest stressors is weaning, which brings about a litany of social, environmental and nutritional stresses. And the stronger those stressors on a pig, the more they can restrict its ability to grow and develop at a normal pace by exaggerating the animal’s immune responses.

A team of researchers in the Texas Tech University College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources, however, is working to reduce the effects of those stressors on piglets by showing how the anti-inflammatory drug cortisol and its analogs can regulate a pig’s immune system, allowing it to grow normally.

To that end, assistant professor Anoosh Rakhshandeh and his collaborators, professor John McGlone and research assistant professor Arlene Garcia-Marquez, all from the Department of Animal and Food Sciences, received a grant for $296,000 from the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). The grant was made possible through the NIFA’s capacity-building grants for Non-Land Grant Colleges of Agriculture (NLGCA) program, which was authorized by the 2014 farm bill.

“Weaning is the most stressful period in a pig’s life, which results in a post-weaning growth lag and production of less resilient pigs,” Rakhshandeh said. “During this period, piglets are exposed to immunological, environmental and nutritional stresses. Our funded research proposal focuses on the use of cortisol analogs (CA) as an alternative to antibiotics. We hypothesized that cortisol analogs mitigate the negative effects of immunological stress and improve digestive physiology and overall productivity and robustness of the newly weaned pigs. In addition, we will explore the underlying mechanism through which cortisol analogs improve the productivity and welfare of piglets.”

The goal is to minimize the impact stress has on newly weaned pigs, which could lead to the production of a more robust and resilient pig. Researchers will evaluate the effects of CA on weaning pigs who are fed an antibiotic-free diet under controlled conditions, identify the mechanisms that allow CA to improve growth performance and determine whether it’s best to administer the drug through injection or through ingestion of water or food.

Efforts in these research laboratories have already resulted in a significant increase in growth rates and improved feed efficiency for pigs when treated with CA.

“We initially thought that the problem with stress is that there is too much cortisol produced,” McGlone said. “When we blocked cortisol, the pigs did not do as well. So we took the opposite approach, even though it may be counterintuitive. When we gave a cortisol-like drug at the time of stress, pig health and growth improved. This provides a novel way to improve pig health and welfare without the use of antibiotics.”

The project will then look at expanding CA treatment to the swine industry by repeating these controlled experiments in an industrial setting.

Rising Demand, Evolving Markets Fueling Optimism and Change in Feed Business

A prolonged period of low feed prices combined with steadily growing demand for animal protein continues to fuel profitability and optimism for U.S. feed mill operators, according to a new report from CoBank. However, changes in the industry are spurring the need for newer, larger facilities and forcing the closure of older mills that lack the newest technology.

The abundant and affordable supply of grains and oilseeds has led to a 19 percent increase in total domestic feed usage since 2012, when use had plummeted to its lowest level since 1995. With many mills operating at capacity, they are now gearing up for the next surge in demand, due to come from the swelling U.S. hog population.

“Many feed mills are investing in upgrades to aging facilities or replacing them with new facilities that boost capacity and efficiency to meet the growing demand for livestock feed,” said Tanner Ehmke, CoBank senior economist, grains, oilseeds and ethanol, and farm supply. “There are several reasons for the huge investments being made, but expansion in the hog sector is the leading factor,” added Ehmke.

As the level of feed demand from the animal production sector has expanded and evolved, so has the nature of that demand. It’s become considerably more diverse and specialized. Livestock and poultry operators are increasingly calling for custom feed formulations with micro-ingredients. New feed mills are more frequently focusing on serving single specie markets with fewer general purpose toll mills.

“Large bulk orders are increasingly replacing smaller orders and bagged feed,” said Ehmke. “There’s also a greater tendency for new mills to offer animal nutrition expertise and consulting services, along with formulations requiring veterinarian feed directives (VFDs),” said Ehmke.

Rising labor costs and a tightening labor market are also driving feed mills to pursue new efficiencies through technology and automation. Consequently, the total number of feed mills continues to decline as older mills are consolidated.

Additionally, the new regulatory environment highlighted by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is expected to hasten consolidation within the industry with bigger, technology-driven mills that meet the more stringent requirements.

The costs associated with FSMA compliance may lead some mill operators to exit the business, while others will merge, consolidate or invest in new procedures to ensure compliance.

“Despite these challenges, the outlook for the feed business remains strong over the next few years, particularly for those mills positioned to invest in facility enhancements,” said Ehmke. “Meat packers are making plans to increase slaughter capacity, while profitability at the producer and integrator level is triggering production expansion. That adds up to a positive outlook for improved feed demand, particularly over the next two years before animal production is expected to stabilize.”

Thursday May 4 Ag News

Vet med students raise money for ranchers affected by wildfires

Recent wildfires across Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas have devastated the ranching industry. The fires have destroyed millions of acres of grassland, and left thousands of cattle dead. Now, students in the Large Animal Veterinary Medical Club at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln are lending their support to those affected by the wildfires.

The club acted quickly after learning of the wildfires, and organized a fundraiser selling “Vet Med” hats. During the course of the 11-day fundraiser the club sold 366 hats, raising over $4,000 for wildfire victims.

“We saw a lot of news coverage about the wildfires and we thought it was important to help out,” said Rachael Granville of Springfield, a student in the university’s Professional Program in Veterinary Medicine. “Someday those ranchers are going to be our clients so we care about them and want them to be successful.”

The club sold hats to students, faculty and staff in Nebraska, and their PPVM partners at Iowa State University. In addition, the club extended the fundraiser to vet med schools in the states affected by the wildfires: Colorado State University, Kansas State University, Oklahoma State University and Texas A&M University. The University of Illinois and Mississippi State University also contributed to the fundraiser.

According to club president Kara Sutphen, funds raised by the club will be given to the Working Ranch Cowboys Association. The association has established a wildfire relief fund to provide financial assistance to working ranchers and cowboys suffering significant hardships due to the wildfires.

“We feel that donating the funds we raise to the Working Ranch Cowboys Association is better than us trying to buy supplies and send it to the affected areas because these people are going to need financial assistance for a long time. The association has historically done a lot of crisis relief, and they have operations set up for people to apply for the funds,” Sutphen said.

The club is currently contacting several state veterinary medical associations to see if they will match the funds raised so far.

The Large Animal Club is a club for PPVM students at the university. The club organizes meetings and wet labs to expose students to a variety of topics focused on large-animal medicine. Additionally, the club awards scholarships to three PPVM students annually.

Animal science department appoints two new student ambassadors

The animal science department at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln has appointed two new student ambassadors for the 2017-2018 academic year.

After in-depth interviews with department faculty and senior ambassadors, two students were selected out of a pool of seven applicants:
-    Lexi Ostrand of Pender, a sophomore animal science major

-    Hannah Esch of Unadilla, a freshman animal science major

The two new ambassadors will serve alongside current second-year ambassadors:
-    David Schuler of Bridgeport, a junior animal science major
-    Amanda Lambrecht of Kennard, a junior animal science major

The ambassadors will interact with prospective animal science students by visiting high schools and attending various university admissions events. In addition to attending and supporting university events, each ambassador will also take on the responsibility of planning one recruitment activity per year. One example is the Animal Science Experience.

The Animal Science Experience is an event where high school and transfer students visit East Campus for a day and see it through the eyes of a current college student. These students get an overview of the animal science department, participate in an actual animal science class, eat lunch at the Nebraska East Union and participate in fun activities such as a tour of Memorial Stadium.

“It’s a good opportunity for them to get to East Campus and actually see what life is like here in the department and as a college student,” said Alli Raymond, animal science admissions coordinator. “Through planning and participating in these activities, the student ambassadors benefit not only the university, but themselves as well.”

The Animal Science Student Ambassador program, started in 1999, selects two animal science majors as ambassadors to promote the animal science program each year. Students receive a $2,000 scholarship ($500 each semester) and serve for two years supporting the animal science department’s recruitment efforts.

Rep. Bacon Votes 'Yes' on AHCA

Today, Congressman Don Bacon (NE-02) joined colleagues in the House to pass the American Health Care Act (AHCA), giving individuals and states more control over health care policies allowing for patient-centered health care and removing federal bureaucrats from the decision process.

“Today I joined my colleagues on a rescue mission to save health care for Nebraskans because people were being burdened with skyrocketing premiums, unaffordable deductibles, and lack of choice. Premiums had risen by up to 51% for many Nebraskans and our state is down to two health insurance providers in the marketplace.

This landmark legislation ensures that Americans will have control over their health care policies while maintaining coverage for those with pre-existing conditions. Several layers of legislation, including the McArthur and Upton Amendments, will make sure that people cannot be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition. These amendments also provide security for families and individuals that their health care premiums will be affordable.

I am disappointed in those who are spreading lies about the coverage under the AHCA: that it strips pre-existing coverage and veteran tax credits. Quite frankly, they are causing undue fear in many Americans. It’s irresponsible and I plan on spending the next week correcting those reckless falsehoods.”

Statement by Steve Nelson, President, Regarding U.S. House Passage of American Health Care Act

“We are very supportive of the U.S. House of Representatives’ action today to pass the American Health Care Act. Nebraska Farm Bureau has, and continues to support efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare. While not perfect, passage of this bill starts us down the road to improve and lower costs in the individual health insurance markets by reintroducing marketplace fundamentals back into the health insurance industry.”

“Farm and ranch families participate heavily in the individual health insurance marketplace and Obamacare exchanges. Their participation in those markets is far greater than that of the general population who largely get their health insurance policies from their employer-sponsored plans. Farmers, ranchers, and other self-employed individuals are disproportionately bearing the extraordinarily high premium costs and out of pocket health expenses resulting from Obamacare.”

“A recent survey of our members found that twenty-five percent of farmers and ranchers who purchase insurance from either the health insurance exchanges or the individual marketplace paid more than $1,500 per month in premiums. In comparison, only four percent of those getting their health insurance from an employer exceed the $1,500 per month premium threshold. It is clear farmers, ranchers, and the self-employed are paying the price of an insurance marketplace that is in shambles. Legislation to pull back from the mandates, red tape, and regulations enacted through Obamacare is long overdue.”

“Our current health insurance system is on the brink of a crisis. We hope the Senate acts on this legislation quickly and that necessary improvements can be made. It is critical that farmers, ranchers, the self-employed, and those who live in rural areas where premiums are often much higher than in urban areas, no longer struggle under the ever-increasing costs and regulatory burdens of Obamacare.”

“We thank Congressman Fortenberry, Congressman Bacon, and Congressman Smith for their votes in support of this measure.”

Your Corn, Your Ethanol: E15 Blended Gasoline Now Available at Select A-Stop Pumps

Aurora Cooperative is pleased to announce that starting today our A-Stop pumps at Aurora West, Grand Island and York will now be providing E15 blended gasoline. E15 is a higher-octane blend consisting of 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline. The ethanol being used for the E15 blend will be coming directly from PAL (Pacific Aurora, LLC), an ethanol plant in Aurora.

“We are excited to offer locally produced ethanol made from locally grown corn and offer that for consumption in our local communities,” said Chris Decker, COO at Aurora Cooperative. “E15 will allow consumers to use clean-burning, environmentally-friendly gasoline and will also help pump revenue back into your local communities by utilizing local farmers’ corn for your local ethanol use.”

E15 has been approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for use in all passenger vehicles model year 2001 or newer. Flex-fuel vehicles capable of operating on blends up to E85 (85 percent ethanol) can also use E15 regardless of model year. According to the Nebraska Corn Board’s ethanol facts, the approved group of vehicles for E15 includes more than 80 percent of the cars, trucks and SUVs on the road today.

“It’s encouraging to see the growth in availability and usage of higher blends of ethanol,” said Tim Sheer, Nebraska Corn Board director and farmer from St. Paul. “Ethanol is a win for the consumer, a win for the environment and a win for Nebraska agriculture. I look forward to fueling my vehicles with clean-burning ethanol as these A-Stop locations.”

According to Growth Energy, a full move to E15 will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an additional 8 million tons per year – the equivalent of taking more than 1.35 million vehicles off the road. Growth Energy is an organization representing producers and supporters of ethanol who feed the world and fuel America in ways that achieve energy independence, improve economic well-being and create a healthier environment for all Americans.

Aurora Cooperative believes in putting its owners’ equity to work for your farm, your families, your communities and now your ethanol.

 Vomitoxin Found across the Corn Belt

High levels of deoxynivalenol (DON), a mycotoxin commonly known as vomitoxin, are being found in grain across the Corn Belt, including eastern Iowa. Contaminated corn is an issue especially in dried distillers grains and solubles (DDGS), according to Erin Bowers, mycotoxin sampling and analysis specialist with Iowa State University.

DDGS, commonly used in animals feed, is a by-product of ethanol production. Mycotoxins tend to concentrate in this by-product at three times the levels found in the original grain.

“This is problematic because we have a huge swine industry in Iowa, and swine are very sensitive to DON,” said Bowers. “When you feed DDGS contaminated at even 3 parts-per-million to swine in addition with other contaminated grains, you’re going to start seeing health and productivity issues.”

DON is produced by molds of the genus Fusarium, most commonly Fusarium graminearum. According to the Food and Drug Administration, advisory levels for livestock consumption of DON are as follows:
-    5 ppm DON on grains and grain by-products destined for swine with recommendation that these ingredients not exceed 20 percent of their diet.
-    For chickens, 10 ppm DON on grains and grain by-products with recommendation that these ingredients not exceed 50 percent of the diet.
-    10 ppm DON on grains and grain by-products (on an 88 percent dry matter basis) destined for ruminating beef and feedlot cattle older than 4 months and 5 ppm DON for ruminating dairy cattle older than four months.
-    5 ppm DON on grains and grain by-products destined for all other animals with the added recommendation that these ingredients not exceed 40 percent of their diet.

“In the eastern corn belt right now, we are seeing base corn levels around 1 part-per-million,” said Bowers. “As soon as you make DDGS out of them, you start pushing the boundaries of some feeding limits. Grain receiving locations should be testing for these levels or at least be aware that we are seeing higher levels this year. Having a good strategy for managing their grain supply and marketing it appropriately can increase its safe use.”

There are solutions to utilizing DON contaminated grain. Beef cattle are much more tolerant of this mycotoxin, and can be fed higher levels of contamination without seeing negative health or productivity effects. DON also can be blended, but steps should be taken to carefully and representatively test blended grain.

The Iowa Grain Quality Initiative has developed a set of online learning modules to help producers learn about mycotoxin sampling and handling. The Iowa Grain Quality Mycotoxin Development Module (CROP 3083F) and Iowa Grain Quality Best Practices in Handling and Testing Module (CROP 3083G) were produced in cooperation with the Iowa Grain Quality Initiative and Crop Advisor Institute.

EPA Sends WOTUS Repeal Rule to White House

The Environmental Protection Agency sent a proposal to repeal the controversial Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule to the White House for interagency review—the first step in President Trump’s plan to undo and replace the rule. A spokesman confirmed the rule is being reviewed by the White House Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). The rule would formally put back in place the 1986 guidance that has governed the federal government’s Clean Water Act determinations.

The WOTUS rule is currently still on hold by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals pending a decision as to the venue for the legal challenge from the states. After the White House review, the rule will be officially published, triggering a public comment period. In the meantime, the EPA is working on a new rule to define the scope of federal water protections.

Secretary Perdue Announces Arrival of First Shipments of U.S. Beef to Brazil

Secretary Sonny Perdue announced today that the first shipment of fresh U.S. beef has arrived in Brazil following a 13-year hiatus.  The entrance of American beef into the Brazilian market ushers in promising long-term economic opportunity for U.S. beef producers. 

“With Brazil’s large market reopened to the United States, U.S. beef exports are poised for new growth. I look forward to Brazilians getting the opportunity to eat delicious American beef, because once they taste it, they’ll want more of it.” said Secretary Perdue.

Brazil closed its market to imports of U.S. fresh beef in 2003 over concerns about bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).  Since then, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) have worked continuously with Brazilian officials to regain market access.

Additionally, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has provided documentation and information on the U.S. food safety requirements and standards for beef.  Following numerous technical discussions and meetings, Brazil officially reopened the market on August 1, 2016 based on the United States’ classification by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) as a negligible risk country for BSE.

Ag Secretary Perdue Pledges USDA Support in Face of Heartland Flooding

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today pledged the full resources and support of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in response to severe flooding occurring in many states across the center of the country.  Representatives of relevant USDA agencies, including the Farm Service Agency, the Office of Rural Development, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service, will be on the ground gathering information and assisting members of the agriculture community with their needs as they prepare to assess the damage.

Secretary Perdue issued the following statement:

“The people of the American agriculture community are made of hardy stock and can withstand their fair share of hardship, but just the same, they should know that their USDA stands with them during this natural calamity.  We have seen levee breaks and flooding in the wake of storms, some of which have caused the loss of life, and USDA is ready to assist in any way we can.  We have USDA employees in every county in this nation, and our people will be visible as they work to support people battling the flooding.  As always, our thoughts and prayers are with our agriculture community, but our resources will be with them too.”

Update on FY 2017 Omnibus Appropriations Bill Deal

NAWG newsletter

On April 30, 2017, Congressional leaders reached an agreement to fund the government through the remainder of FY 2017 (through September 30, 2017).  The agreement includes $20.877 billion in discretionary spending for USDA, which is below the FY 2016 enacted level of $21.75 billion.

It also includes an increase of $1.6 billion in farm operating and ownership loan levels from the FY2016 levels to help meet the growing demand for those programs. For agricultural research, the bill cites a $25 million increase for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) competitive grants program, and it maintains level funding of $243.701 million for the Hatch Act formula fund program for the land grants and of $300 million for the Smith-Lever Extension program.  Included is also report language indicating increases in funding for small grains genomic and the U.S. Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative - a $1 million increase for the Small Grains Genomic Initiative and a $2 million increase for the Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative, no doubt a result of NAWG's and NWIC's advocacy efforts.

The bill includes a $5 million pilot program for the Agriculture Risk Coverage County program for the 2016 crop year to address disparities in yields between comparable counties in a state.  This pilot program would set up an alternate calculation method with FSA employees in the state having some flexibility if there is insufficient NASS data in a county or if the available NASS data is significantly disparate. McGovern-Dole Food for Education program would be funded at $201.6 million, which is level with FY 2016.  The Food for Peace program would be funded at $1.6 million, which is $112 million below the FY 2016 level, and included a onetime increase of $134 million to address famine crises around the world. There is $3 million included for the FDA and USDA to promote the acceptance of biotechnology through consumer outreach on “agricultural biotechnology and biotechnology-derived food products and animal feed.” For conservation, the overall Conservation Operations account is funded at $864.474 million.  The Watershed Rehabilitation program is limited to $9 million and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is limited to $1.35 billion (which is a reduction from the $1.65 billion provided in the Farm Bill for FY 2017).  The bill also includes $4 million for the Water Bank program.

The bill was approved by the House of Representatives on Wednesday on a 309-118 vote and the Senate voted on Thursday to adopt the measure on a 79-18 vote.  It now heads to President Trump for his signature.

Growth Energy praises introduction of Clean Energy for America Act

Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor released the following statement on the reintroduction of the Clean Energy for America Act by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR). The legislation would consolidate and extend tax incentives for renewable fuels.

“We thank Sen. Wyden for his efforts to provide long-term tax certainty to advanced and cellulosic biofuels,” Skor said.

“Corn ethanol reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 43 percent, and under this legislation, credits are based on greenhouse gas reductions and are technology neutral. The bill also recognizes increased payments for improved emissions reductions and has a less complicated formula that does not discriminate against ethanol fuels.

“Ethanol is an advanced biofuel that Americans use every day, and it is moving our nation forward. Policies like those proposed in this legislation will pave the way for the continued growth of this clean-burning, environmentally friendly biofuel.”

Growth Energy, RFA, USGC submit comments in response to Environment and Climate Change Canada’s paper on clean fuel standard

Growth Energy and the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) joined the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) in submitting comments in response to Environment and Climate Change Canada’s (ECCC) Discussion Paper on a Federal Clean Fuel Standard (CFS).

Representatives of the three organizations just completed a visit to Canada to discuss that country's newest environmental initiative with regulators and industry and share details of the U.S. experience with its Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS).

The U.S. and Canadian renewable fuels industries have much in common. Ethanol production in both countries is largely from corn and uses similar processing technologies, technology mixes and coproduct streams. Additionally, both have shown dramatic improvements in their respective greenhouse gas (GHG) profiles over the past decade with further improvements expected in the years ahead.

The U.S. and Canada also benefit from free trade preferences under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which has paved the way for significant bilateral trade between Canada and the U.S.

“We support the Canadian government’s plan to implement a Clean Fuel Standard as the best way to help meet the transportation sector’s needs with lower GHG intensive fuels. Increased ethanol utilization will reduce GHG emissions, improve air quality, and provide a renewable source of octane for Canadian fuel consumers at a competitive price,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor.

“A strong Clean Fuel Standard should build on the success of Canada’s Renewable Fuel Regulations, which have helped clean the air, boost local economies, reduce the reliance on petroleum imports and lower the price of gasoline for consumers. But it needs to be done right, based on sound science and consumer choice. We are optimistic Canada’s effort will be successful and we look forward to remaining trading partners on the cleanest, highest octane source of fuel in the world,” said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen.

“The U.S. ethanol industry applauds Canada’s desire to reduce the carbon intensity of its transportation fuel market, and we see our northern neighbor as a strong partner in renewable fuels expansion," said Tom Sleight, president and CEO of the U.S. Grains Council. "Our product is an important supplement to Canada’s own domestic production and should Canada boost its use of ethanol, our industry stands ready to ensure that the supplies Canada needs are available.”

Growth Energy, RFA, USGC Commend Brazilian Government for Postponing Ethanol Tariff Proposal

On Wednesday, the Executive Management Committee of CAMEX, Brazil’s Chamber of Foreign Trade, decided to postpone a decision by the Chamber on whether to impose significant tariffs on U.S. ethanol imports. The Executive Committee’s decision delays CAMEX’s consideration until June, to allow for the proposal to be evaluated by another CAMEX subgroup, GTAT-TEC, the Technical Group on Temporary Alterations to the Common Foreign Tariff of Mercosur. The following is a joint statement from the Renewable Fuels Association, Growth Energy and the U.S. Grains Council:

“We commend the Executive Committee of CAMEX (GECEX) for deciding to postpone the chamber’s proceedings on the recent proposal from Brazilian sugarcane and ethanol producer associations to reinstate an ethanol import tariff in Brazil. This is a critically important issue that will impact Brazilian consumers and commodity markets across the globe. It demands very thoughtful consideration.

“We strongly believe that re-imposing an import tariff on U.S. ethanol would only lead to increased fuel prices, and endanger the positive and hard-won cooperative trade relationship between our two countries concerning the production, use and global trade in ethanol.

“We look forward to continuing our dialogue with government officials and stakeholders in Brazil, in hopes of encouraging our friends from the South to not turn their back on the progress our two countries have made in building a trade relationship that encourages industry growth, expands markets and provides low-cost fuel to consumers in Brazil and the U.S.”

 Land O’Lakes, Inc. reports results for first quarter 2017

Land O’Lakes, Inc. today reported quarterly net sales of $3.7 billion and net earnings of $110 million in the first quarter ending March 31, 2017, compared with 2016 first quarter net sales of $3.6 billion and net earnings of $104 million.

The strong first quarter earnings come on the heels of a record year in 2016 when the company reported $320 million in net earnings on $13.2 billion in sales.

“Overall first quarter performance for 2017 continues the trend of year-over-year growth for our organization despite increased complexity and headwinds across the marketplace,” said Land O’Lakes, Inc. President and CEO Chris Policinski. “Our growing focus spans our farm-to-fork view of the marketplace as we continue to invest in value-added innovation in all four of our business units: Land O’Lakes Dairy Foods, Purina Feed, WinField United Crop Inputs and Land O’Lakes SUSTAIN.”

During the first quarter, Land O’Lakes announced the acquisition of Vermont Creamery announced to accelerate growth in its important Dairy Foods business with trusted brands and innovative products. The company also last month its increasing commitment to achieve meaningful goals in and to shape the future of environmental sustainability across the agricultural value chain. The announcement was made in partnership with other suppliers of Walmart.

First-quarter earnings benefited from strong performance in Dairy Foods, Animal Feed and Crop Inputs. Earnings in Dairy Foods, which includes the company's LAND O LAKES brand, were driven by strong volumes in Foodservice and improved margins in retail-branded products. Increased earnings in Crop Inputs, which includes WinField United, resulted from higher margins driven by vendor rebates. Earnings across the Animal Feed portfolio remained strong due to a continued product mix shift to valued added products.

USDA Dairy Products March 2017 Production Highlights

Total cheese output (excluding cottage cheese) was 1.06 billion pounds, 3.3 percent above March 2016 and 12.7 percent above February 2017.  Italian type cheese production totaled 469 million pounds, 2.2 percent above March 2016 and 15.2 percent above February 2017.  American type cheese production totaled 416 million pounds, 3.5 percent above March 2016 and 11.2 percent above February 2017.  Butter production was 176 million pounds, 0.3 percent above March 2016 and 9.0 percent above February 2017.

Dry milk powders (comparisons with March 2016)
Nonfat dry milk, human - 160 million pounds, down 7.2 percent.
Skim milk powders - 52.7 million pounds, up 30.0 percent.

Whey products (comparisons with March 2016)
Dry whey, total - 88.0 million pounds, up 6.4 percent.
Lactose, human and animal - 97.6 million pounds, up 5.1 percent.
Whey protein concentrate, total - 42.0 million pounds, up 0.5 percent.

Frozen products (comparisons with March 2016)
Ice cream, regular (hard) - 74.7 million gallons, up 2.6 percent.
Ice cream, lowfat (total) - 41.1 million gallons, up 1.0 percent.
Sherbet (hard) - 3.41 million gallons, down 8.4 percent.
Frozen yogurt (total) - 7.28 million gallons, up 1.0 percent.

NMPF Urges Dairy Imitators to Comply with Food Labeling Standards

America’s dairy farmers have a clear message for plant-based food companies that have been meeting in California this week to assess the consistency of the labeling of their products: Dairy imitators must start complying with federal regulations that require foods such as milk, cheese, ice cream and yogurt to be made from real milk.

“At a time when consumers want real food, this ‘fake food’ movement has gone in the opposite direction, flaunting U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standards that define milk as the product of cows, not heavily processed and unrecognizable plant sources,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “These companies are also aware that playing fast and loose with labeling regulations is a potential legal liability and a source of confusion in the marketplace.”

Members of the Plant Based Foods Association are meeting this week in San Francisco to review the potential compliance challenges their products may have with FDA’s existing standards of identity.

NMPF’s Mulhern said that standards of identity exist for a range of foods, not just in the dairy category.

“You can’t take powdered sugar, mix it with water, add orange flavorings and color, and call it orange juice. The FDA standard of identity for ‘orange juice’ prohibits labeling beverages that are only orange in color as ‘orange juice.’ But this is the misleading practice that occurs when nuts and grains are mixed together with whiteners and sugars and marketed as ‘milk.’ FDA’s failure to do its job on food standards means it’s time for Congress intervene,” he said.

NMPF continues to build support for legislation called the DAIRY PRIDE Act (DPA), which would ensure food labels are policed by regulators. The measure, introduced earlier this year in both the House and Senate, prompts FDA to implement its long-standing regulation specifying that milk and similar dairy foods must come from an animal source. Properly enforcing labeling standards “ultimately benefits the manufacturers of plant products as much as it helps dairy farmers,” Mulhern said, by establishing a predictable regulatory environment in the marketplace.

Mulhern said terms such as “almondmilk” and “soy milk” are not found on plant beverages sold in the European Union, the United Kingdom and Canada. Other nations have food labeling standards similar to those in the United States, but their governments “actually enforce those regulations, unlike FDA,” he said. “The United States has been lax, but that doesn’t mean such violations will go unnoticed indefinitely, either by regulators or those misappropriating dairy terms.”

Mulhern said the DAIRY PRIDE Act continues to attract support. The Senate version has the following sponsors: Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Angus King (I-ME) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), the leading Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee. The House version’s supporters include: Reps. Peter Welch (D-VT), Mike Simpson (R-ID), Sean Duffy (R-WI), Joe Courtney (D-CT), David Valadao (R-CA), Susan DelBene (D-WA), Collin Peterson (D-MN), Mike Gallagher (R-WI), Glenn Grothman (R-WI), Ron Kind (D-WI), Thomas Rooney (R-FL), James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Richard Nolan (D-MN) and Elise Stefanik (R-NY).

NMPF, USDEC Organize Dairy Fly-In on Capitol Hill to Build Support for Trade with Canada, Mexico

U.S. dairy leaders from across the country visited Washington, D.C., this week to urge Congress and Trump Administration officials to hold Canada accountable for its trade violations and hasten the repeal of Canada’s controversial new dairy pricing system.

During a fly-in rally organized Tuesday and Wednesday by the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC), more than 40 farmers and dairy company executives fanned out on Capitol Hill to discuss the importance of trade across North America. The group emphasized that trade opportunities both north and south of the U.S. are crucial to America’s dairy sector. In addition to speaking to elected officials, the members of the dairy coalition also met with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, Acting U.S. Trade Representative Stephen Vaughn and White House agriculture advisor Ray Starling.

“Canada’s new Class 7 milk pricing scheme unfairly undercuts U.S. dairy exports to Canada and around the world.  This is an economic dagger pointed at every farmer in the United States, not just those from a few states,” said Jim Mulhern, President and CEO of NMPF.  “We also were clear that the income of thousands of dairy farmers depends on the valuable partnership that we have with Mexico, our largest export market.”

NMPF and USDEC member cooperative and company leaders explained to lawmakers how they have lost sales to Canada and expressed fears of the consequences of Canada dumping its milk excess onto global markets at prices far below their domestic price – in violation of Canada’s trade agreement concessions.

Dairy leaders emphasized that U.S. dairy exports create jobs across the nation, and distributed fact sheets quantifying the economic impact nationally and state-by-state.

USDEC Senior Vice President Jaime Castaneda said that U.S. dairy groups “have repeatedly stressed that trade has become an integral part of the U.S. dairy industry and we must expand markets and fight to keep those that we have today. We should hold countries accountable when they break the rules.”

NMPF Board member Leroy Plagerman, a farmer from Lynden, Washington, and member of Darigold, said that farmers in his region “are the closest to growing Asian export markets and we rely heavily on our ability to reach those customers – and so we feel very threatened by what Canada is doing.”

Whittemore, Michigan, farmer Rod Daniels, representing the Michigan Milk Producers Association said that “Michigan is producing more milk and we need more export markets. Canada’s repeated efforts to bend or break the trade rules to which it has agreed, makes things worse for dairy farmers in Michigan and across the country. Canada should know that we will continue to sound the alarm about the new pricing policy.”

Legislators and dairy industry members also discussed the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Lake Mills, Wisconsin, dairy farmer Charles Untz, representing Dairy Farmers of America, said that as negotiations over the pact continue, “it is critical to preserve the strong and stable trade relationship the U.S. dairy industry enjoys with Mexico. Wisconsin’s dairy sector, like so much of the rest of the country’s, needs to continue building on our export business and Mexico is a big part of that equation.”

Twenty-seven dairy representatives from outside D.C. attended meetings with various members of the House and Senate, including House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), along with the Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate and House Agriculture Committees, the House Ways and Means Committee, and the Senate Finance Committee. In addition to NMPF and USDEC, executives from the International Dairy Foods Association and the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture also participated in the meetings.

Wednesday May 3 Ag News

Biotech's Evolva Selects Cargill Campus in Blair

The State of Nebraska and the Greater Omaha Chamber Economic Development Partnership are cheering another successful attraction effort, a multi-million-dollar endorsement of the region's economic amenities. International biotech company Evolva has announced plans to grow its global operation in collaboration with Cargill's campus in Blair.

The Switzerland-based company develops high-value specialty ingredients, including stevia, nootkatone and resveratrol. It is the latest to join a cluster of major producers, including Novozymes, Evonik, Corbion and NatureWorks, with a presence on the Cargill campus.

"Once again, collaboration was the key -- Gateway Development Corporation working closely with our economic development partners and the Nebraska Department of Economic Development, Cargill and the City of Blair to promote the benefits of our region and the Cargill campus. We're thrilled to welcome Evolva and look forward to seeing the company thrive in our community," said Lisa Scheve, executive director, Gateway Development Corp., a member of the Greater Omaha Chamber Economic Development Partnership.

"We are excited that Evolva has selected Nebraska to build their global production hub to manufacture their products," said Courtney Dentlinger, Director of Nebraska Department of Economic Development. "This is an outstanding example of innovative companies like Cargill and Evolva working together to create cutting edge products and high skill jobs in Nebraska."

Evolva and Cargill are developing the next-generation stevia sweetener EverSweet, which will be produced at the Cargill-operated Blair fermentation facility and launched next year. At the same time, Evolva will commence building a state-of-the-art bioprocessing facility on adjacent land leased from Cargill. This facility, operated by Evolva, will manufacture Evolva products, such as nootkatone and resveratrol, starting as early as 2019.

"Nebraska is well suited to helping us build global production for our products, not least because of the state's green energy and renewable feedstock, well-known fermentation talent, and ample room to expand," said Neil Goldsmith, president of Evolva. "We hope to bring value to the regional bio-based innovation and development network, building infrastructure that will ultimately form a fully integrated commercial-scale bioprocessing hub for the production of sustainable, high-value, next-generation specialty and functional ingredients."

"We're excited about the addition of the new fermentation capabilities at our Cargill Blair facility that will allow us to manufacture the game-changing sweetener, EverSweet," said Christy Venne, Cargill Blair facility manager. "Our Cargill Blair campus is truly a biotechnology oasis that attracts companies, like Evolva, who want to join other leading edge companies looking for a skilled workforce and other resources to grow their businesses quickly, safely and effectively.

Over the next three years, principally in 2018 and 2019, Evolva said it expects to invest an estimated $60 million in Blair.

Nebraska Farm Bureau President Believes Legislature Can Still Address Property Taxes

As the Nebraska Legislature heads toward the final days of the 2017 Legislative session, there’s still time for senators to take meaningful action to address property taxes, said Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson, May 3.

“While time is running short, we’re still optimistic our elected leaders can rally together and address property taxes this session. We supported several bills that could serve as the vehicles for delivering meaningful property tax reform and relief. We’ll continue to work with the Legislature to get something done on property taxes this session until the final curtain drops,” said Nelson.

Nelson’s remarks come on the heels of the Legislature failing to advance a tax reform bill weighted heavily towards income tax reductions in comparison to property taxes. LB 461 would have given only one dollar in property tax cuts for every $10 in income tax reductions.

“We didn’t support the version of LB 461 advanced by the Revenue Committee for many reasons. A driving factor being it offered very little in the way of property tax relief. However, we were optimistic the bill could be improved so property taxpayers would have received the lion’s share of the tax relief benefits. Unfortunately, a compromise never materialized as we had hoped,” said Nelson.

Despite recent events, Nelson believes the door is still wide open for the Legislature to act.

“There’s still a window of opportunity for the Legislature to refocus on fixing property taxes this session. There are good people in the Legislature who know their constituents want this issue addressed. We’re focused on working with members of the body to ensure a strong finish to the session that results in a win for all Nebraska property taxpayers,” said Nelson.

Research Seeks to Enhance Beef Value and Producer Return

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln under the direction of Dr. Chris Calkins and Dr. Felipe Ribeiro is conducting research to better understand the tenderness phenomenon and to evaluate the impact of dietary fat sources on beef color stability.

UNL research has shown that feeding distillers grains to cattle increases the concentrations of polyunsaturated fatty acids in meat. These types of fatty acids are readily oxidized. As a result, the oxidation of fats within the meat cause off-flavors and the development of metmyoglobin which gives meat a brown color and reduces beef shelf life. Despite these obstacles, when distillers grains are fed to cattle, there is often an improvement in overall beef tenderness.

“The ethanol industry appears to have matured in the removal of oils from distillers grains, reducing its energy content on a dry matter basis. There is an interest in adding the oil back to cattle diets when the economics support such a move. We need to know if adding corn oil is equivalent to feeding full-fat or de-oiled distillers grains,” said Calkins.

A deeper understanding of the effects of feeding distillers grains could help improve beef shelf-life and palatability, and ultimately change the way animals are fed.

“Our laboratory is focused on improving the value and quality of beef, which directly impacts what consumers will pay and how much producers earn,” said Dr. Calkins. “The ideal outcome of our work is a happy, satisfied consumer and a strong, robust economy for beef producers.”

This research is funded by the Nebraska Beef Council and the investments of beef producers through the beef checkoff.

Temple Grandin to Speak at Cattle Stewardship Conference in Spirit Lake

National cattle behavior specialist Temple Grandin will be the keynote speaker at the Cattle Stewardship Conference June 8 at the Dickinson County Fairgrounds, Spirit Lake. The conference also features beef cattle specialists from Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota.

beef steer"Grandin provides a unique view of stewardship," said Beth Doran conference organizer and beef specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. "Conference presenters will share best management techniques to enhance animal health, comfort and sustainability of beef operations."

Cattle Stewardship begins at 10 a.m. with a cattle handling demonstration conducted by Dean Fish. Fish is one of the national cattle handling experts recognized by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. In the afternoon, Grandin will present a practical approach to improving animal welfare. She is the nation’s leading expert on cattle comfort and behavior, having designed facilities for both packing plants and livestock producers.

"Consumers are asking about how the beef they eat is produced, and beef packers have developed management protocols for the feedlots that supply their cattle," Doran said. "The goal of the conference is to help cow-calf and feedlot producers fine-tune the best management practices they currently use."

Following Grandin’s presentation, six breakout topics will be offered through four sessions: techniques in managing pain, designing facilities for cattle comfort, low-stress weaning, best methods in cattle processing, managing heat stress in cattle, and successfully completing feedlot assessments.

The conference is cooperatively organized by the Iowa Beef Center, ISU Extension and Outreach, Iowa Beef Industry Council, Iowa Lakes Community College and Iowa Cattlemen’s Association with local support. Participants of the day-long program will fulfill the requirements to become Beef Quality Assurance certified.

Registration, which includes the noon meal, is $30 per person and due May 31 to ISU Extension and Outreach Dickinson County Office, 1600 15th St., Spirit Lake, IA 51360. The program brochure has the entire schedule, sponsor list and registration form....

For more information, contact Doran at 712-737-4230 or e-mail

Youth Beef Team Trainings to be held at 2017 BeefMeets

BeefMeets is an opportunity for not only cattle producers to learn and interact, but also an event for Iowa’s youth in the cattle industry. Youth are invited and encouraged to attend BeefMeets this year to participate in the Youth Beef Team training that will occur at each regional meeting. Registration and training is free!

The Iowa Cattlemen’s Foundation Youth Beef Team is open to all youth, ages 12 to 18, who are interested in promoting the beef industry. Vital issues face the beef industry today. Every student encounters information in school and from the media on food safety, animal rights, the environment and nutrition. Our goal is to equip young cattlemen and women with information they need to speak out positively for the beef industry, pointing out the advantages beef offers to our health, our environment and our economy.

After attending a training session, Youth Beef Team Members are equipped to conduct beef promotional activities in their own and surrounding communities. Activities can be done on an individual or group basis. After completing a promotional activity, the member fills out an activity report form and submits it to the Iowa Cattlemen’s Foundation’s via email or by mail to the Iowa Cattle Industry Headquarters. Each activity submitted accumulates points for a yearly award presented at the awards breakfast held at the Iowa State Fair.

Beef Team members have many opportunities to attend educational events, such as the Beef Bash, the Carcass Challenge event, YBT tours at the Capitol and World Food Prize and the Beef Scholarship Extravaganza. In addition to yearly awards, Beef Team members who are seniors are eligible to compete for a $1,000 scholarship. Seniors submit an application, participate in a personal interview and give a presentation to beef industry professionals. Three scholarships will be awarded. The Iowa Cattlemen’s Foundation sponsors the Beef Team scholarships.

NEW this year for BeefMeets, Youth Beef Team leaders have the opportunity to get new information and resources that will enable them to train new youth members as they come along. At this leader training session, a training manual and resources that leaders can use to train new YBT members will be available. This session will also offer an opportunity for leaders to network with each other and discuss the various activities they offer their groups. Lastly, we will discuss any ideas or suggestions to help make the program more successful. 

This year’s BeefMeets will include educational sessions, a full tradeshow, district breakout sessions and opportunities for networking for all attendees.

BeefMeets will start on June 13 in Dubuque, June 15 in Ottumwa, June 20 in Creston and June 22 in Le Mars. Registration is $25 for Iowa Cattlemen’s Association members but FREE to students. The day-long event begins with registration at 8:30 a.m. and will end with a “beef social” at 4:00 p.m.

Visit or call 515-296-2266 for more information and registration options.

Pork’s Six-Year Growth Is the Fastest in Foodservice

Pork has been the fastest-growing protein in foodservice since 2011, according to Technomic, Inc.’s 2017 Volumetric Assessment of Pork in Foodservice. Over the past six years, pork use has grown on a pound basis by more than double chicken, which is the next fastest growing protein. Pork use increased by 1.145 billion pounds, while chicken use grew by 515 million pounds.

On a percentage basis, pork grew three times the rate of turkey, which is the next fastest growing protein, at 3.6 percent versus 1.2 percent. During this same time period, pork represents 61 percent of all protein growth in the foodservice industry (1.145 billion pounds of a total growth of 1.867 billion pounds).

The pork category continues to increase in foodservice, with a growth rate of 0.8 percent from 2015 to 2017. Totaling 5.9 billion pounds, the growth reflects a volume increase of 114 million pounds over the 2013 to 2015 period.

Processed pork continues to be a strong performer in foodservice, making up the majority of total volume. The five largest categories driving pork category growth are bacon, processed ham, breakfast sausage, ribs and pepperoni. Collectively, the categories represent 66 percent of the total volume. The love of bacon shows no signs of slowing and represents the largest share of volume, at 20 percent, or 1.2 billion pounds, growing 4 percent since 2015.

“We are pleased to see continued growth of pork use in foodservice,” said National Pork Board President Jan Archer, Goldsboro, North Carolina. “The volumetric study shows that pork continues to be a strong performer in the foodservice industry, underscoring pork’s popularity specifically in value-added pork products such as ham, bacon and sausage.”

As consumers demand more interesting flavor profiles and global cuisine, there has been an increase in authentic fresh pork applications. Since 2015, carnitas showed a compound annual growth rate of 5 percent and porchetta had a 15 percent increase. Notable growth in fresh pork also was seen in belly, chops and ground pork.

“Fresh pork presents a huge opportunity in foodservice by offering a range of cuts and applications to deliver a variety of authentic and innovative dishes. Also, fresh pork’s value has never been better,” Archer said. “Fresh pork allows the foodservice industry to deliver what consumers want while turning strong profits.

”Over the past two years, limited-service and full-service restaurants represented the largest user groups of pork in foodservice, accounting for 67 percent of all pork volume. The growth in limited-service restaurants has been mainly driven by the all-day breakfast additions by major chains.

In categories where both uncooked and pre-cooked forms exist, pre-cooked pork has grown at a faster rate over the past two years, respectively growing at 4.7 percent and 0.9 percent. This growth can be attributed to packer/processor innovation and an ability to deliver quality pre-cooked products that address the labor challenges many operators face.

On an overall basis, the usage of pork is evenly split among the three main dayparts, with snacking representing a small share of volume, which is consistent with the 2013 and 2015 Volumetric Study findings. However, lunch has taken one share point away from dinner overall since 2015. This can be attributed to the extension of breakfast menu items to other dayparts, with lunch being the key beneficiary of all-day breakfast. In addition, slowing traffic in the dinner daypart, especially among Full Service Restaurants, is a factor.

“Pork continues to deliver on key criteria for both foodservice and consumers,” Archer said. “And menuing pork presents a unique opportunity for the different foodservice segments to grow their businesses and be profitable.”For more information on the 2017 Volumetric Assessment of Pork in Foodservice, or to find out how pork delivers across the menu, please contact the National Pork Board at (800) 456-7675 or at Valuable information also can be found at

Fertilizer Prices Again Near Standstill

As in recent weeks, retail fertilizer prices continue to be very quiet with no significant movement in either direction, according to retailers tracked by DTN for the fourth week of April 2017.

Of the eight major fertilizers, four are slightly higher in price compared to a month earlier. Those four are MAP, potash, anhydrous and UAN32.

MAP had an average price of $466/ton, potash $338/ton, anhydrous $509/ton and UAN32 $280/ton.

The remaining four fertilizers are slightly lower in price from last month, but, again, none of them a considerable amount. DAP had an average price of $437/ton, urea $352/ton, 10-34-0 $437/ton and UAN28 $247/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.38/lb.N, anhydrous $0.31/lb.N, UAN28 $0.44/lb.N and UAN32 $0.44/lb.N.

Retail fertilizers are lower compared to a year earlier. Half of the eight major fertilizers are still double-digits lower.

10-34-0 is 22% lower from a year ago, both anhydrous and UAN32 are 13% less expensive and UAN28 is 10% lower. Urea is 9% less expensive well both DAP and potash are both 8% lower and MAP is 7% less expensive compared to year earlier.

New AHCA Even Worse for Family Farmers and Rural Americans

As U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan attempts to secure votes in support of the American Health Care Act (AHCA), National Farmers Union (NFU) is reiterating its opposition to the bill. The legislation has worsened since being introduced in late March, now risking even less protection for family farmers and rural Americans, especially those with preexisting conditions.

“The most recent amendments to the AHCA only move the bill further away from NFU’s member-driven policy of affirming ‘the right of all Americans to have access to affordable, quality health care,’” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “We will judge any new bill on the basis of whether it is going to cover more people or fewer people. We don’t want to go backwards, and this legislation clearly moves us in the wrong direction.”

The modification to the bill is the MacArthur Amendment, which lessens protections for people with preexisting conditions. The amendment grants states the right to opt out of the law’s essential health benefits clause and to change the community rating provision, thus allowing insurers to charge higher premiums to those with preexisting conditions who let their coverage lapse.

“This would force a large number of farmers in many states into high-risk pools,” said Johnson. “Estimates show that the risk pools would be underfunded by as much as $200 billion. This would leave individuals with preexisting conditions to contend with increased premiums, higher deductibles and longer waiting periods for coverage.”

Johnson sent a letter to members of Congress today, highlighting this concern and reiterating NFU’s primary concerns with the original proposed legislation. In particular, NFU stands strongly against the bill’s inclusion of a cap on Medicaid, reforms to the healthcare marketplace, and the proposed system of basing premium subsidies on a person’s age, rather than their income.

“The expansion of Medicaid has proven beneficial to rural communities, where the rate of enrollment is higher than in urban America,” said Johnson. “The Health Insurance Marketplace under current law, while certainly in need of stabilizing measures, makes coverage more accessible for many farm families.”

Johnson pointed out that the correlation between a strong Medicaid program and the success of rural hospitals has become evident during the influx of rural hospital closures over the last six years.

“Seventy-eight rural hospitals have closed since 2010 with over 80% of those located in states that opted out of the Medicaid expansion,” noted Johnson. “With another 673 hospitals at risk of closure, the AHCA’s proposed Medicaid cap could have devastating consequences for rural communities.”

The AHCA’s proposed system of basing subsidies on age instead of income is particularly troublesome for small farms and younger farmers, noted Johnson.  In 2012, 75 percent of farms sold less than $50,000 in agricultural products and 57% had sales less than $10,000. “Young farm families that don’t receive additional income or health benefits from off-farm jobs would find it extremely difficult to purchase health insurance.”

“The proposed legislation would also hurt older farmers,” said Johnson. “Easing restrictions on what insurance companies can charge older customers will leave older farmers facing increased premiums of thousands of dollars.”

“While there is certainly room for improvement in current policy, the American Health Care Act will only hurt family farmers and rural communities across the country. NFU requests that you oppose the proposed legislation.”

ADM Reports First Quarter Earnings of $0.59 per Share, $0.60 per Share on an Adjusted Basis

Archer Daniels Midland Company (NYSE: ADM) today reported financial results for the quarter ended March 31, 2017.

“Our year-over-year results improved as a company and in all four of our business segments during the first quarter, and we continue to be on course for a stronger 2017,” said ADM Chairman and CEO Juan Luciano. “Ag Services was up for the quarter, with higher results in U.S. grain and transportation operations. The Corn business delivered a good quarter, with improved performances across their portfolio. Oilseeds earnings were up, including solid results in global softseeds and from our equity investment in Wilmar. WFSI results were higher, led by WILD Flavors.

“We are continuing to execute the long-term strategic plan that we launched in 2012, and we are seeing the results. We have strengthened our core, improving our cost positions and implementing measures to improve results where necessary. Our operational excellence initiatives have delivered significant savings and efficiencies. And we continue to grow strategically by expanding into new geographies and increasing our capabilities in food, beverage and feed. Those actions contributed to the improved results we saw in the first quarter despite muted margin environments in some businesses. The continued momentum in the execution of our plan gives us confidence that we will deliver sustainable value creation.”

Results of Operations

Ag Services delivered improved results over the year-ago quarter. In Merchandising and Handling, North America grain showed better results, with improving grain carries and good execution volumes amid strong global demand for U.S. commodities. International merchandising was down from the year-ago quarter due to lack of merchandising opportunities and some unfavorable mark-to-market effects.

Transportation had a significantly improved quarter, led by our North America barge and stevedoring operations, which capitalized on high volumes versus the prior-year quarter.

Milling and Other had a solid quarter, but with lower volumes and margins.

Corn Processing results were significantly better than the year-ago quarter. Sweeteners and starches delivered a strong performance on improved domestic demand and higher volumes and margins from the European business. Bioproducts was up over the previous year, with very strong exports and improved margins driving solid results in ethanol. Animal nutrition was up, with improved margins in lysine offset partially by overall lower sales volumes caused by a mild winter.

Oilseeds Processing results were up over the first quarter of 2016. Crushing and origination was comparable to the year-ago period: Softseeds results were significantly higher than the previous year, as we took advantage of our softseed processing footprint and flex capacity to capitalize on margin opportunities both in North America and Europe. A competitive global protein meal market continued to pressure soybean crush margins. South America crush and origination was down, as the pace of farmer selling has not kept pace with export demand.

Refining, packaging, biodiesel and other results declined. Solid EU food oils results were offset by timing effects; North American biodiesel volumes and margins were down, while South American packaged oils and biodiesel improved.

Perdue and Vaughn Announce Major EU Trade Breakthrough for U.S. Citrus Producers

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and Acting U.S. Trade Representative Stephen Vaughn today announced that the European Union (EU) has amended its requirements for imports of U.S. citrus.  Specifically, the EU has dropped its requirement that U.S. groves be surveyed for citrus canker, which eases entry of U.S. citrus into the EU market and saves growers millions of dollars in production costs.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) have worked continuously with EU officials over the last 10 years to ensure that the EU’s plant health requirements for citrus are based on scientifically-established risks.  The new EU directive requires countries where citrus canker has been detected to have a disease management program and to ensure that exported fruit have no symptoms.  The EU’s change means they are satisfied with APHIS’s disease management program.  As a result, grove surveys are no longer required, saving U.S. producers an estimated $5.6 million dollars per year.

“At USDA, everything we do is grounded in sound science, so it is good to see that the EU has seen that our disease management program protects our citrus products,” Secretary Perdue said.  “When we rely on science, it levels the playing field for everyone.  And when the playing field is level, American agriculture will win.”

“The EU maintains a number of unwarranted sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) barriers on U.S. agricultural exports, and we have long called on the EU to base its SPS measures on science,” said Acting USTR Stephen Vaughn.  “Today’s action removes a longstanding and unfair barrier and will help return U.S. citrus exports to the EU to the levels we had a decade ago.”

Florida producers grow 25,000 acres of grapefruit, of which 70 percent is intended for shipment to the EU market, according to industry estimates.  Industry estimates that citrus exports are expected to increase by 25 percent, or about $15 million, during the first year.

Implementation of the new directive is expected in time for Florida’s grapefruit export season in mid-November.

Tuesday May 2 Ag News

Lender Survey: U.S. Farm Profitability Down

Nearly 90 percent of agricultural lenders have seen an overall decline in farm profitability in the last 12 months, according to a joint survey by the American Bankers Association and the Federal Agricultural Mortgage Corporation. The survey of more than 350 agricultural lenders representing institutions of all sizes across the country revealed that when it comes to their producer customers, lenders are most concerned about commodity prices, liquidity and farm income.

Ninety-five percent of lenders indicated commodity prices - particularly grains, beef cattle and dairy - are a top concern. While concerns about commodity prices varied by region, overall, lenders are most concerned about grains (80 percent rated it a four or five on a scale of one to five) followed by beef cattle (63 percent), dairy (55 percent), swine (40 percent), poultry (21 percent), vegetables (20 percent), and fruits and nuts (17 percent).

The decline in commodity prices has led to a fall in farm income, and subsequent tightening in profitability. Still, ag lenders reported that the majority of their current agricultural borrowers (60 percent) were profitable in 2016 and expect 54 percent to remain profitable in 2017.

Lenders also expressed concerns about land values. Nearly half of the respondents (47 percent) indicated lower land values in 2016, and slightly more than half (56 percent) expect further declines in 2017. The lenders surveyed believe that nearly 44 percent of average quality land and 33 percent of cash rents are priced above fair market value in their area. Jackson Takach, Farmer Mac's in-house economist, theorized, "The difference between the two is likely a function of the short duration of rental contracts compared to the relatively infrequent sale of the underlying land - cash rents have simply had more opportunities to adjust in the last 3 years than have land values."

As a result of lower levels of cash, ag lenders expect greater demand for debt financing. More than 66 percent of respondents expect an increase in ag operating loan demand in the first half of 2017 while 33 percent of lenders expect demand for ag real estate loans to increase.

"These responses are consistent with agricultural credit downcycles - financing needs on the farm increase at the same time as profitability and short-term creditworthiness decreases. Fortunately, ag lenders are seasoned, most with long careers in agriculture, and they understand these cycles well," said Takach.

When asked about challenges facing their own institutions, lenders indicated that regulation, compliance and competition with non-banks are their top concerns. These topics edged out more market-based forces like loan demand and credit quality, highlighting the negative impression of increased regulatory scrutiny.

Nebraska Egg Value Down $181 Million from 2015

The value of egg production in Nebraska during 2016 was $99.8 million, down $181 million from $281 million in 2015, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Egg production in 2016 was estimated at 2.57 billion eggs, up 280 million from the previous year.

Average number of layers for 2016 at 8.84 million was up 1.15 million from 2015.

Kwik Trip to Add E15 to its Pumps

One of region's largest suppliers of gasoline announced plans to add E15 to most of its locations within the next few years. Kwik Trip said once all of the designated pumps are converted, the company will likely have the highest number of E15 locations in the United States.

The convenience store chain has over 500 retail outlets in Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota. Fuel Marketing Manager Joel Hirschboeck says the company will use its existing fueling infrastructure to offer E15, including at the more than 90 sites where it currently sells E85--which is an 85% ethanol/gasoline blend.

"We pride ourselves on offering consumers a first-class experience at our convenience stores," Hirschboeck said. "Part of the value we can provide consumers is through offering them an array of choices at the pump. Adding E15 was an important step for us."

Iowa Swine Day to Showcase Nationally Recognized Speakers

The sixth annual Iowa Swine Day will once again address current issues and opportunities facing pork producers with a line-up for topnotch speakers and topics. The event, scheduled for June 29 on the Iowa State University campus in Ames, is planned and hosted by Iowa State University College of Agriculture, the Iowa Pork Industry Center and the Iowa Pork Producers Association. Organizer John Patience, professor of animal science, said planners build upon the success of past programs by continuing to seek industry input from an industry committee. Patience has concluded from past years that the best approach to developing a program for the pork industry, is to seek input from producers representing a cross section of the industry.

"For example, the morning plenary session features Dr. Joe Schwarcz of McGill University who will discuss misconceptions about the use of science in agriculture," Patience said. "His presentations include a humorous twist, with the ultimate goal of bringing logic to the conversation about science in our day-to-day life. He's the only non-American to win the American Chemical Society's prestigious Grady-Stack Award for demystifying chemistry to the general public, so his talk will be entertaining as well as educational."

Also in the morning session, Mark Greenwood will talk about the future state of the U.S. pork industry. As senior vice president at AgStar Financial Services, he will discuss how the new packing capacity on the horizon will afford producers both opportunities and challenges going forward. Dr. Dharmu Thamodaran, Executive Vice-President of Smithfield Foods, and Bruce Vincent, Executive Director of Provider Pals will round out the morning session.

Following lunch, 12 presentations will be part of three concurrent sessions. Patience said the topics range from updates on PRRS, PEDv and Seneca Valley Virus to progress in the implementation of the new VFDs, and from challenges and emerging needs of production facilities to diet changes in response to new restrictions on feed antibiotics.

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

"This meal will be catered by Smokey D's, currently ranked sixth in the U.S. out of more than 4,000 competition barbecue teams," he said. "They are the only team to win all four BBQ major contests on the Kansas City Barbecue Society Circuit, accomplishing that feat in 2016."

Iowa Swine Day will be held in the Scheman Building on the Iowa State Center, with check-in and onsite registration beginning at 7:30 a.m. and the first session set for 9 a.m. Lunch and refreshments are included in the registration fee of $50 per person; this will increase after June 17 to $75. Similarly, students of all ages may register at no cost until June 17, with the registration increasing to $45 thereafter. The full schedule, sponsor list and registration information are available on the event website.

Iowa Soybean Association recommends timely confirmation of Branstad as U.S. ambassador to China

Statement courtesy of Iowa Soybean Association President Rolland Schnell who farms near Newton in Jasper County...

“Gov. Branstad’s insights and experiences shared in today’s hearing before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee underscores his unique qualifications for U.S. Ambassador to China. Iowa soybean farmers urge his timely confirmation so he can immediately go to work on behalf of Iowa, U.S. farmers and all who rely on this strategic trade partner.

“He is the right person at the right time to serve as ambassador. Decades of work and time spent in China have built a tightknit bond in state-to-province relationships between Gov. Branstad, Iowa and the country of nearly 1.4 billion people. He has known China President Xi Jinping for decades, hosted the Chinese leader for visits to Iowa and made many trips to China, including several as a participant in trade missions with the Iowa Soybean Association.

“Hundreds of thousands of Chinese – a number exceeding the U.S. population – will join the middle class during the next decade. That means more protein consumption, thus increased demand for meat and soy. Iowa and U.S. farmers stand ready to provide grains, oilseeds and other agricultural products in abundance to help meet this demand.

“Strong trade relations between the United States and China cannot be overstated. When President Xi visited Iowa in 2012, he noted that agricultural trade with Iowa and the United States is the foundation of strong bilateral relationships for both countries. Gov. Branstad will continue to be a tireless supporter of trade between the two countries and a friend to American agriculture. He has demonstrated true leadership for agriculture as the nation’s longest-serving governor and will continue to do so as U.S. Trade Ambassador to China. His timely confirmation is important and deserved."

Confirmation Hearing Held for Ambassador to China

Following the confirmation hearing today for Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad to be U.S. Ambassador to China, Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor released the following statement:

“Gov. Branstad has been an incredible ally and champion of the American ethanol industry, and having him as our Ambassador to China would be an important step forward in helping re-open the Chinese marketplace to American ethanol and distiller’s grains.

“We are eager for his confirmation and hope the Senate will confirm him quickly.”

ACE supports Branstad for US Ambassador to China

Brian Jennings, executive vice president of the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE), issued the following statement on Iowa Governor Terry Branstad’s hearing before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee today to consider his nomination to be the U.S. Ambassador to China:

 “We want to express to the Foreign Relations Committee our strong support of the nomination of Terry Branstad. Giving his longstanding relationship with the President of China and the Chinese people, we’re confident that as Ambassador of China, Governor Branstad will emphasize the need for the two countries to have a strong trade relationship. China has been a top export destination for U.S. ethanol and distillers dried grains, and we look forward to what Branstad can accomplish with China and its people to further develop this marketplace. Export demand for ethanol is critically important to our industry, especially as we try to remove barriers constraining ethanol use here at home.” 

USDA Grain Crushings and Co-Products Production

Total corn consumed for alcohol and other uses was 515 million bushels in March 2017. Total corn consumption was up 9 percent from February 2017 and up 5 percent from March 2016. March 2017 usage included 91.3 percent for alcohol and 8.7 percent for other purposes. Corn consumed for beverage alcohol totaled 2.66 million bushels, down 14 percent from February 2017 and down 2 percent from March 2016. Corn for fuel alcohol, at 460 million bushels, was up 9 percent from February 2017 and up 5 percent from March 2016. Corn consumed in March 2017 for dry milling fuel production and wet milling fuel production was 89.9 percent and 10.1 percent respectively.

Dry mill co-product production of distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) was 2.00 million tons during March 2017, up 5 percent from February 2017 and up 4 percent from March 2016. Distillers wet grains (DWG) 65 percent or more moisture was 1.39 million tons in March 2017, up 14 percent from February 2017 and up 5 percent from March 2016.

Wet mill corn gluten feed production was 355 thousand tons during March 2017, up 32 percent from February 2017 and up 4 percent from March 2016. Wet corn gluten feed 40 to 60 percent moisture was 308 thousand tons in March 2017, up 5 percent from February 2017 and up 6 percent from March 2016.

Dairy Industry Applauds USDA Secretary Perdue for Supporting School Milk Options

Dairy leaders thanked newly confirmed Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue for recognizing the important role school milk plays in ensuring school-aged children get the nutrition they need.

In one of his first actions as Secretary of Agriculture, Perdue visited Catoctin Elementary School in Leesburg, Va., to announce that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will implement regulations to allow school districts to again offer low-fat (1%) flavored milk as part of the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs. Under the Obama Administration, USDA eliminated low-fat flavored milk as an option in the school meal and a la carte programs. Since then, consumption of school milk declined, as did overall participation in the school lunch program.

“In just the first two years after low-fat flavored milk was removed from the program, 1.1 million fewer school students drank milk with their lunch,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation. “Secretary Perdue’s action today recognizes that a variety of milks and other healthy dairy foods are integral to child nutrition programs in schools.”

“Today Secretary Perdue took an important step toward bringing back lunchroom favorites – low-fat chocolate and strawberry milk – that students have been missing,” said J. David Carlin, senior vice president of legislative affairs and economic policy for the International Dairy Foods Association. “When kids don’t drink milk, it’s extremely difficult for them to get the proper amounts of calcium, potassium, Vitamin D and other nutrients that dairy foods supply.”

Perdue was joined in Virginia by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS). Throughout the visit, Perdue outlined principles to provide schools greater flexibility while maintaining the nutritional standards of the program.

“We would also like to thank Sen. Roberts for his efforts to bring more milk options and flexibility to the School Lunch and School Breakfast programs,” said Carlin.  In the House, Reps. GT Thompson (R-PA) and Joe Courtney (D-CT) were also strong supporters of enhancing the milk options available to school kids.

USDA will publish an interim rule to cover the regulatory changes needed to allow low-fat flavored milk in schools.  It is unclear when the change will be implemented.

Monsanto Scraps Plans to sell Precision Planting to Deere

Monsanto Co. has terminated an agreement to sell its Precision Planting LLC farm equipment business to machinery maker Deere & Co, the companies said on Monday, ending a legal fight with antitrust authorities over the deal.

The U.S. Department of Justice last August filed a lawsuit to block the sale, arguing the deal could make it more expensive for farmers to use fast, precise planting technology. The planned sale was originally announced in late 2015. Financial terms were not disclosed, reports Reuters.

Monsanto, the world's largest seed company, and Deere, the biggest U.S. farm equipment manufacturer, had been preparing to argue the case later this year.

"We just didn't see that there was a clear path going forward, that the DOJ was going to approve the transaction. We have a valuable business and people in limbo and it was just time to move on," Michael Stern, CEO of Climate Corporation, the Monsanto subsidiary that runs the Precision Planting business, said in an interview.

A digital collaboration agreement between Deere and Climate and a distribution deal with farm data management company Ag Leader will also be terminated, Deere said in a release.

The Department of Justice hailed the deal's termination as a victory for American farmers and consumers.

Precision Laboratories Partners with Monsanto to offer Intact™ Drift Reduction Agent in Roundup Ready PLUS® Crop Management Solutions

Precision Laboratories announces a partnership with Monsanto to include an adjuvant in Roundup Ready PLUS® Crop Management Solutions. Intact™ drift reduction agent is available for the 2017 crop season and can provide growers and applicators additional confidence with on-target application.

"This partnership is a benefit to growers who want to take the next step toward the most effective use of new technologies available to them," said Rick Wohlner, President of Precision Laboratories. "Monsanto's proven unique competencies in plant development and commitment to grower success align well with Precisions' dedication to exceptional adjuvant technology and agricultural stewardship."

The Roundup Ready PLUS® incentive offer will increase access to Intact for soybean and cotton growers. In addition, growers participating in Roundup Ready PLUS® Crop Management Solutions are eligible to receive an additional $0.50 per acre cash back incentive when they use Intact.

"We want to offer growers a broad selection of products through the Roundup Ready PLUS® platform," said Julio Negreli, North America Crop Protection Business Lead at Monsanto. "The addition of Intact provides growers and applicators additional options to develop and maintain a sustainable weed management program."

Intact is an optimized formulation of proven plant-based polymer technology that enhances drift control for a wide range of crop protection products. This technology helps ensure more droplets are retained on the target leaf surface for improved coverage, uptake potential and herbicide performance. When used with proper nozzles and spray conditions, wind-tunnel studies indicate Intact further reduces driftable fines that may be produced during application(s).

When used with XtendiMax™ herbicide with VaporGrip™ Technology, Intact can provide the following additional advantages:
-   Complements selected drift-reduction nozzles to help further reduce driftable spray fines during application(s).
-   Helps protect spray droplets from premature evaporation during flight from the nozzle tip to targeted weed's leaf surface.
-   Helps ensure the recommended ultra-coarse sized droplets, which minimize spray drift, are retained on target weeds.

Precision Laboratories is committed to advancing education and stewardship in agriculture through such programs as Roundup Ready PLUS® and Total Spray Droplet Management™. Please visit for more information.

Willowood USA Adds Two New Products to its Lineup

Soybean growers have a new herbicide option, and specialty crop growers have a new spider mite protection option, both at a lower price point than leading brands.

Willowood Sulfentrazone MTZ herbicide for soybeans contains sulfentrazone, the same active ingredient as Authority® MTZ. And Willowood Bifenazate 50WDG contains bifenazate, the same active ingredient in Acramite®. Both post-patent formulations from Willowood USA have been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency and soon will be available from distributors and local ag retailers. State registrations are pending.

Willowood Sulfentrazone MTZ provides broad-spectrum control of tough winter weeds including glyphosate- and ALS-resistant weeds. Applied in the fall, Willowood Sulfentrazone MTZ offers residual control that lasts through the spring to tackle weed seeds before they germinate. It can also be applied early pre-plant and preemergence.

Specialty crop growers gain a low-cost alternative with Willowood Bifenazate 50WDG, a versatile miticide that attacks spider mites at all stages, from egg to adult. It provides fast knockdown on more than 15 species of spider mites, yet is easy on predator mites and beneficial insects. It is labeled for a variety of fruits, vegetables, tree nuts and other specialty crops.

Contact your distributor or local ag retailer for more information, or visit Always read and follow label directions.

Modes of Action, Multiyear Plans Limit Weed Issues

Controlling weeds is becoming increasingly difficult. Success requires a multipronged strategy that keeps weeds at bay during the growing season and limits their ability to pressure fields in coming years.

To accomplish this, growers must make timely herbicide applications:
-    A burndown or tillage to start with a clean field.
-    A preemergence application of effective residual herbicides.
-    Timely postemergence applications featuring multiple herbicide modes of action.

Using multiple modes of action is vital to control current weed pressure while limiting the development of herbicide resistance that can cause heavier pressure in future years.

Weather muddies the waters

This spring, although temperatures were plenty warm over much of the Corn Belt, many growers had to pull in the reins because of wet fields. When possible, take time for an effective burndown.

“When it’s wet, some growers may consider skipping the burndown,” says David Hillger, Ph.D., Enlist field specialist for Dow AgroSciences. “A rainy spring can make it difficult to clean up fields before planting. Still, it’s usually best to delay planting and take time for a burndown. Soybeans in particular are somewhat forgiving of planting date.”

The value of residuals

Residual herbicides go a long way in helping the crop establish a good stand. Growers in the northern Corn Belt are finding preemergence residuals help keep tough weeds under control, reports Steve Snyder, an Enlist field specialist who covers Wisconsin, Minnesota and the Dakotas.

“Waterhemp and glyphosate-resistant giant ragweeds are two of our most challenging weeds,” Snyder reports. “Growers are using preemergence products such as Sonic herbicide to control these weeds in soybeans before applying postemergence herbicides.”

Snyder notes a good preemergence herbicide program delays weed emergence and expands the window for effective postemergence application.

Timing postemergence treatments

No matter how good a herbicide is, it’ll work better if it’s applied before weeds get too big.

“Weeds are more of a challenge when they get above 6 or 8 inches tall,” Hillger says. “Ideally, we want to treat them at 3 or 4 inches, especially marestail and Palmer amaranth, which are two of our biggest concerns in the Corn Belt.”

Weed resistance is forcing farmers to learn to be more flexible.

“We have to be willing to rotate modes of action to maintain the efficacy of our herbicide tools,” Hillger says. “We’ll need a multiyear approach on herbicides. We understand the value of rotating crops; we need to realize the value of rotating modes of action.”

Read the label

Snyder points out that this requires farmers to follow herbicide labels. “We may have two products with different brand names, one that we use on corn one year and the other that we use on soybeans the next. But if they offer the same mode of action, we’re taking a chance on weeds developing resistance to that mode of action.”

Hillger and Snyder note the Enlist™ weed control system is designed to support a weed management plan that features multiple modes of action. Enlist crops are tolerant to three postemergence herbicide modes of action. Farmers can treat Enlist soybeans with Enlist Duo® herbicide, a combination of new 2,4-D choline and glyphosate, as well as glufosinate. They can treat Enlist corn with Enlist Duo and the FOP family of grass herbicides.

“The Enlist weed control system offers flexibility,” Hillger says. “It provides growers an ideal way to control weeds this year and down the road.”

May 1 Crop Progress & Condition Report - NE - IA - US


For the week ending April 30, 2017, temperatures averaged eight to ten degrees below normal, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Significant rainfall of an inch or more was recorded across a majority of counties. Moderate snow, averaging two to four inches, was recorded in southcentral and northeastern counties at the end of the week. There were 3.3 days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 3 percent very short, 10 short, 71 adequate, and 16 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 5 percent very short, 15 short, 75 adequate, and 5 surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Corn planted was 34 percent, ahead of 25 last year, and near 30 for the five-year average. Emerged was 3 percent, near 6 last year and 4 average.

Soybeans planted was 8 percent, ahead of 2 last year, and near 5 average.

Winter wheat condition rated 2 percent very poor, 12 poor, 36 fair, 46 good, and 4 excellent. Winter wheat jointed was 55 percent, behind 69 last year, but ahead of 39 average.

Oats planted was 90 percent, near 86 last year and 89 average. Emerged was 56 percent, behind 68 last year and 62 average.

Livestock Report:

Cattle and calf conditions rated 0 percent very poor, 1 poor, 9 fair, 76 good, and 14 excellent. Calving progress was 92 percent complete. Cattle and calf death loss rated 0 percent heavy, 63 average, and 37 light.

Sheep and lamb conditions rated 0 percent very poor, 2 poor, 20 fair, 69 good, and 9 excellent. Sheep and lamb death loss rated 1 percent heavy, 70 average, and 29 light.

Hay and roughage supplies rated 1 percent very short, 4 short, 91 adequate, and 4 surplus.

Stock water supplies rated 0 percent very short, 3 short, 96 adequate, and 1 surplus.

Access the National publication for Crop Progress and Condition tables at:

Access the High Plains Region Climate Center for Temperature and Precipitation Maps at:

Access the U.S. Drought Monitor at:


Rain, snow, and below normal temperatures prevented planting across most of Iowa late in the week ending April 30, 2017, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Statewide there were only 3.0 days suitable for fieldwork. Temperatures dropped into the 20’s in parts of Iowa. Many producers are waiting for warmer weather before planting corn and soybeans. For corn already planted, some concerns about crop emergence were reported.

Topsoil moisture levels rated 0 percent very short, 0 percent short, 63 percent adequate, and 37 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated 0 percent very short, 1 percent short, 71 percent adequate, and 28 percent surplus. East central and south central Iowa have the highest subsoil moisture levels with 40 percent or more rated surplus.

Statewide, 28 percent of expected corn acreage has been planted. This is over a week behind last year, but only 2 days behind the 5-year average. Southeastern Iowa farmers have planted over half their corn acreage while farmers in the northern third of Iowa have planted less than one-fifth of their corn acreage.

Two percent of the soybean acreage has been planted, 2 days behind average.

Eighty-two percent of the State’s oat crop has been planted, moving 1 day ahead of the average for the first time this year. Oats emerged reached 45 percent, 1 day behind average.

Pasture condition rated 2 percent very poor, 2 percent poor, 20 percent fair, 61 percent good, and 15 percent excellent. Pastures are green, but growth slowed with recent cool temperatures. There were no reported livestock issues for cows and calves in pastures, but mud issues were reported with outside feedlots.


The results of this weekend's rain and storm deluges aren't yet factored into USDA's weekly Crop Progress and Conditions report, as winter wheat condition ratings remained unchanged from last week at 54% good to excellent for the week ended April 30.  Winter wheat heading is at 42%, ahead of last year at 40% and the five-year average of 34%.

Corn is 34% planted, equal to the five-year average and behind last year's blistering pace of 43%. Rain has kept many fields too wet to plant. Emergence is at 9%, one percentage point ahead of the five-year average, but three percentage points behind last year's 12%.

Soybeans are 10% planted, compared to 7% on average and 7% last year. 

Spring wheat is 31% planted and 9% emerged, compared to 52% and 20% last year, and 46% and 17% on average. 

Cotton is 14% planted, compared to 15% last year and a 17% average. Rice is 73% planted and 58% emerged, compared to 71% and 53% last year and 58% and 41% on average.  Sorghum is 27% planted, compared to 23% last year and a 26% average. Barley is 32% planted and 14% emerged, compared to 55% and 27% last year and 53% and 21% on average. Oats are 67% planted and 45% emerged, compared to 77% and 54% last year and 70% and 50% on average.

Monday May 1 Ag News

Monsanto Announces 'Farm Mom of the Year' Finalists

Monsanto and the American Agri-Women named five regional winners of the America's Farmers Mom of the Year program. These regional winners represent the important and continually evolving role that women play in American farms, families, rural communities and the agriculture industry.

America has the opportunity to vote for this year's National Mom of the Year by visiting through May 10.

The regional winners were nominated by those close to them who see their commitment to their families, communities and farms each and every day. To honor these efforts, each of the five regional winners will receive $2,000 to direct to an eligible nonprofit organization of her choice in her community, as well as $3,000 for her personal use.

This year's finalists include:
•Northwest: Nancy Kirkholm, Homer, Neb.
•Midwest: Shari Sell-Bakker, Dike, Iowa

•Southwest: Becca Ferry, Brigham City, Utah
•Northeast: Susan Brocksmith, Vincennes, Ind.
•Southeast: Cala Tabb, Eupora, Miss.

"Every year, I look forward to reading through the entries, and am astounded by the incredible women that are nominated," said Tracy Mueller, Monsanto's Marketing Communications Manager. "This year was no exception. The five regional winners' strength and determination is seen throughout all aspects of their lives, and we are honored to recognize them for their contributions."

Since the program began in 2010, the America's Farmers Mom of the Year program has recognized 40 exceptional individuals. In 2017, the program is focusing even more on the communities in which these women live and work by providing financial support to eligible nonprofit organizations these farm moms are passionate about.

Green Plains Reports First Quarter 2017 Financial Results

Green Plains Inc. (NASDAQ:GPRE) today announced financial results for the first quarter of 2017. Net loss attributable to the company was $3.6 million, or $(0.09) per diluted share, for the first quarter of 2017 compared with net loss of $24.1 million, or $(0.63) per diluted share, for the same period in 2016. Revenues were $887.7 million for the first quarter of 2017 compared with $749.2 million for the same period last year.

"We reported a nearly $50 million improvement in EBITDA year over year despite a seasonally soft first quarter," said Todd Becker, president and chief executive officer. "We had solid earnings contributions from our non-ethanol businesses during the quarter, with both Green Plains Cattle and Fleischmann's Vinegar reporting record quarters. We continue to diversify our revenue and income streams with a more balanced portfolio of businesses to minimize the impact of a soft ethanol quarter."

During the first quarter, Green Plains produced 326.4 million gallons of ethanol compared with 247.0 million gallons for the same period in 2016. The consolidated ethanol crush margin was $37.7 million, or $0.12 per gallon, for the first quarter of 2017 compared with $4.1 million, or $0.02 per gallon, for the same period in 2016. The consolidated ethanol crush margin is the ethanol production segment's operating income before depreciation and amortization, which includes corn oil production, plus intercompany storage, transportation and other fees, net of related expenses.

"U.S. ethanol exports have started 2017 stronger than any year on record and we have continued to focus on international markets, exporting approximately 20% of our production in the first quarter," Becker added. "Global demand for each of the products we produce, whether ethanol, corn oil or distillers grains, is strong and we are well positioned to benefit from these opportunities."

"We believe that 2017 could develop into a favorable year for ethanol margins as the forward curve is stronger going into the summer driving season compared with 2016. Our focus is to drive free cash flow in the current environment and further strengthen our balance sheet in 2017."

Results of Operations

Consolidated revenues increased $138.5 million for the three months ended March 31, 2017, compared with the same period in 2016. Revenues were impacted by an increase in ethanol, corn oil and cattle volumes sold, plus the addition of Fleischmann's Vinegar during the fourth quarter of 2016. This was partially offset by a decrease in grain trading activity volumes and lower average realized prices for grain and cattle.

Operating income increased $40.0 million for the three months ended March 31, 2017, compared with the same period last year primarily due to increased margins on ethanol and cattle production. Interest expense increased $7.7 million for the three months ended March 31, 2017, compared with the same period in 2016, primarily due to higher average debt outstanding and borrowing costs. Income tax benefit was $2.4 million for the three months ended March 31, 2017, compared with $14.9 million for the same period in 2016.

Earnings before interest, income taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) for the first quarter of 2017 was $43.8 million compared with $(5.8) million for the same period last year.

Nebraska Farmers Union Submits Comments to Federal Trade Commission Opposing China National Chemical Corporation’s proposed purchase of Syngenta AG

Nebraska Farmers Union submitted written comments to the Federal Trade Commission opposing China National Chemical Corporation’s (ChemChina) proposed purchase of Syngenta AG for four basic reasons:

1.      Based on decades of market consolidation and concentration issues, NeFU knows this merger will mean fewer choices in the ag supply marketplace for farmers to choose from, and higher prices for products purchased.  More mergers mean more market failures and more misery for farmers in the days to come. 

2.      Nebraska Farmers Union also strongly opposes the ChemChina proposed purchase of Syngenta AG because it makes an already non-competitive ag supply marketplace that is currently in the process of imploding even less competitive, more concentrated, and more expensive for the families that produce crops.

3.      If ChemChina’s proposed $43 billion purchase of Syngenta is approved, one more major state owned company will use their unfair economic, legal, and regulatory advantages to distort and control traditional marketplace competition between companies.  Conventional companies cannot compete against state owned companies over time.  Our regulatory system must adjust to properly regulate the far reaching threat state owned companies bring to our marketplace. 

4.      When our government allows foreign governments to buy private companies of this magnitude and importance, we believe it does so at the expense of our own national security interests.  NeFU strongly feels it was a monumental mistake for the European Union and United States to grant antitrust approval for ChemChina’s proposed acquisition of Syngenta AG.  While our organization is alarmed at the emergence of state owned companies and the failure of regulatory bodies to fully comprehend the far reaching implications of their impacts on traditional markets, an equally disturbing prospect is the use of state owned companies by countries to achieve foreign policy objectives.

“It is not in the interest of American farmers or our nation as a whole to allow China’s $43 billion purchase of Syngenta.  This is the largest Chinese purchase of any foreign firm in history, giving them control of the world’s largest manufacturer and distributor of agrichemicals and pesticides,” said Nebraska Farmers Union President John Hansen.  “History teaches us that the Chinese government uses its economic leverage from deals like this to accomplish their government objectives.”

Simpler to Ask Plant and Insect Diagnostic Clinic to Identify Pests and Problems

It is now simpler for Iowans to submit insects and plants for identification and diseases for diagnosis. In an effort to streamline processes, the Iowa State University Plant and Insect Diagnostic Clinic has updated and simplified submission forms for receiving requests for diagnosis for plant problems and insect, plant or mushroom identification.

The “Plant Nematode Sample Submission Form” (PIDC 0032) and “Sample Submission Form” (PIDC 0045) are now available through the ISU Extension Store and through the Clinic website ( These two forms replace six forms that were previously available for submitting samples.

“These are the forms that must accompany any samples sent to the clinic,” said Laura Iles, director and extension entomologist with the Plant and Insect Diagnostic Clinic. “They provide the information we need to diagnose the samples sent in by our clients and we wanted to make sure they were as user-friendly as possible.”

Clients who are submitting samples to the clinic will also find a change in billing policy. Money no longer needs to be submitted with the sample; clients will be billed at the time of diagnosis.

The Plant and Insect Diagnostic Clinic provides diagnosis of plant problems and the identification of insects and weeds from the field, garden and home. In operation for over 50 years, the clinic helps Iowans diagnose and identify about 1,500 samples each year.

“We are the first step people should take before attempting to manage any plant or insect problem,” Iles said. “A proper initial diagnosis will insure that the management practices employed will work. We try to emphasize that rather than guessing what the problem might be and applying a pesticide, you should send us a sample so we can properly diagnose the problem. We can then provide you with the best management information for your specific plant or insect problem. Applying unnecessary pesticides will not solve your problem and leads to negative environmental and human health impacts.” 


Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today shared key agriculture provisions passed by the Iowa legislature during the 2017 legislative session.  This includes additional funding to support water quality and soil conservation efforts, funding for additional foreign animal disease response planning, continued funding for the Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Program.

“I was encouraged by the strong support for a number of key ag issues this past legislative session, including conservation efforts, animal disease response planning and renewable fuels.  I clearly understand the difficult budget situation they faced and I greatly appreciate their efforts to provide funding for these important priorities,” Northey said.

The Legislature approved $10.575 million to support the Iowa Water Quality Initiative in the next fiscal year, which starts July 1.  This is a $975,000 increase in funding from the current fiscal year.  The legislation now goes to Governor Branstad and must be signed before going into effect.

This included $3 million for water quality from the general fund (SF 510), $2.375 from the Environment First Fund (SF 510) and $5.2 million from the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund (RIIF budget, HF 643).

The funds will allow the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship to continue to offer cost share statewide to farmers trying new water quality practices, continue work in targeted watersheds to achieve measurable water quality improvements, expand urban conservation efforts, and develop new programs to help engage all Iowans in improving water quality.

The Department received $8.325 million for soil conservation cost share.  Of that amount, $450,000 is directed to the hungry canyon’s account, and $40,000 to the loess hill’s alliance account.  The remaining $7.835 million for the Department’s cost share program is an increase from the $6.75 million the Department received for cost share this year.  In 2016, the state’s investment in this program generated $8.676 million in matching funds from Iowa farmers and land owners for soil conservation practices.

The Iowa legislature also provided $1.875 million to support the closure of Agriculture Drainage Wells (ADWs).  Of the 300 registered ADWs in Iowa, 18 remain to be closed at an estimated cost of $7.5 million.  This level of funding over each of the next four years would allow all of the remaining ADWs to be closed.

“Legislators made significant investments in conservation and water quality efforts again this session despite the challenging budget situation. I am extremely encouraged the annual funding for water quality continues to grow and remain committed to working with legislators to finalize an ongoing water quality funding stream,” Northey said.

The legislature also provided $100,000 to aid in preparing for a foreign animal disease outbreak, such as Foot and Mouth Disease or Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI).  The funds will increase the capacity of the animal industry bureau and provide resources to better equip and prepare for a future animal disease response.

The Department also received $3 million through the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund to continue the Iowa Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Program.  This program offers cost-share grants for the installation of E85 dispensers, blender pumps, biodiesel dispensers, and biodiesel storage facilities.  Since 2007, the Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Program has provided more than $33 million to fuel retailers for infrastructure that give customers additional access to renewable fuels.  This includes 309 projects installing E85 or ethanol blender pumps and 413 projects installing biodiesel pumps or storage tanks.

Legislation changing some annual licenses from the Department to two-year licenses to increase efficiency was proposed by the Department and passed.  Licenses that were part of the legislation include commercial feed, egg handlers, and poultry dealers.  The legislation is still awaiting the Governor’s signature.

Finally, the list of noxious weeds that is included in Iowa weed law and Iowa seed law was updated to include Palmer Amaranth in response to the recent discovery of the weed in Iowa.  The Department is also planning to hold stakeholder meetings later this year to discuss possible updates to the noxious weed law that may provide additional tools as farmers and communities respond to noxious weeds.

NFU Calls on FTC to Oppose ChemChina Acquisition of Syngenta

Continuing a long tradition of advocating for competitive marketplaces for family farmers and ranchers, National Farmers Union (NFU) today urged the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to oppose the proposed China National Chemical Corp’s (ChemChina) acquisition of Syngenta AG.

In public comments to FTC Secretary Donald S. Clark, NFU President Roger Johnson asserted that the deal further consolidates the highly globalized agricultural inputs sector. This decreases competition amongst the few companies that dominate the marketplace, limiting choice and raising prices for family farmers.

“ChemChina’s proposed takeover of Syngenta would disrupt trade flows and accelerate the international consolidation of food and agribusiness industries,” said Johnson. “We urge you to stand up for family farmers and ranchers and oppose the merger.”

Johnson noted that the ChemChina-Syngenta merger occurs against a complex industry backdrop, marked by highly concentrated agricultural biotechnology and seed markets. The global agricultural input marketplace is in the midst of a third wave of consolidation, as the Syngenta acquisition occurs alongside the proposed Monsanto acquisition by Bayer and a merger between Dow and DuPont.

“For 30 years, major agribusiness companies have been acquiring small companies, consolidating the marketplace and increasing their market share,” said Johnson. “Because these companies hold so much market power, family farmers have had less choice, less competition, and higher prices for their inputs.”

Johnson also noted that because ChemChina is owned by the Chinese government, the post-merged ChemChina-Syngenta would have a significant edge over its rivals in accessing the Chinese market. China’s seed market is the second largest in the world, and the largest international seed companies only capture 20 percent of the Chinese market.

“The Chinese government provides a host of benefits to its domestic enterprises that make them more competitive than international firms that operate without state subsidies,” said Johnson. “These firms receive below-market interest rate loans from state-owned banks and often the debt from these loans is forgiven or significantly written down. China’s policy to ensure food self-sufficiency provides an unfair subsidy for domestic food processing, meatpacking and agricultural production.”

Johnson pointed to the Chinese meat processing company Shuanghui (now known as WH Group) purchase of Smithfield Foods in 2013. Just two years later, Smithfield’s exports to China rose 50 percent and accounted for 97 percent of all U.S. pork exports to China.

“The ChemChina-Syngenta merger creates trade barriers and uncertainty in international markets. And alarmingly for American farmers, it further consolidates the international agricultural inputs sector. The FTC should reject ChemChina’s proposed purchase of Syngenta,” Johnson concluded.

USDA Fats and Oils: Oilseed Crushings, Production, Consumption and Stocks

Soybeans crushed for crude oil was 4.80 million tons (160 million bushels) in March 2017, compared to 4.53 million tons (151 million bushels) in February 2017 and 4.99 million tons (166 million bushels) in March 2016. Crude oil produced was 1.86 billion pounds up 6 percent from February 2017 but down 4 percent from March 2016. Soybean once refined oil production at 1.40 billion pounds during March 2017 increased 10 percent from February 2017 but decreased slightly from March 2016.

Canola seeds crushed for crude oil was 185 thousand tons in March 2017, compared to 167 thousand tons in February 2017 and 150 thousand tons in March 2016. Canola crude oil produced was 156 million pounds up 12 percent from February 2017 and up 27 percent from March 2016. Canola once refined oil production at 123 million pounds during March 2017 was up 5 percent from February 2017 and up slightly from March 2016. Cottonseed once refined oil production at 49.2 million pounds during March 2017 was up 11 percent from February 2017 but down 7 percent from March 2016.

Edible tallow production was 79.3 million pounds during March 2017, up 10 percent from February 2017 and up 27 percent from March 2016. Inedible tallow production was 322 million pounds during March 2017, down 4 percent from February 2017 but up 12 percent from March 2016. Technical tallow production was 83 million pounds during March 2017, down 28 percent from February 2017 and down 11 percent from March 2016. Choice white grease production at 110 million pounds during March 2017 decreased 9 percent from February 2017 and decreased 2 percent from March 2016.

USDA Flour Milling Products

All wheat ground for flour during the first quarter 2017 was 224 million bushels, down 4 percent from the fourth quarter 2016 grind of 233 million bushels and down slightly from the first quarter 2016 grind of 224 million bushels. First quarter 2017 total flour production was 105 million hundredweight, down 3 percent from the fourth quarter 2016 but up 1 percent from the first quarter 2016. Whole wheat flour production at 5.81 million hundredweight during the first quarter 2017 accounted for 6 percent of the total flour production. Millfeed production from wheat in the first quarter 2017 was 1.59 million tons. The daily 24-hour milling capacity of wheat flour during the first quarter 2017 was 1.62 million hundredweight.

Durum wheat ground for flour and semolina production during the first quarter of 2017 totaled 17.0 million bushels, down 7 percent from the fourth quarter 2016 but up 2 percent from the first quarter 2016. First quarter 2017 durum flour and semolina production was 8.08 million hundredweight, down 6 percent from the fourth quarter 2016 but up 5 percent from the first quarter 2016. Whole wheat durum flour and semolina production was 169 thousand hundredweight, down 8 percent from 184 thousand hundredweight in the fourth quarter 2016 and down 19 percent from 209 thousand hundredweight from the first quarter 2016. First quarter durum wheat millfeed production was 120 thousand tons and the daily 24-hour milling capacity for durum and semolina production was 127 thousand hundredweight.

Rye ground for flour during the first quarter of 2017 was 458 thousand bushels, down 8 percent from the fourth quarter 2016 and down 16 percent from the first quarter 2016. Rye flour production during the first quarter of 2017 was 222 thousand hundredweight, compared to 238 thousand hundredweight in the previous quarter and 267 thousand hundredweight in the same quarter for the previous year. The daily 24-hour milling capacity for rye milling was 9.39 thousand hundredweight for the first quarter 2017.

USDA Announces Commodity Credit Corporation Lending Rates for May 2017

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Commodity Credit Corporation today announced interest rates for May 2017. The Commodity Credit Corporation borrowing rate-based charge for May is 1.000 percent, unchanged from 1.000 percent in April.

The interest rate for crop year commodity loans less than one year disbursed during May is 2.000 percent, unchanged from 2.000 percent in April.

Interest rates for Farm Storage Facility Loans approved for May are as follows, 1.500 percent with three-year loan terms, down from 1.625 percent in April; 1.875 percent with five-year loan terms, down from 2.000 percent in April; 2.125 percent with seven-year loan terms, down from 2.250 percent in April; 2.375 percent with 10-year loan terms, down from 2.500 percent in April and; 2.375 percent with 12-year loan terms, down from 2.500 percent in April.

Farm Bureau Marks National Small Business Week with Opening of $145K Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge

The American Farm Bureau Federation is opening online applications for its fourth Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge today, to coincide with National Small Business Week (April 30 – May 6). Entrepreneurs will compete for $145,000 in startup funds.

The competition provides an opportunity for individuals to showcase ideas and business innovations that benefit rural regions of the United States. It is the first national rural business competition focused exclusively on innovative entrepreneurs working on food and agriculture businesses.

Competitors are invited to submit for-profit business ideas related to food and agriculture online starting May 1 at

Businesses related to food and agriculture include farms or ranches, value-added food processing, food hubs, community-supported agriculture programs, farm-to-table restaurants, farmers’ markets and craft beverage startups. Businesses can also support food and agriculture such as crop scouting, agritourism, ag advertising agencies and ag technology companies.

“Rural entrepreneurs typically face hurdles that make it challenging to develop successful businesses, including lack of capital, business networks and business training,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “Through the challenge, we’re helping food and agricultural entrepreneurs take their businesses to the next level.”

Owners of all types of businesses across the food and agriculture supply chain are encouraged to enter the competition. Applications, which include a business plan, video pitch and photo, must be submitted online by June 30. Judges will review the applications and provide feedback to the participants.

The top 10 teams, to be announced in October, will be offered the opportunity to pitch to multimillion dollar investors, in addition to education about venture capital and expanding their businesses.

New this year, six best-in-show winners will each be awarded $10,000 in startup funds in the categories below.....
  - Best Farm Startup – farms, ranches, hydroponics, aquaponics, greenhouse production, forestry, etc.
  - Best Agritourism Startup – farm-to-school programs, pumpkin festivals, farm stays, etc.
  - Best Farm-to-Table Startup – CSAs, food hubs, farmers’ markets
  - Best Ag Tech & Support Services Startup – hardware, software and support services (marketing programs, scouting services and other services targeting farmers)
  - Best Craft Beverage Startup – including breweries, wineries, cideries and distilleries
  - Best Local Product Startup – food and non-food products

The final four teams will compete in a live competition at AFBF’s 99th Annual Convention in Nashville on Jan. 7 to win:
-    Farm Bureau Entrepreneur of the Year award and $30,000 (chosen by judges)
-    People’s Choice award and $25,000 (chosen by public vote)
-    First runner-up prize, $15,000
-    Second runner-up prize, $15,000

The Entrepreneur of the Year award and the People’s Choice award will be awarded to two different teams. The team that wins the Entrepreneur of the Year award will not be eligible for the People’s Choice Award. The competition timeline, detailed eligibility guidelines and profiles of past Challenge winners are available at

Global Pork Quarterly Q2 2017: Favorable Global Pork Market to Continue into Q3

The Rabobank RaboResearch Food and Agribusiness analysts find the global pork market is relatively stable, with rising supply from the Americas easily absorbed in the main import markets in Asia, resulting in a steady development of the Rabobank Five-Nation Hog Price Index.

Continuing strong Asian imports are supporting pork prices across the globe, with the supply volume in each region determining the actual level. This is according to the Rabobank Global Pork Quarterly Q2.

“The overall outlook is positive right now,” says Justin Sherrard, Global Strategist Animal Protein at Rabobank. “The demand market will continue throughout Q2, supporting margins along the supply chain.”

Highlights from the Pork Quarterly Q2 2017 include:

China: production relocation continues

The steady, regulatory driven relocation of pork production will support good price levels and stabilize imports in the coming months. Local supply will start to recover in Q3, with investments of recent years coming on-stream and reaching their potential.

EU: elevated prices due to pressured supply

The European pig market is booming, with rapidly rising prices due to pressured supply. This situation will continue towards summer, with record piglet prices during Q1. Exports remain the wild card for the market’s price top, with high prices limiting the competitive position and resulting returns.

U.S.: export to determine price level

The forecast 4 percent increase in pork production in 2017 is the driving force in the US pork industry. With consumption moving to record levels, exports will determine the final price level. Current low prices are supportive and also challenge supply from the main export competitor, the EU.

Brazil: limited impact of scandal on exports

Brazil is steadily growing its position in pork export markets, with rising volumes flowing into all main destinations, especially China. The recent meat scandal has had little, if any, impact on export volumes and related prices.

The rise of pork concepts

“Over the last decade, pork production systems have diversified in many countries, with a commodity focus making way for more specialized production.” says Justin Sherrard.  The report provides an analysis of the development of pork concepts and their implications for the supply chain going forward.

Volume and price drivers are changing

The global pork industry was relatively straightforward for many years, i.e. produce as much pork as possible and sell it to the highest bidder globally. Productivity, volume, and price of an increasingly ‘lean’ product were the key variables. This resulted in an interchangeable commodity product and growing competition.

This traditional production approach is, however, changing, in response to some consumers’ concerns around animal welfare, human health, and the environment. In addition, some farmers were not happy with the volume and price ‘squeeze’. Furthermore, food safety scandals increased retail and foodservice demand for improved product tracking & tracing. This is not only observed in the developed world, but—due to social media—also increasingly in the cities in the developing world.

Pork concepts are emerging

These factors resulted in the development of new production systems, or concepts. Concepts differ from traditional production systems and each other, with specific requirements regarding animal health, human health/healthy eating, food safety, medicine use, etc., or are produced for a specific retailer/foodservice supplier. Initiators are farmers looking for a steadier and (hopefully) a higher margin, slaughterhouses safeguarding sales channels, or retailers setting up dedicated supply chains to have 100% tracking & tracing or for specific niches.


Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 4 requests for export assistance from member cooperatives that have contracts to sell 493,836 pounds (224 metric tons) of Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese to customers in Asia. The product has been contracted for delivery in the period from April through July 2017.

So far this year, CWT has assisted member cooperatives who have contracts to sell 29.658 million pounds of American-type cheeses, and 1.427 million pounds of butter (82% milkfat) to 14 countries on four continents. The sales are the equivalent of 305.859 million pounds of milk on a milkfat basis.

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

Ag Secretary Perdue Moves to Make School Meals Great Again

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will provide greater flexibility in nutrition requirements for school meal programs in order to make food choices both healthful and appealing to students.  Perdue made the announcement during a visit to Catoctin Elementary School in Leesburg, Virginia to mark School Nutrition Employee Week.  Perdue signed a proclamation which begins the process of restoring local control of guidelines on whole grains, sodium, and milk.  Perdue was joined by Sen. Pat Roberts (KS), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, and Patricia Montague, CEO of the School Nutrition Association.

“This announcement is the result of years of feedback from students, schools, and food service experts about the challenges they are facing in meeting the final regulations for school meals,” Perdue said.  “If kids aren't eating the food, and it’s ending up in the trash, they aren't getting any nutrition – thus undermining the intent of the program.”

"I commend Secretary Perdue for taking this important step,” said Montague. “We have been wanting flexibility so that schools can serve meals that are both nutritious and palatable. We don't want kids wasting their meals by throwing them away. Some of our schools are actually using that food waste as compost. That shouldn't be happening."

Schools have been facing increasing fiscal burdens as they attempt to adhere to existing, stringent nutrition requirements.  According to USDA figures, school food requirements cost school districts and states an additional $1.22 billion in Fiscal Year 2015.  At the same time costs are going up, most states are reporting that they’ve seen a decrease in student participation in school lunches, as nation-wide about one million students choose not to have a school lunch each day.  This impacts schools in two ways: The decline in school lunch participation means reduced revenue to schools while they simultaneously are encountering increased costs.

“I was talking to some folks in Washington about this, and they said that the current program is working.  ‘How do you know?’ I asked.  They said it’s because 99 percent of schools are at least partially compliant.  Well, only in Washington can that be considered proof that the system is working as it was intended,” Perdue said.  “A perfect example is in the south, where the schools want to serve grits.  But the whole grain variety has little black flakes in it, and the kids won’t eat it.  The school is compliant with the whole grain requirements, but no one is eating the grits.  That doesn’t make any sense.”

The specific flexibilities are:

Whole grains:

        Schools are experiencing challenges in finding the full range of products they need and that their students enjoy in whole grain-rich form. They need continued flexibility in meeting the whole grain requirements for school meals.
        USDA will allow states to grant exemptions to schools experiencing hardship in serving 100 percent of grain products as whole-grain rich for School Year 2017-2018.  USDA will take all necessary regulatory actions to implement a long-term solution.


        For School Years 2017-2018 through 2020, schools will not be required to meet Sodium Target 2. Instead, schools that meet Sodium Target 1 will be considered compliant.
        The time frame will provide schools and the school nutrition industry with the certainty and predictability they need to make appropriate plans for creating foods with the appropriate amount of sodium.  During this period, USDA will take all necessary regulatory actions to implement a long-term solution.
        USDA will dedicate significant resources to providing technical assistance to schools as they continue to develop menus that are low in sodium and appealing to students.


        Milk is a key component of school meals, meaning schools must have more options for students who select milk as part of their lunch or breakfast.
        Perdue will direct USDA to begin the regulatory process for schools to serve 1 percent flavored milk through the school meals programs.  USDA will seek to publish an interim rule as soon as possible to effect the change in milk policy.

“I’ve got 14 grandchildren, and there is no way that I would propose something if I didn’t think it was good, healthful, and the right thing to do,” Perdue said.  “And here’s the thing about local control: it means that this new flexibility will give schools and states the option of doing what we’re laying out here today.  These are not mandates on schools.”

Perdue lauded the efforts of the nation’s food service staff in serving healthful, appealing meals and underscored USDA’s commitment to help them overcome any remaining challenges they face in meeting the nutrition standards.

“The hard work and dedication of the people who prepare nutritious meals for our children should serve as an example to all, and we will continue to support them,” Perdue said.  “We also have a responsibility to our shareholders and our customers – the American taxpayers – to provide our school children with healthful and nutritious meals in the most efficient and cost effective way possible.”


Monsanto Company (NYSE: MON) announced today that the U.S. EPA issued registration for tioxazafen, which is branded as NemaStrikeTM Technology. This approval will enable farmers to realize the nematode control benefits of the technology in 2018, pending state approvals.

NemaStrike Technology, a nematicide that will be offered as part of Acceleron® Seed Applied Solutions, will offer a novel mode of action that stays in the root zone where nematodes attack. NemaStrike Technology will provide broad-spectrum control of plant parasitic nematodes and consistent yield protection performance in corn, soybeans, and cotton.

“This blockbuster technology will be a game-changing addition to our seed applied solutions portfolio by providing a novel solution to a yield robbing pest,” said Brett Begemann, Monsanto President and Chief Operating Officer. “We work to provide farmers with highly effective and easy-to-use management tools to protect the health and potential of their crops. In 2018, NemaStrike Technology will provide breakthrough yield protection technology to farmers across the United States.”

Plant parasitic nematodes are microscopic roundworms in the soil that steal corn, soybean, and cotton yields by feeding on plant roots, facilitating bacterial and fungal infections, and spreading viruses. Nematode damage is often mistaken as other issues in the field, so growers do not always recognize they have a problem. However, EPA has stated that plant parasitic nematodes cause an estimated 14 percent loss in agriculture production worldwide, with $80-100 billion worth of crop losses every year globally.*

Over the last three years in Monsanto product development field trials, NemaStrike Technology provided a yield protection performance advantage over the competitive standard of 7 bushels per acre with a 73 percent positive response rate in corn, 3 bushels per acre with a 68 percent positive response rate in soybeans, and 80 lbs. lint per acre with an 86 percent positive response rate in cotton (results varied based on nematode pressure in each field).

“Nematodes are a real concern, and farmers may be significantly underestimating the damage nematodes are causing to their crops,” said Jared Thomas, Monsanto North America seed applied solutions portfolio manager. “Monsanto offers a variety of seed applied solutions today, and we’re always working to develop new options for farmers. We’re focused on helping farmers protect the potential of their crops with tools that can fit into their overall strategy for managing pests.”  

Beef Producers Gather for “Keep Calves Healthy” Meeting

Beef cattle producers gathered in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, recently for a Keep Calves Healthy meeting sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim (BI). Producers had the opportunity to hear from industry experts on important issues and the latest ways to keep their calves healthy and improve herd performance.

Presenters included:
    Dr. Mike Apley, DVM, PhD, Kansas State University
    Dr. Bob Smith, DVM, MS, Stillwater, Oklahoma
    Dr. John Davidson, DVM, DABVP, senior professional services veterinarian with BI

One of the hottest topics facing the industry today is antibiotic stewardship. Dr. Apley discussed the important role antibiotics will play in the future of protecting cattle health. “It’s crucial that we use our antibiotics in a very targeted manner, with clear reasons why we are doing so, and not out of habit or convenience,” said Dr. Apley.

He emphasized resistance challenges in both human and veterinary medicine. “We have a real obligation to be good stewards of antibiotics. We’re already good stewards of our animals and we don’t want to see them suffer or get sick. Genetics, nutrition and vaccination are key to keeping our animals healthy. It helps our businesses stay economically viable, so we must use antibiotic resources wisely.”

Basing decisions on the best scientific research was the key takeaway from Dr. Smith. “Disease is expensive. It costs us in terms of having to buy medicine, death loss and reduced performance,” he explained. Dr. Smith stressed that disease prevention is not going to occur just through medicine and vaccination, but it also requires a combination of animal health practices, keeping good records and using animal health products judiciously. “Animals are providing protein to our consumers, and it’s our responsibility to provide good care for our animals. We need to do the right thing all the time. We have a responsibility to provide the safest and most wholesome food we can.”

Dr. Davidson reviewed ways producers can maximize health and performance of their herds to help build profit, specifically through preventive medicine. “The keys to an effective health program are efficacious vaccines, good nutrition and an effective parasite control program,” he said. Dr. Davidson also discussed how proper vaccination can decrease the chance of having to treat sick animals later. “There is increasing pressure to reduce antibiotics usage in animal agriculture. We can do that by focusing on our prevention methods.”

Early in a calf’s life is a critical time for disease prevention and takes careful planning and management. Keep Calves Healthy is a philosophy that embodies the goal of every cattle producer - if you keep your calves healthy, you’re setting your operation up for success from the start.

Bayer Reports Higher Quarterly Sales, Net Income

The Bayer Group got off to a very successful start to 2017 and generated strong sales and earnings growth in the first quarter. CEO Werner Baumann said when he presented the interim report for the first quarter last week, Consumer Health, Crop Science and Animal Health registered increases in sales.

Sales increased by 11.7 percent to EUR 13,244 million (Q1 2016: EUR 11,854 million) in the first quarter. Adjusted for currency and portfolio effects (Fx & portfolio adj.), sales advanced by 9.4 percent. Sales of the Life Science businesses amounted to EUR 9,680 million, up by 4.9 percent (Fx & portfolio adj.) year on year. Group EBITDA before special items improved by 14.9 percent to EUR 3,893 million (Q1 2016: EUR 3,387 million). EBIT climbed by a substantial 34.3 percent to EUR 3,116 million (Q1 2016: EUR 2,320 million) after special charges of EUR 85 million (Q1 2016: EUR 272 million).

These mainly resulted from expenses related to efficiency improvement programs, impairment losses on intangible assets, and costs in connection with the agreed acquisition of Monsanto. EBIT before special items moved ahead by 23.5 percent to EUR 3,201 million (Q1 2016: EUR 2,592 million). Net income climbed by 37.9 percent to EUR 2,083 million (Q1 2016: EUR 1,511 million), and core earnings per share from continuing operations by 11.5 percent to EUR 2.62 (Q1 2016: EUR 2.35).

Sales of the agriculture business increased by 3.2 percent (Fx & portfolio adj.) to EUR 3,120 million (Q1 2016: EUR 2,936 million). "Crop Science benefited primarily from encouraging performance in North America," Baumann said. Sales in that region grew by 8.9 percent (Fx adj.). Business development was also positive in Europe/Middle East/ Africa (Fx adj.: plus 2.0 percent) and in Asia/Pacific (Fx adj.: plus 2.9 percent), while sales in Latin America declined by 9.8 percent (Fx adj.).

Meanwhile Seeds (which also includes the traits business) rose by 8.0 percent (Fx and portfolio adj.). At Crop Protection, gains were primarily recorded at SeedGrowth (seed treatment products) and Herbicides, which posted increases of 7.1 percent and 5.3 percent (both Fx and portfolio adj.), respectively. Business at Insecticides expanded by 3.9 percent (Fx and portfolio adj.), while sales at Fungicides were 6.2 percent lower (Fx and portfolio adj.) than in the prior-year quarter. Sales growth of 20.5 percent (Fx and portfolio adj.) at Environmental Science was based on the delivery of products to the company that acquired the consumer business in October 2016.

Friday April 28 Ag News

Moving Late Calving Cows Up in the Breeding Season
Bethany Johnston & Jay Jenkins, NE Extension Beef Educators

As the end of the calving season nears for many cattlemen, the last few cows in the heavy pen seem to last forever. Those late calvers are doing more than dragging out the calving season. They are costing you money. Their young calves are usually lighter at weaning, late calving cows usually rebreed later or not at all.

How can you move up a late calving cow in the breeding season? The answer is a CIDR. CIDR stands for Controlled Intravaginal Drug Release device. It is inserted into the cow’s vagina, where it releases the hormone progesterone. CIDRs are a common estrus synchronization tool, but they can also be used to bring cows into heat before she would normally come into heat on her own.

In order for this to work, you should insert the CIDR no sooner than 20 days after calving. The uterus must shrink back to its original size for reproduction to occur. Recovery takes time-imagine something holding a 90 pound calf needing to shrink to the size of a volleyball. Trying to “jump start” the cycle with a CIDR (progesterone device) too early after calving could result in less than desired pregnancy results.

If you plan to use natural service breeding insert a CIDR for 7 days, then remove the CIDR on day 7, and give an injection of prostaglandin. Bulls can be immediately be placed with the cows. There is no need for extra bulls, a bull to cow ratio of 1:25 should be sufficient. However, all bulls should have a breeding soundness exam by a veterinarian. Young bulls may require special attention and a higher bull to cow ratio.

This protocol requires two cattle handlings and will cost around $15 for the CIDR and prostaglandin.

Since the CIDR will synchronize estrus you could also use artificial insemination (A.I.). If you choose to A.I. you need to add a GnRH injection at the CIDR insertion, leave the CIDR in for 7 days, and inject prostaglandin when you remove the CIDR.

If you plan to A.I. it would be worth your time to look over the different estrus synchronization protocols at: or visit with your A.I. representative or Extension Educator. Choose a system that works best for you. Any of the 7-day CIDR protocols will “jump start” the estrus cycle. The “recipe” for each system should be followed exactly- no guessing or giving late injections!

Cows should be in good condition, a body condition score of 5 or greater at the time of calving, and maintaining or gaining weight after calving through breeding. Cows maintaining or gaining weight are more likely to conceive and sustain a pregnancy than cows losing weight.

It will cost a little money and take some extra work, but it is possible to move those late calving cows up.

New Bill Would Help Get More Vets Practicing in Shortage Areas

A recently introduced bill to increase grants that encourage veterinarians to practice in veterinary shortage areas has the support of the American Farm Bureau Federation.  The Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Enhancement Act (S. 487, H.R. 1268) would eliminate the withholding tax on grants awarded under the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program, which provides grants to veterinary school graduates who agree to work for three years in underserved areas.

“Many farmers and ranchers operate in areas that lack adequate veterinary services for their livestock. Expansion of the VMLRP will not only help to improve the health of farm animals but will contribute to the safety of our food supply,” American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said in a letter to Sens. Michael Crapo (R-Idaho) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Reps. Adrian Smith (R-Neb.) and Ron Kind (D-Wis.) and Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), the Senate and House sponsors of the bill.

Animal Disease Response Training in Nebraska, Kansas

A Kansas State University center is offering training to help local and state emergency responders prepare for something they hope never happens: a serious animal disease outbreak.

The National Agricultural Biosecurity Center conducted six animal disease response training sessions in Nebraska in April and is offering two sessions in Kansas in May. The training will be offered in Manhattan on May 9 and in Ottawa on May 11. Registration is available at Each one-day session is an awareness-level course designed to cover many aspects of foreign animal disease response, including biosecurity, quarantine, cleaning and disinfection, depopulation and disposal, and proper use of personal protective equipment.

The training targets nontraditional agricultural first responders such as firefighters, public health officials, law enforcement and emergency medical technicians as well as veterinarians and others. Bringing many professions together helps individuals better understand their roles in the response to an animal disease outbreak, said Ken Burton, program director at the National Agricultural Biosecurity Center.

"A lot of the traditional human response personnel don't recognize their potential role in a high-consequence animal disease outbreak," Burton said. "They feel they wouldn't be involved, but the idea behind the class is to make people understand it doesn't matter what your role in the community -- what your day job might be -- the whole community is going to be involved in responding to and be affected by an animal disease outbreak."

Chelsea Kramer, emergency response coordinator for the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, attended all six training sessions and said she would like to see more animal disease response training in Nebraska.

"The training gives nontraditional responders an opportunity to see the response as a whole so when they are asked to set up roadblocks or do traffic control or other pieces, they know why they are being asked -- they know what the purpose is," Kramer said.

Kramer said robust response plans are important.

"In Nebraska, our state's economy is driven by agriculture," Kramer said. "To protect Nebraskans' way of life, we need to respond to emergencies in a timely and effective manner."

Animal disease response training is designed within the Incident Command System framework and is listed in the Federal Emergency Management Agency state and federal catalog. Emergency responders and veterinarians who complete the course will be eligible for continuing education credit.

The training includes presentations, and then concludes with a tabletop exercise during which individuals consider their responses to a scenario and then discuss how they would work together. Burton said responses to the training have been favorable.

"The scope, size and overall effect of an animal disease outbreak are eye-opening," he said. "Law enforcement realizes it's so much bigger than just a checkpoint. The comments are almost all positive."

The National Agricultural Biosecurity Center is working to schedule animal disease response training sessions in northwest and southwest Kansas later this year.


Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today highlighted Soil and Water Conservation Week, which runs from April 30 to May 7.  The week is an opportunity to recognize the important conservation practices placed on Iowa’s landscape and bring attention to the ongoing work by farmers, landowners and urban residents to protect the state’s soil and water resources.

“Iowans in our towns and on our farms continue to engage in water quality and soil conservation efforts.  This week is an opportunity to celebrate all the work that has been done and highlight the efforts currently underway to prevent erosion and improve water quality,” Northey said.  “It is vital that we preserve the soil and water resources that help make Iowa agriculture so productive and such a key driver of our state’s economy.”

On Thursday, May 4 Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and Northey will visit a farm in the Big Creek watershed where four saturated buffers were installed last fall and a bioreactor and oxbow restoration project will be built later this year.  Branstad will also sign a proclamation recognizing April 30 – May 7 as Iowa Soil and Water Conservation Week during the event.  The farm is located at 2155 290th Street, Madrid.

On Wednesday, May 3, there will be a field day and ribbon cutting ceremony for a number of urban water quality projects that have been installed in Rockwell City. The projects, undertaken by the City, will capture stormwater and utilize innovative methods to remove contaminants and improve the quality of the runoff prior to its discharge into the storm sewer system.  The events will start at 9 a.m. with a tour at Featherstone Park (large camping cabin on south end) and will also include a ribbon cutting for the downtown square improvement project at 11:30 a.m. at the Rockwell City Town Square.

Iowa Soil and Water Conservation Week is in coordination with the National Stewardship Week, sponsored by the National Association of Conservation Districts.  This year’s Stewardship Week theme is “Healthy Soils are Full of Life.” More information about the activities that will be held during Soil and Water Conservation Week in Iowa can be found at

Trump Threatens to Terminate ‘KORUS’

In a recent interview, President Donald Trump threatened to terminate a trade agreement with South Korea, which he referred to as a “horrible deal that’s left America destroyed.” A Washington Post article says Trump sharply criticized the U.S. free trade agreement with South Korea, known as “KORUS,” which was most recently ratified in 2011. “It’s a Hillary Clinton disaster, a deal that should never have been made,” Trump said, “it’s a one-way street.”

South Korea is the sixth-largest trading partner with the U.S. However, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative says America’s trade deficit with Korea was $27.7 billion last year. The week of May first marks an anniversary for the trade deal, which triggers a review period that could lead to renegotiation or termination of the deal by either side.

The president says the process to terminate KORUS is much simpler than the process for NAFTA. “With NAFTA, if we terminate tomorrow, it ends in six months.” Trump says, “With KORUS if we terminate, it’s over.” South Korea’s Trade Ministry told the Associated Press it has no plans to renegotiate the deal.


NPPC Newsletter

The Trump administration is considering withdrawing from the Korea-U.S. (KORUS) Free Trade Agreement, citing America’s trade deficit with the Asian nation. The trade deal was ratified in 2011 and is set for a review. On his recent trip to South Korea, Vice President Pence said the United States would like to “reform” the agreement.

The National Pork Producers Council, which was a strong supporter of the trade pact, is hopeful the administration will “modernize” rather than withdraw from KORUS. South Korea is the No. 5 market for U.S. pork exports; the U.S. pork industry shipped more than $365 million of product to South Korea.

Florida Teacher Calls Ag Students “Murderers”

A Florida teacher is on the verge of losing his job after bullying and harassing FFA students that were raising livestock to be sold for slaughter. An Associated Press article says Thomas Allison, Jr., who teaches middle school at the Horizon Academy at Marion Oaks, has been placed on unpaid leave. A Marion County School District letter documenting the case notes that he called students who are raising livestock “murderers.”

Superintendent of Schools Heidi Maier has written a recommendation of termination. The recommendation states that Allison, “has engaged in a repeated, egregious pattern of mistreating, ridiculing, insulting, intimidating, embarrassing bullying and abusing FFA students, crushing their dreams and causing them to feel that they must discontinue FFA activities to enjoy a peaceful school environment."

A local newspaper reported that Allison is accused of harassing the FFA group’s teacher/adviser, as well as encouraging his honors science students to harass FFA members. A direct investigation says Allison is on a mission to eradicate the animal agriculture program because of his animal rights beliefs.

Allison adds that he won’t stop speaking up against animal agriculture and will fight for his job at an upcoming hearing before the school board.


NPPC Newsletter

Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., this week introduced legislation to make the regulatory process more transparent and “fair.” The “Regulatory Accountability Act of 2017” would require agencies during the rulemaking process to issue a simple notice that explains the problem they intend to address and allows the public to weigh in on the need for the regulation and on options agencies should consider. Agencies also would be required to use the “best reasonably available” scientific, technical and economic information in putting a regulation together, and they would need to conduct cost-benefit analyses on rules and adopt the most cost-effect regulation. The legislation also would improve agency use of guidance documents and ensure agencies don’t use such documents as a way avoid the public input required to write new rules. Additionally, the measure would expand and strengthen retrospective review requirements so that agencies regularly assess whether rules are meeting their objectives.

ICBA Supports Bill Offering Tax Relief for Rural Lending

The Independent Community Bankers of America® (ICBA) today expressed support for legislation to support farmers, ranchers and rural homeowners by providing tax relief for agricultural and rural residential lending. The Enhancing Credit Opportunities in Rural America Act, introduced by Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.), would promote access to credit and reduce borrowing costs amid the current environment of weak commodities prices.

“ICBA strongly supports the Enhancing Credit Opportunities in Rural America Act to help community banks offer lower rates to certain rural borrowers and homeowners, which will help revive rural economies threatened by low commodities prices,” ICBA President and CEO Camden R. Fine said. “This legislation will help farmers and rural communities remain viable during a challenging economic environment as community banks will receive greater flexibility to serve producers and the rural housing market. The legislation will also allow community banks to provide lower loan rates so they operate on a more level playing field and can compete with other rural lenders that already utilize these benefits.”

While farmers enjoyed robust prices for their commodities earlier this decade, the current sag in farm prices has reduced net farm income from $123 billion in 2013 to a projected $62.3billion this year. Meanwhile, strict mortgage and appraisal regulations are driving lenders out of rural mortgage lending, curtailing access to credit, and threatening the rural housing market.

Under the Enhancing Credit Opportunities in Rural America Act, the interest received on farm loans secured by agricultural real estate would not be taxable. The bill would provide similar relief to interest on loans secured by rural single-family homes that are the principal residence of the borrower in towns with a population of less than 2,500. Together, these provisions will offer community bankers greater flexibility to work with farmers who may have trouble servicing their debt while giving lenders a strong incentive to remain in the rural farming and housing markets.

As espoused in its Plan for Prosperity regulatory relief platform, ICBA supports targeted tax relief for community bank lending consistent with advantages enjoyed by other lenders serving the same markets.

ACE urges ethanol advocates to participate in EPA regulatory reform comment period

The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) submitted a public comment focused on its ethanol priorities soon after EPA formally began seeking input on existing regulations to be reviewed by its newly established Regulatory Reform Task Force. The Task Force was formed in response to Executive Order 13777 to evaluate existing regulations and make recommendations regarding those that can be repealed, replaced and modified to make them less burdensome.

Following the organization’s comment submission, ACE is now encouraging ethanol advocates to submit their own comments to EPA's regulatory reform effort.

Ethanol advocates are urged to address the following topics when submitting comments to EPA. 
 ·    Allow Reid vapor pressure (RVP) relief to E15 and higher ethanol blends. 
 ·    Update the lifecycle analysis of corn ethanol.
 ·    Modify EPA's mistaken interpretation of Section 211(f) of the Clean Air Act, because it currently limits the concentration of ethanol in fuel without cause. 
 ·    Streamline the approval process for high-octane fuels such as E25-40 blends. 
 ·    Adjust fuel economy (CAFE) compliance to allow flex fuel vehicles to utilize the same incentives that are provided to other alternative vehicles. 
 ·    Discontinue use of the MOVES2014 emissions model until a new emissions study based on real-world test fuels and methods is conducted. 

“It’s imperative for advocates of this industry to take advantage of the opportunity to provide input to the Trump Administration on the kind of regulations that are limiting ethanol’s ability to grow in the marketplace,” said Brian Jennings, ACE executive vice president. “This is a golden opportunity for the Trump EPA to hear directly from those in rural communities—farmers, ethanol producers, retailers and others—who can share their personal experiences on how certain regulations are holding them back.”

The comment period is open through May 15.

CNH Announces First Quarter Financial Results

CNH Industrial N.V. announced consolidated revenues of $5.6 billion for the first quarter of 2017, up 5.8% compared to the first quarter of 2016.

Net sales of Industrial Activities were $5.3 billion in the first quarter of 2017, up 6.1% compared to the first quarter of 2016. Reported net income was $49 million for the first quarter of 2017.

Operating profit of Industrial Activities was $219 million for the first quarter of 2017, a $41 million increase compared to the first quarter of 2016, with an operating margin of 4.1%, up 0.6 p.p. compared to the first quarter of 2016.

Agricultural Equipment's net sales increased 10.5% in the first quarter of 2017 compared to the first quarter of 2016, as a result of a strong rebound in demand in LATAM and the continuation of positive market momentum in APAC. Revenue in NAFTA and EMEA were flat to slightly down due to a weak demand environment, partially mitigated by positive pricing.

Thursday April 27 Ag News

Pocket Field Guide Available for Nebraska Soybean and Corn Growers

Nebraska farmers have a handy new resource to help them diagnose potential problems in their soybean and corn fields. The Nebraska Soybean & Corn Pocket Field Guide provides photos and facts to help farmers make an initial identification of problems they may encounter during the growing season. The guide was produced by a team of University of Nebraska researchers, and funded by the Nebraska Soybean Board (NSB), Nebraska Corn Board (NCB) and the United Soybean Board (USB).

The field guide is intended to be a resource farmers can carry with them when scouting crops. If they find signs of injury or disease they can quickly research potential causes of the damage. The guide also helps farmers identify unfamiliar weeds or pests. When problems are encountered, farmers are encouraged to confirm their initial diagnosis with their local extension agent or by sending samples to the UNL Plant & Pest Diagnostic Clinic. The guide also provides helpful information on crop management topics such as climate, soil, water use and crop development phases.

NSB Chairman Tony Johanson of Oakland spearheaded the effort to produce the field guide. Johanson is a master seed advisor for Central Valley Ag and has used a field guide from Purdue University for several years. He wanted a guide created specifically for Nebraska farmers. “I always felt funny giving farmers a field guide with information from Indiana,” said Johanson.

He says it’s also a way to demonstrate the value of the Soybean Checkoff. The Nebraska Soybean Board partners with the University of Nebraska on a number of research projects. UNL Professor Emeritus Jim Specht has conducted much of that research, and he co-authored the Nebraska Soybean & Corn Pocket Field Guide. “This is a way to put the University of Nebraska’s leading ag research into farmers’ hands, where it can help them in their fields,” said Johanson. “It’s valuable information specific to conditions faced by farmers in Nebraska.”

The Nebraska Soybean & Corn Pocket Field Guide is available free of charge by contacting NSB through their website,, or by calling 402-441-3240.


The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) entered into an agreement with the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District to help farmers improve irrigation water management, reduce soil erosion and install conservation practices through the Lower Elkhorn Water and Soil Conservation Initiative. This Initiative is available through the USDA’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).

Producers in the northeast Nebraska 15-county Initiative area (see map) originally had until mid-October to apply, but the sign up has been extended to June 16, 2017. Producers should visit one of the NRCS offices located in the Initiative area to apply.

Robin Sutherland, District Conservationist in the Stanton NRCS field office said, “This Initiative is a great opportunity for farmers and ranchers to receive financial and technical assistance to make their operations more productive and sustainable.”

Through the Initiative, NRCS and the Lower Elkhorn NRD work together to provide financial and technical assistance to help farmers apply soil and water conservation practices like flow meters, irrigation water management, nutrient management, as well as adopt soil health practices like no-till and cover crops on eligible cropland.

For more information about the RCPP and other conservation programs available from NRCS, visit your local USDA Service center or

Statement by Steve Nelson, President, Regarding President Trump’s Action to Renegotiate, Not Withdraw, from NAFTA

“President Trump’s decision to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the United States, Canada, and Mexico versus completely withdrawing from the trade compact is clearly the right decision. Stepping away from a trade agreement that has a proven track record of creating jobs and generating billions of dollars for Nebraska agriculture and the state’s broader economy would be a mistake of epic proportions.”

“While we understand the President’s desire to work to secure better trade deals for America, it is imperative that new negotiations do not jeopardize arrangements within NAFTA that benefit Nebraska agriculture. Today, roughly 30 percent of farm income is generated from international trade, with NAFTA being a major contributor. We will watch these negotiations closely to make sure any renegotiations do not come at the expense of provisions that benefit Nebraska’s farm and ranch families.”

ASA Welcomes President Trump’s Decision to Focus on NAFTA Modernization

The American Soybean Association (ASA) welcomed an announcement from President Donald Trump late Wednesday that the United States would remain a member of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The announcement came following reports that the White House was readying an executive order to withdraw from the agreement, prompting significant concern and swift action from ASA and other farm groups that recognize the importance of NAFTA and agreements like it. Instead, the White House announced that it will engage with Canada and Mexico in a renegotiation of the major trade pact, which has significantly benefitted soybean producers.

“We are relieved by the president’s decision that the United States will work on improving the NAFTA rather than withdrawing from it, and we will continue to closely monitor negotiations as they move forward,” said ASA President Ron Moore, a soybean farmer from Roseville, Ill. “When you’re talking about $3 billion in soybean exports a year, any threats to withdraw from agreements and walk away from markets makes farmers extremely nervous. We remain supportive of efforts to modernize NAFTA and further expand access for U.S. soy in Mexico and Canada, and we look forward to working with the administration to realize these goals.”

Moore used the situation to underscore the importance of having key administration personnel like Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue in place, and called on the Senate to swiftly confirm Ambassador Robert Lighthizer as U.S. Trade Representative.

“It is clear that Secretary Perdue clearly sees the link between increased access to global markets and success for American farmers,” said Moore. “We are grateful that he was sworn in this week and had the opportunity to provide advice on the NAFTA decision. As we move forward, it is key Amb. Lighthizer be in place at USTR. We applaud the Senate Finance Committee for its approval of his nomination, and look to the full Senate to confirm him as quickly as possible.”

Farm Bureau Welcomes Decision to Improve NAFTA

The American Farm Bureau Federation thanked the Trump administration today for its decision to pursue renegotiation over withdrawal from the North American Free Trade Agreement. The full text of the letter from AFBF President Zippy Duvall is below:

“Thank you for your recent decision to choose the path of renegotiation for the North American Free Trade Agreement, rather than withdrawal. Your leadership in reaching out to President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada began an important step to finding a path forward for updating this important agreement. There are compelling reasons to update and reform NAFTA from agriculture’s perspective, including improvements on biotechnology, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, and geographic indicators. As you know, overall, NAFTA has been overwhelmingly beneficial for farmers, ranchers and associated businesses all across the United States, Canada and Mexico for decades. Walking away from those gains would have been a severe blow to the agricultural sector and we appreciate the path that will allow for reform and enhancement, rather than abandonment of past achievements.

“The NAFTA modernization effort should recognize and build upon the strong gains achieved by U.S. agriculture through tariff elimination, harmonization—or recognition of equivalency—of numerous regulatory issues, and development of integrated supply chains that have arisen due to the agreement. With NAFTA, U.S. farmers and ranchers across the nation have benefited from an increase in annual exports to Mexico and Canada, which have gone from $8.9 billion in 1993 to $38 billion in 2016. We strongly caution against any actions that would lead to a re-imposition of tariffs or other barriers to agricultural trade with our NAFTA partners.

“Trade is critical to the livelihood of the U.S. agricultural sector because it spurs economic growth for our farmers, ranchers and their rural communities. Agriculture supports jobs in the food and agricultural industries and beyond. The fact is, 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside of the United States and over 20 percent of U.S. farm income is based on exports.

“Expanding opportunities for U.S. crop and livestock producers to access international markets will boost farm income in the United States. Just as important as expansion, we need your engagement on behalf of agriculture to protect our current access to foreign markets, which amounts to $134 billion annually.

“Existing trade agreements have proved successful in tearing down tariff and non-tariff trade barriers that hinder U.S. farmers’ and ranchers’ competitiveness and prevent us from taking advantage of consumer demand for high-quality U.S. food and agricultural products throughout the world.

“Trade agreements also provide the highest standard of trade rules, allowing the United States to lead in setting the foundation to establish market-driven and science-based terms of trade and dispute resolution that will directly benefit the U.S. food and agriculture industry. If we surrender the lead, we will fall behind as our competitors aggressively work to establish alternative trade agreements that give their agricultural interests an advantage over our own.

“There are numerous areas in agriculture alone where the agreement can be modernized, ranging from the handling of wheat to dairy issues, from animal health certifications to transparency on agricultural biotechnology. We look forward to working with the administration in developing the full list of topics for discussion.

“As farm income continues to fall to its lowest level since 2009, we urge your immediate attention both to securing and to maintaining solid and fair trade agreements that bring the benefits of agricultural trade to our struggling farm economy.”

New NAHMS Survey to Measure Antibiotic Use, Stewardship

Starting in May, the USDA’s National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS) will ask pig farmers who have at least 1,000 pigs and farm in any of the top 13 pork-producing states about their on-farm antimicrobial use and their related stewardship practices. Those states include Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and South Dakota.

Specifically, the NAHMS Antimicrobial Use on U.S. Swine Operations 2017 study will:
-    Estimate the percentage of production sites using and the percentage of weaned market pigs receiving specific antimicrobials in feed and/or water by reasons for use.
-    Describe antimicrobial-use practices in feed and water on production sites.
-    Provide baseline data (historical) on antimicrobial-use practices in place before implementation of FDA policy changes (prior to 2017), which can be used for evaluating trends over time.
-    Describe antimicrobial stewardship practices on production sites with weaned market pigs or swine nursery and grower-finisher facilities.

“As an industry, we welcome this latest effort by USDA to get accurate information to the public about how America’s pig farmers actually use antibiotics,” said Jan Archer, National Pork Board president and a pig farmer in Goldsboro, North Carolina. “We’ve been good stewards of antibiotics over the years by working with our veterinarian partners and by following guidelines, such as those in the Pork Quality Assurance® Plus certification program. Also, this survey will provide benchmark data that can help our industry as we continue on our journey of continuous improvement.”

The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) will contact producers in the 13 states who have at least 1,000 pigs to ask for their participation in the study. Later this summer, those who agree to participate will meet with a veterinarian from the USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service, who will conduct the survey. Importantly, the NAHMS study will protect participants’ privacy by not revealing names or contact information associated with individual data.

“The industry stands to gain with reliable information and improved transparency to consumers and others about how we use antibiotics on our farms,” Archer said. “There’s too much misinformation out there today, and we see this as a way to provide a more accurate picture of how we are doing the right thing on our farms every day.”

For more information about the NAHMS study, contact: USDA–APHIS–VS–CEAH NRRC Building B, M.S. 2E7 2150 Centre Ave., Fort Collins, CO 80526-8117. Phone: (970) 494-7000 Email: or visit NAHMS at:

Study: Iowa pork industry remains important economic driver

A new study commissioned by the Iowa Pork Producers Association shows the state's pork industry continues to be a key contributor to the rural Iowa and the state economy.

The economic contribution study was conducted in late 2016 by Decision Innovation Solutions of Urbandale, which produced the results in accordance with methods prescribed and endorsed by the Minnesota IMPLAN Group. The research results are based on IMPLAN modeling data from 2015.
Economic Contributions

The industry contributed $36.7 billion in sales in 2015, with $13.1 billion, or 35.6 percent, from swine production; $18.3 billion, or 49.7 percent, from hog slaughtering; and $5.4 billion, or 14.7 percent, from pork processing.

The sales total included $12.2 billion in added value beyond the $24.5 billion cost of inputs. There were 141,813 jobs associated with the pork industry, or about the total combined populations of Ames, Ankeny and Coralville in 2015, with nearly 52 percent in production alone. One in nearly 12 working Iowans has a job tied to the pork industry.

The industry produced $8.3 billion in labor income, contributed $756.4 million in state and local taxes and $1.56 billion in federal taxes in 2015.

"Iowa has long been the nation's leader in swine production because of the proximity to abundant supplies of corn and soybeans, the primary components in swine feed," said IPPA President Curtis Meier of Clarinda. "We're proud of our ranking and are pleased that the industry is such a profound economic contributor to our local communities. The study shows what pork does for rural Iowa."
Select County Analysis

In addition to analyzing state level hog production and related economic activity, county level results for a cross section of 25 Iowa counties were estimated. These counties included some of the top producing counties (Hardin, Plymouth and Washington), as well as some of the lesser producing ones (Iowa, Marshall and Union).

The average hog inventory per county is 206,623 head, while the average number of hog farms per county is 63. This results in an average inventory per Iowa hog farm of 3,265 head.

The 25 focus counties selected for further analysis have inventories that account for 31 percent of Iowa hogs. Additionally, these counties represent 28 percent of the farms in Iowa, with an average inventory per hog farm of 3,671 head, 406 more than the statewide average head per farm.
Reliance on Feedstuffs

Iowa's pork industry relies heavily on the ability of corn and soybean farmers to produce abundant supplies to feed pigs and the study looked at how many acres of Iowa cropland is dedicated to feeding pigs in Iowa.

Hogs raised in Iowa consume grain raised on more than 5.7 million acres: 3.3 million acres of corn and Dried Distillers Grain with Solubles; and 2.4 million acres of soybeans. Overall, pigs eat 24.7 percent of the acres planted to corn and soybeans in the state: 24.5 percent of the corn acres and 25 percent of the acres planted to soybeans.

"Our association represents the best pig farmers in the nation and they are committed to humanely raising quality pork at the lowest cost possible," Meier said. "Farmers are the original environmentalists and work daily to preserve our natural resources for future generations by supporting the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy, abiding by manure management plans developed for their farms and actively contributing to and supporting their local communities."
Local Economic Contributions

Decision Innovation Solutions also looked at what the construction and operations effects of a new, 2,400-head wean-to-finish hog barn in Iowa would be on the local and state economy. Employment, labor income, value added and sales are all common measures of economic activity. An Iowa hog farm relies on roughly 30 percent of its needs from local businesses.

Construction of a new hog farm requires purchases of steel, concrete and equipment. Once completed, the farm purchases feed, veterinary care and other professional services, and several more inputs to produce hogs for sale. One new barn would generate 14.6 jobs, provide more than $869,000 in labor income; $1.1 million in value added and $2.3 million in sales, according to the study.

Keep an Eye on Stored Grain this Planting Season

With the arrival of planting season, producers need to regularly check their stored grain in order to prevent spoilage. According to Charles Hurburgh, grain quality and handling specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, producers need to double the frequency they inspect their grain because this is a high risk year and the condition of stored grain could deteriorate quickly.

“Pay attention to dew point temperatures in the air,” said Hurburgh, who also serves as director of the Iowa Grain Quality Initiative. “If we have a stretch of big storms, there will often be dry air afterward with dew points in the 30s and 40s. Run fans if the grain is warmer than that in order to keep gain cold as long as possible.”

Humid weather can cause grain storage problems and can become an issue if grain is not cooled. If the relative humidity is 65 percent or above, fungi and other spoilage organisms can develop. Aeration in storage bins is done to stay below 65 percent humidity in the grain mass, which helps prevent spoilage.

“If the corn is cold, occasionally water will condense on the top of the bins, so having a bin with a roof ventilator is a plus,” said Hurburgh. “If the water has condensed on the roof, take care of it right away with a roof fan and it won’t be necessary to aerate the whole bin with air warmer than it needs to be.”

Last fall was not a good cooling period, as temperatures were warm with relatively high dew points. More of the grain’s storage life was used up, which will mean higher risks this summer. The large carryover means that some of the 2016 crop will need to be in condition even into 2018.

Wet weather is delaying planting in some areas, but a higher moisture harvest is not currently being forecasted.

“A common misconception is if planting season is later, then harvest season will be later,” said Hurburgh. “It’s also a misconception that early planting means early harvest, but there is no real correlation between planting date and having wet corn in the fall. The planting date will have no predictable impact on harvest moisture, at least up to a time corn is likely to be switched out in preference to soybeans. It has everything to do with the weather in August and September.” 

For additional information the Iowa Grain Quality Initiative has developed online learning modules to help teach producers proper grain storage practices. The Iowa Grain Quality Aeration Module (CROP 3083B) and Iowa Grain Quality Fan Performance Module (CROP 3083C), produced in cooperation with the Iowa Grain Quality Initiative and Crop Advisor Institute, helps users understand the function of aeration in preventing grain spoilage and how fan performance helps to cool grain, as well as the requirement for fan selection.

Sheep Production Workshop Offered as Part of Iowa Sheep and Wool Festival

The 2017 Midwest Commercial Sheep Production Workshop will be offered during the Iowa Sheep and Wool Festival. The workshop will be held on Saturday, June 17 from 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. at the Hansen Agriculture Student Learning Center in Ames, Iowa.

The workshop will focus on the Let’s Grow goals and objectives campaign from the American Lamb Board aimed at increasing both the overall lamb crop and the quality and consumer satisfaction of the lamb that is produced.

“There is a great group of speakers coming in, as well as a producer panel that is focused on the sheep industry’s sustainability in Iowa,” said Dan Morrical, professor and sheep specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. “The Iowa Sheep Industry Association has done a great job of putting together this educational programming to draw the interest of commercial producers.”

The following topics will be discussed:
-    Maximizing Resource Use by Extending the Lambing Season: Richard Ehrhardt, Michigan State University
-    Identifying Profitable Sheep: How to Grow Your Profits and Reduce Labor: Dan Persons, Rafter P Ranch and Shearwell
-    Evaluating Finish of Live Market Lambs: Brad Anderson, Mountain States Lamb; Mark Henry, Centralized Ultrasound Processors Lab; Dan Morrical, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach
-    Evaluating Finish of Lamb Carcasses: Anderson and Morrical
-    Logistics of Grazing Cover Crops and Crop Stover: Ehrhardt
-    Producers Share Experiences with Integrating Livestock and Crop Production: A panel of producers will share and discuss how livestock production can complement row crop production
-    How the NSIP Can Benefit Sheep Flocks of Differing Sizes and Goals: Rusty Burgett, National Sheep Improvement Program

Cost of attendance is $35 and online registration is available from the Iowa Sheep and Wool Festival website. A student discount is available.

A Shepherding 101 program also will be offered for the beginning shepherd or for those who want to review the basics of raising sheep.

USDA Meat Animals Production, Disposition, and Income 2016 Summary

Total 2016 production of cattle and calves and hogs and pigs for the United States totaled 78.3 billion pounds, up 3 percent from 2015. Production increased 3 percent for cattle and calves and 2 percent for hogs and pigs.

Total 2016 cash receipts from marketings of meat animals decreased 16 percent to $82.8 billion. Cattle and calves accounted for 77 percent of this total and hogs and pigs accounted for 23 percent.

The 2016 gross income from cattle and calves and hogs and pigs for the United States totaled $83.3 billion, down 16 percent from 2015. Gross income decreased 18 percent for cattle and calves and 9 percent for hogs and pigs from previous year's gross income.

Cattle and Calves: Cash receipts from marketings of cattle and calves decreased 18 percent from $78.1 billion in 2015 to $63.9 billion in 2016. All cattle and calf marketings totaled 54.3 billion pounds in 2016, up 4 percent from 2015.

Hogs and Pigs: Cash receipts from hogs and pigs totaled $18.9 billion during 2016, down 9 percent from 2015. Marketings totaled 36.6 billion pounds in 2016, up 2 percent from 2015.

USDA Milk Production, Disposition, and Income 2016 Summary

Milk production increased 1.8 percent in 2016 to 212 billion pounds. The rate per cow, at 22,774 pounds, was 378 pounds above 2015. The annual average number of milk cows on farms was 9.33 million head, up 14,000 head from 2015.

Cash receipts from marketings of milk during 2016 totaled $34.5 billion, 3.3 percent lower than 2015. Producer returns averaged $16.34 per hundredweight, 5.1 percent below 2015. Marketings totaled 211.4 billion pounds, 1.8 percent above 2015. Marketings include whole milk sold to plants and dealers and milk sold directly to consumers.

An estimated 1.0 billion pounds of milk were used on farms where produced, 3.3 percent more than 2015. Calves were fed 91 percent of this milk, with the remainder consumed in producer households.

Five-State Animal Care and Welfare Webinars Offered

South Dakota livestock producers, industry professionals and 4-H youth are encouraged to tune in the first Wednesday of each month for webinars provided by SDSU Extension.

The Animal Care Wednesday Webinar series is made possible through a five-state partnership of university and extension staff from Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, South Dakota, and Wyoming.

"These webinars are designed to provide a brief snapshot of animal welfare and care topics," said Heidi Carroll, SDSU Extension Livestock Stewardship Associate.

Past webinar topics have included: antibiotic resistance and stewardship, show animal resources on the VFD (veterinary feed directive) changes, medication and remote delivery methods for cattle, equine welfare and neglect and understanding public perceptions of livestock practices.

"We see these webinars as a great way to provide information, while at the same time generating discussion on current animal care topics," Carroll explained.

The 30-minute webinars are held the first Wednesday of each month at 11 a.m. CST. However, anyone is welcome to view the webinar once it has been aired at

"These webinars provide a flexible way to learn about current animal welfare and care topics that impact animal agriculture in the United States," Carroll said.

The May 3 webinar is titled "Cattle Transportation & Preparing for Emergencies". The webinar will be presented by Lisa Pederson, the North Dakota Beef Quality Assurance Specialist.

Conference Works To Increase Inclusion Of U.S. DDGS In South Korea

Ninety-six percent of feed millers in South Korea now include U.S. distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) in their rations for the country’s livestock and poultry industries, thanks in part to work started by the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) in 2004 to introduce this feed ingredient.

How to continue growing this market with nearly 100 percent adoption? Increase average inclusion rates from the current 4.3 percent to the recommended level of 6 percent. To do so, the Council organized a DDGS conference in South Korea on April 25 to provide local millers with additional technical expertise and logistical support.

More than 100 South Korean DDGS buyers, feed formulators, research and development personnel as well as representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) attended the conference. It included one-on-one meetings between U.S. suppliers and South Korean buyers as well as a technical seminar on the nutritional and economic value of U.S. DDGS by Dr. Jerry Shurson from the University of Minnesota. Activities like this conference not only provide valuable education, but also help connect Korean importers and traders to reliable U.S. DDGS suppliers.

“The attendees from the feed industry gave us excellent feedback, reporting that this seminar was timely and very useful,” said Haksoo Kim, USGC Korea director. “Thanks to the Council’s efforts, they now understand the advantages of U.S. DDGS and will increase their inclusion rates.”

South Korea purchases of U.S. DDGS continue to grow. South Korea imported nearly 845,000 metric tons of U.S. DDGS in the 2015/2016 marketing year, up from about 621,000 metric tons the prior year. In the first six months of the 2016/2017 marketing year (Sep. 2016-Feb. 2017), South Korea imported nearly 516,000 metric tons of U.S. DDGS, up 31 percent from the same time period the previous year.

The Council projects that South Korea will continue to increase its imports of U.S. DDGS with the improvement of inclusion rates and more efficient supply systems between U.S. suppliers and South Korean buyers.

Farm Bureau Responds to President’s Tax Plan

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall

“Farmers and ranchers need a tax code that promotes the business of farming and ranching and recognizes the unique financial challenges we face. Farm Bureau welcomes a pro-business approach to tax reform, but any tax reform proposal must treat all businesses fairly. Most farm and ranch businesses don’t operate like large corporations: they are small, family-run businesses that depend on deductions and provisions that give them the flexibility they need to keep their businesses running in all seasons.

“Lower tax rates will go a long way in helping farmers and ranchers. But the future of other important provisions for agriculture—like immediate expensing, the deduction for interest expense, cash accounting and like-kind exchanges—is still unclear to us. Farmers run their businesses in a world of uncertainty—from unpredictable markets to uncertain weather and disease outbreaks. The tax code should not add to the challenges of growing our nation’s food, fuel and fiber. We are ready to work with the administration and Congress to address all of agriculture’s needs in the tax code.

“Farm Bureau is pleased to see President Trump’s plan will immediately take on one of our top concerns, the estate tax. Eliminating the estate tax will free farmers to invest in the future of their family businesses rather than selling off their land and legacy when a family member dies. Farmers and ranchers have already benefitted from congressional action to reduce this burden, and we’re ready to bury the death tax once and for all.”

National FFA Organization Awards More Than $2.7 Million in Scholarships

The National FFA Organization and National FFA Foundation has awarded more than $2.7 million in scholarships to 1,884 recipients. This was made possible thanks to the generosity of 115 sponsors.

More than 8,300 students applied online for the scholarships, with many of the applicants being considered for multiple awards. Approximately one in every four students who applied was awarded a scholarship. The scholarships were available to students pursuing two-year or four-year degrees or vocational programs. The average recipient had a GPA of 3.76 on a 4.0 scale and were in the top 16 percent of their class.

This year marks the 33rd year for the scholarship program, which began in 1984 with 16 scholarships offered. Since then, more than $47 million has been awarded in scholarship funds through the National FFA Organization.

The selection process takes into account the whole student, including FFA involvement, work experience, supervised agricultural experience, community service, leadership skills and academics.

A list of recipients is available on the scholarship results page on Recipients are listed first by the state in which their high school is located then alphabetically by student last name.

National Dairy FARM Program Releases Stockmanship Training Video with BQA

The National Dairy FARM Program announced today the release of a stockmanship training video as part of the program’s partnership with the National Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program.

The 27-minute video is divided into several chapters, including “Point of Balance,” “Understanding the Flight Zone” and “Utilizing Tools to Effectively Move Cattle.” Each segment contains reminder points and multiple choice questions to test viewers on the content. The video can serve as a training resource to satisfy the FARM Animal Care Version 3.0 requirement for annual employee training.

The video, directed by Dr. Robert Hagevoort of New Mexico State and the U.S. Dairy Education & Training Consortium, is available on the FARM Program website and YouTube page in both English and Spanish.

“We are more than happy to develop and provide a tool for farmers and employees that will help them better understand why cows behave the way they do, and as a result become more careful and more efficient animal caretakers,” said Hagevoort.

The FARM Program, created by NMPF in 2009, believes the dairy industry has a great story to tell when it comes to producing safe, abundant and affordable milk and dairy beef. Beef Quality Assurance is a nationally coordinated, state-implemented program that informs U.S. beef producers and consumers about common sense husbandry techniques and accepted scientific knowledge that can help raise cattle under optimum management and environmental conditions. FARM’s partnership with BQA demonstrates that U.S. milk producers are committed to providing the best in animal care, residue prevention and environmental stewardship.

USDA Dairy Products 2016 Production Summary

Total cheese production, excluding cottage cheeses, was 12.2 billion pounds, 2.8 percent above 2015 production. Wisconsin was the leading State with 26.6 percent of the production.

Italian varieties, with 5.29 billion pounds were 4.1 percent above 2015 production and accounted for 43.5 percent of total cheese in 2016. Mozzarella accounted for 77.7 percent of the Italian production followed by Provolone with 7.6 percent and Parmesan with 7.6 percent. Wisconsin was the leading State in Italian cheese production with 30.8 percent of the production.

American type cheese production was 4.76 billion pounds, 1.3 percent above 2015 and accounted for 39.1 percent of total cheese in 2016. Wisconsin was the leading State in American type cheese production with 20.1 percent of the production.

Butter production in the United States during 2016 totaled 1.84 billion pounds, 0.6 percent below 2015. California accounted for 30.6 percent of the production.

Dry milk powders (2016 United States production, comparisons with 2015)
Nonfat dry milk, human - 1.75 billion pounds, down 3.8 percent.
Skim milk powders - 559 million pounds, up 25.3 percent.

Whey products (2016 United States production, comparisons with 2015)
Dry whey, total - 955 million pounds, down 2.3 percent.
Lactose, human and animal - 1.10 billion pounds, up 4.7 percent.
Whey protein concentrate, total - 468 million pounds, down 5.1 percent.

Frozen products (2016 United States production, comparisons with 2015)
Ice cream, Regular (total) - 919 million gallons, up 2.4 percent.
Ice cream, Lowfat (total) - 435 million gallons, down 0.8 percent.
Sherbet (total) - 41.2 million gallons, down 7.9 percent.
Frozen Yogurt (total) - 66.9 million gallons, down 9.8 percent.

Bipartisan Congressional Letter Voices Support for Tackling of Canada’s Protectionist Dairy Practices

Adding to the groundswell of recognition that Canada’s protectionist dairy policies are harmful to U.S. dairy exports, a bipartisan group of 68 members of the House of Representatives wrote to President Donald Trump yesterday urging him to insist that Canada comply with its dairy trade commitments, including those under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

At a time when questions are arising about the future of the U.S. role in NAFTA, the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) and the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) said the 25-year-old pact is a critically important agreement that needs to be modernized, not withdrawn from, as they praised the congressional letter’s focus on ways to improve upon the existing NAFTA trade relationship.

The congressional letter to President Trump followed a call Tuesday between him and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during which dairy exports were among the key topics discussed. The letter was spearheaded by Reps. Chris Collins (R-NY), Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Sean Duffy (R-WI), Ron Kind (D-WI), Elise Stefanik (R-NY) and Peter Welch (D-VT).

“We very much appreciate the bipartisan support from Members of Congress on this important issue. As the U.S. reviews the value of NAFTA, it’s essential that our trade negotiators focus on preserving dairy trade with Mexico and other key markets, while challenging barriers such as Canada’s systematic abuse of trade rules and tools,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF.  He said that Canada’s new pricing policy uses a government-administered system to hurt the U.S. dairy industry, “undercutting our farmers’ exports and threatening to cause great damage to world dairy prices by dumping Canada’s surplus on the world market.”

“U.S. dairy companies and the workers they employ across rural America compete in global markets on a daily basis. They should reasonably be able to expect that others are also going to play by the rules,” said Tom Vilsack, president and CEO of USDEC. “When our trading partners hold up their end of the bargain – as we have seen Mexico do for dairy – trade benefits our farmers, workers and companies. But to preserve that positive impact, it’s essential that we hold countries accountable when they walk the other direction, too – as Canada has chosen to do on dairy.”

“We appreciate the efforts of each member of Congress who signed the letter, recognizing the importance of our exports to Mexico while noting that Canadian dairy policies are directly hurting American exports,” said Michael Dykes, D.V.M., president and CEO of IDFA. “As we conveyed to our Mexican partners in our visit there earlier this year, NAFTA is very important to both our countries and has yielded strong benefits for agriculture. To build upon that track record, we need to address unfinished business such as the remaining tariff and nontariff trade barriers that Canada has pursued.”

The letter cited the importance of exports to the U.S. dairy industry, noting that approximately 15 percent of U.S. milk production amounting to roughly $5 billion a year leaves the country. As the letter stated, “the U.S. dairy sector relies on its exports to survive,” making Canada’s latest policy aimed at upending both bilateral and global dairy trade particularly harmful. In addition, the letter noted that “U.S. exports helped the dairy sector maintain roughly 110,000 U.S. jobs in farming and manufacturing.”

IGC Raises Global Output Forecasts for 2016-17 and 2017-18

The International Grains Council said Thursday that it still expects global grain production to break the 2.1 billion metric ton mark to reach the highest ever volume, largely thanks to strong maize production in the southern hemisphere.

The IGC upped its monthly output forecast for 2016-17 to 2,111 million tons from its adjusted estimate of 2,106 million tons given at the end of March. This represents a 5% year-on-year increase.

The grains body also released updated estimates for global grain production in 2017-18, inching its forecast up to 2,054 million tons from 2,050 million tons. Despite the increase, this would still constitute a 3% year-on-year drop.

Forecasts of huge harvests across several grain-producing regions has seen the IGC raise its production forecast in 11 of its last 12 reports.

Of the expected 36 million ton production increase on-the-year, the IGC says wheat and maize will account for 17 million tons and 18 million tons of that increase, respectively.

The IGC upgraded its corn production forecast to 1,059 million tons from 1,053 million tons and its soybean forecast to 345 million tons. The body forecast wheat production at 753 million tons, also maintaining its expectation of a 1 million ton increase in rice production to 483 million tons.

Strong soy bean production in Brazil is one of the drivers behind the IGC's production forecast hike.

Robust wheat buying in India also keeps pressure on global trade demand.

The council said the upward revision in expected production slightly outstrips a hike in its consumption forecast. As a result, its forecast for year-end global grain inventories was raised by 3 million tons to 516 million tons.

Arysta LifeScience Granted EPA Approval for New Plant Growth Stimulant

Following Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approval, Arysta LifeScience North America recently announced the launch of RIO™, a plant growth stimulant that activates endogenous natural plant hormone activity for enhanced plant reproductive growth.

RIO is the newest brand in the company’s BioSolutions portfolio. The product is labeled for various specialty and row crops.

“At Arysta LifeScience, we understand the growing interest and demand for plant growth stimulants, as they allow growers to enhance their crops’ genetic expressions and reach their genetic potential. Plant growth stimulants is just one area in which Arysta LifeScience is providing our customers with more choices and more ways to improve the quality of their crops and the boost to their yields,” said Royce Schulte, BioSolutions Business Manager, Arysta LifeScience. “RIO is derived from natural plant sources and encourages plants to reach their full potential.”

How RIO Works

RIO boosts natural plant hormone activity that allows plants to develop more effectively, including mineral uptake, cell division (for roots, stems and leaves), chlorophyll and photosynthesis activity, fruit set and growth, and nutrient and carbohydrate translocation to the growing fruit. This efficacy – in turn – can result in higher yields and improved crop quality.

“The active ingredients in RIO work similarly to the way plant growth regulators work, but the product stimulates natural plant hormone activity,’ Schulte explained.

The mode of action in RIO also activates metabolic pathways and influences root development, which leads to increased foliar area, formation of more vigorous floral buds, high flower/fruit sets and increased size/consistency of fruit.

“With RIO, growers should see increased yields and improved quality of various specialty and row crops,” Schulte concluded.

For additional information on RIO or the BioSolutions portfolio of products, ask your retailer or local Arysta LifeScience sales representative, or visit