class="page-template page-template-page-templates page-template-blog-chadmoyer page-template-page-templatesblog-chadmoyer-php page page-id-6432 custom-background group-blog masthead-fixed full-width singular wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-5.1.1 vc_responsive"
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 June 23 Cattle on Feed + Ag News


Nebraska feedlots, with capacities of 1,000 or more head, contained 2.35 million cattle on feed on June 1, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. This inventory was up slightly from last year. Placements during May totaled 445,000 head, up 10 percent from 2016. Fed cattle marketings for the month of May totaled 530,000 head, up 14 percent from last year. Other disappearance during May totaled 15,000 head, down 5,000 head from last year.


Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 680,000 head on June 1, 2017, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Cattle on Feed report. This was unchanged from May 1, 2017, but up 8 percent from June 1, 2016. Iowa feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head had 550,000 head on feed, down 7 percent from last month and down 4 percent from last year. Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in all Iowa feedlots totaled 1,230,000 head, down 3 percent from last month but up 3 percent from last year.

Placements of cattle and calves in Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head during May totaled 85,000 head, a decrease of 11 percent from last month but up 33 percent from last year. Feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head placed 35,000 head, down 15 percent from last month, but the same as last year. Placements for all feedlots in Iowa totaled 120,000 head, down 12 percent from last month but up 21 percent from last year.

Marketings of fed cattle from Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head during May totaled 82,000 head, the same as last month but up 14 percent from last year. Feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head marketed 69,000 head, up 21 percent from last month and up 15 percent from last year. Marketings for all feedlots in Iowa were 151,000 head, up 9 percent from last month and up 14 percent from last year. Other disappearance from all feedlots in Iowa totaled 9,000 head.

United States Cattle on Feed Up 3 Percent

Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 11.1 million head on June 1, 2017. The inventory was 3 percent above June 1, 2016.

On Feed by State  (1000 hd  -  % LY)

Colorado .......:           970            109       
Iowa .............:            680            108       
Kansas ..........:           2,270          105      
Nebraska ......:           2,350          100      
Texas ............:           2,650          102     

Placements in feedlots during May totaled 2.12 million head, 12 percent above 2016. Net placements were 2.05 million head. During May, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 400,000 head, 600-699 pounds were 315,000 head, 700-799 pounds were 529,000 head, 800-899 pounds were 550,000 head, 900-999 pounds were 235,000 head, and 1,000 pounds and greater were 90,000 head.

Placements by State  (1000 hd - @ May '16)

Colorado .......:                   160            119        
Iowa .............:                     85             133         
Kansas ..........:                    440            105        
Nebraska ......:                    445            110       
Texas ............:                   640             114         

Marketings of fed cattle during May totaled 1.95 million head, 9 percent above 2016.  Other disappearance totaled 70,000 head during May, 5 percent below 2016.

Marketings by State  (1000 hd - % May '16)

Colorado .......:                   140           108          
Iowa .............:                    82             114            
Kansas ..........:                    435           109          
Nebraska ......:                    530           114         
Texas ............:                    440           102           

2017 NC Road Trip

Join the Nebraska Cattlemen Staff as they hit the road at a location near you. Exclusive to current and prospective members.  Non-members must be a guest of a current member.

Topics to Fuel Your Mind:
* Legislative Update
* DC Update
* Beef Trade to China
* Property Tax
* Affiliate 101

Monday, July 24

Fremont - Meal at 12:30 pm Meeting 1:00 pm - Christensen Field Meeting Room, 1710 W 16th West Lindon & Ridge Rd.
Albion - Meal at 7:00 pm Meeting at 7:30 pm - Boone Co Fairgrounds, Casey's Building, 100 W Fairview St.

Tuesday, July 25

Cairo - Meal at 12:30 pm Meeting 1:00 pm - Centura Hills Golf Club, 312 Centura Hills Drive
Nelson - Meal at 7:00 pm Meeting at 7:30 pm - Community Center, 333 South Main

Wednesday, July 26

Oxford - Meal at 12:30 pm Meeting 1:00 pm
Gothenburg - Meal at 7:00 pm Meeting at 7:30 pm - Gothenburg Senior Center, 410 20th St.

Thursday, July 27

Anselmo - Meal and Meeting start at 12:00 pm - Furbor & Grill, 220 E Smith Ave.
Alliance - Meal at 7:00 pm Meeting at 7:30 pm - Newberry's, 104 W 4th

Nebraska Cattlemen Comment on Final Agreement for U.S. Beef Exports to China

Nebraska Cattlemen applauds the Trump Administration for reaching a consensus with Chinese officials on the technical protocol needed to resume U.S. beef exports to China.

"Nebraska's beef producers have waited for 13 years for the opportunity to access China's estimated $2.6 billion market.  Chinese officials have spent considerable time in Nebraska in recent years, and NC members played an active role in showcasing the high quality beef we produce in our state.  NC is pleased these trips helped China gain confidence in restoring beef trade with the United States, and we are very excited for Nebraska beef to be on the menus in China," said NC President Troy Stowater.

The protocol lists several requirements that U.S. producers will need to meet in order to ship beef to China.  Beef exports must come from cattle that are under 30 months of age, are born in the U.S., Canada or Mexico, and can be traced back to a U.S. birth farm or first U.S. port of entry.  Changes in ownership will not have to be tracked.

U.S. beef destined for China may not contain residues of growth promotants, feed additives and other chemical compounds prohibited by Chinese law.  Testing will occur at point of arrival.  If a shipment were to include a prohibited substance it wouldbe rejected, returned to the U.S. or destroyed.

Chilled or frozen bone-in and deboned beef products are eligible for shipment.  Qualified beef products produced after May 24, 2017 may be shipped once a plant is approved by USDA as eligible to export to China.

Nebraska is home to numerous harvest plants, and product equivalent of 2,600 head of cattle is exported worldwide from Nebraska every day.  Given China's rapidly expanding middle class, Nebraska's livestock industry is poised to benefit tremendously from restored beef trade with China.

"In recent years, China has become one of the largest import markets for beef, and these terms are a reflection of China's trust in the safety and quality of U.S. beef. We hope that by getting our foot in the door we can develop a long lasting and mutually beneficial relationship with China," said Craig Uden, president of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association and NC member from Cozad.

The technical terms of the deal mark the final steps needed before U.S. beef can begin arriving in China by July 16, 2017. A full list of requirements can be found on USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service and Food Safety Inspection Service websites.


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Wheat stubble can be an excellent seedbed to plant forages into using no-till.  It may take some advance planning, though, to be successful.

               What is the most important step in double-cropping forages after wheat harvest?  If you answered – getting a good stand – congratulations, you’re absolutely right.  Without a good stand, nothing else you do is going to make much difference.

               Sounds simple enough, right?  So what’s the trick to getting good stands?  Well maybe, just maybe, it’s planting no-till immediately after combining the wheat.

               Spotty stands often result from top soil drying out rapidly after wheat has been combined.  This may not be a serious situation under irrigation, but it can ruin dryland stand establishment.  Fortunately, there usually is moisture near the soil surface during combining.  Plant without delay before this moisture evaporates for better stand success.

               No-till planting of turnips, summer annual grasses, or other cover crops into wheat stubble has many advantages.  Most importantly, soil moisture is conserved.  In addition, erosion is reduced, weed seeds remain buried, and tillage expenses are eliminated.

               Of course, there are other challenges to getting a good stand.  Planting equipment must be adjusted and operated properly when planting into heavy straw residue.  Another challenge is weeds, either annual weeds that develop after wheat is combined or volunteer wheat that sprouts later in the summer.  Be ready with post-emerge herbicides like Select Max or Poast Plus when appropriate for latter emerging weeds or volunteer wheat.

               Wheat stubble makes a good seedbed but it takes a good plan to make it a success.

New Pivot Control Lite Upgrades to Remote Control

FieldNET by Lindsay, Omaha, has added a new product to its industry-leading line of remote pivot monitoring and control solutions -- Pivot Control Lite. This innovative product provides growers with a simpler, more cost-effective option to retrofit virtually any brand of new and existing electric center pivots with remote management.

"Pivot Control Lite is the simplest and most economical way to add remote control and monitoring capabilities to center pivots," said Reece Andrews, product manager and FieldNET business manager at Lindsay Corporation. "This lower cost option is the perfect solution for farmers who don't need or want some of the more premium capabilities that come with the full Pivot Control solution."

By retrofitting an existing system with Pivot Control Lite, farmers gain the advantages of FieldNET's award-winning web and mobile app capabilities, including instant notifications and status updates. This compact yet powerful solution gives growers the ability to:
- Check the status of their pivot anytime from virtually anywhere via smartphone, tablet or computer
- Receive immediate and customizable text message alerts when the operational status of the pivot changes
- Remotely change the application depth, reverse or stop the pivot, control the end-gun and run variable rate plans
- Utilize FieldNET Advisor, the only fully-integrated smart irrigation management solution that delivers recommendations on when, where and how much to water
- Consolidate different brands of pivots onto one easy-to-use interface, so all irrigation equipment can be monitored and controlled via the same FieldNET web portal and mobile applications
- Easily transfer the equipment from one pivot to another on leased or rotational land
- Update to Pivot Control Lite instead of replacing older panels

"This is an especially great solution for growers with leased land where they have no ownership of the pivot but want the benefits of remote monitoring and control," Andrews said. "Its location at the last tower makes it extremely simple to install any time of the year."

Pivot Control Lite also comes with an optional cable theft detection package, so even when the pivot is powered off, Pivot Control Lite will be actively monitoring the span cable.

"Thieves can strip miles of cable very quickly and often go unnoticed," Andrews said. "With cable theft detection, an email or text alert will be sent when a disruption in continuity is detected. This is valuable, real-time information that can be passed to law enforcement or neighbors to prevent further theft."

Kansas Department of Agriculture Hosts ADT Forum in Manhattan

Ranchers, veterinarians, feedyard owners, livestock market owners, and other livestock industry professionals gathered at the K-State Alumni Center on June 22 for a forum to discuss challenges and solutions in animal disease traceability (ADT). The Kansas Department of Agriculture hosted the forum, which featured officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS).

The forum was similar to other public events held by USDA APHIS around the country this spring and summer, providing opportunities for industry stakeholders to engage in the discussion about the successes and challenges of the current ADT framework, specifically for traceability in cattle and bison. Breakout groups addressed specific questions related to official IDs, documentation, feeder cattle and overall questions in the ADT system.

Animal disease traceability is critical to ensure a rapid response when animal disease events take place. KDA leads annual emergency preparedness exercises to practice the state’s response plan to a foreign animal disease event, and these exercises have highlighted the importance of traceability if such an emergency would take place. Traceability can also play a role in adding value to the Kansas beef industry by expanding domestic and international market access.

“Agriculture makes up 43 percent of the Kansas economy, and beef is a huge part of that, so we know traceability is important to our state,” said Dr. Justin Smith, Kansas animal health commissioner. “We consistently focus time and resources on how we can best protect and enhance the Kansas livestock industry, so it was essential to us to be highly engaged in the USDA discussion about animal traceability.”

The federal Traceability for Livestock Moved Interstate rule went into effect in March 2013 and established minimum national official identification and documentation requirements for the traceability of livestock moving interstate. This series of public meetings has presented an opportunity to gather input on the ADT system.

“These forums across the country have been invaluable to us as we look to the future of animal disease traceability in the U.S.,” said Dr. Sunny Geiser-Novotny with USDA APHIS. “We have heard unique issues brought up at each meeting, but we have heard consistent messages as well, and we appreciate the contributions of everyone who has participated in this process.”

Two more regional meetings will be held followed by the NIAA/USAHA Traceability Forum in September to complete this public meeting series. In addition, USDA APHIS is accepting comments on the ADT system through July 31. A link to this comment site, in addition to more information about the past and future ADT public meetings, can be found on the KDA website at

NMPF Leaders Applaud European High Court Ruling Preventing Imitators from Using Dairy Names

The recent European Court of Justice ruling upholding European Union regulations that prevent plant-based dairy alternatives from using terms like “milk,” “cheese” and “yogurt” is a victory for the same battle occurring in the United States, leaders of the National Milk Producers Federation told their French dairy counterparts here today.

During a visit Friday with French dairy cooperative Sodiaal and the French Dairy Interbranch Organization (CNIEL), NMPF’s board officers applauded the European high court’s ruling that upholds the standards of identity and labeling for milk products, and emphasized that NMPF will continue to fight for the enforcement of existing U.S. dairy food regulations.

“The European Court of Justice did just what we’re asking the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to do: Uphold and enforce current standards of labeling for milk and milk products,” said Jim Mulhern, NMPF president and CEO. NMPF is leading efforts on Capitol Hill to pass the DAIRY PRIDE Act, legislation that would require FDA to develop a timetable for enforcing standards of identity for dairy foods.

“It’s encouraging and appropriate that the court soundly rejected the argument that consumers understand the inherent composition and nutritional differences between real dairy products and plant-based imitators,” Mulhern said. “None of the fake milk products provides the same high-quality nutrition package as real milk. It is past time that manufacturers of these products, which are concoctions of powdered plant ingredients and water, abide by existing standards, whether in Europe or the United States.”

Last week, the European court’s decision prohibited TofuTown, a German plant-based foods company, from using dairy-specific terms in its labeling or advertising, noting that current European regulations expressly reserve the term “milk” for products derived from animals. The court further clarified that such regulations “reserve designations like ‘cream’, ‘chantilly,’ ‘butter,’ ‘cheese,’ and ‘yoghurt’ solely for milk products, that is, products derived from milk.”

NMPF’s officers met this week with their European counterparts in Denmark, Germany and France to discuss mutual issues of interest, including the concern that imitation dairy foods are falsely marketing themselves as containing the same nutrition as real milk, cheese and yogurt. The groups also discussed the damage caused by the emerging use of anti-science-based fear tactics to market dairy products, such as the “non-GMO” movement.

“There’s no doubt that our colleagues here in Europe are facing similar challenges regarding consumer confusion around a variety of issues,” said Randy Mooney, chairman of NMPF. “It’s been beneficial to share learnings on such challenges and try to find solutions. On the matter of milk standards of identity, we’re hopeful this recent EU ruling will inspire our own FDA to begin enforcing its regulations.”


The House Budget Committee next week will offer its fiscal 2018 budget resolution, which is expected to call for $150 billion in cuts from mandatory programs over the next 10 years. A third of the cuts may come from agricultural programs, including food stamps. But at a Farm Bill hearing Thursday, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway, R-Texas, said the agriculture community “has repeatedly answered the call for reform and has done more than its fair share to help generate [budget] savings.” He pointed out that the 2014 Farm Bill was expected to save $23 billion over 10 years, but the most recent Congressional Budget Office projections show it will save $104 billion.

Rail Deliveries to U.S. Ports Outpace 2016

Year-to-date rail deliveries of U.S. grain to port for export are up noticeably from the same time last year. Deliveries of grain are up mainly due to increasing demand from Asia and Latin America.

Year-to-date rail deliveries of grain are up 23 percent in the Pacific Northwest; up 30 percent in the Texas Gulf; up 137 percent in the Mississippi Gulf; and up 18 percent in the Atlantic region.

For the same period, increased rail deliveries can also be reflected in increased U.S. grain inspected for export, which is currently up 26 percent from last year (Table 16).

In addition, cross-border movements of grain, which are shipped primarily to Mexico, are up 10 percent from last year, and Interior grain inspections are up 24 percent for the same period.

Year-to-date grain inspections are up substantially in each of the other major export regions, with the exception of the Atlantic.


All layers in Nebraska during May 2017 totaled 8.11 million, down from 9.20 million the previous year, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service.  Nebraska egg production during May totaled 203 million eggs, down from 229 million in 2016. May egg production per 100 layers was 2,499 eggs, compared to 2,486 eggs in 2016. 

Iowa egg production during May 2017 was 1.35 billion eggs, up 4 percent from last month and up 12 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 May 2017 was 54.4 million, down 1 percent from last month but up 9 percent from last year. Eggs per 100 layers for May were 2,486, up 4 percent from last month and up 3 percent from last year.

U.S. May Egg Production Up 3 Percent

United States egg production totaled 8.86 billion during May 2017, up 3 percent from last year. Production included 7.73 billion table eggs, and 1.14 billion hatching eggs, of which 1.06 billion were broiler-type and 77.7 million were egg-type. The total number of layers during May 2017 averaged 372 million, up 2 percent from last year. May egg production per 100 layers was 2,385 eggs, up 1 percent from May 2016.
All layers in the United States on June 1, 2017 totaled 371 million, up 1 percent from last year. The 371 million layers consisted of 311 million layers producing table or market type eggs, 56.3 million layers producing broiler-type hatching eggs, and 3.16 million layers producing egg-type hatching eggs. Rate of lay per day on June 1, 2017, averaged 77.1 eggs per 100 layers, up 1 percent from June 1, 2016.

Egg-Type Chicks Hatched Down 7 Percent

Egg-type chicks hatched during May 2017 totaled 53.0 million, down 7 percent from May 2016. Eggs in incubators totaled 46.2 million on June 1, 2017, down 14 percent from a year ago.  Domestic placements of egg-type pullet chicks for future hatchery supply flocks by leading breeders totaled 298 thousand during May 2017, down 9 percent from May 2016.

Broiler-Type Chicks Hatched Up 2 Percent

Broiler-type chicks hatched during May 2017 totaled 821 million, up 2 percent from May 2016. Eggs in incubators totaled 674 million on June 1, 2017, up 2 percent from a year ago.  Leading breeders placed 8.16 million broiler-type pullet chicks for future domestic hatchery supply flocks during May 2017, up 1 percent from May 2016.

Jury Awards Nearly $218MM to Kansas Corn Producers In First Syngenta GMO Corn Class Action Lawsuit

A Kansas jury sided with Kansas corn producers in the first of eight certified state class action lawsuits involving the nation's corn growers' claims that Switzerland-based Syngenta's actions with its genetically modified strains of corn led to the loss of an important market for U.S. corn and causing them economic harm.  After a half day of deliberation, the jury found Syngenta negligent and awarded $217,700,000 in compensatory damages to the class of more than 7,000 Kansas corn growers, who were represented in the lawsuit by four Kansas corn producer plaintiffs. (Five Star Farms et al v. Syngenta AG et al, No. 2:14-cv-02571)

The Kansas plaintiffs alleged they suffered significant economic damages when Syngenta sold two genetically modified strains of its corn seed – Agrisure Viptera and Agrisure Duracade – to the U.S. market prior to China approving them.  China, a major importer of U.S. corn, began refusing all shipments of U.S. corn in 2013 after a genetic trait found in Viptera - MIR162 - was detected in shipments from the United States. The genetic trait at the time was not approved in China. With the loss of the Chinese market, corn growers in Kansas and across the United States saw the price of corn plummet and suffered long-lasting economic damage, according to the lawsuit.

The plaintiffs were represented by Don Downing of Gray, Ritter & Graham, P.C., Scott Powell of Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton, Patrick Stueve of Stueve Siegel Hanson LLP and William Chaney of Gray Reed & McGraw LLP.

The four co-lead counsel issued a statement: "The verdict is great news for corn farmers in Kansas and corn growers throughout the country who were seriously hurt by Syngenta's actions. This is only the beginning.  We look forward to pursuing justice for thousands more corn farmers in the months ahead."

The Kansas class action lawsuit, which began June 5, was heard in the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas.  It is the first of eight state class action lawsuits certified in this Multi-District Litigation so far.  The other certified state class action lawsuits involve Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Ohio, and South Dakota corn producers.  Numerous other state class action lawsuits in this matter are awaiting certification.

Nationwide, losses to U.S. corn growers due to the loss of the Chinese market are estimated to exceed $5 billion.

Syngenta statement on the jury verdict in the Viptera state-wide, federal class-action trial in Kansas City, Kansas

We are disappointed with today’s verdict because it will only serve to deny American farmers access to future technologies even when they are fully approved in the U.S.  The case is without merit and we will move forward with an appeal and continue to defend the rights of American farmers to access safe and effective U.S.- approved technologies.

Syngenta commercialized Agrisure Viptera in full compliance with U.S. regulatory and legal requirements, including USDA, EPA, and FDA regulations.  Viptera had also received approval in the key import markets recommended at the time by the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) and other industry associations.

Syngenta believes that American farmers should have access to the latest U.S.-approved technology to help them increase their productivity and yield.  American farmers shouldn’t have to rely on a foreign government to decide what products they can use on their farms.

USDA Authorizes Emergency Grazing in Drought-Stricken Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today authorized emergency grazing on Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands in Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota.  All or parts of these states are experiencing severe or extreme drought conditions – indicated as categories D2 and D3 on the U.S. Drought Monitor.

“Due to reduced availability of forage, ranchers in the hardest hit locations have already been culling their herds,” said Perdue. “Without alternative forage options like grazing CRP lands, livestock producers are faced with the economically devastating potential of herd liquidation.”

CRP is a voluntary program administered by USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) available to agricultural producers to help them safeguard environmentally sensitive land and, when needed, provide emergency relief to livestock producers suffering the impacts of certain natural disasters.

Emergency grazing is authorized to begin immediately and extends through Sept. 30, unless conditions improve.  Producers must work with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to develop a modified conservation plan that is site specific, including the authorized grazing duration to reflect local wildlife needs.  FSA State Committees will monitor emergency grazing implementation at the local level to mitigate adverse impact on nesting areas and established CRP vegetation.

“If the drought continues and pasture recovery becomes less likely, feed supplies will decline, the quality and quantity of hay is reduced and stock water becomes scarce – considerable stressors for both the livestock and our producers,” said Perdue. “If opening up grazing lands reduces even some of these stressors for these ranchers, then it’s the right thing for us to do.”

Eligible CRP participants can use the acreage for grazing their own livestock or may grant another livestock producer use of the CRP acreage. There will be no CRP annual rental payment reductions assessed for acres grazed.

R-CALF: Judge Bars Montana Involuntary Beef Checkoff Tax

The U.S. District Court for the District of Montana affirmed a ruling that the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Beef Checkoff program, as currently administered, violates the First Amendment. The District Court put in place a preliminary injunction prohibiting the private Montana Beef Council from retaining beef checkoff funds without the payers' consent.

The court took action after a magistrate previously recommended the injunction in December 2016, agreeing with plaintiff in the suit - the Ranchers Cattlemen Action Legal Fund United Stockgrowers of America (R-CALF USA) - that the Checkoff was being run unconstitutionally.

"The Government violates the First Amendment when it compels a citizen to subsidize the private speech of a private entity without first obtaining the citizen's 'affirmative consent.' ... What distinguishes unconstitutional subsidies for private speech from constitutional subsidies of government speech is not the content of the speech, but rather that the latter is 'democratic[ally] accountab[le].' ... The USDA does not control how the Montana Beef Council spends the money that it obtains from the federal Beef Checkoff Program", the court wrote in its decision.

The Beef Checkoff is a federal tax that compels producers to pay $1 per head every time cattle are sold, half of which is used to fund the advertisements of private state beef councils, like the Montana Beef Council. The Montana Beef Council is a private corporation whose members include representatives of the largest multinational beef packers. The council promotes the message that there is no difference between domestic beef produced under U.S. food safety laws and beef produced in foreign countries. It has paid for advertisements for the fast-food chain Wendy's, for example, to promote hamburgers that use North American beef, meaning beef that can come from anywhere on the continent, but not necessarily Montana or even the United States.

"For well over a decade R-CALF USA members fought to reform what we considered a terribly mismanaged national beef checkoff program. And, for well over a decade we faced an impenetrable wall of top-ranking USDA officials whose connections to the multinational meatpackers' lobby caused them to steadfastly oppose every single reform proposal we advanced", said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard. "Yesterday, after a meaningful, law-based evaluation of our concerns, we won. We hope this will be just the first step of correcting over a decade's worth of beef checkoff program mismanagement."

Senators Cory Booker of New Jersey and Mike Lee of Utah have put forth bipartisan legislationthat would seriously reform the checkoff programs to make them more transparent and accountable to producers.

David Muraskin of Public Justice, lead counsel for the plaintiff in the case, said that the District Court's decision will "finally provide Montana ranchers leverage to control how their money is spent and their goods are advertised. Without government accountability and control the checkoffs amount to nothing more than a massive transfer of wealth from farmers and ranchers to multinational corporations, which is against our values and laws."

Thursday June 22 Ag News

Smith Questions U.S. Trade Representative Lighthizer on Agriculture Trade Priorities

Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) questioned U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on agriculture trade priorities in today’s Ways and Means Committee hearing on President Trump’s trade agenda.  Smith focused on China’s approval of U.S. biotechnology products, but he also stressed the importance of NAFTA as well as duty-free treatment of travel goods under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP).


Congressman Smith
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you, Ambassador, for your service and for sharing your time here today.  I certainly want to associate my comments and concerns with those of my colleagues who have raised the issue of NAFTA and agriculture, and the progress that has been made with NAFTA.  I know producers across rural Nebraska certainly appreciate the gains that have been made, and I think you’ve heard from us numerous times – they call us the agriculture delegation here on the committee – on how important these issues are, that we not undermine the successes NAFTA has brought to U.S. agriculture.

Shifting gears just a bit, thank you for the work you, the President, and others in the administration have done pressing China on a number of trade issues.  This isn’t just a market access issue for the biotech firms.  The lack of approval for these products also forces U.S. producers to choose between using the most current seed varieties or continuing access to China’s 1.3 billion consumers.  It’s obviously a big deal.  As agreed to under the U.S.-China 100-day plan, China’s National Biosafety Committee (NBC) recently met to review approval petitions for eight U.S. biotech products which have seen their approval for the Chinese market delayed by an average of five years, pretty astonishing.  Following the NBC meeting, the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture approved only two of the eight pending products.  Approval of only two of these eight products is disappointing, and I am concerned China will not honor the spirit of the 100-day plan and approve the remaining six products.  I understand the NBC is set to meet again by the end of June, giving us opportunity to have the other six products approved.  What is USTR doing to ensure China follows through and approves the remaining six products before the conclusion of the 100-day plan?

Ambassador Lighthizer
Thank you, Congressman.  First of all, I would say that there was some progress made in the 100-day plan, as you suggest, and this is one of the principal areas where there was progress.  We are continuing to press China.  We expect and will require that they, after they follow their process, very quickly approve all eight applications.  This is important not just because of those [applications] but because it actually delays U.S. farmers from implementing a lot of these high-tech techniques in the domestic market as well as internationally.  So I can assure you Secretary Ross, who is very focused on this, is making it very clear that this has to be done.  We’ve been in contact with the Chinese as recently as the last couple days on this, and my feeling is before long we’re going to have all eight of them agreed to.  That’s what we expect, that’s what we think was agreed to, and the Secretary, as I say, who actually had that negotiation at that time is very focused on it.

Congressman Smith
Thank you.  I know there is great opportunity in being good stewards of our natural resources with biotechnology.  We’ve got a great story to tell with how far we’ve come utilizing biotechnology, and I think it is very promising for the future.

I was pleased to see the President’s budget did include renewal of the GSP program, and this is very important.  More specifically, the recent GSP reauthorization included language to allow consideration for duty-free access for a variety of travel goods.  The previous administration did not provide this consideration for travel goods from all eligible countries as intended by the law and instead only provided it to the least developed and AGOA nations.  I appreciated Ambassador Froman’s deferring that expansion to the current administration.  Could you give us an update on that effort on GSP and travel goods?

Ambassador Lighthizer
Yes, well, I don’t actually appreciate him deferring it – I say that just in jest.  We are in the process of looking at it right now.  We’re very close – the documents are in front of me – and I think you’ll see an outcome very soon.  My guess is you won’t be disappointed.

Congressman Smith
Okay, thank you again, Ambassador, and thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Farmers Encouraged to Vote in IA Corn Checkoff Elections

The Iowa Corn Promotion Board (ICPB) will hold elections in Crop Reporting Districts 1, 3, 6 and 9 on July 18. Iowa corn farmers elect their peers to serve on the ICPB to oversee the investment of funds generated by the Iowa corn checkoff. The Board's primary activities include domestic and foreign market development, research into new and value-added corn uses, and education about the corn industry.

Crop Reporting Districts 1, 3, 6 and 9 can vote at their local county ISU extension office for their representation on the ICPB for a 3-year term. 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 extension office on July 18 may vote by absentee ballot. Absentee ballots are available by request until June 26 by contacting the Iowa Corn office at 515-225-9242 or 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.

Candidates are as follows:

Crop Reporting District #1 - Counties: Buena Vista, Clay, Cherokee, Dickinson, Emmet, Lyon, O'Brien, Osceola, Palo Alto, Plymouth, Pocahontas, Sioux
- Kelly Nieuwenhuis, O'Brien County
- John Schott, Pocahontas County

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

Crop Reporting District #6 - Counties: Benton, Cedar, Clinton, Iowa, Jackson, Jones, Johnson, Linn, Muscatine and Scott
- Pete Brecht, Linn County
- Daron Oberbroeckling, Scott County

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

Comfortable Cattle Provide Better Quality Beef, More Profit

Attendees at a recent cattle stewardship conference in northwest Iowa heard a common, simple message from speakers that when taken to heart can improve a farm’s economic bottom line: comfortable cattle perform better and consequently, are more profitable.

Temple Grandin, nationally noted animal behavior specialist and professor of animal science at Colorado State University, pointed out how small changes in cattle handling systems can dramatically improve the flow of cattle through a chute system.

“Cattle don’t like shadows and, just like people, remember a bad experience,” she said. “It’s important to reward the cattle and build their confidence.”

Dean Fish, certified trainer for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, told the more than 140 participants that working cattle slowly is actually working cattle quickly. In other words, excited cattle take longer to move, sort and load. As part of his presentation, Fish demonstrated that cattle have a point of balance, and knowing that is key to understanding whether the animal will move forward, stop or turn.

Program organizer Beth Doran said cattle well-being was a major focus of the conference, with six breakout sessions featuring separate topics: dealing with pain management, designing comfortable cattle facilities, low-stress weaning, processing cattle, managing heat stress and performing a feedlot assessment.

“Cattle producers are involved in a number of practices ranging from weaning and vaccinating to providing daily care and dealing with day-to-day climate change,” Doran said. “When animal handling is performed correctly and using good stewardship, potential stress on both the animal and the producer is greatly reduced.”

Doran, who also is Iowa State University Extension and Outreach beef specialist in northwest Iowa, pointed out that comfortable, stress-free cattle result in beef that’s more tender and juicy, important qualities for consumer satisfaction.

This conference was organized by the Iowa Beef Center, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Iowa Beef Industry Council, Iowa Lakes Community College, and Iowa Cattlemen’s Association with local support. Participants met the requirements to become Beef Quality Assurance certified.

More information concerning cattle well-being and stewardship can be accessed from the IBC website at or by contacting a regional ISU Extension and Outreach beef program specialist.

Record High Total Red Meat and Pork Production for May

Commercial red meat production for the United States totaled 4.28 billion pounds in May, up 7 percent from the 4.00 billion pounds produced in May 2016.

Beef production, at 2.16 billion pounds, was 6 percent above the previous year. Cattle slaughter totaled 2.75 million head, up 9 percent from May 2016. The average live weight was down 26 pounds from the previous year, at 1,307 pounds.

Veal production totaled 6.3 million pounds, 6 percent above May a year ago. Calf slaughter totaled 39,300 head, up 11 percent from May 2016. The average live weight was down 11 pounds from last year, at 276 pounds.

Pork production totaled 2.10 billion pounds, up 8 percent from the previous year. Hog slaughter totaled 9.95 million head, up 8 percent from May 2016. The average live weight was down 1 pound from the previous year, at 282 pounds.

Lamb and mutton production, at 11.8 million pounds, was down 9 percent from May 2016. Sheep slaughter totaled 180,300 head, 3 percent below last year. The average live weight was 131 pounds, down 9 pounds from May a year ago.

By State     (mill lbs. -  % of May '16)

Nebraska ......:     680.4      -      106      
Iowa .............:     588.3      -      109      
Kansas ..........:     447.2      -      101      

January to May 2017 commercial red meat production was 21.0 billion pounds, up 4 percent from 2016. Accumulated beef production was up 5 percent from last year, veal was down 2 percent, pork was up 3 percent from last year, and lamb and mutton production was down 5 percent.

USDA Halting Import of Fresh Brazilian Beef

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced the suspension of all imports of fresh beef from Brazil because of recurring concerns about the safety of the products intended for the American market.  The suspension of shipments will remain in place until the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture takes corrective action which the USDA finds satisfactory.

Since March, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has been inspecting 100 percent of all meat products arriving in the United States from Brazil.  FSIS has refused entry to 11 percent of Brazilian fresh beef products.   That figure is substantially higher than the rejection rate of one percent of shipments from the rest of the world.  Since implementation of the increased inspection, FSIS has refused entry to 106 lots (approximately 1.9 million pounds) of Brazilian beef products due to public health concerns, sanitary conditions, and animal health issues. It is important to note that none of the rejected lots made it into the U.S. market.

The Brazilian government had pledged to address those concerns, including by self-suspending five facilities from shipping beef to the United States.  Today’s action to suspend all fresh beef shipments from Brazil supersedes the self-suspension.

Secretary Perdue issued the following statement:
“Ensuring the safety of our nation’s food supply is one of our critical missions, and it’s one we undertake with great seriousness.  Although international trade is an important part of what we do at USDA, and Brazil has long been one of our partners, my first priority is to protect American consumers. That’s what we’ve done by halting the import of Brazilian fresh beef.  I commend the work of USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service for painstakingly safeguarding the food we serve our families.”

Soy Growers Support Giancarlo for Chairman of CFTC

Soy growers expressed their support for Chris Giancarlo as chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).

The American Soybean Association (ASA), along with other ag organizations, sent a letter to Senate Ag Committee Chairman Pat Roberts and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow earlier this week, urging Giancarlo’s confirmation.

“Given his financial industry background, we commend CFTC Acting Chairman Giancarlo for the considerable amount of time and effort he has devoted to understanding the agriculture sector and its use of the derivatives markets,” the groups state in the letter. “In fact, Mr. Giancarlo has visited a number of our members’ farms and facilities over the past few years to learn about the industry first-hand from those who are actual commodity producers and market participants.”

The groups wrote that Giancarlo would strike the right balance in overseeing CFTC’s financial and commodity markets regulation.

USDA Cold Storage May 2017 Highlights

Total red meat supplies in freezers on May 31, 2017 were down 5 percent from the previous month and down 7 percent from last year. Total pounds of beef in freezers were down 10 percent from the previous month and down 11 percent from last year. Frozen pork supplies were down slightly from the previous month and down 4 percent from last year. Stocks of pork bellies were down 6 percent from last month and down 59 percent from last year.

Total frozen poultry supplies on May 31, 2017 were up 4 percent from the previous month and up 4 percent from a year ago. Total stocks of chicken were down 1 percent from the previous month and down 3 percent from last year. Total pounds of turkey in freezers were up 13 percent from last month and up 17 percent from May 31, 2016.

Total natural cheese stocks in refrigerated warehouses on May 31, 2017 were up 1 percent from the previous month and up 7 percent from May 31, 2016. Butter stocks were up 7 percent from last month but down 3 percent from a year ago.

Total frozen fruit stocks were down 5 percent from last month but up 13 percent from a year ago.  Total frozen vegetable stocks were down 8 percent from last month but up 2 percent from a year ago.

Building A Billion Gallon Market For Ethanol In Mexico

Increasing U.S. ethanol exports requires building new markets from square one with industry partners and government regulators. This market development work, undertaken by the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) and partners including Growth Energy, the Renewable Fuels Association and the USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), requires time and persistence to achieve huge potential payoffs.

An illustration of this is a recent regulatory change in Mexico, which now represents a potential ethanol market of 720 million gallons, the equivalent of 5.41 million metric tons of corn (168.42 million bushels).

On June 15, the Mexican Energy Regulatory Commission, known as the CRE, announced an increase to the maximum amount of ethanol that can be blended in Mexican gas supplies from 5.8 percent to 10 percent, except in the cities of Monterrey, Guadalajara and Mexico City.

The announcement modifies the Mexican Official Standard NOM 016-CRE-2016 regarding the quality specifications for fuels by increasing the maximum volume content of anhydrous ethanol as an oxygenate in regular and premium gasoline in Mexico.

“This regulatory change in Mexico is a huge win for building demand and sets up the market nicely for U.S. ethanol sales,” said Chip Councell, USGC chairman and a grain farmer from Maryland. “However, this effort will not automatically or immediately lead to sales. This win is a step along the way and will be followed up by continued, intense market development work by the Council.”

The Council has strategically focused its promotion of ethanol as the fuel component of choice for a more environmentally-friendly Mexican gasoline that helps reduce greenhouse gas pollution. Those efforts started to see real results in 2016 as the Mexican government began privatizing the petroleum market for gasoline and diesel imports.

The Council established a team of recognized scientists that made multiple trips to Mexico to meet with decision makers and educate them on the environmental benefits of ethanol blending. Together with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and domestic partners, the Council assisted with two missions to Mexico to find the facts of how and where information was needed and to conduct a technical workshop on the benefits of fuel ethanol use.

The first fuel regulation in Mexico to allow ethanol blending took effect on Aug. 29, 2016, allowing 5.8 percent blending by volume outside of the same three major cities. The Council holds a seat on the technical working committee formed after the passage of this regulation, which is tasked with implementation and possible revisions.

Last week’s announcement is another positive result of this market development work, but the regulatory change is not the last step needed before U.S. ethanol flows freely into Mexico. For example, the infrastructure necessary to meet the volume of demand that could be in store does not currently exist, which creates a new area of work for the Council, its partners and local industry.

In addition, expanding this new regulation to include the three largest cities represents even more untapped potential in the market. Ethanol potential for E10 for these three markets is projected at an additional 480 million gallons, the equivalent of 4.28 million tons (168.42 million bushels).

Combined with the rest of the country, Mexico could represent a 1.2 billion gallon market for ethanol, the equivalent of 10.69 million tons (421.05 million bushels). Because of this enormous potential, the Council will continue its vigilant efforts in Mexico to help both build and capture new ethanol demand. 

Trade and Geopolitical Changes Under Spotlight at International Oilseed Gathering

They may be competitors on the world stage, but oilseed producers from across the globe will meet in Sydney next week to discuss trade issues borne out of a number of key geopolitical changes, including international leadership and Brexit, experienced over the last 12 months.

American Soybean Association (ASA) CEO Steve Censky, ASA President Ron Moore and United Soybean Board’s (USB) John Motter, along with U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) representatives Jim Sutter, Roz Leek and ASA Director Jim Miller (Belden, NE), will attend the event.

The Oilseed Producer’s Dialogue (IOPD), will draw producers from Australia, Europe and South and North America to Sydney with the key aim of promoting collaboration across common interests and objectives. It will be held in Sydney June 26-27 before heading on-farm in Central West New South Wales later in the week.

The event will be hosted by the Australian Oilseeds Federation (AOF), the peak industry body for Australian oilseeds, and Executive Director Nick Goddard is looking forward to showing off Sydney and local farming systems.

“Trade will certainly be a hot topic at this year’s meeting, following the collapse of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, uncertainty around what Brexit might mean for trade in Britain and Europe, and new leadership in the US, France and UK,” Goddard said.

“Biotechnology, and growing pressure from some importing countries around residues, also have the potential to impact trade and will be discussed at length

“Another issue at the forefront of the dialogue will be increasing restrictions by some countries on the way oilseed producers operate, particularly in relation to the use of  critical farm chemicals.

“It’s important for us to see what is happening globally with farmers and the limitations being put on farming practices, to look at the big picture of the global oilseed business.

“It really highlights that we all have the same goals, and it helps us to find ways to work together to achieve these goals.”

The IOPD was established in 1998 to develop and promote a sound business environment to allow oilseed producers to remain viable for current and future generations. Members support trade liberalisation, and science-based systems for both Maximum Residue Limits (MRL) and sustainable technologies, including biotechnology.

The sessions in Sydney will include presentations from each participating country, and discussions on global markets, international trade, research and development, chemical residues, and new breeding techniques.

Delegates will then head to Parkes, Forbes, Eugowra and Orange for two days, where they will visit several farms, saleyards, crushing plants and other sights.

Corn Insect Bt Technologies Offer Cost-effective, Proactive Protection

When farm economics are challenging, farmers look for ways to bolster profit margins, including reducing input costs. Some may think about planting non-Bt corn, but farmers should consider reasons Bt trait technology is not the place to cut.

Not only are Bt technologies one of the best proactive ways to protect corn yield, but the costs of managing an insect outbreak in corn without Bt protection can be greater than expected.

Farmers should account for all the costs of managing an in-season pest outbreak and ask themselves: Is it worth the risk of planting non-Bt corn?

“Planting corn without Bt technology may seem like a good decision on paper, but farmers should consider what that could mean for their operation during the season,” says Brad Hopkins, Dow AgroSciences biology team leader, global seed treatments and North America insect resistant traits. “Every year brings unique challenges, and Bt technology offers cost-effective yield protection if insect outbreaks occur.”

Hopkins says it is important for farmers to assess potential insect pressure and choose the appropriate Bt trait technology for their acres. In areas with a history of corn rootworm pressure, cutting back on below-ground protection can have substantial impact on yield. Even if corn rootworm is not a major concern, farmers should carefully weigh the impact of cutting above-ground Bt protection.

Planting non-Bt corn, or choosing less-than-adequate protection, comes with potential costs not included in the seed purchase. For example, non-Bt corn requires more time to scout and closely monitor pest infestations. If populations reach threshold levels, insecticide applications mean additional inputs and time in the field. And once corn rootworm infestations develop in fields without below-ground Bt protection, decreased yield potential is a substantial risk.

Those are a few reasons why entomologists like Hopkins still recommend Bt trait technologies as excellent tools for protecting corn yield.

“Bt trait technology is a simple way farmers can get season-long protection against many of the primary insect pests in corn,” Hopkins says. “For the last three seasons, adoption of Bt trait technologies among corn growers has been around 80 percent, which speaks to the effectiveness and efficiency of these technologies.”

Hopkins says insect damage can quickly erode yield. An infestation of corn earworm can reduce yield by as much as 5 percent to 7 percent. Although their numbers have been greatly reduced due to broad adoption of Bt corn, European corn borer can still be common in areas where growers are planting non-Bt corn. Depending on the corn growth stage, a European corn borer infestation could mean a yield loss of 8.3 bushels per acre. According to Extension, if corn is priced at $3.40/bu. with average yield at 180 bu./A, Bt trait technology can provide nearly $78/A of yield protection against European corn borer.

PowerCore®, SmartStax® trait technologies give farmers better solutions

Dow AgroSciences offers a choice for corn Bt trait technology so farmers can plant the right technology on the right acre.

New for 2017, PowerCore® trait technology is a pyramid of three Bt traits that combines three proteins for the broad-spectrum control of above-ground insects in corn. PowerCore is a great choice for farmers with low corn rootworm pressure. Iowa farmer Bob Henderson used PowerCore trait technology during the stewarded launch, and he says it provides the protection he needs against above-ground pests.

“PowerCore trait technology gives us peace of mind so that we don’t have to worry about black cutworms, corn borers or corn earworms,” Henderson says. “All those insects can take a bushel here or two bushels there, but PowerCore alleviates us from having to worry about the above-ground insect pests that attack corn during the season.”

SmartStax® trait technology offers industry-leading protection of above- and below-ground insects, especially for those who have corn rootworm pressure on their farms.

“Dow AgroSciences has been a leader in the corn insect traits market beginning with the Herculex family of traits and then SmartStax trait technology,” Hopkins says. “With the introduction of PowerCore in addition to SmartStax, farmers now have a choice from Dow AgroSciences to plant the right corn Bt trait technology for their farms, depending on field history and agronomic conditions.”

PowerCore and SmartStax are available in the latest germplasm for greater yield potential. Both technologies are available for 2018 planting stacked with the Enlist™ corn trait, and growers can begin ordering PowerCore Enlist hybrids and SmartStax Enlist hybrids from Dow AgroSciences seed companies later this summer.

Dow AgroSciences plans to expand its corn insect trait technology portfolio in the future with SmartStax® PRO, which builds on SmartStax by incorporating RNA interference (RNAi) technology, an additional and new mode of action to protect against corn rootworm. SmartStax PRO is currently in the Dow AgroSciences breeding and development program, with an expected launch by the end of the decade.

Wednesday June 21 Ag News

USDA Drought Monitor Offers a Way to Report Impacts

The U.S. Drought Monitor's reporting feature offers producers an opportunity to submit drought impact and condition reports

The USDA, in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, produced the U.S. Drought Monitor to include a reporting feature that allows producers to report local drought impacts and conditions.

The report allows producers to:
- Provide a written description of drought impacts on livelihood, activities, etc.
- Select categories to show losses and gains as a result of the drought
- Report on the duration of drought event
- Select affected places -- geographic areas ranging from an entire state to a small area within a state
- Submit images that document the drought and its impact
- Provide contact information (includes an option to keep information confidential).

The reporting tool for producers to record the effects of the drought can be accessed at the following link:

More information, including state-specific drought impact maps, can be found on the U.S. Drought Monitor homepage:


Last week over 60 federal, state and local agency, academic and industry professionals met to participate in a mock animal disease emergency response exercise. The exercise was hosted by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship with the support of Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

“Unfortunately, Iowa saw firsthand how devastating an animal health emergency can be with the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza outbreak that severely impacted our poultry industry in 2015.  The Department has made it a priority to take the lessons learned from that disaster and help us be better prepared should we have to deal with another event in the future.  This exercise was another step in that process and I greatly appreciate all the stakeholders from across the state that participated,” Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey said.

The tabletop exercise was designed to help test response capabilities and review the Department’s updated Foot-and-Mouth Disease Response Plan that was completed this spring.  Foot and Mouth Disease is a highly contagious viral disease of livestock that affects cattle, swine, sheep, goats and other cloven-hoofed ruminants. This disease is not transmissible to humans and there are not food safety concerns with the disease.

This all-day exercise allowed leaders in industry, academia and government to talk through the plan and process of preventing, detecting, and responding to various scenarios involving an outbreak response.

“We greatly appreciate the leadership by the Department to develop this plan and continue the process by holding this exercise so we can continue to learn and improve,” said Pat McGonegle, CEO of the Iowa Pork Producers Association who participated in the exercise.

A Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak has the potential to be devastating to the Iowa and national economy. Iowa is the number one pork producing state in the nation and 4th in beef production.  Iowa 3rd in milk goat inventory and 9th in all sheep and lamb inventory. Our state also has over 200,000 dairy cows and is in the top 15 nationally for milk production.  Livestock feed is the top customer of both corn and soybeans, so grain farmers would also be significantly impacted if the disease is found.

The Center for Food Safety and Public Health at Iowa State coordinated the development of the updated response plan.  The exercise was organized/conducted by SES, Inc. out of Merriam, Kansas, who provided facilitators and evaluators to document discussion, resolve questions, and advise on plans, policies, and procedures.

Register Today for the 11th annual Iowa Women in Agriculture Conference

Iowa Women in Agriculture invite you to join us for the 11th annual Conference at the FFA Enrichment Center in Ankeny on August 1.

The 2017 Conference will deliver a full menu of decision-making ingredients for success in today’s difficult economic climate: the latest outlook for ag trade, marketing strategies for low commodity prices, financial risk management tactics, transition and estate-planning tips, and ideas for generating new income and adding value. Our keynote speakers will highlight the unique challenges of women’s roles, offer opportunities to laugh and learn, and to celebrate agriculture.

The one-day Conference runs from 8:00 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Krysta Harden, former USDA deputy secretary and current vice-president of public policy and chief sustainability officer for DuPont-Pioneer, will open the conference with a video message highlighting the ag outlook for 2018. Harden also will share her experiences as an ag leader, and encourage women to pursue active roles in agricultural associations and agribusinesses.

Keynote speaker Ambassador Darci Vetter, a strategic consultant on international trade, food and agriculture issues, will address the ag trade outlook, and share her insights on the intersections between the current trade agenda, and the proposed budget and policy priorities regarding rural development and farm programs.

Elaine Kub, author of Mastering the Grain Markets: How Profits Are Really Made, DTN analyst, and frequent guest on Iowa Public Television’s Market-to-Market, will tackle the challenges of today’s markets. Angie Treptow, regional vice-president, Farm Credit Services of America will wrap up the morning sessions with a deep dive into lender expectations for 2018.

Luncheon keynoter Natalina Sents, an Iowa native, will share her amazing experiences and observations gleaned from meeting farmers during her recently-completed 50-state Why I Farm Road Trip tour.

The afternoon’s choice of breakout sessions and presenters features:
  - Top 10 Estate and Transition Planning Mistakes; Melissa O’Rourke, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach agribusiness specialist
  - Harvesting Health & Happiness; Dr. Tina Chasek, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Counseling and School Psychology, University of Nebraska at Kearney
  - Generating New Income/Adding Value; Grazing Cover Crops, Meghan Filbert, livestock coordinator, Practical Farmers of Iowa and Hampton, Iowa, farmer Margaret Smith; Hydroponic Farming, Mike Phelan, Beaver Creek Produce, Berkley, Iowa.

The Conference will conclude with capstone speaker Amanda Freund, a Connecticut farmer and ag advocate, who will wrap up the Conference with Connected Across the Generations: Women in Agriculture.

Participants also will have a unique pre-conference opportunity to attend a Water-Quality& Beef Production/Pollinator Habitat Tour on Monday, July 31, hosted by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Women in Agriculture Program. The motor coach tour, from 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. will feature a visit to the Bill and Nancy Couser beef cattle operation near Nevada, followed by a stop at Reiman Gardens in Ames to focus on pollinator habitats and a tour of Reiman Gardens. The tour begins at the Courtyard by Marriott Ankeny, 2405 SE Creekview Dr., Ankeny, Iowa.

A Wine and Cheese Welcome & Networking Reception will be held on Monday, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Courtyard by Marriott Ankeny. Californian Ruth Rabinowitz, Rabinowitz Family Farms, will share the story of her journey of learning how to manage her family’s 10 Iowa farms in six different counties. She’ll detail the steps she’s taken to master the challenges of understanding farm programs and initiating critical conservation management methods.

Registration for the conference is $50 until July 22, and $70 after that date. Registration includes the pre-conference tour, evening welcome reception, continental breakfast, lunch, and snacks. Register online, or from 7:15 a.m.-8:00 a.m. on the day of the conference.

Early bird registration is required for those attending the Pre-Conference Tour. For questions about the tour, contact Madeline Schultz at 515-294-0588.

All early-bird paid Conference registrants are eligible to win a FREE mini i-pad. (Sorry, but no registration refunds will be possible.)

For more Conference information, contact IWIA president Cheryl Tevis at 515-353-4425 or visit our IWIA web site  for a full Conference agenda and registration details...

Management of European Corn Borer Difficult without Hybrid Traits

The implementation of Bt hybrids have allowed a generation of farmers to grow up without having to think about managing for European corn borer. These hybrids have been extremely effective in keeping European corn borer from impacting corn yields, a far cry from the estimated one billion dollars annually the pest was costing farmers in yield losses plus control costs.

Today some farmers, in an effort to lower costs as commodity markets remain low, have started planting corn without the Bt traits that have proven so effective against European corn borer and other caterpillars.

“Use of the Bt traits for corn borers meant that farmers haven’t experienced losses from corn borers in a long time,” said Erin Hodgson, associate professor and extension specialist in entomology at Iowa State University. “People who have started farming in the last 20 years haven’t experienced devastation from corn borers because they’ve had very good control. With some farmers backing off of Bt traits, they are now having questions about the biology, life cycle and management of European corn borer.”

With these pests still active and prevalent, Hodgson authored ISU Extension and Outreach publication “Ecology and management of European corn borer in Iowa field corn” (CROP 3139) to help provide information about the insect to farmers who are encountering it for the first time.

The publication discusses the life cycle, biology and egg laying of European corn borers, as well as the damage an infestation can do to plants and severe yield loss.

How to manage the pest if not using Bt traits in seed is also covered in depth.

“If a farmer decides not to use the traits they will have to incorporate an extensive scouting program,” Hodgson said. “Farmers must be very proactive because it is such a devastating pest. Management must target the eggs and small larvae before they are able to move into the ear. Once they enter the ear there is nothing that can be done. Scouting and quick decision making is very important because the eggs and larvae are exposed for a limited amount of time.”

Worksheets on how to scout and the management decisions that should be made are included in the publication. Also included is a table to track the life cycle of European corn borer based on accumulating degree-days. Degree-days are the average number of degrees above the developmental threshold occurring each 24-hour period.

“We need to have some sort of assessment of adult European corn borer activity,” said Hodgson. “Using degree-days is the most accurate way to track development.”

EIA: Ethanol Stocks, Output Down

Energy Information Administration data for the week-ended June 16 released Wednesday, June, 21, shows total domestic fuel ethanol inventories declined as plant production fell and implied demand continued higher week-over-week.

The EIA's Weekly Petroleum Status Report for the week profiled shows fuel ethanol stockpiles declined about 200,000 barrels (bbl) to 22.3 million bbl, leaving stocks at a 5.7% year-over-year supply surplus.

Domestic plant production dropped 12,000 barrels per day (bpd), or 1.2%, to 990,000 bpd last week, 28,000 bpd, or about 3%, higher than output during the corresponding week in 2016. For the four weeks ended June 9, ethanol production averaged 1.003 million bpd versus 985,000 bpd during the same four week period in 2016.

Net refiner and blender inputs, a gauge for ethanol demand, increased 12,000 bpd, or 1.3%, to 943,000 bpd during the week-ended June 16, which was 15,000 bpd, or 1.6%, higher than a year ago. For the four-week period ended June 16, blending demand averaged 933,000 bpd, up 14,000 bpd from the corresponding four-week period in 2016.

NAGC Celebrates One-Year Anniversary

The National Agricultural Genotyping Center, championed by the National Corn Growers Association, marks its one-year anniversary today and it does so with a significant list of accomplishments of importance to corn farmers.

NAGC's mission is to translate scientific discoveries, such as the information from the maize genome project, into solutions for production agriculture, food safety, functional foods, bioenergy and national security.

"We are extremely excited to see this state-of-the-art facility living up to its promise," said Larry Hoffmann, chair of the NCGA's Corn Quality and Productivity Action Team. "The Genotyping Center is already building a reputation for using its high-throughput genotyping technology to both inform and solve problems facing agriculture."

In just a year's time, NAGC has been able to commercialize tools to help corn growers and all of agriculture, Hoffman noted, including a screening assay for honey bee diseases and faster and more effective tests to accurately identify corn diseases like Xanthmonas and Goss's Wilt. Additional test for corn and soybean diseases are in the research pipeline.

New FMD Rapid Diagnostics Licensed for U.S. Livestock

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (DHS S&T) announced today the licensing of a rapid-response (three-hour) Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) diagnostic kit by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Center for Veterinary Biologics (CVB). Developed by a large research consortium of federal agencies, academia and animal health industry scientists, this is the first licensed FMD diagnostic kit that can be manufactured on the U.S. mainland, critical for a rapid response in the event of a FMD outbreak. This diagnostic kit provides animal health first responders with an important tool to mitigate the potentially catastrophic economic and animal welfare impacts of a FMD outbreak. This high-performance test can be used for cattle, swine, and sheep, and will be commercialized and sold by Veterinary Medical Research and Development (VMRD), Inc., a U.S. manufacturer of veterinary diagnostics.

"This assay will be a pivotal tool for U.S. emergency preparedness and response and for ensuring the resiliency of U.S. animal agriculture, a critical infrastructure" said DHS Acting Under Secretary William N. Bryan. "Successfully bringing this test to market exemplifies the type of public-private partnership among DHS S&T, Centers of Excellence, government labs, and commercial industry necessary to support U.S. agriculture and global FMD control and eradication programs."

FMD virus is highly contagious in cloven-hoofed animals, including: cattle, pigs, small ruminants. Globally, FMD has a significant impact on livestock trade economics and extensive regulatory programs exist in the U.S. to facilitate identification of, response to, and control of the disease. With one in nine Americans employed in the agriculture or allied industries, the effects of an FMD outbreak in the U.S. would be devastating ­-- estimated at nearly $200 billion in lost revenue over 10 years across affected industries.

This rapid, specific, and sensitive FMD diagnostic assay was developed and validated over a seven year period by a consortium of scientists at Texas A&M University and the Institute for Infectious Animal Diseases in College Station, Texas (a DHS S&T Center of Excellence); DHS S&T's Plum Island Animal Disease Center, USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory and USDA Agricultural Research Service Foreign Animal Disease Research Unit; and through a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with VMRD, Inc. Funding was provided by the Agriculture Defense Branch of DHS S&T's Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency,Chemical and Biological Defense Division and DHS S&T Office of University Programs. DHS S&T has also granted an intellectual property license to VMRD, Inc. for the test and a patent application has been filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Second Chance at Forward Pricing

Stephen R Koontz, Agricultural and Resource Economics, Colorado State University

Commodity markets rarely give second chances but sometimes patience is rewarded.  I believe that time is now.  In May, I advocated that producers with anticipated fall marketings of calves purchase some price protection in the form of options.  This article does the same.  Let's get right to the technicals.

The October feeder cattle contract put in a key reversal top on May 4.  This is an outside day - with a higher above the previous day's high and a low below the previous day's low - with a low or weak close.  These are significant in that they communicate the day finishes at a rather different level than traded during.  The market retreated from price levels set in early May - this establishes the high as a resistance plane - and then made another run at those highs in late May and early June.  Resistance was pressured but largely held.  On June 6, there is another close-to outside day and a very weak close.  This resistance plane is attracting a lot of selling pressure.  The market retreats again from the resistance plane and this becomes a solid sell signal.  Were you listening?

Of course that was over two weeks ago so the pricing opportunities are this week not as good.  But the technical picture remains the same.  It looks to me like the spring top is in and we are likely in for price weakness the remainder of the year.  The technical patterns for live cattle contracts are very similar just not in the detail.  Highs established in early May were pressured in late May and early June, these resistance planes have held and sell signals were generated.  Live cattle and feeder contracts are in agreement.

What do the fundamentals say?  My main concern for the coming summer and early fall is from the fact that placements over the prior five months have been above or the same as last year.  We have not seen larger volumes at heavier weights yet but they are inevitable.  When this occurs there will be price weakness for fed animals and feeders.  The weakness has not emerged because packer margins have been very strong.  Boxed beef composite values have rallied to over $250 per cwt - a level not seen in all of 2016 - and the Choice/Select spread is above $30 - again something not observed in 2016.  The calculated volume of cattle on feed over 120 days and over 90 days is the smallest that I can recall seeing relative to the numbers of animals on feed.  Excellent beef movement and fed cattle marketings in combination with tight market-ready inventories is the story this spring.  The short term fundamentals are much stronger than the long term.  And these market situations have a propensity to change sometime between June and October.

Returning price protection, that October feeder cattle Put with a $130 strike price was $3.85/cwt on June 19.  This is as opposed to $2.35 on May 3.  And of course, options which are further out-of-the-money are less expensive.  Reasonable basis estimates suggest this is close to a $150/cwt price floor for 5-6 cwt calves.  And I still the purchase of this price protection is a smart decision for many cow-calf producers with calves to market this fall.

Fertilizer Prices Hold Steady Second Week of June

Retail fertilizer prices continued to hold fairly steady the second week of June 2017, according to fertilizer retailers surveyed by DTN. For several weeks in a row now, prices for all fertilizers have seen only minor moves in either direction.

Of the eight major fertilizers, prices for all but one were slightly lower compared to a month prior. Those were DAP with an average price of $437 price ton, MAP $470/ton, urea $338/ton, 10-34-0 $435, anhydrous $500/ton, UAN28 $246/ton and UAN32 $278/ton.

The remaining fertilizer, potash, was just slightly higher compared to the previous month. Potash had an average price of $341/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.37/lb.N, anhydrous $0.31/lb.N, UAN28 $0.44/lb.N and UAN32 $0.43/lb.N.

In addition, he also utilizes a crop scout who gives him various crop-related recommendations. Jacobsen watches his own crops pretty closely, as well.

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

10-34-0 is 22% lower from a year ago while anhydrous is 12% less expensive. UAN32 is 9% lower and both UAN32 and urea are down 8%. DAP is 7% less expensive and both MAP and potash are both 5% lower.

June Diary Month Feature:  Cropp Expects Better Days Ahead for Dairy Farm Prices

As Dr. Bob Cropp predicted about a month ago, it appears that April will be the low-point for farm-paid milk prices this year. In his monthly Dairy Situation and Outlook report, the professor emeritus with the University of Wisconsin-Extension says the May Class III milk price rose to $15.57, and June could end the month nearly a dollar higher. He also predicted that milk prices will continue to increase and peak out in October or November.

"Improved exports have supported higher cheese, butter, dry whey and nonfat dry milk prices," Cropp explained in his latest summary. "In April, U.S. dairy export volume was higher than year-ago levels for the 11th straight month. Compared to a year ago exports to the top 10 markets showed [double-digit improvements] in China, Oceania, Japan, South Korea, South America, Southeast Asia, Mexico and Canada."

He adds that dairy product prices on the Global Dairy Trade keep on strengthening as the summer months approach--making U.S. products more price competitive around the world.

"Exports are expected to continue to show improvement," he said. "World demand is expected to be stronger and increases in world milk production to be modest. Milk production had been running lower in major exporters such as EU, New Zealand, Australia and Argentina. Milk production may start to run above year ago levels by summer and fall in both EU and New Zealand, but stronger world demand could absorb the increase."

As he had been proclaiming for most of the year, Cropp feels the level of milk production will be a major factor on how much milk prices will strengthen. He says if output growth continues at two-percent or less, the Class III price could be in the mid $16s by July, and in the $17s for the remainder of the year. However, dairy futures are currently less optimistic prices to reach that level.

Meanwhile, Cropp says the recent wet weather could be another factor in the market. He says forage quality in the Northeast and Midwest could negatively affect increases in milk per cow in these regions.

NAWG Responds to Senate Finance Hearing Examining the Administration’s Top Trade Priorities

Today, the Senate Committee on Finance held a hearing to discuss the Administration’s trade agenda and its FY18 Budget Request for the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR). Members heard testimony from USTR Robert Lighthizer who spoke on the Administration’s top trade priorities and defended the Administration’s FY18 Budget Request.

NAWG President David Schemm submitted written testimony for the record and made the following statement:

“With the United States exporting around 50% of its wheat, trade is a top priority for U.S. wheat farmers. In fact, U.S. 2017/18 wheat exports are expected to reach 27.2 MMT, down 1% from 2016/17 but still 9% above the five-year average.

“NAWG welcomes opportunities to improve trade for U.S. wheat farmers, including efforts to make sure our competitors like China are playing by the rules set by the WTO and by creating new markets such as increasing access to Cuba. China’s domestic support programs have been causing significant economic harm to U.S. wheat farmers, and Cuba represents untapped trade potential within our own hemisphere, and an end to the embargo would greatly benefit the U.S. export economy.

“Modernizing NAFTA is also an excellent opportunity to improve domestic and export marketability of U.S. crops. However, NAWG strongly opposes any changes that might limit the current NAFTA’s benefits for wheat farmers and their customers. Exiting NAFTA and certain changes, could lead to tariffs on U.S. wheat and threaten to undermine the long-standing, loyal relationship U.S. wheat farmers have built with Mexico’s wheat buyers and food industry.

“NAWG is looking forward to working with the Senate Finance Committee on creating new trade opportunities for our wheat farmers and improving relationships with our current global partners.”

JBS Unveils $1.8 Billion Divestment Plan

JBS, whose controlling shareholder recently agreed to pay a massive leniency fine after becoming embroiled in sweeping graft probes that have ensnared politicians and executives, said in a securities filing that its board and state development bank BNDES still had to approve the planned asset sales. The plan, which aims to raise 6 billion reais ($1.8 billion), includes a 19.2 percent stake in Brazil-based dairy company Vigor Alimentos SA, along with its Northern Ireland unit Moy Park and Five Rivers Cattle Feeding in North America.

According to Reuters, Five Rivers has a combined feeding capacity of more than 980,000 head of cattle and locations in Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona, and Idaho, according to its website. Five Rivers also manages a 75,000-head capacity feedyard in the Canadian province of Alberta.

U.S. feeder cattle futures fell to nearly a two-month low of 140.775 cents per pound after the JBS announcement, before rebounding to trade down 1.625 cents at 143.175 cents. JBS shares were down 3.46 percent at 6.13 reais in early afternoon trading in Sao Paulo.

Traders said some investors were paring bets that JBS would have to sell larger slaughter operations, which would have been far more disruptive than selling its feed operations.

Reuters reported last week that two investment banks empowered to handle a sale of Vigor have contacted French dairy producers Danone SA and Groupe Lactalis SA, Mexico's Grupo Lala SAB de CV and Switzerland's Emmi AG to analyze the business. JBS has a minority state in Vigor, which is majority-controlled by JBS' parent, J&F Investimentos SA.

Take These Steps to Optimize Implant Results

Gary Sides, managing nutritionist, Beef Strategic Technical Services, Zoetis

While it’s a challenging time in the cattle industry, as a progressive cattle producer you still have opportunities to add value to your final product. Using growth implants is one of the most profitable tools available to help you achieve this goal — returning far more in weight gain and feed efficiency than the cost of the implant itself.

There’s a common misconception that implants only benefit cattle in a stocker or feedlot setting. But the truth is, any cattle producer who wants to improve weight gain can benefit from SYNOVEX® implants — cow/calf producers included.

In fact, studies demonstrate that calves implanted with SYNOVEX C gained an average of 19 pounds more than nonimplanted calves at weaning2 — at $1.77 per pound for weaned calves, that’s an extra $33 per head at sale time and a 30-to-1 return on investment.

So, whether you’re reading this from a cow/calf, stocker or feedlot perspective, make sure you’re not forfeiting gain and profit.

To optimize implant results and profit for every dollar invested in your implanting program, work with your processing crew to implement best-practice implanting techniques.

Here are seven steps to help you make the most from an implant program:
1)    Before implanting, work with your nutritionist, veterinarian or Zoetis representative to match the correct implant dosage with desired cattle performance targets.

2)    Follow low-stress cattle handling procedures to avoid exciting and overcrowding cattle. Overcrowding causes additional manure contamination of cattle’s heads and ears.

3)    Use good head restraint for the animal’s safety and yours. Never sacrifice safety and proper technique for speed.

4)    Always implant a clean and dry ear. If the ear is wet or dirty, clean the ear with a brush soaked in a proper concentration of Nolvasan® Solution or other disinfectant before implanting. Refresh the water and disinfectant when it becomes dirty.

5)    Before implanting, tag ears in a location that will not be used for implants, or tag the ear not being implanted. Place the implant at least one finger width from new or previous incisions (ear tags, implants, etc.).

6)    When ready, insert the needle subcutaneously starting at the outer one-third of the ear, which places the implant in the middle one-third of the ear.

7)    Make sure your processing crew is familiar with the SX-10 Precision Applicator or Revolver implanting device. Clean the implant needle immediately if it slips or skips across the surface of ear before the injection is made to avoid contamination and infection.

Implanting aligns well with key cattle preconditioning processes, such as immunizing and deworming, and will likely not require an extra trip through the chute (and even if so, the performance response more than outweighs the extra processing expense). Long-duration implant options, like SYNOVEX ONE, allow cattlemen to increase operational flexibility and decrease labor costs by extending the window for weight gain up to 200 days.

Tuesday June 20 Ag News

Updated Beef Cow Basics-Plus Course Available to Sharpen Cow/Calf Management Skills
Larry Howard, NE Extension Educator, Cuming County
Those looking to take the guesswork out of cow/calf management are encouraged to enroll in the revised Beef Cow Basics-Plus home study course offered by Nebraska Extension. The course, which is now available online, is designed for beef producers, feed consultants, veterinarians and youth wanting to learn more about beef production.

Since 1993, more than 5,500 individuals from more than 40 states have taken Beef Basics courses to further their education. The updated course is available completely online, making it even easier for participants to learn within the comfort of their own home or office.

Information covered in the course includes:
• Goals for the cow/calf producer
• Basic considerations for cow nutrition
• Metabolizable protein system, “The Concept of RDP and RUP”
• Minerals and vitamins for beef cows
• Replacement heifer nutrition
• Basic ration formulation
• Forage analysis and inventory
• Perennial forage production
• Annual forage crops
• Alfalfa Production: Opportunities for improvement
• Livestock grazing management on range and pasture
• Feed ration economics

The course was written and reviewed by extension faculty and individuals involved in the beef industry. Past participants have praised the Beef Basics courses for focusing on the point of view of the cow/calf producer. Participants have estimated that they would save over $16 per cow using the management and production ideas presented in the Beef Basics courses.

The fee for the new online Beef Cow Basics-Plus course ranges from $20 to $120, depending on the status of the individual and whether CEU credits are requested. To register for the new online course, visit and search for “beef cow basics.”

Other Beef Basics courses range from $40 to $60. All of the courses have been approved for American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists and continuing education unit credits are available. Possible number of credits varies with course enrollment.

For additional information or to register, visit

NE Cattlemen Educational Opportunities

Farmer Stockman Annual Tour - Don't miss the annual Farmer Stockman Tour scheduled for Wednesday, June 28, in the Columbus area.
7:30 am          Cargill, Schuyler Plant - Cargill tour limited to first 25 to RSVP
11:30 am        Lunch
12:00 pm        Sidump'r & Feeding Systems - 2500 E 23rd St., Columbus
1:30 pm          Kent Feeds - 5445 E 23rd St., Columbus
3:30 pm          Reigle Cattle Co. - 55510 823rd Road, Madison - Meal to follow tour

There is no charge for the tour but a RSVP is appreciated for a meal count. You do not have to be an NC member to take part in the tour.  RSVP to Bonita 402-450-0223 / voice or text by Monday, June 26

Stockmanship Stewardship

Don't forget about the Stockmanship Stewardship event scheduled for June 29-30 in Lincoln. This event includes: Lessons in horseback cattle handling, live chute-side cattle handling demonstration and BQA certification.  For more information and to register

Ricketts Announces International Trade Mission to Canada

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts announced plans to lead a trade mission to Canada during August 7-11, 2017.  Governor Ricketts will lead the mission in conjunction with the Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) and Department of Economic Development (DED).

“In Nebraska, we export $8.5 billion worth of total exports every year, making international trade a vital part of the state’s economy,” said Governor Ricketts.  “My administration will continue to focus on trade and the opportunities it brings to Nebraska farmers, ranchers, and manufacturers to help grow our state.”

Canada is Nebraska’s largest export market and fourth largest agriculture export market, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service.  In 2016, total agricultural exports from Nebraska to Canada equaled an estimated $468 million out of a total agriculture export value of $5.4 billion.

NDA Director Greg Ibach stressed the importance of increasing Nebraska’s ag exports and commodities in Canada.

“Consumers around the world want to know more about their food and Nebraska agriculture,” said NDA Director Greg Ibach.  “Trade missions like this give Nebraska farmers and ranchers an opportunity to interact with consumers and agribusiness leaders in different countries and show them the quality ag products that the state has to offer.”

The Governor’s Office, NDA, DED, and Canadian officials developed the Nebraska delegation’s itinerary for the upcoming trade mission with visits to Toronto and Ottawa.  Meetings have been requested with Canadian prime ministers, other national officials, and agricultural officials including representatives from the Canadian Cattlemen Association and the Canadian Pork Council.

“The key to export success is building on existing relationships and creating new opportunities in international marketplaces,” said Governor Ricketts.  “Our trade team is able to share their knowledge base in a personal, meaningful way which will result in more sales in the future.”

Throughout the trip, Governor Ricketts and the Nebraska delegation will have opportunities to meet with current and potential investors, as well as host events to promote Nebraska ag products. 

DED Director Courtney Dentlinger highlighted the importance of Nebraska’s continued partnership with Canada.

“Canada is the state’s largest export market and a valued partner in economic development,” said DED Director Courtney Dentlinger.  “Canadian companies create jobs in Nebraska through long term investment and Canada is also host to numerous investments from Nebraska companies.”

The news of a trade delegation heading to Canada follows last week’s news about Nebraska beef heading to China for the first time in 14 years.  Opening world markets and keeping them open depend on trade agreements and protocols negotiated at the federal level.

"Out of all the states that are sending beef internationally, Nebraska leads the way,” said Ibach.  “We will continue to invest in the future by focusing attention on all of our partners across the globe and spreading the good news about Nebraska ag products.”

The Governor encourages Nebraska agriculture and business representatives to consider joining the Canadian trade mission for an opportunity to meet with government officials, community leaders, and industry representatives.  Because space is limited, company officials interested in participating in the trade mission should register by July 5, 2017 by calling 402-471-2341 and asking for Stan Garbacz.


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

When should you cut prairie hay?  Let’s look at some things to consider.

When is the best time to cut prairie hay?  While it’s still leafy?  When it heads out?  After it’s done growing for the year?

First let’s make sure we all know what I mean by prairie hay.  In today’s message, I’m talking mostly about warm-season grasses like the bluestems and gramas, indiangrass, switchgrass, lovegrass, or prairie sandreed.  There might be some wheatgrass or junegrass or other cool-season species present, but if this field is fully green and growing by mid-April in Nebraska, it’s not what I’m calling prairie hay.

One factor to consider when timing harvest of prairie hay is stand persistence.  Producer experience and university research both show that prairie hay stands decline rapidly if they are often harvested twice a year.  Another factor is hay quality.  Prairie hay cut in late June or early July might have over 10 percent protein and 60 percent TDN.  But as grass gets older and develops stems and seedheads, its forage quality will decline.  If you wait until late August to cut, protein might drop down below 5 percent and TDN as low as 45 percent.

Other practical considerations might be your difficulty harvesting all your prairie hay at once and your potential need for both high quality hay for young stock and average quality hay for dry cows.

What I think this means is that most operations should have at least two different prairie hay areas.  Harvest one area in late June or early July for high quality and again in October if sufficient regrowth occurs.  Or winter graze the regrowth.  Harvest the other area just once in early August for high yield.  Then switch areas the next year.

Prairie hay is a valuable resource.  Extra care can assure long term production of highly useable hay.

Wheat Coproducts Vary in Pig Diet Digestibility

Research from the University of Illinois is helping to determine the quality of protein in wheat middlings and red dog, two coproducts of the wheat milling process that can be included in diets fed to pigs and other livestock.

Red dog consists mainly of the aleurone layer that lies between the bran and the endosperm, along with small particles of bran, germ, and flour. Wheat middlings are granular particles of the wheat endosperm, bran, and germ. They contain about three times as much dietary fiber as red dog.

"We have information about the digestibility of crude protein in some wheat coproducts produced in Canada and China, but only very limited information about the nutritional value of wheat middlings and red dog produced in the United States," says Hans H. Stein, professor in the Department of Animal Sciences at U of I.

"In addition, because wheat coproducts vary in terms of the conditions under which they are produced, their nutritional value may vary as well," he says.

Stein and Ph. D. candidate Gloria Casas procured wheat middlings from 10 suppliers in Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, along with red dog from a supplier in Iowa, and fed them to growing pigs.

Despite the variety in the sources of wheat middlings, the concentration and standardized ileal digestibility (SID) of crude protein were generally consistent. However, there was variation in the digestibility of most amino acids among sources of wheat middlings.

Red dog contained slightly less crude protein than wheat middlings: the mean protein concentration of the wheat middlings samples was 17.67 percent, compared with 17 percent in red dog.

However, the SID of crude protein and all but three amino acids--arginine, histidine, and serine--was greater in red dog than in wheat middlings.

According to Stein, "The SID of amino acids is probably greater in red dog because it contains less fiber compared with wheat middlings. It's also possible that excessive heat was used in the processing of the wheat middlings, causing heat damage."

The SID of lysine, the amino acid most susceptible to heat damage, was 72.3 percent in red dog but averaged only 46.2 percent in wheat middlings.

Stein says the results of this study provide guidance to producers who hope to incorporate wheat co-products into diets fed to pigs.

"The amino acids in red dog are well digested, so there should be no problem with incorporating them into swine diets," he says. "However, we would advise anyone feeding wheat middlings to add crystalline amino acids or other protein sources so that the diet will have sufficient digestible amino acids."

The paper, "The ileal digestibility of most amino acids is greater in red dog than in wheat middlings when fed to growing pigs," appears in the June issue of the Journal of Animal Science. The National Pork Board of Des Moines, Iowa, provided funding for the study.

Joint Statement of Secretary Perdue (U.S.), Minister Lawrence MacAulay (Canada) & Secretary Calzada (Mexico) Regarding Trilateral Agriculture Meetings in Savannah, Georgia

Canadian Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Lawrence MacAulay; Mexican Secretary of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food Jose Calzada; and United States Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue issued the following statement at the conclusion of their first trilateral meetings in Savannah, GA, June 19-20, 2017.

“Our three nations are connected not only geographically, but through our deeply integrated agricultural markets. Our trading relationship is vital to the economies - and the people - of our respective countries. We are working together to support and create good jobs in all three countries. We share a commitment to keeping our markets open and transparent so that trade can continue to grow. That mutual commitment was reaffirmed in our discussions this week.

“The North American Free Trade Agreement has greatly helped our respective agricultural sectors as well as our consumers who have benefitted from an ever-growing variety of safe, affordable food products all year around. While even the best trading partnerships face challenges from time to time, our agricultural differences are relatively few in the context of the $85 billion in agricultural trade that flows between our three nations each year.

“Over the years, the United States, Mexico, and Canada have also worked collaboratively to protect plant and animal health, conduct joint research, and share best practices. These efforts have helped to eradicate several pests and diseases from the region, differentiating us from the rest of the world. Our three countries remain committed to continued collaboration to ensure a safe and reliable regional supply chain that makes the North American agriculture sector more competitive.

“Our visit to Georgia fostered the mutual understanding and personal relationships that will help North American agriculture thrive, improve our regional partnership and collaboration, and strengthen our trading relationship.”

ASA Supports Doud Nomination as Chief Agricultural Negotiator

The American Soybean Association (ASA) supports President Donald Trump’s nomination of Gregg Doud, president of the Commodity Markets Council, to be the chief agricultural negotiator under the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR).

“Doud is a farm policy veteran with a wealth of experience and a solid understanding of the vital role trade plays in the U.S. agriculture economy,” ASA Vice President John Heisdorffer said.

Doud’s background includes experience as senior aide to the Senate Agriculture Committee, chief economist for the National Cattleman’s Beef Association, and international trade analyst for the American Soybean Association.

ASA also urged prompt confirmation as the USTR plays a central role in developing U.S. international trade policy and leading trade negotiations.

“With the upcoming renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, we hope both the Administration and Congress will do their parts to quickly advance and confirm Doud’s nomination,” Heisdorffer said. “Now is the time to fill positions with qualified individuals who understand the importance of trade to further enhance economic growth and job creation here at home.”

NAWG Applauds the Administration’s Choice for Chief Agricultural Negotiator

The National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) supports President Donald Trump’s nomination of Gregory Doud to be the chief agricultural negotiator, with the rank of Ambassador, under the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR). Gregory Doud, of Kansas, is a former U.S. Wheat Associates staff member and the current President of the Commodity Markets Council.

“Trade is a top priority for U.S. wheat farmers and this nomination is welcome news to America’s wheat farmers,” stated NAWG CEO Chandler Goule. “With the Administration currently working on renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and our desire to see the Administration move aggressively to expand our markets abroad, we encourage the U.S. Senate to quickly confirm Doud as chief agricultural negotiator.”

From 2011-2013, Doud was a senior aide to the Senate Agriculture Committee for Senator Pat Roberts and Senator Thad Cochran. There he assisted in drafting what would become the 2014 Farm Bill. For eight years, Doud also served as Chief Economist for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

“The Administration has threatened to cut the Farm Bill’s Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) program, two key trade provisions for wheat growers,” stated NAWG CEO Chandler Goule. “We know that Doud’s experience as a farmer and drafting the 2014 Farm Bill will influence the discussion around these programs during the reauthorization of the 2018 Farm Bill.”

U.S. Wheat Associates Supports Doud for USTR Chief Agricultural Negotiator

U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) strongly supports President Trump’s nomination of Gregg Doud to become Chief Agricultural Negotiator, with the rank of Ambassador, in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR).

"We are thrilled with Gregg’s appointment,” said USW President Alan Tracy. “He has deep ties to U.S. wheat, served as our market analyst and has remained a friend and ally ever since, especially when working for Senator Roberts. He has the background and the energy to excel as USTR's agricultural trade negotiator, a position of great importance to our industry.”

Currently, the important dispute cases against China’s trade distorting domestic wheat support and its tariff rate quota obligations on imported wheat need to move forward, and the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement is looming. USW joins the National Association of Wheat Growers in urging an expedited review and confirmation so Doud can get to work at USTR as soon as possible.

USDA Asked to Release North Dakota CRP Grazing Lands

Senators John Hoeven and Heidi Heitkamp and Congressman Kevin Cramer Monday pressed U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue to provide assistance to North Dakota ranchers facing early season drought conditions by allowing emergency haying of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres.

In a letter to the USDA Secretary, the delegation made the case for releasing the CRP acres citing early drought conditions in central and western North Dakota. Although the state received some rain last week, drought continues in areas of the state. Currently, the Western half of North Dakota is experiencing an early season drought, having received less than 40 percent of normal rainfall thus far in June. The central region of North Dakota, from the South Dakota border to the northern tier of counties, is listed in the "Severe Drought" category of the latest U.S. Drought Monitor. Over half of North Dakota's pasture and rangeland is listed as being in "Poor to Very Poor" condition in the latest USDA Weekly Weather and Crop Bulletin.

"In North Dakota, the effects of this abnormally dry weather on pastures and hay crops have been devastating. Media accounts of herd liquidation at sales barns are common. Many North Dakota ranchers are being faced with having to decide whether to sell valuable assets of their livestock operations. The resulting downsizing of herds in North Dakota poses a long-term threat to the viability of the industry in our state especially given that a herd cannot be built overnight," the delegation wrote. "That is why we urge you to allow emergency haying of CRP acres within the state of North Dakota."

Late last week, U.S. Senator Pat Roberts, R-Kan., announced USDA extended emergency grazing on Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands on behalf of Kansas ranchers affected by the recent wildfires. In April, Roberts and Kansas First District Congressman Roger Marshall sent a letter to Secretary Perdue requesting USDA consider utilizing these actions. The March wildfires burned 700,000 acres in Kansas.

Legislation Offers Relief from Federal Water Extortion

The Water Rights Protection Act, introduced in the House today, could bring U.S. ranchers much-needed relief from ongoing efforts by the federal government to extort privately held water rights from law-abiding citizens, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.

“It’s time to put a stop to federal strong-arming of ranchers by a government that owns the majority of the land for grazing west of the Mississippi,” AFBF President Zippy Duvall said. “Water is the most valuable resource for every farmer and rancher. Unfortunately, the federal tactics we’ve seen in recent years have little to do with conservation and everything to do with big government and control.”

In recent years, federal land managers in the West have demanded increasingly that the ranchers who work the land surrender their water rights to the government or leave. Public lands are meant to be enjoyed and shared by our citizens, and America’s ranchers play a critical role in caring for these lands. The government’s treatment of these ranchers is not only unfair, but unconstitutional, AFBF said.

For America’s farmers and ranchers to continue to provide the food, fuel and fiber for the nation and the world, they simply must have access to water. This is especially crucial in the West. All citizens have a right to expect that their lawfully acquired water rights will be respected by the federal government.

If passed, the Water Rights Protection Act (H.R. 2939) would bar the federal government from seizing state-granted water rights from ranchers and restore basic property rights to them. According to AFBF, the act echoes policy changes President Trump set forth in his executive order on Promoting Agriculture and Rural Prosperity in America, which further supports the protection of ranchers’ water rights.

The legislation would also:
-    Prohibit agencies from demanding transfer of privately held water rights to the federal government in exchange for federal land use permits or other things;
-    Maintain federal deference to state water law; and
-    Maintain environmental safeguards already in place.

Farm Bureau commends Congressman Scott Tipton’s leadership on the legislation, and urges Congress to act swiftly to bring America’s ranchers much-needed relief.

June 19 Crop Progress & Condition Report - NE - IA - US


For the week ending June 18, 2017, temperatures averaged four to eight degrees above normal across a majority of the State, with the exception of panhandle, where temperatures were near normal, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Rainfall averaged one to two inches in the eastern half of the State, and the northwestern part of the panhandle. The rest of the State remained dry. Severe wind storms passed through eastern counties on Friday evening. There were reports of damage to trees, equipment, and farm buildings. There were 5.6 days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 6 percent very short, 31 short, 61 adequate, and 2 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 3 percent very short, 22 short, 74 adequate, and 1 surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Corn condition rated 1 percent very poor, 3 poor, 18 fair, 66 good, and 12 excellent.

Soybean condition rated 1 percent very poor, 4 poor, 23 fair, 65 good, and 7 excellent. Soybeans emerged was 96 percent, near 94 last year and 93 for the five-year average.

Winter wheat condition rated 3 percent very poor, 10 poor, 36 fair, 41 good, and 10 excellent. Winter wheat coloring was 76 percent, ahead of 58 last year, and well ahead of 52 average. Mature was 4 percent.

Sorghum condition rated 0 percent very poor, 0 poor, 36 fair, 56 good, and 8 excellent. Sorghum planted was 98 percent, equal to last year, and near 97 average. Emerged was 91 percent, ahead of 83 last year and 76 average. Headed was 2 percent, near 0 both last year and average.

Oats condition rated 1 percent very poor, 2 poor, 31 fair, 59 good, and 7 excellent. Oats headed was 94 percent, well ahead of 74 last year and 69 average. Coloring was 20 percent.

Alfalfa condition rated 1 percent very poor, 5 poor, 27 fair, 60 good, and 7 excellent. Alfalfa first cutting was 89 percent, near 93 last year, but ahead of 80 average. Second cutting was 6 percent.

Pasture and Range Report:
Pasture and range conditions rated 1 percent very poor, 3 poor, 22 fair, 66 good, and 8 excellent.

Stock water supplies rated 0 percent very short, 3 short, 96 adequate, and 1 surplus.

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

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

Access the U.S. Drought Monitor at:


Warm and windy weather with spotty thunderstorms prevailed across Iowa during the week ending June 18, 2017, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Those isolated storms left some farmers assessing crop damage from strong winds and hail. Statewide there were 5.2 days suitable for fieldwork. Activities for the week included cutting hay, spraying herbicides, nitrogen side-dressing, and re-planting.

Topsoil moisture levels rated 5 percent very short, 22 percent short, 71 percent adequate and 2 percent surplus. Southwestern Iowa reported the highest levels of topsoil moisture with 96 percent adequate to surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated 3 percent very short, 15 percent short, 79 percent adequate and 3 percent surplus. Only the northeast and southwest corners of the State saw an increase in subsoil moisture. Many reports mentioned the need for timely rain.

Seventy-eight percent of the corn crop was rated in good to excellent condition.

Soybean emergence reached 92 percent, 5 days behind last year but 4 days ahead of average. Soybean condition rated 74 percent good to excellent.

Oats headed reached 67 percent this week, 4 days behind last year. Oat condition rated 77 percent good to excellent.

The first cutting of alfalfa hay reached 94 percent complete this week and second cutting has begun in many areas. Hay condition remained 83 percent good to excellent. Pasture condition decreased slightly to 69 percent good to excellent. Some livestock stress was reported as a result of the heat.

USDA Weekly Crop Progress

Spring wheat conditions continued to drop significantly last week, according to USDA's weekly Crop Progress report released Monday. Conditions for corn, soybeans and winter wheat, on the other hand, held mostly steady from the previous week.

USDA estimated that 41% of spring wheat was rated in good-to-excellent condition this week, down 4 percentage points from the previous week's 45%. 

The condition of U.S. corn, on the other hand, held mostly steady from the previous week. Sixty-seven percent of the corn crop was rated in good-to-excellent condition, the same as the previous week. 

USDA said 96% of U.S. soybeans were planted as of Sunday, June 18, up from 95% a year ago and above the five-year average of 93%. USDA said 89% of U.S. soybeans were emerged, up from 88% a year ago and above the five-year average of 84%. Sixty-seven percent of the soybean crop was rated in good-to-excellent condition, up 1 percentage point from the previous week. 

USDA also reported that 97% of winter wheat was headed, down from 99% a year ago, but up from the five-year average of 95% headed. Twenty-eight percent of winter wheat had been harvested as of Sunday, up from 23% a year ago and above the five-year average of 25%. Forty-nine percent of the winter wheat crop was rated in good-to-excellent condition.

In other crop reports, cotton was 94% planted, slightly behind the five-year average of 96%. Cotton squaring was 22% compared to the average of 20%. Rice was 98% emerged, compared to 100% on average, and was 5% headed, compared to the five-year average of 6%.

Sorghum was 86% planted, slightly ahead of the five-year average of 85%. Sorghum headed was 17%, slightly behind the average pace of 18%. Barley was 97% emerged, compared to 96% on average, and was 10% headed, compared to 19% on average. Oats were 60% headed, even with the average pace.

Monday June 19 Ag News

Ricketts, Local Leaders Cheer Economic Impact of Costco’s First Poultry Processing Facility

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts and local leaders celebrated another clear marker of economic momentum for the State of Nebraska and the Fremont region with Lincoln Premium Poultry’s groundbreaking for Costco’s first-ever poultry processing plant, hatchery, and feed mill facility.

Projected to open in April 2019, the $300-million project is expected to generate an overall economic impact of $1.2 billion annually, create approximately 800 new jobs, and connect Costco to a dedicated network of producers in eastern Nebraska.

“This is a monumental day for Costco, Fremont, and the State of Nebraska,” said Governor Pete Ricketts.  “Costco has a reputation for being a great corporate citizen, and today’s groundbreaking highlights what’s to come: good paying jobs, more opportunity for our local farmers, and the all-important expansion of value-added agriculture in our state.”

The Lincoln Premium Poultry facility, will utilize the latest technology to process an expected 2 million chickens a week for sale in Costco stores.

“We’re thrilled Costco chose to partner with our community and region to expand its business model and launch this new endeavor here,” said Cecilia Harry, Executive Director of the Greater Fremont Development Council.  “We celebrate the new jobs and investment and the impact this will have on our agricultural industries – whether its helping area farmers diversify their businesses, encouraging the next generation of farmers, or growing firms that will support facility operations.”

Lincoln Premium Poultry joins a critical mass of agricultural-based companies that call Nebraska and the Greater Omaha region home.  Statewide, one-in-four jobs is related to agriculture.  Throughout the region, livestock and food processing industries employ nearly 20,000.

“We are eager to continue our work with the community, officials at all levels, our trusted construction partners, and with everyone else involved in order to make this business something that Fremont, Nebraska and Costco can truly be proud to be part of,” said Jonathan Luz, Director of Strategic Planning and Development for Costco.

Over the past year, the retail giant has worked with a multitude of partners to locate the facility in the Fremont area.  Those partners include the Greater Fremont Development Council, City of Fremont, Greater Omaha Chamber Economic Development Partnership, Nebraska Department of Economic Development, Nebraska Department of Agriculture, and Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska.

“This facility is going to be state-of-the-art, using the most advanced technology in the world, adding a broad array of jobs to the region’s workforce,” said Randy Thelen, Senior Vice President-Economic Development for the Greater Omaha Chamber.  “Our community is gaining a new economic engine whose positive impact will extend throughout the region.”

“This project will have a significant economic impact on the region and the state as a whole,” said Courtney Dentlinger, Director of Nebraska Department of Economic Development.  “In addition to the substantial capital investment, Costco will create 800 new jobs, including jobs in information technology, mechanics, and management.  The Department was pleased to partner with a number of organizations to help the company choose Nebraska after its highly competitive site selection process.”

Complementing the region’s existing industries, the farmer network needed for a facility of this scale brings an opportunity for farmers to diversify their portfolios and expand existing operations.

“This facility will create an opportunity for diversification for farmers in the Greater Fremont area.  The producers who choose to build poultry houses will have an opportunity to add another income source to their operation.  All row crop farmers will have a new market for corn and soybeans which will be utilized in the poultry rations,” said Nebraska Department of Agriculture Director Greg Ibach.  “Costco has also indicated a willingness to be a great partner for Nebraska as a whole, going above and beyond all environmental requirements and offering new and innovative contractual relationships that will be revolutionary for the poultry industry.”

“This is an exciting time to be in Fremont and eastern Nebraska,” said Fremont Mayor Scott Getzschman.  “We are already experiencing economic growth because of the project, and we are excited for that growth to continue as the Costco facilities are built and begin their operations.”


            The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has funding available to help Nebraska’s farmers control erosion on their cropland. This funding is available through a special Ephemeral Gully Control Initiative under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. Eligible producers have until July 21 to apply.

            According to NRCS, recipients of USDA program benefits – like federal crop insurance subsidies and conservation program payments – are required to control erosion on all cropland determined to be highly erodible. The funding available through this special initiative can help farmers meet that requirement.

            Nebraska State Conservationist Craig Derickson said, “Conservation practices such as cover crops and grassed waterways are good solutions for controlling ephemeral gullies, which is required by conservation compliance provisions. Conservation buffers are effective in controlling erosion from both water and wind and help protect the soil, improve air and water quality, enhance fish and wildlife habitat, and beautify the landscape.

According to NRCS, over the last couple of decades, there has been a continual decrease in grassed waterways due largely to the adoption of large-scale farming equipment and conservation cropping systems that rely heavily on herbicides to control weeds. On some fields, this has led to increased erosion and ephemeral gullies.

Derickson said, “Ephemeral gullies are those rough spots where water concentrates and causes soil to wash away, creating small ditches. While the damage to cropland appears to be small, if not controlled, the negative impacts like loss of inputs, decreased soil health and yields can be significant. Plus, it can cause farmers to be out of compliance with USDA’s Food Security Act requirements.

“I want to encourage producers who have ephemeral erosion on their cropland to take this opportunity to address this issue. Our conservationists are available to work with farmers one-on-one to develop a custom conservation plan to help keep farmers in compliance with USDA Farm Bill requirements and keep their farm ground healthy and productive.”

For more information, and to apply for funding through this special initiative, visit NRCS in your local USDA Service Center before July 21.


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Speciaist

               Crop disasters like hail, flash floods, and tornadoes can happen any time.  When it strikes, replanting options may be needed.

               After weather disasters strike, replanting a grain crop may be nearly impossible due to herbicide carryover or the late planting date.  As a result, annual emergency forage crops might be your only choice.

               Unfortunately, previous herbicide use may cause even more problems with forages.  Many pre-emerge herbicides for corn and milo will injure teff, pearl millet and foxtail millet.  But, sudangrass, forage sorghum, and sorghum-sudan hybrids will tolerate moderate levels of atrazine; and safened seed can be used if several other herbicides have been applied.  These sorghums also tolerate most herbicides labeled for use with grain sorghum.  Another possible emergency forage crop is short-season corn as silage or as late season pasture, especially if corn herbicides eliminate other possibilities.

               Soybean herbicides that have residual soil activity can cause even bigger problems for replanting to forages.  All summer grasses are sensitive to most soybean herbicides.  Sunflowers for silage and replanted soybeans for hay or silage are among the few alternatives compatible with soybean herbicide carryover.

               Even when you find out that an annual forage will grow, sometimes you may not be allowed to feed it legally.  Many row crop herbicides have specific restrictions or at least lack approval for use with forages.  So check out your options closely and carefully before making your selection.

               Nobody likes to replant, but if you must, select a forage that is compatible with your herbicides and livestock.

May Milk Production in the United States up 1.8 Percent

Milk production in the United States during May totaled 18.9 billion pounds, up 1.8 percent from May 2016.  Production per cow in the United States averaged 2,016 pounds for May, 19 pounds above May 2016.  The number of milk cows on farms in the United States was 9.39 million head, 71,000 head more than May 2016, and 2,000 head more than April 2017.

IOWA Milk production in Iowa during May 2017 totaled 448 million pounds, up 1 percent from the previous May according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Milk Production report. The average number of milk cows during May, at 217,000 head, was the same as last month and 4,000 more than last year. Monthly production per cow averaged 2,065 pounds, down 10 pounds from last May.

Heat Mitigation Awareness and Strategies for Beef Producers

Cattle producers should take notice of temperatures increasing above normal highs for this time of year. After a cool spring that may feel good to some, many cattle that have not adapted to warmer weather still have remnants of a winter hair coat. To those animals, the increasing temperature will be an unwelcome change.

Temperatures are expected to reach mid- to upper 90’s across Iowa this week. Although cattle should be able to tolerate this heat, it's a good reminder that more is yet to come and a cool spring may turn to a hot, dry summer.

"This early heat event is a good opportunity to make sure that mitigation strategies will be functional for the rest of the summer," said Dr. Grant Dewell, extension beef veterinarian with Iowa State University.  "Pay close attention to cattle this week as the rapid change in temperature may catch some at-risk cattle (cattle at end of feeding period, cattle with previous respiratory disease and cattle that have not shed out) dealing with excessive heat stress."
The Iowa Beef Center website has information and details on proper heat abatement strategies such as shade and sprinklers.

Check out these additional resources:
    Heat Stress in Beef Cattle 4-page publication by Dewell, available as free download -
    USDA ARS 7-day heat stress forecast -

    USDA smartphone app provides forecasts of weather conditions that can trigger heat stress in cattle. Free download from Google Play (Android) and the App Store (Apple devices)

Learn About Leasing Arrangements at Farmland Leasing Meetings

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach will host multiple farmland leasing meetings during July and August at various times and locations throughout Iowa. The annual meetings are offered to address questions that land owners, tenants or other interested individuals have about leasing leasing meeting

Core components of the program will include land values and cash rent trends, cost of production, methods for determining a rental rate, legal updates regarding leases and communication between tenants or landlords. Additional topics vary by location.

“More than half of Iowa’s farmland is rented, and strong landlord/tenant relationships are important for the long-term viability of Iowa’s valuable farmland,” said Alejandro Plastina, assistant professor of economics and extension economist at Iowa State University. “Cash rent values across the state of Iowa have declined for the fourth consecutive year, dropping by 4.8 percent from 2016, an accumulated 18.9 percent decline since 2013. Variations in the survey results occur at the county and district level. Farmland leasing meetings provide an outlet for further understanding of these results and more.”

The three-hour workshop is designed to assist landowners, farm tenants and other agri-business professionals with current issues related to farmland ownership, management and leasing arrangements. Attendees will gain a better understanding of current cash rental rate surveys and factors driving next year’s rents such as market trends and input costs. Comments from past participants highlight the value of the materials provided and depth of information covered in the short program.

A 100-page workbook is compiled for the programs, with resources regarding land leasing agreements such as surveys, sample written lease agreements and termination forms, along with many other publications.

Attend a local meeting

The leasing meetings being held across Iowa are facilitated by farm management specialists with ISU Extension and Outreach. An online listing of County Extension Offices hosting the meetings is available with additional information available through the Ag Decision Maker website.

Thursday, July 27, 2017
    6:00 PM - 8:00 PM  Farmland Leasing Meeting   Carroll /Carroll County

Tuesday, August 1, 2017
    6:30 PM - 9:00 PM  Farmland Leasing Meeting   Oakland/East Pottawattamie County

Wednesday, August 2, 2017
    9:00 AM - 11:30 AM  Farmland Leasing Meeting   Red Oak/Montgomery County
    6:30 PM - 9:00 PM  Farmland Leasing Meeting   Greenfield/Adair County

Thursday, August 3, 2017
    9:00 AM - 11:30 AM  Farmland Leasing Meeting   Malvern/Mills County

Friday, August 4, 2017
    9:00 AM - 11:30 AM  Farmland Leasing Meeting   Council Bluffs/West Pottawattamie County
    1:30 PM - 4:00 PM  Farmland Leasing Meeting   Council Bluffs/West Pottawattamie County

Wednesday, August 9, 2017
    6:30 PM - 9:00 PM  Farmland Leasing Meeting   Atlantic/Cass County

Thursday, August 10, 2017
    9:00 AM - 11:30 AM  Farmland Leasing Meeting   Shenandoah/Page County

Wednesday, August 23, 2017
    6:30 PM - 8:30 PM  SW Iowa Beginning Farmers   Red Oak/Montgomery County

For registration information, contact an ISU Extension and Outreach county office. Pre-registration is encouraged as an additional $5 fee may be added if registering less than two calendar days before the meeting date.

2017 World Pork Expo: One for the Record Books

Seeking out new ideas, information and innovations, more than 20,000 pork producers and ag professionals from throughout the world attended the 29th World Pork Expo, June 7-9, in Des Moines. Presented by the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), the 2017 Expo hosted more than 1,000 international guests from nearly 40 countries.

Highlights included the world’s largest pork-specific trade show, a wide variety of educational seminars and another barn-busting Junior National swine show. Iowa’s summer weather provided a pleasant backdrop for the allied industry hospitality tents that lined the streets of the Iowa State Fairgrounds, as well as a relaxing evening for MusicFest. As always, there was plenty of mouthwatering pork served, including more than 10,000 free lunches from the Big Grill — prepared by Iowa’s Tama County Pork Producers Association members — throughout the three days.

“World Pork Expo gives producers the opportunity to see and touch the newest products and technologies for their pork businesses,” says Ken Maschhoff, NPPC president and Illinois pork producer. “It’s a place for producers to interact with each other and share ideas. It also gives employees at all levels a chance to learn, deepen their connection to pork production and have some fun.”

Innovation takes center stage

Expo presents the world’s largest pork-specific trade show, and this year’s event included more than 450 commercial exhibits from companies throughout the world. Another 53 allied industry hospitality tents offered companies and producers the opportunity to discuss products, services and technologies that can help produce high-quality pork efficiently, responsibly and successfully.

Steady traffic flow within the trade show left exhibitors with a positive impression of this year’s Expo. “What’s new? What makes your product different? and What’s on the horizon?” were common inquiries from producers walking the 320,000 square feet of exhibit space.

Today’s Expo visitors are more technology savvy and data-driven, points out Eric Holtkamp, chief executive officer of Control Tech, whose company has exhibited for more than a decade.  “For both new and older barns, producers want to monitor the facilities from their cell phones. They want to track factors like feed, water, temperature and then get immediate alerts if there’s an issue,” he notes.

This type of technology also makes data collection and analysis easier and more useful. “Previously, when customers looked at building controls, purchasing decisions were more cost-driven. Today, they’re more feature-driven; producers are looking for specific functionality,” Holtkamp says.

Interactions between vendors and producer customers are key drivers for a successful Expo. “It was a fantastic week. We had good traffic and customer interactions,” says Matt Kocher, marketing director for Ceva Animal Health, a first-time exhibitor. “We’re here to help producers solve challenges and advance their businesses, and the conversations we had were forward-looking and constructive.”

Kocher particularly likes Expo’s atmosphere, which combines a learning environment with some fellowship, and that it presents a broad view of the industry all in one place. “Naturally, pork business owners attend Expo, but you’ll also find managers at various levels and barn workers. It gives you a perspective on what they do and what they need. Expo cuts pretty broad and deep,” he adds.

Junior National sets another record

To accommodate its ever-expanding presence, the World Pork Expo Junior National began on Monday, June 5, with events filling out the week. Hosted by the National Junior Swine Association and Team Purebred, the Junior National set another record for the number of participants, with 1,050 youth exhibitors from 32 states. Considered one of the nation’s premiere youth swine shows, the Junior National combines educational activities such as a Skillathon and Youth PQA Plus® certification, with swine judging, live-hog competitions and showmanship.

The youth show filled the swine and sheep barns with 2,500 hogs exhibited this year, up slightly from 2016’s record setting 2,351 hogs. Juniors also were eligible to join other swine breeders to exhibit their pigs in the open show on Friday, June 9, with more than 1,000 crossbred and purebred boars and gilts. Breeding stock was presented for sale on Saturday morning, including Berkshire, Chester White, Duroc, Hampshire, Landrace, Poland China, Spotted, Yorkshire and crossbred swine. Results for the open shows and sales for National Swine Registry breeds can be found online at their blog.

Education and networking round out the events

Educational and business seminars filled out the schedule for both Wednesday, June 7, and Thursday, June 8. In all, pork producers and their employees could select from 18 free seminars, where they could interact with a range of pork experts and get answers to their questions.

This year’s business seminars addressed topics from consumer impressions of pork production to data analysis, piglet care and nutrition management. Meanwhile, the PORK Academy seminars provided insights into pork quality research, sow housing tools and third-party audits. Of particular note was an in-depth discussion of the Secure Pork Supply Plan and strategies to maintain business continuity should the United States ever encounter a market-limiting foreign animal disease. The producer program’s focus is to be proactive and prepared.

Market outlook and weather presentations, as well as discussions on export and international trade issues, completed the educational events and provided producers with information to use for long-term planning.

While World Pork Expo provides pork professionals with a wealth of networking opportunities, MusicFest has evolved into a relaxing evening of fun and fellowship. Free music and plenty of pork are the featured festivities along Grand Avenue of the Iowa State Fairgrounds.

“World Pork Expo is always surprising. This year’s event had more exhibit space, more hogs, more hospitality tents and more new products and technology,” NPPC’s Maschhoff says. “It’s a dynamic show, and a great place to learn what’s going on politically, globally and among fellow producers that could impact your business. It’s truly an impressive event.”

Looking ahead, 2018 will mark World Pork Expo’s 30th Anniversary. NPPC has selected June 6-8, 2018, as the dates for next year’s show at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines. Remember, it’s never too early to start making plans to attend the 2018 World Pork Expo.

Applied Reproductive Strategies in Beef Cattle Workshop Set for late August in Kansas

Registration is now open for the 2017 Applied Reproductive Strategies in Beef Cattle Workshop set for Aug. 29-30 at the Hilton Garden Inn and Conference Center in Manhattan, Kan. The program is targeted toward commercial and seedstock producers, the artificial insemination and allied industries and veterinarians interested in using or improving implementation of reproductive management tools and associated genetic tools.

Kansas State University extension beef specialist Sandy Johnson is host for this annual meeting.

“Cow-calf producers know that reproduction is the most economically important trait,” Johnson said. “Thus, reproductive management choices and implementation are critical to profitability.”

Johnson also is a member of the Beef Reproduction Task Force, which includes reproductive physiologists from land grant universities who work together on reproductive management education. Garland Dahlke of Iowa Beef Center is an Iowa State University representative on the task force. The 2017 ARSBC program is provided through a joint effort of the Task Force and K-State Research and Extension.

This year's workshop contains segments focused on foundational principles, practical application of systems, nutritional components, bulls, systems and health and leveraging genetics. In total, this year’s program will bring 22 nationally recognized academics, industry personnel and producers to serve as speakers. Beyond attending the formal presentations, attendees will have opportunities to network with these speakers during breaks, meals and an evening discussion session. Graduate students with current research related to reproductive management will be invited to share posters of their current work.

The two-day program will run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 29 and 8 a.m. to noon, Wednesday, Aug. 30. After a steak dinner at the Stanley Stout Center Tuesday evening, discussion groups will continue to address questions from the day. An optional lab session will be held Wednesday afternoon.

Lab topics will include semen quality and handling, collecting and storing samples for DNA analysis, what happens after the DNA is collected, reproductive tract scoring and blood pregnancy tests and a look at technology for ultrasound diagnosis of pregnancy (not a how-to training). A variety of other tools and technology to help with AI programs will also be part of the lab session.

Together with the national Beef Reproduction Leadership Team, the Beef Reproduction Task Force works to promote wider adoption of reproductive technologies among cow-calf producers, educate cow-calf producers in management considerations that will increase the likelihood of successful AI breeding, and educate producers in marketing options to capture benefits that result from use of improved reproductive technologies.

The group’s mission is to optimize the productivity and improve the profitability of cow-calf operations by facilitating the adoption of cost-effective, applied reproductive technologies. The goal is to educate beef cattle producers on sustainable reproductive management systems to maintain U.S. leadership and competitiveness in the world beef market.

Those with questions on the workshop content can email Johnson at . Detailed information on registration, lodging and sponsorship opportunities is available on the workshop website.

U.S. Ethanol Organizations Applaud Mexico's Adoption of E10

The Mexican Energy Regulatory Commission (CRE) announced recently a change that will increase the maximum amount of ethanol that can be blended in Mexican gas supplies from 5.8 percent to 10 percent, except in the cities of Monterrey, Guadalajara and Mexico City.

The announcement modifies the Mexican Official Standard NOM 016-CRE-2016 regarding the quality specifications for fuels by increasing the maximum volume content of anhydrous ethanol as an oxygenate in regular and premium gasolines in Mexico.

This change comes as part of ongoing energy reforms in Mexico and follows input from stakeholders in the government, private sector, research scientists and social interest groups.

Mexico’s regulators moved in August 2016 to allow ethanol in local fuel supplies, except in its three largest metropolitan areas. In its decision, the CRE recognized the benefits of E10, which will help demonstrate that a 10 percent ethanol blend can positively contribute to air quality improvement and reduced cancer risk throughout the country. The Mexican Institute of Petroleum is also studying the merits of E10 blends.

The decision moves Mexico toward global standards in the use of renewable and sustainable energy resources like ethanol that offer environmental, economic, social and public health advantages over other additives and oxygenates for gasoline.

"We are pleased to see this decision, which is the culmination of significant work by Mexican authorities and industry as they continue to diversify and improve their fuel supplies," said Tom Sleight, U.S. Grains Council (USGC) President and CEO. "We appreciate the opportunity to work with Mexican leaders as they seek to build their own biofuels industry and offer cleaner fuels for the Mexican people."

“We’re strongly encouraged by this announcement, which clears the way for further adoption of ethanol into the Mexican fuel supply,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “By doing so, Mexican consumers will see how embracing ethanol will reduce harmful emissions, help contribute to a cleaner environment, and will create a stronger rural sector.”

“We are greatly encouraged by Mexico’s recent decision to allow the sale and use of 10 percent ethanol (E10) as part of its fuel market reform efforts,” said Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “By permitting the use of E10 in its fuel market, Mexico will have blend levels consistent with fuel sold and used throughout the United States and Canada. Not only will Mexico be able to achieve greater octane and oxygenate benefits from using E10, it will help to drive trade and investment in its ethanol fuel sector. We hope the Mexican Institute of Petroleum will soon conclude its study, and are confident the study will affirm the air quality benefits of the use of E10 in the country’s most populous cities, thereby allowing it to be used in all regions of the country.”

U.S. Ethanol Organizations Applaud Mexico's Adoption Of E10

The Mexican Energy Regulatory Commission (CRE) announced recently a change that will increase the maximum amount of ethanol that can be blended in Mexican gas supplies from 5.8 percent to 10 percent, except in the cities of Monterrey, Guadalajara and Mexico City.

The announcement modifies the Mexican Official Standard NOM 016-CRE-2016 regarding the quality specifications for fuels by increasing the maximum volume content of anhydrous ethanol as an oxygenate in regular and premium gasolines in Mexico.

This change comes as part of ongoing energy reforms in Mexico and follows input from stakeholders in the government, private sector, research scientists and social interest groups.

Mexico’s regulators moved in August 2016 to allow ethanol in local fuel supplies, except in its three largest metropolitan areas. In its decision, the CRE recognized the benefits of E10, which will help demonstrate that a 10 percent ethanol blend can positively contribute to air quality improvement and reduced cancer risk throughout the country. The Mexican Institute of Petroleum is also studying the merits of E10 blends.

The decision moves Mexico toward global standards in the use of renewable and sustainable energy resources like ethanol that offer environmental, economic, social and public health advantages over other additives and oxygenates for gasoline.

"We are pleased to see this decision, which is the culmination of significant work by Mexican authorities and industry as they continue to diversify and improve their fuel supplies," said Tom Sleight, U.S. Grains Council (USGC) President and CEO. "We appreciate the opportunity to work with Mexican leaders as they seek to build their own biofuels industry and offer cleaner fuels for the Mexican people."

“We’re strongly encouraged by this announcement, which clears the way for further adoption of ethanol into the Mexican fuel supply,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “By doing so, Mexican consumers will see how embracing ethanol will reduce harmful emissions, help contribute to a cleaner environment, and will create a stronger rural sector.”

“We are greatly encouraged by Mexico’s recent decision to allow the sale and use of 10 percent ethanol (E10) as part of its fuel market reform efforts,” said Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen. "By permitting the use of E10 in its fuel market, Mexico will have blend levels consistent with fuel sold and used throughout the United States and Canada. Not only will Mexico be able to achieve greater octane and oxygenate benefits from using E10, it will help to drive trade and investment in its ethanol fuel sector. We hope the Mexican Institute of Petroleum will soon conclude its study, and are confident the study will affirm the air quality benefits of the use of E10 in the country’s most populous cities, thereby allowing it to be used in all regions of the country.”

Increased Planning and Strategic Engagement Critical to Future Ethanol Growth

Using ethanol personally, promoting the fuel to the public and supporting ethanol-friendly legislation have been bread-and-butter activities for corn farmers and their respective associations for more than two decades. Although this is not likely to change in the months and years ahead, challenges and pressures on the ethanol front make strategic thinking and demand-driving initiatives increasingly critical.

State and National Corn Grower staff just concluded two days of meetings to conduct an in-depth, state of the ethanol industry analysis in Bloomington, Illinois at the offices of Illinois Corn. The goal was to discuss and review the ethanol plan constructed by the group last November.  As market conditions and the political environment change, the plan will continue to evolve.

During last week's meeting, participants heard from various speakers and received updates on market conditions, legislative and regulatory issues and projects. Speakers included Marty Ruikka with ProExporter, who reviewed economic conditions and forecasts along with Scott Richman with Informa Economics who provided an update on ethanol-related analyses being conducted on behalf of NCGA and the U.S. Grains Council.

"We have to recognize that the current yield trend requires us (farmers and related industry) to always be engaged in capital maintenance and marketing mode. Organizations like NCGA, U.S. Grains Council and the U.S. Meat Export Federation have to be super aggressive to keep up with yield growth," according to Ruikka of PRX. "Maintaining our markets and working constantly to assure incremental growth in corn use is therefore critical."

The corn team reviewed ethanol production, demand and volume obligation scenarios under the Renewable Fuels Standard.  Several key components of a successful strategy for corn were discussed, including:
-    Growing ethanol consumption in the domestic market through expanded use of higher ethanol blends.
-    Expanding relationships and communication with automakers as older vehicles in the nation's auto fleet are replaced.
-    Maintaining an up-to-date strategy that reflects the rapid change in the auto and fuel industry.
-    Assuring a united approach with consistent messaging from corn farmers and other ethanol supporters.
-    Growth of ethanol exports as nations work to meet their commitments to reducing Green House Gas emissions to address climate change.
-    Keeping farmers informed and activated in a strategy of unrelenting engagement.

Friday June 16 Ag News

Costco To Break Ground on $300M Poultry Processing Facility

On Monday, company executives, elected officials and project partners will celebrate the groundbreaking of Costco’s first-ever poultry processing plant, hatchery and feed mill, Lincoln Premium Poultry. A new endeavor to meet the needs of Costco as they start to build a network of producers in eastern Nebraska.

This event will take place at the construction Site in south Fremont, Nebraska. 

Ricketts Comments on WOTUS Rollback

Friday, Governor Pete Ricketts sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers commenting on the pending rollback of the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. 

“Our state remains concerned about the proposed expanded definition of WOTUS adopted in 2015, both because of its expansive reach and because of the difficulty in determining what water or land may be considered jurisdictional under the existing regulation.  That is why Nebraska joined with a majority of states to legally challenge that rule on both procedural and substantive fronts.  We continue to be committed to preserving our authority over our land and water resources,” wrote Governor Ricketts in the letter.


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Once your wheat is gone, how do you plan to use that ground after harvest?  With good moisture and lots of growing season left this year there are many forage possibilities.

               Wheat harvest soon will be here.  Afterwards, there will be lots of growing season remaining for producing more forage.

               For example, with good moisture an early maturing corn is one possibility for silage if you plant it thick.  A better dryland choice might be a high grain producing forage sorghum if chinch bugs and other insects are not a problem.  Sunflowers can be a surprisingly good choice for a short-season silage.  They survive light frost and yield well under many conditions.

               If hay is preferred, plant sorghum-sudan hybrids, teff, or pearl or foxtail millet when chinch bugs aren't a problem.  A hay crop exceeding two tons per acre can be grown easily if planted soon after harvest and rain is timely.  Another hay or silage alternative is solid-seeded soybeans.  A couple tons of good forage can be grown from taller, full season varieties planted after wheat.  Oats planted in early August is another option.  Yields over two tons are common when moisture is good, fertility high, and your hard freeze comes a little late.

               Definitely consider turnips, as well as oats, for fall pasture planted into wheat stubble in late July or early August.  With a few timely rains in August and September, both oats and turnips produce much high quality feed in a short time.  And, they are relatively inexpensive to plant.

               Don't automatically let your wheat ground sit idle the rest of the year, especially if you could use more forage.  When moisture is available, there are many forage options.  One might be right for you.

IPPA invites consumers to jump on 'Iowa Pork Tenderloin Trail'

The Iowa Pork Producers Association is set to launch the most delicious trail in Iowa by making it easier for consumers to find and enjoy some of the best tenderloins in the state.

IPPA has developed the "Iowa Pork Tenderloin Trail" that recognizes and promotes the juicy and delicious breaded pork tenderloin sandwiches available at 14 cafes, restaurants or pubs around the state. IPPA hand-selected these sandwiches and invited the establishments to participate in the trail. IPPA encourages all pork-loving connoisseurs to take on this journey.

"I hate to say we're copycats, but we were inspired by the popularity of so many other food trails and thought to ourselves: 'This is Iowa, the number one pork producing state in the country. It needs a pork trail!' and that's what we did," said Kelsey Sutter, IPPA marketing/program director.

To participate in the Iowa Pork Tenderloin Trail, consumers will need the official passport. It can be downloaded at or the Travel Iowa website at Passports also can be picked up at the IPPA office in Clive or at any of the restaurants along the trail.

Trail explorers will receive a stamp in their passport for each tenderloin they enjoy and when they've achieved 10 stamps, they will be awarded an "I Conquered the Iowa Tenderloin Trail" tee shirt from the Iowa Pork Producers Association. Additional details are available on the IPPA website.

"The pork tenderloin is very much a Midwest legend. It can be found on almost every small-town menu in Iowa, but is largely unheard of outside the Midwest," Sutter said. "The tenderloin trail celebrates the authenticity of the tenderloin sandwich, the local Iowa restaurants that prepare them with expertise, and the rich heritage of the Iowa pork industry."

The trail features some fun favorites, including Gov. Kim Reynolds' pick, the IPPA staff's favorite that is enjoyed often on Tenderloin Tuesdays, and the favorite of the "Pursuing Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches" Facebook group that has more than 14,000 members.

This delicious project is made possible by the devoted and passionate pig farmers around the state who are committed to producing safe, delicious and affordable pork.

"We hope this trail will continue to grow the connection between Iowa and delicious pork and encourage both citizens and travelers to explore new establishments across the state and indulge in an Iowa tenderloin," said Dave Struthers, chair of the IPPA Restaurant and Foodservice Committee.

 ASA Provides Input to USDA, FDA on Advances in Biotechnology

The American Soybean Association (ASA) submitted comments this week to both the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regarding regulations in response to advances in genetic engineering.

ASA included in comments to USDA, that biotechnology is an essential tool in farmers’ quest to produce enough food to meet the needs of 9.7 billion people by 2050, creating the need for a clear, science-based regulatory system in the U.S. as an example and standard for regulatory systems of biotechnology internationally.

While applauding USDA’s efforts to “reduce the burden on regulated entities,” ASA expressed concern that aspects of the rule as proposed will increase the regulatory burden and stifle research and innovation.

Additionally, ASA’s comments to FDA cheered USDA’s proposal to exclude certain genome-editing techniques from requiring pre-market approvals because they are low risk and could be found in nature or achieved through traditional breeding methods.

ASA concluded its support saying, “Technological advancements such as genome editing offer an additional tool to combat threats while also improving sustainability in production agriculture.”

 Perdue Names Leadership in Acting Roles as USDA Reorganization Takes Shape

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today named three individuals who will take on leadership roles as the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) continues the reorganization announced on May 11, 2017.  In accordance with a directive in the 2014 Farm Bill, USDA created a new Under Secretary of Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs as part of a realignment of several mission areas.  The reorganization also included a reconstituted mission area reporting to a newly-named Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation.  The U.S. Forest Service, given its size and importance, will be the only agency to report to the Under Secretary for National Resources and Environment.  For these three mission areas, Perdue has named Acting Deputy Under Secretaries, who will serve in their roles until the Senate confirms permanent presidentially-nominated appointees.

“Today we continue our progress of making USDA the most effective, the most efficient, and the best managed department in the U.S. government,” Perdue said.  “These three career USDA employees have already shown the leadership and expertise needed to deliver the highest quality service to our customers – the people of American agriculture.  I welcome them to the leadership team and I thank them for their dedication to agriculture.”

Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs

Jason Hafemeister, until now serving as the Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services, will now be Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs.  He has been involved in agricultural farm and trade policy for over 25 years, including almost 20 at USDA and with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.  Hafemeister’s responsibilities have included serving as the lead U.S. negotiator on agriculture in the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Doha Round negotiations, the Central America Free Trade Agreement, and China’s accession to the WTO.  He was instrumental in finalizing the recent agreement to allow the importing of U.S. beef to China.  Hafemeister received a bachelor’s degree from the University of California at Berkeley, a master’s degree from the University of California at San Diego, and a law degree from Georgetown University.

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

Farm Production and Conservation

Dr. Robert Johansson will serve as the Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation, while also concurrently remaining USDA’s Chief Economist, a position he has held since July 2015.  Since 2001, he has worked as an economist at USDA, in the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at the Office of Management and Budget, and at the Congressional Budget Office.  In 2011 he was appointed senior economist for energy, environment, and agriculture on the President’s Council of Economic Advisers where he also participated in the White House Rural Council and the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. Dr. Johansson served as Deputy Chief Economist at the USDA from 2012 to 2014.  He received B.A. in economics from Northwestern University and then served with the U.S. Peace Corps as an extension agent in several African countries from 1990 to 1995.  After returning to his home State of Minnesota, he entered the graduate program in Agricultural Economics at the University of Minnesota and received his M.S. in 1997 and Ph.D. in 2000. His research has spanned a wide range of issues, including biofuels policy, water quality and quantity policies, regulatory economics, food security, and regional modeling of agricultural systems.

The Farm Production and Conservation mission area will focus on domestic agricultural issues.  Locating the Farm Service Agency, the Risk Management Agency, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service under this domestically-oriented under secretary will provide a simplified one-stop shop for USDA’s primary customers, the men and women farming, ranching, and foresting across America.

Natural Resources and Environment

Dan Jiron will fill the role of Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment.  With more than 29 years of public service and natural resources management, Jiron was appointed Associate Chief of the Forest Service in July 2016.  Prior to this appointment, Jiron served in many leadership positions, including Regional Forester of the Rocky Mountain Region; Deputy Regional Forester in the Pacific Southwest Region; Forest Supervisor of the Santa Fe National Forest; District Ranger on the Salt Lake Ranger District of the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest; District Ranger on the South Park Ranger District of the Pike and San Isabel National Forest, Comanche, and Cimarron National Grasslands; Director of Communications and Legislative Affairs of the Intermountain Region, National Press Officer in Washington, D.C.; and aide to United States Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell of Colorado.  Jiron earned a bachelor’s degree from Colorado State University and a Master’s degree from Regis University of Denver.

Under the reorganization plan, the Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment will retain supervision of the U.S. Forest Service.

Rural Development

As previously announced, Perdue has named Anne Hazlett to lead the Rural Development agencies at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).  Hazlett, whose title will be Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development, will oversee the Rural Utilities Service, the Rural Business Service, and the Rural Housing Service.  She most recently served as Chief Counsel to the Majority on the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry.

Hazlett’s position represents an elevation of Rural Development, which had previously been in the portfolio of an under secretary, who in turn reported to the deputy secretary of agriculture.  Instead, Rural Development will now report directly to the Secretary of Agriculture.

U.S. Policy Reversal on Cuba Eliminates Opportunity for Family Farmers

During a speech today in Miami, Florida, President Donald Trump announced plans to roll back an Obama-era detente with Cuba, a move that will tighten export restrictions and create roadblocks in the distribution of goods, complicating agricultural trade with Cuba.

Trump said on Friday he was rolling back some of President Barack Obama's steps to liberalize relations with Cuba because they had not led to more liberal social policies and democracy there.

"We will very strongly restrict American dollars flowing to the military, security and intelligence services that are the core of Castro regime," Trump said.

"They will be restricted. We will enforce the ban on tourism. We will enforce the embargo. We will take concrete steps to ensure that investments flow directly to the people, so they can open private businesses and begin to build their country's great, great future -- a country of great potential."

But Trump did not move to close the U.S. embassy in Cuba or the Cuban embassy in Washington, and did not end direct commercial airline flights or cruise ship stops.

Highlighting the economic opportunity that open Cuban markets would provide for family farmers and ranchers, NFU President Roger Johnson issued the following statement:

“At a time when family farmers and ranchers are enduring a steep decline in net farm income, it is disheartening to see President Trump complicate an opportunity to expand U.S. agricultural markets. Today’s decision unfortunately sets us in a backwards trajectory, moving away from increasing market share in a country of 11 million people just 90 miles away from U.S. shores.

“NFU has been working for decades to break free from 50 years of failed policies that have created barriers to the Cuban market. We expected that the U.S. would finally tear down these self-imposed barriers when the Obama administration signaled the U.S. would work towards normalized relations with Cuba. Instead, it now seems the Trump administration is determined to look to the past instead of leading us into the future. We are very disappointed with this regressive approach.

“NFU will continue to work with congressional leadership to end the embargo and put in place fair trade relations with Cuba.”

Soy Growers Oppose Rollback of Cuba Normalization Policy

The American Soybean Association (ASA) opposes the executive order released late Friday from President Donald Trump that rolls back provisions to further open Cuba to American investment and trade put in place by his predecessor, Barack Obama. In a statement, ASA Vice President and Iowa farmer John Heisdorffer pointed to the lost potential for American soybean farmers in Cuba as the United States takes a step back in its effort to increase opportunities for trade with the island nation.

“Today’s action by the White House to roll back the progress made by the Obama Administration to open the Cuban marketplace to American investment is troubling. As the farm economy continues to lag, we should be increasing our opportunities, not limiting them.

“This decision has put in jeopardy the progress we’ve seen to date in Cuba, and stifles our future success in that market by limiting our ability to create normal business and trade relationships with importers in Cuba, just like we do with almost every other nation. These include normal banking, credit, and market development relationships.

“Soybeans lead the nation in agricultural trade because we’ve been successful in cultivating trade relationships with large markets and small markets alike. We export our soybeans, and the products that our soybeans go into, like meat and cooking oils and others. For us to continue developing and expanding upcoming markets like Cuba, we need a progressive attitude from the White House on trade, not a knee-jerk reaction to what a previous administration has done.

“We sincerely hope the White House will reconsider its course on Cuba, and we’re more than willing to sit down and explain what a more productive course might include.”

U.S. Grains Council Statement On Cuba Announcement

A statement from U.S. Grains Council (USGC) President and CEO Tom Sleight on changes to Cuba policy, announced Friday:

“The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) has worked in Cuba for nearly two decades to help capture grain demand and develop its livestock industry within the confines of U.S. policy. While the announcement today will make our efforts in Cuba more difficult – and almost certainly cost U.S. corn farmers sales in the short term – we have every intention of continuing our work there to build long-term, mutually-beneficial trade.

“In the first eight months of this marketing year, Cuba purchased more than 250,000 metric tons (9.8 million bushels) of corn from the United States, about 30 percent of their total demand. This shows both that Cubans want our product when its competitive to other origins and that we have significant room for growth given the right policy environment.

“The changes announced today are concerning because they could cut off these near-term sales while also stymieing the economic development that will drive long-term demand growth. Neither of those outcomes is favorable for the U.S. ag sector or the Cuban people, who do not have access to sufficient meat, milk and eggs.

“Cuba has historically been a 900,000 metric ton (35.4 million bushel) corn market; based on recent export sales, it would be our 11th largest customer if we could capture that demand. Free flow of grain to Cuba could also help us capture sales to the Dominican Republic and even Puerto Rico, an estimated $315 million in lost demand each year.

“In the past two years, our work in Cuba and with Cuban grain buyers has shown us that the only hindrance to progress there is U.S. policy. While we are concerned about the announcement today, we are steadfast in our support of the market and our Cuban customers.”

American Farm Bureau Cautions on Cuba

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall:

“We urge the administration to exercise caution in rolling out any new restrictions on doing business with Cuba that would limit our agricultural export opportunities. We should be doing more, not less, to encourage U.S. agricultural exports to Cuba. Our farmers and ranchers and the Cuban people would benefit from increased sales of high-quality, American-grown food and feed. The American Farm Bureau will continue to work with the administration and Congress to maintain and improve the conditions for agricultural trade with Cuba.

“Cuba is a $2 billion annual food-import market. Currently, because of some remaining restrictions, the United States sells about $200 million in agricultural products to Cuba, but that nation represents the kind of growth opportunity America’s farmers and ranchers need during this challenging economic period.

“Self-imposed trade restrictions have kept America’s farmers and ranchers from competing on a level playing field and have closed off one of our nearest ag export markets. Cuba has not purchased any rice or wheat from the U.S. in many years, instead buying from other countries around the world. As we cope with the biggest drop in farm prices in decades, we need to be opening up markets for American farm goods, not sending signals that might lead to less access.”

NCGA Statement on Changes to U.S.-Cuba Policy

The following is a statement from Texas farmer Wesley Spurlock, president of the National Corn Growers Association, in response to today’s announcement on U.S. policy toward Cuba.

“Cuba should be an easy market for U.S. corn farmers. Instead, that market has gone to our competitors—costing us an estimated $125 million in lost opportunity each year. If trade with Cuba were normalized, it would represent our 11th largest market for corn. Instead, we have just 11 percent market share in a country only 90 miles from our border. At a time when the farm economy is struggling, we ask our leaders in Washington not to close doors on market opportunities for American agriculture.”

U.S. Wheat Organizations See Hope in Growing Public Support for Cuban Trade

Even as President Trump announces changes to current travel and trade rules with Cuba, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) and the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) are hopeful that the increasing public and congressional support for more open trade will lead to an eventual end to the U.S. embargo.

“This is a political process and that means there are going to be steps forward and back,” said USW President Alan Tracy. “Our organizations support measures that move toward ending the embargo. Cuba is a significant wheat importing nation and our farmers can supply high-quality wheat at a lower cost than Cuba pays now to import European and Canadian wheat. Wheat is an important food grain that should be above politics, but the embargo will likely have to end before wheat farmers can help meet the increasing demand for agricultural products to help feed the Cuban people.”

“Wheat growers are facing significant economic hurdles and need more markets,” said David Schemm, a wheat farmer from Sharon Springs, KS, and NAWG President. “NAWG supports the effort to end the embargo on Cuba because it is what is best for our farmers. Farmers know that agricultural trade is a proven way to foster stronger and more productive ties with folks who live outside the United States.”

Ocean Freight Rates Continue to Fall

The ocean freight rate for shipping bulk grains from the U.S. Gulf to Japan was $36 per metric ton, a 3 percent drop over the past 2 weeks and 13 percent below the year-to-date peak of $40.50 per mt on April 20.

Shipping bulk grains from the Pacific Northwest to Japan was $18 per mt, down 5 percent over the past 2 weeks and 19 percent below the year-to-date peak of $22.25 per mt on April 13.

The bulk shipping market could not sustain the rally that occurred during the early part of the year, as excess vessel supply persists amid lagging demand for moving bulk materials, including grains.

NFU Supports Bill to Add USDA to Foreign Investment Committee

U.S. Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) today introduced a bill to add the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). The bill, known as the Foreign Investment and Economic Security Act of 2017, also directs CFIUS to consider U.S. food and agriculture systems when determining whether or not to approve foreign investment in U.S. companies.

National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson lauded the bill, citing the importance of maintaining food security for the sake of U.S. national security.

“Food security is vital to national security. As we’re seeing across the world, food shortages and disputes are leading to massive international crises. Without stability and certainty in our food systems, we can expect similar crises on our own soil.” said Johnson. “Consequently, global and domestic food security should be a primary consideration for those tasked with ensuring our national security.”

In a letter sent Wednesday to Rep. DeLauro, Johnson highlighted the risk of increased foreign investment in the U.S. agricultural sector, including the purchase of Smithfield Foods by Chinese firm Shuanghui International Holdings, Ltd., the acquisition of Syngenta AG by Chinese-government owned group ChemChina, and the proposed acquisition of Monsanto by German company Bayer AG.

“Given the changing environment due to an increasing global population and a rapidly changing climate, the role of CFIUS must reflect new concerns about national security,” noted Johnson. “NFU is pleased Rep. DeLauro is calling for increased consideration of food security, and we call on Congress to adopt this commonsense legislation.”

NFU Condemns Trump Administration Approval of Dow-DuPont

Perpetuating the disturbing consolidation trend in the agriculture sector, the U.S. Department of Justice today approved the $142 billion merger of Dow Chemical Co. and DuPont Co. The deal will create the largest agriculture biotechnology and seed firm in the United States.

Condemning the move as a continuance of failed national economic policy, National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson released the following statement:

“Clearly, the Trump Administration is content allowing our country’s consolidation complex to continue. This is deeply disappointing, as it is this consolidation complex that has allowed for money and power to be drained from family farm operations and rural communities. What’s resulted is lost jobs, lowered wages, inflated costs, decreased economic opportunity, depleted resources and services, depopulation, and an inability for those that remain in rural America to decide their economic future.

“The combination of Dow and DuPont, coupled with other pending mergers, leaves family farmers with less competition and choice in the seed and agrichemical sectors. This drives up costs for farmers’ inputs, and it reduces the incentive for the remaining agricultural input giants to compete and innovate through research and development.

“Dow and DuPont produce essential, high quality seeds and products that farmers need. While we condemn the administration’s decision to allow the merger, we set our sights on ensuring the resulting seed and biotech firm keeps the promises made by Dow and DuPont to American family farmers and ranchers. This includes delivering localized solutions in seed and crop chemical innovation, increasing the productivity of American farmers and, most importantly, ensuring their profitability.”


The Chinese Ministry of Agriculture recently granted approval for the import and food/feed use of Monsanto’s MON 87705 soybean. This approval is for a key component of Monsanto’s Vistive® Gold soybeans that produce a low-saturate, high-oleic soybean oil. With this approval, Monsanto will now begin commercial preparation for the full-scale launch of Vistive Gold soybeans in 2018.

Vistive Gold soybeans contain the low-saturate, high-oleic trait which will enable food companies to produce foods with lower saturated fat levels and low levels of trans fat as compared to other cooking oils.

Vistive Gold soybean oil has enhanced storage and processing stability, and an improved nutritional profile and food functionality. Vistive Gold soybeans were developed with input from leading food companies over the last decade and can benefit consumers as well as farmers.

“Oil produced with Vistive Gold soybeans is a beneficial cooking oil,” said Lisa Streck, Monsanto’s soybean launch lead. “It can be used cost effectively as a cooking oil that is low in saturated fat with zero grams trans fat per serving. Vistive Gold soybean oil also delivers the same great taste and texture that people expect from cooking oils, as well as shelf life that is equal to, or better than, traditional oils.”

Vistive Gold soybeans represent one of the first crops developed through the combination of biotechnology and traditional breeding that enable farmers to help food companies bring an improved cooking oil to consumers. The soybeans will be built upon the proven performance of Genuity® Roundup Ready 2 Yield® soybeans, giving farmers a strong yield opportunity and may provide the ability to earn a premium for the nutritionally improved oil.

“Vistive Gold soybeans is a unique product that we’ve been working to bring to market,” Streck adds. “We continue to establish partnerships with processors and are preparing for commercial launch in 2018.”

Thursday June 15 Ag News

Rural Mainstreet Stuck at Growth Neutral
Bank CEOs Expect Another 3 Percent Decline in Farmland Prices

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

Overall: The index, which ranges between 0 and 100, dipped to 50.0 from 50.1 in May. Prior to May, the last time the overall index was at or above growth neutral was August 2015.

“Stabilizing and slightly improving farm commodity prices helped push the overall index at or above growth neutral for the last two months,” said Ernie Goss, Jack A. MacAllister Chair in Regional Economics at Creighton University's Heider College of Business. “Though grain prices remain below breakeven for most farmers, recent improvements in cattle and hog prices have boosted the overall index for Rural Mainstreet Economy to growth neutral.”

Farming and ranching: The farmland and ranchland-price index for June rose to 40.0, its highest level since September of last year, and up from May’s 36.4. This is the 43rd straight month the index has languished below growth neutral 50.0.

This month, and in August 2016, bank CEOs were asked to project the change in farmland prices for the next year. On average, bankers this month projected a 3.1 percent decline in agriculture over the next 12 months. This is a significant improvement from August when bankers expected a decline of 7 percent for the next 12 months. 

The June farm equipment-sales index fell to 26.2 from 26.8 in May. This marks the 46th consecutive month the reading has fallen below growth neutral 50.0.

Below are the state reports:

Nebraska: The Nebraska RMI for June climbed to 51.4 from May’s 50.5. The state’s farmland-price index rose to 40.9 from 36.7 in May. Nebraska’s new-hiring index expanded to 67.4 from 66.4 in May. As reported by one Nebraska bank CEO, “Dryness and heat are starting to have an effect on crops in Northeast Nebraska.”

Iowa: The June RMI for Iowa climbed to 50.5 from 49.4 in May. Iowa’s farmland-price index for June rose to 40.5 from 34.9 in May. Iowa’s new-hiring index for June jumped to 64.3 from May’s 60.8. James Brown, CEO James Brown, CEO of Hardin County Savings Bank in Eldora, indicated, “Cattle profits are definitely a bright spot at the moment. Just not very many cattle feeders anymore.”

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.

 Husker Ag Recognized for Ethanol Direct Marketing

Since 2012, Husker Ag in Plainview, Nebraska, has contributed more than $250,000 to Nebraska’s fuel infrastructure by funding higher-blend ethanol pumps at stations across the state.

“The goal is not just to produce ethanol, but to give every Nebraskan the opportunity to use it,” said Seth Harder, Husker Ag general manager. “We truly believe that ethanol is the best option for our state, farmers, consumers and our nation going forward.”

In 2011, Harder recommended that Husker Ag be proactive as a company, and work to move higher than 10 percent ethanol in fuel. The board of directors agreed.

This enthusiastic effort to offer Nebraskans more choice at the pump resulted in 11 stations across northeastern Nebraska and Yankton, South Dakota, with pumps that could dispense a range between E15 and E85 fuel, including E20 and E30. E15 (15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline) is approved for use in all vehicles 2001 or newer, while flex fuel vehicles can run on any blend of fuel up to E85 (85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline).

“Recently, we funded new pumps in Yankton, South Dakota, and Pilger, Nebraska,” Harder said. “We are currently evaluating a few locations in northeast Nebraska, and will continue to look for prospects in the area. Generally, we choose non-branded parties that want to differentiate their product line to compete with chains.”

In addition to Yankton and Pilger, Husker Ag contributed funds for flex fuel pumps in Creighton, Crofton, Hartington, Norfolk, Osmond, Pierce (2), Plainview and Valentine.

“Speedee Mart in Norfolk stands out as a major success,” Harder said. “The volume sold for the size of that town is exceptional. Installing flex fuel pumps benefits both the business and the customer. For the station, it gives them an in-demand product that might not be available elsewhere. For the consumer, it gives them another option that costs less and is better for the environment.”

Husker Ag’s endeavor to expand ethanol’s availability does not end with funding new pumps. Frequently, the company provides discounted ethanol for fuel promotions across the state.

“We pass our ethanol savings onto retail locations so they can offer a great price to the consumer,” Harder said. “We sell the discounted ethanol for specific promotion days or grand openings, which gives us a chance to interact with drivers.”

The Nebraska Ethanol Board (NEB) recently recognized Harder for his leadership at Husker Ag and the company’s success with fuel retailers. NEB Administrator Todd Sneller believes Husker Ag is a leader for the state’s ethanol industry.

“Nebraska looks to companies that go above and beyond to show what’s possible for the future of ethanol,” Sneller said. “Husker Ag continues to push forward with higher-blends that benefit our economy and environment.”

Harder will speak about his direct marketing experience at the American Coalition for Ethanol Conference in Omaha Aug. 15-17. He will present on how ethanol producers and fuel marketers improve the availability of competitively-priced ethanol through direct marketing.

“I encourage everyone in the industry to do what they can to help this industry succeed,” Harder added. “We all need to be involved to move past the mythical blend wall. The demand for ethanol is there, so we need to make sure we do everything we can to meet it.”

Nebraska Farm Bureau Says Stay the Course on NAFTA

Nebraska Farm Bureau (NEFB) President, Steve Nelson, urged the U.S. Trade Representative’s office to focus on maintaining the growth in agricultural trade with Canada and Mexico as the Trump administration begins the process of renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) later this year. Nebraska Farm Bureau submitted comments asking the Trump administration to remember that commodity by commodity, it’s hard to understate the value of NAFTA to Nebraska and Nebraska farm and ranch families.

“In 2016, Nebraska exported over $2.4 billion worth of products to Canada and Mexico with agricultural products making up $1.5 billion of that total. Mexico alone is Nebraska’s second largest trading partner with Nebraska farmers and ranchers exporting $1.3 billion worth of agricultural products which supports nearly 1,200 jobs,” Nebraska Farm Bureau President, Steve Nelson said June 15.

Nebraska is a very diverse state agriculturally and NEFB members produce an array of agricultural products. From sugar beets and dry edible beans in the Panhandle, cattle in the Sandhills, to corn, soybeans, wheat, hogs, and even fruit and vegetables; all help make Nebraska an important world leader in food, fiber, and fuel production.

“Most of the success that Nebraska farmers and ranchers have experienced trading on the world stage, has largely been due to the free trade agreements the United States has signed with numerous countries around the world. In 2015, exports to countries with free trade agreements (FTA) accounted for 53 percent of Nebraska exports (NAFTA; Korea; Australia; CAFTA; & Israel),” he said. “From 2005-15, exports from Nebraska to free trade agreement markets grew 104 percent, with growth in NAFTA trade far outpacing that with other FTA countries,” Nelson said.

While the agricultural sector has seen substantial benefit from NAFTA, there are some individual American commodities that have faced challenges such as tomatoes, other fruits and vegetables, and sugar with Mexico. There are also challenges for dairy, specialty and row crops, lumber, wine, and other with Canada.

“Despite the clear and numerous benefits, there are reasons to update and reform NAFTA from agriculture’s perspective. Some improvements include reducing redundant regulatory costs, expediting transit across borders, and hastening the resolution of disputes between members that would go a long way toward establishing more efficient trade between NAFTA partners,” Nelson said.

Another good example for a needed update would include the rules related to biotechnology, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, and geographic indicators. These areas are ripe for amendment to reflect the progress that has been made over the decades since NAFTA was first implemented.

“We also believe negotiations should address how U.S. agricultural exports to Canada would grow if tariff barriers to dairy, poultry, and eggs were reduced or eliminated. Many of these issues were addressed in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), the language of which could be used as the basis for the changes needed in some of these areas,” Nelson said.

Negotiations will begin no earlier than August 16 and the USTR will post a notice requesting public input on content for negotiations.

Wellman Calls on Congress to Address Ag Research in Farm Bill

In testimony before the Senate Agriculture Committee today, former American Soybean Association President and Nebraska farmer Steve Wellman called on Congress to renew American leadership in agricultural science, including full funding for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), the flagship competitive grants program at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Wellman, who testified on behalf of the Supporters of Agricultural Research Foundation (SoAR), reiterated to the committee that sufficient federal investment is essential if the United States is to continue to be a global leader in agriculture, and noted that the ancestry of virtually every topic discussed in the Farm Bill can be traced to research.

“Traditionally, we have thought of agriculture science in terms of improving yields, preventing soil erosion, and adapting crops to a variety of growing conditions. Today, agriculture stands to realize significant gains through interdisciplinary research across numerous scientific fields, including data science, nanotechnology, biotechnology, biologicals and genomics,” said Wellman. “To capitalize on these relatively modern fields of science we need to ensure we have a modern federal research enterprise.”

Wellman pointed to the current lack of sufficient funding for research initiatives including AFRI, despite authorizations to fund these programs in the nation’s farm legislation, and compared funding for agricultural research to other areas within the government. “The 2008 Farm Bill authorized AFRI at $700 million dollars annually, yet today funding has reached only the halfway point of that level,” he said. “As a percentage of total federal research investment, USDA has fallen to less than three percent of the annual federal investment. Put another way, research funding for other federal agencies is nearly $60 billion dollars. Research funding at the USDA Research mission area tops out at just over $2 billion, which is an amount that has remained virtually unchanged for decades.”

Wellman spoke of the specific application of agricultural research on his operation in Southeast Nebraska, where he raises soybeans, corn, alfalfa, winter wheat and a cow-calf herd. “With the data and analytics available for purchase today, I can manage my input costs more effectively and affordably. Farmers today can receive a field script prescribing which varieties to plant, at what time on which field and more precisely measure the right type of inputs to apply to fields to maximize yields. All made possible with science,” he said. “We can always use more science to improve growing season forecasts, produce hardier plants, and examine how to manage too much water or not enough.”

Wellman closed by underscoring that while the U.S. may neglect to adequately fund research, our competitors do not. “China, Brazil and, increasingly, Europe are investing at a double-digit pace. China now spends more on government agriculture research and development than the U.S. and funding rates for agriculture research grant proposals in many EU countries are nearing 40 percent,” he said.

In tight markets, meeting series helps producers maximize profitability

Most soybean farmers will quickly tell you that low grain prices equate to slim margins and a tight ag economy. Fortunately, most risk management professionals will also tell you that a structured and sound marketing approach can help Iowa farmers weather the tough times.

And they’re here to help.

The Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) is teaming up with Commodity Risk Management Group (CRMG) and AgWest Commodities to present “Planning for Profitability,” a producer-focused meeting series to outline strategies for minimizing risk and maximizing profit as farmers lay out their marketing plan.

"There has been no shortage of challenges in raising the 2017 crop,” said Mike North, founder and president of CRMG. “While this has been frustrating to say the least, markets remain the greater struggle. Producers are faced with limited working capital, strained cash flows, and very little hope in the current markets. While there has been much focus on price in recent years, there are several overlooked opportunities when marketing grain.”

Attendees to one of the nine meetings will explore current markets and prices, and receive tips on ways to capitalize on profitability opportunities through different scenarios. Meeting dates and locations are as follows:
    Wednesday, June 21 at IntelliFarms Iowa office (Marshalltown)
    Thursday, July 6 at Wells Blue Bunny (Le Mars)
    Friday, July 7 at Randy Toenjes farm (Monticello)
    Monday, July 10 at Iowa's Dairy Center (Calmar)
    Friday, July 14 at Rueter Red Power (Carroll)
    Monday, July 17 at Mediapolis City Hall (Mediapolis)
    Tuesday, July 18 at Latham Hi-Tech Seeds (Alexander)
    Wednesday, July 19 at CB&Q Freight House (Chariton)
    Thursday, July 20 at AgriVision Equipment (Red Oak)

“It is easy to market well during cycle upswings but when bottoms are being formed, it can be both challenging and dangerous,” said Steve Knuth, founder & CEO of AgWest Commodities. “A structured and well-defined approach to marketing has never been more important.

“Whether you’re looking for a time-tested, producer-proven marketing plan — or just need a few ideas to improve your current approach — we’ll be presenting valuable information that you can take away and immediately apply to your business model.”

All meetings take place from 11 a.m. – noon, followed by a free lunch. Attendees will receive a complimentary $10 Casey’s gift card and will be entered to win a Carhartt jacket in a grand prize drawing upon completion of the meeting series. More details and RSVP information available online at or by calling Heather Lilienthal at 515-334-1016.

Water Quality Meeting Investigates Next Wave of Sustainability Initiatives

Farmers' continuous commitment to adopting more sustainable agricultural practices is reaping significant benefits such as healthier soil and cleaner water. But, despite these successes, there is more work ahead to juggle the science and economic factors that must be blended and balanced as the speed of change increases.

Finding the best path and striking that balance is the central theme of a water quality and ag nutrient meeting being held in Bloomington, Illinois this week. The meeting brings together National Corn Growers Association staff and state corn staff representing Illinois, Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska and Ohio.

The nuts and bolts portion of the meeting covered topics such as: assessing current water quality initiatives; costs and benefits of current practices; educating key thought leaders and the public; and farm bill proposals.

One reoccurring theme was finding ways to keep farmers focused and motivated to continue making these positive changes in the current weak agricultural economy. Farmers are facing tough economic times with many corn farmers, specifically, facing corn prices below the cost of production for the last four growing seasons.

During the meeting, participants agreed upon the importance of: showcasing success stories of farmers pioneering new techniques; expanding and promoting outside cost sharing incentives; working with all available partners with common goals; and documenting the positive changes in detail for government regulatory bodies.

Suzy Friedman, the Environmental Defense Fund senior director of agricultural sustainability, reinforced the group's thinking that there is a growing list of tools available to help farmers achieve their goals but more data is needed. The good news is this too is changing in part because of emerging partnerships. EDF is having great success expanding their network which includes organizations like NCGA, Field to Market, Ag Retailers Association, the American Society of Agronomists and the Soil Health Partnership.

U.S. Pork Industry Expanding in Response to Rising Global Demand and Strong Profitability

Strong profitability and rising global demand create a strong incentive for U.S. pork processors to expand capacity. The impending increase in demand for hog supplies will create favorable terms for producers, while intensified competition among processors could lead to a short-term compression in packer margins, according to a new report from CoBank.

“U.S. pork packing capacity will increase eight to ten percent by mid-2019, when five processing facility construction projects are complete and fully operational,” said Trevor Amen, an economist with CoBank who specializes in animal protein. “Hog production is expected to increase two to four percent in both 2017 and 2018 to meet the demand for more supplies, with the bulk of the increased production coming from small to mid-size pork producers in the Midwest.”

Three new state-of-the-art pork processing facilities with the capacity to process more than 10,000 hogs per day are currently under construction. Two of the facilities are being built in Iowa and one in Michigan. Two smaller plants with daily capacities of less than 5,000 head are being renovated in Missouri and Minnesota.

“As each of the new projects comes online, hog supplies will adjust upward,” said Amen. “Transitional market conditions such as these typically come with increased price volatility over the short term, and bargaining leverage will shift in favor of producers as the expansion of hog supplies catches up with processing capacity.”

However, lean hog prices may soften until a new market equilibrium is established and an increase in exports fills the demand gap, added Amen.
Exports Will Play a Critical Role

The success of this substantial increase in processing capacity and hog production hinges largely on continued global demand for U.S. pork. While exports in 2017 are up 15 percent through April, total annual exports for the year are expected to increase five to eight percent, with an additional increase of three to six percent in 2018. Exports have been a boon to the industry, but the potential risk of export disruption carries severe consequences.

“Continued global demand for U.S. pork will be a critical factor as the market adjusts over the next two years,” said Amen. “Domestic consumer demand has been very strong and we expect that to continue. However, prospects for a further boost in domestic demand are limited. Therefore, export markets will have to absorb the production increases.” U.S. producer access to foreign markets will be critical to preventing a domestic supply glut as well as deterioration in margins for both producers and processors.
Processing Facility Upgrades to Continue

To remain competitive, processors must continuously upgrade or replace existing facilities to implement new technology, including automation and mechanisms that ensure compliance with stricter food safety standards.

“Historically, initial losses in new or expanded plants are inevitable and packer margins are typically narrower than pre-expansion” said Amen. “But margins improve and normalize following the transition period and processors are better positioned with efficiency gains and an improved ability to customize production.”

Longer term pressure could persist for older plants as aging technology inhibits efficiency gains. Eventually, the cycle of replacing older infrastructure will reach its next phase and new investments take the place of retired capacity.

A brief video synopsis of the report, “New Processing Capacity Shakes Up the Hog Industry” is available on the CoBank YouTube Channel.

Perdue Hosts Inaugural Rural Prosperity Task Force Meeting

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today hosted the inaugural meeting of the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity. Joined by Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission Ajit Pai, and other government officials, the group discussed their joint vision to develop a streamlined method of interagency cooperation to achieve a broad range of goals. The Task Force is working to improve quality of life for people living in rural areas, develop a reliable workforce, spur innovation and technology development, and roll back regulations to allow communities to grow and thrive. By directly engaging stakeholders to develop an action plan for legislative reforms and regulatory relief, the Task Force is expected to accomplish a great deal for rural Americans. Following the meeting, Secretary Perdue issued this statement:

“What we began here today is to lay a fertile seed bed in rural America, where good things can grow. Rural America has been struggling under burdensome regulations, but the leaders we gathered today are willing to work together to turn that around. By establishing this task force, President Trump showed his commitment to prioritizing the prosperity of the farmers and ranchers of America's heartland, as well as all citizens living in rural communities across this great country. Guided by the President at the helm, and with Secretaries Carson and Perry, Director Mulvaney, Trade Representative Lighthizer, and so many others, we are telling rural America that we’re here, we’re listening, and we’re going to help provide you with the resources, tools, and support to build robust, sustainable communities for generations to come,” Secretary Perdue said.

Agreement Creates Increased Access to Chinese Market for U.S. Dairy Exporters

The United States and China signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Thursday that will increase access to China for more than 200 U.S. dairy exporters in the short-term and paves the way for additional U.S. entrants in the future. The action creates new, sizeable opportunities for dairy farmers and processors, and the milk, cheese, infant formula and ingredients they produce.

After more than two years of extensive effort by the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC), in close cooperation with the National Milk Producers Federation’s policy staff, the U.S. and Chinese governments have reached an accord on dairy trade assurances that will allow more exports from the United States. The dairy organizations worked closely with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Certification and Accreditation Administration of the People’s Republic of China (CNCA) to implement a workable registration process allowing for trade to continue and even expand in the future.

The MOU formally outlines a process in which third-party certification bodies, on FDA’s behalf, will audit U.S. dairy facilities to make sure they comply with Chinese food safety requirements. There was never a question of U.S. product safety. It was more a question of compliance with regulations between two countries with rigid regulatory systems.

“This deal marks a significant opportunity for the U.S. dairy industry,” said Tom Vilsack, president and CEO of USDEC. “China is already the world’s largest dairy importer, even though per capita consumption remains far below that of the United States, Europe and even its Asian neighbors like Japan and South Korea. The potential to increase exports there is tremendous.”

“This is a great example of successful teamwork, both between NMPF and USDEC, as well as between our two dairy organizations and the U.S. government. The opportunity to increase our sales to China will improve the economic situation for U.S. dairy farmers and support tens of thousands of jobs in the industry that extend beyond the farm,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation, which collaborates with USDEC on a variety of trade issues.

The journey to formulate the memorandum of understanding was arduous. It involved more than 20 face-to-face meetings with CNCA and countless phone calls and emails with the FDA and USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service and Agricultural Marketing Service. USDEC market access and trade policy staff coordinated two systems audits of U.S. facilities by Chinese inspectors. Those audits demonstrated the strength and effectiveness of U.S. production standards and FDA regulatory oversight.

“We built relationships and learned how to work closely together to get results,” said USDEC Chief Operating Officer Matt McKnight. “The two governments did what they should do in a partnership: find a solution that suits both their needs. Sometimes that is not a quick fix. Creating a system that stands the test of time requires time.”

The United States shipped $384 million worth of dairy products to China in 2016, making it the industry’s No. 3 single-country export market, behind Mexico and Canada. With Chinese demand for imported milk and other dairy products increasing, the potential for job-creating U.S. exports has been high. But market access has been a challenge.

In May 2014, the Chinese government implemented Decree 145, a new food safety regulation spanning multiple food categories. The decree mandated that a nation must register and certify dairy facilities that want to ship to China and meet Chinese food safety standards.

Attesting to another country’s food safety standards presented FDA with a challenge.

FDA and USDA worked with the Chinese government to mitigate damage to the U.S. dairy industry. CNCA and FDA needed to find a solution. Until that happened, no new U.S. dairy plants could be added to China’s list, effectively putting companies in a state of limbo, until today’s agreement. The MOU provides the needed long-term solution.

Before U.S. companies can begin shipping, their plant must officially be listed as registered on the CNCA website. That is expected to happen soon.

“We have learned a great deal through this long and difficult process and want to work with everyone involved to streamline it in the future,” said Jaime Castaneda, USDEC senior vice president, trade policy. “We would like to thank CNCA, FDA and USDA and all the parties who worked tirelessly on behalf of U.S. exporters to secure a path forward to register facilities interested in exporting to China.”

Registration Open For July USGC Board Of Delegates Meeting

Registration is open for the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) 57th Annual Board of Delegates meeting, scheduled for Vancouver, Washington, from July 31 to Aug. 2.

“Our program at this meeting will help you learn about the critical issues impacting our ability to increase export markets and respond to growing demand for U.S. coarse grains and co-products,” said Chip Councell, USGC chairman and farmer from Maryland, in a letter inviting delegates to the meeting.

“We will take a deep dive into several current hot topics – ethanol exports, China’s growing influence on the markets and growing opportunities in existing markets like Mexico and future markets in Frontier Asia. We will also go back to basics and review some of the fundamental arguments for trade.”

The Council’s Advisory Teams (A-teams) will also meet to review USGC’s progress toward the implementation of the 2017 Unified Export Strategy (UES). During a business meeting at the conference, USGC delegates will adopt next year’s budget and elect new officers and board members.

More information on the agenda, tours, hotel reservations and registration is available at

Chinese Import Approval of Enlist™ Corn Trait Makes Way for New Wave of Mycogen® Brand Corn Hybrids

Mycogen Seeds is excited to deliver for the 2018 growing season a new wave of high-yielding corn and silage hybrids with the Enlist™ corn trait. These new Mycogen® brand hybrids are tolerant to Enlist Duo® herbicide, which can be an integral part of an effective weed control program.

The Ministry of Agriculture of the People’s Republic of China approved the import of grain produced from corn containing the Enlist trait. This approval opens the door to a key export market for U.S. farmers.

“The launch of the Enlist corn trait provides U.S. farmers access to new high-yielding Mycogen brand corn genetics that provides them real value on their farms,” says Damon Palmer, Mycogen Seeds general manager. “That means higher yield potential and the ability for farmers to protect their investment with a more effective and cost-efficient weed control system. We are excited to be the first national seed company to deliver these options to farmers for 2018 planting.”

To help manage hard-to-control and herbicide-resistant weeds, the Enlist trait gives corn hybrids tolerance to Enlist Duo herbicide — a combination of new 2,4-D choline and glyphosate — as well as FOP herbicides. Enlist Duo, registered for use in 34 states, features Colex-D® technology, which provides near-zero volatility, minimized potential for physical drift, low odor and improved handling characteristics.

New hybrids with the latest trait technology

Mycogen is excited to announce its new lineup of corn and silage hybrids later this summer. The portfolio will include hybrids with the Enlist corn trait stacked with PowerCore® or SmartStax® trait technology for industry-leading insect protection.

“We strive to always help farmers find new opportunities to be better acre after acre,” Palmer says. “Our Mycogen brand hybrids feature strong agronomic characteristics that now will be coupled with the Enlist corn trait to enable exceptional weed control and herbicide application flexibility to enhance our existing cutting-edge corn portfolio.”

Farmers understand the value of planting elite genetics and protecting those genetics with superior weed and insect control.

“Mycogen isn’t a follower like other seed companies,” says Brian Birkel, a Nebraska farmer. “Dow AgroSciences and Mycogen, to me, are innovators. That’s probably the biggest reason we plant Mycogen on my farm.”

Wednesday June 14 Ag News

Gov. Ricketts, Ag Director Join Greater Omaha Packing to Load First Beef Shipment to China

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts and Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) Director Greg Ibach joined Greater Omaha Packing (GOP) President Henry Davis to load the first box of beef from Nebraska destined for China.

“Nebraska is the country’s top beef processor as well as beef exporter, and China is the second largest importer of beef in the world,” said Governor Ricketts.  “From the beginning, my administration focused trade efforts on China to position Nebraska beef to be able to capture significant sales as soon as the market opened.”

Over the last two years, Governor Ricketts has strongly advocated to reopen China to American beef.  In 2016, the Governor led a trade mission to China to share the story of Nebraska beef with potential customers in anticipation of the market re-opening.

In 2015, the Governor visited Beijing to urge the Chinese government to reopen the Chinese market to American beef.

Last year, he visited with then candidate Donald J. Trump about the importance of the Chinese beef market to Nebraska.  The President subsequently pledged to make reopening the market a priority for his administration.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for Nebraska and we are excited to continue the work we started years ago to develop and strengthen relationships with China,” said NDA Director Greg Ibach.  “When people around the world think about high quality, delicious beef, they think Nebraska, and we are now pleased to be able to offer those Nebraska beef products to China.”

Final details concerning export requirements to resume beef shipments to China were released Monday.  Among the requirements, U.S. producers must track the birthplace of cattle born in the United States that are destined for export to China.  Many Nebraska producers already do this.

“Chinese officials toured our company’s Omaha plant last fall to learn about our high international animal health and food safety standards and traceability and labeling protocols,” said GOP President Henry Davis.  “We’re excited to be shipping beef to China for the first time in 14 years.”

“Thank you to the countless federal, state, and industry partners who worked together to make this a reality,” said Governor Ricketts.  “Our recent trade missions to China and the efforts of Ag Director Ibach, Economic Development Director Dentlinger and their teams helped lay the groundwork for this success.  Access to the Chinese market allows Nebraska farmers and ranchers to sell our quality beef to 1.4 billion new customers, and this will help to grow our state for years to come.”

Beef exports will greatly complement Nebraska’s current successes in the Chinese marketplaces with soybeans, distiller’s products, and pork.  NDA and the Nebraska Department of Economic Development will work to identify future promotional opportunities in a continued partnership with Nebraska’s beef community in an effort to increase the sales of Nebraska beef specifically in China. 

Since 2005, Nebraska’s share of the international U.S. beef sales have increased from 3.6 percent to more than 18 percent, and Nebraska’s market share in Europe has increased from 5 percent to nearly 50 percent of total sales.

Statement by Steve Nelson, President, Regarding Nebraska Shipment of Beef to China

“The fact that beef from Nebraska is being shipped to China today is great news for Nebraska’s farm and ranch families. China presents a tremendous market opportunity for Nebraska beef. As a top beef producer, Nebraska has much to gain from a market estimated to be worth $2.6 billion. While Farm Bureau’s primary focus continues to be securing full access for American and Nebraska beef into China, today is an important first step to making that a reality.”

“The development of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture’s Certified Beef from Nebraska Program and other age and source verified programs are important to allowing Nebraska farmers and ranchers the ability to grow the presence of Nebraska beef into this critical market.”


When the American Society of Animal Science presents awards at its July 9 annual meeting in Baltimore, those in attendance can expect to hear the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s name announced frequently.

Five Nebraska faculty and administrators have earned national ASAS awards – including Chancellor Ronnie Green, who has been selected to receive the national association’s highest and most prestigious honor.

ASAS is the leading international scientific society supporting the careers of scientists and animal producers around the world. It fosters the discovery, sharing and application of scientific knowledge concerning the responsible use of animals to enhance human life and well-being and is the publisher of the world-leading Journal of Animal Science. Founded in 1908, ASAS has more than 6,000 members around the globe.

Green, an animal geneticist who became the university’s top administrator in 2016, will be honored with the Morrison Award. The honor is bestowed to an individual who has excelled in research of direct and international importance to livestock production. The association awards the Morrison Award to recognize important scientific contributions or discoveries in research revolving around animal science.

Green, who is widely published in the field of animal genetics, is an ASAS fellow and served the organization as president in 2010-11.

“I am truly humbled to be receiving this honor from the American Society of Animal Science, a society of tremendous minds throughout the world working for the advancement of animal science across disciplines,” Green said. “I will cherish this award and receive it on behalf of many colleagues, students and livestock producers who have been a part of this journey.”

Each of the ASAS awards honor research excellence and are recognized by the National Research Council as prestigious. Other 2017 award winners at Nebraska are:

> Archie Clutter, dean of the Agricultural Research Division, will receive the Rockefeller Prentice Memorial Award in Animal Breeding and Genetics. The award recognizes research excellence in breeding and genetics with any class of large or small animals.

> Andrea Cupp, Omtvedt professor of animal science, will receive the Animal Physiology and Endocrinology Award. The research upon which the award is based is basic or applied research in physiology and endocrinology with all classes of large and small animals and published in the 10 years immediately preceding the award.

> Rick Funston, Nebraska Cow-Calf professor in animal science, will receive the Animal Management Award. The research upon which the award is based is basic or applied research in animal behavior, environmental science, economics or other biological or production management and published in the last 10 years immediately preceding the award.

> Lisa Karr, associate professor of animal science, will receive the Corbin Companion Animal Biology Award. The award is presented to animal scientists who have made great scientific contributions by teaching, research or service to companion animal nutrition or biology for a minimum of five years.

Deb Hamernik, Nebraska’s interim associate vice chancellor for research, is the association’s current president and will present the awards.


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               How are your pastures looking?  Grass got way ahead of many of us so change your grazing strategy to try and use it effectively.

               A big pasture management challenge is keeping grass from heading out, becoming less palatable and low quality.  This spring that wasn’t easy to do.  So now you might change how you graze the rest of the year.

               Normally cows might graze a paddock for two to ten days, then move to a fresh paddock.  If you do that now with all the headed out grass, they’d just strip some leaves, trample a lot of forage, and leave most of the stems standing.  They’d probably end up eating less than one-fourth of the potential forage available.

               So maybe you should pressure them into eating more of the plants by limiting how much choice they have.  Instead of giving them the entire paddock to graze for several days, use electric fence to limit them to very tiny areas at a time.

               How tiny you ask?  Well, one possible initial goal would be to put the equivalent of about 250,000 pounds of cattle on just one acre.  That equals about 150 to 200 cow-calf pairs per acre.  Obviously, it won’t take them long to finish off that small area, so expect to give them a fresh strip about three times a day.  With that high density of animals, they might eat over half of the forage compared to the one-fourth they would eat otherwise.

               Getting water to the animals can be a challenge so I suggest letting them walk back to water over previously grazed strips for a couple days before changing water locations.  It will take a little adjustment to get just the right size and water placement but after a couple days it should go smoothly.

               If all goes well, you’ll get more cow-days of grazing with less waste.


Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today said that 10 farmers and ag industry leaders from Australia, Brazil, England, Ireland, the Netherlands and New Zealand will be visiting Iowa June 16 to 22.  The group is visiting Iowa with Nuffield International, an international nonprofit organization that focuses on developing people to make a difference in the world of agriculture.

“I am excited to welcome this group of international leaders to Iowa and showcase our state.  Iowa has dynamic leaders in agricultural production, research, business and many other fields and this is an opportunity to highlight some of the leaders, businesses and organizations that play such an important role in agriculture in Iowa and internationally,” Northey said.

During their time in Iowa the group will visit Iowa and national ag organizations, ag businesses, the World Food Prize, Iowa State University and tour a number of farms.  Ed Kee, Delaware’s former Secretary of Agriculture and President of the Nuffield American group, is leading the tour.

Nuffield International includes organizations around the world, including Australia, Canada, France, Ireland, Netherlands, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Zimbabwe and associate countries Brazil and United States of America. It also has a close affiliation with the Eisenhower Fellowship in the United States. Nuffield International provides general guidance and support to these member countries which manage their individual agricultural scholarship programs.  More information about Nuffield International can be found at

Register by June 17th for discounted entry fee at Iowa Swine Day 2017

The deadline to receive the discounted registration fee of $50 to Iowa Swine Day is June 17th; thereafter, the fee rises to $75.  The registration fee includes entry to all sessions, a continental breakfast and pork lunch.  Iowa Swine Day takes place on June 29th in Ames.

Students may register at no cost until June 17th, after which their registration fee will increase to $45.

A new feature this year, sponsored by the Iowa Pork Producers Association, is a free noon luncheon specifically for students.  Dr. Joe Schwarcz from prestigious McGill University in Montreal, Canada, will discuss “Sense, nonsense and science.” He will explore how science is used, and sometimes abused and misused in our day-to-day lives. Students of all ages are welcome, including high school, college and university.

This will be the 6th annual Iowa Swine Day.  It is expected that about 500 pork producers, as well as people working in the pork industry, will be in attendance. As in past years, there will be a plenary session in the morning, and 3 concurrent sessions in the afternoon.  Mark Greenwood, Senior Vice-President at AgStar Financial Services, Dr. Dhamu Thamodaran, Executive Vice-President and Chief Commodity Hedging Officer at Smithfield Foods and Bruce Vincent, Executive Director of Provider Pals are included in the plenary session. Dr. Joe Schwarcz will also speak in the plenary session on the topic of “Countering misperceptions about the use of science in meat production.”

Afternoon sessions will consider such topics as: gene editing in animal agriculture; an update on PRRS, PED and Seneca virus; a discussion on how implementation of the new VFDs is progressing; and challenges and emerging needs for the next generation of swine production facilities. The program will also consider pig nutrition and water quality, and margins that every producer should have. One concurrent session will be devoted to new research results at Iowa State University, and will include such topics as: changes in labelling of processed meats; the impact of lipid peroxidation impacts on pig performance; biosecurity and risk assessment; and heat stress. In total, there will be 12 afternoon presentations for attendees to choose from, in addition to the morning plenary session.

Following Iowa Swine Day, a barbecue will be held featuring food from Smoky D’s, and a very special guest speaker, Steve Prohm, head basketball coach at Iowa State University.

Iowa Swine Day is jointly organized by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, including its Extension and Outreach office, the Iowa Pork Industry Center at Iowa State University and the Iowa Pork Producers Association.  It will be held on June 29thin the Scheman Building on the Iowa State Center, with check-in and onsite registration beginning at 7:30 a.m. The first session will start at 9:00 a.m. The full schedule, sponsor list and registration information are available on

The 2017 Cattle Industry Summer Business Meeting

General Session Speaker
Eric Baumgartner -Executive Vice President of VML, A Global Marketing and Ad Agency

Over the past five years the way consumers research, choose, shop and buy has radically changed. Eric Baumgartner will provide insight into those changes and what it means for beef. He will walk us through the advent of artificial intelligence (AI), data, social media and other technologies that are changing how we purchase virtually everything from hamburgers to cars to vacations.

Want to know more? Visit our website for registration details, schedule of events, hotel and travel information...

Select Sires to Acquire Accelerated Genetics

Two of the biggest names in the dairy and livestock artificial insemination industry will soon be joining forces. In a joint release on Tuesday, the Ohio-based Select Sires announced it will acquire the assets of Accelerated Genetics, headquartered in Wisconsin, pending the approval of Accelerated's delegates.

Accelerated Genetics CEO Janet Keller told Wisconsin Ag Connection that talks between the two cooperatives began several weeks ago and that each of their boards recently reached a unanimous decision to unify the companies.

"It's still too early to know if all Accelerated Genetics employees and independent sales reps will be retained after the transition, but we do know that Select Sires liked the fact that our company had strong personal ties with our customers," Keller said. "Our main goal is to ensure that all of our customers have access to the best genetics and other products available on the market and this transition will help make that a reality."

Company officials with Select Sires went on to say that the decision to blend the two firms coincides with an already collaborative business relationship that began over 16 years ago.

"Since 2001, [we have] each shared ownership of World Wide Sires, Ltd. World Wide Sires serves as the international marketing arm for both companies in Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Oceania," the companies said in a statement. "The goal is to create a unified cooperative that is second-to-none in the market place dedicated to the producer."

Delegates of Accelerated Genetics will meet on June 22 to vote on the proposal. If approved, the co-ops say their member-producers can expect to work with 'highly qualified, passionate individuals who know and understand the cattle breeding industry.'

Little Movement Seen in Fertilizer Prices

 Average retail fertilizer prices continued to see little movement the first week of June 2017, according to fertilizer retailers surveyed by DTN.

Of the eight major fertilizers, half were slightly higher in price compared to a month prior. These were DAP, MAP, potash and UAN28. DAP had an average price of $438 per ton, MAP $469/ton, potash $339/ton and UAN28 $246/ton.

The remaining four fertilizers were slightly lower in price from last month. Urea had an average price of $338/ton, 10-34-0 $435/ton, anhydrous $503/ton and UAN32 $278/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.37/lb.N, anhydrous $0.31/lb.N, UAN28 $0.44/lb.N and UAN32 $0.44/lb.N.

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

10-34-0 is 22% lower from a year ago, anhydrous is 13% less expensive, UAN32 is 11% lower and urea is down 10%. DAP is 8% less expensive, UAN28 is 7% lower and both MAP and potash are 6% less expensive.

Ethanol Stocks, Output, Demand Up

Energy Information Administration data for the week-ended June 9 shows a build in total domestic fuel ethanol inventories while plant production and implied demand also increased week over week.

The EIA's Weekly Petroleum Status Report for the week profiled shows fuel ethanol stockpiles rose about 500,000 barrels (bbl), or 2.3%, to 22.5 million bbl, with inventory up 6.1% year-over-year.

Domestic plant production rose 3,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 1.002 million bpd last week, 11,000 bpd lower than the corresponding week in 2016. For the four weeks ended June 9, ethanol production averaged 1.008 million bpd versus 981,000 bpd during the same four week period in 2106.

Net refiner and blender inputs, a gauge for ethanol demand, increased 22,000 bpd, or 2.4%, to 931,000 bpd during the week-ended June 9, which was 9,000 bpd higher than a year ago. For the four-week period ended June 9, blending demand averaged 935,000 bpd, up 19,000 bpd from the corresponding four-week period in 2016.

NAWG Commends Perdue for Defending Agriculture

On Tuesday, June 13th, USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue testified at the Senate Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies on the Administration's FY2018 proposed budget. During the hearing, Secretary Perdue discussed concerns with cuts included in the Administration's proposed budget.

"NAWG commends Secretary Perdue for standing up for agriculture and expressing concern over the deep cuts to crop insurance, research, rural development, and international food aid," stated NAWG President David Schemm. "If implemented, the Administration's FY 2018 budget would not only inhibit growth in the wheat industry but the entire U.S. agriculture sector."

"Crop insurance is a critical safety net for producers across the country. When unexpected disaster hits a producer, crop insurance can be the difference of whether or not that grower stays in business," Schemm continued.

"The U.S. is a worldwide leader in agriculture and eliminating the Market Access Program and the Foreign Market Development program could mean losing our competitive edge in the global market. NAWG supports the Secretary's remarks and his work to ensure rural America and farmers have the right tools and resources to move us forward."

Roberts, Stabenow Announce Witnesses for Ag Research Hearing

U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., Tuesday announced witnesses for the Committee's upcoming hearing on agriculture research.  The "Agricultural Research: Perspectives on Past and Future Successes for the 2018 Farm Bill" will include two panels:

Panel I
- Dr. Ann Bartuska, Acting Deputy Under Secretary, Research, Education & Economics, United States Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C.
- Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy, Director, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, United States Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C.
- Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young, Administrator, Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C.
- Dr. Sally Rockey, Executive Director, Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, Washington, D.C.

Panel II
- Dr. John Floros, Dean and Director, College of Agriculture and K-State Research and Extension, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kan.
- Mr. Gary McMurray, Division Chief, Food Processing Technology Division, Georgia Tech Research Institute, Atlanta, Ga.
- Dr. Kerry Hartman, Academic Dean and Sciences Chair, Environmental Sciences, Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College, New Town, N.D.
- Steve Wellman, Farmer, Wellman Farms Inc., Syracuse, Neb.

The hearing is June 15 beginning at 9:30 a.m. in the Russell Senate Office Building. The hearing will be webcast live on

ACE encouraged by Senate hearing on RVP legislation

The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) is pleased the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee is holding a full committee hearing today on bipartisan legislation S. 517, the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act to clarify that E15 and higher blends should be allowed for sale from June 1 through Sept. 15.

“Senators Fischer (R-NE), Ernst (R-IA), and Duckworth (D-IL), all members of the EPW Committee, are providing timely leadership in making sure this priority issue gets the attention it deserves in Congress,” said Brian Jennings, ACE executive vice president.  “We’re encouraged that today’s hearing can be the first step toward enactment of legislation to give retailers the choice to offer E15 and higher blends to their customers year-round.”

In 2011, EPA approved the use of E15, a fuel with lower Reid vapor pressure (RVP) emissions than E10 and straight gasoline. Unfortunately, EPA refuses to apply the same RVP standard for E15 that applies to E10, handcuffing gas station owners like Mike Lorenz of Sheetz  Inc. who wants to offer the fuel to his customers year-round. ACE is delighted Lorenz will be among those testifying during the hearing to provide his firsthand retailer experience as proof that this commonsense legislation is needed to relieve him and other retailers of the RVP regulatory burden.

“This minor fix would be a major relief to retailers offering E15 today and would remove one of the biggest barriers for other retailers who want to offer E15,” Lorenz said. “For consumers, it would provide year-round access and increased availability of E15. Consumers should also benefit from this rule update, since E15 typically sells for less than regular unleaded gasoline and is cleaner burning and higher octane.”

Sheetz is among the increasing number of retailers to offer E15 and higher ethanol blends at their stations. Today, E15 is sold at more than 800 retail outlets across 29 states.

ACE has made lobbying the enactment of legislation to extend the one-pound RVP waiver to E15 and higher blends a priority for years. It’s been the focus of the organization’s messaging to Congress, including two advertisements running in today’s POLITICO and Roll Call newspapers featuring Good & Quick Companies store owner Charlie Good.

Growth Energy Statement on Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act Hearing

Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor today released the following statement regarding the legislative hearing on the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act (S. 517) being held today by the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works at 10 a.m. Eastern time.

S. 517 was introduced in March and has 18 bipartisan sponsors, including Sens. Deb Fischer (R-NE), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), and Chuck Grassley (R-IA). The bill would extend the Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) volatility waiver to gasoline blended with 15 percent ethanol (E15), allowing retailers to offer E15 without restriction from June 1 to September 15.

“E15 is increasingly popular in 29 states and counting – it has more octane, it costs less, and it’s cleaner. This bill will lift a needless burden on retailers so consumers can pick their own fuel and continue to open new market opportunities for the next generation of low-carbon, homegrown biofuels. Growth Energy is rallying all our friends in the environmental, retail, consumer, and advanced biofuel community to ensure that America’s fuel options aren’t limited by outdated regulations.”

Growth Energy Applauds Advanced Biofuels Groups’ Letter in Support of Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act

On June 12, a group of advanced biofuels stakeholders led by the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) and the Advanced Biofuels Business Council (ABBC) sent a letter to Chairman Barrasso and Ranking Member Carper of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) asking for support of the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act (S. 517). The bill was introduced in March and has 18 bipartisan sponsors, including Sens. Deb Fischer (R-NE), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), and Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and would extend a Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) waiver to fuel blended with 15 percent ethanol (E15), allowing it to be sold year-round. 

The RVP control season stems from an outdated regulation that hasn’t been updated since 1990, forcing gas stations to restrict their sales of E15 to flex fuel vehicles only, or remove it from sale altogether between June 1 and September 15. A key waiver that was extended to fuels containing zero to 10 percent ethanol in 1990 – in large part because these fuels lowered tailpipe emissions and carbon monoxide – was not extended to E15 simply because higher blends were not yet conceived when the law was written.

In response to the letter, Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor issued the following statement.

“Growth Energy commends this group of advanced biofuels producers and trade associations for their support of the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act. Securing a permanent, legislative solution to the RVP issue is critical not only for consumer choice at the pump and the environment, but also for the growth of the advanced biofuels industry.

“This legislation adds two words to the 1990 law, extending the RVP waiver to fuel with 10 or more percent ethanol which would allow E15 to be sold year-round. Expanded consumer access to E15 will provide a strong market for the next generation of cellulosic biofuels produced from agricultural waste and other natural materials. The advanced biofuel industry continues to drive innovation in the transportation fuels space, and we are starting to see more cellulosic gallons in the market. Expanded access to E15 will allow cellulosic ethanol to compete at the pump and make environmental gains for generations to come. 

“E15 provides motorists a choice at the that reduces harmful emissions, boosts engine performance, and saves them money at the pump. An RVP waiver is a common-sense solution that will make this option more available across the U.S., as well as provide a healthy market for cellulosic biofuels. Growth Energy stands firmly with the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, the Advanced Biofuels Business Council, and the other signatories of this letter in support of the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act.”

 ASA, Fellow Farm Groups Urge Appropriators to Adequately Fund FSA Loan Programs

 In a letter this morning to leadership of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, the American Soybean Association (ASA) and a coalition of farm, food and rural advocacy groups led by the National Farmers Union encouraged lawmakers to adequately fund the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Farm Service Agency to provide a robust risk management framework for farmers in the current lagging farm economy.

“With the farm economy only expected to worsen, access to credit, specifically credit provided through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency’s (FSA) Farm Loan programs, is critical,” the groups wrote.

Highlighting the continued outlook for trouble in the farm economy, the groups noted that funding will be essential as farmers look to secure operating loans in the coming seasons. “The outlook for 2017 grain and livestock prices appears to be no better than in 2016, likely meaning FSA loans will be even more vital to the financial viability of farm and ranch operations. The added funding will help FSA avoid backlog issues faced last year and during the beginning of this year,” the groups state in the letter.

NAWG Calls on Congress to Fully Fund Key Farm Loan Programs in FY 2018

Today, the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG), along with a broad array of other agriculture organizations, sent a letter to House and Senate Appropriations Committee leaders calling on Congress to fully fund the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency’s (FSA) Farm Loan programs in FY 2018.

"Farmers of most commodities are experiencing lower than normal prices. Wheat prices, in particular, have been on the decline for the past couple of years, and are expected to remain low in the foreseeable future," stated NAWG President and Kansas grower David Schemm.

"As part of the 2017 Consolidated Appropriations Act, Congress provided additional funding for FSA’s Farm Loan programs. With prices continuing to remain low, FSA loans will continue to be in high demand to support struggling farm and ranch operations," continued Schemm.

"NAWG will continue to work with both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to ensure key agriculture programs like FSA's Farm Loan programs are fully funded and able to function as Congress intended."

NFU, Farm Groups Push for Strong Farm Safety Net

Amidst the sharpest decline in the farm economy in well over a decade, National Farmers Union and a coalition of 21 prominent farm groups are urging Congress to provide a strong safety net for family farmers and ranchers.

In a letter to U.S. House and Senate Appropriations Committees today, the coalition called on the committees to provide adequate resources for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA), so that it can adequately meet high demand for farm loans and provide mediation services to struggling producers.

“Farmers and ranchers have been facing difficult economic conditions for several years,” noted the coalition letter. “ With the farm economy only expected to worsen, access to credit, specifically credit provided through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency’s (FSA) Farm Loan programs, is critical.”

The coalition thanked appropriators for providing additional funding for FSA’s Farm Loan programs in 2017, noting that the increase was an important and necessary step in ensuring access to credit.

“The outlook for 2017 grain and livestock prices appears to be no better than in 2016, likely meaning FSA loans will be even more vital to the financial viability of farm and ranch operations.  The added funding will help FSA avoid backlog issues faced last year and during the beginning of this year.”

But the group stressed that there is no end in sight to the depressed farm economy, and loan demand is expected to be as high, if not higher, than last year.

“Metrics associated with farm health, including debt to asset ratios, working capital, and cash flow, are projected to weaken further in 2017 or stay even from last year,” noted the letter. “As a result, we expect demand for new or revised loans to at least match 2016, which was a record year for the portfolio. In order to meet demand, FSA will need additional resources for FY-2018.”

“Low commodity prices have reduced net farm income by over 50 percent in the past four years, and FSA loans serve as an important lifeline for many distressed producers. Inadequately funding FSA would be a disservice to our hardworking farmers and ranchers, who are dedicated to feeding our nation and the world.

“We appreciate your attention in this matter and stand ready to provide any needed assistance,” concluded the letter.

NMPF Board of Directors Supports NAFTA Modernization

The National Milk Producers Federation Board of Directors voted unanimously today to support modernizing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in a way that enhances and protects the United States’ current dairy market access opportunities and addresses Canada’s constant use of trade-distorting measures.

At its June meeting here, NMPF’s board passed a resolution outlining goals for the upcoming NAFTA renegotiation process. These include confronting Canada’s use of policies that hinder trade, such as its harmful Class 6 and 7 pricing schemes that negatively impact U.S. dairy exports. The resolution also requests that no harm be done to trade with the United States’ largest dairy export market, Mexico. It also calls for special attention to preserving and enhancing the protection of foods using common names, and strengthening rules related to sanitary and phytosanitary commitments with Canada and Mexico.

“Trade negotiations are always a balancing act, and the renegotiation of NAFTA will be another example of that dynamic,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “NMPF’s membership recognizes NAFTA’s essential role in expanding access to the Mexican market, where we export more than $1 billion annually in dairy products. We need to build on that market, and at the same time use the modernization effort to obtain more access to the Canadian market for our products, and roll back anti-competitive trade schemes used by Canada’s dairy sector.”

The NMPF resolution singled out Canada’s exorbitant dairy tariffs and pervasive use of policy tools like its Class 6 and 7 schemes, which were introduced last year. The new programs have been used to displace American exports of milk proteins to Canada and undercut U.S. dairy exports in overseas markets.

In May, the Trump Administration formally launched the NAFTA modernization process when it notified Congress that it plans to proceed with renegotiating the 24-year-old trade pact. NMPF will be actively engaged in this process through the submission of recommendations on the priorities of interest to U.S. dairy farmers, meetings with U.S. and foreign government officials, and close interaction with supporters in Congress.

“Exports are extremely important to the U.S. dairy industry,” Mulhern said, “accounting for $5 billion in sales annually and up to 100,000 jobs in areas tied to dairy farming and processing. NAFTA has contributed to this success, supporting tens of thousands of farm and dairy manufacturing jobs, as well as those in related industries.”

Earlier in the week, NMPF and the U.S. Dairy Export Council jointly filed comments on the NAFTA modernization process with the U.S. Trade Representative’s office.

Dow AgroSciences Announces Launch of Enlist™ Corn for 2018 Planting

Enlist™ corn will be commercially available in the United States for the 2018 growing season. Dow AgroSciences announced the launch today after the Ministry of Agriculture of the People’s Republic of China approved the import of grain produced from corn containing the Enlist trait.

“We are very excited to bring the Enlist system to farmers in the U.S. and Canada,” says Tim Hassinger, president and CEO, Dow AgroSciences. “The feedback on the performance during our Stewarded Introduction has been extremely positive, as growers have been very impressed with both the weed control as well as the formulation advancements we have made, reducing the potential for drift and volatility.

“We appreciate the efforts of the U.S. and China governments under the 100 Day initiative,” says Hassinger. “We look forward to continuing to work with China and their regulatory process for additional trait approvals so we can bring farmers new and much needed technology.”

By enabling the use of in-crop applications of Enlist Duo® herbicide for effective and economical weed control, the Enlist corn trait helps protect yield. The Enlist corn trait will be available as both SmartStax® Enlist and PowerCore® Enlist hybrids, offering an industry-leading package of weed control and insect protection. Growers can begin ordering Enlist™ corn from Dow AgroSciences seed companies, including Mycogen Seeds, Brodbeck Seeds, Dairyland Seed, Pfister Seeds, and Prairie Brand Seed, later this summer. Dow AgroSciences also will license the PowerCore Enlist trait technology.

U.S. farmers applaud availability, benefits of Enlist corn

Weed control challenges have grown steadily worse since the first glyphosate-resistant weeds were discovered in 2001. According to a 2016 Stratus Ag Research study, resistant and tough weeds currently infest more than 100 million acres of American farmland. To meet farmers’ needs for additional weed control solutions, Dow AgroSciences developed the Enlist weed control system.

“Not only are we ready for the Enlist system, we need it,” says Todd Hanten, a farmer from Goodwin, South Dakota, who has grown Enlist corn and applied Enlist Duo herbicide as part of a stewarded program.

“Enlist Duo gives us an additional effective mode of action in corn and works well in conjunction with our current weed management practices,” Hanten says. “We think it’ll be a good fit for our farm.” 

Developed for use with Enlist™ corn, cotton and soybeans, Enlist Duo herbicide is designed to manage herbicide-resistant and hard-to-control weeds. A highly anticipated and differentiated solution, Enlist Duo herbicide has been optimized for on-target application using proprietary Colex-D® technology by Dow AgroSciences. Among other benefits, Colex-D technology minimizes the potential for physical drift and provides near-zero volatility. Enlist Duo herbicide is currently registered in 34 states.

Prior to full commercialization, select farmers gained experience with the Enlist system as part of a stewarded introduction of Enlist corn. Iowa farmer Steve Bireline grew Enlist corn and was impressed with how the Enlist system performed on his farm.

“With the Enlist product, you can maximize every acre of farm ground you have and get it into production,” he says. “Enlist Duo really impressed me. With no weed competition, it’s going to let that plant thrive and produce the best yield possible.”

Enlist™ soybean plans

Dow AgroSciences is ready for full commercialization of Enlist Roundup Ready 2 Yield® soybeans and Enlist E3™ soybeans and is considering options for the 2018 season as it awaits final import approvals from China and the European Union.

In 2017, production of Enlist E3™ soybeans and Enlist Roundup Ready 2 Yield soybeans continues as part of the Dow AgroSciences Field Forward™ program. The program provides growers an opportunity to experience the company’s newest technologies before they are commercially available. Dow AgroSciences manages the seed production throughout the season, including handling and storage after harvest.

Expanded offering of cottonseed varieties with the Enlist trait

The Enlist cotton trait was launched in 2016 in PhytoGen® brand cottonseed varieties. This year, more farmers are experiencing Enlist cotton as well as the weed control of Enlist Duo with an increased number of varieties containing the Enlist™ trait in the PhytoGen line-up. These varieties range from very early to mid-maturities and are also stacked with WideStrike® 3 Insect Protection (W3FE).

Farmers from across the Cotton Belt who planted PhytoGen W3FE varieties are now seeing the benefits of Enlist Duo® herbicide and continue to report outstanding results with the system. Given strong grower demand, PhytoGen anticipates that its W3FE portfolio will continue to grow in the 2018 season.

Tuesday June 13 Ag News

Cow-Calf Management Field Day Set for June 17

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

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

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

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

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

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

Farm Service Agency County Committee Nomination Period in Cuming County Now Open

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) County Executive Director Sarah Beck in Cuming County today announced the nomination period for local FSA county committee candidates began on June 15, 2017. Nomination forms must be postmarked or received in the Cuming County FSA office by close of business on Aug. 1, 2017.

“County committees are unique to FSA and allow producers to have a voice on federal farm program implementation at the local level,” said Beck. “It is also important that committees are comprised of members who fairly represent the diverse demographics of production agriculture for their community. I encourage all producers, including women, minority and beginning farmers and ranchers, to participate in the nomination and election process.”

To be eligible to serve on the FSA county committee, a person must participate or cooperate in an agency-administered program, be eligible to vote in a county committee election and reside in the local administrative area where they are nominated.

This year, nominations and elections will be held in Local Administrative Area 3, which includes Wisner, Bismarck, Elkhorn, Lincoln, and Monterey Townships.

The Cuming County FSA Office will host an informational meeting on the COC election process at 10:30 a.m., June 16th and July 14th at the West Point USDA Service Center.

Producers may nominate themselves or others as candidates. Organizations representing minority and women farmers and ranchers may also nominate candidates. To become a nominee, eligible individuals must sign an FSA-669A nomination form. The form and more information about FSA county committee elections are available online at

Elected county committee members serve a three-year term and are responsible for making decisions on FSA disaster, conservation, commodity and price support programs, as well as other important federal farm program issues. County committees consist of three to 11 members.

FSA will mail election ballots to eligible voters this fall.

“Nominating potential county committee members, voting for candidates and serving on the committees are truly services to your community and the agriculture industry,” said Beck. “County committee members make important decisions on how federal farm programs are administered locally to best serve local needs and interests.”

For more information about county committees, please contact the Cuming County FSA office at (402) 372-2451 or visit


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Early to mid-June is a popular time to spray pasture weeds and woody plants.  But, is it smart thing to do?

               Why do you spray weeds in pasture?  Is it to kill plants that are poor forage – or is it just force of habit and to make the pasture look nicer?

               Now I've got to admit, I often suggest using herbicides in pastures.  Herbicides like Plateau in warm-season pastures or 2,4-D, Grazon, or ForeFront in any grass pasture are most popular.  But the more experience I get with grazing and pasture management, the less spraying I do.  In fact, anytime a pasture is sprayed, it suggests that the grazing management has not been as effective as it could be or that the owner wants a quick fix.

               Okay, so what am I talking about?  Well, several things really.  First, for pasture to be profitable, it must have high management input but controlled dollar input.  And spraying costs money.  Money we might save with better management.  Second, livestock eat many plants we call weeds.  And when they do, these plants no longer are weeds.  In fact, many weeds can be good feed if grazed while young and tender.  Third, unpalatable weeds usually become established in pastures after grass is weakened by severe grazing, and they thrive when grazing management fails to encourage vigorous grass regrowth.  And finally, unless pasture and livestock are managed to benefit both plants and animals, the weeds will be back despite your spraying.

               So why spray pastures?  If you graze properly but you wish to speed up the process of replacing uneaten weeds with vigorous grass, that's a very good reason.  Otherwise, spraying may be simply cosmetic and a waste of money.

Dodge County Family Livestock Judging Contest

Karna Dam, Extension Educator, Dodge County

Dodge County 4-H held their annual Family Livestock Judging Contest on Thursday, June 8th at the Masonic Home for Children in Fremont, Nebraska.  Fifty-three individuals from four counties participated in the contest.

Livestock evaluation is an important part of being a livestock producer.  Learning what to look for in animal selection to help improve livestock operations is the educational value that youth and adults take home from this event.  Hunter Schroeder from West Point served as the official judge for the evening.  Hunter is currently a student at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln where he participates on the Meats Judging Team and will be a part of the Livestock Judging Team in the spring of 2018.  Hunter has been evaluating livestock since he was a young 4-H member himself and has participated in many contests locally, statewide and even on the national level.

The judging contest included evaluating breeding gilts, market steers, breeding heifers and production market lambs.  Questions are also asked on classes to help participants learn to look for specific details during the class and be able to recall that information.

Individuals were recognized for their efforts in each age division.  Clover Kids are youth who are between the ages of 5 – 7.  They included; Jonathan Karnopp (Cuming County), John Ondracek and Joseph Ondracek (Saunders County) and Luke Belina (Colfax County)

In the Junior Division (age 8 – 11) Landon Hasenkamp from Cuming County received first place, followed by Lane Belina (Colfax County), Brooke Wiese (Dodge County), Ava Karnopp (Cuming County) and Tony Ondracek (Saunders County)

Sixteen intermediates (age 12 – 14) took part with Cuming County taking home the top four spots with Addisyn Albers placing first, Logan Burman; second, Cameryn Bellar; third and Evie Schlickbernd; fourth.  Levi Belina from Colfax County was fifth with Maddie Aufenkamp and Hunter Wiese from Dodge County rounding out the top seven.  Others in the intermediate division included: Austen Fedorchik (Dodge), Kaleb Hasenkamp, Andrew Borgelt, Anna Karnopp and Levi Schiller all of Cuming County, Miles Hannan (Saunders), Kianaleis Bristol and Andrew Vontz of Dodge County.

Cuming County also had the top three evaluators in the senior division (age 15 – 18) with Payton Schiller, Megan Schroeder and Elizabeth Karnopp taking those positons.  Dodge County filled the rest of the senior positions with Evan Tabren, Summer Phillips, David Carr, Taylor Adams, Bailey Rothanzl, Elissa Smith, Allyssa Dean, Alandra Avalos, Aiden King, Tyler Bedly, Mikayla Dehder, Ethan Hann, Rebekah Simons, Max Wallman, Luke Lihman and Dimitri Monteith.

The adult division is for anyone 19 and older.  This year nine adults participated with Dave Karnopp of Cuming County receiving first place and Jim Ondracek of Saunders County in second.  Following them were; Kristy Belina (Colfax), Jean Schlickbernd (Cuming) Mindy Wiese (Dodge), Matt Hannan (Saunders), Tammie Ondracek (Saunders), Craid Belina (Colfax) and Marvin Wiese (Dodge).

Pooling the top three scores from each family established the “Family Score” to determine the top family of the night.  The Dave Karnopp Family from Cuming County received this honor.

Ricketts, Ibach will join Greater Omaha Packing to Load Beef Destined for China

On Wednesday, Governor Pete Ricketts, Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) Director Greg Ibach and Henry Davis from Greater Omaha Packing Company will join together to load the first shipment of Greater Omaha Packing Company beef destined for China.  The Governor, Director Ibach and Mr. Davis will deliver brief remarks and then load the beef. 

USDA Releases Requirements for Beef Exported to China

Written specifications for US beef exported to China is a big step forward, according to Iowa Cattlemen’s Association CEO Matt Deppe.

“We’ve been hearing for some time that China would re-open to US exports, but until recently, the details were unclear,” says Deppe. “The requirements released by the US Department of Agriculture on Monday give the industry a much better understanding of the nature of the beef products that will be accepted.”

The requirements are more stringent than most other international destinations for US beef. The beef must be from cattle:
-less than 30 months of age
-born, raised in the US, Mexico or Canada
-slaughtered in the US
-free of growth promotants, feed additives and other chemical compounds including ractopamine

These requirements may initially challenge some producers and processors, but various voluntary process-verified programs exist that would meet the specifications.

“There can be more costs associated with these programs, but there may also be more profit,” says Deppe. “Regardless, the programs are voluntary and it will be up to individual producers to decide whether participation in a process-verified program works for them.”

International trade has been a priority for the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, which represents 10,000 members in the state of Iowa on legislative and policy issues such as this.

“Beef exports have the potential to dramatically increase Iowa cattle producers’ bottom lines. Most of the products exported, like tongue, hides and offal, are not valued to US consumers, and would become waste products without international markets,” says Deppe. US beef has not been allowed in China since 2003.

ICA has encouraged governmental leaders to expand beef trade through policy agreements, and is appreciative of the emphasis the White House has placed on agricultural trade with China. ICA President, Mike Cline and Deppe will travel to China in July with Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds to further expand the market for US beef there.

Other key importers of US beef include Japan, Mexico, South Korea and others. ICA’s regional meetings this month feature a “Tour of the World” taste-testing event, where participants can sample traditional beef dishes from international destinations and learn about the beef products enjoyed there.


Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today encouraged Iowa hay and straw producers to register or update their listing on the Iowa Hay and Straw Directory.  The directory lists Iowa producers with hay and straw for sale, as well as organizations and businesses associated with promoting and marketing quality hay and straw.

“The directory has been a great tool for both buyers and sellers and we hope farmers will take the time to review and update their information so that it remains a valuable resource,” Northey said.  “This directory can serve as a critical link for those producing hay and those looking to buy, so we encourage Iowans to take advantage of this free directory.”

The listing is available to interested buyers throughout the nation, however only sellers from within Iowa can be included on the list.

Names are gathered throughout the year with added emphasis now that hay harvest has started. Sections within the Hay and Straw Directory include “Forage for Sale,” “Forage Auctions,” “Hay Associations,” “Forage Dealers,” “Hay Grinders” and “Custom Balers.”

Farmers interested in listing should visit the Department’s website at  An application form can be found by going to the “Bureaus” link and then selecting “Agricultural Diversification and Market Development.”  Then click on “Hay & Straw Directory” on the right side of the page under “Directories.”

For those without internet access, please call the Hay/Straw Hotline at 800-383-5079.  The Department will fax or send a printed copy of the application to be filled out.

The Department is also supporting the Iowa Crop Improvement Association’s “Iowa Noxious Weed Seed Free Forage and Mulch Certification Program.”  Through this program Iowa forage and mulch producers can take advantage of many emerging market opportunities for “Certified Weed Free” products.  For more specific information on this program producers should contact the Iowa Crop Improvement Association at 515-294-6921.  More information can also be found by visiting

Strobilurin-resistant frogeye leaf spot threat looms with delayed soybean planting

Heavy spring rainfall throughout the South and Midwest delayed planting and created the perfect environment for diseases like frogeye leaf spot to thrive. As growers plan their fungicide inputs for 2017, Syngenta urges them to consider the increasing incidence of strobilurin-resistant frogeye leaf spot and take necessary steps to protect their yields by slowing its spread.

Strobilurin-resistant frogeye leaf spot has grown into a consistent yield reducer in soybeans. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, strobilurin-resistant frogeye leaf spot has now been confirmed in 11 states across the South, Midwest and Mid-Atlantic and could cause greater damage during crucial early development growth stages in later-planted soybeans.

Ohio State University Extension research shows later-planted soybeans have a higher chance of being infected by frogeye leaf spot earlier in the season and could experience yield losses of 5 bushels per acre (bu/A) if infected before R3. Additionally, the extension service recommends using fungicides that have efficacy against strobilurin-resistant frogeye leaf spot wherever these strains have been present.

“Unlike other soybean diseases, susceptible and strobilurin-resistant frogeye leaf spot can be well-controlled by fungicides with multiple modes of action,” said Eric Tedford, Syngenta technical fungicide lead. He further explained, “Fields with a history of frogeye leaf spot should be monitored carefully and treated with Quadris Top® SBX fungicide at the onset of the disease to help knock it out early and maximize yield potential.”

Quadris Top SBX boosts soybean yields 6 to 8 bu/A over untreated soybeans and 4 to 8 bu/A compared to competitive fungicides. In addition to increased disease control, one of its active ingredients, azoxystrobin, helps shield plants from stressors such as high temperatures and periods of too much or too little water. It also increases periods of photosynthesis for greater plant growth, pod development and higher yield potential.

Dairy Farmers Discuss Policy Priorities During Capitol Hill Visits

Meetings Focus on Industry Issues Including Farm Bill, Food Labeling, Trade & Immigration

Dairy farmers from across the country visited Capitol Hill today as part of the National Milk Producers Federation’s annual young farmer fly-in to Washington, where in more than 200 meetings they asked lawmakers for action on a handful of issues important to the dairy sector.

More than 70 farmers from 21 states visited their House and Senate members Tuesday as part of their role as national leaders in the 2017 NMPF Young Cooperator (YC) program. The dairy producers discussed the challenges they currently face, and highlighted four priority policy issues that need Congress’ attention:
-    The need to make significant improvements to the structure of USDA’s dairy Margin Protection Program, which currently is not providing an adequate economic safety net for farmers;
-    The DAIRY PRIDE Act, which would require the U.S Food and Drug Administration to enforce existing food standards specifying that dairy terms such as “milk,” “cheese,” “yogurt” and “ice cream” should only be used by foods made from real milk;
-    The importance of a balanced approach to trade policy, especially as the 24-year-old NAFTA agreement is renegotiated by the United States, Canada and Mexico;
-    The need to reform immigration laws in a manner that helps preserve the existing agricultural workforce and allows for the future flow of dairy farm workers.

“We are excited to share the first-person perspective of America’s dairy sector at a time when elected officials in Washington really need to hear our voice about the topics that matter most to farmers,” said Melissa Griffin, a dairy farmer from Buckland, Mass., and chairwoman of the 2017 YC Advisory Council.

Griffin’s husband Adam, who co-chairs the council, added that “we were able to make our points about issues specific to dairy, such as the need for a viable farm safety net and the importance of integrity in federal food labeling laws.  We also showed how high-profile national issues such as trade and immigration affect our family farm in New England.”

Randy Mooney, chairman of NMPF and a dairy farmer from Rogersville, Mo., said that the YC Program “provides our community with a powerful grassroots presence.  We need their engagement in Washington because there are so many issues competing for the attention of Congress.  Thanks to our younger leaders stepping forward, we have a much better opportunity to reach our legislative goals.”

The NMPF Young Cooperators will join NMPF’s Board of Directors on Wednesday for their June board meeting.

DFA Unveils New Headquarters Building

Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), a national farmer-owned dairy cooperative, recently celebrated the opening of its new headquarters building in Kansas City, Kan., with an open house for the Cooperative’s board members, local officials and others represntatives involved with the  design and development. The three-story, 110,000-square-foot building, which was designed by HOK, is located at 1405 N. 98th St. and honors the Cooperative’s dairy farmer members.

“This building is a testament to our family farmers and the sustainable practices they employ on their dairies each and every day,” said Rick Smith, president and CEO, Dairy Farmers of America. “We intentionally designed it to use more natural materials like reclaimed woods, concretes and metals – so there’s a welcoming feel, while still being very modern and fully equipped for how the world works today. It’s not a typical corporate office space, but it absolutely functions like one.”

Throughout the building, there are a number of other unique design touches and furnishings that pay homage to life on the farm and the production of milk, including the use of upholsteries like plaid and cow hide for various seating areas. Artistic feature walls showcase aspects of DFA’s business from a barn board and milk bottle caps to steel pipes representing the Cooperative’s numerous milk processing plants. Finally, as visitors enter the building’s lobby, they are greeted by a 25-foot Milk Pour sculpture to represent and remind employees and visitors about what’s at the core of DFA – producing nutritious and delicious milk and dairy products.

Focus on Sustainability

Qualifying as Silver LEED-certified, the building includes a number of sustainable design practices, including panels of glass framing the building’s exterior, which not only brings in an abundance of natural light into the office environment, but also helps reduce energy use. Another sustainable building feature is the use of under floor air throughout the space. This allows A/C vents to deliver cool air from the floor up, which is far more efficient than blowing cool air down.

Other sustainable elements in the building include:
·         100 percent LED lighting, with automatic energy-saving mode
·         Composting trash and recycling throughout the building
·         Two electric car charging stations
·         Several reserved fuel efficiency parking spots

A Modern, Flexible Work Space and Best-In-Class Amenities for Employees    

DFA’s new headquarters building also was designed with employees in mind, including first-class amenities and an open, modern and flexible work environment to help encourage teamwork and collaboration.

Meeting spaces and work stations can be easily changed to support growth. Most can be reconfigured so that walls and offices can literally be put up or torn down to accommodate a team’s needs. Individual work stations include adjustable desks that allow employees to sit or stand as well as ergonomic chairs and dual monitors. The building also features a variety of unique meeting spaces and nooks – providing employees a variety of places to get together and meet throughout the office, without utilizing a formal conference room.

“We think this new headquarters will play a key role in helping us attract and also retain high-quality talent, which will help ensure DFA’s continued growth and success,” says Monica Massey, Senior Vice President and Chief of Staff from DFA. “Our goal is to be an employer of choice in Kansas City and this building and all its amenities reflects that commitment to focus on employee satisfaction.”

One of the amenities offered at DFA’s new headquarters is a full-service café managed by Elite Cuisine, which serves healthy options for both breakfast and lunch. The café provides indoor and outdoor seating for employees and includes refrigerated grab-and-go items, a fully stocked salad bar as well as a variety of freshly-prepared hot food stations serving daily specials such as pecan-crusted tilapia, turkey pesto panini and Korean shrimp rice bowls.

Additional building amenities include:
·         State-of-the-art fitness center featuring free weights, cardio equipment, group classes and an on-site trainer, along with full-service locker rooms
·         Outdoor courtyard as well as four outdoor meeting spaces and terraces
·         Multipurpose room that can accommodate all of DFA’s employees
·         Regulation bocce ball, basketball court and walking trail surrounding the building
·         Visitor business center
·         And, of course, a 24/7 milk bar serving three varieties of ice cold milk

Celebrating DFA’s New Headquarters Opening

During an open house reception that included tours of the new headquarters building, Rick Smith talked about the move and how the building exudes agriculture and dairy farming. DFA Chairman Randy Mooney discussed how the new building reflects farmers and will also help DFA attract and retain the best employees. Additional speakers at the reception were Monica Massey, senior vice president and chief of staff at Dairy Farmers of America; Commissioner Harold Johnson from the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Chad Bontrager from the Kansas Department of Agriculture.

Other companies involved in DFA’s new headquarters project include Van Trust Real Estate LLC, Area Real Estate Advisors, JE Dunn Construction and Dimensional Innovations. 

ASA Presents All NEW Recognition Awards Program for 2018

As part of a re-envisioned Recognition Awards Program, the American Soybean Association (ASA) has an exciting new line-up of award categories for 2018. The three new awards provide expanded opportunities to recognize state association volunteerism, more current top leadership achievements and those who have made long-term, significant contributions to the soybean industry. The Recognition Awards categories are:
-    ASA Outstanding State Volunteer Award-Recognizes the dedication and contributions of volunteers in any area of the state association operation.
-    ASA Distinguished Leadership Award –Distinguished and visionary leadership of ASA or a state soybean association is recognized with this award to either a soybean grower-leader or association staff leader with a least five-years of leadership service.
-    ASA Pinnacle Award-An industry-wide recognition of those individuals who have demonstrated the highest level of contribution and long-term leadership within the soybean family and industry.

For more information about each of the award categories see the 2018 ASA Recognition Awards flyer.

All nomination forms must be submitted online. The deadline for submission is Oct. 16, 2017 at midnight. For more information and to view the nomination forms, click here. Anyone may complete and submit a nomination form. No self-nominations will be accepted.

Recipients will receive their awards at the ASA Awards Banquet on Feb. 28, 2018 in Anaheim, Calif. at Commodity Classic. Winners will be notified in advance and provided with financial assistance to attend.

Note: The 2018 Commodity Classic is from Tuesday, Feb. 27 to Thursday, March 1, 2018. The ASA Banquet will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 28.

New poll shows motorcyclists appreciate having a choice in fuel at the pump

Growth Energy released a new survey showing that motorcyclists in the United States are extremely confident in selecting the fuel that meets their needs at the pump, and satisfied with the performance of their fuel, including regular unleaded blends of 10 percent ethanol (E10). Conducted by Quadrant Strategies, the random poll of 500 motorcyclists revealed that nine in 10 respondents considered it important to have options at the pump that include ethanol blends.

“A baseless refrain from biofuels critics is that the mere availability of higher ethanol blends will confuse motorcyclists and cause misfuelling issues,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “However, these critics don’t give nearly enough credit to 21st century consumers and American motorcyclists. The poll results are clear — motorcyclists value having choices at the pump, are more than capable of selecting the fuel that works for them, and are satisfied with the performance of the fuel they choose including E10, gasoline blended with 10 percent ethanol.”

The poll showed that 96 percent of survey participants found it easy to figure out the type of gasoline to put in their engine, 98 percent were satisfied with the gasoline they used, and 90 percent thought it was important to have a choice at the pump.

“The vast majority —­­­­­­­ Ninety-seven percent — of the fuel sold in the United States today contains 10 percent ethanol,” noted Skor. “Ethanol is a high-performance fuel that boosts octane and displaces toxic chemicals in gasoline while also saving consumers money. More and more drivers are reaching for even higher ethanol blends (above 10 percent) every day to meet their price and performance needs. Clearly, motorcyclists appreciate having a choice at the pump as well, and are confident in selecting the right fuel for their next ride.”

Reproductive Vaccinations Act as Insurance Against Disease

Reproductive loss in U.S. beef herds costs cattle producers approximately $500 million per year.1 While research has shown that a modified-live vaccination program can be effective in helping prevent abortions caused by infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR) and persistent infection caused by bovine viral diarrhea (BVD) viruses Types 1 and 2, maintaining a strictly modified-live vaccination program that fits the working schedule can be challenging for veterinarians and producers alike.

“Vaccination is like an insurance policy,” said Daniel Scruggs, DVM, managing veterinarian with Zoetis. “It costs the producer from $450 to perhaps over $600 a year, depending on who you talk to and what numbers they use, to keep a cow and to keep her in condition to breed. Vaccines are an insurance policy against losing that pregnancy and giving that cow the best chance of carrying the pregnancy to term so that you can realize the benefit of your investment.”

A groundbreaking study from Auburn University sheds new light on the BVD and IBR protection afforded by CATTLEMASTER GOLD FP® 5 when given to pregnant heifers that were vaccinated with BOVI-SHIELD GOLD FP® 5 prior to breeding.2 Scruggs notes that the choice of CATTLEMASTER GOLD FP 5 is important in this study because it is a unique combination vaccine that is safe to give to pregnant cows regardless of their prior vaccine history. It is the only killed BVD vaccine with a fetal protection label claim and contains a proprietary temperature-sensitive modified-live IBR fraction that is labeled to protect against IBR abortions.

The nearly three-year study evaluated the efficacy of a vaccination program where heifers were all vaccinated with two doses of a modified-live reproductive vaccine (BOVI-SHIELD GOLD FP 5) prior to breeding. At pregnancy check, the vaccinated heifers were split into two groups — one continued to get BOVI-SHIELD GOLD FP 5 and a second group was given CATTLEMASTER GOLD FP 5. The study also maintained a seronegative control group, which received no vaccinations throughout the study.

All the heifers were calved out and rebred for their second pregnancy. The animals confirmed pregnant with a second calf were challenged with BVD through exposure to persistently infected animals 11 months after their last vaccination. At the end of the BVD exposure, each group received their respective annual booster dose of reproductive vaccine. Ninety-two days after vaccination, the groups received an exposure to IBR intravenously when the cows were approximately four months pregnant.

Study results in the control group revealed the severity of the challenge model with 14 of 15 cows either aborting BVD-positive calves or delivering a BVD persistently infected calf. Researchers observed significant (p < 0.0001) protection against both virulent BVD and IBR exposure in the vaccinated groups with both vaccine groups providing similarly high levels of protection.2

“The takeaway from this study is that we’ve got a lot of flexibility now in how we handle reproductive vaccination programs in cow herds,” Dr. Scruggs said. “If people are satisfied with the BOVI-SHIELD GOLD FP pregnant cow vaccination program, there’s no reason to change. But if for whatever reason they need to alter, we have a good option with CATTLEMASTER GOLD FP with no loss in vaccine efficacy for either IBR or BVD.”

“This is a remarkable study that gives veterinarians hard data they can use for vaccine decisions when addressing their clients’ reproductive vaccine needs,” concluded Dr. Scruggs.

June 12 Crop Progress & Condition Report - NE - IA - US


For the week ending June 11, 2017, temperatures averaged four to eight degrees above normal and were accompanied by dry conditions, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Only the southern tip of the panhandle and a few central counties received significant rain. Producers were irrigating due to the dry conditions. The warm, dry weather allowed planting and other field work to continue. There were 6.7 days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 3 percent very short, 37 short, 59 adequate, and 1 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 2 percent very short, 19 short, 78 adequate, and 1 surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Corn condition rated 0 percent very poor, 2 poor, 20 fair, 67 good, and 11 excellent. Emerged was 98 percent, equal to last year, and near 97 for the five-year average.

Soybeans condition rated 0 percent very poor, 2 poor, 24 fair, 67 good, and 7 excellent. Soybeans planted was 97 percent, near 96 both last year and average. Emerged was 86 percent, ahead of 81 last year, and near 84 average.

Winter wheat condition rated 3 percent very poor, 10 poor, 36 fair, 43 good, and 8 excellent. Coloring was 30 percent, near 33 last year and 31 average.

Sorghum condition rated 0 percent very poor, 0 poor, 28 fair, 61 good, and 11 excellent. Sorghum planted was 90 percent, behind 96 last year, but near 89 average. Emerged was 70 percent, near 67 last year, and ahead of 57 average.

Oats condition rated 0 percent very poor, 1 poor, 27 fair, 68 good, and 4 excellent. Oats jointed was 98 percent, ahead of 85 last year. Headed was 76 percent, ahead of 57 last year, and well ahead of 50 average.

Alfalfa condition rated 1 percent very poor, 1 poor, 24 fair, 65 good, and 9 excellent. Alfalfa first cutting was 76 percent, near 79 last year, but ahead of 63 average.

Pasture and Range Report:

Pasture and range conditions rated 0 percent very poor, 1 poor, 20 fair, 71 good, and 8 excellent. Stock water supplies rated 0 percent very short, 3 short, 96 adequate, and 1 surplus.


Dry and hot conditions helped crop development and fieldwork progress during the week ending June 11, 2017, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Statewide there were 6.8 days suitable for fieldwork, the highest number of days suitable so far this year. However, Iowa could use rain in the next week, as some crops are showing signs of stress due to the dry conditions. Activities for the week included cutting and baling hay, spraying herbicides and side-dressing corn with nitrogen, and planting and re-planting.

Topsoil moisture levels rated 7 percent very short, 33 percent short, 59 percent adequate and 1 percent surplus. Southeastern Iowa reported the lowest levels of topsoil moisture with 56 percent rated short to very short. Subsoil moisture levels rated 2 percent very short, 16 percent short, 79 percent adequate and 3 percent surplus.

Ninety-six percent of Iowa’s corn crop has emerged, one week behind last year. Seventy-seven percent of the corn crop was rated in good to excellent condition.

Soybean planting reached 98 percent complete, over 2 weeks ahead of the 5-year average. Soybean emergence reached 85 percent, 2 days behind last year but 4 days ahead of average. Soybean condition rated 73 percent good to excellent.

Oats headed reached 44 percent this week, 5 days behind last year and 2 days behind average. Oat condition rated 77 percent good to excellent.

A full week of dry weather allowed Iowa farmers to complete nearly one-third of the State’s first cutting of alfalfa during the week to reach 86 percent complete. Hay condition decreased slightly to 83 percent good to excellent.

Pasture condition decreased to 71 percent good to excellent. There were scattered reports of stress on livestock due to the heat.

USDA Weekly Crop Progress

Corn and spring wheat conditions dropped from the previous week, and USDA's first soybean condition rating of the year was below last year's rating at the same time, according to USDA's weekly Crop Progress report released Monday.  This week's report showed 94% of U.S. corn was emerged, down from 95% a year ago and even with the five-year average of 94%.  Sixty-seven of the corn crop was rated in good-to-excellent to excellent condition, down from 68% the previous week.

USDA said 92% of U.S. soybeans were planted as of Sunday, June 11, up from 91% a year ago and above the five-year average of 87%. Seventy-seven percent of soybeans were emerged, even with a year ago and up from the five-year average of 73%.  In its first soybean condition rating of the year, USDA estimated that 66% of the soybean crop was rated in good-to-excellent condition.

Meanwhile, USDA reported that 92% of winter wheat is headed, down from 95% a year ago and up from the five-year average of 91% headed. Seventeen of winter wheat has been harvested, up from 10% a year ago and above the five-year average of 15%.  Fifty percent of the winter wheat crop was rated in good-to-excellent condition.

In other crop reports, cotton was 92% planted, slightly ahead of the five-year average of 90%. Cotton squaring was 15% compared to the average of 12%. Rice was 94% emerged, compared to 97% on average.  Sorghum was 71% planted, behind the five-year average of 73%. Barley was 91% emerged, compared to 93% on average. Oats were 44% headed, compared to 48% on average.

Monday June 12 Ag News

Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Potato leafhoppers are starting to injure alfalfa in many areas.  Scouting for these insects and protecting your alfalfa from injury may be needed in your fields.

               Potato leafhoppers are tiny, yellowish-green, wedge-shaped insects.  They blow into our region from the southeast during late spring through mid-summer.  Leafhoppers turn alfalfa yellow and stunt growth, and they especially hurt new seedlings.

               An early symptom of leafhopper damage is a triangular or V-shaped yellow or purple area at the tip of alfalfa leaves.  This discoloration is caused by a toxin the leafhopper injects into the alfalfa plant as it sucks out plant juices.  As feeding continues, the entire plant can turn yellow and growth may stop.

               Check fields at least weekly for leafhoppers before symptoms appear.  Don’t wait!  If you detect leafhoppers early and they are still present, insecticides can kill them easily.  You may need to spray a couple times, though, since leafhoppers can migrate from other fields and reinfect your sprayed field.

               What if your alfalfa already is yellow and stunted?  Then, do not spray.  Instead, first mow your alfalfa to remove affected plant tissue and to stimulate new growth.  Unmown plants might not grow much more all year, lowering yield and potentially leading to stand loss over winter.  After mowing newly seeded fields, spray insecticide when regrowth begins to protect that growth.  But, don’t automatically spray established stands.  Instead, scout new regrowth at least weekly for leafhoppers.  If they reappear, then use insecticides before much damage occurs.

               More information, especially about threshold levels and insecticides to help you protect your alfalfa from potato leafhoppers,   is available on-line and at local extension offices.

 Steady Land Market Defies Trend

As agriculture enters the projected fourth year of lower farm incomes, the question landowners, operators and lenders have is: Where are land values heading from here?

“The trend in today’s land market is hard to discern as some sales bring a better than anticipated price, while others may show a decline in value from previous sales,” said Randy Dickhut, senior vice president of real estate operations at Farmers National Company.

For sellers, buyers and lenders alike, there are important aspects of the current land market everyone should be aware of as it slowly transitions from the declines in value experienced in the past few years.

“Agricultural land values in most areas can be expected to continue to gradually decline over the next several years if commodity prices and the underlying farm incomes remain at current low levels,” Dickhut said. “Small interest rate increases, potential tax law changes and world economic uncertainties will also keep some outside pressure on land prices in the coming year.”

One unknown factor that could adversely affect land values later this year is the potential increase in the number of properties for sale caused by financial stress in the ag economy. If that occurs, knowledge and experience in the local land market becomes more important than ever as land prices seek equilibrium between sellers and buyers in a declining price environment.

“This is the No. 1 reason Farmers National Company is seeing a 21 percent increase in the volume of sales that the company is handling this year as sellers and buyers seek out our land expertise in this uncertain market so that they have the right representation to make the best decisions in buying or selling land,” Dickhut said.

Despite anticipated additional declines in land prices in most areas, there are positives on the horizon for land values.

“Those include potential improvements in farm and ranch incomes after bottoming out. If we have limited stress sales and no other shocks to the markets, land values will move to stabilize over the next several years,” Dickhut said. “Our agents are actively talking to landowners who are considering selling their farm or ranch and are seeking the marketing exposure and expertise that will get them the best price in the current market.”

Nebraska - Lower land values in Nebraska have not slowed the sales volume for Farmers National Company. Grain and livestock prices both have an impact on Nebraska land values across many regions of the state.

“Our number of sales is up 10 to 20 percent over last year and good quality land is definitely in demand,” said JD Maxson, assistant area sales manager for the company based out of Omaha.  “The value of top quality land has declined a moderate amount, whereas lower quality land has taken more of a drop.”

Land auctions continue to be a primary way of selling ag land in much of the state and Farmers National Company auctions achieve a successful sale 95 percent of the time despite buyers being more cautious. Private treaty sales are being used more in the case of lower quality land and grazing acres. Local farmers and ranchers are predominate buyers as they seek to purchase land that may only come up for sale once in many generations.

“We have only seen two or three stress sales where the owner/operator needs to shore up working capital. Depending on the season and commodity prices, we could see more of these types of sales this fall if the state’s farm economy stays soft,” Maxson said. “Buyers and sellers are paying close attention to the farm and ranch economy as they consider a land transaction.”

Iowa - Land auctions lead the way in Iowa for Farmers National Company as it has seen a 30 percent growth in sales in the last year.

“Auction sales were 78 percent of Farmer National Company’s transactions in Iowa for the first six months of our fiscal year. Despite a more cautious land market, 97 percent of our auctions were successful and the land sold. That is a testament to the local agent who knows the buyers and sellers in their market,” said Sam Kain, ALC, GRI, ABRM, national sales manager for Farmers National Company based in West Des Moines, Iowa.

Good quality land in Iowa has been steady or experienced a slight decline in value in the past six months. Average quality land continues to see a slow decline in value while pasture land has experienced some strengthening. Estates remain the primary sellers of land as the inherited land is sold and the proceeds divided among the inheritors. Farmers continue to comprise the majority of land buyers with interest by investors coming back into play in the market.

“Overall, land values have stayed fairly stable due to the limited amount of land on the market over the past several years,” Kain said. “Recent commodity prices indicate there is still room for a downward trend in land values. If we start to see more land available on the market, we may see values decrease more rapidly.”

 U.S., China Finalize Details to Send U.S. Beef to China

As part of the U.S.-China 100-Day Action plan announced on May 11, 2017 by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and Secretary of the Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin, the Trump Administration today has taken important steps toward commercial shipment of U.S. beef and beef products to China for the first time since 2003.  These shipments are results of the U.S.-China Comprehensive Economic Dialogue co-chaired by Secretary Ross and Secretary Mnuchin for the United States and Vice Premier Wang Yang for China.  Accordingly, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has reached agreement with Chinese officials on final details of a protocol to allow the U.S. to begin the beef exports to China.  Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced the posting of technical documents related to the beginning of shipments.

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue issued the following statement:
“Today is a great day for the United States and in particular for our cattle producers, who will be regaining access to an enormous market with an ever-expanding middle class.  Since he was elected, President Trump has brought momentum, optimism, and results to American agriculture families that we haven’t seen in years and this agreement is a great example.  I commend the hard work of Secretary Ross, Secretary Mnuchin, Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, and our USDA representatives.  Without their dedication and persistence, this would have not been possible.  I have no doubt that as soon as the Chinese people get a taste of American beef they’ll want more of it.”

Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross issued the following statement:
“President Trump is doing more to improve the U.S.-China relationship than any president in decades, and this final beef protocol agreement represents even more concrete progress. As we clear away long-standing issues like this one, focusing on near-term, verifiable deliverables, we are building a sound foundation for further discussions.  I look forward to engaging with our Chinese counterparts as we address more complex issues to the benefit of both our nations.”

Secretary of the Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin issued the following statement:
"The ‎reopening of China's market to American beef is an example of the results-oriented approach this Administration has taken in our engagement with China. We will continue to work toward a more fair and balanced economic relationship with China by expanding opportunities for U.S. workers and businesses."

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer issued the following statement:
"I welcome China taking this important step to start allowing U.S. beef imports after shutting them out over 13 years ago.  The President's firm commitment to fair trade that benefits the United States has made this new U.S. beef export opportunity possible.  I encourage China and all countries to base their requirements on international standards and science.  America's ranchers are the best producers of beef in the global economy, and they can compete and succeed wherever there is a level playing field."


The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has posted the requirements for its Export Verification program for U.S. establishments shipping to China, which will enable packers to apply for approval to export to China.  The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has also updated its online Export Library specifying China’s requirements for certifying U.S. beef being shipped there.

China has emerged as a major beef buyer in recent years, with imports increasing from $275 million in 2012 to $2.5 billion in 2016. However, the United States has been banned from China's market since 2003. The United States is the world’s largest beef producer and was the world’s fourth-largest exporter, with global sales of more than $5.4 billion in 2016.  Until the ban took effect, the U.S. was China’s largest supplier of imported beef, providing 70 percent of their total intake.

Fischer Praises Agreement to Send U.S. Beef to China

U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) today released the following statement after the Trump Administration announced an agreement to open the market for U.S. beef to China for the first time since 2003.

“Nebraska beef producers are the best in the world. Today’s agreement is welcome news for families across our state who can now compete in a new market that is estimated at $2.6 billion. I look forward to continuing my work with the administration to expand opportunities for our beef producers to deliver their outstanding, high-quality products to a hungry world.”

Today’s announcement comes on the heels of Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue’s visit to Cherry County, Nebraska, where he joined Senator Fischer in hosting a rancher roundtable. During the discussion, Secretary Perdue stated that opening U.S. beef exports to China is a top priority and would better enable American ranchers to sell their world-class product to a growing market.

Nebraska is a proven leader in the beef industry. Currently, Nebraska exports beef products equivalent to 2,600 head of cattle worldwide every day.

Last Congress, Senator Fischer worked with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Nebraska Department of Agriculture to export Nebraska beef to Israel. In February of 2016, USDA announced a new agreement with Israel to lift the ban on U.S. beef imports for the first time since 2003. The first shipments arrived from Nebraska’s WR Reserve plant in Hastings.

 Smith Applauds Trump Administration Agreement to Send U.S. Beef to China

Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) released the following statement today after the Trump administration finalized an agreement to restore trade access for U.S. beef to China for the first time since 2003.

“We know opening more markets for Nebraska agriculture producers is crucial to their continued success in feeding the world, and restoring access to China is an incredible step forward,” Smith said.  “There is no doubt consumers in China will be pleased with the quality of Nebraska beef.  I applaud President Trump and his administration for their leadership in this effort, and I will continue to stress the importance of strong trade policy which benefits U.S. agriculture and consumers around the globe.”

Smith serves on the Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over trade, and is the founder and co-chairman of the Modern Agriculture Caucus.

Smith also recently introduced a resolution in the House calling on the Trump administration to negotiate a trade agreement with Japan.

NCBA Hails Final Agreement That Clears Way For U.S. Beef's Return to China For First Time Since 2003

Craig Uden, president of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA), today released the following statement in response to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) announcement that it has reached a final agreement with Chinese officials on a deal that will allow U.S. producers to begin beef exports to China for the first time since 2003:

"NCBA commends the leadership of President Trump and our skilled negotiators who were able to restore U.S. beef access to China, something that has been a top priority for NCBA for 13 years. NCBA worked closely with USDA throughout the entire process. In recent years, China has become one of the largest import markets for beef, and these terms are a reflection of China's trust in the safety and quality of U.S. beef. We hope that by getting our foot in the door we can develop a long lasting and mutually beneficial relationship with China."

Withdraw ‘GIPSA’ Rule, Say NPPC, Pork Producers

The National Pork Producers Council in comments submitted today again urged the U.S. Department of Agriculture to withdraw a regulation related to the buying and selling of livestock. It also delivered to the agency comments from 630 pork producers and others in the pork industry, opposing the regulation and asking that it be withdrawn.

The comments were on an interim final rule of the so-called Farmer Fair Practices Rules, which was written by USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA). The interim final rule is set to become effective Oct. 19. (NPPC in late March submitted comments in opposition to the broader Farmer Fair Practices Rules.)

The interim final rule 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.

In its comments, NPPC said the rule “is illegal and in conflict with the clear direction of every federal Circuit Court of Appeals that has reviewed the Packers and Stockyards Act, was improperly promulgated, is not supported by the Administrative Record and will have a destructive impact on the meat sector by harming the very farmers GIPSA is entrusted to protect.”

USDA in 2010 proposed several PSA provisions – collectively known as the GIPSA Rule – that Congress mandated in the 2008 Farm Bill; lawmakers rejected a provision that would have eliminated the need to prove a competitive injury to win a PSA lawsuit. Additionally, eight federal appeals courts have held that harm to competition must be an element of a PSA case.

“The Interim Final Rule, promulgated without any justification, will trigger a torrent of lawsuits against members of the pork industry and create uncertainty that will stifle investment and innovation without providing any identifiable benefits to consumers,” NPPC said. “In doing so, it will harm U.S. pork producers and their employees and customers, reversing decades of growth and job creation by the U.S. pork industry.”

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.

Livestock Producers Support Nomination of Susan Bodine to Key EPA Enforcement Post

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Public Lands Council today sent a letter to U.S. Senators John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Thomas Carper (D-Del.) urging them to support the nomination of Susan Bodine to be the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) assistant administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA). Sens. Barrasso and Carper serve as chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, which is scheduled to hold a confirmation hearing regarding Bodine’s nomination on Tuesday morning.

“Bodine has impeccable credentials with 29 years of environmental law and policy experience garnered from leadership positions in the federal government and private sector,” said NCBA President Craig Uden and PLC President David Eliason in the joint letter. “America’s livestock producers are invested in keeping our air, water, and land clean for future generations of livestock producers. A compliance-first approach to regulatory programs would enable farmers and ranchers to work with EPA as partners in environmental stewardship rather than simply being regulatory targets. With Bodine at the helm of OECA, we believe we can achieve this goal and herald an era of environmental success.”

Bodine currently serves as Chief Counsel for the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, and she was previously the staff director and senior counsel for the House Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, and the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. During the George W. Bush Administration, Bodine served as the Assistant Administrator of EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. Bodine was a partner at Barnes & Thornburg LLP where she led coalition efforts on environmental issues.

“On a personal level, NCBA and PLC have found Bodine to be a valuable resource due to her breadth of experience and knowledge,” Uden and Eliason said. “And importantly, she is fair and impartial in all areas of her work. For these reasons and many more, NCBA and PLC strongly support Susan Bodine’s nomination to Assistant Administrator of OECA.”

ASA Lists Benchmarks in Comments on NAFTA Renegotiation

In comments submitted to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) today, the American Soybean Association (ASA) underscored the importance of maintaining and building on the extensive agricultural trade relationships have developed between the United States and Canada and Mexico through the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). ASA’s comments came following announcement by President Donald Trump last month that the U.S. would move to renegotiate the 24-year-old pact.

ASA included in its comments a list of benchmarks that reflect the gains already achieved in increasing U.S. agricultural exports to its NAFTA trading partners, and called on USTR to preserve if not exceed them in the renegotiation. These include maintaining a comprehensive, rules-based approach, and ensuring no backsliding by any party on agriculture or non-agriculture market access commitments.

With regard to biotechnology, ASA urged USTR to pursue stronger language on sanitary and phytosanitary standards (SPS) geared toward enhancing cooperation between regulatory agencies and avoiding trade disruptions related to agricultural production technologies. ASA included suggestions to adopt trade-facilitative residue levels and adventitious presence mechanisms, and to establish in the renegotiation a long-term and formal low-level presence policy (LLP) for biotech trait shipments between the three countries. Looking to support the animal agriculture sector that represents the largest buyer of U.S. soybean meal, ASA included benchmarks to maintain the successful elements of the agreement with regard to dairy entry into Mexico, while targeting greater market access for poultry, egg, and dairy product exports into Canada.

Beyond its specific recommendations, ASA cited the dramatic growth of the Canadian and Mexican markets for U.S. soybeans, and for American agricultural products overall, since the implementation of NAFTA in 1993. In 2015, the U.S. exported $438 million in soy products to Canada, a 220 percent increase from the $199 million sold in 1987. Soy exports to Mexico in 2015 totaled $2.44 billion, nearly 500 percent greater than the $489 million sold in 1993.

Dairy Groups Pledge to Work with Trump Administration on NAFTA Modernization

Two leading dairy groups said today they will work with the Trump Administration to modernize the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to make sure it safeguards open trade with Mexico and confronts increasingly protectionist dairy policies by Canada.

In joint comments sent to the U.S. Trade Representative, the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) describe the existing North American dairy landscape as one in which U.S. dairy products flow relatively unhindered to Mexico but are curtailed by Canada’s increasing use of policy tools violating international trade obligations.

“NAFTA has accomplished a great deal over the past two-plus decades, but it has also been overtaken by new, unanticipated forms of trade and trade problems,” said Tom Vilsack, U.S. Dairy Export Council president and CEO. “We agree that NAFTA could use a facelift and our industry looks forward to working with the Trump Administration to explore ways to preserve and strengthen it.”

Since NAFTA’s implementation, the United States has shifted from being a consistent net importer of dairy products to being a significant net exporter. Over the past five years, cumulative U.S. dairy exports are more than double the import total.

“The relationship between the dairy sectors of the U.S., Mexico and Canada is of such great importance to all of our nations that we need to devote the time and effort to make it better,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation.  “A modernized NAFTA agreement must preserve the open and dependable trade relationship with Mexico, and remove remaining barriers to trade that were not adequately addressed in the original agreement.”

Last year, the U.S. dairy industry exported $1.2 billion worth of dairy products to Mexico, a dramatic increase from $124 million in 1995. Mexico is the largest U.S. dairy export market by far, roughly double the size of the industry’s second-largest market, Canada.

The comments submitted to USTR say a modernized NAFTA can increase U.S. dairy exports, create jobs and build business partnerships between the three countries. On the other hand, withdrawing from NAFTA could devastate the U.S. dairy industry. Last year’s dairy exports to Mexico alone required the milk equivalent of 1,500 American dairy farms.

The document’s top request of the Trump Administration is for a “decisive confrontation and resolution” of nontariff concerns, including the removal of Canadian milk pricing classes 6 & 7, and the inclusion of Canadian dairy tariffs.

The industry’s main concern for Mexico is protecting the ability to sell cheeses with common names, like "parmesan," "gorgonzola," "asiago" and "provolone.” An aggressive ongoing effort by the European Union (EU) to claim sole ownership of these cheeses must be rejected by Mexican and U.S. officials, according to comments from USDEC and NMPF.

U.S. dairy companies have been working with partners in the Mexican dairy industry for years to build the size and variety of cheese demand in Mexico. The comments ask the Administration to make it clear that the U.S. is “vehemently opposed to the imposition of any new restrictions on the market access opportunities for U.S. products relying on common names.”

The document concludes by stating its commitment to work with the Administration to modernize NAFTA.

“Improvements to NAFTA that prioritize our positive trade relationship with Mexico and address Canada’s flouting of its trade commitments to us can be achieved and are worth pursuing,” the document said. “This is an essential agreement that the United States dairy industry, and in fact the broader economy, cannot do without. It is because NAFTA is so important that this modernization effort is so valuable.

U.S. Should Create a Fair Trade Framework That Puts Family Farmers, Ranchers, & Rural Communities First

As the Trump Administration navigates a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), National Farmers Union (NFU) is urging the administration to establish a new, fair trade framework for international trade deals that benefits family farmers, ranchers, and rural residents.

In public comments submitted today to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, NFU President Roger Johnson highlighted the shortcomings of the United States’ current free trade paradigm, citing its contribution to the massive U.S. trade deficit and abandonment of U.S. sovereignty to the detriment of farming and rural communities. He urged Lighthizer to use the NAFTA renegotiation as an opportunity to create a new, fair trade framework for future trade deal negotiations.

“While exports and trade are essential to family farmers and ranchers, free trade agreements too often result in the corporate consolidation of power that ultimately undermines the economic opportunity for farmers,” Johnson wrote. “Renegotiation of NAFTA should prioritize family farmers and ranchers, not agribusiness, and the working people across our country.”

In his comments, Johnson stated that NFU has long been concerned with the nation’s massive and persistent trade deficit that U.S. trade negotiators have failed to address in past negotiations. In 2016, the U.S. accumulated a trade deficit of $502.3 billion, which represented a 3 percent drag on the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP).

“While agriculture typically maintains a trade surplus, which is beneficial, it represents less than 4 percent of the overall trade deficit,” he added. “Unfortunately, in recent years, even the agricultural trade surplus has declined. Free trade agreements have not resulted in a stable positive balance of trade for U.S. agriculture.”

Johnson noted that free trade agreements – which typically operate under the framework that NAFTA initiated – have benefitted multinational corporations, often at the expense of farming and rural communities.

For example, NAFTA was the first trade agreement to include the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions that give investors special privileges in international trade. “These protections allow for and encourage the offshoring of domestic jobs and threaten the sovereignty and democratic policies of the U.S. and our trading partners,” contended Johnson.

Johnson maintained that free trade agreements have stripped the U.S. of its sovereignty. He urged the Trump Administration to rework NAFTA to allow for domestic sovereignty over laws regarding food and agriculture.

“The Administration should include restoring Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) as one of the chief negotiation objectives in agriculture,” said Johnson. “COOL is one strong example of a popular domestic law that has been usurped by free trade deals that undermine our nation’s ability to pass and maintain laws for the benefit of America.”

“Agriculture has been central to the advocacy efforts around free trade agreements for decades. NFU stands ready to assist USTR and the Administration in creating a new fair trade paradigm,” Johnson concluded.

CWT Assists with 549,000 Pounds of Cheese Export Sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 6 requests for export assistance from member cooperatives that have contracts to sell 548,951 pounds (249 metric tons) of Cheddar, Gouda, and Monterey Jack cheese to customers in Asia and Oceania. The product has been contracted for delivery in the period from June through September 2017.

So far this year, CWT has assisted member cooperatives who have contracts to sell 38.257 million pounds of American-type cheeses, and 3.013 million pounds of butter (82% milkfat) to 17 countries on five continents. The sales are the equivalent of 420.905 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.

Organic Livestock and Poultry Rules Benefits Family Organic Producers and Consumers

In an effort to improve the consistency and integrity of organic livestock practices and labeling, National Farmers Union (NFU) is urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to finalize a set of regulations on organic livestock and poultry practices that are currently on hold.

NFU President Roger Johnson emphasized the organization’s support in public comments submitted today to Dr. Paul Lewis, director of the National Organic Program.

“NFU supports organic livestock production standards that are uniform and account for feeding and animal health care practices,” said Johnson. “As such, we strongly endorse the final rule regarding Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices, which will ensure consistency across the organic label.”

Currently, organic certifiers are inconsistently applying animal welfare standards to farming and ranching operations, leading to consumer confusion and the endangerment of the organic label’s integrity. “This important set of regulations seeks to even the playing field and standardize organic livestock and poultry practices for the voluntary National Organic Program,” noted Johnson.

The final regulations include clarification on how, when and what physical alterations may be performed on livestock and poultry; definition of outdoor access; standardization of maximum indoor and outdoor stocking density for avian species; and clarification on the allowed treatment of livestock and poultry for their health and well being.

“Food producers and consumers alike benefit from thorough, accurate, and consistent food labeling,” said Johnson. “We strongly urge USDA to enact these rules on November 14, 2017, as scheduled.”

Friday June 9 Ag News

Central Valley Ag, Farmway announce merger

Farmway Co-op, Inc. (Farmway) membership votes to approve unification with Central Valley Ag (CVA). After a series of 13 informational voting sessions, accounting firm K-COE ISOM certified the owners of Farmway approved the merger with CVA by a super majority of 91%. The unified cooperative will retain the Central Valley Ag name and be headquartered in York, Neb. with Carl Dickinson serving as President/CEO.

“We are pleased that Farmway members have voted to unify CVA and Farmway. Both Boards felt strongly that unification would bring additional value to the members of both cooperatives and the results of the Farmway vote reaffirms this,” said Dave Beckman, CVA Board Chairman. “Central Valley Ag cooperative has a proud history on which the foundation has been laid for building a promising future of service to its members in agriculture.”

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 voting members received ballots at informational voting sessions throughout May and June with the final tally of votes completed June 8.

 “We are confident that together, we will become an even stronger cooperative for our member-owners with the ability to maintain local farmer-ownership for generations to come,” said Tim Porter, Farmway Board Chairman. “On behalf of our boards, management and employees, we appreciate each and every member who cast a ballot which made today’s announcement possible.”

Farmway and CVA will officially unite into one cooperative September 1, 2017. The new Central Valley Ag will consist of locations across Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas with more than 800 employees dedicated to serving its producer-owners. The cooperative offers a wide range of products, services, information and innovation through its agronomy, energy, feed and grain divisions to meet the needs of agricultural producers across the region.

To learn more, visit or

Nebraska Cattlemen Members Gather to Discuss Key Issues at 2017 Midyear Meetings

Great weather brought excellent attendance this year at the Nebraska Cattlemen (NC) annual Midyear Meeting held June 6 - 7 in Wayne and West Point, Nebraska.

The week kicked off Tuesday, June 6,in Wayne where the Nebraska Cattlemen Board of Directors received a report from its Building Task Force. After a discussion about the proposed building project, the NC Board voted to proceed with purchasing land and building an office near Interstate 80 in northwest Lincoln. "We appreciate the work the Task Force members have done to thoroughly explore several options during the past two years," NC President Troy Stowater said.  "We have been saving for this opportunity and are looking forward to investing in a facility members can be proud to call the Lincoln headquarters for Nebraska Cattlemen."

The Task Force and Board will continue to refine plans and have set a goal to complete the office building by August 2018, concurrent with the end of the existing office lease. The remainder of the day was filled with activities including a golf tournament and an area tour, ending with a steak dinner and live music at the Wayne County fairgrounds.

The Nebraska Cattlemen membership gathered on Wednesday, June 7, in West Point for policy meetings, and numerous important topics were discussed. Two topics seemed to generate the most attention: the recently filed lawsuit regarding Nebraska brand statutes and the continued burden of property taxes on members.

The NC Board has been and will continue to be fully engaged in the brand policy process with its members, the Nebraska Brand Committee (NBC), the Nebraska Legislature and other associations in finding solutions for all beef producers.

NC policy supports brand recording, inspection and investigation, as well as modernization of the registered feedyard program.  Clear evidence of NC's commitment to the strength and stability of the NBC was never more evident than during the just concluded 105th Legislature, 1st Session.  The Appropriations Committee attempted to sweep $500,000 from NBC funds due to the state budget shortfall.  NC members and staff worked with state senators to restore all the funds, maintaining NBC financial stability as it works to be more efficient in the near future.

NC has recognized, since the merger of the Nebraska Stock Growers and Nebraska Livestock Feeders, the brand issue is a passionate one to many within its membership.  Respect has been maintained through numerous policy debates and the Association has worked vigorously in finding solutions surrounding this complex issue.  "We are committed to the policy process and the strength of the entire membership especially during this time of legal challenge to the state's brand statutes," stated NC Brand and Property Rights Committee Chairman, Terry Cone.

With regard to property taxes, Nebraska Cattlemen members received an update on the 2017 legislative session.  Since adjournment of the session, there has been talk of a proposal to put a question on the 2018 ballot for voters statewide to weigh in on property tax relief.  Secretary of State John Gale addressed the NC Taxation committee on the mechanics of the ballot process and discussed the various steps and criteria that must be met for a question to qualify and be approved for the ballot.  Nebraska Cattlemen has robust policy on tax relief and reform, and will remain actively engaged in discussions during the interim period leading up to the 2018 legislative session and elections.

Repeal of the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate is also a top federal priority for Nebraska Cattlemen members.  An ELD synchronizes with a vehicle engine to automatically record driving time.  Absent a delay, the U.S. Department of Transportation will require all motor carriers to install and use an ELD no later than December 18, 2017.  The ELD mandate and existing hours of service regulations pose significant consequences for the livestock industry.  Nebraska Cattlemen recently adopted policy opposing the mandate and is working on a permanent fix at the federal level.

It was a busy week of discussion for Nebraska Cattlemen members and the association will continue striving to support its members across the state.

Nebraska Cattlemen Foundation Recognizes Retail Value Steer Challenge Winners  

The annual Nebraska Cattlemen Foundation (NCF) Retail Value Steer Challenge (RVSC) winners were honored at the NC Foundation lunch on June 7 during the Nebraska Cattlemen (NC) Midyear Meeting in West Point.

The RVSC is the primary fundraiser for NC Foundation with money raised supporting youth & adult educational programs, scholarships, research & infrastructure projects, history preservation and judging teams at colleges in Nebraska.

Three winners of each of the three categories were awarded for their steer's performance in the 18th annual Retail Value Steer Challenge. First place in the Average Daily Gain category was awarded to the steer owned by TC Ranch of Franklin. Second place went to Briggs Feedyard of Seward and third place was awarded to Ron & Nancy Kvols of Wisner. Herb Albers Feedlot of Wisner owned the steer that won the Carcass Value category with Nutrient Advisors of West Point receiving second with their steer. A steer owned by Homer & Darla Buell of Bassett and Dave & Carol McCracken of Friend received the third place honors. First place in the Total Value Category was a steer owned by Todd & Holly Schroeder of Wisner. Second place went to the steer owned by Loseke Feedlot of Columbus and Folken Feedyard of Leigh and third place went to High Plains Feed Yard of Mitchell.

The NC Foundation would like to recognize the support of Darr Feedlot, Cozad, for administration and feeding of the steers that were entered into this year's challenge. In addition, the Foundation appreciates the following sponsors for their support of the Retail Value Steer Challenge:Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., Bill's Volume Sales, Inc., Elanco Animal Health and Zinpro Performance Minerals.

Nebraska Cattlemen Foundation Announces Scholarship Recipients

The Nebraska Cattlemen Foundation (NCF) is pleased to announce it has awarded $51,000 in scholarships to students furthering their education goals in the 2017-2018 academic year.

"The Foundation strongly believes in the importance of a sound education for tomorrow's industry leaders," says Jeff Heldt, president of the Nebraska Cattlemen Foundation. "Due to the generosity of many donors and participants in the Retail Value Steer Challenge, we are able to award theses scholarships to these outstanding students."

David Schuler of Bridgeport was the recipient of the 2017 Nebraska Cattlemen Beef State Scholarship. This $10,000 scholarship was established in 2014 to support outstanding junior, senior or graduate level Nebraska resident students enrolled in a Nebraska college or university pursuing a beef industry related degree. Schuler will be a senior this fall at the University of Nebraska pursuing an Animal Science degree, with an Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship minor.

In addition to the Beef State Scholarship, the Foundation awarded 37 additional scholarships to the following students:
    Jayde Atkins, Broken Bow - $1,000 Retail Value Steer Challenge Scholarship
    McKenzie Beals, Friend - $1,200 Robert F. Lute II Memorial Scholarship
    Heather Bentley, Miller - $1,000 Retail Value Steer Challenge Scholarship
    Michael Borgelt, Wisner - $1,000 Retail Value Steer Challenge Scholarship
    Krista Carter, Alliance - $1,200 Vance Uden Memorial Scholarship
    Corey Conway, Campbell - $1,200 Bill Heller Memorial Scholarship
    Alexis Corman, Bridgeport - $1,000 Retail Value Steer Challenge Scholarship
    Emily Critser, Bellwood - $1,200 Martin Viersen Range Management Scholarship
    Michaela Cunningham, Fullerton - $1,000 Retail Value Steer Challenge Scholarship
    Cassidy Curtis, Royal - $1,200 Bill Briggs Family Memorial Scholarship
    Lane Egger, Columbus - $1,000 Retail Value Steer Challenge Scholarship

    Hannah Esch, Unadilla - $1,200 Robert F. Lute II Memorial Scholarship
    Collin Freeman, Pierce - $1,200 Clarence & Lois Jean Hartmann Scholarship
    Austin Freeman, Pierce - $1,200 Colonel Melvin Huss Scholarship
    Emily Frenzen, Fullerton - $1,000 Retail Value Steer Challenge Scholarship
    Cooper Grabenstein, Smithfield - $1,200 Cattlemen's Open Scholarship

    Karnee Hatch, Maxwell - $1,000 Retail Value Steer Challenge Scholarship
    Megan Homolka, Swanton - $1,200 Ron & Shirley Huss Scholarship
    Marissa Kegley, Kearney - $1,200 Ron & Shirley Huss Scholarship
    Eric Klitz, West Point - $1,200 Donavan Yoachim Memorial Scholarship
    Morgan Leefers, Otoe - $1,000 Retail Value Steer Challenge Scholarship
    Jason Line, Miller - $1,000 Retail Value Steer Challenge Scholarship
    Erika Loseke, Columbus - $1,200 Colonel Melvin Huss Scholarship
    Krista Ott, Wisner - $1,000 Retail Value Steer Challenge Scholarship

    Jesse Paxton, Stapleton - $1,200 Vance Uden Memorial Scholarship
    John Radil, Comstock - $1,000 Retail Value Steer Challenge Scholarship
    Brittany Reynolds, Ansley - $1,000 West Central Affiliate Scholarship
    Jessica Rudolph, Gothenburg - $1,200 Donavan Yoachim Memorial Scholarship
    Mathias, Schulte, Kearney - $1,000 Retail Value Steer Challenge Scholarship
    Hannah Settje, Raymond - $1,000 Retail Value Steer Challenge Scholarship
    Miles Stagemeyer, Page - $1,200 Cattlemen's Open Scholarship
    Collin Thompson, Eustis - $1,000 Retail Value Steer Challenge Scholarship
    Leah Treffer, Cozad - $1,200 Frank & Shirley Sibert Scholarship
    Emilye Vales, DeWitt - $1,200 Jim & Helen Gran Scholarship
    Lydia Vinton, Whitman - $1,200 Todd Ricenbaw Memorial Scholarship
    Andrea Wach, Wauneta - $1,200 Bill Pullen Scholarship
    Sage Williams, Eddyville - 1,000 Retail Value Steer Challenge Scholarship

All scholarship recipients were recognized at the Nebraska Cattlemen Midyear Meeting in West Point, Wednesday, June 7, during the Nebraska Cattlemen Foundation Lunch.


Weak farm income will continue to hamper Nebraska’s economic growth during the next three years, according to the latest long-term forecast produced by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Bureau of Business Research and the Nebraska Business Forecast Council.

“Farm incomes have been driven down over the last four years and are expected to bottom out in 2017,” said Eric Thompson, director of the Bureau of Business Research, an applied economic and business research entity of the College of Business at Nebraska. “Weakness in its largest sector will cap growth in the Nebraska economy, despite strong performances in select sectors like construction and business services.”

The updated forecast, which covers 2017 through 2019, was released June 9.

Nebraska’s net farm income is projected to decline by nearly 16 percent for 2017, to $3.7 billion, as federal support for agriculture continues to decline and as yields normalize following a strong 2016 harvest. It would be the fourth straight year of declining farm income and would equal about half of the nearly $7.5 billion Nebraska farmers realized in 2011’s record-high year.

Still, the forecasters say agriculture should hit bottom in 2017 and begin trending upward in 2018 and 2019. Better-than-expected grain yields in 2016 softened the impact of sinking crop and cattle prices. Farm income decreased by 9.2 percent in 2016, compared to previous predictions of a 17 percent decline for the year.

Farm income is projected to rise nearly 4 percent in 2018 and more than 7 percent in 2019 mostly as a result of improved productivity. The forecasters say they don’t expect a rebound in crop prices.

The outlook for farm income contrasts with the good news that non-farm income is expected to grow by an annual average of about 4 percent during the next three years – exceeding both population growth and inflation. Job growth will hover around 1 percent a year.

Other highlights from the forecast:

> Fueled by an expanding service sector, new roads and new homes, construction will be Nebraska’s fastest-growing job sector, projected to add 4,500 jobs, a nearly 9 percent increase, by the end of 2019.

> The services industry will be another fast-growing part of the economy. Thanks to population and income growth and an aging population, health-care employment is expected to increase by 1.2 to 1.4 percent per year. Expansion also is anticipated for professional and business services and the hospitality sector. Forecasters project an additional 19,000 jobs in the services sector by the end of 2019, an average annual increase of 1.6 to 1.7 percent per year.

> Manufacturing will be challenged by shortages of skilled workers and declining farm income. Jobs in durable goods manufacturing will decrease in 2017 as farmers continue to limit purchases of new machinery and equipment. However, a new chicken processing plant under development near Fremont will help add more manufacturing jobs in non-durable goods in 2019.

> A shortage of long-haul truck drivers and railroads’ declining coal business will prevent significant growth in transportation jobs. After a decline in job numbers in 2016, the sector is projected to add only about 500 jobs as of 2019 – annual growth of about 0.5 percent.

> Although net taxable sales are projected to grow by more than $3 billion over the next three years, relatively few new retail jobs will be added. That’s because of rapidly growing online sales and increasing automation in the retail labor force. The sector is projected to add 2,100 more jobs through 2019, an annual increase of less than 1 percent.

> New investments in high-speed internet are a source of new jobs in the information sector. But increasing automation in areas like publishing, broadcast media, data processing, website design and telecommunications has slowed sector job growth. Only about 300 jobs are projected to be added to the information sector through 2019 – average annual growth of less than 0.5 percent.

> Financial services employment is projected to add as many as 2,100 jobs by the end of 2019, with annual growth of 1 percent in 2017 and 2018 and 0.8 percent growth in 2019.

> Government jobs are expected to grow slowly during the next several years as state and local governments wrestle with budget deficits.

The Business in Nebraska forecast, which is updated every six months, is prepared in consultation with the Nebraska Business Forecast Council. Along with Thompson, the council is comprised of John Austin and David Rosenbaum of the Bureau of Business Research; David Dearmont of the Nebraska Department of Economic Development; Phil Baker of the Nebraska Department of Labor; Ken Lemke and Scott Loseke of the Nebraska Public Power District; and Brad Lubben of the university's Department of Agricultural Economics.

The complete Business in Nebraska economic forecast, including information about a noon June 9 webinar discussing it, is available at the Bureau of Business Research,


Based on June 1 conditions, Nebraska's 2017 winter wheat crop is forecast at 46.5 million bushels, down 34 percent from last year's crop, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Average yield is forecast at 46 bushels per acre, down 8 bushels from last year.  Acreage to be harvested for grain is estimated at 1.01 million acres, down 300 thousand acres from last year. This would be 91 percent of the planted acres, compared with last year's 96 percent harvested.

U.S.  Winter Wheat Production Up Less Than 1 Percent from May

Winter wheat production is forecast at 1.25 billion bushels, up less than 1 percent from the May 1 forecast but down 25 percent from 2016. Based on June 1 conditions, the United States yield is forecast at 48.9 bushels per acre, up 0.1 bushel from last month, but down 6.4 bushels from last year. If realized, this will be the second highest yield on record for the United States, behind only 2016.

Hard Red Winter production, at 743 million bushels, is up 1 percent from last month. Soft Red Winter, at 298 million bushels, is up 1 percent from the May forecast. White Winter, at 209 million bushels, is down 2 percent from last month. Of the White Winter production, 17.5 million bushels are Hard White and 191 million bushels are Soft White.


Growers, crop consultants and educators are encouraged to attend Nebraska Extension's Weed Management and Cover Crops Field Day from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 28 at the South Central Agricultural Laboratory near Clay Center.

The field day will include demonstrations of of herbicides for weed control in corn, popcorn and soybean as well as a view of ongoing cover crop research. An early morning demonstration will focus on weed control in soybeans followed by a demonstration of projects for weed control in corn, popcorn and sorghum. Onsite demonstration of cover crop research will highlight the afternoon session.

"A number of projects will be demonstrated during the field day, including weed control in Xtend soybean and Balance Bean,” said extension weed management specialist Amit Jhala. “New this year for participants to learn about are research projects aimed at incorporating cover crops into corn and soybean cropping systems.”

Certified Crop Advisor Continuing Education Units are available.  There is no cost to attend the field day, but participants are asked to register at  The South Central Agricultural Laboratory is 4.5 miles west of the intersection of Highways 14 and 6, or 12.4 miles east of Hastings on Highway 6. GPS coordinates of the field day site is 40.57539, -98.13776.

Siouxland Energy Makes Strides in Cellulosic Ethanol Production

Growth Energy plant member Siouxland Energy has taken a key first step in producing second generation biofuels at its plant in Sioux Center, Iowa, receiving Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approval on its registration to produce cellulosic ethanol. Siouxland Energy will use pathway technology from Edeniq, a Growth Energy associate member, to produce cellulosic ethanol from corn fiber as opposed to the corn kernel.

Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor praised Siouxland Energy’s decision.

“This is an example of the innovative initiative that Growth Energy is so proud to have in our membership,” Skor said.

“Siouxland Energy is a 60 million gallon per year plant in Iowa that was looking to expand into the cellulosic space. So, they went out, linked up with Edeniq, and made it happen. Now they’re going to be making cellulosic ethanol in addition to the cleaner burning, high-octane fuel they’re already producing. This is a shining example of the inextricable link between first and second generation biofuels. It is critically important that we have sound policies in place, like the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), that provide the certainty needed for plants like Siouxland Energy to invest in cellulosic technology. Ethanol today reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 43 percent, and as technology advances, those reductions will grow. I am energized every day by what the future holds for this industry.”

Tom Miller, commodity manager at Siouxland Energy, spoke about the transformative significance of the facility’s new forward-looking program.

“We have been looking for a way to add some more value to the plant,” Miller said.

“We found Edeniq and found that they were doing cellulosic out of corn fiber, so that’s how we started the process. We applied with EPA, got approval, and it looks like it’s going to add a good amount of net income to the plant. But not only that, it makes us a greener plant, which is important to us, and could add even more value through California gallons down the road.”



The Trump Administration has unveiled their proposed budget which calls for the elimination of funding for the Market Access Program (MAP) and the Foreign Market Development (FMD) program in the federal government’s 2018 fiscal year, starting Oct. 1, 2017. These fundamental programs support the promotion of corn in all forms in international markets. Congressional support for maintaining the level of funding for MAP and FMD programs continues to be crucial as they are the muscle of what drives our export programs.

MAP and FMD cooperators, like the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) and U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), employ staff around the world, to build and defend U.S. market share of corn in all forms, including meat, DDGS and ethanol. The Iowa Corn Promotion Board (ICPB) each year designates Iowa corn checkoff dollars to match and support international market development programs through these partner organizations. For example, the MAP & FMD programs return $28 for every dollar invested.

This move will be detrimental not only to agriculture, but also to America’s economy overall. For instance, exports of U.S. corn and corn products generated $74.7 billion to the U.S. economy in 2014, according to an analysis by Informa Economics. At a time when the farm economy is struggling, we should be investing more in these programs, not less.

The protection of MAP and FMD funding continues to be one of the top priority issues of the Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA). We call on our farmer-members and those in agriculture to urge Congress to reject these cuts.

Ethanol Powered Racing Back at Iowa Speedway for 11th Running of the Iowa Corn 300

The Iowa Corn 300, one of the major IndyCar racing events of the year, will race into the Iowa Speedway on Sunday, July 9. This will be the 11th running of the Iowa Corn sponsored event to promote the power and performance of ethanol on the fastest short track on the planet!

The Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA) and the Iowa Corn Promotion Board (ICPB) look forward to being able to tout the many benefits of ethanol to fans at the track and around the world including its value to the U.S. economy, to reducing fuel costs and carbon emissions as well as providing a homegrown fuel source.

“IndyCars, which run at speeds over 200 miles per hour, are powered by 85 percent ethanol, so fans can see firsthand the power and performance of cleaner-burning ethanol,” said ICPB President Larry Klever, a farmer from Audubon. “We are pleased to continue to bring the premier racing event to Iowa and continue our partnership with Iowa Speedway and IndyCar.”

ICGA President Kurt Hora says the race will be one of the premier events to celebrate ICGA’s 50th anniversary. “With more than 1,500 ICGA members typically attending the race, and a full house at the track, this event is a great place to connect with people from across the state. We have an even larger audience tuning in from across the nation and world. This year is especially significant because ICGA will be celebrating its 50th Anniversary as the country’s longest-standing and most influential corn growers’ association. Promoting Iowa Corn and homegrown ethanol, celebrating 50 years of ICGA and educating consumers will be all accomplished with this one great event.”

The Iowa Corn 300 and the Iowa Speedway have one of the longest running partnership in IndyCar competition. “This is truly an event for the whole family,” shared Hora. “I enjoy seeing families at the track taking in the fan walk, seeing the speeding cars and the excitement of the fans. The Iowa Corn 300 is one of the top summer events in Iowa and I would encourage everyone to come check it out.”

If you have questions, please log on to for the race day schedule and more information on ethanol.

WEBINAR: An Exploration of the Commercial Use of Drones in Agribusiness, Infrastructure and Mining

Tuesday, June 20th, 2017

Uses for so-called unmanned aircraft systems (UAS or drones) are abundant, particularly in the agriculture, infrastructure and mining industries. Drones can collect data crucial for precision farming and monitor herds on ranches. They can help assess the condition of transmission lines, structures, mining projects and storm damage. They can handle costly and dangerous inspections, collect topographical data and monitor stockpile inventories. But they also raise unique safety concerns and present novel privacy and intellectual property rights challenges. The Federal Aviation Administration, as well as numerous states, is active in regulating commercial drone use.

Members of Dorsey & Whitney and industry experts will discuss the current and future of drone use in agribusiness, infrastructure and mining. They will provide the tools needed to navigate the legal and regulatory hurdles presented by drones, and they will discuss the future of drone regulation under the Trump Administration.  Register here...

Beef Checkoff, State Beef Councils Join Forces to Celebrate Beef Jerky Day June 12

The Beef Checkoff Program has identified a novel way to help celebrate Beef Jerky Day June 12, with some powerful support from state beef councils. That day, state beef council staffs will deliver beef jerky bouquets created by the beef checkoff to news personalities at television outlets in many of the country’s top media and consumer markets in their states.

The bouquets, in custom “Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner” vases, are being delivered to 115 television stations in the top 30 U.S. markets and others. They are accompanied by beef information that includes tips on how beef jerky is the “ultimate snack hack” for consumers.

The project allows the industry to help promote a powerhouse protein snack in a unique and promotable way, according to Jerry Effertz, a beef producer from Velva, N.D. and chairman of the Federation of State Beef Councils. “Beef jerky is a popular, low fat and high-quality protein that has many benefits,” says Effertz. “We think these bouquets will provide broadcasters with something fun and interesting to talk about on air.”

The partnership between state beef councils and the Beef Checkoff Program gives the councils another opportunity to communicate with their target media outlets, says Valerie Rasmussen, director of consumer information and marketing for the Virginia Beef Industry Council. She says that because Jerky Day falls during the same week as one of VBIC’s largest promotions – BurgerFest – the collaboration makes huge sense for the producers in that state.

“The event not only allows us turn-key airtime to promote our upcoming consumer event, but also leads a discussion in the healthfulness and convenience of this portable protein snack,” says Rasmussen. “It’s a win-win for VBIC and beef as a whole.”

Rasmussen says beef jerky has been on VBIC’s radar for a few years, and is an important component of the organization’s support for its Team Beef athletes. “We’ve also built out part of our website to include how to enjoy jerky at home,” she says, “so bringing attention to Jerky Day will also bring people to additional Checkoff resources online.”

Rachel Chou, senior manager of consumer communications for the Texas Beef Council, thinks this will help the beef industry generate significant exposure. “With the constant demand for content, and the increased noise in the media, it’s always helpful and refreshing to have innovative, creative pitches that increase the visibility for beef,” she says.

“Furthermore, promoting a fun, thoughtful snacking idea is right in line with our Beef Loving Texans brand strategy to connect with Texans about something they already love,” she says. “It also provides another point of contact with TV stations across the state.”

The national beef jerky letter to media representatives includes five reasons beef jerky is the ideal snack hack, including:
-    It helps fuel kids through the final bell, keeping them attentive and ready to learn;
-    It helps you avoid the workday slump, as a healthier salty snack option;
-    It gives unexpected post-workout benefits as “nature’s protein bar”;
-    It’s a fun way to help kids celebrate a win or rebound from a loss, stamping out “hangry”; and
-    It lets you stay lively on the hiking trail.
    For more information on the benefits of beef jerky, go to For more information on how the Beef Checkoff Program is using this and other programs to help build beef demand, go to


The National Pork Producers Council this week joined the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association in requesting a rehearing of a case related to air emissions reporting, following a ruling issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The court’s decision rejected an exemption for farms from reporting emissions under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Emergency Planning Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA).

CERCLA and EPCRA work together to notify local first responders of emergency hazards. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had provided farms an exemption from CERCLA reporting of low-level emissions of ammonia and hydrogen sulfide generated from the natural breakdown of animal manure after an agency evaluation determined that any emergency response was “unnecessary, impractical and unlikely.”

Environmental activist groups sued EPA over the exemption; NPPC intervened in the lawsuit to defend the agency’s common-sense exemption. NPPC’s and U.S. Poultry’s rehearing petition is supported by the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, National Milk Producers Federation and the United Egg Producers.


NPPC this week signed onto a letter from the Ports Coalition, of which it is a member, applauding the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) for agreeing to early discussions on a contract extension that will allow ports on the West Coast to operate without interruption. PMA provided ILWU with a three-year contract extension offer April 28. ILWU voted to send the contract extension proposal to members for a vote, scheduled for later this summer.

“Agreeing to early contract discussions was clearly a difficult and unprecedented step,” the coalition wrote. “However, we believe it is a step that should serve as a model for future negotiations. We strongly believe that early and continuous dialog can strengthen the U.S. economy and the competitive position of West Coast international gateways.”

The Ports Coalition, which represents the interests of manufacturers, agribusinesses, wholesalers, retailers, importers, exporters, distributors and transportation and logistics providers, had urged the ILWU, which represents dock workers, and the PMA, which represents port owners and operators, to begin negotiations on their next contract early to avoid another work slowdown such as the one the affected 29 West Coast ports in late 2014-early 2015. That labor dispute cost the U.S. meat industry millions of dollars in lost export sales.

Growth Energy Announces Ad Launch for E15 Fix

Growth Energy today announced a seven-figure campaign aimed at promoting legislation that will allow U.S. retailers to offer more biofuel choices to customers year-round. The bipartisan Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act (S. 517) is now awaiting action in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and would extend the Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) volatility waiver to gasoline blended with 15 percent ethanol (E15), creating a level playing field for E15. A hearing is scheduled for June 14.

“This legislation is essential to America’s continued leadership in low-carbon biofuels,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “It will lift a needless burden on retailers and let drivers pick their own fuel – saving money and improving air quality. For too long, outdated rules have forced drivers to switch to less environmentally-friendly options at the pump during the summer driving season, when fuel prices reach their peak. After three years of hard work, we finally have a chance to enact a fix. Growth Energy is committed to ensuring that lawmakers and their constituents know exactly why this is so important, especially when it comes to lifting market barriers for biofuels. This campaign will highlight how red tape is limiting consumer choice at the pump, denying drivers access to cleaner, more affordable fuel options.”

The Growth Energy campaign will feature TV and digital ads (examples here and here) in Washington, D.C., and in key markets across the country. The ads also encourage voters to lend their support to members of Congress who are fighting for a fix.

“From a retail perspective, this minor fix would be a major relief to those offering E15 today and remove one of the biggest barriers for those wanting to offer E15,” wrote Mike Lorenz, Executive Vice President for Sheetz, in a recent column on the topic. “This fix doesn’t change anything about renewable fuel targets, but it does give consumers who want a cleaner, higher-octane and more affordable option the ability to choose for themselves. Not to forget, it also supports a homegrown industry responsible for supporting hundreds of thousands of U.S. jobs.”

The legislation has broad, bipartisan support in both the House and Senate. It would update laws that currently limit the sale of E15 from June 1 to September 15, often discouraging retailers from offering higher biofuel blends altogether. According to the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI), E15 can help to “reduce harmful volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions, displace cancer causing emissions, and reduce smog forming potential, as well as cutting greenhouse gases … E15 is also typically two to 10 cents cheaper per gallon than E10.”

Earlier this year, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt also expressed his hope for a fix but acknowledged the need for greater certainty in the laws governing RVP.

The bipartisan Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act was introduced in March and has 18 bipartisan sponsors, including Sens. Deb Fischer (R-NE), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), and Chuck Grassley (R-IA). Senate champions have sought to bring the bill to a vote in the next few weeks.

Thursday June 8 Ag News

Vyhnalek to assume farm transitions role with NE Extension
Nebraska Extension’s educational effort focused on farm succession and transition will be led by Allan Vyhnalek, effective July 1. Vyhnalek, currently an extension educator and unit leader in Platte County, will transition to the role within the Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. 

As the age of Nebraska’s farm and ranch operators continues to trend older, it’s important for those operators to have a plan in place to pass on the family operation. Farm succession and transition plans involve numerous decisions regarding business, family, tax and legal issues and can often be an overwhelming task for operators.

“In this role I want to help Nebraskans understand how important it is to have a farm or ranch succession plan in place,” Vyhnalek said. “Solid communication is needed to ensure smooth transitions, and Nebraska Extension has tools and resources available to guide those conversations through each stage of planning.”

Part of extension’s programming in this area includes a workshop called, “So you’ve inherited a farm – Now what?” This workshop helps new owners understand what it means to own an agricultural operation. Land values and rental rates, family communication, future goals for the land, land ownership options and rental considerations are sample topics covered in this workshop.

Vyhnalek has worked in extension in Iowa and Nebraska for over 29 years. A native of Saline County, Vyhnalek received B.S. and M.S. degrees from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln in agricultural education. He taught in high school and post-secondary classrooms for eight years prior to joining extension.

Contract Production: Making Opportunities for Nebraska Livestock Producers

Farmers looking to diversify their operations to withstand increasing volatility in the marketplace might consider taking advantage of growing opportunities in contract livestock production.
That was the overarching message from a recent panel of current contract livestockproducers and industry experts speaking to over 200 participants at informational events in Seward, David City and York, Nebraska.

"With continuing volatility in the ag sector, farm families need to evaluate opportunities to diversity their operations, reduce operating costs, increase equity and expand secure sources of revenue," said Alan Stephens, senior business development manager for The Maschhoffs, one of the largest family owned hog-farming networks in North America.

"By partnering with the right integrator, custom feeding of pigs offers a great option, with minimal risk, to bolster the long-term financial health of their farming operations," Stephens said.

During the informational meetings, producers could ask questions and get an overview of the possibilities from contracting companies, or "integrators," and from farmers already partnering on these types of contracts.

Farmers learned contract production can take various forms, some examples discussed by the panel included:
-    Farmer-partner contracts, where farmers own the land and buildings used for the livestock and are paid to care for the animals. This includes day-to-day care of the livestock, vaccinations, sorting, manure management and sometimes ordering feed. The contracting companies pay for veterinary services, feed, and the cost of hauling animals to and from the farm.
-    Contract systems where farmers own the land and buildings, but the integrators provide management of the barn and hire the workforce. Under these contracts, farmers are hands off, except for manure management, and are paid for leasing their buildings to the integrators.

Whatever the form, the goal is to provide opportunities for livestock operators to thrive financially by adding an increased and more secure revenue stream. These partnerships also grow equity through building of a new barn and reduce operating costs while improving soil quality and crop yields through effective use of manure. In the end, this increases the chance of bringing the next generation back home to the farm.

"Contract livestock production is an opportunity for younger farm family members to stay on the farm," said panelist Robert Turek, senior vice president of feed for Central Valley Ag Cooperative. "Increased livestock production is good for our communities too; it increases the tax base and improves grain prices. This is truly a win-win-win proposition."

If you're interested in learning more, please contact Emily Skillett, livestock development coordinator for AFAN (Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska, at 402-421-4416 or

Agricultural Education Students Receive Scholarships

The Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation awarded 10 scholarships to students enrolled in the Agricultural Education Teaching Program at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln.

“Each of these 10 students have demonstrated a passion for agriculture and their excitement to continue to grow the agricultural education and FFA programs in Nebraska,” said Megahn Schafer, executive director of the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation. “We are happy to support scholarships that align with our vison of developing strong agricultural leaders to ensure a bright future for agriculture in Nebraska,” she continued.

Each recipient will receive a $1,500 scholarship during their student teaching semester at the University. Applicants answered why they wanted to be an agricultural education teacher, professional goals for the future, and what the scholarship would mean to them.

“To me, Agricultural Education instructors are more than just teachers. They are mentors, role models, support systems, and friends,” said Jacob Goldfuss, a senior from O’Neill, NE. “I want to do my part in preparing the next generation of leaders in the world’s most important industry, agriculture.”

The 10 recipients of the scholarships are Jacob Goldfuss, Holt county; Mattison Sullivan, Nuckolls county; Sarah Wollenburg, Gage county; Spencer Noble, Boone county; Juliana Krotz, Lancaster county; Shawna Wheeler, Cherry county; Laura Lundeen, Kearney county; Maranda Kegley, Buffalo county; Morgan Schilling, Red Willow county; and Chris Scheideler, Greeley county.

Scholarships recipients were honored at the Nebraska Career Education (NCE) Conference in Kearney, June 7. The Foundation received the Outstanding Business Cooperation Award from the Nebraska Agricultural Educators Association during the conference. Six of the ten honorees were in attendance and recognized at the Nebraska Agricultural Educators Association banquet. In attendance were, Julianna Krotz, Laura Lundeen, Mattison Sullivan, Jacob Goldfuss, Christina Scheideler, and Sarah Wollenburg.

At the conference, the Foundation announced a call for applications for the Nebraska Agricultural Education Teacher Retention Program. Current teachers who have existing student loans and are in their first through fifth year of teaching are invited to apply. Applications can be found at and are due August 15.

Repositioning Pork to Reach a Changing Audience

With the consumer market for pork and other protein sources changing rapidly, the Pork Checkoff is putting the finishing touches on a plan to capitalize on those changes by repositioning pork marketing, Terry O’Neel, president of the National Pork Board, told an audience at World Pork Expo Thursday. “The Pork Checkoff has embarked on a journey to determine how best to market pork today,” O’Neel, a pork producer from Friend, Neb., said. “The direction may be drastically different than we’ve seen in the last quarter century.”

The big changes that require a new marketing plan, the National Pork Board’s chief executive officer Bill Even said, are driven by what he called “the three M’s”:

Millennials: America’s largest generation has increasing buying power and makes buying decisions differently than its predecessor generations.
Mobile: The speed of communication and access to information fuels demand, requiring constant attention to new means of communication.
Multicultural: Currently 36 percent of the U.S. population, the newest arrivals to the U.S. and their families will make up 50 percent of the population by 2050.

Even said that responding to those drivers in a way that assures pork demand remains strong prompted the National Pork Board to spend the past year conducting extensive research to define the critical needs of pork marketing. The research has included in-depth discussions with producers, packers, processors, retailers, foodservice, and consumers.

Jarrod Sutton, the National Pork Board’s vice president of domestic marketing, said the research was designed “to find the marketing sweet spot at the intersection of market trends such as population growth and growing market diversity; market opportunity that capitalizes on pork’s flavor, convenience and value, and marketing tools the Checkoff can use to reach younger and more diverse audiences.

Sutton views the changing marketplace as an opportunity to inspire all segments of the pork chain to find new ways to succeed. The signs are positive, Sutton said. Demand for protein remains strong. Red meat and poultry production is projected to grow over the next three years -- by 6.6 percent for beef, by 9 percent for poultry and by 12.3 percent for pork, starting with projections that 2017 will be a record year for pork production

Sutton said the new direction of Pork Checkoff-funded marketing will build on the three pillars of pork’s brand identity – quality, trust and value – and “will provide a unique value to the pork supply chain to position itself as the industry leader in knowledge of the consumer’s requirements and preferences, insights into category growth, and future-proof solutions for stakeholders to grow and thrive in a rapidly changing world.”

O’Neel said he expects that the new marketing strategy will be deployed early in 2018.

Learn How to Identify, Diagnose Corn and Soybean Issues this Growing Season at the Field Diagnostic Clinic

Crop advisors, agronomists and agribusiness professionals are encouraged to take a day this summer to learn about and improve their knowledge of diagnostics and identification of common issues in corn and soybean fields. The Field Diagnostics Clinic, hosted by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, will include topics such as: herbicide injury identification, Palmer amaranth and nutrient deficiencies and fertilizer injuries. The clinic will take place at the Field Extension Education Lab in Boone, Iowa.

“The program is scheduled for mid-July, which is an advantage for crop advisors who attend because they will be able to see and learn to identify issues that will occur throughout the growing season,” said Warren Pierson, coordinator of the Field Extension Education Lab. “Most issues we discuss at the clinic will be current topics or issues that may show up in July and August.”

Mark Licht will lead two discussions: “Digging for issues in corn: what went wrong?” and “What went wrong with these soybeans?” Licht will take the group out to the demonstration plots to explain what to look for above and below the ground when assessing a corn crop for issues. The soybean discussion will be centered around the risks of early soybean planting and reduced populations that could lead to frost damage and reduced stands.

Learn about common corn diseases that are appearing or are expected to appear based on the growing conditions this summer in Alison Robertson’s presentation “Corn diseases and how to tell them apart.” Daren Mueller will discuss how to use field guides to help diagnose soybean diseases in his presentation: “How to use ‘A Farmer’s Guide to Soybean Diseases’ to identify soybean issues this year.”  Those who attend the Field Diagnostic Clinic will receive a 50% discount on A Farmer's Guide to Soybean Diseases for a purchase price of $15.

“We have a great lineup of common issues that occur in corn and soybean production,” said Pierson. “One topic that agronomists may find of particular interested is the Palmer amaranth discussion where Bob Hartzler will talk about Palmer amaranth identification and compare it to other amaranth species.”

The Field Extension Education Laboratory is located at 1928 240th St., Boone, Iowa. Check-in will begin at 8:30 a.m. on July 12, with opening comments at 8:55 a.m. The clinic will adjourn at 4:30 p.m.

Advance registration is required to attend this clinic. Registrations must be received by midnight, July 5, 2017. Registration is $125 and includes refreshments, lunches, and course materials and publications. Additional workshop information and online registration with credit card is available at

Interested in management during the mid- to late-growing season? A Crop Management Clinic will take place the next day, July 13, at FEEL. Visit
if you’re also interested in attending the Crop Management Clinic.

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

ASA Welcomes President Trump's Infrastructure Commitment

American Soybean Association (ASA) Governing Committee member Bret Davis, of Ohio, and Directors Kendell Culp, of Indiana, and Gerry Hayden, of Kentucky, were among a number of soybean farmers and industry stakeholders that joined President Donald Trump in Cincinnati yesterday to highlight the economic importance of the inland waterways system and the need to invest in upgrades to the locks and dams that enable the system to serve as an efficient mode of moving commodities, such as soybeans.

President Trump's remarks highlighted the importance of the waterways and the need for infrastructure upgrades, specifically citing the backlog in funding needs for modernization of locks and dams that have exceeded their life expectancy and are deteriorating.

Davis, a soybean farmer from Delaware, Ohio said of the event,"we appreciate and applaud the president for the attention he is placing on infrastructure needs, especially the emphasis that this event today places on our inland waterways system, which is an often overlooked aspect of our transportation infrastructure. Soybean farmers know the impact the waterways have on our bottom line and it is good to see the President and policymakers recognizing that as well."

Upgrading the inland waterways infrastructure is a top priority for ASA. Working with industry partners and policymakers, ASA is actively supporting action on a major infrastructure initiative in 2017 that provides funding to address priority needs to modernize locks and dams and other vital infrastructure.

“We’ve long maintained that the quality of our infrastructure networks in the United States—road, rail, waterways and ports—is directly connected to the competitive advantage we have over other soybean producing countries," added Culp, who farms in Rensselaer, Indiana.

"If we do not invest in modernization of this infrastructure, we lose our competitiveness in global export markets," said Hayden, a soybean grower from Calhoun, Ky. "We are very pleased to see President Trump acknowledge the importance of investing in projects to improve these vital aspects of our supply chain and we look forward to working with the Administration and Congress to advance an infrastructure package this year.”

Soy Growers Urge Funding for Food Research in 2018 Budget

Soy growers are asking Congress that $425 million be included in the FY 2018 budget for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Research Initiative (AFRI).

The American Soybean Association (ASA) and several other agriculture organizations signed onto a letter this week to Chairman John Hoeven and Ranking Member Jeff Merkley of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, and Chairman Robert Aderholt and Ranking Member Sanford Bishop of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, reiterating the importance of the program to keep American agriculture competitive and moving forward.

“All of agriculture needs innovation,” the groups state in the letters. “Whether the need is healthier cattle, healthier humans, or healthier balance sheets for farmers, the common thread is science-driven innovation. This investment creates jobs and strengthens rural economies.”

The groups said lack of funding has left U.S. scientists behind and scrambling for grants to discover disease- and weather-resistant genes for plants and animals, while scientists in other countries are quickly catching up. The letters also expresses concern, as some department heads at leading research universities are being poached by European institutions because funding is more secure.

“Funding AFRI with $425 million in FY 2018 is a modest step toward ensuring American agriculture preeminence in the face of rapidly expanding research budgets in China, Brazil, and Europe,” the groups state in the letters. “We think you will agree that our best science and our best researchers should have every opportunity to succeed so that U.S. agriculture enjoys greatness for generations to come.”

USGC Board of Directors Meets In Mexico

The full U.S. Grains Council (USGC) Board of Directors is meeting in Mexico City, Mexico, this week to discuss the trade relationship between U.S. producers and Mexican end-users.

“We felt it was really important for the board, and the board felt it was important, to meet with their customers face-to-face and hear what they have to say,” said USGC President and Chief Executive Officer Tom Sleight. “That physical presence means a lot to our Mexican trading partners.”

While in Mexico, directors were able to talk with both Mexican end-users and representatives of the Mexican government, including meetings with ANFACA, AMEPA and CONAFAB, major associations representing the local livestock feeding industries. The board discussed the current U.S.-Mexico trade environment, current pace of imports and the future of trade with the United States and alternative trading partners in South America. The meeting also included briefings from USGC staff in Mexico and representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS).

In addition to meeting with these valued customers, the group conducted regular business, including passing a fiscal year 2018 budget that will be presented to the USGC Board of Delegates in July for its approval.

Thanks to the favorable terms in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), increasingly integrated logistics and close geographic proximity, Mexico is the largest export market for U.S. corn. Mexico purchased 524.4 million bushels (13.3 million metric tons) worth $2.5 billion last marketing year, in addition to 23.86 million bushels (606,127 tons) of sorghum, 5.3 million bushels (115,000 tons) of barley and 1.9 million tons of distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS).

Mexican buyers welcome these imports because U.S. feed grains provide a reliable supply of valuable nutrition for Mexico’s growing livestock, dairy and poultry sectors. USGC’s work in Mexico over the last 30 years has helped these businesses expand their operations, while also expanding the use of U.S. grain products throughout Mexico.

USGC’s top priority as the governments of the United States, Mexico and Canada modernize NAFTA is to maintain this market access and keep this demand in place. The meetings in Mexico this week were able to show USGC directors first-hand the importance of a continued open trading relationship between the two countries.

“The Board needs to hear these concerns for themselves,” Sleight said. “The full USGC Board of Directors going down to Mexico and demonstrating their support, demonstrating their interest in the marketplace, makes a very strong statement.”

NGFA-KSU Food Safety Modernization Act Feed Industry Training

August 1-3 | IGP Conference Center | KSU | Manhattan, KS
Registration deadline July 1

Earn Preventive Controls Qualified Individual and HACCP training certificates by participating in the three-day NGFA-KSU FSMA Feed Industry Training. The program is accredited by the International HACCP Alliance and delivers the FDA-recognized curriculum for the Preventive Controls for Animal Food rule.

Upon successful completion of both components of this program,  you will receive two certificates of training - one from the FSPCA and one from the International HACCP Alliance. 

Topics Covered will include:
-        FDA's current Current Good Manufacturing Practice and Preventive Controls rule for animal food
-        Evolution of risk-based food safety preventive controls (HACCP)
-        Animal food safety plan
-        Good manufacturing requirements
-        Hazard analysis and preventive controls determination
-        Process and sanitation controls
-        Preventive controls management components
-        Recall plan
Please Note:
This particular course is two separate courses offered in succession. The course offering includes registration fees to cover both the PCQI and the HACCP components. Please reach out to Brandi Miller, 785-532-4053 or at with any questions.  Click here for more information....

Farmer Lawsuit Against Syngenta Over Chinese Trade Begins

The first of tens of thousands of U.S. lawsuits went to trial Monday in Kansas against Swiss agribusiness giant Syngenta over its decision to introduce a genetically engineered corn-seed variety to the U.S. market before China approved it for imports.

According to the Associated Press, the lawsuits allege Syngenta's move wrecked an increasingly important export market for U.S. corn and resulted in price drops that hurt all producers.

Court filings show Syngenta aggressively marketed the seeds even when it knew Chinese approval was going to be a problem. Plaintiffs' experts estimate the economic damage at $5 billion, though Syngenta denies its actions caused any losses for farmers.

The trial in Kansas City, Kansas, involves four Kansas farmers representing roughly 7,300 farmers from that state, according to William Chaney, an attorney for the plaintiffs. It will mark the first test case.

The second, involving about 60,000 cases, goes to trial July 10 in a state court in Minnesota, where Syngenta's North American seed business is based in suburban Minneapolis. The two cases are meant to provide guidance for how the complex web of litigation in state and federal courts could be resolved.

Syngenta commercialized its Viptera brand of genetically modified corn seeds before China approved importing it. Syngenta invested over $100 million and 15 years in developing Viptera, which has a trait that protects against pests such as earworms, cutworms, armyworms and corn borers, the AP reported.

With U.S. government approval, Syngenta began selling Viptera in the U.S. for the 2011 growing season. But China didn't approve it until December 2014.

Court papers show Syngenta initially assured stakeholders China would approve the trait in time for the 2011 crop. But the date kept slipping. Some exporters sent shipments containing the trait to China anyway. After two years of accepting them, China began rejecting them in late 2013.

Fraudulent Organic Certificates Posted

The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) National Organic Program (NOP) is alerting the organic trade about the presence of fraudulent organic certificates. Fraudulent organic certificates listing the following businesses are in use and have been reported to the NOP:
-    Morgan Cosmetics LLC
-    Biofir S.A De C.V
-    Agrobioos
-    Qingdao Devotion Chemical Co., Ltd.
-    Cooper Venture Associates
-    Lala Jagdish Prasad & Co.

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

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

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

Wednesday June 7 Ag News

National Pork Board Elects New Officers
Nebraska pig farmer Terry O’Neel to lead the Pork Checkoff

Terry O’Neel, a pork producer from Friend, Nebraska, was elected as president of the National Pork Board at the organization’s June board meeting in Des Moines, Iowa. The National Pork Board is comprised of 15 farmer-directors representing America’s pig farmers.

“I am proud to represent our 60,000 pig farmers and I am both honored and humbled by the confidence that the board is placing in me,” O’Neel said. “From the farm, through food chain partnerships, to the consumer’s table, people care about how their food is produced. I look forward to helping to tell the story of real pig farming in the year ahead, and also to meet first hand with the leaders who deliver our product from farm to table.”

O’Neel and his wife Diane own and operate O’Neel Farms in Friend, Nebraska, a farrow-to-finish pig farm that markets 12,000 pigs annually. In addition to pigs, O’Neel Farms also grows corn and soybeans on 700 acres.

Serving with O’Neel on the executive officer team of the Pork Checkoff is vice president Steve Rommereim, a pork producer from Alcester, South Dakota, and, as treasurer, Brett Kaysen, a pig farmer from Nunn, Colorado. Jan Archer, a pork producer from Goldsboro, North Carolina, will serve as immediate past president. The four executive officers will serve one-year terms in their positions effective at the close of the June board meeting.

“As an industry, we stand ready to face our challenges and to celebrate our successes,” O’Neel said. “And we have so much going for us – from establishing our Secure Pork Supply plan to redesigning how we market our product. The Pork Checkoff is energized and we stand ready to roll up our sleeves and get to work in support of research, pork promotion and consumer and producer education.”

Pork Checkoff Builds Momentum for Secure Pork Supply Plan

The National Pork Board, with major support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is creating a Secure Pork Supply plan to help America’s pig farmers respond quickly and successfully to a major threat, such as a foreign animal disease (FAD). The plan will enhance communication and coordination of all pork chain segments to help producers keep their farms operating and all related business activities functioning.

“We’re thankful that our country has not experienced a disease such as foot-and-mouth (FMD) since 1929,” said Terry O’Neel, National Pork Board president from Friend, Nebraska. “However, if we get the news that FMD, African swine fever or another foreign animal disease has arrived, the Secure Pork Supply plan will pay big dividends by getting pork production back to normal much faster.”

An Iowa State University study estimates potential revenue losses to U.S. pork and beef industries from an FMD outbreak would run $12.8 billion per year or $128 billion over a 10-year period. Related losses to corn and soybean markets over a decade would be $44 billion and $24.9 billion, respectively.

The Secure Pork Supply plan will provide procedures that pork producers, processors and federal/state agencies agree are feasible should an FAD strike, according to veterinarian Patrick Webb, director of swine health programs for the Pork Checkoff. This would include the safe movement of animals from farms in an FAD control area to harvest channels or to other production sites as long as the pigs have no evidence of disease.

“The Secure Pork Supply plan will provide business continuity to producers who enroll prior to an outbreak, which will allow them to be back in business faster than those who do not participate,” Webb said.

Basics of the plan that will help producer achieve this include implementing sound biosecurity, using premises identification tags, keeping detailed production records and maintaining all necessary health papers and certificates.

“As a pork producer, I want to be ready when it’s time to sign up as a participant in the Secure Pork Supply program,” O’Neel said. “In the meantime, let’s all prepare by ramping up our farms biosecurity measures and other steps so we’ll be ready to go.”

The Secure Pork Supply plan is the result of ongoing collaboration between the USDA, the National Pork Board, the National Pork Producers Council, the American Association of Swine Veterinarians and academia as well as other state and federal partners.

“The National Pork Board and our producer leaders believe that investing in the Secure Pork Supply Plan now will help the entire industry in the face of a future FAD outbreak,” said Bill Even, National Pork Board CEO. “Pork producers are known for being innovative leaders, and through this work, the Pork Checkoff is taking a leadership role in being prepared.”

NE, KS, OK, & MO Beef Checkoff Hosts Nutrition Adventure 2017

The Nebraska Beef Council, in partnership with the Kansas, Oklahoma, and Missouri beef councils, hosted a select group of 27 registered dietitians from 10 states in Kansas City, for Nutrition Adventure 2017. The checkoff-funded event, held the last week of May, emphasized beef’s nutritional profile and culinary versatility through practical applications and immersion experiences.  The attendees were selected given their high level of involvement on social media and blog platforms.

Attendees at the checkoff-funded event learned about beef nutrition, including lean cuts of beef, optimal protein levels in the diet and emerging human nutrition research. Registered dietitian Holley Grainger provided the group with practical solutions to help families prepare for mealtime through interactive demonstrations. Afterward, the dietitians were tasked with utilizing unique and trendy ingredients to maximize taste, flavor, and eating experience during a hands-on beef cooking competition.

The group also took part in a hands-on session covering food photography, live videos and promotion to showcase recipes on their blogs.  For Cheryl Mussatto, dietitian and columnist at Eat Well to Be Well, the program emphasized beef’s nutritional value.  “We don’t need to be scared of beef.  There are nearly 40 cuts of lean beef and it’s leaner than it used to be.  Beef is such a high-quality food with so many nutrients, consumers don’t need to be afraid of beef.  They can buy it for their family and serve it at home.”

A highlight of the event was a tour of Tailgate Ranch near Tonganoxie, Kansas. There, the group visited with area beef producers and participated in a panel discussion with Kirk Sours, a cow-calf producer and manager of Tailgate Ranch; Dan Thomson, a veterinarian from the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine; Jack Klosterman, a feedyard operator with Grass Valley Feeders in David City, Nebraska; and Angie Siemens, vice president of food safety, quality and regulatory with Cargill Meat Solutions in Wichita. A variety of topics were addressed including factually defining conventional, organic, natural and grass-finished beef and the use of growth hormones in cattle.

For the attendees, the panel discussion provided insight to the beef production cycle.  “We have a disconnect with our food.  We sat next to farmers and saw first-hand what was going on,” said Jana Mowrer, dietitian from Fresno, California.  “It’s completely opposite of what’s in the media and documentaries.”  She added that the experience would help her when interacting with clients. “Dietitians are the ones working with people to help make their diets and create meal plans. We have to be able to provide correct information to consumers.”


Animal Disease Traceability Public Meetings in July

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), in collaboration with local State Animal Health Officials, is hosting two additional meetings regarding the Animal Disease Traceability (ADT) system with the primary focus of traceability in the cattle and bison sectors. The initial ADT framework contained basic traceability components and was supported by the January 2013 regulation, "Traceability for Livestock Moving Interstate." APHIS and State Officials will provide information on what has been accomplished as well traceability gaps or shortfalls. The purpose of the meetings, however, is to hear from the industry on their experiences with ADT: What areas are working well? What aspects are challenging, confusing, or problematic? How can these obstacles can be rectified? In addition APHIS would like to obtain stakeholder views on the longer-term issues; in particular, what is the level of traceability that should be considered if we are to move beyond the basic traceability framework.

The upcoming meetings will be held on July 18 and 20 from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (local time) each day. The public meetings will be held in the following locations:

- July 18: Embassy Suites Omaha Downtown, 555 South 10th Street, Omaha, Neb.

- July 20: Dallas/Fort Worth Marriott Hotel & Golf Club at Champions Circle, 3300 Championship Parkway, Fort Worth, Texas.

If you plan to attend a meeting, you are asked to register in advance by visiting Same-day registration will also be available at each meeting site. The USDA will accept written statements regarding the ADT system until July 31. You may also submit written statements using one of the following methods:

- Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to!docketDetail;D=APHIS-2017-0016.

- Postal Mail/Commercial Delivery: Send your comment to Docket No. APHIS-2017-0016, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238.

For more information you may contact Dr. Sunny Geiser-Novotny, Cattle Health Staff/ADT Veterinarian, Surveillance, Preparedness, and Response Services, VS, APHIS, 2150 Centre Avenue, Building B, Mailstop 3E13, Room 3E97, Fort Collins, CO 80526, (970) 494-7372.

FFA Award Winners Tour Ireland, Gain Perspective on Global Agriculture

As the agricultural community becomes increasingly global, it is crucial that young people considering careers in the industry understand the opportunities and challenges of international trade. A group of 52 national FFA award winners will tour agricultural sites in Ireland this summer and compare the industries of Ireland and the United States. Following an orientation session in New York City on June 8, the group will depart for a nine-day tour.

Participants were selected from the 188 National FFA Agricultural Proficiency Award finalists and the 16 American Star Award national finalists named last October at the 89th National FFA Convention & Expo in Indianapolis. The international experience, as well as cash awards and plaques, are made possible by business and industry contributions to the National FFA Foundation.

Students participating in the trip include:
Nebraska: Brent Miller of Lyons and Jordan Paine of Oxford
Iowa: Marta Grant of Preston
South Dakota: Shane Mueller of Garretson and Liz Renner of Garretson
Kansas: Natalie Harris of Abilene and Tyler Phillips of Emporia

Through June 16, participants will visit dairy, sheep, mussel and potato farms and a water buffalo dairy. In addition, they will visit a beef farm, which is one of the original members of the West Cork Beef Producers' Group, and the Irish National Stud Thoroughbred Horse breeding facility. FFA members will also visit Blarney Castle, experience the famed Ring of Kerry, view famous mountains and lakes and visit the dramatic 650-foot Cliffs of Moher. 

During the trip, students have an opportunity to experience global agriculture and the culture of the Emerald Isle. The international travel experience is an educational study trip designed to introduce award participants to agriculture as it is practiced in other countries.

30th annual ACE conference highlights market momentum

The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) conference coming up Aug. 15-17 in Omaha features retailers, fuel marketers and ethanol plants helping grow nationwide availability of higher ethanol blends.

“This year’s conference again showcases people who are doing the actual work of developing new markets for ethanol,” said Ron Lamberty, senior vice president of ACE. “The real-world experience these speakers bring to our conference can be a valuable learning opportunity for ACE conference attendees.”

Two fuel marketers will talk about steps they’ve taken to make higher blends available to more drivers during one of the conference’s general session discussions. Charlie Bosselman of Bosselman Enterprises and Pump & Pantry c-stores will be joined by JETZ Convenience Centers owner Bob O’Connor to explain how they’re adding E15 and flex fuel locations and how those new fuels impact their bottom lines.

“I am excited about telling ACE conference attendees why Jetz became the first retailer in Milwaukee to offer E15 and flex fuels,” O’Connor said. “Milwaukee is a low-RVP [Reid vapor pressure] market, so we can promote and sell E15 year-round, and the higher octane and lower price of E15 is bringing in new business. There are challenges, but I look forward to discussing the upside of marketing higher blends at the ACE Conference.”

Retailers like Bosselman and O’Connor know the importance of promoting new fuels with successful retail grand openings and re-openings. This year’s conference will include a breakout session in which leadership from ethanol plants Glacial Lakes Energy and Siouxland Ethanol will detail how they have pulled off effective retail introductions of E15 and E30 with well-executed retail promotions.

ACE’s 30th annual conference also features a breakout session with Bosselman Enterprises and Husker Ag. They’ll explain how they are growing their volume by supplying ethanol directly to retailers by passing on Renewable Identification Number (RIN) value and promoting ethanol’s other marketplace advantages. Attendees will leave the conference with an understanding of how ethanol producers and fuel marketers can make more competitively priced ethanol available to drivers through direct marketing to station owners.

“If you want to sell more ethanol, the easiest, most cost-effective way is by listening to the people who are already out there getting it done,” Lamberty said. “We’re proud that again this year, some of those people will be joining us and helping ethanol producers, fuel retailers and others understand how they can move more ethanol gallons.”  

Register online for the conference at More details on this year’s conference agenda can be found at

Gov. Reynolds, Iowa Soybean Association to participate in July ag trade mission to China

Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) representatives will accompany Gov. Kim Reynolds and more than 20 agricultural leaders for a historic trade mission to China July 19-28 to boost demand for Iowa-grown grains, meat, milk and eggs.

The delegation representing Iowa’s soybean, corn, beef, turkey, dairy, poultry and pork industries will be greeted in the country of nearly 1.4 billion by Terry Branstad, Iowa’s former governor and new U.S. trade ambassador to China.

“It’s my sixth trade mission to China because the country is a priority for Iowa and our farm families,” says Reynolds. “One of every six jobs in Iowa is tied to trade, benefiting every sector of the state’s economy.

“The Iowa brand is meaningful and carries to all markets across the world,” she added. “Growing markets ultimately improve Iowa’s economy and you do that by building relationships and meeting customers in their countries to better understand their needs.”

ISA CEO Kirk Leeds, who has traveled to China 20 times on behalf of the soybean industry, reaffirmed the country’s importance as a trading partner and thus a frequent destination for Iowa business leaders. China has 10 percent of the world’s arable land and 20 percent of the global population, he said.

“An estimated 300-400 million Chinese will join the middle class in the next decade, a number equal to the population of the United States,” Leeds said. “This growing affluence will increase demand for protein.”

China, which wasn’t in the market for soybeans 15 years ago, currently accounts for 60 percent of global soybean imports – and growing.

“We’re honored to be part of the mission and looking forward to meeting Ambassador Branstad when we arrive in China,” Leeds added. “It’s truly a great day for agriculture to have Gov. Reynolds leading an agricultural delegation united in its mission of increasing market opportunities for Iowa farmers.”

While in China, the delegation will make stops in Shanghai, Xi’an and Beijing. They’ll tour of an aquaculture demonstration farm funded by Iowa soybean farmers and the soybean checkoff, attend industry briefings on China’s market and demographic trends and participate in meetings with Chinese government officials. The group will also attend an evening reception hosted by Ambassador Branstad.

Trade with China is a big deal for Iowa and U.S. soybean farmers, said ISA President Rolland Schnell. One of every four rows of soybeans grown in Iowa is destined for China.

“It’s a vital market and an historic trip,” he said. “Relationships matter for the Chinese. Rarely do they do business with people they don’t know.”

ISA leaders joining Schnell and Leeds on the delegation are District 7 Director Jeff Jorgenson of Sidney, COO Karey Claghorn, Market Development Director Grant Kimberley and Sr. Communications Manager Joe Murphy.

“Personally, I want to gauge the strength of the Chinese market for soybeans,” said Kimberley. “While reading reports and listening to advisors can be helpful, you really don’t have a full scope of the market until you’re there, can verify the situation first-hand and visit directly with the people who buy, process and trade agricultural commodities.”

“The delegation will further solidify with the leaders of China that we are partners in meeting mutual goals in food security, safety and sustainability.”

Additional facts about China:

-    The U.S. soy family (through national and state checkoff dollars) has invested $1.3 million in an In-Pond Raceway System technology.
-    Since 2014, the China Ministry of Agriculture and private industry have invested over $200 million dollars in pond renovation.
-    China produces more farm-raised seafood than the rest of the world combined. In 2015, China increased production by 4 percent with a total of just under 50 million metric tons of aquaculture products.
-    Total aquafeed use in China was around 36 million metric tons with the soy product use for aquafeed estimated at around 8.8 million metric tons in 2015. This equals 408 million bushels of soybeans.
-    China is by far the largest soybean importer projected at 83 million metric tons, or a little more than 3 billion bushels.
-    U.S. market share of China’s soybean demand is 36.5 percent (nearly 1.1 billion bushels).
-    About one out of every four rows of Iowa soybeans is exported to China.
-    Soybeans are crushed into soybean meal in China to feed its 730 million pigs. Chickens are the second largest consumer of meal. China is the world’s No. 1 egg producer. Soybean oil is needed for cooking.

DYK Beef Shorts – The latest news from the Cattlemen's Beef Promotion & Research Board

Did you know ... alternative proteins, including vegetable products and laboratory-produced “meat,” are consistently in the media spotlight as millennials explore new protein options and food trends? Often, this media coverage suggests that alternative proteins are better for consumers. Nutrition research, however, shows that lean beef, can be just as nutritious as plant-based proteins. Because of these findings and the media landscape, the checkoff-funded Issues Management and Media Relations team created and shared a blog post on Facts About Beef titled Alternative Proteins: Better Than Real Beef? to help offer science-based comparisons of alternative plant proteins and real beef. The article highlights the protein power of beef while pointing out the caloric load of some non-meat proteins. 

Did you know ... the checkoff-funded Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program, in partnership with the National Dairy FARM Program, announced the release of a stockmanship training video as part of the ongoing collaboration between both programs? The 27-minute video is divided into several chapters, including “Point of Balance,” “Understanding the Flight Zone” and “Utilizing Tools to Effectively Move Cattle.” Each segment contains reminder points and multiple-choice questions to test viewers on the content. The video can serve as a training resource to satisfy the FARM Animal Care Version 3.0 requirement for annual employee training. The video is available on the FARM Program website and YouTube page in both English and Spanish. 

Did you know ... the BQA program, as a part of ongoing efforts to reach a broader audience of beef producers, is supporting a multispecies youth quality assurance training platform: Youth for the Quality Care of Animals? The checkoff-funded BQA program was involved in creating the training curriculum and content during the development phase, and now supports the program through its online and in-person training components. The curriculum is designed for youth ages 8 to 21 who raise livestock. Key quality assurance standards and guidelines are touched on through interactive online training activities and in-person, hands-on trainings. Fairs and shows across the country are expressing support for the platform as they find many of their youth exhibitors showing animals across multiple species. For information and training, visit

For more information about your checkoff investment, visit

EIA: Ethanol Stocks, Production Down

Energy Information Administration data for the week-ended June 2 shows a drawdown in domestic fuel ethanol inventories while plant production and implied demand also dropped.

The EIA's Weekly Petroleum Status Report for the week profiled shows fuel ethanol stockpiles dropped by roughly 800,000 barrels (bbl), or 3.5%, to 22.0 million bbl, yet stocks were nearly 9% higher than the same week in 2016.

Domestic plant production fell 21,000 barrels per day (bpd), or 2.1%, to 999,000 bpd last week, while 7,000 bpd lower than a year ago. For the four weeks ended last week, ethanol production averaged 1.014 million bpd, 49,000 bpd higher than the same four-week period in 2016.

Net refiner and blender inputs, a gauge for ethanol demand, dropped 41,000 bpd, or 4.3%, to 909,000 bpd during the week-ended June 2, yet were 5,000 bpd higher than a year ago. For the four-week period ended June 2, blending demand averaged 939,000 bpd, up 24,000 bpd from the corresponding four-week period in 2016.

Fertilizer Prices Remain Firm

As in recent weeks, retail fertilizer prices continued steady during the last week of May 2017, according to retailers surveyed by DTN.

Of the eight major fertilizers, half were just slightly higher compared to a month earlier. These were DAP, MAP, potash, and UAN28. DAP had an average price of $436/ton, MAP $471/ton, potash $340/ton and UAN28 $248/ton.

The remaining four fertilizers were slightly lower in price from last month. Urea had an average price of $339/ton, 10-34-0 $436/ton, anhydrous $503/ton and UAN32 $280/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.37/lb.N, anhydrous $0.31/lb.N, UAN28 $0.44/lb.N and UAN32 $0.44/lb.N.

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

10-34-0 is 22% lower from a year ago, anhydrous is 13% less expensive, UAN32 is 11% lower and urea is down 10%. DAP is 8% less expensive, UAN28 is 7% lower and both MAP and potash are 6% less expensive.

NCGA Applauds Trump for Prioritizing Infrastructure

The National Corn Growers Association applauded President Trump’s pledge today to make rebuilding America’s infrastructure a national priority and committed to work with his Administration on the issue.

“It's time to recapture our legacy as a nation of builders, and to create new lanes of travel, commerce, and discovery,” President Trump said at a speech in Cincinnati on the backdrop of the Ohio River.

Ken Hartman, chair of the NCGA Market Access Team, thanked the President for calling attention to infrastructure issues.

“Farmers rely on our national infrastructure every day to get our products to market quickly, safely, and efficiently. Waterways, roads, and bridges are central to farmers' efforts to feed and fuel the world, and we must invest in all of them,” said Hartman, a farmer from Waterloo, Illinois.

In his remarks, President Trump specifically called for upgrading the nation’s aging system of locks and dams—making him the first modern president to focus on this critical piece of the infrastructure puzzle.

“These critical corridors of commerce depend on a dilapidated system of locks and dams that is more than half a century old, and their condition… is in very, very bad shape. It continues to decay,” Trump said.

Nearly three-quarters of U.S. grain exports are transported to port via the U.S. river system, but most of the nation’s locks and dams have outlived their intended 50-year lifespans. Breakdowns in the river infrastructure add to transport costs, some of which are passed on to farmers. Meanwhile, rural areas rely disproportionately on federal funding for infrastructure projects, underscoring the need for robust federal investment.

“We especially appreciate the President's interest in inland waterways and in the unique infrastructure challenges facing rural areas,” said Hartman. “We look forward to working with the Trump Administration to invest in our nation's waterways, roads, and bridges, and we thank the President for making this issue a top priority.”

NCGA Launches Open Innovation Challenge to Find the Next Big Thing for Corn

The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), along with innovation facilitator NineSigma, today announced the launch of a global competition to identify new and innovative uses for field corn as a renewable feedstock for making sustainable chemicals with significant market demand.

Growing interest in America's emerging bio-economy and continued improvements in sustainable corn production underscore the versatility and potential of this crop.  The "Consider Corn Challenge" is a starting point to help industry realize corn's full potential.

"Corn has a history of being an abundant, cost-effective, and sustainable feedstock for chemicals used in thousands of products. This challenge is geared to inspire new concepts, approaches and technologies that will help drive innovation," said Larry Hoffmann, a farmer from Wheatland, North Dakota and chairman of NCGA's Corn Productivity and Quality Action Team. "In addition to researchers who have increased the spectrum of renewable chemicals from corn to date, we are reaching out to the global innovation community that is largely untapped regarding new product frontiers for corn."

United States corn production has increased from 105.5 million metric tons in 1970 to 345.5 million metric tons in 2015. NCGA is inviting innovators around the world from industry, academia and other research institutions to consider new ways to utilize corn and maximize its contributions to the economy.

Up to six winning proposals will be selected and winners will each receive US$25,000. Winners will be announced in February 2018. NCGA may also explore funding or other support of an entry for further development and/or commercialization, even if the entry is not a prize winner.

"Many industries are adopting an open innovation approach because of its success in accelerating access to new solutions and innovation partners. In working with NineSigma we are leveraging their established expertise in open innovation and global database of solution providers to help find the next big thing for corn," said Hoffmann. 

The National Corn Growers Association's strategic plan includes a goal to establish three new uses that each utilize 25 million bushels or more by 2020. The concept of open innovation provides a path to add value to corn and problem solve creatively and rapidly.

Responses to the Consider Corn Challenge are due by September 28, 2017 at 5:00 PM US EDT. Solution providers can submit proposals through NineSigma's Open Innovation community For more information and updates on the challenge, please visit

 Wheat Industry Stresses Importance of Food Aid at Farm Bill Hearing

Today, the House Committee on Agriculture held a Full Committee hearing on “The Next Farm Bill: The Future of International Food Aid and Agricultural Development.” On behalf of the wheat industry, Mr. Ron Suppes, a wheat grower from Dighton, KS, testified on food aid and a recent trip to Tanzania where he saw programs that utilized wheat.

“In Tanzania, I saw first-hand how wheat farmers can play a significant role in international food aid programs,” Suppes said. “These programs involve a significant amount of wheat, a fact not lost on farmers with full grain bins and more wheat piled on the ground from last year’s historically high harvest. It is a year when the U.S. needs to be a world leader in helping provide for those in need with these ample supplies.

“Food aid can also generate goodwill with other countries. By encouraging agricultural development in Tanzania, we’re ultimately spurring economic growth, which means Tanzania is more likely to be a stronger trading partner in the future. And the tangible presence of U.S. wheat in that equation is a symbol that cash can’t match.

“U.S. commodities play a key role in helping regions unable to produce wheat and other commodities on their own due to drought, conflict or other circumstances. We have enough surplus that no one should be going hungry.

“I commend the House Committee on Agriculture for recognizing and highlighting the valuable role that the agricultural industry plays in international food aid.”

National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) President David Schemm, a wheat grower from Sharon Springs, KS, made the following statement:

“The U.S. is producing enough wheat to meet global demand and still have a surplus. In 2017, USDA projects that global production of wheat will reach an all-time high of 751.3 million metric tons with stockpiles at a record high of 258.3 million tons.

“Wheat can play a significant role in the fight to end hunger. Not only for humanitarian reasons but for global security as well. Even if located on the other side of world, food-insecure nations are prone to enter civil unrest which can impact us right here at home.

“As a wheat farmer from Kansas, I am proud to play a role in helping to feed those who cannot provide for themselves.

For more information about wheat industry policy positions on food aid, visit or

Additional panelists at the hearing included Ms. Margaret Schuler, Senior Vice President of the International Programs Group at World Vision; Ms. Navyn Salem, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Edesia Nutrition; Mr. Brian W. Schoeneman, Political and Legislative Director of the Seafarers International Union (AFL-CIO), on behalf of USA Maritime; and Dr. Thomas S. Jayne, University Foundation Professor at Michigan State University, on behalf of the Farm Journal Foundation.

R-CALF Seeks U.S. Probe into JBS Corruption Scandal

R-CALF USA sent a comprehensive, 11-page request to President Trump, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue for a full investigation and strict antitrust enforcement action in the wake of the unfolding corruption charges against JBS.

Citing news reports that JBS admitted bribing nearly 2,000 politicians, R-CALF USA wrote that JBS's business model included unlawful practices to influence policy makers and it was as likely as not that JBS deployed that same corrupt business model in the United States.

"A full and complete investigation is needed to determine the full scope of JBS's potentially unlawful activities in the United States and the impact that any such unlawful activities have had on the single largest segment of American agriculture - the U.S. live cattle industry," the group wrote.

JBS is the second-largest beef packer in the United States and owns the nation's largest cattle feeding company, which the group contends was used by JBS, in conjunction with imported cattle and beef, to manipulate the cattle markets in 2015 and 2016, causing fed cattle prices to fall by more than $850 per head.

The group called JBS a powerful influence on Capitol Hill and alleged that U.S. officials helped JBS build a monopolistic, American empire in the U.S. protein market with the company's ill-gotten gains. It also said the market power amassed by JBS has facilitated antitrust violations and unlawful conduct that threatens both domestic food safety and food security.

Since 2008 the group has repeatedly requested the U.S. Department of Justice (Justice Department) to enforce U.S. antitrust laws each time JBS proposed a new acquisition of U.S. cattle and beef industry assets, but its requests went unheeded with one exception - JBS's attempt to acquire National Beef Packing Company. Joined by 17 state attorney's general, the Justice Department did block that proposed acquisition. But in today's letter, the group called that a token enforcement action that had little impact on JBS's market power abuses.

In addition to alleging that the Justice Department's approval of all but one of JBS's numerous acquisition proposals raises the specter that decisions involving JBS were based on inappropriate considerations, the group contends that other federal agencies and Congress facilitated JBS's ability to reshape the cattle industry's legal framework. Examples cited by the group include JBS's success at convincing Congress to repeal country of origin labeling (COOL) and forestalling the implementation of rules intended to implement the Packers and Stockyards Act, preventing reforms to the beef checkoff program, and convincing the U.S. Department of Agriculture to systematically relax import restricts established to prevent the introduction of foot-and-mouth disease.

The group's letter contends that all of these policy positions were likely based on JBS's considerable and inappropriate influence on policy makers.

In conclusion, the group states that "if it is found that JBS has, indeed, built its monopolistic U.S. livestock and meat empire through unlawful means, then every U.S.-based asset owned by JBS should be immediately divested. Similarly, if it is found that JBS engaged in unlawful conduct to curry public policy favors from Congress, federal agencies, and state governments (e.g., repeal of COOL, defeat of GIPSA rules and relaxation of disease protections) then those policy positions should be immediately revisited, if not reversed."

NFU Urges Immediate Adoption of Farmer Fair Practices Rules

The Farmer Fair Practices Rules, a set of three rules that provide very basic protections for farmers and ranchers, were released in December 2016 to address the most anti-competitive and abusive practices levied against family farmers by meatpackers and processors. Because the rules are being reviewed by the new administration, National Farmers Union (NFU) is urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to finalize them.

“Chicken growers and livestock producers operate in an extremely consolidated agricultural marketplace, where lack of competition provides the major meat companies with tremendous power,” said Johnson. “And sometimes this power can be unfairly levied against the individual farmers and ranchers who have little to no market power. This has led to egregious practices that have no place in agriculture, and that are prohibited by the Farmer Fair Practices Rules. We urge the USDA to finalize the rules immediately on behalf of our nation’s family farmers and ranchers.”

NFU President Roger Johnson submitted public comments to the USDA today, advocating for the agency to finalize the interim final rule on “competitive injury.” The rule addresses plainly restates the intent of the Packers and Stockyards Act to provide individual farmers and ranchers with protection from the most egregious abuses by meatpackers. In some courts, contract poultry growers have had to prove harm to the entire $48 billion chicken industry rather than harm to themselves when seeking relief from poultry companies for abusive contract practices.

“The competitive injury rule eliminates that burden so that farmers who have been wronged under the law can sue for harm only to themselves, rather than the entire industry,” noted Johnson. “While this won’t substantially change the industry, it will make sure that packers and poultry companies who violate the law are held accountable for their actions by providing greater clarity and desired consistency across the industry.”

“Granting family famers these legal rights is not designed to encourage lawsuits, in fact it will likely result in a more transparent and business-like relationship between farmers and the meat and poultry processing giants,” he added.

Tuesday June 6 Ag News

Avoid Poisoning Livestock with Hemlock
Larry Howard, Extension Educator, Cuming County

Have you noticed tall weeds with umbrella-like white flowers in moist areas of pastures recently?  It’s probably hemlock, and it could poison your livestock.  Poison hemlock and water hemlock, are two of the most poisonous of all flowering plants.  They are found throughout our region, especially in wet or moist soils along streams, roadsides, and grasslands.  The heavy, persistent rain this spring has made them abundant and especially vigorous this year.

Fortunately, hemlock usually is not palatable to most livestock.  Animals won’t eat much of it unless very hungry or if the plant has been altered in some way.  So how should this be managed?  It’s critical that you avoid overgrazing pastures that contain hemlock.  When adequate forage is available to graze, animals select healthy, palatable plants to eat and avoid the hemlock.  But if grass gets short, even unpalatable poisonous plants might be eaten.  This includes turning hungry animals into fresh pasture containing hemlock, since some hungry animals will eat the first green plant they come to when very hungry, palatable or not.  Also make sure plenty of water, salt, and mineral always are available.  Animals deprived of water or mineral may eat abnormally, increasing the risk of consuming some hemlock.

Do not try to control hemlock during the grazing season by clipping or spraying.  This alters the plant and actually can increase its palatability, making it more likely that animals will eat enough of it to cause poisoning. The risk of poisoning animals with hemlock may be greater than normal this year.  But, graze intelligently and losses can be avoided.

Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Switchgrass is a native warm-season pasture grass that is difficult to graze correctly.  Stay tuned and I’ll explain how to make this problem grass more useful.

               Grazing switchgrass is a challenge.  It becomes stemmy, mature, and less palatable to cattle if not grazed before tall stems develop sometime in June.  This year, that will start to happen very soon.

               Switchgrass must be grazed before stems develop.  Then it is palatable and nutritious but after seedheads emerge, cattle are reluctant to eat it.

               Even if you have other pasture available, it is better to graze switchgrass when it’s ready and then go back to graze the other pasture later than to let switchgrass get stemmy while grazing other pastures.  If this does happen, however, cut the switchgrass for hay and then graze its regrowth seven to eight weeks later.

               There are two good methods to graze switchgrass.  One involves starting when switchgrass is about ten inches tall and using the right number of animals to keep the grass between eight and sixteen inches.  Predicting growth rate of switchgrass in order to stock it correctly is difficult, so I prefer a second method.  When switchgrass gets about a foot to eighteen inches tall, stock it heavily enough to graze it down to about six inches in two or three weeks.  In good growing conditions, this could take several cows per acre.  Then move to a different pasture.  Come back to the switchgrass if it regrows to at least a foot tall, which probably will take six or more weeks.  Be sure to leave six to eight inches of growth going into winter to keep the stand healthy.

               Switchgrass is a problem grass for graziers if not grazed correctly.  Use the methods I just described, though, and I think you will find it works pretty good.

Siouxland Ethanol celebrates 10-year anniversary

Siouxland Ethanol LLC has been producing a clean-burning, high-octane fuel additive for the past decade, and to celebrate reaching this milestone, Siouxland Ethanol is hosting an open house on June 13 at its plant near Jackson, Nebraska. Media are invited to attend and interviews are available upon request.

Siouxland Ethanol’s 10-year anniversary event will begin with plant tours at 10 a.m. and conclude around 2 p.m. following another round of tours. A barbecue and remarks from ethanol industry dignitaries and public officials, including featured speaker Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, will round out the day’s list of events. In addition to industry representatives and public officials, Siouxland Ethanol is inviting some 700 shareholders in the area, distillers grains customers and the general public.

“We see the bigger picture even more now than when we started,” said Pam Miller, board chair and director of industry and investor relations at Siouxland Ethanol. “Back then, we were mainly concerned with producing the product, but we’ve expanded our offering of co-products and we're actively involved in promoting the use of higher blends of ethanol such as E30 and advocating for less restrictions and regulations surrounding the sale of ethanol.”

Over the past year, Siouxland Ethanol has expanded the plant’s production to 80 million gallons per year. Miller credits this opportunity in large part to the efforts of company president and CEO Nick Bowdish. “With Nick's leadership and the excellent employees at Siouxland Ethanol, we have expanded our operation and increased our efficiency, resulting in greater returns to our investors.”
The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) executive vice president Brian Jennings will join Gov. Ricketts and others speaking at the anniversary event.

“We congratulate Siouxland Ethanol for continuing to promote rural economic development and for the great strides it’s made over the past 10 years of operation by adding gallons and co-products,” Jennings said. “It’s great to see member plants like Siouxland Ethanol reach these significant milestones, while delivering value back to investors, area corn growers, the community and greater ethanol industry.”

Siouxland Ethanol became operational in May 2007, and the plant consumes 27 million bushels of corn each year, mainly purchased within a 60-mile radius of the plant. Siouxland Ethanol produces 190,000 tons of distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) and 27 million pounds of corn oil each year. Forty people are employed at Siouxland Ethanol, and spin-off businesses that have resulted from the plant, such as local trucking businesses and a convenience store in Jackson, have generated economic development in the town of Jackson and Dakota County.


The inaugural open house at the University of Nebraska Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center near Mead -- formerly the Agricultural Research and Development Center -- is planned for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 29. The event is co-hosted by State Sen. Bruce Bostelman.

Don Adams, ENREC research and extension director, invites the public to see how ENREC is making a difference. 

“There will be opportunities to interact with Sen. Bostelman, university faculty, commodity groups and others attending the open house," Adams said. "The event is intended to show firsthand what we are doing at ENREC and why it matters." 

The event kicks off with an informal time to meet with industry leaders and representatives and visit commodity group booths from 10 to 10:50 a.m., followed by morning presentations:

> Mike Boehm, Harlan Vice Chancellor of the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, will present “Driving Nebraska’s Economic Vitality.” Nebraska is uniquely positioned to be a global leader in key areas such as food, fuel, water and rural development. Boehm will share his insights about how the university’s research, teaching and extension efforts are positioned to drive the vitality of the state's economy and communities.

> Nebraska Extension Agricultural Climatologist Al Dutcher will present “The Ag Climate: Temperatures, Trends, and Outlooks.” Weather presents opportunity and risk in agriculture, Nebraska’s economy, and global markets.  Dutcher will take a closer look at the interconnection of historical conditions, current trends, and the forecast outlook regionally, across the cornbelt, and globally and its impact on agriculture.

> Attendees will take a virtual tour of the university’s swine research facility at the conclusion of lunch.

“University of Nebraska scientists are studying issues that are important to bringing a safe, high quality pork product to the table," Adams said. "We want people to see where the research takes place and who is working on it, as visits are limited due to biosecurity precautions to keep the animals healthy.”

Afternoon tours are from 1 to 3 p.m. at three different locations. Adams said the opportunities for partnerships and collaboration keep growing and that the tours will highlight some of those projects.

Tour stops include In the Field Crops Classroom, See a Live Hail Machine Demo with Keith Glewen, extension educator and Justin McMechan, crop protection and cropping systems specialist; Carbon Farming: Reducing Greenhouse Gases with Crops with Andy Suyker, research associate professor; Drones on the Farm with Wayne Woldt, professor and extension environmental engineer; Nebraska: The Beef State: Empowering our No. 1 Ag Industry with Matt Spangler, Nebraska Extension beef genetics specialist; and Plant Phenotyping: A Bird’s Eye View with Yufeng Ge, assistant professor of biological systems engineering and Frank Bai, postdoctoral fellow in biological systems engineering.

RSVPs are requested by 5 p.m. June 23 to assist with plans for lunch and tour transportation. Please RSVP at

The University of Nebraska Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center is at the former Agricultural Research and Development Center near Mead. Morning program and lunch are at the August N. Christenson Building, 1071 County Road G, Ithaca. Transportation will be provided for the afternoon tours.

For more information, contact or 402-624-8037.


With Nebraska’s recent wet weather pattern, Nebraska Extension and the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality are reminding producers and landowners to be vigilant in monitoring lagoon and runoff holding pond levels. Many areas of Nebraska have experienced higher than normal precipitation events recently, with some areas receiving rainfall that far exceeded a 25-year, 24-hour storm event. This abnormally wet weather pattern has caused drainage and flooding issues in some parts of the state.

Nebraska Extension and the NDEQ have partnered to issue recommended practices for emergency management of runoff holding ponds during this period of unusually wet weather. Notable recommendations include:
-    Do not allow your holding pond to overflow
-    Utilize land with the least possible slope to minimize runoff potential from effluent application
-    Operate irrigation equipment at a minimal application rate to minimize runoff potential
-    Use greater separation distances between application areas and water bodies than what is dictated by regulation
-    Keep complete detailed records of precipitation, storage basin management and land application

For a complete list of recommendations, click here...

If producers need assistance determining how best to manage specific wet weather conditions on your farm, contact an NDEQ field inspector.

Enhanced Stockmanship and Stewardship Program Kicks Off Regional Sessions in California, Nebraska

A successful Stockmanship and Stewardship program from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association will kick off a new regional series of sessions for cattlemen and women with two-day events in California and Nebraska in June. The sessions, to be held at the University of California - Davis on June 23-24, and the University of Nebraska - Lincoln on June 29-30, will provide cattle handling suggestions and education that will help cattlemen and women improve their bottom lines.

Thanks to support from Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health the program is expanding and enhancing scope of events beyond the successful local events held in the past, according to Chase DeCoite, NCBA associate director for Beef Quality Assurance.  After Davis, Calif., and Lincoln, Neb., the tour will continue to Starkville, Miss., and Fort Collins, Colo., before wrapping up in San Luis Obispo, Calif. The sessions are being supported through additional sponsorship from the BQA program, funded by the Beef Checkoff.

“Stockmanship and Stewardship sessions have become ‘must attend’ events for cattlemen and women who want to apply innovative and proven cattle handling strategies on their own operations,” said DeCoite. “These new regional programs will allow us to attract cattlemen from a larger area at a central location.”

DeCoite said well-known and respected clinicians Curt Pate and Ron Gill will continue to be the primary instructors for these sessions, providing demonstrations and hands-on learning experiences that will be entertaining, lively and informative. Pate has been conducting clinics for more than a decade, while Gill is a renowned stockman and animal scientist for Texas Agrilife Extension who captivates his audiences with his credibility and ability to relate as a rancher.

Among the sessions during these events are lessons on horseback cattle handling, chute-side cattle handling, Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) training and preventative herd health programs. A nominal registration fee ($50) is charged, which includes all sessions, meals and entertainment.

“These new events will include a variety of educational opportunities for cattle producers,” said DeCoite. “We’ll include input from local extension representatives, industry leaders and government agencies, so the sessions will be sure to cover topics of interest to any cattle producer wanting to improve their bottom lines as well as their cattle handling skills.”

For more information and to find an event near you, visit

Farm Bureau Asks Senate Committee to Advance EPA Nominee Susan Bodine

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall has asked leadership of a Senate committee to approve the nomination of Susan Bodine to Assistant Administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assistance of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Duvall’s letter to Chairman John Barrasso and Ranking Member Tom Carper of the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works praised Bodine for her many years of fair and effective leadership in the House of Representatives and Senate, as well as the Bush-era EPA.

“In her decades of experience in private practice, for Congress and EPA, Susan Bodine has proven her leadership skills and her deep understanding of our nation’s environmental laws and how they affect ordinary citizens and small businesses,” Duvall wrote. “We believe she will strictly enforce our nation’s environmental laws, using the hammer when necessary. We also believe she will bring back an effective yet underutilized tool in EPA’s toolbox – compliance assistance. Farmers and ranchers across the nation look forward to a new era of firm, but fair enforcement.”

A Warning to Commerce: National Security Arguments Cut Both Ways

The Department of Commerce (DOC) has released public comments, including comments submitted by U.S. Wheat Associates (USW), related to its investigation into the national security implications of steel imports. USW believes that if the United States goes down a road to restricting steel imports, many countries may use the same national security pretense to restrict imports from U.S. wheat farmers. After all, food security has always been tied to national security.

Under Section 232 in the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, the Commerce Department may investigate the effect of imports on national security. Commerce announced its investigation of steel imports on April 20, 2017. It is the first such investigation since 2001. Findings could lead to a conclusion that protective duties on imported steel should be applied for national security reasons.

“Pursuing a strategy of import protection under the guise of national security would set a dangerous precedent,” said USW President Alan Tracy. “If the United States undermines WTO national security exemptions, it would be handing a gift-wrapped roadmap of protectionism to food self-sufficiency advocates all over the world.”

The World Trade Organization (WTO) allows countries to impose trade restrictions for very few reasons, including national security. This exception is rarely used outside of weapons, nuclear materials and the like because most countries understand that doing so would open a Pandora’s Box of competing national security claims. If the United States went first with a commonly traded product like steel, many countries would be eager to include food security in the exception.

“I’m all for challenging unfair subsidies, but farmers like me know you need to use the right tool to fix a problem,” said Jason Scott, USW Chairman and a wheat farmer from Easton, Md. “Citing national security to block imports like this would be like lighting a fire to kill a weed. It might do the job but you could destroy the whole field.”

The Department of Commerce has only authorized duties twice after Section 232 investigations, and not once since the WTO was created in 1995. The WTO agreements include an exemption under GATT Article XXI for trade restrictions related to “essential security interests,” which can be defined broadly by the WTO member country.

 Family Beef Producers Deserve Better From NAFTA

On the heels of an announcement that the Trump Administration intends to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), National Farmers Union (NFU) is urging the administration to amend the agreement to work in the interest of independent beef producers.

In a letter to President Donald Trump, NFU President Roger Johnson contends that NAFTA has been a boon to multinational meatpacking companies to the detriment of small and mid-sized beef producers. Since its implementation, the agreement has led to increased consolidation in the beef industry and loss of U.S. sovereignty to the interests of foreign governments and corporations.

“While trade with our NAFTA partners is important to family farmers and ranchers, the agreement has contributed to increased consolidation in the beef industry and has pushed out small and mid-sized beef producers,” said Johnson. “It has also robbed American producers of the opportunity to proudly stand behind their product and denied consumers the right to know where their food comes from. As you renegotiate NAFTA, we urge you to act in the best interest of American farmers, ranchers and consumers and restore the United States’ sovereignty over farm and food policy.”

While NAFTA has driven an increase in overall beef exports, it has also increased the U.S. beef trade deficit with both Canada and Mexico. From 1993 to 2015, the total U.S. beef trade deficit with its NAFTA trading partners increased by 131 percent, from almost $1.2 billion to over $2.7 billion.

“The free trade agenda has not worked in the best interests of the U.S. beef producer and has had wide-reaching impacts on all sectors of our economy,” noted Johnson. “Multinational meatpackers and their lobbying groups frequently tout increases in exports, but they fail to factor increases in imports, and the impact that a massive trade deficit has on American independent producers and American industries.”

Johnson urged President Trump to make reinstating Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) a priority in NAFTA renegotiations as a means to ensuring U.S. sovereignty.

“The elimination of COOL laws due to free trade agreements undermines independent cattle producers who proudly produce high-quality, American-grown beef,” said Johnson. “Prohibitions against COOL also deny consumers the opportunity to know what is in their food and where it is produced.”

Johnson noted that just four beef packers now control 85 percent of the beef market, up from 69 percent in 1990. These multinational corporations take advantage of rules in NAFTA that allow companies to operate across borders. “NAFTA provisions essentially encourage companies to shop for the cheapest production costs,” he said. “Because of this, companies often raise cattle in Mexico and Canada and then bring the cattle back to the U.S. for slaughter and sale.”

NAFTA has also contributed to a steep decline in the number of beef cattle operations in the United States. Between 1992 and 2012, the number of farms raising cattle and calves fell from 1,074,349 to 913,246, a decrease of almost 15 percent. At the same time, the number of the largest ranches – those with 5,000 or more head – increased 60 percent, from 704 to 1,124. The largest operations’ share of the total cattle population increased from 10.4% to 17.9%.

“As you renegotiate NAFTA, we urge you to act in the best interest of American farmers, ranchers and consumers and restore the United States’ sovereignty over farm and food policy. I look forward to working with your administration to reset the nation’s failed trade agenda,” Johnson concluded.

Enzymes Provide Common Ground for Latin American Poultry, Swine Professionals Seeking Answers

Novus International, Inc. invited more than 20 poultry and swine professionals representing almost every region of Latin America to its global headquarters for a collaborative, four-day meeting focusing on the future of enzymes in the feed industry, held May 22-25, in St. Charles, Missouri, USA.

"Feed enzymes have emerged as a critical technology for sustainable animal production," said Luis Azevedo, Area General Manager for Novus in Latin America and Africa. "It's a truly cross-functional and global tool to help livestock reach their full genetic potential."

Enzymes are one of the fastest growing segments of feed additives in the animal protein production industry. A wide array of enzyme types and products can be found in almost every major market around the world, and the industry shows no sign of changing direction. In animal nutrition, most enzymes are used to improve digestibility of certain feed ingredients and reduce the negative impacts of anti-nutrients in livestock and poultry.

For four days, individuals including poultry specialists, swine nutritionists, and researchers in varying fields engaged in open dialog on the influence of substrates in the use of multiple enzymes, how to properly validate enzymes, applying new technologies in monogastric diets and numerous other complex topics. Novus experts and other attendees presented their latest research and techniques from the perspectives of their home countries and businesses to offer a clearer picture of each marketplace and its unique and shared challenges.                     

"To continue serving our customers effectively, we need to stay well-versed in the latest and greatest technologies and usage practices. That may be the next generation of enzymes or an entirely new innovation," said Juan Ruiz, Technical Services Manager for Enzymes for Novus in Latin America. "As a group, we shared vital information to help navigate the obstacles and opportunities facing enzyme users, and I have no doubts that everyone took something home to better their business."

June 5 Crop Progress & Condition Report - NE - IA - US


For the week ending June 4, 2017, temperatures averaged near normal, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. The western half of the panhandle received half an inch to an inch of rain; however, the rest of State remained relatively dry. The warm and dry weather aided planting and spraying activities. There were 6.4 days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 1 percent very short, 16 short, 81 adequate, and 2 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 1 percent very short, 12 short, 83 adequate, and 4 surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Corn condition rated 0 percent very poor, 2 poor, 19 fair, 70 good, and 9 excellent. Emerged was 91 percent, near 88 last year, and equal to the five year average.

Soybeans planted was 91 percent, near 88 last year and 90 average. Emerged was 62 percent, near 60 last year, but behind 67 average.

Winter wheat condition rated 1 percent very poor, 9 poor, 38 fair, 44 good, and 8 excellent. Winter wheat headed was 96 percent, ahead of 84 last year, and well ahead of 74 average. Coloring was 8 percent, near 9 last year.

Sorghum planted was 71 percent, behind 81 last year, and near 75 average. Emerged was 40 percent, near 38 last year and 37 average.

Oats condition rated 0 percent very poor, 1 poor, 23 fair, 67 good, and 9 excellent. Oats jointed was 90 percent, well ahead of 68 last year. Headed was 62 percent, well ahead of 33 both last year and average.

Alfalfa condition rated 0 percent very poor, 1 poor, 18 fair, 70 good, and 11 excellent. Alfalfa first cutting was 53 percent, behind 59 last year, but ahead of 46 average.

Pasture and Range Report:

Pasture and range conditions rated 0 percent very poor, 1 poor, 20 fair, 69 good, and 10 excellent. Stock water supplies rated 0 percent very short, 2 short, 95 adequate, and 3 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:


Dry weather conditions allowed farmers to make good progress on spring planting during the week ending June 4, 2017, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Statewide there were 6.0 days suitable for fieldwork, which were the most Iowa has had all season. Field activities for the week included planting and re-planting, applying herbicides, and harvesting the first crop of alfalfa hay.

Topsoil moisture levels rated 0 percent very short, 9 percent short, 85 percent adequate and 6 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated 0 percent very short, 3 percent short, 87 percent adequate and 10 percent surplus.

Ninety percent of corn crop has emerged, six days behind last year and one day behind the 5-year average. Corn condition improved and rated 77 percent good to excellent.

Soybean planting reached 91 percent complete, 2 days behind last year, but over a week ahead of average. Soybean emergence reached 62 percent, 1 day behind average. The first soybean condition rating of the season came in at 1 percent very poor, 3 percent poor, 23 percent fair, 62 percent good and 11 percent excellent.

Oats headed reached 26 percent, 5 days behind last year and 1 day behind average. Oats condition improved to 78 percent good to excellent.

Dry weather allowed one-third of the first cutting of alfalfa hay to be harvested last week. Hay conditions improved to 85 percent good to excellent. Livestock conditions were reported as good with very little stress.

USDA Weekly Crop Progress

Corn planting and emergence were both slightly behind the five-year average while the overall condition of the crop improved from the previous week, according to USDA's weekly Crop Progress report released Monday.  This week's report showed 96% of U.S. corn planted, down from 97% a year ago and down from the five-year average of 97%. USDA also said 86% of U.S. corn was emerged, down from 88% a year ago and down slightly from the five-year average of 87% emerged.  Sixty-eight percent of the corn crop was rated in good-to-excellent condition, up 3 percentage points from the previous week's 65% good-to-excellent rating.

Soybean planting, on the other hand, was ahead of the average pace with USDA estimating 83% of U.S. soybeans planted as of Sunday, June 4, up from 82% a year ago and above the five-year average of 79%. However, emergence was slightly behind normal with USDA estimating 58% of the crop emerged, down from 62% a year ago and down from the five-year average of 59%.

Meanwhile, USDA reported 87% of winter wheat is headed, down from 90% a year ago, but up from the five-year average of 85% headed. Ten percent of winter wheat has already been harvested, up from the five-year average of 7% with Texas showing 58% completion.  Forty-nine percent of the winter wheat crop was rated in good-to-excellent condition, resulting in a DTN Winter Wheat Condition Index of 122, down 3 points from a week ago. 

USDA estimated that 90% of spring wheat was emerged, down from 95% a year ago, but up from the five-year average of 85%. Fifty-five percent of spring wheat was rated in good-to-excellent condition.

In other crop reports, cotton was 80% planted, equal to the five-year average. Cotton squaring was 11% compared to the average of 7%. Rice was 87% emerged, compared to 92% on average.  Sorghum was 55% planted, behind the five-year average of 60%. Barley was 99% planted and 84% emerged, compared to 96% and 87% on average. Oats were 96% emerged and 35% headed, compared to 94% and 38% on average.

Monday June 5 Ag News

Nebraska Junior Beef Expo results

110 head of cattle and 65 youth exhibited during the three day event June 2-4 at Norfolk, NE- Northeast Community College. 

Supreme High Percentage Breeding Heifer- Lauren Trauernicht, Wymore, NE- representing the Simmental breed.  Reserve Supreme High Percentage Breeding Heifer- Devon Benes, Valparaiso, NE- representing the Charolais breed.

Supreme Low Percentage Breeding Heifer- Abby Nelson, Valparaiso, NE- representing the Simmental breed.  Reserve Supreme Low Percentage Breeding Heifer- Kendra Schulz, Pierce, NE- representing the Maine Anjou breed.

Supreme Market Animal- Derek Reardon, St. Edward, NE- representing the Chianina breed.  Reserve Supreme Market Animal- Kylie Kempf, Carroll, NE- representing the Charolais breed.

Champion Bred-and-Owned breeding heifer - Lauren Trauernicht, Wymore, NE representing the Simmental breed - Reserve Champion Bred-and-Owned breeding heifer - Abby Nelson, Valparaiso representing the Chianina breed. 

Supreme Jr. Showmanship- Nicole Nichols, Chambers, NE- representing the Simmental breed.  Reserve Supreme Jr. Showmanship- Cassidee Stratman, West Point, NE- representing the Maine Anjou breed

Supreme Sr. Showmanship- Abby Nelson, Valparaiso, NE- representing the Simmental breed.  Reserve Supreme Sr. Showmanship- Stephanie Kersten, Gretna, NE- representing the Simmental breed. 

Supreme Jr. Overall In Contests- Carson Maricle, Albion, NE- representing the Red Angus breed.  Reserve Supreme Jr. Overall in Contests- TIE- Megan Amos, Stapleton, NE representing the Limousin breed and Madison Hirschman, St. Paul, NE representing the Red Angus breed

Supreme Sr. Overall In Contests- Madysen Cox, Bennet, NE- representing the Shorthorn breed.  Reserve Supreme Sr. Overall in Contests- TIE- Kaydee Caldwell, Edgar, NE representing the Red Angus breed and Paige Netzke, Lamberton, MN, representing the Charolais breed

Scholarship Winners- Each will receive $500 from the NJBE
Stephanie Kersten, Gretna, NE- Simmental
Kylie Volk, Arlington, NE- Simmental
Macy Bakenhus, Columbus, NE- Shorthorn

Cost-share deadline approaching for installation of irrigation flow meters

In an effort to remain proactive in the management of our groundwater, flow meters are required on all active irrigation wells within the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) by January 1, 2018.

The LENRD has secured two grants to assist landowners with the expense of this requirement.  Funding is limited, and the deadline to apply for cost-share is Friday, June 30th, 2017 with some funds expiring on Friday, June 16th, 2017.  Contact your local NRCS office or the LENRD to apply.

Two funding options available:
1)  RCPP:  The LENRD received one of 6 Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) grants in Nebraska to fund producers’ irrigation water management projects.  The RCPP is administered by the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

The RCPP grant, under the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP), includes incentive payments for the installation of irrigation flow meters, irrigation water management, and nutrient management.  The RCPP grant is for producers who want to utilize more technology in their Irrigation Water Management (IWM).  In addition, the LENRD will offer incentive payments of $250 per flow meter to producers who are approved for the EQIP/RCPP funding.  Landowners must apply at their local NRCS office by June 16, 2017 to take advantage of this funding.

2)  WSF:  The LENRD has also received a grant from Nebraska’s Water Sustainability Fund (WSF), administered by the Nebraska Natural Resources Commission, to assist landowners with the purchase of flow meters.

With the WSF grant, the LENRD will pay producers $500 per flow meter.  All producers who have installed flow meters on or after November 25th, 2015, or producers who have yet to install their flow meters, can apply for the $500 incentive payments until the funds run out.  Application for the flow meter cost-share can be completed by visiting your local NRCS office or the LENRD office in Norfolk.  LENRD Assistant General Manager, Brian Bruckner, said, “These incentives are available for producers on a first-come, first-served basis.  There is enough grant money to cost-share on 3,000 meters.   Therefore, it’s very important that producers apply at their local NRCS office or the LENRD office by June 30th, 2017.”

The LENRD has approved seven meters for installation.  LENRD Projects Manager, Curt Becker, said, “The change in our Groundwater Management Area rules and regulations also requires anyone installing a flow meter within the LENRD to attend an installation training session to become a certified installer.”  A list of the approved meters as well as a list of the LENRD Certified Flow Meter Installation Contractors can be found on the district’s website.  These contractors have already completed the required flow meter installation training.  Becker added, “If you do not want to become certified to install your own meter, you must select a certified installer from the list.”  If you would like to be trained to install your own flow meter, please contact the LENRD, or visit for more information.

 E85 for Just 85 Cents in Lincoln

Flex fuel vehicle drivers can take advantage of huge savings with E85 for just 85 cents at Pump & Pantry (West O and Sun Valley Blvd.) in Lincoln Thursday, June 8 from 3-6 p.m. Consumers will be limited to 30 gallons and no containers are allowed.

There will be a ribbon cutting at 2:30 p.m. to mark the grand opening of Pump & Pantry’s flex fuel pumps, which now dispense E85 and Clean 88 – a high-octane, cleaner-burning blend of 15 percent ethanol.

The sponsors – Nebraska Ethanol Board, Nebraska Corn Board, Husker Ag and Bosselman Enterprises – will be on site greeting drivers, pumping fuel, and providing giveaways and a limited number of Saltdogs tickets. The Nebraska Danger professional indoor arena football team will also attend to greet fans and fuel vehicles.

The excitement continues at Haymarket Park at 6:45 p.m. when the Lincoln Saltdogs play the Sioux Falls Canaries. Charlie Bosselman, CEO of Bosselman Enterprises, will throw the opening pitch followed by drawings throughout the game to win American Ethanol t-shirts, Saltdogs tickets and baseballs.

One in seven Nebraskans are driving a flex fuel vehicle, which can run on any blend of American Ethanol up to E85 (85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline). Drivers can check their owner’s manual to see if they’re driving a flex fuel vehicle. The vehicle might also have a flex fuel badge on the trunk or tailgate — or have a yellow gas cap.


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Abundant spring rain.  That’s something most folks received this year.  How will you handle the excess pasture growth all that rain will produce?

               Extra rain produces extra grass.  As pastures grow faster than cattle can eat, finding ways to use this extra grass efficiently can be like money in the bank.

               The most obvious way to conserve extra growth is by cutting hay from parts of the pasture.  Normally I try to avoid extra hay cutting but if you have the equipment, the time, and more pasture than you can use this spring, cutting hay for use later in summer or winter when pasture becomes scarce is a good option.

               If you choose the hay option, cut as seedheads emerge for good hay quality and plant regrowth potential.  Also, fence out soon the area to be cut from the rest of the pasture.  Otherwise, cattle will ignore and waste the taller, stemmier grass as they just graze new regrowth after cutting hay.  You might even apply a little nitrogen fertilizer to stimulate growth if soil moisture still is good.

               Don’t be surprised if certain weeds like common ragweed or foxtails become abundant in areas cut for hay.  Ragweed or other non-palatable broadleaf weeds can be killed easily with herbicides if necessary.  Herbicide options are much more limited for the foxtails or other annual grassy weeds, but cattle will graze them quite well if you allow them access before these weeds begin to head out.  And the same holds true for many broadleaf weeds.

               Don’t let extra spring pasture go to waste.  Cutting the excess as hay is one way to save and stretch your forage supply.

Beef and Pork Exports Moderate in April, but Remain Well above Year-ago Levels

In April, U.S. red meat exports slowed moderately from the red-hot pace established in March but were still significantly higher year-over-year, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

Beef exports reached 99,786 metric tons (mt) in April, up 13 percent from a year ago, valued at $550.4 million, up 14 percent. For January through April, beef exports were up 14 percent in volume (392,001 mt) and 18 percent in value ($2.16 billion) compared to the same period last year.

April exports accounted for 13.6 percent of total U.S. beef production and 10.6 percent for muscle cuts only – up from 13 percent and 9.9 percent, respectively, last year. Through April, exports accounted for 12.7 percent of total beef production (up slightly from last year) and 10 percent for muscle cuts (up from 9.5 percent). April export value per head of fed slaughter averaged $283.52 – up 12 percent from a year ago and the highest of 2017. Through April, per-head export value averaged $271.57, up 11 percent.

Pork exports followed a record-breaking March with a solid April performance, reaching 203,091 mt – up 8 percent from a year ago and the largest April volume on record. Export value was up 11 percent to $517.5 million. For January through April, pork exports increased 15 percent in volume (830,738 mt) and 19 percent in value ($2.1 billion).

Pork exports as a percentage of U.S. production continued to run well ahead of last year, as April exports accounted for 28.4 percent of total pork production and 23.5 percent for muscle cuts only – up from 26.2 percent and 22.1 percent, respectively. Through April, exports accounted 27.5 percent of total pork production and 22.8 for muscle cuts (up from 24.4 percent and 20.5 percent last year). Export value per head slaughtered also trended much higher than a year ago – averaging $55.39 for April (up 11 percent) and $53.12 through April (up 16 percent).

“While April was a very solid month for U.S. red meat exports, we remain in an extremely competitive situation across the world and must stay aggressive with our marketing efforts,” said Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO. “It is especially gratifying to see our per-head return growing in 2017, even as slaughter numbers are on the rise. But this is also not lost on our competitors, who will quickly fill the void if we do not defend our market share. This is why the continued investment of checkoff dollars and USDA funding in international market development is so critically important.”

Asian markets continue to fuel beef export growth

Leading market Japan continued to shine for U.S. beef in April, with exports up 15 percent in volume (23,540 mt) and 17 percent in value ($143.3 million). Through April, exports to Japan exceeded last year’s pace by more than one-third in both volume (97,951 mt, up 34 percent) and value ($570.6 million, up 35 percent). Growth to Japan has been driven by the surging volume of chilled U.S. beef, with the U.S. capturing 52 percent of Japan’s chilled imports, up from 39 percent market share during the first four months of 2016. U.S. chilled exports through April increased by 48 percent to 45,295 mt, valued at $320 million (up 43 percent), indicating widespread acceptance and a growing range of U.S. cuts available in both the retail and foodservice sectors.

Beef exports to South Korea cooled to some degree in April but remained above last year’s strong pace at 11,837 mt (up 8 percent) valued at $78.5 million (up 17 percent). For January through April, exports to Korea were up 19 percent in volume (54,388 mt) and 27 percent in value ($346 million). Similar to Japan, the driver of growth to Korea is in chilled U.S. beef, with exports through April totaling 12,003 mt (up 84 percent) valued at $106 million (up 86 percent). Korean quarantine clearance data show this strong growth continued through May, with the U.S. share of Korea’s chilled beef imports climbing to 53 percent – up from 38 percent in the same period last year.

The recent rebound continued for beef exports to Hong Kong, where a strong April performance pushed year-to-date exports ahead of last year’s pace. April exports were up 73 percent in volume (11,232 mt) and 67 percent in value ($66.6 million). Through April, exports to Hong Kong totaled 37,392 mt (up 2 percent) valued at $233.9 million (up 10 percent).

Driven by excellent results in the Philippines and Vietnam, April exports to the ASEAN region more than doubled from a year ago in volume (3,783 mt, up 105 percent) and nearly doubled in value ($18.1 million, up 95 percent). April exports to the Philippines (1,522 mt) were the largest in two years and the volume shipped to Vietnam (1,035 mt) was the largest since 2012. For January through April, exports to the ASEAN region increased 62 percent from a year ago in volume (10,975 mt) and 48 percent in value ($59.9 million).

Beef exports to Taiwan remained on a very solid pace, with April volume up 15 percent to 3,753 mt and value up 30 percent to $32.9 million. Through April, exports to Taiwan totaled 13,499 mt (up 24 percent) valued at $118.5 million (up 29 percent). This included chilled beef exports of 5,320 mt valued at 61.6 million.

Mexico was the only major market in which April beef exports dipped below last year’s pace, totaling 17,525 mt (down 15 percent) valued at $69.2 million (down 23 percent). Through April, exports to Mexico were still up 7 percent from a year ago in volume (74,582 mt) but were 4 percent lower in value ($296 million).

Mexico leads April pork export growth as demand from China softens

Mexico continued to solidify its position as the largest volume destination for U.S. pork as April exports were up 10 percent from a year ago in volume (58,828 mt) and exceeded $100 million in value for the 12th consecutive month ($104.7 million, up 12 percent). Through April, exports to Mexico were 24 percent higher than a year ago in volume (265,090 mt) and up 34 percent in value ($476.6 million).

April pork exports to leading value market Japan were steady with last year’s volume at 32,552 mt and 2 percent higher in value at $129.5 million. Through April, exports to Japan remained 5 percent higher than a year ago in volume (134,133 mt) and were up 10 percent in value ($540.8 million). Japanese import data indicate that Canada continues to aggressively pursue Japan’s high-value chilled market, with imports from Canada (53,220 mt) running 19 percent ahead of last year’s pace while chilled imports from the U.S. were up 2 percent to 71,228 mt.

As China’s domestic pork production rebounds, U.S. pork muscle cut exports to China/Hong Kong have trended below year-ago levels each month in 2017 (although exports in April were the largest this year). Exports of pork variety meat, however, have continued to outpace year-ago levels and helped offset much of the decline in muscle cut exports. For combined pork and pork variety meat exports, April volume was down 7 percent to 48,457 mt but value was steady with last year at $96.7 million. For January through April, exports to China/Hong Kong were still 2 percent higher than a year ago in volume (179,493 mt) and up 8 percent in value to $355.5 million. This was driven by a 21 percent increase in variety meat exports to 115,305 mt. These exports also commanded higher prices as value jumped 29 percent to $239 million.

With exports to China/Hong Kong expected to face steeper terrain in coming months as China’s domestic hog prices continue to fall, other destinations for U.S. pork used for further processing take on added importance. In addition to leading market Mexico, some markets that posted impressive April results included:
-    Pork exports to South Korea continued their upward trajectory in April, climbing 21 percent above last year in volume (14,585 mt) and 32 percent higher in value ($41 million). Through April, exports to Korea were 28 percent ahead of last year’s pace in volume (65,743 mt) and 37 percent higher in value ($177.9 million).
-    April pork exports to Australia were 11 percent higher than a year ago in volume (5,485 mt) and 17 percent higher in value ($16 million), pushing January-April results to 26,092 mt (up 31 percent) valued at $73.8 million (up 36 percent).
-    Colombia led a very strong month for pork exports to Central and South America, with April exports to Colombia increasing 84 percent from a year ago in volume (5,085 mt) and more than doubling in value ($12.2 million, up 118 percent). Through April, export volume to Colombia was up 96 percent to 21,617 mt while value jumped 104 percent to $48.7 million. Bolstered also by a large increase in exports to Chile, export volume to Central and South America was up 45 percent through April at 53,741 mt while value climbed 47 percent to $127.8 million.
-    April exports to the Philippines increased 91 percent from a year ago in volume (3,430 mt) and soared 217 percent in value to $9.2 million. This pushed January-April exports to the Philippines to 11,217 mt (up 14 percent) valued at $28.3 million (up 42 percent). Exports to the ASEAN region were 6 percent ahead of last year’s pace in volume (12,907 mt) through April while value was up 28 percent to $33.4 million.
-    April exports to the Dominican Republic were up 53 percent in volume (3,567 mt) and 73 percent in value (just under $8 million). Through April, exports increased 29 percent in volume (11,365 mt) and 38 percent in value ($25.2 million).

Lamb exports retreat in April

After a strong performance in March, U.S. lamb exports slumped in April with volume (493 mt) down 23 percent from a year ago and value falling 19 percent to $1.3 million. Through April, lamb exports were down 25 percent from a year ago to 2,479 mt but were still 3 percent higher in value at $6.3 million. Although down sharply in April, lamb muscle cut exports remained 17 percent ahead of last year’s pace in volume (731 mt) and 20 percent higher in value ($4.3 million), including promising growth to the Caribbean and Hong Kong.

Pork Checkoff Publishes New PRRS Initiative Research Book

The National Pork Board’s new porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) virus research booklet is now available. The guide, PRRS Initiative Research, is the most comprehensive source of Checkoff-funded research available on the subject, spanning 20 years of results.

“Each year, the effect of PRRS is felt on pig farms across the country, and it has a $664 million annual impact on the U.S. pork industry,” said David Pyburn, DVM, senior vice president of science and technology, National Pork Board. “The Pork Checkoff has consistently invested in swine science and PRRS research, and the result is a guide that will provide value to understanding PRRS in an effort to address its impact.”

The updated and expanded 2017 edition contains Checkoff-funded PRRS research from 1997 to 2016, which can help producers, swine veterinarians and researchers learn more about how to control the costly virus. The guide has six sections including:
-    Immunology, virology and pathogenesis
-    Vaccine development
-    Epidemiology, risk factors and control strategies
-    Diagnostic testing
-    Surveillance and elimination strategies
-    Genetic resistance

The PRRS Initiative Research (1997-2016) is available online. For more information on the guide, contact Lisa Becton, DVM, at­­ or at (515) 223-2791. This week, World Pork Expo attendees also can receive more information on the new guide and discuss research findings with Pork Checkoff staff on-site at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, June 7-9, in Des Moines.

Perdue Statement on Visit to Toronto, First International Trip as Secretary of Agriculture

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today completed a trip to Toronto, marking his first international trip as secretary.  Perdue conducted a series of meetings with Canadian officials, including Canadian Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Lawrence MacAulay and current Premier of Ontario Kathleen Wynne, regarding bilateral trade issues of importance.  Among other issues, Perdue raised the topic of American ultra-filtered milk that has been a point of disagreement between the U.S. and Canada.

Perdue also participated in a celebration of the 10th year of the Southeastern United States-Canadian Provinces Alliance (SEUS-CP), an organization meant to foster mutually beneficial relationships Perdue helped found as governor of Georgia in 2007.  Perdue participated in a “fireside chat” regarding SEUS-CP with former Premier of Quebec Jean Charest.

Finally, Perdue attended the inaugural “tasteU.S.” culinary showcase of Southeastern United States products at the Marché Mövenpick Brookfield Restaurant.

Following his meetings in Canada, Perdue issued the following statement:
“We had very good, very candid discussions, very frank, like family members discussing some things that are not necessarily comfortable.  We laid out a great framework to begin renegotiating NAFTA.

“I was able to describe the issues that we feel are important to resolve – and can be resolved – as we begin to renegotiate NAFTA.  That has to do, obviously, with the dairy issue and the wheat grading issue that deals with feed grade wheat that’s not grown in Canada.  And also certain provincial wine issues, where wines are not displayed out in front where other Canadian wine is.

“It was not the purpose today to enter into deep negotiations back and forth, but to lay out the issues that we had concerns about.  It’s not our purpose to try to manage or try to get involved in their internal supply management regarding the dairy industry.  The ultra-filtered milk was not included in NAFTA.  And I made it very clear that the Class 7 designation we felt was an unfair undercutting of the U.S. industry that grew up south of the U.S.-Canada border.  It cut these producers and this industry out of shipping the ultra-filtered milk into their cheese industry, which was in demand in Canada.  I also said, if you want to manage your dairy supply with supply management, that’s fine.  You just need to manage it and not overproduce to create a glut of milk solids on the world market that’s being dumped at unfair prices.

“While we didn’t try to negotiate back and forth, I think it was clearly understood that we consider all options on the table and we’ll pursue them in the best interests of U.S. producers.”

Restaurant Performance Index Falls

Katelyn McCullock, Economist, American Farm Bureau Federation

The latest data, released June 1, 2017, reflects a steep drop-1.5 percent-- from March to April in the Restaurant Performance Index. The RPI is a monthly composite of the health of the U.S. restaurant industry and is measured in values relative to 100.  Values exceeding 100 indicate the industry is expanding, while values below 100 indicate contraction.  April currently stands at 100.3, just barely over the 100 mark.  The National Restaurant Association cites a net decline in customer traffic and same-store sales, as well as a decline in optimism over the economy, compared to the March survey. Figure 1 shows the RPI 2003 to April 2017.

Using different industry indicators, the RPI can be divided into current situation or expectations. The current situation part of the index uses four industry indicators: same-store sales, traffic, labor and capital expenditures.  This too dipped below the previous month, down 2.3 percent from March to 99.1.  The current situation would indicate restaurants are currently in a contraction-oriented phase.

The expectation piece of this index remains expansionary--with the expectation index still over 100, at 101.5-although it is down 0.7 percent since March.  The expectation index looks at four indicators as well but over the next six months.  It takes into account restaurant operators' outlook on same-store sales, employees, capital expenditures and business conditions.  Although the index is still over 100, NRA noted April is the lowest expectation index in the last six months.

An expansionary outlook on the economy bodes well for livestock producers and should provide a boost to demand to help lessen the negative effects of the large production numbers that are expected in beef, pork and chicken.  However, the decline in the index relative to the first three months of the year in expectations is a bit worrisome and could spell trouble later in the year.  For now though, the outlook remains positive. Another boost to the domestic demand picture is the growing interest in new cuts of meat, which NRA named as the top new food trend in 2017.  Vegetarian and vegan dishes were listed as cooling trends.  These trendy changes will certainly add to domestic consumption as we see more meat dishes featured throughout the restaurant complex.

KDA to Host Animal Disease Traceability Forum June 22

The Kansas Department of Agriculture will host an Animal Disease Traceability (ADT) Forum on Thursday, June 22, 2017, at the K-State Alumni Center at 1720 Anderson Ave. in Manhattan. The forum will begin at 9:00 a.m. and conclude by 3:00 p.m.

Similar to other public forums held around the country, officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS) will be on hand to provide information about the current ADT system and engage in a discussion on the successes and challenges of the current ADT framework, specifically for traceability in cattle and bison. Participants in the forum will also have the opportunity to provide solutions for improving the existing ADT system and ideas for the future of the program.

Animal disease traceability — knowing where diseased and at-risk animals are, where they've been, and when — is important to ensure a rapid response when animal disease events take place. An efficient and accurate animal disease traceability system helps reduce the number of animals involved in an investigation, reduces the time needed to respond, and decreases the cost to producers and the government. The federal Traceability for Livestock Moved Interstate rule went into effect in March 2013 and established minimum national official identification and documentation requirements for the traceability of livestock moving interstate.

The ADT forum in Kansas is open to the public. Individuals wishing to participate in the forum can register at the formsite link or at the KDA website, Registration will be available on site. Individuals who have questions about the forum should contact Mary Soukup at or call 785-564-6700 for more information.

National Agricultural Genotyping Center Announces New Tools in Corn Disease Identification

Identifying corn diseases and pursuing the best management plan available just got easier, faster and more cost effective due to new testing protocols announced today by the National Agricultural Genotyping Center located in Fargo, North Dakota.

“Farming is a complicated pursuit that involves many choices. Making the right choice at the right time can have a huge effect on profitability,” said Larry Hoffman, Chairman of the National Corn Growers Association’s Corn Productivity & Quality Action Team. “This is especially true when it comes to identifying the dozens of diseases that can harm healthy corn plants, yields and grain quality.”

Corn has effective genetic resistance to many of the important diseases, according to Pete Snyder, President and CEO of NAGC, however, numerous challenges remain in identifying corn diseases in timely fashion. NAGC is targeting a couple of key diseases, Goss’s Wilt and Xanthomonas, in their first disease assays, or tests now available to corn farmers, agronomists and crop consultants.

“A key part of our mission at the National Agricultural Genotyping Center  is to translate scientific discoveries into solutions for farmers and production agriculture. This is another important step in that regard,” Snyder said. “The new assays we have developed will provide proper identification in weeks rather than months and cut costs substantially.”

NAGC, a non-profit initiative founded by the National Corn Growers Association and Los Alamos National Laboratory, will provide research and testing services to both public and private researchers. The center translates scientific discoveries into solutions for production agriculture, food safety, functional foods, and bioenergy. and national security.

Cost savings from the actual testing are as much as 75 percent less with a move from single sample testing to utilizing 96 sample trays. NAGC is working with farmers via crop consultants and agronomists to streamline the process of collecting samples and ramping up the assay process.

Goss’s wilt is a bacterial disease that may cause systemic infection and wilting of corn plants, as well as severe leaf blighting. Under the right conditions this disease can cause devastating damage with grain yield losses approaching 50%. Xanthomonas, another bacterial disease, is being targeted because it is often confused with Gray Leaf Spot leading to ineffective fungicide treatments and loss of income for farmers.

“It can cost $40 an acre to treat Gray Leaf Spot, but those treatments are ineffective against Xanthomonas,” Hoffman said. “And it’s not just lost profit but lost opportunity. Once identified we can deal with Xanthomonas through management practices such as tillage and crop rotation.”

Testing is largely done through samples of the effected plant leaf tissue. However, soil samples can be assayed by NAGC early in the growing season to identify or the presence of Xanthomonas.

National FFA Organization’s Washington Leadership Conference Instills Importance of Growth, Leadership, Community Service

Thousands of FFA members from throughout the country are converging on Washington, D.C., this summer to evaluate their personal skills and interests, develop leadership talent and create service plans that will make a difference in their communities.

More than 2,300 students are registered for the 2017 Washington Leadership Conference, the second-largest student experience that the National FFA Organization hosts each year. Created in 1969 and held annually, the conference begins June 6 at the Omni Shoreham Hotel.

FFA members can attend the conference during one of seven weeks through July 29.  They will spend the week under the guidance of professionals, counselors and FFA staff. In workshops, seminars and small groups, members will focus on identifying and developing their personal strengths and goals while undergoing comprehensive leadership training that will help them guide their local FFA chapters. The capstone of the event will be a civic engagement activity where participants apply what they have learned to a hands-on activity.

Members will also analyze the needs of their communities, develop wide-ranging and high-impact community service initiatives and implement their plans with the help of their FFA chapters upon return home. Students in recent years have promoted agricultural literacy; brought attention to abuse; collected and distributed shoes to individuals in Haiti; created a hunger awareness plan; and more.

FFA members will experience the history of the nation's capital and tour landmarks including the Washington Monument, War Memorial, the National Mall, Arlington National Cemetery and the U.S. Capitol, among others. Members will also have an opportunity to participate in congressional visits during the week.

The 2017 Washington Leadership Conference is sponsored by title sponsors CSX, Monsanto, Farm Credit and weekly sponsor Valent. For more information, visit

New Educational Opportunity Available to Young Interested in Ag Policy

Next month, the American Soybean Association (ASA) and Valent USA will host the first Soy Leaders of the Future program. This is a new opportunity for young people interested in improving their understanding of major policy issues that impact soybean farmers, the importance of advocacy, and careers that can impact agricultural policy. The first class will take place this summer and will be held in conjunction with the ASA Board Meeting and Soy Issues Briefing, July 10-13, 2017, in Washington, D.C. Student travel expenses will be covered by the program sponsors.

The U.S. agriculture industry needs more leaders in Washington, D.C. who understand the needs of farmers and the agriculture industry, especially as it relates to the development of policies and regulations that impact farm productivity. The proportion of rural congressional districts is at its lowest point in history, and more than half of the U.S. population currently resides in 39 of the nation’s largest cities. Positions on Congressional staffs, regulatory agencies and services groups within the Federal government are often filled with individuals who have a very limited understanding of farming and the needs of the agriculture industry.

The new Soy Leaders of the Future program, sponsored by Valent and ASA, is designed to provide an education on major policy issues and advocacy to young people with a connection to the farm. The program will also encourage these future young leaders to consider careers within agriculture associations and industry, as well as government regulatory and legislative positions.

Application Information

To apply for the Soy Leaders of the Future program, students must be at least 18 years old and have an interest in learning more about advocacy and policy issues that impact U.S. soybean farmers and career opportunities in Washington, D.C. and the agriculture industry. This program may be especially appealing to students majoring in a various areas of agriculture, political science, communications and business. Program sponsors will cover all travel, lodging and meal expenses for the students who are selected for this program.

Class size is limited. All interested participants must complete and submit an online application by 11:59 p.m. on Friday, June 9.  Contact your state's soybean association for more information. 

USDA Dairy Products April 2017 Productio Highlights

Total cheese output (excluding cottage cheese) was 1.04 billion pounds, 3.7 percent above April 2016 but 2.1 percent below March 2017.  Italian type cheese production totaled 448 million pounds, 2.2 percent above April 2016 but 4.4 percent below March 2017.  American type cheese production totaled 419 million pounds, 5.3 percent above April 2016 and 0.8 percent above March 2017.  Butter production was 164 million pounds, 4.1 percent below April 2016 and 6.8 percent below March 2017.

Dry milk powders (comparisons with April 2016)
Nonfat dry milk, human - 171 million pounds, down slightly.
Skim milk powders - 50.2 million pounds, up 16.2 percent.

Whey products (comparisons with April 2016)
Dry whey, total - 84.3 million pounds, up 3.0 percent.
Lactose, human and animal - 96.5 million pounds, up 5.4 percent.
Whey protein concentrate, total - 42.9 million pounds, up 10.0 percent.

Frozen products (comparisons with April 2016)
Ice cream, regular (hard) - 70.8 million gallons, down 3.1 percent.
Ice cream, lowfat (total) - 38.7 million gallons, down 3.9 percent.
Sherbet (hard) - 3.52 million gallons, down 4.7 percent.
Frozen yogurt (total) - 6.85 million gallons, up 9.0 percent.


A new powerful force for disease control is now available from INNVICTIS CROP CARE, LLC.

TREVO TRZ is a combination of Tetraconazole and Azoxystrobin.  With curative and preventative control, TREVO TRZ provides a one two punch against the most costly diseases in corn, soybeans, and sugarbeets including gray leaf spot, Northern corn leaf blight, frogeye leaf spot cercospora, powdery mildew, rust and a host of others. The combination of these 2 different modes of action not only helps fight against resistance but also broadens the spectrum of disease control and lengthens residual.

What makes TREVO TRZ truly unique is the combination of these two specific active ingredients. Tetraconazole is the most highly systemic Triazole on the market today. It penetrates the leaf surface quickly and then moves throughout the plant migrating to new plant growth for added protection. Azoxystrobin, a strobilurin, provides the broadest spectrum of control and proven performance.

“TREVO TRZ is the combination of Azoxystrobin and Tetraconazole, two powerful fungicides that exhibit preventative, systemic, and curative activity to offer the best in class fungicide protection against numerous plant pathogens while maximizing yields and providing a return on investment,” says Will Scott, Technical Services and Market Development Manager for INNVICTIS CROP CARE, LLC.

A healthy crop is a yielding crop. Protection against yield robbing diseases with TREVO TRZ will help protect your bottom line. Apply TREVO TRZ when conditions are favorable for disease development.

Deere to Acquire World's Largest Road Construction Equip Maker

Deere & Company has signed a definitive agreement to acquire the Wirtgen Group, a privately-held international company that is the leading manufacturer worldwide of road construction equipment.

The purchase price for the equity is EUR 4.357 billion in an all-cash transaction. The total transaction value is approximately EUR 4.6 billion (USD 5.2 billion based on current exchange rates), including the assumption of net debt and other consideration. The Wirtgen Group had sales of EUR 2.6 billion in the year ending December 31, 2016. Deere expects the transaction to be accretive to earnings per share and currently expects to fund the acquisition from a combination of cash and new equipment operations debt financing.

Headquartered in Germany, the Wirtgen Group has five premium brands across the entire road construction sector spanning milling, processing, mixing, paving, compaction and rehabilitation. Wirtgen's highly complementary product portfolio enhances Deere's existing construction equipment offering and establishes Deere as an industry leader in global road construction. The Wirtgen Group has a global footprint with approximately 8,000 employees and sells products in more than 100 countries through a large network of company-owned and independent dealers.

Deere plans to maintain the Wirtgen Group's existing brands, management, manufacturing footprint, employees and distribution network. The combined business is expected to benefit from sharing best practices in distribution, customer support, manufacturing and technology as well as in scale and efficiency of operations.

Friday June 2 Ag News

FCSAmerica Survey Provides Insight into Farmer Grain Marketing Practices

Farm Credit Services of America (FCSAmerica), a financial cooperative owned by agricultural producers, today announced results of a survey it commissioned on the marketing practices of farmers across the Corn Belt. The results shed light on the practices used by grain producers who say they are satisfied with their marketing results, and offer an opportunity for farmers to compare themselves to their peers and examine their own approach to marketing.

Nearly 650 producers in nine states answered questions about how and when they price their crops. At a time when many farmers have worked to lower their operating costs, the survey offers insights about how to optimize the income side of the farm balance sheet.

"The survey results highlight that knowing cost of production is the foundation of sound marketing," said Doug Stark, president and CEO at FCSAmerica. "They also highlight the important role that crop insurance plays in supporting both risk management and marketing, not just when there is a crop failure."

Among the findings:
-    One-third of producers are mostly or completely satisfied with their marketing practices and results.
-    Satisfied marketers are more likely to price as soon as the market offers a profit and to price multiple crop years. They are less likely to sell most of their crop right after harvest or to price based on market fear or cash flow needs.
-    More satisfied than dissatisfied marketers report that they have a good understanding of their cost of production and use it to set an initial price goal. Satisfied marketers are more likely to have written marketing plans.
-    On average, producers use four to five marketing tools, the most popular being storage. Eighty-two percent store grain at least occasionally; one in five always stores.
-    Operations of 1,000 or more acres and growers with higher levels of crop insurance employ a fuller range of marketing tools. Producers with Revenue Protection of at least 80 percent also are more likely to price prior to harvest.
-    More than two-thirds use cash forward contracts and spot cash sales, while only a quarter of respondents use futures or options.
-    Those 35 and younger are more likely to use hedge-to-arrive contracts and lock in the carry when they store. Younger and larger operators are more likely to use their cost of production to set a marketing price.

USDA reports on grain sales are focused on deliveries to elevators. The FCSAmerica survey focused directly on producers with 350 acres or more of corn, soybeans and/or wheat to learn how they actually price their grain. The results reveal how farmers view risk, the pricing strategies they employ, and the factors that influence their marketing attitudes and practices.

Ted Schroeder, an agricultural economist and director of the Center for Risk Management Education at Kansas State University, assisted with survey design and interpretation of results.

FCSAmerica provides credit and crop insurance services for more than 50,000 customer-owners in Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming. "We don't advise producers on their marketing strategies, but as a farmer-owned cooperative, we continually invest in helping our customers enhance their financial acumen to benefit their operations," Stark said.

To view the full survey report, visit


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

            Is placement of cross fences and water points preventing you from taking full advantage of the potential benefits of rotational grazing?  Get the answers at the Nebraska Grazing Conference in Kearney on August 8 and 9.

            Jim Gerrish, internationally respected grazing expert and developer of the Management Intensive Grazing (MIG) method, will share his insights into fence and water development during his keynote presentation and informal evening workshop.  Then Craig Derickson and Brad Soncksen from NRCS will describe cost share programs to help you pay for these improvements.

            Livestock profits from grazinglands are increasingly hard to come by.  Cattlemen John Maddux from Wauneta and Jim Jenkins from Calloway will describe ways they have adjusted their operations to find economic opportunities while Aaron Berger and Jay Parsons from Nebraska Extension will examine ways to control costs and risk.  Nancy Peterson from Gordon will describe the many varied ways her family have used diversity and stewardship to build their cow herd and soil.

            Peter Ballerstedt with Barenbrug USA will describe cool-season grasses to plant in new pastures as well as show how grass and cattle combine to form healthy human diets.

            Wildlife thrive on well-managed grazinglands.  Learn how this is being accomplished in Nebraska, South Dakota, and Oklahoma from Bill Vodehnal, Patricia Johnson, and Dwayne Elmore.

            Learn how to look at weedy plants from a different perspective with Chris Helzer of The Nature Conservancy.

            Full registration for both days is $80 before August 1 and $100 thereafter.  Student and single day registrations are available.  Full conference information and registration are available on-line at 

Iowa Farm Bureau sees valuable information for farmers in 2016 Impaired Waters Report

The recent Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) report shows a narrowing in the number of impaired waters in Iowa with the latest report showing a 1.9 percent increase in the number of “impaired waterbodies.”  DNR staffers who prepared the report say that the DNR is now utilizing new, interactive assessment tools such as the one developed by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) which tracks long-term trends in surface water quality.

Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) Environmental Policy Advisor Rick Robinson says this year’s report is notably different because this goes above and beyond requirements of the EPA and includes different types of measurements and data pulled from multiple sources.  “The goal is one all Iowans share: to see changes in the quality of water in rivers and streams.  By tapping into the USGS information base, we can see changes that have occurred over the four decades since the passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972.  The many thousands of readings show impaired waterbodies are leveling off to a 1.9 percent increase.  The goal shared by farmers, environmentalists and lawmakers is to see it reach zero and stay there,” says Robinson.

Another significant point in the 2017 report: 56 impairments have been taken off the ‘impaired waterbodies list.’  IFBF credits record conservation practices and collaborative work for the progress.  The USGS data shows nitrate levels are trending steady to lower in 18 of 22 Iowa sites tested; phosphorus levels are trending steady to lower in 23 or 25 sites tested and only five Iowa sites showed up as ‘somewhat likely up’ for either nitrates or phosphorus.  “It’s also worth noting that 75 percent of untreated water in Iowa streams meets or exceeds the EPA’s nitrate safety standard,” says Robinson.

Farmers are adding conservation practices in record numbers, for example, planting 630,000 acres of cover crops last year, compared to 10,000 acres in 2009.   “Cover crops are just one of many practices outlined in the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy and embracing those options requires commitment to the big picture, since meeting the 45 percent reduction targets in nitrates and phosphorus is estimated to take $1.2-4 billion per year.  Funding is an important aspect to continued water quality progress,” says IFBF President Craig Hill.   “Iowa farmers embrace the challenge of improving water quality so the work can and must continue.”

AgGateway's Ag Retail eConnectivity Seminar June 13

Part of AgGateway's Mid-Year Meeting, June 12-15, in Altoona, Iowa will be as half-day Ag Retail eConnectivity Seminar, an introduction to the many benefits of electronic connectivity for agricultural retailers and service providers. It will be held June 13 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Register at and choose to attend the entire Mid-Year Meeting for $150, or just the Ag Retail Seminar for $50.

Participants will learn about the value and competitive advantages of seamless electronic data exchange. Some of the topics and speakers will include:
- Networked Agriculture - Jeremy Wilson, Crop IMS
- What is eConnectivity and Why Should I Care? - Randy Beard, River Valley Cooperative; Jeff Griffeth, Co-Alliance LLP
- What Does it Take to Achieve Connectivity? - Randy Fry, Ceres Solutions
- Ability and Flexibility - Knowing Your Needs and Limits - Brian Gates, Key Cooperative; Scott Meredith and Eric Hoefing, ACS
- Who Can Help Me? - Jody Costa, Barcoding Inc.
- eConnectivity Matters Now - Daren Coppock, Presid ent & CEO, Agricultural Retailers Association
- Panel Discussion: Why My Company Chose Connectivity - Natasha Lily, The Equity; Ann Vande Lune, Key Cooperative; Chuck Bohanon, AgVantage Software; Pat Johnson, Crop Production Services

AgGateway is a non-profit organization that helps member companies improve their profitability and productivity by promoting, enabling and expanding eBusiness in agriculture.

Fear of massive cuts to essential farm safety net programs feature topic at Iowa Farm Bureau's Economic Summit

As farmers enter a fourth year of a downturned ag economy, any proposals calling for cuts to the essential farm safety net send waves of fear through the rural countryside.  A recent federal budget proposal from the Trump Administration would cut $39 billion from farm safety net programs during a critical time for farmers struggling to operate in the black.  Iowa Farm Bureau’s 2017 Economic Summit; “Overcoming Challenges, Creating Opportunities,” on July 20 at the Iowa State Scheman Center in Ames is designed to help farmers manage and strategize during this tumultuous time for agriculture.

Farmers have faced a 46 percent drop in farm income over the past three years following the 2014 farm bill, and bearish commodity markets, uncertainty with trade deals, and proposed slashes to critical crop insurance programs are causing many concerns for Iowa farmers.

“Managing risk is what keeps Iowa farms sustainable through a prolonged downturned farm economy, and these proposals call for drastic reductions that could, if enacted, devastate crop insurance and conservation programs,” says Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) President Craig Hill.  “As I visit with farmers around Iowa, they tell me crop insurance is vital for their success, and they certainly don’t want to jeopardize the gains we have been able to make in conservation.  Budget proposals that hamper farm safety net programs, impact conservation programs, and negatively impact rural economic development programs are especially worrisome and will be addressed in detail during our Economic Summit.”

As federal budget negotiations get underway in Washington, D.C., farmers are paying close attention to the early field hearings for the new farm bill and potential outlines of the 2018 farm bill, which will establish the essential farm safety net for farmers in the coming years.

Pending trade negotiations with the potential for significant impacts to Iowa agriculture is also a top-of-mind concern for farmers as they consider crop and livestock marketing decisions.  Speakers during this year’s Economic Summit will discuss the benefits of trade for Iowa agriculture and the status and outlook for ag exports to provide farmers insights and strategies for managing through this downturned economic period.

“This is a challenging time for farmers given extremely tight margins and an uncertain future for trade and the 2018 farm bill,” said Dave Miller, IFBF director of research and commodity services.  “We want to ensure our Economic Summit helps attendees understand the key economic factors at play and help farmers identify opportunities to earn a premium price for their crops and livestock, or ways to their production costs and improve their bottom lines.”

Iowa Farm Bureau members who attend the full-day summit will benefit from the expertise of Iowa-based and national experts presenting on a range of subjects and issues critical to agriculture today, including economist David Oppendahl of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago; John Newton, an AFBF economist; and Jim Knuth, Iowa-based senior vice president of the Farm Credit Services of America.

This year’s summit will also feature breakout sessions that allow attendees to dive deeper into a range of topics from soil health and cover crops and opportunities in livestock production to ways to build landlord-tenant relationships and trends in the farm machinery markets.  

Summit registration, which includes access to all presentations and lunch, is $30 for Farm Bureau members and $75 for non-members before July 11.  Visit


Following a meeting between President Trump and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc, the two countries on Wednesday announced plans to enhance political, diplomatic, economic and trade relations. Among the topics addressed directly with Vietnam’s prime minister were two key trade access issues for U.S. pork: the use of veterinary drugs and offal exports.

Regarding veterinary drugs, Vietnam will not be issuing a circular, previously announced, implementing a zero-tolerance policy on residues for multiple veterinary drug, many of which are used in U.S. pork production. It agreed to follow U.S. food safety standards and maximum residue limits (MRLs) set by the U.N.’s Codex Alimentarius Commission. Vietnam will continue to allow U.S. imports of beef and pork that meet Codex MRLs. The policy aligns with U.S. food safety concerns.

In addition, Vietnam said it is committed to working with the United States to address issues currently preventing the importation of white offal.

Earlier in the week, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer touted “significant trade progress” underway between the United States and Vietnam at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce dinner attended by the prime minister. Lighthizer added: “Over the last decade, our bilateral trade deficit has risen from about $7 billion to nearly $32 billion. This concerning growth in our trade deficit presents new challenges and shows us that there is considerable potential to improve further our important trade relationship.”

Senator Thune Introduces ARC Payment Legislation

Senator John Thune (R-SD) has introduced legislation intended to improve the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) Program. In an attempt to fix the county disparity issue present in ARC, Senator Thune is proposing that all ARC County payments be calculated using the payment rate for the county in which the land is physically located.

Currently, ARC participants with farms in multiple counties may choose to receive the payment rate for the county in which the land is physically located or the payment rate of the administrative county.

Senator Thune’s proposal would also require a mandatory base reallocation determined by planted and considered planted acres on a farm for the years 2014-2017. Past efforts to force a mandatory base update have been rejected as an assault on the planting flexibility that was first created under the 1996 Farm Bill and maintained ever since.

Apply Now for the 2017-18 ASA DuPont Young Leader Program

The American Soybean Association (ASA), DuPont Pioneer and DuPont Crop Protection are seeking applicants for the 2017-18 ASA DuPont Young Leader Program (DYL).

For more than 30 years, the ASA DuPont Young Leader program has identified and developed grower leaders who have shaped the agricultural industry.

“The ASA DuPont Young Leader Program has had a tremendous impact on not only the soybean industry, but all of agriculture. Since the program’s inception in 1984, it has recognized the value gained from engaging and encouraging a diverse agricultural leadership which includes farmers – both men and women. Through participation in this state-of-the-art training program, growers are able to realize their leadership potential while creating meaningful relationships that lead to increased collaboration that influences the industry,” said ASA President Ron Moore, a farmer from Roseville, Ill. “We can’t thank DuPont Pioneer and DuPont Crop Protection enough for their longstanding support of the program.”

The ASA DuPont Young Leader program is a challenging and educational two-part training program. Phase I of the 2017-18 program will take place at the DuPont Pioneer headquarters in Johnston, Iowa, Nov. 28-30, 2017. The program continues Feb. 25-28, 2018 in Anaheim, Calif. in conjunction with the annual Commodity Classic Convention and Trade Show.

“The ASA DuPont Young Leader program opened my eyes to the diversity and complexity that is found within our agriculture today," said Monica McCullough, 2017 DuPont Young Leader alumni. "The leadership development and personal connections that have occurred during this program have given me the skill set to authentically engage with others and to share our story about agriculture in a way that is welcoming to all. This is an industry were very few people shoulder the responsibility of feeding so many, with that being said, we all have a responsibility to engage in the ways in which our time and talents allow. The ASA DYL program has helped me on my journey of finding my role within agriculture."

Soybean grower couples and individuals are encouraged to apply for the program, which focuses on leadership and communication, the latest agricultural information and the development of a strong peer network. ASA, its 26 state affiliates, including the Grain Farmers of Ontario and DuPont, will work together to identify the top producers to represent their state as part of this program.

“America’s farmers provide the strongest voice for, not only agriculture, but also for rural America. We are proud to support the young leader program, which is developing the next generation of grower leaders and advocates for U.S. agriculture,” said Randy Wanke, sr. manager industry relations, DuPont Pioneer.

Applications are being accepted online now. Interested applicants should click for additional program information and to apply.

Grain Barge Tonnages Drop in May Due to High Water

Persistent rainfall throughout the spring has caused high water conditions that have slowed and sometimes halted navigation on portions of the nation's inland waterways. As of May 31, there are no lock closures due to high water levels. Grain barge traffic for May on the Upper Mississippi, Ohio, and Arkansas Rivers was 2.8 million tons, 16 percent lower than the 3-year average for May.

However, even with the less-than-ideal navigation conditions, current spot barge freight rates for export grain at principle origins remain 1 to 17 percent below the 3-year average for the end of May.

The Lower Mississippi River is also experiencing high water conditions causing daylight only transit in certain areas.

Repair work that was scheduled to begin in early June at La Grange Lock on the Illinois River has been postponed until the water level on the river recede.

When the La Grange repair work begins, the lock will be closed for 10 hours each day and opened to traffic for 14 hours each day, until the repairs are finished.

US Ethanol Exports Down 32% in April

U.S. ethanol exports in April dropped 32% to 87.2 million gallons from March, an eight-month low, the Renewable Fuels Association stated in a news release Friday, basing their findings on government data.

Despite the slowdown in April, RFA, an ethanol trade association, said U.S. ethanol exports remain on a record pace with 474.8 million gallons of shipments over the first four months of 2017.

Brazil accounted for a little more than half of U.S. ethanol exports in April, receiving 44.5 million gallons to remain the top destination for U.S. ethanol exports.

In April, Canada received 19.0 million gallons of ethanol, Peru 3.9 million gallons, the United Arab Emirates 3.3 million gallons, and South Korea with 2.5 million gallons.

"Noticeably absent from the April roster were India and the Philippines. Together, the two counties imported more than 50 mg of U.S. ethanol in March, and India had been the third-leading market for U.S. export in the first quarter," said RFA.

ADM Expanding Mill Capacity

Archer Daniels Midland announced plans Friday to build a new flour mill in Mendota, Illinois, and end flour production at an older mill in Chicago.

ADM said the new, high-capacity mill will allow the company to continue to meet growing demand for flour throughout the Midwest. The new mill will tie into ADM's current grain operations in Mendota, which is about an hour outside of the Chicago metro area. Building near the current grain facility will allow the flour mill to take advantage of the rail access there, the company stated.

"ADM's new facility in Mendota will help us provide additional capabilities to meet ongoing demand growth in the Midwest, where we are seeing bakers expand their production capabilities," said Mark Kolkhorst, president, ADM Milling. "In addition, our new mill will enable us to drive efficiencies, thanks to the use of new technologies and equipment, and the ability to leverage capabilities of ADM's existing grain facility in Mendota -- such as unloading 110-car shuttle trains."

The new facility will have daily milling capacity of 30,000 cwt and will grind both soft and hard red wheat varieties. ADM stated the new Mendota facility will begin operations in mid-2019. Once fully operational, ADM will end production at a smaller wheat mill in Chicago.

ADM did not state the construction costs for the new flour mill, but the company stated in a news release that ADM has now announced projects totaling more than $250 million in Illinois, including the mill, new animal nutrition facilities in Effingham and Quincy, and the company's partnership with DuPont Industrial Biosciences to produce furan dicarboxylic methyl ester (FDME) from fructose.

Thursday June 1 Ag News

Nebraska Beef Council Provides Support for China Reopening

The Nebraska Beef Council (NBC) Board of Directors met last week and discussed the recent progress regarding the reopening of China to U.S. beef. An overarching principle for the NBC Board is to ‘put the money where the people are’ and maximize beef checkoff dollars. Because of the importance of this market to the U.S. beef community the NBC committed $300,000 to support the U.S. Meat Export Federation’s (USMEF) efforts in enhancing demand for beef.

“The discussion about supporting USMEF in this marketplace was positive and an obvious place for us to invest beef checkoff dollars,” said Buck Wehrbein, NBC Chairman and cattle feeder from Mead. “With the equivalent of over 2600 head of cattle per day being exported from Nebraska alone, we know the significance of this market and want to show our support.”

The commitment of these dollars fell right in line with the discussions held at the USMEF Spring Conference held last week in Arlington, VA. Joel Haggard, USMEF Senior Vice President for the Asia Pacific, said, “This funding comes at an opportune time and is a great up-front investment from Nebraska that will help us get deep into our plan for reentering the Chinese marketplace.”

Although the final details are still being put into place, the NBC Board chose to provide this support now to enable USMEF to make plans and move forward when the Chinese market opens.

“The USMEF team has a variety of strategic activities proposed and these dollars allow them to take action as we move closer to this opening that the beef community has waited for so long to happen,” said Wehrbein.

Nonprofit Cattle Group Files Lawsuit Against Nebraska Brand Committee

(AP) - A nonprofit representing ranchers with Nebraska feedlots has requested a federal judge to rule the Nebraska Livestock Brand Act unconstitutional and prevent the state from enforcing it.

The Nebraska Beef Producers Committee filed a lawsuit against the Nebraska Brand Committee and executive director William Bunce in U.S. District Court on Tuesday.

The Brand Committee records ranchers’ brands, inspects cattle to verify ownership and investigates missing livestock and cattle rustling. The Brand Act requires cattle being moved outside a designated brand area or sold within it to be inspected.

Katherine Spohn, attorney for the beef producers, says the evolution of the cattle industry has made the act ineffectual.

Iowa Dairy Princess Candidates Sought - Application Deadline is July 1

Midwest Dairy Association’s Iowa Division is seeking candidates to serve as Iowa’s 64th Dairy Princess. The entry deadline is Saturday, July 1.

The Iowa Dairy Princess serves as the official goodwill ambassador for the state’s dairy industry, helping communicate with people about dairy farmers’ stewardship for animals and natural resources, the safety and wholesomeness of dairy products, and the economic importance of dairy to Iowa’s economy.

Eligible candidates include young women from 16 to 22 years old from active Iowa dairy farms, who work on a dairy farm or whose parents are employees of an Iowa dairy farm. Young women who live in counties with a local princess contest managed by a dairy promotion board must be nominated through their county program. However, candidates who live in counties without an active princess contest can apply to represent their own county. A full list of eligibility requirements can be found at

Potential candidates can learn more about the contest and dairy princess program at the Dairy Iowa Youth Communications Workshop Thursday, June 8, 2017, at the Heartland Acres Agribition Center in Independence, Iowa. The session will include an interactive workshop for high school and college students and an overview of the state princess contest. Learn more or register by contacting or calling 712-551-7918.

Judging will be held August 8-9, 2017, in Ankeny, Iowa. Selection is based on communications skills, general knowledge of the dairy industry and enthusiasm for dairy promotion. The 64th Iowa State Dairy Princess will be crowned Wednesday, Aug. 9, at 8 p.m. at the Multi-Media Center of the Cattle Barn at the state fairgrounds in Des Moines.

The 2017-18 Iowa Dairy Princess and Alternate will both receive $1,000 scholarships from Midwest Dairy Association’s Iowa Division.

For complete rules and application materials, contact LeAnne Philips at 712-551-7918 or or visit

June 2 is #FarmersThankDominos Day!

At the Animal Agriculture Alliance Stakeholders Summit last month, Tim McIntyre from Domino’s Pizza spoke about the company’s refusal to give in to the demands of activist groups and decision to support farmers and ranchers as experts in animal welfare. Since then, the brand has received a lot of positive recognition in the ag media and on social media. Activists have responded with negative articles and petitions based on Tim’s comments at the Summit.

The company continues to stand strong that farmers and ranchers are experts in animal care. To send a loud and clear message that the agriculture community appreciates Domino’s support, farms and ag businesses are encouraged to order pizza from Domino’s for lunch or dinner on June 2nd and post on social media using the hashtag #FarmersThankDominos and tag @dominos. Also consider giving your local Domino’s restaurant a thank you note for their support. Feel free to share this with other contacts and encourage everyone to join in with #FarmersThankDominos!

Animal sales banned on Facebook

Last month Facebook gave into pressures from animal rights groups and began enforcing a policy of "no animal sales or trades" in the Facebook marketplace and private groups. The stated motivation for this is to prevent animal cruelty and mostly with pets in mind. However, farmers have used Facebook marketplace and groups to network and exchange livestock. Facebook has cut these small farms off from even local private trade or sales.  The Animal Agriculture Alliance plans to contact Facebook to express our concerns with the unintended consequences of this policy on animal agriculture.
New group to watch: Balanced

AAA has identified “Balanced” as a new group to watch as an anti-animal agriculture activist group. According to Balanced, “food companies should sell food that reflects federal dietary guidelines and the best nutrition evidence. That means more whole grains, beans, vegetables and fruits, and fewer servings of foods high in saturated fat, cholesterol and carcinogens, such as meat and eggs.” They want to make plant-based options more accessible and mobilize consumers to demand this change.

USDA Grain Crushings and Co-Products Production

Total corn consumed for alcohol and other uses was 488 million bushels in April 2017. Total corn consumption was down 5 percent from March 2017 but up 8 percent from April 2016. April 2017 usage included 90.8 percent for alcohol and 9.2 percent for other purposes. Corn consumed for beverage alcohol totaled 2.99 million bushels, up 12 percent from March 2017 and up 11 percent from April 2016. Corn for fuel alcohol, at 433 million bushels, was down 6 percent from March 2017 but up 8 percent from April 2016. Corn consumed in April 2017 for dry milling fuel production and wet milling fuel production was 89.1 percent and 10.9 percent respectively.

Dry mill co-product production of distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) was 1.75 million tons during April 2017, down 12 percent from March 2017 but up 2 percent from April 2016. Distillers wet grains (DWG) 65 percent or more moisture was 1.30 million tons in April 2017, down 7 percent from March 2017 but up 3 percent from April 2016.

Wet mill corn gluten feed production was 346 thousand tons during April 2017, down 2 percent from March 2017 but up 13 percent from April 2016. Wet corn gluten feed 40 to 60 percent moisture was 284 thousand tons in April 2017, down 8 percent from March 2017 and down 6 percent from April 2016.

USDA Fats and Oils: Oilseed Crushings, Production, Consumption and Stocks

Soybeans crushed for crude oil was 4.49 million tons (150 million bushels) in April 2017, compared to 4.80 million tons (160 million bushels) in March 2017 and 4.75 million tons (158 million bushels) in April 2016. Crude oil produced was 1.73 billion pounds down 7 percent from March 2017 and down 6 percent from April 2016. Soybean once refined oil production at 1.30 billion pounds during April 2017 decreased 7 percent from March 2017 and decreased 4 percent from April 2016.

Canola seeds crushed for crude oil was 164 thousand tons in April 2017, compared to 185 thousand tons in March 2017 and 137 thousand tons in April 2016. Canola crude oil produced was 141 million pounds down 10 percent from March 2017 but up 18 percent from April 2016. Canola once refined oil production at 127 million pounds during April 2017 was up 1 percent from March 2017 and up 9 percent from April 2016. Cottonseed once refined oil production at 48.1 million pounds during April 2017 was down 3 percent from March 2017 but up 14 percent from April 2016.

Edible tallow production was 73.0 million pounds during April 2017, down 8 percent from March 2017 and down 4 percent from April 2016. Inedible tallow production was 289 million pounds during April 2017, down 10 percent from March 2017 but up 5 percent from April 2016. Technical tallow production was 89 million pounds during April 2017, up 7 percent from March 2017 and up 5 percent from April 2016. Choice white grease production at 98 million pounds during April 2017 decreased 11 percent from March 2017 and decreased 11 percent from April 2016.

USDA Announces Commodity Credit Corporation Lending Rates for June 2017

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Commodity Credit Corporation today announced interest rates for June 2017. The Commodity Credit Corporation borrowing rate-based charge for June is 1.125 percent, up from 1.000 percent in May.

The interest rate for crop year commodity loans less than one year disbursed during June is 2.125 percent, up from 2.000 percent in May.

Interest rates for Farm Storage Facility Loans approved for June are as follows, 1.500 percent with three-year loan terms, unchanged from 1.500 percent in May; 1.875 percent with five-year loan terms, unchanged from 1.875 percent in May; 2.125 percent with seven-year loan terms, unchanged from 2.125 percent in May; 2.375 percent with 10-year loan terms, unchanged from 2.375 percent in May and; 2.375 percent with 12-year loan terms, unchanged from 2.375 percent in May.

ASA Joins SHIP Coalition, Supports Pilot Program to Improve Trucking Efficiency

The American Soybean Association (ASA) joined the Safer Hauling & Infrastructure Protection (SHIP) coalition efforts to improve trucking efficiency through modernization of truck weight limits on federal interstates.

ASA supports expanding truck weight limits on federal interstates to a minimum of 91,000 pounds with the addition of a sixth axle. ASA joined other organizations on a letter encouraging the Appropriations Committee to include language in the FY 2018 Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development appropriations bill to create a voluntary program under which 10 states could opt-in to allowing 91,000 pound, six-axle, bridge formula compliant trucks on Federal Interstate Highways within their borders.

This pilot program would provide additional safety data that could support nation-wide adoption of increased truck weights in the future.

To enable carriers to recoup the investment of an additional axle, the proposed pilot program would be for 15 years, which is the average life span of a commercial trailer. As the letter indicates, such a pilot will provide critical information that is currently lacking, but necessary to determine if significant benefits affiliated with this configuration can be realized in a way that preserves or enhances the safety our nation’s roads.

Fertilizer Prices Still Stable

It was another week of extremely steady retail fertilizer prices the fourth week of May 2017, according to fertilizer retailers surveyed by DTN. No fertilizer prices were significantly higher or lower from the previous month.

Of the eight major fertilizer, five were slightly lower in price compared to a month earlier. These were DAP, urea, 10-34-0, anhydrous and UAN32.

DAP had an average price of $436 per ton, urea $343/ton, 10-34-0 $436/ton, anhydrous $503/ton and UAN32 $280/ton.

The remaining three fertilizers were slightly higher in price from last month, but again, none were up a sizable amount. MAP had an average price of $471/ton, potash $340/ton and UAN28 $249/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.37/lb.N, anhydrous $0.31/lb.N, UAN28 $0.44/lb.N and UAN32 $0.44/lb.N.

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

10-34-0 is 22% lower from a year ago, anhydrous is 14% less expensive, UAN32 is 13% lower and urea is down 10%. UAN28 is 9% less expensive, DAP is 8% lower, potash is 7% less expensive and MAP are 6% lower compared to year earlier.

E15 Summer Sale Restrictions Underscore Need for Congress to Act

Consumer choice at the pump takes a step backward today as the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) restriction on summertime E15 ethanol sales goes into effect, underscoring the need for Congress to pass the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act and restore consumer choice year-round.

An arcane regulatory barrier limits the ability of fuel retailers to offer 15 percent ethanol blends in most of the country from June 1 to September 15.

“This regulation handcuffs fuel retailers who want to offer E15 to customers year-round,” said Ethanol Action Team Chair Paul Jeschke, a farmer from Mazon, Illinois. “And, because E15 typically costs less per gallon than regular gas, consumers lose the opportunity to save money during the summer driving season when they make more stops to fill up.”

Federal law and regulations limit the amount of evaporative emissions from vehicle fuel, which is measured by its Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP). Fuels blended with up to 10 percent ethanol have a one pound RVP waiver because ethanol-blended fuels reduce tailpipe emissions. To date, the EPA has declined to grant a similar waiver for 15 percent ethanol blends, although new EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is reviewing the agency’s legal authority when it comes to changing this regulation. E15 produces lower emissions than regular gasoline, and E15 can be sold year-round in areas with air quality challenges.

The bipartisan Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act (S. 517, H.R. 1311) clarifies that blends greater than 10 percent, such as E15, should receive the same RVP treatment as E10, eliminating this annual consumer confusion at the pump. Senators Deb Fischer (R-Nebraska), Joe Donnelly (D-Indiana), and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) introduced the Senate bill, and Reps. Adrian Smith (R-Nebraska) and David Loebsack (D-Iowa) introduced the House bill. Enacting this legislation would lead more retailers to offer E15, give consumers a choice that saves money, enhance vehicle performance, and improve the environment.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is expected to hold a hearing on this legislation in June, and NCGA urges the Committee to approve and advance the legislation this summer.

“We applaud the Senate co-sponsors of this legislation for getting this bill on the agenda this summer, and we ask Senators to back this common-sense solution,” said Jeschke. “The RVP issue is a significant hurdle to expanding consumer access to higher ethanol blends. Congress should step up and remove this barrier so consumers can have more choice, and more savings, at the pump all year long.”

RVP Period Begins Today, Highlights Need for Legislative Solution to Provide Consumer Access to Higher Ethanol Blends

Today, the Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) control season begins in nearly 70 percent of the country, severely restricting the ability of retailers to sell and consumers to buy E15 fuel from June 1 to September 15. In response to the RVP restrictions going into effect, Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor issued the following statement:

“This issue is a classic example of a hopelessly out of date regulation negatively impacting the free market,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “E15 is a federally approved fuel for all cars 2001 and newer that boosts octane, saves consumers up to 10 cents per gallon at the pump, and improves the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and displacing toxic additives in gasoline. Consumers have recently surpassed over 1 billion miles driven on the fuel, and it is now available at over 800 retail sites across 29 states. Drivers are demanding E15, and more retailers are offering it every day.

“However, due to an outdated regulation that hasn’t been updated since 1990, gas stations are forced to restrict their sales to flex fuel vehicles only, or remove it from sale altogether between June 1 and September 15. That means that when gas prices are at their peak, consumers are denied the choice of an affordable, cleaner option at the pump. A key waiver that was extended to fuels containing zero to 10 percent ethanol in 1990 – in large part because these fuels lowered tailpipe emissions and carbon monoxide – was not extended to E15 because higher blends were not yet conceived when the law was written.

“Fortunately, the bipartisan Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act (S.517/H.R.1311) was introduced by Sens. Deb Fischer (R-NE), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), and Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and Reps. Adrian Smith (R-NE) and Dave Loebsack (D-IA), in March that simply adds two words to the 1990 law, extending the RVP waiver to fuel with 10 or more percent ethanol, allowing retailers across the country to offer more biofuel choices to customers year-round. Growth Energy strongly supports this bill, as well as consumer choice in the retail fuels marketplace.”

RVP is a measure of how quickly fuel evaporates, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates vapor pressure/RVP to prevent increased ozone or smog from vehicle emissions. Congress granted gasoline with 10 percent ethanol (E10) an RVP waiver; however, the same volatility waiver does not apply to any ethanol-blended fuel above E10 even though these fuels have a lower vapor pressure.

ACE joins fuel retailers in calling for E15 RVP relief

Today marks the beginning of the EPA-imposed low Reid vapor pressure (RVP) season, effectively banning the sale of lower-cost, higher-octane E15 until Sept. 15, even though E15 has lower RVP and lower emissions than the gasoline sold in those markets each summer. E15 is an unleaded gasoline that can be used in all cars and light trucks model years 2001 and newer, and typically costs five to 10 cents less than regular gas.

Other fuels receive a one-pound RVP waiver during the summer months, and the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) has made encouraging EPA to extend that waiver to E15 a priority for many years. ACE has also called upon Members of Congress to enact legislation (S. 517 and H.R. 1311) clarifying once and for all that E15 and higher blends of ethanol should be allowed for sale June 1 through Sept. 15.

“Many customers who bought E15 yesterday are seeing a “FLEX FUEL ONLY” label on that pump today, and that can be confusing for people who just started using E15 at one of the stations that opened in the past year,” said Ron Lamberty, senior vice president of ACE. “On top of the extra hassle of re-labeling fuel dispensers twice a year and telling customers why they can’t buy the less-expensive, higher-octane fuel they bought last week, retailers tell us the confusion carries over, and keeps some drivers from switching back to E15 when it’s ‘legal’ again in mid-September.”

ACE believes it’s important to double down on efforts to make this commonsense RVP fix, with expanding E15 availability and both legislative and administrative options on the table. ACE also wants to make it clear that the rule change is supported by leading fuel retailers, who are making the switch to E15 to provide drivers with a lower-cost, higher-octane fuel option.

“This minor fix would be a major relief to retailers offering E15 today and would remove one of the biggest barriers for other retailers who want to offer E15,” said Mike Lorenz, the executive vice president of petroleum supply for Sheetz  Inc. “For consumers, it would provide year-round access and increased availability of E15. Consumers should also benefit from this rule update, since E15 typically sells for less than regular unleaded gasoline and is cleaner burning and higher octane.”

Sheetz is among the increasing number of retailers to offer E15 and higher ethanol blends at their stations. Today, E15 is sold at more than 800 retail outlets across 29 states.

“These gas stations are asking the Environmental Protection Agency to allow them to do what the agency’s name says it does, and ‘protect the environment’ by selling a cleaner fuel during the busiest time of the year. Yet, EPA refuses to do so,” Lamberty adds. “Hopefully, we can get this fix done through EPA or Congress, and this will be the last time retailers have to jump through these hoops to keep E15 available for their customers.”

World Milk Day Shines Light on Important Public Health Role of Dairy Foods

As part of the commemoration June 1 of World Milk Day, the National Milk Producers Federation said the public health case for the consumption of milk and other dairy foods is stronger today than ever – a fact that is increasingly recognized by health experts and consumers in the United States and across the globe.

“Today’s celebration – which coincides with the start in the United States of national June Dairy Month – acknowledges the inimitable role that milk and other dairy foods play in our diets,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “The undeniable good news about dairy products starts with its unmatched value as a superfood – no other food source comes close to providing the same nutrition.”

Mulhern noted that each glass of milk represents the No. 1 source in children’s’ diets of nine essential nutrients: Calcium, potassium, phosphorus, protein, vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin B12, riboflavin and niacin. Over the years, “this consistent nutritional package has earned dairy its unparalleled wholesome reputation – a healthy halo – that consumers recognize and trust. Meeting government nutrient recommendations is extremely difficult without including milk and dairy in your diet.”  

He said that the federal Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee found that when foods from the milk family were not part of people’s eating habits, intakes of many key nutrients fell below federal recommendations. In fact, Mulhern said, “milk is the top food source for calcium, potassium and vitamin D, three of the four ‘nutrients of public health concern’ — nutrients that many Americans, including children, are most lacking in their diets,” according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

“Since more than 90 percent of the U.S. population falls short of the recommended three daily servings of milk and milk products, including this fresh, simple and wholesome beverage at mealtimes can play an important role in healthy eating and well-being through adulthood,” he said.

When measured by the price per serving, milk is also one of the most cost-effective means to deliver a wide range of nutrition. Mulhern pointed to research from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, which found that dairy is among the most economical foods across a variety of metrics, and that milk was among the lowest-cost sources of protein, vitamin A, calcium, vitamin B-12 and riboflavin.  If families try to replace dairy in their diets, “they will likely have to spend more in order to maintain the same nutrient intake,” he said.

Promoting the irreplaceable nutritional value of milk has been part of NMPF’s focus for the past six months as it has urged the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to strictly enforce food labeling regulations intended to distinguish between real and imitation dairy foods. FDA regulation says that anything labeled “milk” must be from an animal, but the agency has not enforced this rule “as plant-based food companies continue to co-opt dairy-specific terminology on their nutritionally inferior products,” Mulhern said. “Ignoring food product standards can mislead consumers into believing ‘fake food’ products offer the same nutrition as cow’s milk, which they definitely do not.”

In January, in support of NMPF’s efforts, a bipartisan group of senators and congressmen introduced the DAIRY PRIDE Act (DPA), which would require the FDA to take action to enforce food labeling regulations. NMPF, along with other dairy organizations, continues to build support in the House and Senate for the DPA.

“World Milk Day offers us a great opportunity to remind consumers here at home, and around the world, of the important benefits of real milk. It may have its imitators, but no other product can duplicate or replace the same unprocessed, natural goodness of the real thing,” Mulhern said.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on President Trump’s Paris Accord Announcement

“President Trump promised that he would put America first and he has rightly determined that the Paris accord was not in the best interests of the United States.  In addition to costing our economy trillions of dollars and millions of jobs, the accord also represented a willful and voluntary ceding of our national sovereignty.  The agreement would have had negligible impact on world temperatures, especially since other countries and major world economies were not being held to the same stringent standards as the United States.

“The Earth’s climate has been changing since the planet was formed – on this there is no disagreement.  At USDA, we rely on sound science and we remain firmly committed to digging ever deeper into research to develop better methods of agricultural production in that changing climate.  Floods, droughts, and natural disasters are a fact of life for farmers, ranchers, and foresters.  They have persevered in the past, and they will adapt in the future - with the assistance of the scientists and experts at USDA.  To be effective, our research and programs need to be focused on finding solutions and providing state-of-the-art technologies to improve management decisions on farm and on forest lands.”

U.S. Withdrawal from Paris Accord Shirks Science, Neglects Devastating Impacts to Food System, Family Farms, and Future Generations

President Donald Trump announced today that the U.S. will withdraw from the historic Paris Agreement, an accord among 192 nations to combat the potentially devastating impacts of climate change.

Echoing concerns raised in a recent letter to President Trump, National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson said the President’s decision rejects science and U.S. leadership in an effort that requires global attention. Family farmers and ranchers are already enduring consequences of climate change, and projections indicate these effects will worsen without an immediate and significant reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

“Today’s decision by the Trump Administration is shameful, and it fails to recognize the very real and immediate threats of climate change to family farmers, ranchers, and our nation’s food security,” said Johnson. “We can not sustain a viable food system if climate change is left unchecked. By refusing to limit U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and lead the world in this space, President Trump is allowing increasingly unpredictable and destructive weather to wreak havoc on family farm operations, future generations, and food prices and availability for years to come.

“This action also has enormous implications for our nation’s credibility,” he added. “It is nearly inconceivable that the U.S. would repudiate sound science that the rest of the world has accepted and abdicate our leadership on an issue of such great importance.”

Under the Paris Agreement, the U.S. pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 26 percent by 2025. Many of the actions that would have helped the U.S. achieve that goal would have stimulated economic growth in rural communities. This prompted NFU to be a vocal proponent of the agreement since its ratification in December 2015.

“When properly incentivized, farmers, ranchers, and forest owners have tremendous potential to sequester carbon and contribute to the mitigation of climate change,” said Johnson. “By taking away the opportunity for such revenue streams, the President has stripped rural America of valuable opportunities to confront the current farm crisis and stem the exodus of young people from rural communities.”

The President’s move leaves the U.S. without an effective strategy for climate resilience, exposing family farmers and ranchers to the worst effects of climate change. “This will have devastating consequences for family farming and ranching operations and all those who rely on them for food, feed, fuel and fiber,” said Johnson.

“NFU will seek opportunities to collaborate with nonprofits and private industry to address climate change productively. Decisive action is urgently needed to avoid catastrophic climate impacts on the food system,” he concluded.

Largest Chinese Animal Vaccine Company to Build in Kansas

The largest animal vaccine company in China announced Wednesday that it will open a research lab and offices in the Kansas State University Office Park, which is on the north side of the Manhattan campus.

Officials for Jinyu Bio-technology Co. Ltd. said that this is the first time that the company has established facilities in the United States. The company will focus on the research and design of vaccines for swine and cattle, as well as developing educational materials for Chinese companies and veterinarians.

"When university-focused companies like Jinyu Bio-technology locate adjacent to K-State's campus, partnerships develop with faculty expertise and research to promote real-world application and discovery," said Greg Willems, Kansas State University Foundation president and chief executive officer. "The K-State Office Park advances opportunity for these current and future collaborations to boldly move K-State and the needs of a global community forward."

Jinyu plans to employ four to six scientists. The company has researched the Manhattan location for nearly two years and was drawn to its connection with the Kansas City Animal Health Corridor, which stretches from Manhattan to Columbia, Missouri. It is home to more than 300 animal health companies, which account for more than half of the sales generated annually by the global animal health industry.

"The Kansas City Animal Health Corridor's international reputation is a strategic advantage for more and more animal health companies," said Kimberly Young, corridor president. "We are thrilled to welcome Jinyu to our corridor community and look forward to the company's leadership and effort."

Chongyu Zhang, Jinyu chairman, said the company's decision was based on a belief that Manhattan and Kansas State University are in the forefront of animal health research that is relevant to Chinese animal agriculture and the world.

"Manhattan is the home to many world renowned scientists in the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Biosecurity Research Institute and the future National Bio and Agro-defense Facility," Zhang said.

He added that Jinyu is growing quickly internationally and is looking forward to developing long-term, mutually beneficial relationships with partners in the region. The company may add manufacturing facilities in the future.

"The addition of Jinyu Bio-technology to the Kansas City Animal Health Corridor is truly a partnership of innovation and expertise," said Antonio Soave, secretary of the Kansas Department of Commerce. "We, as a state, must continue to engage excellent biotech companies like Jinyu, as Kansas continues to become one of the leading locations for bioscience in the nation."

Many organizations played a key role in attracting Jinyu to the region, including the state of Kansas and the Kansas Department of Commerce; city of Manhattan and Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce; Kansas State University, Kansas State University Institute for Commercialization, KSU Foundation, College of Veterinary Medicine and the university's U.S.-China Center for Animal Health; the Kansas City Area Development Council; and the Kansas City Animal Health Corridor.

"Jinyu has state-of-the-art pilot production and manufacturing facilities, strong financial support for research and development, and great market penetration in China," said Jishu Shi, director of the U.S.-China Center for Animal Health. "This partnership is the first for K-State with a Chinese animal health company. It will accelerate the commercialization of novel discovery and development ideas generated by K-State scientists."

Tammy Beckham, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine, said the agreement supports the university's interest in research and development of biopharmaceuticals.

"In addition, Jinyu's expansion to Manhattan will help support economic development through the addition of jobs and partnerships," she said. "I am absolutely thrilled to welcome Jinyu to the state of Kansas and look forward to a long and robust partnership."

Peter Dorhout, Kansas State University's vice president for research, said the university's strength in animal health research helps attract large companies to the region and contributes to the economic impact in Riley, Geary and Pottawatomie counties, which amounted to $882 million in fiscal year 2015.

Wednesday May 31 Ag News

ICUSD launches unprecedented campaign to remind Americans of all that is good about dairy

A delicious slice of cheddar on a burger at the family barbeque, a cold glass of milk or a scoop of ice cream on a piece of birthday cake. There is no denying the enjoyment that dairy can bring to special moments and to our favorite foods. However, with so many choices in the dairy aisle - including non-dairy and plant-based alternatives - many people are seeking credible information about what dairy actually is, and they have questions about the practices of the dairy industry.

In a multiyear effort to reintroduce America to dairy, the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy – in partnership with America’s Dairy Farm Families and Importers – is launching “Undeniably Dairy™,” the first category campaign of its kind.

“Through the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, the dairy community has worked together to establish common ground on our top priorities and values, from responsible production and sustainable nutrition to economic value,” says Barbara O’Brien, president of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy. “We feel that now is the absolute right time to come together with one voice to share the community’s story – to celebrate the delicious, nutritious foods in the dairy aisle and the people who bring them to your table.”

Undeniably Dairy

In addition to showcasing the undeniable taste and enjoyment that comes from dairy – like a warm slice of pizza or a yogurt parfait on a summer day – the campaign will also spotlight the undeniably positive role the dairy community plays in America today.

“Despite dairy farms being in all 50 states and most of us living within 100 miles of a dairy farm, many people have never set foot on a farm,” says Beth Engelmann, chief marketing communications officer at Dairy Management Inc., which represents America’s nearly 42,000 dairy farmers and importers. “Undeniably Dairy is about reestablishing the connection between the enjoyment of the product and the hard work and pride of the people who make it possible. This campaign is unprecedented in that it unifies a vast and diverse dairy industry and array of dairy products behind a single platform.”

A variety of multimedia content will remind people of the starring role dairy plays in special moments, while also sharing how the industry continues to evolve – from using innovation and technology to deliver exceptional animal care and a nutrient-rich product, to supporting local communities.

Today, farmers use 65 percent less water and 63 percent less carbon per gallon of milk produced. And for every $1 million of in-store U.S. milk sales, 17 new jobs are generated.

“When you see a dairy farm, you’re usually looking at multiple generations of providing for the community, multiple generations of land conservation, multiple generations of business innovation,” says Amber Horn-Leiterman, a Wisconsin dairy farmer. “And that often means being an early adopter when it comes to new technology that allows us to advance and improve animal care, capture and reuse our resources and maintain a total commitment to producing products that are safe, healthy and nutritious.”

A Multiyear Campaign

The multimedia campaign will be revealed through an online video that showcases the joy of dairy in everyday life moments, while spotlighting farmers’ contributions to the community. The full effort will feature a new logo and premier media campaign, including a convergent on-air and digital marketing campaign with Food Network and Cooking Channel in June to celebrate National Dairy Month and national on-farm events where farmers will invite the community in to learn more about modern farming practices. Original content will be shared across Facebook, YouTube and other social platforms. A preview of the campaign video along with other content can be found at

Moving forward, the campaign will continue to dive deeper into the undeniable taste and enjoyment of dairy, as well as the undeniable commitment that the dairy industry has made to being a relevant and socially responsible part of local communities across the country.

Nebraska Farm Bureau Leaders Visit Washington, D.C.

Trade, the new farm bill, crop insurance, and tax code reform were key issues discussed by Nebraska Farm Bureau (NEFB) leaders during their annual National Legislative Fly-In to the nation’s capital May 22-24.

“It’s important for us to travel to Washington, D.C. to express our views to Nebraska’s exceptional Congressional delegation and ensure the voices of Nebraska farm and ranch families are heard on Capitol Hill,” Steve Nelson, NEFB president said, May 31. “Even though we are in frequent contact with the Nebraska delegation, they need our support as they work on these issues in Washington, D.C.”

The Trump administration gave Congress official notice in mid-May that it plans to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) but provided only the vaguest of hints about modest changes President Trump would seek to the agreement.

“I get asked all the time what agriculture’s top priority is when it comes to NAFTA’s renegotiation. Quite frankly, in most areas, we want it to simply be left alone. We have made significant gains and we don’t want to risk losing what has become a vitally important group of trading partners,” Nelson said.

Any changes to NAFTA would be the result of congressional consultation, and the Trump administration pledged close coordination and “transparency” with lawmakers throughout the renegotiation process.

The farm bill negotiations continue and are on the forefront of farmers and ranchers minds, while the Federal Crop Insurance Program continues to be a top priority for farmers.

President Trump’s administration proposed dramatic cuts to farm safeguards, including federal crop insurance, in the FY2018 budget request. Crop insurance today serves as the main agricultural safety net that exists for Nebraska farmers who have seen a 50 percent decline in farm revenue since 2013.

“Crop insurance helps to reduce producer and taxpayer risk and has come in under budget since the 2014 Farm Bill was passed. Farmers have collectively spent $50 billion out of their own pockets on crop insurance since 2000, which clearly demonstrates our willingness to help fund our own protection. Our congressional leaders recognize the importance of maintaining strong farm bill programs and we are continuing to engage in meaningful dialogue about how to support America’s hardworking farmers and ranchers in difficult times,” Nelson said.

The House of Representatives is moving forward with comprehensive tax reform designed to spur growth of our nation’s economy. Many of the provisions being discussed will be beneficial to farmers, including reduced income tax rates, reduced capital gains taxes, immediate expensing for all business inputs except land, and the elimination of the estate tax.

“Nebraska farm and ranch families need comprehensive tax reform that lowers effective tax rates. Eliminating things like the “Death Tax”, lowering capital gains taxes, and maintaining cash accounting, will not only affect the economic behavior and well-being of farm households, but will also aid in the management and profitability of farm and ranch businesses,” he said.

Nebraska Farm Bureau leaders also talked about supporting a complete overhaul of our federal regulatory system, repeal and replacing the Affordable Care Act, and adjusting laws regarding the availability of E-15 with Nebraska’s congressional delegation.

Those attending the National Legislative visit were:
Steve Nelson, president Nebraska Farm Bureau-Kearney/Franklin County
Mark McHargue, First vice president-Merrick County
Bill Baldwin District eight NEFB representative-Scotts Bluff County
Don Benner, District two NEFB representative-Merrick County
Myles Ramsey, District five NEFB representative-Adams County

NeCGA 90 Days of Summer Recruitment Blitz

The Nebraska Corn Growers Association is excited to announce the 90 Days of Summer Recruitment Blitz. From June 1st through August 31st, members are encouraged to recruit their family, friends, and neighbors to join or re-join the association. Points will be calculated using NCGA’s recruiter point system. As a reminder, 3-year memberships are $190 with the $150 seed incentive, 1-year memberships are $80 without the $150 seed incentive, and students memberships are $20 for 1 year. Good luck!

Feel free to print off as many of the below membership forms that you need... Here's the link...


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Rain has delayed many folks from cutting alfalfa.  If you haven’t taken first cutting yet, it might help if you adjust the way you cut this crop.

               Have you harvested your first cutting of alfalfa yet?  Even if it is not blooming heavily, you might be surprised to find that it already has started to grow your next cutting.

               Walk into your alfalfa field before cutting and look closely at the base or crown of the plants.  Do you see short, new shoots starting to grow?  If so, these new shoots are the new plants that your alfalfa hopes to turn into your second cutting.

               Look closely – how tall are these new shoots?  Are many of them a couple inches taller than your usual cutting height?  If you cut these new shoots off – along with the first growth – your alfalfa plants will have to start a whole new set of shoots for regrowth.  This could cause a delay in second cutting regrowth by as much as one week.

               Fortunately, you can avoid this delay.  All you need to do is raise your cutting height just a couple inches so that you avoid clipping off most of these new, second growth shoots.  Your regrowth then will have a head start towards next cutting.  And since the stubble you leave behind has quite low feed value anyway, the yield you temporarily sacrifice is mostly just filler.

               Normally I suggest cutting alfalfa as short as reasonable because that maximizes yield and it doesn’t affect rate of regrowth.  But a late cutting that already has new shoots growing is different.

               Don’t blindly start cutting alfalfa when harvest is delayed.  First look for new shoots, then raise cutting height if needed.

Costco Refuses to Discuss Poultry Contracts

As a result of Costco’s Wholesale Corporation CEO W. Craig Jelinek failure to accept or respond to an invitation from the Organization for Competitive Markets and Nebraska Farmers Union to sit down and discuss concerns with poultry contract provisions offered to area farmers, OCM and NeFU have issued an open letter to Costco detailing their concerns, based on their understanding of contracts being offered to local producers.

The March 2, 2017 letter of invitation was co-signed by Mike Weaver, President of OCM (Organization for Competitive Markets) and John K. Hansen, President of NeFU (Nebraska Farmers Union).  Weaver is a long time poultry contract grower and cattle producer from Fort Seybert, WV who also serves as President of the Contract Poultry Growers Association of the Virginias.  Hansen also serves on the OCM Board of Directors.

Both organizations were co-sponsors of the four public information meetings on poultry contract issues held last June in West Point, Columbus, Wahoo, and Arlington, Nebraska.  Other meeting co-sponsors included Farm Aid, Nebraska Farmers Union Foundation, Nebraska Communities United, and GC Resolve.  Weaver and Hansen were both speakers at those informational meetings.

“We are disappointed that Costco did not accept our good faith invitation to discuss their poultry contract provisions.  The time for poultry producers to fully understand the binding provisions of proposed “take it or leave it” non-negotiated poultry contracts is before they sign, not after they have committed to at least 15 years of their life,” said Mike Weaver, OCM President.

“NeFU President John Hansen said, “Poultry contracts are not like a simple forward contract to sell grain.  Poultry contracts specify what you will and will not do, what you are liable for, and the rate at which you are compensated for your capital investment and labor.  The poultry contract, not the weather, the price of corn, soybeans, or broilers determines whether or not poultry producers make or lose money.  If the producer does everything right, and the inputs provided by the company are wrong, the producer will still come out on the short end of the stick.”

Mike Weaver pointed out “When producers are given non-negotiated take it or leave it contracts, they are at a disadvantage because they are reading complicated contracts written by the company lawyers who specialize in poultry contracts.  If there is a problem with the contract, that problem is not going to get fixed because they are “as is” contracts.  We don’t know why Costco won’t discuss their contract provisions, but the fact they are unwilling to do so raises a red flag as far as I am concerned.”

The “Open Letter” listed some of the poultry contract areas of concern identified in the March 2nd letter:
·         LPP’s Control of Number of Birds Delivered to Growers.
·         LPP’s Control of Inputs Affecting Growers’ Production Efficiencies (chicks & feed).
·         LPP Can Require Costly Housing and Equipment Changes.
·         Growers’ Required to Accept all Environmental Liability.
·         Grower Improvement Plans.
·         Restrictions on Growers’ Rights (like a trial by jury and photographing on their own farm).

NCTA hosts camp for young animal scientists   

Swine, cattle, sheep, poultry, horses, grasslands and livestock judging had top billing for youth this week at a judging and animal science camp in Curtis.

Nearly 160 youth and adults attended the 12th annual Youth Animal Science Field Day on Thursday at the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture, said Frontier County Extension Educator Kathy Burr.

Many excited youngsters had arrived at the NCTA campus on Wednesday for the Standard of Excellence Livestock Judging Camp, then stayed overnight in college dormitories.  The judging camp was coordinated by Doug Smith, chair of the NCTA Animal Science and Agricultural Education Division, and NCTA livestock judging team coach.

Activities were hosted by the NCTA Livestock Judging program and 33 individuals with Nebraska Extension staff, leaders and adult volunteers, Burr said.

“Youth ages 8 to 18 traveled with groups from several different Nebraska counties and Colorado to attend the event,” Burr said. “Activities focused on various aspects of livestock production.”

Participants gained important life skills in seven workshops taught by animal science teachers. Topics included: Low Stress Cattle Handling & Psychology, Exploring Animal Science Careers, Swine Evaluation and Handling, Livestock Quiz Bowl, Grazing Management with Prescribed Burning, Equine Psychology and Safety, Feeds and Feeding, Sheep Care 101, and Poultry Judging.

In an educational track for older youth, they explored animal science topics in depth, including exposure to animal science careers and college programs at the University of Nebraska-NCTA in Curtis, and the University of Nebraska College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources in Lincoln.

All the youth rotated through the seven stations which were designed to be learning experiences in a fun, relaxed atmosphere, Burr noted.

“My granddaughter really had a great time today.  On the ride home, I received a comprehensive report, which was all really good,” reported one participant’s grandmother. “Seriously, I couldn’t get a word in edgewise until we hit the McCook city limits when she wrapped up by saying “Best Day Ever!”

The event was a fun opportunity for youth to learn more about the livestock industry and help prepare 4-H and FFA members for various competitions and life skills. Youth also increased their basic understanding of science, agricultural literacy, and technology. They were able to apply science skills to their 4-H projects, explore careers related to animal science and meet new friends, Burr added.

“It was a great day for everyone! Seeing the youth get excited about animals and learning about possible careers makes all the behind the scenes work worth it all!” said Burr. “I appreciate the teamwork of Nebraska Extension staff, NCTA staff, and the many volunteers that planned and helped the field day run smoothly. There’s lots of moving parts all running at the same time!”

Iowa Plans Historic Agricultural Trade Mission

Gov. Kim Reynolds Tuesday announced that she will lead an all Iowa agriculture trade mission to China July 19-28. Traveling with her will be representatives from commodity groups and the Farm Bureau, emphasizing Iowa's corn, pork, soy, beef, egg, poultry, dairy and turkey industries.

This is the first time all of Iowa's farm groups have come together for a trade mission.

"There is no better time than now to market and pitch our products in China," said Reynolds. "Our relationship with the country is strong, and their growing middle class means increasing purchasing power and Iowa stands to gain significantly as a result."

The goal of the mission is to build relationships, understanding and trust with the hope of opening new possibilities for Iowa's agricultural products. The groups will be meeting with government officials and industry partners. Reynolds says they will be visiting Ambassador Terry Branstad in Beijing, whose insight will be important as the groups navigate solutions to some of the current issues.

"I want to thank the individuals who are stepping up to lead this trade mission on behalf of Iowans," said Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg. "Every time we open new markets, it means more career opportunities for families in every corner of this state."

For some of Iowa's commodities, China is a developed market. For others, it is a new opportunities to bring down barriers to products. Examples include:

- China is by far the largest soybean importer projected at 83 million metric tons, or a little more than 3 billion bushels (U.S. Soybean Export Council)
- Total aquafeed use in China was around 36 million metric tons with the soy product use for aquafeed estimated at around 8.8 million metric tons in 2015, which equals 408,232,000 million bushels of soybeans.

- Chinese ban on importation of US beef has been in place for 13 years, the recent announcement to lift the ban provides opportunity for cattle farmers as 13% of our beef production is exported.

- Over the last decade, US pork exports to China/Hong Kong have surged from $271 million in sales and 169,000 metric tons in 2007 to over $1 billion in sales and 545,000 metric tons in 2016.

- China imported more than 50 percent of the exportable supply of U.S. distiller's dried grains with solubles (DDGS), or 6.3 metric tons valued at nearly $1.6 billion in 2015.

- In 2016, China was our 4th largest market for U.S. dairy products imported of $384 million and potential for much more.

- Iowa is 5th in US turkey processing and 8th in turkey production, Iowa farmers and processors benefit by reopening access for turkey products back into this market.

The trip will be funded by the participating agricultural organizations.

Trade Officials to Visit China to Establish Beef Trade Protocols

Several U.S. trade officials will travel to China June 5 to finalize trade protocols regarding coming US beef shipments to China.

Source verification will be one of the requirements, according to Oklahoma State University Extension livestock marketing specialist Derrell Peel. “However, I think that’s pretty doable in what we call a ‘bookend’ system in the U.S. if we can document the original source of the cattle as well as where they ended up at the processing plant, and not necessarily all of the travels in between,” Peel said.

Beijing has accepted a U.S. proposal in principle that would require producers to document the locations where cattle raised for beef exported to China are born and slaughtered, USDA said. The system would be less onerous than tracking cattle throughout their entire lives, during which they can be kept at up to four different locations. Peel estimated that US producers trace the movements of less than 20 percent of the nation’s cattle.

China will also require that beef be free from residue of beta-agonists, the growth promoting feed additive. “The Chinese have been very consistent, in both beef and pork, at not accepting ractopamine — or, in beef, Optaflexx is the same product,” Peel noted. “That’s likely to be the case for us as well. That would be consistent with their agreements with other countries.”

Peel said there will likely be restrictions on other growth hormones used in the U.S.

Hormone residue testing will be done on beef entering China, but there will be a distinction made between synthetic and naturally occurring hormones. Meat containing synthetic hormone residue will be rejected. Meat containing residue of naturally occurring hormones will only be rejected if the levels are above those naturally occurring in cattle.

Other details of the protocol discussions include China’s acceptance of U.S. fresh, chilled beef products, as well as frozen, and beef from animals 30 months or younger.

China has agreed to recognize USDA’s certification of processing plants for export, which means plants will not have to be inspected separately by Chinese officials.

FARM Animal Care Program Seeks Producer Feedback on Resources and Tools

The National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) Program, in collaboration with Colorado State University, is conducting a dairy farmer survey to learn more about perceptions of the FARM Program and how it can continue to improve the resources it offers producers.

The voluntary survey will probe producers’ knowledge of the program and the value they think it provides to their operations. The study will help FARM Animal Care better provide cooperatives and farmers with the appropriate guidance and materials required of FARM Program participants. Survey questions address topics such as the producer’s familiarity with the program, where they seek additional FARM Program information, and why stewardship practices, as assessed by FARM, are important to them. Those interested in taking the survey can do so by clicking here.

“Participants in the FARM Program produce more than 98 percent of the U.S. milk supply by volume, so it’s important that we understand producers’ thoughts on how FARM can further positively impact their businesses,” said Emily Meredith, chief of staff for NMPF, which launched the program in 2009. “Just like dairy farms are on a path of continuous improvement, the FARM Program wants to continuously improve how we work with our participants.”

The information gleaned from this survey will help advance the FARM Program by increasing its efficiency and impact for farmers. Improving the FARM Program will also assist the dairy industry in forming uniform objectives on animal welfare, and assist FARM Program staff in understanding and  catering to producers’ needs, Meredith said.

The study, titled “Dairy Producer Perceptions of the National Dairy FARM Program” is being led by Dr. Noa Román-Muñiz and Kayla Calvin from Colorado State University’s Department of Animal Sciences. The survey is confidential and only summarized data will be shared with the primary researchers, so participants cannot be identified directly.

Processors and cooperatives can contact or Kayla Calvin at Colorado State if they want their organization to participate. Individual producers can take the online version or contact the FARM Program to be mailed a copy.

ASIA hosts Young Entrepreneur Tour in SD

The American Sheep Industry Association's Young Entrepreneur Program is announcing a farm and ranch tour aimed at helping young and beginning sheep producers network and gain a broader understanding of the industry. This tour, made possible by a grant from the Let's Grow Program, will be July 17-18 in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Participants will arrive in Sioux Falls on Sunday, July 16, in preparation for two full days of industry tours. The following day, participants will visit Sioux Falls Regional Livestock and five individual sheep operations in northwest Iowa and southwest Minnesota. On Tuesday, the tour will stop at two additional sheep ranches and a feedlot operation in eastern South Dakota, as well as visit the South Dakota State University Sheep Unit in Brookings. Tour leader and ASI past president, Burdell Johnson, says this trip will provide beginning sheep producers with tremendous insight into some of the most successful sheep operations in the region.

"This tour is a great opportunity for young and beginning sheep producers to not only see first-hand what some of the most productive and profitable operators are doing, but also to network with other participants and sheep ranchers," said Johnson. "Through the diversity of the operations on this tour and the immense knowledge of the SDSU Sheep Unit, participants will see new concepts they can use on their operations to add to their bottom line, regardless of where they call home."

The tour is built for young and beginning producers, between 21 and 40 years of age, who are actively engaged in sheep production and their state sheep growers' association. The cost of the tour is $200 per participant, with the remainder of the costs paid for through a Let's Grow Program grant. Limited reimbursement is also available for participant travel to and from Sioux Falls. To apply, or for more information, contact tour leader Burdell Johnson at 701-867-9160 or The deadline to apply for this once in lifetime experience is June 19.

J. M. Smucker to Acquire Wesson Brand from Conagra

The J. M. Smucker Company announced Tuesday the signing of a definitive agreement to acquire the Wesson oil brand from Conagra Brands, Inc. The Wesson brand of edible oils has been trusted by consumers for over 100 years. The all-cash transaction, which the Company will fund primarily with debt, is valued at approximately $285 million, prior to an expected tax benefit related to the acquisition with a present value of approximately $45 million.

Under the terms of the Agreement, Conagra will continue to manufacture products sold under the Wesson brand and provide certain other transition services for up to one year following the close of the transaction. After the transition period, the Company expects to consolidate Wesson production into its existing oils manufacturing facility in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The Company anticipates the acquisition to add annual net sales of approximately $230 million. The transaction is expected to generate earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) of approximately $30 million and contribute approximately $0.10 to the Company's adjusted earnings per share in the first full year after closing, excluding one-time costs and before giving effect to synergies. Annual cost synergies of approximately $20 million are expected to be fully realized within two years after closing. The $285 million purchase price represents a multiple of approximately 9.5 times EBITDA. Factoring in the estimated $45 million tax benefit and $20 million of annual synergies, the multiple is expected to be approximately 5 times EBITDA.

"The addition of Wesson creates a strong complement to our Crisco brand," said Mark Smucker, chief executive officer. "By allowing us to more efficiently use existing supply chain and go-to-market resources, this acquisition will lead to significant cost savings that can further fuel growth and innovation opportunities across the Company."

Sidedress Applications Provide Corn N When It’s Most Needed

This year, much of the Corn Belt was pelted with as much as seven to 10 inches of rain in 10 days, so if a farmer applied 100 percent of his or her nitrogen (N) in a pre-plant application, he or she has likely lost a great deal of N to the environment. But farmers can adjust their N plans and apply more N in a sidedress application to make up for any applied pre-plant N that may have been lost to the environment. A sidedress application can ensure corn gets the N it needs, when it needs it most.

Corn takes up about 70 percent of its N between the V4 to R1 growth stages. From the V8 leaf stage through tasseling, N uptake is about four to eight pounds per day. Most sidedress applications occur at the V6 to V8 growth stages, which occurs in early June in much of the Corn Belt. This allows a standard spray rig to safely make a pass through the field without damaging corn stalks, and provides that N just before the corn begins its rapid uptake. This timing minimizes the time N sits in the field and is susceptible to loss to the environment. However, that doesn’t mean that the N applied as a sidedress isn’t at risk to environmental loss.

“We did a lot of research seven to 10 years ago, and we found that there’s actually a higher percentage of N lost to the environment through volatilization, denitrification and leaching during that sidedress application than in a pre-plant application, which was kind of an eye-opener,” says Dave Schwartz, executive vice president of sales and plant nutrition for Verdesian Life Sciences. “Protecting the N in a sidedress application provides a very viable return on investment (ROI) for farmers.”

Weather is the determining factor when it comes to N loss, with N being susceptible to leaching when there is water moving through the soil, denitrification under saturated conditions, and volatilization under hot and dry conditions. Farmers cannot predict the weather, and would be wise to protect their N investment, says Darin Lickfeldt, Ph.D, senior technical development manager for Verdesian.

“Farmers risk losing their investment in N, not receiving the benefits to their corn crop and not maximizing their yield,” says Lickfeldt. “It takes about 1 lb. of N per acre to produce about 1 Bu./A of grain, so if you lose 10 lbs. of N to the environment, that’s 10 lbs. not making grain. Farmers are paid based on how much grain they produce, so protecting every lb. of N should result in another Bu./A of corn yield.”

So, if the price of corn is $3.50 per bushel, and you can add 10 Bu./A by decreasing N loss with NutriSphere-N® Fertilizer Manager, that’s $35 more per acre, which provides a return on investment of 2.8 to 3.8 to 1. For every dollar spent on NutriSphere-N, the grower could get back $2.80 - $3.80. More than 400 trials over a period of 11 years show that NutriSphere-N provides that 10 Bu./A yield increase and there was a positive yield enhancement 90 percent of the time.

“Over the years we’ve done a lot of trial work, and we’re seeing about a 10 to 12 Bu./A average increase over all years. However, in extreme situations, you can see as much as 30 to 40 Bu./A increases,” says Schwartz, who also farms in Guthrie Center, Iowa. “When you factor in the water quality element of losing 30 to 50 percent of applied N going out the tile line, NutriSphere-N offers one of the best returns on investment a farmer can make.”

One reason NutriSphere-N provides that ROI is because it protects N from loss caused by volatilization, leaching and denitrification, a distinct advantage over competitive products that protect against only one or two forms of loss. NutriSphere-N is available in several different formulations that can be used on urea, urea ammonium nitrate (UAN) and anhydrous ammonia (NH3), ammonium sulfate and aqua ammonia, and each form of N presents its own challenges regarding loss to the environment.

Urea can very quickly volatilize by way of the urease enzyme that causes gaseous loss of ammonia, so if you surface apply a lot of urea, it will be susceptible to volatilization loss, says Lickfeldt. NutriSphere-N quick dry orange (QDO) or granular formulations are available for farmers applying urea. UAN is usually surface applied, but because it is a liquid it generally moves down into the soil an inch or two more easily than urea. However, UAN is still susceptible to loss, and NutriSphere-N liquid or NutriSphere-N HV® for High Volume UAN Applications, are available for UAN. While most of the sidedress applications are made with urea or UAN, some farmers may inject anhydrous ammonia nine to 12 inches deep into the soil profile with NutriSphere-NH3, making N less susceptible to loss, provided it is injected correctly.

In addition to protecting N from loss, farmers can also follow the 4Rs of Nutrient Stewardship to ensure their sidedress applications are as precise and efficient as possible.  The 4Rs call for applying the right source, right rate at the right time and in the right place. Lickfeldt recommends using a liquid fertilizer protected with NutriSphere-N, with about 25 percent to 50 percent of your total N applied in a sidedress at V6 to V8 growth stage and banded close to the row.

“We like sidedress applications within three to six inches of the row,” says Lickfeldt. “If you’re going to band it right on the row you can surface apply it, but if you are applying it between two rows, usually about 15 inches from the row, we like it knifed in one to two inches deep.”

New technologies have made more precise placement of sidedressed N easier for farmers. 360 Y-Drop® from 360 Yield Center features a Y-shaped drop tube, allowing farmers to put liquid N closer to the base of the plant, says Schwartz.

“Some of the new technologies, like Y-Drops, make UAN use in a sidedress more efficient, but it’s all about getting the N on the acres at the right time, no matter what form of N you are using,” says Schwartz. “Having the proper amount of N going into the time of highest N uptake is critical. Hitting that window is something that can be very challenging. We’ve learned a lot over the past 10 to 15 years about managing N. Putting on split N applications is a best practice, and protecting it with NutriSphere-N takes it to the highest level, where all growers need to go to maximize their investment in their crop and protect the environment.”

May 30 USDA Crop Progress & Condition Report - NE - IA - US


For the week ending May 28, 2017, cool and mostly dry conditions prevailed, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Average temperatures ranged from three to nine degrees below normal. Some areas of the panhandle and southeast Nebraska received up to an inch of rain; however, much of the State remained dry. This allowed soils to dry out, and producers continued to plant and cut hay. There were 4.5 days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 0 percent very short, 7 short, 85 adequate, and 8 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 1 percent very short, 6 short, 86 adequate, and 7 surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Corn condition rated 0 percent very poor, 4 poor, 20 fair, 68 good, and 8 excellent. Corn planted was 95 percent, equal to last year, and near 97 for the five-year average. Emerged was 76 percent, near 74 last year and 80 average.

Soybeans planted was 76 percent, ahead of 70 last year, but near 79 average. Emerged was 35 percent, near 33 last year, but behind 44 average.

Winter wheat condition rated 2 percent very poor, 10 poor, 41 fair, 39 good, and 8 excellent. Winter wheat headed was 86 percent, ahead of 68 last year, and well ahead of 55 average.

Sorghum planted was 50 percent, near 51 last year, and behind 58 average. Emerged was 17 percent.

Oats condition rated 0 percent very poor, 0 poor, 22 fair, 67 good, and 11 excellent. Oats jointed was 76 percent, well ahead of 55 last year. Headed was 31 percent, ahead of 20 both last year and average.

Alfalfa condition rated 0 percent very poor, 1 poor, 18 fair, 69 good, and 12 excellent. Alfalfa first cutting was 25 percent, near 28 last year, and behind 30 average.

Pasture and Range Report:

Pasture and range conditions rated 0 percent very poor, 1 poor, 20 fair, 66 good, and 13 excellent. Stock water supplies rated 0 percent very short, 2 short, 93 adequate, and 5 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:


Wet conditions kept farmers from finishing up planting during the week ending May 28, 2017, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Statewide there were only 2.7 days suitable for fieldwork. There were scattered reports of corn turning yellow, and replanting of crops in areas with standing water.

Topsoil moisture levels rated 0 percent very short, 0 percent short, 77 percent adequate and 23 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated 0 percent very short, 0 percent short, 78 percent adequate and 22 percent surplus.

Nearly all of Iowa’s corn crop has been planted with only South Central Iowa having over 10 percent of the crop remaining to be planted. Corn emerged reached 82 percent, 3 days behind last year but 1 day ahead of the 5-year average. Seventy-three percent of the corn crop was rated in good to excellent condition.

Soybean planting reached 77 percent complete, 5 days behind last year. South Central Iowa lags behind with 43 percent of the crop yet to be planted. Soybean emergence reached 39 percent, 3 days behind last year and 1 day behind average.

Oats headed reached 10 percent, 1 week behind last year and 3 days behind average. Oat condition decreased to 74 percent good to excellent.

The first cutting of alfalfa hay was 21 percent complete, 5 days behind last year and 4 days behind average. Hay condition rated 81 percent good to excellent.

Pasture condition remained at 82 percent good to excellent. Although livestock conditions were reported as normal with little stress, many feedlots were muddy most of the week.

USDA Weekly Crop Progress

USDA's first corn condition rating of the year was down from last year and matched the lowest reading in four years, according to USDA's weekly Crop Progress report released Tuesday afternoon.

USDA estimated 65% of the corn crop was rated in good-to-excellent condition, down from 72% at the same time last year. The report estimated that 91% of U.S. corn was planted as of Sunday, May 28, down from 93% a year ago and down from the five-year average of 93%. Seventy-three percent of U.S. corn was emerged, down from 75% a year ago and down from the five-year average of 75% emerged.

Any corn planting now is encroaching quickly on crop insurance deadlines. Final planting dates for maximum insurance coverage have already passed in Nebraska and Kansas.  Wednesday, May 31, is the final planting date for corn for grain in Iowa, as well as most of Minnesota and Wisconsin's corn production.  The final planting date for corn for the vast majority of Illinois is June 5, as well as all of Indiana and Ohio.  Once the final planting date has passed, insurance coverage declines 1% per day. The end of the late planting period is 25 days after the final planting date.

USDA said 67% of U.S. soybeans were planted as of Sunday, down from 71% a year ago and slightly below the five-year average of 68%. USDA also said 37% of U.S. soybeans were emerged, down from 42% a year ago and down from the five-year average of 40%.

Meanwhile, USDA reported 80% of winter wheat was headed, down from 83% a year ago, but up from the five-year average of 77% headed.  Winter wheat condition dropped slightly last week with 50% of the crop rated in good-to-excellent condition, down from 52% the previous week.

U.S. spring wheat planting reached 96% complete as of Sunday, down from last year's 98%, but above the five-year average of 91% planted. Seventy-nine percent of spring wheat was emerged, down from 87% a year ago, but up from the five-year average of 74%. Sixty-two percent of spring wheat was rated in good-to-excellent condition.

In other crop reports, cotton was 63% planted, compared to 57% last year and 64% average. Cotton squaring was 7% compared to the average of 4%. Rice was 97% planted and 84% emerged, compared to 97% and 86% last year and 96% and 86% on average.  Sorghum was 44% planted, behind the five-year average of 49%. Barley was 94% planted and 76% emerged, compared to 93% and 77% on average. Oats were 91% emerged and 29% headed, compared to 89% and 32% on average.

Tuesday May 30 Ag News

Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Do you feed dirt to your livestock?  Of course not, you say, but are you sure?

               Like it or not, all hay has some dirt in it.  How much dirt can vary greatly, though.  And the best way to estimate how much dirt your hay contains is by looking at the percent ash from a forage test report.

               Most forage plants naturally contain about six percent ash.  If your forage test indicates you have much more than that, the extra ash is most likely dirt.  Since dirt doesn’t have much nutritional value, minimizing dirt contamination will be better for your animals.

               First, cut hay before it lodges.  Downed stems naturally pick up more dirt than upright plants.  And when you cut, be careful not to cut too short.  A three-inch stubble is about right to minimize dirt while harvesting most of your potential yield.  Be especially careful if you cut with a disk mower.  They can easily cut extremely low, even to ground level, without plugging.  And disk mowers with angled knives tend to vacuum up more dirt than flat knives.

               It also helps to spread hay in a wide swath after cutting.  Tight, heavy windrows tend to sink to the ground while wide swaths may stay on top of the stubble.  This also makes it easier to rake without picking up dirt because the tines won’t need to touch the ground if hay is on top of the stubble.  Tines on wheel rakes need to touch the ground in order to turn so they pick up more dirt than rotary or bar rakes.

               Finally, bales stored on the ground will pick up soil, especially if it is muddy when the bales are moved.  Consider storing bales under cover or on crushed rock to reduce contamination.

               You may not see it, but hay can contain a lot of dirt.  Careful equipment operation and bale storage can help you keep it clean.

Reminder: Valuation Change on June 1

The Nebraska Department of Revenue, Property Assessment Division, reminds property owners that real property Notices of Valuation Change will be sent by county assessors on or before June 1.

If there was an increase or decrease to the assessed valuation of a real property parcel from 2016 to the 2017 assessed value, the county assessor is required to send a notice of valuation change to the property owner of record as of May 20.

If a property owner disagrees with the assessed value, whether or not a notice of valuation change has been received, a protest may be filed with the county board of equalization. The valuation protest may be filed in person or by mail with the county clerk in the county where the property is located, on or before June 30.

Requirements for filing a protest are on the Notice of Valuation Change.

For more information regarding filing a protest, please contact the county clerk where the property is located. County contact information is available at, under "Featured Information."

For further information, see the Real Property Valuation Protest Information Guide and Property Valuation Protest, Form 422 or 422A.

Pork Checkoff Announces Sponsored Activities at the 2017 World Pork Expo

The Pork Checkoff has an exciting lineup of Checkoff-sponsored events scheduled for World Pork Expo, June 7-9, 2017, at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines. World Pork Expo attendees can stop by the Varied Industries Building (booth No. 122) or the Pork Checkoff Hospitality Tent to learn more about Checkoff programs and initiatives.

Pork Checkoff Hospitality Tent (north of the Varied Industries Building)
-    Breakfast will be offered beginning at 7:30 a.m. while supplies last. Stop by for snacks daily. 
-    Enjoy a free business luncheon Wednesday and Thursday at noon. Elwynn Taylor, climatologist for Iowa State University, will present a weather outlook, and Steve Meyer, vice president of pork analysis for Express Markets, Inc., will present market updates.

Pork Checkoff Booth (No. 122 in the Varied Industries Building)
-    Have questions about Checkoff-funded education, research and promotion activities? Stop by to learn about Checkoff programs and initiatives.
-    Pick up new resources from the Pork Checkoff.

The PORK Academy, sponsored by the Pork Checkoff, will offer educational seminars for producers on the latest trends in pork production. For a list of the sessions and topics covered, visit

Also, producers and youth will have the opportunity to become certified in the Youth for the Quality Care for Animals (YQCA) program and PQA Plus® program at sessions held in conjunction with World Pork Expo.

As in years past, the Pork Checkoff will provide dinner on Tuesday and lunch on Thursday and Friday for junior swine exhibitors and their families. The Pork Checkoff also will sponsor activities at the World Pork Expo Junior National Hog Show.

USDA Economic Research Service Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade

FY 2017 Exports Forecast Up $1.0 Billion to $137.0 Billion; Imports Unchanged at $114.5 Billion

Fiscal year 2017 agricultural exports are projected at $137.0 billion, up $1.0 billion from the February forecast, as increases are expected in livestock, grain/feed, and cotton exports.  Livestock, poultry, and dairy exports are raised $600 million to $28.7 billion due to an expected increase in red meat shipments that more than offsets slight declines in the poultry and dairy forecasts.  Grain and feed exports are forecast at $29.0 billion, up $400 million, driven by a larger volume for wheat and higher unit values for rice.  Cotton is forecast up $400 million to $5.4 billion as the United States continues to gain market share across major markets.  Oilseed and product exports are forecast at $31.7 billion, up $100 million due to expected increased soybean product exports. The export forecast for horticultural products is down $500 million to $33.5 billion on the basis of lower unit values of tree nuts.

U.S. agricultural imports in fiscal year 2017 are forecast at $114.5 billion, unchanged from February and $1.4 billion above their total value in fiscal year 2016.  The U.S. agricultural trade surplus is expected to increase $1 billion to $22.5 billion.

See the complete report here....

NGFA supports effort to update truck weight limits

The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) recently joined in signing a letter to Congress supporting a pilot program designed to obtain information on the safety and environmental benefits of increasing the maximum commercial truck weight on interstate highways.

In the letter sent to leaders of the House Appropriations Committee, more than 80 transportation stakeholders noted that it's been 35 years since the government last updated the gross vehicle weight (GVW) limit of 80,000 pounds for federal interstate highways. Meanwhile, all 50 states have passed exceptions allowing trucks greater than this weight limit to operate on local roads. In addition, more than 30 states have higher GVW limits on their portions of interstate highways.

While states rightfully have updated GVW limits to better suit their individual needs, this often means trucks hauling more than 80,000 pounds are forced to operate on less ideal state highway infrastructure, "traveling on more local roads past schools, churches and playgrounds where pedestrians often are present," stated the letter. The current 80,000-pound weight limit for trucks on interstate highways also results in some trucks remaining more than 40 percent empty, creating economic inefficiencies and forcing more trucks onto the highway system than otherwise would be needed, the letter noted.

The transportation stakeholders proposed to include language in the fiscal year 2018 appropriations bill to create a pilot program for states to study the effects of modernizing truck weight limits, which haven't been updated since the standardization of anti-lock brakes on Class-8 tractors in 1982. The results should provide information on whether "there are more safe, more sustainable, and more productive ways to modernize the current 80,000-pound limit on federal Interstate Highways and give the states flexibility to move those loads on the safer Interstates and away from roads with pedestrians."

Under the pilot program, 10 states could opt-in to allow 91,000-pound, six-axle, bridge formula-compliant trucks on federal interstate highways within their borders, and collect additional safety data regarding the GVW and axle configurations of commercial trucks involved in serious accidents.

"Such a pilot, similar to others included in previous appropriations bills, will provide critical information currently lacking but necessary to determine if significant benefits affiliated with this configuration can be realized in a way to preserve or enhance the safety our nation's roads," the letter stated.

The letter also cited a 2016 U.S. Department of Transportation study that found potential benefits of modernizing the baseline GVW limit to 91,000 pounds, including reductions in: stopping distance during braking, carbon dioxide emissions, fuel consumption, and life-cycle pavement costs.

CWT Assists with 4.2 million Pounds of Cheese and Butter Export Sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 25 requests for export assistance from Dairy Farmers of America, Foremost Farms USA, Northwest Dairy Association (Darigold), Tillamook County Creamery Association, United Dairymen of Arizona, and Upstate Niagara- O-AT-KA that have contracts to sell 3.536 million pounds (1,604 metric tons) of Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese and 703,275 pounds (319 metric tons) of butter to customers in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Oceania. The product has been contracted for delivery in the period from May through August 2017.

So far this year, CWT has assisted member cooperatives who have contracts to sell 37.709 million pounds of American-type cheeses, and 3.016 million pounds of butter (82% milkfat) to 17 countries on five continents. The sales are the equivalent of 415.838 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.

Last Call! Sign Up to Grow Leadership Skills Today!

The National Corn Growers Association reminds farmers that time is running out 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. Interested members should contact their state associations now for further information and get completed applications into state offices by the end of this week.

"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.

Austin Dillon Secures First NASCAR Cup Win at Coca-Cola 600

Late Sunday night, American Ethanol driver and spokesperson, Austin Dillon captured his first Monster Energy Cup Series win, driving the celebrated No. 3 car to victory at the Coca-Cola 600. Dillon’s win came at his home track, the Charlotte Motor Speedway, and is the first for the Richard Childress Racing No. 3 car since October 15, 2000, when Dale Earnhardt won at Talladega.

“This is an incredible victory for the No. 3 team, and the entire American Ethanol family is filled with pride – we knew this day would come,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “Our partnership with Austin and Richard Childress Racing is integral to communicating American ethanol’s engine smart, earth kind story. We are proud of Austin’s amazing win and look forward to many more successes together.”

Commenting on his win, Dillon said, “those partners that were here from the very beginning – Dow, American Ethanol – it feels so good to deliver. They had to believe in me no matter what. You can believe in somebody saying he’s good, but they believed in me. They’ve been here every step of the way. It feels so good to get them in Victory Lane. It was a beautiful car tonight, too.”

The No.3 car – and all NASCAR race cars – are powered by Sunoco Green E15, a fuel made with 15 percent American ethanol. In fact, E15 has powered NASCAR for more than 10 million miles. E15 is a cleaner-burning, high-performance fuel that delivers on the race track and for regular drivers alike. From the intense demands of a NASCAR race team to the everyday reliability expected by drivers across the country, E15 is always a winner.

Friday May 26 Cattle on Feed + Ag News


Nebraska feedlots, with capacities of 1,000 or more head, contained 2.45 million cattle on feed on May 1, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. This inventory was up 1 percent from last year.  Placements during April totaled 395,000 head, up 4 percent from 2016.  Fed cattle marketings for the month of April totaled 390,000 head, up 3 percent from last year. Other disappearance during April totaled 15,000 head, down 5,000 head from last year.


 Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 680,000 head on May 1, 2017, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Cattle on Feed report. This was up 1 percent from April 1, 2017, and up 6 percent from May 1, 2016. Iowa feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head had 590,000 head on feed, down 3 percent from last month and down 2 percent from last year. Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in all Iowa feedlots totaled 1,270,000 head, down 1 percent from last month but up 2 percent from last year.

Placements of cattle and calves in Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head during April totaled 95,000 head, a decrease of 18 percent from last month but up 22 percent from last year. Feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head placed 41,000 head, down 41 percent from last month but up 8 percent from last year. Placements for all feedlots in Iowa totaled 136,000 head, down 27 percent from last month but up 17 percent from last year.

Marketings of fed cattle from Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head during April totaled 82,000 head, down 12 percent from last month but up 9 percent from last year. Feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head marketed 57,000 head, up 2 percent from last month but down 12 percent from last year. Marketings for all feedlots in Iowa were 139,000 head, down 7 percent from last month and down 1 percent from last year. Other disappearance from all feedlots in Iowa totaled 7,000 head.

United States Cattle on Feed Up 2 Percent

Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 11.0 million head on May 1, 2017. The inventory was 2 percent above May 1, 2016.

On Feed by State

                  (1,000 hd - % of May 1 '16)

Colorado .......:       960           107             
Iowa .............:        680           106             
Kansas ..........:      2,280          106         
Nebraska ......:      2,450          101          
Texas ............:      2,460           99           

Placements in feedlots during April totaled 1.85 million head, 11 percent above 2016. Net placements were 1.78 million head. During April, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 348,000 head, 600-699 pounds were 255,000 head, 700-799 pounds were 490,000 head, 800-899 pounds were 495,000 head, 900-999 pounds were 190,000 head, and 1,000 pounds and greater were 70,000 head.

Placements by State

                    (1,000 hd - % of April '16)

Colorado .......:      155           107        
Iowa .............:        95           122         
Kansas ..........:       420           114        
Nebraska ......:       395           104        
Texas ............:      460           106         

Marketings of fed cattle during April totaled 1.70 million head, 3 percent above 2016.  Other disappearance totaled 66,000 head during April, 13 percent below 2016.

Marketings by State

                     (1,000 hd - % of April '16)

Colorado ......:      125            93             
Iowa .............:      82             109           
Kansas ..........:      385           100           
Nebraska ......:      390           103       
Texas ............:      450           103           


The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) entered into an agreement with the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District to help farmers improve irrigation water management, reduce soil erosion and install conservation practices through the Lower Elkhorn Water and Soil Conservation Initiative. This Initiative is available through the USDA’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).

Producers in the northeast Nebraska 15-county Initiative area (see map) originally had until mid-October to apply, but the sign up has been extended to June 16, 2017. Producers should visit one of the NRCS offices located in the Initiative area to apply.

Robin Sutherland, District Conservationist in the Stanton NRCS field office said, “This Initiative is a great opportunity for farmers and ranchers to receive financial and technical assistance to make their operations more productive and sustainable.”

Through the Initiative, NRCS and the Lower Elkhorn NRD work together to provide financial and technical assistance to help farmers apply soil and water conservation practices like flow meters, irrigation water management, nutrient management, as well as adopt soil health practices like no-till and cover crops on eligible cropland.

For more information about the RCPP and other conservation programs available from NRCS, visit your local USDA Service center or


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Native meadows will soon start growing rapidly and bromegrass is about to head out.  Here are some tips to make your grass hay suitable for your animals.

               When do you cut your grass hay?  Do you wait until all crops are planted?  Maybe you plan to cut during first or second irrigation of corn.  Or like some folks, maybe you cut grass hay just when you get around to it.

               Instead, how about cutting your grass hay so the grass nutrient content matches with the nutritional needs of your livestock?  Now that's a different way to look at it, isn't it?  But doesn't it make sense to harvest hay that will meet the specific needs of your livestock and minimize your supplement costs?

               We all know that protein and energy concentration declines in grass hay as plants become stemmy and get more mature.  As this happens, the types of livestock that can be fed that hay with little or no supplements become more limited.

               For example, grass hay cut at early head often can support more than one pound of daily gain for pregnant yearling heifers all by itself.  But if the same grass gets mature it won't even maintain weight of a mature cow without some protein supplements.

               So, what should you do?  First off, plan what type of livestock will receive the grass hay from each field.  Young livestock need high nutrient concentrations so cut that hay before or just when heads begin to emerge.  If the hay will go to mature, dry cows instead, let the grass produce a bit more growth and cut it after it is well headed out, but before seeds develop.

               Matching your hay harvest with your plan of use can pay handsome dividends in lower costs and less supplementing.

IFBF's fifth Economic Summit to highlight opportunities amidst ongoing market challenges

To assist farmers facing several consecutive years of tight margins and low commodity prices, the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) announced the 2017 IFBF Economic Summit: “Overcoming Challenges, Creating Opportunities” on July 20 at the Iowa State Scheman Center in Ames. The summit is designed to provide farmers insights and strategies for managing through this downturned economic period, with pending trade negotiations which have potential for significant impacts to Iowa agriculture.

“We want to make sure our Economic Summit goes beyond simply surviving and include helping farmers find opportunities out there to earn a premium price for their crops and livestock, or opportunities to significantly reduce their cost of production and improve their bottom lines,” said Dave Miller, IFBF director of research and commodity services.

Volatile international trade markets and uncertainty regarding current and proposed trade deals, including NAFTA, have led to an unsettled international trade climate.  Speakers during this year’s Economic Summit will discuss the benefits of trade for Iowa agriculture and the current status and future outlook for ag exports. 

“With the United States pulling out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and planning to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), it’s certainly a dynamic period for ag trade,” says Miller.  “However, that does not diminish the critical importance of expanding exports for Iowa crop and livestock farmers.”

With early field hearings underway for the new farm bill and legislative work on the horizon, the summit will also provide a timely look at the potential outlines of the 2018 farm bill, which will establish the essential farm safety net for farmers in the coming years.

Zippy Duvall, American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) president, is a featured speaker.  Duvall, who will be the first AFBF president to speak at IFBF’s Economic Summit, was elected to lead AFBF in 2016.  Duvall is a third-generation farmer from Georgia who raises hay and broilers and has a 300-head beef cow herd.

The full-day summit will feature a range of Iowa-based and national experts presenting on a range of subjects and issues critical to agriculture today, including economist David Oppendahl of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago; John Newton, an AFBF economist; and Jim Knuth, Iowa-based senior vice president of the Farm Credit Services of America.

This year’s summit will also feature breakout sessions that allow attendees to dive deeper into a range of topics from soil health and cover crops and opportunities in livestock production to ways to build landlord-tenant relationships and trends in the farm machinery markets.

“This is a period when we all need to sharpen our management and marketing skills to look for future opportunities,” says Miller.  “This year’s IFBF summit will be a valuable tool to help farmers do that.” 

Summit registration, which includes access to all presentations and lunch, is $30 for Farm Bureau members and $75 for non-members before July 11.  Visit for more information.

USDA Farm Service Agency County Committee Nomination Period Begins June 15

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced today that the nomination period for local Farm Service Agency (FSA) county committees begins on Thursday, June 15, 2017.

“County committees allow farmers and ranchers to make important decisions about how federal farm programs are administered locally to best serve their needs,” said Acting FSA Administrator Chris Beyerhelm. “We strongly encourage all eligible producers to visit their local FSA office today to find out how to get involved in their county’s election. There’s an increasing need for representation from underserved producers, which includes beginning, women and other minority farmers and ranchers.”

County committees are made up of farmers and ranchers elected by other producers in their communities to guide the delivery of farm programs at the local level. Committee members play a critical role in the day-to-day operations of FSA. Committees consist of three to 11 members and meet once a month or as needed to make important decisions on disaster and conservation programs, emergency programs, commodity price support loan programs, county office employment and other agricultural issues. Members serve three-year terms. Nationwide there are over 7,700 farmers and ranchers serving on FSA county committees.

Farmers and ranchers may nominate themselves or others. Organizations, including those representing beginning, women and minority producers, also may nominate candidates to better serve their communities. To be eligible to serve on an FSA county committee, a person must participate or cooperate in an agency administered program and reside in the local administrative area where the election is being held.

After the nomination period, candidates will encourage the eligible producers in their local administrative area to vote. FSA will mail election ballots to eligible voters beginning Nov. 6, 2017. Ballots will be due back to the local county office either via mail or in person by Dec. 4, 2017. Newly-elected committee members and alternates will take office on Jan. 1, 2018.

To become a candidate, an eligible individual must sign an FSA-669A nomination form. The form and other information about FSA county committee elections are available at All nomination forms for the 2017 election must be postmarked or received in the local FSA office by Aug. 1, 2017. Locate your local office at


At a pork industry meeting this week, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) said its modernization of pork slaughter rule will move forward. According to the National Pork Producers Council,  the rule will increase efficiency of the federal inspection process, encourage adoption of new food safety technologies and increase plant capacity. The rule calls for certain food safety responsibilities to be shifted from federal inspectors to packing plant workers.

Dan Kovich, deputy director of science and technology, represented NPPC at the USDA meeting and said the FSIS is expected to send the rule to the Office of Management and Budget soon as the next step in its implementation.


NPPC on Monday sought an extension from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to file a motion seeking a re-hearing of an April 11 decision that would create a new requirement for livestock farms to report their air emissions. The U.S. Poultry and Egg Association joined NPPC in filing for the extension.

Previously, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency filed a motion with the same court seeking an extension to request that the court delay issuing its final order, which would apply an emergency reporting requirement under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) to farms for day-to-day routine emissions from manure. If the court does not grant the requests, its ruling will likely become final on or about June 2, 2017, requiring livestock farmers to comply with emission reporting requirements.

Also this week, 28 senators signed onto a letter, urging EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to challenge the D.C. Circuit’s decision and to “provide America’s farmers and ranchers with regulatory relief through agency directive and rulemaking.” CERCLA is used to recover natural resources damages caused by hazardous substances; EPCRA is for use by state and local emergency responders when dealing with hazardous chemical releases. “Congress never imagined normal odors and emissions … of livestock, poultry, and egg production would somehow be captured” under the laws, the lawmakers wrote.

Senate Passes Agro-Terrorism Legislation

“An attack on our nation’s food supply would cause irreparable damage,” said Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., after the Senate unanimously passed legislation to bolster agro-terrorism preparedness and emergency response. The “Securing our Agriculture and Food Act” would require the Secretary of Homeland Security, through the Assistant Secretary for Health Affairs, to lead the government’s efforts to secure our nation’s food, agriculture and veterinary systems against terrorism and high-risk events. The bill now goes to the House, which approved a similar measure in late March.

Senate Ag Committee Chair, Farm Bureau President Address USMEF Spring Conference

The U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) Spring Conference, held in Arlington, Virginia, was highlighted by appearances from Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kansas), chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, and Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF).

“I want to thank you being in town and for telling your good story about trade,” Roberts told USMEF members. “I want – and I expect – to hear from the meat export sector as we continue down this path, to get a good farm bill. You’re great partners and you do a wonderful job. You folks have really played a very instrumental and important role in shaping rural states. You’ve been an essential part of the rural economy and advising me on issues that affect our daily lives and pocketbooks out in farm country.”

Roberts expressed concern about the Trump administration’s plans to renegotiate NAFTA, but said the presence of recently confirmed Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue gives him confidence that the market access gains NAFTA provided for U.S. agricultural exports will be maintained.

“I swear to goodness he’s been the most active secretary in his first three or four weeks of anybody that I’ve ever seen,” Roberts said of Perdue. “He was sworn in just in time to play a very critical role in convincing President Trump not to withdraw completely from NAFTA. He had the backing, by the way, of Secretary of State (Rex) Tillerson and Wilbur Ross, our commerce secretary – I know this for a fact because I was involved in that – as well our new U.S. Trade Representative Bob Lighthizer.”

Roberts spoke with cautious optimism about negotiations to reopen China to U.S. beef – a market that has been closed since the December 2003 BSE case.

“I was very heartened to see the news on the agreement made with China to allow U.S. beef access to nearly 1.4 billion Chinese customers," he said. “Details of that agreement still need to be finalized and we hope that this time U.S. beef and beef products will be granted true market access.”

Roberts also assured USMEF members that he strongly supports USDA programs designed to expand international demand for U.S. agricultural products.

“The Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development Program are certainly great examples of programs that work,” he said. “We at least ought to have the same level of funding, and really ought to have more, but we’re going to try to preserve that. Expanding markets around the world is one of the surest ways for producers to feel more secure by creating more demand and increasing global access to U.S. meat, grains and other commodities, so the ag sector can begin to climb out of this rough patch.”

Speaking after Roberts, Duvall also praised Secretary Perdue and said he believes the Trump administration’s “tough talk” about re-negotiating NAFTA is simply a way to get key trading partners to the table. He also encouraged everyone in the agricultural industry to remain engaged in the processes taking place in the nation’s capital.

A third-generation farmer from Georgia, Duvall spent 30 years as a dairy farmer and today raises beef cattle and poultry. Prior to being elected AFBF president, he served as president of the Georgia Farm Bureau, where he came to know Perdue, the former governor of Georgia.

“He understands agriculture and he’s a great administrator,” Duvall said of Perdue. “He is only the fourth secretary of agriculture – out of the 30 that we’ve had – to actually have farmed as an adult. He’s very familiar with what it takes to farm, and what it requires.”

Duvall said he considers the current situation in Washington to be possibly the greatest opportunity in his lifetime to make a long-term difference for U.S. agriculture and rural America, helping to build “a future for children and grandchildren who want to do what we do.”

To keep farmers and ranchers engaged, Duvall wants to speak personally with as many producers as possible to help them understand the importance of their involvement.

“Since November, when the farmers and rural America came out and elected this president, they began to relax,” explained Duvall. “Farmers are sitting at home thinking farm organizations, their county Farm Bureau or their commodity group is just going to take care of their problems. I’m telling you that if that’s what our farmers think, we’re in for a disaster. We’re in for a train wreck. We cannot afford to let them disengage from this process. They made a difference in November, but that’s just the beginning of our chore. It’s not the end.”

The conference concluded Friday with a panel discussion on demand trends for red meat in China and Mexico, featuring insights from Joel Haggard, USMEF senior vice president for the Asia Pacific and two senior staff members who oversee USMEF programs in Mexico, Central America and the Dominican Republic – Regional Director Oscar Ferrara and Marketing Director Gerardo Rodriguez.

At its closing business session, the USMEF board of directors approved a resolution supporting continued funding for the USDA Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development Program. The resolution encouraged organizations that advocate for U.S. agriculture to make funding these programs a legislative priority, noting their proven track record for bolstering U.S. exports and delivering positive returns for the U.S. economy.

Ocean Freight Rates Reach Lowest Level in Months

Ocean freight rates for shipping bulk grains fell to their lowest level over the past 12 weeks.  As of May 18, the rate for shipping grains from the U.S. Gulf to Japan was $37.25 per metric ton, a 4 percent drop from March 9.  The rate from PNW to Japan was $19.50 per mt, an 8 percent drop since March 9.

The last time the Gulf-to-Japan rate was this low was March 3, and the PNW-to-Japan rate was the lowest since February 23.  Lower ocean rates were fueled by excess vessel supply and lagging demand for bulk shipments.

Visit From Miss America 2017 Savvy Shields Planned for First Peas to the Table Contest Winner

The winner of the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture’s First Peas to the Table Contest is Mary Tomlin’s third-grade class at Fayette Academy in Somerville, Tennessee. Tomlin’s classroom wins the grand prize – a visit from Miss America 2017 Savvy Shields.

“I’m confident that students will enjoy hearing from Miss America 2017 Savvy Shields about her platform of ‘Eat Better, Live Better,’ which aims to educate people on how the foods we eat make an impact on our lives as a whole,” said Julia Recko, education outreach director of the Foundation.

First Peas is a national competition for schools that encourages children in kindergarten through fifth grade to plant, raise and harvest peas.

Student teams competed to grow the greatest amount of peas (measured in cups) using no more than 20 pea seeds during the official contest period, Feb. 20 – May 15. Tomlin’s class harvested 8 cups of peas.

Ten schools submitted pea measurements, although even more schools participated. Some schools’ peas were not ready to harvest at the end of the contest.

“Educators agree, getting their hands dirty is the best way for children to learn,” said Recko. “Through this contest, we’re pleased to offer a fun, hands-on learning opportunity for students across the country.”

The contest highlights the Foundation’s 2016 Book of the Year, “First Peas to the Table,” by Susan Grigsby. The Foundation created the contest to help students understand the importance of healthy foods and agriculture in their everyday lives and to increase their understanding of how plants grow.

Students competing in the contest were allowed to grow peas in any manner including in a hot house, hoop house, indoor pot, planter or outside garden. In conjunction with the contest, Recko encouraged educators to invite local farmers and ranchers to speak in their classrooms about food production and the importance of agriculture.

2018 Commodity Classic Trade Show Opens to New Exhibitors June 1

The trade show floor at Commodity Classic—America’s largest farmer-led, farmer-focused convention and trade show—will open to new exhibitors on Thursday, June 1, 2017.  The 2018 Commodity Classic will be held Tuesday, February 28 through Thursday, March 2 in Anaheim, California.

Exhibit space is limited.  For exhibitor information, visit, call 888.447.6734 or email:

Last year’s Commodity Classic in San Antonio, Texas, attracted 4,012 farmers with an average gross farm income of $1.45 million and average farm size of 2,779 total acres.  The show also attracted 162 key media representatives.

“The thousands of farmers who attend Commodity Classic are progressive, innovative and eager to adopt new technology and practices,” said Paul Taylor, an Illinois corn farmer and co-chair of the 2018 Commodity Classic.  “They are also influential in their communities, as our research indicates that the average Commodity Classic farmer attendee says that 9.6 other farmers in their area ask them for their opinions on new technology and practices.”

“If a company wants to showcase its products and services to top farmers in the United States, the Commodity Classic trade show is the place to do it,” said Gerry Hayden, a Kentucky soybean farmer and co-chair of the 2018 Commodity Classic.  “Some 72 percent of farmers at Commodity Classic consider themselves to be early adopters, so these farmers are looking for what’s next in agriculture—and they invest in coming to Commodity Classic expecting to find it.”

Thursday May 25 Ag News


A new mobile application from Nebraska Extension aims to help farmers manage their operations in a rapidly changing price environment. The free Grain Marketing Plan app is available on iPhone and iPad devices for users marketing corn, soybeans or winter wheat.

The app can help farmers develop customizable grain marketing plans pre- or post-harvest. It has a built-in reminder system so that once a farmer has entered decisions into their plan, he or she will receive alerts once a decision trigger has been hit. The decision triggers can be set up based on a target time or futures price. It is one of the first apps of its kind to allow users to not only view futures price information, but interact with them.

"The idea is that the mobile app will help producers make their grain marketing decisions, even while they're in the field," said Associate Extension Educator Jessica Groskopf.

While grain marketing plans are critical to an operation's success, the majority of Nebraska farmers have not developed a plan. Nebraska Extension hopes that this new user-friendly app can help producers decipher fact versus feeling when making grain marketing decisions.

"The Grain Marketing Plan app allows farmers to dictate their future, on their terms," said Cory Walters, assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics. "A simple reminder for farmers of the decision triggers they committed to in the spring can make a huge difference in the overall success of a farming operation."

According to Walters, the app is beneficial in the current environment because it is important for farmers to actively market their grain during times of lower commodity prices. With rapidly changing prices, there are limited opportunities for farmers to price grain above break-even prices. This app can alert farmers when futures prices have hit their estimated break-even point.

For more information on the app, visit

The Nebraska Corn Board, North Central Extension Risk Management Education Center and Nebraska Extension provided funding for the app.


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Most pastures are looking pretty good.  But how they are grazed now will affect how well your pastures do the rest of the summer.

               When pastures look good and cattle are doing well we usually pay little attention to them.  But don't take good pasture for granted; in a couple months it could look a lot different.

               Now is the time to pay special attention to your rotational grazing.  In particular, whenever possible, leave more growth behind than usual when you move to new pasture.

               When moisture is available, like now, your grasses will regrow after grazing.  Regrowth starts more rapidly when extra leaves remain behind after grazing.  These leaves help plants harvest more sunlight energy to hasten regrowth, so your pasture will be ready to graze again much sooner and with more forage than if it had been grazed very short.  After all, grass grows grass.

               Another valuable reason to leave extra growth behind is the increased competition this provides to weeds.  June and early July is the time many weeds like ragweed really start growing rapidly.  The extra grass you leave behind and the faster regrowth of your grass will help reduce this weed invasion.

               A final reason to leave extra growth behind is to improve animal nutrition.  As you leave behind the stemmy, less desirable feed and move animals more frequently into fresh, high quality pasture, rates of gain increase, cows get bred more rapidly, and overall performance improves.

               Sure, your pastures look good now.  To keep them looking good and your cattle performing well: avoid overgrazing, encourage rapid regrowth, maintain competitive residues, and rotate often onto fresh, productive pasture.

NCGA Thanks House of Representatives for Passing NPDES Permits Legislation

The National Corn Growers Association commended the House of Representatives for passing H.R. 953, the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2017. This bipartisan legislation states that National Pollutant Discharge Elimination Systems (NPDES) permits are not required when applying pesticides according to their EPA-approved labels.

"We are pleased the House of Representatives recognizes this permit requirement for what it is: expensive, duplicative, and unnecessary red tape," said Brandon Hunnicutt, Vice Chair of the Freedom to Operate Action Team and a farmer from Giltner, Nebraska. "As it currently stands, the NPDES permitting system only adds to farmers' regulatory burdens, without actually improving water quality."

The Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act would reverse a 2009 court ruling that forced the Environmental Protection Agency to require pesticide applicators to get permits to spray in or near "navigable waters," as defined in the Clean Water Act. Although NPDES permits do not provide any additional environmental benefits, they do significantly increase the regulatory burden on farmers, while also exposing them to potential citizen action suits. NCGA has been a leader in efforts to end this redundant and ineffective permitting requirement.

"We thank the House for their vote, and urge the Senate to act quickly on this important issue," said Hunnicutt.

2017 Auctioneer of the Year, Auctioneer and Ringman Champions, and New Officers and Directors

Miles Marshall, Marshall Land Brokers & Auctioneers, Kearney, has been elected President of the Nebraska Auctioneers Association for 2017-2018. Marshall Land Brokers & Auctioneers is recognized throughout the Midwest as a leader in marketing ag real estate, farm machinery, heavy equipment and business liquidations. His election was announced at the 69th Annual Convention of the Association held at the Holiday Inn Convention Center, Kearney, Nebraska, May 19-21, 2017. Travis Augustin, Ruhter Auction & Realty, Inc., Hastings, was elected Vice President and Mark Beacom, Auction Solutions, Inc., Omaha, was elected President-Elect.

Newly elected Board Members include Mike Nuss, Helberg & Nuss Auctions & Realty, Gering, Nebraska; Duane Wellensiek, Wellensiek Auction Co. LLC, Cook, Nebraska; and Ed Hall, Vandertook Auctions LLC, Adams, Nebraska.

The annual Nebraska Auctioneers Association Championship Auctioneer and Ringman Contest was held on Friday, May 19, 2017 kicking off the first evening of the 69th Annual Convention. Curtis Wetovick, C W Auction, Fullerton, Nebraska, was named Nebraska Auctioneer Champion for 2017 and Kam Hartstack of Clarinda, Iowa, captured the 2017 Nebraska Ringman Champion title. In addition to cash and prizes, Wetovick will receive the entry fee to the 2018 International Auctioneers Championship and will represent Nebraska in the competition. Kam Hartstack received the Jon Moravec Memorial Ringman trophy.

The top ten from the competition consisted of Scott Jarman, The Auction Mill, Cedar Bluffs, Nebraska; Austin Creamer, Creamer Heimes Janssen LLC, Hartington, Nebraska; Kenny Hendren, Hendren Auction Service, Mitchell, Nebraska; Kam Hartstack, Hartstack Auction Group, Clarinda, Iowa; Dan Botsch, Full Throttle Auction Company, Chapman, Nebraska; Russ Puchalla, Heartland Auction Company, Roca, Nebraska; Runner-Up, Courtney Mensik, Jack Nitz & Associates, Cedar Bluffs, Nebraska; Reserve Champion, Josh Larson, JML Auction, Haxtun, Colorado; and Rookie of the Year, Jake Rogers, Lexington, Nebraska. Rookie of the Year, Runner-Up and Reserve Champion all received commemorative plaques.

Also in conjunction with the Convention, Don Helberg, Helberg & Nuss Auctions & Realty, Gering, Nebraska, was named Nebraska Auctioneer of the Year. Don was awarded a commemorative plaque, Stetson hat and trophy belt buckle. Gene Sisco, Sisco Auction Company, Syracuse, Nebraska, who passed away on January 20, 2017, was inducted posthumously into the Auctioneer Hall of Fame. His family accepted on behalf of Gene.

Awarded $1,000 college scholarships at the annual awards banquet from both the Association and the Auxiliary were Braelyn Isernhagen, Deshler, daughter of Brian and Heidi Isernhagen; Austin Creamer, son of Ryan and Janet Creamer, Creamer Heimes Janssen LLC, Hartington; and Kaitlyn Schultis daughter of Aaron and Lisa Schultis and granddaughter to Wayne and Linda Schultis, Schultis & Son Inc, Fairbury, Nebraska.

The Nebraska Association works with more than 3,500 members of the National Auctioneers Association throughout the world. The National Auctioneers Association is the largest organization of its kind dedicated to promoting the auction method of marketing.  The Nebraska Auctioneers Association is headquartered in Lincoln, Nebraska.

USDA Livestock Slaughter Report: Record Low Veal and Lamb Production for April

Commercial red meat production for the United States totaled 3.97 billion pounds in April, down slightly from the 3.98 billion pounds produced in April 2016.

Beef production, at 1.96 billion pounds, was slightly below the previous year. Cattle slaughter totaled 2.46 million head, up 2 percent from April 2016. The average live weight was down 23 pounds from the previous year, at 1,325 pounds.

Veal production totaled 5.8 million pounds, 3 percent below April a year ago. Calf slaughter totaled 39,000 head, up 12 percent from April 2016. The average live weight was down 36 pounds from last year, at 257 pounds.

Pork production totaled 1.99 billion pounds, down 1 percent from the previous year. Hog slaughter totaled 9.34 million head, down slightly from April 2016. The average live weight was unchanged from the previous year, at 285 pounds.

Lamb and mutton production, at 11.5 million pounds, was down 10 percent from April 2016. Sheep slaughter totaled 179,500 head, 5 percent below last year. The average live weight was 128 pounds, down 7 pounds from April a year ago.

By State  (million lbs   -   % of Apr '16

Nebraska ....:     596.7             98  
Iowa ...........:     567.2             99      
Kansas ........:     411.9             95      

January to April 2017 commercial red meat production was 16.7 billion pounds, up 3 percent from 2016. Accumulated beef production was up 5 percent from last year, veal was down 4 percent, pork was up 2 percent from last year, and lamb and mutton production was down 4 percent.

Field Days to Help Participants Improve Profit and Water Quality

Farmers and their consultants can learn how to improve both farm profits and water quality at a series of field days hosted by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

The field days are part of ISU Extension and Outreach’s Nitrogen and Water Week, which runs from June 27-29.

“The purpose of these field days is for farmers and their consultants to learn the research related to profitable nitrogen management and water quality,” said Jamie Benning, water quality program manager with ISU Extension and Outreach. “The field days will also allow participants to visit the sites where research is occurring relating to nitrogen management and water quality.”

Five field days will be held throughout the state at Iowa State University Research and Demonstration Farms, providing an opportunity to learn about the university’s research facilities that evaluate nitrate loss. A tour of plots where Iowa State researchers study the effects of fall application, cover crops and nitrification inhibitors is included in the event. The field day will also provide an opportunity to learn about factors that are used to make nitrogen fertilizer recommendations and nitrogen deficiency in corn and how to correct it.

“Participants will leave the field day with a better understanding of research and the breadth of projects and practices we are evaluating,” said Mark Johnson, extension field agronomist. “They will also receive a better understanding of tools that are available to them like the N Rate Calculator and how they can help farmers be more profitable while minimizing impact on water quality.”

Each field day will provide the same format and program, with ISU Extension and Outreach field agronomists and agricultural engineering specialists providing instruction. Registration at the research farm meeting room begins at 9:15 on the day of the event, with the program beginning at 9:45. The program concludes at 12:15 p.m. with lunch following.

“The format provides for four 30-minute sessions during the field day, discussing how a water quality research site works, what practices are being studied, how effective the various management practices are in reducing nitrogen loss, and the impact of those practices on farm profitability,” said Paul Kassel, extension field agronomist.

2017 Nitrogen and Water Week Field Days
    June 27 – Armstrong Memorial Research and Demonstration Farm (53020 Hitchcock Ave., Lewis, Iowa)
    June 27 – Ag Engineering and Agronomy Research Farm (1308 U Ave, Boone, Iowa)
    June 28 – Northeast Research and Demonstration Farm (3321 290th St., Nashua, Iowa)
    June 29 – Northwest Research and Demonstration Farm (6320 500th St., Sutherland, Iowa)
    June 29 – Southeast Research and Demonstration Farm (3115 Louisa-Washington Road, Crawfordsville, Iowa)

There is a $25 registration fee for the program which includes lunch, refreshments, and course materials and publications. Attendees are asked to pre-register to assist with facility and meal planning. For additional information or to register online visit

USDA Invests in Commodity Board Projects

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Wednesday announced five grants totaling more than $2.5 million for agricultural research that is funded jointly with national or state commodity boards. The funding is made possible through NIFA's Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), which was authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.

"Our collaboration with commodity boards helps the U.S. agriculture industry thrive," said NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy. "By responding to the needs of the U.S. agricultural sector, we are investing in research that will have a positive economic impact."

In FY 2016, the first year of collaboration with national and state commodity boards, topics from five commodity boards were integrated into four program area priorities within two AFRI Requests for Applications (RFAs): Improving Food Safety, Critical Agricultural Research and Extension, and Plant Breeding for Agricultural Production in the Foundational Program RFA; and Breeding and Phenomics of Food Crops and Animals in the Food Security Challenge Area RFA. The commodity boards provided half of the funding for the award in their topic area. The projects include:

- The USDA Agricultural Research Service, Southern Region, received a NIFA grant of $489,804, funded jointly with the National Peanut Board, to investigate peanut and tree nut allergies.

- Oregon State University, Corvallis, received a NIFA grant of $294,000, funded jointly with the Washington State Potato Commission, to improve data management tracking of potato early-dying disease.

- Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, received a NIFA grant of $294,000, funded jointly with the National Peanut Board, to research drought tolerance in peanuts.

- Iowa State University of Science and Technology, Ames, received a NIFA grant of $490,000, funded jointly with a consortia of the Iowa Corn Promotion Board, Illinois Corn Marketing Board, Minnesota Corn Research and Promotion Council, Nebraska Corn Board, and Kentucky Corn Promotion Council, to improve yield prediction models for next generation breeders.
- Kansas State University, Manhattan, received a NIFA grant of $980,000, funded jointly with the Kansas Wheat Commission, to improve selection protocols to accelerate wheat quality.

More information on these projects is available on the NIFA website.

Commodity boards are organizations that promote, research, and share industry and consumer information on particular agricultural products, such as almonds, honey, lamb, and wheat. The 2014 Farm Bill enables commodity boards to submit topics for research supported through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, America's flagship competitive grants program for foundational and translational research, education, and extension projects in the food and agricultural sciences. Topics must relate to established AFRI priority areas: plant health and production and plant products; animal health and production and animal products; food safety, nutrition, and health; bioenergy, natural resources, and environment; agriculture systems and technology; and agriculture economics and rural communities. Once topics are approved, the resulting proposals are reviewed using NIFA's established peer-review process.

NIFA welcomes commodity board topics that support AFRI priority areas throughout the year. To submit a topic for consideration for inclusion in an AFRI RFA in FY18, commodity board representatives should visit the NIFA Commodity Board webpage for more information.

Programs Help Farmers Gain Consumer Communication Skills

Maddie Hagerty, IPIC Communications Assistant & Student

Most consumers are becoming disconnected from agriculture, but still have to find a source for information about what they consume. Pig farmers want to be able to properly inform consumers about the well-being of their livestock and the safety of food products but can sometimes struggle to find the space to share their story. This can create the issue of a gap or communication barrier between the two groups. Both farmers and consumers can benefit from maintaining an open line of communication, however seeking out consumers and encouraging the conversation can be difficult.

Joyce Hoppes, director of consumer information for the Iowa Pork Producers Association, said it's important to first find common ground. This allows both parties involved in the conversation to become comfortable and remain engaged.

"Transparency is very important," Hoppes said. "The best way to start the conversation with a consumer is to first find common values. Use the information they share about themselves to help drive the conversation."

It's important to realize, however, that not all discussions are created alike, Hoppes said. Making sure discussion points resonate with the individual or group is vital.

"While it is important to know your audience, your communication strategy may not differ all that much between certain age groups because they will be at a similar level of agricultural literacy," she said. "But, you must make sure the information you are sharing is relevant to them. Identify what needs they have in their lives and explain how the industry works to fulfil them."

Claire Masker is director of public relations for the Pork Checkoff where her job involves working with farmers and the public. She teaches producers how to use open dialogue with consumers.

"When talking to consumers, the goal should not be to strictly educate the consumer, but just to establish an open dialogue and ensure that they can trust you and seek you for answers," she said. Both IPPA and the Pork Checkoff are affiliated with programs designed specifically for producers that build and strengthen communication skills and strategies.

The IPPA partners with the Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation to reach consumers.

"One program that we at IPPA participate in is FarmChat, which facilitates virtual farm tours," Hoppes said. "Pork producers can use FarmChat technology to open their barns to students and other audiences, and explain modern pork production and interact on-site by answering their questions."

The IPPA currently is recruiting producers to participate in the FarmChat program and plans to have summer training sessions for the tours. Producers interested in participating in FarmChat or want to learn more can contact Hoppes at 515-225-7675 or

The Pork Checkoff has a well-established communications skills program for producers called Operation Main Street.

"OMS provides training sessions throughout the year and at World Pork Expo for producers to learn how to represent themselves and tell their story to consumers and other targeted groups," Masker said. "Program coordinator Ernie Barnes has great resources for that program."

More information about OMS is available at the NPB website and Masker said those who want more information can contact Barnes at

NPPC White Paper Details Benefits Of NAFTA

Following last week’s notification by the Trump administration that it will renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the National Pork Producers Council today released a white paper on the benefits of the trade deal among the United States, Canada and Mexico.

The paper, which focuses primarily on trade with Mexico, makes the case for not abandoning the 23-year-old pact and for not disrupting trade in sectors for which the agreement has worked well, including U.S. pork. Mexico is the No. 2 export market for U.S. pork, and Canada is No. 4.

For all U.S. goods and services, Canada and Mexico are the top two destinations, accounting for more than one-third of total U.S. exports, adding $80 billion to the U.S. economy and supporting more than 14 million American jobs, according to U.S. government data.

While considerable attention has been given to the $63 billion trade deficit the United States has with Mexico, NPPC’s paper highlights two key facts: When NAFTA took effect Jan. 1, 1994, trade between the United States and Mexico was only $50 billion each way. Last year, U.S. exports to Mexico were nearly quintuple that amount at $231 billion, and those exports supported 5 million U.S. jobs. And while imports to the United States from Mexico were $294 billion, those, too, supported millions of U.S. jobs. (Nearly 40 percent of Mexican imports include U.S. content.)

For U.S. agriculture, Canada and Mexico are the second and third largest foreign markets. They imported more than $38 billion of U.S. products in 2016, or 28 percent of all U.S. agricultural exports. Those exports generated more than $48 billion in additional business activity throughout the economy and supported nearly 287,000 jobs.

Disrupting U.S. agricultural exports to Mexico and Canada, the NPPC paper points out, would have devastating consequences for America’s farmers and for the U.S. processing and transportation industries. U.S. pork producers would be particularly hard hit.

Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes calculated that if Mexico placed a 20 percent duty on U.S. pork – a likely response to a U.S. withdraw from NAFTA – and allowed other countries duty-free access, the U.S. pork industry eventually would lose the entire Mexican market. That equates to a loss of 5 percent of U.S. pork production, which would reduce the U.S. live hog market by 10 percent at a cost of $14 per hog, or a nearly $1.7 billion aggregate loss to the industry.

“A loss in exports to Mexico of that magnitude would be cataclysmic for the U.S. pork industry,” said Nick Giordano, NPPC’s vice president for global government affairs, who will share highlights of the paper at the “NAFTA: From Cars to Carrots” panel discussion hosted by the Global Business Dialogue later today. “Pork producers will support updating and improving NAFTA but only if duties on U.S. pork remain at zero and pork exports are not disrupted.”

The NPPC paper also notes that NAFTA has provided benefits beyond trade, including improved relations with Canada and Mexico, better regional investment and supply chains, increased cooperation with Mexico in fighting drug trafficking and terrorism and greater political stability in that country.

USMEF Kicks Off Spring Conference, Announces Succession Plan

The U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) opened its Spring Conference Wednesday in Arlington, Virginia, with an extensive discussion of the current international trade environment and a review of year-to-date export results for U.S. pork, beef and lamb. The federation also announced the successor to longtime USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng, as Dan Halstrom, USMEF senior vice president for marketing, will become president on Sept.1 and assume the title of president and CEO on Dec. 1. Seng will remain with the organization as CEO emeritus through July 2018.

USMEF Chairman Bruce Schmoll, a soybean and corn producer from Claremont, Minnesota, welcomed members to the Spring Conference and recapped the very strong first-quarter results for U.S. red meat exports. Schmoll noted that Mexico is a terrific destination for U.S. pork, and USMEF’s new product development and consumer education efforts continue to bolster per capita pork consumption in Mexico. U.S. beef exports to Mexico are also trending upward in 2017, but the main drivers of beef export growth in the first quarter were the mainstay Asian markets of Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. Schmoll said home meal replacement is a rapidly growing segment in Asia and especially in Korea, noting that he and his family hosted a team of Korean buyers last year who specialize in home meal replacement items.

Schmoll also discussed the recent decision by Costco-Korea to convert the chilled beef meat cases at all 15 of its locations to 100 percent U.S. beef.

“With Costco being such a respected trend-setter for Korean consumers and other Korean retailers, the long-term, positive impact for U.S. beef will reach well beyond the walls of these Costco warehouses,” he said.

Schmoll said the USDA Market Access Program (MAP) and the Foreign Market Development (FMD) Program are important tools that contribute to the success U.S. red meat is achieving in the global marketplace. He urged USMEF members to voice their support for these programs, which were targeted for elimination in the Trump administration’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget proposal released earlier this week.

“This is only the first step in a long budget process, and there is strong bipartisan support on Capitol Hill for MAP and FMD,” Schmoll explained.

Seng offered a historical perspective on red meat trade with Japan, explaining the impressive gains made in this market despite significant trade barriers. He noted that Japan has imported $62 billion in U.S. beef and pork over the past 30 years, despite a temporary closure of the market to U.S. beef due to BSE, and an even longer period in which U.S. exports to Japan were restricted to beef from cattle less than 21 months of age.

Seng cautioned that the United States may be underestimating the importance of constructive relationships with key trading partners, citing Mexico as an example of a country that is actively seeking alternative food suppliers.

“For the past 70 years, the hallmark of our agricultural trade policy with countries that can’t be self-sufficient in food production has been, ‘you don’t have to be self-sufficient, but you can be food secure with the United States as your partner,’” Seng said. “When we start talking about playing by a different set of rules, these countries look to diversify. And as Mexico begins to look south, they’ll find that they can source pork and beef from different suppliers, and that’s a very important development.”

USMEF’s guest speaker was Stuart Rothenberg, a long-time Washington, D.C., political analyst who is senior editor at Inside Elections. He served for more than two decades as editor and publisher of The Rothenberg Political Report, a non-partisan political newsletter covering U.S. House, Senate and gubernatorial campaigns and presidential politics. He also was a columnist for Roll Call and The Washington Post.

Rothenberg spent much of his presentation on the struggles of the Trump administration to establish meaningful policy directions, with the investigation into the Trump administration’s possible ties to Russia and several other distractions coming at a bad time for a brand new presidency.

“President Trump is going to deal with healthcare and tax reform and infrastructure and budget spending priorities - while all this other stuff is going on?” Rothenberg asked. “Well, he’s going to have to. But you can see how much more difficult it will be. In Washington, it’s difficult to get things through during good times.”

Rothenberg expressed frustration with the national media, which he said tend to examine every poll as if it is going to somehow demonstrate a dramatic turn in public opinion.

“But the president has only been in office for a little over four months,” Rothenberg said. “In another four months, six months, eight months – some of his supporters may start to take the criticism more seriously.”

To close the session, USMEF past chairman Roel Andriessen, who chaired the search committee charged with finding and recommending candidates for the position of USMEF president, explained the extensive process that led the committee to identify Halstrom as its leading candidate. Andriessen also paid tribute to Seng for his decades of service to the organization, which Seng joined as Asia director in 1982 – just six years after USMEF was founded.

“Phil, on behalf of the USMEF Executive Committee and USMEF members and staff, we applaud your leadership and vision for this industry, which started a long time ago,” Andriessen said. “You are a legend in our industry – there’s no doubt about that, and your shoes will be extremely difficult to fill. You will leave behind a great legacy and I want to applaud you for all you have done for us.”

Halstrom echoed these sentiments, noting that he’s learned a wealth of information from Seng – not only during his time with USMEF, but throughout his 34-year career in international meat trade.

“I certainly don’t expect to replace Phil Seng, but I hope to complement him with the help of a very talented USMEF team, and that is a tremendous advantage going forward,” he said. “Many people are aware of Phil’s long career with USMEF, and I’ve learned a great deal from him in the time I’ve been involved with the organization. But we also have staff members in key markets such as Hong Kong, Korea and Japan who have been with USMEF for a very long time. They are truly grounded in the meat business, and they are in these markets every day building demand for U.S. meat products and monitoring our competition. I look forward to being even more involved with this group and drawing upon their knowledge and experience.”

Halstrom joined USMEF as senior vice president for marketing in 2010, overseeing promotional activities for U.S. red meat managed through the organization’s 18 international offices. He was previously vice president for international sales with JBS S.A., where he managed global beef and pork sales. From 1990 through 1999, Halstrom directed international pork sales for Swift/ConAgra Foods, Inc. A native of northwest Iowa and a graduate of the University of Iowa, Halstrom currently resides in Fort Collins, Colorado.

ASA and Valent Offer a New Opportunity for Young People Interested in Ag Policy

The American Soybean Association (ASA) is pleased to announce a new educational program, sponsored by Valent, the “Soy Leaders of the Future.” This program provides an exciting opportunity for students interested in improving their understanding of major agricultural policy issues, the importance of advocacy, and careers that can impact agricultural policy.

The Leaders of the Future program will take place July 10 – 13, 2017, in Washington, D.C. This program may be of particular interest to high school seniors and freshmen or sophomores in college majoring in various areas of agriculture, political science, communications and/or business. Students must complete an online application and be at least 18 years old to participate. The class size will be limited to six to eight students, and the deadline to apply is Friday, June 9. Click here for more information...

America’s First FTA Partner, Israel, Remains Steady U.S. Customer

Free trade agreements help provide market access for some of the largest purchasers of U.S. grains and for some smaller but steady buyers. Israel, as the first market with which the United States signed a free trade agreement, is a good example.

The United States-Israel Free Trade Agreement was implemented in 1985, when the United States exported $2.5 billion in goods to Israel, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. By 2016, overall U.S. exports soared to $13.1 billion, a five-fold increase. For U.S. agricultural exports, Israel has remained a small but important market, especially for value-added products including corn gluten feed/meal and distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS).

Israel imported 786,000 metric tons of U.S. corn, DDGS and corn gluten feed, valued at $141.5 million, in 2015/2016 - a 2.5 fold increase from the previous year. U.S. DDGS exports to Israel reached nearly 134,000 tons in the current marketing year (September-March), a 22 percent increase year-over-year.

Additionally, Israel was the third largest market for U.S. corn gluten feed/meal exports in 2015/2016, responsible for 18 percent of U.S. exports. U.S. corn gluten feed/meal exports this marketing year (September-March) have increased 17 percent year-over-year to more than 125,000 tons.

“These increases are driven in part by attractive commodity price and competitive U.S. exports,” said Alvaro Cordero, U.S. Grains Council (USGC) manager of global trade.

“The Mediterranean basin is a very competitive marketplace, with U.S., Black Sea and South American grain exports competing for customers. As a result, the edge provided by the free trade agreement with United States is vital for our exporters.”

The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) works to maintain and develop relationships with trading partners like Israel, supported by funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) program. Through these trade servicing efforts, USGC is able to help U.S. grain producers and exporters take advantage of favorable conditions for U.S. exporters built into trade agreements as well as capitalize on market opportunities that might otherwise go unnoticed.

National Dairy FARM Program Opens Registration for 2017 Evaluator Conference

The second annual National Dairy FARM Program Evaluator Conference will be held in Indianapolis, Ind., from July 18-19, with an optional farm trip to Fair Oaks Farm on July 20. More than 400 certified FARM Program evaluators will have the chance to network and discuss relevant topics in animal care, environmental stewardship and antibiotic stewardship.

Starting on Tuesday, July 18, FARM evaluators will spend a day with key Elanco staff, focusing on professional development and learning more about Elanco’s global business of feeding a growing population. Wednesday, July 19, features a full day of programming, including presentations on “The Economics of Animal Well-Being,” as well as insight from a panel of farmers and veterinarians on the importance of protocol development and employee training.

“We are excited to host a dedicated group of FARM evaluators for what will be three full days of enlightening conversation and learning,” said Emily Meredith, chief of staff for the National Milk Producers Federation. “Nurturing strong relationships among members of the animal care community will only enhance our ability to share the industry’s great story of top-notch animal care.”

Elanco is also a sponsor for this year’s event, in addition to Zoetis and Merck Animal Health.

Thursday’s optional trip to Fair Oaks Farms includes a tour of the dairy’s facilities and a discussion with co-founder Mike McCloskey, farm veterinarians and management staff about how Fair Oaks implements training and protocols for the high-level care of their animals and land. Located in Fair Oaks, Ind., the agritourism operation offers educational opportunities about dairy, hog and crop farming.

Registration is $199, with the optional Fair Oaks tour costing an additional $50. For more information and to register for the conference, please visit the conference website.

This is the second Evaluator Conference hosted by the National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) Program. The first was held last fall in Nashville, Tenn., after the NMPF Joint Annual Meeting. Created in 2009 by the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), the FARM Program raises the bar for the entire dairy industry – creating a culture of continuous improvement.

Trump Wants $108M for Deeper Ports

(AP) -- President Donald Trump wants $108 million to deepen harbors for two U.S. seaports, while other ports scrambling to make room for larger cargo ships will benefit from a boost of more than $56 million already approved by Congress.

Ports from New England to Texas are seeking more than $4.6 billion in federal and state funding to deepen their harbors. They're playing catch-up after the Panama Canal finished a major expansion last summer that is sending supersized ships to U.S. ports on the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts.

Most of those ports have waterways that are too shallow for such big ships to navigate unless they carry lighter loads or travel at high tides.

While Congress has authorized 15 total port projects to pursue deeper and wider shipping channels, Trump's proposed budget released Tuesday requests money for only two of them in the 2018 fiscal year that starts Oct. 1. Deepening projects for Boston and Savannah, Georgia, would essentially split $108 million.

But not every port left out of Trump's budget request came away empty-handed. The Army Corps of Engineers, which oversees maintenance and construction on U.S. waterways, on Wednesday evening released its spending plan for discretionary funds recently approved by Congress.

That plan includes more than $56 million for five harbor-deepening projects, including $17.5 million for deepening to begin at the Port of Charleston, South Carolina, and the Port of Jacksonville, Florida. For projects still in the study and permitting phase, $2.8 million will go to Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and $557,000 for the Sabine-Neches waterway that serves three Texas ports.

The discretionary funds should give a guaranteed boost to the Army Corps' chosen harbor projects. Trump's proposed $4.1 trillion budget for fiscal 2018, meanwhile, faces a long and uncertain road in Congress.

"Now you've got the congressional money and you're going to see what's coming to you right now," said Jim Walker, navigation policy director for the American Association of Port Authorities. "You may be a year away from seeing the (fiscal) 2018 money."

The Port of Boston, where officials hope to start deepening the harbor later this year, may turn out to be the biggest winner. In additional to Trump's $58 million request for the project, the Army Corps added $18.2 million in discretionary funding.

And while Trump's request of $50 million for Savannah, the fourth-busiest U.S. container port, is 17 percent more than President Barack Obama secured in his last budget, it's still only half of what Georgia officials said was needed to keep the $973 million project on schedule.

Sen. Johnny Isakson, a Georgia Republican, said in a statement he was "disappointed by the failure of the Army Corps of Engineers" to route some of the discretionary funds to Savannah. He made no mention of Trump's budget request.

"Rest assured that I will continue fighting in Congress to secure sufficient funding for this worthy project to be completed without further delays," Isakson said.

Federal funding for deeper harbors proved tough to get under Obama as well. And while Congress gets the final say over the federal budget, the president's recommendation on specific port projects still carries weight. That's because a ban on so-called earmark spending adopted years ago prohibits lawmakers from inserting line items for their own pet projects.

Georgia ensured dredging of the Savannah River got started in 2015 by spending state taxpayers' $266 million share upfront. South Carolina was prepared to do the same, with $300 million in state funding set aside to begin deepening the Charleston harbor this fall. The federal money from the Corps was welcomed.

"The significance of this funding for the timeline of our deepening project cannot be overstated -- it is tremendous news for Charleston," Jim Newsome, CEO of the South Carolina Ports Authority, said in a statement.

NAWG Applauds Senate Agriculture Committee for Holding Hearing to Examine the Farm Economy

Today, the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry held a hearing to examine the farm economy in rural America. Members heard testimony from USDA Chief Economist Robert Johansson who spoke on several domestic and global factors generating low commodity prices and the financial implication this has on farmers. Additional witnesses included Nathan Kauffman, assistant vice president and Omaha branch executive with the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City; Bruce Weber, professor emeritus of applied economics and director of the rural studies program at Oregon State University; and Alec Sheffer, director of retail sales for Agri-AFC.

NAWG President David Schemm made the following statement:

“With the rural economy struggling and farm income down 46 percent from only three years ago, growers are enduring some of the toughest economic conditions since the 1980s.  Farmers have also had to deal with severe weather issues, making the Farm Bill a key tool to enable them to farm another year.

“Low commodity prices have led to farmers to take on more debt to continue operating, as such producers’ debt-to-asset ratios have grown rapidly. USDA’s Chief Economist Dr. Robert Johansson testified that nearly 8% of wheat producers are considered to be ‘highly leveraged’ and over 16 percent are ‘very highly leveraged’.

“Farmers have had to deal with a rapidly declining market, and months and years of sustained low prices will make each passing year more difficult to get by, particularly for young and beginning farmers who weren’t able to build up reserves during the high price years.

“The economic conditions of the past few years have also contributed to a drop in planted wheat acreage. Plantings for 2016-2017 winter wheat are at the lowest level since 1909, and it is anticipated that overall planted acres of wheat will be at historically low levels this year.  Compounding these factors has been growing impact of wheat streak mosaic virus in my neck of the woods which is causing a big yield hit to the wheat that survived the blizzard.

“NAWG applauds the Senate Committee on Agriculture for holding this hearing to evaluate the economic conditions in rural America.”

Syngenta receives EPA registration for Fortenza® insecticide seed treatment for corn and cotton

Fortenza® seed treatment insecticide from Syngenta has received registration approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for use on corn and cotton to guard against early-season insect damage.

“We designed Fortenza to complement our brands containing Cruiser® insecticide, and data shows combining these products enhances the spectrum of insect control activity, raising the bar of protection for U.S. growers,” said Dale Ireland, Ph.D., Seedcare technical product lead, Syngenta. “This combination will provide the most comprehensive early-season insect protection in the corn seed treatment market.”

The active ingredient in Fortenza, cyantraniliprole, is labeled to protect against above- and below-ground insects, including black cutworm, fall armyworm, white grub, seedcorn maggot and wireworm. This is especially important to growers who are located in areas with high cutworm history. In corn particularly, Fortenza® seed treatment insecticide is a great tool for growers that have a corn hybrid with black cutworm susceptibility.

“From the moment our crops are planted, every seed is at risk for pest infestation,” said Palle Pedersen, Ph.D., head of Seedcare product marketing at Syngenta. “Fortenza will help protect emerging corn and cotton plants against insect damage from day one, leading to vigorous crop establishment and increased stand, which will help maximize the return and genetic potential on a grower’s seed investment.”

Fortenza may also help manage insect resistance, when used in combination with other insecticide chemistries or traits, by providing an additional mode of action against targeted insects.