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Chad Moyer | KTIC Radio

Chad Moyer

Welcome to the KTIC Agriculture Information blog!!! Check back here for the latest in ag news and information, from local events to international happenings and government reports that affect your operation. Please email with suggestions! -Chad Moyer, Farm Director, KTIC Radio
Friday April 21 Cattle on Feed Report + Ag News


Nebraska feedlots, with capacities of 1,000 or more head, contained 2.46 million cattle on feed on April 1, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. This inventory was up 1 percent from last year.  Placements during March totaled 495,000 head, up 9 percent from 2016. Placements were the highest for March since the series began in 1996.  Fed cattle marketings for the month of March totaled 465,000 head, up 9 percent from last year. Marketings were the highest for March since the series began in 1996. Other disappearance during March totaled 10,000 head, unchanged from last year.


Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 670,000 head on April 1, 2017, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Cattle on Feed report. This was up 3 percent from March 1, 2017, and up 5 percent from April 1, 2016. Iowa feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head had 610,000 head on feed, up 2 percent from last month but down 3 percent from last year. Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in all Iowa feedlots totaled 1,280,000 head, up 2 percent from last month and up 1 percent from last year.

Placements of cattle and calves in Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head during March totaled 116,000 head, an increase of 14 percent from last month and up 23 percent from last year. Feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head placed 70,000 head, up 19 percent from last month and up 43 percent from last year. Placements for all feedlots in Iowa totaled 186,000 head, up 16 percent from last month and up 30 percent from last year.

Marketings of fed cattle from Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head during March totaled 93,000 head, up 4 percent from last month and up 15 percent from last year. Feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head marketed 56,000 head, up 33 percent from last month but unchanged from last year. Marketings for all feedlots in Iowa were 149,000 head, up 14 percent from last month and up 9 percent from last year. Other disappearance from all feedlots in Iowa totaled 7,000 head.

United States Cattle on Feed Up Slightly

Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 10.9 million head on April 1, 2017. The inventory was slightly above April 1, 2016. The inventory included 7.23 million steers and steer calves, down 2 percent from the previous year. This group accounted for 66 percent of the total inventory. Heifers and heifer calves accounted for 3.67 million head, up 5 percent from 2016.

By State - On Feed  (1,000 hd - % of  April 1 '16)

Colorado .......:                  930                    103      
Iowa .............:                  670                     105      
Kansas ..........:                2,260                   104      
Nebraska ......:                2,460                   101    
Texas ............:                2,460                    98        

Placements in feedlots during March totaled 2.10 million head, 11 percent above 2016. Placements were the highest for March since the series began in 1996. Net placements were 2.05 million head. During March, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 350,000 head, 600-699 pounds were 295,000 head, 700-799 pounds were 620,000 head, 800-899 pounds were 585,000, 900-999 pounds were 185,000, and 1,000 pounds and greater were 67,000 head.

By State - March Placements

                         (1,000 hd - % of  March '16)
Colorado .......:         195             118      
Iowa .............:          116             123    
Kansas ..........:         490              115       
Nebraska ......:         495              109      
Texas ............:         460              101       

Marketings of fed cattle during March totaled 1.91 million head, 10 percent above 2016.  Other disappearance totaled 56,000 head during March, 10 percent below 2016.

By State - March Marketings

                         (1,000 hd - % of  March '16)
Colorado .......:         170             113      
Iowa .............:           93              115    
Kansas ..........:          430             110   
Nebraska ......:          465             109     
Texas ............:          425             108     

Statement by Dan Wesely on behalf of the Nebraska Agriculture Leaders Working Group Regarding Legislative Debate on LB 461

“Today the Nebraska Legislature started debate on LB 461, legislation that, as advanced by the Legislature’s Revenue Committee fails to provide meaningful and substantial property tax reform and relief for Nebraskans.”

“The balance of tax relief under consideration in LB 461 is completely misguided considering what is being asked for by Nebraska property tax payers. This measure would provide only one dollar of property tax relief for every $10 in income tax cuts. Furthermore, the bill fails to deliver property tax relief for all property taxpayers in Nebraska.”

“Our tax system is already woefully out of balance with property taxes accounting for 48 percent of the combined collections of property, state sales, and state income taxes. Advancing LB 461 where income tax cuts receive the lion’s share of relief will only push our tax system further out of balance.”

“Any action by the Legislature related to tax reform, must provide meaningful and substantive property tax relief. Reversing the script where $10 in property tax relief is provided for every 1 dollar in income tax cuts is the tax reform the Legislature should be discussing.”

“Our organizations will continue to work with the Legislature to achieve the balance that meets the needs of all Nebraska property taxpayers.”

The Agriculture Leaders Working Group includes member-elected leaders from the Nebraska Cattlemen, Nebraska Corn Growers Association, Nebraska Farm Bureau, Nebraska Pork Producers Association, Nebraska Soybean Association, and the Nebraska State Dairy Association.

Those participating in the Agriculture Leaders Working Group include:

Troy Stowater – Nebraska Cattlemen, president
Galen Frenzen – Nebraska Cattlemen, president-elect
Dan Wesely – Nebraska Corn Growers Association, president
Steve Ebke – Nebraska Corn Growers Association, past president
Steve Nelson – Nebraska Farm Bureau, president
Mark McHargue – Nebraska Farm Bureau, first vice president
Russ Vering – Nebraska Pork Producers Association, president
Darin Uhlir – Nebraska Pork Producers Association, vice president
Kevin Peterson – Nebraska Pork Producers Association, vice president
Tim Chancellor – Nebraska Pork Producers Association, vice president
Dennis Fujan – Nebraska Soybean Association, president
Dwaine Junck – Nebraska State Dairy Association, vice president
Doug Temme – Nebraska State Dairy Association, past president

Merlyn Nielsen on behalf of Nebraskans United for Property Tax Reform and Education Regarding LB 461 Floor Debate

“As our coalition has stated on numerous occasions, Nebraskans want and need tax reform that reduces our state’s overreliance on local property taxes to fund government services and education. LB 461 is a misguided piece of legislation that does nothing to lessen the reliance on property taxes for hard working Nebraskans, but instead calls for major cuts to income taxes that could threaten future state resources for funding education. The failure of the Legislature to appropriately provide state funding to schools has continued to put greater pressure on local property taxes to fund this priority, LB 461 will only make this situation worse.”

“The Legislature’s inability to advance this bill during floor debate today is a clear indicator that this proposal fails to meet the broader needs of Nebraskans. It’s our hope that common sense will prevail and our governor and state senators who are pushing this bill will come to recognize that threatening the future education of our children and leaving property taxpayers to pay the bill for irresponsible state tax policy is not the right path forward to growing our state.”

“We are committed to protecting K-12 education and providing meaningful tax relief to all Nebraska property taxpayers who have been unfairly burdened by property taxes and we’ll continue to urge the Legislature to do the right thing for the future of Nebraska.”

Nebraskans United for Property Tax Reform and Education includes property owners, ag and education groups, school board members, superintendents (representing all school districts across the state), and other taxpayers across Nebraska who have come together to urge the legislature to act this year to balance the state's property tax system and reduce the overreliance on property taxes to adequately fund K-12 education. Nebraska needs a more equitable system to fund the state's education priorities.

Nebraskans United for Property Tax Reform and Education includes:

Center for Rural Affairs
Gage County Property Tax Group
Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska
Nebraska Corn Growers Association
Nebraska Council of School Administrators
Nebraska Fair
Nebraska Farm Bureau
Nebraska Farmers Union
Nebraska Grange
Nebraska Pork Producers
Nebraska Soybean Association
Nebraska State Education Association
Reform for Nebraska’s Future                                     
Stand For Schools
The Nebraska Wheat Growers
Women Involved in Farm Economics       
Nebraska Rural Community Schools Association: Representing 195 K-12 Districts across 89 counties
Greater Nebraska Schools Association: Bellevue, Bennington, Blair, Columbus, Elkhorn, Fremont, Gering, Grand Island, Gretna, Hastings, Kearney, Lexington, Lincoln, McCook, Millard, Norfolk, Norris, North Platte, Omaha, Papillion-La Vista, Plattsmouth, Ralston, Schuyler, South Sioux City, Westside Community Public Schools.
Schools Taking Action for Nebraska Children’s Education: Beatrice, Blair, Chadron, Columbus, Crete, Fairbury, Gothenburg, Holdrege, Nebraska City, Norris, Seward, South Sioux City, Wahoo, Waverly, York Public Schools.

Rebuild Nebraska members respond in opposition to LB 461

“LB 461 is a package that risks vital services upon which Nebraskans rely, including quality schools, dependable health care and safe roads. We are proud of our organizations’ tradition of standing up for families, communities, businesses, schools, infrastructure, and workforce through a fair, stable, sustainable, and progressive tax system that supports the good life. LB 461 is similar to devastating tax policies that have destroyed the economies of Kansas and Oklahoma. Nebraska legislators should reject this ill-conceived tax clone legislation, which is nothing but a tax cut for the wealthy."

Rebuild Nebraska is a group of Nebraska stakeholders and more than a dozen organizations dedicated to rebuilding Nebraska’s families, farmers and ranchers, communities, businesses, schools, infrastructure, and workforce though a stable, sustainable, and progressive tax system.

Rebuild Nebraska organizations include:

Center for People in Need
Center for Rural Affairs
Community Action of Nebraska
Disability Rights Nebraska
Heartland Workers Center
Nebraska Association of Public Employees
Nebraska Farmers Union
Nebraska State Education Association
Nonprofit Association of the Midlands
Stand for Schools
The Nebraska Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers
Voices for Children in Nebraska
Women’s Fund of Omaha


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Many of us have wetland pastures that contain lots of reed canarygrass.  For many of you, it might be the first perennial grass ready for grazing this spring.

               Reed canarygrass produces high yields and grows very well in wetlands.  It also grows well in well-drained soils.  It would be one of our most popular pasture grasses if it wasn’t so hard to graze due to problems it has with low palatability.

               Reed canarygrass has two things working against it.  First, it naturally contains some unpalatable compounds called alkaloids that discourage animals from eating it.  Secondly, the plant produces a course stem that makes it difficult to eat.

               If you have reed canarygrass pasture, the only way I have found to use it effectively is to always graze it before it gets very tall.  Ideally, this means that when the grass gets about eight to ten inches tall, and no taller, immediately graze it down to three or four inches in just a couple of days and then move off to another grazing area.  When it regrows back to eight to ten inches tall, graze it again.  Every time it regrows, graze it again.

               During fast growth in spring, you might need to graze the same area every two or three weeks.  This takes some dedication, planning, and intensive management.  If the grass gets away from you, animals will just nibble at some leaves, trampling the rest.  Then you might be better off cutting the taller growth for hay, followed by renewing your intensive grazing as regrowth begins.

               Reed canarygrass is not as bad a pasture grass as many people think.  But it does take some knowledge about the plant and some dedicated management to get good use from it.

Nebraska corn farmers to invest more than $2.5 billion to plant 9.6 million acres

Nebraska corn farmers will plant 9.6 million acres of corn in 2017 according to the latest Prospective Plantings report released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). This is down 3 percent from last year’s total planted corn acres.

If these planting estimates hold up, Nebraska corn farmers will invest nearly $2.5 billion dollars into the state’s economy over a two-month period. This amount is a result of inputs, such as seed, fuel and fertilizer, but does not include land costs, labor or equipment. Despite the seemingly high investments now, the full economic impact will be realized over time.

“$2.5 billion is a significant investment made by Nebraska’s corn farmers. However, that investment is made at a critical time, as planting sets the foundation for the entire corn growing season,” said Boone McAfee, director of research at the Nebraska Corn Board. “Planting is just the first step in the corn value-added supply chain. As corn is converted into meat, bioplastics, ethanol, and other products, the full economic impact of Nebraska’s corn industry far exceeds the initial investment.”

Farmers historically begin to plant their corn crops in mid-April and try to finish by mid-May. However, weather often dictates when farmers can plant. This year’s moderately dry winter caused concern over available soil moisture during planting time. The latest Nebraska Crop Progress and Condition report released by the USDA (for the week ending April 16, 2017), indicated topsoil moisture supplies in Nebraska rated 5 percent very short, 18 percent short, 74 percent adequate and 3 percent surplus.

“Each year, farmers strive to produce a high quality corn crop using less resources and by managing inputs efficiently,” said David Merrell, farmer from St. Edward and chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board. “Nebraska has long been the third largest producer of corn in the United States, which has greatly enhanced our state’s rural and urban economies.”

Even though the corn industry is an economic booster for Nebraska, farmers face challenges in the months ahead.

“Continued low prices coupled with higher input costs continue to make margins slim for the producer. It’s important for us to always seek out and invest in new market opportunities to enhance the value and demand for corn,” said Merrell. “Global trade is also vital to our industry.”

Nationally, farmers are estimated to plant nearly 90 million acres of corn in 2017, which is down 4 percent from last year. If realized, this will be the lowest planted acreage since 2015, when U.S. farmers planted 88 million acres of corn.

Ricketts Announces 2017 Nebraska Leopold Conservation Award Recipient

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts joined Sand County Foundation, the Nebraska Cattlemen, Cargill, and the Nebraska Environmental Trust to announce K & W Farms as the recipient of the 2017 Nebraska Leopold Conservation Award®. The annual award honors Nebraska landowner achievement in voluntary stewardship and management of natural resources.

Kurt and Wayne Kaup own and manage K & W Farms in Stuart, Neb., where they raise hogs and crops. With a commitment toward improving natural resources on the land, The Kaups are leaders in implementing no-till farming strategies combined with the use of cover crops to improve the soil, reduce erosion and recycle nutrients.

Understanding that their farming practices impact the environment around them, wildlife, from pollinators and songbirds to deer and waterfowl, benefits from the family's conservation practices. The environmental gem of K & W farms is a spring-fed cold water trout stream that originates on the property, which has produced a strong conservation partnership with Nebraska Game and Parks and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

"Congratulations to the Kaup family on winning this coveted award," said Governor Ricketts. "Nebraska's Farmers and ranchers are the original conservationists of our great state. Long before modern conservationists organized, ag producers were caring for and tending the land, so they could pass it on to the next generation.  The Kaup family are an excellent example of how conservation and agriculture continue to work hand-in-hand to grow Nebraska."

The Leopold Conservation Award is presented in honor of renowned conservationist and author Aldo Leopold, who called for an ethical relationship between people and the land they own and manage.  Award applicants are judged based on their demonstration of improved resource conditions, innovation, long-term commitment to stewardship, sustained economic viability, community and civic leadership, and multiple use benefits.

"Governor Ricketts understands that Nebraska's farmers and ranchers are integral to the health of the state's natural resources," said Kevin McAleese, Sand County Foundation President.  "We appreciate the Governor's continued participation in this important celebration of sustainable agriculture on private lands."

"Nebraska Cattlemen is excited that a hog producer has joined the ranks of the many cattlemen and women who have won this prestigious award. Conservation on private lands is thriving in all sectors of agriculture.  Kurt and Wayne have shown tremendous dedication to their land, and we are proud to welcome the Kaups into the Nebraska Leopold family," said Nebraska Cattlemen President Troy Stowater.

"The Nebraska Environmental Trust is very honored to be part of the annual Leopold Conservation Award in Nebraska recognizing families that do so much for conservation like the Kaups," said Mark Brohman, Executive Director of the Nebraska Environmental Trust.  "The Kaups have demonstrated their love of the land by their no-till practices, use of cover crops, management of their cold water stream, pollinator plantings and other habitat work.  They also participate in their community and share their knowledge."  

"Cargill appreciates the valuable work farmers and ranchers across Nebraska do each day as responsible stewards of the environment and natural resources. The Kaup family demonstrates the positive impact responsible land management and conservation practices have on soil health and wildlife habitat preservation through their leadership, management practices and continued commitment to enhance and improve their efforts for a more sustainable future," said Brett Walters, general manager of Cargill in Schuyler.

The Leopold Conservation Award in Nebraska is possible thanks to generous contributions from many organizations, including: Cargill, Farm Credit Services of America, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Nebraska Audubon Society, Ducks Unlimited, Green Cover Seed, Nebraska Land Trust, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Nebraska Department of Agriculture, Nebraska Environmental Trust, Nebraska Game & Parks Commission, Rainwater Basin Joint Venture, Sandhills Task Force, Tri-State Generation & Transmission Assoc. and the World Wildlife Fund.

One-Day Field Scouting Basics Course for Corn and Soybean Crop Scouts

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is offering a Field Scouting Basics Workshop on Tuesday, May 16, at the Field Extension Education Laboratory (FEEL) near Boone, Iowa. Designed for beginning-level crop scouts, the course provides hands-on, in-field experience to crop scouts for the 2017 growing season.

“The goal of the workshop is to provide a hands-on learning opportunity at the field lab, and help participants feel confident when they’re scouting fields in 2017,” said Warren Pierson, program specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach. “Scouts are the "eyes and ears" in the field and their reports help drive pest management decisions. Crop scouts often discover other problems in the field, such as nutrient deficiencies, implement malfunctions, and other issues, that might not otherwise be noticed during the growing season.”

ISU Extension and Outreach specialists and field agronomists provide instruction on the principles of integrated pest management with emphasis on weed, insect and crop disease identification in Iowa corn and soybean production. An overview of basic field scouting skills including sample collection, observation and documentation is also offered.

New this year is the addition of an optional session for Agricultural Worker Pesticide Safety. Recent updates to the Worker Protection Standard require crop scouts entering fields where pesticides have been applied to receive training before they begin work and every 12 months.

The Field Scouting Basics Workshop presentation topics and ISU Extension and Outreach instructors include:
-    Crop scouting tips and tools – Angie Rieck-Hinz, extension field agronomist
-    Corn and soybean growth and development – Mark Licht, extension cropping systems agronomist
-    Weed identification – Bob Hartzler, extension weed specialist
-    Disease identification – Alison Robertson, extension plant pathologist
-    Insect identification – Erin Hodgson, extension entomologist
-    Agricultural Worker Pesticide Safety – Betsy Buffington, extension program specialist

Registration check-in opens at 8:30 a.m. The program starts at 9 a.m. and adjourns at 2 p.m. Optional Worker Protection Safety Training follows from 2:10-3:10 p.m. Pre-registration is required and must be completed before midnight, May 10. Registration is $65. Additional workshop information and online registration is available at

For assistance with registration, receipts, cancellation or questions on the status of your registration contact ANR Program Services at 515-294-6429 or

First Quarter Grain Inspections Reach Record High

According to USDA's Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration, during the first quarter of 2017 grain (corn, wheat, and soybeans) inspected for export from all U.S. ports reached a record 35.7 million metric tons, up 25 percent from the same quarter last year and 28 percent above the 5-year average.

First quarter corn inspections, driven by high supplies, were the second highest on record. Shipments of corn increased to Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

Total soybean inspections were down slightly from last year, but wheat inspections were the highest since 2012, due mainly to increased demand from Latin America, Asia, and Africa.

The Gulf’s share of total grain exports continued to increase during the first quarter, as demand jumped for corn and wheat.

The Pacific Northwest's share of total grain exports decreased slightly from last year.

First quarter Gulf corn and soybean inspections increased significantly from last year, but wheat inspections in the Gulf were down slightly.

Gulf grain inspections destined to Latin America jumped 105 percent from last year, and shipments to Asia increased 24 percent.

Barge movements of grain through the Mississippi River locks were also up significantly from last year during the first quarter.

Webinar IDs Food Influencers Setting Trends

You are invited to join The Center for Food Integrity (CFI) Tuesday, April 25, 1 to 2 p.m. CDT, for the webinar “An Inside Look at Influencers Impacting Food and Ag.”  In its latest trust research, CFI and research partner MotivIndex used digital ethnography in the first-of-its-kind study on consumer attitudes and behaviors to identify the most influential audiences – they’re values, motivations, beliefs, concerns and emotional triggers. We also identified:
·        How influencers connect online
·        Emerging trends
·        Trusted brands and sources
·        Channels used to shape their beliefs
The research revealed that Peak Performers were identified as one of five influential Consumer Types impacting conversations and setting trends in food and agriculture. On the webinar, CFI will be joined by MotivIndex to take a deeper dive into Peak Performers and how those in food and agriculture can engage to earn trust.    Register here... 

National Dairy FARM Program Releases Environmental Stewardship Reference Manual to Celebrate Earth Day

The National Dairy FARM Program has released its Environmental Stewardship Continuous Improvement Reference Manual in cooperation with the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy. Released in celebration of Earth Day, the guide provides a comprehensive suite of on-farm management practices to reduce a farm’s environmental footprint and improve its profitability.

Specifically, the manual features a detailed explanation of the FARM Environmental Stewardship (ES) module, as well as strategies to reduce on-farm greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in various areas of farm management, including feed, manure, energy, forage, and animal health.

“FARM Environmental Stewardship helps us tell our story in a measurable, science-based way while providing business value that is both financially and environmentally beneficial,” said Mike McCloskey, Chairman of the NMPF Environmental Committee, Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy Environmental Stewardship Committee and co-founder of fairlife, LLC.  “The FARM Environmental Stewardship Continuous Improvement Reference Manual provides a resource that aggregates existing science and technology that can help us drive continuous improvement, all while tracking our progress in a way we can share with dairy customers.”

FARM ES is a voluntary, farmer-driven tool that helps producers expand their sustainability efforts by using a limited amount of data about their farm. The module is based on a life-cycle assessment (LCA) of fluid milk conducted by the Applied Sustainability Center at the University of Arkansas, incorporating existing data from more than 500 dairy farms across the United States. Launched in February, FARM ES is the third of the FARM Program’s three silos, including Animal Care and Antibiotic Stewardship.

The FARM ES reference manual was developed by FARM and includes previous work completed by the Innovation Center. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) led an independent review of the manual using a panel of subject matter experts.

“In an increasingly resource scarce world, we need to produce more food on the current amount of land, with less inputs and environmental impacts,” said Sandra Vijn, director for markets and food at WWF. “FARM ES will support U.S. dairy farmers in continuously identifying better management practices for environmental stewardship. That is why WWF works with NMPF, the industry and dairy experts to ensure the program produces the best resources and solutions for farmers in terms of environmental sustainability.”

This manual further demonstrates the dairy industry’s culture of continuous improvement, the focus of the FARM Program. Since 1944, the carbon footprint of a gallon of milk has decreased by 63 percent – a leading example of farmers’ dedication to being good stewards of natural resources.

In addition to the manual, the FARM Program has developed an extensive library of resources regarding the program and environmental stewardship. It can be found on the Environmental Stewardship page of the FARM website...

Countdown to 2017 Census of Agriculture

America's farmers and ranchers will soon have the opportunity to strongly represent agriculture in their communities and industry by taking part in the 2017 Census of Agriculture. Conducted every five years by the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service, the census, to be mailed at the end of this year, is a complete count of all U.S. farms, ranches, and those who operate them.

Producers who are new to farming or did not receive a Census of Agriculture in 2012 still have time to sign up to receive the 2017 Census of Agriculture report form by visiting and clicking on the 'Make Sure You Are Counted' button through June.

NASS defines a farm as any place from which $1,000 or more of agricultural products were produced and sold, or normally would have been sold, during the census year.

For more information about the 2017 Census of Agriculture and to see how census data are used, visit or call (800) 727-9540.

CropLife America Promotes the Protection of Soil, Water and Air on Earth Day

CropLife America (CLA) is excited to celebrate Earth Day tomorrow and recognize the importance of the world’s natural resources in growing food for every living being. Healthy soil and clean water are the foundation of our global food system, and it is imperative to advance technology to protect these vital resources. The crop protection industry remains committed to developing the most precise tools possible for fighting crop threats that target pests and eliminate or minimize adverse effects on the environment. Earth Day and the March for Science gatherings happening around the world tomorrow provide a prime opportunity for groups to discuss food science and how technology can contribute to protecting our soil, water and air.

“With Rachel Carson’s advocacy efforts and the subsequent inception of Earth Day, agriculture and many other industries were challenged to take a deeper look at the larger impacts of our work,” stated Jay Vroom, president and CEO of CLA. “The crop protection industry has a responsibility to keep food growing both today and into the future. The development of crop protection tools – such as herbicides, fungicides and insecticides – rests in science. We encourage everyone participating in the marches and other Earth Day activities tomorrow to take a second look at how we can use technology to bring agriculture forward, while protecting the planet!”

The 2017 global Earth Day theme, developed by the Earth Day Network (EDN), is Environmental & Climate Literacy. The organization is encouraging participation at the March for Science in Washington, DC, tomorrow, stating on its website: “This Earth Day, join the effort to defend the vital public service role science plays in our communities and our world. Science serves all of us. It protects our air and water, preserves our planet, saves lives with medical treatments, creates new industries, puts food on our tables, educates the next generation, and safeguards our future.”

CLA has developed downloadable materials that communicate how technology has helped make the U.S. a leader in sustainable food production, such as:
-    Science: It’s Kind of a Big Deal
-    A Colossal Carbon Sink
-    Conservation Tillage
-    For Farmers, Every Day is Earth Day
-    Seed to Plate

If you have ideas or concerns on how to move U.S. farming forward, get involved now with the conversation online with #FoodForward or #GiveaCrop. CLA actively engages with consumers, food bloggers, farmers, chefs, foodies, journalists and others interested in food production on social media, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. For more information on how farmers use crop protection technology to grow healthful and nutritious food, visit

Thursday April 20 Ag News


Agriculture is the state’s largest industry, and the Nebraska Agricultural Youth Council (NAYC) wants to make sure that elementary school students know how important ag is. This week, the NAYC will host its annual Urban Youth Farm Tour connecting elementary-age students from Lincoln with area farms to experience agriculture up close and learn from working farmers and ranchers how our food is produced.

The tour will take place Friday, April 21. NAYC members will be joined by nearly 250 elementary students and their teachers from elementary schools in Lincoln as they visit operating beef, dairy and grain farms near Wahoo. The Nebraska Department of Agriculture’s (NDA) sponsors the NAYC.  The Nebraska Corn Board is sponsoring the transportation costs for the students to attend the tour.

“It’s important to show young people firsthand what agriculture is and how the industry impacts their lives daily,” said NDA Director Greg Ibach. “These tours will give urban students an opportunity to experience life on a farm and learn more about agriculture.  We are very grateful for the farmers and ranchers in the Wahoo area that are willing to take time out of their busy days to personally share their stories with these young Nebraskans.”

The NAYC consists of 21 college-age men and women who have been selected by NDA to promote agriculture to youth. Council members are chosen based on their enthusiasm, interest and leadership in agriculture. This year, the NAYC is celebrating its 46th anniversary of promoting agriculture to Nebraska youth, from preschoolers to high school students.


As spring planting season gets underway, the Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) wants to remind farmers and other outdoor pesticide applicators to work together to protect sensitive specialty crops and pollinators from pesticide use. Pesticides include all categories of pest control products such as herbicides, insecticides and fungicides.

“Pesticides are important to farm management, but they affect commodity crops and specialty crops differently,” said NDA Director Greg Ibach. “For example, herbicide applications are critical for corn and soybean production, but some specialty crops, like grape vines and hops, are extremely sensitive to these products.”

One way farmers and other pesticide applicators can reduce potential damage to specialty crops and pollinators is by communicating with one another throughout the planting and growing season.

DriftWatch™ and BeeCheck™ are online mapping services from FieldWatch that allow those with commercial specialty crops, organic crops and beehives to report their field locations. It’s voluntary, free, easy to use and secure. Pesticide applicators can review the website to gain an understanding of the locations of specialty crops in their area. Included in the registry are commercial apiary sites, vineyards, orchards, fruit and vegetable grow sites, nursery and Christmas tree production sites and certified organic crops.

In Nebraska, 466 growers have registered a total of 1,151 specialty crops sites on DriftWatch™.  Those sites are currently found in 74 of Nebraska’s 93 counties.

“As producers continue to register their sensitive specialty crops, I encourage them and pesticide applicators to work together to protect sensitive specialty crops,” said Ibach.

DriftWatch™ and BeeCheck™ can be found online at NDA monitors the DriftWatch™ website for the state. For more information contact Craig Romary at (402) 471-2351.

Rural Mainstreet Sinks for the Month: Farm Loans Rise to Record Level

April Survey Results at a Glance:
·       The overall index fell below growth neutral for the 20th straight month.
·       Loan volume soars to record level as banks reject fewer loan applications.
·       Almost one-third of bankers indicate no change in lending practices stemming from the downturn in the farm economy.
·       For 2017, bank CEOs expect approximate cash expenses to exceed cash revenues for  17.1 percent of grain farmers,  down from 19.5 percent in 2016.
·       Farmland prices declined for the 41st straight month, but the percent of cash  farmland sales remained steady from 2015.

The Creighton University Rural Mainstreet Index remained weak with a reading below growth neutral for the 20th straight month, according to the monthly survey of bank CEOs in rural areas of a 10-state region dependent on agriculture and/or energy.  

Overall: The index, which ranges between 0 and 100, slipped to 44.6 from 45.3 in March. The last time the overall index was at or above growth neutral was August 2015.

“Weak farm commodity prices continue to squeeze Rural Mainstreet economies. Over the last 12 months, livestock commodity prices have tumbled by 5.8 percent and grain commodity prices have slumped by 4.5 percent. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is estimating  2017 will mark the fourth consecutive year that farm income has declined. This downward trend has pushed our survey results into negative territory,” said Ernie Goss, Jack A. MacAllister Chair in Regional Economics at Creighton University's Heider College of Business.

Farming and ranching:
The farmland and ranchland-price index for April slumped to a frail 30.7 from March’s 33.0. This is the 41st straight month the index has languished below growth neutral 50.0.

The April farm equipment-sales index sank to a very weak 21.5 from 22.0 in February. This marks the 44th consecutive month the reading has fallen below growth neutral 50.0. 

The Nebraska RMI for April rose slightly to a weak 43.9 from 43.3 in March. The state’s farmland-price index fell to 30.4 from March’s 32.0. Nebraska’s new-hiring index expanded to 59.3 from 57.1 in March.

The April RMI for Iowa sank to 39.1 from 40.0 in March. Iowa’s farmland-price index for April sank to 28.5 from 30.4 in March. Iowa’s new-hiring index for April climbed to 51.5 from March’s 50.5.

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.


Milk production in Nebraska during the January-March 2017 quarter totaled 352 million pounds, up slightly from the January-March quarter last year, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. The average number of milk cows was 60,000 head, unchanged from the same period last year.

USDA: January-March Milk Production up 1.0 Percent

Milk production in the United States during the January - March quarter totaled 53.5 billion pounds, up 1.0 percent from the January - March quarter last year.  The average number of milk cows in the United States during the quarter was 9.37 million head, 25,000 head more than the October - December quarter, and 57,000 head more than the same period last year.

March Milk Production up 1.8 Percent

Milk production in the 23 major States during March totaled 17.5 billion pounds, up 1.8 percent from March 2016. February revised production at 15.6 billion pounds, was down 1.2 percent from February 2016. However, production was 2.3 percent above last year after adjusting for the leap year. The February revision represented a decrease of 27 million pounds or 0.2 percent from last month's preliminary production estimate.  Production per cow in the 23 major States averaged 2,012 pounds for March, 18 pounds above March 2016. This is the highest production per cow for the month of March since the 23 State series began in 2003.  The number of milk cows on farms in the 23 major States was 8.71 million head, 72,000 head more than March 2016, and 15,000 head more than February 2017.

Milk production in Iowa during March 2017 totaled 444 million pounds, up 2 percent from the previous March according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Milk Production report. The average number of milk cows during March, at 216,000 head, was the same as last month, but 4,000 more than last year. Monthly production per cow averaged 2,055 pounds, up 10 pounds from last March.

Record Total Red Meat and Pork Production for March

Commercial red meat production for the United States totaled 4.54 billion pounds in March, up 6 percent from the 4.26 billion pounds produced in March 2016.

By State:  (million lbs.   -   % March '16)

Nebraska .......:         707.1            105      
Iowa ..............:         640.7            106      
Kansas ...........:         476.2            109      

Beef production, at 2.25 billion pounds, was 7 percent above the previous year. Cattle slaughter totaled 2.77 million head, up 9 percent from March 2016. The average live weight was down 20 pounds from the previous year, at 1,350 pounds.

Veal production totaled 6.4 million pounds, 1 percent above March a year ago. Calf slaughter totaled 45,000 head, up 25 percent from March 2016. The average live weight was down 56 pounds from last year, at 246 pounds.

Pork production totaled 2.27 billion pounds, up 6 percent from the previous year. Hog slaughter totaled 10.7 million head, up 6 percent from March 2016. The average live weight was unchanged from the previous year, at 284 pounds.

Lamb and mutton production, at 13.7 million pounds, was down 4 percent from March 2016. Sheep slaughter totaled 196,900 head, 5 percent below last year. The average live weight was 140 pounds, up 2 pounds from March a year ago.

January to March 2017 commercial red meat production was 12.8 billion pounds, up 4 percent from 2016. Accumulated beef production was up 6 percent from last year, veal was down 4 percent, pork was up 3 percent from last year, and lamb and mutton production was down 2 percent.

USFRA Conducts Survey to Help Elevate Voice of Farmers, Ranchers

The U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) is made up of more than 100 farmer and rancher led organizations and agricultural partners representing virtually all aspects of agriculture. USFRA strives to bring the voice of the farmer and rancher to consumers, and answer questions about how today’s food is grown and raised.

In an effort to further the dialogue, USFRA is conducting a short survey to better determine how it can help elevate the voice of farmers and ranchers, and create a united voice for agriculture. We ask that you take five minutes and complete the survey to help with the efforts.

Thank you in advance for sharing your opinion and insights. The survey can be found here...  Please submit all responses by April 30.

Workshop discusses national bio-surveillance system for US swine industry

Last week, the Institute for Infectious Animal Diseases (IIAD), a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Center of Excellence, along with the National Pork Board (NPB) and the Swine Health Information Center (SHIC), hosted a workshop to discuss the development of a national bio-surveillance system for the U.S. swine industry. The meeting, which also received sponsorship from the DHS Science and Technology Directorate, aimed to foster a focused, interactive discussion between the industry representatives and state and federal animal health officials in attendance. Through interactive discussions, participants were asked to build upon previous and current industry and government efforts in identifying and developing a road map to address gaps for a workable, credible, affordable and robust nationally coordinated bio-surveillance system to meet commerce and trade needs for the US swine industry.

The meeting was designed as a way to look forward to what the industry needs. The United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS) currently has regulatory surveillance programs (pseudorabies, brucellosis and classical swine fever), monitors for influenza and vesicular diseases and is in the process of evaluating the parameters to develop a comprehensive U.S. swine surveillance program. Additionally, the U.S. pork industry daily actively monitors for swine diseases in a continual effort to protect the health and welfare of the country’s swine herd.

There was a significant consensus among the industry stakeholders participating in the workshop regarding the attributes of an optimal risk-based comprehensive disease preparedness system and that a modern robust national bio-surveillance system is a vital component. Those preparedness attributes include: allowing granular, access-controlled information sharing to protect data; leveraging easy-to-collect, aggregate samples (i.e. oral fluids) collected by trained production personnel on farm for testing; using triggers to automatically identify anomalies for further investigation; and utilizing standardized, electronic, real-time data capture for movements, premises production, slaughter, and veterinary diagnostic laboratory information. Priority actions to develop the identified needed surveillance system were also articulated and included, among others, validation of an oral-fluids-based diagnostic assay for priority FADs and establishing a network of producers, state animal health officials and National Animal Health Laboratory Network laboratories in core pork producing states to work together on key gaps and opportunities. A complete list of key elements and priority action items to achieve progress towards such a system, can be found here.

Steve Brier, a member of the NPB Swine Health Committee, presented industry views at the workshop and said that a “nationally coordinated bio-surveillance system is an industry-identified priority to improve capacity to prepare, detect and rapidly respond to regulatory FADs, emerging and re-emerging diseases, as well as contribute to successful implementation of the Secure Pork Supply Plan to facilitate business continuity in the face of high consequence disease outbreaks.”

Among all participants there was a commitment to timely forward progress. “Though we have a good consensus among our stakeholders, we have to work on these action items with a sense of urgency – including developing a timeline for completion of activities,” said Paul Sundberg, DVM, Ph.D., DACVPM, SHIC executive director.

Swine health and food safety is of paramount importance ­– the industry has more than 60,000 pork producers who annually market more than 110 million hogs, equals total gross receipts of $23.4 billion, supports 550,000 jobs and contributes $39 billion to the U.S. Gross Domestic Product. With record industry expansion in recent years, pork production exports have risen to more than 26% of U.S. production – a number that is expected to continue to increase. With an ever-expanding industry, diseases that can disrupt trade and commerce are of increasing concern, making adapting the nation’s current surveillance system to keep up with the industry’s needs and speed of commerce of upmost importance.

Peruvian Corn Imports Exceed Five-Year Average In First Half Of 2016/2017

“The U.S.-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement has served to generate a continuing, symbiotic trade relationship between the United States and Peru that shows no signs of diminishing.”

That bold statement - published in an April 10, 2017 Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report produced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA's) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) - rings true for U.S. feed grain and value-added exports to this growing South American market.

“The Peru trade agreement has been the major driver in growing U.S. corn imports,” said Ana Maria Ballesteros, USGC co-products specialist in Latin America. “The agreement also provides an opportunity for other U.S. agricultural products such as distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) and sorghum.”

Peruvian imports of U.S. corn in the first six months of the 2016/2017 marketing year (Sep. 2016-Feb. 2017) exceeded the five-year average for total sales, driven by attractive prices, duty-free quotas under the U.S.-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement (PTPA) and market development efforts by the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) and FAS Office of Agricultural Affairs in Lima, Peru.

Peruvian corn imports for the first half of the 2016/2017 marketing year (Sept. 2016-Feb.2017) totaled 1.32 million metric tons (51.97 million bushels), a 36 percent increase over 2015/2016 imports during the same time period the prior year (971,000 metric tons or 38.2 million bushels). These six months of sales outpace the five-year marketing year average total of 1.24 million metric tons (48.8 million bushels).

Peruvian buyers also purchased more ethanol, poultry, beef and pork products measured in corn equivalent and corn gluten feed than during the same time period the year prior.

To continue building opportunities for U.S. feed grains and value-added products with Peru’s growing poultry and dairy industries, the Council is working to develop confidence in U.S. corn, offer training and information to end-users, introduce other agricultural products to the market, and promote and support feeding trials.

These activities, in combination with favorable trade policies that provide market access and attractive prices, will help secure a long-term U.S. market share in Peru.

“More than an attractive price is required to keep this market,” Ballesteros said. “Ensuring Peru is committed long-term to buying from the United States is critical work for the Council.”

Bayer North American Bee Care Center Celebrates 10,000 Visitors

It’s not just the beehives at the Bayer Bee Care Center that are buzzing with activity today. Today, the Center celebrates the more than 10,000 visitors who have passed through its doors in just three years. The Center recognized a group of 75 fourth-graders and their teachers from Ravenscroft School in Raleigh, North Carolina, as the “honorary visitors” to mark the achievement.

“The Bee Care Center has served as a gathering spot and community outreach arm for pollinator initiatives in the Raleigh area and beyond, and we’re thankful to the many partners and supporters who have joined us to bring this special occasion to fruition,” said Jim Blome, president and CEO of Crop Science, a division of Bayer, who joined the students during the celebration. “We look forward to continuing our work in researching and advocating for solutions supporting bee health.”

To celebrate this success and the Center’s third anniversary, students spent the morning learning about pollinators through a hands-on, interactive guided tour and scavenger hunt. Included in the day’s festivities was an observation hive, giving students a true peek into the lives of these fuzzy friends.

“We are incredibly excited to have opened our doors to more than 10,000 pollinator enthusiasts in only our first three years,” said Becky Langer, project manager for the Bayer North American Bee Care Program. “It’s been rewarding to welcome so many different people and know they are leaving with new perceptions and understanding of the roles bees play in our environment.”

Students also had the opportunity to participate in a learning station on the importance of pollination taught by Sweet Virginia Foundation, a newly-announced partner of Bayer’s Feed a Bee initiative. Since its launch in 2015, the program, which aims to increase food for bees and other pollinators, has planted 2 billion wildflowers across the U.S. Sweet Virginia Foundation is an educational organization that encourages elementary school students to learn about the vital role honey bees play in our ecosystem by using media-rich lessons and resources available online. In addition, each student took home a potted sunflower plant to begin their own pollinator garden.

“This is an exciting opportunity for us to unite with an equally passionate organization in our shared goal of supporting bees and other pollinators,” said Dan Price, founder and CEO of Sweet Virginia Foundation. “I’m eager to see the many possibilities that will come to life in the future from our work together.”

The 10,000th visitor milestone was also commemorated with a $10,000 donation from Bayer to Project PLANTS, a Grow For It project from the JC Raulston Arboretum educating students about the science behind horticulture. The donation, made during a tour of the Bee Care Center on Tuesday, April 18, will support flower plantings, establishing forage and habitat for pollinators and supporting them in pollinating many of the crops and landscapes we enjoy.

In addition to its community outreach arm, the Bee Care Center houses much of the research Bayer conducts on pollinator health. From implementing Smart Hive technology for remote monitoring of hives to developing some of the first miticides available to beekeepers to combat harmful pests, Bayer has spent more than 30 years researching and developing solutions for the problems honey bees face. Some of this research will be highlighted through a webinar series during National Pollinator Week, June 19-25, 2017. More information will follow about how those interested can tune in to join researchers, partners and other stakeholders interested in bee health.
For more information on Bayer’s bee health initiatives, please visit: You can also follow and share with us on Twitter @BayerBeeCare, on Facebook at and view photos on Flickr.

Wednesday April 19 Ag News

USDA:  Record High Total Red Meat and Pork Production in 2016

Total red meat production for the United States totaled 50.5 billion pounds in 2016, 4 percent higher than the previous year. Red meat includes beef, veal, pork, and lamb and mutton. Red meat production in commercial plants totaled 50.4 billion pounds. On-farm slaughter totaled 93.2 million pounds.

Beef production totaled 25.3 billion pounds, up 6 percent from the previous year. Veal production totaled 81.0 million pounds, down 8 percent from last year. Pork production, at 25.0 billion pounds, was 2 percent above the previous year. Lamb and mutton production totaled 155.4 million pounds, down slightly from 2015.

Commercial cattle slaughter during 2016 totaled 30.6 million head, up 6 percent from 2015, with federal inspection comprising 98.5 percent of the total. The average live weight was 1,363 pounds, up 3 pounds from a year ago. Steers comprised 54.8 percent of the total federally inspected cattle slaughter, heifers 25.6 percent, dairy cows 9.6 percent, other cows 8.4 percent, and bulls 1.6 percent.

Commercial calf slaughter totaled 487,700 head, 8 percent higher than a year ago with 98.4 percent under federal inspection. The average live weight was 266 pounds, down 44 pounds from a year earlier.

Commercial hog slaughter totaled 118.2 million head, 2 percent higher than 2015 with 99.3 percent of the hogs slaughtered under federal inspection. The average live weight was down 1 pound from last year, at 282 pounds. Barrows and gilts comprised 97.3 percent of the total federally inspected hog slaughter.

Commercial sheep and lamb slaughter, at 2.24 million head, was up 1 percent from the previous year with 89.8 percent by federal inspection. The average live weight was down 2 pounds from 2015 at 134 pounds. Lambs and yearlings comprised 94.6 percent of the total federally inspected sheep slaughter.

Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska and Texas accounted for 49 percent of the United States commercial red meat production in 2016, unchanged from 2015.

Red Meat Production By State             

     (million lbs. -  '16 total - '15 total)

Nebraska ...:        8,007.8         7,475.1
Iowa ..........:        7,055.2         6,969.0
Kansas .......:        5,418.2         5,038.8
Texas .........:        4,392.4         4,082.8

There were 814 plants slaughtering under federal inspection on January 1, 2017 compared with 808 last year. Of these, 650 plants slaughtered at least one head of cattle during 2016 with the 13 largest plants slaughtering 58 percent of the total cattle killed. Hogs were slaughtered at 621 plants, with the 13 largest plants accounting for 60 percent of the total. For calves, 3 of the 200 plants accounted for 46 percent of the total and 3 of the 531 plants that slaughtered sheep or lambs in 2016 comprised 54 percent of the total head.   


Two key members of the CLAAS leadership team have recently taken on additional responsibilities in their respective industry organizations. Both are excited to assume roles that stand to positively impact the ag manufacturing sector as a whole.

President of CLAAS Global Sales Americas Leif Magnusson, who recently fulfilled his term as chair of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), will now chair the Infrastructure Vision 2050 Task Force for the organization.

“Infrastructure is a hot topic in Washington, D.C., and an important concern, especially for those who market to and live within rural communities,” explained Magnusson. “Agricultural equipment today is larger and more technologically advanced than ever before. We need roads, bridges and communication networks that support the latest innovations and high volumes of transportation that help our farmers feed the world.”

The Infrastructure Vision 2050 Task Force is one of the AEM’s most critical initiatives designed to encourage development and increased spending on critical infrastructure projects.

Maury Salz, president of CLAAS Omaha, LLC, oversees the manufacturing operation that produces LEXION combines for the North American market. Salz was recently selected to assume a three-year leadership role for the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE). He will take on his new role in July 2017 as president-elect, followed by a year as president beginning in July 2018 and past president beginning in July 2019.

For more than a century, the ASABE has been the professional home of engineers and others who work to find sustainable solutions for an ever-growing population. ASABE members are leaders in the production, transport, storage and use of safe and abundant food; clean water; fiber, timber and renewable sources of fuel; and life-enhancing and life-saving products from bio-based materials.

“I’m excited to become a part of the leadership team at ASABE. It is a very important community of professionals,” said Salz. “We are living in an extraordinary time where important advancements can have a huge impact on a rapidly growing population. I look forward to supporting our members and influencing our industry.”

Farm & Ranch Land Sales Increase for FNC

Farmers National Company reports that real estate sales volume is up 21 percent during the first half of its fiscal year compared to last year and up 38 percent from a year earlier with an increase in both individual sales transactions and acres sold.

Acres sold by the company increased 10 percent from last year and 27 percent compared to two years ago. Transaction volume has also been on the increase, up 47 percent in the past two years. For the first half of its fiscal year, which runs from October through March, there were 470 transactions involving 63,925 acres.

Randy Dickhut, senior vice president, noted that the sales activity is being driven primarily by non-operating landowners.

“So far, few farm operators are selling land and investors continue to be in the market looking for opportunities to add acres to their holdings. The slow decline in the land market is part of the reason some are selling,” he said.

Some landowners have decided that now is the time to sell and capture some of the land appreciation seen in the last few years. Dickhut said that there is still good demand for land in most of the company’s 28-state service area.

“The number of buyers and sellers for good land in most markets is in equilibrium and that seems to be helping our land sales. As long as the seller is realistic about today’s market price for land in their area, there are buyers looking to buy. I credit our increases in the face of a slowing land market to our large network of agents educating their clients on the current market prospects,” Dickhut said.

Farmers National also reports continued strong land auction activity with a 12 percent increase in the number of auctions sales over last year at this time. The volume of listings for sale is also strong.

“Having the ability to either sell land by auction or through a private treaty listing gives our sellers the most options to achieve a successful sale,” Dickhut said. 

Simpson Farm Enterprises, Inc. Expands with Fifth Apache Dealer Location

Simpson Farm Enterprises, Inc. has announced it will be opening a fifth Apache Sprayers dealership location in Grand Island, Nebraska, to provide service and sales to the surrounding region. The new dealership is set to open in the spring of 2017.

“Simpson Farm has been representing Apache Sprayers for years, so when we saw the opportunity to serve a large base of existing Apache owners in Nebraska we jumped at the chance,” said Jed Simpson, company president. “Our goal is to provide outstanding sales and service support to the state’s agriculture community.”

“The Simpson Farm team has been a trusted Apache dealer and service provider for nearly 20 years,” said Equipment Technologies CEO, Matt Hays. “We could not be more confident in their decision to expand. We’re eager to see what is in store for the new Grand Island dealership.”

Simpson Farm has been in the agricultural applications business for over 35 years. Company founder, Virgil Simpson became interested in no-till farming in the early 1970s and designed a special pull-type sprayer to improve the practice. Soon his neighbors were asking him to build sprayers for their operation and Simpson Farm Enterprises, Inc. was born.

“My brother Jay and I are the third generation to run the business,” Simpson said. “Throughout the years, Simpson Farm Enterprises has grown from selling one pull-type sprayer in our Ransom, Kansas, dealership to becoming a world-renowned dealer for several top-name brands.”

The Simpson Farm Enterprises team has been selling and servicing the Apache Sprayer line since 1998 in their four Kansas dealerships located in Ransom, Great Bend, Hays and Beloit.

“With our already knowledgeable and established team, we will be able to provide enhanced service and support at the Grand Island dealership,” Simpson said.

Senate to Vote on Perdue Nomination on April 24

The Senate is scheduled to vote at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, April 24, on President Trump's nomination of former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue to be Agriculture Secretary.

The vote comes after the Senate Agriculture Committee held a confirmation hearing on his nomination on March 23, and a vote out of Committee on March 30.

The Department of Agriculture has been without a confirmed Secretary for nearly three months.

Next week will be busy, starting with a confirmation vote on Perdue followed by necessary action to pass a funding bill for the remainder of FY 2017 prior to the expiration of the current Continuing Resolution on April 28.

U.S. Gasoline Contained More than 10% Ethanol in 2016, Shattering the ‘Blend Wall’ Myth Once and For All

Gasoline consumed in the United States in 2016 contained more than 10% ethanol on average for the first time ever, according to an analysis of U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) data released today by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). The EIA data dispels the myth that 10% is the marketplace limit for ethanol content in U.S. gasoline, and demonstrates that the so-called “blend wall” is not a real constraint on ethanol consumption.

According to EIA data, finished motor gasoline consumption totaled 143.367 billion gallons in 2016. That volume of gasoline contained 14.399 billion gallons of ethanol, meaning the average ethanol content of gasoline consumed in 2016 was 10.04%.  According to the RFA report, the data “…further underscore that statutory Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) blending obligations in excess of the 10.0% level can be readily satisfied by the marketplace.”

Growing consumption of E15 (gasoline blends containing 15% ethanol), mid-level blends (containing 20-50% ethanol) and flex fuels (containing 51-83% ethanol) was responsible for the increase in the average ethanol content of U.S. gasoline in 2016. The RFA report finds that 2016 consumption of mid-level blends and flex fuels was at least 450 million gallons, and may have been more than 1 billion gallons if the American Petroleum Institute’s (API) assertions about ethanol-free gasoline (E0) demand are correct.

A summary of key findings include:

• National average ethanol content was 10.0% or higher in six of the last seven months of 2016, culminating with a record high monthly rate of 10.30% in December.
• On a weekly basis, the ethanol blend rate hit a weekly record of 10.41% in early January 2017.
• These data undermine the assertion by API and others that the gasoline market cannot accommodate more than 9.7% ethanol due to purported infrastructure and vehicle constraints. April 2015 was the last time average ethanol content was below 9.7%.
• Using the most conservative assumptions, EIA data imply that 447 million gallons of mid-level blends and flex fuels (containing 313 million gals. of ethanol) were consumed in 2016.
• However, if API’s assumptions about E0 demand are used, then consumption of mid-level blends and flex fuels was 1.2 to 1.7 billion gallons (843 mil. to 1.17 bil. gals. of ethanol).

“EIA’s data once again shows that the oil industry’s blend wall narrative is bankrupt, intended only to mislead consumers and undermine support for the Renewable Fuel Standard,” said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “The facts provide a different narrative. Ethanol is the lowest cost and cleanest burning source of octane today. Driven by the RFS and attractive blending economics, domestic refiners and blenders used more ethanol in 2016 than ever before and it’s likely that trend will continue this year. Consumers are gravitating toward E15, E85, and other mid-level blends where they are available. The oil industry can no longer claim the blend wall is any barrier to the effective implementation of the RFS.”

“Additionally, with EPA poised to soon issue its proposed 2018 RFS renewable volume obligations, this analysis unequivocally proves the agency needs to implement the 15 billion gallon statutory requirement for conventional biofuel. A strong RFS benefits consumers with cleaner air, greater energy security and a boost to local economies. We look forward to EPA implementing a strong RFS for 2018,” Dinneen added.

Ethanol Stocks, Output Up

U.S. fuel ethanol inventories, plant production and blending demand all increased last week after falling week prior, according to the Energy Information Administration.

The EIA's Weekly Petroleum Status Report for the week-ended April 14 showed fuel ethanol inventories rose by roughly 100,000 barrels (bbl) to 23.0 million bbl, up 1.0 million bbl, or 4.5%, year over year.

Domestic plant production rose 7,000 barrels per day (bpd), or 0.7%, to 993,000 bpd last week, while 54,000 bpd, or 5.8%, higher year over year. For the four weeks ended last week, fuel ethanol production averaged 1.013 million bpd, up 52,000 bpd, or 5.4%.

Net refiner and blender inputs, a gauge for ethanol demand, increased by 4,000 bpd to 912,000 bpd during the week-ended April 14, while up 19,000 bpd, or 2.1%, over a year-ago level. For the four-week period ended April 14, blending demand were up 15,000 bpd, or 1.7%.

Average Retail Fertilizer Prices Show Some Signs of Weakening

For the first time in months, retail fertilizer prices are showing signs of weakening with just as many fertilizer prices lower as higher the second week of April 2017 compared to last month, according to fertilizer retailers surveyed by DTN.

Of the eight major fertilizers, half continued to be higher in price, while the other half were lower. None of the eight saw significant changes in price, though.

The four that were higher were MAP, potash, 10-34-0 and UAN32. MAP had an average price of $466 per ton, potash $338/ton, 10-34-0 $441/ton and UAN32 $280/ton.

The four fertilizers with lower prices from last month were DAP, urea, anhydrous and UAN28. DAP had an average price of $437/ton, urea $353/ton, anhydrous $505/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. Three of the eight major fertilizers are still double digits lower.

10-34-0 is 21% lower from a year ago, anhydrous is 14% less expensive and UAN32 is 12% lower. DAP, urea and UAN28 are all 9% less expensive while both MAP and potash are both 8% lower compared to year earlier.

Beef Fuels Team Beef in Boston

Thanks to the national beef checkoff, beef was front and center during the 121st Boston Marathon on April 17. Thirty-one members of Team Beef started in Hopkinton, Mass., and ran along the rolling streets into downtown Boston on Marathon Monday to celebrate Patriots' Day with more than 30,000 other runners from nearly 100 countries.

The checkoff also participated in the John Hancock Sports and Fitness Expo leading up to the race. That event brought the beef message to 100,000 runners and their families.

This year marked the largest contingent of Team Beef members participating in the Boston Marathon to date. Members of Team Beef also received tips for including nutritious, lean beef in their training diet, beef recipes and cooking advice, and a Team Beef running jersey to wear during the race.

Earning a spot on Team Beef was no walk in the park. Like all Marathon runners, Team Beef members had to run a qualifying time during a previous marathon. For most runners, qualifying for the event is a”bucket list” accomplishment. For Team Beef member, Sam Brandt, it was nothing less than just that. “Seven years ago, I made it my goal to go to the Boston Marathon by planting the seed, believing in it and achieving it.” Sam ran as a Team Beef member at the 2015 and 2016 Marine Corp Marathon as well.

Brandt of Lynchburg, Va., was the first Team Beef member to cross the Boston Marathon finish line with a time of 2 hours 59 minutes and 24 seconds. Tammy Bogle of Austin, Texas, was the first female finisher for Team Beef, finishing in 3:22:39. The average finish time for the Team Beef runners was 3:40:10. Team Beef runners were from New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Wisconsin, Missouri, Nebraska, Arizona, Illinois, Colorado and Texas.

During the three-day Sports and Fitness Expo, the beef checkoff partnered with Boston-based Honest Beef Company to offer beef jerky samples to attendees. Millennial-2-Millennial collegiate advocate Olivia Richarte and Cattlemen’s Beef Board member Kristy Lage of Arthur, Neb., assisted checkoff staff at the beef booth during the Expo.

“The Boston Marathon provides a unique opportunity to encounter people who are at the intersection of elite fitness and often, urban lifestyles,” noted Hannah Raudsepp, owner of Honest Beef Company. “This gave us the chance to spread the good word about beef as an unparalleled source of fuel for competition and helped us better understand these individuals in terms of their feelings about beef. Only when we are able to 'meet them where they are,' can we begin to make headway closing the gap between urban Americans and those of us who raise their beef. We all have the ability to tell our story, but knowing how to tell it in a way that will resonate is critical to our success. The Beef Council has found powerful ways to effectively connect with consumers—and talking to them face-to-face at the Boston Marathon expo is a great example of this!”

2016 Count of Certified Organic Operations Shows Continued Growth in U.S. Market

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced new data indicating the organic industry continues to grow domestically and globally, with 24,650 certified organic operations in the United States, and 37,032 around the world.

The 2016 count of U.S. certified organic farms and businesses reflects a 13 percent increase between the end of 2015 and 2016, continuing the trend of double digit growth in the organic sector. The number of certified operations has increased since the count began in 2002 and this is the highest growth rate since 2008.

Organic certification is an “opt-in” voluntary standard that is managed through a public-private partnership. The USDA accredits and oversees approximately 80 businesses and State governments that directly certify organic farms and businesses. USDA provides a number of educational resources to help organic producers access this growing market. These include interactive videos that help candidate farmers understand how to get and maintain organic certification, and fact sheets that explain the value proposition of organic certification and outline the standards in clear ways.

NMPF Statement in Response to Canadian Ambassador’s Comments on Dairy Trade Dispute

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

“It’s absurd for the Canadian government to assert there is no relationship between its new Class 7 policy and the lost U.S. milk sales there. When customers in Canada, who have been purchasing milk products from American suppliers for years, suddenly decide to switch to domestic suppliers after Canada implements a major change in milk pricing, it is abundantly clear that the lost business incurred by U.S. farmers is directly tied to Canada’s milk pricing system.

“The problems this pricing policy are creating for dairy farmers in Wisconsin, New York and Minnesota are real, and they have nothing to do with U.S. ‘overproduction,’ as alleged in a recent letter from Canada’s Ambassador to the United States, David MacNaughton. U.S. companies had, until recently, supplied Canadian customers during periods of relatively tight supplies and when production increased. The only change has been Canada’s deliberate pricing policy decision – starting last year in Ontario and spreading more recently to other provinces – to create a national ingredients strategy to undercut competition from the United States. Canada didn’t like U.S. farmers supplying their processors’ demand for milk proteins, so they changed the rules of the game. First they moved to block our exports and, even more problematic, their new pricing strategy is positioning them to further undercut global powder markets by dumping their surplus on the world market.

“This situation is not just a bilateral trade problem for the United States. Canada’s policy change to manipulate internal prices to export more dairy ingredients globally is of great concern to other nations beyond just the United States. That’s why countries including Australia and New Zealand have also raised objections to Canada’s harmful actions.

“Canada’s effort to shift the focus away from the internal problems their milk pricing system is disingenuous at best. Canada can support its industry without intentionally using policy tools to harm U.S. dairy farmers and world dairy markets.”

Dairy Farmers of America Joins Newly Launched Project Gigaton Initiative to Reduce Emissions

Today, during Walmart’s Sustainability Milestone Summit, Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) joined the retailer and other organizations in announcing our participation in a new platform, Project Gigaton, aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from our operations and supply chains one gigaton by 2030. Through Project Gigaton, a network of suppliers, companies and non-governmental organizations will submit goals and plans to eliminate one gigaton of emissions, the equivalent of taking more than 211 million passengers vehicles off of U.S. roads and highways for a year. The initiative has identified energy, agriculture, waste, packaging, deforestation and product use and design as the goal areas in which to focus emissions reduction efforts.

“We are excited to work with Walmart toward its sustainability goals, and are aligned with its vision,” said David Darr, president of farm services at DFA. “Our farmer members have a strong track record of progress and stewardship and are committed to producing safe, quality and wholesome dairy products through integrity-based, sustainable practices. We have a moral obligation to feed the world in a sustainable manner and look forward to continuing the journey as technology evolves in this area.”

DFA is committing to accelerating our work in the areas of manure management, anaerobic digestion, farm management and advanced management technologies. We see our work contributing to:
·         Significantly increase the number of manure management systems that mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
·         Working with our nearly 8,000 members on farm management practices that lead to lower enteric GHG emissions
·         Promoting advanced systems and technologies that lead to more efficient dairy farms

DFA and other participating companies are being provided with an emission reduction toolkit that was designed with the input of the World Wildlife Fund, Environmental Defense Fund and other organizations. The toolkit provides guidance on implementing effective enterprise strategies in addressing sustainability challenges and underscores the business benefits in reducing emissions. According to a joint report published by the World Wildlife Fund and CDP, U.S. businesses that commit to annually cutting their carbon emissions can collectively reap as much as $190 billion in savings from reduced energy bills, increased productivity and other associated gains.

DFA is proud to join Walmart and other companies in Project Gigaton as we work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in our operations and supply chains.

Tuesday April 18 Ag News

Ag Sack Lunch Program Concludes Seventh Year of Reaching Nebraska Fourth-graders with Free Lunches and Farm Facts

The popular Ag Sack Lunch Program, which serves up free sack lunches to Nebraska fourth-graders and teaches them about where their food comes from, wraps up its seventh year in May. Nearly 5,000 students from 95 schools will have participated in the program this school year.

    The Ag Sack Lunch program is designed to educate Nebraska fourth-graders—and by extension their parents–in a fun way about how important agriculture is to the state’s economy. Since its inception in 2010, the program has provided over 35,000 students with free lunches and an introduction to the state’s No.1 industry. Sponsors of this popular program include the Nebraska Soybean Board, the Nebraska Pork Producers Association, the Nebraska Beef Council and the Nebraska Corn Board.

    Each year, over 20,000 fourth-graders visit the State Capitol Building in Lincoln as part of their curriculum. The Ag Sack Lunch Program ties into these visits by inviting teachers to participate in the free program, which educates youth on how their food is grown and produced.

    Program sponsors budget for 5,000 free lunches a year, which consist of Nebraska-produced foods.

    Each 20 minute presentation teaches students about the importance of agriculture to the state’s economy. Presenters are “Ag Ambassadors,” which consist of University of Nebraska-Lincoln students trained specifically to conduct these lunchtime sessions. 

    Through the Ag Sack Lunch Program curriculum, Ag Ambassadors inform students that one in four jobs in Nebraska has some connection to agriculture, beyond farming itself, such as equipment manufacturing and sales, building construction, transportation and supermarket retailers. They also explain the state ranks first in the country for cattle and calves, sixth in pork production, and that over one-third of Nebraska-produced grain is fed to livestock within the state.

    All Ag Ambassadors come from farming families in Nebraska. Not only do they enjoying telling the students about where their food comes from, but they’re also able to provide examples of what life is like on the farm. Many of the fourth-grade students are from the state’s larger cities and towns, so may have little understanding about what farming and food production.

    Two Ag Ambassadors are finishing their fourth years with the program. Morgan Zumpfe from Friend, and Emily Long from Springfield, said their experiences living and working on their family farms catch the attention of the students.

     “It isn't uncommon for many of these students to have never even been to a farm before,” Zumpfe said. “This is what motivates me to speak with the fourth-graders about Nebraska agriculture.”

    Zumpfe believes it is important for students to understand how agriculture impacts their daily lives and that it is vital for a strong Nebraska economy. “I like to start my presentations by asking the students what agriculture is,” she said. The students often don't know what the word means. “My favorite reactions from the students usually comes at the very end when they start to realize not only what agriculture is, but that it is so important to their daily lives,” said Zumpfe.

    “I enjoy telling students about my career path and about all of the different opportunities for a career in agriculture. Hopefully this will spark some interest in them,” Zumpfe said. She will graduate in May with a B.S. in Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Communication and will begin her career this summer with Cargill Animal Nutrition as a business management associate.

    Emily Long agreed that growing up on a farm helps her tell the story of agriculture. “Students love hearing about what happens on farms,” she said. “It grabs their attention when I share what my family is currently doing back home on the farm. You can see them light up.”

    She enjoys being able to teach students about an industry she’s so passionate about and that has such a huge impact on their lives and the state of Nebraska. “It's a good feeling to know they'll start to think about where their food came from as they’re eating or strolling through the grocery store with their families,” Long said.

    One eye opener for the students is when Long talked about how many beef cattle there are in the state. “To put it in perspective for them, we always say we have a four-to-one ratio of beef to people in our state, then we'll ask them if they could imagine having to take care of four cows and feed them every day before and after school. This is when you can see their realization and an appreciation growing in them for the need for farmers and ranchers.”

    Long also graduates in May with a degree in Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Communication. She’ll join Dow AgroSciences this summer as a seed sales trainee.

    Fourteen UNL students served as Ag Ambassadors throughout the 2016-2017 school year. All are working toward agriculture-related degrees: Morgan Zumpfe, Friend; Kate Likens, Swanton; Sarah Wollenburg, Beatrice; Breann Zimmer, Pleasanton; Emily Long, Springfield; Claire Dressman, Superior; Savannah Schafer, Nehawka; Catherine Jones, Bellevue; Abby Steffen, Crofton; Emily Bergstrom, Wilcox; Morgan Schilling, McCook; Megan Murdoch, Murray; Megan Hamling, Garland; and Jordan Bothern, Lincoln.


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Spring pastures are growing fast and early.  Effective spring management can help pastures and cattle be more productive all year.

               Grazing cool-season grasses in spring should be easy.  You have lots of grass that’s high quality so the animals should do well.  One problem though, is the grass may be almost too good.  Cows get washy and sometimes even lose weight.  So what’s wrong?

               Much of the problem can be with the grass itself.  Early spring grass contains lots of moisture.  Usually it’s more than eighty percent water and often approaches ninety percent.  It also tends to be high in protein, well over twenty percent.  While that sounds good, most of that protein is very soluble in the animal’s rumen, much more than the rumen microbes can use.  That protein gets broken down into ammonia and nitrogen that passes into the blood stream and simply gets excreted.

               When you combine high moisture grass with excess protein or nitrogen, forage passes through the digestive system very rapidly and becomes washy manure.  Many of the nutrients originally in the grass never get digested and absorbed by the animal.

               These cows need dry matter.  Something to absorb some of the excess moisture, slow down the passage rate through the digestive system, and create a more effective rumen environment.

               Putting some palatable grass hay out on spring pasture for cows to eat free choice might be the easiest, cheapest, and most effective way to overcome the spring grass problem.  Limiting access to pasture to force more hay consumption might also help.  If you don’t have hay, feeding three to five pounds of grain per one thousand pounds of animal per day can do just as well.

               Spring grass can almost be too good.  Add a little dry feed to it to get better performance from your animals.


Steven Waller will transition to a new role this summer after 17 years as dean of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. He will become interim director of the Center for Grassland Studies on July 1.

Tiffany Heng-Moss, the college's associate dean, will become interim dean on July 1. A search committee will be assembled in the fall to begin the search for a permanent leader.

Waller has much to be proud of during his tenure as CASNR dean, and while the academic accomplishments are significant, it's the essence of the college that he says is most special.

"CASNR is so much more than an academic college, and I think everyone here would tell you that," he said. "The students, faculty and staff within CASNR are part of a true community and that's something to be proud of."

That community is one that is growing at a rate the university has never seen. CASNR is experiencing 12 consecutive years of enrollment growth. Waller has been instrumental in that growth.

"CASNR's unprecedented enrollment growth is a bright spot for the university and can be directly attributed to the outstanding vision that Steve has used to guide the college over the years," said Michael Boehm, Harlan Vice Chancellor of the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources. "With his expertise in range management and superior leadership skills, the Center for Grassland Studies has a bright future ahead."

Under Waller's leadership, CASNR has doubled the number of academic programs offered; increased the number of faculty and staff engaged in outcomes-based student success programming; developed innovative, partnership-driven global engagement programs; and expanded the college's global network through online and distance education. The college's focus on preparing the world's future leaders, innovators and difference-makers has led to several innovative programs for students including Justin Smith Morrill Scholars, CASNR CARES, Dean’s Scholars in Experiential Leadership, the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship program and Ensuring Your Future.

Waller, a Midwest native, received an associate of science degree in 1967 from Vincennes University, where he studied pre-forestry; a bachelor of science degree in conservation in 1970 from Purdue University; and a doctorate in range science in 1975 from Texas A&M University. Waller was a faculty member in the animal science department at South Dakota State University before coming to the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture at Nebraska in 1978.

Until 2000, Waller held joint administrative appointments with CASNR and the Agriculture Research Division, while continuing his affiliation with the agronomy department. His research and teaching responsibilities at the university emphasized range management and improvement, livestock management on range and pasture, and forage evaluation.

The Center for Grassland Studies was formed in 1994. Its mission is to implement focused, interdisciplinary research, educational and service programs and activities that emphasize the role of grasslands as a natural resource and conservation measure to enhance the efficiency, profitability, sustainability and aesthetic value of grasslands, wetlands and turfs. The center administers two multi-disciplinary undergraduate majors – grazing livestock systems and PGA golf management. It also organizes the annual Nebraska Grazing Conference and provides support for multi-disciplinary and multi-state research projects.

To celebrate Waller's accomplishments during his time as dean, CASNR is planning two special events. CASNR students are invited to "Dead Week Doughnuts with the Dean" from 3 to 5 p.m. April 27 in the Nebraska East Union. The public is invited to an open house celebration from 2 to 4 p.m. June 23 at the Nebraska East Union. Further details will be posted at

Midwest Dairy Elects New Leadership

Allen Merrill, a dairy farmer from Parker, South Dakota, is the new chairman of Midwest Dairy Association, elected during the organization’s annual meeting held in conjunction with the Western Dairy Forum in Phoenix, Arizona. Merrill previously served as first vice chairman. He replaces Jerry Messer of Richardton, North Dakota, who stepped down after serving as chairman for nine years.

New members of the Corporate board officer team are Charles Krause, Buffalo, Minnesota, first vice chairman; and Lowell Mueller, Hooper, Nebraska, secretary. Bill Siebenborn, Trenton, Missouri, was re-elected second vice chairman while Dan Grunhovd, Gary, Minnesota, was re-elected treasurer.

New members elected by their Divisions to the Midwest Dairy Corporate board include:
    Alan Feuerhelm, Le Mars, Iowa;
    Lloyd Gunter, Conway, Missouri;
    Corrine Lieser, Belgrade, Minnesota;
    Larry Shover, Delhi, Iowa; and
    Kristine Spadgenske, Menahga, Minnesota.

Division board officers and new members are as follows:

Nebraska Division

    Chairman – Lowell Mueller, Hooper;
    Vice Chairman – Joyce Racicky, Mason City; and
    Secretary/Treasurer – Dean Engelman, Jansen.
Neil Hochstein, Wynot, was seated as a new member of the Nebraska Division board. Marshall Reece, Associated Milk Producers Inc., was appointed as a new ex officio member.
Iowa Division

    Chairman – Dan Hotvedt, Mabel, Minnesota;
    Vice Chairman – Bruce Brockshus, Ocheyedan;
    Secretary – Pam Bolin, Clarksville; and
    Treasurer – Larry Shover, Delhi.
Ken Birker, Vinton, and Melissa Blood, State Center, were seated as new members of the Iowa Division board.
Mo-Kan Division

    Chairman – Byron Lehman, Newton, Kansas;
    Vice Chairman – Alex Peterson, Trenton, Missouri;
    Secretary – Donna Telle, Uniontown, Missouri; and
    Treasurer – Curtis Steenbock, Longford, Kansas.

South Dakota Division

    Chairman – Jim Neugebauer, Dimock;
    Vice Chairman – Mike Frey, Claremont;
    Secretary – Allen Merrill, Parker; and
    Treasurer – Gary Jarding, Alexandria.
Kim Maher of Davisco Foods International was appointed as an ex officio member of the South Dakota Division board.

Minnesota Division

    Chairman – Barb Liebenstein, Dundas;
    Vice Chairman – Charles Krause, Buffalo;
    Secretary -- Suzanne Vold, Glenwood; and
    Treasurer – Tom Walsh, Murdock.
The Minnesota Dairy Promotion Council, a quasi-governmental group with the same board members, elected the following:
    Chairman – Kathleen Skiba, North Branch;
    Vice Chairman – Keith Knutson, Pine Island;
    Secretary – Debi Clasemann, Long Prairie;
    Treasurer – Christine Sukalski, LeRoy; and
    Executive member at-large – Peter Ripka, Ogilvie.
Doug Popp, Royalton, and Margaret Johnson, Fountain, were seated as new members of both the Minnesota Division board and the Minnesota Dairy Promotion Council.
North Dakota Division

    Chairman – Jerry Messer, Richardton;
    Vice Chairman – Terry Entzminger, Jamestown;
    Secretary – Rita Mosset, Linton; and
    Treasurer – Lilah Krebs, Gladstone.
Sue Kleingartner, Gackle, was seated as a new member of the North Dakota Division board.
Illinois Division

    Chairman – Bill Deutsch, Sycamore;
    Vice Chairman – David Jarden, Staunton;
    Secretary – Amy Hildebrandt, South Beloit; and
    Treasurer – Glen Meier, Ridott.
Kevin Geiger, Port Byron, was seated as a new member of the Illinois Division board.
Ozarks Division

    Chairman – Nathan Roth, Mountain Grove, Missouri;
    Vice Chairman – Marilyn Calvin, Mt. Vernon, Missouri;
    Secretary – Lloyd Gunter, Conway, Missouri; and
    Treasurer – Mark Fellwock, Monett, Missouri.
Fellwock was also seated as a new member of the Ozarks Division board, along with Charles Coblentz, Chouteau, Oklahoma; Scott Davis, Prairie Grove, Arkansas; Gene Morrison, West Plains, Missouri; and Daniel Scott, Fordland, Missouri.

National Ag Tax Expert Joins Staff of ISU’s Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation

A national expert on agricultural taxes has joined Iowa State University’s Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation as a visiting professor.

Phil Harris, an emeritus professor of agricultural and applied economics at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, is serving the center in a part-time role as visiting professor. He retired from the University of Wisconsin last spring.

Harris will augment the center staff’s efforts, assisting with analysis, writing and instruction on tax issues important to Iowa and agriculture. He also will work closely with center staff members Kristine Tidgren and Kristy Maitre to help address tax issues.

Harris has a national reputation among land-grant university agricultural tax specialists. He brings 37 years of experience with the University of Wisconsin in extension and research on business and tax issues important to agricultural producers. His extension program focused on farm income tax issues, farm business arrangements, farm transfer and estate planning.

He has written or coauthored many books on agricultural tax and business issues, including, most recently, the 2016 National Income Tax Workbook published by the Land Grant University Tax Education Foundation. He is a founding — and current — member of the American Agricultural Law Association, serving as its president from 1987 to 1988.

Harris is an Iowa State alumnus, earning a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1973. He earned both a master’s in economics and Juris Doctor from the University of Chicago.

The Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation, established by the Iowa Board of Regents in 2006, provides timely, objective information to agricultural producers, professionals and agribusinesses on the application of important developments in agricultural law and taxation, and is a primary source of professional educational training in agricultural law and taxation. One of the center’s programs is the annual farm income tax schools, which Iowa State has conducted for nearly 45 years.

Group Wants USDA to Cut Payments to Those Who Neglect Livestock

The Humane Farming Association has filed a petition with the Trump Administration to cease USDA Livestock Indemnity Program payments to producers who do not protect their livestock from adverse weather. The Farm Service Agency LIP provides compensation to livestock producers who incur death losses from inclement weather. Producers receive compensation in the amount of 75 percent of the animals' market value up to $125,000 per year.

The petition was filed in conjunction with Tax Day 2017, to draw attention to the fact that taxpayers are being bilked out of millions of dollars to pay for this program.

"Instead of providing adequate shelter to vulnerable livestock, producers who do not assure protections from adverse weather are rewarded with a government check," said HFA National Director Bradley Miller. "Compensating producers for dead livestock without ever requiring adequate shelter is actually a disincentive to farmers and ranchers to take the necessary steps to provide their animals with protections from inclement weather. Without this compensation, many producers would no doubt make an effort to provide for their animals. Instead, massive numbers of neglected livestock are dying painfully and needlessly and taxpayers are footing the bill."

HFA says records revealed that in the last three years, LIP issued payments of $134 million to farmers and ranchers for animal deaths due primarily to weather-related issues. Total animal deaths included a staggering 202,445 livestock and 2.4 million poultry.

Verifying Losses Requires Experience, Research

One of the hallmarks of crop insurance is that indemnities only cover verified losses – not too much, not too little – which makes crop insurance a helping-hand for famers instead of a profit center.

And key to the verification process is ongoing academic research and decades of industry experience, which helps adjusters accurately account for losses.

The first crop insurance industry research project dates back to the early 1920s. And that began a long tenure of studying how growing crops respond to damage from hail, wind, etc.

Dr. Mark Zarnstorff and Dr. James Houx, of National Crop Insurance Services (NCIS), discussed these crop loss adjustment procedures in a recent article published in Crop Insurance Today.

"Our agriculture researchers are continually striving to define the impacts of crop damage to improve adjustment procedures that more accurately reflect losses in an ever-changing agricultural landscape," wrote Zarnstorff and Houx, who lead the NCIS research program.

NCIS's research team gets ideas from field adjusters, claim supervisors, and academic researchers.  Projects typically last for three years and include several locations, and NCIS usually starts about six new projects each year.

In 2016, researchers started looking into canola pod filling, corn green snap, chickpea pod and seed numbers and cotton node removal and defoliation.

Today, NCIS has 17 ongoing research projects across 13 states from Washington to South Carolina, and from Saskatchewan, Canada, to New Mexico.

All of the research is contracted to local universities – typically extension researchers.

Academic researchers have deep expertise in specific crops across the vast agricultural landscape in the U.S.  And, since most of the researchers are state employees, they are focused on providing good information to producers.

"Having these researchers conduct the experiments means that the research is unbiased and transparent," Zarnstorff and Houx wrote.

The academic separation gives farmers who buy coverage confidence in the insurance products and eliminates the perception that the adjustment procedure is "stacked" against them.

The research is especially important, the authors explained, as technological advances have made new crops more viable in many regions – soybean and canola, for example, have expanded dramatically in North Dakota and Oklahoma respectivley.

In addition, new management practices by farmers have improved expected yields, which must be accounted for.  One example the researchers noted was successful replanting of soybeans after the typical cutoff date of May 15.

Losses cannot be verified properly unless these changes are fully understood.

"Both the insured and insurance provider benefit from accuracy because even a 5 or 10 percent error in adjustment can result in millions of dollars in overpayments or under- payments to [insured farmers]," they concluded.  "The only way to ensure this does not occur is by maintaining a scientific research program that strives for accurate, unbiased data collection and adjustment procedures that are fair to farmers and insurance companies alike."

Poll: A Third of U.S. Farmers Plan to Fly Drones This Season

Drones have been hot talk in agriculture for the past several seasons. But how popular are they, really? According to a recent Farm Journal Media Pulse poll that surveyed more than a thousand farmers and ranchers, use of this technology has definitely gained a firm foothold in the industry.

The Pulse poll simply asked, "Will you use a drone(s) on your operation this year?" Of the nearly 1,100 respondents, a third answered positively, with 21% saying they will operate the drones themselves, and another 12% opting for a retailer or other third-party entity to fly the drones.

Another 31% say they will keep an open mind about using drones on their operation in 2018, but weren't ready to pull the trigger this year. The final 37% say they aren't interested in using this technology.

National Dairy FARM Program Releases Updated Drug Residue Manual

The National Dairy FARM Program has released the 2017 edition of its Milk and Dairy Beef Drug Residue Prevention Manual, the primary educational tool for dairy managers about the judicious, responsible use of antibiotics and how to prevent drug residues in milk and meat.

The Milk and Dairy Beef Drug Residue Prevention Manual serves as a valuable tool to the over 40,000 dairy producers who participate in the FARM Program. It is a convenient resource used by dairy farmers to review the antibiotics approved for use in dairy animals, and to develop comprehensive on-farm best management practices necessary to avoid milk and meat residues. The manual includes the most up-to-date veterinary drug information supplied by manufactures, including appropriate withdrawal times.

The 2017 edition now identifies drugs subject to the newly implemented Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD), and contains updated industry data on the declining presence of antibiotic residues found in milk. It also contains newly approved products released in calendar year 2016. A Spanish version and smaller, pocket-size version will be released in summer 2017.

According to a U.S. Food and Drug Administration report, only 1 out of 8,800 milk tankers – or 0.011 percent – tested positive for antibiotics in 2016, an 89 percent decrease since 1995.  Any tanker of milk that tests positive when it arrives at a processing plant must be destroyed. Additionally, none of the 38,563 retail-ready milk products sampled tested positive for drug residues.

“In the last two decades, the stewardship efforts of farmers and veterinarians is demonstrated by the continuing decline in traces of antibiotic residues in milk leaving the farm,” said NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern. “This data demonstrates the dairy industry’s never-ending commitment to producing safe, abundant, and affordable milk and dairy beef, due in part to efforts like FARM.”

“The responsible use of antibiotics has a positive impact on animal health while maintaining a safe milk supply for the public,” said Jamie Jonker, NMPF’s vice president of sustainability and scientific affairs. “The 2017 manual is another step in the U.S. dairy industry’s continued commitment to the judicious use of antimicrobials.”

NMPF and the FARM Program thanked the following sponsors of the 2017 manual: Merck Animal Health, Elanco, Zoetis, Merial and Charm Sciences.

The FARM Program, created by NMPF in 2009, demonstrates that U.S. milk producers are committed to providing the best in animal care, residue prevention and environmental stewardship.

The 2017 edition is now available for purchase in the FARM Program store. Any questions about the manual can be directed to

NMPF Statement on President Trump’s Comments on Dairy Trade Dispute with Canada

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

“We thank President Donald Trump for speaking out today in Wisconsin against the harmful pricing policy Canada implemented in an effort to stifle competition with the United States. We have repeatedly stressed that trade must be fair and that all countries should be held accountable when they break the rules. Canada’s repeated disregard for its dairy trade commitments to the United States has left American dairy farmers enduring the severe and unfair consequences.

“America’s dairy farmers will continue to work with the Trump Administration, Speaker Paul Ryan and other congressional leaders, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, as well as elected officials across the country to resolve this issue as soon as possible. We outlined the issue for the Trump Administration in a letter we sent last Thursday to the White House.”

NMPF Recognizes Members of Congress for Focusing Attention on Dairy Workforce Needs

As discussions over immigration policy continue on Capitol Hill, the National Milk Producers Federation today thanked members of both the House and Senate for working to address the unique labor challenges faced by dairy producers. NMPF has called on legislators to address this dilemma for more than a decade.

“We welcome these bipartisan efforts to shine a light on an issue so critical to dairy producers,” said NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern. “Dairy farming is a physically demanding, 24-7, 365-day job. Without the help of foreign labor, many American dairy operations face the threat of closure. We appreciate that members of both parties are building awareness of the need for action on this challenge.”

Two bills introduced recently would modify the existing H-2A agricultural visa program to make it easier for dairy farmers to hire the foreign labor they need to run their operations. Reps. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) and Chris Collins (R-NY) co-authored the Farm Family Relief Act in January. Rep. Sean Duffy’s (R-WI) introduced the Defending the Agricultural Industry’s Requirements Year-round (DAIRY) Act this month.

Separately, during a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing to confirm the next USDA Secretary, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) questioned nominee Sonny Perdue about finding a solution to the industry’s immigration concerns. Perdue said he supports an exemption to the H-2A program so that dairy farms can hire workers year-round.

In addition to working closely with these and other members of Congress, NMPF remains engaged on the issue of immigration through its leadership in the Agriculture Workforce Coalition (AWC). The AWC continues to raise awareness with officials on Capitol Hill about the challenges facing the agriculture industry, specifically that of labor shortages and the role of immigrants in filling those jobs.

NMPF and the AWC have long supported immigration security and reform measures with the caveat that any proposal also includes avenues to protect current workers and enable a smooth transition to a visa program for future ones.

Monday April 17 Crop Progress + Ag News


For the week ending April 16, 2017, temperatures averaged four to six degrees above normal, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Rainfall of an inch or more was limited to portions of the eastern half of the State. Dry soil moisture conditions continued in southwestern Nebraska. The first fields of corn were planted, however, fieldwork in most areas was limited to spring tillage and fertilizer application. There were 4.8 days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 5 percent very short, 18 short, 74 adequate, and 3 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 7 percent very short, 23 short, 68 adequate, and 2 surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Corn planted was 3 percent, near 6 last year, and equal to the five-year average.

Winter wheat condition rated 1 percent very poor, 8 poor, 38 fair, 46 good, and 7 excellent. Winter wheat jointed was 7 percent, behind 17 last year and 13 average.

Oats planted was 70 percent, near 68 last year and 66 average. Oats emerged was 26 percent, ahead of 20 last year, and near 22 average.

Livestock, Pasture and Range Report:

Cattle and calf conditions rated 0 percent very poor, 0 poor, 15 fair, 71 good, and 14 excellent. Calving progress was 82 percent complete, near 84 last year and 83 average. Cattle and calf death loss rated 1 percent heavy, 65 average, and 34 light.

Sheep and lamb conditions rated 0 percent very poor, 1 poor, 22 fair, 68 good, and 9 excellent. Sheep and lamb death loss rated 1 percent heavy, 74 average, and 25 light.

Hay and roughage supplies rated 1 percent very short, 4 short, 91 adequate, and 4 surplus.

Stock water supplies rated 1 percent very short, 5 short, 93 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 continued to be an issue for Iowa farmers with just 3.0 days suitable for fieldwork statewide during the week ending April 16, 2017, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Corn planting has been limited as producers have been patiently waiting for warmer and drier soil conditions. Other field activities included CRP burning; anhydrous, manure, and fertilizer applications; and field cultivation where conditions allowed.

Topsoil moisture levels rated 0 percent very short, 1 percent short, 74 percent adequate, and 25 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated 1 percent very short, 3 percent short, 76 percent adequate, and 20 percent surplus. Southeast Iowa continues to have the lowest subsoil moisture levels with 30 percent rated short to very short.

Two percent of the State’s expected corn acreage has been planted, five days behind the previous year and three days behind the 5-year average. Forty-two percent of the oat crop has been planted, four days behind average, with 10 percent emerged. Northwest, west central, and central Iowa farmers have planted over half their expected oat acreage.

Pasture condition rated 3 percent very poor, 4 percent poor, 24 percent fair, 57 percent good, and 12 percent excellent. Pastures have begun to show good growth with some cows and calves already turned out into the fields. Livestock conditions have been good, although many feedlots remain muddy.

US Corn Planting Falls Behind Normal Pace Due to Widespread Rain

After debuting last week at a pace equal to the five-year average, U.S. corn planting progress fell behind normal in USDA's weekly Crop Progress report released Monday afternoon. USDA estimated 6% of the nation's corn crop was planted as of Sunday, behind last year's pace of 12% and also behind the five-year average pace of 9%.

The delay in planting was due to frequent and widespread showers across the Corn Belt last week.

USDA also reported that 19% of U.S. winter wheat was headed as of Sunday, April 16, up from 11% a year ago and also up from the five-year average of 13% headed.  Fifty-four percent of the winter wheat crop was rated good to excellent.

Meanwhile, spring wheat planting was reported at 13% complete as of Sunday, down from last year's 25% and also below the five-year average of 21% planted.

In other crop reports, sorghum was 21% planted, compared to 16% last year and a 20% five-year average. Cotton planting was 8% complete, compared to 7% last year and a 9% average. Rice was 55% planted, compared to 46% last year and a 37% average. Twenty-five percent of rice was emerged.

Oats were 45% planted as of April 16, compared to 53% last year and a 52% average. Emergence was at 29%, compared to 29% last year and a 35% average.

Japanese Beetles Migrating West
Robert Wright - NE Extension Entomologist

A newly released map of confirmed Japanese beetle populations in Nebraska shows their westward movement from where they were first identified near Lincoln and Omaha several years ago.  Infestations have been confirmed in Dakota, Wayne, Madison, Burt, Platte, Colfax, Dodge, Washington, Saunders, Douglas, and Sarpy counties, plus many other southern Nebraska counties stretching as far west as Lincoln County. 

The map  is based on the 2016 survey for Japanese beetle adults conducted annually by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture. Shaded counties had established populations of Japanese beetles in one or more locations in 2016.

Japanese beetle adults can damage a broad range of plants, including many trees and shrubs planted in the landscape, such as crab apple, roses, linden trees, and many others. They also have been commonly observed feeding on corn and soybeans in parts of eastern Nebraska in the last few years.

Be on the lookout for these beetles in corn and soybeans in 2017 as they begin to emerge in late June if you are in an infested area. See this CropWatch article for more information on management of Japanese beetles in corn and soybeans.

Typically, Japanese beetles are brought into new areas with landscape trees and shrubs imported from infested areas. The root soil may be infested with larval Japanese beetles when these plants are transported to Nebraska.

Agriculture Leaders Say Tax Bills Unacceptable as Proposed

Two high profile bills scheduled for debate by Nebraska lawmakers don’t do enough to provide meaningful property tax reform and relief according to leaders of Nebraska agriculture organizations. The agriculture leaders, representing tens of thousands of Nebraska farmers, ranchers, and livestock feeders, say the tax related provisions included in LB 640 and LB 461 fall short of the expectations of Nebraska property taxpayers.

“We like where Senator Groene is coming from in LB 640. The concept of limiting the amount of property taxes that can be used to fund schools makes a lot of sense and we want to keep pressing that point. Unfortunately, the bill is paid for using the Property Tax Credit Fund – dollars already being used to deliver property tax relief. In that regard, LB 640 is little more than status quo for property taxpayers in terms of additional relief,” said Dennis Fujan, President of the Nebraska Soybean Association. “The Legislature must add new and alternative sources of revenue to underwrite additional property tax savings for LB 640 and deliver meaningful property tax reform for Nebraskans. Repurposing money from the Property Tax Credit Fund, without a significant reduction in the cap on property taxes, isn’t the answer.”

The agriculture leaders’ concerns about lack of action on property taxes extends to LB 461. The bill has been promoted as providing tax savings for both income and property taxpayers in the state. The agriculture leaders say tax savings proposed in the legislation are far out of balance when it comes to addressing property taxes. The bill is projected to provide more than $400 million in individual and corporate income tax relief, while only around $45 million is expected to be returned in property tax relief through the TEEOSA formula (state aid to schools).

“A ten to one ratio of income tax reductions to property tax reductions is not what Nebraskans have asked for, nor is that the message our group and others have delivered to the Capitol. The current version of LB 461 completely misses the mark. LB 461 is in no way acceptable in its current form,” said Fujan.

The agriculture leaders adopted a series of principles prior to the legislative session outlining parameters in how the group would evaluate legislative proposals related to property taxes and tax reform. The group testified before the Legislature’s Revenue, Education and Appropriations Committees offering support for numerous bills that would provide the means for the Legislature to deliver property tax reform and relief this session.

“We’ve talked to senators about the importance of balancing the tax burden between property, state sales, and state income taxes to reduce our overreliance on property taxes. We’ve pointed out the need for revenue neutral solutions that expand the tax base and use those revenues to provide dollar for dollar reductions in property taxes. We’ve shared the need for property tax reforms that benefit all property owners, and we’ve talked about ways to lessen the reliance on property taxes without harming our schools,” said Fujan. “Based on our evaluations, LB 640 and LB 461 fail to meet many of the principles we’ve outlined as a group. By potentially forcing more burden onto property taxpayers down the road, LB 461 is actually a step backward.”

Fujan said the group and their organizations will continue to work with members of the Legislature to try and improve the bills so they deliver for property taxpayers.

“We want to make these bills better, but there’s a lot of work that must be done to make them acceptable,” said Fujan.

LB 640, introduced by Sen. Mike Groene, of North Platte, is slated for legislative debate Tuesday, April 18.

LB 461 was advanced by the Legislature’s Revenue Committee and contains several tax related provisions including pieces of Governor Pete Ricketts’ tax reform package. The bill is slated for debate Friday, April. 21.

The Agriculture Leaders Working Group includes member-elected leaders from the Nebraska Cattlemen, Nebraska Corn Growers Association, Nebraska Farm Bureau, Nebraska Pork Producers Association, Nebraska Soybean Association, and the Nebraska State Dairy Association.

Those participating in the Agriculture Leaders Working Group include:

Troy Stowater – Nebraska Cattlemen, president
Galen Frenzen – Nebraska Cattlemen, president-elect
Dan Wesely – Nebraska Corn Growers Association, president
Steve Ebke – Nebraska Corn Growers Association, past president
Steve Nelson – Nebraska Farm Bureau, president
Mark McHargue – Nebraska Farm Bureau, first vice president
Russ Vering – Nebraska Pork Producers Association, president
Darin Uhlir – Nebraska Pork Producers Association, vice president
Kevin Peterson – Nebraska Pork Producers Association, vice president
Tim Chancellor – Nebraska Pork Producers Association, vice president
Dennis Fujan – Nebraska Soybean Association, president
Dwaine Junck – Nebraska State Dairy Association, vice president
Doug Temme – Nebraska State Dairy Association, past president

Export Protocol Negotiation Will Decide the Timeline for U.S. Beef in China

Josh Maples, Assistant Professor, Dept of Ag Econ, Mississippi State University

It was reported last week that China has agreed to allow beef imports from the U.S. for the first time since 2003. This announcement follows a very similar announcement made in September of 2016, though no actual trade has occurred yet. Gaining access to the most populated country in the world would be a very positive development for the U.S. beef industry. China represents a multibillion-dollar market and has the greatest growth potential for beef consumption of any country in the world. China has a large and growing middle class and has experienced steady increases in beef consumption. China and Hong Kong combined to be the largest beef importers in the world in 2016. While the U.S. already exports to Hong Kong, 87 percent of China's 2016 beef imports were from Brazil, Uruguay, Australia, and New Zealand.

If the U.S. is going to be able to export beef to China, a bilateral agreement over trade specifications must be reached by both countries. The three step process for resuming trade was discussed in a USDA Foreign Agriculture Service report last September (available here). The first step was lifting the ban on U.S. beef. The second and third steps involve negotiating export protocol conditions and an audit of these protocols. The report also pointed toward the discussion of traceability requirements as part of the protocol negotiation. The announcement made last week should be viewed more of a repeat of the first step.

We can look to the process Canadian beef followed to re-enter the Chinese market as a reference. China also closed the door on Canadian beef in 2003 as a response to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). In June of 2010, China announced it would reopen imports of Canadian beef in stages. The first stage was boneless frozen beef from cattle under 30 months of age which began shipment in May of 2011. China agreed to allow Canadian bone-in frozen beef from cattle under 30 months old in September of 2016. The specifications for Canadian boneless beef and the proposed requirements for bone-in beef are available here. With regards to traceability, the cattle from which the beef is harvested must meet the requirement that "each animal has a unique identity, the farm of origin (place of birth) can be traced, and the cattle should be slaughtered less than 30 months of age." The process to begin shipment of U.S. will not necessarily have to follow the same staged process or take the same amount of time. However, this is a good example of the type of protocols and regulatory hurdles that must be negotiated.

It is important to note that if and when we finally start exporting beef to China, much work will need to establish market share of U.S. beef in China. Per capita consumption of beef is much lower in China (forecasted 12.7 lbs. per person in 2017) as compared to the U.S. (forecasted 56.2 lbs. per person in 2017). While this shows enormous room for growth, the growth will likely be throttled by household income. Average per capita income in China was $8,028 (USD) in 2015 - significantly lower than the U.S. average of $56,116. This leads many Chinese consumers to be very price sensitive. Further, the beef produced in the U.S. is overwhelmingly grain-fed as compared to the predominantly grass-fed beef produced by most of China's current trading partners. However, the population of China leads even gaining a small share of the per capita consumption totals to have a large impact on U.S. exports.

While the possibility of exporting to China should assuredly be viewed as very positive for U.S. beef producers, we have not yet reached the finish line. The resurgence of the topic in media stories last week is more of a reminder of how important beef exports to China could be to our industry than a new development.

CWT Assists with 2.3 Million Pounds of Cheese Export Sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 15 requests for export assistance from member cooperatives that have contracts to sell 2.335 million pounds (1,059 metric tons) of Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses to customers in Asia, the Middle East and Oceania. 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 28.432 million pounds of American-type cheeses, and 1.427 million pounds of butter (82% milkfat) to 12 countries on four continents. The sales are the equivalent of 294.464 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.

Alltech expands team to support local dairy industry

Global animal health and nutrition company Alltech is proud to announce the expansion of the South Dakota regional team with the addition of on-farm dairy specialist Jeff Johnson.

Johnson is a University of Wisconsin–River Falls graduate who grew up in west central Minnesota. Currently, he lives near Grove City, Minnesota. He comes to Alltech from Land O’ Lakes, where he held multiple positions during his 35 years of experience, including milk production specialist, regional milk procurement manager, national milk quality trainer and animal care specialist.

“Jeff is coming to Alltech with a wide range of knowledge related to proper milking procedures and animal care,” said CJ Tanderup, South Dakota regional manager for Alltech. “We are looking forward to the expertise and advice he will not only be able to give to our team, but to the dairies in the region.”

Johnson’s primary duties as an Alltech on-farm dairy specialist will include working with dairy operations to help manage and prevent health challenges in addition to conducting audits and educating producers on milk quality and procedures. The Alltech South Dakota regional team covers Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa.

MN, SD Deere Dealers Announced Merger Plans

A group of John Deere dealers in Minnesota and South Dakota have consolidated their various locations, creating a 17 store chain. According to a release on their respective websites, Kibble Equipment, James River Equipment, Schuneman Equipment Co. and Larson's announced the merger of their businesses.

"This will bring together a group of stable, neighboring John Deere dealerships in an effort to enhance the services we provide to our customers," the group of dealers said in a joint statement. "The anticipated date of merger is June 5, 2017. This merger is a positive step as we look toward the future. It will create a sustainable platform allowing our adaption to the market while ensuring efficient utilization of assets."

Farm Equipment magazine reports that with 17 locations, the new dealer group will be among Deere's top 15 largest dealers by ag store locations.

Friday April 14 Ag News

Farmway, CVA Boards unanimously approve bringing merger to a vote

After a review of the recently completed merger study, the Board of Directors of Farmway Co-op, Inc. (Farmway) and Central Valley Ag (CVA) both unanimously approved the next step in a merger of the two cooperatives. The merger proposal will now be presented to Farmway members for a vote.

“By combining two strong financially-stable cooperatives in a merger, a unified cooperative would provide the opportunity for expanded services and facilities, increased savings, and accelerated equity redemptions for the benefit of our member-owners,” said Tim Porter, Farmway Board Chairman. “The Board of Directors asks for member-owner support by voting YES to the unification.”

“The results of the merger study were conclusive and both Boards felt strongly in proceeding with a merger of CVA and Farmway,” said Dave Beckman, Chairman of the Board for Central Valley Ag. “The study outlined benefits in terms of improved efficiencies and cost savings, which we will feel bring additional value to members of both cooperatives.

Initial merger discussions between the cooperatives began in January 2017, with the respective boards meeting in April to unanimously approve an Agreement and Plan of Merger. Farmway will host area informational meetings throughout May starting with the Farmway Annual Meeting May 4th so members can better understand the results of the recently completed merger study and ask questions regarding the proposed merger. Shortly thereafter, Farmway will hold a series of voting meetings for the Farmway membership to vote regarding the merger. Farmway voting members are highly encouraged to attend these meetings and vote.

For the merger to be finalized, Farmway members must approve by a super majority, which is defined as 66%.


Farmway is focused on helping their producer-owners succeed. Headquartered in Beloit, Kans., Farmway has 37 facilities across nine counties in North Central Kansas, offering energy, agronomy, feed and grain solutions. Find out more about Farmway by visiting


Central Valley Ag is a farmer-owned cooperative headquartered in York, Neb. CVA has locations in Iowa, Kansas, and Nebraska. CVA is an innovative leader providing products and services in grain, agronomy, feed, and energy. You can find more information about Central Valley Ag by visiting

Rep. Bacon Completes Ag Tour of Nebraska

In preparation for the upcoming Farm Bill and to enhance his work in the House Agriculture Committee, Congressman Don Bacon (NE-02) conducted an agriculture tour Monday and Tuesday of this week in central Nebraska where he visited with Nebraska farmers and ranchers. He then concluded the tour on Wednesday with a visit to the Cooper Farm Urban Agriculture Education Center in Omaha, a 100-acre farm owned by the Omaha Home for Boys. The project is a partnership between the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Program, and the Omaha Home for Boys.

“Agriculture is Nebraska’s number one industry and it affects the economy of the entire state, and I want to expand my background and understanding of these industries and their needs, so I can be a strong advocate on the House Agriculture Committee,” said Congressman Bacon. “Ag contributes over $23 billion to Nebraska’s economy and food processing is the leading manufacturing industry in Nebraska.”

While in central Nebraska, Congressman Bacon met with various agricultural industry producers and business leaders and discussed the need for affordable crop insurance and bilateral trade. In addition, he agreed to be a champion for ensuring our ranchers have the resources they need to keep Foot and Mouth Disease out of the ranching industry.

Healthcare and immigration reform were also on the minds of the agriculture community.

“I kept hearing how the Affordable Care Act has hurt farmers due to excessive premiums and many are forced to put spouses to work outside the farm to lower their healthcare costs.  Most stated their annual healthcare expenses were between $20,000 - $30,000 for the family,” said Congressman Bacon.

“Nebraska farmers and ranchers told me that immigrant labor is the backbone of their business. Without the talent of these hard-working people, the entire industry would implode and adversely affect consumers,” added Congressman Bacon. “They also stressed the need to fix our broken immigration system to include securing the borders, employer verification, and an easier way to hire immigrant workers who bring a valued skillset to American farms and ranches.”

Agriculture is a critical catalyst for many of the businesses of the Second Congressional District, including commodity exchange companies, processing plants, financial institutions and urban agriculture. Programs like these will help keep agriculture strong and at the forefront of national treasures now and into the future. I'm thankful for the opportunity to be there in support of the Urban Agriculture Program today.

Coalition Says Tax Reform Bills Fail to Meet Group’s Principles

A pair of bills targeted to changing Nebraska tax policy fail to meet the principles outlined by a growing coalition of taxpayers, business owners, local school board members, superintendents, agriculture, and education groups from across Nebraska. Nebraskans United for Property Tax Reform and Education coalition members met this week to discuss both LB 640 and LB 461, bills slated for debate by the full Legislature following the Easter break.

“Our two principles are very clear. We believe adequate and sustainable funding of high quality K-12 education is imperative for the future of Nebraska. We also believe tax reform which reduces the over-reliance on local property taxes is necessary to ensure our tax system is fair to all Nebraska taxpayers, from homeowners in Douglas county to ranchers in the sandhills and all across urban and rural Nebraska,” said Mike Lucas Superintendent of York Public Schools. “We appreciate Senator Groene's efforts with LB 640 but fear for its sustainability and don't see it as a viable, long-term solution. LB 461 doesn't provide meaningful, long-term property tax reform that many of our elected officials have promised.  Property tax reform is the number one issue we hear citizens asking for."

Coalition members noted provisions in both bills not only jeopardize current and future funding for Nebraska schools, but also fail to provide meaningful property tax reform and relief to Nebraska property taxpayers.

“The Legislature should be focusing on measures that work to better the climate for the property taxpayers who have been asked to take on more and more responsibility for funding our schools, while at the same time not put school funding at risk. These bills don’t pass either test,” said Doug Nienhueser, a representative of 'Nebraska Fair,' a group comprised of farmers in Seward and York counties."

Nebraskans United includes property owners, ag and education groups, school board members, superintendents (representing all school districts across the state), and other taxpayers across Nebraska who have come together to urge the legislature to act this year to balance the state's property tax system and reduce the overreliance on property taxes to adequately fund K-12 education. Nebraska needs a more equitable system to fund the state's education priorities.

Nebraskans United for Property Tax Reform and Education includes:

Nebraska Farm Bureau                                                  
Nebraska State Education Association
Reform for Nebraska’s Future                                      
Nebraska Council of School Administrators
Nebraska Corn Growers Association                        
Nebraska Farmers Union
Women Involved in Farm Economics                        
Nebraska Soybean Association
Nebraska Pork Producers                                             
The Nebraska Wheat Growers
Nebraska Rural Community Schools Association
Nebraska Fair
Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska                          
Gage County Property Tax Group
Nebraska Grange                                                             
Center for Rural Affairs
Stand For Schools

Greater Nebraska Schools Association: Bellevue, Bennington, Blair, Columbus, Elkhorn, Fremont, Gering, Grand Island, Gretna, Hastings, Kearney, Lexington, Lincoln, McCook, Millard, Norfolk, Norris, North Platte, Omaha, Papillion-La Vista, Plattsmouth, Ralston, Schuyler, South Sioux City, Westside Community Public Schools.

Schools Taking Action for Nebraska Children’s Education: Beatrice, Blair, Chadron, Columbus, Crete, Fairbury, Gothenburg, Holdrege, Nebraska City, Norris, Seward, South Sioux City, Wahoo, Waverly, York Public Schools.

NC Urges State Senators Not to Sweep Brand Committee Funds

Nebraska Cattlemen encourages State Senators, in the budget process, to restore the entire balance of funds to the Nebraska Brand Committee (NBC).   

The legislature's Appropriations Committee must advance a budget by Day 70 of the session, and has recommended taking $100,000 from the NBC funds to help balance the state budget shortfall.  The fund balance carried by this agency is not a surplus of unused General Fund Appropriations.   The funds obtained by NBC are producer fees that have been paid for services from a completely cash funded agency which receives no general fund appropriations from the state's general fund.

A sweep of funds from the Nebraska Brand Committee will cause fiscal struggles for the agency.  Depending on the amount swept from the funds, the agency might not be able to meet their financial obligations and stay in compliance with current Nebraska Brand Laws. 

Aggressively addressing the concerns that were raised in the audit during the Summer of 2016, the NBC has pursed new technology which encumbers funds. On top of equipment replacement and upgrades that are needed there are ten (10) open employment positions that need to be filled to provide the mandated services and investigations. 

"Taking even $1.00 is too much" Stated Troy Stowater, NC President. "Those dollars are producer dollars that exclusively fund the brand committee efforts."

2017 Nebraska Beef Ambassador Contest Results

The Nebraska Cattlewomen are pleased to announce the results of the 2017 Nebraska Beef Ambassador Contest held April 8th in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The Nebraska Beef Ambassador Program provides an opportunity for youth, ages 14 - 24 years old, to become spokespersons and future leaders for the beef industry. The two divisions, senior and collegiate, were judged on three different areas of the industry consisting of a mock consumer promotional event, mock media interview and an issues response.  

Hannah Esch of Unadilla took home the first place rank in the collegiate division along with a  $200 cash prize. A scholarship from the Nebraska Cattlemen Research and Education Foundation will be awarded at the completion of her year as Beef Ambassador. She will be competing at National Beef Ambassador Competition in 2018. Hannah is the daughter of Don and Linda Esch and is currently a freshman at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln.  

Senior contestant TaraLee Hudson, Belevidere, daughter of Corey Bill and Gina Hudson received first place. She received a cash prize of $125. TaraLee is 16 years old and attends Bruning-Davenport High School.

A custom belt buckle will be awarded to both winners at the Nebraska State Fair where both division winners will be greeting visitors at the popular Birthing Pavilion.

"The contest is designed to develop advocates for the beef industry among the youth of the state"  stated Tammy Hanson, NCW chair of the Beef Ambassador committee. "We are fortunate to have these outstanding young women representing us in Nebraska."  

Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Last week I told you about applying a heavy dose of manure before planting alfalfa.  Trouble is, there are situations where this may not be a good idea.

               When applying a heavy dose of manure, site selection is critical.  These heavy doses contain a lot of nitrogen and phosphate along with many other nutrients.  That’s fine, even good, for the alfalfa but it can create an environmental risk.

               One of the risks is nitrogen leaching into the ground water or being transferred to creeks or rivers via drainage tile.  Another risk is soil erosion carrying phosphorus and pathogens.

               Alfalfa seedlings initially grow slowly.  It often takes a couple months or more before a new stand of alfalfa is capable of stabilizing soil so it won’t blow or runoff during storms.  And if erosion does occur, the phosphorus, nitrogen, and other nutrients in the manure will move along with the soil, often ending up in rivers, lakes, or ditches where they might do significant damage.

               Take steps to minimize leaching and erosion risk.  Incorporate slurry manures while maintaining as much crop residue as possible to reduce erosion from soil surfaces.  Plant a fast growing companion crop like oats along with the alfalfa to stabilize the site more quickly.  Avoid applying manure to frozen ground or very long before planting alfalfa.  Best of all, only apply heavy doses of manure to sites with minimal leaching and erosion risk, such as flat, heavy soils.

               If these steps can’t be followed, avoid heavy doses.  Test the nutrient concentration of the manure and then limit the amount of manure applied to an amount that will supply just a couple hundred pounds of phosphorus per acre.

               Your good stewardship will pay off in the long run.

Managing Weeds, Insects and Diseases Focus of ISU Extension and Outreach

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is helping Iowa farmers manage weeds, insects and diseases in their fields.

Pest management is key to high yields and quality grain. ISU Extension and Outreach specialists are working to provide the tools and resources farmers need to manage those pests. And the ISU Plant and Insect Diagnostic Clinic can help farmers and homeowners alike identify diseases and insects that are impacting production.

Four extension specialists are highlighted in the video “Managing Weeds, Insects and Diseases.” They show how they are working to keep pests from harming Iowa farmers.

This is the fourth in the ISU Extension and Outreach – Agriculture and Natural Resources’ video series highlighting the impact being made by extension specialists.  Here's the link...

Soil Management and Land Valuation Conference Turns 90

The longest-running conference at Iowa State University is turning 90.

The 90th annual Soil Management and Land Valuation Conference will be held on Wednesday, May 17 at the Scheman Building on the Iowa State University campus. The conference is designed for anyone who has an interest in agricultural land, land management and land valuation.

“We are three or four years into this current farm economic downturn and with a newly elected administration the farm economy is facing a lot of uncertainty,” said Wendong Zhang, assistant professor and extension economist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. “This conference will provide insights into where the ag economy and in particular farmland markets are going.”

This year’s program will examine current issues in rural property management, appraisal, sale and purchase. The six issues with implications to soil management and land valuation that will be presented are:
-    The current situation and uncertainty in agricultural trade and the implications for the agricultural economy;
-    Current situations and future outlook for the agricultural financial conditions in the farm downturn;
-    Weather outlook and its impacts on agricultural production;
-    Panel discussion on the 90-year evolution of soil management and land valuation conference, especially historical focus and future directions;
-    Farm downturn, population change and the impact on rural communities; and
-    A legal update concerning the Des Moines Water Works, as well as mergers and anti-trust regulations.

“These topics represent many hot-button issues in the ag industry,” Zhang said. “We will examine what demand will look like in the future and how big an impact declining profit margins will have on producers and the industry as a whole. The objective is to try to provide insights into the current economic situation and the near-term outlook of the ag economy.”

Additionally, the Iowa Appraiser Examining Board has approved the conference for six hours of continuing education. The Iowa Real Estate Commission has also approved the conference for six hours of continuing education for renewal of a real estate and broker’s license.

New this year, conference participants can provide estimates of land value and commodity price forecasts through a short online survey, carrying on the tradition of asking ag professionals to gaze into a crystal ball. The survey is available online at

The conference begins at 8 a.m. on May 17 and will adjourn at 4 p.m. Online registration completed on or before May 3 will cost $100, and $110 after May 3.

The program is sponsored by the Iowa State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

Iowa Corn Promotion Board to Hold Director Elections for USDA Crop Reporting Districts 1, 3, 6 and 9

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

On July 18, 2017, corn growers in Crop Reporting Districts 1, 3, 6 and 9 can vote at their local county ISU extension office for their representation on the Iowa Corn Promotion Board for a 3-year term. The Board’s primary priorities and responsibilities include domestic and foreign market development, research into news and value-added corn uses, and education on corn and the farmers who grow it.

Corn producers within Districts 1, 3, 6 and 9 who have produced and marketed 250 bushels of corn or more in Iowa in the previous marketing year (September 1, 2015 to August 31, 2016) and are interested in running for a position may still file a petition with the ICPB. Petitions can be obtained by contacting the Iowa Corn office and must contain the signatures of 25 corn producers from the same district as the prospective candidate. Completed and notarized petitions must be delivered to the Iowa Corn office no later than 4:30 p.m. on April 28, 2017. Once all grower petitions have been received, a final list of candidates will be generated and all names will be listed on the election ballots.

Anyone who has produced and marketed 250 bushels of corn or more in Iowa in the previous marketing year is eligible to vote in the election. Producers unable to visit the local ISU extension office on July 18 may vote by absentee ballot. Absentee ballots can be requested beginning May 31, requests must be made no later than June 26 by contacting the Iowa Corn office at (515)225-9242 or on our website at Absentee ballots must be postmarked or returned to the Iowa Corn Office no later than July 18. Results of the election will be made public on July 21.

Current candidates are as follows:

USDA Crop Reporting District #1 (Buena Vista, Clay, Cherokee, Dickinson, Emmet, Lyon, O’Brien, Osceola, Palo Alto, Plymouth, Pocahontas, Sioux)
    Kelly Nieuwenhuis, O’Brien County
    John Schott, Pocahontas County

USDA Crop Reporting District #3 (Allamakee, Black Hawk, Bremer, Buchanan, Chickasaw, Clayton, Delaware, Dubuque, Fayette, Howard and Winneshiek)
    Greg Alber, Buchanan County
    Ryan Oberbroeckling, Clayton County 

USDA Crop Reporting District #6 (Benton, Cedar, Clinton, Iowa, Jackson, Jones, Johnson, Linn, Muscatine and Scott)
    Pete Brecht, Linn County
    Daron Oberbroeckling, Scott County

USDA Crop Reporting District #9 (Davis, Des Moines, Henry, Jefferson, Keokuk, Louisa, Lee, Mahaska, Van Buren, Wapello, and Washington)
    Heath Greiner, Davis County
    Stan Nelson, Des Moines County


NPPC newsletter

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) this week said it wants to move forward with a “Modernization of Pork Slaughter” rule. The regulation, would increase efficiency and effectiveness of the federal inspection process and allow for the rapid adoption of new food safety technologies in pork slaughter. It also has the potential to increase U.S. hog slaughter capacity.

The HACCP Inspection Models Project, or HIMP, would allow FSIS to better focus its inspection resources and partner with the pork industry to better ensure safe products are entering the food supply. It shifts certain food safety responsibilities from federal inspectors to packing plant workers and could lead to faster pork production lines.

Currently, five U.S. pork packing plants are participating in HIMP pilot projects; enactment of a modernization rule would make the system available to all packers.

Group Wants Processed Meats to be Banned in Schools

(AP) - An advocacy group sued the Los Angeles school district for serving hot dogs and other processed meats to students, arguing that they increase the risk of cancer, it was announced Wednesday.

According to the Associated Press, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine filed the lawsuit Tuesday asking a court to ban the district from offering processed meats. It seeks the same ban for the Poway school district in San Diego County.

The suit, filed in San Diego County, says there is a "recognized association between eating processed meats... and developing cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease."

The Los Angeles district is the nation's second-largest with more than 660,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

The district lunch menu for April lists several processed meat items, including a "turkey pastrami croissandwich with cheese" and a turkey hot dog. Breakfasts can include beef sausage or turkey chorizo.

The AP reports that serving such meats violates California's Education Code, which requires school food to be of "highest quality" and provide the "greatest nutritional value possible," according to the suit, which names both school districts and the California Department of Education.

A Los Angeles teacher and two parents of Poway district students joined the suit.

Thursday April 13 Ag News

Nebraska Land Values Update
JD Maxson, Farmers National Company Assistant Area Sales Manager

Land values for the first half of 2017 in Nebraska have remained relatively flat. Overall, the land market has softened due to weak grain and livestock commodity markets. But, I anticipate high quality land in sought-after locations to continue to be in demand.

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

Inflation could be on the horizon with the recent one-fourth of a percent hike in interest rates. However, land is a hard asset and can be leveraged against inflation versus other paper investments.

Still, since fall of 2016, top quality land in Nebraska continues to hold its value, while medium and low quality land has trended lower. Hard grass and meadow acres, as well as soft grazing acres, are also trending lower. High quality farms are selling best through the auction process and sell within days if priced for the market, while medium and low quality farms are moving better with private treaties, but sit on the marketplace for longer periods of time.  

Unfortunately, we have seen a few forced sales due to farmers’ financial constraints. Lenders have been meeting with the producers, but we certainly could see an 80-acre farm or short-quarter come on the market to generate operating capital.

Active sellers include absentee land owners, farmers/owner-operators, and trusts. In the last few months, buyers have been investors.

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

Nebraska to Dedicate $111M Cargill Cooked Meat Plant

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts will be among the dignitaries present to dedicate Cargill's $111 million cooked meats facility in Columbus, Neb., on April 20 at 10:45 a.m. Announced in late 2015, the project to convert Cargill's fresh ground beef plant to a cooked meats operation adds capabilities the company previously did not have, provides new and existing customers with an expanded portfolio of protein offerings and nearly doubles employment at the facility.

This invitation-only dedication will include community civic and business leaders, state and federal legislators, Cargill employees, customers, construction contractors and other key stakeholders associated with the Columbus plant conversion project. Lunch follows the dedication, featuring a trendy Taco Bell food truck adorned with eye-catching graphics that will be serving Crunchy Tacos and Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos Tacos containing cooked seasoned ground beef produced at Cargill's Columbus facility.

"The newest and best equipment and technologies to produce cooked ground beef, sausage, hot dogs and other products have been incorporated into our Columbus facility, underscoring our commitment to invest in, and grow, our protein business by better meeting our customers' needs and expectations," said Brian Sikes, corporate vice president for Wichita-based Cargill Protein. "We take a great deal of pride in knowing this facility, located in America's heartland, will help us achieve our goal to nourish people in a safe, responsible and sustainable way."

"Taco Bell shares the same growth mindset as Cargill, and is proud to be a part of the dedication of this massive state-of-the-art project," said Brian Niccol, CEO, Taco Bell Corp. "Investment in this facility not only provides the scale needed to deliver our customers great tasting tacos and burritos, but it also is creating much needed jobs, employee training and economic benefits for the community."

In addition to the facility's new capabilities, employment will nearly double, from approximately 240 prior to the conversion to around 460. Some workers displaced when the conversion began have been rehired due to training they received in the interim. Cargill collaborated with Central Community College and the Platte Valley Literacy Association, both in Columbus, and the Nebraska Department of Labor, in an innovative public-private partnership to craft an adult education program financed by a $465,000 state grant.

The 36-week curriculum was facilitated by Central Community College under the auspices of the Nebraska Department of Labor Columbus Works Training Program and attracted 49 displaced Cargill employees, in addition to more than 100 people retained at the facility. Five-hour, daily, weekday classes included English as a second language, writing, mathematics and computer skills. More than half of the 106 participants moved up one class level within the first two months.

"This is the most exciting and rewarding training program I've been involved with," said Doug Pauley, director of training and development at Central Community College, in a March 2016 Columbus Telegram article. Pauley added, "This was a way to keep those workers in the community and help them grow personally and professionally."

Sikes echoed Pauley's sentiment, "To better ensure that we continue to grow our protein business, it is important to Cargill that we invest in those who work for us, as well as those who are directly impacted by the business decisions we make. Investing in people and communities is part of Cargill's DNA dating back to the founding of the company more than 150 years ago. We know that we prosper only when the communities where we have a presence thrive, which is the philosophy we embrace."

"I am thrilled to not only celebrate the completion of the tremendous investment Cargill has made in the Columbus community, but also the success of a thoughtful public-private partnership that has helped retain, develop and engage our local workforce," said Governor Ricketts. "This is a great example of the opportunities we can create for Nebraskans through collaboration and creativity across multiple organizations."

As a result of the conversion project, the size of Cargill's Columbus cooked meats facility was expanded nearly 50 percent, to 160,000 square feet. It complements the company's other protein further processing capabilities at facilities in Nebraska, City, Neb.; Timberville, Va.; Albert Lea, Minn.; Waco and Fort Worth, Texas; and Nashville, Tenn. In addition to its Columbus and Nebraska City facilities, Cargill operates a large-scale beef harvest and processing facility at Schuyler, Neb., employing approximately 2,200 people. Cargill employs approximately 4,000 Nebraskans at 17 locations throughout the state.


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

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

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

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

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

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

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


A.G. Kawamura wants to start a new dialogue about agriculture. The former California secretary of agriculture said it's time for everyone to recognize that the clock is ticking and that people need to become more resilient when it comes to water and food security.

"When you live in a state of abundance, consumers tend to think food is a right," he said. "Food is not a right; food is a privilege."

Today's abundance has led to some groups challenging the agricultural industry on issues such as water restrictions, Kawamura said during the final Heuermann Lecture of the 2016-17 season April 12 at Nebraska Innovation Campus. This conflict has made the already difficult task of feeding the world even more complex.

Kawamura shared examples of how the view of agriculture has evolved throughout history. For instance, in 1948 Israel's food and water supply was limited, which caused the country to unite to focus on critical systems needed to survive. While the United States is not facing such extremes today, Kawamura said he thinks it's time to rally around a common goal of water and food security like Israel did.

"Successful agriculture sustains civilization," he said. "We don't have to talk about what kind of agriculture it is, as long as it's successful. That should be our focus right now."

A third-generation fruit and vegetable grower and shipper from Orange County, Kawamura was California's secretary of agriculture from 2003 to 2010. He is co-chair of Solutions from the Land, a project to develop a sustainable roadmap for 21st century agricultural systems. He is also a national steering committee member of 25x25, a renewable energy coalition of farm, forest, conservation and environmental leaders focused on the contributions that can be derived from America's agricultural and rural sectors.

As a progressive urban farmer, Kawamura has a lifetime of experience working within the shrinking rural and urban boundaries of southern California. He has stayed involved in policy areas of education, hunger and nutrition. Through his company, Orange County Produce, he is engaged in building an interactive urban agricultural exhibit at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, California.

"It's time for a global reset button," Kawamura said. "We're in a new age of agriculture. The pace of new knowledge and new thinking that is taking place is unbelievable.”

The current agricultural renaissance is essential to feeding a booming world population, Kawamura said. He is a supporter of the food, energy and water nexus and said he believes it is key for a resilient and sustainable future.

"Food, energy and water cannot be looked at as silos," he said. "They have to be looked at with the idea that we're going to create resilience.”

In addition to new technologies and new ways of thinking, education is a critical part of a successful future, Kawamura said. He said it's incumbent on those in agriculture to lead the way in educating the public about the challenges and goals facing the world, such as feeding a projected population of 9 billion by 2050.

"We need to produce excitement and enthusiasm globally about these goals to get everybody from around the world involved in this outcome we call the future," he said.

The lecture was held in conjunction with the eighth annual Water for Food Global Conference, which examined the work being done to ensure water and food security from local to global scales.

The Heuermann Lecture series focuses on providing and sustaining enough food, natural resources and renewable energy for the world's people, along with securing the sustainability of rural communities, where the vital work of producing food and renewable energy occurs. The lectures are funded by a gift from B. Keith and Norma Heuermann of Phillips. The Heuermanns are longtime university supporters with a strong commitment to Nebraska's production agriculture, natural resources, rural areas and people.

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

ICA BeefMeets Education Focused on Surviving Tough Times

We’ve all heard the saying, “Tough times never last, but tough people do.” Many farmers are experiencing tough times in this economic downturn, and the second annual Iowa Cattlemen’s Association BeefMeets are designed to help cattle producers weather the storm.

Today’s low commodity prices are a new experience for many young producers, but there are many in the cattle industry in Iowa who have lived through -- and survived -- tough times in the past. A panel of cattle producers, “tough people” who have experienced other economic downturns in the industry, will share how they lived through crisis and adapted in order to stay in the business they love. They will share their experiences at each of the four meetings in June.

Dr. Nevil Speer of AgriClear will give an ag outlook presentation, helping attendees understand how factors like weather, markets and international trade may affect their businesses in the coming months. Farm Credit Services of America representatives will provide financial management tips to improve profits and increase producers’ chances of success.

A session on Family Farm Dynamics will focus on techniques to help family members work together better, especially in times of hardship. As new generations enter or exit the operation, family relationships and the farm business become more complicated. Add financial stress to the equation and it may be a recipe for disaster. Rena Striegel with Transition Point Business Advisors will provide advice for these situations and more.

As water quality continues to be a concern in Iowa, ICA Grazing Advisor, Linda Shumate, and Karl Dallefeld, Prairie Creek Seed, will offer producers information on maximizing the economic potential of cover crops through grazing.

Also, the Iowa Beef Industry Council will be providing an update on the new Iowa State Beef Checkoff collection and programs. BeefMeets attendees can learn more about how the $1 per-head national Beef Checkoff Program and the new $0.50 per-head Iowa State Beef Checkoff are important demand drivers for the beef industry.

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. Registration is $25 for Iowa Cattlemen’s Association members. The day-long events begin with registration at 8:30a.m. and end following a “beef social” at 4:00p.m.

Visit or call 515-296-2266 for more information and registration options.

Iowa Pork Producers set to launch 2017 tenderloin contest

The Iowa Pork Producers Association is ready to find out who consumers think has Iowa's Best Breaded Pork Tenderloin in 2017.

IPPA will launch the 15th annual contest on April 19 and give consumers the opportunity to nominate their favorite tenderloin restaurant, café or pub. Nominations can be submitted at or by using the form in the May issue of the Iowa Pork Producer magazine. The nomination process closes on June 7. Nominations are limited to one per household.

Any café, restaurant or tavern that serves hand-breaded or battered pork tenderloins is eligible to be nominated. An establishment must be open year-round to win, but seasonal restaurants can make the top five. The top five restaurants with the most nominations from each of the eight IPPA districts will be judged. The IPPA Restaurant and Foodservice Committee reserves the right to add additional restaurants to the judging process as it sees fit. Restaurant owners and operators are prohibited from nominating their own establishment.

"The tenderloin contest is always a lot of fun for us because Iowans love their tenderloins and our producers across the state love the buzz and the opportunity to share their passion," said Kelsey Sutter, IPPA marketing and program director. "So many restaurants and small town dives serve tenderloins and we love hearing from Iowans who think their favorite may be the state's best. We encourage tenderloin lovers everywhere to submit their nomination."

New this year is a specially designed poster that can be downloaded by restaurants from the Iowa Pork website to print off and display to help encourage nominations from their customers.

One person who nominates the winning restaurant will be entered in a drawing to win $100. The winning restaurant will receive $500, a plaque to display in the establishment and statewide publicity.

A total of 385 restaurants, cafes and other establishments received 1,982 nominations in last year's contest won by Nick's in Des Moines. A total of 40 restaurants were judged on the quality of the pork, taste, physical characteristics and eating experience.

Iowa pork industry representatives will judge the tenderloins and IPPA will announce the winner during National Pork Month in October.

The contest recognizes Iowa dining establishments that have pork as a regular menu feature in support of Iowa's nation-leading pork industry.

May CattleFax Webinar to Address Expectations for Cow-Calf Producers

Have the lows been established for the cattle industry? With the magnitude of the breaks and rallies that we have experienced across the entire cattle industry thus far that question is on everyone’s mind. An upcoming free CattleFax webinar will address that question as well as provide an outlook for the cow-calf and entire beef industry for 2017.

The CattleFax Trends+ Cow-Calf Webinar will be May 24, 2017, at 5:30 p.m. MT. To participate in the webinar and access program details, producers and industry leaders simply need to register online at!/about

One of the most aggressive U.S. beef cowherd expansions in the last four decades has increased beef supplies and caused cow-calf profitability to be reduced back toward long term levels. As profits have narrowed well-informed producers can maintain healthy margins by adjusting production, marketing and risk management plans with increasing supplies in mind.

CattleFax analysts will discuss a variety of topics in the one-hour session, including:
-    Cattle and feedstuff market projections for the next 12 to 18 months;
-    Calf market outlook through summer and fall of 2017; and
-    Analysis of a recent Cow-Calf Survey conducted by CattleFax.

The Trends+ webinar series informs cattle producers about current market conditions and provides providing decision-friendly advice regarding management decisions. The analysis and strategies shared through the webinar series has reached more than 4,000 producers, and sponsorship from Elanco Animal Health is making the seminar free for all attendees.

Soy Growers Participate In Agribusiness Trade Mission to Egypt

The U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) participated in the U.S. – Middle East/North Africa (MENA) Agribusiness Trade Mission that took place in Cairo, Egypt. USSEC CEO Jim Sutter, USSEC Chairman/ American Soybean Association (ASA) Director Jim Miller (Belden, NE) and USSEC Acting ASC Regional Lead Pam Helmsing and USSEC Regional Consultant – MENA Mousa Wakileh, traveled to Cairo and Alexandria to meet with soy industry leaders from Egyptian animal, aquaculture, feed and soy processing industries.

After the opening session on the first day, USSEC’s team participated in a soy industry roundtable meeting with 12 attendees, including the largest soybean crushing industry, feed millers, poultry producers and aquaculture representatives in Cairo to review recent joint programs and to discuss opportunities for future collaboration. Along with feed formulation and the proper valuation of U.S. soy amino acids’ profile, the group discussed ongoing poultry disease issues limiting profitability in the local industry. USSEC is sponsoring poultry disease training in Egypt and at the University of Florida with one of world’s leading experts and plans to continue the training in the coming years.

Alexandria is home to major soy industry activity in Egypt and meetings were held at two expanding facilities on day two. Alex Seeds showed its new crushing and soy oil bottling facility, which expands their crush facility to 5,000 tons per day, and Cargill displayed its crushing plant that is expanding to 6,000 tons per day.

A soy industry lunch to discuss the Egyptian market concluded the visit to the soy crushing plants. Lunch attendees included Mark Slupek, Foreign Agricultural Services (FAS) deputy administrator; Darrell Upshaw, program manager; Ron Verdonk, regional agricultural minister counselor; J. Bret Tate, agricultural attaché; and Ahmed Wally, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) – FAS agricultural specialist; and two of the largest local traders and crushers.

A visit to the new office building of the Wadi Group was conducted to talk to CEO and president of Wadi Holdings Tony Freiji and his team about their business and their views on issues facing the industry in Egypt. The visit to Egypt concluded with a soy industry dinner with 25 attendees, including Mr. Verdonk and the largest soybean crushers, feed millers, and poultry producers.

It is clear after speaking with mission participants and Egyptian industry representatives that there is optimism in the air and an expectation of even better days ahead. USSEC looks forward to a continued relationship and working together with the Egyptian animal, aquaculture, feed, and soy processing industries on various marketing initiatives and programs. Egypt has long been the largest market for U.S. Soy in the MENA region, and USSEC programs have supported strong growth in the Egyptian crushing, extrusion, poultry nutrition and diseases, dairy, and aquaculture industries.

FDA Delays GMO Measures

(Nat'l Sorghum Prod. newsletter)

The Food and Drug Administration has extended the public comment period on a set of biotechnology regulatory proposals issued by the Obama administration.

The first of the measure solicits comment on FDA regulation of food derived from gene-edited plants. The second measure deals with animal gene-editing. The June 19 extension aligns the FDA with a third proposal from the USDA to reevaluate its regulations for genetically engineered plants.

Decisions to move forward with reforms to federal biotech regulations will not be made until the political appointees are in place at USDA, FDA and EPA, a process which will presumably take months. There is a consensus that an update of the regulatory process is needed, however, there are appreciable differences of opinion on how.

2016/2017 Exports of Feed Grains In All Forms Up 33 Percent Year-On-Year

U.S. exports of feed grains in all forms increased 33 percent year-over-year in the first six months of the 2016/2017 marketing year, according to recently published trade data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and analysis by the U.S. Grains Council (USGC).

That data showed the United States exported more than 56.6 million metric tons of feed grains in all forms - a calculation that measures grain products in corn equivalent - from September 2016 to February 2017, compared to 42.5 million tons during the same time the prior marketing year.
Click here to view a larger version of this chart.

Leading the increase, exports of U.S. corn increased 71 percent year-on-year during the first half of the marketing year to 27.8 million tons (1.09 billion bushels) compared to 16.3 million tons (641.7 million bushels) the year prior. Exports as of February 2016 represented 58 percent of last marketing year’s total volume.

In addition, exports of U.S. meat produced with feed grains, including beef, pork and poultry, increased from 9.9 million tons (389.7 million bushels) to 11.5 million tons (452.7 million bushels) in corn equivalent year-over-year, an increase of 15 percent.

U.S. ethanol exports during 2016/2017 as of February 2017 also increased substantially during the first six months of the marketing year, reaching 82 percent of the total volume for 2015/2016 at 711 million gallons (6.45 million tons or 253.9 million bushels in corn equivalent). That volume represents a 66 percent increase year-over-year, up from last marketing year’s 428 million gallons (3.88 million tons or 152.7 million bushels in corn equivalent) during the same time frame.

U.S. exports of distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) also increased slightly at 3 percent year-over-year despite trade disruptions in two major markets, China and Vietnam. U.S. DDGS exports totaled 5.9 million tons in the first six months of the 2016/2017 marketing year, compared to 5.7 million tons the prior year.

While overall feed grain exports increased, exports of both sorghum and barley declined in the first six months of the 2016/2017 marketing year. U.S. sorghum exports decreased year-on-year from 5 million tons (196.8 million bushels) to 3.4 million tons (133.9 million bushels). Smaller purchases by China drove the sharp decline. U.S. barley exports decreased year-over-year from nearly 143,000 tons (6.57 million bushels) to about 41,000 tons (1.88 million bushels) due to a decline in U.S. exports to Mexico.

The Council’s programs and activities aim to ramp up U.S. feed grain exports in the remaining months of the 2016/2017 marketing year and reach a third-straight year of 100 million tons of exports of U.S. feed grains in all forms.

U.S. biodiesel industry testifies to ITC on illegal trading at hearing

Today the U.S. Commerce Department announced that it is formally initiating antidumping and countervailing duty investigations of biodiesel imports from Argentina and Indonesia. This decision follows a petition that was filed with the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission on behalf of the National Biodiesel Board Fair Trade Coalition, which is made up of the National Biodiesel Board and U.S. biodiesel producers.

"Initiation of these investigations validates the allegations in our petition, and we look forward to working with the U.S. government agencies during the course of the next year to enforce America's trade laws," said Anne Steckel, NBB Vice President of Federal Affairs in response to this announcement.

Today the National Biodiesel Board and US biodiesel producers also provided testimony to the International Trade Commission, explaining that Argentine and Indonesian companies are violating trade laws by flooding the U.S. market with dumped and subsidized biodiesel, and how those imports are injuring American manufacturers and workers.

“Make no mistake, 2016 should have been a banner year for U.S. biodiesel producers with demand growth, stable feedstock prices, and regulatory certainty that should have led to profitability and reinvestment in their businesses, but unfortunately that didn’t happen,” said Steckel. “Instead, dumped and subsidized biodiesel from Argentina and Indonesia entered the United States in record volumes, capturing greater market share at the expense of U.S. producers. The loss of market share has left the domestic industry with substantial unused capacity and the artificially low prices these imports are sold at leave American biodiesel unable to get a fair return for their product.”

Because of illegal trade activities, biodiesel imports from Argentina and Indonesia surged by 464 percent from 2014 to 2016. That growth has taken 18.3 percentage points of market share from U.S. manufacturers.

“Negative margins within our industry due to low-priced imports have had a major impact on our company, with a disproportionately greater impact on smaller producers,” said Robert Morton, co-founder of Newport Biodiesel, a small biodiesel producer from Rhode Island. “We have halted several plant modification projects as a result of reduced working capital, even for modest projects. Because of this, Newport Biodiesel is being limited in its ability to be a productive US green energy company in what is otherwise a growing market.”

The adverse impact of dumped and subsidized imports is not limited to America's small biodiesel producers.

“When we see biodiesel from Argentina selling at a discount to the market price of soyoil, the main input into biodiesel, we know we are facing dumped pricing,” said Paul Soanes, CEO and President of Renewable Biofuels (RBF). “The United States is a key market for these exporters, and without a remedy, these unfairly traded imports are likely to continue unabated. That is a further threat to our business.”

According to the Commerce Department's notice of initiation, there is evidence that dumping margins could be as high as 26.54 percent for Argentina and 28.11 percent for Indonesia. Commerce's notice of initiation also undertakes to investigate subsidies based on numerous government programs in those countries.

Today’s staff conference is an important step in the administrative process. The Commission is expected to make its preliminary decision and vote on May 5, 2017. Following that, the next key step will be when the U.S. Department of Commerce announces its preliminary determinations regarding the estimated rates of subsidization and dumping -- expected on or about August 22, 2017 and October 20, 2017, respectively.

Dairy, Ag Groups Urge President Trump to Act Immediately to Halt Canada’s Continued Disregard of Trade Obligations

The U.S. dairy sector and state agriculture officials today urged President Donald Trump to take immediate action against Canada’s repeated and escalating disregard for its trade obligations under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Most recently, Canada implemented a new national pricing policy that blatantly blocks American dairy exports and will enable significant dumping of Canadian dairy products onto the world market. As a result, dozens of dairy farmers in the Midwest recently learned they must find new customers for their milk by May 1, which will cause considerable economic hardship and possibly force them to go out of business.

In a joint letter sent today to President Trump, the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) and the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) urged the administration to tell Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to halt the new pricing policy and restore imports of the blocked U.S. products, specifically ultra-filtered milk. They also asked President Trump to direct U.S. agencies to “examine a full range of tools that could be used immediately to impress upon Canada in a concrete way the importance of dependable two-way trade.”

“U.S. dairy exports support approximately 110,000 jobs across America, many of which are in farming and food manufacturing, as well as in supporting rural manufacturing and skilled farm service workers,” the organizations said in the letter. “However, for trade to yield its full potential and provide the maximum impact possible in supporting American jobs, our trading partners must hold up their end of the bargain as well.”

In the letter, the dairy and ag groups noted that this issue highlights the importance of gaining prompt approval of President Trump’s nominees for Secretary of Agriculture and U.S. Trade Representative.

“We appreciate your administration’s work to date on this issue and ask you to send a very clear message that Canada should be one of America’s most reliable trading partners, but in the case of dairy it has consistently chosen to pursue a disturbing and harmful path,” they said. “We stand ready to support your efforts to address this urgent dairy issue.”

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


Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), a national farmer-owned dairy cooperative, and Vanguard Renewables, a Massachusetts-based renewable energy developer, announce a strategic partnership to help bring anaerobic digestion technology to more farms across the country.

While waste management and environmental sustainability are top priorities for dairy farmers today, renewable energy methods, like anaerobic digesters that convert manure to energy, are not broadly used on American dairy farms. These systems often require major capital expense to implement as well as significant expertise and time commitment to manage. For these reasons, among others, farmers have been reluctant to invest in the technology, despite the benefits.

“Dairy farmers have always been great stewards of the land. But, like any business, farmers must continue to innovate and evolve,” said David Darr, president of farm services at DFA. “With this partnership, we hope to make anaerobic digestion more available to more farmers, which is not only good for the environment, but will also help our farmer families run their businesses more efficiently, and that’s a win-win.”

With the alliance, DFA and Vanguard Renewables will collaborate to develop resilient business models using anaerobic digestion systems. Working with farmers, government agencies, dairy processors and retailer customers, the partners will build business cases for innovative systems. For those business models that meet financial thresholds, Vanguard Renewables will provide capital investment for anaerobic digestion systems on DFA member farms. Vanguard also will help oversee and monitor the on-site operation of the digester on DFA member farms. This extremely valuable expertise will allow farmers to remain focused on the core operational aspects of running their farms and not get distracted by the digester, while gaining added income from dairy operations.

“Truth is, anaerobic digesters are extremely complex systems and could easily become a full-time job for a farmer to manage,” said John Hanselman, Executive Chairman at Vanguard Renewables. “We want to help farms by streamlining the development process and by providing professional operation. DFA is the perfect partner to make anaerobic digestion accessible as a mainstream technology on dairy farms across the country, addressing DFA member needs in a sustainable economy.”

Vanguard Farm Powered anaerobic digestion systems are currently operating on two DFA member farms, with the goal of adding more soon with this new DFA/Vanguard alliance.

Since 2011, brothers and DFA members Randy and Brian Jordan from Jordan Dairy Farm have been operating an anaerobic digester that combines manure and organic food waste and then puts electricity back into the utility grid.

“We are absolutely seeing the benefit of having an anaerobic digester from Vanguard Renewables on our farm,” said Randy Jordan. “Before the partnership, our monthly electric costs were more than $2,400. Now, we’re receiving low-cost energy, hot water and heat, replacing oil and propane, and natural fertilizer, which increases our hay yields. This is absolutely a partnership that will help sustain our farm for future generations.”

For more information about the alliance, visit

Proactive Steps to Prevent Persistently Infected Animals

A herd infected with bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV) via the presence of persistently infected (PI) animals will never be as productive as it could be. BVDV exposure can drag down performance in cattle herds not only by reducing milk production and reproductive efficiency, but also by suppressing herd immunity and making animals more susceptible to other diseases. A three-part approach to controlling BVDV can help prevent and eliminate persistently infected (PI) animals in the herd.

There's a specific window of time when the dam can become infected with BVDV and can produce a persistently infected (PI) calf. If the unborn fetus is exposed to the BVDV during the first 120 days of gestation, a calf may be born persistently infected with BVDV.

"If the pregnant cow doesn't have adequate protection herself, the BVDV can reach the calf fetus," said Dr. Mark van der List, senior professional services veterinarian at Boehringer Ingelheim. "The immune system of the fetus is developing during this time frame and recognizes the virus as 'self' or part of its own body and so doesn't try to eliminate the virus. These PI animals therefore generate and shed enormous amounts of BVDV, which can infect unprotected herd mates."

Steps to Reduce PI Risk


Biosecurity is a critical step in preventing PI calves. The goal is to minimize the possibility of pregnant cows encountering the virus. One of the main sources of virus exposure is from PI cattle that are shedding the virus through bodily secretions every day, all day. PI calves must be identified and removed from the herd. If new animals are being introduced into the herd, confirm they are not PI. Avoid mixing cows together from outside the herd for at least 30 days in case they have a transient infection of BVDV.

Removal of PI animals and continuous herd monitoring for new PI animals
Removing PI animals from the herd is key. There are different methods to identify PI animals including ear skin notches, blood samples and milk samples. Samples can often be pooled and then progressively broken down to find the individually infected animals. Once PI animals are removed, constant monitoring is recommended to detect any new PI animals. The presence of BVDV usually indicates the presence of PI animals. On dairy operations, bulk tank milk can be routinely checked for the presence of BVDV as a monitoring measure. In calves, ear notching at birth is also a good management practice. Your veterinarian can have tissue samples from dead calves and aborted fetuses checked for the presence of BVDV.

"The spread of BVDV ultimately depends on the underlying immunity of the herd," said Dr. van der List. "If the herd has zero protection, then it can spread very rapidly. However, if a good vaccine and biosecurity program are in place, PI animals have been removed and the herd is being monitored, there will be minimal risk of BVDV."


Producers should work with their veterinarian to develop a good vaccination program using products that are labeled correctly and backed by solid research. Effective immunization of the herd minimizes the chance of development of PI calves, thus protecting the herd.

Proper vaccine handling is critical to effectively immunize the herd. Make sure the vaccine doesn’t get overheated or exposed to sunlight, and be sure to properly store it in a refrigerator that maintains the desired temperature range.

Vaccines should also be administered at the appropriate time to ensure maximum protection during the critical first 120 days of pregnancy. Generally, vaccination right before breeding maximizes the protection against PI calf development.

Work with your veterinarians to develop a comprehensive BVDV control plan to that will protect your herd.

BASF and farmers partner to help the monarch butterfly

Farmers are poised to be heroes in the life of the monarch butterfly, which has begun its yearly migration in the face of a dwindling habitat. Tools from the BASF Living Acres Monarch Challenge will help farmers build the habitat monarchs need to make their way north with a vital sidekick: milkweed.

“Milkweed is critical to the monarch throughout its lifecycle, but can be difficult to grow,” said Laura Vance, Biology Project Leader, BASF. “The Living Acres Monarch Challenge is a program that helps farmers create more milkweed habitat alongside their production acres to increase the monarch population.”

The first 500 farmers to join the Monarch Challenge at will receive 18 butterfly milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) seedlings, a hose, gloves and a guide book to help them create this important habitat.* Planting milkweed seedlings is one of the easiest ways to start a habitat that will sustain itself for years to come.

As Vance explained, milkweed is critical for monarchs. “The leaves are the only food source for monarch caterpillars. It is where the adults lay their eggs and the blossoms provide food for migrating adults.”

Monarch Challenge participants are encouraged to share their milkweed planting success throughout the year by posting pictures to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter using #MonarchChallenge.

BASF developed its biodiversity program, Living Acres, in 2015 with the initial goal of helping to restore the monarch population. Through Living Acres, BASF researches the most efficient way to grow milkweed alongside high production agriculture. The Monarch Challenge represents the next step in sharing best practices on milkweed development with farmers to help support the monarch butterfly.

Farmers can use their growing skills to become monarch butterfly heroes by joining the Monarch Challenge on the BASF Living Acres Facebook page or by visiting

Wednesday April 12 Ag News

Star City BaconFest 2017  April 23 at Lincoln’s Cornhusker Marriott Hotel

Bacon lovers, this is the news you’ve been waiting for: Star City BaconFest 2017 returns to the Capital City for the third year on April 23 at Lincoln’s Cornhusker Marriott Hotel.  Again this year, chefs from several popular area restaurants will offer up their creative bacon-infused samples of everything from sweet to savory –and about everything in between.  Doors will open at 4:30, with bacon sampling continuing until 7:00 p.m. Admission is $25 for adults, with children 12 and under free. Ticket availability is limited, so purchasing early is strongly suggested. Tickets can be purchased on-line at 

Star City BaconFest is sponsored again this year by the Nebraska Restaurant Association (NRA) and the Nebraska Pork Producers Association (NPPA). Proceeds go toward scholarships for culinary students in Nebraska.

Jane Stone, domestic marketing director with the Nebraska Pork Producers Association, says the NPPA is excited to join with the Nebraska Restaurant Association to bring Star City BaconFest to Lincoln again this year.  “Nebraska pork producers work hard every day to provide quality pork to our state and the world,” she says. “Since bacon is just about everyone’s favorite cut of pork, what better way to represent our industry than at a fun gathering of our consumers sampling bacon-based goodies creatively prepared by some of Lincoln’s finest chefs.”

Brandy Nielson, membership and marketing director with the Nebraska Restaurant Association, agrees.  “Lincoln is home to many fine chefs,” she says. “Star City BaconFest is a great way to get to know them by sampling their creative, often unexpected uses of bacon in a variety of surprising treats. Besides, who can resist bacon?”

Throughout the evening, BaconFest attendees will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite bacon-inspired treats. Additionally, prizes will be given away, according to Stone, including such items as Bacon for a Year, Gourmet Bacon of the Month Club membership, bacon cookbooks and bacon coupons. The grand prize will be a Traeger Lil’ Tex Smoker Grill. The Lightning Bugs, a popular Lincoln band, will entertain throughout the evening. Blue Blood Brewing Company will be providing beer samples, while Pepsi will be offering free soft drink samples.

Participating vendors include: 9 South Char Grill; Billy’s Restaurant; Brewsky’s; Cappy’s Hot Spot Bar and Grill; Coop’s Corner; Dino’s Eastside Grill; HiWay Diner; Hickory Road BBQ; Hormel Retail; Mozzarella Pizza, Smoking Gun Jerky; The Single Barrel; Traeger Grills; Venue; HopCat; Hy-Vee, 84th and Holdrege; Miller Time Pub; The Cornhusker; McKinney’s Irish Pub; Nebraska Pork Producers; Leadbelly/Toast; That Place Steakhouse  & Saloon (Ceresco); The Eatery; Blue Blood Brewing Co.

Hormel Foods is providing products for the chefs to use during Star City BaconFest 2017.  For more information, visit Star City BaconFest at


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               The greening up of pastures usually is a good sign, except when the green is weeds like cheatgrass in native warm-season grasses.

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

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

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

               Funny thing, though.  These so-called weeds might actually make pretty timely and valuable pasture.  Try chasing green with preseason grazing, I think you'll like it.

New Iowa Beef Center Fact Sheet Provides Guidance for Grazing Contracts

The lack of a futures market for forages can make it difficult for land owners and beef producers to establish a fair-market value, particularly for standing forages. Establishing that value, however, can make the difference between profit and loss for a beef operation in a given year.

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach beef specialists Patrick Gunn and Joe Sellers have created a new fact sheet, "Pasture and Grazing Arrangements for Beef Cattle," for those who use pasture and grazing rentals in their operations.

"This new resource provides an overview of four common types of arrangements along with suggestions on how to structure agreements for the benefit of both parties," Gunn said.

The two-page fact sheet includes information on establishing pasture rental price for each of the four types, and links to online resources from ISU Extension and Outreach Ag Decision Maker and Iowa Beef Center.

The publication can be downloaded through the ISU Extension Store at no cost.

Grassley Reintroduces Ban on Packer Ownership of Livestock

Senator Chuck Grassley has this week reintroduced legislation to ban packer ownership of livestock after seeing continued impact of consolidation within the livestock industry.

Over the last several decades large packing companies in the poultry and pork industries have moved to concentrate and vertically integrate. The beef industry is also showing similar signs of consolidation.  According to the Department of Agriculture, the amount of cattle traded on the cash market declined from 52 percent in 2005 to 21 percent in 2015.  This trend illustrates the outsized power of packers in the marketplace.

“An effective and efficient marketplace is one where packers that control all harvest capacity do not also own a majority of the animals to be processed,” Grassley said.  “We need a competitive marketplace in the livestock industry that delivers a fair market price to farmers.  Eliminating packer ownership of livestock would be a good first step in accomplishing that goal.”          

Independent producers are seeing fewer choices of who to buy from and who to sell to.  More and more family farmers are feeling the pressure and impact of concentration in agriculture. This bill aims to ensure that family farmers and independent producers receive fair prices for their efforts.          

Grassley’s bill contains four exceptions to the ban for:

1.     an arrangement entered into within 7 days (excluding any Saturday or Sunday) before slaughter of the livestock by a packer, a person acting through the packer, or a person that directly or indirectly controls, or is controlled by or under common control with, the packer;

2.     a cooperative or entity owned by a cooperative, if a majority of the ownership interest in the cooperative is held by active cooperative members that own, feed, or control livestock; and provide the livestock to the cooperative for slaughter;

3.     a packer that is not subject to mandatory price reporting laws; or

4.     a packer that owns 1 livestock processing plant.

Grassley has introduced similar versions of the packer ban in previous Congresses.  He has long-standing concerns about the impact of concentration in agriculture on family farms.

Ethanol Output at 6-Month Low

Domestic fuel ethanol inventories plunged last week from a record high while plant production dropped to a six-month low and blending demand fell from a three-month high, the latest report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows.

The EIA's Weekly Petroleum Status Report for the week-ended April 7 showed fuel ethanol inventories declined by roughly 800,000 barrels (bbl), or 3.4%, to 22.9 million bbl. Ethanol inventory was 600,000 bbl, or 2.6%, above stocks for the corresponding week in 2016.

Domestic plant production fell 33,000 barrels per day (bpd), or 3.1%, to 986,000 bpd last week, the lowest since the week-ended Sept. 30. Plant production is still up 48,000 bpd, or 5.1%, year-over-year. For the four weeks ended last week, fuel ethanol production averaged 1.026 million bpd, up 51,000 bpd, or 5.2%.

Net refiner and blender inputs, a measure for ethanol demand, fell by 10,000 bpd, or 1.1%, to 908,000 bpd during the week-ended April 7, down from a three-month high posted a week prior. On a year-over-year basis, refiner and blender inputs were flat, up 1,000 bpd last week. For the four-week period ended April 7, blending demand was up 22,000 bpd, or 2.47%.

NCGA Offers Farmers Opportunity to Grow Their Leadership Skills

The National Corn Growers Association invites farmers to become a part of the change they desire by actively honing their leadership skills through the NCGA Leadership Academy, part of Syngenta's Leadership at Its Best Program.  Growers must be nominated by their state corn association for either program.  Interested members should contact their state associations now for further information and get completed applications in to state offices by the end of May.

"Since it began in 1986, Leadership at Its Best has trained strong, confident volunteers who have helped shape the industry through their subsequent work at the state and national level," said NCGA President Wesley Spurlock.  "Having met so many farmers who feel similarly, I know that the desire to give back to their peers motivates an incredible number of farmers to look for service opportunities. NCGA depends upon this grassroots leadership, and I can personally attest that the time and effort dedicated are repaid in full through the incredible relationships built with like-minded individuals."

Open to all NCGA membership, Leadership at Its Best provides training to interested volunteers of all skill levels.  The first session, held in August in Minneapolis, Minn., addresses personal communications skills, public speaking and association management.  The second session, which will be held in January of 2018, addresses public policy issues, working with the Hill and parliamentary procedure.  Through this program, participants build the skill set needed to become a more confident public speaker with a solid background in the procedures and processes used by NCGA and many state organizations.

For more than three decades, NCGA, state corn associations and, most importantly, the U.S. corn industry, have benefited tremendously from the Syngenta co-sponsored Leadership at Its Best Program.  More than nearly 600 growers have gained invaluable knowledge and skills in media, communications, association management and public policy over the lifetime of the program.

Those interested should contact their state corn organization, which will submit nominees for the program. To learn more, click here...


Average Retail Prices of Most Fertilizers Continue Slightly Higher

Average retail prices for most fertilizers were slightly higher the first week of April 2017, according to fertilizer retailers surveyed by DTN.

It was the third straight week that not all of the eight major fertilizers were higher-priced. And for seven of the eight fertilizers that were higher, prices were up only slightly.

DAP had average price of $438 per ton, MAP $466/ton, potash $338/ton, anhydrous $505/ton, UAN28 $248/ton and UAN32 $280/ton.

One fertilizer, urea, was down from the previous month. The nitrogen fertilizer was just slightly lower in price compared to a month ago with an average price of $354 per ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.39/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 21% lower from a year ago, anhydrous is 14% less expensive and UAN32 is 11% lower. DAP, urea and UAN28 are all 9% less expensive well both MAP and potash are both 8% lower to year earlier.

ACE outlines ethanol priorities to EPA on regulatory reform agenda

The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) submitted a public comment addressed to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt thanking him for establishing a Regulatory Reform Task Force to evaluate existing regulations and make recommendations regarding those that can be repealed, replaced and modified to make them less burdensome. The Task Force will consider public comments to carry out its charge.

On behalf of ACE’s 500 members, executive vice president Brian Jennings provided the EPA with the following recommendations to tackle regulatory burdens which unnecessarily limit the production and use of ethanol and stall job creation and economic growth in rural America.  
 ·    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 fuel vehicles.  
 ·    Discontinue use of the MOVES2014 emissions model until a new emissions study based on real-world test fuels and methods is conducted.

“EPA has already stated its commitment to implementing EPA programs within the rule of law,” Jennings said. “We encourage that commitment and stand ready to work with Administrator Pruitt to ensure EPA’s regulatory actions are based on sound science, adhere to legal authority and help remove the red tape that currently discourages the use of higher blends of ethanol and obstructs the ability for high-octane fuels to compete in the marketplace. We urge the task force to consider our recommendations which will ultimately help spur economic growth while protecting the environment.”

On March 24, EPA Administrator Pruitt issued an agency-wide memorandum on implementation of Executive Order 13777, which announced members of the required Regulatory Reform Task Force and directed program offices to seek public input on existing regulations and report findings to the Task Force. EPA formerly began seeking public comments on April 11 and they will be accepted through May 15.

Trimble Introduces Industry-First Variable Rate Irrigation

Trimble introduced today its Irrigate-IQ optimal flow variable rate irrigation (VRI) solution. This industry-first pressure regulating technology allows farmers to perform VRI on center pivot irrigation systems with standard pumping equipment or limited well capacity. As a result, farmers who were unable to use VRI in the past due to pumping equipment constraints can now apply the right amount of water in the right place to improve yields. This is especially valuable in regions with water restrictions or limited water resources.

Farmers who utilize center pivots to irrigate their crops use VRI to apply different amounts of water on individual areas to ensure they receive the right amount of water based on field properties and crop requirements. Typically, farmers with standard pumping equipment, who do not have a variable frequency drive (VFD) or variable speed drive (VSD) on the pump, cannot perform VRI on center pivot irrigation systems without over pressurizing the pivot and risking damage to their equipment.

With Trimble's Irrigate-IQ optimal flow VRI, farmers can now ensure the pressure is regulated across the pivot when applying a variable amount of water. This means farmers can fully optimize their water application and prevent over- and under-watering, which can result in higher quality and yield of the crop.

"We are excited to offer the new pressure regulating technology to farmers who were previously unable to vary water application across their fields. With Irrigate-IQ optimal flow VRI, farmers can optimize water use while enjoying peace of mind that their equipment is operating in safe pressure ranges," said Neil Douglas, Irrigate-IQ market manager for Trimble's Agriculture Division. "And now, with our recently-announced distribution agreement with Valley Irrigation, more farmers worldwide will have access to Trimble's VRI solution."

U.S. Tractor, Combine Sales on the Rise

The Association of Equipment Manufacturer's monthly "Flash Report" shows that the sale of all tractors in the U.S. in March 2017, were up 6% compared to the same month last year.

For the month, two-wheel drive smaller tractors (under 40 HP) were up 10% from last year, while 40 & under 100 HP were up 2%. Sales of 2-wheel drive 100+ HP were down 15%, while 4-wheel drive tractors were up 21%. Combine sales were up 11% for the month.

For the three months in 2017, a total of 42,033 tractors were sold which compares to 39,878 sold thru March 2016 representing a 5% increase for the year.

For the first quarter, two-wheel drive smaller tractors (under 40 HP) are up 14% over last year, while 40 & under 100 HP are down 4%. Sales of 2-wheel drive 100+ HP are down 13%, while 4-wheel drive tractors are down 13%. 

Sales of combines for the year totaled 715 a decrease of 16% from 2016.

Planet and FarmShots Offer Free Trial to John Deere Operations Center Users

Planet and FarmShots have collaborated to provide John Deere Operations Center users access to Planet's unprecedented global imaging capacity, allowing farmers to view up-to-daily imagery of their fields. Planet operates the largest constellation of Earth-imaging satellites and provides cost-effective and information-rich agricultural data to users in countries across the globe.

FarmShots analyzes satellite & drone imagery of farms to help reduce field scouting effort by as much as 90%. When integrated with My John Deere Operations Center, it is possible to quickly create prescription maps based on plant health and upload these prescriptions directly to John Deere equipment for fast and easy treatment.

Anyone with a free MyJohnDeere account and organization in Operations Center can use FarmShots' precision agriculture software to access Planet's high resolution satellite imagery. With access, users can import field boundaries into FarmShots directly from Operations Center; export the plant health data layer to Field Analyzer; generate prescription maps for GreenStar 2630 displays; and compare plant health with yield maps year to year.

FarmShots' analytical tools and Planet's timely and consistent imagery ensure that Operations Center users have the latest and most accurate information about what's going on in their fields. See this integration in action—sign up for your free trial of unlimited acres. ( This offer is valid until June 15th, 2017.

Tuesday April 11 Ag News

Colostrum Is Important to Newborn Calves
Larry Howard, Extension Educator, Cuming County

With the spring calving season over half done in many areas, producers are reminded of the importance of the use of colostrum to the newborn calf.   Colostrum, or first milk produced by the mother cow after the birth of the calf, is high in nutrients and antibodies. A newborn calf lacks disease protection because the antibodies do not pass across the cow’s placenta to the circulatory system of the fetus. Antibodies in colostrum provide calves with their initial protection.

Newborn calves need about two quarts of colostrum within four hours of birth, ideally within 30 minutes, and about one gallon within 12 hours. Time is important because a newborn calf’s digestive tract allows antibodies to pass directly into the blood.  After 24 hours, the calf’s intestines can’t absorb antibodies intact which help protect against systemic invasion by pathogens.  Antibodies that are not absorbed are also important in the protection against intestinal disease.

Allowing the calf to suck their mother naturally is the most efficient method of feeding colostrum. However, sometimes that does not happen due to problems with the cow or calf. In those cases the calf will need to be fed colostrum. Acquire colostrum by milking the cow as soon as possible after calving or using colostrum that you have previously acquired. Acquired colostrum should be from healthy cows to minimize disease transmission. Cows that are in their third lactation or older generally provide higher-quality colostrum than do heifers. A yellow color and a thick, creamy consistency are good indications of quality.

Colostrum can be stored by freezing in containers. The containers can be easily thawed and mixed with warm water for feeding. Producers should not microwave or boil frozen colostrum, as this can destroy the antibodies.  An easy way to store colostrum is to use a 1 gallon Ziploc freezer bag. Fill it half full (2 qts.) and squeeze the air out before sealing. Lay them flat and you will have room to store several of them. Then when needed, take one out and put in sink of warm water. They will thaw and warm up very rapidly and they are already a pre-measured feeding.  It is also a good idea to date the bag when you store it.

Producers could also consider purchasing a commercially available colostrum replacer or supplement if they don’t have access to fresh colostrum. They should consult their veterinarian on the use of these replacers or supplements if they have questions. Due to the importance of colostrum to the newborn calf it is always a good idea to have some alternative sources of colostrum on hand during the calving season.

New Technologies Available for Cow-Calf Producers

Nearly 300 attendees packed a ballroom in Omaha to learn about some of the new technologies available for cow-calf producers. Over the course of two days, participants learned about calving under roof and heard from speakers discussing everything from design, economics, feeding and veterinary care to dry lot options. At the end of both days a panel of producers discussed the reasons they decided to put up a building and how they manage their cows under this type of setting. Drone footage and pictures of their barns gave attendees a better look at the layout of different barns and the panel was able to answer questions from the audience.

This is the second year an event like this has been held here in Nebraska, but this year AFAN, the Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska, partnered with the Coalition to Support Iowa's Farmers (CSIF) as well as the Nebraska Cattlemen and Iowa Cattlemen to make this event a multi-state event. "Both AFAN and CSIF work hard to provide our farmers and ranchers with learning opportunities," stated Emily Skillett, Livestock Development Coordinator for AFAN, "These types of barns are a newer technology and with the decreasing availability of pasture land in eastern Nebraska and western Iowa, we wanted to make sure our farmers knew that there were some options out there for ways to expand their cow herd."

With new management styles, comes new considerations to take when it comes to herd health. Cow-calf producers, Chad and Amy Wilkerson of Linden, Iowa, stated that prevention is key when using the calving under-roof approach. The Wilkerson's answered questions at the symposium as two of the eleven producer panelists. They currently raise 160 cow-calf pairs in a hoop barn they filled for the first time in January of 2016. "In this setting you need a good nutritionist and a good vet," Chad said. "You've got to have those two people in your back pocket that you know are going to be there and understand what you're up against."

Dr. Sara Barber, Veterinary Medical Center, explains that controlling the under-roof environment starts with proper bedding management. Dr. Barber says pens should always be kept dry and that bedding can easily be evaluated with what she calls the "dry knee test". "Fall on your knees and if your knees get wet when you get up, you know you need more bedding."

According to Kelly Jones, co-manager of Cactus Feeders' cow-calf division, feed is a major cost in this production system and requires rations that can be modified to coincide with the reproductive stage of the herd. Jones suggests that too much bunk space is far better than too little, and that creep feeding areas featuring lowered bunks should be installed before calving begins. Other barn modifications may include incorporating maternity areas, working facilities and raising dirt levels around water tanks for calves. This kind of intensive management style may not fit every operation, so asking questions and reviewing research is always highly recommended.

To view the presentations and drone footage from the Midwest Cow-Calf Symposium and learn more about livestock development in Nebraska, visit our website at

Pender Livestock, Inc. Assessed $5,000 Civil Penalty

USDA-GIPSA Press Release

On March 13, 2017, Pender Livestock, Inc. (Pender), Pender, Neb., waived its right to a hearing and entered into a stipulation agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA). Pender paid a penalty of $5,000 after GIPSA found it marked-up invoices, a deceptive trade practice.

GIPSA enforcement rules provide a mechanism to quickly resolve violations of the Packers and Stockyards (P&S) Act. GIPSA may offer alleged violators the option of waiving their right to a hearing and entering into a stipulation agreement to quickly resolve alleged violations.

The P&S Act is a fair trade practice and payment protection law that promotes fair and competitive marketing environments for the livestock, meat, and poultry industries.


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Where do you spread manure?  What crops benefit most from manure application?  One good choice is a field about to be seeded to alfalfa.

               Applying manure before seeding alfalfa may seem counter productive since alfalfa is not likely to benefit from any nitrogen in the manure.  But manure also is rich in phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, and many micronutrients that alfalfa needs in large quantities.

               Research studies show that applying as much as 12,000 gallons or 50 tons of dry manure per acre before planting alfalfa can boost alfalfa yield more than commercial fertilizers applied at the same nutrient levels.  And manure increases yield on both low and high fertility soils.  Sometimes higher fertility soils do not respond to commercial fertilizer.  Other factors like improved soil tilth, increased soil microbial activity, micronutrients, and early nitrogen availability may be the reason manure increases alfalfa yield so well.

               Do not heavily apply manure prior to alfalfa seeding if you also plant a companion crop like oats that you plan to harvest for grain.  It is likely to lodge and smother much alfalfa.  If you cut the companion crop early for hay, though, it will be alright.  Also be careful to avoid compacting the soil with heavy manure-application equipment.

               Use a soil test and a manure test to determine how much manure to apply.  Then mix manure well into the soil using tillage, making sure to prepare a firm seedbed so new alfalfa seedlings will emerge rapidly and vigorously.  Also, plan your weed control program carefully since manure can also stimulate weed seedlings.  Proper timing of seeding, firm seedbeds, and herbicides or clipping can control weed pressure.

               Looking for a place to spread manure?  A heavy dose before planting alfalfa can pay big dividends.

Big Red Worms Vermicomposting Project Announces Product Launch & Open House

Big Red Worms will hold an Open House next Saturday, April 15, 2017 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm at their production site at 3211 NW 39th Street in Lincoln.  There will be tours on the hour from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm of the composting facilities and worm beds.  Bags of Vermicompost and Compost/Vermicompost blends that increase soil health, organic matter, and water holding capacity for gardens, flowers, and plant growth will be available in different sizes.  Big Red Worms caps, T-Shirts, and individual home worm systems will also be available for sale.  There will be special open house discounts for volume and an additional 10% discount for NeFU members.

Big Red Worms is a unique and innovative locally owned and sponsored project by Nebraska Farmers Union Enterprises that reduces the volume of products headed to the land fill by collecting and composting food wastes, horse manure, and other sources of cellulose.  A percentage of the compost is used to feed the red wiggler worms who produce the valuable soil building vermicompost that is then mixed with compost and other soil amendments in various levels based on different plant uses and needs.

“After two years of hard work by Jeremiah Picard, our project manager, we are finally ready to start offering finished products for people to use on their gardens, flowers, and specialty crops.  This project is driven by natural processes that take time to transform food wastes into natural soil amendments.  Everyone who works with soil knows that worms do good things for their soils and plants.  Our ‘Waste Not, Want Not’ project is consistent with family farm agriculture’s traditional soil and water conservation ethic that seeks to leave the earth and land in better shape than we found it” said Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU) president John Hansen. 

Beef Checkoff encourages consumers to #WasteLess

Although beef is one of the least wasted commodities produced in the U.S., at around 20 percent of edible product going to waste, consumers could help improve beef sustainability by 10 percent simply cutting that waste in half.  The Beef Checkoff 30 Day Food Waste Challenge encourages Americans to raise awareness and introduce simple changes to fight food waste in their daily routine.

People who sign up for the Food Waste Challenge will be given shopping tips and food prep strategies to help reduce food waste in their households. They are also encouraged to post on social media using #WasteLess to encourage others to join the challenge.

In 2016, the challenge’s first year, more than 500 people participated. Most participants were graduates of the beef checkoff’s Masters of Beef Advocacy (MBA) program. This group of beef and dairy producers, along with chefs, teachers, doctors, dietitians, and others in the beef community is leading the way in advocating for agriculture and environmental sustainability. This year’s challenge aims to reach beyond MBA graduates and make a bigger impact on reducing food waste across the country.

Not only are cattle producers reducing food waste in their homes, they are doing their part on the farm too. Through better management of cattle nutrition, farmers are able to take byproduct common in their region, such as almond hulls, beet tops, and potato starch, and feed that to cattle instead of letting it go to waste.

Beef is an ideal ingredient to help combat food waste because it is great for batch cooking, can be used in a variety of dishes, and stores well both raw and cooked in the refrigerator and freezer when handled properly. The beef industry is making great strides in minimizing its impact to the environment and hopes that this 30 Day Food Waste Challenge will encourage American’s to join that effort.

Food waste is a continuing problem in the U.S. According to World Food Day, 30 to 40 percent of the food supply in North America is wasted. Food that doesn’t get eaten not only wastes the resources used to produce it, but ends up in a solid waste landfill, the number one source of methane emissions in the U.S. Additionally, the Beef Checkoff’s 2015 Sustainability Executive Summary states that food waste costs the average American family approximately $2,500 annually.

Pork Producers Applaud White House Action on ‘GIPSA’ Rule, Call for Withdraw of Regulation

The Trump administration today gave notice that it will further delay the effective date of a regulation related to the buying and selling of livestock, a move applauded by the National Pork Producers Council, which opposes the Obama-era rule. It also will take public comments on what to do with the regulation.

The so-called Farmer Fair Practices Rules, written by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA), includes two proposed regulations and an interim final rule, the latter of which now is set to become effective Oct. 19.

“We’re extremely pleased that the Trump administration has extended the time it has to review this regulation and the public comments on it, which will show the devastating effects this rule would have on America’s pork producers,” said NPPC President Ken Maschhoff, a pork producer from Carlyle, Ill. “The regulation likely would restrict the buying and selling of livestock, lead to consolidation of the livestock industry – putting farmers out of business – and increase consumer prices for meat.”

A notice in tomorrow’s Federal Register will indicate USDA is delaying the April 22 effective date for the interim final rule by 180 days and setting a 60-day comment period – from April 12 to June 10 – on whether to further delay or withdraw it. Just days into his presidency, President Trump extended for 60 days the public comment deadline on and Feb. 21 effective date of the Farmer Fair Practices Rules.

“The administration recognizes the importance of this issue to livestock farmers,” Maschhoff said, “and it’s following through with its pledge to look at regulations that would negatively affect people and the economy. Now we need to withdraw this bad regulation.”

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

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

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

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

An Informa Economics study found that the GIPSA Rule today would cost the U.S. pork industry more than $420 million annually – more than $4 per hog – with most of the costs related to PSA lawsuits brought under the “no competitive injury” provision included in the interim final rule.

Cattlemen Applaud Delay of GIPSA Rule, Call for Its Ultimate Demise

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) applauded today's announcement that the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) is delaying the effective date of its interim final rule an additional six months to Oct. 19, 2017.

“This is another step toward common sense and away from counterproductive government intrusion in the free market,” said NCBA President Craig Uden. “That said, while a delay is welcome, ultimately this rule should be killed and American cattle producers should be free to market our beef without the threat of government-sanctioned frivolous lawsuits.”

Two proposed rules and one interim final rule came out on December 20, 2016, one month before the end of the Obama Administration. The interim final rule regarding the scope of the Packers and Stockyards Act and the proposed rule regarding undue preference and unjust treatment have a direct negative impact on the cattle industry. 

Current systems that allow producers to market their cattle as they see fit reward them for producing the higher-quality beef that consumers demand. Under the interim final rule, USDA or a producer no longer needs to prove true economic harm. Instead, one only needs to say that he or she was treated "unfairly" to file a damaging lawsuit that could discourage cattlemen from continuing to invest in improving the quality of beef being produced.

“Trial lawyers are salivating at the prospect of this rule becoming the law of the land,” Uden said. “If this rule isn’t killed once and for all, cattle producers will lose nearly all incentive to invest in the production of higher-quality beef. That would mean less revenue for producers and lower quality for consumers. That’s a lose-lose proposition and exactly why the rule needs to not only be delayed – it needs to be killed outright.”

Farm Bureau Statement on Delay of GIPSA Rules

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall

“It is clear that a one-size-fits-all approach to the Agriculture Department’s Farmer Fair Practices Rules does not work across the board for all livestock sectors. The announced delay in the rules’ effective date until October will give farmers and ranchers additional time to comment on this important issue.

“We support preserving the contract and marketing arrangements that are working for the beef and pork sectors, and we will reinforce that point during the comment period. There is still vast room for improvement, however, in efforts to ensure a level playing field for poultry farmers. We will continue to emphasize the need to seek additional safeguards in the poultry sector to better protect individual farmers from discriminatory treatment, without disrupting the business practices that are working in the beef and pork sectors.”

Pork Industry Favored by Strong Demand

Chris Hurt, Purdue University

Hog prices are expected to increase in 2017 even with three percent more pork production. Prices will be supported by stronger demand because of a growing U.S. economy and by a robust eight percent growth in exports as projected by USDA. New packer capacity is also expected to contribute to stronger bids for hogs. Feed costs will be the lowest in a decade and total production costs are expected to be at decade lows.

The recently updated USDA inventory report found that the nation's breeding herd was one percent larger than the herd of a year-ago. This continues a rebuilding of the herd that began in 2014 as feed prices began to move sharply lower and the industry began to recover from pig losses due to PED. The national breeding herd has increased by four percent since 2014. Notable expansions of the breeding herd in the past three years have occurred in Missouri 25 percent; Ohio 9 percent; Illinois 8 percent; and Indiana, Nebraska, and Oklahoma each up 4 percent. Farrowing intentions are up one percent for this spring and slightly below year previous levels for this coming summer.

Producers indicated to USDA that they had four percent more animals in the market herd, reflecting four percent higher farrowings last fall, a three percent increase in winter farrowings and a one percent increase in the number of pigs per litter. Given these numbers, pork supplies are expected to rise by five percent in April and May and then drop to a four percent increase for June through August. Three percent more pork can be expected for September through November of 2017 with supplies up one percent this coming winter compared to year-previous levels.

Live hog prices averaged about $46 last year with losses estimated at $11 per head. Prices are expected to be $3 to $4 higher this year. Live hog prices averaged about $50 per hundredweight in the first quarter of 2017. Prices for the second and third quarters are expected to average in the very low $50s. Prices will likely be seasonally lower in the fourth quarter and average in the mid-$40s. If so, prices would average near $49 for the year and be slightly under projected total costs of production with $1 of loss per head. This is basically a forecast for a breakeven year with all costs being covered, including labor costs and equity investors receiving a normal rate of return.

Current expectations are for feed prices to remain low in 2017, but with corn prices increasing into 2018. On a calendar year basis, U.S. corn prices received by farmers averaged $6.67 per bushel in 2012 (unweighted by marketings). Those prices fell to $3.48 per bushel in calendar 2016 and are expected to be only a few cents higher in calendar 2017. Current prospects are for corn to be $.20 to $.30 per bushel higher in calendar year 2018 due to sharp reductions in 2017 U.S. acreage.

Soybean meal averaged $478 per ton in 2014 (high-protein, Decatur, Illinois), but is expected to average only $315 per ton in 2017, the lowest calendar year price since 2010. Total feed costs per hundredweight are expected to be the lowest in a decade dating back to 2007.Total costs of production may reach 10-year lows. Estimated total costs of production reached $67 per live hundredweight in 2012 driven by high feed prices. For calendar year 2017 that may drop to $49.50, which is the lowest estimated total costs of production since 2007 and would represent 10-year lows.

What are the potential shadows for the industry this year? The first is that meat and poultry competition will be high. In addition to three percent more pork, beef production is expected to be up four percent and poultry production up two percent. There is simply a lot of competition for the consumers' food dollars.

Secondly, the optimism for the U.S. economy that has been present in early 2017 could falter. This optimism is related to a stronger job market, low unemployment, and record seeking stock market indexes. The anticipated stimulus package of the new administration has likely been a contributor. Time will tell if Congress can agree on this legislation and move it from anticipation to reality. In addition, the FED is likely to continue a series of interest rate increases to slow growing inflation pressures.

Decade low feed cost is important reason pork producers are expected to almost cover all of their costs this year. Weather in the U.S. and in the Northern Hemisphere will be important in the final determination of yields and feed prices.

The industry needs to keep expansion of the breeding herd to near one percent each year. This one percent increase along with about one percent higher weaning rates means the industry can increase pork production about two percent a year. That is sufficient to cover a one percent growth in domestic population and about one percent annual growth needed to expand exports. Growth of the breeding herd at more than one percent could shift the industry back into losses.

CWT Assists with 2.6 Million Pounds of Cheese Export Sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 15 requests for export assistance from Dairy Farmers of America, Northwest Dairy Association (Darigold) and Tillamook County Creamery Association, which have contracts to sell 2.6 million pounds (1,178 metric tons) of Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses to customers in Asia, Central America, the Middle East and Oceania. The product has been contracted for delivery in the period from April through July 2017.

So far this year, CWT has assisted member cooperatives that have contracts to sell 26.1 million pounds of American-type cheeses and 1.4 million pounds of butter (82% milkfat) to 12 countries on four continents. The sales are the equivalent of 272.9 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.

Food Prices Down for Easter

Lower retail prices for several foods, including eggs, ground chuck, sirloin tip roast, chicken breasts and toasted oat cereal resulted in a significant decrease in the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Spring Picnic Marketbasket Survey.

“As expected due to lower farm-gate prices, we have seen continued declines in retail prices for livestock products including eggs, beef, chicken, pork and cheese,” said John Newton, AFBF’s director of market intelligence.

The informal survey showed the total cost of 16 food items that can be used to prepare one or more meals was $50.03, down $3.25 or about 6 percent compared to a year ago. Of the 16 items surveyed, 11 decreased, four increased and one remained the same in average price.

Egg prices are down sharply from a year ago and also are down slightly from the third quarter of 2016.

“Egg prices continue to move back toward long-run average prices following the bird flu of 2014/15,” said Newton. “The Agriculture Department is currently monitoring bird flu detections in the Southeast U.S. If detections continue, retail poultry prices could feel an impact due to lower exports or changes in supply,” he said.

“As farm-gate prices for livestock products have declined and remained lower, prices in the retail meat case have become more competitive,” Newton said.

Retail price changes from a year ago:
-    eggs, down 41percent to $1.32 per dozen
-    toasted oat cereal, down 15 percent to $2.83 for a 9-ounce box
-    sirloin tip roast, down 13 percent to $4.95 per pound
-    ground chuck, down 10 percent to $3.92 per pound
-    chicken breast, down 6 percent to $3.17 per pound
-    apples, down 6 percent to $1.55 per pound
-    flour, down 5 percent to $2.36 for a 5-pound bag
-    shredded cheddar cheese, down 4 percent to $4.10 per pound
-    deli ham, down 3 percent to $5.42 per pound
-    bacon, down 3 percent to $4.65 per pound
-    potatoes, down 1 percent to $2.68 for a 5-pound bag
+    bagged salad, up 6 percent to $2.34 per pound
+    white bread, up 2 percent to $1.72 per 20-ounce loaf
+    orange juice, up 1 percent to $3.22 per half-gallon
+    whole milk, up 1 percent to $3.27 per gallon
=    vegetable oil, no change, $2.55 for a 32-ounce bottle

Price checks of alternative milk and egg choices not included in the overall marketbasket survey average revealed the following: 1/2 gallon whole regular milk, $2.10; 1/2 gallon organic milk, $4.20; and one dozen “cage-free” eggs, $3.48.

The year-to-year direction of the marketbasket survey tracks closely with the federal government’s Consumer Price Index ( report for food at home. As retail grocery prices have increased gradually over time, the share of the average food dollar that America’s farm and ranch families receive has dropped.

“Through the mid-1970s, farmers received about one-third of consumer retail food expenditures for food eaten at home and away from home, on average. Since then, that figure has decreased steadily and is now about 16 percent, according to the Agriculture Department’s revised Food Dollar Series,” Newton said.

Kansas Companies Participate in Trade Mission to Mexico

In March 2017, the Kansas Department of Agriculture, in partnership with the Kansas Corn Commission, sponsored an agricultural trade mission to Mexico to expand market opportunities in corn, distiller’s grains and ethanol. Participants on the trade mission included: Brian Baalman, Western Plains Energy, Oakley, Kan.; Tom Bauck, Kansas Ethanol, Lyons, Kan.; Brad Rayl, Kansas Ethanol, Lyons, Kan.; Pat Ross, Lawrence, Kan.; and Terry Vinduska, S and V Family Farms, Marion, Kan. The group was accompanied by Greg Krissek and Stacy Mayo with the Kansas Corn Commission and Kellen Liebsch and Brooke Minihan with the Kansas Department of Agriculture.

“I felt the meetings were all very constructive. I now see how many opportunities there are for Kansas grains in Mexico,” said Vinduska, a Kansas corn producer and Kansas Corn Commission member. “I am excited for what is coming in trade relations, and think there is a lot of potential here for us.”

The participants visited Grupo Lala and Rancho Lucero in Torreon; the U.S. Consulate, Northeastern Cattle Producers Association and Petrorack in Monterrey; and Los Choneros and Bartlett Grain in Aguascalientes. Additionally, Ryan LeGrand and Javier Chávez with the U.S. Grains Council provided an ethanol update to the group.

“I was previously unaware of how much is going on in Mexico and how fast they are growing,” said Bauck. “It is now apparent that we need to work together and establish relationships that will benefit both countries.”

Mexico is a key trade partner for Kansas agricultural commodities. In 2016, Mexico imported almost 30% of the state’s total agriculture exports, easily making them Kansas’ number one trade partner. “If you look at the logistics of Mexico, no other country can replace it as a customer for Kansas grain. It’s more important than ever to let our friends in Mexico know that we are advocating for agricultural trade,” said KDA international trade director Suzanne Ryan-Numrich. “The relationship is far too important for us to ignore.”

The trade mission was sponsored by KDA with assistance from a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration using a State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) grant. The STEP grant helps Kansas non-exporters to get started and existing exporters to export more.

Monday April 10 Crop Progress + Ag News


For the week ending April 9, 2017, temperatures warmed later in the week and averaged four degrees above normal, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Rainfall was limited in most areas except for portions of north central, northeast, and extreme southeast Nebraska where totals of an inch or more were recorded. Fieldwork was limited to spring tillage and fertilizer application, as producers waited for soils to warm. There were 4.8 days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 5 percent very short, 21 short, 70 adequate, and 4 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 8 percent very short, 25 short, 65 adequate, and 2 surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Winter wheat condition rated 1 percent very poor, 9 poor, 42 fair, 41 good, and 7 excellent.

Oats planted was 37 percent, behind 46 last year and 44 for the five-year average. Oats emerged was 6 percent, equal to last year and near 7 average.

Livestock, Pasture and Range Report:

Cattle and calf conditions rated 0 percent very poor, 0 poor, 16 fair, 71 good, and 13 excellent. Calving progress was 74 percent complete, equal to last year, but ahead of 62 average. Cattle and calf death loss rated 1 percent heavy, 65 average, and 34 light.

Sheep and lamb conditions rated 0 percent very poor, 1 poor, 23 fair, 67 good, and 9 excellent. Sheep and lamb death loss rated 1 percent heavy, 74 average, and 25 light.

Hay and roughage supplies rated 2 percent very short, 4 short, 90 adequate, and 4 surplus.

Stock water supplies rated 1 percent very short, 6 short, 92 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 prevented field work early in the week ending April 9, 2017, but by the weekend many Iowa producers were able to get into their fields, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Statewide there were 1.8 days suitable for fieldwork. Field work activities included anhydrous, fertilizer, and manure applications, and some CRP burning as part of mid-contract management. Where conditions allowed, field cultivation also took place. Farmers also prepared equipment for planting as they waited for the soil to warm up and dry out.

Topsoil moisture levels rated 1 percent very short, 3 percent short, 72 percent adequate, and 24 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated 1 percent very short, 5 percent short, 75 percent adequate, and 19 percent surplus.

Seventeen percent of the State’s expected oat crop has been planted, just over one week behind the 5-year average. Oats emerged reached 4 percent, three days behind average.

Pasture condition rated 3 percent very poor, 7 percent poor, 27 percent fair, 54 percent good, and 9 percent excellent. Pastures are beginning to green up as temperatures rise. Calving continues with no reported issues. Feedlots remain muddy, but are improving.

US Corn Planting Progress Debuts at 3%

U.S. corn planting progress debuted at 3% complete in USDA's weekly Crop Progress report released Monday afternoon. That was one percentage point behind last year's pace of 4% and equal to the five-year average pace of 3%.

USDA also reported that 9% of U.S. winter wheat was headed as of Sunday, April 9, up from 4% a year ago and also up from the five-year average of 6% headed. The condition of the crop was rated 53% good to excellent.

Meanwhile, spring wheat planting was reported at 5% complete as of Sunday, down from last year's 12% and also below the five-year average of 11% planted.

In other crop reports, sorghum was 18% planted, compared to 15% last year and a 15% five-year average. Cotton planting was 6% complete, compared to 5% last year and a 6% average. Rice was 31% planted, compared to 30% last year and a 26% average.

Oats were 33% planted as of April 9, compared to 37% last year and a 41% average. Emergence was at 26%, compared to 26% last year and a 31% average.

Agriculture Teacher & FFA Advisor of the Year Awarded to Two Nebraska Teachers

The Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation selected two recipients for the Agriculture Teacher and FFA Advisor of the Year award. Jesse Bower from Sutton Public Schools and Amy Tomlinson from Sandy Creek Public Schools were honored at the Nebraska FFA Convention on Thur., April 6, in Lincoln. The winning advisors received a plaque and $1,000 donation to their FFA chapters.

The teachers were nominated by their own students and chosen based upon their school and community involvement, leadership development in their classroom, and their ability to keep their students involved in agriculture.

“Both teachers are exceptional educators, leaders, and role models for their students,” said Megahn Schafer, executive director of the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation. “Not only do these teachers go above and beyond for their students, they support the future of agriculture through encouragement of FFA leaders.”

Jesse Bower is an FFA Advisor at Sutton Public Schools in Sutton, NE. Bower creates a learning community with students by doing hands-on projects and experiments in her classroom. When she’s not in the classroom, she is giving back to the community and showing gratitude for the support that the community shows the FFA Chapter.

Amy Tomlinson is an FFA Advisor at Sandy Creek Public Schools in Fairfield, NE. The Sandy Creek FFA Chapter was selected as a top 15 chapter in Nebraska in 2016. Tomlinson pushes her students to excel. She advocates for the agriculture program in her school and takes the time to sit down with each student and learn what their interests, background, and career goals are. Ms. Tomlinson is also active in her community and volunteers for many activities at the Clay County Fair.

“We had a number of exceptional nominations this year. All of the advisors and agriculture education teachers nominated are a showcase of agriculture leaders in their communities,” Shafer said. “The students these teachers impact are the future of our great state, and we are proud to recognize their excellent service.”

Planting Interval of Corn and Soybean after 2,4-D/ Dicamba Burndown Application

Amit Jhala - NE Extension Weed Management Specialist

This week I received phone calls from several growers asking about the planting intervals for corn and soybean following 2,4-D/dicamba applications in a burndown program. With cold, wet conditions in March, many producers may be facing a smaller than expected window for making their herbicide burndown applications in April. This makes timely applications now even more important to provide for a proper interval before planting this year.

Dicamba and 2,4-D are commonly used burndown herbicides for control of winter annual broadleaf weeds such as dandelion, field pennycress, henbit, tansy mustard, etc.

Additionally, several summer annual weed species in Nebraska emerge early in the season, prior to planting corn and soybean, and need to be controlled before they grow too large to be effectively controlled.

Of particular concern are giant ragweed, kochia, and marestail; we believe there are numerous populations of these species in Nebraska that cannot be controlled by glyphosate because they have evolved resistance to glyphosate. Therefore, use of 2,4-D/dicamba has increased in recent years, particularly for control of glyphosate-resistant marestail and giant ragweed. Based on observations in our giant ragweed research studies, we have had success controlling glyphosate-resistant giant ragweed with any herbicide program containing 2,4-D as a component of a burndown program.

If you apply 2,4-D prior to planting, be sure to adhere to the planting interval specified on the label. Several 2,4-D products have different planting intervals for soybean, somewhere in the range of 7 to 30 days depending on application rate.

As a general guideline, the following planting intervals should be maintained for corn and soybean after applying 2,4-D/dicamba....
-    If soybean is to be planted this year, do NOT apply dicamba. XtendiMax, a new dicamba product with VaporGrip Technology, can be applied in burndown application, but only if planting Roundup Ready 2 Xtend Soybean this season.
-    If 2,4-D is applied at 16 fl oz/acre in a burndown program, the planting interval should be seven days for corn and soybean
-    If 2,4-D is applied at a rate above 16 fl oz/acre in a burndown program, the planting interval should be 14 days for corn and 30 days for soybean
-    If dicamba is applied at 4 oz/acre in a burndown program, the planting interval for corn should be five days. If dicamba is applied at 8 oz/acre, the planting interval for corn should be seven days. DiFlexx and DiFlexx DUO are dicamba products with CSI safener; therefore, corn can be planted any time after application of these products, which may be particularly helpful in a replant situation. Care should be taken, however, so that corn seed does not contact the herbicide.

Share Machinery, Reduce Costs — Developing a Joint Ownership Agreement

Original Article by Tim Lemmons, former Nebraska Extension Educator
Reviewed and revised by Nebraska Extension Educators Allan Vyhnalek and Jim Jansen, and Jay Parsons, associate professor in the Dept of Ag Econ

Economic efficiency is paramount to profitability in crop production operations. Machinery and production equipment costs represent a major expense and one that has been on the rise in recent years. The Nebraska Farm Business Inc. calculates that in 2015, the cost of machinery on a per acre basis was 18% of the total cost of corn production. Proper management of these costs represents a key area where producers can effectively and efficiently reduce per acre costs of growing and harvesting crops.

Joint ownership of equipment can spread costs among multiple operators and reduce equipment costs for the individual operator. Successful joint ownership requires both a written agreement at the onset and ongoing good communication between the parties.

Machinery agreements can be structured in many ways; however, the most common include:
-    Sole ownership with a custom agreement - one party owns the machine, makes all payments including repairs, and makes an agreement with another producer for the use of the equipment, similar to renting equipment
-    Joint ownership - each party in the agreement is responsible for a portion of all payments, including principle, interest, and cash expenditures

Advantages of Shared Machinery

There are a number of advantages to sharing machinery costs, including:
-    Shared expense of high cost agricultural machinery
-    Efficient use of the machinery — equipment may be used over more acres annually than may have been possible in a single operation
-    Opportunity for shared labor, mechanical skills, and repair facilities
-    Opportunity to share technology like GPS auto guidance, grid yield data, etc.
-    Possible increased purchasing power in equipment selection due to combined financial resources
-    Opportunity for new and beginning farmers with fewer resources to partner with established producers to effectively manage risk exposure

Disadvantages of Shared Machinery

There are some disadvantages to joint ownership as well. They include:
-    Bottlenecks in production ― both owners need equipment at the same time
-    Cash flow needs of one owner may not coincide with the needs of another
-    Machinery down time may be detrimental to both owners, depending on field demand
-    Potential for death, bankruptcy, or unplanned retirement of one owner
-    Payment deficiency by one party requires another owner to pay more to keep equipment
-    Independence in ownership is lost ― decisions on machine disposal must be agreed to by all parties
-    One owner may be harder on machinery than another, or return equipment dirty or in disrepair

Starting the Joint-Ownership Process

Communication between all potential owners in a joint machinery venture is critical to success. They’ll need to complete a series of steps:
-    Both parties must agree on the size and capability of the intended machine. If the shared item is too small, efficiency is lost due to production bottlenecks and the higher potential for breakdowns.
-    Decisions must be made on brands, fuel types, and machine characteristics. This is an important step when considering the various creature comforts and technologies available on today's agricultural machinery.
-    The machinery agreement must be completed.

The Machinery Agreement

This is the most critical aspect of shared ownership.  Following are just a few of the questions that must be answered when preparing the agreement.
-    What determines who uses the equipment and at what time?
-    Is there a maximum number of acres or hours for each owner's use?
-    When controversy occurs regarding use priority, who or what standard will be used to make the final decision?
-    How will repair/fuel/lube costs be separated?
-    How will the machine or item be transported from one location to another?
-    What are the investment requirements of each party involved?
-    Will one party make the payment on behalf of the others or will each party make a separate payment?
-    How will use or availability of the equipment be determined?
-    What happens in the event of a bankruptcy, an unfavorable court ruling, retirement of an owner, or the untimely death of an operator?

Failure to address these questions in the written agreement may be disastrous. Do not assume that because you are entering into a relationship with a family member or a very good friend that a shared machinery agreement is not needed.


Joint ownership of agricultural equipment offers an opportunity to spread costs over multiple entities. Overall acquisition and annual maintenance costs are applied to an operation based on mutual agreement. This enables an entity the opportunity to capture both depreciation and operating expenses on the equipment, while lowering total cash outlays. Joint ownership also allows for larger equipment purchases, which may be required, depending on the net total acreage of the combined operations.

To be effective joint ownership of equipment requires a written agreement, good record keeping of expenses, and good communication. All parties must realize that they are partners in the investment. It's important that the equipment agreement be structured such that it addresses the issues and concerns identified in this guide and any others that may occur between all involved.

Nebraska Extension offers May field crop scout training  

A May 10 Nebraska Extension training course is scheduled for industry representatives and corn and soybean growers wanting to learn how to better manage corn and soybean pests.

“The training is designed for entry-level scouts who are working for crop consultants, industry agronomists or farm service centers in Nebraska and neighboring states”, said Keith Glewen, Nebraska Extension educator.  Glewen says the training course is also ideal for growers who scout their own fields or are interested in improving productivity, as well as for students being employed by agribusinesses”.

The course is from 8:25 a.m. to 5 p.m. with registration at 8 a.m. at the University of Nebraska's Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center located at the former Agricultural Research and Development Center near Mead.

"Past participants have consistently given the training high marks and state that the knowledge gained from attending improved their scouting skills," Glewen said.

Topics and presenters include: How Corn and Soybean Plants Grow and Develop; Soybean and Corn Insect Management; Using Knowledge of Plant Morphology and a Seedling Identification Key to ID Weeds; and Crop Diseases and Quiz Nutrient Deficiencies.

"Some of the benefits registrants stated the training provided included practical/working knowledge and better accuracy in field scouting," Glewen said. "Other participants appreciated the hands-on, practical format."

Cost for the program is $165, which includes lunch, refreshment breaks, workshop materials and instruction manual. Attendees should preregister to reserve their seat and to ensure workshop materials are available the day of the training session. Updated reference materials are included in this year's take-home instruction manual.

Certified Crop Advisor continuing education credits are available with 6 in pest management, 1 in crop management and .5 in fertility/nutrient management.

For more information or to register, contact Nebraska Extension at (402) 624-8030, (800) 529-8030, e-mail Keith Glewen at, or online at

Extension is in the university's Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Middle School Students get Chance for Adventure and Outdoor Education Through ACE Camp

Nebraska’s Natural Resources Districts are excited to offer Adventure Camp about the Environment (ACE) again this year. The NRDs are encouraging middle school students interested in the outdoors, to sign up for this educational and action-packed camp.  ACE is for students who have completed 6th, 7th and 8th grades in the 2016-2017 school year.

ACE is hosted at the State 4-H Youth Camp near Halsey, Nebraska, Sunday, June 11th through Wednesday, June 14th.  It’s organized by Nebraska’s Natural Resources Districts (NRD).

“The four-day adventure camp gives students an opportunity to dive into many different hands-on activities,” Anna Baum, general manager of the Upper Loup Natural Resources District said. “Each activity educates our youth on Nebraska’s water resources, wildlife, soil types, trees, range and grasslands.”

Students will also learn about the state’s wildlife and why it’s important to protect our natural resources.  ACE Camp gets kids outdoors and excited to explore the beautiful world around them.

Campers will also get the opportunity to go tubing, experience archery, zip line, build water rockets, and much more.  They’ll take home a better awareness of possible careers in natural resources from the professionals who work to conserve them every day.

Fees and registration are $190.00 per camper. Many NRDs offer full-ride scholarships for the four-day camp.  Contact your local Natural Resources District to see if assistance is available.  You’re encouraged to sign up early because space is limited. The registration deadline is May 26, 2017.

ACE is sponsored by Nebraska NRDs and Nebraska Association of Resources Districts Foundation.  Nebraska NRDs and the NARD partnered with several organizations to help make the camp a success including Nebraska National Forest, Bessey Nursery, Nebraska Game & Parks Commission, Nebraska Forest Service, Nebraska State 4-H Camp, Hooker County Turner Youth Foundation, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension, United States Department of Agriculture-Natural Resources Conservation Services.

To find out more information about ACE or to get a copy of a registration form, contact your local NRD or call Upper Loup NRD at 308-645-2250 or visit or find us on Facebook at Adventure Camp about the Environment.

Ag Confidence Grows as Latest DTN/PF Survey Suggests Strong Future

Despite continued flat commodity prices, attitudes of U.S. farmers took a solid leap into positive territory, according to the most recent DTN/The Progressive Farmer (DTN/PF) Agricultural Confidence Index (ACI).

The survey, which tracks farmer opinions of their current and future conditions, had an overall score of 130, a significant improvement from the mostly neutral 98 for the December 2016 survey and a complete flip from the pessimistic 75 score produced in spring 2016.

Since 2010, DTN has surveyed farmers three times a year to determine their opinions about their current economic situation and about that situation in the year to come. Those answers create a score for farmers' "current condition," how they feel about their businesses at the time of the survey, and a score for their "future expectations" for the coming year. Those two scores are combined to create the Ag Confidence Index.

A separate survey, conducted simultaneously, examines agribusiness owner confidence.

The most recent surveys, conducted the first week of March, showed farmers continued to be concerned about current conditions. Answers to questions about their current situation created a level of 70 -- pessimistic, but much higher than the 42 farmers gave conditions back in December.

It was the extremely optimistic scores for the future, however, that gave the overall farmer index its boost. Farmers put their future expectations at a record-high 163.6. That is a jump from 126.6 in December and a complete reversal of the pessimistic 71.7 a year ago.

"Expectations have blown the roof off, more than doubling the index scores of 12 months back," said Robert Hill, economist and researcher who helped create the Ag Confidence Index. "This completely overwhelms the negative movement in present situation to yield a highly positive overall confidence index."

The high future expectation numbers, which began following the November 2016 presidential election, confound Hill.

"As an economist, I've spent a career talking about the dollars and cents of the ag economy in a rational way, without emotion. Historically, it's been about real economic conditions, not politics."

Questions asked in the Ag Confidence survey are specific to income expectations, costs of inputs, and overall business conditions, he said. Farmers are not asked about political, regulatory or other non-revenue-related issues.

In every aspect of this March survey, including input costs, farm income and household income, farmers feel better about things than they did back in December, Hill said. "They feel better about the current situation and they feel better about their future prospects. This is the farming Trump bump."

To explain the optimism, Hill said, he looked to the news headlines around the period the survey was conducted.

The previous week, President Donald Trump signed an executive order instructing the Environmental Protection Agency to examine the business and economic effects of the so-called waters of the United States, or WOTUS, rule. That rule, a regulatory refinement of the Clean Water Act, potentially called for heavier regulation of pesticide applications. Farm groups have fought WOTUS from its inception, even though the EPA under the Obama administration continued to contend it would not be onerous to farmers.

The same week the Ag Confidence Index survey was conducted, Congressional Republicans were finally revealing the details of their "repeal and replace" bill for the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. While that bill ultimately was pulled from consideration due to lack of support, it captivated Obamacare critics, which included some farm families, for many days after the release.

The overall mood of the country was better, as well. The Consumer Confidence Index, which was released in late March, was at 125.6, its highest level since December 2000, according to the Conference Board, which publishes that monthly survey of consumer sentiment.

David Schemm, a farmer from Sharon Springs, Kan., and president of the National Association of Wheat Growers, said the regulatory changes under the Trump administration are likely a driver of farmer confidence.

"The whole aspect of regulations that they deal with gives them hope as they look off into the future that these regulations will be dialed back and allow them the opportunity to not be under that pressure," Schemm said. "So I think that is some of that optimism that we see out there."

Farmers are perpetual optimists, Schemm noted. They know that prices, while down currently, are dynamic and can rebound.

"They have seen several years where they were able to build up some reserves. And they are hopeful as they go forward with the dynamics in D.C. that they can get a farm bill that will help them out."

Still, economist Hill is surprised at the enthusiasm. "We're in our third straight year of negative cash flow for a lot of farmers," Hill said.

"The ag bankers I talk to say an increasing number of farm loans are moving from being 'performing' over to the non-performing side of the ledger. The bankers are getting grumpy about cash flows, even if the grower has lots of equity. That's the economic reality."

Craig Adams, who grows corn and soybeans and has a beef cow herd near Leesburg, Ohio, is cautiously optimistic about the future. While he admits conditions aren't great currently, he isn't dwelling on the down side.

"Let's face it, price-wise farmers don't have a lot of options; they are going to be what they are going to be," the 60-year-old farmer said. "We're not going to hit a grand slam this year, but as long as we can work on our cost of production, keep prices at or above that, we'll come through this. We've been here before."

Adams' edge on costs is a purchasing cooperative pool created with other area farmers, which allows them to work directly with distributors to work on volume discounts for crop chemicals and fertilizers. He also uses a grain marketing broker to help with marketing.

Adams agrees that the executive order pushing back WOTUS was a huge boost to farm spirits. Like a growing number of farmers, he is concerned about the rhetoric around trade, particularly with key U.S. grain and meat customers such as Mexico and China. But he believes that, in the end, common sense will prevail.

"The thing is you have to look at what Trump says, and then look at what he does. He says a lot of things about what he wants to do and goes way off on one side, but what he does eventually ends up back in the middle. I think you just have to take a lot of what he says initially with a grain of salt."

Crop farmers as a group expect better days ahead, producing a 169.7 rating for future expectations despite a gloomy 63.2 rating for their current situation. Livestock producers came in at 89 for the current, 149.8 for the future.

The Midwest and Southwest showed great swings from current to future ratings: Midwestern farmers rated their current plight a 50.4, but gave the future a 153.6; Southwestern farmers scored 78.4 and 169.1. Farmers in the Southeast were much more even-keeled in their optimism overall, creating a 115.6 rating for current situation and 134.7 for the future.

Agribusinesses, as they have in the past, showed a more subdued optimism, and a more even temperament overall. Business owners rated their current prospects at a mostly neutral 96.6, with future expectations slightly more optimistic at 119.3.

The next Ag Confidence Index will be conducted just before harvest in late summer.

Supreme Court in SD Denies ABC News Appeal in Beef Defamation Suit

The South Dakota Supreme Court has denied ABC News' request to reverse a lower court's ruling that paved the way for Beef Product Inc.'s $1.9 billion defamation lawsuit against the network to go to trial later this year.

According to the Sioux City Journal, the television network had appealed Circuit Judge Cheryle Gering's order in which she said a jury might find that ABC implied the product was not safe and that the network acted with malice in its reports. ABC contended that in her February ruling, Gering misapplied South Dakota Supreme Court precedents pertaining to actual malice and South Dakota's Agricultural Food Products Disparagement Act.

In a one-page order filed Monday, Chief Justice David Gilbertson denied ABC's petition for appeal. The order gave no opinion on the appeal's merits.

The trial is scheduled to begin June 5 in Union County Circuit Court and could last up to eight weeks.

BPI, based in Dakota Dunes, SD, sued ABC, its correspondents, federal officials and a former employee in September 2012 and will attempt to prove that a series of stories and broadcasts that began in early March 2012 defamed the company's Lean Finely Textured Beef. BPI alleges the "prolonged disinformation campaign" caused a backlash against the product, which critics repeatedly referred to as "pink slime," and led to a loss of $400 million in business, forcing the family-owned business to close all but its South Sioux City plant and lay off more than 700 workers.

In her February ruling, Gering dismissed former "World News Tonight" anchor Diane Sawyer from the case, saying that Sawyer's role as an anchor limited her involvement in doing research and was not enough to establish defamation. The ruling left American Broadcasting Companies Inc., the parent of ABC News, and correspondent Jim Avila as defendants. ABC, Sawyer and Avila had sought the suit's dismissal in October.

 CHS reports fiscal 2017 second-quarter and first-half results

CHS Inc. (NASDAQ: CHSCP, CHSCO, CHSCN, CHSCM, CHSCL), the nation's leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grains and foods company, today reported net income of $14.6 million for the second quarter of its 2017 fiscal year (the three-month period ended Feb. 28, 2017), compared to a net loss of $31 million for the second quarter of fiscal 2016. Operating earnings for the company's second quarter were $10.5 million, up from a loss of $91.8 million from the second quarter of fiscal 2016. Revenues for the second quarter were $7.3 billion, up 11 percent compared with $6.6 billion for the second quarter of fiscal 2016.

Earnings for the six months of the company's fiscal 2017 (the six-month period ended Feb. 28, 2017), were $223.7 million, compared to $235.5 million for the first six months of fiscal 2016, a decrease of 5 percent. The decrease is a result of increased loan loss reserves, higher income taxes and continued challenges in the energy operating environment, which were partially offset by improved conditions across CHS wholesale and retail agricultural related businesses.

Revenues for the first six months of fiscal 2017 were $15.4 billion, compared to $14.4 billion for the first six months of fiscal 2016, an increase of 7 percent.

"As our operating environment remains challenging, we continue to act prudently, taking appropriate and measured actions regarding costs and investments, while positioning ourselves to take advantage of opportunities as they arise while focusing on return on our invested capital," said CHS President and Chief Executive Officer Carl Casale. "We are on a journey and are starting to see the benefits of our focus."

The CHS Energy segment generated a pretax income of $16.6 million for the second quarter of the 2017 fiscal year, compared to a loss of $63.1 million for the same period in fiscal 2016, representing an increase of $79.7 million. Results were primarily due to increased refining margins and a $46.1 million non-cash charge to reduce inventory to market value in the second quarter of fiscal 2016 that did not recur in the current year. The company's propane and lubricants businesses experienced an increase in earnings, partially offset by a decrease in the company's transportation business compared to the same period of the prior year. For the first six months of fiscal 2017, the segment generated pre-tax earnings totaled $86.6 million, compared to $129.9 million for the same period last year.

The CHS Ag segment, which includes domestic and global grain marketing and crop nutrients businesses, renewable fuels, local retail operations and processing and food ingredients, lost $9.3 million in the second quarter of fiscal 2017, compared to a loss of $31.1 million for the second quarter for 2016.  Each of the primary business units in the Ag segment realized increased earnings during the second quarter of fiscal 2017, as compared to the second quarter of fiscal 2016, with the exception of country operations. Grain marketing increased earnings due primarily to improved grain margins. Wholesale crop nutrients income increased for the quarter due to higher volumes. Processing and food ingredients earnings increased due to an impairment charge for assets held for sale in the prior fiscal year. Earnings from renewable fuels marketing and production operations also increased, primarily due to higher margins. These increases were partially offset by increased loan loss reserves related to the company's country operations retail business.  Absent these reserve increases, the country operations retail business experienced strong second quarter operating performance versus the prior year's second quarter. These earnings were part of the $99.9 million total for the CHS Ag segment for the first six months of fiscal 2017, compared to $38.1 million for the first six months of fiscal 2016.

The Nitrogen Production segment generated income of $5.5 million during the three months ended Feb. 28, 2017, compared to income of $1.3 million over the previous fiscal year's quarterly period, and $32.4 million for first six months of fiscal 2017 compared to $1.3 million from the same period in fiscal 2016. The increase is primarily due to six months of activity in the current fiscal year, compared to only one month of activity in the first half of the prior fiscal year, given the CHS investment in CF Nitrogen occurred in February 2016.

The company's Foods segment, previously reported as a component of Corporate and Other, generated pretax earnings of $3.1 million during the second quarter of fiscal 2017, a decrease of $8.4 million compared to $11.5 million for the same period the fiscal year before, and $13.7 million during the first six months of fiscal 2017, compared to $29.9 million for the same period of fiscal 2016. The decreases were primarily due to decreased margins at Ventura Foods, LLC, the CHS equity method investment that makes up the Foods segment.

Corporate and Other generated pretax income of $7.7 million during the second quarter of fiscal 2017, compared to $4.9 million during the same time period the previous year, an increase of $2.8 million, or 57 percent, and income of $16.5 million for the six months ended Feb. 28, 2017, compared to $14.2 million during the first six months of fiscal 2016. Earnings in this category are derived from the company's equity investment in the Ardent Mills, LLC wheat milling joint venture and CHS Business Solutions operations. 

Broiler chicken welfare on the agenda for 2017 Stakeholders Summit

With activist groups pushing hard for restaurants, retailers and foodservice companies to adopt policies requiring the use of “slower growing” chicken breeds and new welfare standards for raising and stunning broilers, broiler chicken welfare will be up for discussion at the 2017 Animal Agriculture Alliance Stakeholders Summit. The 2017 Summit, themed “Connect to Protect Animal Ag” will be held May 3-4 in Kansas City, Mo. Early registration rates end at midnight tonight.

On a panel titled “Latest Target for NGOs: Broiler Welfare & Sustainability,” a group of expert speakers will offer perspectives on animal welfare in the broiler industry and meeting consumer demand while balancing environmental and economic sustainability.

Panelists include:

-    Kate Barger Weathers, DVM is the Director of World Animal Welfare at Cobb-Vantress, Inc., a global primary breeder company dedicated to the development of broiler breeder genetics. Weathers leads the company’s animal welfare program and actively collaborates with a diverse group of engineers, scientists and poultry specialists to design and test new innovations to enhance animal well-being and bird health.
-    Mike Morris is the Manager of Food Animal Programs for Yum! Brands. He has been employed with Yum for 11 years and provides technical guidance for global suppliers of beef, dairy, poultry and pork for Yum Brands including KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut. Morris’ responsibilities include oversight for global quality assurance, food safety, animal welfare and animal production programs.
-    Ken Opengart, DVM, PhD, is the Vice President of Live Operations/Processing and Corporate Social Responsibility for Keystone Foods. Opengart has been employed by Keystone Foods for 13 years and during that time his responsibilities have included overseeing live operations, health and nutrition, animal welfare, biosecurity, pre-harvest food safety, sustainability and grain risk management programs.
-    Matt Salois, PhD, is Director of Global Scientific Affairs and Policy for Elanco Animal Health, a division of Eli Lilly and Company. Salois also holds a courtesy professor appointment with the Food and Resource Economics Department at the University of Florida. His current research and professional experience focuses on the role of innovation and technology in food and agricultural production, with a focus on animal health, sustainability and food security.

“Broiler welfare is certainly a hot topic this year, with several activist groups indicating current or future plans to launch pressure campaigns targeting consumer-facing brands,” said Kay Johnson Smith, Alliance president and CEO. “This panel will help our attendees to understand the current situation facing the broiler industry.  It will also help arm our restaurant, retail and foodservice partners with truthful information about broiler production, welfare and stunning so that they have the necessary resources to navigate demands from activists, to address sustainability and animal welfare, and to meet the needs of their customers.”

Be sure to check the Alliance website for the most up-to-date Summit information. You can also follow the hashtag #AAA17 and #ActionPlease2017 for periodic updates about the event. For general questions about the Summit please contact or call (703) 562-5160.

2017 Childhood Agricultural Injuries Fact Sheet released

Every three days, a child dies in an agriculture-related incident, and each day, 33 children are injured according to the 2017 Childhood Agricultural Injuries Fact Sheet compiled by the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety in Marshfield, Wis.

The leading sources of fatalities are machinery (25%), motor vehicles/ATVs (17%) and drowning (16%).

“There is no central database on childhood agricultural injuries,” said Barbara Lee, Ph.D., director of the National Children’s Center. “In putting together this fact sheet we draw upon the best available data from a variety of sources.”

Augmenting the data is the National Children’s Center’s news clippings database, With nearly 3,000 ag injury articles to query, the mobile responsive online system features search and filter options to find articles by state, date, injury agent, victim age and more. is used by safety researchers, insurers, manufacturers and health care professionals. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics approves as a resource for state data analysts validating labor-related injuries and fatalities. Anyone can register to use

The National Children’s Center is one of 11 Centers for Agricultural Disease and Injury Research, Education, and Prevention funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Friday April 7 Ag News


The 89th Nebraska FFA Convention fourth general session took place on April 6, 2017 at the Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska with State Officer Halle Ramsey serving as the session chairperson.

Nebraska FFA welcomed Lieutenant Governor Foley to give remarks.  Lieutenant Governor Foley shared information about the importance of agriculture to Nebraska, and the role of FFA members in the future of agriculture.

The Governor’s Awards of Excellence, sponsored by NIFA, recognizes outstanding projects and activities of agricultural education programs and FFA chapters in Nebraska. These awards are to encourage programs and chapters to develop programming that engages students in solving problems beyond those that exist today. Students are encouraged to apply technology and scientific principles as well as increase agricultural knowledge through student, chapter and community development activities.

$2,500 NIFA Grant Recipients
Nebraska City
Omaha Bryan
West Holt

$1,000 NIFA Grant Recipients
Blue Hill
Fillmore Central
Johnson County Central
Keya Paha
Lyons-Decatur Northeast
Rock County
St. Paul
The Career Academy
Wheeler Central

Nebraska FFA welcomed Mr. Greg Ibach, Nebraska Department of Agriculture to give remarks.  Mr. Ibach shared information about how Nebraska agriculture has transformed over the last 150 years. “You are the students, and you have the training, the tools, and the opportunities and transform that challenge (in agriculture.)”

State Officer Nicholas Taylor gave his retiring address entitled “Value Joy!” during the second general session. He encouraged listeners to focus on the things that matter, and the rest will fall into place.

The Nebraska FFA Association relies on the support of exceptional individuals  to provide positive experiences for its members. The VIP Award honors individuals who have dedicated many years of service to the FFA. Fritz Steinhoff as well as Mat & Kyla Habrock received the VIP Awards this year.

The Distinguished Service Citation honors organizations, agencies, businesses or other groups and individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the Nebraska FFA Association and agricultural education on a state level. This year, the UNL Animal Science Department has been selected as recipients of the 2017 Distinguished Service Award.

The keynote speaker was DeMoine Adams with The Game Plan. DeMoine helped the audience transform the difference between being a leader, and leadership.  He stated, “Leadership is not a noun; leadership is a verb.”

2017 Ag Champions Winners Announced

The Nebraska Corn Board, in partnership with Nebraska FFA, recently recognized six high school FFA students as Ag Champions at the 2017 State FFA Convention in Lincoln. The purpose of the Ag Champions program is to help FFA students find their voices to help advocate for agriculture.

“People are becoming increasingly removed from the farm and from ag production,” said Kelly Brunkhorst, executive director of the Nebraska Corn Board. “This disconnect can result in confusion or distrust of modern agriculture. It’s reassuring to see the entries we received for the 2017 Ag Champions program. Nebraska’s FFA students are tremendous advocates for agriculture and will no doubt become future leaders in our industry.”

This year’s contest focused on using online tools, such as websites, blogs and social media platforms, to develop consistent, positive messages about Nebraska agriculture. Students were asked to create at least six different posts discussing a wide range of topics, such as current agricultural issues, family farming and modern production practices.

“I learned that you really need to adjust your message for your audience,” said Heidi Borg, FFA member at Wakefield Community High School. “We know our industry, but [when talking to others] we really need to be able to communicate in words people understand.”

Throughout the process, students had to think critically to ensure their messaging fit their audiences, while using appropriate media delivery tactics.

“Using technology, I’ve learned you can connect with people who are outside your community and work to bring them inside your community to create a dialogue,” said Miranda Hornung, FFA member at Raymond Central High School.

This year’s Ag Champions award winners are (in alphabetical order):
-    Heidi Borg, senior at Wakefield Community High School
-    Miranda Hornung, junior at Raymond Central High School
-    Aubyrne McClintock, freshman at Wallace High School
-    Amanda Most, junior at Ogallala High School
-    Isabelle Stewart, senior at Lakeview High School
-    Rebekah Vote, freshman at Wallace High School

The six winners each receive $500 scholarships to be used to further their agricultural advocacy efforts through FFA.

This is the third time the Nebraska Corn Board partnered with Nebraska FFA to host the Ag Champions program.


The University of Nebraska-Lincoln recognized 78 students from Nebraska FFA chapters April 6 who have committed to attend the university in the fall. The inaugural signing ceremony was part of the 89th Nebraska FFA State Convention in Lincoln.

FFA members, advisers, guests, and several university leaders, including Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources Harlan Vice Chancellor Mike Boehm and Executive Vice Chancellor Donde Plowman, participated in the event at the NU Coliseum. Nebraska State Sens. Tom Brewer, Steve Erdman and Steve Holloran also attended.

"It has been wonderful to see so many on campus this week that are excited about agriculture and excited about science," Boehm said. "We're thrilled to welcome you to the Husker family and to the industry."

The event took place just a few hours after Ronnie Green was installed as the university's 20th chancellor. Plowman told the FFA members about a special connection they have with Nebraska's new leader.

"It’s a great time to be a Husker. Today we installed a new chancellor who was not only involved in FFA, but he was also an FFA state officer," Plowman said. "Chancellor Green and all of us at the university celebrate you and your commitment to come to campus this fall.'

Following the opening remarks, John Baylor, the voice of Husker volleyball, announced each student along with their hometown and intended major. As the names were announced, they were met with cheers from their fellow FFA members watching in the crowd. After the students signed a large N, Boehm, Plowman and the other dignitaries lined up to congratulate them with a high-five.

"I've always loved the atmosphere at Nebraska, and this event gets me even more excited to come here this fall," said Eric Kovarik of Alma, who participated in the event. Kovarik plans to major in turfgrass and landscape management at Nebraska.

Heidi Borg of Wakefield didn't look at other colleges when deciding on her academic future. She calls herself an advocate for agriculture and plans to major in agriculture business at Nebraska.

"I'm really looking forward to being on East Campus and surrounded by people who are passionate about the same things I'm passionate about," she said.

The state convention brought over 7,000 FFA members, advisers, parents and guests to Lincoln. It featured educational sessions, workshops, a career fair, a leadership academy, interviews and leadership skill sessions. The events are designed to prepare high school students for careers in agriculture, Nebraska's largest and most essential industry.


In February, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service began contacting Nebraska farmers and ranchers to gather land rental rate information. The results of the Cash Rents and Leases survey will serve as a valuable decision-making tool for farmers and ranchers. Additionally, the results will be used to help establish government payment rates for CRP and other Federal programs.

“This brief survey is our best source of county cash rental rates,” said NASS’ Northern Plains Director Dean Groskurth. “By responding, producers help ensure USDA publishes the most accurate data possible.”

NASS will release State level cash rental rates on August 3, 2017. County level rates for non-irrigated cropland, irrigated cropland, and pastureland will be published on September 8, 2017.

More than 15,700 Nebraska farmers received the survey forms. In addition, NASS offers the option of responding online via a secure internet connection. In April, NASS representatives will begin calling and visiting land operators who have not yet responded.

“NASS will summarize producer responses, providing estimates of average rent and lease rates at the State and County levels,” Groskurth added.

For more information about NASS’ Cash Rents and Leases program, call our Northern Plains Regional Field Office at 800-582-6443. All NASS reports and data are available online at

April 8-15 is CASNR Week

The College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska--Lincoln has designated April 8-15 as CASNR Week. The 17th annual event celebrates the successes of all CASNR students, faculty, staff and alumni.

The CASNR Week Program Council, a student organization, has planned several events during the week to showcase and honor the college. According to Amanda Clymer, a senior agricultural economics major and member of the organization, the team has been making plans for CASNR Week since last fall.

"This week of celebration is planned, organized and executed by CASNR students. The events are really meant to bring everyone together to celebrate what makes this college so special," she said.

CASNR Week kicks off on April 8 with a 5K Fun Run beginning at 9 a.m. on the East Campus Mall. No preregistration is required to participate. For event information and a course map, visit

The CASNR Week Awards Banquet will be held on April 9 at the Nebraska Union. In addition to awards presented to current students, faculty and staff, the CASNR Alumni Association will also honor distinguished alumni.

A blood drive with the Nebraska Community Blood Bank, free lunch at the Nebraska East Union and a community night involving elementary schools near East Campus are other events scheduled for the week. CASNR Week will conclude with the 59th annual UNL Rodeo April 14-15 at the Lancaster Event Center.

"With a variety of events and opportunities, there are numerous ways students can participate and celebrate CASNR," Clymer said.

CASNR Week Schedule:
April 7: 6-8 p.m., Love Hall Chili Feed, Love Hall Memorial
April 7: 7-11 p.m., Bull-a-Thon Bowling Tournament, Lanes 'N Games, Nebraska East Union
April 8: 9 a.m., CASNR 5K Fun Run, East Campus Mall
April 8: 4-8 p.m., Burr-Fedde-Love Bull Fry, Burr Hall
April 9: 5 p.m., CASNR Week Banquet, Nebraska Union, City Campus
April 10: 9 a.m. -- 3 p.m., Nebraska Community Blood Bank Blood Drive, mobile unit on East Campus Mall
April 10: Noon -- 12:50 p.m., CASNR Education Abroad Leaders Luncheon, Nebraska East Union
April 10: 2-4 p.m., Hospitality, Restaurant and Tourism Management Cookie Bake-Off, East Campus Recreation and Wellness Demonstration Kitchen
April 11: 11 a.m. -- 1 p.m., Lunch on the Lawn, Great Plains Room, Nebraska East Union
April 11: 5-7 p.m., Community Night, Great Plains Room, Nebraska East Union
April 12: Noon -- 12:50 p.m., Club Advisor Luncheon, Nebraska East Union
April 12: 4:30 p.m., Heuermann Lecture, Nebraska Innovation Campus
April 12: 5-7 p.m. p.m., Spatterganza Forensic Science Fundraiser, Filley Hall
April 13: Noon-12:50 p.m., Ron & Marilyn Hanson Undergraduate TA Luncheon, Nebraska East Union
April 13: 5-8 p.m., Sigma Alpha/Alpha Gamma Rho Hog Roast, AGR House, East Campus
April 14: 7 p.m., University of Nebraska Rodeo Association Rodeo, Lancaster Event Center
April 15: 1 and 7 p.m., University of Nebraska Rodeo Association Rodeo, Lancaster Event Center

For more information, contact CASNR Week Program Council advisors Karen Jackson at 402-472-7903 or Diane Wasser at 402-472-6251.

CASNR is in the University's Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Borlaug to Address Biotechnology Topic April 12 @ SDSU

The South Dakota State University Swine Club, along with various campus organizations and industry partners, will host a presentation by Julie Borlaug on April 12 to address the controversy surrounding the use of biotechnology in food production.

Her presentation takes place at 7 p.m. at the Performing Arts Center on the SDSU campus. There is no charge to attend the event, but a free-will donation of canned goods for the Brookings Food Pantry is appreciated.

"As society moves farther and farther away from modern production agriculture, it creates a potential disconnect between the people who raise the food and the ones that consume it," explains Madelyn Regier, SDSU Swine Club President and an Agricultural Education and Animal Science major. "The SDSU Swine Club believes that it is essential for consumers and the general public to better understand modern agriculture so we can all work together in feeding the world's growing population in a safe and sustainable manner."

Julie Borlaug is the granddaughter of Norman E. Borlaug, Father of the Green Revolution. She serves as the Assistant Director of Partnerships at the Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture at Texas A&M University.

Since the passing of her grandfather, Julie has worked to continue his legacy through developing agricultural partnerships between public, private and philanthropic groups to further the Borlaug legacy and expand upon his mission to feed the world's hungry. She has spent her career in the nonprofit sector and has worked for organizations such as the Salvation Army and the American Cancer Society as Director of Development. She recently transitioned into her new role as Assistant Director of Partnerships in order to champion her grandfather's legacy and lend a voice to his desire to create more successful collaborative partnerships between the public and private sectors in order to ensure the continuation of breakthroughs in international agriculture.

Co-sponsors of this event include the South Dakota Pork Producers Council, the SDSU College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences, the South Dakota Farm Bureau, the South Dakota Soybean Research & Promotion Council, the South Dakota Wheat Commission, and SDSU Collegiate FFA.

The SDSU Swine Club is a student-led organization dedicated to generating interest, building understanding and providing opportunities for growth in the swine industry. For more information contact Madelyn Regier, SDSU Swine Club President, by email, or 507-822-5944, or Swine Club Advisor Robert Thaler, professor and SDSU Extension Swine Specialist by email, 605-688-5435.


The National Pork Producers Association this week held its spring Legislative Action Conference in Washington, D.C., with about 125 pork producers from 19 states attending the biannual fly-in.

Among the issues on which producers lobbied their congressional lawmakers were getting a free trade agreement with Japan and maintaining in the North American Free Trade Agreement zero-tariff market access for pork being exported to Mexico and Canada. They also urged members of Congress to support establishing a Foot-and-Mouth Disease vaccine bank, repealing a U.S. Department of Agriculture regulation – the so-called GIPSA rule – that would restrict the buying and selling of livestock and reforming the immigration system to ensure that the industry has access to a stable workforce.

The organization’s Capitol Hill-famous congressional reception, renamed the Congressional Bacon Fest, drew a large crowd of pork producers, congressional staffers and members of Congress.

Senate to Vote on Perdue Nomination on April 24

Following a unanimous consent request from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Senate is now scheduled to vote at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, April 24, on President Trump's nomination of former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue to be Agriculture Secretary.

The vote comes after the Senate Agriculture Committee held a confirmation hearing on his nomination on March 23, and a vote out of Committee on March 30. Last Friday, a coalition of 16 agriculture organizations sent a letter to Senate leadership urging them to bring up Governor Perdue for a vote as quickly as possible.

The Department of Agriculture has been without a confirmed Secretary for over two months. This week, the Senate has been debating the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to fill the vacant seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, which has consumed most of the floor time for the week. Additionally, the Senate Finance Committee was slated to hold a vote on the nomination of Robert Lighthizer to serve as the U.S. Trade Representative this week, but the Committee vote was unable to move forward. Following this week, both the Senate and House of Representatives will have two weeks of recess before returning into session on April 24. That week will be busy, starting with a confirmation vote on Perdue followed by necessary action to pass a funding bill for the remainder of FY 2017 prior to the expiration of the current Continuing Resolution on April 28.

Thursday April 6 Ag News

NE FFA Has First General Session Wednesday Night

The 89th Nebraska FFA Convention first general session took place on April 5, 2017 at the Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska with state officer Collin Swedberg serving as the session chairperson. Collin is originally from the Wallace FFA chapter, advised by Mrs. Lisa Kemp.

Nebraska FFA welcomed Dean of the University of Nebraska - Lincoln’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Dr. Steve Waller. Dean Waller spoke about the importance of the student leadership Nebraska FFA members exhibit, his enthusiasm for those students and agriculture on UNL’s campus, and his love for Nebraska FFA. 

Twenty-three corporate sponsors have partnered with the Nebraska FFA Foundation for the 2016-17 I Believe in the Future of Agriculture campaign. They challenged local FFA chapters to raise $300,000 at the local level and have offered up to $35,000 in matching funds. As part of this program, local supporters can donate to their local FFA chapter through the Nebraska FFA Foundation. The designated chapter will receive 100% of the money and a portion of the $35,000 matching fund money. Local chapters are using their money for a variety of innovative projects in their communities and schools. The following chapters were recognized for their outstanding efforts and participation in the “I Believe” campaign....
Fillmore Central
Hayes Center
McCool Junction
Oakland Craig

Red Cloud
Shelby-Rising City
Southern Valley
Thayer Central
West Holt

State officer Cheyenne Gerlach gave her retiring address entitled “Service is...” during the first general session, and she encouraged Nebraska FFA members to find ways in which they can serve others in meaningful ways.

Nebraska Agricultural Education welcomed 31 new or new-to-Nebraska agriculture teachers into the profession during the 2016-2017 school year. Those teachers were recognized on stage during the First General Session. These teachers serve in 30 of the 176 Nebraska agricultural education programs across the state.....
Katie Arp, Bishop Neumann
Seth Burge, Conestoga
Bridger Chytka, Thedford
Kathleen Cullinan, Kearney
Nicole D’Angelo, Seward
Jessy Eggerling, Madison
Jessica Evans, Osmond

Johnny Ference, Ord
Abby Ford, Mullen
Bradley Goering, Hyannis
Billy Grannemann, Arlington
Eric Hauge, Friend

Hannah Horak, Shelton
Katie Husman, Diller-Odell
Brian Johnson, Litchfield
Dylan Kent, Emerson-Hubbard
Halie Meints, Bridgeport
Matt Neal, Pierce
Wade Overturf, Wisner Pilger

Miranda Paitz, Cambridge
Brant Peters, Schuyler
Lacey Peterson, Riverside
Tim Potter, Lexington
Kara Reimers, Elba
Catherine Ripp, Lakeview
Amanda Ropp, O'Neill
Tyler Schindler, Omaha Bryan

Paige Shuler, Chambers
Katelyn Sughroue, Hitchcock County
Krystal Wilke, Morrill
Macie Wippel, Kearney

In addition to welcoming new teachers to the profession, the Nebraska FFA Association also granted charters to eight new chapters. The following chapters received their charters during the First General Session.....

Hitchcock County


The exciting opening session of the 89th Nebraska FFA Convention closed with a moving message from Matt Lohr from Broadway, Virginia. Lohr served as a former state and national FFA officer, a legislator in the Virginia House of Delegates, and as Virginia’s Commissioner of Agriculture. Lohr shared a message of passion and hope, and engaged everyone in the audience in his inspiring message about agriculture, hope, and a life of legacy.

Graham Recognized for Contributions to Humphrey Community and School

The Nebraska FFA Foundation presented Mrs. Robyn Graham with the 2017 Gary Scharf Helping Hand Award at the Nebraska FFA Convention on April 5.

Robyn Graham, FFA advisor for Humphrey FFA, was nominated for the award with support by numerous fellow teachers, students, past students and school administration. Toni Rasmussen, former student teacher for Graham, wrote in her nomination that Graham balances her family, students, lessons and FFA program, along with owning a cow-calf operation, farm ground, and coaching the cheerleading and dance teams.

Recently, Graham helped establish a tractor playground in the Humphrey community park. She spent over three years planning, coordinating fundraisers, finding volunteers, explaining and overseeing the project. This project started as an idea from a few committed FFA members and, as Rasmussen writes, “This was a large project that she could have easily turned down since it was so overwhelming. However, she knew the group of students were passionate to complete it and she did not want to turn them down.”

Jennifer Dicke, who grew up with Graham, supported her nomination by saying, “Robyn wears more hats in one year than any of us ever will in a lifetime. Mom, daughter, advisor, teacher, welder, wife, cheer/dance sponsor, gardener, public speaking expert, community leader, playground builder, fruit saleswoman, donkey-rider, best friend and so many more things…she truly has integrated passion for an industry into her students as well as her family and loved ones.

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

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

NE FFA Convention Continues.... 2nd General Session Thursday Morning

The 89th Nebraska FFA Convention second general session took place on April 6, 2017 at the Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska with state officer Kaitlyn Hanvey serving as the session chairperson.

Participants of the Next Generation Leadership Summit (NGLS) were recognized during the session. NGLS provides a unique opportunity for students to learn and develop skills needed to become thought leaders and action makers on timely and relevant topics. The theme for the 2017 Summit revolved around solving problems by using critical thinking to improve communities in Nebraska.

The Next Generation Leadership Summit is the result of a partnership between all Nebraska Career and Technical Student Organizations. Participation in the Next Generation Leadership Summit is open to all students participating in one or more of the Nebraska Career and Technical Student Organizations in 9th – 12th grade. FFA members that were accepted this year include:
        Hannah Reiter
        Taylor Nielsen
        Kate Cooper
        Isabella Chaffin
        Madison Mills
        Courtney Kamler
        Miranda Mueller
        McKenna Holloway
        Madison Friesen
        Ashley Schemek
        Danie Brandl
        Olivia Casper
David City
        Hannah Moravec
        Miranda Hornung

Nebraska FFA then welcomed state officers from the Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, and Arkansas associations to give remarks, and recognized the following chapters for their work in addressing food insecurity in Nebraska:
Logan View
Lyons-Decatur Northeast
Newman Grove

North Bend
Shelby Rising City

State officer Manuel Acosta from Bayard gave his retiring address entitled “Live to Grow” during the second general session, sharing his inspiring story about choosing to grow in challenging situations.

3rd Session of NE FFA Convention was Thursday Afternoon

The 89th Nebraska FFA Convention third general session took place on April 6, 2017 at the Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska with State Officer Cheyenne Gerlach serving as the session chairperson.

Nebraska FFA welcomed Morgan Tranmer on behalf of the World Food Prize to give remarks.  Morgan shared information about experiences that the World Food Prize provides participants. Tranmer’s departing words to FFA members were, “As we reach 9 billion people in 2050, we need young, creative minds like yours.”

Katie Rowley and Michael Dreiling Memorial Scholarship

The Perkins County FFA Chapter presents the Katie Rowley and Michael Dreiling Memorial Scholarship to a first or second year FFA chapter, in memory of two of their members who were lost in a tragic car accident.  The 2017 recipient of the $3,000 scholarship is the Ogallala FFA Chapter.

Jeffrey Hornung, Nebraska FFA Alumni Council member, shared greetings with convention attendees. The Nebraska FFA Alumni assists local chapters and the state association by providing assistance and support to members and advisors.  For the first time, the Alumni Council will provide one-year, complimentary membership to all state degree recipients.

Ag Champions Recognition

The Nebraska Corn Board sponsors the Ag Champions program, which encourages FFA members to become advocates for agriculture.  This year, FFA members created digital platforms to share an agricultural topic of their choosing.  Each of the six winners will receive a $500 scholarship for their advocacy efforts.
Students recognized were:
Heidi Borg, Allen
Miranda Hornung, Central
Isabelle Stewart, Lakeview
Amanda Most, Ogallala
Aubyrn McClintock, Wallace
Rebekah Vote, Wallace

Premier Chapter Awards

The National Chapter Award Program is designed to recognize FFA chapters that actively implement the mission and strategies of the organization. These chapters improve chapter operations using the National Quality Chapter Standards (NQCS) and a Program of Activities (POA) that emphasize growing leaders, building communities and strengthening agriculture. Chapters are rewarded for providing educational experiences for the entire membership. Top 17 chapters will advance to the national level.
Receiving Bronze awards were Red Cloud and Wallace.

Chapters earning a Silver ranking were:

McCool Junction
Southern Valley 
West Holt

Gold Chapter ratings and those chapters advancing to the national level are:
Blue Hill

Nebraska City
Rock County

State Officer Collin Swedberg gave his retiring address entitled “Start LIVING!” during the third general session. He encouraged all to focus less on planning for the future, and more on living in the moment.

The Nebraska Farm Bureau recognizes two outstanding Teachers and Advisors each year as the Nebraska Farm Bureau Teacher and Advisor of the Year Award recipients. Teachers receiving this award have displayed outstanding leadership in their school and community, influenced students to purposefully begin their SAE programs, and create a learning community through relationships with other teachers, community members, students and industry leaders. The 2017 Nebraska Farm Bureau Teacher and Advisor of the Year Award recipients are Jesse Bower of the Sutton agricultural education program, and Amy Tomlinson of the Sandy Creek agricultural education program.

Plan for Pasture Production Variation

Aaron Berger, NE Extension Educator

Warm, windy, dry conditions in the month of March have dried out the top soil in many parts of Nebraska. While there is still adequate subsoil moisture in many locations, the pattern of above normal temperatures with below normal precipitation is concerning.

Forage production from pasture and native range can vary significantly from year to year based on precipitation, temperatures, available nutrients and plant health. The first limiting factor for grass production in the Sandhills and Nebraska panhandle is spring and early summer precipitation. Planning to adjust stocking rates by critical "trigger" dates can help producers manage for expected shortfalls in forage production when precipitation and available soil moisture are below the long-term average.

From a rangeland and pasture production standpoint, it is good to remind ourselves of how critical available soil moisture is to plant growth. Cool- and warm-season grass species have "rapid-growth windows" when optimum air temperature, day length and soil moisture all need to be present to allow plants to fully express their growth potential. Once the "window" of opportunity has passed for a particular grass species, even if it does rain, it is too late to get significant growth from those plants.

From a grassland manager standpoint, lack of soil moisture and precipitation means limited forage growth and less grass available for grazing. Thus reducing what the expected appropriate stocking rate should be for the grazing season.

Precipitation during May, June and July are strongly correlated with forage production on warm-season dominated range sites in the Nebraska Sandhills.

In the Nebraska panhandle where many range sites are dominated by cool-season grass plants, precipitation in April, May and June is the major influencer of forage production.


Trigger dates by which to reduce stocking rates will vary depending upon the grass species present and available grazing resources. Here are some key trigger dates to consider for the Nebraska Sandhills as well as western Nebraska cool- and warm- season dominated range sites.

• Available soil moisture on April 1:. Look at dormant season precipitation from October – March and dig some post holes to see how much moisture is in the soil profile. A lack of soil moisture in early April will impact growth from cool-season grass species such as Threadleaf sedge (blackroot) and Needlegrasses. Exceptionally dry conditions at this time can trigger the need to plan for a 10-20% reduction in stocking rates on cool-season dominated rangeland.

• Moisture available from the middle of April to early May:. Track actual precipitation and watch forecast as they can give an expectation for the next 30-45 days in terms of precipitation. If prospects are for below average precipitation, additional reductions in stocking rates on pastures should be planned for.

• Late May into early June precipitation:. Needlegrasses will be completing their forage production by this time and western wheatgrass is in its rapid growth window. If March-May precipitation was only 50-75% of the long-term average for precipitation, a stocking rate reduction of 30-40% or greater should be planned for depending upon the grass species present and plant health. Warm-season grasses such as prairie sandreed and little bluestem are just getting started.

• Precipitation and soil moisture available from mid to late June:. Approximately 75 to 90% of grass growth on cool-season dominated range sites will occur by mid to late June. On warm-season dominated range sites 50% of grass growth will have occured. Rainfall after late June will result in limited benefit to cool-season grasses in terms of forage production but would still result in some benefit to warm-season grasses.

• Precipitation and available soil moisture from the middle of June to the middle of July is important for warm-season grass growth.

• Precipitation after July 15 will have limited benefit to forage production from warm-season tallgrass species but can still result in some forage growth from shortgrass warm-season species such as buffalograss and blue grama. However, buffalo grass and blue grama produce limited amounts of forage for grazing.

A proactive approach to reducing stocking rates can help producers manage for variation in forage production. A written grazing and drought management plan that uses trigger dates for executing decisions can be helpful to producers.

The National Weather Service at has short and long term forecasts that indicate what is expected in terms of precipitation and temperatures.


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Pretty soon you are going to be ready to plant grass or alfalfa.  You will hook up your seeder, fill it with seed, and start to plant.  But first, let's check that seedbed.

               In spring I like to remind you to check to see if your seedbed is firm before planting alfalfa or grass.  Instead of just pulling into your field and planting, first get off your tractor and walk across the field.  As you walk, look back at your footprints.  Do you sink in more deeply than the soles of your shoes or boots?  If so, your seedbed may be too soft.  Another technique is to bring to the field a seedbed testing kit.  Now, most folks also call this kit a basketball, but a basketball tests seedbeds better than any other tool I know.  Try to bounce the basketball in your field.  It should be easy to bounce that basketball on a firm seedbed.  If you can't bounce the ball easily, don't plant yet.  Firm that seedbed even more with a flat harrow, a roller, or maybe even irrigate.

               Why so much effort for a seedbed?  Well, when small seeds germinate their first roots must come into immediate contact with moisture and nutrients in the soil if those seedlings are to survive and grow rapidly.  Loose seedbeds can have up to 50 percent dead airspace in the seeding zone.  First roots that emerge into that dead airspace often do not live, and your stand will suffer.  A firm seedbed reduces this dead airspace, which helps you get thicker stands that develop more rapidly.

               This is Bruce Anderson, Extension Forage Specialist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  Do you want better, faster developing grass and alfalfa stands with less risk of failure?  A firm seedbed is your first step.

Strong Pace Continued for U.S. Meat Exports in February

February results for U.S. pork and beef exports were well above year-ago levels, with pork exports posting the strongest February volume on record, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by USMEF.

Pork exports reached 197,025 metric tons (mt) in February, up 15 percent year-over-year, with value up 17 percent to $486.7 million. For the first two months of 2017, exports totaled 399,692 mt, up 18 percent, with value increasing 22 percent to $995.3 million.

February exports accounted for 27.6 percent of total pork production and 22.9 percent for muscle cuts only, up from 23.8 percent and 20 percent, respectively, last year. January-February ratios were also significantly higher at 26.8 percent and 22.2 percent, compared to 23 percent and 19.3 percent in the first two months of 2016. Export value per hog slaughtered averaged $51.94 in February, up 18 percent year-over-year, while the January-February average was up 20 percent to $51.05.

Beef exports totaled 90,417 mt in February, up 9 percent year-over-year, with value up 16 percent to $508.5 million. Through February, beef exports were up 13 percent in volume (186,905 mt) and 17 percent in value ($1.02 billion).

February exports accounted for 12.6 percent of total beef production and 10.1 percent for muscle cuts only, which was steady with last year. January-February ratios were also fairly steady at 12.4 percent and 9.8 percent, respectively. Export value per head of fed slaughter averaged $276.96 in February, up 13 percent from a year ago, while the January-February average was up 10 percent to $266.34 per head.

“With trade deficits being a hot topic of conversation, especially with countries such as Mexico, China and Japan, it’s important to highlight the sectors in which U.S. products are competitive throughout the world and exports are thriving,” said USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng. “The red meat sector is certainly in that category, as exports have helped fuel growth in the U.S. industry and, in turn, larger U.S. production has opened further export opportunities and generated positive returns for the entire supply chain.”

Pork exports strong to Western Hemisphere and North Asian markets

Mexico was once again the pacesetter for February pork exports, with volume up 22 percent to 64,990 mt and value increasing 28 percent to $116 million. This pushed the two-month totals for Mexico to 137,396 mt (up 27 percent) valued at $244.7 million (up 39 percent). Mexico’s strong demand is reflected not only in increased buying from the U.S., but also in relatively high domestic hog prices, as per capita consumption of pork continues to grow. Strong demand from Mexico helped move prices for U.S. heavy bone-in hams higher in 2017 – up an average of 4 percent year-over-year.

For Japan, the leading value market for U.S. pork, February exports increased 14 percent to 32,178 mt, valued at $130.4 million (up 18 percent). For January-February, exports to Japan were up 10 percent in volume (63,755 mt) and 14 percent in value ($256.1 million). Chilled pork exports to Japan increased 7 percent through February to 34,682 metric tons.

Other highlights for U.S. pork included:

-    China/Hong Kong continued to take large volumes of U.S. pork variety meats in February, offsetting the slowdown in pork muscle cuts, putting the combined February total at 42,881 mt (up 5 percent year-over-year), valued at $83.2 million (up 12 percent). Two-month totals were up 10 percent in volume (80,893 mt) and 15 percent in value ($159.3 million). China’s hog prices dropped below year-ago levels in February and have continued to drift lower, but China/Hong Kong’s total January-February imports were still up 35 percent from last year’s record pace at 532,600 mt.
-    Pork exports to South Korea, which were slow in the first half of 2016 before gaining momentum later in the year, totaled 14,649 mt (up 26 percent) in February, valued at $38.2 million (up 29 percent). Through February, volume increased 29 percent to 30,722 mt while value improved 39 percent to $83.3 million. Korea’s hog prices have increased an average of 8 percent this year even as production has been growing, which is indicative of strong demand.
-    Led by a year-over-year doubling of exports to Colombia and Chile and solid growth in Honduras, exports to Central and South America were up 45 percent in volume (27,022 mt) through February while value increased 42 percent to $61.8 million.
-    January-February exports to the Dominican Republic were also well above last year’s pace at 5,279 mt (up 28 percent) valued at $11.8 million (up 34 percent).

Chilled beef to Japan, Korea and Taiwan continues to drive export growth

Japan continued to solidify its position as the leading volume and value market for U.S. beef, with February exports climbing 48 percent from a year ago in volume (23,789 mt) and 55 percent in value ($134.3 million). Through February, exports to Japan were up 41 percent in volume (46,276 mt) and 44 percent in value ($259.6 million). This included a 60 percent increase in chilled beef volume to 19,404 mt. Japanese import data showed that U.S. beef overtook Australian beef in the first two months of the year, with U.S. market share climbing to 45.6 percent while Australia’s dropped to 44 percent.

Strong momentum continued for U.S. beef in Korea, where February exports increased 11 percent to 13,093 mt valued at $86 million (up 26 percent). This pushed the two-month totals up 23 percent in volume (28,287 mt) and 31 percent in value ($177.6 million). Chilled exports through February were up 95 percent to 5,384 mt.

In Taiwan, February exports jumped 33 percent from a year ago to 2,886 mt, while value increased 26 percent to $25.3 million. Through February, exports were up 28 percent in volume (6,477 mt) and 25 percent in value ($55.1 million). U.S. beef holds 70 percent of the chilled beef market in Taiwan, the highest of any Asian market. Through February, chilled exports to Taiwan increased 12 percent to 2,479 mt.

Other highlights for U.S. beef included:

-    Exports within North America are off to a solid start in 2017, with January-February exports to Mexico increasing 14 percent from a year ago in volume (36,235 mt) and 3 percent in value ($147.4 million). Exports to Canada are showing signs of a rebound, with volume up 11 percent to 19,446 mt and value up 18 percent to $123.5 million.
-    Beef exports to two key South American markets increased significantly in value through February, with exports to Chile up 22 percent year-over-year to $8.9 million and exports to Peru up 68 percent to $4.3 million. The increase in Chile was achieved despite a 16 percent decline in volume (1,417 mt) while volume to Peru was up 16 percent to 1,130 mt.
-    A rebound in the Philippines and continued growth in Vietnam pushed January-February beef exports to the ASEAN region up 33 percent in volume (4,774 mt) and 19 percent in value ($27.3 million). Exports to Indonesia, which set a value record of $39.4 million last year, are off to a slow start in 2017 with value through February down 48 percent to $3.5 million.
-    Strong growth to most Asian markets helped offset a slowdown to Hong Kong, where January-February volume was down 21 percent to 16,131 mt, valued at $104.7 million (down 12 percent).

Lamb Exports Still Slumping Due to Weak Variety Meat Demand

Exports of U.S. lamb continued the recent trend in which muscle cut exports were solidly above year-ago levels, but total exports fell due to lower shipments of variety meat. February muscle cut exports were 123 mt (up 15 percent) valued at just under $900,000 (up 38 percent), pushing the two-month totals up 30 percent in volume (317 mt) and 33 percent in value ($1.9 million).

Lower variety meat totals pulled total February lamb and lamb variety meat exports down 41 percent in volume (487 mt) while value held relatively steady at $1.3 million. January-February exports were also down 41 percent in volume (1,060 mt) and fell 4 percent in value ($2.7 million). Early 2017 highlights for U.S. lamb include solid year-over-year growth in muscle cut exports to Mexico and the Caribbean.

USGC Corn Export Quality Report Shows Above Average Crop

The U.S. Grains Council’s (USGC) corn export quality report for the 2016/2017 marketing year is now available for international grain buyers, end-users and other members of the corn value chain, offering confirmation of the high quality of the most recent U.S. corn crop.

“The United States is proud of its ability to provide export customers with commodity corn in a timely and consistent manner year after year,” said Chip Councell, USGC chairman and farmer from Maryland, in the report’s greeting. “The Council is committed to continuous export expansion based on the principles of mutual economic benefit and increased food security through trade.”

This deep-dive report provides quality information from corn samples collected during the standard federal inspection and grading process for U.S. corn shipments. It is the sixth in an ongoing series, conducted with consistent methodology that allows stakeholders to track the variability of quality characteristics within key export areas.

This year’s analysis found the average aggregate quality of the corn assembled for export early in the 2016/2017 marketing year was better than or equal to U.S. No. 2 on all grade factors, and average moisture content was below that in 2015/2016.

Chemical composition attributes indicated higher protein, lower starch and higher oil concentrations than 2015/2016. Early 2016/2017 corn exports had lower stress cracks and higher density than in 2015/2016.

The export cargo quality report's release follows the publication of a harvest quality report focused on the quality of grain in the 2016/2017 crop to the point of unloading at a local grain elevator.

That report revealed the U.S. corn crop benefited from excellent conditions during reproductive growth, as well as high yields, particularly from the western Corn Belt.

The resulting quality of the 2016 corn crop was better than average of the previous five crop years on most attributes, including higher average test weight, kernel volume, oil concentration and whole kernels as well as lower broken corn and foreign material and stress cracks relative to the five-year average.

“These reports provide reliable and timely information, increase stakeholder familiarity with grading and inspection information and allow tracking of year-to-year variations in the U.S. corn marketing system,” said Kurt Shultz, USGC senior director of global strategies.

“The Council is pleased to be able to offer this information again this year, and we look forward to the rollout events our overseas offices are planning to provide global customers with in-depth reviews of the results.”

See the full report here...

 Five Steps Help Properly Steward Treated Seed

As planting season begins across the country, the National Corn Growers Association joins the American Seed Trade Association in reminding farmers to follow five basic steps for stewardship of treated seed:
-    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.
-    BeeAware: At planting, be aware of honey bees and hives located near the field, and communicate with beekeeper 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.

"Seed treatment technologies are an effective agronomic tool that provide seeds with the necessary protection for a strong, healthy start," said ASTA President & CEO Andrew W. LaVigne. "It's important to always follow proper handling procedures to ensure seed treatment solutions result in success for everyone involved and minimize the risk of exposure to non-targeted organisms."

For more information, visit the newly redesigned The Guide to Seed Treatment Stewardship is a partnership between ASTA, Agricultural Retailers Association, American Farm Bureau Federation, American Soybean Association, CropLife America, National Corn Growers Association and National Cotton Council.

Rural and Agricultural Groups Urge Congress to Oppose Privatization of Air Traffic Control

Today, the Agriculture Retailers Association, Alliance for Aviation Across America, Crop Life America, League of Rural Voters , National Agricultural Aviation Association, National Council of Agricultural Employers, National Farmers Union, National Grange of the Patrons of Husbandry, National Women in Agriculture Association, and USA Rice Federation released a letter urging Congress to oppose privatization of our nation’s air traffic control system. The proposal to privatize air traffic control is being pushed predominantly by the big, commercial airlines, and would take air traffic control away from Congressional oversight and put it under the purview of a private board of mostly commercial interests. The board would direct everything from taxes and fees, to airport investments and access.

The letter comes as the US Senate Commerce Committee is holding a hearing today entitled, FAA Reauthorization: Perspectives on Rural Air Service and the General Aviation Community.

According to the letter:
“Rural communities, agriculture and small businesses stand to lose the most under a privatized system, where there would be no Congressional oversight to ensure that all stakeholders and communities have access to air transportation… Under a privatized system, a private board dominated by the largest commercial operators would undoubtedly direct resources and investments to the largest hub airports and urban areas where these investments would be most likely to benefit their bottom line.” 

This group rural and agricultural organizations joins a growing number of voices raising concerns about the proposal to privatize the air traffic control system, including local elected officials, consumer advocates, free market groups, major Committees in Congress, chambers of commerce, small businesses, and the American voters.

Wednesday April 5 Ag News


Nebraska Farm Bureau (NEFB) urged President Donald Trump to raise the issue of access by U.S. beef producers to China during his upcoming meetings with Chinese President, Xi Jinping. Since 2003, China has banned the importation of U.S. beef. While it was announced, the ban would be lifted last fall, a formal agreement to reopen Chinese borders to U.S. beef has failed to take shape.

“Considering the importance of Nebraska’s beef industry to the state’s overall economy as well as our desire to expand beef exports, this meeting presents an important opportunity to address this vital issue,” Steve Nelson NEBF president wrote in a letter to President Trump April 5.

Nebraska is a leader when it comes to beef production in the United States. Currently, the state ranks first in commercial red meat production, total cattle on feed, commercial cattle slaughter as well as beef and veal exports. In 2016, Nebraska cattle producers exported $1.126 billion worth of beef and beef products.

“But, even with these impressive numbers, Nebraska’s cattle producers are experiencing some of the toughest economic times in recent memory. There are many reasons for this, but finding new growing markets for U.S. beef, like China, would assist in improving market prices,” Nelson wrote. “Outside of the direct impact to cattle producers, the jobs created by Nebraska’s beef industry would also be positively impacted. Nebraska’s agricultural exports support over 50,000 jobs both on the farm and in related industries such as food processing, transportation, and manufacturing,” the letter stated.

President Trump has spoken about ag at great length and the need to work on the U.S. trade deficit, which for 2016, was over $500 billion. However, agriculture remains the one area of the U.S.  economy that maintains a trade surplus; projected at just over $21 billion for 2017.

“This surplus could expand once we, again, have access to the large and growing Chinese beef market,” Nelson wrote. “The President understandably has several issues he needs to address with President Xi, however discussing beef trade should fit within the likely conversations on other trade issues,” the letter noted.

“Yet, efforts to find new and expanding markets for all our agricultural products including beef should remain a top priority for the Trump administration,” Nelson wrote.


Curtis Weller has been named head of the Department of Food Science and Technology and director of the Food Processing Center at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

Weller has held both roles on an interim basis since August 2016, when Rolando Flores left to become dean of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at New Mexico State University.

"Dr. Flores put the department and the Food Processing Center on the right trajectory, and the move to Nebraska Innovation Campus provided the infrastructure that they needed to extend their reach," said Ron Yoder, associate vice chancellor of the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources. "We anticipate that Dr. Weller, with his extensive experience in food science and engineering in the industry, will be able to take advantage of the foundation of excellent faculty and staff and excellent facilities that exists to continue to serve the needs of the industry, the state of Nebraska and beyond."

In July 2015, the department and the Food Processing Center moved operations to the Food Innovation Center at Nebraska Innovation Campus. The 178,000-square-foot complex provides world-class facilities for the department and private partners. It includes a state-of-the-art distance education classroom, wet/dry lab research space, food grade/non-food grade pilot plant space and office space.

"Food security is a critical issue around the world, and I believe we can play a key role in providing a safe and secure food system," Weller said.

Weller, a professor of food science and biological systems engineering, also was director of the Nebraska Manufacturing Extension Partnership from January 2014 to March 31, 2017. He has been at the university for 25 years. He received bachelor and master's degrees in food science and a doctoral degree in agricultural engineering from the University of Illinois.

The Department of Food Science and Technology provides undergraduate and graduate education and training to students preparing for careers in food science and technology in the food industry, academia or government. The department also conducts basic and applied research for the benefit of the industry and consumers, and provides assistance to the food industry through Nebraska Extension.

The Food Processing Center is a multi-disciplinary resource for the food industry, providing a combination of consulting, technical and business development services. The center is a major food processing and applied research hub that integrates applied research with state-of-the-art pilot plants, laboratory services, product developers and a team that supports food entrepreneurship.


Douglas Brand of Seward will be recognized as the 2017 University of Nebraska-Lincoln Block and Bridle honoree.

The Block and Bridle Club focuses on building leaders in the livestock and meat industries. The award recognizes those who have contributed to Nebraska agriculture through leadership, service, youth projects, community activities and involvement with the university.

Brand is vice president of the agriculture lending division of Jones National Bank and Trust Co. in Seward. Beyond his professional role, he has established a long record of promoting animal agriculture in Nebraska through his leadership. Brand has been a 4-H leader for 18 years and a member of the Seward County 4-H Foundation Board since its inception over a decade ago. He actively works with 4-H and FFA students, assisting with the selection of their livestock for fair projects.

In addition, Brand has been a member of the Seward County Agricultural Society for 39 years and is currently secretary of the board. He coordinates all programming for the Seward County Fair. Brand also has been on the Nebraska State Fair Board for 24 years. In 2009, he and his wife, Gail, were the lead chair-couple for the Cattlemen's Ball near Milford.

Among the awards and recognitions Brand has received over the years are the Nebraska Fair Person of the Year Award and the National Heritage Award for service to fairs and expositions, which he received in 2013. In 2012, he was inducted into the Nebraska Hall of Agricultural Achievement and in 2013 was inducted into the UNL Builders Association.

Brand graduated from Nebraska in 1973 with a degree in animal science. As a student, he was annual editor, treasurer and president of the Block and Bridle Club. He was also a member of Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity.

Brand will be honored at the Block and Bridle Club Honoree Banquet at 6 p.m. April 21 at the International Quilt Study Center and Museum, 1523 N. 33rd St.

Tickets to the banquet, which will feature a prime rib dinner, are $25. Tickets can be purchased by contacting a Block and Bridle officer or Andi Hallberg at A reception for Brand and his family, friends and past honorees will be at 5:30 p.m.

The Block and Bridle Club is part of the Animal Science Department within the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources at Nebraska.

Smith and Fortenberry Honor Former Ambassador Clayton Yeutter on House Floor

Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) and Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) spoke on the House Floor today in memory of Ambassador Clayton Yeutter.

Congressman Smith:
I rise in memory of Ambassador Clayton Yeutter, a native of Eustis, Nebraska, who recently passed away after a hard-fought battle with cancer.

Mr. Yeutter was a true statesman who generously shared his time and expertise throughout his very remarkable career.

On top of his numerous professional accomplishments, Mr. Yeutter was known as a humble, kind, and respected leader who never lost sight of his commitment to rural America.

No one understood the importance of trade to American agriculture better than he did, and his work has benefited generations of Nebraska agriculture producers as well as others across the country.

Mr. Yeutter grew up on a cattle and corn operation in central Nebraska during the Great Depression.

He attended the University of Nebraska, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Animal Husbandry, and later a J.D. and a Ph.D in Agricultural Economics.

After serving in the Air Force in the 1950s and returning home to work on his farm, he got his start in politics as Chief of Staff for Nebraska Governor Norbert Tiemann in the mid-1960s.

Soon, he was named director of the Nebraska Mission to Colombia, which led him to the USDA and decades of distinguished public service.

His extensive resume included serving as U.S. Trade Representative under President Ronald Reagan and Agriculture Secretary under President George H.W. Bush.

He also ran the Chicago Mercantile Exchange for eight years and served as chairman of the Republican National Committee.

As we mourn the loss of this influential Nebraskan, I extend my condolences to Mr. Yeutter’s wife, Cristena, and his children, grandchildren, and great-granddaughter as well.

Congressman Fortenberry:
I thank my friend Congressman Adrian Smith for the time, and I thank him, more importantly, for honoring the life and memory of our mutual good friend, Clayton Yeutter.

In my desk in my office, there’s a letter.  It was written to me by Clayton Yeutter, former Secretary of Agriculture, a couple years ago.

Of course, we all receive a lot of letters, but sometimes you get one that you just want to keep close to you.

Clayton Yeutter was a gentleman, he was a farmer from Nebraska, and he was a true statesman.

In that letter, he basically kindly and gently encouraged me in public service.  He was the ideal public servant.  He expressed his sentiments to me personally but in his public life with a great nobility, a great yearning and care for our country.

He committed himself in multiple ways to serving our institutions of governance, but he never forgot his humble roots back in Nebraska.

So, I simply wanted to say well done, good and faithful servant Clayton Yeutter, my friend, and thank you Congressman Smith for honoring his life.

Congressman Smith:
Thank you.  I can’t say enough to honor a true giant in public service as Secretary Yeutter, Ambassador Yeutter, the list goes on of his many titles.

An incredible man, his humility did so much for our country.

Click the LINK for video of Congressman Smith’s and Congressman Fortenberry’s remarks....

Iowa Cattlemen’s Foundation Awards Scholarships

Three Iowa high school seniors are receiving scholarships from the Iowa Cattlemen’s Foundation. Winners Madelynn Green of State Center, Megan Pansegrau from Gilman, and Macy Evans of Creston, each receive $1,000 from the Youth Beef Team (YBT) program for their knowledge of beef and cattle production, as well as their communication skills.

All three will also each receive an additional $500 because they completed an online course called Masters of Beef Advocacy, a program that provides additional training on communications and beef production.

Each scholarship candidate provided a written application, and took part in a personal interview and made a presentation on a beef industry issue during the final judging process in Ames on April 1. We had an excellent group of applicants for these scholarships. They are great representatives of our beef industry, and it is exciting and encouraging to see this caliber of young cattlemen and women going out and promoting the beef industry.

Macy is the daughter of Rob and April Evans. She plans on attending Iowa State University where she will major in Agricultural Education. She chose this field of study because she wants to inspire students to achieve and promote agriculture and make an impact on the industry. It will also allow Macy to continue her passion, her cow herd. Her presentation focused on using social media to reach out to people about what we really do to care for our livestock and how important that personal connection can be to eliminate false information.

Madelynn, the daughter of Loren and Lisa Green, plans to first attend DMACC and then transfer to Iowa State University and major in Agronomy. Her plans after graduation are to work for a local company or co-op so she can continue raising cattle and help with her family’s farming operation. Madde’s presentation discussed the various methods and pharmaceuticals used to treat sick animals.

Megan, is the daughter of Tim and Christa Pansegrau. Megan plans on joining the National Guard or the Iowa Air Guard to improve her leadership skills and then attend Iowa State University and major in Agricultural Education. She hopes to find a job near her hometown so she can come home and continue raising cattle and farming. How to use social media to “leave your mark” by sharing your agricultural story and help erase some of the false information that is prevalent with consumers was Megan’s presentation.

With these awards, the Iowa Cattlemen’s Foundation has provided over $81,000 in scholarship support to Iowa youth since 1994. Show your support for the industry and its future by making a tax-deductible donation to the Iowa Cattlemen’s Foundation to ensure the continuation of our youth programs.

NPPC Offers Tours Ahead of World Pork Expo, June 5-6

Anyone planning to attend the 2017 World Pork Expo, June 7-9, should consider arriving early to take part in one of two Pre-Expo agricultural tours. Organized by the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and set for Sunday, June 4, through Tuesday, June 6, the Midwest Agriculture Tour and Iowa Agribusiness Tour will provide insights into Midwestern agricultural businesses and pork production

“For more than a decade, these pre-World Pork Expo tours have taken visitors on a journey to view various aspects of U.S. pork production, from feed processing to on-farm production to shipping channels to equipment and technological suppliers,” says Greg Thornton, tour organizer for NPPC. “Either of the two tours will provide an excellent snapshot of Midwest agriculture, which can be particularly helpful for international visitors, but also for Expo attendees from other states.”

Midwest Agriculture Tour

Participants will spend two days traveling across Iowa to Illinois and just across the border into Indiana. Underwritten by the Illinois Soybean Association, this tour will provide an overview of modern pork production, feed processing, and equipment manufacturing, as well as shipping channels and exports.

Because of the multi-state trip, attendees can select from a couple of options to join the tour. Participants can board the bus in Des Moines on Sunday afternoon, June 4, or join the group at the Marriott Suites O’Hare in Chicago, on Monday morning, June 5. NPPC will send out more specific details once a tour registration is received.

On Monday, the tour will travel to Indiana, arriving at Fair Oaks Farms, home of The Pig Adventure, for an up-close look at modern pork production. Tickets will also be available for The Dairy Adventure. A barge trip down the Mississippi River will help participants to get a perspective on grain export activities. Participants will dine on-site at the Farmhouse Restaurant and will stay overnight at Jumer’s Hotel and Casino in Rock Island, Illinois. On Tuesday, the tour will move on to the John Deere Pavillion in Moline, Illinois, and include stops to Brenneman Pork, a JBS feed mill and modern wean-to-finish barn managed by JBS. The tour bus will return to Des Moines for dinner on the evening of June 6.

Cost for the Midwest Agriculture Tour is U.S. $450 per person, which includes bus transportation, lodging on June 5, meals on tour days and World Pork Expo admission. Individuals are responsible for booking their own hotel rooms before the tour begins and during Expo.

Iowa Agribusiness Tour

The tour on Tuesday, June 5, will begin and end the day in Des Moines, and provide a snapshot of agribusinesses in Central Iowa, including feed, technology and pork production enterprises. The day-long trip will stop at Kemin Industries for a look at innovations in animal nutrition and health and biofuels. From there, it’s on to East Central Iowa and a visit to Brenneman Pork, a fully-integrated, family-owned swine and grain operation. A visit to a modern wean-to-finish barn and feed mill managed by JBS will round out the tour.

The cost for this one-day tour is U.S. $150 per person, which includes bus transportation, breakfast and lunch on the tour and admission to World Pork Expo.

“These pre-Expo tours are an excellent value and a great way to kick off Expo week. Attendees will get a personal look at Midwest agriculture, which can make their visit to World Pork Expo even more informative and insightful,” says Ken Maschoff, NPPC president and Illinois pork producer. “Whether they spend the next three days at World Pork Expo reviewing the trade show for the latest products and services, collecting information from seminars or exchanging experiences with U.S. pork producers, the tours will have provided a solid baseline of knowledge.”

Register Today

It’s important to note both tours have limited space, so early registration is advised. Along with the details about the tours, the website offers general registration information. The site also provides information about room availability at official World Pork Expo hotels, answers for international visitors, a variety of Expo facts and other helpful tips about traveling to World Pork Expo.  The web site is

The 2017 World Pork Expo will take place at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, June 7-9. Leading the list of events is the trade show, with more than 320,000 square feet of commercial exhibits from companies throughout the world. The trade show is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, June 7, and Thursday, June 8, and from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday, June 9. Rounding out the week’s events are free educational seminars, networking opportunities, entertainment, swine shows and breeding stock sales. Whether you’re a producer, an employee, a visitor from another country or involved with other areas of pork production, Expo is guaranteed to have something for everyone.

Prices of All But One Fertilizer Still Higher

Prices of the majority of retail fertilizers are higher again for the fourth week of March 2017 compared to a month earlier, though none were up significantly, according to fertilizer retailers surveyed by DTN.

This was the second week in a row that not all fertilizer prices were higher.

DAP had an average price of $438 per ton, MAP $465/ton, potash $338/ton, anhydrous $508/ton, UAN28 $248/ton and UAN32 $279/ton.

The one fertilizer that was lower in price compared to the previous month was urea. The nitrogen fertilizer was just slightly lower in price compared to a month ago. Urea's average price was $356 per ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.39/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 21% lower from a year ago, anhydrous is 12% less expensive and UAN32 is 11% lower. Potash is 9% lower while DAP, urea and UAN28 are all 8% less expensive and MAP is 7% lower to year earlier.

EIA: Ethanol Stocks at Record High

Domestic fuel ethanol inventories posted another build last week, surging 1.9% to a record high while plant production eased, according to the latest report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The EIA's Weekly Petroleum Status Report for the week-ended March 31 showed fuel ethanol inventories jumped roughly 400,000 barrels (bbl) to 23.7 million bbl. A year-over-year supply surplus widened to 1.5 million bbl, or 6.8%, above stocks for the corresponding week in 2016.

Domestic plant production fell 35,000 barrels per day (bpd), or 3.3%, from a near-two-month high to 1.019 million bpd last week. Plant production is up 43,000 bpd, or 4.4%, year-over-year. For the four weeks ended March 31, fuel ethanol production averaged 1.040 million bpd, up 50,000 bpd, or 5.1%.

Net refiner and blender inputs, a measure for ethanol demand, rose 7,000 bpd, or 0.8%, to 918,000 bpd during the week-ended March 31. On a year-over-year basis, refiner and blender inputs were up 20,000 bpd, or 2.2%, last week. For the four-week period ended March 31, blending demand was up 28,000 bpd, or 3.16%.

Farmers and Ranchers Need Comprehensive Tax Reform

America’s farmers and ranchers need a flexible tax code that gives them freedom to both grow and adapt quickly to changes beyond their control, the American Farm Bureau Federation told Congress today.

Pat Wolff, senior director of congressional relations for AFBF, addressed agriculture’s need for sweeping tax reform in a hearing before the House Agriculture Committee.

“Running a farm or ranch business is challenging under the best of circumstances,” Wolff said. “Farmers and ranchers need a tax code that recognizes the unique financial challenges that impact them.”

Wolff urged Congress to create and retain tax policies that support high-risk, capital-intensive businesses like farms and ranches. Farm Bureau supports many of the provisions in the House’s proposed blueprint for tax reform, including reduced income tax rates, reduced capital gains taxes, immediate business expensing, and estate tax repeal. But, Wolff explained, the plan can be improved by reinstating benefits like the deduction for business interest expense and guaranteeing the continuation of stepped-up basis, cash accounting and like-kind exchanges.

“Farming and ranching is a cyclical business where a period of prosperity can be followed by one or more years of low prices, poor yields or even weather disaster,” Wolff said. Farmers, she added, depend on flexibility and benefits in the tax code that allow them to recover capital investments and put their money back to work on their farms quickly.

Tax reform is critical to the sustainability of American agriculture and farmers’ ability to feed, fuel and clothe the nation.

“Farming and ranching is both a way of life and a way of making a living for the millions of individuals and families that own 99 percent of our nation’s more than 2 million farms and ranches,” Wolff said. A comprehensive tax reform package must not overlook the financial tools farmers and ranchers depend on for keeping their businesses viable from one season to the next.

NGFA outlines waterways infrastructure needs in letter to congressional appropriators

A total of 22 agricultural producer and agribusiness organizations that participate in the Agricultural Transportation Working Group today sent a letter to House and Senate appropriators asking for continued funding support in fiscal year 2018 to rebuild the nation's declining inland waterways infrastructure.

"While the U.S. transportation infrastructure system long has provided U.S. agricultural producers and agribusinesses with a strong comparative advantage against foreign competitors, our waterways infrastructure system is falling behind," stated the letter, signed by groups representing producers, grain handlers, millers, processors and exporters, feed manufacturers and agribusinesses. "Most locks and dams on the U.S. inland waterways system have surpassed their design life span of 50 years. Further, navigation channels at U.S. ports need to be deepened to accommodate larger vessels transiting through recently reopened and expanded Panama Canal."

The groups listed specific action items they'd like to see from appropriators regarding U.S. waterways, including requests to:
-    Appropriate the full amount supportable by the barge diesel fuel tax going into the Inland Waterways Trust Fund.
-    Support, at a minimum, a funding level of $3.173 billion for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers operations & maintenance (O&M) budget, which helps support ongoing inland and coastal navigation activities.
-    Ensure that spending targets for the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund codified in the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 are met to cover O&M activities, such as harbor dredging, which would amount to approximately $1.33 billion.

"Our inland waterways and ports are true economic difference-makers that support American workers and help U.S. products reach the 95 percent of consumers who live outside our borders," the letter concluded. "We appreciate your consideration of these appropriations requests, and thank you for your time and work on these critical infrastructure needs."

Organizations signing the letters were:
Agricultural Retailers Association
Agriculture & Commodities Transportation Coalition
American Farm Bureau Federation
American Soybean Association
Corn Refiners Association
Institute of Shortening and Edible Oils
National Association of State Departments of Agriculture
National Association of Wheat Growers
National Barley Growers Association
National Council of Farmer Cooperatives
National Corn Growers Association
National Farmers Union
National Grain and Feed Association
National Oilseed Processors Association
National Pork Producers Association
National Sunflower Association
North American Millers' Association
Soy Transportation Coalition
The Fertilizer Institute
USA Rice
U.S. Canola Association
U.S. Poultry & Egg Association

USDA Dairy Products February 2017 Production Highlights

Total cheese output (excluding cottage cheese) was 942 million pounds, 1.4 percent below February 2016 and 9.9 percent below January 2017.  Italian type cheese production totaled 407 million pounds, 4.0 percent below February 2016 and 10.3 percent below January 2017.  American type cheese production totaled 373 million pounds, 1.7 percent above February 2016 but 10.6 percent below January 2017.  Butter production was 164 million pounds, 5.8 percent below February 2016 and 7.6 percent below January 2017.

Dry milk powders (comparisons with February 2016)
Nonfat dry milk, human - 140 million pounds, down 0.1 percent.
Skim milk powders - 40.0 million pounds, down 0.4 percent.

Whey products (comparisons with February 2016)
Dry whey, total - 78.0 million pounds, up 3.4 percent.
Lactose, human and animal - 84.7 million pounds, up 0.9 percent.
Whey protein concentrate, total - 36.7 million pounds, down 0.2 percent.

Frozen products (comparisons with February 2016)
Ice cream, regular (hard) - 58.7 million gallons, down 2.8 percent.
Ice cream, lowfat (total) - 32.9 million gallons, up 5.7 percent.
Sherbet (hard) - 2.75 million gallons, down 14.1 percent.
Frozen yogurt (total) - 5.11 million gallons, down 5.0 percent.

Canada’s Dairy Trade Actions Hurting Rural America

U.S. dairy organizations today urged the Trump Administration to fight back against protectionist Canadian trade policies that are slamming the door to American dairy exports in violation of existing trade commitments between the two nations.

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) and the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) called on the federal government, and on governors in northern states, to take immediate action in response to Canada’s violation of its trade commitments to the United States.

Because of the new “Class 7” pricing policy, which is expressly designed to disadvantage U.S. exports to Canada and globally, multiple dairy companies in Wisconsin and New York have been forced to inform many of their supplying farmers that the Canadian market for their exports has dried up. For some farmers, this means that the company processing their milk and shipping it to Canada can no longer accept it starting in May. This is a direct consequence of Canada’s National Ingredients Strategy and new Class 7 milk pricing program.

“Canada’s protectionist dairy policies are having precisely the effect Canada intended: cutting off U.S. dairy exports of ultra-filtered milk to Canada despite long-standing contracts with American companies,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “American companies have invested in new equipment and asked dairy farmers to supply the milk to meet demand in the Canadian dairy market. This export access has suddenly disappeared, not because the market is gone, but because the Canadian government has reneged on its commitments.”

“Our federal and state governments cannot abide by Canada’s disregard for its trade commitment to the United States and its intentional decision to pursue policies that are choking off sales of American-made milk to the detriment of U.S. dairy farmers,” said Tom Vilsack, president and CEO of USDEC “It is deeply concerning that Canada has chosen to continue down a ‘beggar thy neighbor’ path of addressing its internal issues by forcing the U.S. dairy industry to bear the harmful consequences.”

Vilsack noted that while farm families in the Northeast and Midwest are suffering the immediate consequences of the loss of Canadian markets, “thousands more will suffer if Canada persists in using its programs to distort the global milk powder markets so critical to tens of thousands of American dairy farmers.”

“The U.S. dairy industry is united on this issue because these restrictive policies effectively bar a significant U.S. export to Canada, with total losses estimated to hit $150 million worth of ultra-filtered milk exports from Wisconsin and New York. As we feared, these policies are now prohibiting our nation’s dairy processors from accessing the Canadian market,” said Michael Dykes, D.V.M., president and CEO of IDFA. “IDFA is speaking out against Canada’s protectionist policies on Capitol Hill, and asking the Trump Administration and state governors and legislators to insist that Canada honor its trade commitments and allow more market access for U.S. dairy products.”

Despite efforts by the U.S. government and dairy organizations to shed more light on the Canadian program, Canada is refusing to share sufficient details. For instance, limited information has been posted online by certain provinces, and some of that information has subsequently been removed from provincial milk authorities’ websites in what appears to be aimed at obfuscating how the program operates. Despite this lack of transparency, U.S. companies and their supplying farmers are already feeling its real-world consequences.

The United States is Canada’s largest export market, accounting for approximately three-fourths of Canada’s total exports. The organizations urged both federal and state governments to move swiftly to demonstrate to Canada that trade is a door that must swing two ways to have a functional relationship.

Tuesday April 4 Ag News

Prairieland sells milk brand to Hiland
Lincoln Journal Star

Lancaster County milk producer Prairieland Dairy has sold its brand name to Hiland Dairy Foods Co. of Springfield, Missouri.

The Firth dairy will continue to own and milk its 1,400 cows and use the Prairieland name, but it now will ship its creamy product, about 15,000 gallons a day, directly to the Hiland processing plant in Omaha. Hiland will be responsible for processing, sales and distribution of Prairieland products.

Prairieland General Manager Dan Rice said the brand will remain in grocery coolers in the near term, but he didn’t know whether the milk in the jugs would be coming entirely from Prairieland cows.

It was unknown Tuesday whether Hiland in the long term plans to continue offering the Prairieland brand or would phase it out like it did the Roberts Dairy name in 2013.

Brian Breci, general manager for Hiland's Nebraska division, said in a statement that the company hasn’t decided what direction it will take with the Prairieland brand.

Rice said Prairieland decided to sell off the distribution division to focus on its milk production and fertilizer businesses, Prairie Gold.

Before the sale, Prairieland sold only milk within a distribution network that included Kansas City, Lincoln, Omaha, Columbus and Grand Island. Grocers had been demanding a fuller array of products including ice cream and butter, but at its scale Prairieland couldn’t get the job done economically, Rice said.

Prairieland has closed its processing plant in Hallam, and Hiland bought the equipment in the plant and is moving it to Omaha, Rice said. Prairieland retained ownership of the Hallam building and is using it for storage.

The Prairieland distribution center in Lincoln was included in the sale and will remain in operation, Breci said.

About 20 Prairieland employees affected by the sale have been offered jobs with Hiland, although some of the Hallam processing plant employees declined the offer. Rice said Hiland, due to its size, is able to offer better benefits and opportunities for the distribution employees than Prairieland could.

Prairieland got its start when four families joined together to create the local brand.

The Rice family came west from Pennsylvania in 1998 in response to Nebraska's dairy recruitment efforts. They soon merged their milking operations with Dave and Cliff Obbink. Two other families joined the group, the Goossen family from Beatrice and the Eickhoff family out of Falls City, Rice said.

Rice declined to discuss terms of the sale, which was effective April 1.

ICBA to Congress: Enhance USDA Credit Programs to Prevent Farm Credit Crunch

The Independent Community Bankers of America® (ICBA) today called on Congress to support agricultural programs that help community banks serve rural America amid a steady deterioration in farm incomes. Steve Handke, president and CEO of the Union State Bank of Everest, Kan., testified that implementing more robust and better-financed USDA guaranteed lending programs through the 2018 farm bill will help avoid a farm credit crunch and prevent an exodus of producers from the agricultural sector.

“Congress has the power to help avoid a farm credit crisis,” Handke told the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Commodity Exchanges, Energy and Credit. “We need to be thinking about USDA guaranteed lending programs as a major tool, along with commodity programs and crop insurance, to keep thousands of farmers in business during what could be severely stressful times ahead.”

Amid a deterioration in farm incomes—with net farm income projected by the USDA to decline another 8.7 percent this year—community banks have provided ample credit at near historically low interest rates. With farmers using up working capital, which has decreased each of the past three years and showing tighter cashflows, many are expected to need additional loans going forward.

To meet the growing demand for these programs, Handke encouraged Congress to provide adequate funding, raise loan limits to reflect the higher cost of modern agriculture, minimize origination fees and paperwork requirements, and provide uniform requirements in financing USDA loans across state lines in addition to other recommendations.

“Banks fear regulators may over-react to lower commodity prices,” Handke told the committee. “Having a much-expanded, robust and well-financed guaranteed loan program would allow banks to continue working with distressed borrowers as the guarantees would decrease classified loan amounts that count against bank capital by 90 percent, thus representing a significant step in helping to avoid a farm credit crunch.”

USDA Authorizes Emergency Grazing in Response to President Trump’s Directive

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), acting in response to a directive from President Donald J. Trump, today authorized emergency grazing on Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands located in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas – the three states which were most heavily impacted by ongoing wildfires which began on March 6, 2017.  USDA Acting Deputy Secretary Michael L. Young issued a memorandum authorizing the emergency grazing of cattle by ranchers, who are facing the ruination of their herds due to lack of sufficient grazing land.  The authorization is pursuant to appropriate restrictions and conservation measures, which can be found in the Acting Deputy Secretary’s memorandum.

“Ranchers are facing devastating conditions and economic calamity because of these wildfires and they need some relief, or else they face the total loss of their herds in many cases,” said Acting Deputy Secretary Young.  “These measures will allow them to salvage what remains of their cattle and return to the important business of feeding Americans and the rest of the world.  I commend and thank President Trump for acting decisively in response to this dire situation.”

The USDA action is required to direct the Farm Service Agency to permit the grazing on lands covered by the CRP, which exists to conserve and improve wildlife resources.  In this case, the grazing will overlap with the primary nesting season of the lesser prairie chicken.  CRP has procedures in place, already developed with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to permit emergency grazing on protected lands during nesting season.  Lesser prairie chicken nesting season runs in Texas from March 1 to June 1, in Kansas from April 15 to July 15, and in Oklahoma from May 1 to July 1.

Ranchers and farmers are only now able to begin to estimate losses, since the fires are still burning in some places and access to the lands to survey the damage has been limited.  Damages in the states are expected to grow, but are now estimated as follows:


-    Counties affected include Clark, Comanche, Ellis, Ellsworth, Ford, Hodgeman, Kiowa, Lane, Lincoln, Meade, Ness, Russell, and Seward.
-    An estimated 630,000 acres burned, primarily pasturelands.
-    Estimated livestock loss: between 3,000 and 9,000 head of cattle.
-    Large volumes of hay and feed destroyed.
-    Estimated cost of fencing destroyed exceeds $36 million.


-    Counties affected include Beaver, Ellis, Harper, Roger Mills, Woodward, and Woods.
-    An estimated 389,533 acres burned.
-    Estimated livestock loss: 3,000 head of cattle.
-    An estimated cost of structure loss of $2 million.
-    Estimated cost of fencing destroyed exceeds $22 million.


-    Counties affected include Armstrong, Carson, Collingsworth, Donley, Gray, Hansford, Hemphill, Hutchinson, Lipscomb, Moore, Ochiltree, Potter, Randall, Roberts, Sherman, and Wheeler.
-    An estimated 550,000 acres burned, affecting 346 farms and ranches.
-    Estimated livestock loss: at least 3,000 cattle and 1,900 swine.
-    Thousands of miles of fences expected to be a total loss, but so far unable to be surveyed.

Cattlemen Applaud USDA Decision to Allow Emergency Grazing

Craig Uden, president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, today released the following statement in response to USDA’s authorization of emergency grazing on Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas:

“President Trump, the USDA, and Governors Brownback, Fallin, and Abbott deserve a great deal of credit for moving swiftly to open these lands to grazing so that many of the cattle producers who were dramatically impacted by last month’s wildfires can feed their herds. Those devastating wildfires burned more than 1.5 million acres in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas and killed an estimated 9,000 – 18,000 cattle. Those cattle can’t be replaced, but today’s action will help ranchers salvage what remains of their herds.”

$2.4 Million Designated to Relieve Veterinary Shortages

The USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture announced $2.4 million in available funding to relieve veterinarian shortage situations and support veterinary services. Funding is made through NIFA's Veterinary Services Grant Program, authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.

"Veterinarians play significant roles in assuring animal health and wellbeing, food safety and security, public health, and producer profitability, especially in rural areas of the country where most livestock production occurs," said NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy. "VSGP supports education and extension activities that will help veterinarians, veterinary students, veterinary technicians, and veterinary technician students gain specialized skills and provide practices with additional resources."

The Veterinary Services Grant Program supports development, implementation, and sustainability of veterinary services to relieve veterinarian shortage situations in the United States and insular areas.

Eligible applicants for education, extension and training programs include: state, national, allied or regional veterinary organization or specialty board recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association; college or school of veterinary medicine accredited by the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges; university research foundation or veterinary medical foundation; department of veterinary science or department of comparative medicine accredited by the Department of Education; state agricultural experiment station; or state, local or tribal government agency.

Eligible applicants for rural practice enhancement programs include for-profit or nonprofit entities or individuals operating veterinary clinics in rural areas and veterinarian shortage areas as specified in the request for applications.


Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), a national farmer-owned dairy cooperative, and Sprint (NYSE:S) recently announced the four ag tech startup companies participating in the 2017 Accelerator, an innovative program that helps accelerate and grow startup businesses, which launched this week and continues through June.

“We are very excited for the launch of our restructured program so that the 2017 Corporate Acceleratorprogram can better position our entrepreneurs to meet the needs of our corporate sponsors and, hopefully, develop long-term partnerships,” said Kevin McGinnis, vice president of Pinsight Media+ and managing executive of the Sprint Accelerator.

The Corporate Accelerator is a 90-day, immersive program focusing on startups in two verticals — digital and ag tech. Each company will work directly with leaders from Sprint, DFA, Pinsight Media+, Virgin Mobile USA and Dairy One. This year’s participants come from cities around the United States and are working to develop both hardware- and software-based solutions.

“We’re thrilled to partner with Sprint on the 2017 Accelerator program,” said Kevin Strathman, senior vice president of finance at DFA. “There is tremendous innovation happening in the agriculture space, and we’re looking forward to collaborating with and helping mentor these startup companies.”

The 2017 ag tech companies selected in the Corporate Accelerator are:
·         AgVoice from Atlanta, Ga. - AgVoice is a mobile, voice-interaction service designed for food and agriculture professionals to capture insights on the go.
·         HerdDogg from Longmont, Colo. - HerdDogg builds state-of-the-art smart ear tags and readers for livestock ID and health monitoring.
·         My Dairy Dashboard from Frisco, Texas - My Dairy Dashboard helps producers gather insights and simplify their dairy decisions through a visual dashboard of aggregated herd, feed, milk and weather data.
·         TradeLanes from Miami, Fla. - TradeLanes digitizes and automates the supply chain for shippers, merchants and traders.

As a sponsoring company for the Accelerator, DFA will provide mentorship, connections and resources to help accelerate the growth of the ag tech startups selected. Highlights of the 90-day program include:
·         Targeted, strategic meetings with senior DFA team members to discuss business development, pilots and potential sponsorships;
·         Mentoring from DFA senior team members and their networks, as well as from the investor, business development and entrepreneurial communities; and
·         Business building sessions around product, brand and marketing

“Our goal is to deliver on strategic outcomes shared by both the corporation and the startup,” said McGinnis. “Together, we hope to bring innovation to market that will be transformational to agricultural businesses.”

Visit the Sprint Accelerator calendar for public opportunities to engage with the participating companies at

Titan Machinery Reports Lower Earnings in First Quarter

Titan Machinery Inc. issued revenue of $317.60 million for the first quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $311.80 million. During the same quarter last year, the firm posted ($1.31) earnings per share. Titan Machinery's revenue was down 5.3% on a year-over-year basis.

The West Fargo, North Dakota-based company says its agriculture and construction equipment missed Street forecasts. Four analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $318.1 million.

For the year, the company reported that its loss narrowed to $14.2 million, or 65 cents per share. Revenue was reported as $1.21 billion.

Titan Machinery shares have risen 6.5 percent since the beginning of the year. The stock has increased 32 percent in the last 12 months.

Monday April 3 Crop Progress + Ag News


For the week ending April 2, 2017, temperatures averaged near normal across Nebraska, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Rain at mid-week covered many western and southern counties, halting fieldwork. North central counties recorded only limited precipitation. Producers continued to monitor calving progress and were waiting for sunshine to dry and warm soils so spring fieldwork could progress. There were 2.0 days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 6 percent very short, 19 short, 67 adequate, and 8 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 9 percent very short, 25 short, 64 adequate, and 2 surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Winter wheat condition rated 2 percent very poor, 9 poor, 42 fair, 42 good, and 5 excellent. Oats planted was 28 percent, ahead of 18 last year and 25 for the five-year average.

Livestock, Pasture and Range Report:

Cattle and calf conditions rated 0 percent very poor, 0 poor, 17 fair, 71 good, and 12 excellent. Calving progress was 62 percent complete, ahead of 55 last year. Cattle and calf death loss rated 1 percent heavy, 65 average, and 34 light.

Sheep and lamb conditions rated 0 percent very poor, 1 poor, 24 fair, 67 good, and 8 excellent. Sheep and lamb death loss rated 1 percent heavy, 74 average, and 25 light.

Hay and roughage supplies rated 0 percent very short, 4 short, 92 adequate, and 4 surplus.

Stock water supplies rated 1 percent very short, 5 short, 93 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:


A rainy week prevented field work across most of Iowa during the week ending April 2, 2017, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Statewide there were just 0.6 days suitable for fieldwork, with only northeast, central and southeast Iowa reporting 1.0 or more days suitable. Fertilizer, manure, and anhydrous applications were made as conditions allowed.

Topsoil moisture levels rated 1 percent very short, 6 percent short, 67 percent adequate, and 26 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated 2 percent very short, 6 percent short, 72 percent adequate, and 20 percent surplus. South central Iowa reported the highest surplus subsoil moisture level at 38 percent although just a week ago, according to the USDA’s U.S. Drought Monitor, portions of the area were still considered to be in a moderate drought along with much of southeast Iowa.

Six percent of oats have been planted, 3 days behind last year’s progress, and almost a week behind the 5-year average.

Livestock conditions are generally good although muddy lots are reported to be an issue. Calving is already complete for some cattle operations.

First USDA Crop Progress Report of the Season

Cotton, sorghum and rice planting are slightly ahead of last year's pace, while oats planting is even with last year, according to USDA's first weekly Crop Progress report issued Monday.

Fourteen percent of the winter wheat crop was rated poor to very poor, compared to only 7% at this time last year. Fifty-one percent of the crop is rated good to excellent.

Oats were 28% planted as of April 3, compared to 28% last year and a 34% average. Emergence was at 25%, compared to 24% last year and a 29% average.

For the week ended April 2, 2017, sorghum was 15% planted, compared to 13% last year and a 12% five-year average. Cotton planting was 4% complete, compared to 3% last year and a 4% average. Rice was 17% planted, compared to 15% last year and a 14% average.

CVA Hosts Contract Livestock Production Opportunities Meetings

Growing Livestock Producers in Nebraska - these meetings will focus on opportunities for new barns in Butler, York, Seward and surrounding counties. Each meeting will last approximately one hour with a panel discussion and an opportunity for Q&A. Free Meal provided at each meeting by Central Valley Ag cooperative.

Please join them for one of the meetings listed below to hear about Contract Livestock Production Opportunities. Learn about the benefits and challenges of livestock investment from industry contributors. The Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska and The Nebraska Department of Agriculture will act as panel moderators throughout the one hour discussion panel.

Three meetings will be held on April 12th, including
  - 7am in Seward at the Harvest Hall on the county fairgrounds
  - 12noon at Winfield's Opera House in David City
  - 5:30pm at Cornerstone Ag & Event Center in York

RSVP by April 5, 2017 to:
  - online
  - phone 402-362-8496
  - email

Smith to Hold Farm Bill Listening Sessions in Scottsbluff and Aurora

As part of his 2017 Farm Bill Listening Tour, Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) will host listening sessions in Scottsbluff and Aurora on Monday, April 17, and Thursday, April 20.

The Farm Bill Listening Tour provides Third District constituents an opportunity to visit with Smith, ask questions, and share their thoughts on the future of agriculture policy.  Nebraska Director of Agriculture Greg Ibach will also join the discussions.

“Sound agriculture policies are a crucial part of ensuring farmers and ranchers have the resources they need to succeed,” Smith said.  “As Congress prepares to draft a new Farm Bill, I look forward to receiving direct input from Third District producers.  Getting these policies right will help producers overcome challenges they face and ensure the Third District remains the top-producing agriculture district in the country.”

Scottsbluff Farm Bill Listening Session
Monday, April 17
Panhandle Research & Extension Center
4502 Avenue I, Scottsbluff, NE
1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. (MDT)

Aurora Farm Bill Listening Session
Thursday, April 20
Bremer Community Center
1604 L Street, Aurora, NE
1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. (CDT)

More dates and locations for the Farm Bill Listening Tour will be announced.  For additional information about the April events, please contact Smith’s Grand Island office at (308) 384-3900.


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               The open winter left many of you with more hay left over than expected.  Save some of that hay in case of drought, but any extra hay might provide extra value if it is used strategically.

               Get extra value from carryover hay by using that hay in ways that will be valuable especially to you.  Usually that means feeding hay instead of something else that would be more expensive.  Another option, though, is to feed hay so you can make other resources more profitable.

               For example, replace old, thinning alfalfa fields with new seedings this spring.  Then use carryover hay to substitute for lost yield during this seeding year.  Future hay yields from new fields should be more abundant and reliable.

               Or how about adding legumes to cool-season grass pastures or hay meadows.  We usually lose some forage production during the year of legume establishment as you control competition from the existing sod, but your carryover hay can be fed instead as needed.  Better grazing and future meadow production should be the result.

               Another possibility that could be especially useful is to feed hay a little longer this spring before turning cows out to pasture.  Or maybe feed this hay mid-summer to provide extra rest and recovery time for your pastures, increasing their productivity.  Grass weakened by heavy grazing during previous years then will get extra time to recover before experiencing this year’s stress of grazing.

               You also could use less fertilizer on pastures or haylands and make up for the reduced production with your carryover hay.  Or chop less silage and use hay next winter instead.

               If you think about other ways you can use that hay yourself, maybe you, too, can find its extra value.

USDA Fats and Oils: Oilseed Crushings, Production, Consumption and Stocks

Soybeans crushed for crude oil was 4.53 million tons (151 million bushels) in February 2017, compared to 5.12 million tons (171 million bushels) in January 2017 and 4.64 million tons (155 million bushels) in February 2016. Crude oil produced was 1.75 billion pounds down 11 percent from January 2017 and down 2 percent from February 2016. Soybean once refined oil production at 1.27 billion pounds during February 2017 decreased 3 percent from January 2017 and decreased 3 percent from February 2016.

Canola seeds crushed for crude oil was 167 thousand tons in February 2017, compared to 177 thousand tons in January 2017 and 138 thousand tons in February 2016. Canola crude oil produced was 140 million pounds down 7 percent from January 2017 but up 22 percent from February 2016. Canola once refined oil production at 117 million pounds during February 2017 was up 2 percent from January 2017 and up 1 percent from February 2016. Cottonseed once refined oil production at 44.3 million pounds during February 2017 was up slightly from January 2017 and up 2 percent from February 2016.

Edible tallow production was 72.0 million pounds during February 2017, up 2 percent from January 2017 but down 7 percent from February 2016. Inedible tallow production was 334 million pounds during February 2017, up 11 percent from January 2017 and up 19 percent from February 2016. Technical tallow production was 115 million pounds during February 2017, up 20 percent from January 2017 but down 3 percent from February 2016. Choice white grease production at 121 million pounds during February 2017 increased 7 percent from January 2017 and increased 8 percent from February 2016.

USDA Grain Crushings and Co-Products Production

Total corn consumed for alcohol and other uses was 473 million bushels in February 2017. Total corn consumption was down 11 percent from January 2017 but up 1 percent from February 2016. February 2017 usage included 91.7 percent for alcohol and 8.3 percent for other purposes. Corn total corn consumed for beverage alcohol totaled 3.08 million bushels, up 27 percent from January 2017 and up 25 percent from February 2016. Corn for fuel alcohol, at 423 million bushels, was down 11 percent from January 2017 but up 1 percent from February 2016. Corn consumed in February 2017 for dry milling fuel production and wet milling fuel production was 90.3 percent and 9.71 percent respectively.

Dry mill co-product production of distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) was 1.89 million tons during February 2017, down 9 percent from January 2017 but up 5 percent from February 2016. Distillers wet grains (DWG) 65 percent or more moisture was 1.22 million tons in February 2017, down 12 percent from January 2017 and down 2 percent from February 2016.

Wet mill corn gluten feed production was 269 thousand tons during February 2017, down 22 percent from January 2017 and down 14 percent from February 2016. Wet corn gluten feed 40 to 60 percent moisture was 293 thousand tons in February 2017, down 7 percent from January 2017 but up 5 percent from February 2016.

USDA Announces Commodity Credit Corporation Lending Rates for April 2017

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) today announced interest rates for April 2017. The CCC borrowing rate-based charge for April is 1.000 percent, up from 0.875 percent in March.

The interest rate for crop year commodity loans less than one year disbursed during April is 2.000 percent, up from 1.875 percent in March.

Interest rates for Farm Storage Facility Loans approved for March are as follows, 1.625 percent with three-year loan terms, up from 1.500 percent in March; 2.000 percent with five-year loan terms, up from 1.875 percent in March; 2.250 percent with seven-year loan terms, unchanged from 2.250 percent in March; 2.500 percent with 10-year loan terms, unchanged from 2.500 percent in March and; 2.500 percent with 12-year loan terms, unchanged from 2.500 percent in March.

AFBF and NGFA urge Senate to confirm Sonny Perdue as Agriculture Secretary this week

The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) today joined in calling on the U.S. Senate to confirm Sonny Perdue as the 31st secretary of agriculture this week before beginning a two-week spring recess on April 7.

The Senate Agriculture Committee, in an overwhelming bipartisan vote on March 30, approved recommending confirmation of the former two-term Georgia governor to the full Senate.

"U.S. farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses - and the consumers we serve - need the strong, capable leadership at USDA that Gov. Perdue will provide," the AFBF and NGFA said. "He is a dedicated, accomplished, innovative, problem-solving and proven public servant, and we need him at the USDA to begin addressing a backlog of policy issues that are awaiting his attention and to begin the process of filling key positions within the department. It also is vital to have Gov. Perdue engaged fully within the administration and with Congress on international trade, farm bill and regulatory issues affecting U.S. farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses."

Perdue has the bipartisan support of six past agriculture secretaries, the AFBF and NGFA noted, as well as the support of nearly 700 agriculture groups from across the nation.

Farm Bureau Launches Market Intel Reports

The American Farm Bureau Federation announces the launch of Market Intel, a new series of market intelligence reports available at and on Twitter (@FBMarketIntel). Market Intel will provide timely market intelligence on the agricultural economy for farmers, ranchers, lawmakers and consumers, according to AFBF.

“Soybeans Trumping Corn in 18 States” by AFBF’s Dr. John Newton, is the first Market Intel report in the new series. It features insights on the implications of the Agriculture Department’s just-released Prospective Plantings and Grain Stocks reports. 

“Our aim with Market Intel is to analyze current events in agriculture – related to both crops and livestock – through an economic lens,” said Newton, AFBF’s director of market intelligence. “The timely market intelligence on the agricultural economy that we provide will be useful for farmers, lawmakers and consumers. Farmers and ranchers will find Market Intel to be a useful decision-making resource for marketing and planting.”

Led by AFBF Chief Economist Dr. Bob Young, a trio of young gun economists at AFBF will share the latest on today’s agricultural market intelligence through regular Market Intel updates.

Newton earned his doctorate in agricultural economics at The Ohio State University and focuses on agricultural commodity markets, risk management and farm bill programs; Economist Katelyn McCullock holds a master’s in agricultural economics from Colorado State University and specializes in economic analysis of animal health and welfare, organic standards for livestock, and livestock and dairy markets; and Economist Veronica Nigh holds a master’s in economics from American University and analyzes how shifts in policy related to international trade, environmental issues, transportation, labor, food safety and taxes affect the agricultural economy.

Download Market Intel reports at

CWT Assists with 2 Million Pounds of Cheese Export Sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 12 requests for export assistance from Dairy Farmers of America, Northwest Dairy Association (Darigold) and Tillamook County Creamery Association, which have contracts to sell 2.01 million pounds (911 metric tons) of Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses to customers in Asia, Central America, the Middle East and Oceania. The product has been contracted for delivery in the period from March through June 2017.

So far this year, CWT has assisted member cooperatives that have contracts to sell 23.49 million pounds of American-type cheeses and 1.43 million pounds of butter (82% milkfat) to 12 countries on four continents. The sales are the equivalent of 248.94 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.

USDA Announces $1.9 Million for Alfalfa, Forage Research

The USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture announced the availability of $1.9 million in funding for research and development to improve the agricultural productivity, profitability, and conservation of the U.S. alfalfa forage industry. Funding is made through NIFA's Alfalfa and Forage Research Program.

"Alfalfa and other forage crops have great potential as high-value, sustainable crops," said NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy. "These NIFA investments will help expand this potential into profit for agricultural producers."

Alfalfa is a high-nutrition animal feed that also shows promise as a source for biobased materials and other renewable resources. AFRP is an integrated alfalfa-oriented research and extension program that supports collaborative research and technology transfer to improve overall agricultural productivity, profitability, and conservation of natural resources through conventional and organic forage and seed production systems. In FY 2017, AFRP will support the development of improved alfalfa forage and seed production systems, practices, and supporting technologies.

Eligible applicants include state agricultural experiment stations, colleges and universities, university research foundations, other research institutions and organizations, federal agencies, national laboratories, private organizations or corporations, and individuals who are United States citizens or nationals.

The deadline for applications is May 1.

Calf Price Rally and a Crop Production Report

David P. Anderson, Professor and Extension Economist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

The Spring rally in fed cattle price, Choice, and Select beef cutout values has extended into the calf and feeder market.  Number 1, 5-600 pound steers in the Southern Plains have crept up from about $148 in early January to over $165 by the end of March.  Calves of these weights typically rise in the Spring.  Much of this seasonal increase is a supply driven phenomenon in that there are fewer calves of those weights around at this time of the year.

Heavier feeder cattle (7-800 pound) prices in the Southern Plains have increased about $8 per cwt this Spring.  But all that increase occurred in March.   Both supply and demand for calves play a role in spring time prices.  Over the next couple of months, supplies will be increasing as these feeders come off wheat and other pastures.  On the demand side, feedlot's demand for feeders will be affected by fed cattle and feed prices.  Deferred futures for fed cattle that will finish later in the summer remain around $107.  Feeder cattle and lighter calf prices will be pressured by fed cattle prices (and their rally duration) and increasing supplies on the market.

Speaking of feed prices, USDA released its prospective plantings report.  Low feed prices, record large production, and large stocks are fueling record large meat production this year.  Corn acres were estimated to be 89.99 million acres, down about 4 million acres on corn prices that are likely below many farmer's production costs.  An estimated 89.5 million acres are estimated to be planted to soybeans (up 6 million acres), on better soybean prices relative to corn.  The report came very close to indicated more acres planted to soybeans than corn for the first time ever.  (I think the trend of acres planted to soybeans and corn is one of the more interesting changes in long term U.S. agriculture.)

After the crop is planted crop development and weather will begin to affect prices.  Fewer planted acres of corn will likely begin to result in higher corn prices.  Developments in feed prices this summer will affect calf and feeder prices later in the year. 

USDA Claims Confidentiality for 12,000 Pages of Federal Checkoff Spending Records

March 31, 2017 was the USDA’s court-ordered deadline to choose transparency or secrecy in a lawsuit over records from an audit initiated in 2011 of the federal Beef Checkoff Program. It chose secrecy. Out of a total of 12,341 pages of financial records from the audit and sought by the Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM) through the Freedom of Information Act, USDA released less than 175 pages, most of which are already public tax forms. The remaining nearly 12,200 pages of checkoff-related records, however, were completely blacked out—USDA is claiming they are confidential. The bottom line is that USDA is withholding a staggering 98.5% of federal Beef Checkoff Program spending records from the cattle producers who are required to pay into the government program.

The lawsuit is part of OCM’s four-year battle on behalf of cattle producers to force the USDA to release government audit documents and financial records showing how cattle producers’ beef checkoff funds are being spent. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA)—the primary spender of checkoff funds—has been fighting to keep the information hidden. USDA appears committed to helping NCBA conceal checkoff records, rather than assuring transparency for the producers it is supposed to be accountable to. NCBA entered the case last year after learning that financial ledgers relating to checkoff funds were among the records OCM was seeking to make transparent.

Among the reasons USDA is giving for its claim of confidentiality is that if the records are disclosed, other organizations could underbid NCBA for checkoff contracts, insinuating that NCBA is not giving producers the best bargain for their checkoff dollars.

OCM President Mike Weaver stated: “NCBA knows it has had its hand in the cattle producers’ cookie jar, and is fighting to keep it there while denying the hard-working cattle producers who pay into the Beef Checkoff Program the truth about how it is spending their tax dollars. What is just as alarming is the fact our U.S. government refuses to release government documents related to a government audit report on how our money is being spent.”

OCM will continue to battle for full disclosure of the audit and financial records in its effort to bring long-overdue transparency and accountability to the checkoff programs. While the USDA continues to hide Beef Checkoff Program abuses in court, the U.S. Congress last week took meaningful action toward curbing those abuses by reintroducing bipartisan checkoff program reform legislation in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Weaver stated: “If funneling checkoff funds through an intermediary, like NCBA, is all it takes to conceal checkoff-funded activity, there is no way to guard against lobbying, anti-competitive activity, or even something as fundamental as fiscal waste. It has never been clearer that we need Congress to pass meaningful checkoff program reform legislation.”

While USDA and NCBA continue to try to cover up checkoff program misconduct, OCM intends to challenge the refusal to disclose records for what is supposed to be a government program accountable to the farmers who fund it. OCM’s challenge will include both the refusal to release the checkoff financial records and the audit records that USDA has also refused to disclose.

Reducing Summer Pneumonia Risks Begins Now

Changing weather conditions and stress from working or transporting calves opens the door for the viruses and bacteria that cause summer pneumonia. The vaccinations a cattleman gives this spring can help reduce the risk of summer pneumonia and prepare calves successfully for fall weaning.

“Summer pneumonia is a real challenge and can occur during dry or wet weather conditions,” said Jon Seeger, DVM, managing veterinarian with Zoetis. “With INFORCE™ 3 we see a great value in the rapid, lasting immune response to the intranasal administration in the spring with young calves.”

For Jorgensen Land and Cattle near Ideal, South Dakota, INFORCE 3 is an important part of their respiratory vaccination protocol. “We were struggling with respiratory disease outbreaks in the bulls we received from our cooperator herds,” said Cody Jorgensen, a partner in this operation that sells 3,700 plus bulls each year. “We worked with our local veterinarian and experts from Zoetis to create a vaccination protocol that has essentially eliminated our respiratory problems heading into fall.”

Jorgensen says the protocol begins with an INFORCE 3 administration at birth, followed by a second dose of INFORCE 3 at branding/turnout time. They will also give ONE SHOT® BVD and ULTRABAC® 7 vaccinations at turnout time, along with DECTOMAX® Injectable for parasite control.

“We simply don’t have the respiratory issues that we used to have since we implemented this protocol in our own operation and with our cooperator herds,” said Jorgensen.

Vaccinating young calves in the springtime will help you and the calf win the fight against summer pneumonia before it begins. “A vaccination program is like sending the calf’s immune system to school,” Dr. Seeger said. “It’s important for producers to vaccinate calves before putting them out for summer so calves can develop the proper immune capabilities.”

“Anything abnormal to the animal’s environment or daily activity can be a stress factor, and young calves’ immune systems must compensate for it,” Dr. Seeger said. “When calves are taken out of their normal comfort zone, keep an eye on them for at least the next seven to 10 days to make sure sickness doesn’t follow the associated stress.”  

ABS Global Granted Permanent Injunction Against Sexing Technologies

ABS Global Inc. (ABS), a division of Genus plc, a global pioneer in animal genetics, was granted a permanent injunction in connection with its litigation against Inguran LLC, operating as Sexing Technologies (ST). The injunction was announced by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin on March 31.

In granting the permanent injunction the court confirmed that ST is prevented from enforcing certain research, marketing and non-compete restrictions under the 2012 Semen Sorting Agreement between ST and ABS. It also allows other bull studs in the U.S. to terminate their ST sexed semen processing agreements on 12 months’ notice, without damage or penalty. The injunction will remain in force for five years and ST is required by the Court to give prompt written notice of the Court’s decision to the other bull studs. ABS sought the injunction in light of the jury finding in August 2016, that ST had willfully maintained monopoly power in the market for sexed bovine semen processing in the U.S. since July 2012.

Dairy farmers have a preference for female calves, and the use of sexed semen in artificial insemination is designed to provide customers with female calves. ABS plans to launch its own brand of sexed genetics, Sexcel™, in 2017. Sexcel is produced through a novel technology for sexing bovine semen that does not subject the cells to the high pressures, electric currents and shear forces of the technology currently in use in the industry. The commercial launch of Sexcel will provide ABS customers with a new and exciting product to help them profit through genetic progress.

“We are very excited to bring our innovative 21st century technology to the market and introduce competition to the marketplace,” said Nate Zwald, Chief Operating Officer – ABS Global. “We know we have a strong product and trial results validate that we have a very effective sexed offering to present to our customers. We are also excited to bring competition to the market for bovine sexed semen processing, benefiting dairy and beef producers.”

USDA Expands Meat and Poultry Hotline Hours to Further Provide Food Safety Information to Consumers

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) today announced that it is increasing the delivery of safe food handling and preparation information by expanding the hours of its Meat and Poultry Hotline and Ask Karen chat services.  As detailed in the Agency’s 2017-2021 Strategic Plan, FSIS is focusing on the reduction of foodborne illness, and one way to contribute to that reduction is to increase public awareness of safe food handling information.

FSIS’ Meat and Poultry Hotline has been educating consumers since 1985. The toll-free telephone service assists in the prevention of foodborne illnesses by answering consumers’ questions about the safe storage, handling and preparation of meat, poultry and egg products. Beginning today, the hotline will be open for two additional hours, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET.

“Our hotline provides a valuable service in educating consumers about how to safely prepare food,” said FSIS Administrator Al Almanza. “By keeping the hotline open an additional two hours, we are expanding our reach to allow more consumers, including those on the West Coast, to have their food safety questions answered.”

The hotline is accompanied by Ask Karen, a 24-hour online service that provides answers to thousands of frequently asked questions and also allows consumers to email or live-chat with a food safety specialist during operating hours.

For 32 years the Meat and Poultry Hotline has answered questions about food manufacturer recalls, food poisoning, food safety during power outages, and the inspection of meat, poultry and egg products. From novice cooks roasting their first turkey to experienced food handlers asking about foodborne bacteria, the Meat and Poultry Hotline has answered more than 3 million calls since its inception.

“Our hotline staff are experts in their field and have backgrounds in nutrition, food technology and public health,” said Almanza. “Experts are available to talk with people in English and Spanish, so we are able to help address the food safety needs of diverse communities.”

Consumers can contact the Meat and Poultry Hotline to speak to a live food expert at 1-888-674-6854, or visit Ask Karen to chat or email (in English or Spanish), Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern Time/7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Pacific Time.

Friday March 31 Ag News


Nebraska corn growers intend to plant 9.55 million acres this year, down 3 percent from 2016, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Soybean planted acreage is expected to be a record high 5.70 million acres, up 10 percent from last year.

All hay acreage to be harvested is expected to total 2.50 million acres, up 2 percent from 2016.

Winter wheat acres seeded in the fall of 2016 are estimated at a record low 1.11 million, down 19 percent from last year.

Sorghum growers in Nebraska intend to plant 140,000 acres, down 30 percent from a year ago.

Oat intentions are estimated at 120,000 acres, down 11 percent from last year.

Dry edible bean acreage intentions are estimated at 150,000 acres, up 9 percent from 2016.

Sugarbeet growers expect to plant 48,000 acres, unchanged from last year.

Sunflower producers expect to plant 60,000 acres, up 45 percent from 2016. Oil type varieties account for 45,000 acres, up 55 percent from a year ago. Non-oil varieties made up the balance of 15,000 acres, up 20 percent from the previous year.

Dry edible pea acreage intentions are estimated at 45,000 acres, down 18 percent from last year.
Estimates in this report are based on a survey conducted during the first two weeks of March.


 Iowa farmers intend to plant 13.3 million acres of corn for all purposes in 2017 according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Prospective Plantings report. This is a decrease of 600,000 acres from 2016 and, if realized, would be the lowest planted acreage since 2008.

Producers intend to plant 10.1 million acres of soybeans in Iowa this year. This is a 600,000 acre increase from 2016. If realized, this would be the largest planted acreage since 2006.

Iowa farmers intend to plant 135,000 acres of oats for all purposes, up 15,000 acres from last year.
Farmers in Iowa expect to harvest 1.0 million acres of all dry hay for the 2017 crop year. This is 90,000 acres more than harvested in 2016.

Planted acres of winter wheat, at 25,000 acres, is unchanged from last year.

The Prospective Plantings report provides the first official, survey-based estimates of U.S. farmers’ 2017 planting intentions. NASS’s acreage estimates are based on surveys conducted during the first two weeks of March from a sample of more than 84,000 farm operators across the United States with more than 2,900 from Iowa. Actual plantings will depend upon weather, economic conditions and the availability of production inputs at the time producers make their final planting decisions.

USDA Prospective Plantings - March 31, 2017

Corn Planted Acreage Down 4 Percent from 2016
Soybean Acreage Up 7 Percent
All Wheat Acreage Down 8 Percent
All Cotton Acreage Up 21 Percent

Corn planted area for all purposes in 2017 is estimated at 90.0 million acres, down 4 percent or 4.0 million acres from last year. Compared with last year, planted acreage is expected to be down or unchanged in 38 of the 48 estimating States.

Soybean planted area for 2017 is estimated at a record high 89.5 million acres, up 7 percent from last year. Compared with last year, planted acreage intentions are up or unchanged in 27 of the 31 estimating States.

All wheat planted area for 2017 is estimated at 46.1 million acres, down 8 percent from 2016. This represents the lowest total planted area for the United States since records began in 1919. The 2017 winter wheat planted area, at 32.7 million acres, is down 9 percent from last year but up 1 percent from the previous estimate. Of this total, about 23.8 million acres are Hard Red Winter, 5.53 million acres are Soft Red Winter, and 3.38 million acres are White Winter. Area planted to other spring wheat for 2017 is estimated at 11.3 million acres, down 3 percent from 2016. Of this total, about 10.6 million acres are Hard Red Spring wheat. The intended Durum planted area for 2017 is estimated at 2.00 million acres, down 17 percent from the previous year.

All cotton planted area for 2017 is estimated at 12.2 million acres, 21 percent above last year. Upland area is estimated at 12.0 million acres, up 21 percent from 2016. American Pima area is estimated at 232,000 acres, up 19 percent from 2016.


Nebraska corn stocks in all positions on March 1, 2017 totaled 1.00 billion bushels, up 5 percent from 2016, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Of the total, 590 million bushels are stored on farms, up 11 percent from a year ago. Off-farm stocks, at 412 million bushels, are down 3 percent from last year.

Soybeans stored in all positions totaled 138 million bushels, up 17 percent from last year. On-farm stocks of 45.0 million bushels are up 10 percent from a year ago and off-farm stocks, at 92.7 million bushels, are up 20 percent from 2016.

Wheat stored in all positions totaled 61.8 million bushels, up 45 percent from a year ago. On-farm stocks of 3.40 million bushels are up 17 percent from 2016 and off-farm stocks of 58.4 million bushels are up 47 percent from last year.

Sorghum stored in all positions totaled 10.6 million bushels, up 27 percent from 2016. On-farm stocks of 690 thousand bushels are up 15 percent from a year ago and off-farm holdings of 9.89 million bushels are up 27 percent from last year.

On-farm oat stocks totaled 400 thousand bushels, down 47 percent from 2016.


 Iowa corn stocks in all positions on March 1, 2017, totaled 1.71 billion bushels, up 12 percent from March 1, 2016, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Grain Stocks report. This is the largest amount of corn in storage on March 1 since 1988. Of the total stocks, 58 percent were stored on-farm. The December 2016-February 2017 indicated disappearance totaled 690 million bushels, 5 percent above the 655 million bushels used during the same period last year.

Iowa soybeans stored in all positions on March 1, 2017, totaled 310 million bushels, down 6 percent from the 328 million bushels on hand March 1, 2016. Of the total stocks, 37 percent were stored on-farm. Indicated disappearance for December 2016-February 2017 is 148 million bushels, 16 percent more than the 127 million bushels used during the same quarter last year.

Iowa oats stored on-farm totaled 960 thousand bushels, down 4 percent from March 1, 2016.

USDA Grain Stocks - March 1, 2017

Corn Stocks Up 10 Percent from March 2016
Soybean Stocks Up 13 Percent
All Wheat Stocks Up 21 Percent

Corn stocks in all positions on March 1, 2017 totaled 8.62 billion bushels, up 10 percent from March 1, 2016. Of the total stocks, 4.91 billion bushels were stored on farms, up 13 percent from a year earlier. Off-farm stocks, at 3.71 billion bushels, are up 6 percent from a year ago. The December 2016 - February 2017 indicated disappearance is 3.77 billion bushels, compared with 3.41 billion bushels during the same period last year.

Soybeans stored in all positions on March 1, 2017 totaled 1.73 billion bushels, up 13 percent from March 1, 2016. Soybean stocks stored on farms are estimated at 669 million bushels, down 8 percent from a year ago. Off-farm stocks, at 1.07 billion bushels, are up 33 percent from last March. Indicated disappearance for the December 2016 - February 2017 quarter totaled 1.16 billion bushels, down 2 percent from the same period a year earlier.

All wheat stored in all positions on March 1, 2017 totaled 1.66 billion bushels, up 21 percent from a year ago. On-farm stocks are estimated at 350 million bushels, up 9 percent from last March. Off-farm stocks, at 1.31 billion bushels, are up 24 percent from a year ago. The December 2016 - February 2017 indicated disappearance is 422 million bushels, 13 percent above the same period a year earlier.

Durum wheat stocks in all positions on March 1, 2017 totaled 52.8 million bushels, up 24 percent from a year ago. On-farm stocks, at 32.4 million bushels, are up 83 percent from March 1, 2016. Off-farm stocks totaled 20.4 million bushels, down 18 percent from a year ago. The December 2016 - February 2017 indicated disappearance of 20.1 million bushels is 12 percent above the same period a year earlier.

Barley stocks in all positions on March 1, 2017 totaled 147 million bushels, up 7 percent from March 1, 2016. On-farm stocks are estimated at 56.5 million bushels, 2 percent below a year ago. Off-farm stocks, at 90.3 million bushels, are 13 percent above March 2016. The December 2016 - February 2017 indicated disappearance totaled 45.7 million bushels, 7 percent above the same period a year earlier.

Oats stored in all positions on March 1, 2017 totaled 63.2 million bushels, 16 percent below the stocks on March 1, 2016. Of the total stocks on hand, 22.3 million bushels were stored on farms, down 17 percent from a year ago. Off-farm stocks totaled 40.8 million bushels, down 16 percent from the previous year. Indicated disappearance during December 2016 - February 2017 totaled 12.3 million bushels, 64 percent above the same period a year ago.

Grain sorghum stored in all positions on March 1, 2017 totaled 180 million bushels, down 11 percent from a year ago. On-farm stocks, at 21.3 million bushels, are down 15 percent from last March. Off-farm stocks, at 159 million bushels, are down 10 percent from a year earlier. The December 2016 - February 2017 indicated disappearance from all positions is 128 million bushels, 6 percent above the same period last year.

Sunflower stocks in all positions on March 1, 2017 totaled 1.33 billion pounds, 27 percent above March 1, 2016. All stocks stored on farms totaled 584 million pounds and off-farm stocks totaled 745 million pounds. Stocks of oil type sunflower seed are 1.05 billion pounds; of this total, 488 million
pounds are on-farm stocks and 564 million pounds are off-farm stocks. Non-oil sunflower stocks totaled 277 million pounds, with 96.0 million pounds stored on the farm and 181 million pounds stored off the farm.

Nebraska On-Farm Research Opportunities

Keith Glewen, NE Extension Educator

The Nebraska On-Farm Research Network is always looking to work with growers who desire to discover answers to production practices in their farming operation. To give you an idea of what studies  growers investigated last year go to:

Do you have corn, soybean, alfalfa, dry beans, wheat, grain sorghum production related question you would like answered for your farming operation? If so, the Nebraska On-Farm Research Network is a good way to get started. Our contact information is located at:

Below is a listing of soybean studies we are collaborating in a multi-state effort partnership with the United Soybean Board in 2017.
1.     Soybean Row-Spacing (15 in vs 30 in)
2.     Soybean Population (2-4 rates)
3.     Priaxor fungicide     (in-furrow)
4.     Starter vs No starter
5.     Ascend PGR

If you have an interest in the above or any other production related topic, contact  Laura Thompson ( ; Nathan Mueller or myself Keith Glewen and we’ll help you get started.


Madison and Pierce County Farm Bureaus are sponsoring a “Road to Property Tax Reform” forum, Monday, April 10 at 12:00 p.m. at the White House in Pierce. The event is open to the public and lunch will be provided.

Bruce Rieker, vice president of governmental relations for Nebraska Farm Bureau, will present the property tax landscape in Nebraska and answer any questions.

“Whether you are a homeowner, a business owner, or a farmer or rancher, it’s important for everyone that is concerned about property taxes to learn what they can do to make a real difference. You don’t have to be a farmer or rancher to come. This event is open to everyone,” Aaron Fehringer, president of Madison County Farm Bureau said March 31.

Property taxes account for roughly 48 percent, almost half, of the total combined collections of property taxes, state sales taxes, and state income taxes. “We hope to see folks Monday, April 10 at 12:00 p.m. at the White House in Pierce to learn more about the ‘Road to Property Tax Reform,’” Fehringer said.

USDA Looks Into On-Farm Labor

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) will conduct its biannual Agricultural Labor Survey during the second half of April. The survey will collect information about hired labor from more than 440 Iowa farmers and ranchers.

“The beginning of the year is the time when agricultural producers plan out the rest of their growing seasons and is a great time to assess on-farm labor needs,” said Greg Thessen, Director of the NASS Upper Midwest Region. “The data that farm operators provide through NASS’s Agricultural Labor Survey helps federal policymakers base labor policies on accurate information.”

USDA and the U.S. Department of Labor will use statistics gathered in the Agricultural Labor Survey to establish minimum wage rates for agricultural workers, administer farm labor recruitment and placement service programs, and assist legislators in determining labor policies.

In the survey, NASS asks participants to answer a variety of questions about hired farm labor on their operations, including total number of hired farm workers, the average hours worked, and wage rates paid for the weeks of January 8-14 and April 9-15. For their convenience, survey participants have the option to respond online.

“By asking about two separate time periods each of the two times we collect data during the year, we are able to publish quarterly data and capture seasonal variation,” said Thessen. “This approach helps us ensure that anyone using our data can conduct more accurate analyses.”

NASS will publish survey results in the May 18 Farm Labor report. This and all NASS reports are available online at

Agriculture Groups Focus on Importance of Immigration Reform in Letter to President

The Agriculture Workforce Coalition (AWC) this week emphasized the importance of immigration reform for America’s farmers and ranchers in a letter sent to President Donald Trump. 70 groups representing a variety of crops grown in every region in the country joined in sending the letter that calls for reforms to ensure that American agriculture has a legal, stable supply of workers—in both the long- and short-term—for all types of producers.

“[T]he economic health of food and fiber producers, and the rural communities in which they live, is threatened by the lack of a reliable, stable and legal workforce. Our farmers face growing shortages of legally authorized and experienced workers each year,” the groups state. “This shortage of labor negatively impacts our economic competitiveness, local economies and jobs. Reforms are necessary to address the agricultural labor shortage.”

The AWC points out that the labor shortage threatens jobs far beyond the farm. Indeed, each farmworker engaged in labor-intensive crop or livestock production supports two to three other jobs off farm, including those with transportation providers, input suppliers, processors and retailers.

“Many of those American jobs would be lost if access to agriculture’s current workforce is jeopardized without providing a mechanism for future legal workers,” the groups say.

The letter continues, “we support strengthening our border, and we believe to do so we must also relieve pressure on the border by providing a lawful path for foreign workers to enter the U.S. on a nonimmigrant basis.”

The groups point out the only current guest worker program available, the H-2A visa program, is not only cumbersome and dysfunctional but only allows for temporary or seasonal workers. Therefore, it cannot be used by farmers—such as those in dairy, livestock and mushrooms, among others—who have year-round need for workers.

“We can and must do better for our economy and country by modernizing our immigration system to include work eligibility for our existing workforce and farmer-friendly programs to provide for future legal guest workers,” the letter concludes. “Done properly, reform will deter illegal immigration, protect and complement our U.S. workforce, better respond to changing economic and demographic needs, and generate greater productivity and economic activity.”

Keeping Your Herd STD Free

April is Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Awareness month, and cattle should not be left out of the conversation. Trichomoniasis, or trich, is a costly STD that can quickly spread during breeding season, reducing your calf crop by more than 50 percent.

There is currently no approved treatment for trich, and with such a volatile beef market, it’s a disease beef producers can’t afford to ignore. The reasons behind the harsh impact trich has on beef herds is threefold:
-    There is a reduced calf crop of up to 50 percent due to early embryonic loss or abortion.
-    Lighter weaning weight resulting from delayed conception.
-    Infected cattle must be culled and replaced, thereby losing the herd’s genetic improvement.

Knowing the trich status of the bull battery is essential in trich-prone areas. Before bull turnout, ask the all-important question: has trich been introduced into the herd? According to Boehringer Ingelheim senior professional services veterinarian Dr. John Davidson, disease surveillance is the best method to detect the presence of the venereal pathogen in the herd. Ideally, trich tests should be performed during the bull breeding soundness examination before turnout and also after breeding is complete.

Neighboring herds can also be a source of spreading the disease, especially in herds that utilize open-range grazing. “Stay in touch with neighbors to learn if trich has been identified or tested for in their herds. In the same way, be a good neighbor yourself and talk to your local veterinarian about testing your herd for trich very soon,” Dr. Davidson recommends. To know if your herd is at a higher risk level, visit, which indicates which states are commonly impacted by trich, as well as your state’s Animal Health Agency. Ranchers with little to no understanding of trich are 3.3 times more likely to have an infected bull. Dr. Davidson strongly suggests producers visit to up their knowledge on the disease.

While there is no approved treatment for trich, there is currently one vaccine available that has been proven to reduce the shedding of T. foetus, the disease causing organism – TrichGuard®. A 1992 study compared pregnancy and calving rates between beef heifers vaccinated with TRICHGUARD and control heifers after heifers were exposed to T. foetus-infected bulls and intravaginally inoculated with 10 million T. foetus organisms. Vaccinated heifers delivered twice the number of calves – 61 percent versus 31 percent – compared to non-vaccinated control heifers.

Reproductive health of the herd shouldn't be an avoided conversation, and trich should be managed the other 11 months of the year, too. Take control today and put management practices in place to avoid a trich wreck.

Ag Groups Reiterate Call for Rulemaking Reform

Encouraging continued bipartisan negotiations on meaningful regulatory reform legislation, the American Farm Bureau Federation and 47 other agricultural organizations again pledged their readiness to work with lawmakers on much-needed improvements to the rulemaking process.                                                                                                                       

In a letter to Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Ranking Member Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), the groups reiterated key principles for crafting a regulatory reform measure: greater transparency, the use of sound science, greater sensitivity to costs and benefits, strengthened federalism with state partners, a stronger  public right to know, and accountability for agencies’ use of economic and scientific data.

Too often that process falls short, leaving those most affected by the regulation in the dark, from proposal to implementation.

“When an agency spends months or years working on a proposal, it should provide affected stakeholders – and its co-regulators in the states – sufficient time to examine, evaluate and respond to its proposal,” they said.

And when a rule has an impact that runs deep and wide, like EPA’s Waters of the U.S. rule, the agency must do its utmost to let stakeholders know how greatly they will be affected, according to the groups. The agency’s energy should not be directed toward lobbying the public through social media in favor of its own proposal, which EPA did with WOTUS.

The agricultural organizations also took issue with recent correspondence urging the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee to oppose H.R. 5, a regulatory reform bill strongly supported by farmers and ranchers. The groups opposing H.R. 5 said it would jeopardize the safety of the U.S. food supply.

Unlike the groups that sent the opposition letter, the people and entities represented by AFBF and the other signing agricultural organizations, “have a vital, personal stake in assuring the safety and affordability of the food we put on America’s tables. They care about what they produce, what they sell, and what they and their neighbors eat. They have not encouraged, do not support and would not advocate for legislation or a rulemaking process that betrays what they do for a living,” the agricultural groups asserted.

ASA Welcomes EPA Chlorpyrifos Decision

The American Soybean Association (ASA) welcomed news yesterday from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that the agency would deny a petition to remove the crop protection tool chlorpyrifos from the market. ASA President and Roseville, Ill., soybean farmer Ron Moore issued a statement highlighting the science-based nature of EPA’s action and calling on EPA to continue on such a path when reviewing future traits.

"Soybean farmers have long maintained that to have a functioning regulatory system, such decisions have to be based on science, and can't be based only on perception. Today's steps taken by EPA are positive ones in the long term effort toward a more science based system. The denial of the activist petition on chlorpyrifos came on the heels of statements from academia, farmers and consumers alike, all bearing out the safety of this product when used correctly and in accordance with the manufacturer’s label. Clearly there is a valuable and necessary role for EPA and other federal regulators in ensuring that products in the marketplace are safe, and it’s important that all parties recognize moving forward that those decisions must be made only on concrete scientific data.”


            From planting decisions to monitoring crop performance throughout the growing season, farmers depend heavily on their agronomic support team to help maximize their success.

            The DEKALB®, Asgrow® and Deltapine® brands are proud to launch and support “National Agronomy Week”, an annual observance to promote appreciation for the invaluable support provided by agronomists, seed dealers and crop consultants. This season, Agronomy Week will be celebrated April 3-7 and will continue to be observed the first Monday through Friday of April in years to come.

            “Agronomic experts with various affiliations and expertise play an integral role in the success of our customers, and we want to bring added attention to the important work they do,” said Jesse Hamonic, DEKALB Asgrow Deltapine brand lead. “We’re very proud to help spotlight the expertise and service these ag professionals provide for American farmers, regardless of seed brand.”

Hamonic indicated that spring is the perfect time to observe Agronomy Week, because that’s when agronomic support teams are focused on helping farmers kick off the planting season. Then, they continue that momentum with guidance all season long to help farmers finish strong at harvest.

            During Agronomy Week, farmers can give their agronomic team a “shout-out” at All shout-out participants will automatically be entered into the Agronomy Week Giveaway Sweepstakes, with one farmer and three members of his agronomic support team winning a racing weekend grand prize. Farmers also can recognize their agronomic professionals and enter the contest via Facebook and Twitter using #AgronomyWeek and #contest.

            The DEKALB, Asgrow and Deltapine brands are giving their own shout-out to these integral members of the farming community via a digital video campaign featuring NASCAR driver Clint Bowyer. “Farming and racing have one important thing in common,” Hamonic noted. “Getting off to a fast start helps lead to a successful harvest or victory at the finish line.”

            The brands hope that Agronomy Week becomes a strong tradition within the ag industry, to highlight the importance of agronomic support and the role of these professionals on farms across the country.

FMC Corporation Announces Acquisition of Significant Portion of DuPont's Crop Protection Business; Simultaneous Sale of Health and Nutrition to DuPont

FMC Corporation (NYSE: FMC) and DuPont (NYSE: DD) today announced the signing of a definitive agreement for FMC to acquire the portion of DuPont's Crop Protection business it must divest to comply with the European Commission ruling related to its merger with The Dow Chemical Company.  Additionally, DuPont will acquire FMC Health and Nutrition and receive $1.2 billion in cash.  FMC will acquire DuPont's global chewing pest insecticide portfolio, its global cereal broadleaf herbicides, and a substantial portion of DuPont's global crop protection R&D capabilities.  In 2017, FMC expects this acquired business will generate approximately $1.5 billion in revenue and $475 million of EBITDA.2

After closing of the acquisition, FMC Agricultural Solutions will become the fifth largest crop protection chemical company in the world by revenue, with estimated annual revenue of approximately $3.8 billion.

 "This is a significant step forward for FMC, and for our Agricultural Solutions business in particular," said Pierre Brondeau, FMC president, CEO and chairman.  "The combination of market-leading products from DuPont's crop protection portfolio and its world-class R&D capabilities will transform our Agricultural Solutions business into a tier-one ag technology company.

"The crop protection industry is undergoing significant change, as evidenced by the consolidation currently underway.  To continue to meet the demands of our customers, FMC needs to provide more options to growers looking for innovative solutions that protect crops and increase yields.  By combining these high-value products and R&D capabilities with our own product portfolio, pipeline and formulation expertise, FMC will be able to serve our customers better and accelerate the pace at which we bring new solutions to the market," said Brondeau.  "The concurrent sale of our Health and Nutrition business will allow us to maintain our strong balance sheet and ensure we can continue to invest in growing both our Agricultural Solutions and Lithium segments."

The Crop Protection Business Being Acquired

The acquired portion of DuPont's crop protection business includes an industry-leading selective insecticide portfolio consisting of Rynaxypyr®, Cyazypyr® and Indoxacarb.  The first two of these products have full patent protection over their respective active ingredients, and FMC expects these products will generate over $1 billion in 2017 revenue.  These selective insecticides are highly complementary to FMC's existing broad spectrum insecticide portfolio.

The acquired portfolio also includes DuPont's global cereal broadleaf herbicides, consisting of nine active ingredients and multiple formulated products.  This herbicide portfolio comes with strong, recognized brands and DuPont's proprietary PrecisionPac® technology.  These products bring significant diversification to FMC's crop exposure in herbicides, as well as increasing the balance of pre-emergent and post-emergent applications in FMC's portfolio.

The geographic spread of the revenue in this portfolio will result in a significant increase in FMC's presence in Asia and Europe.  Following the acquisition, FMC's crop protection revenue will be almost equally spread across all four major regions – North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia.

The underlying intellectual property related to the acquired products, including patents, registrations and data packages, will be transferred to FMC.  FMC will acquire a global manufacturing network to fully support these products, including four active ingredient manufacturing facilities and 10 regional formulation plants.

The acquisition will bring DuPont's world-class discovery and development organization, including its Delaware crop protection research headquarters, 14 regional development labs and related regulatory capabilities.  This organization includes a pipeline of 15 synthetic active ingredients currently in development, covering insecticides, herbicides and fungicides, and an extensive library of 1.8 million synthetic compounds.  The majority of DuPont's crop protection research workforce will transfer to FMC as part of this transaction.

FMC Health and Nutrition Divestiture

FMC Health and Nutrition will become part of DuPont's Nutrition & Health segment.

"FMC Health and Nutrition is a highly profitable business with leading positions across the vast majority of its portfolio, deep applications knowledge and an extensive global network of laboratories and manufacturing facilities.  It is a very complementary fit with DuPont's current portfolio.  We are confident it will thrive under DuPont's leadership and will contribute to their successful Nutrition & Health business," said Brondeau.

Additional Information

The transaction is subject to the closing of the Dow and DuPont merger, as well as customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals.  Closing is expected to occur in the fourth quarter of 2017.  FMC expects this transaction to be immediately accretive to adjusted earnings per share, and will give updated guidance for 2017 at its earnings call scheduled for May 2, 2017. 

Thursday March 30 Ag News


Nebraska inventory of all hogs and pigs on March 1, 2017, was 3.35 million head, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. This was down 1 percent from March 1, 2016, and down 1 percent from December 1, 2016.

Breeding hog inventory, at 415,000 head, was down 1 percent from March 1, 2016, and unchanged from last quarter. Market hog inventory, at 2.94 million head, was down 2 percent from last year, and down 2 percent from last quarter.

The December 2016 - February 2017 Nebraska pig crop, at 2.08 million head, was up 5 percent from 2016. Sows farrowed during the period totaled 180,000 head, up 3 percent from last year. The average pigs saved per litter was 11.55 for the December - February period, compared to 11.30 last year.

Nebraska hog producers intend to farrow 180,000 sows during the March – May 2017 quarter, down 3 percent from the actual farrowings during the same period a year ago. Intended farrowings for June – August 2017 are 180,000 sows, also down 3 percent from the actual farrowings during the same period the previous year.


On March 1, 2017, there were 21.8 million hogs and pigs on Iowa farms, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Hogs and Pigs report. The March 1 inventory was down 3 percent from the previous quarter but up 8 percent from the previous year.

The December 2016-February 2017 quarterly pig crop was 5.70 million head, down 7 percent from the previous quarter but 7 percent above last year. A total of 530,000 sows farrowed during this quarter. The average pigs saved per litter was 10.75 for the December-February quarter, down from 10.90 the previous quarter.

As of March 1, producers planned to farrow 520,000 sows and gilts in the March-May quarter and 525,000 head during the June-August quarter.

United States Hog Inventory Up 4 Percent

United States inventory of all hogs and pigs on March 1, 2017 was 71.0 million head. This was up 4 percent from March 1, 2016, but down 1 percent from December 1, 2016.  Breeding inventory, at 6.07 million head, was up 1 percent from last year, but down slightly from the previous quarter.  Market hog inventory, at 64.9 million head, was up 4 percent from last year, but down 1 percent from last quarter.

The December 2016-February 2017 pig crop, at 31.4 million head, was up 4 percent from 2016. Sows farrowing during this period totaled 3.01 million head, up 3 percent from 2016. The sows farrowed during this quarter represented 49 percent of the breeding herd. The average pigs saved per litter was a record high of 10.43 for the December-February period, compared to 10.30 last year. Pigs saved per litter by size of operation ranged from 8.00 for operations with 1-99 hogs and pigs to 10.50 for operations with more than 5,000 hogs and pigs.

United States hog producers intend to have 3.01 million sows farrow during the March-May 2017 quarter, up 1 percent from the actual farrowings during the same period in 2016, and up 5 percent from 2015. Intended farrowings for June-August 2017, at 3.05 million sows, are down slightly from 2016, but up 1 percent from 2015.

The total number of hogs under contract owned by operations with over 5,000 head, but raised by contractees, accounted for 48 percent of the total United States hog inventory, the same as previous year.


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Attention growers of irrigated alfalfa.  Have you watered your alfalfa yet?  With low soil moisture levels in many areas, now might be a good time to start.

                It seems silly to irrigate alfalfa before first cutting, doesn't it.  But look at your soil moisture profile.  If it's dry, you may need to.  In fact, early spring often is the best time to irrigate alfalfa.  After all, it's about the only time you can actually build a reserve water source for summer use.

               The biggest advantage of reserve water comes after each mid-summer cutting.  Alfalfa can develop roots that will use water more than eight feet deep.  But it will only do this when surface moisture does not meet crop needs and moisture is available all the way down to those depths.  If you have deep roots and deep reserve moisture, though, it will make your summer irrigating much easier by providing extra moisture when plants use as much as half an inch per day.  Unfortunately, typical shallow watering during summer encourages only shallow rooting.            

               Shallow summer watering causes other problems.  Alfalfa roots need oxygen in the soil if plants are to regrow rapidly.  Watering right after cutting suffocates roots, slowing regrowth.  Immediate watering also stimulates shallow rooted or sprouting weeds, especially at a time when alfalfa plants are not very competitive.  Both problems are reduced when reserve water is available for use by deep alfalfa roots.  Then the top several inches of soil can remain dry for a couple days until alfalfa regrowth is well underway.

               So, improve your alfalfa irrigation by watering early, with a goal of at least six feet of soil at field capacity at first cutting.

 Smith and Yoho Introduce Resolution Urging Establishment of Trade Agreement with Japan

Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) and Congressman Ted Yoho (R-FL) introduced H. Res. 236 today, a resolution urging the Trump administration to start the process of establishing a trade agreement with Japan.

“We cannot afford to miss this opportunity to reduce trade barriers with Japan, especially for U.S. agriculture producers,” Congressman Smith said.  “We have already seen the results of U.S. inaction on trade.  For example, Japan currently levies a nearly 40 percent tariff on U.S. beef, while Australia, which established its own agreement with Japan, only pays a 28 percent tariff on the same export.  Strong trade policy strengthens our relationships around the world, and doing so with Japan, one of our allies and top trading partners, is a logical place to start.”

“As the United States’ fourth largest trading partner in 2016, pursuing a bilateral trade agreement with Japan would only continue to strengthen the U.S.-Japan relationship,” Congressman Yoho said.  “This trade agreement will provide additional opportunities for the free flow of goods between our two nations.  Additionally, a U.S.-Japan bilateral trade agreement will signify that the United States is not only willing, but intends to stand by one of its most important and trusted allies and remain engaged in the Asia-Pacific region.”

“America’s pork producers thank Rep. Smith and Rep. Yoho for introducing a resolution urging the Trump administration to pursue a free trade agreement with Japan,” said National Pork Producers Council President Ken Maschhoff, a pork producer from Carlyle, Illinois.  “An FTA with Japan, the U.S. pork industry’s number one export market, would exponentially expand our exports and create American jobs.  Without one, though, we could lose market share to competitors such as the European Union.”

“Nebraska currently has a record inventory of beef, and we know our red meat exports are in high demand overseas.  Japan is our leading export market, and we greatly appreciate Rep. Smith’s and Rep. Yoho’s commitment to helping expand access for U.S. beef.  When producers are able to trade, everyone is rewarded, from the pasture down to Main Street,” said Troy Stowater, Nebraska Cattlemen President.

Fischer Meets with U.S. Trade Representative Nominee Robert Lighthizer

U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, today released the following statement after meeting with Robert Lighthizer, President Trump’s nominee for U.S. Trade Representative:

“During our productive conversation today, Mr. Lighthizer said that he is committed to ensuring any future U.S. trade deals or renegotiations will not harm Nebraska agriculture. He also shared one of his main objectives, if confirmed as U.S. Trade Representative: opening new markets for agriculture producers. I was pleased to hear he intends to be an advocate for the many families in our state who work hard to feed a growing and hungry world.”

According to the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, in 2016, Nebraska was the highest selling beef exporter with more than one billion dollars in exports. In 2015, Nebraska’s $6.4 billion in agricultural exports translated into $7.8 billion in additional economic activity.

Iowa Corn Farmers Take Their Priorities Issues to the State Capitol

More than 75 Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA) members filled the State Capitol rotunda for “Iowa Corn Day on the Hill” lobbying event. This delegation included ICGA Board of Directors, county leaders and student FFA members from across the state.

“Iowa corn farmers from across the state are here in Des Moines today to share our policy priorities with our state legislators,” said Iowa Corn Growers Association President Kurt Hora, a farmer from Washington. “Our ‘Day on the Hill’ event facilitates those one-on-one interactions where we are able to discuss and promote ICGA priorities. It’s the dedication and engagement of our members which allows ICGA to have a strong, unified voice at the State Capitol.”

ICGA's “Day of the Hill” efforts focused on three of the organization’s top state legislative priorities for this session, including:
·         Taxation: State coupling of the federal section 179 small business expensing provision
·         Conservation: Long-term increased funding for the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy
·         Ethanol: Obtaining funding for Iowa's biofuels infrastructure cost-share program (RFIP)

“Our highest priority is full state coupling of the federal Section 179 for small business expensing. This allows Iowa farm families to manage their cash flow and reinvest in their businesses which supports Iowa’s rural economy. A very close second for us is water quality funding. We will continue to work with our state legislators and the Governor to support any legislation to create long-term and consistent water quality initiatives in our state.” Hora added.

The next step in the policy development process will be the roundtable meetings in early July and the Grassroots Summit in August. These meetings allow ICGA members to gather together and discuss policy directions for the upcoming year.

Harmon Named Interim Associate Dean for Extension in ISU’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Jay Harmon has been named the interim associate dean for extension and outreach programs and the interim director of Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State University.

Harmon fills the positions held by John Lawrence, who on Monday was named the interim vice president of Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. Lawrence succeeds Cathann Kress, who is leaving Iowa State for a new position at The Ohio State University.

Harmon, a professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering and extension livestock housing specialist, will assume the his new responsibilities effective April 1. Lawrence becomes acting vice president on March 31, and will assume his interim role on April 29.

“We are fortunate to have a leader of Dr. Harmon’s caliber to continue the extraordinary commitment to science-based information and engagement we are known for in our agricultural and natural resources extension programs,” said Wendy Wintersteen, Endowed Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “Dr. Harmon has a remarkable record of service to the state of Iowa, and is nationally recognized for his expertise in livestock production systems.”

Harmon joined ISU’s agricultural and biosystems engineering faculty in 1993. His extension duties have focused on improved profitability and sustainability through a systems approach to livestock housing, management of ventilation and heating systems for swine housing and environmental modifications that improve swine conception rates. He has advised more than 200 producers on making the best decisions on siting new swine facilities by running an ISU-developed odor assessment model. He leads the Agricultural Systems and Environmental Stewardship Extension Group and, from 2014 to 2015, he served as interim director of ISU’s Iowa Pork Industry Center.

Harmon teaches courses on subjects that include agricultural engineering design, swine environmental management and ventilation of agricultural facilities. He conducts applied research on efficient and sustainable swine production systems.

Harmon is professor-in-charge of the Midwest Plan Service at Iowa State, which produces agricultural engineering publications and materials in collaboration with 12 Midwestern universities. In 2015, he was nationally recognized as the recipient of the G.B. Gunlogson Countryside Engineering Award for exemplary service to animal production systems from the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers. He is a Fellow of ASABE.

Harmon earned his bachelor’s degree at Purdue University, his master’s at University of Minnesota and his doctorate at Virginia Tech, all in agricultural engineering.

EPA Administrator to Cattlemen: “You Care Deeply About Clean, Healthy Environment”

U.S. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt addressed cattlemen and women at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association annual legislative conference today in Washington D.C. In his remarks, Administrator Pruitt said he is working to build a partnership between the agency and the men and women who serve as the stewards of our natural resources.

“In Oklahoma, I saw first-hand that cattlemen care deeply about a clean and healthy environment, because their livelihoods depend on it,” said Pruitt. “Looking forward, we will build a partnership with landowners across the country and create commonsense rules that protect our environment.”

Craig Uden, NCBA president, said he appreciated the candid comments and looks forward to working in collaboration the Administration.

“After eight years of aggressive regulatory overreach, it is reassuring to have an Administrator that wants to work with our nation’s farmers and ranchers,” said Uden. “We are the front line in terms of environmental stewardship. A one-size-fits-all approach to environmental conservation simply doesn’t work, and we look forward to working with Administrator Pruitt to create an environment that incentivizes voluntary conservation and provides the flexibility needed for cattlemen and women to care for their land.”

Pruitt’s appearance at NCBA’s annual legislative conference caps off an action-packed three days during which hundreds of cattle and beef producers stormed Capitol Hill, met with their Senators and Members of Congress about the issues that affect them, got updates from Administration officials, and helped announce the re-establishment of the Congressional Beef Caucus at a Capitol Hill news conference.

USDA Offers Renewal Options for Expiring Conservation Stewardship Program Contracts

Acting Deputy Agriculture Secretary Michael Young today announced that a contract renewal sign-up is underway for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), USDA’s largest working lands conservation program with more than 80 million acres enrolled. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) made several updates to the popular program last fall.  These changes help producers better evaluate conservation options that benefit their operations while improving the health and productivity of private and Tribal working lands.

“The changes made to CSP are providing even greater opportunities for stewardship-minded producers across the country to participate and bring their conservation efforts to a higher level,” said Young.  “The new tools and methods for evaluating operations, expanded options to address the producer’s conservation and business objectives, and the focus on local resource priorities have resulted in a 30 percent increase in applications for this widely popular program.”

Participants with existing CSP contracts that will expire on Dec. 31 can access the benefits of the recent program changes through an option to renew their contracts for an additional five years if they agree to adopt additional activities to achieve higher levels of conservation on their lands.  Applications to renew expiring contracts are due by May 5.

Through CSP, agricultural producers and forest landowners earn payments for actively managing, maintaining, and expanding conservation activities like cover crops, buffer strips, pollinator and beneficial insect habitat, and soil health building activities – all while maintaining active agricultural production on their land. Benefits to producers can include:
-    Improved cattle gains per acre;
-    Increased crop yields;
-    Decreased inputs;
-    Wildlife population improvements; and
-    Better resilience to weather extremes.

“CSP is for working lands,” said Young. “Thousands of people have made the choice to voluntarily enroll in the program because it helps them enhance natural resources and improve their business operation.”

Producers interested in contract renewals or applying for CSP for the first time should visit or contact their local USDA service center to learn more.

IGC Raises Grain Output Forecast

The International Grains Council Thursday said it still expects global grain production to top 2.1 billion metric tons, as it raised its 2016-17 production forecast.

The IGC also released its first full set of projections for 2017-18, saying it expects a 56 million ton drop in production for next year. When accounting for carryover stocks, consumption, and trade, that adjusts to a 29 million ton inventory drop on-the-year.

The IGC increased its monthly output forecast for 2016-17 to 2,106 million tons from 2,102 million tons, a 5% increase year-on-year and the largest production figure on record.

Forecasts of huge harvests across several grain-producing regions has seen the IGC raise its production forecast in 10 of its last 11 reports.

Of the 34 million ton production increase on the last forecast, the IGC expects wheat and maize to account for 16 million tons and 15 million tons, respectively.

The IGC upgraded its corn production forecast to 1,053 billion tons from 1,049 million tons and its soybean forecast by 5 million tons to 341 million tons. It raised its wheat production forecast by 2 million tons to 754 million tons, also increasing its rice forecast by 1 million to 483 million tons.

Strong soy bean production in the southern hemisphere is one of the drivers behind the IGC's production forecast hike.

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 5 million tons to 513 million tons.

The body said it expects falls for wheat, maize, and sorghum to drive the 2017-18 downtick.

Farm Groups Support Estate Tax Repeal

The American Soybean Association (ASA) was among 32 agricultural groups that signed onto a letter to House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) and Ranking Member Richard Neal (D-MA) indicating support for full repeal of the estate tax. The groups urged that the estate tax repeal be included in any tax reform package passed this year. In addition, the letter expresses support for maintaining the stepped up basis provisions in current law, which limit the amount of property value appreciation that can be subjected to capital gains taxes when inherited assets are sold.

Comprehensive tax reform is a top priority for Congress in 2017 and the House intends to move forward on a package in the coming months. ASA will also be weighing in with policymakers on other tax issues that impact soybean farmers, such as continuation of the cash accounting method for farm operations, an option to allow full and immediate expensing of capital investments, maintaining 1031 like-kind exchanges and extension and restructuring of the biodiesel tax credit.

Farm Bureau Cheers Perdue Committee Vote, Urges Full Senate to Confirm

The following may be attributed to Zippy Duvall, President, American Farm Bureau Federation: “Today’s vote by the Senate Agriculture committee to move Sonny Perdue’s nomination to the full Senate for confirmation recognizes what we’ve said all along: Gov. Perdue is supremely qualified to run the USDA. He knows agriculture inside out, from veterinary medicine to row crops to the business of handling and exporting the food Americans grow for the world. He is a real-world farmer who wants to build on farmers’ successful efforts to sustain and conserve the natural resources that surround us. He understands the great good – and serious harm – government can do to farmers and ranchers. We could not be happier or prouder to support Sonny Perdue for confirmation by the full Senate.”

Farm Bureau Praises EPA Chlorpyrifos Decision

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall today applauded Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt for rejecting a petition that would have eliminated the use of chlorpyrifos in agriculture.

“Farmers nationwide depend on chlorpyrifos in managing their crops,” Duvall said. “It is widely and safely used for a wide range of crops, including alfalfa, citrus, vegetables, soybeans, almonds and others. It also protects hundreds of thousands of acres of grass seed production, where it controls aphids, cutworms and other pests. As USDA has noted, chlorpyrifos has been used as a part of environmentally friendly IPM (integrated pest management) programs for nearly 50 years.”

Duvall noted that the chemical is still subject to registration review and any concerns about its safe use can be addressed in that process.

AFBF earlier filed comments with EPA expressing concern over the agency’s approach. The agency had apparently relied on epidemiological studies even though researchers had failed to share raw data with the agency. EPA’s own Scientific Advisory Panel, as well as USDA, had expressed caution about how the agency used the epidemiological study.

Statement by Steve Nelson, President, Regarding EPA Denying Petition to Ban Widely Used Crop Protection Product

“Last night’s action by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt to deny a proposed ban on chlorpyrifos, a widely used agricultural crop protection product, is a sign that we are moving in the right direction with this administration when it comes to fixing the problematic culture of an agency that has promoted regulation first instead of science and common sense.”

“From the beginning of this process it was clear there were serious scientific concerns about the validity of trying to take this tool away from farmers, yet those concerns were ignored previously by the EPA. Not only did agriculture groups like Nebraska Farm Bureau raise concerns, but those concerns were shared by USDA and the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture.”

“Pruitt’s decision is clearly a ‘win’ for Nebraska and American agriculture.”

In October 2015, EPA proposed to revoke all food residue tolerances for chlorpyrifos, an active ingredient in insecticides. The proposal was issued in response to a petition from the Natural Resources Defense Council and Pesticide Action Network North America. Chlorpyrifos is commonly referred to as Lorsban and Dursban and primarily used in Nebraska to control insect damage to soybeans and alfalfa.

NCGA Applauds EPA Decision on Chlorpyrofis

The National Corn Growers Association today applauded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for dismissing a petition related to the crop protection tool chlorpyrifos.

“We are pleased with the EPA’s decision today to deny a petition against chlorpyrifos and return to the standard pesticides review process as called for under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA),” said NCGA President Wesley Spurlock. “The overwhelming scientific consensus is that chlorpyrifos is safe for use by farmers, and we are confident that the pesticide review process will reaffirm this.”

In 2015, the Obama administration proposed banning chlorpyrifos, but the decision had not been finalized. Last August, a federal court ordered the EPA to decide by March 31 whether to ban the pesticide. NCGA and its farmer-members have submitted numerous comments to the EPA about this issue.

“NCGA supports transparent, science-based oversight of pesticides. We are encouraged by the EPA’s decision because it signals a return to these standards and procedures,” said Spurlock.

“Effective pest management requires access to a variety of treatments, including chlorpyrifos. If we become too reliant on a single tool, it can start to lose its effectiveness, and that’s how resistance develops. Farmers need access to many crop protection tools to ensure all tools can remain effective.”

Carl's Jr. & Hardee's Introduce 'No Antibiotics Ever' Chicken

Carl's Jr. and Hardee's, the sister quick service restaurant chains, added to its all-natural arsenal with the introduction of the all-natural, charbroiled chicken fillet with no antibiotics ever. In addition to featuring no antibiotics ever, the new chicken has no artificial ingredients, no preservatives, and is now available on all of the chains' current charbroiled chicken sandwiches at participating restaurants nationwide.

Over the past several years, the restaurants have become the first major QSR chains to introduce an all-natural, grass-fed beef burger with no added hormones, antibiotics, or steroids; as well as the industry's first All-Natural Charbroiled Turkey Burger.

"While the public's desire for decadent burgers isn't going away anytime soon, more and more consumers are looking for 'cleaner' and more all-natural, menu options, too," said Brad Haley, chief marketing officer for Carl's Jr. and Hardee's. "A few years ago, we became the first major fast food chains to offer all-natural, grass-fed beef burgers with no added hormones, steroids or antibiotics, and we're still the only ones doing so today. So, we 'naturally' wanted to try to do something similar with our charbroiled, chicken breast fillet sandwiches, but we had set the bar pretty high for ourselves with our All-Natural Burger."

Both Carl's Jr. and Hardee's will offer the all-natural, charbroiled chicken fillet with no antibiotics ever on the Charbroiled Chicken Club Sandwich and the Charbroiled BBQ Chicken Sandwich, and Carl's Jr. will also offer its famous Charbroiled Santa Fe Chicken Sandwich topped with a sliced Anaheim chili.

Novozymes and Boehringer Ingelheim announce strategic collaboration in probiotics for poultry hatcheries

Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health and Novozymes today announced a strategic collaboration to develop and commercialize probiotics for global poultry production. The parties will focus on developing products for hatcheries, the facilities where eggs are hatched before the chickens move to grow-out farms. As part of the agreement, Boehringer Ingelheim will market and distribute Novozymes’ FloraMax® probiotic product for the U.S. poultry industry. Boehringer Ingelheim plans on expanding to other markets globally in the coming years.

“Boehringer Ingelheim is continuously exploring new science, products and industry categories, to deliver a powerful range of innovative solutions with a focus on customer needs. Poultry producers are looking for improved ways to deliver on the growing global need for sustainable protein,” said George Heidgerken, Global Head of Livestock at Boehringer Ingelheim. “Collaborating with Novozymes enables Boehringer Ingelheim to enter an exciting new segment of products to provide alternatives in an environment that is increasingly challenged by antibiotic bans.”

Probiotics are naturally occurring, live microbes that can improve the gut flora of poultry and other animals. Robust gut flora can significantly improve animal health, thereby providing a natural alternative to antibiotic growth promoters. Rising global consumption of meat, and legislative and consumer-driven curbs on the use of antibiotics as growth promoters in animal farming have increased demand for alternatives such as probiotics.

“We are excited to collaborate with Boehringer Ingelheim to develop a range of probiotic solutions for poultry that will improve sustainability in the industry”, said Susanne Palsten Buchardt, Vice President, Animal Health & Nutrition at Novozymes. “The collaboration is an important step in solidifying Novozymes’ capabilities within probiotics and helping poultry producers deliver greater quantities of safe, affordable protein. Utilizing Boehringer Ingelheim’s close relationships with large-scale producers, Novozymes will gain valuable access to new distribution channels and customers, many of which are seeking sustainable alternatives to antibiotic growth promoters”.

India Remains World's Largest Milk Producer

India is the largest milk-producing country in the world. Records from the USDA show that the country is trailed by the United States, which is the second largest producer, in milk production by a large margin.

India is unique among the major milk producers because more than half of its production comes from water buffalo, rather than cattle. Its dairy herd, also the largest in the world, has the biggest herds of both dairy cattle and water buffalo.

Since 1980, production has grown consistently at an average of 4.5 percent per year. The rate of growth between water buffalo and cow's milk has also been quite similar at 4.6 and 4.5 percent, respectively.

In 2016, total production reached 154 billion tons compared with 96 billion produced in the United States.

India surpassed the United States as the largest dairy producer in 1997, when both countries produced roughly 70 billion tons, each.

Wednesday March 29 Ag News

Open House for the Lower Elkhorn River Basin Water Quality Management Plan

Landowners and residents of the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) are invited to attend an Open House to learn about the Lower Elkhorn River Basin Water Quality Management Plan (the Plan). The Plan covers the lower portion of the Elkhorn River Basin, which is the watershed that created the boundary for the LENRD. The Plan provides a single coordinated strategy to identify water quality threats and needs, prioritize watersheds and areas for improvement, and identify practices and activities appropriate to address the known deficiencies in water quality.

The Open House will be located in the Lifelong Learning Center at Northeast Community College, 601 E Benjamin Ave, Norfolk, from 7:00 to 8:00 pm on April 4, 2017. Representatives from the NRD and NDEQ will be present to discuss the intent of the Plan, key recommendations, and how the Plan will benefit the public as projects are implemented in the future.

LENRD Grant Coordinator, Kristie Olmer, said, “The biggest priority for the LENRD was to address water quality concerns for the Willow Creek Reservoir. The Plan includes specific actions that would need to take place in order to reduce the occurrence of toxic algae blooms at the lake. Other waterbodies considered a priority for additional monitoring include Maskenthine Lake, Maple Creek Lake, and Rock Creek.”

The Plan was funded through a grant received from the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) and the LENRD.

The public is encouraged to visit the LENRD’s website for more information and to view a copy of the full draft plan. Please contact Kristie Olmer at 402-371-7313 or to provide comments or input.


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Roundup Ready alfalfa seed is expensive.  But establishing a new field may not cost as much as you might think.

               With Roundup Ready alfalfa seed costing over seven dollars per pound, maybe it’s time to look for ways to reduce establishment costs.  Fortunately, the seed itself can provide much of that help.

               Research has shown that most growers can reduce seeding rates by fifteen to twenty percent compared to historical seeding rates when planting Roundup Ready alfalfa.  That means if you normally plant fifteen pounds of seed per acre, with Roundup Ready alfalfa you probably can do as well with just twelve pounds per acre.  That can lower your seed cost by more than twenty dollars per acre.

               However, there is a catch.  Isn’t there always a catch?  Fortunately, this is a pretty simple catch.  You see, in order to get good stands when using lower seeding rates of Roundup Ready alfalfa, you need to do a good job of following establishment recommendations.

               That starts with preparing a proper, firm seedbed.  Apply fertilizer and lime as needed according to soil test recommendations.  Use a correctly adjusted drill or seeder that will place the right amount of seed at the right depth.  Plant on time.  And, of course, spray Roundup before weeds and alfalfa seedlings get more than about three inches tall.

               That’s all there is to it.  If you take care of your part of this process, then the special seed coating, the excellent weed control with no crop injury that you get with Roundup, and a little cooperation from Mother Nature, will give you good stands from less seed.

               Roundup Ready alfalfa seed is expensive, but you can keep costs down by using less seed and better establishment practices.


 Former California Secretary of Agriculture Arthur Gen "A.G." Kawamura will discuss water and global resources during the next Heuermann Lecture at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The free lecture, sponsored by the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, will be at 4:30 p.m. April 12 at the Nebraska Innovation Campus Conference Center, 2021 Transformation Drive.

A third-generation fruit and vegetable grower and shipper from Orange County, Kawamura was California's secretary of agriculture from 2003 to 2010. He is co-chair of Solutions from the Land, a project that is developing a sustainable roadmap for 21st century agricultural systems. He is also a national steering committee member of "25x25" a renewable energy coalition of farm, forest, conservation and environmental leaders focused on the multiple benefits and contributions that can be delivered from the agricultural and rural sectors of America.

As a progressive urban farmer, Kawamura has a lifetime of experience working within the shrinking rural and urban boundaries of southern California. He has stayed involved in policy areas of education, hunger and nutrition. Through his company, Orange County Produce, Kawamura is engaged in building an interactive urban agricultural exhibit at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, California.

The lecture will be held in conjunction with the eighth annual Water for Food Global Conference, which will examine the work being done to ensure water for food security from local to global scales. The international conference is organized by the Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute at the University of Nebraska.

The Heuermann Lecture series focuses on providing and sustaining enough food, natural resources and renewable energy for the world's people, along with securing the sustainability of rural communities, where the vital work of producing food and renewable energy occurs. The lectures are funded by a gift from B. Keith and Norma Heuermann of Phillips. The Heuermanns are longtime university supporters with a strong commitment to Nebraska's production agriculture, natural resources, rural areas and people. 

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

ICON Support Return of Cool Labeling in lieu of recent Investigations into JBS

The Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska (ICON) organization has been closely watching the investigations being conducted in Brazil which have uncovered corruption in the ranks of JBS and BRF.

Brazilian authorities suspect bribery involving health inspectors in packing plants operated by the two meat-packing giants. Practices which include adding cardboard and potatoes to products and the use of acids to mask products which may be rotten so they can receive the Brazilian stamp of approval.

Several countries from around the world have banned Brazilian products and as a result, there has been a drop in exports from the South American country.

The U.S. has not proposed a ban although several consumer groups and farmers and ranchers are favoring this type of action. Newly appointed Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Purdue has commented he would not support a ban because of the backlash from the Brazilians.

ICON supports a ban prohibiting the import of products from JBS and BRF citing public health issues as being more important than trade agreements. ICON joins Nebraska Farmers Union who has the same concerns.

The questionable practices in the Brazilian packing plants also call an alarm to the possible risk of reintroducing Hoof and Mouth Disease in the U.S., which has been nonexistent in the U.S. since the 1920s.

ICON is concerned a recent decision to relax regulations on imports of fresh and frozen meat from neighboring countries south of the border close to Brazil, which claim to be free of HMD, may allow the disease into the U.S. market and cause destruction to the U.S. cattle industry.

ICON joins Nebraska Farmers Union in urging Congress to reinstate Country of Origin Labeling for the best interests of the consumer world-wide and also impose a moratorium on Brazilian imports.

Iowa Cattlemen’s Association to Hold 2nd Annual BeefMeets

Iowa cattle producers will convene at four locations across the state in June for the second annual BeefMeets. 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. The four 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 has previously held a 3-day annual convention in Des Moines in December, but feedback from members led the association to launch the regional meetings in 2016.

“The regional format offers a lot of benefits for our members across the state. They are able to participate in the best parts of our convention without traveling a long distance or leaving their operations for several days,” says Matt Deppe, CEO of the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association.

Educational topics this year will focus on the current farm economy. Many farmers are experiencing tough times in this economic downturn, and BeefMeets are designed to help cattle producers weather the storm.

Time has been set aside at each BeefMeet for ICA districts to gather and provide input. “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.”

A tradeshow throughout the day and a “beef social” following the meeting will provide opportunities for networking. Registration includes a complimentary lunch. For more information or to register for BeefMeets, visit

Register Now for AgGateway's Mid-Year Meeting, June 12-15 in Altoona, Iowa

Registration is now open for AgGateway's Mid-Year Meeting, June 12-15 at Prairie Meadows in Altoona, Iowa, just outside of Des Moines. The meeting provides valuable insights and networking for anyone seeking to expand eConnectivity in agriculture - from seasoned AgGateway members to professionals new to the organization. The working meeting provides multiple networking opportunities, as well as many open working group sessions where teams discuss ways to advance their collaborative initiatives.

"The AgGateway teams will discuss advances in grain traceability, interoperability for precision agriculture, efficiencies for the specialty chemical sector, resources for ag retailers, and much more," said AgGateway President and CEO Wendy Smith. "We invite companies to learn and participate. There are huge benefits in the efficient and accurate exchange of information all along the agricultural supply chain."

This year's meeting also features a half-day Ag Retail eConnectivity Forum for senior retail managers and directors. The forum will present information on the value of a company's investment in eConnectivity initiatives, particularly focused on the efficiencies and competitive advantages as retailers, manufacturers and distributors move to seamless electronic data exchange.

AgGateway has again set modest registration fees to encourage maximum participation in collaborative eConnectivity projects. Registration is just $150 for both members and non-members. In addition, those who register by Friday, April 27 will be entered into a drawing to win a special VIP attendee package, including a complimentary hotel room upgrade to a suite. The special hotel rate at Prairie Meadows available until May 22 is $107/night.

More information is available on AgGateway's Mid-Year Meeting webpage, found under "Events" at Explore sponsorship opportunities by reviewing the sponsorship program on the event webpage or email Also find the meeting on Twitter at #AgGateway.

EPA Administrator Pruitt Denies Petition to Ban Widely Used Pesticide

Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt signed an order denying a petition that sought to ban chlorpyrifos, a pesticide crucial to U.S. agriculture.

Chlorpyrifos is the main ingredient in Lorsban, Dow AgroSciences' organophosphate insecticide targeting pests such as soybean aphids, spider mites and corn rootworm.

“We need to provide regulatory certainty to the thousands of American farms that rely on chlorpyrifos, while still protecting human health and the environment,” said EPA Administrator Pruitt. “By reversing the previous Administration’s steps to ban one of the most widely used pesticides in the world, we are returning to using sound science in decision-making – rather than predetermined results.”

“This is a welcome decision grounded in evidence and science,” said Sheryl Kunickis, director of the Office of Pest Management Policy at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). “It means that this important pest management tool will remain available to growers, helping to ensure an abundant and affordable food supply for this nation and the world.  This frees American farmers from significant trade disruptions that could have been caused by an unnecessary, unilateral revocation of chlorpyrifos tolerances in the United States. It is also great news for consumers, who will continue to have access to a full range of both domestic and imported fruits and vegetables. We thank our colleagues at EPA for their hard work.”

In October 2015, under the previous Administration, EPA proposed to revoke all food residue tolerances for chlorpyrifos, an active ingredient in insecticides.  This proposal was issued in response to a petition from the Natural Resources Defense Council and Pesticide Action Network North America. The October 2015 proposal largely relied on certain epidemiological study outcomes, whose application is novel and uncertain, to reach its conclusions.

The public record lays out serious scientific concerns and substantive process gaps in the proposal. Reliable data, overwhelming in both quantity and quality, contradicts the reliance on – and misapplication of – studies to establish the end points and conclusions used to rationalize the proposal.

The USDA disagrees with the methodology used by the previous Administration. Similarly, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture also objected to EPA’s methodology. The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP) also expressed concerns with regard to EPA’s previous reliance on certain data the Agency had used to support its proposal to ban the pesticide.

The FIFRA SAP is a federal advisory committee operating in accordance with the Federal Advisory Committee Act and established under the provisions of FIFRA, as amended by the Food Quality Protection Act of 1996.  It provides scientific advice, information and recommendations to the EPA Administrator on pesticides and pesticide-related issues regarding the impact of regulatory decisions on health and the environment.

Cattlemen Applaud Re-establishment of Congressional Beef Caucus

At a Capitol Hill news conference today, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) applauded the re-establishment of the bipartisan Congressional Beef Caucus. The Beef Caucus will organize and educate Members of Congress and their staff on policy issues that impact America’s cattle and beef producers.

The Congressional Beef Caucus will be co-chaired by U.S. Reps. Henry Cuellar (D-28th District, Texas) and Kevin Yoder (R-3rd District, Kansas,) who joined NCBA at today’s news conference. The Beef Caucus currently stands 35 Members of Congress strong, hailing from 21 different states.

“On behalf of America’s cattlemen and women, I want to thank Congressmen Cuellar, Yoder, and every other Member who has already joined the Congressional Beef Caucus – and I’d encourage every other Member of Congress to join today,” said NCBA President Craig Uden, a fourth-generation cattleman from Nebraska. “From trade to taxes, and from federal lands to the farm bill, there are many issues that affect our ability to help provide the world’s safest and most abundant food supply. The Beef Caucus will help us highlight those issues on Capitol Hill so lawmakers know how those policies affect cattle producers back home in their districts.”

The announcement of the re-establishment of the Beef Caucus comes as hundreds of livestock producers storm Capitol Hill this week as part of NCBA’s and the Public Lands Council’s annual Legislative Conferences. The conferences kicked off on Tuesday, highlighted by a luncheon meeting with U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. Today, NCBA members will fan out across Capitol Hill to talk with their Senators and Congressmen, and tomorrow will huddle with a variety of officials from the executive branch.

R-CALF USA Praises Bipartisan Beef Checkoff Reform Legislation

Bipartisan legislation was reintroduced in the U.S. Senate to reform the most prominent government subsidy program in the U.S. cattle industry - the national beef checkoff program, which generates about $80 million annually from government-mandated producer assessments that many cattle producers refer to as "the cattle tax." Senators Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) introduced the Opportunities for Fairness in Farming Act, S. 741. Also reintroduced today was the Voluntary Checkoff Act, S. 740, by Senator Lee.

The two bills were previously introduced during Congress' last session, but their introduction occurred too late during the election year to be properly considered. This year's early reintroduction will ensure the measures are considered by the full Congress.

R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard said his group welcomes both bills because they both impart accountability and transparency to the beef checkoff program. He said approximately one-half of the current cattle tax, about $40 million dollars, flows to the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA), a lobbying group that represents some of the world's largest multinational meatpackers along with some cattle producers.

"Cross-subsidized by the current beef checkoff program, the NCBA lobbies against cattle-producer initiative on the basis that it does not want the government involved in the cattle industry. Yet, the NCBA is the single-largest benefactor of the $80 million government-mandated cattle tax that funds government speech.

"The bipartisan bill, S. 741, will end that conflict of interest by prohibiting lobbying groups from contracting with the program," said Bullard adding, "However, we think the best solution is the voluntary bill, S. 740, that allows producers to vote freely with their pocketbooks regarding whether they are individually satisfied with the checkoff's performance."

The national board for the beef checkoff program functions as a microcosm of the cattle industry by expanding and contracting depending on the size of the U.S. cattle herd and the quantity of imported cattle and beef. Earlier this year the U.S. Department of Agriculture initiated a rulemaking to reapportion the board by reducing the number of board seats for the domestic cattle industry by two and increasing the number of seats for importers by one.

"This outcome isn't what U.S. cattle producers bargained for when the checkoff was first started in the late 80s," Bullard concluded.

 Cargill reports fiscal 2017 third-quarter results

Cargill today reported financial results for the fiscal 2017 third quarter and nine months ended Feb. 28, 2017. Key measures include:
-    Adjusted operating earnings were $715 million in the third quarter, up 50 percent from $476 million in the year-ago period. Nine-month earnings totaled $2.58 billion, a 55 percent increase over last year’s $1.66 billion. 
-    Net earnings for the quarter on a U.S. GAAP basis were $650 million, up 42 percent from last year’s $459 million. Nine-month net earnings were $2.49 billion, a 5 percent increase year-on-year. In the prior-year period, Cargill realized large gains from business divestitures, which are excluded from adjusted operating earnings.
-    Third-quarter revenues rose 8 percent to $27.3 billion, for year-to-date revenues of $81.4 billion.

“We had strong results this quarter across our segments, evidence that we are on the right path forward,” said David MacLennan, Cargill’s chairman and chief executive officer. He cited gains in food ingredients, animal protein and industrials, as well as the progress of teams around the company to bring customers the full benefits of what Cargill has to offer. “All 150,000 people who work here are focused on executing at a high level as we serve our markets in an integrated way. We are eager to keep pursuing the opportunities that we are seeing.”
Segment results

With strong improvement over last year, the Food Ingredients & Applications segment was the largest contributor to adjusted operating earnings in the third quarter, with gains in sweeteners globally and plant-based bio-industrials in North America. A favorable product mix in salts for food applications also boosted results in North America, as did seasonal sales volume in deicing products. Cocoa and chocolate earnings rose on the strength of the European business, supported by origination in West Africa. The segment’s Asia-based business rebounded from a challenging year-ago period, lifted by good performance in corn-based starches and sweeteners in China and edible oils in India.

Earnings in Animal Nutrition & Protein rose significantly, lifted by strong performance in animal protein against a weak comparative period. Although below the earnings pace set in the first half, the North American protein business continued to benefit from renewed consumer demand for beef, which pulled more boxed beef and case-ready volume through its supply chain. It also realized steady foodservice demand for egg products. The poultry business gave protein results an additional boost, with higher cooked chicken exports out of Southeast Asia and improved processing yields and fresh chicken sales in Europe. Elsewhere in the segment, third-quarter earnings in global animal nutrition were below the year-ago level. Despite good performance in bulk feeds and premix products in India, Vietnam and other countries, sales volume softened due to competitive pressure in China and Russia, an avian influenza outbreak in Korea, and disruptive or unseasonable weather in other countries.

Origination & Processing earnings slightly lagged last year’s third quarter. The North America-based business remained a large contributor to segment earnings, thanks to steady grain export volumes; oilseed crush volume decreased late in the period as South America approached harvest season. Performance in South America trailed the prior year as the business dealt with reduced farmer selling and slowed processing in Argentina due to excess rain, as well as decreased corn exports out of Brazil due to last year’s drought. In contrast, segment earnings rose substantially in Asia Pacific, boosted by soybean crush activities in China, and grain origination and trading in Australia.

Cargill agreed to sell its 40 percent share in Allied Mills Australia, a flour milling joint venture, to Pacific Equity Partners, a Sydney-based private equity firm with investments in the bakery sector. With regulatory approvals in Australia received, the sale is expected to close early in the fourth quarter. Cargill remains committed to the food and agriculture sector in Australia, where it has played an important role since 1967.

Industrial & Financial Services put up a strong third quarter against a weak comparative period. Ocean transportation earnings rose sharply, aided by better market conditions in ocean freight, as well as in the mining and steel industries. Returns from asset management activities added to the segment’s improved performance. The energy businesses also contributed to the rebound.

Early in the fourth quarter, Cargill agreed to sell its petroleum trading business to Australia’s Macquarie Group, a global financial services provider based in Sydney. Pending regulatory review, the sale is expected to be completed in the first quarter of Cargill’s fiscal 2018.

Ethanol Stockpiles at 1-Year High

U.S. ethanol stockpiles increased last week alongside a ramp up in plant production, with total inventories surging by about 700,000 barrels (bbl), or 2.9%, to better-than-one-year high of 23.3 million bbl after falling for three prior weeks, the Energy Information Administration said Wednesday, March 29.

The EIA's Weekly Petroleum Status Report for the week-ended March 24 shows domestic fuel ethanol inventories were 200,000 bbl higher year-on-year. Supplies are at the highest level since March 4, 2016, when 23.307 million bbl of ethanol were in storage.

Domestic plant production climbed 20,000 barrels per day (bpd), or 1.0%, to 1.054 million bpd last week, the highest since the week-ended Feb. 3, while 62,000 bpd, or 6.3%, higher than a year earlier. For the four weeks ended last week, fuel ethanol production averaged 1.041 million bpd, up 50,000 bpd, or 4.8%.

Net refiner and blender inputs of ethanol, a gauge for demand, fell by 4,000 bpd to 911,000 bpd during the week-ended March 24. On a year-over-year basis, refiner and blender inputs were up 21,000 bpd, or 2.4%, last week. For the four-week period ended March 24, blending demand was up 22,000 bpd, or 2.5%, to 903,000 bpd.

State of Georgia Confirmed First Case of H7 Avian Flu

The Georgia Department of Agriculture said that a flock of chickens at a commercial poultry breeding operation in Chattooga County has tested positive for H7, a presumptive low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI). This marks the state's first case of the avian influenza in domestic poultry. Avian influenza does not pose a risk to the food supply, and no affected animals entered the food chain. The risk of human infection with avian influenza during poultry outbreaks is very low, according to the GDA.

The virus was identified during routine pre-sale screening for the commercial facility and was confirmed as H7 avian influenza by the USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratory (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa. As a precaution, the affected flock has been destroyed. Officials are testing and monitoring other flocks within the surveillance area, and no other flocks have tested positive or experienced any clinical signs, according to the state release.

"Poultry is the top sector of our number one industry, agriculture, and we are committed to protecting the livelihoods of the many farm families that are dependent on it," Georgia Ag Commissioner Gary Black said. "In order to successfully do that, it is imperative that we continue our efforts of extensive biosecurity."

The announcement follows similar confirmations from Alabama, Kentucky and Tennessee in recent weeks. The Tennessee case involved the more lethal avian flu's HPA1 strain, which is known to be deadly to domesticated poultry such as chickens, turkeys, guineas, quail and peafowls. Officials, however, stressed that the HPA1 avian flu posed no risk to the food supply and very low chance of human infection.

NFU Urges Trump Administration to Oppose Dow-DuPont Merger

Following European Union approval of the proposed merger between Dow Chemical Co. and DuPont Co., National Farmers Union (NFU) is calling on the Trump Administration to block the deal. The merger, if approved by the U.S. Justice Department, would create the largest biotechnology and seed firm in the U.S.

“The reduction in competition that would be wrought by a Dow-DuPont merger will result in less innovation, higher prices, and less choice for farmers,” said NFU President Roger Johnson in a letter to President Trump. “Given the damaging and lasting effects this merger will have on family farmers and rural America, we urge you to oppose this merger,” he said.

Johnson noted that the Dow-DuPont merger occurs amidst a massive wave of consolidation in the agricultural inputs sector. The combination of the two companies, coupled with the concurrently proposed mergers of Bayer-Monsanto and ChemChina-Syngenta, threatens to limit major players in the agrichemical and seed sectors to just four companies.

And that is bad news for farmers who rely on competitive pricing for their inputs.

“The merger of Dow and DuPont, the 4th and 5th largest firms, would give the resulting company about 41% of the market for corn seeds and 38% of the market for soybean seeds,” said Johnson. “If the Dow-DuPont and Bayer-Monsanto mergers were both approved, there would effectively be a duopoly in the corn and soybean seed markets.”

Johnson noted that the merger would limit choice in the marketplace for farmers. As Dow and DuPont look to leverage any efficiencies from the merger, there will be reductions in seed portfolios.

He also noted that the merger will likely diminish innovation competition, as the elimination of direct competition from one another will reduce the incentive to develop new products.

“Dow and DuPont biotechnology pipelines contain overlapping input and output traits in development for corn, soybeans, and cotton, as well as crop protection,” said Johnson. “Innovation is key to farmers and ranchers’ ability to increase crop production and improve crop quality. Without standalone competition between Dow and DuPont incentivizing innovation, farmers’ profits and consumers’ access to affordable food are at risk.”

While Dow and DuPont agreed to sell some of their key research and development assets, mergers in this consolidated of an environment are difficult, if not impossible, to remedy, he concluded.

“It is highly likely that many of those assets will be purchased by companies among the Big 6.  Therefore, any reallocation of share within the large incumbents through divestitures would only result in a game of market concentration ‘musical chairs.’”

Tuesday March 28 Ag News

Experts Highlight the Power of Local Lessons to Help Feed the World

The 2017 Water for Food Global Conference will welcome a record 100 speakers and global experts to share ideas and help find solutions to the world's pressing water and food security needs.

The flagship event of the Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute at the University of Nebraska, held in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Drought Mitigation Center, will be April 10-12 at Nebraska Innovation Campus in Lincoln, Nebraska, USA. More information, including the speaker list, agenda and registration details, are available on the conference website:

Researchers, practitioners, policymakers, farmers, faculty, students, thought leaders and industry experts will explore "Water for Food Security: From Local Lessons to Global Impacts,"a theme inspired by the notion that global breakthroughs come from local action.Participants can expect three full days of learning and networking.

"We are energized to bring together such a dynamic and diverse group of speakers and experts to the University of Nebraska," said Peter McCornick, executive director. "This year's conference will push us further toward finding real-world solutions - locally and globally - to the complex challenge of ensuring water and food security."

Joining Heuermann Lecture and closing plenary speaker Arthur Gen "A.G." Kawamura, former California Secretary of Agriculture, are:
-    Ann M. Bartuska, Acting Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics, U.S. Department of Agriculture; Washington, D.C.
-    Robert Bertram, chief scientist, Bureau for Food Security, U.S. Agency for International Development; Washington, D.C.
-    Mbogo Futakamba, Ministry of Water and Irrigation; Tanzania
-    Marlos De Souza, Secretary, Water Platform, Land and Water Division; Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations; Rome, Italy
-    Chandra Madramootoo, James McGill Professor, Bioresource Engineering Department, Faculty of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, McGill University; Quebec, Canada
-    Sithembile Ndema Mwamakamba, Climate Smart Agriculture Program Manager; Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network; Johannesburg, South Africa
-    Timothy Prewitt, CEO, iDE; Denver, Colorado 
-    Jeff Raikes, co-founder, Raikes Foundation; Board Chair, Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute; Seattle, Washington
-    Brian Richter, director, Global Freshwater Strategies, Nature Conservancy; Crozet, Virginia
-    Steven Schonberger, practice manager for Middle East and North Africa Region and global lead for Water in Agriculture, Water Global Practice, World Bank; Washington, D.C.
-    Timothy Williams, director for Africa, International Water Management Institute; Accra; Ghana

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

Regular registration is $550 and will close after April 1. Special registration discounts are available to all academic faculty, staff and students.For assistance with registration, please contact Amber Poythress at or (+1) 402.472.5175.

In addition to the rich variety of programming, the event includes two evening receptions with live music and globally inspired food; Nebraska bar-be-que dinner at Roca Berry Farm; student poster competition; photography competition and exhibit and multimedia artwork by students and professionals.  
The 2017 Water for Food Global Conference is a North American Regional Event for the 8th World Water Forum, the world's largest water-related forum organized by the World Water Council.

Generous support for the 2017 conference is provided by the Robert. B. Daugherty Foundation, the University of Nebraska, Monsanto Co., Senninger Irrigation Inc., the Nebraska Corn Board and LI-COR Biosciences. Media partners include the Water Network and AgWired.

 NE Dairy Ambassadors Off to a Fast Start

The 2017 Nebraska Dairy Ambassador class is off and running. This program, working in partnership with Kim Clark, Nebraska Dairy Extension educator, has five college students enrolled to serve as ambassadors for the Nebraska dairy Industry at school and consumer events throughout the year.

The ambassadors attended a portion of the Nebraska Dairy Convention in February, and participated in a training session in early March presented by Midwest Dairy communications and industry relations staff. During this training, they were coached in ways to respond with good answers to the tough questions they may receive.

During their ambassador year, they will participate in Ag Literacy festivals for students, as well as the Annual Moo at the Zoo event in June and at the State Fair. They will also write blogs about their experience, and shadow someone within the dairy industry for a day. Upon satisfactory completion of the yearly requirements, they will be awarded a scholarship.

Members of this year's class include Jessica Sayers, Maranda Kegley and Dawn Klabenes, students at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln; Emily Finkhaus, a student at Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture; and Dalton Anderson, who attends Southeast Community College.

Nebraska Soybean Farmers “See for Themselves” How Checkoff Dollars Support International Marketing Efforts

Earlier this month, a group of 14 Nebraska farmers and agribusiness professionals traveled to Washington to take part in the annual See for Yourself International Marketing mission funded by the Nebraska Soybean Board (NSB). The mission gave farmers the opportunity to see firsthand how their soybean checkoff is working to increase their productivity, demand for their crops and profitability. Roughly half of Nebraska’ssoybean crop is exported annually, and understanding how and where their soybeans are being shipped is important for farmers.

Participants toured the Ports of Grays Harbor and Tacoma to learn about the export process. They visited export facilities operated by Omaha-based Ag Processing Company (AGP) and the Tacoma Export Marketing Company (TEMCO). At TEMCO participants toured a Panamax ship being loaded with corn from the Midwest bound for South Korea. Other stops included the Boeing manufacturing plant near Everett and a local BNSF railway office, where they learned about the logistics of moving products across the country and challenges facing the transportation industry.

While on the tour, farmers quickly learned about the amount of capital invested in export facilities in the Pacific Northwest. The group saw an innovative solution to help TEMCO continue operations during frequent wet weather. Rainfall once caused the facility to shut down for the equivalent of one month out of the year. The solution—a roof nearly an acre in size to keep out the rain—allows them to fill 10 more ships per month, which translates to 220–230 million bushels per year.

Gabe Gubbels, a farmer from Osmond, said the tour helped him gain perspective on the exporting process. “Touring the Ports of Grays Harbor and Tacoma was a great experience. The size of the ships being loaded at these ports was unbelievable.”

AGP recently expanded its footprint in Nebraska, increasing the capacity of its Hastings soy processing plant from 30 million to 50 million bushels per year. AGP is a major soybean processor and the world’s largest farmer-owned cooperative. Its location in Hastings is currently the westernmost soy processor in the U.S., giving the company a significant advantage for shipping products to Asia and the Pacific through Grays Harbor. In fact, 80 percent of the soybean meal produced in Hastings will head through Grays Harbor to customers overseas.

Also featured during the tour of Grays Harbor was Renewable Energy Group’s (REG) biodiesel plant. Completed in 2007, it is currently the second largest biodiesel facility in the U.S. in terms of production. The facility has the capacity to manufacture 100 million gallons per year and is the only biodiesel plantwith tri-modal capabilities, meaning it has the ability to export using rail, truck and waterways.

Dan Smydra, a participant from St. Paul, said the tour was well worth the time. “I would strongly encourage any producer interested in exploring beyond their local production and markets to apply for a spot on one of these tours—not only to learn about how your soybean checkoff dollars are invested, but also to understand your connection and role in the global marketplace. Not to mention all the great folks you’ll get to know on the trip!”

For more information about NSB’s See for Yourself program, including future opportunities, please call the Nebraska Soybean Board office at 402-441-3240or visit their website at

Iowa Farm Custom Rate Survey Shares Custom and Machinery Rental Rates

Performing custom work can be an additional source of income for farm operators around the state. For others, custom work is a full-time career. When labor is available, and another party has equipment, renting equipment for a short term is also a common practice. While only a small portion of Iowa farmland is 100 percent custom farmed, many farm operations rent equipment or hire out for one or two tasks that need to be completed on their farm each year.

The 2017 Iowa Farm Custom Rate Survey canvassed 441 farmers, custom operators and farm managers from the state, putting together a guide for pricing custom machine work. Of those receiving the survey, 152 usable responses were received from Iowa farmers, custom operators and farm managers. Twenty-one percent of the respondents perform custom work, 13 percent hire work done, 41 percent indicated doing both, 1 percent indicated doing none and 25 percent did not indicate whether they perform or hire custom work.

The publication, which can be found online at the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Store as FM 1698 or on the Ag Decision Maker website as Information File A3-10, provides rates for custom work in the following categories: tillage, planting, drilling, seeding, fertilizer application, harvesting, drying and hauling grain, harvesting forages, complete custom farming, labor and both bin and machine rental. All rates include fuel, repairs, depreciation, interest, labor and all other machinery costs for the tractor and implement unless otherwise noted.

The average rate and range for each machine work function were compiled into the survey as usual, as well as the median charge and number of responses for each category. For the survey, the average is calculated as the simple average of all responses. The median is the response that splits all the ordered responses (from smallest to largest) in half.

The survey found there was an 8.5 percent price increase across all surveyed categories. When the categories with the 5 percent highest and lowest change were removed, the average increase in rate became 2.1 percent.

“After an overall decline in rates in 2016, the slight rate increases in the 2017 survey are similar to a trend observed from 2012-2015,” said Alejandro Plastina, assistant professor and extension economist with ISU Extension and Outreach. “We appreciate the respondents to the survey, as the information available in the Custom Rate Survey is only possible due to their responses provided each year.”

The reported rates are expected to be charged or paid in 2017, including fuel and labor. The average price for diesel fuel was assumed to be $2.15 per gallon. The values presented in the survey are intended only as a guide. There are many reasons the rate charged in a particular situation should be above or below the average. These include the timeliness with which operations are performed, quality and special features of the machine, operator skill, size and shape of fields, number of acres contracted and the condition of the crop for harvesting. The availability of custom operators in a given area will also affect rates. Any custom rate should cover the cost of operating the farm machinery as well as the operator’s labor.

The Ag Decision Maker website offers a Decision Tool to help custom operators and other farmers estimate their own costs for specific machinery operations. Plastina and Ann Johanns, program specialist in economics with ISU Extension and Outreach, authored the publication.

To join the 2018 Custom Rate Survey mailing list, send mail or e-mail address to: Alejandro Plastina, Iowa State University, Department of Economics, 478 E Heady Hall, 518 Farm House Lane, Ames, IA 50011-1054, 515-294-6160,

Farm and Rural Life Poll Examines Conservation Practice Use

The Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy was implemented in 2013 and efforts to track progress toward its goals are ongoing. The INRS recommends that farmers use a number of soil and water conservation best management practices to reduce nutrient loss into waterways. The 2016 Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll asked farmers if they were using or considering use of many of those practices.

A list of 20 practices was provided and farmers who plant row crops were asked to select one of three responses: the practice was not used in 2015, no plans to use it; not used in 2015, might use it in the future; and used the practice in 2015. Three types of conservation practices were covered: tillage and cover crops, nitrogen management and structural practices such as buffers and terraces.

“The scientists who conducted the science assessment for the INRS have concluded that to meet targeted reduction goals, most Iowa farmers will have to increase their use of a diverse mix of practices that are appropriate for their farms,” said J. Gordon Arbuckle, associate professor of sociology at Iowa State University. “This year’s survey tried to get a handle on what practices farmers are using now, and which ones that might be willing to try.”

Among in-field practices listed, no-till was the most commonly used, with 42 percent of respondents reporting employing the practice on at least some of the land they farm. Conservation tillage, excluding no-till and strip tillage, was second, used by 35 percent. Twenty-one percent reported use of cover crops on at least some land.

“Minimizing tillage and use of cover crops are effective ways to reduce erosion and nutrient loss while also improving soil health,” Arbuckle said. “Overall, about 57 percent of farmers reported using some kind of reduced tillage on at least part of their land.”

The survey also asked about nitrogen management practices that can reduce nitrogen loss. The use of nitrogen stabilizers was reported by 38 percent of respondents. Twenty-eight percent reported that they applied nitrogen during the growing season, and 15 percent used a variable rate N application. The corn nitrogen rate calculator, which was developed by Iowa State and partner universities to help farmers determine economically sound N fertilizer rates, was used by 18 percent of respondents.

“The INRS science assessment estimates that farmers can reduce nutrient loss by about 10 percent by using the N rate calculator,” said Arbuckle. “They could also save money on fertilizer.”

Buffers along streams or field edges to filter nutrients and sediment from runoff were the most commonly reported conservation practice, with 46 percent of farmers indicating they were used in 2015. Terraces were reported by 37 percent of respondents and 25 percent used in-field buffer strips. Sedimentation basins (18 percent), extended rotations (15 percent) and converting some cropland from row crops to perennial crops such as hay (14 percent) were also reported.

“The survey results show that many Iowa farmers are using recommended best management practices to some extent,” said Arbuckle. “That said, the majority of Iowa crop farms could incorporate practices such as cover crops and in-field or edge-of-field filter strips to further reduce nutrient loss, yet minorities of farmers report using these and other proven practices. So, there’s still a lot of work to be done.”

Arbuckle noted that the survey also asked farmers if they might consider using best management practices in the future, and results were encouraging.

“Many farmers indicated that they are open to the idea of using practices such as cover crops, the N rate calculator, and variable rate nitrogen application,” said Arbuckle. “That suggests that we need to continue to work with farmers and their advisors to help incorporate more of these practices into more farm operations.”

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.

EPA Now Limited On Farm Data It Can Release

A federal judge yesterday approved a settlement agreement between the National Pork Producers Council and the American Farm Bureau Federation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, limiting EPA’s release of information on livestock farmers.

Under the agreement, the agency only may provide under a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request the city, county, zip code and Clean Water Act permit status of a concentrated animal feeding operation. The agreement also requires EPA to conduct training on FOIA, personal information and the federal Privacy Act.

The settlement stems from the February 2013 release by EPA’s Office of Water to several activist groups, which filed a FOIA request, of extensive private and personal information the agency collected on farmers in 29 states. (EPA gathered the information despite being forced in 2012 to drop a proposed data reporting rule for large farms because of concerns about the privacy and biosecurity of family farms.)

“We’re pleased with this agreement, which will protect the personal and private information, including cell phone numbers and health information, of America’s farmers and ranchers,” said NPPC President Ken Maschhoff, a pork producer from Carlyle, Ill. “EPA’s 2013 release to activist groups of sensitive materials on more than 100,000 farmers and ranchers was an outrageous abuse of its power and trust. This settlement helps ensure that won’t happen again.”

Following the 2013 release and after objections from NPPC, the Farm Bureau and other agricultural groups, EPA requested that the activist organizations return the data, but the agency subsequently was prepared to release additional farm information it collected from seven other states. NPPC and the Farm Bureau also objected to the additional release, and in July 2014 filed suit against EPA in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota.

That court in late 2015 dismissed the lawsuit, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit in St. Louis reinstated it, and last September it ruled that EPA “abused its discretion in deciding that the information at issue was not exempt from mandatory disclosure under Exemption 6 [personal privacy interests] of FOIA.”

“NPPC will continue vigorously defend the rights and privacy of its producers against outrageous and unethical government actions,” Maschhoff said.

ASA’s Moore Testifies on Title I Programs Before House Ag Subcommittee

In testimony before the House Agriculture Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management Tuesday, American Soybean Association (ASA) President and Illinois soybean farmer Ron Moore spoke on the need for robust programs within the risk management framework of the nation’s farm legislation. Moore contrasted the successful farm economic landscape in which the 2014 Farm Bill was written with the more troubling financial situation many farmers find themselves in today, and called on the committee to make the necessary investments in farm bill programs—including increases where appropriate—so that each can work to its full potential.

“Farm prices are down by 41 percent and farm income is down by 50 percent. Due to continued low prices, estimates for 2017 show a further decline in income of 7.1 percent,” Moore said. “Land rents and input costs remain stubbornly high, and producers are having increasing difficulty obtaining operating loans. In view of these circumstances, ASA [asks] Congress to write the 2018 Farm Bill based on the very real need by U.S. producers for a stronger safety net rather than extending existing programs… Correcting shortcomings in the 2014 Act and funding other important programs whose effectiveness has diminished over time will require additional resources from outside the farm bill.”

Moore’s specific asks of the committee on behalf of ASA included a robust federal crop insurance program, noting that the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the cost of the program will decline by an average of $1 billion annually. Moore also called on the committee to improve and build upon the current Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs included in Title I rather than develop new ones, maintaining that a choice for producers between a price-based PLC program and a revenue-based ARC program appropriately reflects differences between crops and regions. In his discussion of ARC and PLC, Moore highlighted the need to continue the decoupling of Title I programs from planted acres, citing the potential market distortions caused by tying payments to current-year planting decisions.

Moore also noted that other crops, particularly cotton, may require fixes to their programs, and reaffirmed ASA’s support for such fixes, provided their funding does not come from elsewhere in the farm bill and that such a fix is WTO-compliant.

Capping his testimony, Moore reiterated ASA’s vocal support for including nutrition and anti-hunger programs alongside agricultural programs in the farm bill, as has been the case in each previous version of the legislation, and called on the committee to affirm its support for both producers and consumers of food.

“The only groups pushing for them to be split into two bills are critics from outside the agriculture community whose common goal is to defeat rather than to pass a new farm bill,” Moore said. “… An affirmation that the next farm bill must include programs that support both producers and consumers of food would send a strong message to farm bill critics, as well as to farm and anti-hunger organizations that support this goal.”

Spurlock Testifies on Farm Bill Programs at House Hearing

The Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) risk management program and crop insurance have been critical to helping corn farmers during a weak farm economy and should be maintained in the next farm bill, National Corn Growers Association President Wesley Spurlock testified today at House Agriculture General Farm Commodities and Risk Management Subcommittee hearing.

“Together, crop insurance and the ARC-County program have helped many farmers weather the storm of a weak farm economy and avoid bankruptcy,” said Spurlock, who raises corn, cotton, wheat, sorghum, and beef cattle in the Texas Panhandle.

Spurlock noted that corn prices have averaged below $4.00 per bushel since 2013, and are projected to average just $3.40 this marketing year.

“At that price, few corn farmers have a positive net income. Meanwhile, we face a lot of uncertainty about federal policy on renewable fuel and trade, and how that will impact our bottom lines,” testified Spurlock. “We must work together to rebuild a strong farm economy – but in the meantime, strong farm bill programs are essential to support farmers. ARC was designed to be a market-based program that provides support only when needed, and now is that time. By and large, the program is working as intended.”

Plan Ahead to Maximize Spring Nitrogen Applications in Corn

It’s not too early to plan spring and early-summer nitrogen applications in corn. In fact, with lower corn prices, it’s more important than ever that growers take strategic action to protect yield and return on investment.

Because corn is receptive to – and requires significant amounts of – nitrogen for optimal productivity, in-season application can be a viable option to supplement fall-applied or early pre-plant nitrogen fertilizer applications. Agronomists recommend timing nitrogen topdress applications prior to periods of maximum crop growth to achieve the optimum amount of uptake, usually between the V6 growth stage and tasseling in corn.

Urea or UAN applied to the surface or banded within 2 inches of the soil surface can be vulnerable to ammonia volatilization losses. To prevent this form of loss, many university agronomists in the Corn Belt recommend adding AGROTAIN® nitrogen stabilizer to protect urea and UAN against volatilization.

In areas that receive excessive spring rainfall, growers can consider SUPERU® fertilizer, which contains both a urease and a nitrification inhibitor to minimize volatilization, leaching or denitrification. For UAN applications, AGROTAIN® PLUS stabilizer can be added; its two modes of action work together to minimize the three forms of nitrogen loss.

Steve Cromley, CCA, and technical sales agronomist with Koch Agronomic Services LLC (KAS), the maker of the AGROTAIN® line of nitrogen stabilizers and SUPERU® fertilizer, says recommended nitrogen rates vary widely by geographic area. In fact, optimal nitrogen rates vary by region and even by field. It’s important for growers to use tools that help evaluate proper rates such as soil profile nitrate samples, crop models and crop canopy sensors. Ultimately, though, one of the most important tools is the grower’s knowledge and experience. Regardless of the application method, “The closer the application rate is to the optimum nitrogen rate, the more critical it becomes to protect the applied nitrogen,” adds Cromley.

As with any nitrogen application throughout the crop year, KAS recommends growers follow the 4Rs of Nutrient Stewardship – Right Source, Right Rate, Right Time and Right Place – to minimize nutrient loss and maximize uptake.

Monday March 27 Ag News

Status of Herbicide-Resistant Weeds in Nebraska 
Amit Jhala - NE Extension Weed Management Specialist

There are 480 unique cases of herbicide-resistant weed biotypes globally in 252 weed species (147 dicots and 105 monocots). Weeds have evolved resistance to 23 of 26 known herbicide sites of action and to 161 herbicides ( Control of herbicide-resistant weeds is one of the greatest challenges for crop producers in Nebraska. Repeated and intensive use of herbicide(s) with the same site of action can rapidly select for weed shifts and the evolution of herbicide-resistant weeds, especially without integrating other weed control options.

Six weed species — common ragweed, common waterhemp, marestail, kochia, giant ragweed, and Palmer amaranth — have been confirmed resistant to glyphosate in Nebraska. Management of glyphosate-resistant weeds is challenging because no-till corn and soybean growers are primarily depending on glyphosate for post-emergence weed control.

Four weed species have also evolved resistance to multiple herbicides. For example, common waterhemp and Palmer amaranth have evolved resistance to atrazine and HPPD inhibitors (Calliso, Laudis, Armezon/Impact), which made weed control in seed corn and popcorn more challenging in Nebraska. Additionally, marestail and common waterhemp have evolved resistance to glyphosate and acetolactate synthase (ALS) inhibiting herbicides. Kochia resistance to glyphosate and ALS inhibitors is now widespread in western Nebraska.

Preserving the efficacy of herbicides and herbicide resistance technology depends on awareness of the increasing resistance of weeds to herbicides and coordinated action to address the problem at the farm level and beyond.

Nebraska Farmers Union Board of Directors Call for a Ban on Brazilian Food Imports

At their spring meeting, the Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU) Board of Directors issued a renewed call for the reinstatement of Country of Origin labeling following the breaking news over extensive corruption involving the Brazilian meat-packing giant, JBS and BRF, the largest poultry packager in the world.  The Board also called for the imposition of a ban on importation of product from Brazil pending the results of further investigation by Brazilian authorities. 

Press reports said Brazilian authorities recently conducted extensive undercover investigations in packing plants in Brazil controlled by the two entities, which uncovered the bribery of health inspectors in which payments were made to avoid health inspections; the addition of cardboard and potatoes to some of the products produced; and the use of a cancer-causing acid on some products so that they could acquire the Brazilian stamp of approval despite being rotten or of questionable origin.

NeFU President John Hansen said “In light of this food safety scandal, Chile, Mexico, Canada, Egypt, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Switzerland and the European Union have all banned the importation of Brazilian product, resulting in a dramatic decline in exports from the South American nation.  Those countries took decisive actions to protect their nation’s food safety and food consumers.  The Trump Administration should act decisively and do likewise.”

The United States has not imposed a ban, despite unrest among consumer groups and farmers and ranchers across the nation.  Sonny Perdue stated in his confirmation hearing that he would oppose instituting a ban because this could result in retaliatory actions by the Brazilians.  But clearly, public health issues should have priority over any other considerations, including trade considerations.

In addition to food safety risks, the NeFU Board was also concerned about the potential risk of reintroducing Hoof and Mouth disease into the United States.  Hoof and Mouth Disease was eradicated in the United States in the l920s, but remains endemic in South American herds.  Recently the United States relaxed impositions on the importation of fresh and frozen meat from regional states in Brazil which are free of Hoof and Mouth, but the corruption uncovered by Brazilian authorities in the investigation of JBS should cause USDA to reconsider the risks and the potential horrific costs to the American livestock industry should Hoof and Mouth Disease reappear in the United States. 

Nebraska Farmers Union is also urging our Congressional Delegation to support Montana Senator Jon Tester's bill which would immediately impose a 120 day moratorium on the importation of Brazilian into the United States. 


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Got your herbicides selected for your corn, beans, and other crops?  Better double check if a cover crop, pasture, or hay planting is a possibility during the next year and a half.

               Many of our biggest success stories with forage and pasture crops recently have come from using annuals.  No matter when you could use something to graze, including winter, an annual plant could be found that would work well if managed properly.

               Many times a small grain like oats or rye fit our needs.  Other times it’s been a brassica like turnips and forage rape.  Once in a while we’ve used millets.

               But there have been frustrations.  One of the biggest frustrations has been herbicide limitations.  Many forages are affected by herbicide carryover, such as from atrazine.  Often we identify a cover crop or a forage to plant but the risk of failure is too high due to herbicides.  This problem isn’t limited to annual forages, either.  Perennial grasses and alfalfa also are sensitive to herbicide carryover.

               Legal replant and rotation restrictions also cause herbicide limitations.  With many herbicides it may be okay to plant a cover crop, but that cover crop cannot be used legally as a forage.

               So, is this important to you?  Do you want to fly rye or turnip seed into your standing corn later this year for extra fall pasture?  How about planting triticale this fall or oats next spring?  Or maybe irrigated pasture or alfalfa?

               These options may not be available if you use many common herbicides.  So keep you options open.  Rethink your herbicide plans.  Maybe you can control weeds and maintain the flexibility to plant any forage just by making a small change in the herbicides you use now.

               Then you, too, can build a success story from annual forages.

Nebraska Farm Bureau Celebrates Its Centennial; 100 Years of Representing Nebraska Farmers and Ranchers

Farmers, ranchers, and agricultural dignitaries from across the state will help honor the 100th anniversary of the Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation (NFBF) in a year-long celebration. A new centennial web page is launched and Governor Pete Ricketts issued a proclamation to recognize Nebraska Farm Bureau’s 100 years and its ability to unite thousands of Nebraska farm and ranch families under a common banner—doing together what they can’t do alone.

“100 years of engagement, 100 years of passion for Nebraska agriculture, and 100 years of representing Nebraska farmers and ranchers, the very people who grow our food, fuel, and fiber. It is not very often that an organization can say they have reached this milestone. I am very excited about our yearlong centennial celebration,” said Steve Nelson, NFBF president Feb. 14.

As part of honoring the past, renowned Nebraska sculptor Sondra L. Johnson, of Cambridge, will create a cast bronze bas-relief sculpture to mark the centennial. The sculpture, in the shape of the State of Nebraska, includes the many landscapes and crops found across the state. Looking to the future, the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation announced the Cornerstone Campaign. “Celebrating Our Past, Building Our Future” is the theme of the fundraising campaign to provide a financial foundation for its programs that promote an understanding of and appreciation for Nebraska agriculture.

“Through our new Foundation, we will equip the next generation of Nebraskans for careers, leadership positions, and consumer roles that intersect with agriculture,” said Nelson. “Foundation programs such as Agriculture in the Classroom, student scholarships, and leadership development are an investment in the continued success of agriculture and all of Nebraska.”

The cast bronze centennial sculpture and corresponding Cornerstone Campaign donor recognition wall will be installed at the Nebraska Farm Bureau state office in Lincoln. An unveiling is planned for March 30, 2017.

Throughout this centennial year, Nebraska Farm Bureau will hold other statewide events including events for members in Western Nebraska, to be held in Scottsbluff June 8, Northeast Nebraska in Norfolk Aug. 8, and a tailgate will be held prior to the Sept. 22, Nebraska Husker football game against Rutgers in Lincoln. You can find out more about the celebration at our website

“As part of our centennial, Nebraska Farm Bureau continues to look ahead to the next century of possibilities, especially for the next generation of farmers and ranchers. Helping them get excited about agriculture and Nebraska Farm Bureau is vital to strengthening the future of our organization and Nebraska agriculture,” Nelson said.


University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Ronnie Green and Chief Communication and Marketing Officer Teresa Paulsen were named 4-H Luminaries by the National 4-H Council March 21 in Washington, D.C.

Luminaries are an exclusive group of accomplished and influential 4-H alumni who will help raise awareness of 4-H's life-changing impact and generate support for bringing 4-H to more youth. Green and Paulsen are part of the 40-member inaugural class. Other Luminaries include Grammy award-winning artist Jennifer Nettles, NBA star Kent Bazemore, Facebook executive Andrew Bosworth and MSNBC anchor Craig Melvin.

Chancellor Green was a 4-H member in Botetourt County in Virginia. Paulsen is an alum of Nebraska 4-H and is a National 4-H Council Trustee.

"I'm humbled to be part of this inaugural group of people who were influenced by 4-H, which today is the largest youth development organization in the U.S.," Green said. "Millions of people across the nation are testament that 4-H membership is a strong predictor of lifelong success and leadership."

Jennifer Sirangelo, president and CEO of the National 4-H Council, said: "Whether they are running Fortune 500 companies and performing to sold-out crowds or leading community programs and volunteering to empower local youth, 4-H alumni represent the epitome of true leadership. These remarkable alumni are committed to paying it forward and ensuring the next generation has the opportunity to benefit from the 4-H experience."

The prestigious group is part of the 25 million 4-H alumni across the nation.

In Nebraska, one in three age-eligible youth participates in 4-H, which is present in all 93 counties. These youth, ages 5-18, participate through camps, clubs, school enrichment and after-school programs. All 4-H programs place strong emphasis on life skills, such as problem solving, responsibility, citizenship and leadership. To learn more about Nebraska 4-H, visit

Nebraska Farmers Union 2017 Spring District Meetings

District 7 Spring Meeting: Valentino’s, 1025 S. 13th St, Norfolk, NE 68701
Thursday, March 30, 2017, 6:00 pm buffet supper on own with meeting to follow.
· District 7 Director’s Report:  Martin Kleinschmit
· NFU Convention, state & national issues:  John Hansen
· Featured speaker:  Michael  J. Sieh, Superintendent from Stanton Community Schools will share information and perspective with us on property tax relief and
adequate funding for education.
Bring a friend, neighbor or family member.
For more info, call Art Tanderup (402) 278-0942 or (402) 887-1396.

District 3 Spring Meeting:  The Speakeasy Restaurant, 2993 S. Rd, Holdrege, NE 68949

Friday, March 31, 2017, 6:00 pm supper on your own with meeting to follow.
· District 3 Director’s Report:  David Mohlman
· NFU Convention, state & national issues:  John Hansen
· Featured speaker: A leader in the education community who will share information and perspective with us on property tax relief and adequate funding for education.
Bring a friend, neighbor or family member.  
For more information, call Darrell Buschkoetter (402) 469-3451

District 4 Spring Meeting:  Valentino’s, 701 Court Street, Beatrice.

Monday, April 3, 2017.  6:00 pm buffet supper on your own with meeting to follow.
· District 4 Director’s Report:  Vern Jantzen
· NFU Convention, state & national issues:  John Hansen
·Featured speaker: John Skretta, Superintendent for Norris School District will share information and perspective with us on property tax relief and adequate funding for education.
Bring a friend, neighbor or family member.
For more info call Karen Sysel (402) 946-6561 or (402) 381-8047.

District 6 Spring Meeting:  Office Bar and Grill Restaurant, 121 N Main St., Hooper, NE

Tuesday, April 6, 2017, 6:00 pm supper on your own with meeting to follow.
· District 6 Director’s Report:  Graham Christensen
· NFU Convention, state & national issues:  John Hansen
· Featured speaker will be a leader in the education community who will share information and perspective with us on property tax relief and adequate funding for education.
Bring a friend, neighbor or family member.
For more information, call Paul Poppe (402) 380-4508.

District 5 Spring Meeting:  Harry’s Restaurant, 308 W. 2nd Street, Valparaiso.

Thursday, April 13, 2017.  6:00 pm supper on your own with meeting to follow.
· District 5 Director’s Report:  Ben Gotschall
· NFU Convention, state & national issues:  John Hansen
· Featured speaker:  Mike Lucas, Superintendent of York Public Schools will share information and perspective with us on property tax relief and adequate funding for education.
Bring a friend, neighbor, or family member who needs to be a member.
For more information, call Zack Hamilton (402) 875-1433.

Lawrence Named Interim Vice President for Extension and Outreach

John Lawrence, associate dean in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and director of extension and outreach, has been named interim vice president for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

Lawrence will succeed Cathann Kress, who is leaving to become vice president of agricultural administration and dean of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University. He will become the acting vice president on March 31, and assume the interim role April 29.

“John was raised on a crop and livestock farm in southwest Iowa, and has decades of experience serving Iowans,” notes Jonathan Wickert, Iowa State's senior vice president and provost.

“He’s also a great servant of Iowa State, and an excellent choice to serve as interim leader of extension and outreach,” Wickert said.

Lawrence joined Iowa State as a professor of economics in 1991, after serving as an extension livestock economist, assistant director of the Agriculture Experiment Station, and director of the Iowa Beef Center at Iowa State. He currently leads the Iowa Nutrient Research Center, which was established in 2013 to develop a science-based approach to reduce the amount of nutrients delivered to Iowa waterways and the Gulf of Mexico.

Wickert said a national search for a permanent vice president will be launched in the coming months, and expressed thanks to Kress for her many contributions to the university, and to the state of Iowa.

Prepare for Sometimes Contrary Spring Weather

No one wants to think about a disaster, but floods and tornadoes are two of Iowa's most common hazards.

Heavy rains, flooding, tornadoes, ice storms, blizzards and heavy snow -- hazardous storms have caused most of Iowa's 27 Presidential Disaster Declarations since 2000.

"Being prepared is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from severe weather," says Adam Broughton with DNR's field services' emergency response. "March 27 to 31 is Severe Weather Awareness Week -- a good opportunity to check your supply kit and review your communications plan."

Broughton suggests putting together a supply kit with food and water for three days--enough time for emergency responders to reach you in extreme situations. Other essentials include batteries and solar-powered or hand-cranked chargers, a light source, medicine and prescription lists, doctors' numbers, insurance cards and pet supplies. It's good to have supply kits for home, work and on the road.

Having a communication plan ensures friends and family stay in touch. Take time to review it together, discussing where to meet during an emergency and who to notify. Update emergency contacts, including listing someone out-of-town as a central contact. In an emergency, use texts and short calls to avoid tying up phone lines needed by emergency responders.

Get organized by storing important documents in the Cloud or on a secure flash drive. Include insurance, identification and banking information. Place important print documents in a fire and waterproof safe.

U.S. Beef Industry to President Trump: Please Help Get U.S. Beef Back into China

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association today sent a coalition letter to President Donald Trump, urging him to raise the restoration of U.S. beef access to China when he meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping in April. Leaders from the U.S. Meat Export Federation and the North American Meat Institute also signed the letter.

American beef producers have been denied access to China – a $2.6 billion import market -- since 2003. Last fall China announced that it had lifted its ban on imports of U.S. beef, but attempts since then to negotiate the technical terms of access have been unsuccessful.

“We believe that access to the large and growing Chinese beef market is essential to the future health of the U.S. beef industry,” read the letter, which was signed by NCBA’s CEO, Kendal Frazier. “We understand that you have many important issues to discuss with President Xi, but we strongly encourage you to take this important opportunity to convey the urgent need for China to reopen its market to U.S. beef.”

In 2016, American beef producers sold $6.3 billion worth of U.S. beef to customers around the world, with three of the industry's top foreign markets located in Asia.

XtendiMax with VaporGrip Technology - Now Approved for Tank-Mixes with Certain Glyphosate Products

Monsanto on Monday received approval for certain glyphosate tank-mixes with XtendiMax herbicide with VaporGrip® Technology.   They then listed the following products containing potassium salt formulations of glyphosate on as approved tank-mix products, including:
·         Roundup PowerMAX®Herbicide
·         Roundup PowerMAX® II Herbicide
·         Roundup WeatherMAX®Herbicide
·         Honcho® K6™ Herbicide
·         Abundit® Edge Herbicide

Monsanto is committed to offering growers the lowest dicamba volatility potential solutions we can offer them. Monsanto believes that tank mixes of dicamba with potassium salt formulations of glyphosate have lower volatility potential than tank mixes with IPA and DMA salts of glyphosate based on humidome testing via published ASTM methodology.  For this reason, Monsanto plans to include only glyphosate products containing potassium salt of glyphosate as approved tank mix products with XtendiMax with VaporGrip Technology to the website at this time.

Approved glyphosate products will be limited to a maximum use rate of 32 fl oz per acre for each application when tank-mixed with XtendiMax with VaporGrip Technology for in-crop use with Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® soybeans and cotton with XtendFlex® technology.  This maximum use rate for glyphosate is consistent with expert recommendations for effective weed management within Roundup Ready PLUS® Crop Management Solutions.  In addition, the listed glyphosate options will require the use of SPECIFIC approved drift reducing adjuvants (DRAs) when tank-mixed with XtendiMax with VaporGrip Technology.

In addition to the newly listed glyphosate products, we added two additional approved drift reducing adjuvants, AG16098 and CapsuleTM, providing additional DRA options along with the previously approved product Intact™.  Specific DRAs are required for certain products specified on the tank mix website.  Monsanto supports enabling flexibility for growers to tank mix the most appropriate combinations for the best weed management recommendations specific to each grower’s field.

As a reminder, only after tank-mix products and/or nozzles are listed on the established tank-mix website are they considered approved and lawful to use or recommend as stated on product labels. All approved tank-mix products and nozzles for XtendiMax with VaporGrip Technology are listed on:

New Legislation an Investment in Agriculture’s Future

A pair of recently introduced bills gives a boost to young people in agriculture by allowing 4-H and FFA students to keep more of the modest income they earn. The students can turn around and put the money toward their education or future agricultural projects.                    

The Agriculture Students Encourage, Acknowledge, Reward, Nurture (EARN) Act (S. 671) and the Student Agriculture Protection Act (SAPA) (H.R. 1626) would create a tax exemption for the first $5,000 of income students 18 years of age or younger earn from projects completed through 4-H or FFA.

The Farm Bureau-supported measures were introduced by Sens. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas).

“The long-term sustainability of agriculture depends on talented young people pursuing careers in farming and ranching and other agricultural production and food chain professions. Student agricultural projects increase awareness of and foster an interest in fields of study that will provide the next generation of farmers and ranchers, food scientists, agricultural engineers, agronomists, horticulturalists and soil scientists,” American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said in a letter to Moran, Ernst and McCaul.

Representatives from Domino’s and investor engagement firm to speak at 2017 Summit

Two expert speakers – Tim McIntyre of Domino’s Pizza and Kathryn Hembree Night of CamberView Partners – will give attendees at the 2017 Animal Agriculture Alliance Stakeholders Summit advice for handling activist investors and responding to shareholder resolutions. The 2017 Summit, themed “Connect to Protect Animal Ag” will be held May 3-4 in Kansas City, Mo. The panel, titled “Extremists in the Boardroom: Responding to Activist Investors” is sponsored by the National Pork Producers Council and will be moderated by Lyle Orwig of Charleston|Orwig.

Orwig will lead McIntyre, executive vice president, communication, investor relations and legislative affairs at Domino's Pizza, Inc., and Night, principal, CamberView Partners LLC., through a conversation on how activist groups are connecting with investment firms as well as using the shareholder resolution process to pressure consumer-facing brands into changing their policies for suppliers of milk, meat, poultry and eggs.

“We continue to see activist groups attempting to influence the policies of brands by purchasing shares themselves or reaching out to investment firms,” said Kay Johnson Smith, Alliance president and CEO. “It is essential for animal agriculture to understand this tactic and learn how we can help our restaurant, retail, foodservice and branded company partners respond to these pressures and make informed decisions. I personally cannot wait for this lively discussion and know it will be a highlight of the Summit.”

McIntyre has been with Domino’s for 31 years, serving many communications roles over the years before being appointed to his current position in March 2016. He is a graduate of Eastern Michigan University and serves on its College of Business Marketing Advisory Board. He is a board member of Food Gatherers, an Ann Arbor based organization which exists to alleviate hunger and eliminate its causes in the community. Founded in 1960, Domino’s Pizza is the recognized world leader in pizza delivery, ranking among the world’s top public restaurant brands with a global enterprise of more than 12,500 stores in over 80 international markets.

Night joined CamberView - which provides independent, investor-focused advice to help public company management teams and boards build strong, productive relationships with institutional investors – in 2014. Previously, Night was an associate in the Mergers and Acquisitions Group at Goldman Sachs in New York. While in the M&A Group, she helped deliver advice to companies in connection with shareholder activism, proxy fights, contested mergers, cross-border transactions, special committee situations, and complex corporate governance issues. Night graduated with honors from the University of Missouri-Kansas City with a B.A. in chemistry and philosophy.

Orwig is the founding partner and chairman of Charleston|Orwig, a communications agency with a special focus on reputation management, corporate social responsibility and sustainable development. From his youth on a family farm in east-central Illinois through his rise to state office in FFA and graduation from the University of Illinois’ College of Agriculture and, ultimately, the founding of Charleston|Orwig, Lyle Orwig has maintained his focus on and passion for agriculture, marketing communications, reputation management and corporate social responsibility programs. He leads the agency’s crisis communications work and continues to be intimately involved in working with clients.

Be sure to check the Alliance website for the most up-to-date Summit information. You can also follow the hashtag #AAA17 and #ActionPlease2017 for periodic updates about the event. For general questions about the Summit please contact or call (703) 562-5160.

Discovery opens ‘new field of research’ into SCN resistance

Five years ago, a team of scientists led by Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Khalid Meksem discovered which gene was key to soybean cyst nematode (SCN) resistance in soybeans. Now they are learning which genes work as partners to combat the pest.

Soybeans are a major element in the Midwest economy. In Illinois, for example, soybeans alone are worth nearly $6 billion a year in direct sales, not counting money and employment in soybean processing and other post-harvest jobs. The soybean cyst nematode, a microscopic roundworm that feeds on soybean roots, can be a big problem for more than just the farmer.

“This year alone, the soybean cyst nematode cost the soybean industry $1.2 billion in damage,” Meksem, professor of plant genetics and genomics, said. “Nematicides are harmful to the environment and expensive for the farmer to control the disease. The best way to manage the disease is to use the soybean’s disease resistant genes and plant resistant soybean lines in infected soils.”

Meksem and his team made soybean history in 2012 when they discovered which gene – GmSHMT08 -- was crucial to SCN resistance. Now, in 2017, he, and scientists from SIU and the University of Missouri Columbia, are finding out more about how a major partner gene called GmSNAP resists the SCN. They had already learned that the gene codes an SCN-resistant protein. Now they are finding out more about how that happens, and how the two partners work together for optimum SCN resistance.

The most common SCN-resistant type soybeans grown in the United States derive their resistance either from a soybean line called PI 88788 or Peking. Meksem’s team found that resistance in the Peking-type soybean requires the two different genes (GmSNAP and GMSHMT) with a specific allele combination to trigger SCN resistance. An allele is an alternative form of a gene, one member of a pair, located in a specific position on a specific chromosome. Based on this different allele requirement, and differences in amino acids in resistant soybeans and susceptible soybeans, the researchers conclude that the Peking-type GmSNAP18 gene is performing a different role in SCN resistance than the PI 88788-type GmSNAP 18 gene.

“This opens up a whole new field of research,” Meksem said. “We should not be looking at one gene and one mechanism of that gene. We need to find more about their allele partners to understand how they sense the presence of the SCN, how do they recognize the threat, what is the trigger?

“To our best knowledge, this is the first report of a gene that evolved to possibly use two mechanisms to ensure the same function within the same species – in this case, resistance to a pathogen,” Meksem said. “The knowledge from this study can be readily used to improve nematode resistance in soybeans.”

Meanwhile, the nematode isn’t idly waiting in the field, picking only on plants with less disease-resistance. It is evolving and adapting and changing its own gene sequences to find ways to attack even those plants with strong gene-resistance. Consequently, even a consistently SCN-resistant variety of soybean can lose its resistance over time. That’s one reason it is important to understand how SCN disease-resistant genes function.

There is some urgency for this research, Meksem said. The possibility of the soybean cyst nematode building complete resistance to the PI 88788 line could be catastrophic. The answer, Meksem said, is genetic diversity in the soybean – using other disease-resistant genes and develop more sources of SCN resistant soybean lines -- which, to be successful, requires a better understanding of disease-resistant genes. Meksem’s research is a step in that direction.

In the meantime, he suggests adding a new element to current SCN management. Farmers already rotate crops to manage the SCN. In Illinois, that often means soybean rotating with corn, and sometimes with winter wheat as well. Meksem said adding another element to the crop rotation -- rotating the type of soybean resistant lines used – would make it harder for the SCN to develop immunity to the disease-resistance type deployed in the field, or at least will slow this process.  

The paper detailing the work and results of the research teams, “The GmSNAP18 is the Peking-type rhg1-a Gene for Resistance to Soybean Cyst Nematode,” appears online in “Nature” today (March 27). “Nature Communications” is widely considered the top scientific journal, especially as far as its impact on the international scientific community and on the public as well. Publication in “Nature Communication” is a career highlight for any scientist, Meksem said, noting that it is often a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence. This paper, though, is his second in the “Nature” journal family.

QuikTrip Joins Prime the Pump, Will Expand E15 Availability in Dallas-Fort Worth to 44 Stores

Today, QuikTrip, the Oklahoma based chain of convenience stores, has joined major retailers selling E15—a biofuel that contains 15 percent ethanol—by announcing it will sell the fuel at 44 of its locations in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area in Texas.

QuikTrip joins, Family Express, Kum & Go, MAPCO, Minnoco, Murphy USA, Protec Fuels, RaceTrac, Sheetz, and Thorntons in offering their customers expanded fuel choices at the pump.  Approved for use in all vehicles 2001 and newer, E15 is a high-octane fuel that burns cleaner and cooler than traditional gasoline, giving consumers improved vehicle performance and savings of up to 10 cents per gallon, while contributing to a greener environment.

“We are pleased to have QuikTrip join our retailer family and look forward to expanding access to clean-burning, homegrown E15 with them,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “QuikTrip is clearly committed to providing exceptional value for its customers at the pump. E15 is a high-performance fuel that has higher octane and burns cooler, providing better engine performance, and saving consumers money. Thanks to QuikTrip, drivers in the Dallas-Fort-Worth area will now be able to make the smart choice for E15.”

ACE 2017 DC fly-in promotes RVP relief, RFS support

The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) and over 70 of its grassroots members lobbied Members of Congress last week in Washington, D.C., during the organization’s ninth annual fly-in. The two-day event brought together retailers, ethanol producers, investors, corn growers, service and product providers, and more to participate in over 120 meetings on Capitol Hill.

This year’s fly-in was focused on encouraging co-sponsorship of bipartisan legislation recently introduced in the House and Senate (S. 517, H.R. 1311) to extend Reid vapor pressure (RVP) relief to E15 to allow its use year-round, as well as expressing that the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) works; it’s an America first energy policy and supports a strong rural economy. “People who have been on multiple ACE fly-ins reported that there is more awareness on Capitol Hill about ethanol and the RFS,” said Brian Jennings, ACE Executive Vice President.

A handful of retailers, including representation from Jetz Convenience Centers, Cresco Fast Stop, Midway Service, Good and Quick, Sheetz, and Propel Fuels, provided lawmakers with real-life examples of the importance of the RFS and RVP regulatory relief. Attendees met with both ethanol supporters and opponents, inside and outside of the corn belt.

“We’re encouraged by our meetings because there seemed to be growing support for RVP legislation, even with Members of Congress from outside the corn belt,” Jennings said. “When you explain to them that retailers aren’t allowed to sell E15 in the summer months, even though E15 has lower evaporative emissions than gas and E10, they see this as a problem that needs to be fixed, whether Congress takes that step or EPA decides they can do it on their own.”

This year’s fly-in agenda included a visit from Eric Branstad, Senior White House Advisor to the Department of Commerce. He addressed the crowd at the Wednesday evening reception. “At the end of the day, you have the White House and the President’s support because you’ve earned it,” Branstad said. “I want to make sure Washington D.C. is educated on ethanol and it’s so important that you share that message.”

Adam Gustafson with Boyden Gray & Associates was another guest speaker, who provided insight on the Urban Air Initiative’s regulatory strategy for higher octane fuels.

CWT Assists with 2.4 Million Pounds of Cheese and Butter Export Sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 21 requests for export assistance from member cooperatives that have contracts to sell 2.381 million pounds (1,088 metric tons) of Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses plus 52,360 pounds (23.75 metric tons) of butter to customers in Asia and Oceania. The product has been contracted for delivery in the period from March through June 2017.

So far this year, CWT has assisted member cooperatives who have contracts to sell 21.483 million pounds of American-type cheeses and 1.427 million pounds of butter (82% milkfat) to 12 countries on four continents. The sales are the equivalent of 207.252 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.

President Signs Resolution to Repeal BLM Planning 2.0

President Trump today signed a congressional resolution directing the Bureau of Land Management to repeal their Planning 2.0 Rule. Wyoming rancher and NCBA and PLC member Joel Bousman was in attendance at the White House for the signing. Ethan Lane, executive director of PLC and NCBA federal lands, applauded the action and called it a significant victory for western ranchers.

“BLM’s Planning 2.0 Rule would have caused a wholesale shift in management focus at BLM by prioritizing ‘social and environmental change’ over ensuring the multiple use of public lands,” said Lane. “When you couple the wholesale shift away from multiple-use with the elimination of stakeholder and local input, the rule was unworkable for western communities. We applaud the action by President Trump and look forward to working with the new Administration to bring together a streamlined planning process that works for livestock ranchers and the western communities that depend on the use of BLM lands.”

Friday March 24 Cattle on Feed + Ag News


Nebraska feedlots, with capacities of 1,000 or more head, contained 2.44 million cattle on feed on March 1, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. This inventory was up 1 percent from last year. Placements during February totaled 425,000 head, up 8 percent from 2016. Fed cattle marketings for the month of February totaled 420,000 head, unchanged from last year. Other disappearance during February totaled 15,000 head, unchanged from last year.


Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 650,000 head on March 1, 2017, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Cattle on Feed report. This was up 2 percent from February 1, 2017, and up 3 percent from March 1, 2016. Iowa feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head had 600,000 head on feed, up 3 percent from last month but down 6 percent from last year. Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in all Iowa feedlots totaled 1,250,000 head, up 2 percent from last month but down 2 percent from last year.

Placements of cattle and calves in Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head during February totaled 102,000 head, a decrease of 20 percent from last month but up 11 percent from last year. Feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head placed 59,000 head, down 27 percent from last month and down 20 percent from last year. Placements for all feedlots in Iowa totaled 161,000 head, down 23 percent from last month and down 3 percent from last year.

Marketings of fed cattle from Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head during February totaled 89,000 head, up 3 percent from last month and up 14 percent from last year. Feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head marketed 42,000 head, down 19 percent from last month and last year. Marketings for all feedlots in Iowa were 131,000 head, down 5 percent from last month but up 1 percent from last year. Other disappearance from all feedlots in Iowa totaled 5,000 head.

United States Cattle on Feed Up Slightly

Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 10.8 million head on March 1, 2017. The inventory was slightly above March 1, 2016.

By State   (1,000 hd - % of March 1 '16

Colorado .......:      910          102         
Iowa .............:       650          103         
Kansas ..........:      2,210        102      
Nebraska ......:      2,440        101      
Texas ............:      2,440        100       

Placements in feedlots during February totaled 1.69 million head, 1 percent below 2016. Net placements were 1.64 million head. During February, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 315,000 head, 600-699 pounds were 330,000 head, 700-799 pounds were 490,000 head, 800-899 pounds were 395,000, 900-999 pounds were 124,000, and 1,000 pounds and greater were 40,000 head.

By State  (1,000 hd - % Feb '16)   

Colorado .......:     180           106       
Iowa .............:      102           111       
Kansas ..........:      380           101     
Nebraska ......:      425           108      
Texas ............:      320            93      

Marketings of fed cattle during February totaled 1.65 million head, 4 percent above 2016.  Other disappearance totaled 56,000 head during February, 3 percent below 2016.

By State  (1,000 hd - % Feb '16)   

Colorado .......:      165           106        
Iowa .............:        89           114        
Kansas ..........:      370           107         
Nebraska ......:      420           100         
Texas ............:      320           102        

Additional Land to be Enrolled in CRP Program

New additions to the USDA’s Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) were announced in December 2016 by former United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

“The CRP program has benefits for both landowners and the environment and is one of the most important initiatives for wildlife habitat on privately owned land in Iowa,” said Adam Janke, assistant professor and extension wildlife specialist with Iowa State University.

These new initiatives are known as Clean Lakes, Estuaries and Rivers (CLEAR), designed to combat water quality challenges in places like the Mississippi River and Great Lakes Basin, and State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE), which sets aside 300,000 acres for wetland restoration and 100,000 acres for pollinator habitat across the country.

Filter strip (CP21) and riparian buffer (CP22) practices that are already enrolled in CRP or in areas with a need to reduce nitrate loading to surface water from subsurface drain tile outlets are being targeted through CLEAR. Iowa State University research has shown the potential positive water quality impacts of bioreactors and saturated buffers in Iowa and this new program will help landowners install these practices on their properties.

Iowa is slated to enroll 115,000 new acres in SAFE programs that target high-profile wildlife habitat needs. The goal for 2017 additions are 40,000 acres of habitat for the northern bobwhite quail and an additional 75,000 acres in grassland and wetland habitat targeting ring-necked pheasants, meadowlarks, pollinators and other grassland-dependent wildlife.

“This project is a creative approach to creating wildlife habitat within the Conservation Reserve Program,” Janke said. “It addresses an important need in our state as the northern bobwhite quail has been a declining farmland bird for several years. The program is unique in that it focuses on producing the habitat that bobwhites need to raise their young and find food throughout the winter.”

Additionally, the USDA will now offer an early termination opportunity for certain CRP contracts to socially disadvantaged or beginning farmer or military veterans, including family members. Normally there is a financial penalty for terminating a CRP contract early.

Additional details about CRP acres and the additional acres of land that can be enrolled can be found in the article “UDSA announces CRP changes to help improve water quality, wildlife habitat, and land transfers to beginning farmers.” The article was written by Janke and Wendong Zhang, assistant professor and extension economist with Iowa State, and can be found in the March issue of Ag Decision Maker.

Options for landowners with expiring CRP acres is also covered in the article.

ISU's Lawrence Testifies Before U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee

John Lawrence, associate dean for Extension Programs and Outreach and director of Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension at Iowa State University, spent Thursday on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. talking about the future of family farms.

Lawrence testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Small Business Committee, speaking about the link between family farms, local communities and global markets, as well as the challenges facing family farms and the role of land-grant universities in addressing them. Lawrence also used the opportunity to highlight Iowa State University Extension and Outreach programming for farm succession planning and beginning farmers.

“Iowa’s landscape gives the impression of homogenous farms,” Lawrence told the House’s Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy and Trade. “Crop rotations, tillage methods, machinery, facilities and farmsteads often look similar. However, the number of acres farmed, financial conditions and reliance on off-farm income are difficult to see from the road.”

Currently farmers are being forced to use more working capital and short-term borrowing to meet their cash flow obligations as market prices have fallen sharply over the last two years. If commodity prices continue to remain low, the financial conditions of most farmers will slowly deteriorate, Lawrence said, but added economists are not expecting a crisis as was experienced in the 1980s.

“Farmers have working capital challenges, not a debt crisis,” Lawrence said. “Most farmers have the assets to refinance short-term debt to a longer term loan with more manageable annual payments and continue to operate.”

The impact of these financial conditions differ with the age of the farmer. Older farmers have less debt and more current assets than younger farmers. An increase in interest rates as indicated by the Federal Reserve will have a greater impact on younger, higher leveraged farmers as opposed to older farmers.

Family farms are also facing significant challenges managing a global marketplace while also communicating and planning for the future of the business. Sustaining family farms, and ISU Extension and Outreach’s efforts through the Beginning Farmer Center, was a focus of Lawrence’s testimony.

Lawrence highlighted two specific programs from the Beginning Farmer Center:
-    The Returning to Farm seminar is a pair of two-day workshops for farm owner/operators and their known business successors. The focus is on starting the communication and planning that may continue over multiple years.
-    The Ag Link program links beginning farmers with established farmers desiring to transition their farm business to a new generation and who have not identified a family member as their successor.

Lawrence also informed the subcommittee on the efforts of Iowa State’s Women in Agriculture program, Start-to-Farm groups and partnerships with Iowa Veterans in Agriculture to address the needs of veterans returning to the farm, working in agribusiness or interested in starting a farm business.

To continue to make these kinds of programs available, Lawrence emphasized to the Congressional committee the importance of federal investment in agricultural research and extension programs.

“Federal competitive funds and capacity-building funds help assure innovative research and attention to local challenges,” he said. “State funds leverage federal resources and assure integration between research and practical extension education to address state and regional needs. Local resources help address a broad range of family farm issues from youth, to family nutrition and finance to agriculture. They also relay emerging questions back to land-grant researchers.”

Top 10 Best Burgers in Iowa Announced

Iowans have submitted more than 9200 nominations between February 13 – March 13 and the votes are tallied. The Iowa Beef Industry Council and the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association counted the nominations that were received via the website, texting and paper ballots.

The number of votes each restaurant received determined the 2017 Top Ten restaurants and their burgers. Those restaurants making the Top Ten list (in alphabetical order) include:
- Ankeny Diner, Ankeny                               - Elm’s Club, Creston
- BeerBurger, North Liberty                          - Saucy Focaccia, Cedar Rapids
- BW’s Burgers, West Des Moines               - Smokin’ Hereford, Storm Lake
- Doc’s Stadium Bar & Grill, Jefferson        - The Irish Shanti, Elgin
- Down Right Delicious, Clarinda                - Vaughn’s Café and Bakery, Clarinda

"Celebrating Iowa's best burgers is a subtle way to say 'thank you' to our hardworking cattlemen and women across the state," says Katie Olthoff, Director of Communications for the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association.

Nearly 500 Iowa restaurants were represented in the total nominations, which is a new record for the contest. “The previous record for the number of restaurants nominated was set in 2014, so we are thrilled that we were able to break that record this year with 487 restaurants represented,” comments Brooke German, Director of Marketing for the Iowa Beef Industry Council. “This proves that there are a lot of great tasting burgers all across the state of Iowa.”

New restaurants to the Top 10 list include: BeerBurger, North Liberty; Doc’s Stadium Bar & Grill, Jefferson; Smokin’ Hereford, Storm Lake; and The Irish Shanti, Elgin.

The quest for the winner of the Iowa’s Best Burger will now begin. All Top Ten restaurants will be visited by a panel of anonymous judges who will evaluate the burgers based on taste, appearance, and proper doneness (160 degrees). The judges’ scores and comments will be accumulated and the winner will be crowned on May 1.

“We encourage everyone to visit the Top Ten restaurants,” says German. “These are only a few of the many restaurants in Iowa that do an outstanding job of promoting and serving our beef product to their customers on behalf of Iowa’s beef farmers.”

To learn more about the Top Ten restaurants and the contest, visit

Aptimmune Biologics Receives Iowa Biotech Innovation Showcase's Top Company Award

Aptimmune Biologics was awarded this year’s Biotech Innovation Showcase’s Top Company Award at the 2017 Partnering for Growth Biotech Innovation Showcase & Forum that took place this week in Ankeny, Iowa.

At the Showcase, 12 emerging companies in four categories (agricultural technology, animal health, human health and bio materials) made formal presentations to a panel of eight business leaders from the fields of agricultural biotechnology, intellectual property, human health and small business development. Steve Berger, Aptimmune Biologic’s development director, made the award-winning presentation to the judges.

“We are pleased Aptimmune has been recognized as a bioscience leader by the Iowa Biotechnology Association. This award will only continue to inspire our employees to reach new levels of innovation in the animal health industry,” said Aaron Gilbertie, CEO of Aptimmune Biologics. “Being chosen as Top Company from this group of outstanding innovators says a great deal about the quality of work being done by Aptimmune. The Showcase was an excellent opportunity for our employees to network with other innovators and industry leaders and to highlight some of Aptimmune’s best and brightest ideas.”

The Iowa Biotech Association’s Partnering for Growth Showcase features an investor conference and industry forum that joins innovators, investors and biotech leaders together over the course of a day and a half. It is a premier event for learning, investing and networking with various sectors of the biotech industry.  Start-up presentations focused around the development of biofuels and biomaterials; advances in food, ag and plant genetics; progress in animal health; as well as human health and medical technology. The Innovation Showcase winner received a $5,000 cash prize from the Association.

Aptimmune Biologics, based in Champaign, Ill., specializes in developing and marketing a portfolio of revolutionary mucosal vaccines that provide answers for the most costly viral diseases impacting the swine industry. Aptimmune’s first vaccines are focused on addressing two major viral respiratory pathogens, Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Virus (PRRSV) and influenza.

Cattlemen Call on USDA to Withdraw Damaging GIPSA Rules

Today, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association called on USDA to withdraw the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Act interim final and proposed rules, collectively labeled with the misleading title, Farmer Fair Practices Rules. Craig Uden, NCBA president, said the rules stand to threaten market incentives, the quality of American beef the industry is known for, and will ultimately cost $954 million to the cattle industry.

“These rules are just as troubling as they were when USDA initially proposed them in 2010, after which Congress immediately stepped in to defund the rules, recognizing them as a flawed concept that limits producers’ ability to market their cattle and adding layers of crippling bureaucracy,” said Uden.

Two proposed rules and one interim final rule came out on December 20, 2016, one month before the end of the Obama Administration. The interim final rule regarding the scope of the Packers and Stockyards Act and the proposed rule regarding undue preference and unjust treatment have a direct negative impact on the cattle industry. 

Alternative Marketing Arrangements reward cattle producers for producing the quality beef consumers demand. Under the interim final rule, USDA or a producer no longer needs to prove true economic harm but rather one only needs to say that he or she was treated "unfairly" to sue a packer or processor.

“This approach is counter to the decisions of seven federal courts of appeals and it is this change that ultimately makes the interim final rule a trial attorney’s dream and jeopardizes the Alternative Marketing Arrangements cattle producers utilize,” said Uden. “What incentive would a packer have to pay for superior cattle when they may be sued for rewarding quality? The industry will be forced back to treating all beef as commodity beef under a one-size-fits-all approach.” 

Much like the interim final rule, this proposed rule introduces more litigation into the cattle marketing system. The unfair practices and undue preferences provisions in the proposed rule are extremely vague and so ambiguous that broad interpretation is expected and compliance will be difficult.

“Vague and ambiguous rules typically result in producers and each segment of the beef supply chain unable to determine which practices are prohibited or permissible,” said Uden. “The resulting uncertainty will simply lead producers to incur litigation costs to protect their respective marketing arrangements. Conversely, it provides other producers an opportunity to file a lawsuit to challenge such arrangements.”

Furthermore, GIPSA admits it is “unable to quantify the benefits” of these proposals.

 “This is concerning since issuing rules with no discernable benefits should alone be grounds to withdraw the interim final rule and the proposed rule,” said Uden.

NPPC Asks USDA To Abandon GIPSA Rules

Citing grave concerns that they would “cause serious harm to the pork industry,” the National Pork Producers Council in comments submitted today said the U.S. Department of Agriculture should not finalize – or at least exempt pork producers from – regulations related to the buying and selling of livestock.

According to NPPC, the so-called Farmer Fair Practices Rules – an interim final rule and a proposed regulation – would “enable a torrent of lawsuits against members of the pork industry,” replace carefully negotiated contracts with standard terms that are unworkable, ignore crucial differences among the various sectors of the meat industry and raise serious constitutional concerns under the First Amendment.” The regulations were issued in the last weeks of the Obama administration by USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA).

“GIPSA’s one-size-fits-all approach would restrict livestock transactions, lead to consolidation of the livestock industry – putting farmers out of business – and increase consumer prices for meat,” said NPPC President Ken Maschhoff, a pork producer from Carlyle, Ill. “These regulations could impose staggering costs on the pork industry. The only people who would benefit from this heavy-handed government intrusion in the hog market are trial lawyers.”

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

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

The Farmer Fair Practices Rules, NPPC pointed out in its comments, “invites the courts to regulate the meat industry in ways that courts have repeatedly refused to do. This judicial regulation threatens to replace the innovative practices that have arisen over time out of specific market conditions and based on the needs of the industry as a whole.”

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

An Informa Economics study found that the 2010 GIPSA Rule coupled with the interim final rule would cost the U.S. pork industry more than $420 million annually, with most of the costs related to the interim final rule’s “no competitive injury” provision.

Discussions Begin Heating up for the 2018 Farm Bill: What Does it Mean for the Cattle Industry?

Brian R. Williams, Asst Extension Professor, Dept of Ag Econ, Mississippi State University

The 2016 elections are now a distant memory and the transition into a new presidential administration is nearly complete. Only three cabinet picks have yet to be confirmed, one of which is the Secretary of Agriculture whose confirmation hearing is set to begin Thursday. Now that the dust has settled a bit and most of the cabinet picks have been confirmed, talk about the 2018 Farm Bill has begun to heat up. Which programs will be cut, which will be changed, how will the new programs look, and will any funding be cut? These are just a few of the questions being asked regarding the next farm bill. Much of the focus has been on traditional row crops, with cotton and STAX gathering attention here in the South while potential changes to ARC and PLC dominating discussions in other parts of the country.

With all the discussion surrounding row crops, where does that leave livestock producers? On the dairy side of things, perhaps the item gathering the most attention is the Margin Protection Program (MPP). Under the MPP portion of the current farm bill, dairy producers receive payments based upon a "margin" that is calculated using a predetermined formula and current feed and milk prices. Any time the two-month calculated margin falls below the producer selected coverage level, a payment is received. At the time the farm bill was written, this seemed to be a great program that would provide a safety net for dairy producers. This did not turn out to be the case, as feed prices have fallen substantially and producer payments have been limited over the life of the farm bill. Current discussions regarding changes to the MPP include the possibility of altering the formula, using regional prices rather than national prices, and scrapping the program completely in favor of a new program similar to the revenue-based programs in past farm bills.

For beef cattle producers, there are two program areas that are being discussed. First, there is a discussion surrounding animal disease. Much of this discussion concerns the response to a potential foot and mouth disease (FMD) outbreak. The most recent case of FMD in the U.S. was several decades ago, however there has been a push to develop more robust preventative measures and a better response plan if an outbreak were to occur in the future. The current plan is based upon a "stamping out" philosophy that involves euthanizing any infected or susceptible animals. However, this approach is dated and was developed in an environment entirely different than current conditions. We are living in a much more mobile world today, and cattle are being shipped across state lines much more frequently. As a result, discussions surrounding a multi-faceted approach of euthanasia and vaccination are becoming more frequent. The next farm bill could offer a few solutions in the form of funds to support the creation of a vaccination supply, indemnity programs if depopulation were necessary to stop an epidemic, or authorizing new FMD vaccine manufacturing facilities in the U.S.

Second, what changes are coming to the livestock insurance programs? There are currently two primary insurance products for cattle producers: Livestock Gross Margin (LGM) insurance and Livestock Risk Protection (LRP) insurance. Although these insurance products are readily available, the adoption rate remains very low. Rather, most in the cattle industry elect to "self-insure" in the form of working capital. One proposed solution to increase enrollment and make the insurance programs more appealing to producers is to increase the premium subsidies. However, it is going to be quite difficult to find additional funding for the new farm bill, so any subsidies offered to cattle producers would likely have to come at the expense of reduced funding for other commodities.


The National Pork Producers Council's trade team this week completed a series of meetings in Peru and Colombia to explore promising opportunities for U.S. pork producers. Peru is a small but growing market where current consumption of U.S. pork has considerable potential to expand. Colombia is an important and rapidly growing pork market where strong cooperation has expanded market opportunities in mutually beneficial ways.

In partnership with U.S. pork producers and the National Pork Board, domestic producers have worked aggressively to expand consumption of pork in Colombia. The meetings included a gathering of NPPC’s Trade Policy Committee in Lima to discuss trade policy issues and to meet with Peruvian pork producers, U.S. Embassy officials and Peruvian government officials. Nick Giordano, NPPC counsel and vice president of global government affairs, traveled to Colombia where he explored trade opportunities with staff for Colombia’s national pork producers group, government officials, including the Colombian Minister of Trade, and importers.

ASA Supports National Biodiesel Board Anti-Dumping Petition

The American Soybean Association (ASA) has signaled its support for an anti-dumping and countervailing duty petition filed yesterday by the National Biodiesel Board (NBB). The petition alleges that Argentine and Indonesian companies are flooding the U.S. market with dumped biodiesel—biodiesel sold at less than the cost of production—and subsidized biodiesel in violation of America’s trade laws. Soybean oil remains the primary biodiesel feedstock in the U.S., and the biodiesel industry provides a significant market for surplus soybean oil that is a co-product of protein meal production. ASA President Ron Moore, a soybean farmer from Roseville, Ill., confirmed ASA’s support for the NBB petition in a statement:

"Biodiesel imports from Argentina and Indonesia have flooded the U.S. market in recent years and these imports receive trade and market distorting subsidies in their home countries that provide an unfair advantage over U.S. biodiesel. Soybean farmers have a vested interest in the biodiesel industry, having made substantial investments over the past several decades to established and build a domestic biodiesel industry and market. We believe an investigation by the Department of Commerce and the International Trade Commission will show that unfair subsidies provided by Argentina and Indonesia are resulting in imports being unlawfully dumped on the U.S. market. We look forward to the appropriate anti-dumping and countervailing duties being imposed to remedy these unfair and unlawful practices.”

IDFA Urges Congress to Address Dairy Risk Management

Michael Dykes, D.V.M., president and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), testified before the House Committee on Agriculture about dairy policy and its impact on potential provisions in the 2018 Farm Bill. Dykes said that IDFA's top priority is to enhance demand for U.S. dairy products--both at home and in the global market.

"First and foremost, the dairy industry needs better mechanisms for risk management -- and that's on both the farm and processor side," Dykes said. Dykes pointed out that processors could also benefit from better tools to protect against the negative impact of price volatility on the U.S. dairy industry.

"Just as farmers are now looking to improve the Margin Protection Program and the Livestock Gross Margin insurance program, dairy manufactures also need access to effective risk management tools in this farm bill," said Dykes. "Forward contracting has provided an important mechanism for manufacturers to directly contract with individual farmers or their cooperatives at a fixed price to reduce price volatility. This program should now be expanded to include all classes of milk and be made permanent."

Dykes said that IDFA will work collaboratively with National Milk Producers Federation to improve risk management for both farmers and processors.

The global marketplace is critical, Dykes noted, as that is where the U.S. dairy industry can expect the most potential growth.

"Exports are driving growth in demand for U.S. farm milk," said Dykes.

Dykes testified that Mexico is the number one export market for U.S. dairy, accounting for one-fourth of total dairy exports. "We need to ensure that a renegotiation of NAFTA preserves our important Mexico market and gains increased access to the Canadian market," said Dykes.

Dykes also said that the Asia-Pacific region, already the world's largest market for food and agriculture, is expected to double by 2050. "Reducing and eliminating tariffs and other restrictive agricultural policies in this region will allow our dairy industry to compete," said Dykes.

On the domestic side, Dykes noted that only 1 out of every 10 Americans consumes the recommended 3 servings of dairy a day as recommended by the 2015 Dietary Guidelines. To address this shortfall and encourage more dairy consumption, Dykes advocated for voluntary incentives under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and more school milk options.

Thursday March 23 Ag News


The Nebraska Department of Agriculture’s (NDA) weeklong celebration of National Ag Week continues with the release of the fifth edition of the popular magazine, Nebraska Agriculture and You. The magazine,  available in print and online, highlights agriculture as our state’s number one industry and strives to help consumers better understand the extensive role agriculture plays in their day-to-day lives.

“This magazine is a great place to share information about how diverse and expansive the agriculture industry is in Nebraska,” said NDA Director Greg Ibach. “We’ve included stories about Nebraska families who operate and maintain some of the more than 48,700 farms in the state. Farm families work hard to provide us all with nutritious, affordable and safe food.”

The magazine will be distributed to several locations throughout the state including office waiting rooms, banks, libraries, county extension offices, chambers of commerce, etc. The magazine is also available online at by clicking on the magazine cover on the right side of page.

“Nebraska’s agriculture industry goes far beyond the farm gate, and this magazine helps highlight the numerous contributions agriculture makes to our state,” said Ibach. “It’s a great communications tool to tell the true story of Nebraska agriculture.”

Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Are you going to plant a new hay field this year?  Instead of automatically planting pure alfalfa, think about mixing some grass into your planting.

               Hay growers in our area often plant new fields to pure alfalfa without even thinking about other alternatives.  For lots of folks, pure alfalfa is the best choice, but many of you might find it better to mix in some grass, like orchardgrass, smooth brome, or festulolium, with your alfalfa.

               Let’s look at some advantages of a grass-alfalfa mixture.  If you regularly feed more than 5 or 6 pounds of alfalfa per day to stock cows during winter, they probably are getting way more than enough protein but maybe not enough TDN or energy.  Mixing grass with alfalfa usually lowers the protein but slightly increases the TDN content of hay.  So your cows actually could receive a more balanced diet.  Also, if you sometimes graze your hay fields, grass will reduce the risk of bloat.

               In the field, grass can grow in areas where alfalfa is not well-adapted or fill in spots as alfalfa dies out.  This is better than having weeds invade bare areas.  Grass-alfalfa mixtures often dry out more rapidly after cutting than pure alfalfa so you might get more hay made without rain damage.  And if it does rain, the mixture usually suffers less injury, both in the windrow and in the bale.

               Yield-wise, protein yield may be less with the mix, but total tonnage usually is about the same or higher than pure stands.  Most of the grass yield will come at first cut, so regrowth will be mostly alfalfa.  Selling a mixture can be more difficult, though, because dairies prefer pure alfalfa and grass is more difficult to grind.

               You know alfalfa is good, but maybe for you, mixing it with grass is even better.


Fellowship applications for Nebraska LEAD (Leadership Education/Action Development) group 37 are now available for men and women involved in production agriculture or agribusiness.

"Up to 30 motivated men and women with demonstrated leadership potential will be selected from five geographic districts across our state," said Terry Hejny, Nebraska LEAD Program director.

In addition to monthly three-day seminars throughout Nebraska from mid-September through early April each year, Nebraska LEAD Fellows also participate in a 10-day national study/travel seminar and a two-week international study/travel seminar.

Seminar themes include leadership assessment and potential, natural resources and energy, agricultural policy, leadership through communication, Nebraska's political process, global perspectives, nuclear energy, social issues, understanding and developing leadership skills, agribusiness and marketing, advances in health care and the resources and people of Nebraska's Panhandle, Hejny said.

The Nebraska LEAD Program is designed to prepare spokespersons, problem-solvers and decision-makers for Nebraska and its agricultural industry.

In its 36th year, the program is operated by the Nebraska Agricultural Leadership Council, a nonprofit organization, in collaboration with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Nebraska colleges and universities, business and industry, and individuals throughout the state.

To request an application, email Kimberly Braaten at Requests can also be sent to 104 ACB, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 68583-0940. Applications are due by June 15.

For information about the selection process, visit or call 402-472-6810.

Farmer-Leaders Graduate from Leadership At Its Best Program

Farmer-leaders from 13 states graduated from the 2016-17 American Soybean Association (ASA) Leadership At Its Best program this week near Washington, D.C. The Leadership At Its Best program is sponsored by Syngenta and develops valuable leadership, communication and advocacy skills in farmers who have already shown potential to be strong leaders through the positions they hold with their state soybean organizations. This select group of farmer-leaders participated in the first part of their Leadership At Its Best training this past summer in Greensboro, N.C. This week, their training focused primarily on development of stronger communications skills, increasing their understanding of how policies are formed in Washington, D.C., and learning how to advocate for issues important to soybean farmers. The class participants concluded their training with a day of Hill visits with their state soybean associations.

Leadership At Its Best Program participants are nominated by their state soybean association. This year’s class participants included: Craig Williams, Oaktown, Ind.; Morey Hill, Madrid, Iowa; Brent Gatton, Bremen, Ky.; Laurie Isley, Palmyra, Miss.; Howard Reyburn, Oxford, Pa.; Paul Dahlseng, Starbuck, Minn.; John Mark Looney, Leland, Miss.; Peter Rost, Jr., New Madrid, Mo.; Leon Dern, Firth, Neb.; Christopher Naylor, Clinton, N.C.; Scott Metzger, Williamsport, Ohio; Brandon Wipf, Huron, S.D.; and Casey Youngerman, Lexington, Tenn.

ASA appreciates the continued support provided by Syngenta that makes this valuable leadership program possible. ASA will be reaching out to state soybean associations soon to begin collecting nominations for the 2017-18 class.

USDA Livestock Slaughter:  Veal Production at Record Low for February

Commercial red meat production for the United States totaled 3.94 billion pounds in February, up 1 percent from the 3.90 billion pounds produced in February 2016.

By State (million lbs.  - % of Feb '16)

Nebraska ....:          601.8            101      
Iowa ...........:          553.8             98      
Kansas ........:          398.8             97      

Beef production, at 1.93 billion pounds, was 3 percent above the previous year. Cattle slaughter totaled 2.37 million head, up 3 percent from February 2016. The average live weight was down 12 pounds from the previous year, at 1,360 pounds.

Veal production totaled 5.6 million pounds, 8 percent below February a year ago. Calf slaughter totaled 40,200 head, up 10 percent from February 2016. The average live weight was down 46 pounds from last year, at 241 pounds.

Pork production totaled 1.99 billion pounds, down 1 percent from the previous year. Hog slaughter totaled 9.37 million head, down 1 percent from February 2016. The average live weight was up 1 pound from the previous year, at 284 pounds.

Lamb and mutton production, at 11.2 million pounds, was down 11 percent from February 2016. Sheep slaughter totaled 159,400 head, 9 percent below last year. The average live weight was 140 pounds, down 2 pounds from February a year ago.

January to February 2017 commercial red meat production was 8.2 billion pounds, up 3 percent from 2016. Accumulated beef production was up 6 percent from last year, veal was down 7 percent, pork was up 1 percent from last year, and lamb and mutton production was down 1 percent.

U.S. Ethanol Exports Soared in 2016

Exports of ethanol last year rose by 26 percent in 2016 when compared to the year earlier to over 1 billion gallons.

The US Energy Information Administration says the U.S. shipped 267 million gallons to Brazil in 2016. The Latin American country, a major producer of ethanol itself, now ranks ahead of Canada in that regard. China was third in U.S. ethanol import volumes with 179 million gallons last year.

There were 34 different countries that purchased U.S. ethanol last year.

EIA also said ethanol imports in 2016 contracted by 60% to 36 million gallons, the lowest level since 2010.

Corn is the primary feedstock for ethanol production, which stood at 15 billion gallons in 2016.

NCGA Statement on USDA Nominee Sonny Perdue’s Confirmation Hearing

Today the Senate Agriculture Committee held a hearing on the nomination of Sonny Perdue as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. The following is a statement from the National Corn Growers Association:

“The National Corn Growers Association reiterates our support for Governor Perdue as the next Secretary of Agriculture, and we urge the Senate to move quickly to confirm him.

“Today, Governor Perdue promised to be a ‘strong and tenacious advocate’ for America’s farmers and ranchers and ‘USDA’s chief salesman around the world.’ We could not agree more on the need for strong leadership at USDA, especially when it comes to trade. Governor Perdue pledged to work closely with the rest of the Administration to negotiate strong trade deals that benefit America’s farmers and ranchers. We also appreciate his commitment to a strong Renewable Fuel Standard.

“USDA has been without a Secretary for more than two months, at a time when there is much work to do. NCGA stands ready to work with Governor Perdue and the rest of the Trump Administration to support strong trade policy, continue investing in renewable fuels, protecting risk management programs, and preparing for the next farm bill. We urge the Senate to confirm him as soon as possible.”

Growth Energy Statement on Confirmation Hearing for Secretary of Agriculture

Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor released the following statement regarding the Senate Agriculture Committee’s confirmation hearing for President Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Agriculture, former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue.

“The role played by the Secretary of Agriculture is of critical importance to the biofuels industry and rural America. We look forward to hearing Governor Perdue’s perspective on how to move American agriculture forward.

“President Trump’s vocal support of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and ethanol gives us confidence that his cabinet nominees understand his commitment, and we are eager to hear more from Governor Perdue about the role biofuels, including ethanol, can play in addressing the challenges and opportunities facing our nation’s agricultural industry. Should he be confirmed, we will look forward to working with him to protect the economic wellbeing of American farmers, all while providing consumers access to higher performing, American-made biofuels.”

 NFU Urges Swift Confirmation of Perdue as Ag Secretary

Former Georgia governor Sonny Perdue appeared before the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee today for the confirmation hearing on his nomination to be U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. Urging a speedy confirmation vote of Mr. Perdue, National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson issued the following statement:

“If confirmed, Sonny Perdue will be stepping into a position of great importance within this administration. To this point, agriculture and rural America have not had a seat at the table in this administration.

“NFU is encouraged by the secretary-nominee’s focus on trade, particularly on being a strong advocate for agriculture and easing restrictions on trade with Cuba. Ensuring the administration goes about trade deal renegotiations in a way that both deals with our country’s overall trade deficit and does not adversely affect agriculture’s strong footing in international trade will be very important.

“NFU is also pleased that Mr. Perdue intends on finding an immediate solution for family dairy producers who are struggling amidst years of depressed milk prices. We’re thankful for the Committee’s attention and Mr. Perdue’s commitment to explore options advocated for by NFU and other industry partners.

“We urge the Senate to swiftly confirm Sonny Perdue so that he can get to work on behalf of American family farmers and ranchers.”

Cattleman Testifies before U.S. House Small Business Subcommittee

Today, Tim White, a cattle producer from Lexington, Kentucky, testified before the House Small Business Committee’s Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy, and Trade regarding the future of America’s small family farms. In his testimony, White called on Congress to address the overly burdensome regulatory environment that is hampering rural America, repeal the federal estate tax, and to ensure the 2018 Farm Bill works for America’s cattle producers.

White said that as a small business owner, one of the biggest concerns he faces is over-regulation. EPA’s “waters of the United States” he said is a prime example of overregulation that would subject farmers and ranchers to unnecessary and costly permitting process.

“As a family-owned business, and knowing the detrimental impact this regulation could have on my operation, it is appalling that the agencies asserted that it would not have a significant economic impact on small businesses.”

White also called for the repeal of the federal estate tax, which is a leading cause of the breakup of multi-generational family farms.

“U.S. livestock producers understand and appreciate the role that taxes play in maintaining and improving our nation in many ways, however, they also believe that the most effective tax code is a fair one,” explained White. “For this reason, a full, immediate repeal of the estate tax must be a top priority as Congress considers comprehensive tax reform legislation.”

The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 permanently extended the estate tax exemption level to $5 million per person/$10 million per couple. White said, “While we are grateful for the ATRA, the current state of our economy has left many agricultural producers guessing about their ability to plan for estate tax liabilities.”

White concluded his testimony discussing the 2018 Farm Bill and how it could positively or negatively affect many small family farms and ranches.

White stressed the farm bill must include a strong research title to ensure that the industry can remain as efficient and competitive as we can be in producing beef, a strong conservation title to protect programs like EQIP which have been very successful in helping producers do even more to protect our resources, as well as a robust animal health program including a FMD vaccine bank to respond to any potential outbreaks which would have a devastating impact on the nation’s beef industry.

“Estimates show that an FMD outbreak in the United States could cost our nation’s livestock producers billions of dollars in the first 12 months alone, “said White. “NCBA will be requesting support for the creation of a larger and more adequate FMD vaccine bank within the 2018 Farm Bill to include funding of $150 million dollars a year over five years. We feel that this FMD vaccine bank is vitally important to the beef industry as countries around the globe continue to grapple with this disease.”

Additionally, White said cattlemen oppose any attempt at government intervention in the marketplace, including mandatory Country-of-Origin labeling.

 NFU Public Comments Strongly Endorse Fair Practice Rules

On behalf of nearly 200,000 family farm and ranch members, National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson submitted public comments to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) yesterday, advocating for the agency to finalize the Farmer Fair Practices Rules. The rules would provide family farmers and ranchers with protections against anti-competitive and abusive practices.

“Family farmers and ranchers are operating in an extremely consolidated agricultural marketplace, where lack of competition provides the major meat companies with tremendous power,” said Johnson. “Farmer Fair Practices Rules provide family farmers and ranchers with the most basic of protections against egregious and anti-competitive practices. They are long overdue and we urge the USDA to finalize them as soon as possible.”

In his comments, Johnson highlighted the extreme consolidation in the livestock and poultry sectors, noting that just four giant meatpacking companies control 85 percent of the beef market, 74 percent of the pork market, and more than half of the market for poultry.

“Due to a lack of competition across the agricultural sector, farmers are subject to both the bargaining power of sellers of agricultural inputs and the bargaining power of buyers of the products farmers grow,” said Johnson.

Johnson said that this bargaining power has allowed processors and integrators to institutionalize many unfair and abusive practices, particularly in the poultry and pork industries.

“The development of contract farming as the model in the poultry and hog sector has institutionalized the ‘monopsony/monopoly relations between farm and agribusiness and the ability of the latter to capture value by the producer through price manipulation.’  The two parties that negotiate the contract are not equal. This asymmetrical power results in undue influence over contract farmers.”

“The status quo system of indentured servitude by contract growers who are subject to increasingly offensive demands by integrators is simply unacceptable,” he added.

Johnson noted that the Farmer Fair Practices Rules update the Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921, which was passed to protect competition in the meatpacking industry.

“Congress passed the Act with recognition that the previous antitrust acts did not adequately protect farmers and consumers from the monopolistic practices of the meatpacking industry,” stated Johnson. “The Act set out to regulate meatpackers engaging in unfair or deceptive practices that harm individual farmers.”

“Over the last few decades, judicial decisions have weakened the original act, providing farmers and ranchers with less protection in a more challenging marketplace. These rules will go a long way to make sure that farmers and ranchers can continue to operate with basic protections under the law,” he concluded.

U.S. biodiesel industry calls out illegal trading

Today the National Biodiesel Board filed an antidumping and countervailing duty petition, making the case that Argentine and Indonesian companies are violating trade laws by flooding the U.S. market with dumped and subsidized biodiesel. The petition was filed with the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission on behalf of the National Biodiesel Board Fair Trade Coalition, which is made up of the National Biodiesel Board and U.S. biodiesel producers.

“The National Biodiesel Board and U.S. biodiesel industry is committed to fair trade, and we support the right of producers and workers to compete on a level playing field,” said Donnell Rehagen, National Biodiesel Board CEO. “This is a simple case where companies in Argentina and Indonesia are getting advantages that cheat U.S. trade laws and are counter to fair competition.  NBB is involved because U.S. biodiesel production, which currently support more than 50,000 American jobs, is being put at risk by unfair market practices.”

Because of illegal trade activities, biodiesel imports from Argentina and Indonesia surged by 464 percent from 2014 to 2016. That growth has taken 18.3 percentage points of market share from U.S. manufacturers.

“The resulting imbalance caused by unfair trade practices is suffocating U.S. biodiesel producers,” Rehagen explained. “Our goal is to create a level playing field to give markets, consumers and retailers access to the benefits of true and fair competition.”

Based on NBB’s review, Argentine and Indonesian producers are dumping their biodiesel in the United States by selling at prices that are substantially below their costs of production.  This is reflected in the petition’s alleged dumping margins of 23.3percent for Argentina and 34.0 percent for Indonesia.  The petition also alleges illegal subsidies based on numerous government programs in those countries.

This is not the first time that Argentine and Indonesian biodiesel producers have been charged with violating international trade laws.  In 2013, the EU imposed 41.9 to 49.2 percent duties on Argentina and 8.8 to 23.3 percent duties on Indonesia.  Just last year, Peru imposed both antidumping and countervailing duties on Argentine biodiesel.

2016 USGC Annual Report Now Available Online And In Poster Format

The U.S. Grains Council's (USGC's) 2016 annual report is now available online and via mail to members, highlighting the organization's work in developing market share, finding new grain demand and serving long-term buyers of U.S. corn, barley, sorghum, distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) and ethanol.

The 2015/2016 marketing year experienced large exports as commodity prices remained low, with 100 MMT of U.S. feed grains exported across the world. This boom continued into the 2016/2017 marketing year, which started Sept. 1, 2016, with almost 28 MMT of feed grains in some form exported in the first quarter alone.

Working together with members, the Council’s global team continues to hone strategy and find new opportunities to work in a changing market and policy environment in order to benefit U.S. agriculture. The report reviews these sales with a focus on Council activities in more than 50 grain markets.

Highlights from 2016 included the biennial Export Exchange, co-sponsored by the Renewable Fuels Association, which brought together more than 200 international buyers of coarse grains from 35 countries, resulting in sales of 2.6 million metric tons (102.4 million bushels) of coarse grains and co-products valued at $460 million.

The Council also conducted activities essential to building and maintaining trust in the United States as the long-term supplier of high-quality grain for buyers in loyal markets like Taiwan, Japan and South Korea while working to recapture share in markets like Algeria and Malaysia and laying the foundation for sales farther into the future in markets like Cuba and Tanzania.

The online report, supplemented with videos, infographics and photos produced throughout the year, is available at

EPA Chief: Agency Will be States’ Partner in Addressing Environmental Issues

Just days into his tenure as EPA chief, Administrator Scott Pruitt was at President Donald Trump’s side as the president signed an executive order repealing the Waters of the U.S. rule. In an exclusive interview with the American Farm Bureau, Pruitt said the WOTUS repeal is ushering in a new era at EPA, one in which states have primacy and private property owners have certainty. 

According to Pruitt, regulators totally missed the marked with WOTUS, going well beyond the authority afforded the agency under the Clean Water Act and writing a rule that had farmers, builders and many others fearful for their livelihoods.

Pruitt is particularly focused on restoring states’ leadership when it comes to the environment.

“At the end of the day the goal has to be regulatory certainty, objectively measured, so that the role of the EPA and the role of the state departments of environmental quality, and the water resources boards and all those agencies at the state levels—as well as private property owners and towns and municipalities across the country that make land-use decisions—that their authority, their power, their decision-making is respected and that we stay in our lane,” he said.

In that vein, Pruitt said the agency will no longer issue de facto rules under the guise of guidance.

“Guidance is supposed to do what? It’s supposed to give you guidance in respect to rules that are already in existence,” Pruitt noted, emphasizing that there’s a well-defined rulemaking process designed to ensure that all stakeholders’ voices are heard by regulators.

“We don’t have all the answers here, and when agencies make rules, they need to know how it impacts people in all the states across the country and they need to hear from those people and respond to those folks and say, ‘I hear you, and here’s how we’re going to address that and we think that’s an important point.’ That’s what rulemaking should be about,” he said.

Acknowledging that there’s a time and place for enforcement, and, if need be, prosecution, Pruitt emphasized that the agency will first approach states as allies, rather than adversaries.

“I really believe citizens care about the water they drink and the air they breathe. We need to believe that, trust that and restore that trust between this agency and the states,” he said.

INNVICTIS CROP CARE, LLC Launches STAVE, Their Newest Post-Emerge Broadleaf Herbicide

INNVICTIS CROP CARE, LLC announces STAVE™ as the newest addition to­ its expanding portfolio. STAVE will be a great tool for hard to control annual and perennial broadleaf weeds in wheat and barley.

STAVE is a selective, post-emergence herbicide for control of the most difficult broadleaf weeds in cereals, corn, fallow and CRP ground. It is an ideal tank mix partner when tackling weeds such as Russian thistle, morning glory, and ALS resistant kochia. Additionally, STAVE offers a wide application window from 2 leaf to flagleaf and allows rotation flexibility to most crops in 120 days.

“STAVE is a great addition to our post-emergent herbicide lineup. STAVE contains the active ingredient Fluroxypyr, a Group 4 herbicide. Herbicides in this class consist of synthetic auxins/growth regulators and were among some of the first selective herbicides developed. STAVE, when added to certain post-emergence herbicide programs, will provide our growers with enhanced herbicide efficacy on tough to kill weeds such as kochia, cocklebur, and many others,” says Will Scott, Tech Services and Market Development Manager for INNVICTIS.

Wednesday March 22 Ag News

 Ethanol Shines In Nebraska Agriculture

Recent reports indicate a strong future for ethanol production in 2017. With added capacity and a diversified platform, ethanol is a bright spot in a bleak agriculture forecast.

An impact study by University of Nebraska-Lincoln economists in 2015 revealed Nebraska’s ethanol production capacity growth between 1995 and 2014 was tenfold with a $5 billion annual economic impact. Just a few years later, that growth continues.

With an operating capacity of approximately 2.2 billion gallons of ethanol, Nebraska ethanol producers used 31 percent of the state’s corn crop in 2016. This operating capacity is an increase of five percent compared to 2015. Production is expected to rise in 2017 with a projected record year for ethanol.

“In a challenging time of agriculture finances, the ethanol sector continues to be a strong market for corn growers,” said Todd Sneller, Nebraska Ethanol Board administrator. “This increase in Nebraska ethanol production shows that more corn is being purchased locally and turned into not only ethanol, but a number of valuable co-products.”

In 2016, Nebraska’s ethanol industry produced more than 7.2 million tons of distillers feeds and 268,000 tons of corn oil.  Additional co-products include corn syrup, dry starch and specialty livestock feeds.

“We see what economists describe as an economic ‘bounce’ when we take advantage of the added value as grain is converted to food, fuel, fiber and bio-products,” Sneller said. “There is enormous potential for biofuels to continue to strengthen the economic health of Nebraska.”

In addition to purchasing more corn, several ethanol producers have invested in new technology to increase capacity and product diversification. Sneller noted approximately $150 million in new investments to local ethanol plants like Siouxland Ethanol in Jackson, Flints Hills Resources in Fairmont, E-Energy in Adams, and Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) in Columbus.

“Plants in Lexington and Ravenna that were recently bought by Nebraska companies are running at capacity and investing in expanded capacity,” Sneller said. “These expansions and new co-products mean additional jobs and income in Nebraska.”

As the second largest producer in the United States, Nebraska’s ethanol production makes a global impact. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the United States exported more than 1 billion gallons of ethanol in 2016, an increase of 26 percent compared to 2015. EIA estimates net exports of ethanol to rise another six percent in 2017.

“We continue to see huge demand for ethanol in Asian and South American markets,” Sneller said. “The robust ethanol export trade means we expect another record-level year in ethanol production.”


The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is part of a $6.6 million research initiative to promote soil health through the development and adoption of new cover crops across the United States. The initiative was launched March 22 by the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research and The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, which is the lead institution. 

The initiative, made possible by a $2.2 million grant from FFAR, will bring together representatives from the seed industry, the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service, a producer network and multiple land-grant universities including Nebraska.

Cover crop is a term applied to a number of plant species that farmers, ranchers and landowners may plant to help manage soil erosion and fertility, preserve moisture content, and control weeds and diseases. The focus of the initiative will be to identify cover crop germplasm with the greatest potential to improve soil health across a broad geographic area. Germplasm improvement will focus on species within three groups: small grains (wheat, rye, oat and triticale), annual legumes (hairy vetch, winter peas and clovers), and brassicas (turnips, radishes, kale and mustards).

"Once The Noble Foundation identifies superior germplasm of these cover crop species, the role of the trial site collaborators is to test their regional adaptation," said John Guretzky, associate professor in the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture and co-leader of the project. "We'll be evaluating the germplasm to see how it performs in different environments."

Nebraska will be the Northern Plains trial site for the cover crop evaluations. Trials will also be conducted in Maryland for the Northeast, North Carolina for the Southeast, Oklahoma for the Southern Plains and Missouri for the Midwest.

"These sites have experience in cover crop evaluation and will allow us to effectively screen each species and variety for its effectiveness, its role with other crop mixes and its range of adaptation," said Twain Butler, Noble Foundation research agronomist and project manager. "These sites will also illustrate the use and effectiveness of cover crops for the purpose of sharing our findings with agricultural producers."

The project is not limited to traditional breeding and evaluation. Engaging both producers and industry, researchers will also seek to identify and introduce key traits that can improve crop performance and soil enhancement. Additionally, scientists at the Noble Foundation will utilize advanced breeding techniques – which have traditionally been limited in application to high-value, row-crops – to bring new and value-added characteristics to cover crops.

The short-term goals of the research are to identify the best cover crop species and varieties currently available through evaluation and screening, promote them to farmers and ranchers, and increase effective options within the marketplace.

"I expect that this project will generate a lot of performance data for producers, which should lead to better adoption of the new cover crop varieties," Guretzky said.

Researchers from this project will share results with the public through national meetings and peer-reviewed publications. Certain outcomes, including molecular markers, will be made available through publication and publicly accessible databases.

Michael Sieh, Stanton Community Schools Superintendent is the Featured Speaker at the NeFU District 7 Spring Meeting in Norfolk

In response to the growing new coalition “Nebraskans United for Property Tax Reform and Education” comprised of 21 agricultural and educational organizations, Michael Sieh, Stanton Community Schools Superintendent will be the featured speaker at the Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU) spring District 7 meeting.  The public is invited to participate in the 6:00 pm meeting at Valentino’s, 1025 S. 13th Street, Norfolk Thursday, March 30th.  The “eat and meet” meeting will begin after the “on your own” supper.

“We are really excited to formalize and grow the relationship and conversation between agriculture and education.  Superintendent Sieh was born and raised on a northeast Nebraska farm, and has been working with farmers in rural school districts for many years.  We welcome the opportunity to share information and perspectives between our farmers and Superintendent Sieh.  We need to work together because we share common interests and goals,” said NeFU President John Hansen.

The new coalition issued a joint statement that included:  “As a coalition representing homeowners, business owners, farmers and ranchers, taxpayers, and groups across the spectrum of public education, we believe the Nebraska Legislature must work to provide adequate and sustainable funding for high quality education and do so in a way that reduces the over-reliance on local property taxes to fund education.”

For more information, call Art Tanderup (402) 278-0952 on his cell or (402) 887-1396 at home. 

NE Farmers Union District 7 Spring Meeting

Valentino’s, 1025 S. 13th St, Norfolk, NE 
Thursday, March 30, 2017, 6:00 pm buffet supper on own with meeting to follow.
· District 7 Director’s Report:  Martin Kleinschmit
· NFU Convention, state & national issues:  John Hansen
· Featured speaker Michael  J. Sieh, Superintendent for Stanton
Community Schools will share information and perspective with us on property tax relief and adequate funding for education.
Bring a friend, neighbor or family member.
For more info, call Art Tanderup (402) 278-0952 or (402) 887-1396.

Nebraska Brand Committee Announces New Payment Methods

The Nebraska Brand Committee has announced the acceptance of five types of payment methods when the new technology program rolls out in July, 2017.

“With the introduction of the new technology program this July, producers are going to have more options than they have ever had to process payments,” said John Widdowson, Vice Chair of the Nebraska Brand Committee and Chair of NBC’s Technology Working Group.

Currently the Nebraska Brand Committee accepts two forms of payments, cash and check.  With the transition from paper to electronic the Committee in July, will accept cash, check, ACH, credit/debit card on file, and credit/debit card swiped at time of inspection.

“Our priority is to increase the efficiency of inspections for our producers, by offering these additional options we are hoping to increase the value of the service we are providing,” said Widdowson. 

All payment options will be available for producers this coming July 2017 until July 2018.

“We will offer the five different payments method until July 2018, after that date, we will not accept cash as a payment method,” said Bill Bunce, Executive Director of NBC.  “Producers will have over a year to determine what other payment method(s) fits their operation, and what their preference is, but cash will no longer be an option starting July of 2018.”

“Producer security will be of the utmost importance, and Nebraska Interactive currently works with over one hundred partners in state and local government in the state of Nebraska,” said Widdowson referring to the technology company that is developing and hosting the electronic program for NBC.  “They have the utmost security procedures and expertise in place which we will be utilizing with the program.”

The Nebraska Brand Committee was created by the Legislature in 1941 to inspect cattle and investigate missing and/or stolen cattle.  It is a self-supporting cash fund agency.  Its operating fund comes solely from fees collected for brand recording, brand inspections, and registered feedyards. 

Statement by Steve Nelson on behalf of the Nebraska Agriculture Leaders Working Group Regarding Tax Reform Proposal

“While we understand the give and take of the legislative process, we are very disappointed in the tax reform proposal being considered by the Legislature’s Revenue Committee. Throughout the legislative hearing process, the Agriculture Leaders Working Group testified before the Revenue Committee on numerous bills that would provide a pathway to provide meaningful property tax relief for Nebraska farmers and ranchers, and all Nebraska property taxpayers.”

“Unfortunately, during National Ag Week, a tax reform proposal is being considered that would do the exact opposite of what farmers, ranchers, and other Nebraskans are seeking in tax reform. This proposal would intentionally divert dollars currently used to provide property tax relief and repurpose them to fund income tax cuts.”

“The message from Nebraskans has been clear. Property tax relief is the priority and it must be meaningful. Taking money away from property tax relief for income tax cuts will not do that. Should the Legislature go this direction it will be viewed by Nebraska taxpayers as a deliberate decision to increase the property tax burden on Nebraskans.”

“That said, we will continue to work with the members of the Revenue Committee, and others in the Legislature to find alternatives which meet the goals of meaningful property tax reform for all Nebraskans.”

The Agriculture Leaders Working Group includes member-elected leaders from the Nebraska Cattlemen, Nebraska Corn Growers Association, Nebraska Farm Bureau, Nebraska Pork Producers Association, Nebraska Soybean Association, and the Nebraska State Dairy Association.

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

Pork Checkoff Tours the No. 1 Customer for U.S. Pork Exports

With Mexico’s hunger for U.S. pork continuing to grow, members of the National Pork Board spent March 13-18 in Mexico City building trade relations. The delegation invested its time immersing itself in Mexico, which is one of America’s most important export markets. During the visit, the group emphasized the safety and reliability of the U.S. pork supply.

“Our visit to Mexico was eye opening. As board members, we were able to witness why Mexico is such an important trading partner,” said Jan Archer, National Pork Board president and a North Carolina pig farmer. “The average Mexican family spends 30 to 40 percent of its income on food, so they appreciate the ability to access safe, nutritious and affordable U.S. pork.”

The delegation received a warm welcome and were encouraged and enthused about the future of trade with Mexico. Within the next five years, economists predict Mexico may become the largest market for all U.S. goods, surpassing both Canada and the European Union.

During the week, board members saw firsthand the market opportunity and benefit of expanding trade with Mexico. The key objectives of the trip were to discuss and define areas of mutual interest, to extend appreciation to Mexico’s trade industry for the high volume of U.S. pork purchased and to emphasize the reliability and availability of U.S. pork and the next steps needed to support expanding trade.

In 2016, Mexico was again the No. 1 importer of U.S. pork in terms of volume. Mexico imported more than 730,000 metric tons of U.S. pork last year. In terms of value, Mexico was again No. 2 at $1.4 billion. In January 2017, which is the most recent data available, Mexico became No. 1 in both volume and value. The U.S. accounts for more than 90 percent of the total pork imported to Mexico.

At a high-level, the trip agenda included opportunities for board members to:
-    Meet with the USDA's Foreign Ag Service to understand Mexico’s economy and its current political environment.
-    Learn about new pork product development and innovation.
-    Visit places where pork is sold and marketed to Mexican consumers. Those outlets include high-end club stores, regional supermarkets, fast-casual restaurants and a traditional wet market.
-    Meet with Mexico’s largest retail chain that sells and processes almost exclusively U.S. pork and hear about plans for further growth.
-    Meet with some of Mexico’s largest importers to discuss mutual interests and ways U.S. pork can maintain its role as a strong supplier.

“We saw that our investment of producer dollars in the U.S. Meat Export Federation returns great dividends as it develops relationships with importers and retailers,” Archer said. “Our Mexican neighbors import fresh pork and ham, but also the products that have less value to the U.S. consumer. Pork byproducts, such as offal and pig heads, fill an important need in the Mexican marketplace.”

More than 35 percent of the U.S.-produced pork hams are exported to Mexico and processed in Mexican facilities where they are transformed into deli meats and formed-ham products. These products are crucial for low-income diets. That is why the National Pork Board is committed to sharing information with the National Pork Producers Council as it works on trade access issues. This cooperation enables the entire U.S. pork industry to work together efficiently.

“Pork is a mainstay in Mexican culture – consumers appreciate it and know how to prepare it,” said Bill Even, National Pork Board chief executive officer. “The challenge Mexico faces is getting more protein-rich food into the diets of low-income residents and children. This requires a focus on new product development and education.”

The National Pork Board works directly with the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) to address this key issue, specifically through outreach to dietitians and other medical professionals in Mexico. USMEF also educates students on the role pork and protein play in the diet and, to Mexican consumers, provides point-of-sale promotional materials at retail stores.

Beyond these direct consumer messages, Checkoff-funded USMEF activities include work with trade representatives – importers, brokers and processors – to educate these trade groups on the benefits of U.S. pork and its quality, safety and availability.

“As a producer, I value our trade relationship with our neighbor even more after visiting this beautiful country,” Archer said. “Growth in our industry is the result of a strong trade balance.”

In 1989, the U.S. had very few trade agreements, but today has 20 in place. Free trade agreements contribute to increased exports and enhance the opportunity to distribute U.S. pork worldwide.

USDA Cold Storage February 2017 Highlights

Total red meat supplies in freezers on February 28, 2017 were up 1 percent from the previous month but down 6 percent from last year. Total pounds of beef in freezers were down 7 percent from the previous month and down 1 percent from last year. Frozen pork supplies were up 9 percent from the previous month but down 9 percent from last year. Stocks of pork bellies were up 15 percent from last month but down 74 percent from last year.

Total frozen poultry supplies on February 28, 2017 were up 5 percent from the previous month and up 2 percent from a year ago. Total stocks of chicken were up 2 percent from the previous month but down 2 percent from last year. Total pounds of turkey in freezers were up 12 percent from last month and up 11 percent from February 29, 2016.

Total natural cheese stocks in refrigerated warehouses on February 28, 2017 were up 3 percent from the previous month and up 6 percent from February 29, 2016.  Butter stocks were up 28 percent from last month and up 20 percent from a year ago.

Total frozen fruit stocks were down 5 percent from last month but up 28 percent from a year ago.  Total frozen vegetable stocks were down 6 percent from last month but up 4 percent from a year ago.

DTN Retail Fertilizer Survey Shows Slightly Higher Prices.... Again

As has been the case in recent weeks, retail fertilizer prices are still on the rise but at a fairly small clip the second week of March 2017, according to fertilizer retailers surveyed by DTN. This marks the eighth consecutive week prices have moved higher.

All eight major fertilizers were higher compared to a month earlier, the fourth week in a row all were higher. While all fertilizers were higher once again, none of the eight were up any noteworthy amount. This is the third consecutive week prices were not up any noticeable amount.

DAP had an average price of $443/ton, MAP $462/ton, potash $337/ton and urea $360/ton. 10-34-0 had an average price of $441/ton, anhydrous $507/ton, UAN28 $247/ton and UAN32 $280/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.39/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 fertilizer are double digits lower.

10-34-0 is 21% lower from a year ago, both anhydrous and UAN32 are 11% less expensive and UAN28 is 10% less expensive. Potash is 9% less expensive, both MAP and urea is 8% lower, and DAP is 7% compared to year earlier.


 This week, more than 1,500 members and guests gathered in Kansas City for the Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) Cooperative’s 19th annual meeting.

This year’s meeting emphasized what sets the Cooperative apart and those ideals and values that matter most to members, leaders and employees.

“We’re proud of who we are and what we do, and we want to show the world why,” said Randy Mooney, chairman of DFA’s Board of Directors. “We want to show them what’s behind our pride in our name, pride in our family farmer owners, pride in our businesses, pride in our products that deliver everyday simple pleasures to millions of consumers and pride in our role in society reflected in communities across the country.”

The meeting kicked off with the chairman’s report, delivered by Mooney, who operates a dairy farm in Rogersville, Mo. Mooney, who also serves as chairman of National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), talked about the importance of the dairy community working together as well as the Cooperative’s ongoing efforts with trade negotiations and regulatory issues impacting the dairy industry.

An overview of DFA’s business was delivered by President and Chief Executive Officer Rick Smith. His presentation highlighted DFA’s financials for 2016 as well as how the Cooperative strives to take advantage of positive market trends, while also protecting its members from unpredictable market risks. Smith also discussed how the Cooperative remains focused on growing its commercial businesses, in order to better serve and provide value to members.

“Our dairy farmer members are at the heart of everything that we do at DFA, which is why we want to show the industry, as well as our customers and consumers, why being a part of DFA matters,” said Smith. “As we look to the future, we will continue to look for ways to maximize the milk check, while also identifying growth areas for our commercial businesses and providing on-farm services that make it easier and more profitable for our members to farm.”

Special guests and additional highlights of the meeting program included:
• A look at the dairy industry’s role in U.S. trade negotiations from Secretary Tom Vilsack, president and chief executive officer of the U.S. Dairy Export Council
• Futurist Mike Walsh shared the mega-trends shaping the future of business and lessons learned from successful companies on leveraging innovation, embracing data and transforming agriculture for the digital age
• An overview of dairy promotion activities by Tom Gallagher, chief executive officer of Dairy Management Inc.

The Cooperative’s Annual Banquet brought a host of recognitions, including the 2017 Members of Distinction. Every year, family members at one farm from each of DFA’s seven regional Areas are recognized for service to their dairies, their families, communities and the industry.

In addition, outgoing Board Directors Bill Beeman of Kingsley, Pa., Marilyn Calvin of Mount Vernon, Mo., Willem De Boer of Tulare, Calif., Jim Eschliman of Ericson, Neb., Mike Faulkner of Greeley, Colo., Don Gurtner of Fremont, Ind., George Mertens of Sonoma, Calif., Jerry Peterson of Harbor Beach, Mich., Ed Schoen of Phelps, N.Y., and John Woelber of Belen, N.M., were recognized for their contributions to DFA.

Winners of the 2017 DFA Cares Foundation Scholarship were announced at the banquet. DFA Cares Scholarships are awarded to outstanding students pursuing a career in the dairy industry. This year, 45 recipients will receive a combined total of $53,000 toward their undergraduate and graduate level studies.

Annual Meeting concluded on Wednesday with the resolutions process, which brought together more than 250 elected delegates from across the nation to vote on a slate of issues that guide the policy position and business activities of DFA for the coming year.

DFA Reports Record Profits

At the Cooperative’s annual meeting today, Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) officials reported net income of $131.8 million, compared to $94.1 million of net income for 2015. The increase was attributable to higher sales volumes, overall operating efficiencies and lower commodity input costs. The record earnings were also buoyed by the acquisition of the remaining 50 percent equity interest in DairiConcepts, a manufacturer of cheese, dairy ingredients and dairy flavor systems with eight facilities across the United States.

DFA’s net sales totaled $13.5 billion for 2016, compared to $13.8 billion in 2015. This decrease is primarily a result of lower milk prices. The U.S. annual average all milk price was $16.24 per hundredweight in 2016 compared with $17.12 per hundredweight in 2015.

“Being owned by dairy farmers, we are always working to strengthen our milk marketing business and to bring value to our dairy-farmer members,” said Rick Smith, president and chief executive officer. “While 2016 was a year of challenges for many of our farmers, DFA itself continues to grow, and remains focused on continuing our investments in new and existing plants, as well as progressing on our strategic initiatives.”

In 2016, DFA directed the marketing of 62.6 billion pounds of milk for both members and others through the Cooperative’s consolidated businesses, which represent approximately 29 percent of the total milk production in the United States. The average 2016 price paid to members per hundredweight of milk was $16.22 compared with $17.18 in 2015.

Cash distributed to members in 2016 totaled $42 million compared to $35 million in 2015. In 2016, members received $21 million in equity retirements and $21 million of allocated patronage dividends.

In 2016, DFA continued to expand its commercial investments. The Cooperative announced plans to construct a new cheese plant in Michigan with Glanbia PLC, the largest maker of American cheese in the world. This project is driven by Michigan’s growing milk supply and an increasing worldwide demand for dairy products. Joining DFA and Glanbia in this partnership are two other cooperatives, Foremost Farms USA and Michigan Milk Producers Association. DFA also broke ground on a premium cheddar cheese facility in Western New York, which is a joint venture between the Cooperative, DFA members from western New York and Arla Foods of Denmark. Additionally, progress continues on the construction of a new dairy ingredients plant in Garden City, Kan.

DFA’s Consumer Retail and Fluid Milk and Ice Cream divisions also had continued growth and success. Kemps® introduced a new line of frozen yogurt, Yo2, with a generational target: millennials. Borden® Cheese also launched a new campaign, “Love. Always an ingredient,” with an updated website and graphics that highlight the goodness that comes in every package.

Trade and infrastructure top concerns for NGFA members at 121st Annual Convention

More than 650 National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) members gathered in New Orleans this week for the NGFA's 121st Annual Convention, where they discussed and debated industry priorities on trade, infrastructure and farm policy.

NGFA Chairman John Heck, senior vice president of Scoular in Omaha, Neb., told grain, feed and processing company executives that the NGFA will "fight tooth-and-nail to preserve the many positive features of the North American Free Trade Agreement" for U.S. agriculture, while also offering ideas to the Trump administration on how to modernize the 23-year-old trade accord in its effort to modernize and update the deal.  The NGFA noted that the Trump administration has been receptive to the offer of the NGFA and selective other agricultural organizations to be constructive, proactive partners.  "We have a seat at the table," Heck said.

John Murphy, senior vice president of international policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said during a panel discussion at the convention's Transportation and Trade Open Forum on Sunday that 14 million American jobs depend on trade with NAFTA members Canada and Mexico, "and if we mess that up there could be a cost. He added that "happily, I think that message is getting through" to the Trump administration.

Murphy noted that the U.S. Chamber is recommending a pragmatic approach to NAFTA renegotiation that improves on the agreement and doesn't undermine or put at risk any benefits. "We can start doing a better job just by enforcing the agreement as it exists today...just enforcing what we've got would be a big step forward," he said.

The chairman, president and CEO of Union Pacific, Lance Fritz, echoed that sentiment during a general session speech on Tuesday, noting that NAFTA is critical to the health of the U.S. economy. "NAFTA can be modified and should be modified," he said. "But vacating the agreement is not the right answer."

During his chairman's address, Heck summarized NGFA members' concerns about investing in infrastructure, particularly waterways and ports. "Given the commitment of the Trump administration to work with Congress to invest significantly in U.S. infrastructure, we have a golden opportunity to front-load investments to jumpstart and expedite construction and rehabilitation of our dilapidated locks and dams, as well as updating of our harbors and ports," he said.

When it comes to them next farm bill, Heck noted the association's specific concerns surrounding the Conservation Reserve Program, while reiterating its support for federal crop insurance.

"As consideration of the new farm bill begins, those in Congress who would repeat the (supply control) mistakes of the past are proposing massive increases in land-idling through the CRP that would cripple U.S. agriculture's future competitiveness and deny young farmers the chance they deserve to get into production agriculture," he said.

"The need for more active membership engagement has never been greater nor more immediate, Heck concluded.

USDA on Tainted Brazilian Meat: None Has Entered U.S., 100 Percent Re-Inspection Instituted

Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced additional steps to keep the food supply safe for American families in light of the recent investigations of Brazil’s meat industry. 

While none of the slaughter or processing facilities implicated in the Brazilian scandal have shipped meat products to the United States, FSIS immediately instituted additional pathogen testing of all shipments of raw beef and ready-to-eat products from Brazil upon hearing reports of the Brazilian investigation.  FSIS has also increased its examination of all these products at ports-of-entry across the country.  The agency will indefinitely maintain its 100% re-inspection and pathogen testing of all lots of FSIS-regulated products imported from Brazil.

"Keeping food safe for American families is our top priority,” said Mike Young, Acting Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  “FSIS has strengthened the existing safeguards that protect the American food supply as a precaution and is monitoring the Brazilian government's investigation closely.”

The FSIS import inspection system (including equivalence determinations, in-country audits, and re-inspection processes) is designed to ensure that imported meat, poultry, and processed egg products are safe and wholesome. FSIS works closely with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to ensure that these products are safe before they enter the country.

“FSIS will take any additional actions necessary to protect public health,” said Al Almanza, Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety. “It is our mission to keep the food on American dinner tables safe.”

Although none of the establishments implicated in the Brazil scandal have shipped meat products to the United States, effective March 18, FSIS instituted 100% point-of-entry re-inspection of all Brazilian beef imported into the United States, including conducting product examination on 100% of the lots. This re-inspection includes 100% testing of beef trimmings from Brazil for Salmonella, E. coli O157:H7, and non-O157 shiga-toxin producing E. coli (STEC). The 100% re-inspection also includes 100% testing of ready-to-eat products from Brazil for Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes. FSIS will take immediate action to refuse entry of product into the United States if there are findings of food safety concern. 

ACE DC fly-in underscores biofuel’s importance to rural economy

The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) and over 70 of its grassroots members are in Washington, D.C. as part of the organization’s 9th annual fly-in today and tomorrow.

“This unique event brings together a group of advocates from all walks of life, putting a human face on the ethanol industry to communicate our policy priorities to Members of Congress and Executive Branch decision makers,” said Brian Jennings, ACE Executive Vice President. “What sets ACE and this event apart is the emphasis we place on using our most persuasive and effective spokespeople for our industry; the people whose everyday life experiences and authenticity illustrate how the decisions made in Washington, D.C. impact their businesses and communities.”

ACE members will have more than 100 meetings with lawmakers representing 35 states to convey the importance of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), bipartisan legislation to extend Reid vapor pressure (RVP) relief to E15 and higher ethanol blends (S. 517 and H.R. 1311), and the biofuels sector to a robust rural economy. Attendees will also hear from Senior White House Advisor to the Department of Commerce Eric Branstad, who played a critical role in President Trump’s successful presidential bid, serving as state director for the campaign in Iowa. 

“As this fly-in is taking place during the first 100 days of the Trump presidency, there is no time like the present to ensure our voice is heard on Capitol Hill as Trump begins to prioritize his campaign promises into action,” Jennings said. “Rural America helped deliver President Trump’s victory on Election Day, and our fly-in provides corn farmers and biofuel advocates the opportunity to educate our newly elected office holders about how high-octane ethanol can help jumpstart economic growth in the U.S.”

To restore economic security in rural America, Congress needs to maintain the RFS. The point of obligation is one of the most important remaining tools to help drive higher blends in the RFS, and RVP relief and the RFS are a critical tandem. Shifting the RFS point of obligation away from refiners to downstream parties would put blenders, retailers and consumers at the mercy of refiners.

Other 2017 policy priorities include updating the corn ethanol lifecycle analysis, raising the minimum octane content in gasoline and streamlining the certification fuel petition process, and correcting the Motor Vehicle Emission Simulator (MOVES) model.

 NMPF President Says Strengthening Dairy Safety Net Program Must be Priority as Farm Bill Discussions Commence

As Congress begins its deliberations on the next farm bill, improvements to the dairy Margin Protection Program must be a top priority for lawmakers, said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation, who spoke today before the House Agriculture Committee.

During the farm bill hearing on Capitol Hill, Mulhern told committee members that the dairy Margin Protection Program (MPP) is failing to live up to its intended role as a viable economic safety net for farmers, and that a series of changes is needed to restore dairy producers’ confidence in the program. Mulhern’s full testimony can be found here.

“While MPP was, and is, the right approach for the future of federal dairy policy, the program in its current form does not provide meaningful safety net support to the nation’s dairy farmers,” Mulhern said.

The MPP is designed to allow farmers to insure the gap between milk prices and the cost of purchasing feed for dairy cattle. Farmers can choose to pay higher premiums for additional levels of margin coverage, although a decreasing number have elected that approach as they saw the program underperforming. The MPP will continue to falter “without action by this Congress to move it closer to the program it was originally proposed to be,” Mulhern said.

Since its creation in the 2014 farm bill, the MPP has offered little effective support to dairy farmers, resulting in dwindling participation in the program. To rectify that problem, Mulhern shared with the committee members the recommendations to improve the MPP that NMPF’s Board of Directors unanimously approved earlier this month.

NMPF’s proposal includes a series of adjustments that will affect the way both feed prices (including corn, alfalfa and soybean meal) and milk prices are calculated. The most needed improvement is restoring the feed cost formula to the one originally developed by NMPF, he said. During Congress’s deliberations in 2014, lawmakers implemented a 10-percent cut to the weightings of all three feedstuff components of the MPP feed cost formula, due to what turned out to be an inaccurate budget score from the Congressional Budget Office. The resulting feed formula “understates the price to farmers of producing 100 pounds of milk, thereby overstating the actual margins farmers are experiencing,” Mulhern said, adding that the Agriculture Committee “got the calculation right the first time,” and thus needs to restore the MPP feed formula to its original level. Margins using the current formula are approximately $1 per hundredweight higher than they would be if the original feed formula were in place.

NMPF is also asking that Congress direct the Agriculture Department to obtain more precise data for the prices dairy farmers are paying for corn, soybean meal and hay, while also collecting better data for the price farmers receive for milk. These changes will more accurately reflect the true margin dairy producers are experiencing, Mulhern said.

The other NMPF recommendations include: Improving the affordability of the program’s premiums; changing the timing of payments and annual enrollment to be more farmer friendly; and expanding the use of additional risk management tools, such as the Livestock Gross Margin Program, to complement the risk management offered by the MPP safety net.

“We look forward to working with this committee to enact these changes in the next farm bill,” Mulhern said.

His testimony also addressed an issue of great concern to many in the dairy community: the need for immigration reform. The importance of immigrant workers to the U.S. dairy industry cannot be overstated, Mulhern said. At least 50 percent of the U.S. dairy farm workforce is comprised of foreign-born labor. Because the seasonal H-2A visa program does not apply to dairy farms with a year-round demand for labor, Congress must provide the agriculture industry with an effective guest worker program to meet its future needs, while also providing a way to address current workers with improper documentation.

“Without access to a steady and reliable workforce, our industry will not be able to survive, let alone thrive, in the future,” Mulhern said.

Mulhern also touched on trade’s impact on dairy, which has expanded considerably in the last decade. The United States has gone from exporting less than $1 billion of dairy products in 2000 to a record $7.1 billion in 2014 – an increase of 625 percent. Because of this, Mulhern said, the United States must preserve and enhance successful elements of its free trade agreements, such as its partnership with Mexico, America’s No. 1 dairy export market. The federal government should also work to rectify problematic trade issues, such as Canada’s protectionist attempt to undermine its trade commitments to the United States, and the European Union’s attempts to co-opt the use of common food names like parmesan and feta.

“If we aren’t in the game actively negotiating on these issues, we are ceding ground to our competitors and those looking to make it tougher for us to do business in their markets,” said Mulhern.

Mulhern’s testimony also stressed the need for congressional support for the DAIRY PRIDE Act, introduced by Reps. Peter Welch, Mike Simpson and Sean Duffy in the House, and Sen. Tammy Baldwin in the Senate. The legislation would force the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to enforce its long-standing rules defining the composition of products that use the term “milk.”

Mulhern said that plant-based alternatives lack real milk’s consistent level of nutrition, and that in the absence of proper labeling enforcement, increasing numbers of nutritionally inferior dairy imitators will lead to confusion in the marketplace.

NFU Urges Administration to Keep COOL as a Priority for Trade Agenda

The Trump Administration this week released a list of 24 trade practices, including Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL), that trade negotiators should prioritize in future negotiations. National Farmers Union (NFU) is urging the administration to keep COOL on the list, and to ensure a reinstatement of COOL would be allowable under any renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

“For thirty years, NFU has championed Country-of-Origin Labeling, and we strongly believe the issue is important to American producers and consumers alike,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “American producers raise the best beef and pork in the world, and they believe consumers should be able to know where the meat at the grocery store came from. The President should stick up for American consumers and producers by ensuring COOL is a priority for his administration’s trade negotiations.”

Mandatory COOL, first passed in 2002 and then again in 2008, required that muscle cuts of meat and some vegetables, nuts and fruits sold at retail must contain a label informing consumers about the country where the product was sourced. A May 2013 opinion poll showed more than 90 percent of consumers supported the law.

“COOL provided consumers with information they care about, and it allowed American family farmers and ranchers to differentiate their product,” noted Johnson.

The COOL law was repealed by Congress in December 2015 after a lengthy World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute with Canada and Mexico and pressure from multinational meatpackers. Faced with either making the law compliant by switching it to a voluntary system, paying more than $1 billion in retaliatory tariffs, or repealing the law, Congress chose to repeal the law. And when doing so, they even removed COOL labels from meats like ground beef and ground pork that were never at issue with the WTO.

“The U.S. Congress kowtowed to threats from an international tribunal and foreign governments, even as one of those foreign governments maintained a country-of-origin labeling system in their own country,” said Johnson. “The current administration has an opportunity to right an important consumer right to know and serious sovereignty issue here, and that is the ability of foreign governments or institutions to dictate the laws of our land.”

The administration’s priority list came just days after Brazil’s largest food-processing giants JBS and BRF were raided by government authorities for allowing rotten meat to be distributed in Brazil and exported to Europe.

“Without Country-of-Origin Labeling, cases such as this Brazilian rotten meat scandal can affect consumer confidence in the entire beef industry, harming American producers’ bottom line,” said Johnson.

“American consumers prefer meat from the U.S., and they used and preferred COOL to draw inferences related to a food product’s safety, taste and freshness. We’re hopeful Trump stands with American consumers, family farmers and ranchers, and negotiates a path forward for Country-of-Origin Labeling in the U.S.”

Bird Flu Confirmed in 3 Southern States

(AP) -- A bird flu outbreak that has resulted in the euthanasia of more than 200,000 animals in three Southern states already is the nation's worst since 2015 and new cases are still popping up, an expert said Wednesday.

Agriculture officials are trying to limit the damage from the disease, but it's unclear whether quarantines, transportation bans and mass killings will stop the spread, said Joseph Hess, a poultry science professor at Auburn University.

The disease was first confirmed in southern Tennessee earlier this month and has since been detected in northern Alabama and western Kentucky.

"We're at the point where it's a little here and a little there. It could fade away, but it could blow up into something bigger," said Hess, who also works with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.

State officials say no infected birds have entered the nation's poultry supply, and the U.S. food chain isn't at risk.

The Kentucky Department of Agriculture said Tuesday that it was temporarily banning the transportation of poultry after a low-pathogenic form of the disease was found in a commercial flock of 22,000 hens in western Kentucky. The farm was placed under quarantine and the birds were killed.

The announcement came as the state of Alabama confirmed the presence of low-pathogenic bird flu in two flocks there, where more than 42,000 animals have been euthanized. High-pathogenic bird flu, a deadlier form of the illness, was previously detected in Tennessee, where 145,000 birds were put to death.

Hess said the illness is carried by waterfowl, which don't get ill but can pass along the disease to poultry.

The current outbreak has affected large commercial poultry houses, where at-risk birds typically are put to death by the thousands with foam that smothers them, and smaller, backyard operations.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said a flock of 84,000 turkeys had been confirmed with a low-pathogenic bird flu virus in Wisconsin.

None of the current outbreaks have been linked to the same high-pathogenic virus that resulted in the loss of millions of birds in the Midwest chicken egg and turkey industry in 2015.

Spring Vaccinations Set Calves Up for Long-Term Success

It’s never too early to think about a calf’s respiratory health. The steps producers take this spring with young calves not only help protect them through grazing season, but can prepare the calves for a more complete immune response with pre-weaning and weaning booster vaccinations.

“Spring vaccinations for respiratory disease set calves up for success during the summer grazing season,” said Jon Seeger, managing veterinarian with Zoetis. “Fall vaccinations help calves respond to disease challenges during weaning and comingling.”

Seeger says it is key to protect calves against viral diseases that cause respiratory challenges like bovine respiratory syncytial virus (BRSV), infectious bovine respiratory (IBR) disease and parainfluenza 3 (PI3).

“With INFORCE™ 3 we see a great value in the rapid, lasting immune response to the intranasal administration in the spring with young calves,” said Seeger. “But we also see a more robust immune response when we booster at pre-weaning with modified-live combination vaccine, like BOVI-SHIELD GOLD ONE SHOT®, when it follows the intranasal in the spring.”

Research at North Dakota State University demonstrated a significant (p=0.006) immune response to BRSV in calves given INFORCE 3 at approximately 74 days of age, and again when boosted 153 days later with BOVI-SHIELD GOLD ONE SHOT.

“The North Dakota study showed us that we had a solid immune response following primary immunization with the intranasal vaccine and had a significant boost in immunity when we gave the combination respiratory vaccine several months later in the fall,” explained Seeger. “The real benefit for calves to have the first dose in the spring is that if they are exposed to a disease challenge mid-summer they have a better immune response and are less likely to get sick, than if they aren’t vaccinated before summer grazing.”

Seeger also says it is important not to forget protecting against Mannheimia haemolytica and bovine viral diarrhea (BVD) types 1 and 2.

“The virals are our leading concern, but with a dose of ONE SHOT® BVD in conjunction with the intranasal, we can more completely protect the young calf from viral and bacterial challenges,” said Seeger. “And that first dose of Mannheimia really helps improve the response to the second dose at pre-weaning when bacterial pathogens are a bigger threat.”

Seeger concludes that producers should think of spring vaccinations as first steps in building a complete immunization plan for the calf. “Our goal is to set the calf’s immune system up for success in responding to disease challenges,” said Seeger.

Vibrating Membrane System Helps Turn Cow Manure into Clean Water & Organic Fertilizer

New Logic Research announced today the successful commissioning of a VSEP® vibrating membrane system to make clean water from digested cow manure. The VSEP® system, located in the Italian Alps region of Wipptal, takes the effluent from an anaerobic digester and transforms it into clean water which can either be reused or safely discharged to the environment. The project was implemented with the expert assistance of O.B. Impianti, New Logic's distribution partner in Northern Italy.

Although cows have a simple diet, the digestive system of ruminant animals makes for complicated wastewater treatment scenarios. VSEP's patented vibratory shear mechanism coupled with an innovative filter pack design means it can uniquely create crystal clear permeate from water heavily laden with biological material like cow manure. 

"Digesters are great at making green power and reducing contaminant levels in the waste, but in most cases, further treatment of the liquid effluent is still necessary. Many have tried to treat digester effluent with standard spiral-wound reverse osmosis membrane systems only to find that it's incredibly difficult, if not impossible," said New Logic CEO Greg Johnson. "That's why VSEP® is a perfect fit for digester effluent treatment: you get the reverse osmosis separation you desire, but deployed in a robust system designed to tackle the world's toughest applications."

The Wipptal project is a cooperative one, taking cow manure from more than three dozen local farmers. The liquid manure is transported to the treatment facility where more than 60% of it is transformed into clean water, while the remainder is turned into concentrated organic fertilizer. The only pretreatment between the digester and the VSEP is a 100 micron screening device to remove large particles from the feed material.

O.B. Impianti and New Logic are already building on the success of the Wipptal installation—they are currently working on two additional installations on the continent, where EU funding is frequently available for such projects.

Tuesday March 21 Ag News

Fremont Chamber Excellence in Ag Awards Program

Governor Pete Ricketts spoke today at the Fremont Chamber’s Excellence in Agriculture awards luncheon.  He thanked farmers for the work they do each and every day.  He thanked the community of Fremont for being forward-thinking to partner with Lincoln Premium Poultry to initiate a poultry enterprise in the state and help “Grow Nebraska” agriculture.  Ricketts also thanked Dodge County for being the first in the state to adopt the Nebraska Department of Ag’s livestock siting matrix as a tool to expand livestock production.

Another guest speaker was Dr Steven Waller, Dean of the College of Agricultural Science and Natural Resources at UNL.  He highlighted some of the many contributions given by Nebraskans to agriculture overall, from genetics research and development of nutrition information and innovative production practices.  Waller says Nebraska is pushing agriculture innovation world-wide, as UNL researchers are consistently in the top 10 with their projects.

The Fremont Chamber recognized three enterprises for their outstanding contributions.  The Terry Rassmussen Family was recognized as the Farm Family of the Year.  He is a 5th generation crops and livestock producer near Arlington.  With family ties to the land dating back to the 1880’s, Terry is very proud that generations six and seven are also living on the farm!

The Ag Business of the Year is Monke Fertilizer based in Fontanelle, along with offices throughout their trade area of Dodge, Washington, Saunders, and Douglas counties.  And finally, the newest award, the Ag Innovator of the Year award, was presented to Seitec Genetics of Fremont.

Nebraska Corn Growers Association Accepting Applications for FLAGship Program

The Nebraska Corn Growers Association is now accepting applications for the second class of the FLAGship Program. The FLAGship Program is a scholarship program for future ag leaders in Nebraska. The Nebraska Corn Growers Association (NeCGA) will award up to 5 $2,000 scholarships to high school seniors or college freshman in the state of Nebraska. The NeCGA Future Leaders in Ag Scholarship Program (FLAGship Program) is open to Nebraska high school seniors or college freshman who are continuing their education in state and pursuing a degree in an ag-related field.

“We were blown away by the applicants for the first class of the FLAGShip Program,” said Dan Nerud, Chairman of the Grower Services Committee. “It is exciting to see how many great young people are interested in entering the agricultural field.“

To be eligible for this scholarship students must be a member of NeCGA or the son/daughter of an NeCGA member. The application for the FLAGship Program must include two letters of recommendation, a current resume, as well as proof that the student is continuing their education. The students are also asked to explain why they are seeking a degree in the agricultural field as well as what issues they feel the ag industry is currently facing.

Applications must be postmarked by May 5th, 2017. Packets can be mailed to 1111 Lincoln Mall, Suite 308, Lincoln, NE 68508 ATTN: Scholarship, or emailed to Recipients will be notified in May 2017 and scholarships will be distributed in December 2017. For more information about the scholarship and an application, please visit or call (402) 438-6459.


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Prescribed burning CRP or pasture can improve stands, prepare them for interseeding, control weeds and trees, enhance wildlife habitat, and improve forage quality.  But it must be done safely.

               Fire improves many grasslands, but it can be dangerous.  Wildfires occur easily when it is hot, dry, and windy.  And when is it not windy in Nebraska?  So if you decide to burn, do it safely.

               Fire is useful on CRP or other fields that are overgrown with much dead growth from previous years.  This mulch can smother plants and new seedlings, causing stands to get thinner.  Fire removes this mulch, enabling stands to thicken, and it improves wildlife habitat.  Fire also can reduce the invasion of woody plants like cedar trees, weeds, or cool-season grasses invading warm-season grasslands.  These less desirable plants are injured or killed by a well-timed burn.  This can be especially useful for summer pastures.

               Timing is important, though.  Right now is a bit too early to burn warm-season grasses.  Burning now will open up the ground for weeds to invade, soil to erode, and moisture to evaporate.  The best time to burn warm-season grasses is when they just start to grow, usually mid-April to early May.  Burning then will result in rapid greenup and thickening of desirable warm-season plants.

               Be careful, though.  Never burn unless weather conditions, topography, and other factors enable you to control the fire.  Plus, make sure your burn is legal.  You must obtain a burn permit from your local fire chief.  And finally, never burn unless someone experienced in prescribed burning is part of your burning crew.

               Fire is a valuable tool.  But like any other tool, in the wrong hands it can be dangerous.


It’s National Ag Day, and all across America people are celebrating the food, feed and fuel that farmers and ranchers produce every day.  To celebrate the day, the Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) announced the winners of the Department’s annual youth poster contest.  The contest, open to first through sixth grade students in Nebraska, featured the theme “Good Life, Great Roots.” and received over 1,850 entries.

“Agriculture is Nebraska’s number one industry, and the poster contest gives students the opportunity to learn more about agriculture and showcase their creative sides,” said NDA Director Greg Ibach.  “A number of teachers across the state use this contest as a way to help their students learn more about where their food comes from and the essential role it plays in our day to day lives.”

The posters were judged in three separate categories.

In the 1st and 2nd grade division:
•           1st place: Kimber Boyer, 2nd grade, Norris Elementary in Firth
•           2nd place: Allie Dirkschneider, 2nd grade, Howells Dodge Consolidated in Dodge

•           3rd place: Emily Schack, 2nd grade, Dundy County Stratton in Benkelman
•           Governor’s Choice:  Ella Gabriel, 2nd grade, Seward Elementary

In the 3rd and 4th grade division:
•           1st place:  Bree Pojar, 3rd grade, St. Wenceslaus School in Dodge

•           2nd place:  Gage Rasmussen, 3rd grade, Johnson-Brock Elementary in Johnson
•           3rd place:  Lucas Urbanski, 4th grade, St. James Seton School in Omaha
•           Governor’s Choice:  Braelynn Renz, 4th grade, Heartland Community Schools in Henderson

In the 5th and 6th grade division:
•           1st place:  Daisy Villatoro, 5th grade, Knickrehm Elementary in Grand Island
•           2nd place: Bryana Vargas-Paiz, 5th grade, Knickrehm Elementary in Grand Island
•           3rd place:  Frances Hoover, 6th grade, Saint Margaret Mary in Omaha
•           Governor’s Choice: Sophia Harding, 6th grade, Saint Margaret Mary in Omaha

The winning posters and the names of the schools submitting entries are on NDA’s website at

IA Egg Prod Down 10%

Iowa egg production during February 2017 was 1.24 billion eggs, down 10 percent from last month, but up 33 percent from last year, according to the latest Chickens and Eggs report from the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

The average number of all layers on hand during February 2017 was 55.8 million, up slightly from last month, and up 24 percent from last year. Eggs per 100 layers for February were 2,220, down 11 percent from last month, but up 8 percent from last year.

U.S. February Egg Production Up 2 Percent

United States egg production totaled 8.10 billion during February 2017, up 2 percent from last year. Production included 7.08 billion table eggs, and 1.02 billion hatching eggs, of which 941 million were broiler-type and 74.7 million were egg-type. The total number of layers during February 2017 averaged 375 million, up 3 percent from last year. February egg production per 100 layers was 2,157 eggs, down 2 percent from February 2016.
All layers in the United States on March 1, 2017 totaled 375 million, up 2 percent from last year. The 375 million layers consisted of 317 million layers producing table or market type eggs, 55.1 million layers producing broiler-type hatching eggs, and 3.43 million layers producing egg-type
hatching eggs. Rate of lay per day on March 1, 2017, averaged 76.9 eggs per 100 layers, up 1 percent from March 1, 2016.

Egg-Type Chicks Hatched Down 5 Percent

Egg-type chicks hatched during February 2017 totaled 48.2 million, down 5 percent from February 2016. Eggs in incubators totaled 51.5 million on March 1, 2017, up 2 percent from a year ago.  Domestic placements of egg-type pullet chicks for future hatchery supply flocks by leading breeders totaled 180 thousand during February 2017, down 5 percent from February 2016.

Broiler-Type Chicks Hatched Down 2 Percent

Broiler-type chicks hatched during February 2017 totaled 730 million, down 2 percent from February 2016. Eggs in incubators totaled 667 million on March 1, 2017, up 3 percent from a year ago.  Leading breeders placed 7.83 million broiler-type pullet chicks for future domestic hatchery supply flocks during February 2017, down 3 percent from February 2016.

Nominations for 12th Annual BQA Awards Now Being Accepted

Nominations for the 2018 national Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) Awards are now being accepted. 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 are due by June 2, 2017, and should be submitted to Grace Webb at

NPPC Farm Bill Priority: FMD Vaccine Bank

The U.S. pork industry’s top priority for the next Farm Bill is establishing a Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) vaccine bank, the National Pork Producers Council told a House Agriculture subcommittee in testimony today.

“If this country ever had an FMD outbreak, it not only would devastate my farm and the whole livestock industry but the entire U.S. economy,” said NPPC Vice President David Herring, a pork producer from Newtown Grove, N.C., who testified on behalf of the organization before the agriculture panel’s Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture.

To address a potential FMD outbreak, which would cost the beef, corn, pork and soy bean industries alone an estimated $200 billion over 10 years, NPPC wants the 2018 Farm Bill to direct the U.S. Department of Agriculture to:
-   Contract with an offshore, vendor-maintained vaccine bank that would have available FMD antigen concentrate to protect against all 23 of the most common FMD types currently circulating in the world.
-    Maintain a vendor-managed inventory of 10 million doses of vaccine, which is the estimated need for the first two weeks of an outbreak.
-    Contract with an international manufacturer or manufacturers for the surge capacity to produce at least 40 million doses.

“We need the capacity to produce enough FMD vaccine to quickly control, then eradicate the disease, and we need the funds to make that happen,” Herring said.

Herring, who also is vice president of Hog Slat Inc., which makes hog farm equipment, told the subcommittee that pork producers want a Farm Bill that supports the U.S. pork industry rather than hinders its ability to continue producing safe, lean and nutritious pork for the global marketplace.

In addition to an FMD vaccine bank, he said the next Farm Bill should include policies for disease surveillance, research and trade promotion, which would help pork producers. Among policies that could hamper producers, said Herring, are the pending Farmer Fair Practices Rules and the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices Rule. NPPC wants the Trump administration to withdraw both regulations.

NCBA President Testifies on Cattlemen’s Priorities for 2018 Farm Bill

In testimony on Capitol Hill today, Craig Uden, a fourth-generation cattle producer from Nebraska and the president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, called on Congress to authorize $150 million a year over five years for a “stronger and more adequate foot-and-mouth disease (FMB) vaccine bank” as part of the 2018 Farm Bill. Uden testified before the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture.

“Foot-and-mouth disease is highly contagious and has the potential to spread widely and rapidly, debilitating our herds,” Uden warned subcommittee members in his oral testimony.  “Analysts estimate that an FMD outbreak in the United States could potentially cost our nation’s livestock producers billions of dollars in the first 12 months alone. An FMD outbreak has the potential to cause enormous economic losses to not only livestock producers, but also to auction markets, slaughterhouses, food processors and related industries.”  

Uden also testified that the vast majority of cattlemen oppose the federal government’s involvement in determining how their cattle are marketed – whether through vehicles like Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration’s (GIPSA’s) interim final rule on competitive injury or through mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (mCOOL.)

“Our analysis of the (GIPSA) rule leads us to believe that if this rule is implemented, the packers will offer one price for all cattle, regardless of quality,” Uden testified. “We believe this rule would eliminate value-based marketing programs and negatively impact producers, making it more difficult to provide the types of beef products that consumers are clamoring for.”

Uden continued on the issue of mandatory, government-dictated, country-of-origin labeling: “Repeal of the previous mandatory program was necessary since, after six and a half years of implementation, it provided no market benefit to beef producers or consumers.  On top of that, it also violated trade agreements with two of our largest and vital trading partners.”

Uden concluded his Farm Bill testimony by stressing the importance of international trade to the American beef industry.

“Trade is vital to the beef industry, and protecting trade promotion programs such as the Foreign Market Development and Market Access Programs within the 2018 Farm Bill are important,” Uden said. “Ninety-six percent of the world’s consumers reside outside U.S. borders. We recognize that the growth and profitability of the U.S. cattle and beef industry is closely tied to our ability to market our products to those consumers.”

USDA Announces $6 Million to Aid Fire-Affected Farmers and Ranchers in Midwest

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is announcing the availability of more than $6 million in funding to implement practices that will help private farmers, ranchers and forest landowners affected by the wildfires blazing in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

“We have seen the devastating effects of these wildfires on agricultural operations and the funding announced today can help communities of farmers and ranchers start the process of recovery,” said Acting Deputy Agriculture Secretary Michael Young. “USDA is here to offer assistance, and I encourage producers who experienced losses to take full advantage of our financial and technical assistance to aid in their recovery efforts and alleviate part of the financial burden caused by these tragic events.”

The funding, made available by the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), will assist local producers as they begin to restore scorched grazing land, rebuild fencing, protect damaged watersheds, and implement various conservation measures to mitigate losses.

EQIP is a voluntary program that provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers to help plan and implement conservation practices that address priority local and state resource concerns. Producers must submit a complete program application, establish “farm records”, and other documentation to support eligibility to be considered for financial assistance through EQIP. Step-by-step assistance can be found at

States will begin accepting applications in the near future. Producers in the affected counties are encouraged to check with their local NRCS service centers for additional information.

2017 Renewable Volume Obligations Go into Effect Today

In November 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set the final 2017 Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) for conventional biofuel at a level of 15 billion gallons under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The 2017 RVO rule aligned with bipartisan Congressional intent to increase the amount of transportation fuel that comes from renewable sources. President Trump issued a regulatory freeze memorandum in January to give his administration the opportunity to review a host of regulations before they were implemented, including the 2017 RVO rule. Today, the 2017 RVOs go into effect. In response to this positive news, Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor issued the following statement:

“In November 2016, Growth Energy was pleased to see the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) final Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO) rule achieve the 15-billion-gallon statutory volume for conventional biofuel that Congress originally intended. The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is America’s most successful energy policy, and it continues to guarantee competition and consumer choice in the vehicle fuels marketplace, while also lowering prices at the pump and reducing harmful emissions. Strong RVOs are integral to a robust RFS, the vibrancy of rural America, and the continued value that ethanol brings to drivers across the United States.

“We look forward to continued collaboration with the EPA, Administrator Pruitt, and the Trump Administration to ensure that the biofuels industry continues to thrive, and that rural America remains vibrant and strong.”

Farmer Fair Practices Rules Needed to Address Lack of Competition in Livestock and Poultry Sectors, NFU Testimony States

Highlighting the iniquities of today’s extremely consolidated livestock and poultry sectors, National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson submitted testimony today to the U.S House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture.

The testimony advocates for the adoption of the Farmer Fair Practices Rules to offer family farmers and ranchers basic protections from anti-competitive and abusive practices.

“Farmers and ranchers are subject to both monopolistic practices in the agricultural inputs sector and monopsonistic practices in the agricultural production sector,” states Johnson. “For years, USDA has attempted to address the anticompetitive behaviors of the meatpacking industry most recently by promulgating the Farmer Fair Practices Rules. These rules are long overdue.”

Johnson notes that the livestock sectors are more consolidated today than they were 100 years ago. In 1916, the top five slaughterhouses controlled 82 percent of the cattle market and 61 percent of the hog market. Today, just four companies control 85 percent of the beef industry and 74 percent of the pork industry.

“In 1921, Congress passed the Packers and Stockyards Act ‘to regulate the sale of livestock by farmers to the more economically powerful livestock buyers,’” says Johnson. “With the Farmer Fair Practices Rules, the USDA is attempting to clarify the P&S Act, it’s scope, and the rights of farmers and ranchers.”

Johnson also notes that more than half of the poultry industry is dominated by just four firms, and the development of contract farming as the model in the poultry and hog sectors has institutionalized the “monopsony/monopoly relations between farm and agribusiness and the ability of the latter to unfairly capture value by the producer through price manipulation.”

“The two parties that negotiate the contract are not equal,” says Johnson. “This asymmetrical power results in undue influence over contract farmers.”

Johnson says that judicial decisions have weakened the original Act, providing farmers and ranchers with less protection in a more challenging marketplace.

“Family farmers and ranchers operating in an extremely consolidated marketplace should have the full protection of the Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921,” says Johnson. “The Farmer Fair Practices Rules will go a long way to make sure that farmers and ranchers can continue to operate with basic protections under the law.”

House Passes Pesticide Registration Bill in Time for Ag Day

Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1029, the Pesticide Registration Enhancement Act of 2017, by a voice vote. The bill reauthorizes the Pesticide Registration Improvement Act of 2003 (PRIA). The current authority for PRIA, the pesticide industry’s fee-for-service program, will expire on September 30, 2017. U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research, noted in his announcement of the bill yesterday that, “This bipartisan legislation improves PRIA to ensure transparency, consistency, and efficiency remains within the pesticide registration process.”

“We are pleased to see undivided support for PRIA, especially in time for National Ag Day,” stated Jay Vroom, president and CEO of CropLife America (CLA). “Ag Day inspires us to come together, as one national community, to support our farmers and their dedication to keeping farmland productive for generations. Industry, users of pesticides, state and federal regulators, and the NGO community alike have all shown their support for PRIA. We thank Chairman Davis and others on the House Ag Committee for championing this bill, and we look forward to similar bipartisan support in the Senate. A better funded, stable and predictable Environmental Protection Agency regulatory program represented by PRIA ensures that investment in tomorrow’s innovative products can continue!”

National Ag Day is an annual celebration of the food, fiber and fuel grown by American agriculture. Each year, producers, government officials and ag-related organizations hold and attend events to recognize how much agriculture contributes to our daily lives. The Agriculture Council of America helps to organize events and promote National Ag Day, including through an essay and photo contest which focuses this year on the theme, Agriculture: Food for Life. For more information on National Ag Day and to see the winning entries, visit



America's farmers and ranchers help feed the world, fuel our Nation's economy, and lead global markets in output and productivity.  The efficiency of American agriculture has provided this country with abundance our ancestors could not have imagined.

The agriculture sector of the United States is endlessly innovative.  It continuously builds on its centuries of progress through advances in science, research, technology, safety, production, and marketing to meet the demands of changing consumer needs and complex world markets.  The agriculture sector provides jobs across our Nation, not just for farmers and ranchers, but for foresters, scientists, processors, shippers, firefighters, police, and retailers.

American agriculture is the largest positive contributor to our Nation's net trade balance, generating 10 percent of our exports and millions of American jobs.  America's farmers and ranchers provide a safe and plentiful domestic food supply, which is vital to our national security.  Moreover, they safeguard our sustainable resource base for future generations.  As my Administration fights for better trade deals, agriculture will be an important consideration so that its significant contributions will only increase in the years ahead.

American farmers and ranchers are the heart and soul of America and they represent the determined, self-reliant character of our Nation.  We are proud of American agriculture and we recognize agriculture's critical role to our Nation's bright future.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim March 21, 2017, as National Agriculture Day. I encourage all Americans to observe this day by recognizing the preeminent role that agriculture plays in Americans' daily life, acknowledging agriculture's continuing importance to our country's economy, and expressing our deep appreciation of farmers and ranchers across the Nation.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-first day of March, in the year of our Lord two thousand seventeen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-first.

ISU Extension and Outreach Celebrates National Ag Day

Agriculture is more than a way of life in Iowa. 85 percent of the state’s land is used for agriculture, with its products accounting for approximately 25 percent of Iowa’s economy.

The importance of agriculture on Iowa and the rest of the United States cannot be understated. Celebrating the efforts of American agriculture and reminding citizens that agriculture is part of all of us is the focus behind the 2017 National Ag Day - March 21.

“We take a big tent approach to what we do,” said John Lawrence, director of Agriculture and Natural Resources for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. “Agriculture is very diverse in this state. We cover everything from local foods to biotechnology.”

ISU Extension and Outreach carries its land grant mission throughout the state, working to provide science-based research and information to all Iowans.

“We try to tie university research to the practice taking place in the Iowa field,” Lawrence said. “We have great people in place who believe very strongly in being objective and finding true solutions. They are the best in the nation at what they do, and they bring that to bear on Iowa’s challenges and opportunities.”

ISU Extension and Outreach saw its impact felt through a variety of avenues in 2016:
-    Over 5.7 million people visited ISU Extension and Outreach webpages.
-    Specialists made 2,600 presentations at meetings, workshops and field days, coming in contact with over 209,500 people.
-    109,000 people subscribe to 33 ISU Extension and Outreach newsletters.
-    ISU Extension and Outreach specialists created 762 articles, with over 331,000 print publications being distributed and downloaded. Specialists also contributed to 1,223 popular press articles.
-    Face-to-face connections remain popular, with 6,861 meetings between specialists and their clients.

All these efforts are aimed at building a stronger Iowa, one that is able to confidently move forward to face the new challenges and opportunities presented in agriculture.

National Agriculture Day Reflects New Hope of the Year Ahead

Today, the National Association of Wheat Growers celebrated American wheat farmers as part of National Agriculture Day.  Hosted by the Agriculture Council of America, National Agriculture Day is held to tell agriculture’s story and the role farmers play in producing safe, abundant and affordable food.

“It couldn’t be more fitting that National Agriculture Day is being celebrated at the beginning of spring,” said NAWG President David Schemm, a wheat farmer from Sharon Springs, KS.  “Farmers are facing a lot of economic challenges, but with spring comes renewed hope for producers all across the country as they prepare for the crop year ahead.  American wheat farmers are some of the best in the world, producing high quality wheat demanded throughout the world and widely demanded right here at home.  National Agriculture Day is a recognition of all the work my fellow wheat farmers do year in and year out to feed the world.”

Wheat is a one of the most important crops around the world.  Right here at home, wheat flour is used in approximately three quarters of all U.S. grain products.  One bushel of wheat yields approximately 42 pounds of white flour or 60 pounds of whole-wheat flour.  And each of those bushels also goes into 42 one-and-a-half pound commercial loaves of white bread or 90 one-pound loaves of whole wheat bread.

Statement from Agriculture Acting Deputy Secretary Michael L. Young on National Agriculture Day

Acting Agriculture Deputy Secretary Michael L. Young today released the following statement:

"Today is National Agriculture Day, set aside to pay tribute to the farmers and ranchers of our nation.  The work of American producers and growers ensures consumers in our country have plenty of safe food and a wide variety at a cost lower than much of the world.

“Through their efficiency, they are able to produce more food and fiber than is demanded in our country, generating a trade surplus in agricultural products for the United States.  As President Trump noted in the Presidential Proclamation declaring today National Agriculture Day, ‘American agriculture is the largest positive contributor to our Nation’s net trade balance, providing 10 percent of our exports and millions of jobs.’

“Farmers and ranchers also play a role in helping sustain rural communities in the face of shifting populations and economic challenges.  In these and many other ways, agriculture is a key part of the American economy.

“So today, the employees of USDA thank our farmers and ranchers for all they do to feed our nation and the world, for their work conserving and preserving the land, and for being actively engaged in their local communities."

NFU Salutes Family Farmers and Ranchers on National Ag Day

Highlighting the important roles family farmers and ranchers play in ensuring food security, National Farmers Union (NFU) joined the agriculture community today in celebrating National Ag Day.

“Family farmers and ranchers play a critical role in providing food, fuel, feed and fiber to both our country and the global population,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “In order to ensure our food security for future generations, we need to be fostering the next generation of family farmers and ranchers today.”

The average age of the American farmer is 58 years old, and, according to the 2012 Ag Census, 57 percent of the nation’s farmers are within 10 years of retirement age or older. The good news is that the number of young people who said farming was their primary occupation increased by 11 percent between 2007 and 2012.

“The influx of new farmers is a welcome sign in an occupation as critical as food, feed and fuel production,” said Johnson. “Now we need to keep the momentum up by encouraging more new family farmers and ranchers, and providing them with the tools they need to succeed in today’s fast-paced business environment.”

New farmers and ranchers who entered the industry in the past five to ten years have had to deal with the worst farm economy in well over a decade. In fact, net farm income this year is projected to be less than half of what it was just four short years ago.

“While all of us in agriculture grapple with prolonged periods of low prices, it is beginning farmers and ranchers that are the most vulnerable during these periods,” said Johnson. “We need to be doing all we can as policymakers, mentors, neighbors and colleagues in family agriculture to ensure the success and economic well-being of the next generation of farmers and ranchers.”

Johnson noted that NFU provides a bevy of education programs designed to encourage and develop future leaders in American agriculture.

“NFU’s education programs focus on community engagement, leadership development and youth outreach,” said Johnson “Many of those who have participated have indeed gone on to be farmers, leaders in agriculture, key decision-makers in international food and aid organizations and even elected officials.”

BASF investments aid growers and local communities

BASF today announced the completion of its Beaumont, Texas, facility expansion, the only dicamba manufacturing facility in the U.S. for the agriculture industry. The Beaumont site received more than $270 million in capital improvements in the last three years, making it BASF’s largest agricultural products facility investment in company history.  In addition, BASF has invested more than $290 million in its eight other North American agricultural products production sites and facilities that support its agricultural business, helping to provide solutions for growers and contributing to the economic development of the communities it serves.

“Our commitment to North America is clear. The agricultural market is changing, and growers are demanding the newest and most effective technologies to increase profitability,” said Paul Rea, Senior Vice President, Crop Protection, BASF North America. “BASF responded to growers’ needs by making significant investments in production to deliver effective solutions to help farmers manage weed resistance and produce higher yields. We could not have done this without our skilled workforce in Beaumont and across North America who not only help growers, but also help drive our economy.”

BASF has more than 50 years of technical experience with the active ingredient dicamba and today is the market leader in global dicamba supply. With glyphosate-resistant weeds identified on more than two-thirds of U.S. crop land, it is crucial for growers to have new tools to build effective weed control programs that utilize multiple sites of action.

Engenia™ herbicide, BASF’s newest innovation, is part of a complete weed control system, providing a simple and reliable herbicide option following a residual herbicide. The herbicide features a completely new dicamba molecule, BAPMA salt, which is designed specifically for dicamba-tolerant soybeans and cotton. This innovative formulation is unique to BASF and contains a heavier weight and stronger bond relative to DGA and DMA dicamba formulations. The advancements in formulation and application reduce volatility and off-target movement of the dicamba molecule.

“Of the many hurdles growers face each season, weed resistance has become a top challenge in recent years,” said Matt Huie of Texas-based 1349 Food & Fiber. “We rely on innovative, new technologies to help us control weeds and maximize crop output. The current environment makes high yields an absolute necessity and that is only accomplished with clean, weed-free fields.”

As part of the Engenia herbicide launch, BASF is also offering in-person and online training through the On Target Application Academy (OTAA). This one-of-a-kind educational opportunity provides extensive training that promotes correct and effective herbicide application.

“We expect the demand for dicamba and herbicides like Engenia to increase and the Beaumont facility will be critical in meeting this need,” said Thomas Bereswill, Director, BASF AP Manufacturing Americas. “This expansion not only served our customers, but our community as well. We were able to hire 700 contractors in addition to the current 175 on-site employees to complete the project on time.”

BASF has completed similar expansion projects at eight of its other North American agricultural production facilities, including its Hannibal, Missouri, and Sparks, Georgia, sites.

Monday March 20 Ag News

Two Featured Presentations Scheduled for Nebraska Ethanol Board Meeting

Connie Lindstrom, senior biofuels analyst at Christianson CPAs and Consultants, and Jamie Rhodes, president of Trestle Energy, are the featured presenters at the Nebraska Ethanol Board meeting Wednesday, March 29.

Lindstrom will present on trends in Nebraska ethanol plant performance. Her company specializes in Biofuels Benchmarking, which allows ethanol plants to access a vast database of anonymized industry data, insights and reports.

“By observing trends, decision-makers can set priorities and improve processes,” Lindstrom said. “Benchmarking information is key to managing risks, identifying opportunities and prioritizing resource use.”

A growing set of opportunities are emerging for Nebraska ethanol plants and agricultural producers, ranging from process optimizations to plant expansions and development of innovative co-product streams. Rhodes will discuss Trestle’s approach to one set of these opportunities and share his vision for developing crop residue fuel pellets as a co-product of Nebraska ethanol.

“These fuel pellets can be used in Nebraska’s existing coal-fired power plants and industry boilers,” he said. “And because the pellets are a co-product of ethanol, their use can dramatically reduce the carbon intensity of Nebraska ethanol in West Coast markets. These projects can offer a lot of value for both ethanol plants and feedstock producers, and Nebraska’s industries are well positioned to benefit.”

The Nebraska Ethanol Board meeting will be held at the Hyatt Place Hotel (600 Q St.) in Lincoln at 8:30 a.m. March 29. Lindstrom and Rhodes will speak at approximately 9 a.m.

Gloves May Help Prevent Parkinson's Among Those in Ag

Clyde Ogg - Pesticide Safety Educator, Nebraska Extension

One key to pesticide safety is literally in the palm of your hand: wearing proper gloves.

In 2011 the Agricultural Health Study reported that study participants who used the herbicide paraquat or insecticide rotenone were twice as likely to develop Parkinson’s as were people who didn’t. AHS has studied more than 89,000 farmers and their spouses since 1993 and continues to serve as a benchmark for agricultural health issues.

A 2015 AHS study update reports that wearing chemical-resistant gloves and changing clothes after using pesticides may help prevent Parkinson’s. The study showed that Parkinson’s was associated with applicators who did not wear gloves when applying paraquat or the insecticide permethrin. Parkinson’s was not associated with applicators who regularly wore gloves.

Gloves are only one part of the personal protective equipment (PPE) stipulated by the pesticide label to help pesticide handlers and applicators protect themselves.

At minimum PPE calls for gloves, long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, shoes, and socks. How do you know what else to wear, such as goggles, respirators, and aprons?

The simple answer is: Check the label. The pesticide label is a legal document with all the details of using a particular product, including what gloves and other PPE to wear.

The Right Glove for the Job

All gloves are not the same. Chemical-resistant gloves, for example, are made of barrier laminate, butyl rubber, nitrile rubber, neoprene rubber, natural rubber, polyethylene, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), or Viton®.

Glove Recommendations

-    Water-resistant is not chemical-resistant. Typical household, cotton, or leather gloves should never be used for protection from pesticides.
-    Never re-use any disposable, one-time use gloves or other PPE.
-    Glove length — such as elbow-length — also may be specified on the product label.
-    Chemical-resistant gloves for use with pesticides are unlined, to prevent the lining from absorbing any pesticide and transferring it to the wearer’s skin.
-    Before removing gloves, wash thoroughly with soap and water. Then, carefully remove gloves without touching skin or the glove’s interior.
-    Pesticide product labels undergo scheduled reevaluations and can be changed at any time —even within a season — due to new research and/or regulatory requirements. That’s why it’s imperative to read the entire label every time you buy a pesticide product and always follow label directions.

Agricultural Health Study

In February 2017, the AHS also reported that farm workers who have had a high pesticide exposure event — such as a spill — are more likely to experience molecular changes to DNA that may lead to certain cancers.

Other AHS studies are ongoing with pesticides and potential memory loss and kidney disease.

The Agricultural Health Study is a prospective study of cancer and other health outcomes in a cohort of licensed pesticide applicators and their spouses from Iowa and North Carolina. The AHS began in 1993 with the goal of answering important questions about how agricultural, lifestyle, and genetic factors affect the health of farming populations. The study is a collaborative effort of investigators from the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

More than 89,000 farmers and their spouses in Iowa and North Carolina have been involved in the study since 1993.

NePPA Announces Participants in the 2017 Pork Leadership Program

The Nebraska Pork Producers Association is proud to welcome participants in the 2017 Pork Leadership Program. Participants in the 2017 Pork Leadership Program are:
  - Paul Segner operates a contract wean to finish operation as a production partner with the Maschhoffs near Friend.
  - Matthew Marquardt operates a small farrow to finish hog operation near Tekamah.
  - Justin Hankins of Omaha works for Farm Credit Services of America as a Swine Industry Credit Analyst.
  - Connor Sharp of Omaha works for Standard Nutrition Company and is responsible for overall marketing efforts, as well as regional training and business development activities for consultants.
  - Chad Moyer of Beemer works for the Nebraska Rural Radio Association as a Farm Broadcaster.
  - Brady McNeil of Columbus helps customers maximize genetic potential and provides technical support for DNA Genetics.

The 2017 Pork Leadership Program is comprised of six talented professionals. Each participant shares unique experiences that shape their perspective based on their particular career path as well as their personal involvements and interests.

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

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

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

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

Katie Jantzen of Plymouth Graduates from NFU's Beginning Farmers Institute

Beginning farmer, Katie Jantzen of Plymouth, graduated from the sixth class of the Beginning Farmer Institute (BFI) of the National Farmers Union.  On March 4th, 17 beginning farmers from across the country received certificates at the awards banquet of the National Farmers Union (NFU) preceding the national convention in San Diego, California.

The Beginning Farmer Institute brings together beginning farmers for class sessions, discussions, and farm tours.  The first session of this year's class was held in Washington, D.C. and featured a tour of an urban farm, discussions on land access, and presentations on topics such as farm liability issues and farm policy.  At the second session, held in Salinas, California, participants toured several large-scale organic vegetable and berry farms as well as local food restaurants. At the final session in San Diego, the participants heard from speakers on topics ranging from farm succession issues to farm accounting and tax considerations.

Jantzen commented, "The real value of the program for me lies in the opportunity to network with such a diverse group of other young farmers from around the country.  This year's group represented organic vegetable farmers, conventional grain farmers, livestock operations, and fruit/nut farms. I appreciated the chance to get to know other beginning farmers from around the country to discuss common challenges we face and to share resources."

“Katie is a former Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU) youth camper and youth camp counselor.  The BFI is Farmers Union’s effort to identify beginning farmers and help them acquire the financial and networking skills they need to get started in farming.  If we as farmers and as farm organizations want the next generation of young farmers to get started farming, we must aggressively work and take action to give them a foothold and running start in agriculture.  We are pleased that Katie participated in our BFI program and that it was helpful to her.  We are always pleased when we see young people that want to become involved in the noble profession of producing food for others,” said John Hansen, NeFU President.   Hansen urged anyone interested in the BFI program to contact the NeFU state office or Melissa Miller at NFU at (202-554-1600.

Applications for the 2017-2018 class are currently being accepted and can be found at

 Smith Recognizes National Agriculture Week

Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) spoke on the House Floor today in recognition of National Agriculture Week.  Smith’s remarks were as follows:

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in recognition of National Agriculture Week and the farmers and ranchers who have made Nebraska’s Third District the top-producing agriculture district in the country.

One in four Nebraska jobs is tied to agriculture.  The hard work and innovative practices of our producers have made our state a leader in feeding the world.

For too long, the heavy hand of the federal government has threatened agriculture’s future.

Thankfully, we have seen important victories under the Trump administration, including the beginning of the end for the EPA’s dangerous Waters of the U.S. rule, or WOTUS.

Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers are committed stewards of our natural resources and take many steps to keep our water sources clean.

President Trump ordered a reset on WOTUS, agreeing farmers and ranchers deserve better than having Washington bureaucrats controlling the water puddles and irrigation ditches on their land.

As founder and co-chairman of the Modern Agriculture Caucus, I will continue to promote policies designed to get the government out of the way and open more markets around the world for Nebraska producers.

Celebrating Agriculture

Governor Pete Ricketts

The spotlight will be on Nebraska’s number one industry this week as Nebraskans across the state celebrate National Ag Week.   I’ll be joining Nebraskans from Scottsbluff to Omaha at 11 events over three days to highlight how our state’s number one industry continues to grow Nebraska.  While commodity prices in many markets are lagging, there are many reasons to be optimistic about agriculture’s future in Nebraska.

Some may think growing agriculture only matters to our farm and ranch families, however, this $23 billion industry has a big economic impact on every part of our state.  According to the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, one in four jobs in Nebraska are agriculture-related.  In addition to our state’s 48,700 farms, ag-related industries employ Nebraskans who manufacture irrigation equipment in Hastings, process food in Omaha, and conduct research at the University in Lincoln among many other occupations.

Nebraska’s commodity production leads nationally in numerous categories.  In 2016, Nebraska ranked number one among all states for red meat production, cattle on feed, and Great Northern beans.  We rank second for our total number of cattle and calves, ethanol production, and pinto beans.  We are third in the nation for corn for grain production and corn exports.

These successes did not happen by accident – they happened because Nebraskans worked together to grow agriculture.  There are several successes over the past year we’ll be celebrating this week.  In 2016, six more counties received Livestock Friendly County designations, sending the message they are open to new livestock operations.  We cut red tape for ag producers with a new vehicle designation allowing them to move equipment without additional licensing.  In 2015, the Legislature and I put in place a new Livestock Siting Matrix to streamline the siting process for new projects.  Just in the last few months, Dodge County became the first county to adopt this matrix.  The county recently welcomed a new $1 billion investment from Costco, which is locating a new chicken processing plant in Fremont.  This investment alone is equivalent to approximately one percent of our state’s GDP!

Trade has been key to growing agriculture in Nebraska.  Over the past two years, we have led successful trade missions to the European Union, Japan, and China, and signed a new $400 million trade agreement with Taiwan.  This last week, I hosted my annual Governor’s Ag Conference where trade was front and center in the discussion.  Many ag producers are concerned about President Trump’s desire to renegotiate trade deals, which have helped open up markets for Nebraska’s commodities around the world.  In the opening days of the Trump Administration, I have urged the President to protect Nebraska agriculture, and to move quickly to negotiate trade deals favorable to Nebraska.

Nebraska’s ag producers have received good news from Washington recently.  Before President Trump took office, Nebraska was suing the federal government over burdensome regulations placed on our ag producers.   Shortly after President Trump was sworn in, he took swift action to roll back the Waters of the U.S., an onerous rule that threatened to hurt Nebraska’s farm and ranch families.  Rolling back this rule means Nebraska’s ag producers will retain more control over their ability to farm and ranch without interference from federal regulators.  The President has pledged to cut more red tape, and I am hopeful he will continue to do away with unnecessary regulations.

Tax reform will also help grow agriculture.  Over the last couple of years, the Legislature and I have worked to deliver meaningful property tax relief for Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers.  We have delivered over $400 million in direct property tax relief with an additional $40 million for our ag producers over the next two years.  I am currently working with senators to change the way we value ag land for taxation purposes.  Today, we value ag land based on market sales.  With the Agricultural Valuation Fairness Act, we would move to an income potential valuation system, which will help taxes track more closely with land values. 

Throughout National Ag Week, I will be visiting with Nebraskans about how we can work together to grow agriculture.  We must continue to grow agriculture to grow Nebraska, so the Good Life continues to provide the great opportunities the next generation is seeking.  If you have any thoughts you would like to share on the state of agriculture in Nebraska, I hope you will contact my office by emailing or by calling 402-471-2244.  We look forward to hearing from you!

ASA DuPont Young Leaders Explore Issues, Marketing During Training

The 33rd class of American Soybean Association (ASA) DuPont Young Leaders completed their training, Feb. 28 – March 3, 2017 in conjunction with the annual Commodity Classic Convention and Trade Show in San Antonio, Texas.

“For more than 30 years, the ASA DuPont Young Leader program has identified new and emerging leaders for the soybean industry. The program provides training that strengthens their voices while networking opportunities create a connected and more collaborative organization,” said ASA President Ron Moore. “We’re grateful to DuPont Pioneer and DuPont for their commitment to this program and for helping secure the future of the soybean industry.”

While in San Antonio, the Young Leaders participated in leadership and marketing training, issues updates and discussion and were recognized at ASA’s annual awards banquet.

The 2017 Class of Young Leaders includes: Cade Grace (AL); Layne & Ryane Miles (AR); Brock Willard (IL); Jonathan & Derika Spaetti (IN); Alex Brownlee (IA); Casey Schlichting (IA); Brandon & Blair Geiger (KS); Brett Neibling (KS); Kyle Bugg (KY); Mike & Lindsey Gaspard (LA); Angela & Wenceslaus Provost (LA); Andrew Crawford (MI); Matthew & Jessica Swoish (MI); Trevore Brekken (MN); Chad & Monica McCollough (MO); Blake Hokamp (NE); Leslie Hamilton & Dan Stein (NY); Greg Manning & Jessica Harris (NC); Kasey Bitz (ND); Trish Levering (OH); Jean Lam (OK); Jeff & Janie Harrison (Ontario, Canada); Justin & Jessica Rivers (SC); Nick & Shelly Lorang (SD); Rob Holman (TN); Doug & Britni Singleteary (TN); Grayson Kirby & Cindy Dykes (VA); Wes & Amanda Marshall (VA) and Tony & Katie Mellenthin (WI).

“This year’s class is a remarkable group of young leaders,” said Steve Reno, DuPont Pioneer vice president, business director -- U.S. & Canada. Reno spent time with the growers when they were in Johnston earlier this year and then again at Commodity Classic. “This year’s class has focused significant energy into taking on the challenges facing our industry. I’m proud of our continued commitment to this program and impressed by the leadership skills being demonstrated already by these young leaders.”

JBS to Acquire Plumrose USA Pork Company

JBS USA announced a definitive share purchase agreement with Danish Crown A/S to acquire the company's U.S.-based bacon, ham and deli meat business, Plumrose USA, for $230 million. It is anticipated that the proposed transaction would close during the second quarter of 2017, subject to regulatory review and approval, and customary closing conditions.

"Today's announcement is further demonstration of our commitment to disciplined growth through strategic acquisitions that further diversify our product portfolio, expand our branded offerings and strengthen our direct relationship with consumers," said Andre Nogueira, CEO, JBS USA Food Company.

The acquisition includes five prepared foods facilities, including one in Elkhart, Indiana, two in Council Bluffs, Iowa, one in Booneville, Mississippi, and one in Swanton, Vermont, and two distribution centers in South Bend, Indiana, and Tupelo, Mississippi, respectively. Plumrose offers an array of branded, prepared foods including bacon, hams, sliced deli meats and cooked ribs. Plumrose annual net revenues are estimated at $500 million.

The announced transaction is a clear continuation of the JBS global strategy to increase its presence in the prepared foods and branded product categories.

International Team Discovers Resistance Gene in Global Corn Threat

An Iowa State University agronomist has contributed to research identifying a corn gene that resists a virus that has caused substantial yield losses in most corn-cultivating countries.

Thomas Lubberstedt, a professor of agronomy, said the research will lead to crop varieties that can fight off sugarcane mosaic virus. The virus, in concert with maize chlorotic mottle virus, causes a condition known as maize lethal necrosis disease, which has led to total yield losses in East African fields. Maize lethal necrosis disease first appeared in Africa in 2011, most likely traveling from southeast Asia, and has become a major concern for African corn famers, Lubberstedt said.

"We hope our research can be used in countries where these viruses are present and contribute to getting these viruses under control," Lubberstedt said. "Ultimately, we want to help solve problems for farmers."

Sugarcane mosaic virus and closely related potyviruses threaten corn crops in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas, though it hasn't been a major disease in the United States in recent years. The virus also infects sugarcane, sorghum and other crops.

Lubberstedt is a co-author of a study published this month in the peer-reviewed academic journal Molecular Plant detailing a possible genetic source of resistance to the virus. The study identifies a gene called Scmv1 that, when expressed at a high enough rate, helps corn plants fight off the virus.

The virus hijacks a protein in the plant related to photosynthesis that's critical for plant energy production and spreads from there, Lubberstedt said. Scmv1, the resistance gene, binds with the same photosynthesis protein and competes with the virus. If the gene is expressed at a high rate, it can stop the disease from spreading.

Lubberstedt has worked on corn trait mapping since the 1990s, but previous experiments managed to narrow down sugarcane mosaic virus resistance only to a cluster of genes. The new paper pinpoints the specific gene that governs resistance, which should make it possible to use transgenics and other methods to increase the expression of Scmv1 in plants.

The research was funded in part by the U.S. Agency of International Development. Lubberstedt worked with an international team on the project, led by long-term collaborator Mingliang Xu of China Agricultural University. The research benefited from a collaboration agreement struck by the ISU College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and China Agricultural University, Lubberstedt said.

Study Dispels Claim of Female Teen Weight Gain from Dairy

Creighton University announced today groundbreaking research results, now published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN) regarding dairy consumption and weight gain in adolescent females.

The study titled "The effect of increasing dairy calcium intake of adolescent girls on changes in body fat and weight" found that increasing dairy intake in adolescent girls neither decreases nor increases gain in percent body fat or weight compared to similar girls who do not increase dairy intake.

The study was done by Joan M Lappe, PhD, Criss/Beirne professor and associate dean of research, College of nursing and professor of medicine, Osteoporosis Research Center, Creighton University.

"In adults, studies show that increasing dairy food in overweight persons may result in weight loss," said Lappe. "Ours is the first study to test this concept in adolescent girls. Our findings indicate that moderate increases in dairy do not affect weight gain in adolescent girls."

Lappe added that this is positive news, as many adolescent girls avoid dairy because they are afraid of weight gain. However, girls in the adolescent age range need calcium for maximizing their peak bone mass, and dairy foods are the best source of calcium from the diet.

Full study results can be accessed at The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition website.

February Milk Production in the United States down 1.2 Percent

Milk production in the United States during February totaled 16.7 billion pounds, down 1.2 percent from February 2016. However, production was 2.3 percent above last year after adjusting for the leap year.  Production per cow in the United States averaged 1,782 pounds for February, 33 pounds below February 2016.  The number of milk cows on farms in the United States was 9.37 million head, 56,000 head more than February 2016, and 4,000 head more than January 2017.

Milk production in Iowa during February 2017 totaled 399 million pounds, up 1 percent from the previous February according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Milk Production report. However, production was up 5 percent when adjusted for the leap year. The average number of milk cows during February, at 216,000 head, was 1,000 more than last month, and 5,000 more than last year. Monthly production per cow averaged 1,845 pounds, down 25 pounds from last February.

CWT Assists with 3.5 Million Pounds of Cheese Export Sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 22 requests for export assistance from member cooperatives that have contracts to sell 3.523 million pounds (1,598 metric tons) of Cheddar, Gouda and Monterey Jack cheeses to customers in Asia and Oceania. The product has been contracted for delivery in the period from March through June 2017.

So far this year, CWT has assisted member cooperatives who have contracts to sell 19.102 million pounds of American-type cheeses, and 1.375 million pounds of butter (82% milkfat) to 12 countries on four continents. The sales are the equivalent of 207.252 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.

US Infrastructure Report Card: Waterways, Dams Get Failing Grade

The nation's infrastructure received an average grade of D+ in the American Society of Civil Engineers' (ASCE) 2017 Infrastructure Report Card released on March 9. The report is an assessment of the conditions of the nation's infrastructure across 16 categories.

Of the 16 categories graded, six are essential to the success of commodity shipments and, in particular, agriculture shipments. Those categories are bridges, which were graded C+, ports C+, railroads B, roads D-, levees D and inland waterways D.

While our roads and bridges are in dire need of repair, the poor condition of our inland waterways, specifically our aging locks and dams, remains a detriment to our infrastructure.

The U.S exports nearly one quarter of the grain it produces. When it comes time to move these crucial commodities to export grain elevators, barges account for the transporting of 61% of corn, 42% of soybeans, 40% of wheat and 26% of sorghum, according to the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA).

Rabo AgriFinance Strengthens Partnership with National FFA Organization

For the past 12 years, Rabo AgriFinance has worked with the National FFA Organization to ensure the future of agriculture and agricultural education. Through a generous donation, Rabo AgriFinance has worked with FFA to provide FFA members the opportunity to grow into leaders, build their communities and strengthen agriculture.

In 2017, Rabo AgriFinance will serve as a Five Star sponsor. They currently support supervised agricultural experience grants, scholarships, the beef production-entrepreneurship proficiency as well as the Living to Serve platform.

“We appreciate that the goals and values of Rabo Agrifinance 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 Five Star sponsor.”

"Rabo AgriFinance understands the importance of supporting National FFA and youth in agriculture education as we were founded by farmers for farmers,” said Van Dewey, Rabo Agrifinance general manager/senior vice president west territory. “We have over 40 offices across the U.S. located in rural towns, agricultural centers and farming regions where our clients live and work and are proud to partner with such a great organization that is creating great leaders for the future. " 

With limited release of 10 new NK® Corn hybrids, Syngenta showcases advanced genetics, new naming system

Syngenta is offering an early look at its next wave of advanced genetics, releasing a limited quantity of 10 additional new NK® Corn hybrids for 2017 planting. They represent the company’s latest seed innovations and are the first to be identified by a new, more grower-friendly naming system.

The hybrids will be featured in 2017 trial plots and are available in limited commercial quantities this growing season, giving retailers and growers a sneak peek of what’s to come in 2018. The 10 hybrids join an existing portfolio including 22 other new NK Corn hybrids released for 2017 planting.

“Research and development drives innovation at Syngenta, and these new NK Corn hybrids are a direct result of those efforts – offering growers even more advanced seed choices,” said Joe Bollman, corn seed product manager at Syngenta.

Ranging from 89-day to 115-day relative maturities, the new hybrids are also equipped with Agrisure® traits to help protect genetic yield potential amid unexpected, adverse conditions. The Agrisure Artesian® trait enhances water optimization while Agrisure Duracade® and Agrisure Viptera® traits are two options for comprehensive corn insect control.

Additionally, the hybrids will be the first to feature a new naming structure designed to make NK Corn hybrids easier to identify. Using NK Corn hybrid NK0962-3022A brand as an example, this new structure is built as follows:
·         “NK” is the brand marker
·         The first two numbers reflect the last two digits of the hybrid’s relative maturity (“09” for 109-day maturity)
·         The final two numbers (in this case, “62”) are selected at random
·         A hyphen distinguishes genetics from traits
·         For hybrids that contain either the Agrisure Duracade or Agrisure Viptera traits, the name ends with four numbers (in this example, “3022”) aligned with the Agrisure traits nomenclature system to help classify stack technology
·         Hybrids that contain Artesian™ – like this one – end with the letter “A”

“It should be very easy for a grower to identify the relative maturity of an NK Corn hybrid. This was the thinking that drove our approach for a revamped NK Corn hybrid numbering system,” Bollman said.

The entire NK Corn portfolio will feature the new naming structure starting with 2018 seed sales. For additional information or to find an NK Retailer, visit

Brazil Meat Scandal Deepens

(AP) -- A scandal over alleged bribery by meatpackers to allow the sale of expired meat in Brazil deepened Monday as the European Union, China and Chile decided to halt some meat imports from Latin America's largest nation.

The developments represent a major blow to Brazil, one of the world's largest exporters of meat, which is struggling to emerge from its worst recession in decades.

The announcements came despite a flurry of meetings that Brazilian President Michel Temer held with ambassadors and numerous assurances from the government that Brazilian meats in general are safe.

Speaking to reporters in Brussels, European Union spokesman Enrico Brivio said the Brazilian companies involved in alleged bribery would be temporarily barred from shipping meat to the EU.

The EU "will guarantee that any of the establishments involved in the fraud will be suspended," said Brivio, who didn't cite companies by name or say how long the ban would last.

A few hours later, Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi said China had suspended the unloading of Brazilian meats in Chinese ports. Maggi played down that development, saying Chinese authorities were in the process of asking for more information.

"There is no Chinese embargo," Maggi told reporters in Brasilia. "What we have are containers there that can't leave the port to local markets."

Chile followed suit, announcing the temporary suspension of Brazilian meats, said Angel Sartori, director of that country's Agricultural and Livestock Service.

On Friday, police issued 38 arrest warrants involving the giant meatpackers JBS and BRF. Both companies have denied wrongdoing.

Investigators charge that the companies bribed health inspectors to overlook the sale of expired meats. The companies allegedly improve the appearance and smell of expired meats by using chemicals and cheaper products like water and manioc flour. Three plants have been shut down.

Temer called an emergency meeting Sunday with ambassadors of several countries. He assured them that Brazilian meats are safe and invited them to a Brazilian-style barbeque.

On Monday, Temer again sought to calm nerves, saying Brazil's meat industry should not be judged by a single investigation.

"The agro business for us in Brazil is very important and it should not be marred by a small nucleus (of bad actors), a small thing," he said, speaking to the American Chamber of Commerce in Sao Paulo.

Brazil was the world's largest producer of beef and veal in 2016 and one of the top exporters, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture. The country is also a major exporter of chicken and pork products.

On Monday, sanitation officials were out in force in several cities.

Marcia Rolim, head of Rio de Janeiro's municipal sanitary inspections, said routine investigations were being intensified in light of the investigation. Investigators collected several carts of meats for analysis. Some of the packages from at least one supermarket appeared to be rotten, with a greenish color.

Browsing meats on Monday at a supermarket, Carla Simone Macedo said she had periodically seen products that looked to be repackaged.

Antonio Fernando, another customer, said called investigation "an exaggeration."

"We have very good meats," he said, adding it was good to see more inspectors.